Weekend Briefing No. 75

Welcome to the weekend. This week Puerto Rico squares off with its creditors while Greece came to terms with its creditors, Obama was the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped past Pluto at 31,000 mph, snapping detailed images and studying its geological features. The ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930 and died in 1997, were aboard.

Looking for a good country music playlist this summer? I got you covered. Every year I spend time with my family at our lake house in Tennessee. We love to float on the lake while listening to country. So, the lake house playlist has become a tradition. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Find me on rdio or spotify to get the playlist

Oh, and thanks to everybody that shared my Fast Company article last week… you did a great job! It’s still being shared all over the internet and I’ll be talking about it on the Dollars & Change show on Sirius Radio Channel 111 this Thursday at 9:00 AM EST.




How a charity made $3.3 billion. In 1999, The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF), frustrated by the slow pace of progress on finding a treatment for the disease, took a big risk and shifted its funding from academic labs to a for-profit drugmaker Vertex. CFF granted around $150 million in exchange for something unusual—a share of the royalties for any treatment Vertex’s research yielded. The research did yield something a highly effective drug called Kalydeco. This drug is quite lucrative as well, in late 2014 CFF sold its royalty rights to an investment company. For $3.3 billion. Learn more about this innovative model that aligns profit and purpose in this Bloomberg article. Thanks to Sandeep Chhabra for sharing this with me.

Killer nonprofit email marketing. Watsi Marketing Chief Grace Garey says the key to effective nonprofit email marketing is tapping into the donor’s aspirational self. Here are her keys to doing that: (1) show people what they’re getting, (2) make every single recipient feel special, (3) customize, and (4) deliver shock and awe. Learn more about these tactics in this long form First Round Review article.

Smartphones in Africa. Only 27% of cellphones sold in Africa and the Middle East in 2019 will be feature phones. The vast majority will be smartphones, according to new research from International Data Corp (IDC). In Africa, Android has 89% market share in smartphones, with Apple a distant second at 7%. The strong growth in the region’s smartphone market is largely being driven by the emergence of low-priced devices that are primarily powered by Android. Indeed, 45% of smartphones shipped across Africa in the first quarter of 2015 were priced below $100, while almost 75% fell under $200.

Is Sean Parker the Daenerys Targaryen of Philanthropy? Sean Parker’s op-ed about hacker philanthropy a couple weeks ago has, unsurprisingly, drawn some critique from the philanthropic community. Like Game of Thrones’ “Dany” Targaryen, entrepreneur Sean Parker is intent on replacing what he sees as a broken and oppressive system with something better, but Marieke Spence of TCC Group has some advice for Mr. Parker. (1) Please don’t reinvent the wheel before you break it. (2) Effective philanthropy will always be an art, as well as a science. (3) Humility. And collaboration. And … humility. Learn more in this Stanford Social Innovation Review article.

Nike’s new shoe is designed for the disabled. At 16 years old, Matthew Walzer, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is able to completely dress himself, but his parents still have to tie his shoes. As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, he finds this extremely frustrating, and at times, embarrassing. So he wrote an open letter that made the rounds on social media and to his surprise, Nike invited him to come help design a shoe the would work for him. The result: Zoom Soldier 8 Flyease, which hit the shelves this week. Learn more and watch a short video about it at Quartz.




Is it rational to believe in miracles? My friend Hans Halvorson, Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, says it all depends on the crucial role of a larger narrative. Learn more at his article in Slate.

How much is a hundred dollars worth? That’s not a math question, it’s a geography test. CityLab looks at how much $100 buys in different cities across the U.S. The average income in Mississippi is roughly $10,000 less than that in San Francisco, but purchasing power in Mississippi communities is nearly 45% greater.




Meru. If you are suffering through the sweltering mid-summer heat, check out this trailer of the upcoming film Meru, which documents three close friends who are among the world’s best professional climbers battle their complicated pasts, inner demons and nature’s harshest elements in an attempt to confront the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru, the most technically complicated and dangerous peak in the Himalayas, one that has never been scaled to completion.




The Weekend Briefing is a selection of this week’s top stories on innovation and society, curated by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway Law. I consider it a privilege to be a part of your weekend routine. Thanks.