Weekend Briefing No. 77


Welcome to the weekend.  This week Obama visited Kenya and Ethiopia and Egypt tested out Suez Canal 2.0. Several cargo ships passed through the new $8.5 billion, 44-mile-long waterway, which can accommodate larger vessels and two-way traffic, ahead of its official opening next month.




The miracle drug that prevents AIDS is available, and people aren’t using it. A drug called Truvada is the first FDA-approved means of preventing HIV infection. If an HIV-negative person takes the pill every day, he or she is nearly 99 percent protected from contracting the virus. Controversy continues to surround the broad uptake of Truvada, with some opponents of Truvada stating that it leads to unsafe and risky sexual behavior, particularly within the gay male community, the population hit hardest by HIV in America. Watch this episode as VICE explores the future of the Truvada and its revolutionary impact on ending HIV/AIDS.


The $1-a-week school. In much of the developing world access to quality education is incredibly difficult. Government attempts are woefully inadequate. For instance, Sierra Leone spotted 6,000 “ghost” teachers, nearly a fifth the number on the state payroll. Powerful teachers’ unions are part of the problem. The unions can be fearsome enemies, so governments leave them to run schools in the interests of teachers rather than pupils. Private schools aimed at educating the poorest children and generally charge about $1/week have stepped in to fill the gap. It seems to be working. One study in Southern India shows private students out performing their public peers and doing so at 1/3 of the cost. Learn more in The Economist.


Is this woman the next Elon Musk? Ummm… quite possibly. Meredith Perry has a “zillion dollar idea” according to Mark Cuban. She is refining technology to charge the battery of an electronic device from across the room—no wires necessary – through ultrasound waves. Consensus is divided on the viability of this technology, but everybody that sees a demo is immediately won over. Learn more about Meredith in Fortune.


10 lessons from 10 years of seed investing. First Round, an early investor in Warby Parker, Uber, Square and Birchbox, is celebrating 10 years of seed investing and is sharing some insights they’ve learned along the way. Women rule! Companies with women founders performed 63% better than companies with all male teams. Your former employer matters. Founding teams with former employees from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft or Twitter performed 160% better than their peers. Solo founders do much worse than teams. Companies with multiple founders outperformed solo founders by 163% and are valued 25% higher at seed stage. See more insights at First Round Review.


Gender equality in Silicon Valley. Salesforce.com is a hugely successful Silicon Valley company, but in 2013 they hadn’t paid much attention to gender equality among employees. So, their CEO Marc Benioff, put in place what he called the “Women’s Surge”. The goal was to achieve 100% equality for men and women in pay and promotion, and to make sure that at least a third of all participants at any meeting were women. Since 2013, they’ve made strides, but still have a ways to go. Only 29% of their employees are women, less than 25% of top executives are women, and less than 20% of their board are women. Learn more in David Gelles’s Revalued column at the New York Times.




The US should treat all criminals like white-collar criminals. Job training and shorter sentences result in less recidivism.


“I run a university. I’m also an Uber driver.” Oglethorpe University president Lawrence M. Schall explains why he became an Uber driver.







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.