Weekend Briefing No. 88

Weekend Briefing No. 88 | How To Hire A Rock Star, Frontier Capital, Skepticism of Benefit Corporations, Angus Deaton

Welcome to the weekend. This week, Iran convicted a Washington Post reporter of spying. The Democrats had their first debate. Netflix released its first feature film called Beasts of No Nation. It’s been a big week for Jack Dorsey; shortly after his return to Twitter, they launched a new feature called moments… and fired 300 people. Additionally, his other company, Square filed for an IPO, at which point, it was publicly revealed that Jack owned 24.4% of the company. He has announced that he’s giving 30% of that stock to charity.


How to hire a rock star. Hiring is tough. It’s so hard to identify talent in a few interviews. Top performers possess a combination of hard and soft skills like grit, rigor, impact, teamwork, ownership, curiosity and polish. Learn the best questions to ask for each skill in this First Round Review article.

Frontier Capital. This report from Omidyar focuses on Low- and Lower-Middle-Income (LMI) Populations – those earning $2-$8/day – in emerging markets. This segment represents a major market opportunity. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the purchasing power of the LMI population is estimated at $405B. In South Asia, it is estimated at $483B. For companies that serve the LMI to scale and succeed, they need access to early-stage risk capital, or frontier capital. Investors have an unprecedented opportunity to both achieve financial returns and effect positive. Learn more in this report from Omidyar.

Skepticism on Laureate’s IPO. David Solomon of the New York Times is not particularly sure what creating a “positive effect” through “offering diverse education programs” actually means. Given the vagueness of their public benefit, is Laureate’s simply using a public-relations-enhancing social purpose to fritter away money without oversight? This vagueness might be fine in a private company with only a few owners who can do whatever they want with their company — like paying Bill Clinton millions — but Laureate will be public, with thousands of shareholders. Learn more in the New York Times. Thanks to Sandeep Chhabra for sharing this with me.

Angus Deaton is a brilliant selection for the Nobel Prize in economics. Deaton seeks to understand what economic progress really means from the starting point of consumption rather than income is part of his vision. He looks closely at what poor households consume to get a better sense of their living standards and possible paths for economic development. He truly, deeply understands the implications of economic growth, the benefits of modernity, and political economy. Check out this non-technical account of measuring poverty.

Mobile is eating the world. Check out this video of a presentation for Benedict Evans on the smart phone is becoming the universal platform. By 2020 over 4 billion will have a mobile phone and most of those will be smart phones, dwarfing the amount of personal computers on the market. More people in sub-Saharan Africa have a mobile phone than have access to clean water or are on the electrical grid. Check out this video of Benedict Evan’s presentation to Andreesen Horowitz limited partners this summer, giving a high-level view of how mobile is changing tech and the broader internet.


Getting Beyond Better. The book begins with a probing and useful theory of social entrepreneurship, moving through history to illuminate what it is, how it works, and the nature of its role in modern society. The authors then set out a framework for understanding how successful social entrepreneurs actually go about producing transformative change. There are four key stages: understanding the world; envisioning a new future; building a model for change; and scaling the solution. Get your copy here.


Read it for the articles. In a fascinating move this week, Playboy has decided that to stop publishing images of nude women.

Table for one. Reservations for dining alone in the US are up 62%. That’s according to reservations app OpenTable.

Star Gazing. The US Navy is teaching celestial navigation again. It is concerned it needs a back up in the event of a hack.


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.