Weekend Briefing No. 93

Welcome to the weekend. This week, Paris endured another highly coordinated terror attack leaving 132 dead, 300+ injured and a city traumatized. The UK increased border security, but maintained its threat level, which already suggests a terrorist attack is “highly likely.” While the US federal government reaffirmed its commitment to taking in Syrian refugees, mostly Republican governors signed executive orders to block Syrian refugees from their states. German chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her “open-door” stance. Meanwhile, a suspected Boko Haram attack killed 32 in Nigeria. Eighty people were injured after a bomb detonated at a market in the northeastern city of Yola; no group has taken responsibility yet.


Berkshire Hathaway for the impact sector. Warren Buffet’s grandson, 32 year old Howard Buffett, is building the next generation’s Berkshire Hathaway, with a twist. Whereas his grandfather has traditionally acquired stalwart companies with timeless appeal, Howard is taking a decidedly more forward-looking approach. The plan is for the new company, called i(x) Investments, to invest in early-stage and undervalued companies that are working on issues such as clean energy, sustainable agriculture and water scarcity. “I’m looking for that sweet spot,” Mr. Buffett said. “How do we improve society through these investments? How can we be creative with capital to address some of the greatest human needs?” Learn more in the New York Times.

Uber for talent. As the workforce shifts from full time employees to the free agent nation, we’re going to need more fluid ways for freelancers to connect with gigs. Thankfully, my friends Alex and Scott have been working hard to develop just that. This week, LiquidTalent – an on-demand app to connect designers and developers with jobs – released to the public. Learn more in TechCrunch.

Square’s IPO was a down round. Square’s private stock sale prices were as follows: Series A: $0.21627; Series B: <$1; Series C: $5.79817; Series D: $11.014; Series E: $15.46345. On opening day, the stock traded at $11.20. Square is the third tech startup valued at $1 billion or more to go public in 2015 — following Box and Pure Storage. All three have disappointed in various ways, which will not help encourage other ‘unicorns’ to go public. It seems the bubble is driven by mutual funds and hedge funds investing in later rounds and dumb valuations. The smart money waited on the sidelines and bought at Series D prices on the public market. If you can get large allocations and similar prices at IPO, why take the extra risk of investing privately? Watch Jack Dorsey’s interview on CNBC.

Lean data. Lean data involves the application of lean experimentation principles to the collection and use of social impact data. The approach, spearheaded by Acumen with support from Omidyar and Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs, incorporates two main features: 1) a shift in mindset away from reporting and compliance and toward creating value for a company and its customers, and 2) the use of methods and technologies for data collection that favor efficiency and speed while maintaining rigor. Learn more at Stanford Social Innovation Review.

What I did last weekend. You may have noted that I sent out last week’s Weekend Briefing from international waters; that’s because I was attending Summit at Sea – basically, 3,000+ entrepreneurs got on a boat with a sex therapist, a conservationist, an entertainment titan and, of course, John Legend. One of the most fascinating sessions was Google’s Chairman Eric Shmidt’s interviewing Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick. But the most inspirational talks were from David Brooks and Esther Perel.


Ultra-marathon runners can suffer extreme hallucinations. One woman reported seeing mutant mice monsters following her.

A master sushi chef turned a Big Mac into a roll. The burger makes a fetching veggie-and-beef combo.


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.