Weekend Briefing No. 441
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback on last week’s YouTube video that helps founders avoid 7 common startup legal mistakes. If you’re a founder and you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to check it out. If you like it, feel free to share it.
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4.1 – A new survey found US companies are planning the biggest pay bump in 15 years in 2023, with workers expected to get an average raise of 4.1%. Still, that’s less than half the rate of inflation.
83 – In London City, Pret A Manger transactions have recovered to 83 percent of pre-pandemic levels, while in London’s suburbs Pret traffic is 118 percent of pre-pandemic levels, an indication of remote work having a marked impact.
300,000,000 – Amazon says it sold 300m+ items during Prime Day, up from 250m last year.
Why have climate activists and leftists failed to generate a sufficient sense of urgency in the American public? Because they’ve embraced degrowth and anticapitalism. Slowing growth or abolishing capitalism would be very bad for the climate for two reasons: (1) I’s too big of an ask for developed countries to give up their middle-class lifestyle. (2) You need a robust economy to fund investment in new green technology. This sort of degrowth and anti-capitalist rhetoric is failing. And because it's failing, climate activists are moving toward a deep gloom. They’re throwing their hands up and saying, “Our kids are screwed.” All of this gets in the way of the positive, can-do rhetoric that will help us actually make progress. The strategy that will work is a technology-focused, bottom-up, whole-of-society effort. In other words, everyone pushes wherever they can push. We campaign for climate-aware state leaders. We build technologies that make decarbonization easier, if that’s what we’re good at doing. We persuade our bosses and the companies we own to adopt renewable technologies. We use our investment choices to direct capital toward companies that produce or use renewables. If we work for the civil service, we try to design and implement regulations in ways that favor renewables. That’s how we fight climate change. Noahpinion (12 minutes)
Reasons for Optimism
Pessimism seems to be popular right now when bad news is so rampant. But there are three big things the seduction of pessimism tends to ignore: (1) Being an optimist doesn’t mean you think everything will be great. It means you think things will work out in the long-run. (2) People adapt. If you extend every negative trend indefinitely into the future, things look terrible. Instead try assuming that negative trends spark innovation. Every good thing you now enjoy came from a bad thing that someone wanted to fix. (3) Bad news tends to happen fast, while good news moves slowly. There are no overnight miracles, but lots of overnight tragedies. Over time, the good news tends to be more powerful than the bad, but the speed at which they occur assures that bad news gets more attention than it deserves. The Hustle (4 minutes)
Reexamining the Efficient Frontier
Markets today are more efficient and more crowded than ever. In the $3.4 trillion private equity universe, there are more than 9000 firms all competing for the same deals – driving up entry multiples and decreasing alpha opportunities. So it was shocking to discover an almost $2 trillion asset class that outperformed the S&P more than 3x for the last 25 years, that had yet to be made investible. That’s why Masterworks became the first company to securitize it by filing an offering circular with the SEC allowing anyone to invest. Now, the company is on track to acquire more than $1 billion in assets this year, and has returned +30% to their investors 3 years in a row. Masterworks. (Sponsored)
Solar panels take up a lot of space and farmers usually want to grow crops on the surface where solar panels would work best. A recent study on agrivoltaics, which is the study of how solar power and agriculture can coexist and also benefit from each other, shows that there is one crop that thrives in the shade from the panels - broccoli. What the study found was that the shade created by the solar panels help broccoli get a deeper shade of green which makes them more attractive to grocery stores as well as customers. By being more attractive to buyers, farmers can make more money. Crop size of nutritional value wasn’t affected by growing in the shade. Warp News (3 minutes)
Rejection in Fundraising
Rejection is one of the hardest parts of fundraising. As a founder, you’ll undoubtedly hear “no” far more than you’ll hear “yes,” and it can feel absolutely soul-crushing at times. Here are four tips for using rejection as a tool to improve your fundraising skills (and ultimately raise a successful round!). (1) Find out why you were rejected. (2) If it’s not a “yes,” it’s still a “no”. File this under “No, unless your deal turns out to be hot.” Ask whether their company policy is to not lead rounds or if they opted against it for this specific deal. If it’s the latter, mark them as low priority in your investor CRM and move on to someone else. (3) Sometimes the best thing to do is hit pause. So, what happens if you’ve been fundraising for weeks without a single bite? Revisit all your options for increasing runway before jumping back into the fundraising waters. (4) To get different results, do different things. Consider if your story is truly compelling enough—or can you use previous feedback to iterate on it? Docsend (5 minutes)
The Beach Rats
In July 11, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an order appointing William “Wild Bill” Donovan to create America’s first spy agency, which would come to be called the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). A precursor to the CIA, Within the OSS, Donovan envisioned a Maritime Unit, filled with expert swimmers who could carry out reconnaissance and sabotage missions by sea. The OSS combed the navy and Coast Guard for top swimmers, then they began scouring the beaches of Los Angeles for ocean lifeguards and watermen. That’s where they found the beach rats. Imagine The Dirty Dozen, except instead of convicts, the recruits were muscular, suntanned beach lifeguards, surfers and adventurers, with sand in their hair, salt water in their ears, and surfboards under their arms. They were a group of hardy young swimmers more comfortable in the ocean than on land. They turned out to be the unlikeliest secret weapon in the war against the Axis. Alta (18 minutes)
This year almost 2,500 photographers from across the United States and Canada submitted nearly 10,000 photographs and videos to Audubon's 13th annual Audubon Photography Awards. Check out these top 100 stunning photos of birds. (Spoiler alert: It was a great year for grouse). Audubon (5 minutes)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. This is of the most over-rated books I’ve ever read. It reads like a sophomore’s attempt at trying to be a deep writer. As I finished it, I couldn’t believe that people actually like it. But apparently, I’m in the minority. Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. The narrator's relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning; the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Buy Now.
Most Read Last Week
Rookie Startup Legal Mistakes - Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of early-stage founders. Based on that experience, this video covers the top 7 most common legal mistakes for startups and some tips on how to avoid them.
Rules of Life - Author Russ Roberts shares 12 rules for life in this post.
Future of the Metaverse - Hype? Hope? Hell? Maybe all three.
Funding Fridays is a briefing about the data and trends in startup funding. I send it out on the first Friday of each month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Funding Fridays.
Web3 Impact is a briefing I co-write with Banks Benitez about how Web3 is making the world a better place. We send it out on the third Thursday of each month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Web3 Impact.
Should We Work Together?
This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm for startups. Most entrepreneurs want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a fixed-monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a call.
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science. – Charles Darwin
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