No. 247 – Tuesday Reads

Know Your Price: Black Property Devaluation In A Nation Built With Our Hands And On Our Backs – I recently shared with a friend why I believed diversity and inclusion efforts at corporations were bullshit. I already belong here. I’m not interested in incremental efforts to try and make me more comfortable. I want to be CEO. I want to build a massive company that competes with yours and keeps you up at night. I want to fund the ventures of entrepreneurs I believe will build a better future than the entrepreneurs you fund are capable of. Black folks getting a better position in this society is a power game, a big reason why I’m excited about reading Andre Perry’s first book. Based on the work he’s published over the past several years, I look forward to learning more about the policies black folks have had to navigate in areas like housing and education. Further, I look forward to getting more clarity on how to navigate the path forward.

On the Frontlines of Retail There Are No Heroes, Only Victims – I don’t have much to say about this piece except that the economic system we’ve nurtured over the years sucks the life out of a bunch of people. There’s got to be another way of structuring this thing.

The Pandemic Isn’t a Black Swan but a Portent of a More Fragile Global System – I had to unfollow Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Twitter a few years back because the man is saltier than the saltiest person you know. His favorite exercise is deadlifting, something we share, and I would love to grab a drink with him, but I’m almost positive we’d end up arguing. I tend to assume things will go well, something that has hurt me a good few times over my life. Taleb, on the other hand, is ardent about doing all you can to prepare for the events that are extremely unlikely to happen, but could turn everything upside down, if they do. This piece does a nice job shedding light on his world view and his frustration with global leaders who weren’t willing to do the work to mitigate a situation that several had predicted.

In the Coronavirus Era, the Force is Still with Jack Dorsey – I don’t understand why Twitter doesn’t have a paid feature. I’d pay without question. Thanks to that platform, complete strangers have become longtime friends and mentors. I’m able to expand and contract my exposure to different types of people – investors, historians, journalists, and more. These emails I write typically start from pieces I’ve stumbled across on the platform. Yet, Twitter hasn’t tapped into all the value it creates. The product feels stagnant, which is pretty frustrating to see. I can understand why Elliott Management would swoop in to try and shake things up. This next year will be quite interesting to see how Dorsey fares.

Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. III Announces Pricing of Upsized $720 Million Initial Public Offering – The last vehicle Chamath Palihapitiya raised money for, he used the funds to merge with Virgin Galactic and take the company public. I’m very curious what companies he has his eye on. For the past several years, healthcare has been a focus of his. Considering the environment we’re in, I could see healthcare technology firms being prime targets.

No. 70: President Obama is Going to Kenya: Dumb or Nah?

Witney Schneidman, Fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote this rebuttal of Harvard professor Robert Rotberg’s Politico piece which panned President Obama’s upcoming trip to the country for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit as a bad idea.

Quick thoughts:

  • I’m not sure President Obama tacking on a trip to Ethiopia would go over well with Africa watchers, given the flap over Gayle Smith’s nomination for US AID administrator. Africa watchers…that’s a pretty bad tag line. Who coined it?
  • The parallel between this trip and President Kennedy’s trip to Ireland is a nice one. The country was experiencing violence of its own at the time and was still dealing with Britain not respecting its independence.
  • Professor Rotberg’s analysis of President Obama’s impact on ethnic tensions reinforces President Obama’s remarks last week during Start the Spark, an entrepreneurship initiative the Administration is launching: “And entrepreneurship breaks down barriers between cultures and between faiths at a time when we need more than ever the capacity to understand and work across borders.” Since President Obama is going to Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurship Summitt, this is an opportunity to highlight the breaking down of ethnic tensions.

I’m excited about President Obama going to Kenya. He can’t visit Africa enough in my book. His trip focusing on entrepreneurship at a global scale is really cool and it will be interesting to see African entrepreneurial stories within a global context rather than in something of a vacuum.