Amazon's agenda. Cashing in on cannabis. It pays to listen to Google.

Do what you love, still gotta work

Hi there,

Last Wednesday’s newsletter highlighted some interesting articles from The Blurb and got a good response, so we’re trying it again.

Here it goes...

Turns out that the old adage “find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” might not be such great advice after all.

Psychology professors from Stanford and Yale recently did a study with a group of college kids to examine how we think about our interests/passions.

They found that people who buy into the mentality that pursuing your passion shouldn’t feel like work are actually more likely to quit when a project gets challenging, even if it could be interesting or rewarding.

They go deep on fixed theory vs. growth theory of interests. You can find a link to Olga Khazan’s full article on the study in The Blurb below.

Don't fear the reefer

Maybe you've never heard of Aurora Cannabis, but this stealthy startup is snatching up players across the legal supply chain left and right.

As more places look to legalize recreational marijuana use, we mapped out Aurora's recent deals to see how it's prepping for the green rush.

A different universe

In her piece for Logic Magazine, Xiaowei R. Wang says that traveling to China is like time-traveling. Even in the most rural villages, technology is there.

Wang describes the ubiquitous WeChat and QR codes that can be used to pay for everything, from street food to train tickets to massage chairs.

She also describes the Shanzai economy, which Wang calls “open-source on hyperspeed.” It has evolved from knock-off Louis Vuitton bags and Friends on DVD to people creating original products — like a cell phone with a compass that points to Mecca — and building on each other’s work “in a decentralized way.”

Wang says this “extreme open-source” offers a glimpse into the future — and starkly contrasts American technology, which is becoming more and more proprietary.

It’s tempting to draw comparisons between tech in the US and China, but it might not really be an apples-to-apples comparison. Maybe technology is more cultural — and less universal — than we think.

Now hear this

Google wants to track your health while you listen to your Guilty Pleasures playlist. Its new patent describes in-ear devices that would capture users' body temperatures, which could lead to early detection of illness. 

Even more exciting: users could be compensated for using the device. Check out our full analysis of the patent here.

The road less traveled

Chris Savage and Brendan Schwartz took on $17M in debt to buy out investors and gain full control of their company Wistia.

Their story about rejecting fundraising from investors and growing the company their way is worth reading because 1) it is such an atypical narrative for today, when fundraising has somehow become success, and 2) the courage and confidence they have in their business to make this move.

There are a lot of great lines in the piece. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • On growth at all costs: “The grow-at-all-costs model inevitably forces you to sacrifice something you care about in service of short-term revenue growth, whether that's your culture, your employee experience, your products, or your creative approach.”

  • On over-scaling: “Instead of the creative long-term risks we relished in taking, we were taking financially motivated risks in service of accelerated growth.”

  • On profitability: “Growth and profitability aren’t mutually exclusive. We’ve found when we focus on building products and experiences people love, growth follows. Our best work in these areas has come from our creativity, not huge spending.”

Crash course: Amazon

Amazon's earnings call is tomorrow, and its recent push into financial services (Amazon Pay, Amazon Go, Amazon Cash, etc.) could be a hot topic. Before you tune in, check out our report on Amazon in fin services.

For more of a refresher on what the company's up to, check out our company teardown and timeline of its biggest acquisitions.

Sign up here to keep track of all things earning transcripts. 

We're gonna need a bigger boat

Beyond automating their own operations, ports around the world are making a bigger effort to promote startups that are working to digitize the global trade supply chain.

We take a closer look at how the Ports of Rotterdam and Singapore are supporting startup innovation through supply chain-focused VCs and accelerators.

Ken Lin and the Reddit rule

There are no softball questions at Future of Fintech. For example, CNBC’s Jon Fortt opened by challenging Credit Karma CEO Kenneth Lin on consumer data privacy in the post-Cambridge Analytica era. Lin fired back by sharing the Reddit rule he uses to consider such challenges.

What’s the Reddit rule, you ask? Catch the full conversation here or listen on Spotify.

The Industry Standard

CB Insights data is the most trusted by those in the industry and the media. A few recent hits.

Wired. Megan Molteni (@meganmolteni) writes about how Moderna Therapeutics is working towards personalized cancer vaccines and refers to CB Insights data.

Forbes. NJ Goldston (@bnbstyle) discusses how to make the most out of a business failure and cites CB Insights research.

Reuters. Heather Somerville (@heathersomervil) and Jane Lanhee Lee (@leejane) discuss the state of the scooter-sharing space and reference CB Insights research.

Medium. David Mort (@david_mort) reports that global fintech investment reached a new high in H1'18, citing PwC and CB Insights' new Global Fintech Report.

I love you.


P.S. Tomorrow we'll be discussing trends in AR/VR. Sign up here to join us at the briefing. 

The Blurb

A curated mix of articles worth sharing.

Techy vs. fuzzy. A group of psychology professors performed a study that categorized college students according to their interests to explore how we think about pursuing our passions.
The Atlantic

Another world. Xiaowei R. Wang describes tech in Shenzhen, China and explains why drawing parallels between Chinese tech and American tech isn’t a completely accurate comparison.

You can grow your own way. The founders of Wistia took on $17M in debt to buy out investors and gain full control of the company.

Nugget tech. Former aerospace engineer Christie Lagally is now trying to change the way we eat chicken by creating a plant-based “chicken” nugget.

Forget that. Researchers have found evidence that suggests forgetting may be the brain’s default mode.
Quanta Magazine

Physics queen. Joshua Roebke (@joshua_roebke) interviews Sua Lan Wu, who has contributed to some of the most important experiments in high-energy physics in the past 50 years.
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