Hello. I’m Saul (@cape), one of the Founding Partners at LocalGlobe, a 15-year-old seed fund based in London.
Since I first met Azeem in 1995 at Firefly in Boston, I’ve continued to travel around the Internet stopping at Microsoft during the Windows v Internet civil war in Seattle, experienced Accelerator 1.0 in New York with Clay Shirky, John Borthwick and Scott Heiferman before 9/11 led me back to London, Tel Aviv and Cape Town to co-found Lovefilm, Seedcamp, Kano and most recently LocalGlobe, Platoon and Zinc (note: we're looking for 40 people to transform the lives of 650m).
I learned how to sprint up a mountain with Niklas Zennstrom and the team at Skype and have had the privilege to invest in some brilliant founders with some brilliant partners at Index Ventures.
Still, 22 years later, I continue to be amazed at all the improbable opportunities ahead of us.
As Azeem would say, hope this week’s picks from our team inspire some great conversations!
P.S. Here’s a music pairing to enhance your EV experience: Platoon’s Spotify playlist.
DEPT OF THE NEAR FUTURE (SPECIAL: IT'S NOT ALWAYS IN THE VALLEY)
🌍 China is winning over Africa. 86% of people in Senegal feel China has made things better. This is one of the macro trends investors should keep an eye on. Africa is way beyond infrastructure, it is the world’s fastest growing consumer market.
💸 Asia has more than doubled the amount of VC funding for tech startups, outpacing the US for the first time. (Article with no paywall here.)
🍿 Twitter discussion started by Fred Wilson on the two most disruptive startups of the last century. They didn’t emanate from the Silicon Valley.
🍁 Canada as an AI powerhouse? The government and partners invested > $500M CAD in the field in less than 5 months. (See also: Yoshua Bengio’s take on how to make Canadian AI system bloom.)
🎈 Crypto-tulips bubble is bursting. Here’s the evidence.
💦 Self-driving cars prove to be labour-intensive for humans. And we’re not talking about engineers.
DEPT OF ZEBRAS
When our family moved for three months to Cape Town in 2015, I became acutely aware of how empowering platforms like Uber were to a huge majority of the employable population in a country with no jobs. It prompted me to write a piece in FT at the time about how entrepreneurship, once the pursuit of the few, was now the necessity of the many. With the public sector and established businesses contracting through automation or disruption, tens of millions of people around the world would surely need to become founders to take control of their own economic futures: I called them Zebras.
Policy makers should focus less on how to create a homegrown Google and more on how to support the seemingly prosaic yet crucial ambitions of the tens of millions of founders — let’s call them zebras — who just want to pay the rent, go on holiday once in a while, have reliable healthcare and send their kids to a decent school.
Data supporting the Zebra thesis above from Torsten Bell’s tweetstorm:
What do those cuts mean for public services? A lot less staff - public sector employment set to fall below 5m for the first time this century.
🚴 Matthew Taylor and a great group of experts unveiled the results of a nine-month review into the implications of new forms of work on worker rights and responsibilities in the UK. The report calls for workers for firms such as Uber and Deliveroo to be classified as dependent contractors, with extra benefits.
👎 But the future of the world of work is not going to be without debate, so here is the IPSE’s deputy director of policy on shortcomings of the report: failing to clarify what self-employed really means.
On Twitter, the report is being equally attacked by disappointed trade unions and a skeptical business lobby. If you prefer to leave commentary for later, read the report straight from the horse’s (Zebra’s) mouth.
💤 People born between mid-1990’s and 2000’s are entering the workforce and looks like they’re choosing to be Zebras. While Millennials crave meaning in their work, Gen Z wants safety first, meaning second.
DEPT OF THE NEXT GENERATION
Our team firmly believes in the value of a multigenerational conversation (which we recently talked about with Steve O’Hear). So given our conviction in the importance of multigenerational relationships — and recent findings of extending human lifespan meaning we could have even more years of shared lives between generations, we thought we would share some stories about the kids.
🎲 Tencent falls 3.7% after limiting the gaming time for children on its top-grossing mobile game. More than 50m people play Honour of Kings daily, generating revenues of $876m for Tencent in Q1. I know at least one mother who felt this voluntary anti-addiction move which wiped $13bn off their market cap was a corporate responsibility of the highest order - even if they had a nudge.
🚸 Madhumita Murgia on the truth about children and social media:
For them, it is a way to find, crystallise and assert the most intimate parts of their identity.
🍬 Neurologist Nico Dosenbach lets his kids eat loads of candy, stay up late, and use swear words; but there are two things he considers utterly dangerous for children’s brains. (See also on brains: an oldie, but a goldie 8-minute short film about competing in loving someone 'as hard as you can' inside an fMRI machine.)
Sesame Street has teamed up with IBM Watson to build the first AI-powered vocabulary learning app. Elmo says: M is for machine and L is for learning.
🍔 Developers entering the workforce today are 50-60% more likely to value free food and education than their more experienced colleagues. (Nice charts.)
The kids are alright (but the oldies are better): how AWS Cloud is demolishing the cult of youth.
Great engineering is not maths – it involves tradeoffs, wisdom and experience. Great engineers are generally great teachers.
SHORT MORSELS TO APPEAR SMART AT DINNER PARTIES
🌉 44,000t of steel, 565 meters (1,854 feet) above the mountains and caverns, more than 6,000 miles of cables — numbers behind one of the most amazing feats of bridge engineering.
Residents of Swiss city Zug to become the first citizens with blockchain-based IDs.
📡 Chinese researchers successfully teleport a photon from the ground to satellite.
According to DNA analysis, cats domesticated themselves. 🐈
🌊 Amazon’s plans to build an underwater warehouse.
The story of TensorFlow.
🚊 HyperLoop completes first full-scale test of its technology. Co-founders say “it will be the cleanest, safest, fastest form of transportation”.
Nvidia’s GPU powering computer vision algorithm to create a 3D model of patient’s heart and arteries.
Quiz: how green is air travel? Spoiler alert: aviation is responsible for 2% of the world’s carbon emissions, equivalent to the 7th largest country. ✈️
🌹 Are smell and metabolism linked? UCB study on mice suggests so.
🐸 How frogs benefitted from the dinosaurs’ extinction.
Inside Europe’s new vertical farm: “We can make lettuce turn purple or red. We can make strawberries sweeter." 🌱