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Good morning. I’d like to start the week with three items of recommended reading.
The first is this Wall Street Journal article about hopefulness among European tech investors and entrepreneurs that Europe finally is emerging as a launchpad for durable, independent startups. I like this topic so much that we did an entire breakfast panel on it at Brainstorm Tech this past summer. (Where, oh, where did the summer go, by the way? Am I the only one missing it badly?) For years, Europe has fostered good tech companies, but they typically got sold to Silicon Valley behemoths. Now Spotify and Adyen are leading a new crop of independents. The irony is that Europe is a mess. Brexit could be cataclysmic. Italy feels like the next Greece. Authoritarianism is on the rise for the first time in 90 years. And yet, there’s good news among entrepreneurs.
Next, I really enjoyed this New York Times article about the e-sports Overwatch League. Part of my fascination is that the whole thing baffles me. Sitting and watching someone else play videogames and feeling regional pride about it? Who knew? This is merely a $700 million, 20-year-old industry. But it feels like it’s picking up momentum quickly.
Finally, (also from the Journal) some advice from the world’s richest man, who said he never wanted that title. (In fact, Jeff Bezos once told me what now feels like a dad joke, that he wanted his legacy to be the “World’s Oldest Man.”) Among the keys to Bezos’s success: Get a lot of sleep. He says he likes to get up and read the paper with a cup of coffee (I do that!) and to not schedule meetings before 10:00 (me too, again, when possible!). I never know whether to admire rich and powerful people like Bezos for being disciplined about getting enough sleep or to resent them for having enough money and assistance to be able to get enough sleep. The whole thing makes me tired.
Have a good week.
Mamma Mia, here I go again. Hopefully just an isolated incident, but a woman on Long Island is suing Samsung after her brand new Galaxy Note 9 allegedly overheated and started emitting clouds of smoke from her purse, the New York Post reports. Samsung said it had not received any similar reports and is investigating the claim. Millions of Galaxy Note 7 phones had to be recalled in 2016 due to a flawed battery design.
There’s a fire within my soul. Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, and his wife Lynne are buying TIME magazine from Meredith Corp. for $190 million. “We are honored to be the caretakers of one of the world’s most important media companies and iconic brands,” the couple said in a statement. Still on the block at Meredith: Money, Sports Illustrated, and owner of this newsletter, Fortune. Speaking of billionaire media owners, Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos warned that President Trump had gone too far in criticizing the fourth estate. “It is really dangerous to demonize the media,” Bezos said. “It is dangerous to call the media lowlifes, it is dangerous to say that they are the enemy of the people.”
Blue since the day we parted. Famed Internet analyst and investor Mary Meeker is departing venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, her home of the past eight years, to strike out on her own. The new, as-yet-unnamed firm will open next year. “We aren’t changing what we do,” Meeker told Bloomberg.
My my, how can I resist you? Automated machines and AI programs will handle half of all job tasks within seven years, according to a report from the World Economic Forum. But the net effect of the “fourth industrial revolution” will be to create more jobs than are eliminated, with a forecast of 133 million new positions compared to 75 million lost.
Why did I ever let you go? The number of people in the United States paying to subscribe to a music streaming service now exceeds 50 million, almost double the number at the end of 2016, market research firm MusicWatch reports. More than three times as many, 157 million, stream music for free via services like YouTube or Spotify’s ad-supported tier.
I’m not that strong. Finally, in a bit of Spinal Tap meet meteorology news, some scientists are wondering if the current hurricane category rating scale of one to five needs to add a sixth category for storms with sustained wind speeds over 200 miles per hour. Warmer ocean temperatures and an increased amount of moisture in the atmosphere due to climate change are creating the conditions for a new breed of super-storms, The Guardian newspaper warns.
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Home genetic tests from companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe are growing increasingly popular. Who doesn’t want to spit in a tube, wait a few weeks, and learn all about their DNA-written heritage? But Wall Street Journal reporter Amy Dockser Marcus has written a Q&A going over some of the important questions about the validity, privacy, and ethics of the tests that consumers probably should consider before sending off that data. For example, why do the test results vary from from company to company?
Companies rely on proprietary databases and algorithms to make their assessments. Results may vary depending on how many people a company has in its database, as well as how diverse their backgrounds are. Some groups, including people of African and Southeast Asian descent, are often underrepresented in databases.
And companies may update their own methods for making estimates about people’s ethnicity, leading to new interpretations. In September, Ancestry announced it was using a new algorithm that would analyze longer segments of people’s DNA and offer more specific geographic results.
Political and geographic borders of countries have shifted over history, and tribes and people migrated to different places. How companies define ethnicity or national origin may differ from people’s own definitions or their oral family traditions.
“The idea that the French are a coherent population is a contemporary invention,” says Aaron Panofsky, associate professor at the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics. “What is called French today might be different if we went back 400 years.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Twitch Hires Its First Head of Diversity and Inclusion By Lisa Marie Segarra
Google Links Searches to Phone Numbers in Chinese Prototype By Glenn Fleishman
BEFORE YOU GO
In the golden age of television, new shows of interest keep popping up all over. This weekend, I lost a few hours watching several episodes of Hulu’s latest series, The First, starring Sean Penn, as perhaps the world’s oldest astronaut, and Natascha McElhone, as an Elon Musk-like space entrepreneur, getting ready for a mission to Mars. Created by Beau Willimon, who also did the American version of House of Cards, it’s an emotional and dramatic tale trying to prove that old adage that success is 90% preparation. But I know they’ll blast off eventually.