No. 229 – Friday Reads

Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Report

Source: Google

Banks Have Too Much Money Now – “But ideally what you want is for banks to have lots of capital in bad times, and then relax those requirements—let them lever up and buy stuff and take deposits and lend and trade Treasuries and generally support the financial system and the economy—when the crisis comes.”

How the South African government will track you if you have the coronavirus – ““The National Department of Health shall develop and maintain a national database to enable the tracing of persons who are known or reasonably suspected to have come into contact with any person known or reasonably suspected to have contracted COVID-19,””

SoftBank scraps $3 billion deal to buy WeWork stock from Adam Neumann and other shareholders – “In the deal, the Japanese conglomerate would have taken a stake of almost 80% in the company and buy $3 billion in shares from investors as well as current and former employees. Neumann, ousted in the deal, was set to sell up to $970 million in shares.”

Ventilator Tycoon Adds $3.7 Billion to Wealth on Demand Rush – “The Society of Critical Care Medicine estimates that 960,000 patients would need ventilator support in the U.S., but the nation only has about 200,000 such machines.”

Google uses location data to show which places are complying with stay-at-home orders — and which aren’t – “The company considered requests from public health officials to make more data available for contact tracing — using an individual’s location to identify other people who may have been around them during the time they were infectious.”

No. 228 – Thursday Reads

Tackling COVID-19 in Africa – “If leaders across sectors translate their already proven resolve into more targeted, collaborative action in the coming weeks, we believe they can make significant progress in mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic—and safeguarding economies and livelihoods.”

What If D.C.’s Black-Owned Restaurants Can’t Recover From the Effects of COVID-19? – ““black women have been creating equitable and sustainable businesses since the birth of the nation…somewhere along the way we have dimmed our collective power to be seen in spaces that don’t matter.”” 

What Dr Doom told me about the coming recession – “People initially said ‘Is this going to be a V-shaped recovery or is it going to be a U with a gradual recovery or is it going to be an L with stagnation or a W, a double dip?’ It is not a V. It is not a U. It is not an L. It is not a W. It is an I. A straight line down. Output is down. Consumption is down. Capex is down. Residential investment is down. Exports are down. Imports are down.”

‘A perfect storm for first time managers,’ say VCs with their own shops – “You need to find people who are going to back you because they think this is a good idea and who aren’t quite so orthodox in terms of what they want to see in terms partner composition and all that.”

Telehealth Startup Launches Platform to Treat Coronavirus Patients Remotely – – “The beauty of 4D is that long after the pandemic ends, we are a viable long-term solution for managing patients at home.”

What if coronavirus is an opportunity for African economies? – “The Burkinabé historian Joseph Ki-Zerbo said: “You shouldn’t sleep on other people’s mats, as it’s like sleeping on the ground.””

Which Investor Cohorts Pulled Back The Most In 2008 – “However, venture firms are well situated to take advantage of a different market; with funds to invest, less competition for deals, a clearing of the decks as competitors fail and lower valuations.”

Start-Ups Are Pummeled in the ‘Great Unwinding’ – “In many ways it’s energizing, but it’s also quite chaotic,” said Francis Davidson, chief executive of Sonder, which raised $345 million in funding and was valued at $1.1 billion. He said his investors had advised him to cut fast and deep to allow employees to hit the job market before things got worse and to avoid multiple rounds of layoffs.

Jim Clyburn changed everything for Joe Biden’s campaign. He’s been a political force for a long time. (paywall) – “Putting it another way, Clyburn quotes his friend Andrew Young, the former ambassador and civil rights leader, who “used to say all the time that black folks have the best antenna.””

‘He’s Going to Do Whatever He Wants’ – Svrcek went even further, saying Falwell misled her “to believe that the school was … abandoning plans to invite students back into residence halls following spring break.

No. 227 – Wednesday Reads

So much for April Fool’s Day.

Telemedicine is essential amid the covid-19 crisis and after it – “What about the features of a visit to a doctor that seemingly can’t be done at a distance, such as the physical exam? Today’s stethoscope is gradually being replaced—like everything else—by the smartphone.”

FaintFlex Vol. 19 – Why There’s No Black Barstool – “After reflecting on this for months, my main observation comes down to a difference in the core of their content & commentary styles – sketches vs. unscripted.”

Rihanna Talks New Music, Fenty Skincare & Her Plans To Have “3 Or 4 Kids” – “The Guyanese are like the Mexicans of Barbados,” she says. “So I identify – and that’s why I really relate and empathise with Mexican people or Latino people, who are discriminated against in America. I know what it feels like to have the immigration come into your home in the middle of the night and drag people out.”

We don’t work, we don’t eat’: Informal workers face stark choices as Africa’s largest megacity shuts down – “I cannot afford to stay at home and not feed my children. I know it is risky to be out here, but if I don’t come out to look for what to feed my family, we will die of hunger faster than being killed by the virus.”

Microsoft ends investments in facial recognition startups – “AnyVision has been facing backlash after reports detailed how it has been using facial recognition to surveil Palestinians around the West Bank.”

No. 226 – Tuesday Reads

How parking a wireless school bus can help all students get back to school – “South Carolina is planning to deploy 3,000 buses connected to the internet through a contract with Charter Communications so that students can receive home instruction.”

Civil rights leaders oppose swift move off natural gas – “Whenever someone disagrees with what you say, they think, ‘Oh, you must be getting paid,'” Morial said. “It’s condescending, patronizing and racist. I hope you print it. I want them to see it. Because that’s the way we feel.”

Nothing Matters Anymore (Except What Actually Does) – “There’s so much that doesn’t matter; so much I did just two months ago seems ludicrous now. (Brunch every Sunday? Really?) So many silly habits and desires and feuds and consumptions and relationships that aren’t just bandwidth-consuming; they’re bandwidth-stealing, snatching time and energy away from the people and things that matter.”

How Eliud Kipchoge Broke Running’s Mythic Barrier – “We don’t run and compete, but we have competing minds.”

EXAMINING THE RETURNS: The Financial Returns of Diverse Private Equity Firms (click last link in press release for full report) – “Likewise, despite being disproportionately represented in the top quartile of private equity fund performance, the assets in diverse private equity funds tell us that women- and diverse-owned PE firms are still less likely to be “hired” than non-diverse firms.”

Source: National Association of Investment Companies

No. 225 – Monday Reads

A few folks have requested that I send what I’m reading and listening to. Here goes:

Joseph Lowery, civil rights leader and MLK aide, dies at 98 – “I’ve never felt your ministry should be totally devoted to making a heavenly home. I thought it should also be devoted to making your home here heavenly”

Officials warn Africa is at ‘break the glass’ moment – “To say we are not concerned and trembling in our boots about what might be in the coming weeks and months is an understatement.”

Universities Shouldn’t Spend Their Endowments on Coronavirus Relief – “Part of America’s greatness as a nation, and as an innovator, is its unwillingness to ask anew every day whether its elite accumulations of wealth should be torn down and rededicated to everyday purposes of a supposedly greater benevolence.”

How The Weeknd Mastered his Brand – ““Not having a brand” still requires the curation and focus of having a brand. It actually requires more work since its a nonstandard approach with less how-to guides and fewer advisors who can share quick tips.”

Billionaire Investor Bill Ackman Explains Himself – “Capitalism does not work in an 18-month shutdown, capitalism can work in a 30-day shutdown.”

Podcast – Chamath Palihapitiya: “The investing landscape is done,” taxes will go up, and a two-week lockdown is inevitable

Here’s an album I enjoyed this weekend:

No. 224 – On Confidence

In the West and East, when you talk about how things got the way they are, you’re able to go back pretty far to start to weave that story. When it comes to Africa, those stories tend to be shorter, starting around the time Europeans got to the shores of Southern and West Africa. We got other peaks into Africa through historical figures like Hannibal, but for the most part Africa is dark.

“At this point, we leave Africa, not to mention it again. For it is no historical part of the world; it has no movement or development to exhibit” – Georg Hegel, The Philosophy of History

So, what does that leave us with? Our reference points for our history often start with times of trauma – the slave trade and colonialism. Over the course of five centuries, beginning in the 15th century, Black folks went through this experience of having our culture altered, names changed, being shipped off to foreign lands as slaves, and being divided into artificial countries. That trauma has evolved over centuries into differing forms – Jim Crow, assassinations of leaders who emerge among us, prison industrial complex, and more. Over this period of time is where we tend to start our stories.

In college, there was a professor who every time I saw him would say Sankofa or “go back and get it.” The word represents that concept of reaching back in history to learn in order to continue forward progress.

Over the several centuries since the beginning of the slave trade, black folks have exhibited incredible determination and ingenuity to make something out of nothing in Africa, the Americas, Europe, and wherever else you find us in the world. 
You see all this confidence in the way we dress, our music, and our language, and it’s beautiful. Yet, I worry that we still have so much trauma that hasn’t been dealt with, that even with all this confidence you see there’s so much that has yet to be tapped into because we’re not able to reach far back enough to see the totality of who we are. 

I’m not saying we all were kings and queens. No. There were complex political economies across Africa each with their own value systems, ways of organizing people into groups and more. There were wars. There were winners and losers. There was the development of technology. There was innovation. There was wealth. There was poverty. The point is that we’ve been here before.

So, while an African American person in the US can make the choice to say that what I know is my experience and that of my ancestors in the US, or an African person can keep starting the story with her country’s independence, there is more. If our DNA is drawing on memories that goes back generations, why can’t we do the same to find our stories and see how far we can go back to draw from? We need to get our full confidence if we’re going to move in this world socially politically and economically in the way that we’re capable of.

With our trauma healed, and confidence on full go, I’d love to see the kind of imagination we could bring to ensuring that black folks in this world are doing well. Not only that, we could play an even greater role in shaping the human experience on the whole. Look at the extent to which we’ve contributed to the human experience through our food through, our music, our dress. Imagine what we can do when we’re not trying to work through trauma and partial confidence to get to our creativity.

“We are the culture. Nothing moves without us.” – Jay-Z

Over the course of modern history, mankind has done some incredible things. The next time you drive past the Pentagon, just think about how quickly they were moving to construct that building in just over a year. In fact, Patrick Collison has this fantastic list of things that have been done fast. Just go take a look at that. 

My bet is that black folks who are connected to the complexity of our history prior to the slave trade and colonialism can bring an elevated level of innovation and creativity to not only build an incredible future for the time that we have on this Earth, but to also reap the benefits economically and exercise the power to shape a how these things affect our lives.

We can figure out creative ways of dealing with Earth’s changing climate from a vantage point that folks haven’t even considered. We can figure out innovative ways of developing oil pipeline technology while we’re still using the resource. We can build new industries that create jobs for the hundreds of millions of young black people across the Africa and the Diaspora in a fashion that enables them to build a good life where they are. We can figure out how to help the neighbors in the Middle East get along. We can do all this while being at the main table on the global stage and ensuring that the innovations that we bring to the table also reap benefits for our people. It starts with us tapping far back into our history.

“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” – Winston Churchill

No. 223: New Column!

I’ve got a weekly column I’m writing for Moguldom now where I will be writing about all things artificial intelligence and black people. I’m real grateful for the opportunity.

Here are links to the first couple pieces:

Reimagining Drug Discovery And Testing To Increase Genetic Data For Black People

What Does Neuralink Mean for Intellectual Property? Let’s Get This Issue Handled, Then Go Create

If you know folks working in pharma or intellectual property law, I’d love to get their thoughts on the pieces!