Hi, welcome to your Weekend.
You’re likely not intimately familiar with the world of John Collison, and that is mostly by design. Unlike other millennial tech titans like Sam Altman, Brian Chesky and Brian Armstrong, relatively little has been written about Collison, the intensely private, Irish-born co-founder of the $50 billion payments company Stripe.
“He’s still so young,” one Stripe investor and Collison intimate told Cory for this weekend’s cover story. “This is the first time he’s really diving in deep.”
Indeed, the younger brother of Stripe CEO Patrick Collison has only recently earned his fund-raising and managerial, um, stripes. John took the reins as the company’s chief financial officer earlier this year as Stripe raced to find new sources of cash amidst declining profits and a diminished valuation. The resulting $7 billion in fresh capital represented the largest fundraise in the history of private companies.
John, a student of moguls like Larry Ellison and John Malone, seems to be only getting started. His purchase of a sprawling manor in Ireland, his adventurism in aviation and his insatiable appetite for new ideas (see his and Patrick’s “frontier camp,” coming this month to Sea Ranch, Calif.) all bespeak an emerging captain of industry who’s rapidly coming into his own.
It’s time to get to know this Collison lad—whether he welcomes the attention or not.
The Big read
The younger Collison brother has been a billionaire since he was 28. Now, at 32, the Stripe co-founder is writing his legacy as a business leader. Cory surveys Collison’s expanding empire, from a 1,120-acre Irish estate to his life in San Francisco with his unicorn CEO fiancée.
Scene and heard
The San Francisco–based software company, designed for taking notes and managing files, has sparked an unlikely global fandom. Kalley reports on the company’s supercreators, who organize in-person meetups to celebrate their Notion-fueled “second brains.”
Instagram’s would-be Twitter killer is still in its infancy—but that hasn’t stopped extremely online users in tech, media and marketing from forming very strong opinions about it. Reporter Chris Stokel-Walker talks to a gaggle of social media experts to hear their verdicts.
Listening: A labor star is born
“The jig is up!” “They wanna give away ice in winter!” “A leck and a schmeck!” I was never a big fan of “The Nanny,” but I’m thoroughly loving the new Fran Drescher show, in which she stars as a Yiddish-spitting labor leader for Hollywood’s striking actors. Ever since Drescher’s show-stopping St. Crispin’s Day speech last week, I’ve been gobbling up as much Fran content as I can. Variety’s Stephen Rodrick published a rollicking interview on Wednesday that included many choice Franicisms. (“We’re striking for the journeyman.” “I felt like I was talking to Sam Drucker on ‘Petticoat Junction.’” “Steve, call your mom.”) Or if you prefer the Nanny in surround sound, enjoy her “On With Kara Swisher” appearance, in which Swisher and Drescher throw jabs like a third-wave Lucy and Ethel. Is this all a dresch rehearsal for a future run for office, Swisher asks? “Each time I’m in Washington, D.C. I have legislative success there,” Drescher answers, coyly. In other words: Nevah say nevah.—Jon
Noticing: Palantir is the new Gamestop
Move over GameStop and Tesla fanboys—there’s a new memestock in town. Fast Company contributor Katie Notopoulos reports that over 50,000 Palantir fans have gathered in the subreddit r/PLTR, devoted to hyping up the information security firm and goosing its stock. The company is an odd choice for superfans: co-founded by Peter Thiel in 2003, Palantir has courted controversy by working with ICE on deportations, and the company only reached profitability this year. But the Reddit mob idolizes CEO Alex Karp, known for dressing almost exclusively in Norwegian ski gear and using phrases like “making big tendies.” Their enthusiasm is reflected in the stock price: in recent weeks, shares rose from $7 to $17. Best (or worst?) of all, Redditors call the CEO “Daddy Karp.” Just imagine what they’ll call Palmer Luckey if Anduril goes public.—Margaux
Reading: Real talk about low sperm counts
For years, the very concept of fertility has been relegated to that cursed, misunderstood and underfunded category of “women’s issues.” But—sorry guys—up to half of infertility cases can be attributed to issues on the male side of the equation. With global sperm counts on the decline and men’s anxieties on the rise, a new crop of founders and funders have turned their attention to the science of sperm. Simon van Zuylen-Wood’s engrossing feature in New York Magazine introduces the larger-than-life characters (meet the self-proclaimed “sperm king”), the cringey startup names (Mojo! Dadi!), and the thorny ethical questions that arise when you start to tinker with the creation of life. Like all the most interesting questions to consider, this one doesn’t fall cleanly on either side of the political spectrum. Should be a fun one to bring up at the next dinner party. —Julia
Makes You Think
Until next Weekend, thanks for reading.
Weekend Editor, The Information