Hi, welcome to your Weekend!
Among the collection of poignant and powerful homages to Queen Elizabeth over the past few days was this silly non-sequitor from startup founder and investor Chris Bakke:
"The Queen’s reign saw:
14 US Presidents
15 Prime ministers
0 Profitable 15-minute grocery delivery companies
As difficult as it may be for us Yanks to sentimentalize the queen’s passing, Bakke’s joke-tweet actually gets to the heart of why she mattered so much to so many. She wasn’t a great leader in the Silicon Valley sense of the word: She didn’t build amazing things, or inspire waves of reform or innovation, or even change the world in any tactile way. She simply persevered longer than anyone before her.
Silicon Valley’s insatiable hunt for the next big thing is baked into its DNA. And you could argue that its addiction to novelty is necessary to keep the whole capitalistic machine running. But as the British monarchy demonstrates, you can’t always blitzscale and big-exit your way to a lasting legacy.
The flashy new thing—be it a 15-minute delivery startup or an abrupt hostile takeover by a Hollywood C-lister—will always pale compared to the basically good and valuable thing that just lasts and lasts and lasts. The Queen’s truest power was her staying power—a quality tech leaders should aspire to as well.
Now onto this week’s stories...
the big read
The Secret Life of Selfies: How a Beauty Tech Startup Is Using AI to Match Faces With Products
Looking to buy a new lipstick? Perhaps you’d rather digitize the process by uploading a selfie to L’Oreal, Nars or Macy’s and trying on shades virtually. Seems harmless enough—until the technology analyzes your face for traits like neuroticism and extroversion. Zara Stone takes us inside Perfect Corp., a Taiwanese unicorn looking to revamp the beauty industry with the backing of investors like Snap, Chanel, Goldman Sachs and Alibaba. Though seemingly cosmetic, the company’s face-dissecting technologies are opening the door to some dystopian possibilities.
asked and answered
ByteDance’s Baby Bump: Why Did the TikTok Parent Buy a Bunch of Birthing Centers?
Last month, in its largest ever acquisition, the Chinese parent company of TikTok reportedly paid $1.5 billion to take control of one of China’s biggest private hospital chains. Amcare Healthcare operates a group of lavish birthing centers and women’s and children’s hospitals, where a VIP postpartum package costs roughly $32,000. Louise Matsakis consults experts as to why the social media giant would venture into the highly regulated healthcare space—while reminding us that Amazon just did the same thing stateside.
my life's work
How a Crypto Founder Went From a Skeptical Mormon Teen to Transgender Anarchist Raver
The CEO of year-old crypto company Entropy, Tux Pacific is a rarity among tech founders. Not only are they transgender and opt for they/them pronouns, they’re also a vocal free-market anarchist. (That is, they’re in favor of a free-market economic system, but against state involvement.) Margaux talks to Pacific about their meandering life path, which begins with a Mormon childhood in North Carolina and ends with a $25 million seed round led by Andresseen Horowitz.
Abe Brown and Arielle Pardes Accelerate Tech-Culture Coverage for The Information Weekend
Finally, we are thrilled to announce the addition of two veteran reporters to The Information’s rapidly growing Weekend team. Abe joins us after more than a decade covering the world’s business titans at Forbes, most recently as a senior editor. Arielle hails from Wired, where as a senior writer she penned nearly a dozen long-form features for the magazine. Welcome Abe and Arielle!
Reading: Why does every CEO want washboard abs?
What do Jeff Bezos, Ari Emanuel and video gaming executive Strauss Zelnick have in common? Aside from healthy bank accounts and a Y chromosome, the trio represents a class of execs obsessed with their six-packs. In the Wall Street Journal, Ellen Gamerman outlines a new standard for male CEOs, one female leaders have long lived with—maintaining physical attractiveness alongside financial prowess. Said NYC divorce lawyer Nancy Chemtob concisely: “Blackstone, BlackRock, Goldman. There’s just very little body fat.” —Annie
Noticing: Elon invokes Tolkien, who’d probably hate him
“Tolkien is turning in his grave,” Elon Musk wrote on Twitter earlier this week. The world’s richest person, presumably surrounded by piles of precious things, had just watched Amazon’s new Tolkien-verse series, “The Rings of Power,” and didn’t like it one bit. “Almost every male character so far is a coward, a jerk or both,” Musk wrote. But there’s an irony to a tech lord name-checking J.R.R. Tolkien. As comedy writer Sean Thomason pointed out, the fantasy author actually hated technology. Tolkien made this clear in his life—he had a big thing against steam-engine trains—as well as in his work, describing villainous goblins and their delight with “wheels and engines and explosives.” Sound like anyone you know, Elon? – Abe
Questioning: Should you get your child an Apple Watch?
Struggling to keep your kid off their phone at the dinner table? Have you tried a $279 smart watch? For The New York Times, Kalley Huang and Brian X. Chen write about the growing number of parents giving children as young as 5 their own Apple Watches. Surprisingly, it’s become a savvy way to keep kids off of more nefarious devices. With minimal apps and no web browsers, the watch has become the kiddie-pool of Apple products—a way to track and contact their child without giving them a portal into the grimy depths of the Internet. Is it a steep price for a children’s wrist accessory? Sure, but it’s a cheap compared to a few more years of iPhone-free adolescence.
Makes You Think
Because nothing says “God Save the Queen” like a California roll delivered in under 20 minutes.
Until next Weekend, thanks for reading.
Weekend Editor, The Information