Hi, welcome to your Weekend!
Nick Wingfield, senior editor at The Information, here, sitting in for your regular newsletter maestro, Jon Steinberg.
Is it 2018? That was the last time Bay Area venture capitalists and techies could brag that the Golden State Warriors were champions. For the two seasons prior to this one, San Francisco’s NBA dynasty just looked…nasty. But now the ‘Dubs are NBA champions once again, following their defeat of the Boston Celtics Thursday night, their fourth title in the past seven years.
San Francisco’s ego could use the extra trophy. That’s one takeaway from Kate Clark’s colorful story this week about how techies are trying to revitalize the city’s bruised tech scene, after a couple brutal pandemic years. Her piece is a counterpoint to the current media narrative around the city (see The Atlantic’s recent “How San Francisco Became a Failed City”). And it’s a reminder that for a lot of young people flocking to the Bay Area with business plans in their backpacks, San Francisco’s brand as a Mecca for startups is mostly unblemished.
Have a happy Father’s Day and Juneteenth this Sunday!
The big read
Malaise. That may be the best word to describe what San Francisco has been going through over the past couple of years, as the city struggled to bounce back from the harsh pandemic restrictions and residents bounced out of town to do their Zoom and Slack meetings from wherever they could find an internet connection. Miami and New York began biting San Francisco’s ankles, bragging about how much better they are for crypto and other tech entrepreneurs (nevermind that the Bay Area still gets way more venture capital than either of them do). In her story, Kate ditches the haters to spend time with the band of idealists who think they can make San Francisco great again, at least for tech startups.
It’s easy to write a screed on Twitter or Substack against crypto. It takes a special kind of talent to devise pranks that both spoof the absurdity of crypto culture and earn you online props from web3 booster Marc Andreessen. Mossy, a cheeky artist collective that Margaux profiles this week, has done both of those things. “Some people didn’t even see it as a joke,” says one of the three artists behind Mossy, Mike Lacher. “They thought that we were really trying to scam people.”
Our contributor Adam Lashinsky hits the streets of Seattle to hang out with Adam Selipsky, the newish CEO of Amazon Web Services, the all-powerful cloud computing arm of the internet retailer. Selipsky is in a fascinating position now that the retail of Amazon is floundering because of overspending by Amazon—and underspending by its customers. Until the company sorts out its retail business, the business Selipsky runs is more important than ever for the company.
Failed startups leave a lot of emotional and physical detritus behind—bad feelings, busted furniture and, in many cases, a lot of T-shirts, coffee tumblers and other swag with their corporate logos. Cory Weinberg probes what happens to all the Klarna, Theranos, Quibi and Fast trinkets when the companies that paid to have their brands put on them go poof.
Reading: MrBeast’s impact on a small North Carolina town
Forget Los Angeles—YouTube’s biggest star resides in the sleepy city of Greenville, North Carolina. For Business Insider, Tanya Chen, Geoff Weiss, and Amanda Perelli write about Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, whose presence has shaped his hometown. From producing a real-life Squid Games to letting Donaldson throw chicken wings from the city’s rooftops, Greenville residents bend over backwards to accommodate the star’s elaborate productions; It’s a mutually beneficial relationship: the local businesses gain exposure to his 96 million subscribers, and Donaldson gets to do pretty much whatever he wants.
Noticing: The 3D-printing community helping Ukraine
Nearly four months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, additional help is coming from a very 21st century avenue: 3D printers. The Washington Post reports that, amid continued shortages of medical supplies and weapons accessories, individuals and companies with 3D printers are using their equipment to make and send these tools to Ukraine. Some are even uploading designs online for free, so that others in the 3D-printing community can participate, building everything from bandages and splints to add-ons to AK-47 guns.
Pondering: The end of the “urban millennial subsidy”
Gone are the days of virtually-free Postmates, $10 Lyfts across Manhattan, and Airbnbs actually being cheaper than hotels. As Derek Thompson wrote for The Atlantic, it’s the end of the “urban millennial subsidy.” For years, Uber clones for groceries, travel, and retail were propped up by millions in venture funding, more focused on gaining customers through cushy discounts than profitability. These companies were bleeding money, but young people were reaping the rewards. Alas, apparently startups have to “make money” at some point; rising interest rates mean venture capitalists have closed their checkbooks, and it’s finally time to pay what things are worth.
Makes You Think
Until next Weekend, thanks for reading.
Senior Editor, The Information