Hi, welcome to your Weekend!
It’s peak out-of-office message season in Silicon Valley, and not just because of the Fourth of July weekend. Tech layoffs are popping off everywhere. Venture dealflow has slowed to a crawl. The economic headwinds are fierce and giving certain people super bad feelings. Plus, after two-plus years of pandemic-driven insanity, the people of tech may just need a break.
We hope you can enjoy some down time this weekend, and not the enforced kind that comes from a positive Covid test. (See Adam Lashinsky’s interview with Nikesh Arora for one example of that.)
In case you are scanning emails right now, we’ve got some interesting beach reads for you, starting with Annie’s look at the intriguing La La Land life of Brianne Kimmel. Enjoy!
In the three years since founding her early-stage fund Worklife Ventures, Kimmel has been backed by LPs like Marc Andreessen, Alexis Ohanian and Garry Tan, and placed bets on seven unicorns. But she may be best known for her “magical” mingling powers, whether seen at a pool party for her actor-comedian boyfriend Jimmy O. Yang, or at her newest endeavor, Worklife Studios, a speaking salon and creative clubhouse in Silver Lake. Annie chats with Kimmel about the project and the future she hopes to share with high-profile founders.
Adam Lashinsky sits down with Arora, the former Softbank president and current CEO of Palo Alto Networks, to chat supply chain problems (Arora thinks they could persist for well over a year); the silver lining of a slowdown (this is a “flight to quality moment”); and possible growth stagnation for his customers. He also shares some withering analysis of his falling out with Softbank chair Masayoshi Son and explains what he misses most about running the business at Google.
Once dubbed the “It girl” of venture capital, Li Jin seems to always be in the loop. She’s now a co-founder of the early-stage crypto fund Variant, while also writing a Substack newsletter, co-hosting a talk show and tending to her 168,000 Twitter followers. But Jin’s personal tech habits extend far beyond creating her own content. Here, she unlocks her phone for another round of Screentime.
In her heart-wrenching essay, Amy Challenger tells the story of her 16-year-old son’s girlfriend, who tragically took her own life after posting TikToks from a mental hospital. Six months after her death, the teenager’s TikTok account was still active, despite extensive efforts by her friends and family to remove her videos. Challenger writes about the closure that TikTok has denied young users and their families.
Reading: How Visa and Mastercard Decide What Porn You Can Watch
“The story of the porn industry is the story of trying to take payments.” So explains one executive to Financial Times reporters Patricia Nilsson and Alex Barker, who uncover the secret rules used by Visa and Mastercard to police the global porn business. Because the credit card giants have the power to reject payments to porn companies, they’ve become defacto government regulators for kink. “Content that depicts furries and humans engaged in sexual acts are not permitted across the board,” reads one Visa regulation. “Content that depicts furry engaged in sexual acts with another furry is acceptable across the board.” Got that, furry fans?
Listening: TikTok’s accidental pro-choice anthem
The Chainsmokers are best known for club bangers, but this week one of their tracks became a pro-choice protest anthem. Washington Post reporter María Luisa Paúl explains how the song “Paris” went viral on the app five years after its release. The key can be found in the powerful chorus: “If we go down, we go down together.” The song accompanied TikToks offered everything from two-finger salutes to the Supreme Court to potentially dangerous home recipes for abortion. The Chainsmokers seem pleased about their work’s second life: “This song has so much more meaning every time we perform it now,” the band wrote on their own TikTok account.
Noticing: Vitalik Buterin teaches us how to pack
The godfather of Ethereum is not merely a blockchain visionary; he’s also a superb packer. Last week on his personal blog, Buterin wrote about his digital nomad lifestyle and how he squeezes all of his essentials into a single backpack. (Hot tip: It’s all about bags inside of bags.) Buterin, who recently lost his billionaire status, almost exclusively purchases clothes from Uniqlo, which he believes to offer the highest quality for the lowest cost. But even inside a modest 40-liter pack, there’s still room for fun. The more you optimize space, he writes, the more you can fit “a few special items that can bring the most joy to your life”—like Shiba Inu pajama pants.
Makes You Think
Until next Weekend, thanks for reading.
Weekend Editor, The Information