Medley 189: Loneliness, Startups, Pollution, Ketamine, Amazon...

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Happy Monday!

A couple new things this week. First, I uploaded my notes on "The Great CEO Within" to the Brain. It was an okay book with some useful ideas in it. I mostly picked it up since I saw Alex MacCaw from Clearbit contributed to it, and their management guide is excellent.

Aside from that, I'm traveling for these next two weeks so hopefully I'll get an article out for once!

Anyway, on to the Medley.

The World of Loneliness

๐Ÿ“ฐ I found this great study from David Perell's newsletter:

"Despite the popularity of the claim, there is surprisingly no empirical support for the fact that loneliness is increasing, let alone spreading at epidemic rates."

๐Ÿก That doesn't mean there aren't other bad trends in mental health, there definitely are. But it's not clear that the sense of loneliness is increasing, or at least living alone doesn't contribute to loneliness. A good line from that research:

"The fact that people in individualistic countries are not more likely to feel lonely may of course capture differences in expectations regarding social relations. But to the extent that loneliness is a subjective experience, these cross-country differences are still important to understand well-being."

๐ŸŽฎ Also contrary to popular belief, there's good research to support that video games do not make people feel more isolated:

"The study suggests the average gamer is not socially isolated, with more than 70 per cent of gamers playing with other people either online or in person. "The findings surprised us," he said. "Video gaming makes one more happy. It's a good pastime.""

The World of Tech

๐Ÿ… Haystack VC listed SuperHuman as their breakout tech company of the year. It's definitely had an insane amount of hype, but it seems like a fairly trivial problem to get the "breakout tech company of the year" award. Unless that distinction is just based on growth and popularity.

๐Ÿ’ณ Another thing they mentioned in the article though is that "Brex is one of the fastest-growing SaaS businesses ever created, and still quite young as a company;" They reached 1.1b in valuation in under two years which is insane, hard to find data to define fastest growing though. It's also worth noting that the Brex founders are 23 or something, absolutely nuts.

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ผ First Round did their annual "State of Startups" publication. Two things stood out to me. First, female founders seem to be much better than men about asking for help:

"When we asked founders about which specialists they see regularly, female founders were nearly 3x more likely to report enlisting a therapist or psychiatrist compared to their male counterparts (42% vs. 15%). We observed a similar divide comparing founders under and over the age of 40 (28% vs. 16%)."

๐Ÿ™‡โ€โ™‚๏ธ Second, there's generally high anxiety about being in a funding bubble. That fits with the idea in the How do You Like We Now article about companies shorting the VC market through ridiculous ventures like WeWork.

๐Ÿ’ป Here's an analysis of Facebook's decision to continue allowing political ads, it might be because of Peter Thiel. One line that stood out to me (and granted, it's one anecdote) is the perception of intolerance towards conservatives, or even associating with conservatives, in Facebook:

โ€œMark is friends with Peter Thiel and a lot of Republicans,โ€ said a former Facebook employee who worked in its political group. โ€œItโ€™s a reality people arenโ€™t willing to accept.โ€

๐ŸŒฆ It does also point to the difficulty in actually banning political ads. Twitter has been much-lauded for making that decision, but it also presents some challenges. For example, politicians and PACs can't run ads about climate change, but oil companies can still run ads.

The World of Health

๐ŸŒณ Living in heavily polluted areas could make you depressed, according to this study. I wonder if that's where part of the good feeling from getting away from the city and into nature comes from. Simply breathing cleaner air might have a beneficial neurological effect.

๐Ÿ’จ Want to help reduce pollution and offset your carbon footprint? I recently found this company "Project Wren" that gives you a monthly "subscription" to offset your carbon footprint based on estimating how much of an impact you have from your daily habits. It seems like a more robust way of funding your own carbon offset than ones I've shared in the past.

๐Ÿง  Ketamine therapy has been exploding in popularity, probably in part because Ketamine is not a Schedule 1 drug like Marijuana and MDMA, which means it can be prescribed for off-label use much easier. My friend Dylan started a ketamine therapy center called Mindbloom in New York City, and it sounds like they're having great results with their patients.

๐Ÿ™‡โ€โ™‚๏ธ The remarkable thing about Ketamine therapy is how quickly it can affect feelings of depression and suicide compared to other treatments like SSRIs. Here's a good article on it from the Harvard Health blog, it seems no one is 100% sure why it works so well, but here's their best guess:

"One likely target for ketamine is NMDA receptors in the brain. By binding to these receptors, ketamine appears to increase the amount of a neurotransmitter called glutamate in the spaces between neurons. Glutamate then activates connections in another receptor, called the AMPA receptor. Together, the initial blockade of NMDA receptors and activation of AMPA receptors lead to the release of other molecules that help neurons communicate with each other along new pathways. Known as synaptogenesis, this process likely affects mood, thought patterns, and cognition."

The World of Business

๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฆ My friend Marco recently joined Elliot, a no-code ecommerce platform helping people startup stores as easily as possible. They're doing a competition until January 1st to see who can sell the most on their new Elliot store, and the winner gets to go to Morocco to work on it with them. It looks like a pretty sweet place to stay.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Amazon is special in its ability to rarely make a profit, but still have its stock price go up. Here's some insight from Bezos on how they're able to do that, especially compared to other highly valuable companies like Apple.

End Note

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Have a great week,

Nat

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