The Profile features the best long-form stories on people and companies in business, entertainment, tech, sports, and more.

The Profile: The first weed billionaire & the most powerful person in Silicon Valley

Good morning, friends.

 🎉 Today marks 100 issues of The Profile! 🎉  

In two years, we’ve promoted great journalism, raised money for causes close to my heart, held a drinks meetup in NYC, and grown to more than 5,000 subscribers largely through word-of-mouth. (Of course, my Friday & Saturday nights are now non-existent, but that’s a small price to pay.)

As a thank you for being part of this community, I teamed up with my friends at Book of the Month Club to invite you to try something cool.

If you don’t already know, Book of the Month is a subscription-based service that helps people find great new reads. On the 1st of each month, the BOTM team announces five recently-released books, and members choose which one(s) they would like to receive.

And today, they are inviting Profile readers to be one of the first members of their brand new *Book of the Month Nonfiction* vertical that features the best new non-fiction books each month.

** To celebrate the 100th issue, we’d love to extend a free membership to you guys. All you have to do is sign up here, and the BOTM team will be in touch with a survey & a complimentary trial membership for the first 200 participants. **

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Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming:

The first (legal) weed billionaire [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
The most powerful person in Silicon Valley
The business anchor drowning in politics
The man who could cure Alzheimer’s
The scientist developing a loneliness pill
The company that rents out dogs


If you enjoy reading profiles of the most successful people and companies, click here to tweet so others can enjoy it too.


PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The first (legal) weed billionaire: Six years ago, Brendan Kennedy had drained his 401(k), maxed out his credit cards, and borrowed money from family members to start a cannabis company. There was a night when he didn’t even have enough money to order a pizza. “That was darkness unlike anything I’d ever faced,” he remembers. Today, Kennedy is not only a billionaire but the richest man in the legal marijuana business. Here’s how he did it.

“We were worried we would always be known as failed pot guys.”

The most powerful person in Silicon Valley: Imagine this: You're one of the richest people in the world with a net worth of more than $70 billion. In the course of three years, 98% of your wealth evaporates (!) Do you throw in the towel or double down on the thing you were already doing when everything went to hell? If you're Masayoshi Son, you dive deeper and double down with unparalleled conviction. The question remains — will his strategy of throwing big money at big problems deliver big results?

“Most human beings who’ve had the kinds of experiences he’s had become tentative. You’ve never seen someone so fearless.”

The business anchor drowning in politics: In an era that seems to prefer affirmation over information, Maria Bartiromo may be in a class by herself. She once dominated the lane reporting on the vicissitudes of the stock market, but she’s recently transformed herself into a Trump acolyte. This profile aims to figure out what exactly led to Bartiromo’s surprising career swerve.

“She’s a hustler, and she likes to win.”

The man who could cure Alzheimer’s: Paul Cox believes he’s closing in on a treatment that might prevent ALS, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Cox is not a neurologist. In fact, he isn’t a physician of any kind. His ideas come from so far outside the mainstream of neurological research that you might think he’s crazy or deluded or worse. But then, some very credible people think he might be on to something big—which might make the improbable story you are about to read one of the most important as well.

“It’s the ultimate scientific detective story.”

The scientist developing a loneliness pill: Every study comes to the same conclusion: We have become chronically lonely. More Americans live alone than ever before; fewer of us are marrying or having children; our average household size is shrinking. Now, researcher Stephanie Cacioppo is leading clinical trials to ease the effects of isolation on the brain by developing the first of its kind pill for loneliness.

“If there are pharmacological treatments for other social pains like depression and anxiety, why not loneliness?”

FROM THE VAULT.

The company that rents out dogs: Yep, renting. As in, if you don’t make your monthly lease payment, you have to return the dog. Wags Lending works with pet stores to help subprime borrowers finance purebred pets. The problem is that a lot of people thought they would be making monthly payments to own their high-end pets — not to rent them. One customer said,  “This cat is ruining my credit score.” Think about that next time you want a Bengal kitten.

“When I take a good hard look at what the world will be like in 10 years, I think most things are going to be on lease.”


The Profile: The billionaire drug dealers & the femme fatale of short-selling

Good morning, friends.

Since this newsletter is about people and the lessons we can extract from their life experiences, I came across something that is a perfect fit. In 2013, I interviewed my great-grandmother about her childhood, living through World War II, what she learned from 53 years of marriage, and more. Obviously, I’ve never shared this conversation before, but I think there are some life lessons in here that have withstood the test of time. I hope you enjoy.

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A little background on my great-grandmother: Her name is Nikolina, and she was born on April 2, 1935 in a small town in Bulgaria near the Greek border (where she still lives). She was one of 11 and only made it to the 7th grade before starting work to help support the family.

(Pictured below: My great-grandmother & her younger brother)

You were a kid when World War II broke out. What do you remember from that time? (Bulgaria declared neutrality when the war began, but later entered a passive alliance with the Axis. German troops used Bulgaria as a base.)

My family and others in the neighborhood took in German soldiers, giving them food & shelter as they passed through. During blackout periods, we were told to turn off all the lights and cover the windows with blankets so it would look like the town wasn’t populated. I remember complete darkness. There wasn’t a lot of food at that time — and we were 11 kids — so you just didn’t know whether you would survive.

The Germans destroyed us. Everything was in ruins after the war, and then the Bulgarian Communist Party came into power. For 15 years during the Socialist period, I would work from dark until dark. Young and old — everyone worked on the fields all day. Slowly, people started re-building their lives.

How did you meet my great-grandfather?

I met him in 1952. My sister’s husband worked with him, and they were walking together when he saw me for the first time. My brother-in-law said, “Look at how beautiful she is. Why would you even think to look at other women?” So he started hanging out around me more and more, and I couldn’t get rid of him. I was 17 years old then, and a few months later, we were married. My parents were furious because I was too young. At that time, no one married for love — but I did.

How was 53 years of marriage?

We were together for 53 years, until he passed away. I have never been with anyone else, and he’s all I knew. I can’t say our marriage was perfect, but it was a good life together.

To understand what someone will be like as a partner, you need to look at their upbringing. Your great-grandfather was the oldest sibling, and his mom allowed him to become the head of the household early on because his father was an alcoholic. Growing up, he would protect his five younger sisters when his dad lost his temper. As a result, he was always extremely protective of me as well. And that would sometimes turn into jealousy — he thought that because I was so young when I married him that I would be curious about other people.

Were you?

When you commit to someone, you can’t be curious. That shouldn’t even go through your mind. It’s an excuse that people use to escape the problems in their relationship. They think that if they quit and find someone else, the problems will go away. They won’t — there will be other, new problems. No two people are perfect, but over the years, they can help each other learn to break their bad habits.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?

There has to be compromise in the family. You need to know that there will always be disagreements, but you have to make the decision to stay together. The compromise isn’t just for the woman in the marriage; it has to apply to the man, too. When you’re young and beautiful like we were, falling in love is easy. But you have to fall in love with someone’s soul — because you will get old, but the soul will never change.

Needless to say, this is only a fraction of our conversation. Our families carry so many amazing untold stories. Unfortunately, very few of us take the time to ask them questions about their lives, their experiences, their secrets. Pick up the phone and just listen.

In other news, this week’s profiles are all must-reads.

The femme fatale of short selling [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The underrated NBA champion
The teachers trained to kill
— Hollywood’s moral compass
The firm that hires brokers with a checkered past
— The school of the future
The billionaire drug dealers

PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The femme fatale of short selling: Fahmi Quadir was one of a small group of short sellers who bet, correctly, that Valeant’s price gouging, questionable tactics, and massive debt burden could not be sustained. At the age of 27, Quadir launched her own hedge fund in 2017. Although she was up 24% last year, it came at a very, very high price.

“When you're so young and you have a big short under your belt, people are going to be skeptical. We're not all macho, testosterone-driven guys that are looking to see the world burn.”

The underrated NBA champion: Early in his career, Steph Curry was anything but impressive in the eyes of those around him. “Undersized.” “Not a finisher.” “Extremely limited.” He remembers it all. When he was 13 years old, his parents sat him down and gave him the following advice: No one gets to write your story but you. “Anytime I’ve been snubbed, or underrated, or even flat-out disrespected,” he says, “I’ve just remembered those words, and I’ve persevered.” Because of those experiences, Curry is now launching The Underrated Tour, a basketball camp for any unsigned high school players rated three stars and below.

“The way that ‘underrated’ might start off as just some feeling the world imposes on you. But if you figure out how to harness it? It can become a feeling that you impose on the world.”

The teachers trained to kill: The question is no longer, "Should we arm teachers?" Now, it's, "How many armed teachers are already out there?" A GQ reporter went to Ohio to embed with the men and women behind FASTER Saves Lives, a group that has trained thousands of teachers from all across the country how to shoot to kill. This is a very sobering article.

“This is a combat environment. Just like in war, there might be noncombatants who get killed. Even by the good guys.”

Hollywood’s moral compass: For many years, Reese Witherspoon was America’s sweetheart. But she has quietly transformed from the perky-blonde actress into a big-time producer and champion of the overlooked & underestimated. She’s founded a female-led production company & has become a staunch activist fighting for greater representation of women in Hollywood. “Sharing our stories,” she says, “is the antidote to the disconnection that divides us.”

“Reese was never anyone’s sweetheart. We just thought she was.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

The firm that hires brokers with a checkered past: International Assets Advisory is just like any other wealth management firm except for its very unusual approach to recruiting. It gives the “unemployable” a second chance by hiring brokers who've had past run-ins with the law. Offenses vary from minor infractions, such as shoplifting as a teenager, to enforcement actions from groups like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. But it can get complicated — how do you decide who deserves a second chance?

"I believe in second chances and that there are two sides to every story.”

The school of the future: America’s student loan debt problem is nearing a full-blown crisis. Now, an online learning startup is experimenting with an intriguing new education model. Rather than charging students tuition, students attend Lambda School for free and are required to pay back a percentage of their income after graduation — but only if they get a job with a good salary. Could this be the future of higher education?

“There are no schools that are incentivized to make their students successful anywhere.”

FROM THE VAULT.

The billionaire drug dealers: The secretive family behind OxyContin has stayed out of the spotlight. While countless patients have become addicted to the pain medication, the Sacklers have made billions of dollars in profits. In order to benefit from the addiction-fueled cash machine, the family members must first swear by a single oath: Never comment publicly on the source of the family’s wealth.

“The Sacklers have hidden their connection to their product. They don’t call it ‘Sackler Pharma.’ They don’t call their pills ‘Sackler pills.’ And when they’re questioned, they say, ‘Well, it’s a privately held firm, we’re a family, we like to keep our privacy, you understand.’ ”

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The Profile: Wall Street’s secretive dealmaker & the man who makes founders cry

Good morning, friends.

Today, we have something different (and exciting) to kick off the new year. As many of you know, one of my favorite books in 2018 was New York Times best-seller Atomic Habits by James Clear. I asked James to write a guest post for The Profile on how we can transform our loose New Year’s resolutions into something more meaningful — a lifestyle of effective habits. Below is James’ post. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to send him feedback here.

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How to Turn Your New Year's Resolutions into Habits That Last

Frederick Matthias Alexander, the Australian movement practitioner and founder of the Alexander Technique, spent many years analyzing the habitual movement patterns of the human body and considering how to change and adapt them. At one point, after many years of study, Alexander remarked, "People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures."

A new year is upon us and with the start of 2019, many people are thinking about their future and the New Year's Resolutions they would like to follow. It is a natural time to consider who we want to become. Nobody has control over the future, of course, but in this short piece, I would like to make an argument that aligns with Alexander's remark: it is more likely that you can successfully shape your desired future if you transform your New Year's Resolutions from goals to habits.

This is a topic that has been on my mind in recent years. I have been writing about the science of habits and human behavior at jamesclear.com for the better part of a decade and I have spent the last three years writing a book called Atomic Habits, which was released a few months ago and is now a New York Times bestseller.

In this article, I would like to share three key insights from my writing and research that will allow you to translate your goals into habits that last.

Insight #1: Focus on the identity rather than the outcome.

The majority of New Year's Resolutions are outcome focused. That is, they are centered on achieving a particular result.

— Fitness. "I want to lose 20 pounds."
— Writing. "I want to write a book this year."
— Self-Care. "I want to take care of myself and sleep 8 hours each night."

The first step to translating these goals into long-term habits is to focus on the identity you need to build rather than the outcome you want to achieve. Take whatever goal you are trying to accomplish and ask yourself, "Who is the type of person that could achieve that goal?"

— Fitness. Who is the type of person that could lose 20 pounds? Maybe it's the type of person who doesn't miss workouts. Or the type of person who cooks dinner at home each night.
— Writing. Who is the type of person that could write a book? Maybe it's the type of person who writes every day.
— Self-Care. Who is the type of person that could get 8 hours of sleep? Maybe it's the type of person who says "No" to most requests rather than saying yes to everything. With fewer obligations, they can begin to prioritize sleep.

These adjustments in language may seem subtle at first, but they achieve something important: They shift your attention from the outcome and toward a lifestyle. Now your attention is not fixated on losing 20 pounds, but on making dinner at home each night. New goals don't deliver new results. New lifestyles do. And a lifestyle is not an outcome, it is a process. It is a series of habits. For this reason, it is often more effective to pour your energy into the habits that precede your desired results rather than focusing on the results themselves.

The truth is, most of your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits. You get what you repeat.

Insight #2: Scale your habit down to the easiest level.

Once you have translated your New Year's Resolution from an outcome-based goal to a habit-based lifestyle, you can utilize the second insight: scale your habits down to a stunningly easy level.

You want to perform the smallest action that reinforces your desired identity. In Atomic Habits, I refer to this as the "Two-Minute Rule,” which essentially says that a new habit should take two minutes or less to do. Of course, if you're feeling good on any particular day, then you are welcome to do more, but the most important thing is to master the art of showing up—even if it's in a small way.

— "Write every day" becomes "Write 1 sentence."
— "Practice yoga 4 days a week" becomes "Take out my yoga mat."
— "Read 50 books each year" becomes "Read for 1 minute."

Building habits that are so small sounds silly at first. "What is taking out my yoga mat going to do? That's not going to get me in shape."

But here's what people often forget: A habit must be established before it can be improved. You have to make it the standard in your life before you can worry about making it better. Master the art of showing up. Reinforce this new identity. Make it your new normal. There will be plenty of time for optimization once you show up each day.

Speaking of optimization, that brings us to our third and final insight.

Insight #3: Look for ways to improve by 1% each day.

This is something I cover in much greater detail in the book, but I want to share a simple explanation of it here.

Once you are doing something consistently—meditating for 1 minute each day, writing 1 sentence every afternoon—then, you can begin to look for ways to improve the process. One effective way to do this is to look for "1% improvements" within the various details of your habit.

Let's consider the habit of writing. Perhaps your habit is, "Write 1 sentence each day." Sometimes, of course, you'll have a good day and write much more than that. But even on the bad days, you're still showing up and writing 1 sentence. At this point, you can start to consider each part of the writing process and begin searching for 1% improvements.

For example, I might decide that I need to improve the opening sentences in my articles. So, I could go to the New York Times and look at the popular articles on each site and dump all of the opening lines into a spreadsheet. I could open up some of my favorite books and see how they start each chapter and add those lines to a spreadsheet as well. Then, once I have a better idea of what good opening lines look like, I can tweak my habit to become "write 1 great opening sentence each day."

And you can continue this line of thinking for other aspects of the process. Your writing habit could focus on improvements to opening lines, transitions between paragraphs, descriptions of main characters, footnotes and citations, and so on. Similarly, if you're working on a resolution related to exercise and your habit is to "Do 1 set of squats each day" you could focus on 1% improvements to foot placement, knee sleeves, breathing technique, hip mobility, and more.

The opportunities are endless and the path forward is simple. Decide who you want to become. Master the art of showing up and make a small habit your new normal. And search for endless ways to refine the details and make 1% improvements to your baseline habit. With these strategies, you have a proven toolkit for translating your New Year's Resolutions into habits that last a lifetime.

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Here we go with the profiles for the week:

— The priest of Abu Ghraib [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The self-made sandwich billionaire
Wall Street’s secretive dealmaker
— The gangster of Hollywood
— The Uber for trucks
— The man who makes founders cry


If you enjoy reading profiles of the most successful people and companies, click here to tweet so others can enjoy it too.


PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The Profile: America’s predatory lending machine & the conservative women on campus

Good morning, friends.

I’ve envisioned The Profile as a human interest platform that allows readers to learn from the mistakes and successes of all sorts of different people — and there’s nothing I look forward to more than learning alongside you.

As we near the close of 2018, I thought that I would create an end-of-year list of some of my favorite profiles, books, documentaries, and podcasts I’ve come across. I hope you enjoy:

Profiles:

— The most obsessive billionaire in America: Vinod Khosla (Read here)
— The woman running a $45 billion empire: Priscilla Chan (Read here)
— The reporter who took down a unicorn: John Carreyrou (Read here)
— The NFL coach searching for his family: Deland McCullough (Read here)
— The woman defending Woody Allen (Read here)
— The NFL’s broken gladiator: Aaron Hernandez (Read here)
— The celebrity selling fairy dusty: Gwyneth Paltrow (Read here)
…. (For more, here’s a comprehensive list.)

Books:

— A House in the Sky (by Amanda Lindhout)
The Geography of Bliss (by Eric Weiner)
The Courage to be Disliked (by Ichiro Kishimi)
— Atomic Habits (by James Clear)
Red Notice (by Bill Browder)
— Can’t Hurt Me (by David Goggins)
Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery (by Scott Kelly)

Documentaries:

— Three Identical Strangers (See trailer)
— The Facebook Dilemma (See trailer)
— The Pension Gamble (See trailer)
— The American Meme (See trailer)
— The Last Man on the Moon (See trailer)
— Out of Many, One (See trailer)
— Making a Murderer: Part II (See trailer)

Podcasts episodes:

— Naval Ravikant on making decisions, happiness and the meaning of life (Listen here)
— Carol Loomis on retiring from Fortune after 60 years & being friends with Warren Buffett (Listen here)
— Caity Weaver on the ingredients of what goes into a longform profile (Listen here
— Sara Blakely on how she built Spanx into a billion-dollar company with no prior business experience (Listen here)

Speeches:

— Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson: ‘Keep your failures at the forefront of your mind’ (Watch)
— Shonda Rhimes: ‘Stop dreaming, and start doing’ (Watch)
— Matthew McConaughey: ‘You are your own hero’ (Watch)
— Frank Abagnale: ‘Love can save you’ (Watch)
— Sheryl Sandberg: ‘We build resilience into ourselves’ (Watch)
… (For the highlights of these speeches, see here)

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Here we go with the profiles for the week:

Puerto Rico’s controversial hero [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
The wine thief who robbed Goldman’s CEO
America’s predatory lending machine
The conservative women on campus
The company misleading its customers
The face of Facebook


If you enjoy reading profiles of the most successful people and companies, click here to tweet so others can enjoy it too.


PEOPLE TO KNOW.

Puerto Rico’s controversial hero: Lin-Manuel Miranda turned ‘Hamilton’ into a national sensation. Now, he’s bringing the musical to San Juan, but Miranda’s passion for Puerto Rico has also led to controversy. For some, the blockbuster hit about colonists fighting for independence offers a tempting opportunity to call attention to their own concerns. We all have personal, political, and artistic identities — and they’re not so easy to untangle.

“It’s something Lin writes about in all of his shows — ‘Who am I?’, ‘Where am I from?’ and ‘Have I done enough’? Those are the questions he’s always thinking about.”

The wine thief who robbed Goldman’s CEO: Nicolas DeMeyer was the personal assistant to David Solomon, now the CEO of Goldman Sachs. In January 2018, after 14 months of traveling the world, he was arrested by federal agents at Los Angeles International Airport before he could even collect his luggage. His crime? Looting $1.2 million of wine from the cellar of Solomon’s home in East Hampton.

 “Dreams are all equipped with revolving doors. Someone is always walking into the one you are leaving.”

America’s predatory lending machine: Armed with a badge and a stack of court papers, an obscure city official named Vadim Barbarovich empties peoples’ bank accounts nationwide and keeps a cut for himself. He earned $1.7 million last year, giving him the most lucrative job in New York City government. In a five-part investigation, Bloomberg looks into the debt-collection machine that’s chewing up small businesses across America.

“Somebody just comes in and rips everything out. It’s cannibalized our whole life.”

The conservative women on campus: There’s a lot to unpack in this profile of conservative women at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They say they’ve been called white supremacists, racist, and misogynistic because of their political views. While the story doesn’t offer much more than a number of anecdotes, it reveals some insights into the attitudes of the block of young white women who continue to support the president and his party when the majority of their peers have reacted with revulsion.

“I have never felt oppressed in my life because I’m a woman. I feel oppressed at this campus because I’m a conservative.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

The company misleading its customers: Facing thousands of lawsuits alleging that its talc caused cancer, Johnson & Johnson insisted on the safety and purity of its iconic product. But internal documents examined show that the company's powder was sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and that J&J kept that information from regulators and the public.

“No mother was going to powder her baby with 1% of a known carcinogen irregardless of the large safety factor.”

FROM THE VAULT.

The face of Facebook: This 2010 profile of a 26-year-old Mark Zuckerberg addresses concerns about Facebook’s privacy settings, but the young CEO brushes them off. “A lot of people who are worried about privacy and those kinds of issues will take any minor misstep that we make and turn it into as big a deal as possible,” he says. How quickly the world turns. I wonder what Zuck now thinks about this statement from eight years ago…

“Zuck thinks the world would be a better place—and more honest, you’ll hear that word over and over again—if people were more open and transparent. My feeling is, it’s not worth the cost for a lot of individuals.”


The Profile: The world’s most powerful woman & the Yoda of Silicon Valley

Good morning, friends.

A huge thank you to everyone who took my survey last week. There were numerous smart recommendations in there, and it just further solidifies why I trust this community so much.

Many of you suggested that I add a section featuring a profile from the past, so from now on, you’ll find a section at the bottom of the newsletter called “From the Vault,” which will feature A+ profiles from the archives.

But one suggestion that has come up over and over again is to create a searchable database of all the profiles ever featured in The Profile. With the help of my mom (AKA ‘Queen of the Spreadsheet’), I’ve compiled a database of 500+ profiles that you can sort by title, author, publication, subject, or topic. (PS: If someone can help me create something more sophisticated than a Google Doc, please reach out.)

So now you have a lot of reading material for the holidays. To get you started, some of my favorite authors include Caity Weaver, Max Chafkin, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, and Nellie Bowles. If you’re looking to sort by publication, you can’t go wrong with GQ, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, and Bloomberg. By subject? There are like a million profiles of Elon Musk, and they’re all fantastic.

👉 Access the database here.

Enjoy!

ONE ASK: We’re so close to hitting 5,000 subscribers. If you can, please share this sign-up link with your network. Tweet it, post on Facebook, send to your mom — anything helps. I will be forever grateful 🙏🙏🙏

Here we go:

The CEO cleaning up the NBA’s #MeToo mess [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
The Yoda of Silicon Valley
The artist blamed for Oakland’s deadliest fire
The secretive cybersecurity moonshot
The feminist profiteers
— The dating apps keeping you single
The world’s most powerful woman

PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The CEO cleaning up the NBA’s #MeToo mess: The Dallas Mavericks were reeling after allegations that their former CEO had asked a female colleague whether she was planning to get “gang-banged,” propositioned women for sex, and seldom promoted female employees. Mark Cuban was in desperate need of help, so his first call was to Cynthia Marshall, who had spent 30+ years working her way up to become the head of HR at AT&T. Marshall came out of retirement to help the Mavs clean up a massive #MeToo mess. Here’s how she transformed the team’s decades-long toxic culture into one of inclusion and diversity.

“We have literally transformed the NBA. Drop the mic—but we’re not going home.”

The Yoda of Silicon Valley: For half a century, the Stanford computer scientist Donald Knuth has reigned as the spirit-guide of the algorithmic realm. He is the author of “The Art of Computer Programming,” which is considered the bible of its field. Knuth, now 80 years old, is calling out AI creators for developing algorithms we don't understand to govern modern technology.

“It started out that computer scientists were worried nobody was listening to us. Now I’m worried that too many people are listening.”

The artist blamed for Oakland’s deadliest fire: You might remember the fire that broke out in a warehouse (converted into an artist collective called Ghost Ship) in 2016. A total of 36 people were killed, making it the deadliest fire in the history of Oakland. There’s now a profile of Max Harris, who did chores and collected rent at the warehouse. He faces trial for the deaths at the concert there — including some of his closest friends. You won’t be able to stop thinking about this one.

“It’s like being a survivor of war and then someone telling you that the whole war was your fault.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

The secretive cybersecurity moonshot: Chronicle started as a project inside X, the secretive "moonshot factory" owned by Google parent Alphabet. The reveal of the project confused some people who associate "moonshot" with head-turning hardware like self-driving cars and delivery drones. Cybersecurity, while undeniably important, seemed tame by comparison. What exactly had Chronicle built, and why did it need the moonshot treatment to exist?

"Let's view this problem through the lens of data mining.”

The feminist profiteers: The Wing, a women-only club and co-working space, is killing it. With its millennial pink decor, beauty room, and library of books written by and about women, the startup just raised $75 million in venture funding to expand internationally. This is the story of how co-founders Audrey Gelman & Lauren Kassan plan to turn their 6,000-member feminist utopia into a billion-dollar business.

“It’s really powerful when you see women on both sides of a major venture transaction.”

The dating apps keeping you single: Tinder and Bumble are desperate to convince you that you’re not desperate. Dating, they promise, is fun, so fun in fact that when one date ends badly, it’s a blessing in disguise — you get to stay on the apps and keep on dating! Through branded content, dating startups are trying to convince users that their misadventures are cool, exciting, and invigorating. They’re a rite of passage, really. “We actually embrace the fact that our members are in that dating-as-a-leisure activity phase of life,” says Tinder CEO Elie Seidman.

“It’s the devil’s playground.”

FROM THE VAULT.

The world’s most powerful woman: The first time that Melinda Gates ever agreed to do a solo profile was in January 2008. This profile covers the gamut of Melinda’s extraordinary life: meeting and marrying Bill Gates, becoming the essential half of what has turned out to be the world’s premier philanthropic partnership, and dramatically changing the idea around how the power couple should manage their money.

“From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”


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