The Profile: The world’s most powerful couple & the billionaire behind tech’s hottest IPO

Good morning, friends.

One of my favorite places on the Internet is The Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page. I love it because the stories appeal to the most raw, most honest, most human part of us.

If you’ve never heard of it, I encourage you to listen to this Tim Ferriss podcast with HONY photographer Brandon Stanton. Brandon was a bond trader, lost his job during the recession, and decided to launch a blog telling the stories of regular people through photography. A decade later, HONY has garnered more than 25 million followers on social media.

For Christmas one year, I gave my mom the HONY book, which contains thousands of mini-profiles where Stanton catches people in various moments of time — from their most vulnerable to their most philosophical. I asked her to choose one photograph that I should share with you guys. Here’s what she chose:

“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”

“Try your best to deal with life without medicating yourself.”

“You mean drugs?”

“I mean drugs, food, shopping, money, whatever. I ain’t judging anybody, either. I was hooked on heroin for years. But now I’ve learned that every feeling will pass if you give it time. And if you learn to deal with your feelings, they will pass by faster each time. So don’t rush to cover them up by medicating them. You’ve got to deal with them.”

If you’re willing to share any creative, healthy ways you use to deal with unwelcome thoughts and feelings, I’d love to hear from you. Please send them my way, and I’ll highlight some of them (anonymously) in a future issue of The Profile.


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


In the meantime, I’ll keep you occupied with this week’s best reads:

The CEO running an empire of chaos [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
The billionaire behind tech’s hottest IPO
The world’s most powerful couple
Kim Kardashian’s next chapter
Facebook’s ticking time bomb
— The “no-controversy” social media platform
The dating company aiming for world domination
— The actor trying to save his own life

PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The CEO running an empire of chaos: Susan Wojcicki’s tenure as the chief of YouTube wasn’t supposed to be dominated by pedophilia and attempted mass murder. When she got the job in 2014, she was hailed straightforwardly as the most powerful woman in advertising. But somewhere along the line, her job became less about growth and more about toxic containment.

“You grew into a galaxy. That has implications beyond anything you would have ever known.”

The billionaire behind tech’s hottest IPO: Zoom was the ultra-rare tech unicorn to make its IPO debut with a profit. Behind its $331 million in revenue is its elusive CEO Eric Yuan. He set out to build video conferencing software that would work equally well if you’re in a boardroom in Manhattan or a kitchen table in China. This is a story of perseverance and execution, proving that an unexpected challenger can sweep the field even in a crowded market.

“It’s like a marathon. You’re only 5 miles ahead of me, that’s okay. I’ll run faster than you, and I’ll still catch up.”

The world’s most powerful couple: Bill and Melinda Gates need no introduction. From January 1995 through the end of 2017, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has deployed a total of $45.5 billion (billion!) to education, poverty research, vaccine development, and more. This profile delves into exactly how the world’s most powerful duo spends their money and measures its enormous impact.

“The two of them have a multiplier effect—the two of them together. They act with a unity of purpose and with a difference of style.”

Kim Kardashian’s next chapter: Just when you thought you had Kim Kardashian all figured out, she’s got another surprise: The reality TV star is studying to become a lawyer. “First year of law school,” she says, “you have to cover three subjects: criminal law, torts, and contracts. To me, torts is the most confusing, contracts the most boring, and crim law I can do in my sleep.” Here’s why Kardashian made the unlikely decision to begin a four-year law apprenticeship, with the goal of taking the bar in 2022.

“I’m sitting in the Roosevelt Room with, like, a judge who had sentenced criminals and a lot of really powerful people and I just sat there, like, Oh, shit. I need to know more.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

Facebook’s ticking time bomb: Over the last year & a half, Facebook’s has floundered, dissembled, and apologized. Even when it told the truth, people didn’t believe it. Critics appeared on all sides, demanding changes that ranged from the essential to the contradictory to the impossible. As crises multiplied and diverged, even the company’s own solutions began to cannibalize each other. This is the story of the seismic shifts going on inside the world’s most powerful tech behemoth.

“The owners of the platform giants consider themselves the masters of the universe, but in fact they are slaves to preserving their dominant position.”

The “no-controversy” social media platform: If you want to discover the next hot tech startup, just count how many times it’s profiled in the tech media. Bytedance, the company behind video sharing app TikTok, is valued at $75 billion, and it’s everywhere. It claims that it’s different from any existing social network in that it aims to be a “one-stop entertainment platform where people come to have fun rather than creating any political strife.” Will it work or is it bound to suffer Facebook’s fate?

“There are nasty people here and there. But for the most part, it’s just a fun, friendly place.”

The dating company aiming for world domination: Just how big has dating app company Bumble become? Big enough to set its sights on the world’s most wired democracy — India. But there’s one big hurdle: Ninety-four percent of marriages in India are still arranged, suggesting the audience for Indian dating apps remains small. Here’s how CEO Whitney Wolfe-Herd plans to take Bumble India off the ground.

“The dating concept here doesn’t really exist. No one knows how to do it. Our parents never dated; who do you learn dating from?”

THROWBACK.

The actor trying to save his own life: In 2017, actor Shia LaBeouf was stalked by Internet trolls, sued for $5 million after a shouting match in a bowling alley, and arrested for public intoxication. LaBeouf witnessed a traumatic event as a child that can still trigger his violent outbursts. To this day, he sleeps with a gun in his bed. It’s a raw, unfiltered story about how to tame the demons of our past that still haunt us in the present.

“I’ve always thought somebody was coming in. My whole life.”


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