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The Profile: The billionaire VC who got conned & the fake socialite making a comeback
This edition of The Profile features Michael Goguen, Anna Sorokin, and more.
Good morning, friends!
With the holidays coming up, there's no better gift than a book (or a subscription to The Profile). Last year at this time, I compiled 30 recommendations for some great reads for you and your loved ones.
Who knew that legendary marathoner Eliud Kipchoge loves reading business books? Or that Dolly Parton's favorite book is a beloved children's classic?
From sports biographies to moving memoirs to classic novels, check out what 16 of the world's most successful people are reading.
ONE MOVIE REC: ‘The Swimmers’ on Netflix is a must-watch. It’s based on the true story of Syrian sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini, who swam for three hours in the Aegean Sea to reach safety in Greece. It’s the story of how they got from war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Watch the trailer here.
THE PROFILE DOSSIER: On Wednesday, premium members received The Profile Dossier, a comprehensive deep-dive on a prominent individual. It featured Johanna Nordblad, the diver who finds peace in freezing water. Consider becoming a premium members, and read it below.
— The billionaire VC who got conned [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The fake socialite planning a comeback
— The silent content creators
— The army veteran who disarmed a gunman
— The cognitive ‘super-agers’
— The Christmas movie factory
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The billionaire VC who got conned: Michael Goguen is a billionaire venture capitalist who earned the bulk of his fortune at Sequoia Capital, where he and the other partners made a big early bet on Google. In 2013, Goguen and CIA veteran Matthew Marshall founded a private security firm later named Amyntor. It was the start of a collaboration that would eventually lead to plans for a kind of wildcat mercenary force that would help right wrongs around the globe. But, Marshall said, he would come to find out that Goguen was a dangerous man: A sex trafficker who used his private plane to bring women to Whitefish, where he would stash them in his safe houses. Goguen apparently kept an Excel spreadsheet with the names of 5,000 women he’d had sex with, and in the basement of a restaurant he owned in the center of town, he had set up something called the Boom Boom Room. This story is insane with twists and turns you don’t see coming. Could all of Marshall’s wild claims be true? Read it and find out for yourself. (New York Magazine)
“As an investor who has to make really good judgment decisions in finding entrepreneurs and companies and all that, the most embarrassing part is, Hey, you got duped .”
The fake socialite planning a comeback: Anna Sorokin managed to trick banks, hotels, private jet companies, and a whole lot of rich people out of ungodly amounts of money. She went to prison for nearly five years. Newly released, Sorokin has a comeback plan. She has a publicist, an entertainment lawyer, an art partner, and lots of ideas. A podcast where she interviews interesting people. A book about her life. A possible law apprenticeship (she is now very well-versed in the law). A dinner-party series where she invites people over to talk about ideas — like a salon. (New York Magazine)
“I’m just trying to be myself, because I know people are going to talk shit regardless.”
The silent content creators: Deaf and hard-of-hearing live-streamers around the globe have been hosting “silent streams,” using a combination of digital writing tablets, sign language, or oral language to engage with eager fans online. As YouTuber Rikki Poynter said, “Except for hearing, we can do everything.” (VICE)
“There are hearing people who get overstimulated by too much noise or any noise, so I can see why they’d like the quiet streams.”
The army veteran who disarmed a gunman: Richard M. Fierro, who served for 15 years in the military, was at Club Q in Colorado Springs with his family when the gunman opened fire. Without thinking, he hit the floor, pulling his friend down with him. Bullets sprayed across the bar, smashing bottles and glasses. People screamed. Fierro looked up and saw a figure as big as a bear, easily more than 300 pounds, wearing body armor and carrying a rifle a lot like the one he had carried in Iraq. That’s when his training took over. He raced across the room, grabbed the gunman by a handle on the back of his body armor, pulled him to the floor and jumped on top of him. Here’s what happened next. (The New York Times)
“In combat, most of the time nothing happens, but it’s that mad minute, that mad minute, and you are tested in that minute.”
The cognitive ‘super-agers:’ Carol Siegler is 85, and she still volunteers, works out at the gym several times per week, and socializes with friends. Siegler is a cognitive “SuperAger,” possessing a brain as sharp as people 20 to 30 years younger. She is part of an elite group enrolled in the Northwestern SuperAging Research Program, which has been studying the elderly with superior memories for 14 years. This profile examines the common traits of the cognitively sharp. (CNN)
“I’m bored. I feel like a Corvette being used as a grocery cart.”
COMPANIES TO WATCH.
The Christmas movie factory: Christmas films have become a thriving source of romantic comedies and original cable programming. Last year, MGM and Walt Disney Pictures each released nine new films. Paramount released 12. The Lifetime Network released 35, and those were just the ones about Christmas. Together with the Hallmark Channel, UPtv, BET, Netflix, ABC, and Great American Family, there will be more than 120 completely new Christmas movies released this season. Take a look inside the Christmas Movie Industrial Complex through the eyes of someone who actually helped make one. (New York Magazine)
“These movies are audiovisual Christmas ornaments.”