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The Profile: The founder of the Internet’s most dangerous site & the secretive investment firm
Good morning, friends!
Anthony and I just got back from Bali yesterday, and it was a great time. A few cool things I learned:
— Community trumps all: Bali is full of contradictions. You can see a large, elaborate house in the middle of a village of simple homes. Our guide Gede told us the following: “We believe everyone is equal. There are no areas for rich people and poor people. Maybe you make some money and decide to build a bigger house, but you stay in the community.” This was my favorite part of Bali — if there’s one thing that’s clear is that no one here is lonely. If someone in the village is grieving, everyone grieves alongside them. Something to think about in this age of chronic loneliness.
— Silence is sacred: Reflection and mindfulness are baked in to Balinese culture. In fact, for one day out of the year, the entire island comes to a complete halt. Flights are paused for 24 hours, all the lights are turned off, no one is allowed to drive or walk around, and everyone is meant to stay indoors and speak softly. Nyepi, Bali’s Day of Silence, is an opportunity to relax, meditate, and look inward. (Funny enough, English-language websites call it “a day of imprisonment” and some published “Nyepi Day survival guides” ... Says a lot about our values.)
— All is not as it seems: Let me start by saying that Bali is naturally, undeniably beautiful. Our guide told us that Eat, Pray, Love (the book + Julia Roberts movie) did wonders for the tourism industry. But one thing that was disappointing was to realize just how much Instagram culture has infiltrated the entire world. We went to the “Gates of Heaven” at the Lempuyang Temple, which is one of Bali’s oldest and most highly regarded temples. When I asked about its history, our guide told us that no one asks about the temple itself — they just want a (semi-real) photo in front of it. Sigh. See below:
I’ve written before on the importance of travel — how it smacks you awake, how it heightens your senses, and how it forces you to see the world with fresh eyes. But it’s also important to remember that if you’re searching for something, you don’t have to come all the way to Bali to find it. Sometimes, a Nyepi Day at home might be all you need.
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Here we go:
— The founder of the internet’s most dangerous site [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The soccer star’s greatest heartbreak
— Hollywood’s powerhouse
— The Facebook of fitness
— The secretive data-driven investment firm
— The rent-a-friend company combating loneliness
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The founder of the internet’s most dangerous site: From its effect on the world, 8chan could be ranked as one of the internet’s most dangerous sites. Some have even compared it to terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda or ISIS. Fredrick Brennan, 8chan’s founder, was born with a profound disability and shuttled in and out of foster care. His creation of the site was born from a need to find community in loneliness. 8chan is considered a monster, but its creator had no idea what it would become. At the time, he was just a kid. (Tortoise Media)
“Anonymity makes people reveal themselves, but because there are other anonymous users – not just one person in a black box – it also changes what they reveal.”
Hollywood’s powerhouse: Margot Robbie entered Hollywood being typecast. She played a gold-digging beauty in The Wolf of Wall Street and went on to explain mortgage bonds from a bubble bath in The Big Short. Needless to say, she wanted much more from her career, and ‘glamorous movie star’ isn’t exactly her vibe. She recently developed and pitched Birds of Prey, an R-rated, female-led superhero action film — and she’s only getting started. (Vogue)
“She doesn’t seem to have resistance. She’s very powerful in how she approaches her life and her work.”
The soccer star’s greatest heartbreak: Megan Rapinoe, co-captain and star midfielder for the U.S. women's national soccer team, worshipped her older brother Brian. "He played left wing, so I played left wing. He wore No. 7; I wore No. 7. He got a bowl cut, so I did too," she says. But their paths diverged in very serious ways. At age 15, Megan started traveling the world for soccer matches. At 15, Brian brought meth to school & has since spent more than half of his adult life incarcerated. "I was her hero, but now — there's no question — she is mine,” he says. (ESPN)
“When the game is over and the ruckus has died down, I'm sitting in my cell. I'm not there to give her a hug, I'm not there to witness it. What the f--- am I doing with my life?"
COMPANIES TO WATCH.
The Facebook of fitness: Strava used to be the social network for hard-core athletes who very much cared about their “suffer score.” But now, the company wants to attract yoga practitioners and Peloton fanatics too. Why? Strava is positioning itself as a fitness tracker, a workout calendar, an activity feed, and a workout message board — AKA “the next great sports brand of the 21st century.” The company has lofty goals, but can it grow big enough and fast enough—and become rich enough in the process—to reach them? (Outside Magazine)
“As the quip goes: if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.”
The secretive data-driven investment firm: When quant shop Two Sigma launched, it set up more like a tech company than a financial services firm. It hired people with master’s degrees in data science, not MBAs. Two Sigma aimed to be a technology and engineering firm competing with the likes of fledgling internet titans like Google and Amazon and not Wall Street giants like Goldman Sachs. Here’s the story on the $60 billion quant powerhouse’s early days. (Institutional Investor)
“The reality is that most people who set out to do quantitative investing fail. The ones who succeed are the exception.”
The rent-a-friend company combating loneliness: Well, here’s a bizarre cure for the loneliness epidemic — a company that lets you rent friends. RentAFriend is a site where members can peruse the profiles of potential ‘friends for hire’ and ultimately choose someone they’d pay to hang out for a day. It’s an interesting idea, but I can’t imagine forming a true friendship when one person is being paid by the hour to be there. (Vox)
“I was also constantly conscious that this was a person whose company I was paying for, and the feelings that realization provoked were not normal friendship feelings.”