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.


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


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.”


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.”


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.”