The Profile: A weekly collection of the best profiles on the Internet.
I recently started a weekly newsletter of all the cool, interesting, well-reported deep dives on people and companies I’m reading. You can expect lots of gifs and sarcasm. If you’re into that, you can sign up here:
Here’s the third edition of The Profile.
Reading all these longform articles is making me realize just how much great journalism is out there. I think the way to get away from the crap and #fakenews is to read quality, well-reported pieces. That’s kind of my goal with this — partly to share interesting stories and partly to prove that the Internet is not all “13 Ways to Make Sure You’re the Most Hated Girl at Brunch.”
Speaking of great content, here’s a comment after last week’s newsletter: “My suggestion is to start an email just full of acts of douchebaggery.” You might be onto something.
People to know.
The man who makes founders cry: Jerry Colonna has been called the “Yoda of Silicon Alley” for providing support to VCs, founders, and execs. In 2014, he launched a coaching company called Reboot, offering mindfulness training, leadership development, and $10K weekend retreats. His coaching focuses on “radical self inquiry.” In other words, he asks you a ton of questions about things you don’t want to talk about until you break down, face what you’ve been avoiding, and start crying. Colonna quotes Carl Jung, “Until we make the unconscious conscious, we will be dictated by it and call it fate.”
“He asks you the questions that you repress.” [“This Man Makes Founders Cry,” Backchannel]
The Swedish hitmaker behind your favorite songs: Britney’s “Oops, I Did It Again.” Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.” Katy Perry’s “Roar.” Seriously, every hit you can think of, Max Martin has most likely produced. Fifty-eight of his songs have been on Billboard’s Top 10, and 21 of them have made it to #1. He says the key to a great pop song is that the listener should be able to recognize it after one second. “In order to keep people on the dance floor as you switch songs, you should never leave people guessing,” he says. This is his first in-depth interview since 2001.
“When I play a song to someone and ask ‘So how do you like this,’ I don’t care all that much about what they say. What I really pay attention to is how they act, their body language.” [“Max Martin, #1 Hitmaker,” Dagens industri]
The activist investor on a moral crusade: Bill Ackman went on a holy war to expose what he thought was the biggest pyramid scheme by nutrition company Herbalife. He put $1 billion on the line to short the company. The FTC launched an investigation and concluded that Herbalife was not a pyramid scheme. Ackman was crushed, but he continues his mission to put the nutrition giant out of business. All of this begs the question: Isn’t it his main job as a hedge fund manager to generate a return for investors, not use their money for a personal crusade? On the other hand, Bloomberg’s Joe Nocera points out, “Ackman’s crusade may not have been great for his investors, but it’s probably been good for the country.”
“It’s more interesting to fight evil than just to play with stock certificates.” [“Financiers Fight Over the American Dream,” The New Yorker]
Companies to watch.
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. Just when you thought 2017 couldn’t get more depressing. 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.” [“I’m Renting a Dog?” Bloomberg]
The company clawing into the future: Journalism is in crisis mode, and the New York Times is changing radically by launching new editorial products and staying on the cutting edge of tech. To achieve this, the Times offered buyouts to make room for “new digitally-focused journalists” (read: young + knows how to use Snapchat). One editor said, “The dinosaurs are being culled.” But. It’s important to note that The Times is not quite “the failing NYT” the President has made it out to be. It has built its digital subscriber base better than any publication out there ($500M in digital revenue). WaPo ($60M) & BuzzFeed ($170M), I’mma let you finish but the Times is the real digital leader here.
“Today’s news is all we know for sure, and today the Post has a billionaire behind it, and the Times has hundreds of thousands of subscribers it didn’t have six months ago, and the president of the United States has a Twitter account. The journalists have plenty of work ahead.” [“How the New York Times Is Clawing Its Way Into the Future,” WIRED]
On a personal note.
What I’m up to: I recently went to the Morgan Library (J.P. Morgan’s personal library). Must-do. Recommend so much. Like there are secret passageways. It makes you look at your Kindle with pure disgust afterwards. If you have a favorite, not very well-known place in NYC (or wherever you live!), let me know.
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