The Month of June 2015


ICYMI, there was a shuffling of the guard at Twitter early this month. Dick Costello, out. Jack, in. The move was preceded by an 8,500 word missive from angel investor and Twitter-enthusiast Chris Sacca, detailing his views on what the company can and should be doing better in order to regain traction.

Buried in the pretty unconvincing laundry list of ideas (unconvincing only because it’s hard to see how incremental tweaks will fix Twitter’s core business at this point) was Sacca’s nod to the recently acquired live-streaming app, Periscope, “Periscope may prove to be the most important deal Twitter has ever done.” I completely agree. 

A potentially revolutionary way to monetize Periscope? Live auctions. For everything, especially big ticket or one-of-a-kind items—vacations, jewelry, cars, art, sporting event and concert tickets, charity fundraisers.

The audience is instantly global, digital currencies make it doable. The possibility of creating a completely unique, interactive shopping and entertainment experience? Unparalleled. 

I hope Twitter is on the case. It could radically energize and reshape the company's business model and income statement. Can a $25 Billion company pivot?

Meantime, I drop everything when I catch a Periscope notification that Danish Chef René Redzepi is live. His broadcasts are so fun—two minute scooby snacks of culinary wisdom, enthusiastic fans chiming in from all over the world for real-time Q&A’s with him and his bemused team—family transportation vignettes on the side. 

Can’t wait to bid for seats for dinner at the Chef’s Table at Noma. 😛

Solar Impulse

Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are modern day pioneers. Two years ago they landed their plane, Solar Impulse, at JFK in New York. That was when I learned of their quest: to prove that air travel can be fueled by sustainable energy sources alone.

Solar Impulse is the first plane capable flying day-and-night, powered solely by batteries charged by the sun. In March Borschberg took off from Masdar City in the UAE, on the first leg of their latest adventure, attempting to fly around the world (the plane has a one-man cockpit, they alternate legs). 

It’s a logistics and weather-driven feat—and mother nature has been throwing some shade their way. They have been in a holding pattern in Nagoya, Japan for most of June. On Tuesday Borschberg was within minutes of taking off for Hawaii, when the team pulled the plug. Inspiring, agonizing. 

Bertrand Piccard's 2010 TED Talk, My Solar Powered Adventure, gives wonderful insight into his personal drive to chase a big vision. You can follow Solar Impulse's progress on Twitter, and they broadcast from the team's Monaco-based flight control center from time-to-time on Periscope. 

Ecomodernist Manifesto

In April, Eduardo Porter wrote about the publication of The Ecomodernist Manifesto. Intrigued by his description—of a group of scientists, economists, philanthropists and policy makers proposing that economic development is a path to environmental preservation—I bookmarked the manifesto. I got around to reading it this month. 

It is a decidedly optimistic and pragmatic document, focused on the reality that climate change is not—and is not likely to be—an immediate concern for those at the bottom of the pyramid. They need easy access to cheap, clean, dense and abundant energy—and modern technology is the tool to provide that access, while minimizing or even reversing environmental impact.

To me, the Manifesto’s thesis is a breath of fresh air in the climate change conversation, which so often seems to overlook the pressing demands of creating the possibility for healthy, productive lives for 7 billion people. And it would seem to stand in stark contrast to the other climate change manifesto published this month, the Pope’s Laudato Si.

I’ve skimmed parts of that document, and I’m not sure that the two are that far apart, although the Pope might need a nudge or two. Perhaps the Ecomodernists can get an audience. 

UN Charter at Seventy Years

On June 26, 1945, seventy years ago today, fifty nations signed the founding charter of the United Nations in San Francisco at the Veterans War Memorial Building. 

Earlier this week, the UN tweeted a marked up copy of the original draft of the charter. It’s stirring, and a reminder of the value of holding onto a lofty, idealistic belief in humanity’s capacity for good, even if we often fall short.

Looking Ahead to July

Haute CoutureTour de France I always love France, especially in July. Haute Couture runs July 5th to 9th and the Tour is July 4th to 26th. 

What I'm looking forward to: Karl Lagerfeld is 81 and still going strong. His work with Silvia Venturini at Fendi is always stunning, often playful and witty, and this season Haute Couture will feature Fendi's first couture collection—or Haute Fourrure, as they have dubbed it. They show on July 8th. And the Tour will feature its usual bucket of drama, scandal, breathtaking highs, heartbreaking lows and sprints to the finish. Can't wait. 

Trainwreck Also can’t wait to see what the lovable Amy Shumer has up her sleeve. Coming July 15th.