27 March 2022

Welcome back to the Week That Was series highlighting things from the interwebs which are interesting, noteworthy and/or probably worth your time.

Articles๐Ÿ“, Tweet(s)๐Ÿ“ฑ, Videos๐ŸŽฅ, Charts ๐Ÿ“ˆ all fair game with or without attendant commentary.


๐Ÿข Execution

From Wave’s blog about how they’ve executed in the early years of building one of the biggest African fintechs - backed by all from YCombinator and Founders Fund to Sequoia and Stripe.



The principles they practice (each of which is unpacked ๐Ÿ“here):

  • Transparent by default

Unless thereโ€™s an explicit reason for a piece of information to be hidden (e.g. the in-progress deliberations for an upcoming re-org, or M&A activity), all documents are expected to be public

  • Solve the problem in front of you

”…every week we sat down and articulated what our most important goal was, and then ranked the biggest problems sitting between us and that goal. We would then all work exclusively on solving those problems.”

  • Stack rank everything

Every early-stage start up faces the problem of having too much work, and not enough resources to do all of it. Wave solved this problem by always putting work into a single stack ranked to-do list, with the highest priority thing on the top.

  • void deadlines

An ancillary benefit of not having deadlines is that we avoided the overhead of tracking deadlines, and the extra people-hours it would take to enforce them.

  • Update beliefs in response to new information

The Wave founders are great at looking at new incoming data and updating their beliefs quickly.

  • Know when to accelerate

A major reason for Waveโ€™s success to date is that the founders have been very good at figuring out where to apply resources on thin information where many people would think that itโ€™s too early to โ€œstep on the gasโ€.

  • Donโ€™t do bullshit work

A corollary of avoiding unnecessary work that I really appreciated when I joined was that if we were doing something and someone asked โ€œwhy are we doing this?โ€ and no one had an answer, weโ€™d table it until someone could come up with a good reason. Having everyone on board with this cultural value made it easy to eliminate bullshit work.

  • Hold effective 1-on-1s

An important part of effective 1:1s is that the problems which come up do actually get addressed. At my previous company, we would have retrospectives every two weeks, but mostly they consisted of repeating the same post-it notes every week, with nothing really changing as a result.

  • Explain the reasoning, not just the outcome

One of my early observations at Wave was that the leadership would almost always make an effort to explain the reasoning, and not just the outcomes of their decisions. This extended also to the codebase and wider documentation.

๐Ÿ“A case study in early-stage startup execution


Bonus Infographic (from Hazarath Reddy)



๐ŸŽจ Traveller


The Traveler, Sweeper3D, Digital, 2022


๐ŸŒ๐Ÿ“œ๐ŸŽ™๏ธ How the Internet Happened

Internet Happened

In his book (and podcast), Brian McCullough chronicles the history and evolution of the internet โ€” from college kids in a basement and the dot-com boom, to the applications built on top of it and the entrepreneurs behind them.

A16Z General partner Chris Dixon chats with McCullough about How the Internet Happened โ€” and more broadly, about how tech adoption and innovation happens.


๐Ÿ’ผ Pitch Dex

From Azeem Azhar:

The pitch decks of 29 startups before they became unicorns. One highlight: Linkedin showing how companies that leverage network effects become winners. 15 years on, they could not have been more right.

A couple of examples

AIRBNB (Valuation at IPO: $40.6B)

COINBASE (Valuation at IPO: $65.3B)

DROPBOX (Valuation at IPO: $12.6B)

LINKEDIN (Valuation at acquisition: $26.2B)

UBER (Valuation at IPO: $75B)

Pitch Dex


๐ŸŒ Pre 1959

Seen on Houston Austin Muzamhindo’s LinkedIn

This is a map of Africa published by Harvard University in 1959 showing the approximate territorial boundaries of various tribes on the continent. In other words, this is visually depicting how diverse the continent is.



๐Ÿš†๐Ÿš— Moving People

Moving People

Philip Oldfield


๐Ÿข Office Change

Axios article on how the post-covid office has likely changed for good. US-centric but the trends are very similar globally in knowledge and white-collar work.

Office Change

  1. People bolted: 17% of office workers say they’re working remotely because they moved away, a ๐Ÿ“šPew study found. Just look at the soaring population and housing prices in America’s new boomtowns and tech hubs: Murfreesboro, Tenn. โ€” a suburb of Nashville โ€” has grown 20% during the pandemic, The New York Times ๐Ÿ“ฐnotes.

  2. They demand flexibility: 75% of executives want to come back to the office three or more days a week โ€” compared with just 37% of rank-and-file employees, according to a new Slack Future Forum report.

  3. They’ll quit: 11 million jobs are open in America. If a company forces people to come in, they’ll go look for a job at one of the hundreds of startups and Fortune 500 companies offering remote work.

Half of workers would rather quit than be told to return full-time, a ๐Ÿ“šnew survey from the HR consultancy Robert Half found.


๐Ÿค” Not A Shitpost

Eric Garcia’s ๐Ÿงตthread where he asked what facts sound like shitposts but actually real - threw up a couple of interesting tidbits.






โš–๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฐ Inequality

Disconcertingly South Africa remains officially the most unequal society on earth. Given a youth unemployment rate of ๐Ÿ“šjust under 70%, a decade and a half of energy uncertainty and an economy which continues to be anaemic - this isn’t exactly surprising. It is however gravely unfortunate and concerning.

SA Inequality


SA Inequality 2

Ruben Berge Mathisen


โš”๏ธ๐Ÿ’ถ More Numbers

We highlighted a few vital statistics in ๐Ÿ“last week’s post around some of the concerning externality implications to the broader world of the conflict in Ukraine and the sanctions levied on the perpetrator - notably the effect on food supply chains, over and above energy. David Friedberg’s contribution in the All-In pod we highlighted has since gone viral - clipped below.


A reminder of the nations who are currently exacting what’s been termed ๐Ÿ“ฐ‘Just short of nuclear’ sanctions in a bid to “cripple Russiaโ€™s economy”.



The implications however will not just affect these nations but spill over to the rest of the world, with recessions globally becoming a much realler possibility.

President Biden’s comments on the liklihood of food shortages should also give folks pause.


Price spikes continue across any number of commodities you turn you gaze towards.

E.g. Fertilizer & Food

Fertilizer jeroen blokland


Or Steel


The reasons of course become obvious when you look at the top producers




Let’s hope a resolution is found sooner rather than later to mitigate the fallout to an even larger set of innocent people.

Regime change rhetoric probably won’t assist in that regard - although I understand the White House has officially walked back these statements and cited an “innarticulate moment”


๐Ÿ“Š Quantified Self

From ๐Ÿ“The Browser:

Americans overestimate, often wildly, the size of minorities and sub-groups within their country. On average, they think that 21% of all Americans “are transgender”; the “true” proportion rounds to 1%. They estimate that 27% “are Muslim”, versus a “true” 1%. Black Americans “estimate that, on average, Black people make up 52% of the U.S. adult population”; the “actual figure” is 14%

๐Ÿ“šFrom millionaires to Muslims, small subgroups of the population seem much larger to many Americans

Overestimating the size of minority groups and underestimating the size of most majority groups

Quantified Self

Misestimating group sizes, regardless of the type of group being estimated

Quantified Self 2


๐Ÿฅช Cube Rule

Cuberule.com is an amusing tongue-in-cheek takedown of the cube-rule model which tried to bring order to food identification.

Said model

Cube Rule


E.g. Toast


The site runs through all of the categories pointing out the absurdity of both the genesis of this exercise and the silliness of it’s outcome.


๐Ÿ“นโœ๏ธ Flatland


From The Viewer:

A strange phenomenon: in the past few years, nearly every corporate logo has been redesigned with a flatter, more minimalist look. “One company decided to be he first to join the bandwagon and all the others went along for fear of getting left behind in outdated landโ€”because dimension, texture and character are so last decade” (5m 35s)


๐ŸŽจ Cheers


Cheers!, Bo Xun Lin, Digital, 2022


๐Ÿ’ฌ Deep Cuts

โ€œBy being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word. In this, the future is a game; time is one of the rules.โ€ โ€• Iain M. Banks, The Player of Games  

๐Ÿ“Š One More Thing


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