🤩🔮 Investment flows; China’s semiconductors; Zero-emission cargo ships & library ebooks ++ #338

Hi, I’m Azeem Azhar. I convene Exponential View to help us understand how our societies and political economy will change under the force of rapidly accelerating technologies.

This effort towards clarity amidst acceleration is the core of my forthcoming book Exponential (The Exponential Age in the US and Canada).

🎉 The book is – finally – available on Tuesday. The first of you who pre-ordered it have received it, and it is great to hear the positive comments. For the rest of you, today is a good day to order it.

In summary, the book explains:

  • What the Exponential Age is, what technologies are driving it and why it represents a major transition in human affairs.
  • How this transition, creates an exponential gap, which is causing breakdowns in familiar ways of organising our economies, work, geopolitics and democracy.
  • How we can constructively minimise the exponential gap to secure a more abundant, sustainable and equitable future.

😋 For readers of this wondermissive it will tie together the themes we have explored together over the past few years.

Writing the newsletter is how I gather the ingredients, writing the book is me selecting and combining the very best of them into a coherent whole. The book is that finished meal. And it’s delicious.

When you do get the book, I strongly recommend all EV readers turn to the dedication page at the front.  

Remember: in the US and Canada it is The Exponential Age, elsewhere it is Exponential.

Dept of the near future

Note from Azeem: The slipped disc in my cervical spine is playing up and I wasn't able to attend to the newsletter as closely as normal this week. My apologies.

Rethinking investment flows

💸 There is a profound shift underway in how capital is allocated. More allocation to private equity and venture capital is resulting in higher returns on average. Hannah Zhang notes that “in the past decade, those with a private investment allocation of at least 30 per cent have outperformed those with an allocation of 10 per cent or less by 200 basis points”. The changing tides of capital allocation are particularly interesting in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing.

Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, took sovereign wealth fund managers to task this week for the lack of positive investments related to climate change. Investment patterns are changing, and without significant attention on capital allocation that has an impact, everyone will suffer.

Subtle cracks in the armour

🍎 Apple’s walled garden is coming under attack. The company has been forced to make some small but significant changes to its app store policies that might be a harbinger of what the future holds. In response to an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission, Apple will allow some developers to include an in-app link to their website to set up or manage an account. This is the first step towards Apple losing its near-monopoly position over accounts processed in its App Store. South Korea will allow local app developers to avoid Apple’s 30% sales commission in broader anti-trust legislation. While these changes don’t directly impact Apple's largest markets, they are small cracks in the company’s mighty armour. [See also: Many stories this week on dissent inside Apple and how the company is handling it.]

China’s long-term semiconductor strategy

🇨🇳 From shortages to supply chain issues, the politics and production of semiconductors are among the most critical issues of 2021. China’s ambitious plans for semiconductor dominance is a fascinating plot line of this complex story. If you’re going to read one story about China this weekend, make it this definitive piece on China and semiconductors.

As chips get more advanced, there are fewer producers

By establishing the high costs and challenges of developing cutting-edge semiconductors with an independent supply chain, the piece demonstrates where China is exerting influence and why. China is trying to disrupt the semiconductor market to “meet market demand, preserve national resilience, and make a bid at controlling the most important resource of this century”. China has succeeded, but there are still several internal barriers in the country's technology, and political landscape before dominance is entirely in hand. See also, our Friday discussion about Alibaba’s investment in “common prosperity”.

🔋Dept of decarbonisation

CO2 level 411.66 ppm | 3,231 days until we reach the 450ppm threshold

The latest measurement of atmospheric CO2 (as of August 28, 2021): 411.66 ppm; 25 years ago: 360 ppm; 250 years ago, est: 250 ppm. Share this reminder with your community by forwarding this email or tweeting this.

⛴ The price of container space on cargo ships is exploding, as we have been following in Charts of the Week. With extra revenue floating around in the sector, could we be in for some innovation in shipping? A Norwegian company is set to unveil the world’s first zero-emission, autonomous cargo ship. The ship will make its first journey between two Norwegian towns before the end of the year. Similar to the ongoing efforts to disrupt the long-distance truck sector (listen to my conversation with Aurora’s Co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson), this development has the potential to greatly diminish the environmental impact of how goods move around the planet.

Short morsels to appear smart during the first week of school

🍄 Guided psilocybin sessions might be the future of therapy but finding a great guide isn’t easy, as our senior editor, Joseph Dana, found out.

🧬 To learn more quickly, neurons and other brain cells can break their DNA. See also, underlying brain decline can begin years before Dementia symptoms emerge. Scientists are looking for clues in driving and credit scores.

🪧 Twitter is getting more serious about decentralised social media with the appointment of a lead crypto developer to lead Bluesky.

👔 Technology workers, fashion, and contempt for society. A fascinating long read.

Solo VCs are transforming the industry.

Solo VCs are transforming the industry.

✈️ Business travel as we knew it before the pandemic might never return.

🕵️‍♀️ An advanced biometric database used to cut fraud in the Afghan security forces will now aid the Taliban.

🇦🇫 From drones to social media, the Taliban finds itself with an arsenal of new technologies.

📈 The impact of structure: we take more risks on Monday, declining through the week until Friday when everything goes haywire.

📚 The big business of library ebooks.

🌱 One of the world’s most esteemed restaurants went vegan earlier this year. Now they have a waitlist of 50,000.


😍 Thank you to the many EV readers who read early drafts of the book, including:

Mark Bunting, Tom Glocer, Kevin Werbach, Laure-Claire Reiller, Libby Kinsey, Tom Wheeler, Carly Kind, Sameh Wahba, Giedrimas Jeglinskas, Christina Colclough, Paul Daugherty, Matthew Taylor, Stian Westlake, Robbie Stamp, Tim O’Reilly, Shamil Chandaria and Dan Gillmor.

Those comments were incredibly helpful!

And thank you to every other member of the EV community for enlightening me, especially during our Friday morning member’s discussions and our many conversations on the Slack channels, Zoom discussions, Twitter and email.  

And finally, the links to order the book from Amazon and from somewhere else.


🤪 Azeem

P.S. Pencil in September 15th, roughly between 6.30pm and 8pm UK time (1.30pm ET, 10.30am PT) as we might have a special thing going on for readers.

What you’re up to – notes from EV readers

I’ll take part in the inaugural Cyber Summit brought together by Tortoise on 30th September in their central London newsroom (EV member Alexandra Mousavizadeh leads the production of its brilliant Global AI Index). The Cyber Summit is a one-day hybrid gathering of global business leaders and policymakers. EV members are invited to join: register using this link and the code AINETWORKGUEST.

Pascal Tremblay launched the beginning of a support ecosystem for psychedelic experiences. He will be focusing on education, preparation and integration, and building community to cross-pollinate insights and support. You can get free access to their next class on September 15.

To share your projects and updates, fill out your details here. Because of space constraints, we prioritise updates from paying members and startups I have invested in. (You can become the former by subscribing, if you have not already, and the latter by getting an intro to me via a trusted contact.)

Exponential Jobs - Featured roles for our community

Every week, we curate jobs for our community, by our community. Our members are hiring in climate tech, blockchain, energy storage, AI. Here are the highlights:

X, the moonshot factory, is hiring a Moonshot Storyteller.

Citi Venture, one of the most admired venture building programs in financial services, is looking for a Venture Builder / enterpreneur in residence.

Tomorrow, startup on a mission to organise the world’s electricity data to drive tangible reductions in carbon emissions, is hiring a Head of Sales.

Sustain.Life, sustainability software platform that gives organisations the tools and guidance to reduce carbon emissions, is hiring a Product Design Lead.

Around, hybrid workspace & collaboration startup, is hiring:

and more.

Messari Hub, community-driven marketplace for crypto research, is looking for a Research Coordinator.

Stripe Climate, dedicated to helping Stripe’s clients lead the way on carbon removal, is hiring a Full-Stack Engineer.

If you’re looking for a new job opportunity, subscribe to the board. Set your preferences based on your location, skill level, and expertise, and we’ll let you know when there’s the right job for you.

If you’re hiring, post to the board. Annual members of Exponential View can post for free; let marija@exponentialvew.co know if you’d like to learn more.

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