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Hi Friend, 

Good morning! Last week, I ended this note saying "Not feeling great right now, folks." Yes, I was being a touch dramatic about the dread associated with the political uncertainty tied to the death of RBG.

The next morning, I had an email that read "Sorry, you're not feeling great, everything okay? Anything you want to chat about?" 

That was super sweet. 

I've been back in New York for the last few weeks, and the highlight more than anything is spending time with friends. Everything is better with friends. Washington Square Park is better with friends. Visiting The Met. Walking the High Line. Eating every pasta on the menu at Via Carota. All better with friends. Same with writing this newsletter. 

Today's Contents:

  • Song of the Week: With a Little Help From My Friends. 
  • FinCEN documents and Real Estate trends
  • A Difficult Challenge: Teen Suicide and Social Media (Revisited)
  • Good Reads

Weekly Song: With A Little Help From My Friends

The song was written and performed originally by the Beatles, but I'm referring you to the Joe Cocker version from the intro credits of The Wonder Years. I was a big fan of The Wonder Years that ran on Nick at Nite when I was growing up. At 7pm for half an hour. The Wonder Years is a coming of age TV series that aired originally in 1988 about a family in suburbia from 1968-1973. It was already vintage in the early 90s when I watched and was made to ooze nostalgia when released. 

Love the song. It is the perfect analogy for a newsletter: Lend me your ears, and I'll sing you a song. And I'll try not to sing out of key. 

With A Little Help From My Friends by Joe Cocker

What would you do if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
And I'll try not to sing out of key.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

With a Little Help from...the Global Banking System

FinCEN documents - FinCEN is short for US Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Buzzfeed released 22,000 pages of government documents describing hundreds of thousands of transactions showing the movement of more than $2 trillion of money laundering or other illegal activity that went, basically, unchecked by the banks. 

Who are the winners? For the amount flagged, Deutsche Bank tops the chart with $1.3 trillion, followed by JP Morgan with $514 billion. 

Want to read more? Matt Taibbi has a nice breakdown here. I've also started reading Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction. I've only gotten past the part about the extensive links between Deutsche and the Nazis,  including that they financed the building of Auschwitz and sold more than 1,600 pounds of gold confiscated from the Jews. More to come. 

Trends in Home Buying in the post-Covid era

Both my home cities of Seattle and NYC were named by the DoJ on Monday as "anarchist jurisdictions." What does that mean? Well, the DoJ explains here. Having lived in both downtown Seattle and downtown Manhattan, it does not feel like anarchy. Unless anarchy is a surge of the homeless and mentally ill population who live in parks and in tents on the street. But that's not new. Just accelerating. 

It does seem though, in aggregate, there is a move to the suburbs and rural areas. See the chart above. I, however, would like to stay near my friends and am not a creature for the suburbs. 

What Would You Do if I Sang Out of Tune? Social Media and Teens

I wrote last week about how social interaction is the defining aspect of humanity and showed the teen suicide rate from the CDC. I said I'd talk solutions this week. And I will!

But first, mail from DS reader Nir Eyal who writes: Please see this video on the topic (start at 12:00) and slides here with a more nuanced view of the teen suicide rate and social media use. Interesting! For example:

The rise in suicide rate is most evident in rural areas, potentially those with lower internet penetration. 


Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song: There are solutions

Where Nir and I agree is the huge opportunity to teach young people the ways to use social media as a positive. This is a tricky space, however. It's easy to be out of touch and fail what my friend Laura Tierney calls 'the snicker test.' Which plainly is: do the kids laugh at you why you try to discuss Snapchat or Toktik? I mean TikTok ;) Snickering is the sound of your credibly flying out the window in front of a GenZ. 

Laura knows because she founded a company called The Social Institute that provides a turnkey curriculum to build character and teach students how to use social media positively (disclaimer: I'm an investor). It includes a dashboard of data-driven insights for schools to get a sense of the emotional well-being and decision-making of their students, benchmarked against national averages. They ensure that adults don't fail the snicker test. 

A screenshot of a cell phone

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I've learned a lot from Laura. She'll often say say "Social Media is game. A game we can win."  And as a 4x All-American athlete and Duke Athlete of the Decade, she knows how to win games. And there's no way to win a game but with a positive mindset and with a little help from your friends. 

Sensible Investing: Good Reads

Startup landscape: Compelling frameworks on what is important as a company grows from Pear VC. H/T to my friend Miles Lasater.

Incubation venture model: A great read on the incubation approach of Mike Speiser, the earliest investor of Snowflake, the recent software IPO success story.

Every model of a compelling story narrativeA story is a lie and a story is true written by my once-Twitter and now IRL friend Leon Lin. The more you can intuitively recognize these stories, the more powerful you can be in pitching and evaluating investments. Leon also wrote a deep dive into the popular productivity tool Notion.

Huang's Law: Deep drive on Nvidia in WSJ but summarized in this Twitter thread. The latest Nvidia microchip tailored for AI is something like 310 times faster today than it was in 2012. This will enable totally new business models and push more computing power into every device. However, for the full effects of AI, many more advances in computing power are needed as detailed here

Freelance Forward 2020: The U.S. Independent Workforce Report: All the details here from Upwork. 

Making Change: Data and analysis from Square on going cashless. 

America is a Normal Country: Presidentialism Can Break It, and Exceptionalism Won’t Save It. Let's not break it. 

I'm starting to think Declarative Statements might be better written Saturday morning with coffee, rather than Friday night with wine. I'm out of my wonder years, unfortunately. 

Thanks for reading, friends. Please always be in touch.  

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Katelyn Donnelly
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