Writing Review for Weeks of Oct 29 & Nov 5, 2018

Damn good writing productivity this week if I do say so myself. A set of five articles packaged as part of a new content experiment at TechCrunch, a book review, and two more editions of TechCrunch’s Equity podcast.

Package: SoftBank and Form Ds

Daily Digest: Technology and tyranny, lying to ourselves, and Spotify’s $1b repurchase

SoftBank’s debt obsession

The disappearing Form D

Japan is cracking down on SoftBank’s revenue

Rakuten has SoftBank in its sights

A set of five columns focused on SoftBank’s financial performance and Form Ds, which are the filings that startups typically submit to the SEC when they take venture capital. SoftBank loves debt, but yet has managed to continue to outperform on operating income growth, while startups have been avoiding filing Form Ds in order to prevent journalists from scooping their funding rounds.

This is a new experimental column where I focus on one to two topics for an extended period of time, while also building on feedback from readers. The idea is to get “obsessed” with a topic and do a little bit of open-source journalism, so that readers (who almost certainly know more about these topics than I do) can disseminate their knowledge and help all of us learn more.

The format so far has been focused on the main column, and then a reading docket and some notes on readings to keep readers up-to-speed on my reading. Expect the format to change, but happy to get this first week done.

Why we lie to ourselves, every day

A book review of Elephant in the Brain, a book that argues that we use self-deception to hide our true motivations — even from ourselves — in order to build social advantages against other people. For instance, when we donate to charities, we don’t do it for altruism, but rather to gain status among our peers (only 1% of donations are anonymous). Everything is a competition, and therefore, our brains have evolved to self-deceive in order to reduce the cognitive burden of “lying” all the time. I thought the book was interesting, if ultimately a bit empty — if everyone is lying, where does that leave us as people and as a society?

SoftBank’s debt, Ford buys Spin, and Chinese coffee is huge money

Fortnight’s funding royale, China struggles, and Coinbase gets a boost to $8 billion

Two more episodes of Equity, with some more SoftBank rounds and even more discussion of Chinese finance (apparently, you can create a multi-billion dollar coffee chain in a few months — who knew?)

Photo by jun560 used under Creative Commons.

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