So This Is My Why | Issue 26

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Hey STIMYers!

Happy Chinese New Year!

If you’re in KL & haven’t done so already, drop by Pavillion KL! They invited some local/Malaysian-based artists like architecturally-trained artist Pamela Tan to do some stunning artwork:

And in case you haven’t jumped on the Wordle craze, here’s the link to the original version created by Josh Wardle. There are many other versions/apps out there that have jumped on the craze so don’t be fooled.

Now before we start snacking on pineapple tarts, peanut cookies and ngaku chips, let’s get to the rest of this week’s newsletter.

STIMY Ep 69: Nnenna Nwakanma

Nnenna Nwakanma - Chief Web Advocate, World Wide Web Foundation

Nnenna Nwakanma is the Chief Web Advocate at the World Wide Web Foundation.​

She is also a Nigerian FOSS activist, community organiser, co-founder of the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa. In 2018, she was chosen as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in the field of digital government and has over 15 years of experience working with the UN in areas such as the information society, gender and digital equality.

In this episode, we learn about what it was like growing up in Nigeria & what drives her to create an internet that is free and open to all.

  • 2:40 Why Nnenna was born & not given a name for the first 3 months of her life
  • 4:43 Being human is enough
  • 7:21 “Nnenna from the Internet”
  • 8:57 Being one of the first Africans to be exposed to the internet
  • 12:08 Use of the internet in African villages
  • 16:44 Being a FOSS activist & walking with your adversaries
  • 18:31 Attitudes are like ass holes
  • 22:39 The mission of the World Wide Web Foundation
  • 25:01 Running the global coalition, the Web We Want
  • 28:39 Backstory to Brazil’s Internet Bill of Rights (first in the world)
  • 32:56 How close are we to an open and free internet for all?

​Other places to listen to: Website, Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Listen Notes

Looking for past STIMY guests? Check out:

  • Kendrick Nguyen: Co-Founder, Repulic – one of the top equity crowdfunding platforms in the US
  • Austen Allred: Founder, Lambda School (now rebranded as Bloom Institute of Technology) – on building a FREE coding educational platform for all
  • Ansgar Koene: Global AI Ethics & Regulatory Leader, EY – on how AI is manipulating our behaviour & how we should regulate it
  • Karl Mak: Co-Founder, Hepmil Media Group – building Southeast Asia’s largest meme-based company

With Karl Mak (founder of Hepmil Media Group – SGAG, PGAG, MGAG) on how he built Southeast Asia’s largest meme startup.

Favourite Finds of the Week

Acquired Podcast: Taylor Swift

Acquired is ranked #1 Technology show on Apple Podcast & my latest podcast obsession. Hosted by Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal, these two VCs spend their episodes riffing on the stories and strategies behind great companies and people.

​They previously did a deep dive into Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, Eventbrite and Oprah. Their latest offering? The Taylor Swift.​

It’s at a hefty 2:39 hours long but the time flies. They’ve done fantastic research not just into the background events surrounding Taylor’s rise – I had no idea how driven & focused she was even as a child! – but also the business behind the $300M empire she has built. As VCs, they also draw constant comparisons between the music and startup spaces and it was a truly fascinating episode to tune in to.

Sol's Cookies

As gatherings start to become a little more common place, I thought to bring up something I read awhile back: Sol’s cookies.

Sol Orwell is a US entrepreneur with quirky ideas that I love reading up on.

The gist of what happened here is this:

  • Sol loves cookies;
  • When networking in Toronto, he would say “let me bribe you with the best chocolate chip cookie you’ve ever had” (rather than the standard “let’s get coffee”);
  • Sol meets Kara, who later posts on his Facebook page how she found better cookies than the ones Sol had. The audacity.
  • More people jump into the discussion and a month later, the inaugural Chocolate Chip Cookie Off happens.
  • Sol posts a photo from that event, and even more people start commenting that they could make better cookies.
  • Sol asks them to send the cookies to him, and they do! #cookielife
  • Sol decides to leverage on the interest & channel them to a charity. The amount raised? Well:
    • NYC Cookie Off: $30+k
    • Toronto Chocolate Chip Cookie Off 2018: $100k
    • Toronto Cookie Off 2019: $200+k
  • Sol decides to end #cookielife after getting a 9+ cast iron chocolate chip cookie named after him.

West Elm Caleb

It’s wild how this dating app story has gone viral. If you haven’t heard of West Elm Caleb, here’s the gist: several woman share on Tik Tok about having gone on bad dates with, it turns out, the same guy: Caleb, who works at West Elm. Who’s accused of ghosting, love bombing, and sending the same Spotify playlists to women he was seeing (sometimes on the same day!) – a detailed timeline with the original Tik Tok videos can be found here.

​What’s particularly notable is how it’s gone viral and stirred up the mob-like mentality on Tik Tok – it was quite terrifying to watch. Even furniture companies have jumped onto the trend to boost their own products. But it’s really gone too far as Caleb’s photos, name, address and mobile number were also released publicly.​

Trevor Noah, as always, recounts the entire episode and his thoughts eloquently here.

While West Elm Caleb has all but disappeared off the face of the earth, another person previously subject to such intense public scrutiny is TikTok Couch Guy, who recounted what it was like being the subject of such viral armchair sleuthing here:

It felt like the entertainment value of the meme began to overshadow our humanity.

MSCHF's C&D Fashion Drop

Malaysia had Red Hong Yi’s spoof Memebank exhibition, which got busted by the “regulators” last Sunday!

While in New York, American art collective MSCHF are leaning heavily into the less-than-legal territory with their latest fashion drop: the “Cease & Desist Grand Prix”.

They have printed F1-styled racing jackets with the logos of 8 companies known to be the most litigious, i.e. Disney, Walmart, Microsoft, Starbucks, Tesla, Amazon, Subway and Coca-Cola. Shoppers can choose to buy any of these jackets for $60 each.​

MSCHF expect at least 1 C&D to come from any/all of these 8 companies.

If you happen to have purchased the shirt of the company that sends MSCHF their first C&D, you get an exclusive Grand Prix champion’s hat for free. 😅

Why do it?

MSCHF’s Chief Revenue Officer, Daniel Greenberg, has this to say:

“The big thing is that blanket C&Ds are a phenomenon by which large companies stifle a lot of creativity. The corporate C&D letter is absolutely commonplace because no one has the resources to fight one of them. Fair use is great in theory, but it’s also practically pay to play. Grand Prix flips that dynamic on its head and makes the C&Ds into a creative element of the drop.”

Upcoming STIMY Guests

  • Nicole (8SIAN)

Also, do you know anyone with an interesting/inspiring story? Or someone whose backstory you’d love to hear?

Feel free to hit me up @ sothisismywhy(at) 😊

Until next week!

Ling Yah

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