Weekly Dose of Optimism #27
Atomic AI, Blueprint, GLP-1s, Hydrogen Aviation, Biden's America, and DIMO
Hi friends 👋,
Happy Friday and welcome back to our 27th Weekly Dose of Optimism. Pretty content-heavy week here at Not Boring. If you enjoyed reading or listening to any of it, we’d appreciate if you could share it with a friend or colleague.
Let’s get to it…and Go Birds 🦅
The Weekly Dose is brought to you by… WUDU
I have many weaknesses, but the most glaring is that I’m a terrible gift giver. I can’t remember a holiday or special occasion when I wasn’t scramble-shopping for Puja’s present with under 48 hours left on the clock.
If that sounds familiar, I got you covered for Valentine’s Day. Or rather, Puja, my mom, and my sister do. Last year, they teamed up to launch a new handbag company, WUDU.
WUDU bags are designed in the USA and handcrafted in Ghana using indigenous danta wood and genuine leather offcuts sourced primarily from Italy. Each bag is handcrafted and one-of-a-kind, so you’ll look extra thoughtful.
The bags have a great backstory (handcrafted by a female entrepreneur/manufacturer that my sister knows in Ghana), but most importantly they are high quality…and have sold out every trunk show they’ve been a part of.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, a WUDU bag makes for the perfect gift for the special women in your life. They’re currently producing in small batches, so order now before they sell out (or before you forget until the last minute again):
Packy McCormick and Elliot Hershberg for Not Boring
Atomic AI is a perfect example of the kind of company we want to invest in at Not Boring Capital. It’s built on cutting edge science at the intersection of Bits and Atoms, has a path to becoming a $10B+ company, and as importantly, will bend the world’s trajectory upwards if it succeeds. Specifically, by unlocking the structure of RNA, Atomic AI could unlock the potential of RNA-targeting and RNA-based medicines, help cure previously incurable diseases, and save millions of lives.
Packy and Elliot Hershberg (Not Boring Capital Biotech Partner) published a deep dive on one of the most fascinating, and we think important, companies in the Not Boring Capital portfolio. Atomic AI is developing the cutting-edge fusion of machine learning and structural biology to unlock RNA drug discovery. The easiest way to think about the company is like AlphaFold for RNA.
If Atomic AI is successful, it could unlock the potential of RNA-targeting and RNA-based medicines, help cure previously incurable diseases, and save millions of lives.
(2) How to Be 18 Years Old Again for Only $2 Million a Year
Ashlee Vance for Bloomberg Businessweek
Johnson, 45, is an ultrawealthy software entrepreneur who has more than 30 doctors and health experts monitoring his every bodily function…The team, led by 29-year-old regenerative medicine physician Oliver Zolman, has committed to help reverse the aging process in every one of Johnson’s organs….This year, he’s on track to spend at least $2 million on his body. He wants to have the brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, tendons, teeth, skin, hair, bladder, penis and rectum of an 18-year-old.
It’s been reported that LeBron James spends $1.5 million on his health & fitness each year. Bryan Johnson, the founder of payments platform Braintree, spends 30% more than that — $2 million dollars per year. (We just use Fount here at Not Boring.) Johnson has taken the idea of the quantified-self to the extreme and is on a quest to reverse aging. Supposedly it’s working: the 45 year old has a “biological age” of 30, according to some doctors.
One way to view this story is that a wacky ~billionaire is on some quixotic quest to live forever, because how could the world live without him?! The cliché of the biohacking, ultra-optimized techbro that is trying to compensate for some deep-seated insecurity exists for a reason.
But a more charitable view here—and the view that I happen to hold—is that Johnson is taking on an extreme burden, which may ultimately produce some generalizable health & wellness learnings. While I don’t think it’s really feasible for the average person to exactly follow “The Blueprint,” I do think his principles are pretty reasonable and there are some easily adoptable tips and heuristics. At a high-level, if Johnson and his team are able to prove out a legitimate plan for age-reversal and scale that beyond just Johnson himself, than that would obviously be pretty paradigm shifting.
(3) America Isn’t Ready for the Weight-Loss-Drug Revolution That’s Coming
Derek Thompson for Plain English
We’ve written a lot about the promise of GLP-1 weight loss medications. The early read from studies and reputable experts is that they can help people lose up to 20% of their weight, with few serious adverse side effects. These medications are, for many people that have struggled with obesity, miracle drugs.
Derek Thompson had Dr. Susan Yanovski, the co-Director of the Office of Obesity Research at the NIH, on his podcast to discuss the history of weight-loss treatment in America, how GLP-1s are changing everything, and what that might mean for a society that places so much emphasis on weight. The big takeaway from Dr. Yanovski is that, for many people, weight management is less a matter of willpower or personal responsibility, but more so a medical condition that needs to be treated as such.
As a note, we know we’ve been covering this topic repeatedly in The Weekly Dose of Optimism. It is our view that this is one of the more important stories in health, tech, and society right now. We also recognize that there’s a bit of darker side to this story — medication abuse, anecdotal adverse side effects, and just America’s (let’s be real here, mostly superficial) obsession with weight. We’ll try our best to monitor and meter our excitement as the rollout of these drugs occurs over the coming years.
(4) Aviation Startup ZeroAvia Flies Largest-Ever Hydrogen Electric Aircraft
Andy Corbley for Good New Network, h/t Nick Van Osdol
This is a major moment, not just for ZeroAvia, but for the aviation industry as a whole, as it shows that true zero-emission commercial flight is only a few years away. The first flight of our 19-seat aircraft shows just how scalable our technology is and highlights the rapid progress of zero-emission propulsion.
This aviation startup, ZeroAvia, made history this week by flying the largest-ever hydrogen-electric fueled aircraft. While you won’t find American Airlines or Delta replacing their fleet of jet-fuel guzzling birds anytime soon, ZeroAvia’s succesful test-flight is a hopeful sign that we are closer to commercial zero-emissions flights.
Aviation accounts for ~2.5% of global global CO2 pollution (which is relatively sizeable) but such a small percentage of people are responsible for that impact. It’s estimated that only 5% of the global population has ever even been on a flight — and within that flying sub-population, some folks are definitely have an outsized effect (private flights, frequent flyers, etc).
If we can replace all of those fuel guzzling jets with hydrogen-powered aircraft, it won’t solve climate change, but it’ll definitely make a nice positive dent.
(5) Joe Biden's conditional optimism about America
Matthew Yglesias for Slow Boring
Biden calls himself a “congenital optimist,” but his life has famously been marked by tragedy and he’s no Pollyanna. He believes the country has genuine concrete advantages — a favorable geographical location; abundant natural resources; a large, skilled, and highly-motivated population — and that with those advantages we can surmount problems and lead the world, if we are united.
And that’s where Joe Biden comes in.
We generally steer clear of politics here at Not Boring. But, to be transparent, we’re rooting for Joe Biden. He holds an optimistic view of America that we tend to agree with. To be clear, we’re not “you must support the President because he’s the President” maximalists. Trump’s vision for America (and his general approach in bringing that vision to life) was not one we supported. But Biden’s vision? Yes, that’s something that we can get behind. It’s something like: we’re not perfect, but if we work together we can definitely be the best.
Do we agree with all of his policies? No.
Do we love the fact that an 80 year old is President? No.
Is his approach of realpolitiking a bit icky at times? Sure.
Is the whole Hunter situation sad and absurd? Definitely.
Is the hypocrisy of the whole classified docs thing a bit face-palmy? Yes.
Will there be better (even Republican) Presidential candidates during the next election? Possibly.
But that’s doesn’t mean we’re not rooting for Joe. And despite his shortcomings, he’s actually getting a lot of stuff done (China hasn’t looked weaker in a few decades!) and delivering on his promise of progress through compromise.
This Ygelsias profile does a nice job of framing how Biden is operating today and why, despite all of the reasons we listed above, it might actually be working.
Bonus: Not Boring Founders: Andy Chatham, Dimo
Packy had on Andy Chatham, the co-founder and CEO of DIMO. DIMO is a connected vehicle platform built on Web3 rails. Our view at Not Boring is that the next wave of crypto applications that take off will connect crypto to the real world and to apps that have value on their own. DIMO is a perfect example of this.
Speaking of Not Boring Founders, NBC portfolio company Melonfrost announced its $7M seed round. Its one of the most ambitious projects in our portfolio. Melonfrost is building the world’s first evolutionary prediction engine. Find out exactly what that means in the next episode of Not Boring founders.
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That’s all for this week. We’ll be back in your inbox on Monday.
Thanks for reading,
FWIW: my 14-year-old son was asking about hydrogen as fuel recently (due to Glass Onion). So I sent him your ZeroAvia link, to which he replied “Wow cool” -- which is a rare and precious reaction for me as his Dad. Thank you. :-)
Will you or any other Biden supporters let the millions of illegal immigrants he let in stay in your home? Did the COVID jab prevent you from getting COVID, like Uncle Joe said? Can he string together a coherent sentence without a teleprompter? Is the world a safer, less violent place under his watch after the Afghanistan debacle? Are hyperinflation and hundreds of thousands tech layoffs indicative of a strong economy? Can a black person be Black if they don't vote for him? Should teachers facilitate kids' gender transitions without telling parents? Can you reason with a demoralized person? Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/how-to-reason-with-a-demoralized