The Profile: The $18 billion AI unicorn & the 2024 Super Bowl halftime show performer
This edition of The Profile features Taylor Tomlinson, Usher, Naomi Osaka, and more.
Good morning, friends!
Welcome to the many new subscribers who have signed up for The Profile in the last few days! For those of you who are new, allow me to introduce myself and share a few articles that will help get to know me better.
First, my name is Polina, and I started this newsletter in 2017 as a side venture simply because I liked reading (and sharing) longform profiles of interesting & successful people. In 2020, I quit my job as a tech reporter at FORTUNE magazine to work on The Profile full time. In 2023, I published a book from all that I had learned studying successful people called, HIDDEN GENIUS.
I’ve interviewed many fascinating figures like author James Clear, football legend JJ Watt, war photographer Lynsey Addario, famed restaurateur Danny Meyer, sailor Laura Dekker, and Humans of New York founder Brandon Stanton. (See the full archive here).
Here are a few columns you may like:
— I quit my job at the start of the pandemic to launch a company. Here’s what I’ve learned in the first 90 days.
— How to Improve Your Content Diet in the New Year
— 23 years in the U.S: Finding the joy in the ‘unspeakably difficult’ climb
— Annual Birthday Check-In: 10 Lessons from My 32nd Year of Life
— Q&A with Polina: How I Built The Profile
— 100 Couples Share Their Secrets to a Successful Relationship
— What Happened When I Saw My Book at a Bookstore for the First Time
Appreciate you all being on this journey with me. I hope you enjoy the profiles below.
— The comedian grappling with success [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The 2024 Super Bowl halftime show performer
— The undercover agent telling the story of human trafficking
— The tennis superstar making a comeback
— The $18 billion AI unicorn
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The comedian grappling with success: Comedian Taylor Tomlinson, 30, undertook her first theater tour just two years ago, and she has emerged as one of the most acclaimed, in-demand superstars in comedy. After two Netflix specials produced in her 20s (and a third premiering next month), she became the only woman to make the top 10 grossing comic tours of 2023. She performed 130 shows, more than anyone else on that list, including Kevin Hart, who topped the list. And to follow that up, she is taking over the late-night TV slot vacated by James Corden on CBS as the host of the comedy show “After Midnight.” But it begs the question: Is what’s good for Taylor Tomlinson’s career bad for her life? (The New York Times)
“There sometimes feels like there isn’t anyone my age to talk to.”
The 2024 Super Bowl halftime show performer: Ah, Usher. (Fun fact: Usher and I are both alums of the same high school. My musical & acting career, however, did not take off. 🤣) Usher is recording his ninth album, Coming Home, all while planning the 2024 Super Bowl halftime show, the biggest single televised moment of his career. He’ll be maintaining this momentum past the show, he says, and seeing his therapist and doing his daily meditation practice and working out and eating right and being a good partner and raising two children under the age of four. “I know that it’s going to be the hardest time of my life,” he said of this period of performing, planning, singing, skating, training, promoting, parenting, being present. (Vogue)
“Usher never wants you to think that he doesn’t care about the way you see him, or the way that he sees himself.”
The undercover agent telling the story of human trafficking: For years, former FBI Special Agent Nikki Badolato led the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force targeting some of the most heinous criminals. Now, she wants Americans to know the truth about underage sex crimes. (Rolling Stone)
“If I can be perfectly honest, I truly don’t believe that the FBI realizes what they put their agents through doing that kind of work.”
The tennis superstar making a comeback: Naomi Osaka knows that playing tennis and winning championships will help build her empire. But returning to tennis wasn’t simply a business decision or a way to make her daughter proud. It was something visceral. “She wants to be the world No 1 again,” her coach Florian Zitzelsberger says after practice one day a few weeks ago. “She saw all the players and everything that was going on the last one and a half years when she was not there. And this just gave her a feeling, ‘I have to get back to here. I want to have it again’.” (The Athletic)
“‘I have to get back to here. I want to have it again’.”
COMPANIES TO WATCH.
The $18 billion AI unicorn: While artificial intelligence startup OpenAI reportedly ended the year discussing a fundraise at a valuation of $100 billion or more, one of its leading challengers, Anthropic, was accepting a round of its own. Appearing almost modest in comparison, Anthropic was raising $750 million in new funding that would nearly quadruple its valuation to $18.4 billion. New details of the unusual round, which remains in progress, reveal how lead investor Menlo Ventures used an increasingly popular tactic to jump to the front. (Forbes)
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