The Profile: The prince of fraud & the woman running a $45 billion empire
Good morning, friends!
I recently interviewed Reid Hoffman for the October issue of Fortune Magazine. We talked about "blitzscaling," the notion of prioritizing speed over efficiency in the development of a company.
Hoffman obviously knows a lot about growing companies at a breakneck pace. An executive at PayPal during the company's earliest days, Hoffman later cofounded social network LinkedIn and now invests in fast-growing companies at Greylock Partners.
If you’re building/leading a company, you’ll enjoy this one. Read it here.
Here’s what else we have this week:
— The woman running a $45 billion empire [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The prince of fraud
— The heiress waging a million-dollar war on frats
— The world’s most regular marathoner
— The secretive $20 billion startup
— The company chasing its sky-high valuation
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The woman running a $45 billion empire: Priscilla Chan is one of the world’s most powerful women. While both Chan and husband Mark Zuckerberg founded the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, she’s at the helm. This profile explores the vast responsibility that falls on the woman tasked with spending $45 billion to help society, while her husband is being blamed for exploiting it.
“Do you help 100 people very deeply or do you try to make the world better for everyone?”
The prince of fraud: Investors all over the world fell for the schemes of the man who called himself Prince Khalid bin al-Saud. But the truth turned out to be more incredible than the lie. He was in negotiations to buy 30% of the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami & was selling early access to the Aramco IPO. His most recent scam involved duping 26 international investors out of $8 million. This story is a very good lesson in what happens if you don’t do proper due diligence.
“To play the role he played so well for so long, he had to believe the lie. He actually believes he is Khalid, the prince of Saudi Arabia. I was sucked into absolute mayhem.”
The heiress waging a million-dollar war on frats: For six years, Deborah Tipton has poured $1 million into solving the riddle of what happened at her son’s Delta Sigma Phi fraternity where he was reportedly hazed to death. Tipton says the university is covering up the truth, in part because the son of High Point University President Nido Qubein belonged to the frat. In her view, the police have no interest in going after one of the community’s most influential institutions. But she does — and she has the money and connections to fight a forever war.
“What they’re hoping is I’ll go away. I won’t go away. They didn’t just haze my son. They killed my son.”
The world’s most regular marathoner: This year’s Boston Marathon made running almost impossible — it was freezing, pelting rain, and wind gusting to 35 miles an hour. Meanwhile, runner Yuki Kawauchi was ecstatic because he thrives in extreme cold. Kawauchi won the legendary race, but he’s not even a full-time runner. He works 40 hours a week in the administrative office of a high school in Tokyo. At the marathon after-party, he went into the bathroom and called his boss to say, “Sorry, but I won the Boston Marathon. Is it possible to have another day off?”
“If you do everything on your own and have a big success, it’s your success, not the coach’s success,” Kawauchi said. “I’m my own responsibility.”
COMPANIES TO WATCH.
The secretive $20 billion startup: Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison have democratised online payments — and reshaped the digital economy in the process. Stripe, which is valued at $20 billion, handles payments for Amazon, Booking.com, Lyft, Deliveroo, Shopify, Salesforce and Facebook. In one of the most in-depth profiles of Stripe, the story goes deep into the founders’ early life of developing the concept for what would become one of the most important companies in tech.
“It was amazing to us that two kids in Ireland can start a business with customers around the world.”
The company chasing its sky-high valuation: How can Airbnb justify a $31 billion valuation that is higher than Expedia, Hilton, and American Airlines? In this profile, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky attempts to explain his audacious plans to earn it. As a company with an IPO on the horizon, financial investors may not be thrilled to hear that Chesky is not putting their interests first. “Before, it was really about financial metrics,” he says. “I think now companies are realizing we have a greater responsibility to society to make sure life is great.”
“The reality is that you’re not going to be around long-term unless you’re able to grow and generate attractive economics.”