Hello, welcome to the weekend.
Silicon Valley loves geeks, as we detailed last spring. He also enjoys pattern-matching, projecting visions of future success onto entrepreneurs who are very similar to past winners. So what happens when an obvious prodigy looks nothing like his predecessors?
It took Melanie Perkins a lot of persistence to convince investors to shell out money for her design software company Canva back in 2012. Perkins, a non-technical founder from Perth, Australia, was in her 20s and dating co-founder (and now husband) Cliff Obrecht when she first arrived on these shores.
No wonder she says 100 venture capitalists sent her away. And yet she held on strong. She was in a hurry, at one point learning to kitesurf just so she could attend a venture capitalist meeting in Maui. She printed out ambitious 100-year plans outlining her vision for the democratization of design around the world. And in the end she won. Canva is one of the most valuable tech startups today.
Perkins’ personal narrative, as laid out in Annie’s cover story this weekend, is one of perseverance. She helped Canva reach a $25.5 billion valuation through an almost bizarre level of foresight, ingenuity and relentless willpower. She’s a true unicorn on top of a unicorn, and it’s exciting to see how far she’ll take the company.
Will generative AI be her Waterloo? Will it continue to gain market share from much larger competitors? Will it stick with the IPO? All questions will be answered twice. But I wouldn’t bet against her.
Now let’s move on to the stories of this weekend…
Having built one of tech’s most valuable startups, the Australian billionaire must now equip it for the huge battles ahead: winning artificial intelligence, taking on Adobe and conquering public markets. Annie spoke with Perkins, her co-founders and investors about what’s next for Canva in the next decade.
The Silicon Valley supergroup has been vocal about their vision of the future, but silent about the actual city they’re funding. So we asked a creative agency, an architecture firm, and our graphic designer to introduce them to their top-secret city.
What is e/acc? And what exactly are his followers trying to build? Margot takes us inside the eccentric movement and meets the people trying to build the future as quickly as possible – AI “doomerism” be damned.
Watching: Netflix’s Sci-Fi Wonderland
Someone in Hollywood raided my bookshelf and I’m not mad about it! First, Netflix released a trailer for the series based on the Chinese trilogy The Three-Body Problem (coming January 2024), which is set several generations in the future when humans have made contact with aliens. Then this weekend came the film Enemy, based on the 2018 book about a man recruited for a mysterious mission into space, starring Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan. Also this week, Netflix released a teaser for Leave the World Behind, a star-studded adaptation of the darkly satirical apocalypse novel directed by Mister John. “Robot” creator Sam Esmail (in theaters October 25 and Netflix December 8). Sci-fi nerds: It’s our time. -Julia
It appears that some celebrities are mobilizing to spread flattering misinformation on behalf of their idols. Last year, after FTX went bankrupt, news outlets picked up the rumor that the ever-savvy Taylor Swift had seen through Sam Bankman-Fried’s BS and turned down a $100 million sponsorship deal with the now-bankrupt crypto exchange. But according to SBF Michael Lewis’ new book, Going Infinite, she was actually willing to move forward with the deal, and it was the FTX executives who walked away. It reminded me of a Miley Cyrus fan who started a false rumor that Cyrus filmed her “Flowers” video in the house where her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth allegedly cheated on her. This little white lie helped the song reach number one on the Billboard charts. Just another way stars are becoming increasingly dependent on their stuns. —Margot
Reading: Technology‘this is new ‘This‘ fashion house
A few years ago, Italian luxury knitwear designer Brunello Cucinelli became one of the first luxury retailers to sell his line directly in Silicon Valley. Who can forget the famous pilgrimage of Reed Hoffman, Jeff Bezos, Drew Houston and other tech luminaries to the Italian village of Cucinelli in 2019? Now an even more expensive Italian fashion house is trying to get its hands on the Valley’s credit cards. For New York magazine, Jen Wichner reveals her passion for technology at Loro Piana, the “quiet luxury” brand known for its rich neutrals and $27,000 vicuna jackets. It was the favorite brand of the Succession scions: Kendall Roy was often seen in Loro. Now everyone from Chamath Palihapitiya to Bill Gates is expanding their Loro capabilities, turning LPs into LPs, as venture capitalist Christian Garrett joked. Just don’t add Mark Zuckerberg to this list. After Wichner’s story was published with an image of Zuck in a simple blue sweater, the Meta CEO corrected the Instagram post: “This shirt is Buck Mason. Also unusual. Retail price: $228. -Annie
Makes you think
Until next weekend, thanks for reading.