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Data Sheet—The Virtues of Having a Beginner's Mind

Alan Patricof photographed in his Manhattan office Nov 16, 2017. Robyn Twomey

Jeff Bezos, one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, speaks frequently of the virtues of having a “beginner’s mind.” It’s a metaphor for affecting the humility of a novice, a willingness to learn new things despite having already found great success. It’s also a euphemism for feigning the attributes of the youth even if, like Bezos, your 30s are decades in the rear-view mirror.

Fortune’s Jeff Roberts has written a lovely feature article, published online this morning, about another mature tech-industry leader with a beginner’s mind. Alan Patricof, a seasoned venture-capital and private-equity investor, is 82 but has the hunger of a man a third his age. He found success with investments like Apple and AOL, but spend just a little time with Patricof and you’ll feel his visceral desire to find the next tech and media leaders. A Democratic party fundraiser, Hamptons habitue, and a tech-conference hall rat, Patricof is as aggressive as any wet-behind-the-ears associate on Sand Hill Road—but far more accomplished.

I marvel at the “mature” people I know who refuse to act their age. There’s undoubtedly a downside to their ambition: Many won’t get out of the way for the next generation. That doesn’t appear to be Patricof’s problem. He has empowered a bevy of younger investors, primarily his partners Dana Settle (a friend of mine for many years) and Ian Sigalow, who are responsible for the more recent hits of the firm they founded with Patricof, Greycroft Partners.

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There’s another endearing element to the Greycroft story: The firm’s networks primarily are in New York and Los Angeles, perennial second fiddles to the only venture-capital market that truly matters, Silicon Valley. Just as China is no mere copycat anymore, Greycroft shows that it’s possible to succeed outside the nice-slacks-and-down-vest world of the San Francisco Bay Area investment world.

Beginner’s, young and old, have something to prove. And sometimes they do.

NEWSWORTHY

Ups and downs. Bitcoin and digital currencies in general made a huge step into the financial mainstream on Sunday night. The CBOE’s bitcoin futures contracts started trading, and showed all the volatility for which the cryptocurrency is famous. Prices jumped as much as 26% and twice triggered a so-called “circuit breaker,” or temporary halt in trading, meant to blunt extreme moves.

It’s funny to him. Days away from a vote to rescind the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 net neutrality rules, FCC chair Ajit Pai is joking about his time as associate general counsel at Verizon. Pai filmed a brief comedy sketch, which he showed at last week’s annual Federal Communications Bar Association dinner.

Listening in. Apple is looking to buy music identification service Shazam, but for much less than the startup’s last private valuation of $1 billion, TechCrunch reported. Shazam made a “statutory pre-tax loss” of $5.3 million on revenues of $54 million in its most recent fiscal year.

Moving ahead. Uber is moving past at least one of the big controversies inherited by new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. The company is settling with an Indian woman who was raped by an Uber driver and sued after Uber obtained her medical records.

Moving ahead II. Android founder Andy Rubin is back at work at his phone startup Essential, Recode reported. Rubin went on leave last month as reports surfaced of an allegedly inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.

Buy the runway. Luxury fashion startup Moda Operandi raised $165 million to further its expansion in Middle Eastern and Asian markets, Forbes reports. CEO Deborah Nicodemus says the online retailer was already headed towards profitability but needed more backing “to fuel growth acceleration.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Sometimes it seems like brands are everything in the 21st economy, with consumers willing to pay more, sometimes considerably more, to get the product with the desired logo. Brand love can also turn to brand hate, as happened for many Uber fans when the ride service was engulfed in a sea of accusations and scandals this year.

So it was more than a little surprising that one of Apple’s top brand managers, Bozoma Saint John, jumped ship and took then job of chief brand officer at Uber. In a wide ranging interview and profile for the Financial Times, Leslie Hook starts with the basics. Why leave Apple, perhaps the most popular brand on the planet, for all the troubles at Uber:

“I was aware of all the things that were happening here, but it didn’t deter me,” she says, in an interview at Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco. “I won’t lie to you and pretend like I’m not glad that some of this stuff is coming out of the dark . . . I wanted to join Uber because of those reasons. If we can’t prove that a culture can change, then we are doomed to say it is impossible.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

A Cryptocurrency Wallet in Apple’s App Store Is Raising Security Concerns Amid Bitcoin’s Frenzy By David Meyer

A Tech Staffing Firm Put a White Supremacist In Charge of Equal Opportunity By David Z. Morris

Could Bitcoin’s ‘Whales’ Manipulate the Market? By David Z. Morris

How An Entirely Fake Restaurant Became London’s Hottest Reservation By David Z. Morris

How Nvidia Surprised AI Experts Twice This Week By Aaron Pressman

Apple Fixes Bug That Let Hackers Wrest Control of Smart Home Devices By Don Reisinger

Elon Musk Says Tesla Is Developing Artificial Intelligence: ‘Will Be the Best in the World’ By Tom Huddleston Jr.

BEFORE YOU GO

Truck driving is one of the most popular occupations in the United States, employing 1.7 million people. And truckers are starting to get worried about the rise of self-driving rigs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. “This will be the biggest disruption in work and jobs that the country has ever experienced,” labor expert Andy Stern tells the paper.

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