Weekly Briefing No. 42 | Nothing But Podcasts: Vacation Week Special

Big Data, prize-linked savings accounts, Pokémon, Chaos Monkeys and an InsuranceTech-loving Caribou made our podcast list for this week. Whether you had a vacation, are on one now or are planning to go on one, we hope you’ll enjoy these features.


What’s the big deal about Big Data? From the core insights behind Google to how computers can be trained to pick up on slight shifts in an equity analyst’s viewpoint, Armen Avanessians has an informed opinion. Avanessians is the Chief Investment Officer of Quantitative Investment Strategies at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Goosing savings through lotteries. Forget preaching and finger-wagging as a way to boost individual savings.  If you can make saving money as fun as gambling, people will squirrel away more and be less inclined to touch the money, according to economists interviewed in this 2014 NPR story. Since this podcast aired, President Obama signed the American Savings Promotion Act into law, clearing the way for broader use of so-called prize-linked savings accounts. Still, prized-linked savings accounts have yet to catch on in a big way. After listening to this story, we think that could change at some point.

Will Pokémon be Time Magazine’s “Person” of the Year award? As it’s an election year, we suspect the game will lose to America’s next president. But the (augmented) reality is that the number of the game’s daily active users exceeds those of Snapchat and Twitter, says Brian Roemmele of Around The Coin. That’s astounding. Together with Mike Townsend, these two fintech entrepreneurs put the Pokémon Go phenomenon in perspective. Their core point: the implications of this game for financial services and society at large haven’t been fully appreciated yet.

 “Chaos Monkeys” author Antonio Garcia-Martinez wrote a nasty book about Silicon Valley. “The book isn’t nice because Silicon Valley isn’t a nice place,” says Garcia-Martinez, a Goldman/Y Combinator/Facebook alum, in a recent interview with Kara Swisher of Recode Decode. The book, a fulfillment of Garcia-Martinez’s bucket list in the wake of his mother’s battle against cancer, has stirred a fair bit of controversy since its release. If you don’t have time to read the book (or even if you do).

 A Caribou takes aim at InsuranceTech. Caribou Honig, a member of the Capital One Mafia and a founding partner of QED Investors, is making a big push into InsuranceTech. That’s notable to us because his firm, which has made 75 investments in fintech companies, has been known for its prescient bets in the alternative lending space. Check out his interview with JoAnn Barefoot and discover why parametric insurance may one day be a big deal.

What did you think of our nothing-but-podcast version of The FR? Let us know here.