Wednesday, December 1 2021

Dive In


There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level we had with Delta. I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like ‘this is not going to be good’.

That’s Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel triggering a stock market panic with his comments to Financial Times—weighing in on whether vaccines will work against the new variant Omicron. OTOH, University of Oxford is confident that AstraZeneca will continue to prevent severe disease, and Pfizer claims that “at least three doses” will offer “fairly good protection.”

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Big Story

The rise of Parag Agrawal

The TLDR: Not much is known about the new publicity-shy CEO—or how he plans to lead Twitter. Here’s a quick recap of what we could uncover from the recent coverage. 


Editor’s note: We did our Big Story on Jack Dorsey’s departure yesterday. It offers more context to Agrawal’s appointment.


The basic bio

Agrawal is a former Mumbaikar, born and raised. He got his undergraduate degree at IIT-Bombay in computer science and engineeringand moved to the US in 2005. Agrawal enrolled in the PhD program at Stanford Universityfor a degree in computer science… and philosophy! But he took the job at Twitter in 2011 before completing his thesis. From what we can gather, Agrawal never got around to getting that PhD.


His personal life: It is very clear that Agrawal likes to keep his private life very private. His Twitter bio indicates he is married to Vineeta Agarwala, a physician, and adjunct clinical professor at Stanford. Soon after news of the damaad’s new job broke, Agrawal’s delighted father-in-law Indu Bhushanwho appears to be an ex senior bureaucrattweeted out:


“Heartiest congratulations on becoming the youngest CEO of a S&P 500 company @paraga! All my best wishes and blessings for a highly successful and memorable tenure. May you navigate the complex world of twitter as dextrously as you are holding my grandson in this picture!” 


The message was accompanied by this photo:


The tweet has since been deleted. Like we said, Parag appears to be big on privacywhich is probably a good trait in a CEO who runs a social media platform.


What we know about Parag…


Headlines that matter

Indian citizenship isn’t popular

The government revealed that 600,000 Indians gave up their citizenship between 2017 and 2020 to opt for another country. OTOH, only a total of 4,177 people became Indian citizens between 2016 and 2020—most of them from Pakistan. But hey, who is more bharatiya than our Canadian passport-wala Akki? (The Print)

Your fave brand destroys the Amazon

That’s the bad news delivered by a new study that links leather items sold by H&M, Zara, Adidas and Nike to deforestation in South America. Also as bad: luxury brands like Coach, Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Prada. They all buy from the largest Brazilian leather exporter, JBS. The link is indirect but still significant:


“Research has shown that the cattle industry is the single largest driver of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and the fashion industry is an important cog in the leather exportation machine. In fact, projections show that in order to keep supplying consumers with wallets, handbags and shoes, the fashion industry must slaughter 430 million cows annually by 2025.”


Emojis women love to dislike

According to a new study, using emojis is risky in work messages because women tend to respond negatively to some of them. The phenomenon is called “Emotional negativity bias,” which posits that some people are more sensitive to negative facial emotions than to positive ones. Among the emojis perceived more negatively by women: the thinking emoji, smiling face with horns and of a surprised face with eyebrows raised. Also, this one weird thing: “For the surprised face, the eyebrows made the difference. There was no gender difference in reactions to the surprised face without eyebrows.” (Wall Street Journal)


How much for this make-believe yacht?

NFTs are beginning to resemble that fable about the emperor who had no clothes. Someone actually paid $650,000 in crypto for a virtual yacht. Ok, in theory, this giant boat is four stories and has lounge areas, a hot tub, dance floor, D booth and two helipads (imaginary helicopters sold separately). Guess who is not buying NFT yachts: real-life billionaires with real-world yachts. (Futurism)


In today’s edition

Sanity Break

  • Watch a Nobel laureate cook!


A list of curious facts

  • How old are your ears? 
  • The world’s first ever beach
  • The Arctic Circle's  snow goggles that were in circulation way before Ray Bans
  • A restaurant in Bangalore called Crypto Chai 

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