The Longform is a weekly newsletter that curates the best longform pieces from around the web, with a focus on business, technology, and innovation. If you haven't already, you can subscribe here.
📖 Top longform articles
The FinCEN Files (~15min): Suspicious Activity Reports, or SARs, are reports filed by financial institutions with their local enforcement agency when some transactions are suspected to be involved in fraud, terrorist financing, money laundering, and other crimes. Using a trove of over 2K SARs, Buzzfeed News reports on the corruption and regulatory failure of the global financial system.
Aside: This article is a bit distanced from the core Longform subject matter, but is too big of a story to ignore. And given how safety/security have long been the ace up incumbent banks' sleeve to defend against encroaching Fintechs, an optimist could dream that these revelations will spur a rethinking of who is capable of securing the global financial system and who is not.
⭐Seeing Like an Algorithm (~20min): The meteoric rise of TikTok can almost single-handedly be attributed to its powerful "For You page", an endless feed of personalized content that is incredibly proficient at understanding what users want and serving up exactly that. Eugene Wei outlines how this superior recommendations engine isn't driven by superior algorithms, but by a more "algorithm-friendly UI" that feeds in more useful information to.
💻 Top new technology
Mornin Calendar: As we've shared previously, the office suite of the past is being unbundled. One of the latest under assault is the humble calendar, and Mornin is one of the latest challengers looking to bring intelligence and insight to your schedule. While it is not yet public, if it's able to deliver on even half the functionality showcased in the demo on the homepage, it'll be leaps and bounds above what is possible with a regular Google / Microsoft Calendar.
Similar: Woven (focused on seamless scheduling), Sunsama and Plan (focused on task integration), Clockwise and Reclaim (focused on time-blocking)
👀 Other interesting content
mata: Described as a "business ideation and execution platform", mata helps users manage their business ideas, test and launch them through outsourced development teams, and legally register their business online. The barriers to starting a business have already been reduced significantly by shift from capital expenditure to operating expenditure (eg. server racks vs. AWS), and "business-in-a-box solutions" like mata are making it even easier.
Similar: Stripe Atlas (focus on financial solutions such as corporate cards, and online billing), Gust Launch and Clerky (focused on legal paperwork)
⭐Discovery Assist: Talking to end-customers is critical to building products and services that people actually want and are willing to pay for. First Round is looking to help founders get in front of relevant people quickly by taking on the lengthy and time-consuming burden of getting intros and booking meetings. Early stage companies can fill out the form and if selected, will be scheduled for ~20 discovery conversations with relevant companies and individuals.
Aside: VC firms increasingly have to deliver value beyond a cheque. This is one of the more useful value-adds I have seen, and a great way for First Round to build out the top of their deals funnel.
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