The WC – Let’s fire a disabled guy

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The WC is a selection of five useful, interesting & notable insights handpicked by CIO Wyatt Cavalier and dropped into your inbox every Wednesday.

…Well, Wyatt usually writes The WC. This week Stefan is stepping in (that’s me!) 👋

See, Wyatt is in the hospital right now, being a great father, attending to his poor kids who are sick. I’m here to try and fill Wyatt’s shoes as best I can.

Expect 20% more emojis, 20% fewer typos, and captions that are decent, but not quite as good as the king 😂

Let’s get started.

Mouth, say hello to foot 🦶😮

I know, I KNOW. Everyone’s already talking about the story where Elon musk fired a disabled guy.

And the whole point of The WC is to bring you alternative stuff other people aren’t discussing as much. But bear with me for a sec.

Start with this Twitter thread if you want to get caught up. It’s absolutely absurd.

In a nutshell:

  1. Twitter “quiet-fired” an employee named Haraldur Thorleifsson (aka “Halli”) a well-regarded designer and Iceland’s former Person of the Year
  2. Halli was trying to figure out if he was actually let go, since they shut off his computer without notice.
  3. Halli asked Elon Musk if he was actually fired, and Elon publicly trolled him about it (which is insane).
  4. It turns out that Halli had a clause in his contract triggering an ENORMOUS payout if he got fired.
  5. Elon finally realized this, publicly apologized, and as of this writing Halli is “considering staying at Twitter.”

But what caught my attention was what Halli said in this tweet:

As an American/Australian, the idea that personal tax records are made public for anyone to see is bonkers to me. I didn’t realize this was a thing until now.

It turns out it’s absolutely a thing, and popular in the Nordic countries (no surprise there).

Each year in October, the annual tax returns of Norwegian citizens are posted online on the Norwegian Tax Administration ’s official website

Same with Sweden and Finland. In fact, the Swedish Discrimination Act of 2008 requires all Swedish companies with over 25 employees to publish annual data on salaries paid. But there’s a catch: You request anyone else’s tax returns with just a phone call, but the person whose returns you request will know it was you.

How do you feel about this? (I love the Nordic countries, but not sure I’m a fan tbh)

Dig deeper into Nordic tax transparency:

Hooray for women!

March 8th is International Women’s Day (IWD)

It always seemed odd to me that we had just one day to celebrate. This isn’t some random, forgotten group we’re talking about; it’s women. Why not a week? Or a whole month? Or just dedicate half the year?

It turns out the holiday, which is acknowledged in all countries, but is an official public holiday in others, actually has Soviet roots.

In 1917, female textile workers went on strike, demanding an end to World War I, food shortages, and czarism. Seven days later, Tsar Nicholas II granted Soviet women the right to vote, and in 1922, Lenin declared that March 8th shall be designated officially as women’s day.

Historians peg the beginning of International Womens Day to this 1917 demonstration for bread and peace in Petrograd, Russia.

After its official adoption in Soviet Russia, IWD was predominantly celebrated amongst communist leaders, including in Spain and China. It mostly remained a communist holiday until 1975, when it was adopted by the United Nations.

Today, the organization has very specific goals, including:

  • Celebrating women’s achievement
  • Raise awareness about discrimination
  • Take action to drive gender parity

Much progress has been made, but there is still work to be done to close the gender pay gap, the gender leadership gap, the gender funding gap, and as we’ve written about previously, the gender investing gap.

But it turns out the countries with the smallest gender gaps are, wait for it, the Nordic countries. And a big reason why is (you guessed it) salary transparency. (Like we were just talking about! See how I tied these stories together? Two points! 🏀)

Sweden shows that pay transparency works. The average pay gap in Sweden between men and women doing the same jobs is just 6%, compared to the US at 18%, and the global average of 33%.

If Swedish companies discover a gender wage gap and don’t make a concerted effort to close it, they’ll be forced to pay a fine.

(Hmm, I could be swayed about this salary transparency movement after all…)

Notable facts:

  • New Zealand is regarded as the first country to grant all adult women the right to vote.
  • The world had more females than males until 1957
  • Irena Sendler is a female hero that everyone should know about. She rescued 2,500 Jewish children during WW2. She was captured by the Nazis and tortured, but didn’t give up any information. She was ordered to be executed, but escaped, and returned to save more kids. She saved twice as many kids from death as Oskar Schindler (also a hero). But there’s no movie about her, and few people know her name. Learn more about this amazing woman.

The female athlete investing boom

We are living through some interesting times.

A few months ago, I wrote a Sunday Edition on investing in athletes — a concept that still blows my mind, but makes perfect sense, because the incentives between players and investors are totally aligned.

In the issue, I highlighted a few interesting companies at the forefront of athlete investing, including Evo  (sort of an athlete investment fund) Chisos Capital (run by our friend Will Stringer) and Carry.golf (which focuses on golfers).

Since then, a few stories have caught my eye:

First, the NFL’s top talent agency was bought by venture investors . Mastry Ventures and General Catalyst have acquired a stake in Athletes First, an agency representing eight Super Bowl MVPs and the most first-round NFL Draft picks for three consecutive years. (Not female-related, but still interesting)

Second, EA just announced that National Women’s Soccer League teams are coming to their FIFA video game. For those unfamiliar with Electronic Arts (EA), they’re a powerhouse in the video game world. This is a huge move to recognize and promote the growth of women’s soccer worldwide.

(See, I also tied this story in with the previous one. Two more points! 🏀)

And finally, Olympian gold-meal ice hockey star and total badass Angela Ruggiero announced a partnership with banking giant Ally to create the Women’s Sports Club, a coalition of major brands and media that address media disparity between men’s and women’s sports.

The club is trying to tackle an issue that has held women’s sports back for decades: Brands say there isn’t enough media coverage to justify advertising dollars, while broadcasters say there aren’t enough advertising dollars to justify media coverage.

Women’s sports have arrived, and everyone agrees it’s smart business to invest. But there are real barriers inhibiting brands from placing scaled media buys. The Women’s Sports Club is addressing this challenge head-on. – Angela Ruggiero

Dig deeper into female sports investing:

Seaweed is taking over

There was a fascinating article in The Guardian on the devastating threat of a type of seaweed taking over the world.

Specifically, the Great Atlantic Sargassum belt, which stretches so far across the ocean that it’s visible from space. It’s due to human activity like soya farming, which dumps nitrogen and phosphorus into the ocean.

Yeah, that’s not good. But don’t worry, robots can save us.

The problem mainly affects The Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida (like they don’t have enough problems already). And unlike other types of seaweed, nobody can think of a commercially viable solution for this stuff.

But all is not lost: A company called Seaweed Generation is trying to capture the stuff using robots, bundle it up and sink it to the bottom of the sea, where it can do what it does best: stay out of sight and suck up carbon.

A big hat tip to community member Theodore Mollinger for bringing this story to my attention.

(Darn, I couldn’t find a way to tie this in with story #3!)

Dive deeper into seaweed:

GeoGuessr Geniuses

Finally, you may be familiar with the online game GeoGuessr.

The game drops you onto a random spot on earth via Google Street View, and you have to guess where you are using clues from your surroundings. Houses, roads, signs, cars, people, and even trees and shrubs. It can be very difficult, but extremely rewarding when your guess is right near the actual spot (at least for travel nerds like me)

It was developed in 2013, but really took off during covid when everyone was stuck at home, dreaming of faraway places.

GeoGuessr drops you somewhere on earth. Your job is to “walk around” and guess where you are. The closer your guess is to the actual spot, the more points you get.

But what you may not know is that a few people have gotten really good at the game. Like, insanely f*#^ing good.

Two players in particular have become world-famous geo-guessers: Trevor Rainbolt and Tom Davies.

These guys are basically the Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton of the game. Trevor has gotten so good that he can now view a jumbled slice of an image for 0.1 seconds, and pinpoint the exact random road in Russia where it was taken.

Check out this video if you don’t believe me:

I mean holy hell, this is sorcery. No wonder the guy has become a meme.

I’m good at many things, but I will never be as good at anything as these guys are at GeoGuessr.

Dig deeper into GeoGuessr:

That’s all for this week.

Wyatt will be back with more next Wednesday.

Cheers,

Stefan

Disclosures

  • Our friends at  Webstreet  sponsored this issue.
  • We’re considering investing in WebStreet for our upcoming ALTS 2 fund.
  • I don’t personally hold any stock or vested interest in any products or companies covered in this email.

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Picture of Stefan von Imhof

Stefan von Imhof

As the CEO of Alts, Stefan lives and breathes alternative asset analysis and valuations. His alternative investing newsletter has grown into Alts.co — the world's largest alt investing community, with over 200,000 investors. His favorite alternative investments are holiday rentals, cash-flowing websites, and especially his collection of 300 vinyl records. Originally from Boston and Santa Barbara, CA, he now lives with his wife in Australia.

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