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CCTV 041: Complementary Capital
Complementary Colors TV is a production of Cultural Fan-Fiction & undercurrents
This week’s cultural fan-fiction is about venture capital in the near future.
My son won’t stop texting me.
He said hello I said how are you.
He said dad, I’m not ok.
My son was working for an angel investment firm in Portland called SaturnCap. They did not have ping pong because paddle sports are for tech bros and silicons. They did not have salary transparency because that could be rendered opaque. They did not have values because values are words, not actions.
What SaturnCap did have was a fearless leader. I actually met the guy for drinks once. It felt kind of like a PTA conference, hearing about my son’s performance at work. I half expected to see a report card from the looks of the guy. Josh, the bubbly venture capitalist, had a crisp collar and charming voice. That was when I realized why my son had started ironing his shirts, going to bed at 9:15, and switched to Keto three days before Passover.
Josh, like so many others, hit gold in 2021. Coming out of The Crises, SaturnCap’s portfolio had a shining star. He had invested in 3dee, an in-home hardware company that helped people 3D print DIY modules of expensive household appliances, like microwaves and compact refrigerators, in their own homes for a fraction of the old price. Founded is a generous word. The 3dee team licensed an Iranian grad student’s patent, and manufactured the low grade printer in Bolivia, to keep headcount low back home.
Over time, Josh slowly weened the SaturnCap fund away from healthcare, tech, and energy startups, to feed the hungry beast that needed more and more capital. With department stores in the suburbs shuttering, and the boom in home cooking, 3dee was a rocket ship. For every million SaturnCap put in, they saw four million back. They were printing money. Why invest anywhere else?
It turned out, after three months, the fridges froze and the nukes melted. The silicon modules couldn’t stand the extreme variations in temperature, and were prone to spontaneous combustion. The lawsuits poured in. It was bust for 3dee, bust for Josh, bust for my boy. But unlike the Before Times, criminal justice are different. The courts are less forgiving. The founders of 3dee, and all their investors, are now liable for burning down 72 houses and 4 apartment complexes. 113 people were dead because of their charged criminal negligence.
My son asks me what to do.
Run, I text him.
Fruits of Our Labor, Stories of Old
Orange Juice: In 2020, two startups of similar names and missions launched: ClubHouse & Lunchclub. The catch? Both funded by Marc Andreesen / a16z. While our CFF of the week might seem like a jab at folks like Mark, we’ve truly enjoyed networking on LunchClub and well…still on the waitlist to network on ClubHouse. Read about the former in TechCrunch and the latter in NYT.
Lemon Aid: We can’t put down Lydia Millet’s Love in Infant Monkeys, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist from a decade ago. The environmentalist & author tells stories of celebrities and their encounters with animals; “Madonna, experiencing remorse after she shoots a pheasant on an english estate, Noam Chomsky in a garbage dump with a gerbil cage.” Tabloids are a half step away from Cultural Fan-Fiction, yeah?
Paloma: This WIRED article, MOTHER EARTH, MOTHER BOARD, has it all—90s tech culture, anecdotes stranger than fiction, and hackers chasing coordinates to the ends of the earth. Reporting on the largest cable in the world at the time, Neal Stephenson tells the winding and wild story of The Hacker Tourist. Absolutely love the style of this longform. Shout out to Complementary Colorer I.F. Robinson for dusting off this article from 1996 and sending it our way. Your way.
Where We’re Donating
The Crisis Text Line: A remarkable resource for people struggling with mental health crises, Crisis Text Line provides people with a live, trained counselor to speak with immediately. All you have to do is text HOME to 741741. Great place to donate your time or money.
Charles Booker for Kentucky: A primary contender for Mitch McConnell’s senate seat, Booker was just endorsed by AOC & Bernie in a move that surprised the DNC and Amy McGrath, the leading democratic candidate. Booker is radically progressive, and the youngest black lawmaker in the state of Kentucky. He advocates for UBI, the Green New Deal, M4A, and criminal justice reform. Vote. Read more about his mission in Esquire.
Reforming Justice: A Houston-based organization that provides legal aid and resources, including bail funds, to Houstonians in need. Over the past two weeks, we’ve marveled at how the city’s activists, mayors and police chief Art Acevedo have come together. Still, the country’s fourth largest city needs major reform. Boots on the ground.