🧬📖 Excellent reads: 6 Genomic Trends, $TWST, Bolt Threads, Yogababble, Life Wisdom
Collection of essays worth your time to read — with a sprinkle of commentary by yours truly
Hi friends 👋
Welcome to Health & Wealth — your weekly source of the latest health research and biotech trends. I mostly write unique content here, but today I wanted to highlight some reads from others. As a byproduct of my research, I read widely and occasionally come across pieces that make me go, "huh, I never thought of that before" or "this is so good that I wished I had written it, but happy this already exists in the world." Here are a few!
3 pieces each in 3 categories — biotech, investing & tech, life wisdom — choose your poison 😇
Emily Leproust, CEO of Twist Bioscience, and Mostafa Ronaghi, former CTO of Illumina and co-founder of Illumina Accelerator, discuss their current perspectives on genomics and multi-omics space — and where they think the future is headed.
Some relevant trends mentioned:
Characterizing diseases will increasingly shift from imaging-based techniques to data-heavy multi-omics approaches — integrating multi-omics will help us more deeply understand the biological function of disease states.
Liquid biopsies will evolve to become first-line diagnostics — a prominent example is GRAIL, a blood test that screens for many types of cancer.
Genomics is still in its nascent stages — "Despite the recent increase in genomics-based therapeutics and diagnostics, only around 0.1% of the genome is currently actionable." Let that sink in, and you'll appreciate how we've only uncovered the tip of the genomic iceberg.
Creating a new market is much harder than disrupting an existing one — to make your life easier, pick a large market that can justify true scientific innovation.
The COVID legacy has made biology cool again — the average person has become much more interested in diagnostics, mRNA therapeutics, drug discovery, etc.
Twist Biosciences: The DNA API (17 min)
Synthetic biology hit the mainstream stage recently with Ginkgo Bioworks, but an under-appreciated star player in synbio is Twist Bioscience (TWST).
They're the silent partner behind the industry's quest to find the killer application(s). This is a fantastic layman article written by Alex Danco on how Twist helps usher in the new era of biology.
Read it and thank me later 😉
Axial - Bolt Threads (20 min)
An older post, but still excellent and relevant. Bolt Threads makes biomaterials like synthetic spider silk. This piece shows how and why making spider silk is so tricky both from an engineering and market perspective. It is worth noting that Bolt Threads became a Ginkgo customer as of August 2021 to help improve their silk protein manufacturing process.
"Bolt provides quite a few lessons around synthetic biology platforms, what processes to invest in, what products are feasible, and the relationship between possible business models and technical bottlenecks (i.e., fermentation, synthesis, design)."
"In synthetic biology, many companies are hoping to be saved by a Moore's like law. However, Moore's law is more economic-driven than technology. Growth in synthetic biology especially consumer products will be driven by demand with technology and scaling following... Building out infrastructure without demand is very risky. For everyone in spider silk, what consumer product is compelling enough to charge sometimes 10x higher prices on an equivalent product based on traditional textiles?"
Storytelling has a vital role in business, but not when used to mask the truth. So when it comes to investing, it's best to disregard yogababble-heavy pitches.
What is yogababble?
"NYU professor and fellow Chipotle enthusiast Scott Galloway coined the phrase yogababble to describe the flowery, aspirational language that some companies use to dress up their brands. When Casper dreams of becoming the Nike of Sleep or WeWork aims to elevate the world's consciousness, this is yogababble."
Look, no hate — I'm an amateur yogi 🧘🏻♀️ But when you continuously ask yourself, "sure sounds good, but what does it mean?" — that's a 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
Airbnb: "Belonging Anywhere" (22 min)
A story about the early days of Airbnb (ABNB) — and what makes their business defensible today.
"We probably got 20 introductions… Everyone ran away from the idea. No one funded us. The first reason was Joe and I were designers. And as far as they were concerned, designers didn't start companies."
For max entertainment value, I would recommend pairing this read with:
But Airbnb is more than just a good old-fashioned scrappy founders' success story. It's serving up real value a decade later:
"As I think about the long-term growth and sustainability of Airbnb's business, individual host growth is one of my main KPI's. A large and growing number of individual hosts is what truly makes the platform unique."
"The past decade has given Airbnb the opportunity to secure unique inventory: as Chesky noted at Code 2018, roughly 70% of the five million homes available on the platform at that time were only listed on Airbnb."
Remember when Clubhouse was where all the cool kids hung out at the height of the pandemic? If you're like me, you might have recently wondered, "what happened to Clubhouse?"
Clubhouse effectively dropped off the radar in a few short months:
This post written by Kevin LaBuz breaks down why. In essence, the speed to copy sticky social media features has dramatically compressed.
See the difference in the timelines between Snapchat and Clubhouse copiers:
I finally got around to reading this. It was sitting in my starred inbox folder forever — you know you're late to the party when even my dad shared Sahil Bloom's Twitter thread before I got to it. It was worth every moment of my time.
These life and career principles are so beautifully distilled.
Sahil followed up with a thread on identifying your zone of genius — here's a visual:
Ever take a week off and fill it with a bunch of commitments because you think you have a bunch of "free time"? It may be worthwhile to try a different approach:
Obligation completely negates the purpose of rest. You cannot truly rest on sabbatical if you have obligations or commitments.
A true sabbatical is where you have freedom from obligation and the choice to do what you want, when you want, where you want.
The Reading Obsession (12 min)
"I just sit in my office and read all day." - Warren Buffett
A myth that can trap people is that people like Buffett solve the world's investment puzzles solely from the comfort of their desks. In reality, Buffett spends a lot of time connecting with people and venturing into the real world.
Ironic that I include this at the end of my curated selection of reads? Maybe.
But smart investing is built on a balance of compounding wisdom and relationships.
Let's swap — share with me your favorite recent reads! I'm no bookworm, but I love learning and consuming quality content.
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Thanks for reading!