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NOV |DEC 2019


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Perfection just
happens at
Dorchester Collection

p. 14 2 Fe at ure

Joyce Lesereua co-founded SATUBO, a
Kenyan community scheme supported
by Jochen Zeitz, an entrepreneur
changing how companies do business
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The MEERkat telescope will let Jakarta could be the first major For patients with rare conditions
us peer further into our universe metropolis lost to rising sea levels that baffle conventional
than ever – because it’s made and climate change – but a bold medicine, their last hope is the
from 64 dishes working together engineering project offers hope Undiagnosed Diseases Network

p. 0 53 Gea r p. 114 Fea t ure p. 1 3 2 Fe at ure


Our annual Gear of the Year guide Economist Mariana Mazzucato For decades, David Maisel has
goes luxe – featuring the very best believes the world’s biggest aerially photographed landscapes
in rides, accommodation, audio- challenges can be overcome by ravaged by the race for rare-earth
visual, timepieces and much more treating them like “missions” resources – from lithium to copper

p. 08 8 Fe at u re

THE GAME PL AN Below : taxis line up next to an

The inside story of Google’s move overflow canal in a suburb of
into the entertainment market: Jakarta. Designed to mitigate
Stadia – plus the state of play for storm surges, the canals
music, movies and video games are almost always at capacity
Editor Greg Williams Publishing director Nick Sargent

Group creative director Andrew Diprose Managing editor Mike Dent Group head of revenue, digital and
brand partnerships Rachel Reidy

Executive editor Jeremy White Director of photography Dalia Nassimi Account director Silvia Weindling
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Senior editor Gian Volpicelli Contributing editors Dan Ariely, Partnerships art editor Jeffrey Lee
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C R E AT I N G W I R E D 016

Pau li ne Bo ck
The fire at Notre Dame
cathedral stripped it
of nearly a millennia
of hand-crafted
architecture – but
Bock reports on how
digitisation will bring it
back to life. “Notre Dame
was laser scanned well
before the fire – this has
provided a roadmap for
restoration,” she says.
“It also means we can
still ‘visit’ the cathedral
as it was. There’s a
strong argument for
digitally protecting all
of the world’s major
heritage sites this way.”


Christoffer Rudquist travels to Jakarta to photograph what may be the first megacity
lost to climate change: “Jakarta has as many facets as it has waterways, so it’s hard to
get the full picture – it’s the only place I’ve visited that I couldn’t wrap my head around.
You’ll find hand-built huts on stilts butting up to a luxury villa; on roads where kids sell
nick-knacks to motorists, you’ll have a gang of Ferrari owners speeding down the strait –
and it all runs along stretches of some of the most polluted water I’ve ever come across.
The people of Jakarta are wonderful – I hope for their sake, a solution can be found.”


Jeremy Lange photographed the Teems – a family Ric hard Be n son Stephen Armstrong
devastated by the loss of their son to an undiag- Jochen Zeitz is the Stepping into the world
nosed genetic condition: “the most valuable aspect German entrepreneur of Stadia, Google’s
of my job as a photographer is the privilege of who’s out-Branson- latest bid at global
entering someone’s home and being given access ing Richard Branson domination, Armstrong
to their life. David and Allyson Teem (below) were when it comes to reveals the thinking
so open to sharing their son with us to celebrate sustainability and behind this hotly
his life, while also being vulnerable and willing to ethical practices anticipated device.

P H O T O G R A P H Y: C H R I S T O F F E R R U D Q U I S T; J E R E M Y M L A N G E .
express their sorrow. Strength like that is what we in business. Writer “There’s no console,
all hope we could muster in a similar situation.” Richard Benson met just a controller –
him en route from his everything’s done in
Kenyan nature reserve. the cloud,” he says.
“Zeitz combines “Stadia is a latecomer

modest affability with – its competitors, such

steely conviction,” says as Xbox, have been
Benson. “He’s shown in this space for 18
that his approach to years. That’s a lot of
business can work for expertise, but a slice
large brands – without of a £112 billion market
restricting growth.” is great motivation.”

You might not have heard of the

Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), but Our planet is on
the threshold – but
the non-profit research group based in
the Swedish Capital is responsible for
one of the most important concepts

businesses can pull

of the modern age. In 2009, the SRC
convened a number of environmental
scientists and other academics to

us from the brink

identify the planetary life support
systems that are essential for human life
– and the impact of humans upon them.
They identified nine Earth system
processes so fundamental that, should
a threshold be crossed, it could affect
the planet’s ability to sustain life. These
are: ocean acidification; stratospheric
ozone depletion; biodiversity loss and found itself consumed for over three The tech-for-good and B Corp sector
extinction; chemical pollution; climate years with a single issue. Taken on one is booming, and even asset managers
change; the global hydrological cycle level, three years doesn’t seem like a – under pressure from investors – are
(the functioning and distribution of fresh great deal of time. Yet, that three years of questioning the practices of extractive
water); land system change (such as the UK governmental gridlock, combined with businesses that describe pollution
loss of forests to agriculture); nitrogen and a corresponding lack of urgency from and environmental destruction as an
phosphorous flows to the biosphere and other global leaders, is an indictment “externality” to their business model.
oceans; and atmospheric aerosol loading. of the political class when it comes to And a new era of startups focused
Six years after the planetary boundary the most pressing issue of our time. on energy, foodtech, carbon capture,
framework was created, the journal The impact of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro recycling, mobility, social inclusion and
and a US President committed to rolling manufacturing could help the billions
back environmental regulations and of people who still do not have the
protections enacted by his predecessor, essentials of life as defined by the UN
does little to lift a darkening mood that Sustainable Development Goals.
humankind is destined to one day History suggests that the switch to
represent little more than a layer in a new energy sources initiates eras of
rock formation for a geologist to discover. prosperity – the move from burning
However, the absence of political wood to coal, and from coal to oil and
leadership has left a vacuum into which electricity, all marked eras in which
a series of academics, entrepreneurs, innovation increased prosperity. As


business leaders – and, yes, some politi- economies switch from carbon-based
cians – have stepped to take on signif- to renewable sources of energy, and
icant challenges. In this issue of WIRED a growing movement of people come
we profile two of them. The economist together to act on sustainable devel-
Mariana Mazzucato has developed a opment that benefits humankind and the
framework for government and the planet, there is still much to be hopeful
private sector to pursue “moonshots” to about – while keeping an eye on the clock.
solve some of the planet’s most signif-
icant challenges, and has challenged the
idea of how we think about innovation.
Elsewhere, we look at the work of
Jochen Zeitz, the former CEO of Puma
Science published a paper by 18 eminent and executive at the luxury goods Greg Williams
scientists, showing that four bound- powerhouse Kering, who has proved Editor
aries had been crossed: climate change; that a sustainable, ethical, long term
loss of biosphere integrity; land system approach to business is compatible with
change; and biogeochemical flows of profitability. He has also walked the walk
nitrogen and phosphorous. when it comes to his beliefs – he has
One of the many tragedies of the Brexit rewilded 20,000 acres in Kenya working
fiasco is that the UK government has in partnership with the local community.

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Above: one of the 64 giant dishes in the remote Karoo desert that will form part of the world’s largest radio telescope
The space
E D I T E D B Y A M I T K AT W A L A A telescope in South Africa is
& GIAN VOLPICELLI unlocking our galaxy’s secrets
S TA RT Below: the clearest picture yet of the Milky Way, taken by MeerKat in June 2018. Radio waves glide right through the dust 0 22


The radio-quiet zone begins about off-limits, to make sure these antennae ‘Many waves come from pulsars.
half an hour’s drive from this desolate pick up only signals of cosmic origin. Then there are mysterious Fast
spot in the Karoo desert, in South MeerKAT is the precursor to what will Radio Bursts – brief flashes with
Africa’s Northern Cape. The use of be the world’s largest radio telescope: the power of 500 million Suns Õ
mobile phones and laptops is strictly the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). In the
forbidden. A few trees and shrubs dot next decade, SKA will add another 133
the ochre landscape; occasionally, a tiny dishes, working in tandem with as many
scorpion scurries away. What holds your as 133,000 smaller antennae in Australia.
eye, though, are the giant dishes. The aim is to observe how the universe
This is MeerKAT– 64 radio dishes works – how hydrogen gas is assembled massive black hole Sagittarius A. Located some
spread across eight square kilometres, into galaxies and gives birth to new stars 25,000 light years away, it’s a region in space full of
each 13.5 metres in diameter and as – and to track the sources of radio waves interstellar gas and dust, so optical telescopes are
tall as a five-storey building on their arriving on Earth. Many come from of little use – but radio waves glide right through.
supports. Together they form a single pulsars – the ultra-dense leftover cores MeerKAT’s picture (above) shows the black
radio telescope. MeerKAT means “more of massive stars. Then there are myste- hole like a volcanic eruption, but the red and
KAT” (the Karoo Array Telescope was rious Fast Radio Bursts – brief flashes orange colours have nothing to do with heat –
its seven-dish forerunner), and astron- with the power of 500 million Suns. they represent the brightness or intensity of the
omers use it to study strange but One of MeerKAT’s first tasks when radio waves picked up by the telescope. The visual-
little-understood objects in distant it opened in June 2018 was to snap the isation could have been done in any colour, says
space. Because phones and other gadgets clearest-ever image of our Milky Way’s Fernando Camilo, the chief scientist at the South
also emit radio waves, they are strictly galactic centre, home to the super- African Radio Astronomy Observatory.
The round area just to the right of the
centre is the location of Sagittarius A.
Elsewhere, there are areas of star
S TA R R I N G _ Incoming formation (the bright spot to the right,
ROLE radio waves and the hourglass shape to the left),
and the remnants of supernovas – stars
How a MeerKAT _ Primary parabolic that have exploded and died (far left).
dish tracks radio reflector surface (dish) The thin snaking lines, known as “fine
waves arriving filamentary threads”, remain a mystery.
on Earth from _ Subreflector They have not been found anywhere else
distant space in our galaxy, though, so may have some
_Feed Horn connection to the black hole.
When the Square Kilometre Array is
_Cables carrying fully operational (expected 2030) it will
the signal from the be able to peer 14 billion years back to the
MeerKAT antenna moments after the Big Bang, and provide
to the control room insights about supernovas, black holes
for processing and the infant universe. Katia Moskvitch

Beauty is in 3D artist Ines Alpha creates digital AR-filter make-up that rebels
against the ‘make yourself perfect’ contours of selfie dysmorphia

the app of
the beholder Ines Alpha turns Instagram and
Snapchat filters into pieces of fine art.
Iridescent flowers bloom out of people’s
“make-up of the future”. Her work plays
with augmented reality (AR), and often
enhances the make-up people wear in
heads, sequins glint over glossy skin, real life – adding sequinned eyebrows
faces are etched in delicate lines of for an extra layer of glamour above bold
gold, and fins grow out of flesh. purple eyeshadow, for instance.
The 34-year-old Parisian collabo- When Snapchat opened up its AR
Ines Alpha creates Insta-looks inspired by rates with models, artists and fashion software in December 2017, allowing
sci-fi, drag queens – and soft-bodied molluscs directors to create what she calls the people to make their own filters, Alpha
become one of its official lens creators.
She also successfully applied for
access to Instagram’s Spark AR Studio
software, which allows other people on
the app to “try on” some of her filters.
Her work draws inspiration from science
fiction, cyborgs, drag queens and the
natural world. “I am obsessed with
sea creatures, especially nudibranchs
– soft-bodied molluscs that have
extraordinary, clashing colours.”
Critics of social media filters say they
can lead to “selfie dysmorphia”, where
people aspire to look like their enhanced
digital image, with flawless skin and
huge eyes. But Alpha says her filters
are about the opportunity to play with
different versions of beauty, rebelling
against the idea that everyone should
look a certain way. “Even if people think
you look weird, it’s so important for
people to feel like they can be different.”
She believes that people are getting
increasingly concerned with appearance
because of social media, but hopes her
work will help act as a counterpoint. “I’m
not into the contouring, make-yourself-
perfect thing,” Alpha says. “I want to
have fun with beauty and play with what
people are wearing on their face. It’s
about freedom and possibilities.”
In April 2019, Instagram joined
Snapchat and opened its filter creation
software to everyone. Alpha believes
that we will see an explosion in new
filters very soon, with artists, devel-
opers and brands creating their own for
people to try on. Exhibitions about filters
– Face-Up at London’s Tate Modern,
Mask Off in Berlin, and Homoinsta-
grammus in Paris – are springing up.

She says she would wear her filters

in real life if she could. “As people
are spending more time with their
digital second self, augmented reality
make-up seems as real and serious as
the internet. One day, we will be able to
see everything in AR.” Anna Behrmann

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STAR T 026

facilities. Puolakka wrote a proposal and, in May

2019, the course was added to an approved list of
websites accessible by inmates in Turku, a city in
the south of the country. “I was good at maths in
school, and it’s something that interests me,” says
one of ten inmates taking the course in the Turku
prison’s pilot ward. “But this is totally different
from the stuff I’ve studied before.”
There were a few initial hiccups. “There were
problems around the firewall on their internet
access. The links that prisoners used to do assign-
ments were separate from the whitelisted address,
and we had to generate email addresses for the
prisoners to use,” says Puolakka. As this is techni-
cally a university course, Reaktor, the tech consul-
tancy that helps distribute the course, is working
on a system that would enable prisoners to receive
university credits, and to take other courses.
Finland’s government has embraced the scheme
as a way of supporting inmates integrating into a
digital-first employment market. “Often, prisoners
are left outside of the development of these fields,
and the economy is changing so rapidly that when
people leave prison, they come out into a totally
new work environment,” says Megan Schaible,
director of the programme at Reaktor. “This course
is equally available to everyone.”
The scheme was due to be rolled out in three
more wards in prisons across Finland from autumn
2019, and Schaible hopes that the university and

The prisoners Reaktor will be able to use data – such as retention

rates, or how quickly exercises were completed –
to assess what aspects could be improved in the

liberated by AI
future. “You don’t want to leave these skills in the
hands of a few elite coders,” explains Schaible.
“You want to take the same premise and give
For inmates in Finland, artificial intelligence may be people knowledge around issues that impact
an escape route into digital-first employment them.” Sanjana Varghese elementsofai.com

A prison in Finland has become a testing ground Breaking out: Laptops are appearing in cells because “you don’t want
for a new smart-prison project. Laptops and to leave these skills in the hands of a few elite coders”
tablets are appearing in cells and libraries, allowing
prisoners to read the news, practise arithmetic –
and take a course in artificial intelligence.
The module was originally designed at the WIRED TIRED EXPIRED
University of Helsinki as a more accessible version
of an Introduction to AI curriculum for computer
science students. The initial aim of the project, Tardigrades Jade Rabbit Human
backed by the Finnish government, was to get
at least one per cent of the country’s population Londonpendence Calexit Seasteading
informed about the basics of AI.
After taking the course, Pia Puolakka, a project Flying sucks BA sucks Ryanair sucks
manager at the Criminal Sanctions Agency – the
department in charge of Finland’s prison system Ivy Yves Ive
– wondered if it could be rolled out in correctional
New horizons
for high tech


highest indoor
The 42nd floor
fitness centre

climbing wall
boasts the

in the UK
Designing 22 Bishopsgate – at 278 metres,
the UK’s second tallest skyscraper – required
some blue-sky thinking from the architects

London’s new skyscraper

may only be the second
tallest in the UK (after The
Shard), but its 278 metres
are the height of technology.
The 62 storeys of 22
Bishopsgate, due to open in
autumn 2019, build in a host
of innovations, including a
bespoke app for the 12,000
workers. “We want it to be a
portal into the building, and
a technological environment
to interact with the building,”
says Danny Hall, of Lipton
Rogers Developments.
Adding a tower to a complex
skyline can cause the air to
move in mysterious ways,
so PLP Architecture – which
designed the building –
worked with engineers from
Formula 1 to create large-
scale canopies, similar to
those on the back of a car, to
tamp down wind flow.
The delivery management
system was designed by an
ex-army engineer to reduce
traffic. “Instead of going to
the building, all goods go to a
dispatch centre outside the

City. They are stored until

the tenant requires them,”
explains PLP’s Karen Cook.
Chris Stokel-Walker
Formula 1
developed an
facade to reduce

A biometric
security system,
using facial
recognition, can
regulate access
to the building


The tower’s low- Eight mobile
iron glass lets in phone beacons
more light – up on each floor of
from the usual office space are
34 per cent to all tuneable to
55 per cent improve signals

the lifts were
installed during
construction –
to move 1,200
building workers
Below: The 62 storeys of 22 Bishopsgate
soar over the City. Only The Shard is taller

Workers can set
temperature and
light levels at
their desk from
the building’s
bespoke app

Deliveries will
be sorted and
stored off-site
– halving the
vehicle journeys

to the building
S TART 0 30

In Philip Pullman’s books,

every character has a Animating an Talking and thinking
The team used facial rig

inner animal
“daemon”, a sentient software to make sure the
creature who represents daemons spoke convincingly
their conscience. For – but the real test was
the 2007 adaptation The silence. “You should be able
Golden Compass, actors How do you give a talking CGI animal a soul? That to turn the sound off, and see
had to pretend inanimate was the big challenge facing the upcoming TV their thought processes,”
objects were walking talking serialisation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials says Dodgson. Stephen Kelly
co-stars. But the new
BBC-HBO production uses
elaborate puppetry to bring
the daemons to life. WIRED
talks to team members
about transporting fantasy
from page to screen.

Daemon design
Both production designer
Joel Collins and visual effects
supervisor Russell Dodgson
had deep conversations on
the nature of the daemons:
“Do they eat? Do they sleep?”
says Dodgson. “Where do
they sit on the spectrum
between animal and human?”

Puppet practicalities
For scenes where daemons
were held, they turned to
dynamic reference puppetry:
an upgrade on the tennis ball
on a stick usually used as
a CGI reference point. “We
needed to give our actors
something to converse and
emote with,” says Dodgson.

Body bonds
Each daemon puppet was
designed with a simple and
elegant “slinky body”. The aim,
says puppetry artist Brian
Fisher (arms pictured above
right), was to give the actors
something to bond with,
and allow them to “bounce
ideas off the puppeteer.”

Fur and feathers

After filming, Dodgson
began the time-consuming
post-vis process of grooming
digital fur and skin. Birds, he

explains, were the biggest

challenge. “They have this
incredible ability for two
layers of feathers to co-exist
almost in the same space. Try
and tell a computer that…”
S TART video content by scanning items of 0 32
clothing or interacting with objects in
the store. The project drew attention
– and investment – from Kanye West,
Beyoncé and the designer Virgil Abloh.
But on March 31, 2019, Hussle was shot
dead in the carpark of the store.
The path from Compton to Cupertino
– where Apple has its Silicon Valley
headquarters – is not an easy one.
Sandu declined a place at MIT in order
to focus on improving outreach from
the technology industry to people from

Iddris Sandu: a similar background to his own. He has

worked with the Obama White House and
local politicians to launch STEM educa-

going straight tional programmes and foster technology

development and coding skills within
under-resourced areas of LA.

back to Compton Over the past couple of years, Sandu

has offered mentoring and training to
students from economically disadvan-
taged areas in LA, and founded a new
A chance meeting in an LA library took this young school in Ghana to increase technology
technologist from South Central to Silicon Valley. Now literacy. He says schools have not changed
he wants to give inner-city kids the tools to succeed to meet the needs of the first digitally
native generation: “Technology has a
lifecycle of about a month. But education
and the curriculum remain the same.”
For Sandu, the key objective is
exposing young people in challenged
At 22, Ghana-born Iddris Sandu has areas to new ideas. “Inner-city kids are
worked for some of the world’s biggest not exposed to what other students are
technology companies and collaborated exposed to,” he says. “This is even more
with Kanye West. But the entrepreneur evident in the field of technology.”
owes his big break to Steve Jobs – and a and Snapchat, developed algorithms He’s trying to redress the balance.
chance meeting at a public library. for geolocation search features for Sandu posts reading lists on social
As a child growing up in South Central Instagram, and created a collision media, and works on projects that bring
Los Angeles, Sandu was always inter- detection interface for the autonomous together technology and music – he is
ested in technology. “I remember my vehicle programme at Uber. a design and tech consultant at Kanye
mum getting mad because I would In 2017, he opened the world’s first West’s Yeezy clothing, for instance.
always break remote controls up, and “smart store” – The Marathon Clothing, In July 2019, he received a $100,000
rewire them to make other things that in the Los Angeles district of Crenshaw fellowship from Paypal founder Peter


I could play with,” he says. Then, when – in collaboration with the rapper Thiel’s foundation to take ideas about
he was 11, the first iPhone was released, Nipsey Hussle, after another chance sustainable design and technology to
and the youngster was captivated from meeting at a local Starbucks. Sandu Africa’s youth. His aim, he says, is “to
the moment Jobs walked out on stage developed an iOS app that allowed provide everybody with equal access
wielding the era-defining smartphone. visitors to unlock augmented reality to information” so that they can choose
After that, Sandu spent his summers experiences and exclusive music and what to do with it. Catarina Ramalho
at the Torrance Public Library near
Compton, where he taught himself how
to code in C#, JavaScript and Python, and
studied the work of German industrial
designer Dieter Rams. In 2011, a Google
designer spotted the youngster checking
out books at the library and offered him
an internship with the search giant.
There he worked on the development
of the social network Google+, and later
created a mobile app that provided a
turn-by-turn navigation system for
his high school grounds. Throughout
his teens, he consulted for Twitter

Above : Iddris Sandu counts Kanye West as a business collaborator

0 35 STA R T

Libra’s true cost:

democratic rule
will pay the price
Facebook’s virtual currency has the potential to and regulatory action for tax evasion,
dominate the financial markets – and give the opaque practices, and dominant market
tech giant the power to dictate to governments positions; second-wave giants such as
Uber and Deliveroo are also under fire as
a result of their employment practices
and flouting of regulations.
Enter Libra, a new virtual currency
Facebook announced in June 2019.
Libra is the creation of the Libra
Association, an organisation based in
Switzerland. Facebook initiated it and
brought in 27 other members – mostly
Silicon Valley tech firms and payments
companies which have goals tightly
aligned with those of Facebook.
Those wishing to use Libra for
transactions on Facebook’s platforms
would purchase Libra “coins” using
fiat currencies. That money would go
into Libra’s reserve, to be invested in
assets denominated in a “basket” of
currencies. The assets in the reserve
would be actively managed to keep
the value of Libra stable vis-a-vis the
currency basket as a whole, though it
might not be stable against individual
currencies. We don’t know exactly
what the Libra reserve’s asset portfolio
would comprise, but Libra’s technical
manifesto suggests that it would include
a substantial proportion of “safe” assets
such as government debt and cash.
The project could potentially have
an enormous impact. Currently,
an e s t imated 2.7 bil li on p eop le
use Facebook and its subsidiaries
A sign that a sector of the economy Silicon Valley tech giants have been WhatsApp and Instagram. If all these
is becoming too big is that it attempts uneasy collaborators with governments, people adopted Libra as their primary
to dictate government policy. In the as they are obliged to use legal tender medium of exchange, then Libra would
financial sector, for instance, markets to monetise their businesses. When be used by approximately a third of the
“discipline” governments by threat- a company uses government-issued world’s population. Admittedly, more
ening to dump their currencies and currencies, that gives governments people currently use the US dollar,
bonds if they act in ways investors the right to regulate and control the
don’t approve of. In manufacturing company’s activities. And while govern-
and retail, corporations lobby for ments have been weak regulators of
changes to employment law and tax Big Tech, that is starting to change.
breaks. And oil companies have histori- Silicon Valley giants are facing fines

Frances Coppola is a
cally held sway over their governments’ finance and economics
foreign policy calculations. writer, and the author
But when a sector becomes really of The Case for
gargantuan, it doesn’t just dictate to People’s Quantitative
governments – it aims to replace them. Easing (Polity Press)
START 03 6

but consumers might start exchanging T H E N E W TA S T E O F

their dollars for Libra in order to pay S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y :
for goods and services provided by MAKING BUG PROTEIN
Facebook and its partners – which DELICIOUS FOR FISHES
include e-commerce site eBay and
music streaming service Spotify. If a
third of the world’s population did this, Back in 2012, the Bank for Interna- armed salmon are
Facebook and its partners would have tional Settlements proposed that major F surprisingly picky
in effect established its own financial governments should both produce eaters. Feed made
system, run according to rules it deter- enough debt to keep financial markets from protein-
mines and subject to no government. functioning, and preserve the value rich milled black soldier fly
Of course, Libra would still depend on of that debt through cuts to public larvae (fed on supermarket
government currencies to remain stable. spending and austerity measures. The food waste) is better for
But that doesn’t mean governments Libra Association could similarly insist the environment than the
could control it. Quite the contrary. that governments not only produce estimated 215,385 tonnes of
The Libra reserve would be the largest enough “safe assets” to maintain fishmeal consumed annually
investment fund on Earth, dwarfing even Libra’s peg, but prioritise maintaining by Scottish salmon – but the
the sovereign wealth funds of oil-pro- the value of those assets over the fish find the carcass remains
ducing nations. Buying and selling assets wellbeing of their populations. And if hard to digest, says Fotis
to keep Libra’s value stable would move the Libra reserve achieved dominance Fotiadis, co-founder and
currency and government bond markets. in financial markets, governments CTO of Cambridge-based
And since it would out-gun central banks might have no choice but to comply. startup Entomics. He claims
– even the mighty US Federal Reserve – If Libra became the world’s transaction the current process is also
there would be little governments currency, and its reserve became the wasteful – like cooking and
could do to protect their economies. dominant player in financial markets, drying an entire cow to make
the Libra Association would a single protein shake.
have the power to allow or To break down the nutrients
deny people the right to and produce a more digestible
transact – something that feed, Entomics has patented
‘Libra could grow is currently a government a post-processing technique
p re ro ga t i ve l i m i te d b y using microbial fermentation,
so large, central democratic safeguards. It dubbed Metamorphosis.
could exert that power not The boiled larvae are
banks would be only over individuals, but processed automatically: first,
other companies and even separators winnow out chitin,
forced to bail it out’ governments. The Libra a fibrous substance making up
Association could break a the insects’ body wall; another
company that refused to use machine isolates the proteins
Libra, or punish a recalcitrant and fats for fermentation;
government by denying its finally, the fermenting mix
The Libra reserve could also influence citizens access to the transaction services is stirred in with bacteria and
government policy. It could ditch assets enjoyed by a third of the world’s people. yeast, which break proteins
in currencies issued by governments Many have dreamed of a single global down into amino acids that can
whose policies the Libra Association currency that would enable people to be converted into a dry powder.
disapproves of. Attempts to control transact with each other seamlessly and The four founders of
Libra could result in a collapsing instantaneously. But if the only way of Entomics, all graduates from
currency and rising borrowing costs. achieving this is for an unaccountable the University of Cambridge,
Again, this is nothing new: big banks corporate elite to replace democrati- came up with the idea when
and their representatives have been cally elected governments, surely that’s they entered a competition
trying to influence government policy too high a price. Frances Coppola to find a way to reuse food
for years. But the Libra reserve would waste. They won, and launched
have greater market-moving power Entomics to realise their
than any bank, past or present. Some university project, which is
academics have expressed concern now ready for deployment at
that Libra could grow so large that insect farms. Tuck in, fishies…
central banks would be forced to bail Sabrina Weiss entomics.com
it out if there were a run on its reserve.

My concern, however, is not so much

what central banks might do in the
event of a run on Libra, but what govern-
ments might have to do to prevent one.



The maestro Moon Phase: a celestial timepiece that
synchronises the rhythms of time with the lunar cycle.
The maestro, meaning “master”, echoes the mastery of
handcrafted Swiss horology.

www.raymond-weil.co.uk • 0161 672 0700

039 in which AI was at the height of the STA RT
public narrative. And the scrutiny of
the technology industry that comes

alongside that is a necessary part of a
public movement to understand how
technology is shaping our lives,” Lyons
says. “It was really productive to have
a forcing function for that discussion.”
Since Lyons stepped in, the organ-
isation has produced several studies,
reports and recommendations on
erah Lyons’s job is making sure hot-button topics such as algorithmic with nuclear energy – with coalitions
that AI works for everyone. In October decisions in the criminal justice system of competing organisations banding
2017, Lyons, a former White House – about which the partnership proposed together,” Lyons says. That can help
advisor on technology and machine a set of standards that, while not legally build bridges across geopolitical
intelligence, started her tenure as an enforceable, might help companies divides – as evidenced by the presence
executive director at The Partnership developing predictive policing tools of several Chinese companies among
on AI. Launched the previous year ask themselves the right questions. the partners. “But what’s really different
by a group of tech titans – Amazon, And Lyons thinks there is some about The Partnership on AI is that we
Facebook, Google, DeepMind, Microsoft intrinsic value in bringing together really are a multi-stakeholder entity,”
and IBM – by 2017 the organisation entities from disparate corners of Lyons explains. “It’s not just about the
had already grown to include about the globe to make AI safe, fair and tech behemoths working hand-in-hand,
50 members, including non-profits, conducive to the social good. The model but also about the voices of advocates
charities and universities. (As of is reminiscent of what has historically and institutions that are pushing
September 2019, the partnership had occurred in other critical technological back to protect the public interest.”
grown to encompass 89 stakeholders fields. “This happened, for instance, Gian Volpicelli partnershiponai.org
from 13 countries.) The partnership’s
main aim was to develop a rulebook for
the conscientious use of artificial intel-
ligence, and Lyons had taken the helm
exactly at the time when a vast chunk
of the public had become convinced
that thrashing out some rules to rein
in Big Tech was more urgent than ever.
“The partnership was born into a world

Meet AI’s
Terah Lyons is working to ensure
artificial intelligence doesn’t
forget to keep humans at its heart
Notre Dame rises again
with 50 billion data
points as the blueprint
for reconstruction
On April 15, 2019, Notre Dame de Paris,
the cathedral in the heart of the French
capital, lost its 800-year-old roof to
a fire. A digital memory of the roof’s
latticework “forest” lives on, however.
On YouTube, a video walks you through a
3D model of the structure, where clerics
walked long before Victor Hugo wrote
about lovelorn bell-ringer Quasimodo.
That’s thanks to Art Graphique et
Patrimoine (AGP), a French company >>
041 S TA R T

Zooming in on Notre Dame’s 3D modelling

parts of the wooden roof was done using
cathedral in an was completely drones and
upcoming “smart destroyed by helicopters to
database” will fire, but lives on scan buildings
display data in the nearly five from multiple
on materials billion data points angles.
used, dates of of this 3D model Lasergrammetry
construction, adds precision
and style
START 0 42

specialising in 3D modelling of cultural the two bell towers, the organ, and the The technique, called BIM – Building
monuments, which scanned the entirety of the forest,” says Gaël Hamon, Information Modelling – will 3D-map the
entire structure between 2010 and a stonemason and the CEO of AGP. This damage and allow for reconstruction
2016. The day after the fire, the French amounted to 50 billion 3D points, or one simulations, although no restoration
government asked AGP to build a digital to two per square millimetre. The model work is expected to start before BIM
version of Notre Dame as it had been. for the forest alone counts three to five completion in early 2020.
To scan a site, AGP uses helicopters, billion points, captured in 150 different “We are treating Notre Dame the way
drones and terrestrial scanners. Laser- scans. But that’s just the start: now that a greatly traumatised patient would
grammetry and photogrammetry then the pre-fire cathedral lives on digitally, be treated in hospital,” Hamon says.
create “scatter plot” models – 3D recre- AGP is working on an extremely detailed “With the BIM, it’s getting everything:
ations made of billions of dots. Digital 3D “smart database” of the building as MRI and medical scans, blood tests, a
recreation from the archives took AGP it is now, with integrated information for full check-up. We can’t heal it without a
two months, six “super calculators”, and each element. Zooming in on a stained- proper diagnostic.” Not only will the old
the 21-strong team’s full-time attention. glass window, for instance, would list its Notre Dame live on digitally: it will be the
“Our data covered most of the materials, date of construction, style essential blueprint for the restoration.
building, including all of the exterior, and any other relevant information. The Notre Dame fire was a tragedy,
but it did act as an advocate for the
pioneering techniques Hamon has been
working on for 25 years. In 1994, when
he founded AGP, scanning monuments
involved analogue photos. “We had to
enter all data, all the measurements,
Right: a FARO laser by hand,” Hamon recalls. “Now we
scanner in the have digital photos, we put everything
nave of Notre Dame. in the algorithm – it’s automatic.”
Its 3D map of Since then, AGP has worked on more
the fire damage will than two thousand monuments in 18
be compared to countries, including the Royal Albert
AGP’s earlier scans Hall in London, the Palmyra ruins in
of the undamaged Syria, and the Louvre museum in Paris.
cathedral Soon, the company hopes to open
a cultural space offering virtual reality
visits of heritage monuments. But
right now, it’s all about Notre Dame.
“Our measures will give architects the
necessary tools to make a ‘before/
after’ diagnostic for the restoration,”
Hamon says. Healing a cathedral that
took more than a century to build cannot
be rushed. Pauline Bock artgp.fr

E A R LY A D O P T E R S WIRED asks three entrepreneurs about their newest podcast discoveries


“I’m loving Better, “I love listening “Michael Lewis’s

Faster, Happier, to other founder podcast, Against
which discusses stories, like Recode the Rules, is about
agile innovation Decode’s recent the ways we
ideas for customer interview with perceive regulation
Bruce Pannaman and employee Riya Grover Jonathan Neman, Adam Dodds and fairness. ‘The
CTO, StorkCard happiness. It CEO, Feedr co-founder of CEO, Freetrade Magic Shoebox’,
helps me drive the Sweetgreen. His on the lack of
StorkCard team’s vision of food transparency and
goals of quickly e-commerce, unethical practices
and efficiently personalisation in high-frequency
providing value for and nutritional trading, was
new parents. If it’s transparency a particularly
not fun, you’re not aligns closely with powerful episode.”
doing it right.” our vision at Feedr.” Sabrina Weiss
A L L - R O U N D C R E A T I V E G E N I U S

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0 45 independently of the head,” says STA R T
Anthony Lovat, a former dentist
who founded OPRO in 1998.
As well as sensors that can

D track linear and rotational

acceleration, each mouthguard
includes an FM radio transmitter
Heading off
to beam a signal to a pitch-side
receiver in real time. Tracking
collisions over time also enables
brain injury
an Lydiate has been lucky. coaches to build a “passport” How a mouthguard helps doctors monitor
“I’ve only probably had three of historical head impact data, the impact of concussions on rugby players
or four concussions,” says the which could help players enjoy
rugby union star (right), who safer, longer careers. “It can
plays as a flanker for Welsh only be a positive,” says Lydiate.
team Ospreys, and for Wales. Amit Katwala opro.com
“But at the time, you just think
it’s a bump to the head.”
Concussions have become
a growing issue in contact
sports since 2006, when
autopsies of former US NFL
players found signs of chronic
traumatic encephalopathy,
a degenerative brain condition
that also afflicts some former
boxers, footballers and rugby
players, inducing symptoms
similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
Returning to play too quickly
after a blow to the head can
also exacerbate both the
short-term symptoms and
the long-term consequences;
but pitch-side doctors rely on
honesty from players who just
want to get back on the field.
A new product being trialled
this season by Lydiate and the
Ospreys team will give doctors
a more objective tool: OPRO+
builds impact sensors into the
gumshields worn by players.
This puts the sensors closer

to the centre of the skull – and

because they’re moulded to an
individual, they paint a more
accurate picture of an impact.
“The mouthguard won’t move

Right: Welsh rugby

international Dan Lydiate
and his real-time impact-
monitoring mouthguard
04 6

Automating the
W EU’s biggest port
riting in black-marker is scrawled over From self-driving ships to containers that can converse
the glass walls of the office of startup with cranes and unmanned patrol vessels, Rotterdam has
Captain AI. “Close your eyes, that’s plans to be the continent’s most advanced shipping hub
intellectual property,” says Gerard
Kruisheer, a co-founder of the Dutch
company. Its HQ is tucked away inside
RDM, a sprawling, high-ceilinged hall
with steel beams, cutting across the
former wharf in what was once the
world’s busiest port. Now, it’s a hub
for innovation in Rotterdam – the port
that wants to be the world’s “smartest”.
Those scribbles are strings of the
code Captain AI wants to use to create
autonomous ships. It is currently training
self-sailing software with navigation
data, testing various scenarios in a
sea simulator. “It’s the extreme cases
you want to test. You want your ship
to be able to sail autonomously in all
conditions,” says Captain AI CEO
Vincent Wegener. “We create conditions
like snow and rain within our simulator,
and use it to train the algorithm.”
Wegener says autonomous ships
will be much safer, citing an Allianz
report that found that 75 per cent of
maritime accidents are attributable
to human error. And they will reduce
port congestion by eliminating lengthy
processes that require humans, such
as pilots. “That’s the official version.
The unofficial reason we started doing
this is because we thought it would be
cool, of course,” he adds.
The port of Rotterdam – 42km wide,
from the far city edge to the North Sea
– is Europe’s biggest. It handles about
470 million tonnes of freight each year,
contributing €45.6bn (£40.9bn) to the
Dutch economy (or 6.2 per cent of GDP),
according to a recent study.
Maintaining that edge requires
foresight. Former port operator ECT
opened the world’s first automated
container terminal as early as 1993.
Today, APM Terminals and RWG run
some of the world’s most advanced port
services. Gigantic, unmanned cranes
lift containers off vessels, the bulk of
their manoeuvres automated, the rest
remote-controlled. AGVs – electrical
automated guided vehicles – resem-

bling lorries with no cabin, transport

the containers to storage facilities,
where they are lifted automatically on
to trucks. RWG says its terminal is run

by no more than 15 people every day.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority is
now looking at automation beyond
the terminals. “Information between
humans by phone or email should, from
2025, be increasingly communicated
directly by smart objects,” says Erwin
Rademaker, a programme manager at
the port. “In the future, we’ll see cranes
talking directly to ships or containers.”
In early 2019, the authority kicked Self-steering container ships do not yet
off the first stage of an internet of exist. The first of its kind, the Norwegian
things platform. It’s a building block ship Yara Birkeland, is not expected
in the creation of what the port calls to operate fully autonomously before
its “digital twin”, a digital replica of 2022. That is why Rotterdam has
the port in which all its operations created a “floating lab”: former patrol
and resources are tracked. Forty-four vessel RPA3 has been decked out
sensors installed on mooring posts, with cameras and sensors and made
quay walls, roads and traffic signs available to startups and students for
provide data about tides, salinity, wind autonomous shipping experiments.
and more. The port hopes that these Captain AI was the first startup to
sensors will one day be able to commu- test its software on the lab. “This year
nicate directly with other autonomous we want to give a demo where the
systems, including self-driving ships. vessel identifies an object and sails
In May, a “smart container” made around it. We’re almost there,” says
its first short journey, to Germany and Wegener. Ultimately, he envisages a
back. Fitted with sensors that measure port where patrol ships are unmanned.
conditions including vibration, slope Exciting? Yes – unless you happen
and temperature, it will spend two years to be a docker. In January 2016, the
travelling the world to collect data that port of Rotterdam saw its first strike
should give insight into what containers in 13 years. The cause: the expected
encounter during their journey. loss of hundreds of jobs to automation.
“Eighty-five per cent of the consumer “You see traditional harbour work
goods you see around you were trans- disappearing. People used to work in
ported by container,” says Rademaker. big teams. Canteens were full during
But today’s containers are nothing mealtimes. Now, small crews remain
more than six sheets of metal welded and machine operation has become
together: “Containers are still left a one-man job,” says Niek Stam, of
behind on docks, or unloaded in the dockers’ union FNV Havens. Stam
wrong port, and nobody notices until believes that Rotterdam’s terminals
[they] fail to arrive. It’s like your suitcase are harbingers of a global upset. “In
getting lost at an airport, except it will other ports, the battle over automation
be gone for two months at a seaport. has yet to come,” he says.
We want to make containers smart, so In Rotterdam, Rademaker expects
they can talk to the cranes and prevent jobs to disappear beyond the terminals
things like this from happening.” as well. “Autonomous isn’t the same as
Rotterdam wants to be able to host unmanned. But if objects are talking
autonomous ships by 2030. The snag? with each other and taking autonomous
decisions, certain jobs will disappear.”
Still, he sees the port’s drive for
automation not as a luxury, but as
the key to its survival: “Right now, we
are world champions at selling black-
Left and above: in Rotterdam’s and-white TVs. Today’s reality is that
ultra-advanced terminals, unmanned we have to start selling colour TVs.”
cranes lift containers off vessels Loes Witschge portofrotterdam.com

No longer do people
ask whether algorithms
could theoretically drive
performance – the talk
is of what AI should do
once deployed

The Data Decade:

ten years of AI
Artificial intelligence has transformed numerous
sectors – but the biggest changes are yet to come,
says QuantumBlack, a McKinsey company

Artificial Intelligence (AI) began the with major influence on our lives, from
decade as little more than a boardroom loan applications to drug discovery.
buzzword – something to throw out This rapid expansion of responsibil-
there if asked about your innovation ities has led the conversation around
strategy. Ten years on, AI algorithms AI to evolve in recent years. No longer
are being deployed across many do people ask whether algorithms
industries, from financial services could theoretically drive perfor-
and retail to sports and medicine. mance – the talk is of what AI should
2019 marks the tenth anniversary of do once deployed: ensuring fairness of
QuantumBlack. We have spent the last predictions, efficiency in performance,
decade deploying advanced analytics transparency in how it achieves results
to drive performance with the world’s and the ethics of its application.
most forward-thinking companies, AI presents huge opportunities in
and this has meant that we’ve had unlocking performance and solving
a front-row seat as the AI revolution problems for businesses – the
has shaped sectors around the world. prize is great, but it will take collab-
The most significant change is oration across our communities.
the marked growth in the ambition of At QuantumBlack we’re excited about
organisations wielding AI. Machines exploring these challenges – and
are no longer undertaking mere routine being at the forefront of the next ten
tasks – they are now guiding decisions years of growth. quantumblack.com
0 49 STA R T

Katharina Volz is on a mission to crack

one of medicine’s most intractable
problems – a cure for Parkinson’s
disease – by making a map. The founder
and CEO of medical startup Occamz-
Razor hopes artificial intelligence can
plot everything we know about this
neurodegenerative disorder, fill in the
gaps, and home in on potential cures.
In 2015 she had just finished her
PhD in stem cell biology at Stanford
University, in California, when a close
relative was diagnosed with the disease.
“I was completely devastated,” she
says. “I stayed at home for two days
and cried.” Then she got to work. “I made
this resolution that I was going to find a
cure for Parkinson’s disease.”
But first she had to work out what
was already known, by mining tens
of millions of datasets – scientific
papers, clinical trial evidence, patents,
patient records and genomics data.
Stanford’s AI laboratory helped the
startup develop an artificially intel-
ligent system that combines all this
data into a 3D graph, which Volz calls
the Parkinsome – a complete map of
everything we currently know about
Parkinson’s: genetic components, all the
known proteins, cell types and metabo-
lites that play a role in the disease, and
The company, whose advisers
include Google AI’s lead Jeff Dean
and the Nobel-winning cell biologist
A map for

the drugs known to interact with them. Randy Schekman, won’t share its
The first challenge for the Parkinsome platform directly with researchers,
is to find any drugs used for other but it is working with the Michael J Fox
conditions that could be repurposed
for Parkinson’s. Volz plans to partner
with pharmaceutical firms to take the
Foundation to identify potential areas
for fruitful research. Volz says that
the OccamzRazor database already
candidate drugs through the costly includes information on a vast range
clinical trial process to the market. “I of conditions that could benefit from When a close relative
don’t want to wait another ten, 20 or an AI-led approach. “We are looking developed Parkinson’s,
30 years,” Volz says. “I want to bring at one disease at a time, taking all the Katharina Volz got to
effective medications to Parkinson’s knowledge there is and connecting it.” work. Her AI is now
patients as soon as possible.” Matt Reynolds occamzrazor.com creating a 3D database
that could reveal new
therapies for the most
Above: CEO Katharina Volz believes OccamzRazor can benefit a huge range of conditions intractable conditions


We know that we spend too much time checking our smartphones – but what does it take for us
to actually switch off? Ranjan Jagannathan founded Synapse, an app that manages notifications
by organising them into batches delivered at set times. He created the app after working with Dan
Ariely, a professor of behavioural economics at Duke University, in North Carolina, who studies the
impact of push notifications on mental wellbeing. Ariely’s research showed that receiving notifica-
tions in three daily batches increased users’ productivity and reduced stress levels, compared with
getting them immediately, or not at all. “It’s about finding a good balance between constant distrac-
tion and fear of missing out,” says Jagannathan. “People would like to receive 17 notifications a day,
when in reality, they get 73 on average,” says Jagannathan. “The first step in fighting smartphone
addiction is to let users regain control over their devices.” Daphne Leprince-Ringuet synapse.ly

How London’s startups Valley. In the past few years, UK tech

companies have attracted a substantial

can reach the next level amount of funding, with more than £5bn
in VC funding this year from US and
Asian investors – with 80 per cent of
J.P. Morgan Private Bank isn’t just funding the tech that in London alone, it’s fair to say the
scene – its expertise is building impactful businesses capital’s tech scene is a behemoth.
“It’s in the region of £60 billion annual
turnover, with 300,000 jobs at 8,000
startups,” says Oliver Gregson, head of
UK & Ireland at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.
Ten years ago, the financial crisis However, after five years, only four
cut a swathe through London, sparking out of ten small businesses continue
company closures and job losses; as to trade, says Gregson. “Building from

many as 50 small businesses were startup to SME to mid-market – that

closing each day during the economic life cycle is a difficult one, and resil-
downturn, according to the Federation iency is definitely a problem,” he says.
of Small Businesses. But the chaos What’s the solution? Expert help. Your
made room for tech startups to step business may not have been through
in, and a decade on, London’s Silicon that cycle before, but banks such as J.P.
Roundabout is second only to Silicon Morgan have. “We try to deliver access

Left: the question of when – and how – to

go global is one every startup will face

year on year versus 2019,” he says, ‘We try to deliver access

though some of that increase is down to vital resources’ -
to the cyclical nature of the business. Oliver Gregson
There’s no rush to go public, Head of UK and Ireland
though. “What’s really interesting is
that companies are staying private for
twice as long as they used to,” says
Gregson. And that’s what’s led to so
many so-called “unicorns” – companies People think only about the headline
valued at more than a billion dollars, with valuations and not about whether they’re
72 in the UK alone over the past two the right investors who are going to
decades. “We’ve been holding our own.” support you for the long term.” Gehl
And startups remaining private for says with so much more capital being
longer changes how investment works raised privately, banks are changing
in the sector. “A lot of the value creation how they engage. Led by J.P. Morgan,
is coming earlier in the life cycle when banks now partner with startups much
these companies are private,” Gregson earlier in their life cycles, which includes
explains. “That’s why you’ve seen a really raising private rounds of funding. “We
interesting investment sector build up, want to be with them all the way through
because the publicly listed tech stocks the journey, not just at the IPO – that’s
are not necessarily where value is being the old mentality of banks,” says Gehl.
created the most.” That’s increased the Gregson builds on the point of being
importance of private investment oppor- joined up, “Our value is in our global
tunities, venture capital and growth integrated coverage across the Private
equity funding, with J.P. Morgan leading and the Investment Bank. It allows our
a half-billion dollar growth funding round clients to leverage our experience and
for Deliveroo, he notes. “That was about outreach in advising disruptive, high
helping with expansion capital, and it growth technology companies as well
still remains a private company.” as seamless execution from a trans-
Regardless of which route a company action perspective. We are long-term
takes to scale from local London startup partners helping companies through
to large player, financial partners with critical phases of growth and devel-
expertise is key. It’s not just about opment across the private and
IPOs and M&As, but if you’re growing public capital markets globally.
to vital resources, support networks, globally, you’ll need banking in dozens To find out how J.P. Morgan can support
workspaces, mentoring, networking, of countries, and be able to accept a your business, visit jpmorgan.com
collaboration and all of the obvious myriad of currencies. J.P. Morgan is a
financial services,” Gregson says. bank, but it’s one that employs 53,000
For those startups that survive, it’s software engineers, coders and technol-
time to consider what’s next – be it ogists, Gregson notes, pointing out that
scaling or expanding globally, selling technology is part of the company’s
privately or going public – in the heritage: “We funded Edison way back
evolution from disruptive startup to when, and the first transatlantic cable.”
meaningful, impactful business. And choosing the right financial
The IPO environment remains partner isn’t about how much funding
strong in terms of dollar amounts, says you’ll get up front. “It’s not all about
Gregson, but that’s down to specific, who’s going to give you the highest
big deals, he adds. “If you look at 2019 valuation in your Series A round,” says
versus 2018, tech IPO issuance is up in Matthew Gehl, head of technology at
the region of 80 per cent, and the trans- J.P. Morgan Investment Bank. “You
action value of IPOs is also up strongly can get some pretty onerous terms…

Right: fuelling startups with the right kind of financing will boost growth
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Edited by



055 PREVIOUS PAGE_ Eames Plastic Armchair LAR HOODIE HIDEAWAY_ Deep Sleep Cocoon by Vollebak

Instantly recognisable as the work of designers Charles and Ray Designed to help people sleep in the most inhospitable places – namely, any
Eames, this low-slung seat was created in 1950, but finally has a long-haul fight – the Deep Sleep Cocoon is a duvet-soft jacket that shuts
Vitra reissue. The Lounge Height Armchair Rod Base (LAR) chair, out the world with a lined hood that folds over on itself. Its almost pitch-
shown here in Sea Blue, has a cat’s cradle-style stainless-steel black chamber blocks light and softens noise – while also providing the
base for maximum support with minimal materials. £435 vitra.com ultimate visual shorthand for “do not disturb”. £800 vollebak.com

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McIntosh RS200 Philips PUS9104

Getting in on the burgeoning files from a NAS drive, AirPlay Collaborative tech often
high-end, all-in-one sector, 2 and DTS Play-Fi. It’ll work misses the mark, but with
McIntosh’s new RS200 is with Alexa and, if you’re the launch of the PUS9104,
taking on the likes of Naim in need of beefing up your Philips and celebrated Danish
and Devialet with its own surround-sound set-up, it has design firm Georg Jensen
one-box streaming system. a dedicated soundbar output have scored a bullseye. The
The 650W amp delivers and can link to the McIntosh 55in 4K UHD LED Ambilight
power to two bass drivers, RS100 wireless surround TV sports a sleek aluminium
four midrange units and two speakers. Deep-pocketed bezel on three sides, with by Android Oreo. There’s
tweeters, while streaming audiophiles will appreciate a polished steel front edge also Freeview HD, Google
comes via your choice of that this new addition matching the two Georg Assistant and Alexa, plus a
AAC and aptX HS Bluetooth matches their other McIntosh Jensen-branded steel-blade quad-core processor, 16GB
support, DLNA for networked kit. £3,495 mcintoshlabs.com feet. Philips’ Ambilight spills onboard memory and 25W
coloured lighting outside 2.1 audio system – all for a
the frame to make images price that seems a lot more
feel more immersive, while department store than
inside, the brains are supplied designer. £1,200 philips.co.uk


Airsound Air D1 Beyerdynamic LAGOON ANC Ruark Tempo

It’s a brave brand that goes Beyerdynamic has crammed Luxury furniture designer
from £200 soundbars to active noise cancellation, Linley makes exclusive
a £12,000 speaker, but great sound quality and and intricate wood items,
Orbitsound – or Airsound as long-haul battery life (24.5hr and while the firm is more
they’ll soon be rebranded battery life with ANC) into used to working with royal
– has pulled it off with the these smart cans – but households than hi-fi brands,
room-filling sounds of the it’s the extras that really their special collaboration
50kg Air D1. Obviously, it can’t impress. As well as a built-in with Ruark is a thing of rare

do actual stereo, but its pair EQ-adjusting hearing test to beauty. Hand-crafted in the
of ten-inch custom designed tune the sound to your own UK, the Tempo (a limited-
neodymium woofers, five-inch ears, they’ve ditched external edition version of the R1 DAB/
mid, two four-inch drivers and LEDs in favour of tiny lights Bluetooth radio) features
a surface mounted one-inch inside the ear cups that an exquisite marquetry
textile dome tweeter powered highlight when it’s synching, case in tones of Submarine,
by three class A/B amps – and to show left and right and Monday, Norwegian and
150W, 100W and 70W – offer a battery level. Given you rarely Beret colourways in four
dynamic but precise delivery, need to know this info when different veneers, with a solid
whether you’re listening over the headphones are on your sycamore chamfer, embossed
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (aptX) or head, it makes perfect sense Linley brand stamp and a soft
plugged in for serious hi-res. – and keeps the exterior sleek. goatskin-clad front panel.
£12,000 orbitsound.com €399 beyerdynamic.com £1,295 ruarkaudio.com
Oris Big Crown IWC Ingenieur Perpetual
ProPilot X Calibre 115 Calendar Digital Date-Month

Nothing is hidden in Oris’ There’s something of the

latest calibre – you can tool-watch spirit about IWC’s
even see the barrel at 12 titanium perpetual calendar.
o’clock and watch it tighten Using this more prosaic
as the crown is wound. This metal makes the watch
stripped-back aesthetic look somewhat practical,
TONAL TIME_ extends to the bridges, which, but you can’t detract from
Tudor Black Bay Bronze if looked at under a loupe, the horological fireworks
are in their natural state – going on both dial-side and
When Tudor first launched no bevelling, chamfering or under the bonnet. There’s
its Black Bay Bronze in 2016, unnecessary decoration. the digital date and month
it generated Kardashian- In contrast to the futuristic display, the chronograph is
levels of Insta attention at dial, the case is inspired by a flyback and you can even
Baselworld, with its larger an original pilot’s watch from take it for a swim. Powering it
case and new in-house 1938, given a 21st-century is the 89801, which has been
movement – the calibre MT update by being in titanium. programmed to recognise
5601. This year, a simple £5,600.00 (leather strap); different month lengths and
colour change made an £5,950.00 (bracelet) oris.ch leap years. £33,500 iwc.com
equally big splash. The gives a lustre to the bronze
dial and bezel are now in a case. Add to that the grey-
gorgeous slate grey, while the toned strap in either fabric
sultry ombré of the dial allows or nubuck leather and you’ve
the gilt-edged hour markers got a seriously stylish sports
and numerals to pop, and watch. £2,910 tudorwatch.com

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| | | | | | | | DEEP BLUE_ >

MB&F HM7 Aquapod
| | | | | | | | Platinum Red

DEEPEST DIVER_ RICH AND THIN_ First launched in 2017, MB&F’s

Omega Seamaster Audemars Piguet Royal Aquapod was rather a shock –
Planet Ocean Oak Selfwinding Perpetual it was round, for starters, and
Ultra Deep Professional Calendar Ultra Thin more conventional fare than
watch-watchers were used to
Omega now has watches that Aside from a couple of from this iconoclastic house.
have gone everywhere from cosmetic tweaks, this Royal Now this behemoth – it’s
the Moon to the bottom of Oak, which started life as 53.8mm across – is available

the Mariana Trench, thanks a showstopping concept in platinum for the first time,
to explorer Victor Vescovo’s piece, is unchanged from but is restricted to just 25
mission to explore the depths the original flight of fancy. It pieces. To compensate for
of the five oceans. The super- remains the world’s thinnest the weight of platinum, some
deep chops come courtesy automatic perpetual calendar, of this watch’s interior has
of a Liquidmetal-secured clocking in at a cased 6.3mm, been altered – the numerals
crystal – heated to 280°C, the and is still powered by the are now 3D-printed titanium,
metal is poured into the space calibre 5133 which, unusually the all-titanium case and and the tourbillon bridge is
between the case and the for ultra-thin pieces, has bracelet have been modified sapphire rather than metal.
crystal and compressed with a full rotor rather than a so that both are mainly matte Given that it only has a
five tonnes of pressure. This micro version. The signature – with the bezel and middle 50m water resistance, it’s
particular Seamaster isn’t for tapisserie guilloche has been links bringing some subtle not actually suitable for
sale, but its innovations will replaced with a satin-brushed bling with a tasteful dash of plumbing the depths – but it
likely come to a civilian watch deep blue dial, which makes gleaming polished platinum. will definitely look cool by the
soon. £n/a swatchgroup.com the face feel less frantic; £poa audemarspiguet.com pool. £150,000 mbandf.com
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BMW 8 Series Gran Coupé Lexus LY 650 Luxury
and Micro E-Scooter Production Yacht

If Micro’s special edition 150- Luxury carmakers are no Martin and Quintessence’s 42ft Lexus Sport Yacht raised
watt, 20kph BMW E-Scooter is strangers to the world’s AM37 powerboat – a tasteful the bar, hotly pursued by the
the toy your inner child craves, exclusive waterfronts – the exercise in teak and carbon LY 650 – a 65ft, six-berth
the all-new 8 Series Gran flowing forms of a superyacht fibre – weighed anchor in Lexus Luxury Yacht, due to
Coupé is the toy you crave are catnip to any automotive 2016, followed swiftly by launch in autumn 2019 and
that accommodates your designer, eager to translate Toyota’s luxury division, developed in partnership with
actual child. BMW’s answer their tarmac-bound design Lexus. Toyota Marine’s the master craftsmen of the
to the Porsche Panamera, language to the waves. Ponam line had already Marquis-Larson boat group in
this is a grand-touring Ferrari kicked things off in the established itself as Japan’s Wisconsin. Powered by twin
sports coupé with four-door early 90s with a run of rosso market leader in premium 800hp Volvo IPS engines, it’s


practicality. The 8 Series also corsa Riva runabouts. Aston yachts, but 2017’s sinuous the distinctly Lexus design
features Apple CarPlay-over- that’s everything: the elegant
Bluetooth, a superb head-up rise and fall of the yacht’s
display, and BMW’s advanced roofline flows into the rising
driver aids – steering assist rear section. Inside, it’s pure,
on motorways coupled with leather-trimmed decadence.
advanced cruise control give £tbc lexusyachts.com
a glimpse of the autonomous
future. And, should you need
to park a distance from your
destination, break out that
BMW E-Scooter from the boot
for an eco-friendly last mile.
From £69,340 OTR bmw.co.uk


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Nikola NZT and WAV Cérvelo Áspero Gravel Bike

ELECTRIC RACER_ Nikola (yes, as in Nikola Built for gravel racing, the fork. Switching around the
Lito Sora Generation 2 Tesla) presents its sci-fi- Áspero (Spanish for “rough”) Trail Mixer – the metal insert
Electric Superbike styled, lithium-powered, features a paired-down positioned at the “drop out”
all-terrain NZT utility vehicle. carbon frame with aero- where the fork meets the
Ten years in development, Looking like a cross between style seat-stays, a burly centre of the wheel – changes
Lito Motorcycles brings a tractor and a dune buggy, down-tube protector and no the “rake” (or fore-aft offset)
it’s premier road-ready it boasts four independent rack mounts (this ain’t no by 5mm, altering the bike’s
electric ride to market – motors at each wheel, touring rig). With a capacity handling characteristics to
albeit in a limited edition integrated e-axles with the for 42mm tyres on a 700c suit the chosen wheel size.
of just 20 examples. The inverter and gearbox, and a wheel or 49mm tyres on a Complete bike from £2,699
Sora Generation 2 has a rollicking 590hp and 0-100kph smaller 650b wheel, Cérvelo to £5,399, also available
battery delivering 50 per acceleration in four seconds. are again pegging themselves as frame-only cervelo.com
cent more range than the In tow is its next adventure in at the racier end of the
prototype – that’s up to a EV: the all-electric WAV jetski. market. The most unique
real-world-ready 290km. The $80,000 nikolamotor.com feature of the Áspero? The
liquid-cooled, three-phase
permanent magnet AC motor
will hurl you to 100kph in
three blurred seconds, and
on to nearly 200kph, and its
dashboard is a single, all-in-
one 5.7in LCD touchscreen.
$82,250 (£66,870)
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0 63 AIRBNB LUXE_ | | | | | | | |
Staying in style
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designer”, who can sort everything Left: the Te Kanu residency on Lake
from travel itineraries to theatre tickets, Wanaka, New Zealand (£2,029 per
grocery deliveries, chefs and drivers. night). Below: Nukutepipi in French
So how does one assemble a Luxe Polynesia (from €900,000 a week)

portfolio? The Luxury Retreats acqui-
sition included many staff, including adds. “I don’t think they’re doing it as a
Nick Guezen, now Airbnb’s director of form of advertising, or developing their
portfolio strategy at Luxe. It is Guezen brand. I think they’re trying to segment
who developed the much-vaunted their supply/demand to develop that
300-point checklist for Luxe rentals. market and seek greater profits.”
“The criteria ensure properties meet a Te c h n o l o g y - d r i v e n l u x u r y i s
set of strictly held standards,” Guezen extremely adept at serving up these
explains. “From chef-grade appliances bite-size morsels of curated individu-
to the proper amount of bathrooms.” ality. They are designed to entice. “One
irbnb changed the way we look at Other elements are more subjective. of my favourite homes is called Alang
temporary accommodation, whether As Guezen notes: “We’re evaluating Alang in the south of France,” Guerzen
for work or play. Now the San Francisco- form, function, feel, location, services.” recalls. “I had the opportunity to visit
based company, set up by Brian Chesky, Luxury Retreats is still a going that home last year, and while it is just
Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk concern, and the Luxe list is winnowed as incredible as any other home on our
in 2008, is diversifying its offerings: down from its more than 5,000 listings platform, it has a unique feature: in the
alongside ventures such as Airbnb to 2,000-plus homes, all of which main entrance of the building, there
“Experiences”, “Plus” and “Collections”, meet the enhanced Luxe criteria. “We is a genuine fossil T-Rex skull (one of
the company has launched Airbnb designed an approach that allowed us to only four privately owned in the world).”
Luxe, providing “access to unique and identify properties worthy of joining the Luxe is a head-first leap into the
spectacular properties with… bespoke platform, while still being entirely unique digital commodification of exclu-
experiences and services”. and appropriate to their particular desti- sivity, the burgeoning sense that
The trigger was the company’s $300 nation,” Guezen says. As a result, Luxe everyone deserves luxury, even if only
million (£240m) acquisition of Luxury properties are usually visual shorthand for a couple of nights. Private islands
Retreats in 2017. The latter site dates for their respective high-end arche- are a long way from air mattresses,
to the early days of the web, set up types: the modernist seaside box; but online, everything scales.
in a bedroom in 1999 by a 17-year-old the contemporary town house; the
designer. That founder, Canadian Joe fur-strewn ski lodge; the private island.
Poulin, is now Airbnb’s vice-president Back in the real world, Murray Cox
of luxury, overseeing more than 2,000 established the website Inside Airbnb
“handpicked homes” around the world. with designer John Morris, as a kind
Luxe offers a blend of high-end travel of data-driven activism, deep-diving
agent and luxury concierge (as well as into Airbnb’s impact on rental markets
being a new portal for virtual tourism for around the world by dovetailing its

the rest of us), tapping into the minted listings with other public data to
millennial’s expectations of an entirely provide a snapshot of how the service
curated life. Whereas Airbnb blew up on changes cities. “At the moment, Inside
the power of crowd-sourced listings, Airbnb doesn’t specifically identify Luxe
reviews and a powerful search system, listings,” Cox says, musing that discov-
it lacks the personal touch of expertise ering the proportional split between
and engagement that the truly wealthy regular and Luxe would be an inter-
feel entitled to. So the company has esting statistical exercise. “Anecdotally,
overlaid these creamed off listings I’ve noticed that some markets, both
with a light dusting of add-on services in the city and in regional areas, have
and the availability of a dedicated “trip high-priced/luxury Airbnb listings,” he
ICONIC CAMERA_ Hasselblad CFV II 907X 50C

Hasselblad has updated its legendary V system with the CVF II, a 50-megapixel CMOS medium
format sensor offering outstanding colour depth and the ability to capture full-size in-camera JPEG
images. The brand has kept the low-slung shooting style of the original, but added a large touch-
and-tilt rear display, built-in battery and USB-C for fast charging and image transfer. Weighing
in at just 206g, you’ve got yourself a go anywhere, shoot anything camera. £tbc hasselblad.com

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F T HE Y E A R 20 19_T R AV EL

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065 ARRIVE IN STYLE_ Louis Vuitton Horizon Soft Luggage from Marc Newson

Industrial designer Marc Newson has reinterpreted the classic Louis Vuitton hard cases for the mod- The tough outer shell is
ern traveller. The soft case collection consists of two pieces: the rolling Horizon Soft Duffle 55, and the made using thermo-
four-wheeled Horizon Soft 55, both available in a fresh palette of colours including orange, yellow, grey, formed 3D knit material
black and brown. All incorporate a variation of Louis Vuitton’s interlocking “LV” monogram pattern, with a with a water-
while the zips are fitted using ultrasonic cutting and fused tape. £1,770; £1,960 uk.louisvuitton.com repellent treatment

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| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | GOLDEN GRILLS_ TRICK-SHOT TABLE 06 6
Miansai 14K Gold Grill Set Cubista Linear Pool Table
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Forget for a second that these Designed by Basaglia + Rota
| | | | | | | | barbecue tools are made Nodari for FAS Pendezza, this
from solid, polished 14-karat low-profile, full-size, free-
gold, and will therefore dent play pool table is made from
FACE THE DARK SIDE_ quicker than the bumper coated metal, with design
Little Jedi Floor Lamp on a Renault Twingo – the lines borrowed from the early
design of the 45cm spatula, 20th-century avant-garde
Filipino designer Kenneth fork, knife and tongs is Cubist movement. Featuring
Cobonpue has succumbed exceptional, combining sharp a 19mm slate coupled with
to the powers of the blades, tight angles and professional grade cloth,
Star Wars franchise and elegant proportions. They’re the angular legs have
designed a complete set of ideal heirlooms for the chef adjustable feet hidden in
Sith-inspired living room who has everything – but the base for easy levelling
furniture that includes a until Miami-based Miansai (so no beer mats are
Sidious Easy Armchair launches a more affordable required), and a perfectly
and Chewie Rocking Stool stainless steel set, to own fitted top panel turns it into
– but if you’re not ready them you’ll need to be like a stylish dining table or
to commit quite so much the perfect roast leg of lamb: work desk when play isn’t in
floorspace to the Force, our minted. $65,000 miansai.com session. €poa faspendezza.it
pick is the Little Jedi Lamp,
which combines dozens of
white Jedi knight figurines,
each holding a mini LED
lightsaber – and one feisty
little red Sith lord.
£poa kennethcobonpue.com


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McLaren 720S Ride-On Chanel Skateboard

ECO BAG_ A supercar for six-year-olds, parental peace of mind. First Dior collaborated with
Prada Re-Nylon Backpack the all-electric McLaren 720S A complete infotainment Bogarde on a gold BMX; now
Ride-On is available in Papaya system with preloaded Chanel has added a luxurious
The ideal accessory for Spark – the launch colour of nursery songs, exclusive skateboard to its S/S 2019
the impending climate the grown-up version – with McLaren videos and USB or collection – so we assume
apocalypse, Prada’s classic functioning dihedral doors SD-card sockets for loading the X-Games is embracing
nylon backpack has been and exposed carbon-style your own content, rounds a high-fashion makeover?
redesigned using ECONYL elements. While the working out the package. (Please The deck in question is no

from Aquafil – a clever textile accelerator pedal produces resist immediately installing mere exercise in bling: this
yarn made out of plastic authentic engine sounds, it Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”.) mini-cruiser is crafted from
waste collected from oceans, can be remote controlled for From £315 mclaren.com lacquered wood, with artwork
old fishing nets and textile- simulating the classic Chanel
fibre waste. Hardwearing quilting and the interlocking
and impressively versatile, “C” logo on the base, while
the material can be recycled the trucks are mounted with
countless times without appropriately stylish white
degrading the quality – and wheels. On top, you’ll find
for every 10,000 tonnes of grip tape and a wood-toned
ECONYL created, 70,000 logo. It’ll look great tucked
barrels of petroleum are under a well–dressed arm,
saved. Prada hopes to but what we’re really looking
convert all its virgin nylon into forward to is seeing it
Re-Nylon by the end of 2021. whirling through the air…
$1,750 prada.com $7,700 chanel.com
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SE . _ HE Y E AR 2019_ AU TOPIA

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069 HYPER DRIVE_ | | | | | | | |
The Evija – Lotus’s first
all-electric hypercar | | | | | | | |

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four electric motors – two per axle – And what a wheel it is, trimmed
and four lightweight magnesium with carbon fibre and Alcantara, then
wheels. The motors are powered by festooned with buttons and dials for
a 70kWh, 680kg battery pack which indicators, phone, media, lights and

doesn’t reside in the floor like a Tesla, driving modes. A red selector like the
but behind the two seats. While this Manettino switch of a Ferrari lets the
arrangement may compromise the driver pick from Eco, City, Tour, Sport
centre of gravity, it enabled Lotus to and Track modes, suggesting the Evija
lower the floor, seating position and roof, may be as at home in town and on the
and shrink the ride height to 105mm. motorway as it is on race tracks.
With the Evija, Lotus seeks to give The latter is an important point for
the body a degree of porosity, where Lotus, which wants to prove it has
large channels are removed to enhance developed an electric drivetrain that can
airflow, thus boosting downforce and survive sustained high-performance
any manufacturers express a desire lowering drag. Nowhere is this more driving without needing time to cool
to produce the world’s most powerful prominent than at the rear, where red down. The company says there will be no
electric production car. With the LED brake lights frame the exits of two performance drop-off for at least seven
launch of the Evija, Lotus has joined huge Venturi tunnels, reminiscent of minutes in Track mode. This may not
the fray: it is the first electric Lotus, and a fighter jet’s afterburners, and each sound like much, but some of today’s
the company’s first hypercar. Set to cost illuminated from within by further LEDs. quickest EVs struggle to perform at
from a cool £2m, just 130 will be made Other concept car design flour- their best repeatedly.
after production begins in 2020. ishes we fervently hope make it As well as summoning up all 2,000hp,
The Evija (E-vi-ya) has a 1,680kg to production include deployable Track mode engages the rear spoiler
target weight, which sounds dumpy cameras for wing mirrors, and how and F1-style DRS system for cutting
next to a flyweight Elise, but should the T of the rear “Lotus” nameplate drag on the straights and increasing top
undercut much of the competition. doubles as a reversing light. For added speed, brings a lap timer to the centre
The company’s “simplify, then add drama (and less handle-induced drag) of the instrument display, and supple-
lightness” philosophy is alive and well, the powered dihedral doors are opened ments it with a G-meter.
only now, with major investment from with a press of the keyfob. Returning to It would be easy to dismiss the Evija
Chinese firm Geely – also owners of the car with your hands full of shopping as a stunt. But with its pockets freshly
Volvo and Polestar – Lotus has the will never be the same again – we just lined by Geely, this is a Lotus to be
resources to deliver this in a big way. don’t know where you’re supposed to noticed. It could then, all being well,
How big? Well, try a power output put it, as there’s no boot. use the Evija as a launchpad for devel-
of 2,000PS, 1,700Nm of torque, and a Lotus’s focus on negative space oping a whole new family of electric and
staggering zero-to-300kph time of is continued on the inside. There’s hybrid sports cars – ones which will be
under nine seconds. That’s five seconds a yawning void of what you could more affordable and, of course, lighter.
quicker than a Bugatti Chiron. call “added lightness” between the £2,000,000 lotuscars.com
The Evija also ticks the supercar dashboard and bulkhead, while the
stat boxes of 0-100kph in under three central console cascades down the

seconds, a top speed of over 320kph middle of the cabin, like a honeycomb
and a target driving range of 400km. of touch-sensitive buttons. The dash,
Developed in partnership with meanwhile, remains blissfully clean.
Formula E battery maker Williams That isn’t to say this is a cabin free
Advanced Engineering, the Evija has of digital screens – the ones that are
there, are strictly functional. Three
The central console cascades replace conventional rearview mirrors
down the middle of the cabin, like (one in each door and a third centred
a honeycomb of touch-sensitive above the windscreen), while a fourth
buttons; the dash is blissfully clean sits behind the F1-style steering wheel.
HIGH-END HAMPER_ Rolls-Royce Champagne Chest 070

Luxury in its most uncompromising form, Rolls-Royce’s champagne chest pops open to reveal its The chest features
four V12 engine-inspired hand-blown crystal flutes, two thermal caviar caissons, two blini holders, champagne coolers
two mother-of-pearl caviar spoons and a canapé capsule. Made from aluminium and carbon fibre also made from black
coated with black leather and Tudor oak, the materials used echo those found in the cars, so you’ll anodised aluminium
never face the acute embarrassment of not co-ordinating with your ride. £37,000 rolls-royce.com and carbon fibre

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When you’ve been making
watches for as long as we have,
some things just come naturally.

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Poor experiences in sending

money abroad inspired Ismail Ahmed
to build WorldRemit – now it’s
on the verge of becoming a unicorn



T H I N K I N G G L O B A L LY 0 78

> continued

Ismail Ahmed knows all about the

channels that migrants use to send
funds back home – at one point he was
a refugee from Africa doing just that.
Nearly a decade on, the London-based
startup has almost four million customers,
who send money from 50 countries to
more than 150. With nearly $375 million
in funding, the company is soon expected
to reach a billion-dollar valuation.
Ahmed is now the co-founder of online
money transfer service WorldRemit.
But in 1988, during a brutal civil war
in his homeland, he fled Hargeisa, the
capital of Somaliland, smuggled out in
a tipper truck. He made it to Britain and,
while studying, took on casual work such
as strawberry picking to send money
to his family – who were by then in a
refugee camp in Ethiopia. The transfers
were expensive and could take months to complete.
In the early 2000s, Ahmed got a job at the UN as an adviser to THE M&A EXPERT
money transfer companies in east Africa. While there, he says he MICHAL BERKNER,
noticed corruption in the UN’s Somalia remittance programme. COOLEY
“I became a whistleblower and lost my job,” he recalls. But in
2010, he received £200,000 from the UN in compensation for current : partner at London-
unfair treatment – and, having completed an MBA from the based tech law firm Cooley
London Business School, used the money to set up WorldRemit. experience : more than
Ahmed, who moved from CEO to non-executive chairman 20 years’ in the UK and US
in 2018, argues that WorldRemit’s business model is unique. “People who run tech and
Instead of sending funds from bank to bank like, for example, life science companies are
TransferWise or the traditional money transfer companies focused on their business
Western Union and MoneyGram, the transfers can be sent and don’t invest enough in
directly to a mobile wallet – via a smartphone. making sure the books and
While Western Union and MoneyGram have operated records of the company are
remittance services for years, they still rely on intermediate all cleaned up. When it’s time
agents, typically corner shops, where people go to collect their to sell, it needs to be a priority.
cash. The agents are responsible for carrying out regulatory Once a buyer starts looking
compliance such as “Know Your Client” identity checks, at documents, they should
documenting every money movement. already be in order. Buyers

WorldRemit partners with local banks and mobile networks; can lose confidence pretty
in Kenya, for example, it is working with electronic wallet quickly if they see it’s a mess.
service M-Pesa, so that money can be transferred instantly. The Beware of conditions
recipient can retrieve the funds as a bank deposit into a local in contracts [for example,
WorldRemit bank account; as mobile money; as phone airtime stipulations as to compliance
top-up; or as cash at a supermarket. The fees are two to three to certain regulations]. The
per cent lower than those charged by most banks. WorldRe- first thing I do when I get a
mit’s closest rival is Remitly, another digital-only company draft transaction agreement
sending money from developed to developing countries. is look at conditions. When
The digitisation of remittances also helps safeguard against you’re representing a seller,
money laundering: WorldRemit’s system checks users against the seller is always focused
international watchlists and sanction databases, and can flag on closing with as few
dubious activity. “If a transaction is suspicious, there is a wealth conditions as possible. Parse
of data to trace it back to a bank account, a card, an identity,” through each and every one
says Ahmed. “That’s coming a long way from agents, who – look at it critically and think:
can be untrained at best, and turn a blind eye at worst.” And, is this absolutely necessary?
he adds, WorldRemit has never been fined. Daphne LePrince If not, try and get rid of it.”

M A K I .V C

Selling a company – or better yet, having a current : partner at Maki.vc,

buyer make an attractive offer – is the end goal a venture capital firm
for many startups. According to a recent survey experience : sold telco
by Silicon Valley Bank, half of British startups firm Wicom Communications
expect to be acquired at some point. Selling a to SAP in 2007
controlling interest can also help founders take “You should be looking at all
their business to a new level, thanks to a fresh the stakeholders, asking
injection of capital. Nine in ten founders say they what it means if the company
think the mergers and acquisitions market would is sold. That includes the
grow or stay the same size in 2019, regardless of staff – it’s very important that
Brexit uncertainty. WIRED asked those who have you chart a path forward for
been on different sides of deals to highlight the your employees. But it’s also
pitfalls a savvy startup founder should avoid, the investors. Early investors
and what they’d have done differently, if they can get five or ten times their
had a second chance… Chris Stokel-Walker money back. But late-stage
investors, who came in a
year ago, might think it’s the
wrong time to sell. THE SERIAL EXITER
Keep it quiet. If a company E D B U S S E Y,
gets an offer or you’re in QUILL
the process of selling, it can
current :

be a major distraction if the founder of Quill
whole company is focusing content production platform
on that. For the SAP sale, experience : serial

we’d negotiated all the terms entrepreneur and exiter
and were ready to sign before “It’s better to be bought than
we told staff. Most people sold. If you get your business

saw it as an opportunity to a place where it’s being
to leverage their expertise acquired – driven by the
in a wider organisation, and market rather than the need
we got access to resources. to sell – that’s the best place
You’ve spent years growing your Buyers will try to push the to be in terms of pricing.
business – but now you want to sell. price down with due diligence Build relationships [with
WIRED asks veteran investors, founders – it’s totally normal, so don’t prospective buyers]. You
and experts how to get the best deal get super upset about it.” need to know what your
eventual buyer set is, and to
build contacts with the buyer
group, through conversations
and coffees. The process
itself takes six to 12 months
and, unless you’re properly
supported, it can materially
impact the business.
I’ve seen this directly and
indirectly through peers:
inevitably you get drawn into
a huge number of meetings
with a lot of detail, juggling
a lot of balls and you’re ripped
out of the business. If you’re
not properly backfilled and
supported, it can affect the
performance of the company.”


By bringing psychology and diversity
to its AI strategies, Google’s chief
decision scientist helps the tech giant
harness its vast data cache

Cassie Kozyrkov is much more than

a data scientist – she is Google’s
chief decision scientist, a title that
is as much mission statement as job
description. For Kozyrkov, artificial
intelligence and big data analytics
are far removed from the dystopian
visions of science fiction movies.
She sees them as just a few new tools
used by humans. To make these tools
work better, she brings together data
and behavioural science with human
Born in South Africa, Kozyrkov’s
fascination with data began when she
was a child, entering information about
her gemstone collection into Excel
while her friends played outside. After
moving to the US as a teen, she got a
degree in economics at the University
of Chicago – where she “realised what
incredible possibilities lie in data”.
She would later get degrees
i n s ta t i s t i c s, n e u ro s c i e n c e a n d
psychology, a combination that raised
some eyebrows. “When I was being

Right : Cassie Kozyrkov,

photographed in June
at WIRED’s Pulse: AI event

trained, it was really unusual for Firms are finding creative ways of
someone to do both [data and decision keeping workers happy and productive
science],” she says. “I remember
college advisers telling me I was crazy
with my list of courses, and why on
earth would I want to [study] these
completely different things that had
nothing to do with one another.”
Kozyrkov first thought that she
would become a university professor.
But a chance meeting with a data
scientist at Google led to a summer HEADING SPACE S T H AT
internship at the company, followed OUTDOORS INSPIRE
by jobs as a statistician and machine- Besides scaling its Slava Polonski, a UX
learning expert. After a stint as Google internal climbing wall, researcher in Google’s
Cloud’s chief data scientist, she took IBM researcher Svenja Zurich office, likes to
on the role of chief decision scientist Mauthe leads trips hold meetings while
for the whole company in 2018. into the mountains: playing pool: “We can
What she does is to bridge depart- “It helps you reassess also jam with musical
ments that usually keep to themselves, problems and instruments and play
all the way from research to the teams find new solutions.” in rooms full of LEGO.”
that apply algorithms to business
functions – training more than 17,000
Google staff in the process.
“Typical data science training might
teach you how to analyse survey data,
but not how to design the survey in
the first place. If the survey is poorly
designed, no amount of maths can
help,” she says. Kozrykov wants to use ENCOUR AGING PET
applied data science, AI and analytics PL AY TIME THERAPY
to create better tools and products – a Eilish O’Hagan works To beat stress, James
discipline that she calls decision intel- at Wilmington PLC, a Williams, celebrity
ligence. In real life, it means letting publishing firm in producer at GQ, takes
“well thought-out projects flourish, as London, which gave his dog to work: “he
well as identifying ill-advised projects out bubble-blowing makes me smile and
so these can be shut down before they kits. “We ended up realise that what I’m
begin”. And, by bringing psychology using them as a kind stressing over isn’t
into data science, she hopes to reduce of fun team activity.” the be-all and end-all.”
bias in algorithms. “You need a really
big diversity of skills and perspectives
on any of these projects,” she says. “In
applied machine learning, it’s a terrible
idea to get multiple carbon copies of the
same worker… It’s really hard to think
of everything alone. Diversity helps
creativity flourish.” Emma Sheppard

American PR giant
‘ Y O U N E E D A R E A L LY B I G Edelman offers all its

DIVERSIT Y OF SKILL S employees subsidised

ANY PROJECT ’ stress-busting back
massages. They’re so
CASSIE KOZYRKOV popular, they’re booked

“The way we hold meetings has changed a lot in the last decade,” ESCAPE PODS
says Pontus Kihlman, executive consultant at Rapal Oy, a workplace
management provider based in Espoo, Finland. Remote, agile working ARE LEADING THE NEW
and hotdesking means formal meeting rooms are increasingly
superfluous. “Oversized meeting spaces tend to be underutilised, SPACE RACE
creating a lot of wasted space that could be used more smartly, while
there aren’t enough small meeting rooms or multi-use spaces,”
Kihlman says. His firm found that meeting rooms are filled only to
a fifth of capacity after an analysis of 12,600 meeting rooms across
1,800 offices. In place of these outmoded spaces, consider instead Open-plan offices are great
hatching a pop-up meeting in one of these pods. Chris Stokel-Walker for collaboration – but sometimes you
need a little privacy. WIRED calls
a meeting of micro-rooms to order


On their own, each of

these high-backed,
upholstered seats from
Polish designer Dymitr
Malcew is merely
SOLO CALMING functional; but when MOBILE BLOW-UP
snapped together, they
Around 65 per cent of The plastic Seedpod form Cave, a circular Helsinki-based Traditionally found
work is still performed from Leeds-based workspace that acts as startup Smartblock on the sidelines of
alone, according to Seeds draws on a buffer to the hubbub thinks the meeting conferences, inflatable
Rapal Oy. The O pod, natural shapes and of a busy, open-plan space should come to rooms are springing
from Finnish workpod is designed to evoke office. “The idea was you – so it put its pod up in open offices that
startup Framery, calm. The capsule to provide a variety on wheels. Co-founder need pop-up privacy
promises an echo-free (for up to five people) of scenarios and Janne Orava says says Viktor Nijenhuis,
individual workspace is intended to remove settings for various its mobile Smartblock owner of Dutch
in which to focus. a sense of hierarchy, activities, to create FD pod also has an startup QuickSpace.
Framery CEO Samu while coloured LED a sense of privacy intelligent built-in The structures come
Hällfors claims lighting and built-in without building fixed display that in a variety of shapes

workers using the Bluetooth speakers walls,” explains Malcew. recognises the source and sizes, have
O pod “recover from help set the mood malcew.com of any input plugged sound insulation,
stress, sleep better, in this fire-retardant, into it, so “there’s no and can be up and
and exercise more.” glass-reinforced pod. need for a remote inhabited in minutes.
frameryacoustics.com seeds.company control”. smartblock.fi quickspace.eu

The desire for detail

WIRED partners with automotive maestros McLaren to
uncover the story behind its ground-breaking 720S
– one of the most complex, advanced and accomplished
supercars the world has ever encountered

‘The 720S is about Supercar design typically begins with In an exclusive video with WIRED,
drama and theatre – an inky flourish, a scribble on the back McL aren’s chief designer explains
but it’s also about of a napkin, or an abstract shape that why the 720S embodies ever y thing
engagement and fun’ evolves into much larger, more complex his company strives to achieve – from
Dan Parry-Williams, final image. But McLaren approaches aerodynamic efficiency to pioneering
Director of everything it does differently. advanced composite materials – and
Engineering Design, The 720S, a supercar that’s capable why this has enabled its latest supercar
McLaren Automotive of dispatching the 0-100kph sprint in to of fer such an exhilarating drive
under three seconds, was designed to the widest possible audience.
from the ground up to unashamedly Visit wired.co.uk to watch the full video
flaunt its functional side. There is no
crease, intake or sweeping line on the
vehicle that doesn’t serve a purpose.

HOW AI CURES When his son was diagnosed with a form of

high-functioning autism, Dirk Müller-Remus
TRANSCRIPTION envisaged the kind of future he would have in
the workplace, and didn’t like what he saw: the
MISERY global unemployment rate for people on the autism
spectrum remains at around 80 per cent. So, the
German entrepreneur decided to build a company
that would create long-term employment oppor-
The exquisite pain of typing out audio tunities for adults who, like his son, have extraor-
recordings is set to be a thing of the past – dinary cognitive abilities, but often lack the social
just get artificial intelligence to do the work skills needed to find a job and retain it.
In 2011, Müller-Remus founded Auticon, a
for-profit social enterprise that hires individuals
Whether it’s recording notes from a conference, on the autism spectrum as IT consultants and
sharing a meeting memo with colleagues, or matches their skills to a specific client project.
typing up audio from an extended interview, The Berlin-based company’s clients include Glaxo
transcription is the enemy of productivity. Smith Kline, KPMG and the Virgin Group.
Automated dictation apps and transcription Auticon is now managed by Kurt Schaffer, the
services offer a potential solution, but issues group CEO, who expanded the firm’s reach to the
around accuracy, cost and turnaround abound. UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Canada and the
Sam Liang, a former Google platform architect, US. Auticon says it currently employs more than
realised It’s just the kind of problem that artificial 200 people with a variety of autism diagnoses.
intelligence eats up – so he developed Otter AI, Lars Backstrom joined Auticon UK in early 2018
a freemium note-taking app that uses AI to after being out of full-time employment for eight
transcribe, remember, search and share voice years. He was diagnosed with autism as an adult
conversations. It’s free for 600 minutes a month, and has struggled most of his life with social inter-
with premium services at up to $12.50 (£10) extra. actions. “If you don’t form social networks at work,
Users record audio using a smartphone you tend to be a target to be picked on,” he says.
running the Otter app, and the software Backstrom is now a consultant for KPMG in
automatically turns it into text in near real time. London, where he uses complex analytics tools
(Dictaphone recordings can be uploaded via to support the audit team. He requires two key
Otter’s web portal.) elements to make him feel at ease in the workplace:
Multiple voices are patience and clarity. “I don’t like being pulled in
recognised, and the text too many directions at once,” he says.
is saved to the cloud. Auticon job coaches are paired with the
consultants to liaise with clients on their behalf.


“Journalists use the
technology for interview While the consultants perform the IT tasks, the
notes, creative agencies job coaches convey the needs and special require-
use it to process ments of the consultants, as they sometimes find
qualitative research it hard to interact with others. Some autistic
interviews, students use individuals don’t want to shake hands, for example,

it to take notes in class,” or don’t wish to be put on the spot in a meeting. The
says Seamus McAteer, coaches will make sure clients are aware of this.
general manager of Over the past few years there has been a big
revenue and push in autism advocacy and awareness in the
partnerships for Otter. UK, spearheaded by entities such as Auticon
There are also examples and the National Autistic Society. But one of the
of podcasters using Otter to make show notes,
he adds, but the most common use case is
minutes from meetings which, with multiple,
overlapping voices to contend with, push the
voice separation and identification, audio
synchronisation and keyword extraction
capabilities of the in-house AI. Tuning for
accents, filtering for background noise and
support for proper names, jargon and acronyms
are in development, as is an option for recording
phone calls. Will Bedingfield otter.ai

Left : Lars Backstrom,

a consultant at Auticon
UK, with his coach (in
reflection) Adam Goldman

main challenges, according to Auticon’s

UK CEO, Ray Coyle, is to convince autistic
individuals to apply for a job.
“The workplace hasn’t been kind
to autistic people, and some feel like
employers have given up on them,” Coyle
says. “Most companies include a job
description that is a hypothetical history
of the type of individual that they want.
It’s very prescriptive and autistic people
will often think it doesn’t describe them.
We make sure that our job descriptions
are deliberately vague.”
Auticon’s London office, which opened
in 2016, now has 36 employees. Regarding
the hiring of IT consultants, Coyle says the
company keeps the process very flexible to
make sure that every skill is measurable,
without being constrained by standardised
testing processes.
The candidates are assessed on their
cognitive skills using a test designed
with researchers from the University
of Berlin. Applicants with relevant
technology experience (whether coding
or programming) are then tested on their
tech capabilities through the London-
based software company Geektastic, which
assesses skills including logical analysis, pattern
recognition, attention to detail, error detection
and sustained concentration.
Job interviews aren’t part of Auticon’s hiring
TA P P I N G I N TO TA L E N T: process. Interviews, says Coyle, test the candi-
date’s social abilities – eye contact, body language,

AUTISM charm. But many on the autism spectrum can find

it challenging to manage the unwritten rules of the
workplace and would rather focus on their task.

ADVOCACY When Auticon opened its London office three

years ago, the Virgin Group was one of the first to
back the social enterprise financially. The group’s
founder, Richard Branson, has dyslexia which, like
autism, is a form of neurodiversity.
While Auticon focuses on tech jobs for
The employment outlook for autistic people high-functioning autistic individuals, there are
can be bleak – but Auticon, a social other entities in the UK that also cater to the needs
enterprise, has found a way to harness the of people on the autism spectrum. AS Mentoring
unique attributes of these workers provides mentoring, recruiting and employment
support, and Harry Specters offers young people
with autism free training and employment at its
chocolate shop. Bérénice Magistretti
Events, new products and promotions
Compiled by Jake Pummintr


Kings Place
October 30, 2019

How do you turn disruption into

a strategy? At WIRED Smarter
we explore how startups and
brands are finding innovative
ways to flex around the future
of business, work, retail,
money and security through a
series of top-level keynotes,
storytelling, interactive
showcases and networking.
Mariana Mazzucato, Professor
of Innovation and Public
Value at UCL, Director of
the Institute for Innovation
and Public Purpose and
the author of The Value of
Everything: Making and Taking
in the Global Economy, joins
the speaker lineup, which
includes Akshay Naheta of the
SoftBank Vision Fund; Kris
Miller from eBay; Ulric Jerome
COM; and beauty entrepreneur
Sharmadean Reid MBE.

Hermès Veo boots Sonos Beam TV smart soundbar WIRED HEALTH

£970 uk.hermes.com £399 sonos.com London, UK
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Hermès makes a convincing case for details with Simple in design, complex in ability, the March 25-26, 2020
the Veo, a luxury take on the classic jodhpur boot. Beam packs in Amazon Alexa and Google
Crafted from smooth calfskin leather with a sturdy Assistant, while enhancing your TV Save the date for WIRED
rubber sole, the boots are finished with the brand’s viewing with HD sound with five Class-D Health, the conference
quintessential buckle in matte lacquered metal. digital amps and four full-range woofers. dedicated to the future
of health. Hear from the
Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro earphones Ball Trainmaster Endeavour Chronometer disruptors changing how we
£219.95 apple.com £2,030 ballwatch.com access and provide health care,

- - meet the startups improving

The definition of tiny but mighty, the Powerbeats Marking the 250th anniversary of the patient care and be a part of
Pro pack a punch. With features including noise Endeavour expedition, BALL presents its this engaged community of
isolation, autoplay, “Hey Siri” capability and Apple’s Trainmaster Endeavour Chronometer, a influencers. Attendees can
H1 chip, these sweat- and water-resistant earphones three-hand, date-display piece featuring enjoy a full day of talks, plus a
are an ideal workout-cum-everyday audio option. Captain Cook’s signature on the dial. second day of workshops.

“Playing games is fundamental to being human.” Jade Raymond, Stadia p88


– you could carry on gaming from “I was sitting round a campfire near
exactly the same point on your mobile. Stonehenge with my family back in
The new service would support cross- 2017,” he recalls. “Suddenly, up popped
platform play and, given its ability to a Facebook message saying ‘Hey, I
scale, would allow developers to expand want to connect you to somebody at
games – “so that 100-person games like Google’. Pretty much the first thing I said
Fortnite could turn into 1,000-player to Google was ‘No, I’m not interested
battles royale”. And it would be fully in working for you’.” But in the end he
integrated with YouTube, so you could flew out to Mountain View, where he was
watch a streamer playing, click on a convinced that Google’s ambition could
link, and immediately be transported provide the kind of gaming experience
into the game world yourself, with no he’d been working towards for years.
download, no updates and no install. Having invested in Gaikai, a high-end
A “share” button on Stadia’s Wi-Fi- video game streaming service that
enabled controller – the only new was bought by Sony in 2012 to build
piece of hardware – would let you start its PlayStation Now platform, Harrison
live-streaming your own session for knew that cloud gaming wasn’t just an
others to watch or join in with. R&D problem. “It’s a scale problem, and
Gaming, Harrison said, is now the if you try to count them on both hands,
biggest form of entertainment on you run out of companies that could
the planet, with more than two billion do this on a global scale before you run
players globally and hundreds of out of fingers,” he says. “I looked at
millions of people watching gaming Google’s network infrastructure, data
content every day on YouTube alone. centres, YouTube, engineering culture
“Our vision is to bring those worlds and long-term investment horizon
closer together – to connect game and I thought – even if we’re only 50
developers with players and YouTube per cent successful in lining up all of
creators in a way that only Google can.” those planets, that’s going to be a pretty
amazing constellation.”
He also knew that Google’s technology
UNDAR PICHAI, THE GOOGLE CEO, A few months later, Harrison is alone would not be enough to make
strode on to the stage at the 31st standing at a high, white desk in his Stadia a success. This is why the
Game Developers Conference in San office at Google’s headquarters in company chose to announce the new
Francisco during March 2019, to deliver Mountain View, California. The Stadia launch at the San Francisco conference
a keynote product launch for Stadia: team is housed in a two-storey office – a full eight months before Stadia was
a console-free, cloud-based gaming block towards the edge of the campus, scheduled to become available to
platform. This was an intriguing propo- which stretches 3km by 3km – meaning consumers in November 2019.
sition from the tech giant, which has you could fit the City of London into it “The reason is simple,” Harrison
no real experience in gaming. Pichai three times over. The whole complex says, spreading his fingers on the
even started his speech by confessing feels less like a collection of high-rise tabletop. “We have to excite one
that he wasn’t a big gamer, aside from company buildings than a Hollywood crucial stakeholder first, which is the
playing FIFA 19 “quite a bit”. studio that has bought an entire town, game developers. We need to get them
It was left to Phil Harrison, the giving each movie or TV show its own tuned into the opportunity of creating
company’s vice-president in charge house. There are around 30 staff for Stadia. We’d been speaking to some
of the project, to sell the vision. He restaurants, including Indian, sushi, developers for three or four years,
told the developers, designers and pizza, burrito and noodle eateries; plus because of the lead times in creating
producers who had assembled for a hospital, sports fields and gyms. games, but we needed the developers
the conference that Stadia would be Employees like to say the company onside before the consumers, or we
“a new-generation game platform doesn’t mind if you go home at the end of wouldn’t have a platform.”
purpose-built for the 21st century” – the day, but does make it easier to stay. The company didn’t announce details
one where “the worlds of watching and Harrison, tall with closely cropped of how the platform was going to work
playing games converge”. hair and a light Hertfordshire accent, for consumers until early June 2019. The
With Stadia, Harrison explained, joined Google in 2018, after a multi- important details are that it will operate
gamers could play high-resolution, decade career in the gaming industry. a subscription model, with an initial
AAA titles in real time, with no need Having initially built a reputation as a offer of a starter pack for £119, which
to purchase a console. All you would games designer in the UK in the late includes a dark blue Stadia controller,
need is a Google Chrome browser and 1980s, he was one of the first people to a Chromecast Ultra stick (needed to
an internet connection, and you could be approached by Sony to launch the play games on a TV) and a three-month
play the same games on any screen – PlayStation in 1992. He went on to run subscription to Stadia Pro, which will
whether a desktop, laptop, television, Xbox in Europe for Microsoft, before give access to an assortment of free,
tablet or mobile phone. Say you’re leaving to invest in gaming startups Right: Phil Harrison was sitting round a
playing Assassin’s Creed on your TV, but and regain a little work-life balance. campfire at Stonehenge when Google called
you suddenly need to leave the house Then came the call from Google. – and put him in charge of the Stadia project
full-price and discounted games in 4k In a brightly lit conference room at Even fibre optic cables have roughly a
resolution and 5.1 surround sound. Mountain View, across the hall from what one millisecond delay for every 200km;
From 2020, the company will offer the looks like a student lounge – beaten-up if you’re in London and the server is in
controllers separately for £59 (though sofas, bean bags, gaming controllers Tel Aviv, and you have optical fibre all
you do not need a Stadia controller on every surface, and a huge screen – the way, it would take about 30–48
to access the platform, which is also Majd Bakar, the cheerful Syrian-born milliseconds for the signal to return to
compatible with other controllers or head of engineering at Stadia, explains you – if the network wasn’t busy.
a mouse and keyboard), and a Stadia how the idea was born. It started, he “For gamers, a latency of dozens of
Pro subscription for £8.99 per month. says, with Chromecast – Google’s milliseconds is the most you can have
It will also start offering a second-tier dongle that allows users to stream to make sure that any delay is imper-
streaming subscription, called Stadia video or audio content from a phone or ceptible,” says John Justice, Stadia’s
Base, with lower resolution. computer on to a TV, launched in 2013. head of product management. “That
The first of the free games is Destiny “I joined Google from Xbox to develop means you don’t score worse in your
2: The Collection , and Stadia has Google’s Chromecast digital media matches than before. The solution is
confirmed 31 other titles at the time of player, but very rapidly it became clear complicated and hasn’t been techni-
writing, including Borderlands 3, Doom there was a significant hole in the cally possible before, which is why other
Eternal, Football Manager, Marvel’s dongle’s offering: computer games,” services have struggled.”
Avengers, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Bakar says. “It’s the largest single Google’s first solution was to build
Breakpoint, Wolfenstein: Youngblood entertainment industry in the world.” more data centres nearer to users,
and Watch Dogs: Legion. All of these According to the Entertainment but this wasn’t enough. There is also
titles are, however, available on other Software Association, global video the matter of data compression. Since
platforms – in the way that the popularity game revenue reached $134.9 billion digital data was first compressed back in
of Halo helped Xbox take off, Stadia will (£110 billion) in 2018. For comparison, 1974 by a team at the University of Texas,
perhaps need its “killer app” game. market research company The NPD there have been two options – “lossy”
Ultimately, the vision Stadia is trying Group puts global cinema box office or “lossless” compression.
to sell to developers and gamers is a revenues at $41.1 billion (up to $136 billion With lossless compression, every
kind of real-world Ready Player One – a when combined with home movie enter- bit of data that was originally in the file
multiverse of games, linked by the cloud, tainment revenue), and the International remains after the file is uncompressed.
that players can move freely between, Federation of the Phonographic Industry With lossy compression, encoding and
possibly even using the same avatar puts the global recorded music market decoding discards some of the data
across game worlds. With streaming at $19.1 billion. At the start of 2019, Netflix to reduce size, using inexact approxi-
becoming the default way to consume told shareholders that gaming was a mations to recreate the content. Lossy
entertainment – from music to video bigger threat to business than rival TV compression is the way companies
and now gaming – does this herald the services, writing in its quarterly report such as Netflix and YouTube can deliver
end of the games console? that “we compete with (and lose to) apparently real-time video, but most
Sony is clearly worried. In February Fortnite more than HBO”. streaming services use some level of
2019, Sony’s chief financial officer, Bakar tried to get gaming to work on buffering – meaning the video sent
Hiroki Totoki, said that cloud gaming Chromecast. “The problem was, how to your screen is some way ahead of
and video game streaming services can you get high-end, AAA games on to your viewing. For buffering to work,
could threaten PlayStation, damage if a very low-end device?” he says. “Cloud Netflix needs to know what the next
not destroy console sales, and require gaming was the obvious answer for us, few minutes of video you’ll be viewing
a major investment in servers and but as we learned more – and as we are, and send enough of it so that you
infrastructure management – an area understood the technology behind it – never catch up with the decoding of data.
where Sony lags behind its rivals. we realised that it made more sense to Failure to stay ahead of the viewer leads
Microsoft is preparing to launch its develop a cloud service that’s available to the dreaded “loading” screen.
own streaming service, xCloud, with on any screen anywhere.” In game streaming, buffering is all but
public trials scheduled for October The biggest challenge is latency – the impossible, as the player interacts with
2019, and Amazon is rumoured to be time it takes packets of information to go and changes the content on a second-
considering a rival service. In a move from your device to the server and back. by-second basis. All forms of lossy
widely seen as defensive, console
rivals Microsoft and Sony unveiled a
partnership in May 2019, with plans to
collaborate on cloud-based gaming.
“Historically, gaming was defined by
the device you were playing on,” says
Kareem Choudhry, vice-president of
cloud gaming at Xbox and the man
who is stepping up to stymie Stadia’s
ambitions. “Music and video started
that way – now you listen and watch
wherever you want. Now it’s gaming’s
time. In mobile, music drove 3G, video
drove 4G – and gaming will drive 5G.”

compression use some sort of “codec” In theory, this means massively multi- Turning the tables: Stadia’s head of product
– a portmanteau word combining coding player online role-playing games such management John Justice (left) and head
and decoding. Stadia required a codec as Neverwinter or World of Warcraft can of engineering Majd Bakar at Mountain View
that could send and receive data without actually deliver on the offer they seem on Steam. It’s a community-driven
any buffering at approximately the to be making. Currently, the massively spaceship MMO game, where players
speed of light. Back in 2011, when Bakar multiplayer element of such games can explore, set up mining operations
started work on the project, there wasn’t is in fact the result of a kind of online and industries, plot and plan in an
a codec capable of the compression that smoke and mirrors known as “shards”. ever expanding sandbox. The game is
game streaming needed. In effect, developers balance the number slow moving and, for players used to
In 2010, however, Google had of players with available computing high-adrenaline action, can verge on
acquired On2 Technologies, a small power by dividing players into shards, the boring – until, as happens every now
codec technology firm in upstate New or subgroups, on different servers. and then, massive events sweep the
York. Since it was founded in 1992, the That means players are restricted to game. In 2014, for instance, 7,548 players
company had created a series of video interacting with a small subset of the took part in a 21-hour player-versus-
codecs called TrueMotion, designed overall game community. player battle known as the Bloodbath of
specifically for gaming – initially for the “There’s only enough computational B-R5RB. In June 2019, a vast non-player
Sega Saturn console. Fresh iterations power to maybe render 50 or 100 people fleet of aliens attacked the majority of
of the technology were known by their on the screen, but really there are many, players at the same time.
version numbers; by the time Google many more people in that world – they’re Stadia’s potential – and the thing
acquired the company, its latest codec just in a parallel universe,” says Jack that sees the team’s faces light up – is
was VP8, speedy but poorly equipped Buser, Stadia’s director for games. that it could offer an EVE Online-style
to handle high-resolution images. “But think of the creative possibility of experience at Fortnite’s breakneck
Engineers then worked on VP9, which removing all those limitations. You could speed. But first, it needs the games.
deals with high-resolution images in an have hundreds of thousands of people
innovative way – expanding sky pixels, on screen at a particular time – with the Two people have been given the job
for instance, to fill more space. potential for millions of people, jumping of overseeing content so compelling
“The VP9 codec is open, but in in and out of a single instance in the that it will attract players to Stadia: Jade
Stadia’s case, we do special work in game anywhere you can place a link on Raymond and Erin Hoffman-John.
the encoder that makes it super fast,” the internet. It would be one giant world Raymond is something of a legend
Justice explains. “That encoder still that goes on for decades, never turns off in the industry, known as much for her
follows the VP9 standard format, so and never resets. We’ve dreamed of this, biker jacket as for her enviable CV. The
every VP9 decoder out there can read but it was always the kind of thing you Canadian producer worked on The Sims
the streams. But our encoder is specially would only see in a movie until today.” Online at Electronic Arts (EA), developed
optimised, making it much faster. There is one fully functioning single- Assassin’s Creed for Ubisoft, and helped
We put a lot of special sauce in there.” shard game, called EVE Online, available EA create its Star Wars games.

“Playing games is fundamental to

being human,” she says. “People don’t
choose a new platform because they
love its technology – they go because
their hearts are touched. Would Xbox
have been a success without Halo?
We have to make sure that the core
gamers are our core fans and the people
we are delivering value to first.”
Raymond is creating a publishing
team to work with external developers
to make exclusive content for Stadia,
while also building Stadia’s own internal
game studio. Her move to the company
in March 2019 was widely seen as a boost many years – by which time the indies
to Google’s gaming credentials. are not there to benefit from it,” she
Hoffman-John’s role is more says. “If they could iterate very quickly,
future-focused. She runs Star Labs, a throw out an entire level and make a new
prototyping games studio on the ground one in a week instead of in three months,
floor of the Stadia building. The games then all of a sudden you get a lot more
she and her team build are intended swings at that problem.”
to explore what could be possible on Cloud computing allows for cheaper
the platform. Currently, they are toying tools, which could make this kind of
with the idea of a dragon world – an iteration possible – and allow for more
immersive wilderness where you find options in-game. Hoffman-John gives
a dragon egg, see it hatch and raise the telling example of character diversity.
the dragon to recognise your voice. “One of the reasons that we see narrow 50 billion hours of gaming content on
You have to feed and care for it – much demographics in gamers is representa- YouTube, making it the largest gaming
like a Pokémon – but can also ride it, tional… do I see people that are like me in spectator platform in the world. This
fight other players, form groups and the game?” she asks. “If you can create may be small beer when compared with
guilds, and carve out territory. a character with 8,000 animations for the global television industry – a report
Growing up in San Diego, Hoffman- the same price as creating one with 15 by Eurodata TV found that average TV
John loved Dungeons & Dragons – the animations, then you can suddenly have viewing around the world in 2018 was
original multiplayer role-playing game, hundreds more characters representing 2 hours 55 minutes per day) – but in
which used pencils and dice. When far more demographics.” terms of a dedicated targeted audience
the game came under assault from Her team is also bringing some of to whom developers can market new
religious groups – who feared that it Google’s natural language processing games, it offers a huge opportunity.
would convert players to satanism – into Stadia’s game development tools Stadia plans to expand on this by
in the 1980s, her parents banned her in a bid to create characters who offering a feature whereby viewers
from playing. However, she discovered respond believably to individual players. can easily jump into a game with their
America Online and its chat rooms Currently, designers have to imagine favourite YouTube stars. It could also
devoted to D&D. Soon she was building every possible conversation, and type work with video game trailers. Like what
worlds and running text-based adven- character responses in by hand. “What you see? Just click and start playing.
tures on the computer instead. I want is a character that is, say, kind of The man in charge of this fluid viewer/
At Stadia, her mission is to work neurotic, really likes ice cream and had player interaction is Stadia’s director of
towards reaching the “next billion a really passive aggressive mother,” she product, Andrey Doronichev. He gives
gamers” – which is “something of a says. “The AI will create all the little tics me a tour of the Stadia building, with
concept for Google”, she says. “There are and patterns in the dialogue resulting Willy Wonka-style rooms full of multi-
nowhere near enough game developers from that kind of background. Ideally, coloured controllers, and smaller suites
to reach a billion extra gamers, so we that character would have a simple with huge sofas and large two-way wall
need to radically widen the content memory so when you encounter them mirrors that allow the Stadia team to
pipeline and the ability for developers hours later, they remember conversa- observe people testing the system.
to really amplify themselves.” tions they had with you.” Doronichev recalls that, as a child,
The high development and marketing All of these tools, she believes, will he really wanted a new Star Wars game
costs of gaming can be fatal to small enable a crucial part of Stadia’s vision – Star Wars: TIE Fighter. So he worked
companies, and the funding imbalance – to provide a liminal space between shifting manure at his parents’ farm to
creates a huge division between AAA games for players to be creative and earn the money to buy it. When he did, it
and indie studios. “The indies are known express themselves, and to construct took two hours to copy to his computer –
for being very innovative, but often that their perfect digital self. and then he didn’t have enough memory
innovation won’t reach the market for Aside from games, Google is to run it. He had to wait six months for
Left: Erin Hoffman-John, a Stadia games counting on its not so secret weapon his parents to upgrade his computer
developer. Above right: a still image from to help attract developers and players: before he could play it. “My job here is
Destiny 2, the first free game on Stadia YouTube. In 2018, users viewed over to make that delay into zero,” he says.
In 2018, Edinburgh startup Cloudgine,
which developed real-time cloud gaming
technology, was bought by Fortnite
creators Epic Games to help move Epic’s
Unreal game engine into the cloud.
“Cloud gaming is the future –
although when it comes to the next
generation of consoles, Google’s
offering isn’t the most exciting thing
around, and it’s not clear how long it will
take to get there,” Farrell says. “In the
long term, Google isn’t really trying to be
Xbox; they’re trying to be the platform
on which everyone else builds their
cloud gaming – so essentially, they’d
be offering their ‘Netflix of gaming’ on
the back of Google technology. Unless
Google comes up with some killer app
games, it’s just building the pipes for
others’ cloud gaming to run through.”
George Jijiashvili, senior analyst at
tech research giant Ovum, has reserva-
tions about the technology, especially
when it comes to latency and lag. “Most
of what Google is promising is possible
and deliverable, but there are three or
four pain points that will take a few years
to be ironed out,” he says. “The biggest
one is networks – they can open up new games traditionally used to gain market
data centres closer to hubs, but most of share, and these are not cheap to
or all Stadia’s promises, two big the networks users are receiving are low develop. Most AAA games cost up to
questions remain: can it succeed? And quality, and were put in place to transfer $70 million, and that’s just pure devel-
if so, what will it mean for the industry? voice or small packets of data.” opment costs, with the marketing
“This is definitely the kind of power Majd Bakar insists that Google has spend coming on top of that. The real
move only a large tech company could the answers. “Our platform and infra- killer app games can end up doubling
make,” says David Farrell, lecturer in structure allow for techniques that that figure – Grand Theft Auto V cost
computer games at Glasgow Caledonian create additional time buffers,” he $137 million back in 2013, and Halo
University. We meet in a pub in explains. “We can generate frames Infinite (the kind of game that Stadia
Edinburgh, south of Scotland’s gaming in less time than it takes consoles or is up against) is rumoured to have a
hub Dundee, where the companies PCs, and with our machine-learning budget of between $200 million and
behind Lemmings, Grand Theft Auto, experience we have built models to $500 million. And while Stadia does
Crackdown and Minecraft were all based. help with the prediction and generation offer a monthly subscription, Jijiashvili
of content faster. This counteracts the says that “it’s not the Netflix service”
impact of network distribution time.” some gamers were expecting. “People
But consumers will still need a who sign up will still have to purchase
connection of a certain speed to make games. Unlike music with Spotify, where
full use of Stadia’s offering. Google albums died and cheaper individual
says that players will need a 35Mbps tracks became the offer, you can’t break
connection for the top-end 4K resolution games down into smaller chunks.”
experience or 20Mbps to play in HD, with Handrahan says that developers
a recommended minimum of 10Mbps. are desperate for a new marketplace.
Matthew Handrahan, editor of the trade “VR has stalled so there’s been no new
site gamesindustry.biz, thinks this may platform since mobile gaming 15 years
be asking too much. “I lived in Berlin until ago,” he says. “But developers are
six months ago, and I could only dream wary about Stadia. They are waiting to
of 6Mbps. We will only be able to judge hear how their games will earn money
properly when they’re out in the wild – in the free streaming service.”
and not in high-speed San Francisco.” Typically, platforms take 30 per cent
Then there’s the issue of Stadia’s of a game’s cover price, meaning big
business model, in terms of attracting publishers take 70 per cent – and
both game developers and end users. developers without a big publisher
At this point, the Stadia service lacks can end up with just 40 per cent.
the exclusive, hugely desirable AAA Increasingly, revenue for developers
is shifting towards in-game spending, and bad, but we will need to look at Playing to win: Stadia’s product director
under which they earn more money per merchandise opportunities – and some Andrey Doronichev (left) and head of games
minute of play rather than per copy kind of deal with the content streaming Jack Buser at Google’s Mountain View HQ
sold. Developers offering a game with platforms, like YouTube, to actually get shift in the way that games are made,
a defined end goal – such as first- a cut from them when people use their but also the way that games are played.”
person shooter Doom (which on the platforms to watch our content being This shift can be compared to the
PlayStation 4 takes an average of 23 played, just like music companies have history of the moving image, Harrison
hours to finish) or the beautifully simple for music being used in any context on says. In the very early days of cinema,
puzzle game Gorogoa, which takes just the videos on their platforms.” the creation and distribution of content
over two hours to complete – might was vertical, not horizontal. Films only
struggle financially on a subscription Back in his office, Phil Harrison says worked in certain cinemas, because
streaming service. everyone is missing the big picture. they had been shot on certain cameras.
That said, increased competition “Arguably, the least interesting “Then the distributors democratised
among gaming platforms could be thing about Stadia is the fact that it’s the exhibition of movies and created a
good news for developers. In December a streaming platform,” he says. “Every platform that everybody could build to
2018, Epic Games opened its digital successful technology disappears – it – which detonated a huge explosion of
store for Mac and PC games, targeting becomes ambient, and you only think content and access to content.”
Steam owner Valve, which currently about the experience. That changes What game would he design with all
controls 90 per cent of that market. fundamentally the way that the game of Stadia’s potential? Harrison pauses.
In a bid to disrupt Valve, Epic is taking is designed and the market works.” “I now look at games through the eyes
just 12 per cent of a game’s earnings. For the last 40-odd years of game of my children,” he says. “I would love
Google remains tight-lipped about its development, Harrison maintains, to create an experience that my eight-
financial agreements with developers, every game has been device-centric. and ten-year-old sons would allow me
but Miles Jacobson, studio director at Game design has been gated by to play with them. To have that shared
Football Manager developer Sports the capabilities of the box, and the experience where we can go on a
Interactive Games, says that Google’s hardware and software inside. Each journey together as a band of brothers.
deal “works for us – which I haven’t time a developer wants to move a game “Those kind of experiences become
been able to say about other attempts to a different box, they have to go and shared and memorable, like if you go to
at streaming platforms previously”. reinvent some aspect of it. a theme park with your kids and take
Jacobson does think that any future “Stadia turns it on its head,” he photographs and videos – why shouldn’t
arrangements will need to include says. “We are allowing the developer you have the same experiences
ancillary revenues. “We need to be better to make the game once and then bring when you go into the game world?”�
as an industry at monetising away from it to any screen in your life, so that you,
just core game sales,” he says. “Mobile the player, has the relationship with the Stephen Armstrong wrote about the
has done this in some ways, both good game, not the device. That’s a big mental search for an Alzheimer’s vaccine in 07.19


decades after it was founded, and
almost ten years since it moved into
streaming, its competitors have woken
up – though Netflix’s position as the
streaming king won’t be seriously
challenged for most of the next decade.
The firm has built up a critical mass
of 150 million subscribers, streams
in almost every country in the world,
and since 2012, has been making its
own Netflix Originals programming.
In 2013, Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief
content officer, said the company was
racing against HBO to create the future
of television. “The goal is to become
HBO faster than HBO can become us,”
he said. Netflix arguably achieved this
in 2018, when it earned more Emmy
nominations than HBO for the first time,
while in the same year Now – HBO’s
over-the-top streaming service –
languished at five million subscribers.
But the pressure is intensifying, with
the launch of international streaming
services Apple TV+ and Disney+ in
November 2019. Moreover, Warner-
Media, the owner of HBO and Warner (In 2019, for example, it claimed three which perhaps explains why it has so
Brothers, and NBCUniversal are set to Oscars with Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma.) far failed to announce any shows that
launch proprietary streaming services. Disney has the production power to really surprise or delight. In September
These new rivals will join original attract subscribers, with three of the top 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported
programming efforts from Amazon five grossing films in 2018. And in 2019, that Apple CEO Tim Cook had objected
Prime and YouTube, plus traditional Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King, to Vital Signs, a drama about hip hop
broadcasters, in trying to topple Netflix. Captain Marvel and Toy Story 4 sit at star Dr Dre which featured cocaine use
In the UK it has to contend with Sky’s the top of the charts. Moreover, Disney and an “extended orgy” scene.
Now TV and the upcoming Britbox, a has commissioned new Star Wars But the biggest impact of the
joint BBC and ITV venture. In India, series The Mandalorian specifically for new streaming services may not
Walmart-owned Flipkart launched its Disney+. Netflix has struggled to create be in what they offer, but what they
own streaming service in August 2019. film franchises, but has had success take away from Netflix. “The greater
Once Netflix’s competitors have creating series such as Stranger Things impact of Disney’s launch will be that
launched their services, the tedious and Orange is the New Black. all Disney content will be off Netflix
work of growing customer numbers However, Disney’s streaming capabil- by 2020,” says Michael Pachter, of
begins – a process that won’t see ities are yet to be tested at scale. It analysts Wedbush Securities, who has
quick results, even with the deep has children-focused Disney Life in frequently predicted Netflix stock is
pockets of Disney and Apple. “There’s the UK, and sports streaming through due to decline in value.
absolutely no way that Disney will ESPN+ in the US, but neither serves On top of this, Friends and The
overnight become as big as either tens of millions of people simultane- Office are set to vanish from Netflix’s
Netflix or Amazon – it’s going to take ously. Disney has yet to prove it has the library in 2020 – and in a poll by The
Disney well into the 2020s,” says Tony technical capability to create a system Hollywood Reporter, 49 per cent of
Gunnarsson, a principal analyst at that’s easy to navigate, user-friendly Netflix subscribers aged 18-29 in the
Ovum, specialising in pay TV and OTT and able to keep people watching. US said they would cancel if these two
video. In the US, Netflix took around a Apple has the opposite problem. With shows and Disney content were pulled.
decade to reach 65 million subscribers. more than a billion iPhones and iPads But for now Netflix has one final
For rivals, the main challenge is in circulation, it has a simple way to put trump card: in terms of brand recog-
that Netflix simply has the most out its TV offering – one update to iOS nition, it’s the first place users often look
complete offering. The platform is and everyone gets a new streaming for new shows. Want to see if something
technologically capable, with enough icon. Where it lacks experience is in is streaming? A Google search usually

experience in creating its own shows content. The roster of stars it has includes the word “Netflix”. “They’ve
and films to align itself with the signed up for Apple TV+ includes branded it where they are the repository
entertainment industry’s big-hitters. Steven Spielberg, Reese Wither- of all television ever made,” Pachter
Disney has the production power to attract spoon, Jennifer Aniston and Oprah says. “So we will type in ‘I Love Lucy
subscribers, with its 2019 films set to Winfrey. But the company is known for Netflix’, which isn’t there, but we’ll just
emulate its top-grossing output of 2018 being family friendly and risk averse, assume maybe it is.” Matt Burgess

making their own cooking or craft shows,

while the “IRL” category includes people
hosting talk shows or casually hanging
out. In many ways, this marks a return to
Twitch’s roots. It started out as Justin.TV,
a “lifecasting” channel for co-founder
Justin Kan, who livestreamed his daily
life via a baseball cap-mounted webcam.
However, Twitch is seeing more
competition, especially on the gaming
front. In August 2019, Tyler “Ninja”
Blevins, who with 14 million followers
had been the platform’s top streamer,
announced he was moving from Twitch
to Microsoft-owned Mixer.
Mixer may have only 30 million
monthly active users to Twitch’s
average 15+ million daily visitors, but
one advantage it has is a natural
relationship with Microsoft’s other
gaming properties, such as Xbox and
planned cloud gaming platform xCloud.
General manager Chad Gibson sees
IMAGINE WATCHING A LIVESTREAM that express a reaction, similar to potential for Mixer to work with xCloud
of your favourite sport – a football match, emojis) in a live chat. Twitch also invites as a tool for game discovery, with users
say, or tennis tournament. But instead of third parties to create “extensions” that able to go from watching a streamer play,
listening to the official commentator, you streamers can activate to interact in say, the next Halo title (itself published
provide your own play-by-play analysis – different ways, for example by sharing by Xbox Game Studios) to playing the
and thousands of people hang on to your real-time stats or holding a vote. game themselves in just a couple of
every word. This is the vision of Twitch The upshot is many channels clicks – perhaps even jumping in to play
CEO Emmett Shear, who sees a growing streaming the same content – be it alongside the streamer.
future for “interactive livestreaming” Fortnite gameplay or wrestling – but Similarly, Google’s cloud-based Stadia
across the entertainment landscape. with their own spin. When it comes to will allow players to stream to YouTube
Twitch, now a subsidiary of Amazon, is sport, Shear imagines a channel that by pushing a button on the controller – a
best known for its video game content: is dedicated to a particular player in feature that seems to target the success
millions of followers watch top streamers different tournaments and teams, or a of gaming livestreams on Twitch.
play games such as League of Legends, specific skill such as goalkeeping. “We Shear says he is not concerned about
Fortnite, and Counter-Strike: Global really think that that’s the future.” increased competition. “Twitch has
Offensive in real time. But the platform Beyond sport, Twitch is attempting never not benefited from innovation in
is branching out into potential areas of to expand into other pastimes, such the game space,” he says. And more
growth such as sports. It has already as music. In April 2019, it launched its broadly, he sees the rise of interactive
streamed football’s UEFA Champions first game under its own brand – Twitch livestreaming as part of a broader shift

League and Europa League qualifiers, Sings, a karaoke title, developed with towards live events and experiences –
and has made deals for USA Basketball US game maker Harmonix, that allows harking back to an era of community
games and WWE wrestling pre-shows. streamers to sing along (usually endear- entertainment. “Entertainment was
One challenge with hosting sporting ingly badly) to a library of pop and rock people sitting around a campfire, singing
content, Shear says, is negotiating songs. Under the “creative” category songs, dancing,” he says. “It was always
rights that allow Twitch streamers to on the platform, you can find streamers a two-way experience.” Victoria Turk
run the broadcast on their own channels
with their own commentary.
This crucial interactive element is
what distinguishes Twitch and similar
platforms from the “passive” video
streaming services, such as Netflix.
People are interested not just in
watching the content; they congregate
around particular streamers and are
encouraged to actively engage with
them and other viewers by exchanging
messages and emotes (small images
The big streaming showdown is hotting
up with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins taking his
14 million followers from Twitch to Mixer


from 9pm until midnight. It’s called Out
Now. “At the front of the queue, you’ve
got Drake, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Calvin
Harris. The queue is getting bigger and
bigger – it’s snaking round the block,
and new artists are right at the back.”
Out Now is a hypothetical club, but
the point that Zane Lowe – DJ, creative
director of Apple’s radio station Beats 1,
and now global head of artist relations
for Apple Music – is making is that, in
the music industry, it’s difficult to stand
out enough to get through the door –
and “when you get inside, it’s full”. As platforms flourish, artists still need US; its success could push Apple and
Beats 1 went on air in 2015, and what hundreds of thousands of plays a month to Spotify on high quality audio.
Lowe has done with the platform is to make the equivalent of minimum wage But what about musicians? Data
give musicians their own “clubs”, in the streaming service in Europe, with 83.5 from music analytics firm BuzzAngle
form of freeform shows. “Whenever million monthly active users as of shows the top 25 artists accounted for
Nicki Minaj does a [Beats 1] Queen Radio June 2019. (Apple Music has 60 million 11 per cent of total streams in the US in
show,” says Oliver Schusser, the current subscribers worldwide.) But what’s next 2018, and acts still need hundreds of
head of Apple Music, “she’s number one is moving away from streaming. Spotify thousands of plays a month to make
trending on Twitter.” has already produced live music events the equivalent of minimum wage.
One of Apple’s priorities is to merge based around its top playlists, such as Spotify points out that, since the end
its streaming service and its Beats 1 the Who We Be festival-style concert of 2018, 60,000 artists have submitted
shows. “I want to integrate what we series. Apple put on gigs for emerging music via its playlist submission tool
do into Apple Music more thoroughly,” musicians in 2019, and Schusser says to be featured on Discover Weekly and
says Lowe. “I would guess there are the company wants more in the next 12 editorially curated playlists, where they
still subscribers who don’t realise Elton months. “We never retired the iTunes can get a substantial boost to listening
John has done over 200 shows. These Festival,” he says. “We paused it.” figures: of that number 36,000 artists
are works of art in their own right.” The search is now on for customers have been playlisted for the first time.
Apple isn’t the only player trying outside Europe and the US. Spotify Lite, Its editors also monitor “hyperlocal”
to own the future of radio. Spotify for older, low-cost phones, launched scenes, such as rap in Birmingham, and
spearheaded its move into audio in July 2019 in 36 countries. In Africa offer real-world promotion for breakout
beyond music with $375 million of it will face competition from Chinese artists on posters and billboards. The
podcast acquisitions in the first half streaming service Boomplay. Amazon Spotify for Podcasters tool came
of 2019, and is now experimenting with Music Unlimited – in third place globally out of beta in 2019 to join Spotify for
podcast playlists grouped around in terms of subscribers – may poach Artists, which lets musicians track the
themes. “Podcast discovery is moving Spotify users with its free, ad-supported performance of their releases. Apple
in the direction of the discovery of new streaming over Alexa-enabled devices. Music for Artists has also come out
music,” says Spotify’s UK managing It’s a good time to be a music fan. of beta, sharing data on iTunes, Apple
director Tom Connaughton. “You’ll see Soundcloud’s role as a launchpad for Music and Shazam activity.
more bitesize, 20-minute shows that less well-known acts remains safe, and The ongoing battle between the
work for the commute; not everyone has YouTube Music has found its niche in self-proclaimed “artist-first” (Apple)
two and a half hours to spare.” live performances and music video and “fan-first” (Spotify) philosophies
While Zane Lowe might have the playlists. French service Qobuz claims will continue to shape music streaming
music industry’s hottest contacts to have 32 million subscribers to its as both platforms battle for a bigger
book, Spotify is still the go-to music high-resolution, 24-bit catalogue in the share of the market. Sophie Charara
THANKS TO A Heading north from the city centre to the coastline, Jakarta
seems to be collapsing in slow motion. The Indonesian
capital sprawls, its black-glass business district giving way

COMBINATION OF to a low-rise hinterland where the bones of the city jut out;
long spines of pale concrete pillars bearing kilometres of
knotted overpasses and raised highways. In their shadows are

SEA LEVEL RISE, industrial estates in various states of abandonment, stalled

construction sites already succumbing to the creep of tropical
foliage, sluggish waterways clotted with litter, and thousands

SUBSIDENCE upon thousands of houses, from clusters of bare-iron shacks

to landed three-storey homes, none the same as its neighbour.
The chaos runs to the seafront, where waterparks, malls and

AND POLITICAL luxury condos jostle for space with container ports and fishing
docks crammed so tight with small boats that from above
they look like tangles of rusted wire snagged on the shore.

INERTIA, JAKARTA Some of these docks are now hemmed in by giant walls.
At Cilincing – a northeastern suburb of the city made up
of scattered fishing communities and industrial ports –

COULD SOON five-metre-high concrete pillars have been dropped into the
shoreline, supporting a sloping buttress that blocks all view
of the sea from the land. Less than 50 metres behind it on the

BE THE FIRST landward side is another wall, constructed less than a decade
ago, that is now redundant; between them, fishermen use a
placid inlet to tie up and maintain their boats.

MEGACITY Twenty kilometres of sea walls have been thrown up around

Jakarta Bay in the past three years, along with many more
reinforcements along river banks, the first phase of a desperate

CLAIMED BY attempt to fortify the city’s waterlogged northern districts.

Jakarta, a megacity of 30 million people, is sinking. In places
along the coastline the ground has subsided by four metres over

CLIMATE CHANGE. the last few decades. Concrete barricades are the only thing
preventing whole communities from being engulfed by the sea.
Although many coastal cities, from New York to Shanghai,

DE SP ITE A have been forced by the threat of climate change to build high
walls to protect themselves, there are few places in the world
as vulnerable as Jakarta, where a decades-old problem of land

LAST-DITCH PLAN subsidence has intersected with rising sea levels.

Such is the concern about Jakarta’s future that the national
government is considering bailing out. In April, President Joko

TO SAVE IT, TH E Widodo – himself a former governor of the city – announced a

public search for a new capital for Indonesia, in no small part
because of its environmental problems.

I N D ON E SI AN The city’s new walls have bought it some time, but possibly
not enough. Behind them is an alarming case study in how
politicking, greed and vested economic interests can lead

CAPITAL’S DEMISE to a dangerous inertia – a microcosm of the global failure

to address climate change. Whether the city saves itself, or
whether it becomes the first megacity lost to environmental

SHOWS WHAT WILL catastrophe, will depend on a combination of ground-level

social change and engineering works of unprecedented scale.
“If we don’t do something, we’re doomed,” says Oswar

HAPPEN IF OTHER Mungkasa, the city’s deputy governor. “We will be leaving Jakarta.”

Jakarta has always flooded. With much of the city so close

COASTAL CITIES to sea level, the 13 rivers that flow through the metropolitan
area take a long time to drain into Jakarta Bay. Even relatively
short periods of heavy rain cause water to build up. To

FAIL TO ACT manage this, successive governments have built a network

of canals, most of them glassy in appearance and slow-flowing.
Pumping stations, weirs and run-off reservoirs sit between
malls and offices and in the centre of housing estates.
By PETER GUEST Over the past decade – oddly, because of a lack of water –
Photography: CHRISTOFFER RUDQUIST this canal infrastructure has come under increasing stress.
that reached the rafters. Since then, it has never reopened –
although it has been used as a set for several horror movies. The
city government ignored these districts, and residents either
adapted to the perennial floods or learned to accept them.
The calculus was changed by two disasters. In 2007, four-me-
tre-deep floods swept through the city. In Bukit Duri, Lupus
remembers the water reaching waist height on the second
floor: “We had to sleep on the roof,” he says. During the floods
the city was inundated both by rainfall and by seawater coming
in from the coast – the land had subsided so far that storm
surges carried water inland, engulfing whole neighbourhoods.
More than 300,000 people were evacuated and 80 died.
Then, in 2013, sustained rainfall overwhelmed the
flood management infrastructure. Canals collapsed and
clogged, and the flooding spread beyond the poorer areas
of the city and into the central business district. Around 45

As the city grew after the 1970s oil boom – the population L EF T: O SWA R MUNGK A S A , JA K A R TA’S
of the wider metro region has more than tripled in 50 years – DEPU T Y GOV ERNOR . RIGH T: T HE NE W SE A
it spread far faster than its supporting infrastructure. Piped WA L L RUNNING A L ONG T HE B AY – T HE
water services only reach around 60 per cent of the population PIL E S OF “GR AV EL” A RE MUS SEL SHEL L S,
and are concentrated in the relatively wealthy areas in south DISCA RDED IN T HEIR MIL L IONS BY L OCA L
and central Jakarta. The rivers, which should provide fresh MUS SEL-PICK ING INDUS T RIE S
water, are largely unusable due to unregulated dumping of
waste, from untreated human excrement to industrial effluent.
Residents and businesses – even some government buildings
– have sunk boreholes into the aquifers beneath the city.
“People are pumping out too much groundwater, and because
of the rapid urbanisation over the last 30 years, the permeable
surface in the city has decreased to a point where you don’t have
enough recharge [from rain] to the groundwater,” says Kian
Goh, assistant professor of urban planning at the University
of California, Los Angeles, who has studied Jakarta in depth.
Pumping out groundwater has lowered the city’s founda-
tions, causing widespread subsidence. Some areas in the north
have sunk four metres in two decades; they’re so far below the
level of the bay that there is nowhere for water to drain out.
Climate change is likely to compound this problem. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that
“business as usual” carbon emissions would drive a one-metre
rise in sea levels by 2100. In the more hopeful scenarios
envisioned by the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change
– temperature rises of 1.5°C or 2°C – sea levels are predicted
to increase by 0.4m or 0.46m, respectively.
In Jakarta, where so much of the city is already low-lying,
the margin for error is nonexistent. “I’ve seen several studies people died and thousands of households were evacuated.
that say that if the trend of sea level rise continues, by 2030 the The then-governor, Joko Widodo – now Indonesia’s
north of Jakarta will be flooded, including the international president – ordered a large-scale renovation of the city’s
airport,” says Arief Wijaya, who heads the climate change rivers, reservoirs and flood canals, which had become fatally
programme at the World Resources Institute Indonesia. clogged. Controversially, under an initiative euphemistically
Jakarta is already hit by storm surges and heavy rain from called “normalisation”, some informal settlements on river-
annual cyclones; added to this is the threat of unpredictable banks were bulldozed to widen the waterways.
and extreme weather, made more frequent by global heating. In Muara Baru, a four-metre-high wall was built on one
Successive administrations have been aware of the problem, bank of the Ciliwung, protecting the community on that side
but have felt able to ignore it, largely because the consequences of the river from most of the smaller floods – although water

impacted poorer areas of the city, such as the southern district still spills over regularly during the wet season.
of Bukit Duri, which straddles the Ciliwung River. There, on one At the same time, the national government began to look
bank, wood-framed houses lean on stilts over the water, which at coastal defence in earnest. It launched a new project, the
is filthy and clogged with plastic waste; on the other, more National Capital Integrated Coastal Development, or NCICD,
solid structures show signs of constant patching and repairs. and called in a coalition of international experts, most of
Lupus, a resident of the district for more than 50 years, them from the Netherlands, which has turned its own centu-
shows me around the inside of a ruined government building, ries-old experience of protecting its low-lying shoreline
which was abandoned in the 1970s after being gutted by a flood into a global industry. Among them was Victor Coenen.
10 7 Coenen, a tall, genial Dutchman, moved to Jakarta six
years ago to head the project with Witteveen+Bos, a Dutch
engineering company. His first job was to weigh up the possible
scenarios, starting with simply giving up on north Jakarta.
“There are places on the north coast of Indonesia where
abandoning is the cheapest way,” Coenen says. “Like in the UK,
coastal areas are now being given back to the sea because it’s
simply too expensive to protect them.” His team calculated that
the economic cost alone would be around $200 billion (£158
billion), before the human cost of moving between two and is linked to the Javan mainland by white half-helix bridges
three million people was taken into account. “But where would that, uncharacteristically for Jakarta, are clear of traffic and
you relocate [the people]?” he says. “So that abandonment lined with neat pavements. In the glare of the dry season
scenario was quickly: ‘Forget about it. That’s not possible.’” Sun, it looks like a Florida resort village. Multi-storey condos
The second option was to build defences onshore. After overlook a food court with bright-coloured awnings, while
the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, its plastic corporate art adorns the grass verges and roundabouts.
government ordered the construction of nearly 400km of sea The finished buildings are clearly unoccupied, and away
from the bridges all work has stopped and the remaining land
is fenced off behind high construction hoardings. Idle earth
movers are lined up in neat ranks, watched over by security
guards, and several sites are going to seed, the bare steel poles
of rebar rusting where they jut out of unfinished foundations.
Pantai Indah Kapuk is a vestigial piece of the first – now-can-
celled – plan for Jakarta’s flood defence, and an emblem of
how commercial concerns hijacked the city’s attempts to
secure its coastline; it is one of 17 islands that were due to be
reclaimed from the bay using millions of tonnes of sand and
concrete. Those islands were due to stud the inner curve of
Jakarta Bay, providing homes for hundreds of thousands of
residents, as well as office space, malls and even a new airport.
Out in front of them, the plan called for a massive series of
sea walls which, viewed from above, would make the shape of
the Garuda, a mythical bird that is the emblem of Indonesia.
Artists’ impressions show a city on the sea, a tropical Dubai.
However, the project, which was unveiled in 2014, was out
of control from the very beginning.
“The consultants at that time were given the boundary
conditions that the Indonesian government should not invest
one penny in this,” says Peter Letitre, a groundwater expert
from Dutch hydrological institute Deltares and an advisor to
the NCICD project. “A typical Jakarta project. The only way
to finance it was through land reclamations.”
The project, which Letitre calls “megalomaniac”, became
self-perpetuating: each new part needed more infrastructure
and more defences, which meant raising more money, which
meant yet more reclamation to make land to sell to devel-
walls on the country’s northern coast. Those walls, some more opers. As it grew, it began to suck in other projects onshore
than 12 metres high, cost more than $12 billion (£9.5 billion). and offshore. Local media reported that the total cost of the
For Jakarta, Coenen and his team calculated that they would project would be $40 billion (£31.5 billion), and although the
need walls five to seven metres high, stretching the length of the engineers and architects disputed that figure, it stuck.
bayfront, with massive pumping stations behind the walls and “All of the things that were needed to improve the infra-
deep reservoirs for overflows. That would still mean moving structure of Jakarta were put under the price tag of the
large numbers of people and buying up large areas of land. NCICD project. So the amount became higher. And the only
“The urban impact of such an on-land solution is huge,” way that you could make money back was through more land
Coenen says. “Imagine seven-metre-high sea walls on the reclamation,” Letitre says. “That was the trap… it became
coastline. It’s like a reversed aquarium, with the water outside.” so huge and massive and expensive.”
An onshore project would be prohibitively expensive, socially The project was flawed beyond the price tag. To manage the
disruptive, and not a long term answer. They had to go offshore. difference in water levels on either side of the sea wall, it called
Construction soon began on a short-term fix: upgrading for deep reservoirs on the land side that would have collected
the existing sea walls, adding 1.5 to 2.5 metres on top of the runoff from the rivers, with huge pumps that would have
existing structures and filling in gaps in the defences, transferred the excess out to sea. However, Jakarta’s rivers are
while ever more engineers, consultants and government some of the most polluted in the world. Without a drastic – and
agencies began to work on the shape of the offshore plan. frankly unrealistic – improvement to the city’s water quality,
Fairly soon, however, Jakarta’s politics started to get in the way. the area behind the “Great Garuda” could have become a giant

111 lagoon fouled with the combined effluent of the megacity L EF T: M A K E SHIF T HOME S IN
– an environmental hazard in its own right. One hydrologist, BUK I T DURI, A L ONGSIDE T HE
who worked on the project and asked not to be named because P OL LU T ED CIL IW UNG RI V ER .
he is still working with the national government, says the RIGH T: V IC T OR COENEN,
solution was “a completely insane idea” that would have PRO JEC T M A N AGER OF
resulted in polluted water backing up into the city. NCICD, WHICH IS PL A NNING
Some opponents suspected that the land reclamation JA K A R TA’S NE W DEFENCE S
was the whole point. Since the 1990s, developers had been
pushing for the creation of new land; the 17 new islands were
planned before NCICD was conceived and hastily brought
under the umbrella of the project. “It was never about flood
defence,” says Tubagus Soleh Ahmadi, the executive director
of WALHI Jakarta, a local environment advocacy NGO and
campaign group. “This was an economic project.”
Opposition to the scheme began to grow. Coastal
communities worried about the destruction of their fishing
grounds; inland, discontent lingered over the clearance and
eviction of riverside settlements from the last time that the from rubbish collection to racial harmony to preparing
government had “prioritised” flood defence. Work stopped for a giant earthquake. These challenges grow every year
and started throughout 2016. In gubernatorial elections in proportion to the population; 200,000 people move to
the following year, one candidate, Anies Baswedan, made a Jakarta annually, drawn by and adding to the city’s huge
moratorium on land reclamation a major part of his platform. economic expansion. “The urbanisation process has been
He won, and stood by his promise. too fast. We cannot keep up,” Mungkasa says.
The Great Garuda was quietly shelved, although it lingers in His role has hammered home just how fragile the megacity
the city’s imagination, due to the absence of public announce- is. “If something happened in Jakarta, our food only lasts
ments regarding any replacement. Reclamation work was maybe one week,” he says.
halted. By the time the moratorium took effect, four of the 17 The sinking of the city is one of the most pressing
islands – including Pantai Indah Kapuk – had been built. The challenges on Mungkasa’s slate. It is also one of the most
developments on top of them are now frozen in time. intractable, a complex problem that involves dealing with
some of the city’s longest-standing environmental issues.
It all starts with clean water.
The mechanism by which Jakarta is settling into its

AS THE foundations has been understood for decades. The soft soil
underneath the city is held up by the pressure of water in
aquifers and reservoirs deep below the surface. Removing

NCICD PLAN that water lowers the pressure, and the land above it sinks.
That issue is exacerbated by building heavy structures on
the surface, and by coating it with impermeable materials,

MORPHED like concrete, which prevent water from seeping back down
and recharging the subsoil reservoirs.
It is a challenge that has presented itself elsewhere,

AND EVOLVED including in Tokyo and Venice. “They stopped it by simply

starting to regulate this enormous overuse of water,” says
Jørgen Steenfelt, technical director of marine and foundation

AND STALLED, engineering at consultancy COWI and an expert on urban water

issues. “At the root, it’s regulation. If you can’t regulate it, you
have no control over what is happening. If it’s the wild west and

JAKARTA KEPT everybody does as they please, then there’s no stopping it.”
Even that is just a palliative measure – groundwater levels
would need to be recharged, restoring the pressure deep

FLOODING, underground to prevent further slippage. Tokyo, which effec-

tively halted all groundwater extraction by the late 90s, is still
sinking by around one centimetre every year.
and attention shifted to the other side of the equation Ð There are examples where restoring these water levels is
stopping the city from sinking any further. being attempted. In Chesapeake Bay, in the US, hundreds of
In charge of that rearguard action is Oswar Mungkasa. thousands of cubic metres per day of recycled wastewater
Tall and professorial, dressed in the military-style khakis are being pumped into aquifers to stop the subsidence of
of the city’s civil servants, Mungkasa is a 25-year veteran farmlands. In the fields around Bangkok, which has also been
of national and regional government and Jakarta’s deputy sinking for decades, the government has put in place regula-
governor in charge of spatial planning and the environment. tions requiring farmers to include reservoirs in their properties
Since 2017 he has also held the title of “chief resilience to store rainwater and allow it to seep back into the soil.
officer” – a wide-ranging role that gives him responsibility However, there is no precedent of anything of this sort
for fixing everything that threatens the running of the city, being attempted in a city close to the massive scale of
Jakarta, Steenfelt says. The sheer size of the challenge,
and the city’s historical failures to meaningfully tackle the
problem, mean that he is not hopeful.
“Jakarta is a sad story, and it’s very difficult to see how it
could be resolved, because of the timescale and the number
of people,” he says. “It’s a gigantic task. But you can’t
just close your eyes.”
Mungkasa is well aware of the scale of the problem, and
of the rapidly approaching deadlines. By his estimates, the
city needs to stop pumping groundwater entirely within five
years. It is an enormously ambitious target. “We have to be
confident that we can do it,” he says.
The alternative is unthinkable. “If this is not a success, if we
fail to do it, to reach our target, then there are two [plans]. Plan
B and Plan C. Plan B is we need to build another sea wall. The
second, of course, if the sea wall still doesn’t work, we have
to move the people… to move people is really unbelievable.”
His first job is to rationalise the ways in which Jakarta
has managed, or mismanaged, its water supplies. The city’s
administration is as tangled and chaotic as the city it serves,
with dozens of overlapping ministries, agencies, parastatal
companies and private contractors all working on ostensibly
similar missions, but often not talking to one another. In
sanitation alone, Mungkasa says, there are three agencies
that share responsibility for managing sewage, which will
occasionally duplicate each other’s work in some areas while
collectively neglecting others.
Even where there are laws governing how water should be
treated and recycled, enforcement is poor. An estimated half a
million people have no access at all to sanitation, and defecate
straight into the water courses. The company responsible
for wastewater treatment for the city says it covers around
11 per cent of the total area of the city; Mungkasa insists the
reality is closer to five per cent.
“I think this [lack of co-ordination] happens in every city
in developing countries,” Mungkasa says. “But in Jakarta
it is really killing us.”
Mungkasa and his small “resilience secretariat” – a group
of three young urban experts in a windowless room in an
annex of city hall – are putting together a new “master plan”
for the water sector, which will be unveiled later this year. It
is likely to advise more regulation or taxes on groundwater
extraction, and to encourage public sector organisations to lead
by example; currently even ministries tasked with fixing the
problem of flooding are themselves pumping out groundwater.
Cleaning the rivers will be a huge challenge. As well as sea wall was approved in principle by the ministry of public
human waste, most of the 13 rivers have been contaminated works, although it could be another 12 months before it gets
with industrial chemicals, including heavy metals, and it could its final approval and work can finally start.
take years just to stop the ongoing pollution. In the meantime, NCICD II is modest in scope compared to the Great Garuda,
the city will need to expand its use of rainwater harvesting and but it is still vast, comprising of a single open dyke that
other emerging water collection and purification technologies. will run 40km across the bay of Jakarta, from the port at
Property developers are being encouraged to build ponds Tanjung Priok in the east, to the Soekarno-Hatta airport in
and reservoirs into their designs in order to store rainwater, the west. Lessons have been learned from NCICD I’s failure.
and to switch to vertical drainage, pumping used water down Gone are the reclaimed islands and the property develop-
into the earth rather than letting it flow back into the rivers. ments, although a toll road will be built along the dyke in
Mungkasa – who has a politician’s gift for making out that order to help secure financing for the project. The outer dyke
intractable problems have simple solutions – says that he has is scheduled to begin construction in 2023.
no doubt this master plan will work. “If we provide people “Reclamation is now off the table, and we’re back to flood
with water, we will stop the subsidence,” he says. defence,” Coenen says. “We were always against merging
Few experts would question that, but many are skeptical the economy and the flood defence in such a way that you
about whether the measures can be taken in time – if at all. depended on economic development for your flood defence.
“It could work,” says Deltares’ Peter Letitre. “It depends on The Great Garuda was a real estate project, basically. But
the sense of urgency… we don’t think it’s impossible.” real estate goes up and down. Real estate crashes. You have
113 periods where the market goes up into the sky. What you don’t
want is that your flood defence depends on that dynamic.”
He is also aware, he says, that more work is needed to
make sure that the project’s architects understand the
complex social issues that it brings up. Discussions have
often been led by foreign experts and by engineers who
are unaware of or unwilling to confront the messy reality
on the ground. “You have to commit yourself to the social
issues that you are creating,” he says. “And don’t just scratch
the surface – but go very deep.”
Coenen estimates that the total cost of the dyke will be
around $4 billion (£3.2 billion), with another $4 billion
for pumping stations and on-land reservoirs – although
that could change. “We are heavily dependent on the sand
price. If it goes up one dollar per tonne, we will have to pay
€1 billion extra, because the volumes are so big. A very small


uptick of the price has enormous consequences,” he says. arose during the Great Garuda, but by then there would be
The dyke will act as a huge breakwater to reduce the height very few other options left on the table.
of waves entering the bay, and to take the momentum out With the timescales for the project so long, there is still
of storm surges so that they do not wash over the inner sea a chance that politics could once again get in the way, and
walls. Crucially, it leaves room for failure. The base level Coenen is not entirely certain that everything will be resolved
plan assumes that land subsidence will be addressed, but before Jakarta reaches the point of no return.
it includes contingencies in case it continues, or if sea level “I think you can compare it to the problem of climate change
rise occurs faster than anticipated. – where governments do see the problem, but they postpone
“Two scenarios are still on the table: close the bay, or very expensive and difficult measures towards the longer
keep it open,” Coenen says. “That really depends on what term, and only focus on the quick wins… That is the nature
will happen with the land subsidence. If the land subsidence of this kind of problem and the way politicians solve it,” he
remains as it is or even accelerates, then you have to go to says. “Indonesia is a country where things can stall, or happen
this mega closed system. If the land subsidence is managed very fast. It doesn’t seem like this country has something in
then we can still keep the bay of Jakarta open.” between. In an optimistic view, this is a just-in-time society.
That call will be made around 2030 when, at current But in a more realistic view, we’re always a little bit too late.” �
rates of subsidence, the existing walls will be obsolete.
Closing the dyke would be a massive project in its own Peter Guest wrote about BioCarbon’s use of flying, seed-firing
right, and raise all of the same issues of water pollution that drones to reforest Myanmar’s mangrove wetlands in 05.19
he idea that made Mariana Mazzucato one of the most Mazzucato included her findings in a 150-page pamphlet she
influential economists in the world came to her in early submitted to UK policy thinktank Demos. It was distributed
2011. It had been three years since the financial crisis of to thousands of policymakers, and received coverage in daily
2008 and, in the UK, the coalition government of Conserv- newspapers. “It was obvious that it had touched a nerve,”
atives and Liberal Democrats had chosen to pursue a she says. “The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to
fiscal policy of austerity that was forcing councils to cut go straight to the core of the myths about innovation.” She
back public services and leading to a rise of homelessness decided to dissect the product that best symbolised Silicon
and crime. “In my neighbourhood, after-school clubs, Valley’s engineering prowess: the iPhone.
youth centres, public libraries, policing and mental Mazzucato traced the provenance of every technology
health budgets were all cut, affecting the most vulnerable that made the iPhone. The HTTP protocol, of course, had
people in society,” she recalls. “It was very sad.” been developed by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee and
What particularly infuriated Mazzucato was the prevailing implemented on the computers at CERN, in Geneva. The
narrative that such cuts were necessary to boost competi- internet began as a network of computers called Arpanet,
tiveness and innovation. In March 2011, then Prime Minister funded by the US Department of Defense (DoD) in the 60s
David Cameron gave a speech excoriating civil servants to solve the problem of satellite communication. The DoD
working in government, labelling them “enemies of MAZZUCATO’S MANIFESTOS: was also behind the development of GPS
enterprise”. Later that year, in November, he visited THE ENTREPRENEURIAL STATE during the 70s, initially to determine the
the Truman Brewery in east London to announce his location of military equipment. The hard
plans for a new technology cluster called Tech City. The ideas for this acclaimed disk drive, microprocessors, memory chips
“They were hyping up entrepreneurs and dismissing 2013 book were first presented and LCD display had also been funded by
everyone else,” Mazzucato recalls. “There was this in a pamphlet for the cross- the DoD. Siri was the outcome of a Stanford
belief that we didn’t have European Googles and party political think tank Research Institute project to develop a
Facebooks because we didn’t subscribe to Silicon Demos. By means of case virtual assistant for military staff, commis-
Valley’s free market approach. It was just ideology: studies, Mazzucato argues sioned by the Defense Advanced Research
there was no free market in Silicon Valley.” that the state – which is Projects Agency (DARPA). The touchscreen
It was then that Mazzucato, an Italian-American generally considered to was the result of graduate research at the
economist who had spent decades researching the be a static bureaucratic University of Delaware, funded by the
economics of innovation and the high tech industry, organisation – has actively National Science Foundation and the CIA.
decided to look deeper into the early history of some shaped markets and drives “Steve Jobs has rightly been called
of the world’s most innovative companies. The devel- innovation. The first iPhone, a genius for the visionary products he
opment of Google’s search algorithm, for instance, for instance, was the product conceived and marketed, [but] this story
had been supported by a grant from the National of various government-funded creates a myth about the origin of Apple’s
Science Foundation, a US public grant-awarding technologies, from the internet success,” Mazzucato writes in her 2013
body. Electric car company Tesla initially struggled to GPS to Siri voice assistance. book The Entrepreneurial State. “Without
to secure investment until it received a $465 million the massive amount of public investment
(£380 million) loan from the US Department of behind the computer and internet revolu-
Energy. In fact, three companies founded by Elon tions, such attributes might have led only
Musk – Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX – had jointly to the invention of a new toy.”
benefited from nearly $4.9 billion in public support But a narrative of innovation that
of various kinds. Many other well-known US startups omitted the role of the state was exactly
had been funded by the Small Business Innovation Mazzucato with US politician what corporations had been deploying
Research programme, a public venture capital Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as they lobbied for lax regulation and low
fund. “It wasn’t just early research, it was also taxation. According to a study by Mazzucato
applied research, early stage finance, strategic and economist Bill Lazonick, between 2003
procurement,” she says. “The more I looked, the and 2013 publicly listed companies in the
more I realised: state investment is everywhere.” S&P 500 index used more than half of their
117 earnings to buy back their shares to boost stock prices, rather
than reinvesting in further R&D. Pharmaceutical company
Pfizer, for example, spent $139 billion on share buybacks. Apple,
which had never engaged in this type of financial engineering
under Jobs, started doing so in 2012. By 2018, it had spent
nearly one trillion dollars on share buybacks. “Those profits
could be used to fund research and training,” Mazzucato says.
“Instead, they are often used on share buybacks and golfing.”
That posed an urgent, more fundamental problem. If it
was the state, not the private sector, which had traditionally
assumed the risks of uncertain technological enterprises
that led to the development of aviation, nuclear energy,
computers, nanotechnology, biotechnology and the internet,
how were we going to find the next wave of technologies to
tackle urgent challenges such as catastrophic climate change,
the epidemic of antibiotic resistance, the rise of dementia?
“History tells us that innovation is an outcome of a massive
collective effort – not just from a narrow group of young white
men in California,” Mazzucato says. “And if we want to solve
the world’s biggest problems, we better understand that.”

One of Mazzucato’s most enduring memories of her

childhood is watching her father Ernesto, a nuclear fusion
physicist at Princeton University, yelling at the news. She
would say, “Dad, that’s just information,” to which he would
reply: “That’s not information, that’s just what they’re trying
to make you believe.” “A critical eye was the first thing my
dad instilled in me, mainly just from watching him swear at
the TV,” Mazzucato says. After the publication of The Entre-
preneurial State, Mazzucato, an effervescent woman in her
late forties, became a regular on current affairs programmes,
often delivering devastating critiques of commonly held
economic beliefs with eloquence. During a debate about the
budget deficit on Newsnight in 2017, she berated host Evan
Davis for obsessing about it, explaining with exasperation:
“Deficits matter, but what matters is what you’re spending it on.”
When asked about Google’s tax avoidance by Jon Snow MAZZUCATO’S MANIFESTOS: something wrong with the story. We need
on Channel 4 News, she retorted: “You know what? RETHINKING CAPITALISM a new theory to replace this, and Mariana
That’s not the problem. The real problem is that people is trying to build a rival narrative.”
don’t know about the backroom deals that the Googles Published in 2016, it was co- Mazzucato was surprised to find
and the Apples and the Glaxos and the Pfizers have edited with Michael Jacobs of s u p p o r te r s i n s i d e t h e c o a l i t i o n
with the treasuries around the world on tax policy.” the Institute for Public Policy government. “To be honest, given that
That the message at the core of her book had Research, a London-based I had mainly written academic things,
resonated with a general audience didn’t necessarily left-wing think tank (Jacobs there was no real risk that I sounded like
surprise Mazzucato. “Silicon Valley entrepreneurs had also been a special adviser a communist,” she says. That support came
rarely acknowledged that they were standing on the to Gordon Brown while he was in the form of Business Secretary Vince
shoulders of giants. It was a call to arms to innovators PM). The book explains how Cable, who founded the Catapult centres
to sort of step up and acknowledge that,” says Saul and why modern capitalism to promote partnerships between scien-
Klein, co-founder of venture capital firm LocalGlobe. went wrong and offers ideas for tists and entrepreneurs; and the “eight
“There has been a very concerted effort, over the past more inclusive and sustainable great technologies” investment announced
40 years, to build this intellectual construct that was growth. Contributors include by David Willetts, Minister for Univer-
sold to government and sold to society about the free Nobel Prize-winning economist sities and Science. “There’s been a gap in
market, supported by businessmen who were trying to Joseph Stiglitz, and current conservatism in offering a constructive
tell a story that was advantageous to them,” says tech chief economist of the Bank account of the role of the state,” Willetts
mogul Tim O’Reilly. “It’s now very clear that there’s of England, Andy Haldane. says. “Mariana provided an account of
the role of government which was neither one of minimal
government nor traditional socialism. I was able to say in
government, hang on, this isn’t some experiment with left-wing
socialism. This is what happens in Republican America.”
Soon, she was a regular at Whitehall, advising both Cable
and Willetts on policies such as the Small Business Research
Above: Mariana Mazzucato in front of a whiteboard outlining how Initiative, which funded small and medium enterprises, and the
a mission might break down into actionable parts patent box, which reduced the rate of corporate tax on income
derived from patents (which she calls “the stupidest policy ever”.)
Mazzucato knew that to influence politicians she would need to
do more than just criticise. “Progressives often lose the argument
because they focus too much on wealth redistribution and not
119 on wealth creation,” she says. “We need a progressive narrative
that’s not only about spending, but investing in smarter ways.”
At the time, Mazzucato was increasingly interested in what
she called mission-oriented organisations. The prime example
was DARPA, the research agency founded by President Eisen-
hower in 1958 following the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik.
The agency pumped billions of dollars into the development
of prototypes that preceded commercial technology such as
Microsoft Windows, videoconferencing, Google Maps, Linux
and the cloud. In Israel, Yozma, a government-backed venture
capital fund that ran between 1993 and 1998, supported more
than 40 companies. In the UK, the Government Digital Service,
launched in 2010, was behind the award-winning .gov.uk domain,
saving the government £1.7 billion in IT procurement. “When I
use the word ‘state’ I am talking about a decentralised network
of different state agencies,” she says. When such agencies are
mission-oriented to solve problems and structured to take
risks, they can be an engine of innovation.”
To Mazzucato, the epitome of the mission-oriented
concept was Apollo, the space programme designed to land
Americans on the Moon and return them safely to Earth.
Between 1960 and 1972, the US government spent $26 billion and ambitiously for the public good and, in the words of Steve
to achieve precisely that. More than 300 different projects Jobs, to ‘stay hungry and stay foolish’,” she says.
contributed, not only in aeronautics but in areas such as In early 2017, Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner
nutrition, textiles, electronics and medicine, resulting in for Research, Science and Innovation, offered her a position
1,800 spinoff products, from freeze-dried food to cooling suits, as special adviser, which she accepted. “I wanted the work to
spring tyres and digital fly-by-wire flight control systems used have an impact,” she says. “Otherwise it’s champagne socialism:
in commercial aeroplanes. The programme was also instru- you go in, talk every now and then, and nothing happens.” She
mental in kick-starting an industry for the integrated circuit, suggested reframing the European research and innovation
an unproven technology at the time, and other space projects programme as Horizon Europe, a €100 billion (£90 billion)
such as the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. mission-oriented initiative due to start in 2020. Moedas gave
The modus operandi of these mission-oriented institutions her carte blanche to pursue the project.
provided Mazzucato with an alternative vocabulary that told a The European Commission had traditionally framed its
different story about the role of the state. “Economics is full of policies in terms of grand challenges, but Mazzucato’s concept
stories,” she says. “Words like ‘enabling’, ‘facilitating’, ‘spending’, of missions translates these into concrete projects: the Cold
‘regulating’ – they create a story of the state as boring and War was a challenge; landing on the Moon was a mission. In
inertial. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We need a new February 2018, she published a report – “Mission-Oriented
narrative to guide better policies.” These mission-oriented insti- Research & Innovation in the European Union” – that defined
tutions were actively creating and shaping markets, rather than five criteria missions should obey: they must be bold and inspire
merely fixing them. They were ambitiously seeking MAZZUCATO’S MANIFESTOS: citizens; be ambitious and risky; have a
high-risk directions for research and investment, THE VALUE OF EVERYTHING clear target and deadline (you have to be
rather than outsourcing and avoiding uncertainty. able to unambiguously answer whether the
Mazzucato’s collaboration with Whitehall was Exploring the concept of mission was accomplished to deadline or
put on hold after the 2015 general election: Willetts value in the economy, this not); be cross-disciplinary and cross-sec-
stood down from his seat, and Cable lost his. By then, 2018 book illustrates why GDP torial (eradicating cancer, for example,
however, she had gone global – working with US growth and stock values tend would require innovation in healthcare,
Democrat Elizabeth Warren on public funding for to be prioritised over societal nutrition, AI and pharmaceuticals); and
health innovation, and advising Scottish First Minister wellbeing. Mazzucato argues allow for experimentation and multiple
Nicola Sturgeon on the development of a Scottish that it has been too easy for attempts at a solution, rather than be
national investment bank. Mazzucato also launched the financial sector to get rich micromanaged top-down by a government.
a new type of economics department at University by extracting value from other In the report, she illustrated what
College London, the Institute for Innovation and Public sectors, and not creating it missions could look like with three
Purpose (IIPP) – with the mission of training the next itself. The book also highlights hypothetical examples: a plastic-free
generation of civil servants in the theory of mission-ori- the government’s potential for ocean, 100 carbon-neutral cities by 2030,
ented policies. “We want to them to think strategically building “societal wealth”. SW and cutting dementia by 50 per cent. The
clean oceans mission could involve removing half of the plastic
already polluting the oceans and reducing by 90 per cent the
quantity of plastics entering them before 2025, through projects
such as autonomous plastic collection stations or distributed
nets. The solution would require inventing alternatives to
plastic, designing novel forms of food packaging, and creating
Left : Mazzucato in her Bloomsbury office. The poster is for the AI systems that could separate waste automatically. “These
Institute of Innovation and Public Purpose lectures she chaired were just examples to tease out the difficulties,” Mazzucato
says. “When people talk about missions, I always warn them:
if this is something that makes you feel comfortable and happy
and cosy, then you haven’t understood it, because it’s actually
about fundamentally changing how we think about innovation.”
In March 2018, Mazzucato was contacted by two To Mazzucato, a Green New Deal could
members of a progressive political movement in the be as bold as the 1969 moonshot. “When
US called Justice Democrats. She had no idea who my book came out, Bill Gates invited me
Saikat Chakrabarti and Zack Exley were. to come to Seattle,” she says. “He told me
Chakrabarti and Exley had previously worked for that he had followed the lead of the public
Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, going SCALING UP INNOVATION: sector when it came to IT. And now he was
on to co-found a political action committee with the MARIANA MAZZUCATO’S concerned that he couldn’t see it leading in
aim of recruiting 400 working class candidates to run GROWING INFLUENCE green in the same way.” A Green New Deal
for Congress. “The idea was to create a new caucus would involve, as she puts it, “greening the
within the Democratic Party,” Chakrabarti says. “We In 2017, Mazzucato became entire economy”, transforming not only
have people like Donald Trump in the White House, professor in the economics of the renewable energy industry but every
the Democratic Party leadership is acting as if it’s still innovation and public value at single aspect of manufacturing.
1995. The real divide is not between left and right. It’s UCL, where she founded the On September 11, Mazzucato and Ocasio-
between ambition and not ambition.” Institute for Innovation and Cortez met at the Firefly restaurant,
In London, at Mazzucato’s home in Camden, they Public Purpose. IIPP helps the latter’s local hangout in Sunnyside,
told her that, in three months, they were hoping to policymakers around the world New York. They spoke about everything
have elected officials in Congress who would be willing to find solutions to ambitious from the issue of public return for public
to talk about big policy ideas, particularly environ- societal challenges – it investment to the notion of market co-cre-
mental. One of their most promising candidates was recently advised the Scottish ation versus market fixing. “She’s quite
a young bartender from New York: Alexandria Ocasio- government on its plans for academic,” Mazzucato says. “It was much
Cortez. In June 2018, Ocasio-Cortez defeated ten-term a national investment bank. easier to talk to her about these things than
incumbent Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary. it normally is with a politician.”
A month later, Mazzucato and Ocasio-Cortez Mazzucato joined the Ocasio-Cortez also asked the economist
spoke over Skype for the first time, discussing a new, Committee for Development for advice on messaging. In 2009, when
ambitious industrial policy that the Justice Democrats Policy (CDP), a subsidiary of Obama was proposing his healthcare
were calling the Green New Deal. Mazzucato had the United Nations Economic reform, he had to assure people that
been one of the originators, in collaboration with the and Social Council (ECOSOC) government bureaucrats weren’t meddling.
economist Carlota Perez. “The most important thing is in 2019, to provide independent That was fine, but it didn’t capture the
to stop thinking that we should sacrifice our way of life advice on issues critical to public imagination, Mazzucato said. He
in order to solve our environmental problems,” Perez the international development should have said that, actually, public-
says. “[It’s] an opportunity to transform our society agenda. Her research was also funded agencies were not just regulating –
in a way that is also fairer and socially sustainable.” taken up as a framework to they were financing most of the innovation
address the UN’s Sustainable in the healthcare system. The pharmaceu-
Development Goals. tical industry gets $32 billion a year of
innovation financing from a state agency
As special advisor to European – the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
commissioner Carlos Moedas, – condition free, and yet taxpayers still
Mazzucato’s “Governing pay extortionate prices for life-saving
Missions in the European drugs. It made no sense. “Get the language
Union” report sets out what right,” Mazzucato told Ocasio-Cortez.
it takes to deliver on the five “Otherwise, you’re just going to be a nice,
major research and innovation social democratic, boring lefty politician.”
missions that will be part of In February 2019, Ocasio-Cortez released
Horizon Europe, the next EU her first piece of legislation as a congress-
funding programme (2021- woman: a 14-page resolution on the Green
2027), which has a proposed New Deal, which she called the “moonshot
budget of €100 billion. SW of our generation”. A few weeks later,
during a congressional hearing on the drug industry, she asked
Aaron Kesselheim, a professor of medicine from Harvard: “Would
it be correct, Dr Kesselheim, to characterise the NIH money that is
being used in development and research as an early investment?
The public is acting as an early investor in the production of
these drugs. Is the public receiving any sort of direct return
on that investment from the highly profitable drugs that
are developed from that research?” “No,” Kesselheim replied.

Left: Mariana Mazzucato beneath a neon sign depicting the title

of her latest book, depicted in her children’s handwriting
121 of how much a policy will cost and how much money it will
generate. “That’s why some new drugs are not paid for by the NHS
– because not enough people can benefit from them,” Kattel says.
Cost-benefit analysis is not suitable for evaluating mission-ori-
ented policies, which are inherently risky and uncertain, and
aimed at creating new markets rather than fixing existing ones.
As Mazzucato likes to point out, we would never have walked on
the Moon if the Apollo programme had been evaluated this way.
At the launch of the report, she told the audience a story:
in the 1500s, the Jesuits had a system that involved opening a
cash box by turning two keys simultaneously – one belonged
to the procurator (the CFO of the era), the second to the rector
ne afternoon in May 2019, Mazzucato sat alongside David (the CEO). This meant that, to open the coffer, “you had to
Willetts in a packed lecture theatre at University College London. have a vision, but you also had to think about the budget”, she
She stood up and introduced herself to the audience. Then she concluded. “I know it sounds strange, but that’s what’s missing.”
pointed towards a stack of 100-page-long reports on the desk: “A
Mission-Oriented UK Industrial Strategy”. “This is what we’ve It’s late June 2019, and Mazzucato sits pensively in her central
been doing for the past year,” she said. “And this is the outcome.” London office. A neon sign spelling “the value of everything” –
Almost exactly a year before, Prime Minister Theresa May had a present from her husband, and the title of her second book
delivered a speech at Jodrell Bank Observatory about the govern- – adorns one wall. Large posters depict Mazzucato’s complex
ment’s new industrial strategy, which was centered around four mission diagrams. Two days after the launch of the industrial
grand challenges: clean growth, mobility, healthy ageing and AI. strategy report, Theresa May had announced she would resign
May announced one mission for each challenge: halving the energy as prime minister, potentially derailing the industry strategy
use in new buildings by 2030; using AI to transform treatment policy – and once again putting Mazzucato’s work with the
of chronic disease; extending people’s healthy, independent life British government on hold. “You either want to go crawl back
by five years; being at the forefront of zero-emission vehicle in bed or you fight back harder,” she says. “I tend to do the latter.”
manufacturing by 2040. These had already been a direct outcome Mazzucato sees her work as a battle of ideas. “So much
of Mazzucato’s influence with the then business secretary, Greg bullshit happens in the name of innovation,” she says. “For an
Clark. Months before, Clark had contacted Mazzucato to learn adviser, it’s critical to follow up and help people get the details
more about mission-oriented policies. He later asked her to right.” Sometimes, when addressing an audience, she thinks
co-chair a commission with Willetts and co-ordinate cross- to herself: “Oh my god, I’ve said this so many times.’ “My dad
departmental mission teams in Whitehall, inspired by DARPA. makes fun of me,” she says. “He tells me: ‘Don’t people realise
For a year, the commission met every month. “Putting into that you keep telling them the same thing?’ But the audience is
practice Mariana’s five criteria for the missions was harder different and the message remains heretical in many circles.”
than expected,” says Rainer Kattel, the IIPP’s deputy director. She laughs, because she does realise – but it’s a necessity.
For instance, the commission deemed the mission for the Recently, at the European Investment Bank, she had to tell
future of mobility as unambitious and too siloed within the an audience of economists: “Please never write the word
Department of Transport. “That target was going to happen ‘de-risking’ again in any of your reports, because that’s not
anyway,” Katter says. “We went back to them and said that it what you’re doing. You took risks and you should able to say it
was too low-hanging, but they were very open to our criticism.” openly – kind of coming out of the closet about it.”
Regarding the healthy ageing mission, they struggled with At a talk at Nasa, where Mazzucato is part of a group studying
the definition of “healthiness” “How do you even measure the low-Earth orbit economy, she urged them to recover the
that?” Mazzucato asks. Initially, they considered the scenario ambition befitting an agency of its calibre. “I don’t think many
of an Alzheimer’s patient who is independent in the home and people realise that Novartis, one of the richest pharmaceutical
assisted by cutting-edge technologies. But the mission leader companies in the world, is working for free on the International
didn’t like the idea. “Why obsess about independence?” she Space Station,” she says. “Who thought that up? Charge them.
said. “How about nurturing co-dependency instead?” Or make sure the relationship is symbiotic, not parasitic.”
On the future of mobility, the musician and adviser Brian Eno In May 2019, the European Parliament approved Mazzu-
questioned the assumption that getting from A to B quicker was cato’s mission-oriented proposal for the Horizon Europe
the goal. (“How about going slower and appreciating life?”) programme. Five mission areas were chosen: adaptation to
The year-long collaboration between the IIPP and Whitehall climate change; cancer; healthy oceans, seas, coastal and
included a series of workshops around the theory of mission-ori- inland waters; climate-neutral and smart cities; and soil
ented policies, delivered by Mazzucato and her team to civil health and food. The European Commission will now appoint
servants in Whitehall. “These were, after all, people that had been a mission board of 15 experts for each area, identifying the
constantly told to get out of the way and stop stifling innovation. first specific missions using Mazzucato’s criteria. “Moedas
It can get depressing,” Mazzucato says. “Giving them jokingly offered me the role of chief muse
a different narrative about ambitious missions, of missions,” she laughs. “That report was
their eyes would just light up. I felt like a life coach.” the most important thing I’ve written.
Some conversations, however, were challenging – It’s now a legal instrument, it can’t be
particularly regarding the policy appraisals conducted undone unless another vote is had.” She
by the Treasury. “As the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pauses. “I’ve influenced politicians, but

you find that all across government 20 people come to Mazzucato and First Minister having a parliament vote on something
you with different policy proposals that you can spend of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon which I wrote is just fantastic. That’s
the money on. How do you decide?” asks George Dibbs, what I want: to bring about change.”�
the IIPP’s head of industrial strategy. The standard
method used by governments around the world, is João Medeiros wrote about the Japanese
cost-benefit analysis: a simplistic quantitative estimate tech conglomerate SoftBank in 03.19
Right: Austin and (in white top) Ethan White, with sister Kayla. The boys have the same genetic problem that killed their brother
> THE lost Hogan’s heartbeat. After several his heart rate was found to be 263
EVENING minutes at the roadside they recovered beats per minute – the average heart
BEFORE it and sped on to the emergency room. rate fluctuates at 60-100bpm. Ethan’s
HE In an effort to keep her son awake, condition worsened, but as doctors were
DIED, Allyson taunted him about the card preparing to carry out defibrillation, he
HOGAN game. “I was yelling, ‘You cheated! You vomited and his heart rate fell.
TEEM owe me a card game,’” she says. “Then As his condition stabilised, Ethan
STAYED I said, ‘OK, you won fair and square, was transferred to Duke University
IN. but it’s still 13-11!’” Despite Allyson’s Hospital, the major medical centre in
IT WAS DECEMBER 12, 2012, AND THE efforts to rouse her son, Hogan was that part of North Carolina, where he
teenager played cards with his mother unresponsive by the time they arrived was monitored and fitted with an inbuilt
at their home in Clayton, North Carolina. at the hospital. Medical staff worked defibrillator. It was clear to staff that
His girlfriend spent Wednesdays with on him but, after 45 minutes, admitted Ethan had experienced an acute cardiac
her family, and card games had become there was nothing more they could do. event consistent with ARVC – and that
a weekly tradition for the Teems. They Hogan had suffered an acute cardiac another episode was likely. The defibril-
settled down to a session of Phase 10. event, brought on by a rare and previ- lator was designed to restart his heart
Hogan beat his mother, closing the ously undiagnosed genetic condition in the event of a further attack. An MRI
gap in their running rivalry to 13-11. At known as an arrhythmogenic right scan of his brother, Austin, confirmed
9.30pm he went to bed; the following day ventricular cardiomyopathy, or ARVC. he also had ARVC. The brothers had
was a busy day of high school, ending There had been no reason to suspect the same genetic problem as Hogan,
with baseball practice. There was no that Hogan was at risk, and doctors despite all the tests finding nothing to
indication that it would be his last. don’t commonly run tests for ARVC. indicate a genetic cause. Yet how else
Hogan was physically fit, spending The tragedy was unforeseeable. could three brothers raised in different
long summer days mowing lawns in families, in different parts of the state,
the North Carolina heat. He played HOGAN HAD BEEN ADOPTED WHEN develop the same condition?
American football, basketball, baseball he was five weeks old. Seventeen years With local medical staff stumped,
and golf. He loved swimming, hiking and later, his biological parents were raising Ethan and Austin were referred to the
fishing. He went on mission trips with three children of their own – two sons Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN),
his church. He never suffered illness or and a daughter, all full siblings to Hogan. a group of 12 clinical research hubs set
missed a day of school. To all intents and Allyson regularly sent the family letters up to delve into chronic illnesses that
purposes, he was a healthy 17-year-old. and pictures of Hogan via the adoption have previously been undiagnosed,
Baseball practice on December 13 agency. After Hogan’s death, she wrote misdiagnosed or simply written off
was business as usual. Participating to his biological parents, urging them as psychosomatic. Bringing together
in light conditioning work, Hogan took to get the family checked out. experts in neurology, immunology,
it easy so as not to strain his ankle, Due to bureaucratic procedures, it cardiology, endocrinology, genetics,
which he had sprained a couple of took nine months to get the message rheumatology and other domains of
weeks earlier. Then he approached through. The two boys, their sister and medicine, the UDN was custom-built to
one of his coaches midway through parents underwent cardiac imaging. delve into just such a medical mystery.
practice, saying: “I don’t feel right.” The results came back normal, and the
Before the coach could respond, Hogan family breathed a collective sigh of relief.
blacked out and fell to the ground. The Then, four years later, the youngest
training staff administered CPR, and an sibling, Ethan White – then 14 –
ambulance was on the scene almost complained of chest pains while playing
instantly. The paramedics discerned basketball. He called his mother, who
a faint heartbeat. Hogan’s parents, arrived to find him grey and clammy,
Allyson and David Teem, arrived, and complaining of pain in his jaw and
Allyson travelled in the ambulance. On arm – heart attack symptoms. His
the way to the hospital, paramedics mother rushed him to hospital where
12 5 Below: A photograph of Hogan Teem as his parents remember him, before the unforeseable tragedy that ended the 17-year-old’s life

clinical staff – and Dr Vandana Shashi,

principal investigator for the UDN site.
Shashi, 60, speaks with a calm and
benevolent authority. She has worked at
Duke for around ten years. “I’m a clinical
geneticist and a paediatrician, so I
have seen patients who were difficult
to diagnose my entire life,” she says.
In 2011, Shashi found herself
discussing the difficulty of diagnosing
genetic diseases with a colleague, Dr
David Goldstein. At the time, just 50 per
cent of patients received a diagnosis.
The two doctors started working with
new gene-sequencing technology, and
in 2012 published work demonstrating
its efficacy in reaching a diagnosis.
Two years later, Shashi heard that
the National Institutes of Health – a
research centre affiliated with the US
Department of Health – was looking to
expand a small programme aimed at
helping the most difficult to diagnose
patients, and settting up research
centres at clinical sites across the
country. Shashi immediately applied,
and Duke was accepted in 2014, in what
was the first iteration of the UDN.
The Duke site took on its first patients
in 2015. To date, it has accepted 199
applicants and made 79 diagnoses.
As of 2019, the UDN as a whole has
received 3,601 patient applications, 1,372
of which it has been able to accept. It
has reached a diagnosis in 323 cases.
“The mission of the UDN was and
is to provide diagnostic services to
patients who have had difficulty getting
a diagnosis, and also to be able to have
IN JULY, THE TREE-LINED AVENUES ‘TO the patients participate in research
of Duke University are a furnace of ALL activities,” Shashi explains.
mid-summer heat. It is part of the famed INTENTS In the US, a rare disease is defined
“Research Triangle”, linking Duke with AND as something that affects fewer than
North Carolina State University and the PURPOSES 200,000 people, and an ultra-rare
University of North Carolina at Chapel HOGAN disease as affecting fewer than
Hill. Duke, based in Durham, boasts a WAS 50,000. They are hard to diagnose
formidable campus, with more than 100 A FIT simply because so few patients are
buildings, 1,600 medical students, 2,400 17-YEAR-OLD ‘ available to study, and are often misdi-
Below : UDN principal investigator Dr Vandana Shashi. Right: Allyson and David Teem had no reason to suspect their son Hogan was at risk

agnosed. Without any reason to suspect ‘GENETIC

otherwise, doctors have to rely on what EVIDENCE
they know. In many cases, like that of IS VITAL
Ethan and Austin, they know what the FOR
problem is but fail to unearth genetic AT-RISK
evidence – vital for identifying at-risk FAMILY
family members and formulating a MEMBERS’
treatment plan. Frustrated by months
or years of disjointed medical testing,
a doctor may suggest patients apply
to the UDN in a final bid for answers.
The Duke team reviews applications
in a meeting every Tuesday. In order
to be eligible, a patient must have an
“objective finding” – a first clue or loose
thread for the team to begin unravelling.
“There is a perception that ‘undiag-
nosed’ also means ‘functional’, so the
two can be confused,” explains Shashi.
“So if you have symptoms like pain or
fatigue, yes you can be undiagnosed,
but that doesn’t mean you have a true
objective undiagnosed disease. These
symptoms could be due to pre-existing
functional diseases.”
A functional disease is one that
exhibits symptoms – nausea, say,
or light-headedness – and affects
functionality. Such symptoms are
common, and easy to diagnose as
caused by common illnesses. UDN
patients may have these symptoms, but
it’s the objective finding – the unusual
clue – that makes them suitable.
Once a patient is accepted, represen-
tatives from each of the UDN sites join
a call to share suggestions regarding
possible diagnoses or tests. This culture
of collaboration means specialists can
confer in real time, working together
to find a diagnosis. The network has
the resources to examine a patient’s
history in detail and formulate a working
hypothesis based on this data, leading
to a suite of tests tailored around the
specific condition, a large part of which
involves closely examining genetic data
for rare or unusual variants or changes.
Below : Genetic counsellor Heidi Cope: “When a variant is very rare, we think there’s a chance it could be disease-causing”

To date, the UDN has discovered and

published papers on two new disease
genes, NACC1 and IRF2BPL. After
identifying these genes in children, they
were able to track down other affected
patients. They have also diagnosed a
patient with a variant in the KCNC1 gene,
known to cause progressive myoclonic
epilepsy. Because of that diagnosis, the
patient is now enrolling in a clinical trial
at another institution that could lead to
a drug trial specific to her gene variant.
The majority of UDN patients come
from the United States, but interna-
tional patients are accepted as long
as they can afford to travel. Patients
apply with suspected auto-immune
diseases, infectious diseases, rheuma-
tological diseases, genetic diseases and
neurological diseases – although it is
not often clear which category they fit
into when they first visit the UDN.


rate of 30 per cent, with the Duke site
slightly higher at 40 per cent. Because
of the rarity of so many conditions,
this percentage represents a signif-
icant accomplishment. However, the
reality is that most patients will never bottom of her feet, which then spread “I was very hopeful when I got in touch
receive a diagnosis. “Most patients to her legs and quads. She saw an with the UDN,” Holly says. “I was excited
tell us that they expect not to get an orthopaedist, then a rheumatologist, to have someone take a deeper look,
answer, because they have already been and eventually a neurologist, who to try to make sure they encompass
through so many tests elsewhere,” says performed tests that suggested a everything they felt might be to
Shashi. “They come in with the idea muscle disease but didn’t result in a blame, and to have so many different
that this is their last hope, and they’ll be specific diagnosis. He suggested that specialists looking at different angles.”
surprised if they get an answer.” she would be a good candidate for the But full genome sequencing, blood
Holly, 47, is still waiting. Five years UDN, and she underwent her first round work and a skin biopsy revealed no
ago, she began experiencing pain in the of UDN tests in the summer of 2018. new information. A year later, Holly
1 29 Below : Blood samples are collected to be reverse-engineered into stem cells – a “blank slate with all a patient’s genetic information”

‘MOST a position in administration. The job

PATIENTS change was a blow, but what bothers
TELL US her most is finding it difficult to play
THEY with her eight-year-old son. Although
DON’T Boyd is able to walk with difficulty, she
EXPECT typically uses a wheelchair.
ANSWERS ’ “My son is sometimes sad,” she says.
“I can’t push him to do things now, I get
up to play sports with him and I’m tired.
is no closer to understanding her It’s hard. My son worries about me more of being able to talk to a neurologist, so
condition. “It’s hard to put into words the than I wish he had to. If he hears me fall was mostly focusing on the patient’s
frustration at this point,” she says. “It’s down at home, he will call out: ‘Are you joint symptoms as a solo issue, and not
very disappointing to seek out answers OK mom? Did you fall down?’ I tell him as part of a larger disease.”
and not be able to find a shred of what’s that I’m OK. Sometimes I’m not, but I’m While initial testing pointed in the
causing this – just something to provide fine enough. I don’t want him to worry direction of Sjogren’s, Boyd needed to
relief and help me with quality of life.” about me, it’s not his job.” return to Duke for additional testing to
Shashi says that the team is realistic Boyd was referred to the UDN in April confirm the diagnosis. On July 9, she is
with patients. “We tell them their 2019. At first the team thought that back for a lip biopsy, designed to look for
chances are not great,” she says. “It’s she had genetic ataxia, a condition evidence of inflammation of the salivary
very stimulating when you do find an associated with progressive loss of glands, a hallmark of Sjogren’s.
answer. But that’s what drives us, to try co-ordination. However, the neurologist “Sometimes, when people are told
to solve these most difficult situations.” Dr Vern Juel noticed symptoms that there’s nothing wrong with them, they
A common refrain among patients were consistent with a rheumatological just accept it, stay home and get worse,”
applying for the UDN is that they “want disease called Sjogren’s syndrome. And Boyd says from the examining chair
their old life back”. Whatever their this led to an antibody test. while she waits for a numbing cream
condition, chances are it has robbed “She had one of the antibodies to take effect on her lip. “It’s been six
them of their health, their mobility, the associated with Sjogren’s disease, years and my body has been getting
chance to play with their children, the but she didn’t have the full repertoire of worse. You think ‘What if it’s this, or what
chance to follow the career they wanted. what one would expect with Sjogren’s,” if it’s that?’ I don’t have anything to lose
Jackie Boyd, 27, is one such patient. Juel explains. Sjogren’s disease can by coming [to the UDN]. At this point, I
Around 2013, she began experiencing present with extreme fatigue, joint still want to know what this is, I want to
numbness in her hands which rapidly swelling and stiffness – symptoms know how long I have left to do certain
spread to other parts of her body. “It that matched Boyd’s condition. The things independently. I want to be able
felt like sitting on your hands and them anomaly was that Boyd did not display to make some kind of plan for my son.”
being numb,” she says. “I thought the dry eyes or mouth more commonly As the numbing cream takes effect,
‘maybe I slept wrong’ but it lasted for associated with the condition. the doctor returns and removes an
weeks, then months.” Boyd rapidly “One of the great things about this inch-long sliver of tissue from the inside
developed ataxia, a loss of muscle being a UDN case is if I had seen the of Boyd’s lower lip before stitching the
control and balance. Her doctor patient on my own, the first thing I would wound up. The following day she is
prescribed pills that didn’t seem to work. have wanted her to do would be to see a scheduled for a lumbar puncture in
She saw a neurologist who essentially neurologist, and that could take another order to test her cerebrospinal fluid. It
told her there was nothing wrong. month or two,” says rheumatologist is a notoriously painful procedure, but
The same year, she began a new job Dr Rebecca Sadun, who also worked should be Boyd’s last at the UDN.
as a prison officer. One day, a colleague on Boyd’s case. “I think this collabo- “She’s a work in progress,” says
noticed her struggling to move upstairs ration is crucial; I actually read over the Sadun. “But we have a working theory
to check on prisoners, and eventually notes of an external rheumatologist who and we’re hopeful that [after these
she was relocated to a smaller, single- also thought this was a likely case of tests] we can make that diagnosis and
storey facility, where she was given Sjogren’s but didn’t have the advantage get her started on therapy.
AUTO-IMMUNE DISEASES ARE ‘ANALYSING are encouraged to release all of their
common at the UDN, but by far the THE differentiation, so reverting back to the
majority of work at the Duke site – 85 BROTHERS’ stem cell state. Essentially, this forms a
per cent – is focused on diseases that GENES blank slate containing all of a patient’s
are suspected to have a genetic cause. PRODUCED genetic information. By exposing these
Following Ethan White’s cardiac event, SOMETHING stem cells to certain chemical signals,
he and his brother were accepted into UNIQUE’ researchers are able to steer them
the UDN in September 2017. In their towards becoming whichever type of
week of tests, the brothers saw experts cell is most pertinent to their research,
in genetics, cardiology, ophthalmology tissue and a build-up of fatty deposits. from liver cells to lung cells.
and neuropsychology. Because he This, in turn, significantly inhibits the In this case, Landstrom’s team
suffers from type one diabetes, Ethan heart’s ability to function normally. re-programmed stem cells from the
was also seen by an endocrinologist, Changes within 13 genes are currently brothers to become heart cells, from
although no link was found. To ensure known to cause ARVC – yet around 50 which they were able to grow heart
a comprehensive analysis, the UDN per cent of patients will come up with a tissue. “These stem cells carry all the
even reached out to the Teem family negative result when tested for them, same genetic markers as the patient
for a sample of Hogan’s DNA, which the indicating the existence of additional so we can use it as a tool, like having
coroner was able to provide. genes associated with ARVC – genes their hearts right in front of us without
The team then sequenced the that are as yet undiscovered. ever going near them,” Landstrom says.
brothers’ exome – the part of the In analysing the brothers’ exome, He produces a tray of heart cells from
genome that makes up just 1-2 per the UDN uncovered something unique: an incubator and places them under a
cent of our genetic data but is the part variants in a novel gene that they were microscope. Swirls of heart tissue pulse
most rich in mutations that have an unable to locate in medical databases on the screen, something like a living
effect on disease. Exome sequencing compiling genetic data from more than version of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.
is not unique to the UDN; in fact, 75 200,000 people who do not have rare Researchers first look for evidence
per cent of UDN patients at the Duke diseases. “Typically when a genetic that the gene they have identified
site have previously had their exome variant is very rare, we think there’s a causes the cell to function as has
analysed, but their doctors have been chance it could be disease-causing,” been hypothesised. Because defective
unable to find any clues in the results. says Heidi Cope, the lead genetic genes produce abnormal proteins, a cell
As current estimates suggest 80 per counsellor on the case. “If we saw the made up of these genes will function
cent of disease mutations can be found variant in 3,000 people, most likely it’s abnormally. In this case, Austin, Ethan
within the exome, however, the UDN benign, as you wouldn’t see it that often and Hogan’s hearts displayed a high
decided to start its investigation there. in that many healthy people.” build-up of fatty tissue. If the in-vitro
“Our site has a very agnostic With this gene a likely candidate, the cells also develop this build-up, it will
approach to the genome,” says Shashi. next step was to study it in different be seen as a strong indication that the
“We not only look at the genes which we models in order to monitor how the gene identified by Cope and her team
think might be causing the problem, but gene is expressed and run tests without is the culprit. In addition, the team
all the other genes as well, picking out having to study Ethan and Austin’s will monitor the in-vitro cells to see if
variants that we think are compelling. hearts directly. Dr Andrew Landstrom, they develop the same arrhythmias
This approach has led us to pick out a paediatric cardiologist working out of displayed by the brothers.
candidate genes that otherwise might a complex of labyrinthine laboratories Frequently, as in this case, the UDN
be missed in a clinical laboratory.” at Duke University, agreed to lend his also works with its Model Organism
ARVC is caused by changes in one expertise to the case. Screening Center laboratories to model
of a number of genes that produce The main tool in Landstrom’s genes in zebrafish models. Professor
proteins necessary for proper function arsenal is formed by induced pluri- Monte Westerfield, at the University of
of the heart. These genetic changes potent stem cells. In this process, Oregon, runs this programme. His team
lead to an abnormal or missing protein, blood cells are taken from an affected use CRISPR Cas9 gene-editing tools to
causing a breakdown of the muscle patient and, using molecular genetics, generate a zebrafish embryo with the
1 31 Below : For paediatric cardiologist Andrew Landstrom, studying stem cells is “like having the brothers’ hearts right in front of us”


fruitful, Dr Landstrom feels confident
that the UDN will be able to provide a
genetic diagnosis. For the first time,
the Teems and the Whites will be able
to put a name to the cause of their
families’ suffering. Considering that
so few patients ever get this far, the
cardiologist calls this a “huge step”.
The UDN hopes to publish its
research on this gene in early 2020;
until then, the name of the specific gene
will be confidential. Cope explains that,
once the UDN publishes, the gene can
be added to the panel of ARVC tests, so
future patients can be diagnosed before
it is too late. “At present, it isn’t public
knowledge so a cardiologist wouldn’t
know to look for it,” she says.
The goal then will be to develop a
medicine that can regulate the condition
and inform treatment for people like
Ethan and Austin. Landstrom admits
that this type of precision medicine is “a
very long-term goal that we may never
get to in my career” – so is unlikely to
directly benefit the two brothers.
Although the potential breakthrough
will realistically make little immediate
correct mutation. Because there is a monitor its heart rate for arrhythmia or difference to his sons’ lives, Jeff White,
high degree of genetic conservation circulatory issues, and are also planning Ethan and Austin’s father, is thankful for
among vertebrates, zebrafish allow to do some high-resolution imaging to the UDN’s work. “Even if we don’t get
researchers to make an almost exact understand the cellular nature of the anything else out of it, if this means we
replica of human genes. disease.” Westerfield expects that the could help one person – save one life
“Zebrafish are transparent during experiments will yield results within through what we’re doing – that’s good
early developmental stages, which two months – but it is already clear that enough for me,” he says.�
means within a few days you can the gene is expressed in the zebrafish
actually see the heart beating,” heart. This, he says, is “pretty good Tom Ward wrote about fighting
Wester field says. “We can then evidence that it is in the right place”. match-fixing in football in 07.19
This is the hidden impact of technology.
For decades, David Maisel has photo-
graphed places where humans are changing
the environment so dramatically, the
impact can be seen from the sky. In his
latest project, Desolation Desert, the
San Francisco-based visual artist spent
two weeks in a plane over the Atacama
desert, where our insatiable demand for
copper, lithium and rare-earth metals
– to fuel the consumer electronics
and electric vehicle industries – is
reshaping a fragile ecosystem. The
Atacama, in northern Chile, is one of
the driest and least populated places on
Earth, but water-intensive extraction
is scarring pristine salt flats. Maisel
– who still shoots on film – documented
some of the biggest mining sites. The
work isn’t intended to single out an
industry, Maisel says – in fact, we
are all complicit: these resources
enable almost every facet of our lives.
“These new photographs show how the
supposedly remote Atacama desert is
becoming part of a planetary fabric of
urbanisation, and at what cost,” he says.
Photography: David Maisel

The Salar de Atacama salt flats contain more than a quarter of the
world’s lithium. At this lithium-extraction field north of the town of
San Pedro de Atacama, one of the largest of its type in the world, brine
rich in lithium is pumped from underneath the salt flats into huge,
jewel-like pools, where it is left to evaporate in stages, in the way
that salt has been produced for millennia. The end result is a silvery
powder – lithium carbonate – that can be manufactured into batteries.
The process consumes huge amounts of water in a region that gets less
than 2.5cm of rainfall a year. “It might appear to be this weirdly
beautiful place, but the damage being wrought is significant,” Maisel says.
Maisel spent months planning and securing permission to fly over the copper mining operations. Much of
the airspace is controlled by the Chilean military, so the photographer and his team of two pilots would
sometimes have to re-jig their itineraries to make room for last-minute military exercises. Despite the
meticulous planning, there was still room for serendipity. “I knew about this mine and was interested
in photographing it, but I didn’t anticipate that they would actually be doing this blasting there,”
Maisel says. This picture is one of a series showing extraction work at the Centinela copper mine, one
of the largest in Chile – the machines and vehicles visible in the pit give a sense of the overall scale.
13 5 Chuquicamata, near the city of Calama, is the largest open-pit copper mine in the world. It has been in
operation since 1882, but production ramped up in the early 20th century when the extraction machinery
was modernised. Today, the pit is over 4km long, 3km wide and 850 metres deep – the world’s tallest
building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, would fit inside comfortably. The site is 2,900 metres above sea
level – so high that Maisel had to wear an oxygen mask while taking photos from the plane. It was an
appropriate location for him to end his trip: the Guggenheim Fellowship funded Maisel’s work, and the
Chuquicamata copper mine is where the Guggenheim family originally made their fortune.
Because of the altitude, Maisel had to hire a much larger aircraft than he usually uses for his projects
– a former medical rescue plane that had enough room for a stretcher between him and the pilots. When
on the ground, the team returned to their base in the port of Antofagasta. From the window of his
operations in the desert, like the one below. “Right outside my window, along the ocean, were these tankers
1 37 Scientists are scrambling to find a replacement for lithium batteries, which are expected to rise in price
as increasing numbers of people switch to electric cars. But alternatives based on sulphur or carbon are
some decades away, and billions of dollars are still being invested in new lithium battery factories and
extraction plants. If prices go up, lithium extraction projects closer to home could become feasible, says
Brian Menell, CEO of TechMet, a company focused on securing metals required by the technology industry.
There is potential for brine-based extraction in Alsace, France, and hard-rock mining in Cornwall;
one day, images like this, from a plant in Salar del Carmen, could become a familiar sight in Europe.
Previous spread: This region of the world has been exploited for its natural resources for centuries –
from silver and gold in the early days of the Spanish empire, sodium nitrate (used for explosives) in the

1910s and 1920s, and copper and lithium today. At Los Dones, about 130km north of Antofagasta, Maisel
observed the end result of that history: a huge field of abandoned sites where miners have excavated the

ground and come up empty-handed. “We’re laying this fabric of development over these formerly ‘pure’,
remote landscapes that are environmentally sensitive, and the rate is increasing so ferociously,” he says.
“What does that mean for us, when every area has become a site of development or resource extraction?”
14 1 You can’t assess the full environmental impact of mining just by looking at the hole left in the ground.
These pictures show the area around the Centinela copper mine, and the huge “tailings” ponds that surround
the site. After the copper is separated from rock, the unwanted materials remain in the form of slurry
(tailings, in industry terminology), which collects in pools, hemmed in by dams, that Maisel describes
as “vast beyond comprehension”. Tailings can contain toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury. In January
2019, a tailings dam at an iron-ore mine in Brazil collapsed, killing at least 248 people. As of this
June, the facilities at the mine pictured here held 154 million cubic metres of tailings. � Amit Katwala
During his time as a Puma CEO and a Kering Group
executive, Jochen Zeitz introduced
rigorous ethical and environmental standards –
yet turned enormous profits

Now he’s on a mission to convince

global organisations to re-think their business
practices – not just for society
and the planet, but for profitability

By Richard Benson
Photography: Liam Sharp
that in the report, one attendee had 144
actually exclaimed, “Wow!”
Levatich admits he had initially
been apprehensive, because “Harley
might well have been the last brand
in the world you would expect to go
electric”. However, the tests in San
Francisco (and, subsequently, Atlanta,
London, Berlin and Tokyo) revealed
that, provided the ride experience was
good enough, the brand had sufficient
strength to make electric seem not a
compromise, but an exciting innovation.
It would take eight years and the
work of a thousand engineers to fully
realise the product, but the Harley-
Davidson LiveWire, the company’s first
electric model, was finally due to go
on sale at $30,000 (£28,995 in the UK) sustainable in a way that improves both
in September 2019. Levatich credits society and the natural environment, and
the LiveWire with reviving optimism that creates economic growth. Sipping
about Harley’s future at a time when water in a pub in south-west London,
motorcycle sales are in decline. It has where he keeps one of several homes,
attracted generally favourable reviews Zeitz cuts a benign figure: bearded,
in the motorcycle media, and Levatich dressed in greenish cords and a T-shirt,
says: “It made me think, ‘Look what this he sits next to an acoustic guitar he’s
brand can do. Look what this company brought with him. He looks more like
can do. Look what we could become. a 1970s singer-songwriter than an
We could transform things.’” influential business leader.
But Levatich is keen to share the In soft, measured tones, Zeitz explains
credit. Harley-Davidson fans shouldn’t how he sees business as moving from
just thank him, he concedes. They an industrial revolution model based
should also thank Jochen Zeitz. on extraction to one based on the
regeneration of resources. “My belief
is that every company has an oppor-
tunity to innovate by creating business
motorcycle dealership in downtown San Zeitz is a 56-year-old executive and solutions for services or products that
Francisco, on an autumn evening in 2011, a entrepreneur with a formidable set of significantly reduce your impact and
group of automotive engineers and market achievements to his name. In 1993, at create more demand for your product,”
researchers stood staring at several unusu- the age of 30, he became CEO of Puma he says. “Well, unless you are an
al-looking black-and-silver motorbikes. – at the time, he was the youngest ever extracting business. In that case, you’re
The mystery vehicles were about to be put to CEO of a German company – and turned a dinosaur and you’re dying.”
the test by a dozen motorcycle enthusiasts. the near-bankrupt business into one of Central to Zeitz’s vision is redefining
The bikes had no markings to show who had the world’s top three sports brands. The the role of business in society in a
manufactured them. More remarkably, they did company was acquired by the luxury way that promotes sustainability
not have standard petrol engines but electric goods conglomerate Kering in 2007, on all fronts: social, environmental
motors, with panels where the cylinders should be. and a few years later Zeitz served as and financial. The new definition, he
This design element was a contentious choice for Kering’s Chief Sustainability Officer. says, needs “to create a kind of share-
the manufacturer, as the proximity of the rider to He now sits on the boards of Harley- holder value that is socially just and
a loud petrol engine is generally regarded as part Davidson, financial services company environmentally sustainable. I believe
of a motorbike’s appeal. A researcher explained Cranemere and the Kenya Wildlife that creating shareholder value is
that these were new electric vehicles, designed Service, as well as running his own chari- necessary because it creates jobs and
for an authentic riding experience and not just table foundation and co-chairing The B all the things that we need on a planet
a short-hop urban commute. They invited each Team, a non-profit that he co-founded with a rising population. But it can’t be
person to take one of the models for a test ride. with Richard Branson in 2012 to promote at the expense of everything.”
After the ride, the researchers asked the testers sustainable business practices. The solution is to marry sustaina-
about the bikes; the feedback was positive. They He has won the Financial Times bility with growth. “It’s a question of
then wanted to know how the riders’ attitudes Strategist of the Year award three what we grow and how we grow, and
would be affected by branding: would the bikes times, been awarded the German Federal how we can reduce our impact signifi-

seem more exciting and innovative if they were Cross of Merit, and co-authored two cantly and still grow,” he says. “We have
made by, say, Honda or Tesla? As the researchers books – one of which, a dialogue with to grow within planetary boundaries.”
ran down their list, the engineers held their Benedictine monk Anselm Grün called In practice, this means that instead of
breath. Finally, the big question: what if they The Manager and the Monk: A Discourse making short-term profits that may incur
were made by Harley-Davidson? on Prayer, Profit and Principles, has been costs later on (an obvious example being
“They loved the idea,” says Harley-Davidson translated into 15 languages. depleted resources leading to higher
CEO Matt Levatich, speaking from his Milwaukee Across his many endeavours, Zeitz has raw material prices, or social inequal-
office eight years later. He still remembers one overarching aim: making businesses ities reducing at-work performances and
purchasing power), businesses need to spread some
of that growth to the wider world around them, for
the sake of the planet – but also for themselves.
When Zeitz was encouraging Levatich to think
about sustainability, for example, he focused not
just on the moral justification for electric engines,
but on the needs of Harley-Davidson customers to
have healthy natural landscapes in which to ride.
Levatich remembers talking about “what every
rider loves about the ride – it’s the environment
they’re riding in, isn’t it? After that, it was easy
to get brand alignment, and then you’re right into
using that argument to support [sustainability]
as part of the brand.” Eventually, Harley-Davidson
devised a new mission, turning the brand’s historic
celebration of freedom into a desire “to preserve
and renew the freedom to ride”.
Zeitz manages to convince business leaders Jochen Zeitz with an electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire motorcycle
to embrace his vision because he himself has
repeatedly led by example. At Puma, he increased
the company’s share price by 4,000 per cent while
also introducing two procedures that have since
influenced businesses across the world. In 2008, he
created PUMAVision, an ethical code of behaviour
that applied to the company’s staff, its business
dealings and its relationships with external organi-
sations. Three years later, he developed the environ-
mental profit and loss account, which set a monetary
value on the natural resources that were used by
Puma across its supply chain. (Zeitz could even tell
you about the environmental impact of the aglets
– the little plastic tips on the shoelaces of Puma’s
trainers.) This meant that “natural services”, as

Indra Nooyi, and Danone CEO Emmanuel Zeitz was born in Mannheim, Germany,
Faber. They are pushing the idea of in 1963, to a gynaecologist father and
“business as a force for good” – the dentist mother. His parents had strong
group was thanked by then British Prime values: he remembers his father almost
Minister David Cameron for pressing the being fired when he insisted on intro-
2015 Paris climate conference to adopt ducing mammography at his hospital
the first ever legally binding climate when the Christian medical authorities
change deal, under which 196 countries objected. Zeitz grew up at a time when
signed up to a commitment to limit the the Green and anti-nuclear movements
increase in global average temperatures were enjoying strong support, and that,
to 1.5°C. The B Team is now bringing together with the family lodge in the
together businesses and organisations Odenwald forest, planted the seed of
with the aim of eradicating anonymous his environmentalism. He says he was
shell companies and associated a “pretty regular” kid, though, into
corruption (which it estimates costs $2.6 American football and westerns, and
trillion, or over two per cent of global interested in becoming a doctor. It was
GDP, annually). Two hundred companies only when he enrolled on a business
are working with The B Team, and some, course before medical school that he
including Unilever and Brazil’s Natura, developed an interest in commerce.
have opened up their ownership struc- After a job with Colgate-Palmolive,
they were called by academics at the time, could tures as a result of the campaign. he was headhunted to work on Puma’s
be brought into accounting spreadsheets. Levatich characterises Zeitz as both marketing. “The company was a total
At Kering, Zeitz introduced environmental profit inspirational and practical. When Zeitz mess, basically,” he says. “It had made
and loss accounting to all companies, including introduced his environmental profit no money since going public in 1988. I
Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, McQueen and Balen- and loss accounting concept to Harley- worked with three CEOs in two and a
ciaga; and at the same time he pushed through Davidson, he says, it was a crucial half years, and there was no marketing
sustainability standards in supply chains that set moment. “That’s the tool that we use to department. I had to build it up, and
the group apart from its competitors. While he was ensure that we do the right thing and the when I produced a plan they looked at
with the company, its share price rose 150 per cent. best things we can do,” Levatich says. me as if I was from another planet.”
At The B Team his advisers include Salesforce “It’s important to point out that this Zeitz has been characterised as
co-CEO Marc Benioff, former PepsiCo CEO and chair didn’t cost us money – it saved money.” impatient and demanding unrealistic
standards (at Kering, he was known as the “sustain- everybody,” Zeitz says. “You can’t just 146
ability Taliban”), and has learned that good ideas preserve the environment by putting
can easily founder on the reality of supply chains. a big fence around the property and
“You have to get your hands really dirty,” he says. casting the community aside, because
“We can theorise a lot of things, but to see the you need the community to sustain the
impact, especially far down the supply chain, you property. You need culture because
have to see the real impact on the ground. It’s that cultural shifts help to transform people’s
that tells you if something’s working or not.” mindsets. Commerce is the driver
Fourteen years ago, he decided to put his ideas of everything because you can’t run
into practice by starting his own business – Segera, something on philanthropy forever.”
a 50,000-acre luxury holiday retreat on the Laikipia Using the 4C plan as a framework,
plateau in Kenya’s central highlands. “I felt you can’t Zeitz and Odhiambo developed five-year
preach what you don’t live,” he says. Kenya was goals. The fruit of all that planning is Right : Ester Emaret, a member of
where Zeitz found his mission. Growing up watching now evident: the central part of Segera the SATUBO women’s beading group,
the natural history documentaries of Bernhard consists of a ten-acre circle of grass in which is supported by the Zeitz
Grzimek – the “German David Attenborough” – he the brushland, with eight guest cottages Foundation and the Segera reserve
was fascinated by Africa, and in November 1989 (costing up to $2,400 a night) on stilts, Below : the main compound and
went on a budget safari to Kenya and Nigeria. interspersed with open-air baths, cacti accommodation for reserve visitors
and contemporary African art, and a
water recycling plant; the land has been
re-wilded and is again home to giraffes,
elephants, impala and other game; A great deal of Zeitz’s work now
and local people graze their animals involves supporting businesses that
there on a rotational basis. Writers have realised they need to transform,
and activists have praised the depth but lack the confidence. Jean Oelwang,
of Segera’s engagement with the local a senior B Team partner and president
community – although at the beginning, of Virgin Unite, the Virgin Group’s entre-
Zeitz’s team were unpopular, because preneurial foundation, says leadership is
they weren’t, as one director told the the most important commodity for The
Financial Times, “doing the conventional B Team: it was set up “partly because
thing of throwing sweets over the fence”. when the founders started to think
The complex employs 240 people, about the need for change, they saw
and has opened up access to markets for that leadership was what was scarce”.
other businesses such as bead-makers Business leadership works differ-
a n d f o o d p ro d u c e r s. T h e Z e i t z ently during a transformation, because,
Foundation has collaborated with aid Zeitz says, bosses are less able to rely
agencies to build local “climate-smart” on practices that previously insulated
schools that drain rain runoff into tanks, them from criticism. He points to market
where it can be filtered to make clean research. “Traditional consumer goods
drinking water. One of the most inter- companies are very research driven,
esting initiatives is an anti-poaching and don’t really decide on action until
It wasn’t all he had hoped for; he remembers being unit staffed entirely by local women. research tells them to change – but the
taken to see a lion and finding 30 other minibuses “They are tough ladies, and fully trained, reality is that research doesn’t always
full of people. He saw the environmental impacts of but the idea is to get them to commu- tell you what the consumer wants,
business and mass tourism, and felt his perspective nicate what we are doing at Segera to because you ask the consumer, and then
changing. In the evening, he watched footage of the help the communities, and to explain the product comes out two years later.
fall of the Berlin Wall back in Germany, but he felt that preserving the wildlife is more of “If you’re evolving slowly but surely, it
more of a connection to his present surroundings. an opportunity than exploiting it.” works well, but if you’re trying to change
“I just fell totally in love with the continent,” he Zeitz has launched other projects in you need a different approach, especially
says, “and I knew I wanted to make it my home.” Africa: the Zeitz Collection of contem- in today’s world with technology, where
He now spends about three months of the year porary art from Africa and its diaspora; everything can change so much more
at Segera, a former cattle ranch run down by a the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art quickly than it used to, and entry barriers
previous owner, who went bankrupt. Its soil fertility Africa, a complex of 100 galleries in a to markets are lower in terms of costs.
had been reduced by overgrazing, there was little 1920s granary in Cape Town converted Nowadays you need to think more about
relationship with local communities, and poaching by Thomas Heatherwick; and The Long using a product to create a new demand,
for meat and fur was common; in his first year, Zeitz Run, which rates sustainable tourism not satisfy an existing one.”
would often find the bodies of giraffe, buffalo and projects according to the four Cs. That’s what he did at Puma, where the
elephant that had been shot and trapped. research told him “to just give up, as the
At the time he set up Segera, he also created his company had no future”. It’s easier now,
philanthropic Zeitz Foundation. He and Segera he says, because VCs and private equity
manager Benaiah Odhiambo set to work creating a are more willing to back entrepreneurs,
business framework by making baseline studies of though there is also more pressure on
the community and the environment, and talking CEOs, because they are increasingly
to zoologists, conservationists and local people required to act ethically as well as
with knowledge of the land. He brainstormed the ensure the health of the company. This
“4C” concept of conservation, community, culture expectation is a key part of The B Team’s
and commerce. “The secret is to create wins for premise. Its leaders believe that organi-
1 49 sations seeking to effect changes in society can do department partnered with employees
so only if people trust them, and people now tend to remove obstacles around issues such
to trust businesses more than politicians. as childcare or safe housing. Greyston
Oelwang points to the Edelman Trust Barometer, branded the idea as “open hiring”,
an annual international survey of 33,000 people and and is committed to supporting other
the degree of trust they have in various professions companies curious about the approach.
and institutions. In recent years trust in politi- The questions that Zeitz gets
cians and public institutions has fallen, while faith asked most often around the issue of
in employers has remained strong; in 2019, only sustainability are “How do we do it?”,
one in five people felt the system was working for “Is it a responsibility or is it more?”,
them, and 76 per cent felt CEOs should take the and “How do we justify the expense?”
lead on change without waiting for government Answering these often requires a Left : Jochen Zeitz with an observation
to impose it. That, says Oelwang, is why actions change of culture within an organi- plane at his Kenyan nature reserve
taken by business can sometimes achieve greater sation: perhaps leaders may need to alter Below : Zeitz and Mats Granryd,
social change. One might ask, for example, if the the way they think about employees – director general of the GSMA mobile
Harley-Davidson testers who took to the electric shifting emphasis from shareholders technology operators group, at the
bike would have been as ready to embrace a to all stakeholders, for example, or B Team Leader meeting, held in July on
government initiative on cleaner engines. Perhaps adjusting pay structures that incen- Richard Branson’s Necker Island
this faith in business is likely to increase, because
younger demographics tend to be more jaded about
mainstream politics, and have higher expectations
of CEOs on ethical decision-making.
For The B Team, environmental and social
sustainability have to go hand in hand, and
much of its work is based on improving the way
workplaces function. Its 100 Percent People project
saw 350 companies, including Unilever, Zappos
and Natura, sign up to a rolling series of experi-
ments in HR practices, geared towards improving
equality, respect, growth and a sense of purpose
among workers. In New Zealand, financial services
company Perpetual Guardian trialled a four-day
week based on a “100-80-100” rule – 100 per cent
tivise short-term profits at the expense
of environmental or social benefits.
CEOs looking for a place to start, he
says, could get rid of quarterly reports, finds the opportunity, and it sees that
which lead to companies looking for opportunity before anybody else.”
immediate gains, rather than working But getting there won’t be quick or
out long-term goals. “Transforming your easy, as it requires a cultural shift beyond
business is an investment, just like you just consumer behaviour. “I am a very
invest in R&D or marketing. It’s investing impatient person, but I have learned
in sustainability and developing new that we can’t shift culture overnight,”
materials, and it’s not going to come for he says. “The environmental movement
free, so I look at it as part of my operating requires such a cultural shift that you
expenses… The argument that sustaina- can’t assume it will happen in a decade
bility should pay for itself is a short-term or even a couple of decades.
argument that I do not think is correct “Of course I am very pessimistic
unless you are a business where it is looking at today’s politics in America
relatively easy to transform.” and I’m terrified of what’s happening
Zeitz admires boldness, and the ability in Brazil and other countries, but I am a
to make things happen quickly. At Kering realistic optimist. Look at the UK super-
Group, he watched in admiration as markets: the plastic bags are disap-
CEO François-Henri Pinault decided pearing. Look at the plastic bottles at
that he wanted gender equality on the Glastonbury – just because there were
company’s board, and promptly replaced plenty left on the ground doesn’t mean
remuneration, for 80 per cent of time in the office, three men with three women. we haven’t saved a million. It’s the signal
meeting 100 per cent of agreed productivity. Staff As for the future, he sees the effect that will change things.”
stress levels lowered (from 45 per cent pre-trial increasing tendency of investors to look He shoulders his guitar, and steps
to 38 per cent post-trial) and satisfaction with for sustainability in business plans as out into the late summer sunshine.
work-life balance increased (54 per cent to 78 per a sign that things will continue in the “The important thing is for businesses
cent). By 2019, the four-day week was on the agenda right trajectory. “Money will show you to see this as a necessity and an oppor-

at the World Economic Forum in Davos. if something is going to happen, and tunity,” he says. “They would be
In the US, Greyston Bakery pioneered a usually it’s just a question of time,” he absolutely stupid if they didn’t.”�
programme of “radical inclusion”, which meant says. “Especially now, because there
people were employed without having to show a CV is smart money out there looking for Richard Benson wrote about artificial
or have any background checks done, and the HR opportunities with strength. Money surfing lakes in 09.19


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Photographer Liam Sharp expected to be photographing Published by The Condé Nast Publications Ltd, Vogue House, Hanover Square, London W1S
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The highest amount of TV shows and movies watched

in a single day on Netflix. It has 139 million subscribers

The year the first spam email was sent by Gary Thuerk
to several hundred users on ARPANET (the Advanced
Research Projects Agency Network) to drum up interest

for a presentation on the DECSYSTEM-20 computer

Potential configurations of a standard Rubik’s Cube –
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The year Nintendo was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi, Proportion of Earth’s oxygen that is produced by the Amazon
on September 23, initially as a playing-card company rainforest. In 2018 alone, 7,900km2 of forest was destroyed

Percentage of the world’s population that live in urban areas.

This figure is expected to increase to 68 per cent by 2050

The number of women who reported that

they had experienced discrimination
while working in the European technology
sector. In the UK and Ireland, 50 per cent The additional amount of time it takes a seagull to approach
of respondents said they’d experienced it your food if you make and hold eye contact (so eat quickly)

Number of people who use the internet today, about 40 Capacity of the ExaDrive DC100, the world’s largest 3.5-inch
per cent of the world’s population. By 2030, it will be 7.5bn SSD hard drive, revealed in 2018 and aimed at data centres

The percentage of internet traffic predicted to be video

We source by 2020 (that’s up from 75 per cent in 2017). Streaming
EVERYTHING live video is expected to account for 17 per cent of that The average time a Koala spends asleep each day
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