Not a lot of news this week, but a lot of big money, starting with Cameo, which raised $100 million at a new valuation of about $1 billion. We don’t really think anything should be worth a billion dollars except Beyonce and Jay-Z in an elevator, but there is something kind of delightful about our newest tech darling being so incredibly frivolous. Our billion-dollar startups have tended along the lines of coupons, ads and logistics — nice Midwestern meat-and-potato businesses. Now everyone’s investing in the ability to get a video shoutout from Mankind, and, yeah, OK. Money does stupid things in a pandemic. And white guys generally find a way to profit off of everyone getting weird.
Also profiting off the pandemic: Alinea co-owner Nick Kokonas, who has sold his dinner-booking startup Tock to Squarespace for more than $400 million. There’s no word on what that means for Tock’s 140 employees, but we can hope it’ll push Squarespace to build out a presence in Chicago, if only because we love to build websites on it.
It’s not just good news at the top, though. Restaurant workers might be able to bargain for higher wages and better benefits thanks to rapidly increasing demand and far fewer job searchers. Maybe the solution is paying them more than the bare minimum they make off expanded unemployment. After a year of layoffs and unsafe working conditions, it’s nice to get even the hint of some good news for servers.
And in much less logical acquisitions, Chicago tech incubator 1871 is buying Naperville tech incubator hub88. May they both go forth and give mediocre white men unearned validation and a fleeting sense of being right on the cusp of something.
Jobs, Glorious Jobs
Senior Director of Digital Initiatives at the Lyric Opera of Chicago
Yes, this is another in our ever-present plea to save Chicago’s cultural institutions from themselves. But at least Lyric has proven itself able to enjoy a good joke.
Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the University of Chicago’s Department of Music
If reinvigorating opera isn’t enough of a challenge for you, why don’t you try adding on classical music and academia for fun?
Corporate Digital Communications Specialist at Beam Suntory
Or just stick to what you know, like how to plan and create content for the world’s third-largest spirits company, including the website, intranet and corporate social channels (not Jim Beam or Maker’s, sorry). Write Stir Straight Up, a weekly newsletter for the company’s 4,800 employees. This job is in Chicago, but be sure to ask what’s up when Beam Suntory moves its HQ to New York next year (booo).
Inspiration of the week
“Mindfulness and meditation are additional forms of biohacking, then, that can upgrade the human operating systems that make tech companies more money.”
—Like so much currently ruining our lives, corporate mindfulness starts with cultural appropriation and gets spread by Steve Jobs. This past year has seen employers positively tripping over themselves to help us stay “resilient” — really, working — despite cataclysmic stress. It’s not a good faith gesture, and it’s not your responsibility to turn every restorative moment into renewed productivity.
We have done it too, talked about “refilling our cup” to get through the next deadline and wondered if therapy might be a business write-off. (It’s not.) But we are trying, really trying, to learn that the goal of taking care of ourselves is not to yield a greater output. And as we start to thrill and fear a post-vaccine life, it’s worth making the effort to push “getting more done” to the bottom of your list of anticipations.
Forward this email to anyone who deserves a moment to themselves for themselves. They can sign up here to get a twice-monthly somewhat shrill reminder to take that time.