Morning Coffee: 25 year-old billionaire has shocking LinkedIn profile. A most terrible thing happened on Zoom
If you want to get ahead in the world as a 20-something of high ability and higher aspiration, you need a LinkedIn profile - right? And it needs to be filled with the sorts of signals that identify you as a fully-engaged member of the meritocracy who's been through multiple internships, a tier one school and has some Olympiad wins.
But what if this just indicates that you're the sort of excellent sheep berated by a Yale University professor a few years ago? What if the real ballers have different sorts of LinkedIn profiles entirely?
The LinkedIn profile of Austin Russell, the 25 year-old founder and chief executive of Luminar Technologies, is a case in point. Russell didn't waste his time on taster days, spring internships, and summer programmes. He didn't even allow for the distraction of a degree. Now he's a billionaire, and everyone else with all those things is earning a low six figure salary plus bonus.
Russell isn't a banker. He isn't a software engineer. His special talent is lasers and light sensing systems which can be used by autonomous vehicles to detect hard to see objects at long distances in low light. He began his business aged 17 after converting his parents' garage into an optics and electrics lab (his father is a real estate developer and knew very little about what his son was up to) where he could investigate, "how we apply physics into the real world to solve problems in new dimensions." Instead of high school, Russell attended the Beckman Laser Institute for a bit, and was encouraged to apply to Stanford's Applied Physics School. He was only at Stanford for six months when he dropped out, aided by Peter Thiel the early Facebook investor. And now Russell is becoming a billionaire via a SPAC.
In the circumstances, Russell's ultra-bald LinkedIn profile - which simply lists his company, Luminar Technologies, and Stanford (even though he didn't actually graduate), might be dismissed as the result rather than the cause of his success. After all, there are plenty of senior traders with similar profiles, mostly because the expectation is that their achievements are already known to those who matter. However, in an industry obsessed by cohorts and peer benchmarking, it's worth bearing in mind that some of the highest achievers aren't measured by the usual metrics. They are in a cohort of their own.
Separately, the worst thing happened on a Zoom meeting and it did not involve an exhausted banker. New Yorker journalist Jeffrey Toobin was seemingly seen exposing himself on a Zoom call. After some speculation about how this came to pass, it seems that Toobin didn't realize he was on camera and had a solipsistic interlude after a breakout session during a long meeting with some colleagues and a radio station about the upcoming election. Vice has the whole sorry story. Toobin, who has been suspended, said: “I believed I was not visible on Zoom. I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me. I thought I had muted the Zoom video.” Right.
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UBS is giving employees a one week cash bonus to boost morale during COVID. (Financial News)
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90% of Citi's Shanghai staff are back; 75% of its Hong Kong staff are back. (Bloomberg)
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Goldman Sachs is giving its employees a half day off to vote. (Bloomberg)
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Hedge fund Millennium Management has spawned more than 70 offshoots. (Business Insider)
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