Good morning Quartz readers!
The iconic stock-picker of our age, ARK’s Cathie Wood, has created a portfolio for retail investors to gain exposure to space companies—like Deere & Co., Amazon, Alibaba, Netflix, and Nvidia.
ARK’s choices may seem random, but they reflect a sophisticated understanding of space’s role in the economy. More and more, all “regular” businesses are tech companies and data companies. With a growing amount of data collected and transmitted from orbit around our planet, that means they’re space companies, too.
So that big green John Deere combine harvester isn’t just a tractor—it’s a space vehicle, reliant on data collected by spacecraft to track the health of crops, operate efficiently, and even offer maintenance alerts.
The largest share of stock in the fund is in Trimble, a firm that makes hardware to receive GPS data and automated tools for the agriculture and construction industries. Trimble is effectively linking the information streaming from space to tangible physical activities on Earth.
Or take the obvious example of broadband internet satellites, which companies are investing billions of dollars to loft, in the hopes of recouping their gains from subscribers below. This ETF includes Amazon, which is launching its own satellite network, Kuiper, and has been embracing satellite integration into its cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services.
Satellite technology will also play a more important role in retail than many realize, assuming new privacy rules don’t stop it. That helps explain why Alibaba and JD.com, two huge Chinese retailers without major space ambitions, are also on the list.
Of course, the ETF portfolio also includes satellite makers (Lockheed Martin) and operators (Iridium), GPS handset manufacturers (Garmin), and even a new space equity (Virgin Galactic). Companies that make space stuff will do well if more space stuff is made. But the real thesis for space investors is that activity in space will add value back here on Earth, which means every company is a space company now. —Tim Fernholz
Five things from Quartz we especially liked
Your bitcoin may have been fracked into existence. It takes a lot of cheap energy to profitably mine bitcoins. As Tim McDonnell writes, some crypto-entrepreneurs have found this energy in the waste gas that emerges out of “fracked” shale formations. While usually this byproduct is burned off—a practice responsible for at least 1% of global carbon emissions—using it to power data centers that mine cryptocurrency only creates an incentive to drill more, worsening bitcoin’s carbon footprint. —Samanth Subramanian, senior reporter
Get out the green thumbs. On paper, Singapore’s goal of producing 30% of its own food by 2030 seems both laudable and impossible: The city-state currently makes just 10% of what it eats, and its plan calls for everyone in the city to get involved in growing. But there’s hope! In a short and visually appealing series, Clarisa Diaz looked at startups experimenting with rooftop farming, vertical farming, greenhouses, and other innovations that stand a real shot at seeding change in Singapore and around the world. —Kira Bindrim, executive editor
Is the NFT craze good for artists? Artist Beeple recently sold a one-of-a-kind digital collage for $69.3 million, raising the question of whether the market for non-fungible tokens might be a democratizing force in the art world. Anne Quito reports that while traditional gatekeepers still have power in the crypto art market (Beeple’s collage sold in a Christie’s auction, after all), NFTs are indeed providing at least some creators with new ways to make money—and perhaps even strike it rich. —Sarah Todd, senior reporter
How to think like Cathie Wood. Longtime Wood mentor Arthur Laffer—of Laffer curve fame—tells John Detrixhe the key behind the star stock picker’s success is her long-term thinking. “She has an infinite horizon,” he says. (She’s also remarkably normal, the kind of person you’d want to talk to at a cocktail party.) —Ana Campoy, deputy finance and economics editor
A singular voice. “Language, any language, has a dual character: It is both a means of communication and a carrier of culture,” Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’ once wrote. Jackie Bischof’s triumphant ode to the 83-year-old Kenyan literary hero outlines how his historic International Booker Prize nomination fuels a movement to get more authors to write in their native tongue. —Anne Quito, design reporter
One membership thing that made us 🎮
Watching other people play video games isn’t a niche or passing fad. It’s a lucrative business, as big as, and often bigger than, traditional experiences like moviegoing. Here’s the video game live streaming industry, by the digits:
$200 billion: Annual global revenue of the video game industry
$40 billion: Pre-pandemic annual global ticket sales of the film industry
~50%: People between the ages of 13 and 39 who have watched other people play video games online
50%: Twitch viewers who are watching English-language streams
165 million: Monthly active users on Chinese game streaming platform DouYu
$20 million: Speculated amount gamers Shroud and Ninja were each offered in a deal to join Microsoft’s live streaming platform, Mixer, in 2019
✦ Video game live streaming is now mainstream entertainment, and Hollywood wants in. Watch how it’s all going down in our field guide: Video game live streaming levels up. Not yet ready to level up to a Quartz membership? Try it free for a week.
We’re obsessed with master tapes
The most important records you’ll never hear. Master tapes are the irreplaceable original recordings that are often financed and owned by labels—although artists are increasingly taking control—and copied onto vinyl, cassettes, CDs, and digital platforms for distribution. They’re the direct result of artists’ hard days, weeks, and months in the studio, and their mismanagement can have enormous financial consequences (just ask Taylor Swift). We’ve got the Quartz Weekly Obsession cued up for you.
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Five things from elsewhere that made us smarter
Mining threatens to wipe out New Zealand’s greatest archeological treasure. Foulden Maar contains pristinely preserved fossils of newly discovered species and detailed evidence of climate conditions dating back 120,000 years. It also contains diatomite, a substance used for polishing metals, filtering spirits, and insulation. For Undark, Kate Evans details what happened when the formerly friendly relationship between miners and geologists at the site turned sour. —Nicolás Rivero, tech reporter
App-based therapy: better than nothing? In times as anxious as these, it makes sense that companies offering therapy to the masses would receive a flood of interest and headlines. But as Molly Fischer writes for The Cut, the apps’ patient-as-consumer approach means they often don’t live up to their promises, for therapists or users. —Alexandra Ossola, deputy membership editor
Justice denied. Journalist Stacy Sullivan first met “Selma” in the midst of the Bosnian genocide, after she had been raped by a Serbian soldier. He would be convicted by a war crimes tribunal, but then released on appeal with all-too-typical victim-blaming excuses. Now, a quarter century later, Sullivan writes for Elle with deep empathy about how Selma, her new family in the US, and her son, all struggle with the legacy of this trauma. —Tim Fernholz, senior reporter
Like father, like daughter. That controversial professor Jordan Peterson makes millions in book sales isn’t surprising. But until I read this Toronto Life feature, I was unaware of the many ways he has branched out since gaining notoriety for attacking trans rights. Meanwhile, his daughter Mikhaila is hawking a dangerous meat-only diet and now running her dad’s company. The “line between Jordan and Mikhaila has blurred,” Luc Rinaldi writes. Call it the Peterson principle: Where there is a provocative man with a cult-like following, look for gold-digging offspring. —Lila MacLellan, senior reporter
The dubious stork ladies. A comedic ventriloquist crossing the Himalayas on a rickshaw follows a five-foot-tall stork to a landfill, and turns into a conservation photographer. That isn’t even the best part of this story about an army of women in the Indian state of Assam who are working to save a rare scavenger bird that had long been maligned and driven to near extinction. The best part is the bird, whose Latin name translates to dubious! No, seriously, look at that stork. —Annalisa Merelli, reporter
Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, master tapes, and dubious birds to firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Weekend Brief was brought to you by Liz Webber.