Here's the stories we're reading about the world of commerce, retail and work this week:

🤖 Sweet Valley, Bye?
⚡️ Instagram Loses Founders
🍔 Sonic Purchased for $2.3 Billion
🚖 Rideshare, Gig Wages Drop
✈️ Top Gun: Fortune's Most Powerful Women
⚡️ How To Pick Up A New Skill
🇨🇳 Trade War Hits...Iowa?


👋Sweet Valley, Bye?
It used to be that if you wanted to create a startup, you had to be located where the action was -- Silicon Valley.

Stanford. Sand Hill Road. Google. Facebook. The names that are synonymous with contemporary Silicon Valley. Not to mention, the legion of brands that were established there and the legacy chip manufacturers Fairchild, Intel and AMD that gave rise to the valley's software roots from farm land and orchards.

In the last few years, it's been much easier to start a business outside of Silicon Valley. If you had access to a credit card, computer and WiFi, you could have the foundations for virtually any business. Now, various economic factors are changing the game, especially when livability in places like San Francisco are becoming difficult. Take for example this 2,000 square foot ranch home that sold for $800,000 over it's asking, netting $2.4 million. Yup. Peak, Valley Fever.

Enter Steve Case and J.D. Vance -- the former, founder of AOL and the latter, author of "Hillbilly Elegy." Together, they're part of "Rise of the Rest" a seed fund to direct VC money to innovative companies operating on the fringes. So far, the fund has made 90 investments in 50 cities from Minneapolis to Chattanooga, Tenn., to Des Moines, Iowa. Silicon Valley, Boston, and New York are deliberately excluded.

🎥You can watch all his observations about the future of Silicon Valley and what funding a startup outside California looks like today. Steve spoke with Cheddar during Denver Startup Week.

We've written quite a bit about this topic, highlighting our move from Los Angeles to Minneapolis. You can read that article about why moving to the Midwest brought us closer to our customers.

⚡️Instagram Loses Founders
Instagram has long been the beacon of positivity to flow out of Facebook's social media empire. Amidst a torrent of bad press, last week, we reported that Instagram

Now, it appears that just how content 'flows from' the popular photography app to Facebook may be it's great undoing. What made Instagram a phenomenon was that it had become the quintessential way for people to quickly share photos. It required very little effort. And, more recently, as younger users have abandoned Facebook in favor of Instagram, it has become even more powerful. Yet, it always seemed to have an independent operational focus -- a long creative leash from Facebook that have come to erode as they try to increasingly connect and tie their content to the FB Mothership. This was most recently seen by the increase in product tie-ins and advertising that has popped up on Instagram in recent weeks.

Today, in a shocking announcement, Kevin Systrom Mike Krieger both announced they were stepping down and leaving Instagram, and by proxy, Facebook.

According to, naturally, an Instagram post:

“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.” Zuckerberg gave his own statement to TechCrunch, stating “Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents. I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it. I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.”

👀Read about how product and organizational changes at Instagram fueled the departure in ReCode and TechCrunch.

💥Sonic Boom For Fast Food
A sonic boom of an acquisition rippled through the fast food industry this morning.

Atlanta-based Inspire Brands announced they had purchased Sonic Drive-In for a reported $2.3 billion. That's more than 20 percent of what Sonic's shares were trading at this morning before news broke.

Sonic joins a 'beefy' portfolio for Inspire that includes Arby's and purveyor of beer, wings and sports, Buffalo Wild Wings. According to Inspire, none of the iconic menu items, and the humorous nature of the brand, will change much. They'll continue to operate the 3,600 locations independently.

🤔Read more about Inspire's purchase in CNN Money.

The Big Idea 🤔

🚖 Rideshare, Gig Wages Drop
Think life (and wages) are pretty good for ridesharing drivers and gig workers? Think again.

Despite growing legions of Americans turning to these lines of work in favor of full-time and hourly roles, earnings have dropped. At the same time, the number of Lyft and Uber drivers has increased sharply over the last five years.

The JP Morgan Chase Institute reports that the average earnings of a ride-hailing app driver in March was $762, compared to $1,500 five years earlier. During that period, there was a 20-fold increase in the number of households reporting earnings from transportation apps, according to The Wall Street Journal.

ℹ️Read more about changing pay for ridesharing and gig economy workers at The Wall Street Journal.

🚀HODL: Food Safety
Can blockchain help make food safer?

Walmart announced this week that it is employing blockchain technology to stop the outbreak of ford-borne illnesses stemming from leafy greens. The nation's largest retailer is requiring all of its lettuce suppliers to upload their data to the blockchain by September 2019, according to TechCrunch, making it "more traceable, transparent and fully digital." The move is expected to dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to trace the source of a potential contamination.

On a similar note, food safety has become of paramount, and very public concern lately for food companies. Chipotle itself has said that these health outbreaks can spook investors. Recently, they tapped Zenput to help address and monitor their food safety compliance.

📖Read more in TechCrunch.

✈️Top Gun Fortune's Most Powerful Women
Who's the 'Top Gun' in Fortune's Most Powerful Women list?

It's Marillyn Hewson, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin, showcasing huge leaps in a military and defense industry that has been formerly dominated by men.

Hewson replaced General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, who held the top spot on the list since 2015. Barra now occupies the second spot on the list. She is followed by Fidelity Investment Chairman and CEO Abigail Johnson, and IBM President and CEO Ginni Rometty.

Who else made the list?

💰Read the full list in Fortune.

Heard From Around The Web 💬

⚡️How To Pick Up A New Skill
Ever wanted to learn a new skill, but just don't think you have the willpower.

Turns out, it just requires a bit of brainpower. And, the tips found in recent research could be vital and beneficial in a work world being rapidly changed by up-skilling.

So, what’s the trick to remembering a new skill? According to scientists, it’s to exercise intensely straight after learning, followed by a good night’s sleep. Participants who biked intensely for 15 minutes after learning a new skill had more efficient brain activity immediately afterwards than those who rested, researchers report in the medical journal NeuroImage. The bike riders had a 25% better retention rate after 24 hours, reports The Wall Street Journal.

🚲Before you hit the bike, read about the research in The Wall Street Journal.

🇨🇳 Trade War Hits...Iowa?
Is the looming Chinese-United States trade war hitting a new home front?

China Daily, an English-language publication owned by the Chinese government, took out four pages of sponsored content in Sunday's Des Moines Register highlighting the negative effects of President Trump's trade war.

Not the first time that this has happened, but it targets much more strategically than the broad-narrative that has been used in the past at the New York Times and Washington Post. The heartland is a very controversial choice because it speaks directly to those who can lose the most in an escalating trade war.

👀Read the story in Axios.