Picard Season 3 is fantastic and a must watch for Star Trek: The Next Generation fans (but skip seasons 1 and 2)!

I was in college for the final years of Star Trek: The Next Generation and awaited eagerly every new episode. I loved the show’s core themes of optimism and exploration by a highly competent crew making reasonable judgement calls under pressure.

In the last two decades, however, I felt that Star Trek had lost its way. Nothing annoyed me more than Discovery which was a woke disaster which openly rejected stalwart Star Trek traditions like competence, diplomacy, real-sounding science, and a proper chain of command.

Picard seasons 1 and 2 fell prey to a common disease I observed when reboots are made bringing back the old cast. The heroes of our past, Rocky, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Picard, or even the women from Sex and the City are typically depicted as lonely, depressed, and moribund having lost their joie de vivre and having forgotten the lessons life taught them along the way. That is not at all how we fans imagine those heroes aging. We imagine them aging gracefully and stoically providing wisdom and support to those around them and still kicking ass in their own way albeit more with their presence, intellect, and experience than their physicality.

I suppose that the writers depict them this way to make room for their supposed replacements who are younger, cheaper, and typically more diverse characters who are portrayed as capable and flawless typically from the get-go. The issue is that because these characters face no real challenges, they come across as arrogant and the entire exercise feels trite with our heroes made to appear weak only to make their heirs look good. That’s why Rey, Captain Marvel, Michael, or Helena don’t connect with audiences. They don’t go on a hero’s journey. That’s not to say diversity is bad, it’s just that the characters must be well written. It’s way more compelling if they face real challenges and learn lessons along the way which is why Ripley, Sarrah Connor and even Kitty Softpaws make for amazing strong female leads.

Picard seasons 1 and 2 had all those flaws, but season 3 is different. I suspect that the writers were replaced, and the new writers clearly knew, respected, and loved the source material. It takes a few episodes for the adventure to get under and to rectify many of the mistakes of the first two seasons, starting with making Picard himself be competent rather than impotent, but once it gets going it rekindles the flame of The Next Generation. Picard Season 3 is really a new season of The Next Generation. The entire cast is essentially brought back together. It is a nostalgia trip, but it is much more than that as the story works, and the characters’ age is an integral part of the plot. In fact, the show was so good I am tempted to check out Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Ultimately, Picard season 3 is the perfect end to The Next Generation, making it perhaps the only TV show to have ever had two perfect endings.

Episode 43: Julio Vasconcellos and the state of Latin American tech

I had the pleasure of receiving Julio Vasconcellos on the show. Julio is the Founder and Managing Partner of Atlantico, a leading early-stage venture fund in Latin America. It was Julio’s role as the inaugural Facebook employee for Latin America that initiated his path in the startup world in the region after starting his career in Silicon Valley. He later co-founded Peixe Urbano, scaling it to over 1,200 employees and $100M+ in revenue. After a startup rollercoaster ride with multiple near-death experiences, Julio sold the company to Baidu, and went on to join Benchmark Capital as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. There, he met Scott Belsky and the two went on to co-found Prefer in San Francisco which Benchmark backed, as they had with Peixe Urbano.

Alongside his entrepreneurial journey, Julio has been investing for over a decade. Starting as a seed investor, he co-founded Graph Ventures with fellow colleagues from Facebook and Stanford. Later, he helped co-found Canary, the leading seed-stage fund in Latin America. In 2020, Julio returned to Brazil to found Atlantico and focus on early-stage venture investing.

We covered:

  • His history and path into tech.
  • His transition from entrepreneur to investor.
  • Why he built Atlantico to focus on Series A investing in Latin America.
  • The significant investment potential within Latin America today.

The session was super interactive with lots of audience questions and participation. We also dug deeper on the latest findings on the region based on Atlantico’s recently launched Latin America Digital Transformation Report 2023 focusing on the the five tectonic shifts they identified:

  1. Latin America is the Engine of the World:

LatAm is an unexpected winner in a polarized world. For the first time in 20 years, Mexico has overtaken China as the #1 US trade partner. LatAm commodities are critical for the clean-energy transition and facing increasing demand.

  1. Digital Democratization is a Reality:

LatAm is caught up on digital access. Internet penetration reached 78% on average in 2022 (and as high as 90%), coming close to high-income countries with mobile is closing the e-commerce gap.

  1. Renewal of the Entrepreneurship Spirit:

LatAm has a history of doing more with less. With 1/25th the VC funding of India (as a % of GDP), LatAm produced more $1Bn+ exits and 20% more equity value.

  1. Money Goes Super Digital:

Brazil’s Pix is a global phenomenon. Pix usage is 2x that of India’s UPI (per capita) and used twice as often as cash for in-person payments.

  1. AI is the Great Equalizer:

LatAm is welcoming AI with open arms. Funding and adoption of AI by companies started 6 months behind the US but is rapidly accelerating. Education, healthcare, legal are all getting an AI push. Startups are rapidly tooling up to address inefficiencies and low-hanging opportunities in these sectors.

If you prefer, you can listen to the episode in the embedded podcast player.

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