May 15, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! After being the poster child for inflation, the price of wholesale eggs are finally getting cheaper by the dozen, with prices down more than 80% since the end of last year. Today we're exploring:

  • What's in a name? A century of the most popular baby names in America.
  • Unicorn hunter: Tech's kingmaker, SoftBank, is weathering the storm.
  • Contented: Job satisfaction has risen in the US, again.
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What’s in a name?

The Social Security Administration published its annual list of the most common baby names in the US, and it’s a couple of familiar monikers that clinched the top spots in 2022. For boys, Liam has topped the chart for a 6th consecutive year, while Olivia has added a 4th year to her reign atop the girls’ list.

In other, slightly less predictable naming news, Wrenlee was the fastest-rising name for female babies last year. Meanwhile, Paramount’s western hit Yellowstone has clearly influenced parents picking names for their new sons — Dutton and Kayce, the two fastest-growing boys’ names of 2022, both feature in the show.

Name reigns

The SSA has been tracking baby names since the late 1800s, using applications for Social Security cards to gather data for each state. As in the case of Yellowstone, culture, media and technology (baby Alexa, anyone?) can all have a pretty profound effect on the popularity of names further down the list. The names that occupy the top spots, however, have historically held onto number one for a decade or more.

The multi-year reigns of Olivia and Liam, for example, are actually relatively short when looking at previous tenures of names like Mary, the most common female name for a third of the last 100 years, while Michael topped the boys chart for a staggering 43 years, with David unseating the name just once (in 1960).

Go deeper: Explore the rise and fall of certain names with the full dataset.

Last week, SoftBank announced a staggering record loss of $32 billion for its flagship Vision Fund during its most recent fiscal year, as the once seemingly unstoppable Japanese company continues to wrestle with mounting investment losses.

Unicorn hunter

Although it has roots back to the early 80s, SoftBank became a global powerbroker in the tech world thanks to the launch of its Vision Fund in 2017.Led by CEO Masayoshi Son, the Vision Fund — anchored by $45bn from Saudi Arabia’s PIF — immediately became the world’s largest venture capital fund, hunting for, and often creating, the next "unicorns" (companies valued at more than $1bn) around the world. All told, the fund launched with more than $100bn, and through aggressive investments in companies like WeWork, Uber, DoorDash, Klarna, Flexport, Grab and many others, it quickly became a kingmaker for any company looking to raise investment and “blitz scale”.

What goes up…

At its peak, SoftBank’s funds had gained more than $66bn in value — gains that have since been wiped out despite a modest resurgence in tech stocks this year.

In order to cover these substantial losses, the company has resorted to selling its most profitable and notable holdings. In August, it announced the sale of its remaining stake in Uber and offloaded approximately $29 billion worth of its Alibaba shares last year as well. Indeed, the Japanese conglomerate confessed that it had “effectively” used all of its remaining shares in Alibaba for financing.

SoftBank now pins its hopes on the forthcoming Arm IPO, where it holds a 25% stake, as a potential source of additional funds, as it begins to aggressively pursue investments in AI.

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How was work today?

US workers are feeling very contented according to an annual survey from The Conference Board which put overall job satisfaction at 62.3% in 2022, the highest level on record.

The greatest satisfaction rate gains came in what the Board refers to as “experience of work” factors — American employees are now happier with their work/life balance and work load, for example, and contentment with compensation and workplace benefits also saw rises last year.

Mixed messages

We were surprised by this dataset, as it has often felt like things have been trending in the opposite direction recently, with increased talk of employee apathy, the rise of forums like r/antiwork on Reddit and trends like quiet quitting. However, researchers from the Board observed that US workers are beginning to “reap the rewards” of a multi-year tight labor market, as labor shortages have given the bargaining power back to employees in certain sectors.

All told, the satisfaction level of the American labor force has climbed in 12 consecutive surveys now, ever since hitting its lowest point in 2010 in the wake of the Great Recession when just 42.6% of workers were content in their career. That’s increased 19.7% in the years since, with 2022’s figure the highest since the survey began in 1987. The 1,680 workers surveyed were particularly satisfied with their commutes, their co-workers, the physical environment they worked in and job security.

While that headline result is broadly positive, the survey was only conducted in November which means it doesn't capture the most recent round of layoffs or the last 6 months of inflation. It also revealed a disparity between male and female work satisfaction, with women less satisfied in each of the 26 factors assessed.

More Data

• New Netflix show Queen Cleopatra has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 2%, possibly taking the crown for lowest audience rating in TV history.

Apple’s current market capitalization of $2.7 trillion is now larger than the combined market cap. of the Russell 2000.

• With Argentina’s inflation rate hitting 109%, the government is announcing emergency measures, including raising interest rates by 600 basis points to 97%.


• A visual breakdown of how history’s greatest creatives spent their days.

MrBeast is once again in the headlines, this time for buying an entire neighborhood for his family, friends and employees. Missed our deep dive on the YouTube sensation? Catch up here.

Quick cut: What are the most common gifts moms get on Mother's Day? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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