An update

EDIT (March 17, 2019): Phaedra reached out to me to assure that reviews were not manufactured by her. I’ve struck out that point.

I acknowledge the length of time preceding this belated update. In late Spring, I had accepted a position at a startup (Spero Foods) that commenced August 1st. The startup was in the alternatives to animal product space and seemingly offered a direct opportunity to tackle the problems that I lament here – generating better animal-free options. I judiciously allocated my bandwidth toward finishing my work in Zurich and consulting for the startup, leaving nichts for this blog.

There were many issues working at Spero Foods. For important reasons, I cannot expound on my experience there. The key point is that the founder (Phaedra Anestassia Randolph) committed some egregiously unethical actions. Soon after discovering Phaedra’s infractions, I resigned. Many individuals have had issues working at Spero and with the founder, contradicting the likely solicited, if not counterfeit, reviews on Glassdoor.

Even though the Spero episode has costed me significantly in terms of time, opportunity, and my own savings, I still support the mission. I hope that Phaedra humbles her ego, accepts her deficits (esp. in people management, scientific capability, integrity, and company strategy), and finds the help needed to right ship. Unfortunately, some post-resignation actions suggest that she’s far more keen to inculpate everyone else and admit no wrongdoing.

Nonetheless, I’m glad that I took the risk and that I moved on when confronted with the reality. Since then, I applied for other positions, and I am happy to have found and accepted one at Emerald Cloud Lab (ECL) in South San Francisco. Even though ECL is not directly in the alt food space, they satisfy another strong personal passion – creating technologies that enable more rapid knowledge generation. So far, I’m quite happy at ECL, but simultaneously I still seek to advance the causes behind this blog in my free time.

Regarding this blog –  I’ve decided that the content will ultimately work better as a book. My thesis is that knowledge generation is ultimately the key to supplanting animal technologies. The current zeitgeist rewards relatively untrammelled knowledge generation. Therefore, animal products will be replaced. I see the book in three broad parts: (1) how knowledge/technology generation works, (2) the dimensions of animal technology that make it ripe for disruption, and (3) the levers and subtleties to the paradigm I pose (e.g. how we can replace animal products faster).

Over the last few months, I’ve solicited feedback about publishing a book. Consistently, I hear that having a large platform (i.e. 25K+ Twitter followers, a prestigious position at a top University) is paramount for a book proposal attractive to publishers. I’m not Michelle Obama nor Steven Pinker, and I honestly eschew social media as much as possible. Nonetheless, I’m still motivated to attempt such a book irrespective of any putative book deal. I’m not sure how (e.g. self-publishing), but, for now, let’s just write the fucking thing.

Acknowledgements

  • Big thanks to Gidon Eshel and Beth Clevenger for helping me get started.
  • Thanks to Jacy Reese for some sobering and direct feedback about the process. He recently released a book, The End of Animal Farming. I devoured and finished it within a few days. It is heartening to know how far animal rights advocacy and the alt food industry have come. He greatly clarifies the challenges with the advocacy, what we’ve learned, and what works.
  • Thanks to Magnus Vinding for other advice. He self-publishes and releases some profound work, entirely for free. It’s a strategy that I’m chewing on.

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