💊 5 out of 8 people on the planet do this.

One of the greatest challenges that has plagued companies, countries, and leaders for millennia has been uniting people under a common vision.

The Roman Empire encompassed roughly 5 million square kilometers which included the entire coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. With a population between 50 and 60 million, the empire was projected to have little under a fourth of the worlds entire population at the time within its borders.

There are 1.3 billion people worldwide today who Catholics and unite under the Catholic Church as an institution.

Facebook has little under 3 billion people who use their services on a regular basis, with Google slightly ahead with a little over 4 billion users across their platforms.

However one institution that has put these massive behemoths of influence to shame is not a company, religion, or sovereign state, but a cultural export which has managed to capture the hearts of billions of across the globe. Football.

It is projected that by the end of this month roughly 5 billion people will have tuned into FIFA World Cup.

The medium which has managed to capture the most minds and hearts of people and countries across the world was not an innovation of software, ideas, or diplomacy, but of culture.

Why is this?

Football has deep roots in many of countries across the globe. Brazilian football in particular has shaped and been shaped by the countries unique history with race, class, politics, and culture. I would wholeheartedly recommend reading The Invention of The Beautiful Game: Football and the Making of Modern Brazil by Gregg Bocketti to learn more about the inception of Brazil's creative jogo bonito (Portuguese for "the beautiful game") play style.

However, one country's passion for the game doesn't explain the immense popularity of soccer worldwide. There is no one good reason for the games popularity, with the truth lying somewhere across an array of geographic, historical, and cultural factors.

For me however, football is a medium which tells a story that is uniquely human, and no player captures this reality better than Lionel Messi.

The little boy from Rosario grew up in the Santa Fe province of Argentina to two working class parents. Although Messi's story has been repeated thousands of times the most interesting piece of it was his health challenges growing up.

As a child Messi was an incredibly skilled player scoring almost 500 goals during his time in the youth team. These dreams would be threatened when Messi was diagnosed with human growth hormone deficiency, a genetic condition which among many other symptoms would stunt his height.

His father's insurance would only cover part of the duration of treatment required to prevent the permanency of his condition. For multiple years, club after club rejected Messi, claiming he was far too young to recruit and too much of a risk given his medical condition. With time against the Lionel family, they had to find a club willing to take their son in and sponsor his treatment.

After some hesitation, an ultimatum, and a contract written on a paper napkin, Messi was signed to Barcelona who subsequently paid for the course of his treatment. The Lionel family moved to Spain where Messi would struggle with homesickness and making friends, but eventually worked up the ranks of Barcelona to become the star we know him as today.

Messi was never an underdog, but a champion that was overlooked who went on to inspire millions if not billions of people across the world.

Ok, so what does this have to do with tech and binnis again?

Football players are recruited at extremely young ages, so fans have a unique view of a player's entire life. Videos of moves that strikers practice during their childhood come to life decades later on the field and live eternally online, inspiring the billions of people that watch them.

The game is able to transcend the barriers of language and borders to unify and inspire people to matter where they're from.

Television, Facebook, and Tiktok are dubbed as innovations in technology, however, their greatest feat has been transforming the way we capture human culture and institutions which have existed for centuries longer than they have as companies.

Whether it's the next big app or innovation in camera tech, it's not media technology itself that connects us, but rather its ability to capture and tell the stories which make us proud to be alive.

It's no small feat to create an institution that connects 5 billion people on the plant. Rather than seeing companies and advertisers as the competition in a zero sum game, builders should view our shared global cultural identity as an opportunity to build for the moments bring us all together whether they be the World Cup or Easter Prayer.

See y'all next week,

V and Nat

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