“Measure victories over years, not minutes.” — Chris Cantino

  1. Tencent is crushing it.

“It’s no secret that Tencent, the Chinese tech giant behind WeChat and a handful of blockbuster video games, is an aggressive investor. Even during 2020 when the pandemic slowed down economic activity in many parts of the world, Tencent was charging ahead with its investment ambitions.

During the year, the company participated in more than 170 funding rounds that amounted to a total of 249.5 million yuan ($38 million), according to the Chinese startup database ITJuzi. …

It’s a great saying in Silicon Valley. “Startups Die of Suicide, Not Murder.” I tell this to my startup founders who pay too much attention to what competitors are doing. Most startups i’ve seen end up dying due to their own bad decisions or actions (or inaction), not from something a competitor did.

Don’t get me wrong, you should be aware of what competitors are doing as you differentiate by counter-positioning against them. But i would argue you are better off spending your time disproportionately on what your customers are doing or saying. …

There is a continual debate among early stage investors on what is more important: Team/Founders or Market. In my view, both are important. But putting aside the market which i think is really hard to get right and not always that obvious. So then a big part of the equation leads to the founder. Figuring heuristics around how to select the top ones is important for all early stage investors. Also controversial because every investor looks for different things. And I might add, every investor has different experiences and skills to boot.

Michael Siebel of Y Combinator says it’s:

1) Ability to…

“It’s never too late to become who you want to be. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. This whole thing is worth reading. Surprise 5 is good news if it plays out.

“The economy develops momentum on its own because of pent-up demand, and depressed hospitality and airline stocks become strong performers. Fiscal and monetary policy remain historically accommodative. Nominal economic growth for the full year exceeds 6% and the unemployment rate falls to 5%. We begin the longest economic cycle in history, surpassing the cycle that lasted from 2010 to 2020.”

The difference in thinking came up at a big tech conference panel that I spoke on. I was a new Venture Capitalist on stage with two prominent NYC based VCs in 2014. The question came up: what do you think of revenue/user forecasts when evaluating early stage startups? (Note: when i say early stage, i mean pre-seed and seed stage startups)

I said I did not care, my fellow panelists vehemently disagreed. This showed the difference in the tech VC scenes and attitudes of the east coast and west coast at large. But it did give me something to consider. Since then I have actually come around somewhat to their view. Not because these forecasts & projections are anything you can count on. Actually these forecasts are either lies or fantasies and any investor who invests based on projections is an idiot or amateur who needs to go back to later stage investing. No experienced or decent investor is going to hold you to these. …

I had been going to New York City for over 25 years. I absolutely love the place. The diversity, the people, the excitement and the energy. But I had started noticing my affections and interest in the last few years wearing off. I could not put my finger on it. Figured it was just me. Don’t get me wrong I still love going to New York City but something felt off over the last few years.

It was not until I read Yancey Strickler that I figured it out. His example of real estate nails it. The local bodega, local restaurant, neighbourhood boutique or unique retail store were disappearing as commercial landlords were raising rents. …

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

  1. Hard not to be optimistic about our technology driven future when I read this. But the question: is society ready to get behind this. Must read.

“Collectively, these technologies add up to a lot of possibility. If we cure a bunch of diseases, slow down aspects of aging, realize cheap and emissions-free baseload energy, and deploy new modes of transportation and better construction technologies, we will almost certainly exceed 2 percent TFP growth. …

Doom Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube & Instagram as we enter the new year of 2021, I am surprised and slightly appalled that influencer marketing is still around. I see some prominent influencers showing off about being in Tulum, Seychelles, Maldives or somewhere luxurious and exotic. Or sitting in front of their Lambo or what not.

Sure, prior to March 2020, where we were in a 10 year economic upcycle this makes sense. The economy was booming and there was a popular perception that rising tide lifts all boats. Flash was in. …

As a practitioner it’s been really fun watching the evolution and revolution of the startup ecosystem and its funders. One of the weirdest things (at least to me) in Silicon Valley is the veneration of Venture Capital & love hate relationship between investors and founders.

Venture capital and its practitioners have been held up on this bizarre pedestal. And further influenced by the media (ahem Techcrunch) of celebrating fundraising, founders seem to think this is the only path for building their companies. But this thankfully is changing fast.

In many cases, founders do need a little bit of capital to get started. Yes, there are always “Friends and Family” money as well as angels. But from an institutional perspective this has been a gap for a long time. In the last few years there have been lots of new financing options arising for founders. …

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” — Seneca

  1. Great interview. Love George Clooney.


2. “All successful startups take a tremendous amount of work. Whether it’s five years of effort (low end) or 10 years of effort (much more common), it takes an incredible amount of time and energy such that it’s best to pursue the biggest, most audacious ideas.

So, the next time you’re evaluating startup ideas, remember that it’s the same amount of work to produce a good outcome as it is to produce a great outcome, so think big.”


3. Seed stage investing was absolutely bonkers in 2020 despite (or maybe because of the pandemic). I was very surprised like many. …


Marvin Liao

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything! www.marvinliao.com

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