Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads April 11th, 2021

Marvin Liao
13 min readApr 11, 2021


“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”― Nelson Mandela

  1. “Regardless of what you think bitcoin is worth, it is obvious that millions of people around the world are buying bitcoin and planning to hold them for the long haul. This may be the most bullish data point available to anyone.”

2. “The third great conveyance of the modern economy (the first two being globalization and digitization) is in full swing: Dispersion, the process of value leapfrogging traditional points of distribution. Three sectors stand to register the greatest reallocation of stakeholder value (i.e., shit-kicking): healthcare, commercial real estate, and education as consumers leapfrog hospitals, HQ, and campuses.

Dispersion is enabled by both globalization and digitization. High-bandwidth communications link billions of people, and robust mobile devices render that network continuous. Now, blockchain technology is enabling the network to store value (bitcoin) and act on it (etherium). This will bring further disruption to industries low on IQ and heavy on EQ, such as insurance/asset management/central banking.”

“Most companies aren’t going 100 percent remote. But when we return to the office, we will want less space that is more flexible, and more appealing to the premier asset of any firm: its ability to attract skilled, young human capital.”

3. “In 2016 I sold my possessions and moved from the United States to Colombia, looking for a better life. Four years later, it’s safe to say that I’ve found that better life.

The irony isn’t lost on me: Centuries ago, my ancestors moved to America for a better life. And in the twenty-first century, I moved to the “third world” for a better life.

Think about this for yourself. What do you want out of your life? Are there ways you can have those things, if you’re only willing to sacrifice other things? If you can settle for “good enough” in some places, and even take risks in other places, you can ultimately build a “better life”, not by “first-world” or “third-world” standards, but by the only standards that really matter — your standards.”

4. This is actually quite a helpful video to understand what vaccine efficacy rates really mean. Worth watching.

5.“When the buffet of life presents you with all these opportunities, it’s hard to say no.

The problem with overeating at the buffet is you can’t fit anything else in. When you’ve squeezed your schedule, finances, energy, and family to the limit, there’s no margin.

Inevitably, a crisis will emerge, and then all those plates you’ve been spinning will come crashing down.”

6. Not sure what to think of this one. But like the name “Anti-Fund.”

7. Some wise words and lessons for leaders from the Ramayana.

“When you single-mindedly pursue pleasure, anything you are responsible for — be it a kingdom, a family, or a business — it all collapses. Focus on what is important. Pleasure cannot be your #1 priority if you want greatness. You are not a commoner.

Taking advice from people who do not know what your vision and objectives are is like taking medicines without knowing what the problem is. It might cause you more harm than good.

Failure to start projects that have been decided leads to stagnation and also causes a decline in the trust and faith people have in their leader. You do not want to be thought of as ineffective and incapable.”

8. This is quite good and something all young people should watch.

9. This is a very long but excellent & insightful discussion on what’s happening in Venture Capital with one of the keenest observers of the space. Sar & Semil really capture the zeitgeist of VC in Silicon Valley.

10. Easy come, easy go?

“As best we could trace, every major Angolan investment held by Dos Santos stemmed either from taking a chunk of a company that wanted to do business in the country or from a stroke of the president’s pen that cut her into the action. Her story was a rare window into the tragic kleptocratic narrative that grips resource-rich countries around the world.”

11. “This time around I am looking to buy blood and tears.

I want to buy from all the people who sold at rock bottom prices. That means I’m waiting to run the 2.0 version of this strategy when there’s blood in the water and the market has totally burst. When nobody is talking about cryto anymore and it’s not in the news, that’s when you’re looking to buy. I will wait 1 year to 15 months after the market dies off and then flatlines before buying again.

Go look at every chart from 2018 to the beginning of 2020. Notice how you have a massive decline and then a huge flat period. You are looking for the flat period.”

12. What a difference a year and a new Presidency makes. But lesson is stay humble and don’t gloat about other countries incompetence & your own supposed excellence (ahem…. EU & Canada in 2020 re: idiocy in USA). Things can change very very quickly. BTW: Lockdowns still don’t work……..

“After a horrible year for the U.S., it appears those north of the 49th parallel have a feeling of jealousy about their southern neighbours for the first time during the pandemic.”

13. This is THE Riches to Rags story. $8B lost in a few days.

14. Bidenomics is here. Let’s hope it works.

“Thus it was clear that the Reagan policy program of tax cuts, deregulation, and welfare cuts wasn’t working. So we needed to come up with a new paradigm. We should have come up with one in the Great Recession, but we didn’t. Instead, it took COVID and the insanity of the Trump administration to push us over the edge and make us realize big changes were needed.

Well, we finally woke up, and here we are. The big changes are Bidenomics.

……. with its dual focus on research/investment/immigration and care jobs + cash benefits, is an attempt to boost both sectors of the economy at once — to make the export sector more productive while making the domestic sector better at spreading the wealth around. If there’s one unified characterization of the vision Bidenomics is creating for our future, I think that’s it.”

15. These folks are nuts but it’s fun to watch.

“With first-place prizes in the most prestigious challenges hovering around the $1,000 mark, it’s a wonder why he or any of the thousands of YouTubers, TikTokers, Instagrammers and Facebookers regularly upload challenge videos to the internet for fellow pepperheads and friends.

While competitive chilli eating has existed for years in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia among predominantly white men between the ages of 20 and 45, it’s become more mainstream and organized through social media and events like New York’s massive Hot Sauce Expo, Albuquerque’s Fiery Foods Show and Smokin’ Ed’s Pepper Eating Challenge in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

The pandemic has driven everyone online, where people like Roger Trier, host of the Hot Dang Show, and Johnny Scoville (who is named after the Scoville heat unit, the way spice levels are measured in peppers and products) have built impressive followings for their hot sauce reviews and daring feats of strength.”

16. Never heard of Emma Chamberlain but then I am patently not cool. Impressive creator career here.

“There’s a theme here folks and it’s ownership and control. We saw it with Addison Rae (cc: the unstoppable Addison Rae) launching her music career without a label, we saw it with Charli D’Amelio investing in Step and we’re seeing it with Emma and Chamberlain Coffee and Bad Habit.

Our TL;DR? Sleep on Gen Z *women* creators at your peril. They’re making $$$ moves, pioneering new editing styles, reaching millions of followers and quietly building their own multi-million dollar empires — no LP required.”

17. I love a comeback story: in this case Will & Jada Pinkett Smith.

“Will Smith’s social media impact is a signal of the power shift from institutions to individuals. A similar shift happened in Silicon Valley. Amazon Web Services cut the cost for startups to get off the ground, which made it easier for founders to operate without the same reliance on venture capital. VC firms like Andreessen Horowitz leaned into this by elevating founders and getting them the best terms possible. The firm’s strategy was inspired by CAA founder Michael Ovitz, whose talent agency led Hollywood’s power shift from film studios to actors. Today’s social media influence, for both actors and founders, is a natural evolution of that dynamic.”

18. “While Occupy Wall Street’s early revolutionaries struggled to get past Goldman Sachs’ security guards, they’ve more recently found tech-enabled unlocks via platforms ranging from Reddit to the aptly named investing platform, Robinhood. While commentators ranging from the Chairman of the SEC to your local Starbucks barista are only now taking note, the writing was already on the wall — or, in this case, on wallstreetbets.”

Welcome To (the New) Wall Street. Today’s retail rebalancing is enabling… | by Meera Clark | Mar, 2021

19. Love this. Paradoxes of modern life.

20. “When I later spoke to Goldberg, asking if this can be true, if Rogen can really be so serenely content, and suggest there must be another side, he told me, no, really, there isn’t.

“He just wants to be on the couch, with his wife and his dog and his weed, watching reality television. I guess it’s a weird thing for a famous person. But that’s his ultimate goal in life. It’s the boring answer. But it’s true.”

21. My post Pandemic Bucket List is getting very long.

22. “By that February morning in Austin, Bumble was a dating app, a business-networking bazaar and a friend-finding tool that has engineered 8.6 billion connections among tens of millions of users in 237 countries since 2014. It employs more than 420 “brand ambassadors” across more than 100 college campuses and is planning to open Bumble-themed coffee shops after the pandemic.

A month after the IPO, it’s valued at more than $14 billion, and last year it hauled in $582 million in revenue with a 26% profit margin. Wolfe Herd once told me she wanted Bumble to be “Facebook, but for people who don’t know each other yet.”

23. “Maybe you don’t need to be reachable either.

Most things are a distraction, especially in the startup and tech world.

If you get to the core of building companies it’s about creating a great product that gets customers that pay for it.

If you get to the core of life it’s living an existence you’re proud of with people you love doing the things you like while minimizing suffering.”

24. “The Beeple Instagram account had nearly two million followers, which gave Winkelmann the idea that he could make a fortune with N.F.T.s. “I’m more popular than all of these people, and if they’re making this much then I would probably make a fucking shitload of money,” Winkelmann told me he thought at the time. “Oh, sweet baby Jesus, this is ridiculous.”

25. I feel its going to be stupid crazy this summer (stress on stupid) in Startup & VC land.

“Now another change is underfoot. As millions of Americans get vaccinated and states lift restrictions around gathering, people are preparing for a Great Reopening by summertime. Comparisons to the 1920s abound. And that has led venture capitalists to make new prophecies. Sequoia, for example, sent out a new memo to all of its founders in recent weeks. The message? “Now is the time to start stepping on the gas.”

26. Tiger Global is crushing it these days. They are playing at a very different level.

“To win deals in top-performing privately held companies — including enterprise software firm Databricks and virtual conferencing firm Hopin — the firm has drawn on a rising stockpile of VC money. Its newest $6.7 billion fund is nearly double the amount it initially targeted, as well as the second-largest U.S. VC fund ever, according to PitchBook. Overall, Tiger has $65 billion in assets under management, far more than most Silicon Valley-based VC firms. Tiger says that collectively, its own employees are the firm’s largest investor.

In an already scorching-hot market that has pushed valuations to levels not seen since the dot-com boom, Tiger’s speed has left fewer opportunities for traditional VC firms, according to interviews with two dozen startup founders, venture capitalists and others with close ties to the firm.

In the first three months of this year, the 100-person New York firm funded more than 60 companies worldwide, according to research firm PitchBook, averaging more than four deals per week.”

27. “When governments raise taxes, the free market responds. Raise the taxes too high and people will leave to find a more tax advantaged geography. Lower your taxes and people or companies will be attracted to come to your geography. Incentives run the world and taxes are some of the greatest incentive mechanisms that governments possess.

This is what a digital world looks like. The idea of citizenship is going to change. The idea of a country or state is going to change. There will be more global competition. People no longer need to live near an office. They can live wherever they want. Companies no longer feel stuck in a single country. They can move around as they see fit. They can move their revenue to other jurisdictions if a specific government creates a bad or overreaching policy.”

28. Holy Moly…..Coinbase is a monster. $1.8B in revenue in Q1 alone. That is insanely impressive.

29. As normal this is a damn interesting interview with one of smartest people in the world. Balaji S. Srinivasan.

30. This is funny yet may also be prescient.

“The first rule of 2021 is to never sell a single crypto asset. For example, all of the food tokens represent actual food in 2035….. If you’re reading this we recommend you keep a few units for sustenance in 2035 as you will need energy to compete with the growing enemy: the Clowns.

The second course of action is to invest in two major defense mechanisms: 1) a double barrel shotgun and 2) an air tight 20×20 living space with facial recognition entry system.

The third course of action is to live with near zero expenses. If you have a one bedroom apartment you need to ditch it for an Efficiency studio and live with a roommate in said studio. Every satoshi and gwei will be worth more than your entire annual salary if you could only afford a one bedroom apartment. Also. You should stockpile food in bulk from costco and save every cent for more precious crypto coins.”

31. I really hope he is right! The New Roaring 20s!

32. I love these routines & habits!

“I’m a big believer that reading not only helps you be more knowledgeable at work but also makes you a better conversationalist and a more interesting person to be around.

A lot of investing is about forming a view on where the world is going, and reading constantly is key to that.”

33. Whoops!

A Couple Accidentally Defaced a $500,000 Painting in a Seoul Mall After Mistaking It for a Participatory Artwork

34. Hard to argue against this.

“If I were forced to make a conjecture about the most important driver of unrest, my guess would be that it was the result of a general realization that bad people are running the world.

The general feeling that bad hegemons are in charge of the planet could fester in the backs of people’s minds, causing them to strike out at authorities closer to home in the name of democracy, freedom, equality, and so on. And awareness of hegemonic illiberalism is coupled with an awareness of rising authoritarianism closer to home, as many countries embrace their own versions of Trump/Xi/Modi/Putin. The result, according to Freedom House, is that the people of the world are engaged in a “leaderless struggle for democracy” — a struggle that’s both local and global at the same time. “

35. Good profile & routine of a very interesting guy.

36. “Everyone focuses on distribution because that’s the easiest thing to see. Distribution only gets them to the front door; the quality makes them stick around. The key is to write great content consistently.”

“Newsletters aren’t the highway for the Pompliano family. Rather, the highway is a combination of quality and consistency served through Twitter. Anthony, Polina, and Joe are in the business of connecting with like-minded people. They are not in the content business. They are in the “building companies and investing in companies” business. The way to build companies today is to build audiences first.”

37. Investing in farmland is a smart long term play. Interesting perspective on the long term plan here.

“Well over the past 10 years+ Bill’s money manager has been accumulating acres of farmland across 19 states. As billionaire’s go with their money, Bill’s pretty secretive. No one from his Holding Co (Cascade) will speak to the media (I get it) and he hasn’t publicly stated why he owns the land. Regardless, it’s estimated through his multitude of holding companies that Bill owns about 242,000 acres of farmland and another 27,000 of other land.

THIS is why money is power. You get to play the long game. Why mess with lobbyists and regulators when you can just acquire all the assets and change the regulations yourself.”

38. Great news for Portugese startup ecosystem. Congrats to the team at Shilling Founders Fund.

39. “Could a sufficiently robust cloud country with, say, 1–10M committed digital citizens, provable cryptocurrency reserves, and physical holdings all over the earth similarly achieve societal recognition from the United Nations?

A cloud country with a population of this size would actually fit right in the middle of the pack globally, as out of the 193 UN-recognized sovereign states approximately 20% of existing countries have a population of less than 1M and ~55% have a population of less than 10M.

This includes many countries people typically think of as “real”, like Luxembourg (615k), Cyprus (1.18M), Estonia (1.3M), New Zealand (4.7M), Ireland (4.8M), Singapore (5.8M), and so on.”

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Marvin Liao

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