Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads August 1st, 2021

Marvin Liao
12 min readAug 1, 2021

“Recognizing that you are not where you want to be is a starting point to begin changing your life.” — Deborah Day

  1. “The metaverse has to be persistent, synchronous, and live. Just as in the inspiring vision put forward by Neal Stephenson decades ago, it has to go on all the time, even when you are asleep or living entirely in physical reality. You jump into the metaverse. And it has to be highly concurrent: this artificial world has to be continuously updated from the inputs of its millions or potentially billions of users.”

2. 110% agree with all of this + Super bullish on Eastern Europe.

“Taking this idea of country categorization and the digital transformation one step further — Eastern Europe is a digital age growth powder keg.

Immense digital opportunity exists in the surging eastern European style countries. Countries that have lagged the last 30 years finally have an appetite and the skills to enter the digital workforce. What’s most important is that they can enter the global, digital workforce at a fraction of the cost of “first world” and “developed” nation workers.

Act quickly, decisively, and more frequently than your peers.

Any action you skip will increasingly be done by someone else. When your peers take action that you don’t, they compound their progress at a greater rate than you. This creates a runaway advantage for the action oriented people and harms anyone that can’t keep up momentum with societal progress.”

3. No surprise but sorry, the Olympics suck.

4. “figuring out how to make games is a very different skill set than making TV shows and movies — which is why most big entertainment companies have failed whenever they’ve tried to get into games themselves (big tech companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google have all swung and missed to varying degrees, as well). So it’s entirely possible that Netflix’s move into games could flop, too.

On the other hand: As even the most hidebound Hollywood executive knows by now, games are bigger than Hollywood, and they’re not going away. If it’s going to take a long time to figure out, it’s better to get started sooner than later.”

5. Damn……$4.75 Billion worth of BTC stolen……

6. “We don’t see a good argument against the future being Robotics, AI, VR and crypto. Instead, we have to *prepare* intelligently for that future.

So. Look at the big picture: 1) AI is going to displace tons of jobs — no reason to type numbers into excel if software can scrape it and put it in there with zero errors. No need to have an Uber/Taxi driver if the car is self driving. No reason to pay a middle man a fee for executing a contract if it is just a line of software code. 2) AI is already making the elite more profitable. Many of the media accounts you interact with today are already bots/not human. You just can’t tell the difference — yes, seriously. Which is an uncomfortable fact in and of itself. 3) As money is printed the price of goods will go up as supply of money is higher (M2 — latest figure at $20T)

You can tell that someone is not rich when they are attempting to prove to you that they are rich. Instead they are trying to use that to sell you something. If anyone is using status goods to sell a product, you know the product doesn’t work.”

7. What else is new? Gen X has taken the brunt of multiple recessions and massive changes in economy throughout our lives. Speaking as a Gen X, Don’t like it but it is what it is. So all we can do is adapt.

8. Totally spot on.

“No longer will the best investors have the best track records. In the future, they’ll also have the strongest signal and distribution.”

9. “This is the definition of slow and steady wins the race. There is still a lot of work to do, but taking a long term view on building a decentralized network is likely to be the most sustainable and resilient. It can be hard to see the validity of this approach in the short term, because it feels like everyone is getting rich or zooming past you on a day-to-day cadence.

But as we have seen from example after example, the systems that go fast and aren’t focused on resilience, historically have run into major problems.”

10. “I believe that the future of retail investing will be one of mass customization. We will look back on an era when everyone owned the S&P 500 in its exact proportions as archaic and backward. The fact that a school teacher, a financial services professional, and an oil worker all could own the same set of equities seems absurd to me.

Why would these people take the same equity risks in their portfolios when their careers have very different risk profiles?”

11. “Power. It corrupts the best and attracts the worst. Its allure is loved and despised. It brings more pain and less happiness. And yet, men chase it like wild animals. We cannot help ourselves. But not only can we not help ourselves, we are nothing without it. Welcome to earth, where women are born with value and men are born without it. Us men need to find our value.”

12. This is a very interesting video. Russia is overlooked from an investing perspective. A contrarian view but this is where the alpha can be found.

13. “For many years, anyone asked about investing in Russian stocks would have answered one of the following:

“Putin will steal all their money.”

“Boring, old economy companies.”

“Value traps.”

Indeed, these views would have been spot on ten years ago. However, Russia has changed a lot over the past decade. E.g., in 2012, the Russian government started to encourage state-controlled public companies to pay out at least 25% of their profits to shareholders. In 2016, it upped the suggested payout ratio for dividends to 50%.”

14. Very much look forward to this book.

“For Sergey Young, such a best-case scenario sounds preposterously pessimistic. With advances in AI-enabled diagnostics, wearables, regenerative medicine, age-reversing pills, and other longevity-focused areas of innovation, a child born today can expect to live well over 100. In the much longer term, it’s within the realm of possibility that we could be looking at living to 200 years or more, said Young.”

15. “Packy is far from the only person who has parlayed online creation into an investing practice. Others have raised funds from their newsletter subscribers, Twitter audience, or former coworkers. TikTokers and other celebrities are also adding private market investing to their list of SKUs.

Private market investing is now a part of the creator economy, with the deal organizer or fund manager taking up the position of creator. It’s yet another SKU available to those looking to monetize an engaged audience. This SKU has been unlocked due to an inflection point in the private markets — low interest rates, regulatory easing, and a renewed belief in the potential for massive technology and media outcomes.

Venture capital — while still inaccessible to 90%+ of the US — is more accessible than ever before. And even for those who are still excluded, the private investing boom has made it more aspirational, perhaps just out of reach. How is aspiring to be a successful VC any crazier than aspiring to be the next Charli D’Amelio?”

16. For anyone trying to understand the nutty venture funding space right now.

“In my eleven years in venture capital, I’ve never experienced a market that’s moving as quickly as it is at present. And in conversations with fellow investors, it seems we all feel the same way.

Founders are going out to raise a new round, and within weeks, if not days, have multiple term sheets. So what’s driving this speed? There are of course benefits to founders and investors for rounds to move faster. But what are the costs? How fast is too fast?”

17. This is a pretty cool company. SPACE manufacturing!

18. There is a major need for this company in the USA. Massive problem and huge market.

19. I’m a big fan of Futurism. Recurrent Ventures is doing some cool stuff in media space.

20. “In DeFi, there are no regulations since it is decentralized. If a vampire attack is launched on any chain there are many potential issues: 1) the code is purposely made buggy, 2) the project manager suddenly runs off with the coins and 3) the tokenomics are unclear and have triggers built in (unknown to general public). While this is a base level explainer the point is the same: if you lose your funds no one is coming to help you.”

21. “The most obvious trait he exploits is the West’s constant preference to avoid confrontation. The United States and its allies almost always seek to avoid escalation and look for negotiated solutions. On issues of importance to Russia, this gives the Kremlin an immediate advantage.”

22. “Embedded Finance (i.e. distribution of banking services by non-banks) defines the revenue opportunity for Banking-as-a-Service (i.e. banks delivering services via API) and is a driver for Embedded Fintech (i.e. integration of fintech offerings by banks). It was catalyzed by Open Banking (i.e. banks sharing customer data via API).”

23. “Over the past 10 years we had the mobile smartphone revolution, it brought us on-demand services, constant digital connectivity, and social networking. Simultaneously, we were introduced to crypto assets and decentralized digital infrastructure. And quietly in the backdrop and at a small scale, we had remote work and gig style economies begin to form.

But these changes didn’t impact overall societal makeup immediately. Inertia kept life progressing as it always has. These changes seemed like fads and trends at the periphery that supported the late industrial society and did not signal the reshaping of the world.

And yet, they were quietly working in concert, under the radar, reshaping society.

That is until COVID happened.”

24. “Product-led growth skills have quickly become among the most in-demand for SaaS companies both large and small. In fact, a recent search uncovered 950+ open positions citing “product-led growth”, up from only 200 in January.

Here’s why: companies with a growth team have demonstrably higher free-to-paid conversion rates (12% vs. 5%). They see somewhat higher website visitor to free sign-up conversion rates, too, as growth teams work cross-functionally with marketing to attract the right audience.”

25. Apple’s IDFA changes have caused chaos in the gaming space. Some interesting lessons for adapting in the gaming space.

26. This is pretty awful.

27. I was hesitant to post this as this piece seems like typical anti-tech write up that we see in dying old media. But the Metaverse is coming and we need to be aware of its origins & how we can make sure it’s utopian and NOT dystopian.

“The metaverse is a vision that spans many companies — the whole industry,” as Zuckerberg put it. “You can think about it as the successor to the mobile internet.”

28. Incredibly well said. We need more independent thinking and questioning in our world.

“Approaching the world with a healthy dose of skepticism is a good thing — even if it may not be popular. Next time you hear, “I am doing this because [insert X authority figure] said so,” question, inquire, and verify.”

29. It’s incredibly impressive what Mayor Suarez has done. He has put Miami on the tech map.

“Suarez is a Republican and has pursued an avowedly conservative agenda: pro-business, pro-technology, lower taxes and reduced regulation, pro-police and tough on crime. Say what you want about his politics, but it’s hard not to admire the energy and enthusiasm he brings to his cause. Suarez has bounded from coast to coast and from social media platform to social media platform extolling Miami as open for business (even in the midst of a historic pandemic) and positioning it as a safer, cheaper, more business-friendly alternative to San Francisco and New York City.”

30. “Our experience limits our imagination.

People believe that great entrepreneurs develop novel ideas because they’re exceptionally creative, brilliant, and visionary.

But the truth is, everything we come up with is a mixture of what we’ve seen, heard, and experienced.

So, if we want to develop better ideas, we need to expose ourselves to new experiences, gain new skills, make new connections, join new communities.

We need to expand our horizons.”

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Marvin Liao

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