Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads August 2nd, 2020

“One would expect people to remember the past and to imagine the future. But in fact, when discoursing or writing about history, they imagine it in terms of their own experience, and when trying to gauge the future they cite supposed analogies from the past: till, by a double process of repetition, they imagine the past and remember the future.” — Lewis B. Namier

1. I love this term “Scenius.” The place & scene you are in matters.

“When it is all said and done, I believe that historians will look back at the Coronavirus pandemic as the greatest catalyst for progress and creativity in human history.

That is a big claim, so let me lay out my rationale clearly.

Historically, the scenia responsible for much of the world’s progress have been geographically constrained. The internet has the potential to break that constraint. With global connectivity comes the possibility of scenius that transcends physical place and unites the world’s greatest minds irrespective of distance or station in life.

Without catastrophe, there would be less progress. Without World War II, there would be no Silicon Valley.”

May 17 Conjuring Scenius

2. “Focus your efforts on iterating the product with a small number of users until you have that product/market fit, and then it will be a great time to push hard on distribution.”

Starting Distribution. Sell before building BUT don’t… | by Ash Rust | Jun, 2020

3. So much insight here.

“If you invest 100 hours in a rare skill, you’re likely to acquire it. If you could learn to sharpen a tool better than your peers, organize a high-performance database, see the nuances in some sector of cryptography, know how to build a pretty-good WordPress site or really understand the arc of a particular writer’s career, you’d have something of value. Something that anyone who was focused enough to invest 100 hours could have, but few will choose to commit to.”

The 100 hour asset

4. A great framework from my friend Ryan Deiss. Strongly recommended. I use this now to evaluate where companies and founders are at in their life cycle & mindset.

The Entrepreneurial Lifecycle and What I Learned From Nearly Bankrupting My First Company

5. Series B stage is an area I’m just not as familiar with. So this is helpful personally.

“But that first growth round (Series B) is becoming an increasingly difficult round for investors (and, consequently, for founders.) The company is perhaps somewhat de-risked from a PMF perspective but there are still substantial GTM and scaling questions that need to be answered. As such, Series B investors are forced to put fairly sizable checks to work ($20–$40M) without the ownership level of a Series A or the “certainty” of a later stage round. This becomes a bit more amplified in a post-covid world where there are even more unknowns.”

Let’s Talk Series Bs. When I first landed in venture, it was… | by Allen Miller | Jul, 2020

6. Good summary of network effects and why marketplace business models are so strong when they win.

Layering Network Effects: How to Multiply Unfair Advantages

7. I’m biased but of course Startup. Mckinsey sucks. But good write up on pros and cons.

“These two options sit at opposing ends of the risk spectrum, and depending on where you sit on the spectrum, it’s difficult to empathize with the other end.

With McKinsey, there’s little-to-no risk. It’s pretty clear from the start, with a high degree of certainty, what you’re getting yourself into once you sign up, across all dimensions.

With a startup, there’s only risk. You have no idea, clue what’s going to happen. Even with the things you think you know or are “a given”, you don’t, and they aren’t.”

McKinsey or a startup? — Jonathan Woahn

8. I miss Japan and traveling. One of the first places I’m going to go to when this cursed pandemic is over.

9. Read your industry canonical books but also read the overlooked stuff too. That’s your edge.

“How many players have read the NBA referees handbook? A tiny fraction. I love basketball and have studied the game extensively, but I had never even considered the idea that the referee’s handbook even existed.

By seeking out scarce information, Kobe exposed himself to rare ideas that few others had accessed.

Kobe thought to acquire the referee handbook. And then he slogged through it. Finally, he made the connection that understanding referees’ assignments could uncover unseen advantages.”

Kobe Bryant’s Secret Handbook

10. “That’s what the Stoics meant when they said you don’t control what happens, you only control how you respond. That’s what they meant when they said the one thing people can always change is themselves. And that’s what they meant when they said we are what we repeatedly do — when or how we manage to squeeze them in is less important than our religious commitment to their continued existence.

Start today. Focus on your practices. In a world where everything and everyone else seems to be falling apart, you can make good use of this time and say, “You’re just what I was looking for.”

11. If you want to understand what a SPAC is, this is a really good summary.

“The catch to all of these things, of course, is that the SPAC will massively rip you off. First of all, if you look at the terms that the SPAC is offering and what their ownership targets are, they’re seeking a pretty substantial discount as they take you public relative to what you probably feel you’re worth. Second of all, the SPAC sponsor is taking that enormous 20% vig as a promotion fee. In theory, that fee is charged to the investors of the SPAC, not the target business. In practice, that fee gets passed back to the negotiated price with the target. The net result is that instead of going public and feeling ripped off by your investment bank for having sold them shares too cheaply, instead you just directly give the sponsor something like 1% of your business as a tribute offering and go straight to being public.

But then something cool happens. The business and the sponsor, who used to be on opposite sides of the table negotiating against each other, are now on the same team. This is very different than the dynamic with banks: it’s M&A, rather than consulting. Your negotiation is more brutal, but then once it’s done, you merge.”

SPAC Man Begins

12. My friend Jason Lemkin is spot on. Prepare for the sad phase (ie. rest of 2020). Some good advice here. Forewarned is forearmed but We will get thru this.

“Now, we have to deal more with the Work Outside of the Cloud. The restaurants that will never reopen. The retail shops that will stay boarded up, probably for years to come. The airplanes, that without massive government support, will soon cease flying. The anger from the 33% of the country that doesn’t even have a job. The fact that we didn’t seem to really get anything in the U.S. from our shelter phase. That our schools aren’t working or reopening. That we haven’t really seen much of our families in so long, and won’t be.

And so I worry the next 90 days, even though we’ve stabilized our SaaS businesses, will be the saddest. The partial mental break we get by having restored a new normalcy at work may be eaten away by the non-Cloud world that is going to get even worse before it gets better.”

Now We Start to Enter the Sad Phase. Take Care of Your Team.

13. As I said, this is so smart and inspiring. Thesis is really good here.

“The duo in question is 85-year-old Alan Patricof, an investor who has helped build hundreds of companies including Apple and AOL, and Abby Levy, a much younger executive who has occupied prominent roles at Soul Cycle and Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global.

On Wednesday, the pair announced the launch of Primetime Partners, a new style of venture capital firm that will bet on innovation related to aging and seniors. In practice, this means making early stage investments of $250,000 to $1 million in startups that products for seniors, while also seeking out entrepreneurs in their 40s or 50s or older.

It’s an unusual strategy. The venture capital crowd lionizes founders in their 20s and 30s, and likes to invest in apps and enterprise software. Older people simply don’t register in this world, which makes Patricof and Levy’s new fund a gamble. But they see a huge untapped opportunity.”

14. This is how you get progress.

“But too often, the status quo gets stuck. It reinforces injustice, persists in unfair or inefficient approaches and most likely, fails to create as much value as it could.

It’s in those moments that we need your ruckus.

The act of making things better by making better things.

The hard work of showing up with insight, assertions and kindness.

The opportunity to shine a light, open a door and lead.

We’re not often encouraged to do this. The educational-industrial complex is ten or twenty years of schooling built around compliance, adhesion and test-taking. It rarely asks us to come up with “better” and instead demands the right answer. Even if the right answer is no longer useful, at least it’s correct.”

On making a ruckus. Not a disturbance, a racket or a… | by Seth Godin | Jul, 2020

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