Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Feb 13th, 2022

Marvin Liao
13 min readFeb 13, 2022


“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela

  1. A very good prognosis on the state of geopolitics right now. Watch Korea, Africa & the Arctic. Everything is interconnected.

“Is it possible that we are drifting into conflict without fully understanding the multiple chessboards and multiple pieces in play? Are we being too narrowly focused on our own perspective and not seeing the world as others do, whether rightly or wrongly? Maybe this explains why the President of Ukraine is asking the US to back off.

This may be how this all ends. Imagine a world where Ukraine invites Russia in as a partner, not necessarily as a friend, but as a partner. Imagine a world where the two Koreas invite China in as a partner, not necessarily a friend, but as a partner. Would most Americans rather face a global conflagration or get back to solving the many problems of everyday life and of building a better future? Maybe there is a way to talk down the build-up? Maybe this is not about logic.

Our love of peace may outweigh our desire to have this particular fight in this particular way at this particular time. That doesn’t mean the end of competition. The superpowers will always compete. But it isn’t often they talk themselves to the brink of a nuclear exchange. When they do, ironically, emotion might work better than rationale.”

2. Depressing conversation as it really highlights how the USA & many of its key institutions like the military, US Government, media & the US dollar really are declining. I hate to hear it but it’s a really strong case.

3. This seems kind of crazy that this exists.

“You see, in a place like Harardhere, many would join a private gang simply to avoid a life of militancy, poverty, and petty theft. As you can imagine, in this capitalist society of ours where cash rules everything around us, the natural evolution to undertaking piracy out of necessity was to organise amongst themselves — and make an absolute killing from it. Thus the world’s first Pirate Stock Exchange was established.

While to this day, there are no credible statistics available to confirm the number of entities listed, The Wall Street Journal reported over 70 distinct maritime operations are listed on the Harardheere Pirate Stock Exchange. Similar to the days of the Dutch East India Company, when a pirate mission is successful, the investors who bankrolled said pirate mission earns a share of the total profits.”

4. “Western countries are far bigger and richer than Russia. They can make Putin’s gamble seem unappealing and dangerous, by resisting his aggression and supporting Ukraine. For their part, Ukrainians should remember that neither Russian provocations nor Western support matter as much as their own solidarity and determination.”

5. “What is Up? Up means that you’re able to do two things: 1) increase your lifestyle and 2) save a higher percentage of earnings. This is a pretty difficult task for the majority of the population

For those that understand compounding, this means that the traditional advice of saving 10% doesn’t work *and* the frugality advice that suggests never upgrading doesn’t work as well (you will become a boring and strange person over time). Autist Note: flat savings rates don’t create wealth because you should make significantly more every 3–5 years or so. If you made $100K this year and make $300K next year, that $10K from last year would represent only 3.33% of annual savings for a person making $300K (doesn’t move the needle)

Solution: The solution is always the same, which is to earn more money with a wide range of strategies: 1) multiple careers, 2) career + WiFi business and 3) ideally tons of WiFi businesses since they have infinite scale — good luck checking out 1,000 customers in 60 seconds with a Brick and Mortar!

Instead an elite person has the following characteristics: 1) happy with his/her life; 2) in shape physically — top 10% at minimum for their age bracket determined by lifting strength and 3) *passive* income of $15,000 US Trash Token per month.”

6. This is not good.

“The US is still the largest producer of oil and gas in the world, making its energy policy — and the desire of foreign powers to influence it — no less important than it was then. Longtime readers of Doomberg will know we have been critical of America’s energy strategy and have spilled much ink describing the predictable consequences of its obvious blunders. By closing existing nuclear power plants, opposing the development of reliable fossil fuels at virtually every opportunity, attacking existing energy infrastructure choke points, and constraining capital for future development, the behavior seems virtually indistinguishable from what we would be doing if an adversarial foreign power were in charge of our affairs.

With demand for oil and gas already surpassing pre-Covid levels and set to rip higher once the global economy fully reopens, the stage is set for an epic blowoff top in energy prices. The gap between suppressed supply and unquenchable demand could stretch to unthinkable levels, just as a sizable wedge of the world’s population sits on the cusp of a well-known and substantial step-up in demand.”

7. “For me, when the dust settles, and the market comes back — and it will come back, no doubt — here’s my the big takeaway in my mind: Companies big and small will be examined through the lens of growth narratives driven by product diversity. It’s no longer good enough to just handle online storage, or to just facilitate online meetings, or to just empower consumers to freely trade securities.

Public investors and quantum computers who can vote with their feet every millisecond are likely going to reallocate their money into companies that demonstrate the vision and execution to not only acquire assets like Instagram and WhatsApp, but also key infrastructure like Parse and Onavo; or assets like Slack and Tableau; or assets like Minecraft, LinkedIn, and Activision.

The public markets will likely reward those companies who can diversify their product lines into messaging, analytics, gaming, and more — those special companies and business leaders who continue to bundle value into their platforms.”

8. Not for me as a city guy but it’s a good option for folks who like small towns and with Starlink coming, remote workers could really take advantage of this.

9. This is a great trend in my opinion. We need more entrepreneurs.

10. This is a great thread on startups that do not raise VC $$. Love to see this.

11. Good for him. I think he went on the Tweet storm rampage because he knew he was moving up to chairman role of Bolt (not stepping down because of it). He is at the F — U stage of life which is where we all should aspire to get to.

12. I’m hopeful for Ukraine. Anyone who has spent time there, see the amazing potential and the awesome people.

13. The real reason driving the crisis in Ukraine? This is a very interesting and personality driven take.

14. “Web3 is a world-changing opportunity to make a better version of the internet and wrest it away from the behemoths who control it today.

Web3 will make some people a lot of money. But many other people will lose their shirts on it.

So I’ve been spending time — and trying to adopt a mindset of cautious skepticism — attempting to figure out Web3 for myself. Spoiler: I didn’t quite figure it out.

But I found enough smart, thoughtful people who are genuinely fascinated with this stuff to make me think that there still may be something here, even while so much of it is nonsensical or worse. So I’ll keep paying attention. You might want to, too.”

15. Damn, that is a big VC fund. Tiger Global Fund 15. 11 Billion Dollars.

16. “Putin is preparing to invade Ukraine again — or pretending he will invade Ukraine again — for the same reason. He wants to destabilize Ukraine, frighten Ukraine. He wants Ukrainian democracy to fail. He wants the Ukrainian economy to collapse. He wants foreign investors to flee. He wants his neighbors — in Belarus, Kazakhstan, even Poland and Hungary — to doubt whether democracy will ever be viable, in the longer term, in their countries too.

Farther abroad, he wants to put so much strain on Western and democratic institutions, especially the European Union and NATO, that they break up. He wants to keep dictators in power wherever he can, in Syria, Venezuela, and Iran. He wants to undermine America, to shrink American influence, to remove the power of the democracy rhetoric that so many people in his part of the world still associate with America. He wants America itself to fail.”

17. This is pretty baller if you ask me.

18. I mean, VC is in the human potential business after all.

“Still, the strongest indicator that VC could maybe use a reset ties to VCs’ eagerness to fund people who’ve yet to even start a company. “It’s not a new trend,” says Niko Bonatsos, a managing director with General Catalyst. “But it’s becoming more visible now because of the massive rise of pre-seed and seed investing,” he continues. “There are a ton of general partners, bigger funds and more deals, and we’re all getting paid to invest the capital.”

19. Great discussion on startup valuations. Especially many VCs and angels have only been investing in a bull market (myself included). We’ll soon be learning who is really good (and who isn’t)

“As an investor you’re trying to use a valuation to balance risk and opportunity. If you look at the bull and the bear case you’re looking at a wide range of possible outcomes. You have to ask the question, “what do I believe?” How confident am I in this company’s ability to triple next year? The year after that? Are they hiring enough people to make that happen? The right people? How big is this market? How competitive is it?

You have to decide what you believe. But once you do you have to ask yourself how capable you are of developing conviction if this is a “generational company” at $400M but an “irresponsible risk” at $500M.”

20. Lessons from Microsoft: a somewhat overlooked tech Juggernaut. Super bullish on them.

“If it plays its cards right, Microsoft can become the first $10T company. And startup founders would be wise to learn from the behemoth in Redmond.”

21. This is a really solid book list for the aspiring Sovereign Individual.

22. Important and worthwhile discussion on America’s policy to Taiwan and Ukraine. Both places full of friends and of very deep personal and commercial interests to me.

23. Important and worthwhile discussion on America’s policy to Taiwan and Ukraine. Both places full of friends and of very deep personal and commercial interests to me.

24. For anyone who says Ukraine is not strategic to the west. This is proof otherwise.

“So, not only does the east of Ukraine produce most of its wheat and metals (its core export products) but it is also its economic heart — the very key to its place in global supply chains.

The bad news is that wars are usually fought over supply chains. Ukrainians know this. In the 13th century, the grandchildren of Genghis Khan expanded the Mongol Empire well into modern-day Ukraine, destroying Kyiv in the process. Adolf Hitler looked to improve Germany’s food supplies during WWII, by exploiting the country’s agriculture industry.

More recently, Vladimir Putin seized control of Crimea and its oil reserves. According to The Telegraph, Ukraine lost 80% of its oil and gas assets in the Black Sea, which translates to hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenues. Russia then backed separatists who started to seize parts of the country’s industrial hubs.”

25. I truly hope this assessment on the present Ukraine-Russia crisis is correct.

26. This is pretty awesome.

“Although Radić is an above average player — his FIDE rating currently sits at 1,950 — it isn’t his playing that makes him a household name among chess enthusiasts. Instead, Radić is one of the most recognizable faces in chess because he created agadmator’s Chess Channel, a YouTube property with a staggering 1.21 million subscribers and over 553 million total views.

Radić is pursuing the work of his life.”

27. Tallinn is a great city for digital nomads, although for me more in spring and summer than in winter. :)

28. If you think the Russia-Ukraine crisis does not affect you, you are grossly wrong. Reverberations will be global. Worth a read.

“Ultimately, the investment impact of the Russia-Ukraine crisis will come down to how serious Russia is. If I am wrong about Russia’s intentions — if Russia really is preparing for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine — the West will react with sanctions against Russia that will reverberate throughout the global economy as energy prices and food prices surge upwards. If this happens, you ain’t seen nothing yet with inflation. It’s precisely because of this that I rate the probability of full-blown invasion as fairly low — it’s mutually assured destruction.

If things continue as they have been — continued dialogue leading to some kind of resolution, or at minimum a stalemate — expect more of the same, i.e., in the short-term, higher energy prices, a weaker ruble, downward pressure on Russian equities, and upward pressure on key Russian commodities, like wheat, fertilizer, and nickel, in the coming months — all of which present interesting opportunities for the brave of heart if, as geopolitics suggests, this situation resolves itself without a full-scale war.”

29. I definitely agree with this assessment, hosting the Olympics makes no sense for China right now. In fact, hosting Olympics in general are bad for host cities/countries economically.

30. This is a good overview of investing in Longevity Biotech.

31. These takes are always interesting. Can’t wait for his book in June. One thing I think Zeihan overlooks is the effect of technology & think he is overly optimistic about the USA which is a mess. Still good geopolitical take.

32. So much potential in Turkey. Hope they can turn this around.

Great analysis on Turkey’s macroeconomic environment. Lessons for other emerging markets.

33. This is the best show online bar none. Great episode of the All in Podcast today.



Marvin Liao

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