Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Feb 20th, 2022
“True life is lived when tiny changes occur” — Leo Tolstoy
- This is absolutely nuts that this is happening this century.
Ready for War Within 24 Hours, a Ukrainian Combat Veteran Lives in Limbo
KYIV, Ukraine - There is a tree in Luhansk, Ukraine, with Oleksandr Makhov's name on it. He carved the letters into the…
2. This is a great write up for newbies looking at facing their fears and becoming an entrepreneur. And not just because I’m quoted in it.
How to Destroy Challenges and Worries Starting a Business
Listen to the article here I don't worry about many things in life, but starting a business has nearly destroyed my…
3. I’ve been bullish on the Eastern European startup scene for over a decade now. Amazing, overlooked region full of global minded, world beating entrepreneurs. This is just the beginning.
Eastern European Paradox: How a Troubled Region Generated Unicorns and Decacorns - Crunchbase
This article is part of the Crunchbase Community Contributor Series. The author is an expert in their field and a…
4. This is a very interesting path to building independence. It’s very helpful for anyone and Worth a read.
From Quora to Consulting Niche - A Casual 7-Year Journey | #169
February 5th, 2022: Greetings from Austin. I got sunburned playing tennis on Sunday and then fell on ice on Thursday…
5. Every startup founder should read this. Its pure gold these questions.
“Value creation mostly accrues in the out-years when usage, revenue, and growth compound. But be very clear — in order to capture all of the compounding value in your business, you need to start at the beginning to position for long-term durability.
Founders who win big spend more time at the beginning, earlier than you might think, on creating products and business mechanisms that follow these five durability factors and thus drive increasing returns at scale. As their companies get bigger, they get increasingly hard to overtake, and thus their value explodes.”
The Durability Formula - How It Will Determine Your Startup's Future Value
Nearly all of the value in technology companies is created in the out-years, long after you start. But you can only…
6. Sorry but this seems like self-inflicted hell.
“The Singhs are one of India’s most-followed social media influencer families. With six YouTube channels, five individual Instagram accounts, three Facebook pages, and two accounts on MX TakaTak, they have a total social media following of over 18 million. Their YouTube videos — which offer a peek into their day-to-day life, almost like Keeping Up with the Kardashians on a budget — have been watched over 8 billion times.
Each week, the family produces 75 Reels and 35 video posts for Instagram, and 35 Shorts and 20 full-length videos for YouTube, featuring everything from short films and vlogs to dance videos. They have promotional deals with major brands and entertainment studios, even their own merchandise line.
The Singhs are at the forefront of an emerging trend on the Indian internet: family influencers.”
"Everything is content": Inside the daily grind of one of India's biggest influencer families
It's early in the morning and the Singh family piles into their SUV with pillows, blankets, toys, and snacks. The…
7. Really good teardown of Spotify’s business model & economics. Tough biz & no wonder everyone hates the rapacious music studios.
The Economics of Spotify
Spotify's recent Joe Rogan controversy has also deepened a rift between the platform and artists over pay.
8. “My larger point: if you see an opportunity with growing demand, and it’s a good fit for you personally, don’t ignore it just because “it’s not B2B.”
Your business doesn’t have to fit the dominant narrative to be successful; indie B2Prosumer products can be incredibly profitable.”
Prosumers make good customers
The normal advice for people building SaaS companies is: "Don't build software for consumers (B2C), build it for…
9. An oldie but goodie. Big fan of what Ondeck is building.
“On Deck is undercovered and underappreciated relative to the strength of its business model, the frenetic pace of its progress, and the potential size of its impact.”
What's On Deck for On Deck?
Note: On Deck just announced a $20M Series A led by Keith Rabois and others. I wrote a post about On Deck's next steps…
10. Good discussion on Web 3 for those trying to understand this growing space.
Wtf is web3
Web3 has been a very fashionable term this year, mostly for the alt-finance cartoon characters and tech world's…
11. “For startup founders, this time could not be more exciting, and more fraught with unforeseen risks. Capital is more available than ever, and from a widening array of sources. These sources have vastly differing contributions to make. Some make no contribution at all (other than their cash), and pitch that as a positive! The best founders will think through the implications of various financing paths, and focus on the long game. The end goal should not be to “win the deal”, but to build a great company.
A “cannonball financing” can be part of a winning strategy, but should be deployed only when a company has already built a solid foundation. Do you have product market fit? Have you demonstrated an efficient go-to-market model? Do you have a team that can scale? When these lights are turning green, you might consider using capital as a weapon to dominate your category. But if you over-capitalize prematurely, you may destroy your opportunity to build something great.”
The Cannonball Effect
We are operating in a time of great change - in both the venture industry and the startup world itself. Dramatic…
12. This is pretty damn disturbing but this is hybrid war and the West is NOT ready.
Situation Report: Things Fall Apart, Part 2
Adjust Your OODA Loop—there is nothing wrong with your brain.
13. Bullish on the growing Solo Capitalist trend in VC.
“How do you become a solo investor? By definition, those in this field follow an unfurrowed path. Still, though every story is different, a few “solo investor” pipelines have emerged:
-Build an audience.
-Spin out from a fund.
-Start a company.
-Find an overlooked niche.
-Leverage a mafia.”
The Future of Solo Capitalists | The Generalist
Solitary general partners now manage more than many multi-person venture funds. What are the limits of a one-man band…
14. This should be a call to action.
“Now, the lines are blurred; countries are fighting across their entire economies and every domain of warfare for advantage. Technological supremacy in consumer and enterprise products feeds directly into the great power race for air, land, sea, space and cyber.
Startup founders and engineers are increasingly recognizing their role in this fight, as well. These people are not George W. Bush-style jingoists, but they do want to support liberal democracy and make sure people on the frontlines have the best tools to do their jobs.
America today faces the greatest challenge to our competitive advantages in recent memory, with advantages eroding across all domains of warfare and in many economic sectors. Adversaries are poking ever more aggressively for weaknesses to exacerbate and exploit.
But at its heart, America’s values and influence still offers us immense soft power: an openness to new ideas, to new people, and to new opportunities. Defending our open values against the encroaching authoritarianism of antagonists like China and Russia isn’t optional. Defense tech is the next big sector for Silicon Valley if for no other reason than every other sector will rely on the United States to secure peace in the years ahead.”
The rise of defense tech is bringing Silicon Valley back to its roots
Josh Wolfe Contributor Josh Wolfe is the managing partner and co-founder of Lux Capital, a multi-stage venture capital…
15. This is a good basic primer for startup founders in the Enterprise B2B Space. It takes a frigging long time (6 years for major revenue growth) and sales, sales, sales, sales.
6 Lessons learned from funding startups with long sales cycles
Selling to enterprises is tedious. It’s time-consuming. It’s also lucrative and sticky. Do your job, and you’ll earn an…
16. Neat new Fintech fund (literally called “The Fintech Fund.)” Also shows how building an audience and community will be key differentiator for new VCs (and old ones too)
10,000 subscribers later, This Week in Fintech has a venture fund
If you keep up with financial technology, you likely know that the fintech community is a tight-knit, large (yet small)…
17. I miss this man, Anthony Bourdain. Truly the World’s Most interesting Man.
“But his greatest accomplishment, of course, was his life itself. I mean, honestly, WHAT A GODDAMN LIFE, MAN! He lived a scant 61 years, but my god, were those years densely packed. Watching him trot around the globe week to week engendered only the warmest of envies. And, in death, Bourdain takes with him a collection of memories and experiences so immeasurable, and so vast, that they dwarf any book or TV episode he leaves behind.
It is that life, more than his work, that millions of people (myself included) seek to emulate: a life that is hungry, thirsty, curious, honest, compassionate, rowdy, horny, all of it. That life has almost certainly inspired the very hipsters that Bourdain himself openly derided, but that’s a pretty minor complaint when you think about it. He was a man of true pleasure — pleasure in food, pleasure in sex, pleasure in friendship, pleasure in love — and wanting that for yourself is a welcome sin.”
Anthony Bourdain Was the Most Interesting Man in the World
I wanted his life. I don't think I'm alone in that. He went places you and I will never go. He ate things you and I…
18. This is infuriating. Why is the USA shooting itself in foot all the time?
“The immediate consequences of the ruling are as follows. First, incremental natural gas produced in Appalachia will be stranded there, driving down prices in that region while increasing prices for the rest of the US market, which was counting on ready access to Appalachian production to meet their future needs.
Second, the decision will limit the ability of US LNG export terminals to meet global natural gas demand, further eroding our geopolitical power and emboldening our adversaries — forcing us to make unseemly alliances with despots like the Emir of Qatar.
Finally, the decision will make it even harder to attract much-needed capital for future domestic energy development projects.”
" Stupid is as stupid does. " - Forrest Gump The first episode of the seventh season of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown…
19. I really hope the USA manages this Russian aggression against Ukraine better, unlike in 2014. Or frankly in most global geopolitical sphere for last 20 years. (and I voted for Biden btw).
We cannot appease bullies & we still have a good hand (for now.)
“The Biden team learned that Putin will advance his goals with “asymmetric” tactics, or military and non-military approaches that operate within a gray zone, to trip up the United States. In 2014 and onward, Russia leaked a phone call to embarrass US diplomats, spread fake news, and sowed disinformation, which culminated in unprecedented attacks on the 2016 election in the US.
It’s led Biden to grapple with “How to Stand Up to the Kremlin,” as was the title of a 2018 essay he co-authored for Foreign Affairs. He argued that the US must “impose meaningful costs on Russia when they discover evidence of its misdeeds.” He also said that, despite Russia’s belligerent tactics, “Washington needs to keep talking to Moscow,” to avoid unintended escalations of conflict.”
What Biden learned the last time Putin invaded Ukraine
Few American presidents have spent as much time thinking about Ukraine as Joe Biden. The Eastern European country is…
20. This new YC deal will definitely make life harder for local investors in Africa and South America (or other emerging ecosystems).
Welcome to global competition Frens!
Time to step up (or become irrelevant fast)
Y Combinator's new high stakes investment strategy is making emerging market investors nervous
Y Combinator's recent announcement that it would now offer startups in its vaunted accelerator program greater funds in…
21. Hard not to argue with this. We are losing ground in the USA versus our peer competitors. We need to get our act together fast.
The U.S. is failing to compete effectively with China
The Beijing Winter Olympics are underway. In addition to the typically spectacular opening ceremonies, China scored a…
22. “Despite the growing warnings, the U.S. Department of Defense is inadequately prepared for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Consider the U.S. Navy, the service with the most critical role in the Indo-Pacific. The Trump administration’s plan for naval modernization, Battle Force 2045, was based on the assumption that the navy could wait until the mid-2040s to reach its optimal size.
Under President Joe Biden, even that plan has been shelved, with the navy now significantly stepping back from its long-held goal of maintaining a fleet of 355 ships. And expected cuts in next year’s defense budget will likely further shrink the size of the fleet.
Meanwhile, U.S. and allied bases in the Pacific have not been upgraded. Congress has not yet funded a badly needed air and missile defense system on Guam, which houses an air and naval base that would be on the frontlines of any conflict over Taiwan. And at bases across the region, stockpiles of precision-guided munitions are insufficient to support a prolonged conflict.
At present, the United States is on track to lose a war over Taiwan. Yet it is not too late to change course.”
Taiwan Can't Wait
The Pentagon must also enhance its joint base arrangements with U.S. allies. The United States should work with the…
23. “Whether an incumbent or insurgent, it is valuable to consider the extent to which a bundle is at risk, ripe for disruption or viable to grow. A good starting point is a deeper understanding on the alignment between bundled value and customer needs. To what extent does a bundle meet customers needs better than other options (as MS Office did) or provide superfluous “value” which users don’t want (as was the case with many forgettable tracks bundled into an album).
Are significant technological changes underway, as with Netflix where the internet fundamentally challenged the established value chain of how content was distributed and consumed, or are consumers expectations evolving, as with Spotify where music ownership has diminished in importance, as access has increased.
Ultimately, the extent to which your bundle is safe to expand, or ripe for disruption is personal to your product, and can change quickly. It pays to keep your eye on it.”
To bundle, or not to bundle: that is the question.
A central theme of the digital age has been a cycle of business model disruption with established institutions being…
24. “I go back to the idea as to what has Putin achieved thus far from all this? Have any of his red lines been agreed upon — no. And yet by using the threat of force, we are seeing the West unify in opposition to him by agreeing a firm sanctions response, and providing more assistance to Ukraine, and surely the biggest result from all this will be accelerated energy diversification away from Russian energy/commodities.
He has shown he can mobilise thousands of troops at short notice, and use menace, but this is not dividing the West but unifying it if anything — look at those opinion polls released today showing greater public support in the West for supporting Ukraine. He has a large military force, but is he willing to use it, is the threat fo forces credible, and will the use of military force be effective if it is actually used?
We get back to the idea that the status quo, and playing for time, were not working for Putin, and he has tried to mix that up with the deployment of the military on Ukraine’s borders, but has that improved his hand, has it changed the status quo in his favour? I would argue it has not. So what does he do now, withdraw with a weakened hand/position, or double up?”
Russia - thoughts on the Macron visit
Spot on from Kurt Volker... First, Macron's visit was more about his own re-election bid, rather than him being serious…
25. Everything is connected now. If you think the Ukraine crisis will not affect you, think again.
“As Ukraine is facing the threat of a renewed, possibly all-out invasion by Russia, another risk arises.
Dozens of countries, including Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Tunisia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and even China rely on Ukrainian harvests to feed their people.
The Middle East and Africa absorbed nearly 40% of Ukraine’s exports of corn and wheat in 2021.
Ukraine, the world’s fourth largest grain exporter, supplied 3 million tons of wheat to Egypt alone, providing 15% of the total consumption for the country of over 100 million people, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
But if Russia attacks Ukraine with more than 130,000 troops that it massed along its borders and in the occupied areas inside the country, the world may face a catastrophic interruption in food supply.”
Possible escalation in Ukraine may undermine global food security, provoke sky-high food prices
As Ukraine is facing the threat of a renewed, possibly all-out invasion by Russia, another risk arises. Dozens of…
26. An amazing investor and one of the BEST global VC firms around.
“That’s part of the beauty of this business. Even though you could make big mistakes, there’s another at bat tomorrow, because people are starting interesting new companies,” Botha said. “So if you’re willing to swallow your disappointment, buckle up, get back on the bicycle, get back on the horse, get back on your skis — whichever thing it is that you can identify with — you just try again.”
The last two years have smashed funding records and seen startup valuations soar, but Botha compared it to an open-book exam: Founders have it easy in go-go times, but when the final exam is suddenly book-closed, will they have learned enough to survive? The same goes for a new set of investors who have only had their companies marked up from round to round.
“It’s easy when things are up and to the right. I haven’t seen a single story, personally, that was up and to the right the whole way. And so what happens when things go bad? I worry for that,” he said.”
How Roelof Botha became one of VC's most powerful people
10 9. One billion dollars. Roelof Botha used to write 10 9 on the corner of his notepad every week when he started at…
27. This is a really great interview with Ric Burton & NIA guys. Worth watching every week but specifically this week.
28. Interesting discussion on Russia and their geopolitical insecurity. Helps to understand the driver behind the crisis.
Why Does This Map Matter?
We're switching it up a little. Instead of exploring "Why This Chart Matters", we asked a group of Geopolitical experts…
29. Can’t believe I just found this now. Interesting new show on life longevity.