Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads July 11th, 2021

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy

  1. This is a good summary of the Robinhood S-1.

“Robinhood is the brokerage for fun gambling on meme stocks and meme cryptocurrencies. The main theme of financial markets for the last year or so has been “fun gambling on meme stocks and meme cryptocurrencies.”

2. “I face recurring challenges adapting my skills to support a growing portfolio of assets. I’m learning to write copy, create lead funnels, and use social media to build a brand. Simultaneously, I’m learning to treat myself like a business. This requires budgeting, planning, and treasury management as I look to build and leverage unique assets to support this lifestyle.

Through this new perspective, I hope to increase globalized income streams focused on information based products targeting global audiences. Simultaneously using time based consulting, ghostwriting, and other freelance initiatives to accumulate money in the short term to buy income streams for the long term.

The logic: you can build an income source or you can buy income. I want to do both.”

3. Hope it never comes to this. But glad to see Japan is backing Taiwan in possible CCP invasion.

4. 110% here. I still think we can turn America around even with the mess we have here.

“If we want to make it through this era of crisis, we’re going to need a greater sense of urgency.

But I also think we’re going to need something else: Optimism. When FDR and the New Deal dragged America out of its last existential crisis, his attitude wasn’t dire or dark, but confident and unafraid. This is what they call “optimism of the will” — not a blithe reassurance that it’s “morning in America”, but a faith that if we keep digging our way out, we’ll come out on the other side stronger than we were before.

And in addition to a belief that America can persevere and win, we need a conviction that it should.”

5. Interesting list. I’m partial to Tokyo, Montreal, Sydney & Melbourne personally.

6. Not a fan of PE firms in general but this is a great story of one of the early legends.

7. Are Social media influencers aka Creators “Uncancellable?”. It seems the answer is a resounding YES.

“That’s the power of YouTube. That’s the power of influencers and that’s the power of parasocial bonds.”

8. “When a company first launches, honestly what you’re looking for is whether it seems like there’s a real product need. Are customers adopting it at some reasonable rate, and then is that growing?”

Elad believes that the “reasonable rate” will depend on your product, pricing, and customer. In some cases it could be a handful of net new customers; for other products, it could be thousands. Just as important is to look at retention: “Does it look like those customers will stick around and do they see some expansion over time or from a revenue or usage perspective?”

For a later stage company (“or I should say for both mid- to late-stage”) it’s time to start looking at your overall growth rate. “How fast is the thing actually growing off of a revenue basis, what’s the churn both from a dollar and customer perspective, and what does expansion look like?”

For Elad, a company that turns a $1 customer into $1.40 the next year is best-in-class SaaS, bringing together churn reduction, expansion tactics, and customer satisfaction.”

9. “Bitcoin expands free speech, property rights, individual sovereignty, open capital markets, and checks on government power. America was founded on these values, and can thrive with them. The Chinese Communist Party, Putin’s dictatorship in Russia, or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?”

“Not so much,” he says.”

10. Lots of truths here.

11. “The world is changing quickly. No one is going to come and save you.

You should operate under the following mantra: 1) be a top performer, 2) don’t be number one, 3) learn *any* specific skill, 4) learn how to make even $100 a month from it and 5) begin to scale that skill.

The one big change we’ve made here over the last decade is that you *CAN* go ahead and trade time for money. Why? You can shift the business model later.”

12. Yikes. Throw the Quad into the mix and this will be WW3.

“And the experience of that war shows that even a limited conflict between two great powers can be terrible — millions dead, years wasted, a country devastated for decades. Taiwan probably won’t spark a US-China war in the next five years, but it might, and if it does it would be a disaster.”

13. This Moore guy seems like the ultimate grifter. What a crazy story, especially for a self proclaimed prepper like me.

14. “There is a level of insanity at the moment that is hard to comprehend. Grocery stores are acting like hedge funds through their speculation on future food prices. Think about that for a second. The current economy is so out of whack that the grocery stores are speculating.”

15. This is pretty terrifying to say the least.

16. This is not a good trend……

“This worrying increase in mortality due to hot weather is already evident as summer temperature records are broken each year by severe and extended heat waves. The Pacific Northwest heatwave at the end of June killed hundreds of people, and these intensely hot periods are projected to continue as summer reaches its peak temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere over the next two months.”

17. This is absolutely fascinating. Ethiopia being a great power during the Middle Ages.

“The Solomonic kings of Ethiopia, in Krebs’ retelling, forged trans-regional connections. They “discovered” the kingdoms of late medieval Europe, not the other way around. It was the Africans who, in the early-15th century, sent ambassadors out into strange and distant lands. They sought curiosities and sacred relics from foreign leaders that could serve as symbols of prestige and greatness.”

18. “In sum, fintech is likely as underhyped as space is overhyped. Why? The ROI on your professional efforts and investing are inversely proportional to how sexy the industry/investment is, and fintech is … boring. Except for the immense opportunity and value creation — for multiple stakeholders. “Half the world is unbanked, but we need to colonize Mars,” said no rational investor ever.”

19. “Any veteran of the video games industry will tell you that good games are products of miracle. Think about it: A symphony of idiosyncratic, often underpaid artists, coders, designers, sound engineers, marketers, writers, and producers must all unite in their vision for a commercial art product. Anything and everything could go wrong — and it has, explosively, even at the Activision-Blizzards, the Biowares, and the Rockstars. No amount of money and personnel can ensure success. Blockbusters can flop, and indie titles, some even made by a single developer, can sell millions.

Yet Amazon’s total inability to excel in gaming is remarkable. Breakaway wasn’t its first fiasco, or its last. After more than a decade of concerted effort, the tech company that brute-forced its way to dominance in books, retail, and cloud computing has failed to produce a single successful big-name title.”

20. Colombian ex-soldiers are the backbone of alot of private military companies around the world.

“The presence of such a large number of foreigners among the Haitian leader’s alleged murderers has shocked many, particularly in Haiti itself. But Colombian guns-for-hire have been turning up in war zones around the world, including Yemen, Iraq, Israel and Afghanistan, for years now.

Many were once trained by American soldiers and, having spent years battling insurgent groups or drug traffickers within Colombia, go on to find work with US-based private military contractors.

“After so many years of warfare, Colombia just has a surplus of people who are trained in lethal tactics,”

21. This is a really good book list.

22. I love this.

“During his tenure as head chef of Noma, the restaurant was ranked either in first, second, or third place in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. No easy feat. Giusti is clearly a hard-working man with skill and ambition. But that same skill and ambition is what led Giusti to see past the accolades and want to make an impact beyond 45 covers a night. He wanted to feed the masses, and he wanted to do it his way.

What sets Giusti apart from other ambitious chefs in the food world is his approach: Rather than peel off of Noma to start his own restaurant empire or string of fast-casual concepts, he decided to start on an institutional level, and more importantly, start at a place and community that needed the change the most. Transforming what America’s youths eat and the way they think about food — that’s a meaningful change.”

23. Very cool company.

“Oil was the new gold, data the new oil; now, nature is now the most precious and valuable resource of all. A company having a hectare of forest saved as a key metric to scale is a company we are thrilled to back. Disrupting the economy and financial markets with a new tradable and liquid asset class that has a positive impact on the environment is an irresistible investment.”

24. “The stock market is a reflection of memes, notably magnified through SPACs, NFTs and GME. The memefication has displaced reality from valuation, as fundamentals grow less and less useful as each new flying helicopter company hits the market.

It’s not a bad thing — it just reshapes how we think about investing and the decisions that we make around portfolios. This is a hype cycle in a bull market. It’s to be expected. The core drivers are some of the financial tools (SPACs), but it’s also the broader market environment — memes are no longer a metaphor, but a living structure, called the stonk market.”

25. So much wisdom here. Worth a read.

“Much of life is about the return on investment — your relationships, life, and career are reflective of what you consistently invest into them. You ultimately get what you put in. Of course, it’s much easier said than done.”

26. Some really great books to understand where the world is going. Good summaries here.

27. “Our value as employees is often boiled down to the quantifiable, whether it’s our output of nails, the number of products we sell, or the number of pageviews we get on our articles.

But there’s a problem with that: When a metric becomes a target — that is, when it becomes the primary focus of a job — it ceases to be effective.”

28. Creators paying to advertise themselves. Totally makes sense.

29. “The current higher education “bundle” is comprised of three value drivers:

📕 Content

🍻 Community

📜 Certification”

30. “Despite our exuberant optimism, we keep getting the potential market size wrong. Market sizes have proven to be much, much larger than any of us had ever dreamed. The reason? Today, everyone aspires to be an early adopter. Peter Drucker’s mantra, innovate or die, has finally come to pass.

Looping back to our market size definitions, “software eating the world” has dramatically expanded the TAM while also catalyzing a compressed technology adoption lifecycle, which has dramatically expanded the SAM.”

31. “Software is fashionable, but we need more than software to reshape our physical world. Software alone will not construct manned bases on Mars. Software alone will not decarbonize the atmosphere. And software alone will not make our cities gleaming wonders. America needs to be a place that builds. Manufacturing capacity isn’t merely a nice-to-have to respond to emergencies, but is the key to realizing a technologically-accelerating civilization.

The Bay Area once led in manufacturing — it was where transistors were first produced at scale, spawning the computing industry — and can do so again. Let’s once more prioritize the “silicon” in Silicon Valley. To do so we have to prize manufacturing as more meaningful work.”

32. This is really really interesting for some odd reason.