Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads July 24th, 2022
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ― Robert F. Kennedy
- The answer is arrogance and naivety. But also not convinced Putin or Xi are winning either.
“It was the pandemic era of 2020–22 that broke the spell of a manageable and fixable world. When everyone started to lockdown, China completed its takeover of Hong Kong and when we came out of it Russian tanks were rolling into Ukraine. Western democracies are all deeply pre-occupied with Covid, inflation, energy conversion, populism and no longer have the spirit and capacity to fully engage with and shape a world that has now changed beyond recognition.
Democracy is no longer the winning doctrine, there’s real merit and currency in brutally ignoring all the rules and push your agenda forward while enriching yourself in the process.
In July 2022 Xi and Putin are winning. It is impossible to get the future right, but it is fair to ask today: how could we have got it so wrong?”
How did we get it so wrong ?
Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China, but essentially it was the 2nd birthday of…
2. Fascinating discussion on the state of the Venture Capital industry.
“Similarly, there’s no reason why a shift from home runs to doubles and triples should be bad for the VC industry. What matters is the return of a portfolio, not the return of any single investment. (I’ll do a future post about how VC portfolio returns themselves have evolved over time.)
But this kind of shift might mean that VCs need to adjust their strategies and their expectations. If returns are getting less positively skewed all across the distribution, it means that you’re going to need a larger number of successes than before. It might take 4 or 5 moderately big successes to compensate for the inevitable large number of failures, rather than 1 or 2 mega-successes.
Also, there’s the possibility that the establishment of a standardized, routinized VC ecosystem is actually discouraging talented entrepreneurs from doing truly adventurous, blue-sky exploration.
Why stake your fortune on a ???% chance of creating a totally new industry and being a $100-billionaire, when you could enter a fairly established space and have a 4% chance of being a $1-billionaire? If the difference between adventurers and gamblers is purely a matter of temperament, then this is no problem, but if America as a whole is moving toward incremental innovation, it might be a problem.”
Will VC produce fewer home runs in the future?
I still remember the Facebook IPO in 2012. It was an epochal event. The country finally felt like it was emerging from…
3. This guy is a right wing hack, Putin apologist and a — hole. I hate most of his biased writing, especially on the barbaric Russian invasion of Ukraine (at least West is right on fighting that).
But in this case, broken clock is right twice in the day. I must agree with his view on our worthless, immoral, unserious politicians in the west who are only very slightly better than the evil CCP & Putin.
“And after two years of our prized “free world” autocrats unleashing relentless COVID-excused tyranny upon their own populations, the rules seem to be continuously changing and reoriented at a moment’s notice.
When Russia invades Ukraine, they are violating the rules-based order. However, when Western powers invade the Middle East and Africa, or subjugate their own citizens in the name of a virus, they are not violating the rules, because their hubris-fueled moral supremacy allows these powers to determine who is and is not in good standing with the “rules-based world order.”
Build Back Better, 2.0: global elites rebrand to 'Rules-Based World Order'
The "free world" is a troublesome slogan, as basic freedoms have become a radical concept in the year 2022. The western…
4. “The warrior religion must steel itself against corruption from the inside. It’s purpose is to help it’s people survive and thrive against regime persecution, not to overthrow the government.
It exists to build outstanding men. To come to each other’s aid against a hostile regime and laws. To be an in group. Any actions carried out would be in the shadows, without risk to the religion itself, and only against existential threats. The goal is to become a people that aren’t to be fucked with, not continue to be the people relentlessly fucked with as we are today. The warrior religion exists to give men the purpose the regime wants to withhold from them, to forge a new, more resilient culture.
The warrior religion isn’t concerned with the country. It’s concerned only with the well being of its people. The country abandoned our people sometime ago.”
Survival in the Warrior Religion II
Survival of the warrior religion reigns and the mentality of the disciple must match this. He will manifest the values…
5. Very interested in commodities. It’s an important part of your portfolio. Rick Rule is a legend in the space.
6. The West needs to wake up & get it’s Sh-t together. Our enemies in China & Russia are not resting.
“These are all just questions. But, it seems obvious that these faraway places and pursuits seem quite irrelevant to daily life in the political capitals of London and Washington DC. Most won’t connect the dots between Sunak, Svalbard, and those US Dollar Smackers let alone Digital Gold from CAR. Meanwhile, a few days ago Moscow’s Foreign Minister Lavrov said “As far as an iron curtain is concerned, it’s practically already coming into place.”
Might the new Iron Curtain be a Gold-based digital curtain rather than a physical fence with people on one side using USD Smackers and those on the other using Russian Crypto? Who would suspect given that hardly any policymakers in the West really understand crypto?
Plus, crypto has crashed! What is there to be concerned about especially given that Donald Trump and Boris Johnson (thanks to Cassidy Hutchinson and Mr. Sunak standing up for trust in government) are taking up all the bandwidth for thinking about the world? For Moscow, there may be no better time and no better way to surprise the West with a smack in the eye when they are not looking.”
Sunak, Svalbard and Smackers
The British Prime Minister is about to be bounced out by his Cabinet. From President Putin's perspective, this is…
7. WORD! Everyone in tech, government and defense industry needs to read this.
“Whereas hard tech is a function of both innovation (zero to one) and scale (one to 100), hard power that comes from hard tech is primarily a function of scale. Thus, we must accrue additional hard power by investing in and building hard tech that scales in light of our adversaries’ increasing strength. The goal is not just to support hard tech companies that can go from zero to one, but also companies that can go from one to 100. Only through this can we create a new industrial base and renew our military might: two of the necessary backbones for continued progress and prosperity in America.”
Hard Tech and Hard Power
Most people assume that hard tech involves taking new technology from zero to one-from concept and/or R&D to initial…
8. “Perhaps most important, and a lesson that the Finns have learned, is that volunteers enhance deterrence. While Ukraine was unable to deter Russia’s invasion, the impact of these volunteers in the current war may serve as a deterrent to future wars. The Baltic states have embraced this strategy. And this also has implications for deterring a Chinese invasion of Taiwan; China is much less likely to invade if it believes the entire population will take up arms against it and this force can actually be effective.
The defense of Kyiv demonstrated that volunteers can play an important role in maneuver and guerrilla warfare, although the latter was only minimally observed in the defense of Kyiv. Yet the impact of volunteers is likely more muted in the attrition warfare currently being waged in Ukraine’s east. With more static positions and shorter supply lines, it offers the volunteers fewer opportunities to leverage their strengths. Expect to see them organized into more traditional battalions as they were in 2014.
The war is far from over, but Ukrainian volunteers have left an indelible mark on how smaller nations fight.”
How volunteers can help defeat great powers
The vast majority of Ukraine's volunteers would never pass the physical fitness tests of the U.S. Army. And yet earlier…
9. This is always a fun & educational discussion. Not Investing Advice.
10. This is a must read for all founders. And for newbie VCs trying to learn the basics of evaluating a business.
Is Your Revenue Real? - Chris Neumann
When Canadian founders ask investors what they must achieve to raise their next round, the advice often starts and ends…
11. Super excited too see this new VC fund from my old friend Bogdan.
Go Underline Ventures!
Also bullish on the Romanian tech scene too.
The Barefoot Investor: How Bogdan Iordache Ventured Into the World of Risk Capital
Every single contribution of yours helps us guarantee our independence and sustainable future. With your financial…
12. Recent online to offline movement. So bizarre but fascinating.
The Gentleminions phenomenon.
Nobody Puts Gentleminions in a Corner
Almost overnight, it's become a trend to get 36 of your closest guy friends together, throw on suits and go see…
13. “Russia is not the military superpower the Old West has assumed it to be and may not be able to sustain a war of attrition and occupation in Ukraine.
Russia should no longer be genuflected to; it is now revealed as a pariah state that cannot be bargained with and has far less strength in depth — economic, demographic, military, social — than previously assumed.
Russian threats to NATO have been hollow and Putin does not want to provoke the West.
It is in the West’s strategic interests that Russia is humbled in Ukraine and emerges unable to realistically threaten its neighbours.
Ukraine has the wherewithal to defeat Russia’s invasion if it can rely on the West to be the engine of recuperation and force-development that gives it a winning position in the war of attrition.
Mixed messaging from the West is likely to encourage Russia to persist, and third-party powers to continue to hedge.
The West should arrange itself deliberately as the supporter of Ukrainian military capacity.
If it does, then Ukraine should be able to defeat Putin’s intent for his invasion and negotiate terms for ending the conflict that are acceptable to Ukraine and leave Russia militarily and economically exhausted.
If this happens global order is enhanced and the West can concentrate on addressing the main threats of climate change and Chinese authoritarianism.
If the opposite happens, then we waste future resource for decades in defending against a Russian threat we did not need to see recover. China learns the right tactical lessons from Ukraine and the wrong strategic one. And we have little left in the locker to deal with climate change, food shortages and energy security.”
Staying Power - How Ukraine can prevail tactically and strategically - Policy Exchange
At a recent event at Policy Exchange the Prime Minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas, made an eloquent, well-argued and…
14. Looks like Coatue is doing pretty well with its big cash position.
“Laffont warned that bear markets are regularly marked by abrupt upward swings, only to get erased by a further downturn.
As a result, his firm has been cautious and holds a large cash position.
Stock moves have been highly correlated so trying to pick outliers has meant getting dragged down by the broader market.
Still, there are signs that Coatue will start placing bets — not just command premium management fees for holding onto their investors’ cash. Coatue has started to stake out — at least intellectually — bullish positions on Tesla, DoorDash, Nvidia, Snap, and others.”
Folk Songs & Stock Charts: Coatue Is Ascendant After Besting Hedge Fund Rivals in the Downturn
On a recent evening in June at the Rosewood Miramar Beach hotel in Montecito, California, the Americana singer Brandi…
15. For those wondering WTF is #Gentleminions?
What Is #Gentleminions? Why Teens Are Wearing Suits to 'Minions: The Rise of Gru'
Last weekend, group chats of aspiring young male fashionistas all across America buzzed with activity, as they…
16. “Magness has become not just a successful running coach but an expert on human performance, working with everyone from NASA to Nike, and co-authoring the 2017 book Peak Performance with Brad Stulberg. What makes his new book unique — and especially useful — is that it threads the needle between the outdated outlook of “no pain, no gain” and the more contemporary model of self-care, which can easily tip into lazy self-indulgence.
He’s exploring a different, more productive way to navigate our pain that neither advocates ramming straight through it nor tries to escape it entirely. That might be the discomfort of trying to run your fastest mile, or will yourself through another hour of work, or simply use your phone less.
Whatever pain you’re trying to endure, here Magness lays out the lessons he’s learned on persevering in a more productive manner.”
How to Be More Resilient, According to an Elite Performance Coach
We're past the days of "no pain, no gain." Steve Magness, elite running coach and performance guru, on what toughness…
17. Probably something to learn here. Brute forcing creative brain work is not always the best thing to do.
Math genius: 'I work 3 hours a day' | LinkedIn
A Princeton University professor has won the the highest honor in his field, mathematics - and he did it working about…
18. For the history buff. The Dutch Military Revolution which led them to becoming a great empire.
19. It is about time. We need to bring our industrial base back to North America & away from China.
Manufacturing's Made-in-America boom | LinkedIn
Shaken by strict lockdowns in China and the rising cost and complications of global shipping, many American executives…
20. “Despite his many moral offenses against what the progressive would call “good,” Herakles seeks to repent for each wrong doing he does. He never ran from responsibility. At one point, he makes himself a slave for three years to makeup for a wrongful death.
Morality changes with the times and people, but nature is eternal. Nature has laid down the laws that guide peoples and species to the top of the food chain. It’s there, you just have to look for it. Progressives falsely believe they can progress themselves out of nature and in the process, have diluted the blood of heroes. You must turn from the progressive path if you see the value of the warrior religion. The warrior religion will be founded in nature, in reality, not some naive dream about how the world should be.”
On the Diluting of Hero's Blood
When we speak about the warrior religion, it's on its ability to fight and survive as well as the gods it's disciples…
21. This is a big problem that Hollywood has sold out to China & CCP.
“The movies have become a proxy for the broader rivalry forming between the US and China. I think it ultimately becomes a story of values, and what values are shipped around the world. For a hundred years, Hollywood’s movies have been considered the default global entertainment; someone once said that the movies helped turn America into “an empire by invitation,” a gravitational pull toward the country and its way of life. I think China, which sees its turn at dominating a century, wants to copy that playbook.
So there will be major implications beyond the cinema, when it comes to which heroes are elevated, what stories are told, what stories aren’t told, and ultimately how moviegoers around the world see themselves and see the people in charge.”
How China's relationship to Hollywood has shaped the movies
The big Hollywood movies you've seen on the big screen (or, perhaps, on your small screen) have been changing, but…
22. My friend Hiten was talking about this back in 2018 and he was right as usual.
“With that in mind, I recently happened upon this excellent talk by Rippling founder Parker Conrad on the virtues of building “Compound Startups” (a.k.a. companies with a multi-product portfolio rather than a point solution). In the talk, Conrad explains why the “focused” approach to building a software business may be outdated, and makes a case for the strategic advantages to building a compound startup like Rippling.”
Why building a “compound startup” might be the next, great, non-obvious SaaS play
Or why “just focus” might be bad advice
23. Always a good perspective here. Net net: its ugly in growth stage phase now with the inevitable hangover from the crazy party last few years.
“- Private markets take cues from the public markets, moving from late-stage to early stage. In 2020–2021, the multiples for publicly traded companies exploded as investors valued “growth at all costs” over profitability or unit economics. Similarly, private market investors poured capital into high-growth mature companies at multiples believed to be the “new normal” of how companies would be received in the public markets.
Today, the pendulum has swung entirely back to historic averages on multiples in the public markets, and the private markets have taken the same cue on newly priced deals. A recent example is the buy-now-pay-later start-up Klarna which is reportedly preparing to raise capital at a $6.5B valuation ($1.6B in reported annual revenues) –, a more than 85% discount to the last valuation of $45B.”
What's really happening in growth stage VC amidst the downturn?
Follow me @samirkaji for my weekly thoughts on venture capital TL:DR Summary We are experiencing a reversion to the…
24. “That means, in part, acting thoughtfully but with the utmost effort, understanding that war is more bar fight than chess game. Or, to put it in the simpler words of Jim Malone, Eliot Ness’s counselor in The Untouchables, “You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way! And that’s how you get Capone.”
Al Capone is an apt analogy for what the West confronts in Russia: a particularly noxious mix of Mafia mentality, hypernationalist ideology, and totalitarian technique. Elegance is not the Russian way, and it cannot be our way. This is the light in which one should measure the accomplishments of NATO’s recent gathering in Madrid.”
Let's Use Chicago Rules to Beat Russia
Carl von Clausewitz observed in his classic On War that "the maximum use of force is by no means incompatible with the…
25. “The bottom line is that emerging fund managers have indeed an edge compared to established VCs in terms of fund performance. On the other hand, as with most investment opportunities, greater upside also means a greater risk. Therefore any investor looking to back successful new firms ultimately needs to be able to assess whether the managers of such VC funds have the ecosystem connections and unique insights to deliver on their investment thesis.”
Why new VC funds offer the greatest opportunities in Venture Capital
"Among the 10 best VC funds of a given year, a disproportionate number of investment firms are represented with their…
26. “That said, founders also need to lower their expectations — about the amount of money they can raise, the price at which they can do it and the amount of time they’ll need to complete a round. Rounds are going to occur further apart, and fundraising processes are going to take longer to complete until the market changes again. And make no mistake, the market will change again, because that’s how cycles work. They go down, they go up.
Despite the doom and gloom, there’s money available for good startups who tell good stories to good investors. That’s harder to do now than it was, but it may also lead to bigger and better things. Fundraising has never been a sure thing. It just felt that way based on the press coverage and the stories you probably heard from other founders. The current market is just reminding us of that.”
The Big Contradiction at the Heart of the Tech Downturn
I've read a lot of advice venture capitalists have given founders on the current state of the markets. Most of that…
27. One aspect of the ongoing gray war between China and the USA. We need to learn faster here.
28. This was a monstrously insightful interview with the far-seeing Balaji Srinavasan. If u want to understand what the future might look like, this is worth checking out. It’s a MUST watch/listen.
29. A great rebuttal to realist theorist Mearsheimer who is completely wrong & clueless on Ukraine. He describes a reality that does not exist & has deluded isolationist Americans.
30. Always fun and I learned alot as always. All in Podcast is on fire today.
31. We should ban TikTok as its a tool for dumbing us down. China and CCP are the enemy & we need to realize we are at war already, a quiet gray war.
“The tip of China’s propaganda spear is TikTok, which has a direct connection to the midbrain of a billion people, including nearly every U.S. teenager and half their parents. Facebook is the most powerful espionage vehicle ever created, and now China commands the most powerful propaganda tool. Putin and the GRU can manipulate an amoral Facebook from the outside, it just takes money. It has been easy, to date, to exploit management that’s indifferent to teen depression, much less national security. But it will likely get increasingly difficult. Xi Jinping can simply pick up the phone. When he does (if he hasn’t already) the shift in TikTok’s messaging will be subtle, invisible in the details, hiding in plain sight.
What would China’s propaganda look like? It would look like us. Subtle manipulations to TikTok’s algorithm will promote the negative messages, elide the context. As with art and merchandising, propaganda isn’t about what’s in the message, but what isn’t. Specifically, nuance and who is promoting certain types of content over others.”
TikTok: Trojan Stallion | No Mercy / No Malice
Late in the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Franklin published a report detailing how the British army had enlisted Native…
32. Latest interview with Peter Zeihan. Net net: next 5 years globally will be rough. It’s a very good interview here if you want to know what’s happening in the geopolitical world.
33. This sounds about right. Having done both.
Startup People vs. Big Company People - Chris McCann
Startup people are all about creating results. Big company people are all about scaling processes. Startup people are…
34. “But as the RUSI report makes clear, a strategic victory in this war ultimately depends on the will and determination of Western leaders. Fuelled by victories in the Donbas, a Russian narrative will develop that Moscow’s final victory is certain, and support for Ukraine is a doomed and pointless effort. This is not the case. A Russian victory in Ukraine is not inevitable, but preventing this outcome will require a pan-Western effort not far short of full wartime mobilisation, an effort which is so far not taking place.
The relentless optimism of Ukraine’s online supporters, though understandable, does not accurately reflect the strategic picture, and may instead be hindering a popular understanding of the grave challenges that lie ahead. Ukrainians are doing everything in their power to win this war, and suffering terribly in the process: but unless their sacrifice and solidarity is matched in Western capitals, it may still not be enough.”
Is Russia winning the war?
A couple of weeks ago, I was smoking a cigarette outside my hotel in Kharkiv when a Ukrainian man, hearing me speak…
35. “But after a long career interacting with intelligence officers, I’ve noticed a dichotomy between senior policy makers who come up with grand visions and the “ground truth” of what is involved in the implementation to achieve said vision.
If America fails to support Ukraine all the way to victory, then other nations are unlikely to believe that they can rely on our assurances. And if they do not believe that we are reliable allies, then they are likely to chart their own courses. Which may be counter to our own interests. They could decide that they would be better off making accommodations with Moscow or Beijing. Or they could decide that the only true guarantee of sovereignty is nuclear proliferation.
Plans are important. But the ground facts will determine what can and cannot be implemented.”
The Ground Truths in Ukraine
On the opening day of the G-7 Summit in Germany, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by former Deputy Secretary of State…
36. Slava Ukraini!
“The arrival of HIMARS, even in such small quantities, has been much of a game-changer.
“Ukrainian forces are increasingly targeting Russian military infrastructure with indirect fire and U.S.-provided HIMARS systems deep in occupied territory,” said the Institute of the Study of War (ISW), a U.S.-based defense think tank, on July 4.
“The increased ability of Ukrainian forces to target critical Russian military facilities with Western-provided HIMARS demonstrates how Western military aid provides Ukraine with new and necessary military capabilities.”
Moreover, on July 7, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council secretary Oleksiy Danilov said Ukraine currently already had a total of nine HIMARS and “similar systems,” but that Ukraine would need dozens more.”