Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads July 25th, 2021

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams

  1. This is a must read thread. Why gaming wins versus Music. But relevant for all businesses if they want to stay relevant.

2. “The economic case for a geroscience moonshot is compelling. Healthcare is among the most pressing challenges we face as a nation and, by far, the greatest fraction of healthcare expenditures comes from caring for the sick elderly population. The disease-first approach has been quite successful at keeping sick people alive longer than was possible 50 years ago, which it turns out is really expensive.

In contrast, if we keep people alive longer in good health, they can remain productive members of society. In fact, one recent study estimated the cost savings from a conservative geroscience intervention that increases healthy life expectancy by only one year would reach about $38 trillion annually. Given the proposed ARPA-H price tag of $6.5 billion, that equates to a 5846-fold return on investment.”

3. “Depending on where you look, Robinhood is animated by contrasting energies, trying to convince you of the intelligence and nobility of its endeavor at the same time that it assures you of its playfulness.

This is clear even within the first few pages. One spread proclaims “Our mission is to democratize finance for all”; the next alludes to the Game Stop fiasco’s chief protagonist with a cheeky “ROAR” ticker. A similar juxtaposition plays out a moment later: right before Robinhood’s founders extoll their values — clear-minded and sober as they are — they wink again at Roaring Kitty with this paraphrase: “If you like these values, you may like the stock.”

This is amusing, certainly. But it leaves the impression of a business unsure of whether it wants to be the most serious fun company or the most fun serious company. Does Robinhood want to be the Allegiance of Magicians from Arrested Development or Mean Girls’ “cool Mom”? Is this an addictive social app with an economic agenda, or a bank with a sense of humor?”

4. This is a great podcast for biohackers. Lots of good ideas and protocols.

5. Go Cube. Batch 18 represent. Congrats to Artyom Keydunov, Pavel Tiunov & team.

6. “Since a huge chunk of your net worth is going to be tied to your side venture it is better to start today. It is also a lot smarter to choose a path with the highest *chance* of success. This means you do not follow what you “love”. You do not go into writing. You do not go into painting. You do not go into making music. You find the most monetizable skill you have and run in that direction.

If you are a good writer you need to learn to copywrite and sell things to people (conversions = massive income). If you are good at art, you go into UX/UI design — you don’t sit on a street corner selling paintings for $20 hoping to be “seen”. If you are good at music, you go work at an advertising company at minimum (cinema etc.) instead of trying to be “seen” at random pop up events. Yes. There are exceptions to the rule (Kanye West, other rappers etc.). However. We’re playing a game of probabilities not hopes and dreams.”

7. Very cool company. Congrats @Samir Kaji & team.

8. “But Golding possesses what you would call main character energy. Born out of TikTok, the term refers to puffing up one’s own chest as a means of self-care than a shallow ego boost. In a June 2021 essay for The New Yorker, Kyle Chayka writes that post-Covid main character energy is about trying to “reclaim control of our stories, exert ourselves upon the world,” and “take our places as protagonists once more.”

This is Golding’s narrative. He’s an actor with all the attributes of the main protagonist, but decades of systemic racism in Hollywood have kept protagonists from resembling Golding.”

9. “As you can see, people have less wealth and more debt. The devaluation of fiat currencies has made everything more expensive around us. The promise of bitcoin is that we will usher in a new era of sound money. The currency is outside the system. No one controls it. People will once again be able to simply save their way to financial freedom. The money won’t lose value over time. In fact, the purchasing power will increase.”

10. This looks so awesome!

11. “Well, DeFi does give us hyper automation. If you take out a loan in Aave, there is no one deciding what the collateral should be, no one examining your credit history, no courts are needed to seize the collateral, no police to enforce a court decision. This, finally, is a rational world.

The Enlightenment, at long last. Loan disbursement and repayment happen automatically and collateral will be seized in the same way through the application of a smart contract embedded in the blockchain. Aave also allows certain loans to be instantly issued and settled. These loans require no upfront collateral and happen almost instantly, taking advantage of a feature of all blockchains: transactions are only finalized when a new bundle of transactions, known as a block, is accepted by the network.

So far, so good. The most problematic, but also potentially most interesting element of DeFi is that hyper automation may well be impossible. Smart contracts can be gamed.”

12. For anyone interested in house clearing….like I am.

13. Still the best podcast show around.

14. “But China never really shifted out of survival mode. Yes, China’s leaders embraced economic growth, but that growth has always been toward the telos of comprehensive national power. China’s young people may be increasingly ready to cash out and have some fun, but the leadership is just not there yet. They’ve got bigger fish to fry — they have to avenge the Century of Humiliation and claim China’s rightful place in the sun and blah blah.

And so when China’s leaders look at what kind of technologies they want the country’s engineers and entrepreneurs to be spending their effort on, they probably don’t want them spending that effort on stuff that’s just for fun and convenience. They probably took a look at their consumer internet sector and decided that the link between that sector and geopolitical power had simply become too tenuous to keep throwing capital and high-skilled labor at it. And so, in classic CCP fashion, it was time to smash.”

15. “Today you can learn skills, showcase your expertise, build a reputation, and forge key relationships from anywhere in the world — and the tools accelerating these trends will only continue to improve.

Imagine a world where 8 billion people are connected to the internet — instantly, they join the global economy, information space, and education space, giving them the ability to learn, contribute, and communicate permissionlessly across language barriers, borders, and time zones.”

16. This is a disturbing topic. Hope the CCP pursues peace (not getting my hopes up here though).

17. Invaluable tweet storm on what’s happening in the tech investing space right now.

18. “Rappi is a Latin American Super App offering users rapid delivery of a range of items (food, medicine, clothes), a suite of financial services and a platform for booking experiences from travel to concerts and hotel stays.

Rappi initially launched as a food and grocery delivery platform but has quickly evolved into a Super App offering a broad range of complementary services to its users. Like all Super Apps, Rappi has grown its product offering as its user base has scaled.”

19. This is an awesome story especially when you know the people. Healthy ramen!

20. Big fan here.

“At 48, his life seems relentlessly full of activity, projects, causes, releases. He’s the star of an imminent summer blockbuster, The Suicide Squad. He’s a rapper who releases music online at a rate of about a track a month. He hosts a podcast. He’s just released a new line of T-shirts. Earlier in 2021, Elba signed a deal with HarperCollins to write children’s books.

He and his wife, the Canadian model Sabrina Dhowre Elba, have recently been petitioning world leaders (France’s, Belgium’s) on behalf of rural farmers in Africa. The couple have also co- designed a Louboutin sandal. When Elba sits down to chat to me over Zoom, it’s during a break between night shoots on a new movie he’s making, and I’m tempted to tell him to forget about it; shut the laptop; sleep.”

21. This is the future. Embedded Fintech!

“Embedded Fintech refers to the integration of fintech products and services into traditional financial institutions’ offerings. Embedded Fintech enables banks to increase the speed at which they can deliver Fintech-like services, including Embedded Finance (i.e. distribution of banking services by non-banks) and Banking-as-a-Service (i.e. banks delivering services via API). It was catalyzed by Open Banking (i.e. banks sharing customer data via API).”

22. “In June, Cooper’s podcast, Call Her Daddy — now a solo venture — was licensed by Spotify for a reported $60 million for three years, which might make her its second most highly paid podcaster after Joe Rogan and definitely makes her much richer than the guys she once dated for dinners and vacations.”

23. Why are used cars so expensive now? The critical importance of semiconductor chips.

24. “In terms of the soulmate, one person cannot give you what an entire community should provide. That is bound to create a crumbling of too many expectations on one unit. So do not give up your friends. A wedding is not saying goodbye to your circle or to these relationships. They’re super important, and especially the men.

The men, particularly guys in straight relationships, lose massive amounts of social connections once they get married. But this is for people in all types of relationships. One person cannot give you what a whole village should provide.”

25. “The most critical thing your users table does for you, though, is it gives you access to network effects, and these network effects give you some lock-in. The more users your platform has, the more value it has to any one user (cf. Metcalfe’s law), and the more value it has to any one user, then A) the easier it is to attract new users, and B) the harder it is for any one user to leave (because to leave is to give up all that value).

So the entire online attention economy is built around proprietary user tables that different apps jealously guard and are constantly trying to grow.

Every web-scale software player, from small B2B IaaS products to big consumer-facing SaaS megaplatforms (Facebook, Google, Amazon), is about to get its eggs scrambled.

Here’s what’s coming: the public blockchain amounts to a single, massive users table for the entire Internet, and the next wave of distributed applications will be built on top of it.”



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Marvin Liao

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