Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads July 26, 2020

Sometimes, we are so attached to our way of life that we turn down a wonderful opportunity, because we don’t know what to do with it — Paul Coehlo

  1. Awesome & old profile of DE Shaw: one of the first and best quant hedge funds. Also Jeff Bezos worked there and it’s where he came up with the idea.

DE Shaw, the First Great Quant Hedge Fund

2. Think China is going to be a dominant global player? Think again. Worth a read here as it’s contrary to the popular view out there.

3. “After attending and hosting virtual events, it’s clear to me they will continue to be an addition to the marketer’s quiver. And if you haven’t yet explored them at your startup, I think you should reconsider.”

The Unforeseen Benefits of Online Events by @ttunguz

4. This is a monster read by Ray Dalio but important to understand macroeconomics and where the US Dollar is going.

5. “Everyone is all in a tizzy about day traders and Robinhood and Dave Portnoy. “Ooooh, they’re going to have such a hangover when the bubble pops. Ooooh, they don’t understand how investing works.”

Pffft. They’ll be fine.

The investors facing a hangover are small family offices, plied with endless offerings of fee-heavy SPVs and SPACs by multi-billion dollar asset managers. They’re the ones overserved by Wall Street today.”

6. “When I ask people how their lives could be improved by removing difficulties, I am always struck by two things. One is, how many of these problems are actually people. The second amazing thing is that the list of monster problems is usually very short. Remove these frustrations, and life becomes a lot sweeter. Use the 80/20 principle to identify the few things that cause nearly all the problems. Then remove the problems.”

“Be optimistic. This is where believing that life is difficult can lead you astray. Sure, life is difficult, but the difficulties can always be overcome. There is always a way. It’s just a question of locating it.”


7. “The presumption that America — once the dominant player in global technology — would have new competition building products of and for rising markets on their own terms was made clear in a rising China. And, of course, as millions of miles of travel since has shown me and anyone willing to look around them — mini “China’s” were rising everywhere. Ask Uber if merely showing up in a market meant they would win it as was once often the case for American tech companies, and their exit from South East Asia with an investment in the largest local competition says a lot.

Thus my one condition for giving such a speech is that it cannot talk about where the next Silicon Valley will come from. While I knew there were great lessons to be learned there — the behavior, mind sent and seeding environment of the Valley remains astounding — it was clear to me that new markets were going to rise on their own locally sensitive terms and those terms would, in fact, unleash a new global approach as billions of new consumers were holding the very means to transact for the first item.”

8. “Of course, there’s a more directly competitive aspect to venture capital because it’s a zero-sum game. You have to win, and earn your place in a competitive opportunity. It’s collaborative too, though, and that’s what I love most. I love working with a range of people in the ecosystem. That’s part of the reason I founded High Output as an angel-investing/coaching firm, rather than a traditional fund. It allows me to do what I love, but I don’t have to fight against all these other seed funds out there to win a deal. I can work with them.”

9. Super insightful write up. I’m not normally a fan of the “velvet rope strategy” but when it works it really works.

The Value of a Velvet Rope: Effects of Hype and Exclusivity on Launch Strategies

10. I read anything with Tim Ferriss: a great interview here.

“The 4-Hour Work Week is — based on the title, understandably — often misunderstood. The objective was to provide a toolkit for maximizing per-hour output. It’s not necessarily about working four hours a week. You could choose two hours a week, one hour a week, or 80 hours a week.

But the reason that book found such a toehold in Silicon Valley is because it was focused on evaluating different currencies — money, time, mobility — and how you can pull levers to change these variables to maximize per-hour output. That toolkit was very much time- and income-focused.”

Because it doesn’t matter how much money you have, doesn’t matter how effective or efficient you are. It doesn’t matter what types of fancy toys you collect. It doesn’t matter how hot your significant other is, if your inner world — your internal monologue or dialogue — is that of anger or despair or frustration or sadness the majority of the time.

Almost none of these other things matter very much.”

From Productivity to Psychedelics: Tim Ferriss Has Changed His Mind About Success

11. “Kirkland’s success defies our intuition and experience. Shouldn’t lower prices lead to lower quality products? How can they offer rock-bottom prices but still have some of the best products around?

The answer is this: they get the best manufacturers in the world — who already have products on Costco shelves — to make Kirkland products. Yeah, you read that right. While customers might not know it, Kirkland products are often made by the same manufacturers who make the branded products that sit next to them on the shelves.

And not only that, but according to a Reddit user who worked at a Costco supplier, Kirkland products have to be at least 1% better than the equivalent branded products (on some metric of their choosing). Costco forces manufacturers to compete with a better version of themselves.

But if Costco is pitting brands against themselves, why do the brands put up with it? The short answer is that they want to. Costco is one of the largest sales channels in the world and brands can still profitably sell their products under the Kirkland brand.”

How Costco Convinces Brands to Cannibalize Themselves

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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store