Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads July 31st, 2022
“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.” ― Albert Einstein
- “Novel infrastructure often enables new software. We refer to each wave by its architecture advance: internet, mobile, cloud, data lake, single-page apps, containers, serverless.
At some point, startups tinker enough with the new technology to discover the applications customers value most. Then the infrastructure innovations disappear beneath the delightful application and we move onto the next wave with its own buzzwords.
Web3 will disappear just the same.”
2. Rundown of the Dutch farmer mess.
Another typical well intentioned, badly thought out, horribly executed plan by elitist out of touch technocrats and politicians with no understanding of . Par for the course these days in the west.
The Dutch Farmers Revolt
It was weird to watch Dutch news this week. It was not so much the intense farmer protests: they were expected. But by…
3. Hmmm…….I hate the Wandering Investors apolitical view.
But I agree Hungary is a very interesting place, even though I hate Orban and his Pro-Putin stance. But I do love Budapest and Hungarians. Good case for investing in Hungarian real estate as foreigner.
The Hungarian Forint is crashing - great value real estate in Budapest
For Europeans who have most of their savings in euros and want to buy in a currency that performed worse, but is in a…
4. This is fascinating. Investing in a Teak Wood Plantation.
“Teak’s core qualities are that it is resistant to termites, fire, rot and fungus. No wonder it is in such demand.
Teak’s two biggest markets are India and China, with India being the number one importer in spite of having a substantial local source of teak.
In 2014, the Burmese government started imposing drastic policies to restrict the logging, and export of teak. As Myanmar represented 75% of the export volume, this resulted in extreme tightness in the global teak market. This meant that new sources of teak had to be found, mostly stemming from plantations rather than the natural type found in Myanmar.
Latin America is now a large “producer” of teak wood, mostly driven by private businesses, with Brazil and Panama taking the top two spots. The weather and climate are perfectly adapted to teak trees.
Teak trees typically get harvested after 25 years. So when investing in a teak wood plantation, you are looking at a (very) long term investment.”
Investing in a Teak Wood Plantation, is it worth it?
Fundamentally, this article is not only about investing in a teak wood plantation, but also about various types of such…
5. About time.
“Hollywood has long bent over backwards to give Chinese censors what they want. Not anymore.”
6. Slava Ukraini!
“But overall, the Ukrainians are going toe-to-toe with one of the larger military powers of the world. “This small country, that didn’t have an enormous army beforehand, but this one small country has been able to hold this [Russia] at bay in many cases and give up very little ground,” he said.
“I don’t want to appear overly optimistic here, but history is full of examples of small countries like this, who display their will and are able to hold their own,” he said. “We celebrated one of them last Monday [July 4]. And I’d like to think the Ukrainians were demonstrating the same to the rest of the world, right now.”
Ukraine Holding Its Own Against Major World Military Power, U.S. Official Says
The Russians are making "slow and uneven advances" through northern Donetsk, a senior military official said speaking…
7. Shocking and sad news in Japan on the assassination of former PM Abe. RIP. He did a lot to help his country & the region.
“This post provides as good a summary of Abe’s effect on Japan as any I could write today. Basically, I identified three big things:
— Abe’s economic policies boosted corporate hiring and made it easier for mothers to work, raising labor force participation dramatically for women, young people, and the elderly.
— Abe ended Japan’s pacifist era by “reinterpreting” the constitution to allow for a more normal military; this will probably result in Japan boosting defense spending and taking an active role in helping to defend its regional allies, such as Taiwan.
— Abe dramatically expanded immigration to Japan, causing demographic shifts that will reshape Japanese society in the decades to come.
Now Abe is gone, tragically cut down by a crazed assassin’s bullet. He will be missed. But the new Japan that he built — and that the Japanese people built during his seminal years in office — will remain.
Leadership is still important in the modern world. And during the 2010s, Japan had it.”
Abe Shinzo: A retrospective
Assassination is not unheard-of in Japan - the mayor of Nagasaki was assassinated in 2007, and a Diet member was slain…
8. As always, there are so many amazing insights here from Balaji on the Network State.
It’s a must watch if you want to learn what the future will look like.
9. “Hedge funds, banks, brokers — they are all linked, and the way they are linked is through cash and collateral flows. Across the system, cash is borrowed, assets are bought, and assets are used as collateral. It’s a three-layered system: assets, funding, collateral. Most of the time, it works smoothly but when the layers become too tightly knit, problems can cascade.
In one way, recent events in crypto help to shine more light on the events of fifteen years ago. Everyone has their pet theory of the cause behind the financial crisis: low interest rates, government housing policy, unsustainable credit demand, weak credit underwriting standards, mixed public/private mandate of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, China’s accumulation of dollar reserves, failure of financial regulation, role of credit rating agencies, growth of shadow banking system, poorly designed compensation schemes, financial institution leverage, mark-to-market accounting, financial institution interconnectedness, perception of ‘too big to fail’, short-selling, and so on.
But in the time since, we’ve watched an alternative financial system evolve unfettered and it’s ended up in the same place. Maybe it’s not any individual component of the system that’s the cause; rather, instability is an inherent feature of the system.”
The Hedge Fund, the Bank and the Broker: How It All Fits Together
Welcome to another issue of Net Interest, my newsletter on financial sector themes. This week, the subject is…
10. “Volumes could be written about the mixed metaphors that are butchered across all of venture capital. But these two phrases are pretty straightforward. A tailwind blows in the direction you’re traveling and pushes you forward. A headwind blows against you and makes the going more tough.
You can have a powerful tailwind with no good company to ride it and you can have a great company with no tailwind. When developing an investment thesis it’s focused on both. But understanding the tailwind and why it’s a “big deal” can help focus your efforts in evaluating the company tackling it and how well they’re positioned.”
Tailwinds: What's in a Thesis?
Time for an entertaining and only slightly relevant anecdote. In 1964 the film Mary Poppins was wildly successful…
11. “One of the more popular questions I get is, “What are characteristics of successful entrepreneurs?” Beyond basic personality attributes like passionate, opinionated, confident, resourceful, positive, and self-motivated, I like to offer an even more qualitative thought: successful entrepreneurs have often overcome a challenging life experience.”
Challenging Life Experience as Entrepreneur Characteristic
One of the more popular questions I get is, "What are characteristics of successful entrepreneurs?" Beyond basic…
12. This is invaluable for founders and employees. Know your financial runway.
How Much Financial Runway Do You Have? - Matt Paulson
When you work for an employer, you know how much money you're going to earn in any month. You have a set salary or…
13. Tips on living the simple but very good life from someone actually doing it.
“This is how less is more, by freeing up time, money, and attention. Very important in a society that constantly is craving our time, money, and attention for its own benefit; preferable for free to monetize tirelessly with very little or no benefit to ourselves.”
Reduce Everything Down to Genius
Big bump in readership over the past few weeks which is very exciting. My ambition with Fewer Better Things is to share…
14. “Fast forward 14 years. An eerily similar and somewhat ironic replay of the global financial crisis is unfolding in the universe of digital currencies. After the total value of all cryptocurrencies reached an apex of just under $3 trillion last November — of which Bitcoin accounted for roughly $1.3 trillion — a rolling crash of epic proportions has wiped out more than two-thirds of that digital wealth.
For crypto, however, there is no central bank standing by willing to bailout those who are caught up in the contagion. In many ways, we are observing in real-time what would have occurred on Wall Street if the concept of “too big to fail” hadn’t come to dominate our corrupt political discourse and AIG had been allowed to collapse. How will the crypto crash continue to unfold, when will it be over, and what is to be made of the assets and technologies that survive this crisis?”
" It's hard to punish and save the banks at the same time." - Henry Paulson After a frenzied weekend of tense and…
15. I’m a fan personally. Happy user of Substack platform for my newsletter.
“Since its founding, in tandem with an industry-wide pivot toward digital subscriptions, Substack has aggressively pursued that goal, making it both a darling of the media world and a breakout star of Silicon Valley. More recently, the company has found itself on the front lines of the culture wars.
Its laissez-faire approach to content moderation, which sometimes gives voice to objectionable figures booted from other platforms, has made Substack a lightning rod in the debate over regulating free speech. But even amid bursts of negative media coverage, Substack has maintained a large and loyal user base, and there are no signs of an exodus.”
"There Has to Be a Line": Substack's Founders Dive Headfirst Into the Culture Wars
The newsletter company is on a mission to disrupt the attention economy away from "cheap outrage and flame wars,"…
“This simple icon — a yellow circle, two dots, a smile — retained relevancy through 50 years of cultural movements, from free love to raves to the digital revolution.
And in the process, it became a family-owned global licensing empire worth more than $500m per year. But how did it get there?”
The $500m smiley face business
The Smiley Company office in London, England, is a wonder to behold. Smiley paintings line the walls. Smiley push…
17. Big user of functional mushrooms. One of the best bio hacks around for improving your cognition (ie. mental clarity) & improving your immune system.
“Plummer began taking functional mushrooms at the beginning of the pandemic and quickly noticed results. “I felt like I was protected from getting sick,” he says. “My immune system was boosted. My allergies went away. I rested better.”
Jake Plummer Is Sold on Functional Mushrooms
Now 47, former Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer has decided to reverse the aging process. "What I've done and…
18. Very helpful to understand what the future industrial materials industry will look like.
19. Very cool. Another Creator turned Investor. Mario has a great newsletter worth reading.
Generalist Capital: In Search of Epics | The Generalist
Want to boost conversion and drive growth? Stytch makes user authentication and onboarding seamless and secure. We…
20. “I’m trying to make the point that no matter what crisis arises, and no matter the financial or economic stress you’re currently under, your leaders will never take any of the heat for it. When life becomes unaffordable, unreasonable, or unliveable, they’ll blame foreign powers, past events, and potentially even you.
It doesn’t matter who takes the fall. As long as it’s not them.
To many, it’s a terrifying thought that our leaders are almost without exception either incompetent, asleep at the wheel, apathetic towards our needs, or at worst, blatantly corrupt. But to me, accepting these truths isn’t something to fear.
Instead, I see it as an open door.
It’s an opportunity to realise that when it really comes down to it, you’re on your own. That no matter who is to blame for the greater financial circumstances that are affecting your life, your leaders are never going to admit fault. Most likely, they’ll deflect to whatever scapegoat is convenient at the time, in an attempt to direct your anger elsewhere.
I’m here to tell you that regardless of who is to blame for the financial circumstances of the world right now, it shouldn’t really matter. All that does, is the actions you personally take to improve or enrich your own financial life.”
The financial mind-war.
Zealots clad in heavy uniforms of iron and steel, the Teutonic Knights were warriors who fought in the name of God. But…
21. We need more of this. Investing in American Dynamism. And being positive sum. Great interview here.
22. “What’s the secret? Why do older founders often fare better?
Folks in their 40s, 50s, and 60s have accumulated skills, work experience, intuition, connections, and financial resources. Older founders can “stack” these advantages when they launch their company.
In many cases, it’s someone’s personal network that makes the difference.”
Older founders do this better
Jon and I didn't start working on our startup, Transistor, together until we were both in our late 30s. When we…
23. Good thread on why US defense of Europe is critical to also deterring China.
24. Lots of wisdom here. It’s not just about money but about life and generosity.
25. It’s going to be a rough next couple of years. Signals of massive systemic breakdown in the world.
26. “The re-invigoration of NATO, through enlargement and increased military capabilities, is the opposite of what Putin intended when his forces invaded Ukraine.
Instead of a divided, indecisive NATO, Russia is now economically crippled and hemmed in on all sides. Furthermore, countries in its perceived sphere of influence have used Russian aggression as the final straw to seek closer ties with the West, finally leaving Russia’s orbit.
This has revealed Russia for what it really is: a diminished power with nothing to offer except aggressive nationalism and terror.”
Russian War Crimes in Ukraine Are Backfiring | Geopolitical Monitor
Vladimir Putin's tactic of targeting civilian populations has finally backfired. Instead of demoralizing war-weary…
27. Lots of really good discussion on building & his observations on what’s happening in tech and society. Marc Andreessen, investor and builder, Silicon Valley legend.
28. I so love this story. Help as many people on the way up. It’s the smart but also right thing to do.
29. For any aspiring entrepreneur, this was an amazing interview. I personally learned alot. Rob Dyrdek.
30. The world has changed in VC. The markets evolving view on Tiger Global. Net net: probably going to be licking their wounds for a while.
Tiger, then. Tiger, now.
It's not like Tiger Global has been out of the news for the past 2ish years but there seemed to be a chatter slowdown…
31. This is such an educational and infuriating discussion. We are run by idiotic, unserious people in Europe and the USA. We deserve better.
Lots of good ideas on how to fix our stupid energy policies and gut the war criminal Putin’s economy intelligently.
32. Good summary of Balaji’s book the Network State: with Bowtiedbull interpretation. I’m 1/3 thru the book, its worth reading.
“Conclusions: Big picture message from Balaji (our interpretation): 1) he is negative on USA global power future, 2) he is also suspicious of all the China activities given overreach potential with the Digital Yuan, 3) unsurprisingly bullish on crypto, 4) would say that the steps to a digital nation make sense — would argue that the book doesn’t provide much in terms of a step from digital to going physical ie. step 2 to step 3 and 5) grass roots bottom up is one of the better strategies for starting a digital nation.”
Network State Creating a Country, the Jungle and Twitter Musk Fiasco!
Welcome Avatar! As promised we picked up The Network State by Balaji Srinivasan, unsurprisingly a lot of the concepts…
33. “The FINRA Investor Education Foundation promotes basic diligence hygiene: learn to recognize red flags, know which questions to ask, and independently verify answers.
Over-optimistic, deceptive or fraudulent investments are over-concentrated in areas of new technology. New technologies are characterized by their uncertainty of success. This requires selling potential investors a narrative about future possibilities as opposed to visible cash flows. That is natural! By definition any novel disruptive technology lacks a track record. Investors who avoid innovative technologies altogether because of this ambiguity ignore the inevitability of change.
However, this inherently ambiguous futurism also lends itself to bad behavior.”
On bullshit in investing
The epic crash in stocks and crypto has been the big financial story of 2022. When the Fed raised rates, it exposed a…
34. I’m actually pretty bullish on Japan but also recognize I love the place so probably VERY biased. But planning on investing in the market there.
“Now, if Japan is a small part of your global portfolio and you’re looking for a quick filter, just work out a model like you usually would for an equivalent American or European company, then take your usual investment timeline and double it to see if it still meets your hurdle rate.
As for what a perfect Japanese stock would look like, my personal preference is slow growth, no surprises, and an attractive price. The book Tree-Ring Management by Hiroshi Tsukakoshi captures this well.”
10 Questions with "Clayton"
Disclaimer: Asian Century Stocks uses information sources believed to be reliable, but their accuracy cannot be…
35. Excellent tips on how to start a remote service business or even for any business. And also below: how to craft a good offer.
“For that I have 5 questions I answer to help me craft a decent offer, I call these…
Offer Components: 1) Who is it for? Ex: Life insurance companies; 2) What is the solution? Ex: get more leads; 3) What is the opportunity? Ex: Dynamic database of new families; 4) Unique mechanism? Ex: Family Finder and 5) Business model (price/terms)? Ex: Pay per lead
I completely made up the answer to the questions above, but pretend I have a service business targeting insurance companies and I help them get more leads.
Questions 1 and 2, give you the niche you target and the solution you provide. Simple enough. However, things get fuzzy after question 3.
Question 3 needs you to lay out the opportunity, why is this relevant? How is it different? We all have a process of doing things.
Question 4 literally names the process laid out in question 3. It sounds tacky, but I have cold data from sending thousands of cold outreach messages that if you have a unique mechanism, you just get more responses from prospects.
Question 5 describes your business model, and how you decide to get paid. Once you’re done with those magic 5 questions. I want you to list pains that your prospect has. The more painful the better.”
How to Start a Remote Services Business, Efficiently
Welcome Avatar! One criticism we get on the paid stack is that we push against services/time for money exchanges and…
36. You have to admit this is incredibly clever & creative for a scam.
Fake IPL Cricket league.
India: How a fake 'IPL' cricket league ran for Russian punters
By Soutik Biswas India correspondent A desultory cricket match is being played on what looks like a barren patch of…
37. “The only way out of this war is to ensure Russia will lose decisively. Nothing else will do the magic of a pullback by the invaders and/or a negotiated settlement that Ukraine can live with, and that includes security guarantees as well as a reconstruction package. Putin will have to feel the pain. Any other outcome will embolden him and the ongoing threats over the Baltic states will have to be taken seriously.
It will require phenomenal political will to at the very least keep NATO supporting the effort, ensuring sanctions will remain in place and apply whatever it takes to break the back of the forces that unleashed this ghastly war. The more intense this gets, the more likely it is that tensions between Russia on the one hand and Ukraine and NATO on the other will rise to seriously uncomfortable levels. To add to this is the fact that Russia is loosely partnered with China and — as we found out just yesterday — taking arms supplies from Iran. More ingredients for a deepening crisis.
But long term world stability demands it, there is no easy way out and no good reason to further strengthen and embolden the authoritarian camp. And equally important are the people of Ukraine who deserve a fair shot at the promise they were more or less given when the Soviet Union collapsed: to be a free, safe and prosperous democratic nation in Europe. To answer Yaroslava Antipina: the world is still here, trying hard to give Ukraine its best.”
It's still on, the war
My newsletter set reading records when the Ukraine war started, now some four and a a half months ago. If you look…
38. Food for thought. Saylor on BTC: Its Energy & a System.
39. This is too bad but goes to show unit economics matter and over-scaling much too early kills companies.