Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Nov 21st, 2021

“Patience, Persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success” — Napoleon Hill

  1. Good explanation for why we have the snarl in our ports. Monopolies.

“But what is going unsaid is that these bottlenecks are actually excellent news for two sets of players: the highly consolidated container shipping firms, with names like Maersk, MSC, COSCO, Evergreen, and One. There are eight dominant firms, all foreign-owned, and this year they are on pace to hit $100 billion in profit.

It is also good for terminal operators, which are the firms that lease space from ports and run the warehouses, cranes, and docks. Terminal operators are often owned by ocean carriers, who then can use their vertical integrated power to exclude competitive shipping lines, or they are owned by private equity giants like Brookfield Asset Management or Oaktree Capital’s Ports America.

Both carriers and terminal operators are bottlenecks in the system, and they profit not just by charging normal prices, but also by imposing a variety of surcharges on anyone who needs their service. This is similar to how airlines will offer a price for a ticket, but then also charge baggage fees, ticket change fees, or administrative fees on top of that.

In 2009, for instance, roughly 50% of total freight charged came from surcharges. The ability to extract extra revenue, especially when demand is high, means that we’re not in an all-hands on deck situation, but a situation which is working quite well for some, and terribly for much of the industry and the public.”

2. I am fascinated by DeFi movement. This is a good framework for portfolio management here. I’m still newbie but this is pretty interesting and will have to be re-read a few times as I evaluate the space a bit more. (I don’t invest in anything I don’t understand which is very obvious that I don’t get this space as old guy).

3. “With the pandemic, geography suddenly no longer matters quite so much to either entrepreneurs or early-stage investors. Entrepreneurs can now easily access the investors who are the best fit for their venture in terms of specific expertise and value-add — and similarly, investors can now easily access entrepreneurs all around the world.”

4. “Everything that we do during our awaken 16 hours a day are just habits. From when we get up in the morning to how we take our coffee, how we dress, how we get to work, how we do our work, where we go for lunch, who we hangout with et cetera. These habits then define our identity. Example: If I write every day I’m a writer.

The secret to creating positive habits is to make them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying (read James Clear’s excellent book Atomic Habits).”

5. Absolutely LOVE this. Thank u Polina Marinova Pompliano.

Always bet on yourself: something I deeply regret and wish I had the guts to do much earlier in my life.

“I share these three stories just to remind you that yes, sometimes, you’ll put it all on the line and it will spectacularly blow up in your face. And other times, it might result in the greatest success of your life.

Following the rules seems easier than inventing them, but the latter is certainly more rewarding. As Beyoncé once said, “I don’t like to gamble, but if there is one thing I’m willing to bet on, it’s myself.”

6. “A final piece of advice: only take money from individuals you get along with. As they say, it’s like a marriage.

You should lean on your investors as much as you can — not to do the work for you, but to provide differing perspectives, lived experience and strong opinions. And if you’re going to be leaning on them, they had better be people you get along with and look forward to speaking to.

While the typical investment banker-turned-VC tended to drill us on numbers (which, frankly, at the pre-seed and seed stage don’t mean all that much) and personal connections (“[insert portfolio company] got around [insert challenge] because they knew [impressive person]”), ex-operators focused more on our personalities, how we approached problems and our track record of execution.”

7. “So I’m actually quite worried about how we’re going to navigate to a hybrid environment. It’s going to get a lot more complicated. This situation where everyone has got one screen, in a sense, it’s been a great leveler. Everyone’s got a screen, everyone’s on the same playing field. Going to a world where there are three people in the room, two people on a call. It’s going to be pretty difficult trying to find that right balance. And I think it’s going to take a lot of experimentation as to what are the best communication methods.

What are the sort of clear three or four rules that you’ll have to adopt to make sure that everyone is an equal participant in the conversation? And I don’t know the answer to that yet. We’ve got a bunch of ideas. One is like one screen, one person. You know, even if you’re in the room, you have your own screen.

But I’m anxious about it because I think it’s going to be in some ways more challenging than the move to 100% remote where everyone was in the same situation.”

8. Damn, this is so nutty & exemplifies the short term extremes of supply and demand capitalism in a bad way.

9. This is frigging brilliant: investing in human potential. (and I know Marina Mogilko :) This could be the future of VC.

“And as the creator economy began to evolve into a real industry in recent years, he saw his chance to put his idea into motion. Earlier this year, his venture firm, Slow Ventures, set aside $20 million to invest in creators themselves.

Now the firm has gone and done it, joining a few individual investors in spending $1.7 million in the future of Marina Mogilko, a 31-year-old YouTube personality with multiple popular channels that touch on topics like life in Silicon Valley and learning new languages. (Slow Ventures is also investing in “serial entrepreneurs” like the Liberman siblings, at least two of which are coincidentally individual investors in Mogilko.)

The decision to invest directly in humans brings about a host of legal, ethical, and moral questions that Lessin will surely need to confront head-on. The idea that someone might sign a 30-year employment contract and that society should explicitly value a human brings up questions of indentured servitude and worse — claims which Lessin sees as entirely ill-founded. (“it’s def not indentured servitude,” he recently wrote in response to someone who said the legal issues seemed “daunting.”)

He believes that he is setting society on a path where we are free to invest in our favorite humans through multiple venture rounds, providing young, brilliant people with the money to fund a path to success that doesn’t exist today.”

10. A16Z has been on forefront of Crypto so I always pay attention to what they say.

“I think it’s really important with NFTs not to judge the current state of innovation by the end state of innovation. I completely understand what you’re saying. I’ve seen it myself. Yet I also see [parallels], in terms of status symbols, in the physical world, where many Americans are struggling, [while] others can afford luxury vehicles and Rolexes, so I think the digital world is no different.

And like there are luxury physical goods, there are also basic goods that people want to own in the real world that aren’t ostentatious, [and] I think you’ll start to see more of those [more basic goods] developed digitally.”

11. Another example of the CCP bullying and the NBA selling out to China (as well as many in US Media, politics and business). Benching Kanter. Shameful to say the least.

12. Not sure how I feel about this. It’s not an untrue story as there are literal crap ton of foreign grifters in Crypto coming to Ukraine. The foreigners profiled here are cringeworthy.

But they don’t talk about the impressive growth of local grown tech ecosystem as well as many legit foreign entrepreneurs who have made the place home too. Guess it did not fit the narrative.

13. Can’t wait to watch this. “Longevity Hackers”

14. The man knows what he is talking about.

“So, in a world where we are seeing more and more $100mm valued seed rounds, one has to ask the question what are the investors expecting? A $100 billion outcome? Doubtful. Less dilution, maybe. A different power-law distribution? Don’t count on it.

I think they are being delusional, comforted by the likelihood that someone will come along and pay a higher price in the next round. But it seems that person may also be delusional. Because when you model things out, the numbers just don’t add up.”

15. “The US dollar will continue to be a fantastic medium of exchange. It is highly liquid, accepted by millions of businesses and individuals globally, and comes with the full faith and credit of the United States. But the dollar may not be the best store of value asset to denominate your portfolio at this time, especially when you consider approximately 40% of all dollars in circulation have been created in the last 18 months.

My point in writing this is not to convince you to go put all of your assets in bitcoin, but rather to get you to switch your frame of reference. The assets you allocate towards have to keep up with, and ideally outperform, bitcoin. This is no easy task. The digital store of value has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 180% for the last decade.”

16. “The world is changing and you cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. The most valuable and asymmetric opportunities will present themselves as distortions in society’s time preferences.

Most people intuitively understand where the world is heading, but they don’t know how to align their goals with a shifting time value of money. Your ability to establish clear lifestyle goals and build a financial strategy around these goals will provide you with a competitive advantage in the digital age. With clearly defined goals and a system of time-based financial strategies, you will be well positioned to jump on opportunities.

But most importantly, this lifestyle design investment strategy will empower you to live the life you want to live.

Your peers will stick to conventional wisdom, you must use shifting time preferences as your edge.”

17. This is important. Rule of Law has definitely degraded in America so there is work to be done. But thankfully we are not at the point of no return yet.

“Rule of Law is incredible important; throughout history, societies with a strong rule of law flourished.

When laws are fair, predictable, and evenly applied, businesses can plan and prosper. People can confidently invest in the future. Economies grow and everyone wins.

Where the Rule of Law is weak and corrupt, the opposite happens. Businesses can’t plan anything because the rules are constantly changing. No one wants to invest because they feel like everything is going to be taken from them.

This is the sort of thing we’re seeing now in the Land of the Free.”

18. “In 2022, it will become clear to more people what many in the web3 world already know: the best way to rein in big tech companies is through competition, not regulation. Already, there are policymakers in Washington who appreciate that web3 is about much more than cryptocurrency or speculation. In the coming year more leaders, in America and in other democracies, will realise the need for sensible regulation that encourages responsible innovation while also allowing entrepreneurs to build the next generation of the internet.”

19. This is a great teardown of Tiger Global who is shaking up the world of VC. Worth a read. I’m so glad I’m not a growth stage investor right now.

“Bobby Fischer once said, “Blitz chess kills your ideas.” For Fischer, the rapidity of the game handicapped one’s ability to generate sophisticated, novel stratagems.

It’s tempting to think of today’s venture market and Tiger’s role in it, along the same lines. This is a spray-and-pray business now, this line of thinking goes, and Tiger’s got the biggest hose.

While it’s true that Tiger might not have the most conceptually adventurous of investment theses, there is plenty of thought in its approach. By adjusting its mandate, shifting its resource allocation, and mapping the ecosystem, it has developed a fund capable of executing around the world, around the clock, ceaselessly and sleeplessly.

For now, at least, it is the closest thing venture capital has to a winning machine.”

20. I fully subscribe to this view.

“There are people who can see the truth in spite of prevailing wisdom and make their own investment decisions outside of the influence of others. Through the history of financial markets, some of the world’s best traders have been the independent ones, the loners, and the ones willing to discount others’ opinions.”

“The more insane a period of groupthink, the bigger the reward for those who have the guts, the perseverance and the analytical prowess needed for going against the established narrative. Once the current bout of silliness has sucked all oxygen out of the system, there will be a bigger reckoning than ever before. The opportunity to benefit financially from it is what I view as the biggest upshoot of the strange era we currently live in.”

21. Net net: read the Lame-stream media but learn to think for yourself.

“We have several clear examples: 1) inflation is good, 2) fantasy relationships that assume the person is the top 1%, 3) sitcoms suggesting the perfect life is seeing the same people everyday for coffee and 4) making it seem like rich people are evil though cinema.

As you can see, the same theme persists. Anything to make you believe it is “okay” to be mediocre.”

“Historical Context: Back 100 years ago, if you didn’t fit into a “tribe” you could be ostracized and die. This is something that is evolutionary and fortunately we’re now entering into the *opposite* era. You can now become more powerful than an entire village by yourself through the use of technology.

Future Context: The new era: If you “fit in” you are now replaceable. Read that short sentence at least 15–20 times if you have to. The future is sovereign individuals who are not replicable. If the current “value addition” is simply being a middle man or copying others, you will go to zero suddenly similar to the life of a Turkey. It works for a while until it doesn’t.

By getting you to fit in, you are much weaker. Once again, if media convinces you to fit in, you end up floating along and living an “average” life just like everyone else. You don’t want to know what that looks like over 80 years because it ain’t pretty.”

22. This is spot on. #Portfolioentrepreneur