Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Nov 27th, 2022

Marvin Liao
13 min readNov 27, 2022


“Real courage is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. Doing the unpopular thing because it’s what you believe, and the heck with everybody.”― Justin Cronin

  1. “The more self-sufficient this brotherhood of men are, the more powerful they are. The less likely they will be manipulated by worms and snakes. The current elite seek to make men dependent on the system and not their fellows. To benefit off our helplessness. This of course works very well for those on the top until this unnatural way collapses on itself. Your main goal in this society is to be self-sufficient like your ancestors were. Only after you’ve decoupled can you regain your wild spirit.

The purest form of being a man is the warrior. The warrior — as Nietzsche says — is responsible for himself. He’s willing to under go hardship and deprivation so long as it preserves his distance from other men. The manly or virile instincts, to use Nietzsche’s words, revel in war and victory. Notice also Nietzsche never says the words I told you to stop using. In the form of the warrior, man is able to take the long and unforgiving road toward glory and fame. The last people to do this were the Americans when we settled in the New World.

The sons of those Americans went on to help America become a superpower after two World Wars. We’re still riding on the coattails of the accomplishments of those men who tamed the frontier. This won’t last forever. History never ends. Hard times are coming and it’s your duty as a man to be ready for them. To make sure your sons are ready for them.”

2. Don’t really agree with vote rigging comments but I agree with conclusions.

“The Struggle for Power is not going away, rather growing with each passing day. The economic and political crisis’ that stand before us will cause more chaos, violence, and turmoil.

The reality of Geopolitics now is a knife fight. The brutality will continue and escalate. Who wants it more will win in the end.

The hard choices are just beginning.”

3. “I would say on the new deal front, on the pre-seed and seed side, we’re seeing timelines that were one to two weeks now [extending into] more like two to four weeks, which is really healthy because it allows for more proper diligence.

We are able to do deals in a matter of days if we have strong conviction, but we do like that the market is a bit more sane.

Another dynamic that we’re seeing is that entrepreneurs are starting to really wake up to this new world, and that wasn’t the case even six months ago.

Back then, we saw growth deals really kind of halt, but that didn’t really impact the way that first-time founders in particular thought about their valuations. Now we’re seeing them come around as well. So [collectively] we’re actually seeing a lot of really interesting deals.”

4. Cool new VC fund for Europe. Unruly Capital.

5. Solid conversation here with the guys especially on Google business. All in Podcast.

6. An excellent talk on what’s happening with the disaster zone of Crypto, SBF, FTX and what not.

7. “Vidio is succeeding where foreign competitors like Netflix and Disney+ have stumbled in Indonesia — by developing an acute sense for what Indonesians want to watch. Despite earlier being considered an underdog, it is now the fastest-growing streaming service in a country of 270 million, and the biggest in terms of active users with about 60 million viewers per month, the company told Rest of World.

In the second quarter of this year, it snatched the number one spot for over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms across all of Southeast Asia, according to consultancy Media Partners Asia, both in new subscriber growth and popularity of original content.”

8. This is going to be an amazing movie on Netflix.

9. This is absolutely right. Watch this space. USA versus the CCP.

10. “The coming winter will feature more fighting, but at a different pace. It will see continued long range strikes from both sides and an ongoing information war. And it will demand both sides attend to the protection of their soldiers (and equipment) from the elements, in order to preserve as much of their combat power as possible to exploit opportunities during winter, and to conduct larger offensive campaigns in 2023.”

11. “As biotech evolves, some of the strengths of the Bay Area are becoming even more important. With several technological revolutions — such as Sequencing, Synthesis, Scale, and Software — young scientists and engineers with direct technical experience with these new technologies have a central role to play in shaping the future of the industry.

One of the unrivaled superpowers of the Bay Area tech scene is its ability to empower ambitious young people who are on a mission to change the world. The same fluid capital networks that made the Bay such a major winner in the digital revolution are also playing an important role in the TechBio revolution.”

12. “The U.S. is the undisputed overall leader in the semiconductor industry, but that’s as the central node of a global supply chain in which other countries also possess highly advanced technologies and lead in critical niches. Some companies in these other countries have competencies that are a strong starting point for developing alternatives to U.S. technology.

U.S. technology is irreplaceable over the near and medium term, so the immediate consequences of this policy are essentially guaranteed to be disastrous for China. However, if China succeeds in persuading U.S. allies to assist China by developing and providing alternatives to key pieces of U.S. technology, then the long-term outcomes of this policy could be disastrous for U.S. national security and economic competitiveness.”

13. “And then there is Mathias Döpfner, a six-foot-seven former music journalist turned billionaire CEO of the media conglomerate founded by, and named after, Germany’s preeminent postwar press baron, Axel Springer. Springer’s widow took a shine to Döpfner — she felt he saved the company and kept it true to its mission — and gifted him controlling shares.

For the past decade, Döpfner has been transforming Springer into a digital player worldwide.

Nothing about Döpfner is small. He’s got a big ego, big appetites, big plans, big hands, and a big mouth. He speaks with supreme self-confidence, but there’s something boyish about him, energetic and a touch mischievous. “He’s a controversial person, not everyone likes him, but there’s nobody who would say he’s not an agenda setter,” says John Harris, a co-founder of Politico. “I think his arrival here at this moment is a very encouraging thing not just for Politico but for the broader profession. I really think we need these capacious figures in American media again. The profession seems somewhat adrift without them.”

14. No wonder the mainstream media is losing credibility fast.

“Over the past two years, Bankman-Fried cultivated the media lavishly, if not carefully. Drawing on what then seemed like an unlimited pool of cash, SBF (as we’ll call the mythologized version of the real person) dispersed investments, advertising dollars, sponsorships, and donations to key news outlets — including ProPublica, Vox, Semafor, and The Intercept — with extraordinary effectiveness.

In the space of four days, media participants that lie far outside the highly capitalized mainstream did more investigative work than the entire corporate media had done in two years.”

15. Must read for all founders who want to survive the startup winter.

16. Poland will be the continent’s dominant military power along with Turkey.

17. There is so much to unpack here. Chamath is a controversial figure in Silicon Valley and Wall Street. But lots to learn from him regardless. It’s an almost 3 hour conversation.

18. “One thought exercise a company planning a RIF can do is imagine a scenario with a 25–50% headcount cut. How does that really impact team output and burn? What teams would you be forced to cut and how much do those teams really truly matter? How does that align with your various financial scenarios? Even if you still only cut 10–15%, it might be an informative exercise.

The key thing to remember is that if your valuation is very far ahead in this new market environment, and your business slows due to recession or spending cuts, it may be hard to raise money in the near term.

Layoffs should either get you to default alive (aka enough money to last reasonably indefinitely) or default fundable (a strong enough situation to be able to raise more money in today’s or tomorrow’s market). Things are likely to get worse before they get better. Make every dollar count.”

19. Solo GPs of Europe. Look forward to seeing more here.

20. “Although there are language and cultural barriers that require a good dose of tenacity and entrepreneurship to overcome — the scale of the opportunity and positive changes in the environment make Japan worth another look for investors and entrepreneurs alike.”

21. “But this is why now more than ever, we can’t lose our faith in crypto.

Sure, it can be hard not to feel pessimistic at times like this. And it’s easy to listen to the doomsayers who are now prophesying that this is the end. But to give up now will almost certainly pave the way for the absolute dominance of government-controlled CBDCs, and the weakening of the only independent alternative that’s still owned by us.

This is why I’m still personally betting on crypto.

Remember, crypto didn’t fail us. Exchanges did. And we don’t need exchanges to hold or use these assets.”

22. Solid discussion on American strategy.

23. All true.

“If you work in retail, the four weeks between US Thanksgiving and Christmas is the busiest time of the year. It’s also the sprint-to-the-finish for anyone in a B2B business trying to hit Q4 numbers.

But in the land of venture capital, it’s a uniquely slow-moving period that can best be thought of as fundraising purgatory. Put bluntly, it’s where many fundraising rounds go to die.

Why? Well for starters, anyone who was actively fundraising prior to Thanksgiving that hadn’t yet received a term sheet just had their momentum interrupted by a giant speed bump.”

24. The rise of the Turks in geopolitics.

“The most significant geopolitical effect of the Turkic rise might be the ascension of Turkey to true Great Power status. I would argue that they are close to such recognition with their complete dominance of the Black Sea and the South Caucasus as well as their growing economic and cultural influence around the region.”

25. This is a fascinating conversation on the business of sports.

26. If anyone can figure this out, it’s Japan.

“Whatever the problem is, Japan’s policymakers, academics, and corporate managers need to start viewing export weakness as a matter of urgent national importance. In the 90s, exporting was optional; now, it is not. Japan’s population is aged and shrinking, which limits domestic market opportunities, even as the country is still dependent on imported food and fuel.

If it’s going to avoid both long-term stagnation and vulnerability to currency drops like the recent one, the country must become more of an export powerhouse. Hopefully the weak yen can provide the impetus and the inspiration for Japan to get serious about this.”

27. This is pretty interesting. New American way of war: Proxy wars.

28. “That Powell leans into the exciting, scary thing helps explain why, after years of increasingly solid, steady work, Powell’s acting career might be about to enter a new stratosphere. His is a calming charm, very “emotional support animal you’d enjoy having three to four beers with:” in our age of movie franchises, he is exactly the type of guy you want in your tentpole.

It’s not just that he looks like someone who could land a plane in an emergency situation — he feels like someone who could. (He could, by the way: after his experience with Top Gun training, and a gift of flying lessons from Tom Cruise, Powell is a licensed pilot.) It’s a brand of charisma that makes him a truly good hang, both offscreen and, more importantly for his Hollywood ambitions, on it.”

29. Jim Rogers is always a good listen.

30. This seems like not good news for Pipe. Startling is probably the right word.

31. “War — and the competitive activities beneath the threshold of violence — is now a battle of industrial systems. In some respects, this is a return to previous eras where mass production for conflict, such as during the US Civil War and the World Wars, provided a decisive advantage. The post-Cold War ‘small, exquisite, periodic and expensive’ approach to weapons procurement in the West must end.

The expansion of defence industrial capacity, whether nationally or as part of a larger compact between democratic nations, is an integral part of conventional deterrence. In defending themselves, countries need potential adversaries to know they can (and will) step up production if authoritarians pick a fight. The possession of an expanding industrial base is a demonstration of capability, and importantly, telegraphs the will of peoples to actively defend against the predations and aggression of countries such as Russia and China.”

32. I can’t help but be entranced by this.

33. “Think of what happened in the last two or three years: whatever you did was rewarded by some investor because of the plethora of capital,” Leone said.

“You were rewarded no matter what — you made a s — t decision, a crap decision, you got money; you made a good decision, you got money — which is a lousy way for you to learn your craft. All that is gone.”

“What you’re going to learn now is the best lessons you’re ever going to learn, even in our business,” he added.

Leone said he doesn’t expect tech company valuations to recover until at least 2024.”

34. “Although the decline of U.S. power has been significantly overstated in some quarters, America’s economic decline relative to the rest of the world is real. Economic strength and technological strength have become more dispersed around the globe, and over time military strength is likely to follow the same pattern. This is one reason avoiding boots-on-the-ground interventions will become ever more of an imperative.

The presumption that the U.S. needs to deploy ground forces in a fighting capacity if it wants to achieve meaningful results from interventions has been evident again and again since the 1980s. Yet the reality has often been the opposite. The more the U.S. takes over and inserts its own forces into a conflict, the more expensive and, in most cases, counterproductive the intervention becomes.

Such conflicts are also more polarizing for American society — as U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Iraq, and to a lesser extent Afghanistan demonstrate. Meanwhile, avoiding ground wars but relying on financial aid, advanced technology, intelligence, and even diplomatic coordination and outreach is something the U.S. actually can do effectively.”



Marvin Liao

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