Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Nov 7th, 2021
“The best way out is always through.” — Robert Frost
- This is a very good thread detailing the energy crisis in China.
2. “At the core, the tenets of successful open source practices hold true for any strategy you undertake: solving a hard problem that people are aware of; providing a solution that people agree is helpful; establishing your company as the problem-solver; making usage and adoption of your product easy; and, of course, crafting a successful go-to-market strategy that is scalable.
However, bear in mind that while open source is a popular, logical, and often successful strategy for many reasons, adapting it to the cloud-only era comes with an extra set of challenges.
Startups using open source strategies during the cloud transition era provided critical products and services (which allowed them to compete with the Big 3), but the same tactics may not necessarily have the same impact on in the cloud-only era.”
Open Source vs. Cloud Castles | Greylock
In the past thirty years, open source has matured from a risky and fringe business model to the de-facto start of many…
3. The Americans (Big VC funds that is) are coming! (to Europe). Well, they actually have been for the last 5 years but more so now. This is great for the tech scene there.
Big-name U.S. tech investors are moving in on Europe in increasing numbers
LONDON - A growing number of renowned U.S. tech investors are moving to Europe to capitalize on the continent's…
4. I like this manifesto. Fight the FOMO and play your own game (whether you are founder or VC). We need more of this in VC.
Back to Basics: My VC Manifesto
A Guide to Navigating a Manic Market as a Venture Capitalist (part 2)
5. Sounds about right.
“There’s a common misconception among creators and creator platforms that getting a fan to pay for content is basically just a stronger version of hitting the “follow” button. But following a person on Twitter or YouTube and paying for the privilege are two very different things that require very different marketing and acquisition mechanisms. More attention must be paid to the sales funnel — and platforms need to build out the features for creators to effectively make the sell.”
What's Next for Creator Platforms? Learning to Sell - Future
If there's one main idea driving excitement in the "creator economy," it's this: Creators with large audiences on…
6. More on the Multiverse.
7. The man knows the SaaS space so pay attention.
“I’m not opposed to Playing at the Bottom of the Market. Just two learnings from my experience. First, don’t confuse initial traction at the bottom with disruption. Know what you are, at least at a given point in time. And if you’re Playing at the Bottom — be scrappy. Don’t overfund yourself. Because there’s gold there too, just most likely rather less of it.”
Don't Confuse Room at the Bottom with Disruption
A few years back, a very wise VC asked me what I thought about a small but scrappy competitor in the space of my last…
8. “For more than twenty years, Brown, a Ph.D. in social work, has combined her research results — about shame, vulnerability, and other pillars of emotional life — with stories that illustrate them, delivered with a potent blend of empathy and Texan bravado (“Curiosity is a shit-starter”). Her work comes in many forms: five Times №1 best-selling books, two Spotify podcasts, a Netflix special. At the University of Houston, she’s a research professor of social work; at McCombs, a visiting professor of management.
She’s also a business in her own right, with programs that train people and organizations to contend with vulnerability and courage. In all realms, her conclusions tend to surprise, then resonate, like a Zen koan: “When perfectionism is driving us, shame is always riding shotgun.”
Brené Brown's Empire of Emotion
How a Texan's stories teach a nation to be vulnerable. In August, Brené Brown, the Houston-based writer, researcher…
9. So fascinating. The Pumpkin business.
“Americans are expected to spend a record $10B+ on Halloween items in 2021, up from $8B last year — and pumpkins are a big player: Among the 65% of Americans celebrating Halloween this year, 44% (~94m people) plan to carve one.
While pumpkins can readily be found at most grocery stores, many folks turn to a patch to procure their autumnal canvas.
What are the economics of these orange orbs? And how do pumpkin patches — a largely seasonal enterprise — make money year-round?
To find out, we talked to pumpkin farmers, experts, and patch owners around the country.”
The economics of pumpkin patches
How lucrative is the pumpkin business? We talked to farmers, patch operators, and industry experts to find out.
10. “Our shitposting Gods of Silicon Valley have only recently begun to sense they can tell their own stories, and it doesn’t really matter what a professionally-mad Brooklyn-based vegan thinks about rockets or bitcoin or virtual reality. That’s amazing — really, I love this evolution for us.
But on the other side of the incredible, growing influence of sovereign influencers is duty. A concentration of influence and resources is likewise a concentration of power. Ryan Petersen tapped into this power when he addressed the port crisis. Someone with the influence of Elon Musk is likely capable of much more.”
The Shitposting Gods of Silicon Valley
When the walls come crumbling down. Back in the thick of Trump and early Covid, in those summer months that became…
11. Many people are going to learn this at great cost to themselves.
“If you don’t take control of your destiny, other people will do it for you, and they won’t have your best interests at heart. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take.”
Why I Hate Risk and How I Avoid It
This statement might seem strange coming from me. People think I'm a traveling daredevil who has never had a 'real'…
12. “What I mean is that most successful creators live off many small income streams that they bootstrap together. By creating many small wins, they form a robust lifestyle business. It’s usually not one major project that sustains them, but many small individual income streams that add up to a stable income. Each creator that builds a business this way is in a sense like the tree I came across this morning.
Perhaps I saw this metaphor because it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Ie; that the majority of creators would be better off focusing on putting together multiple small wins rather than chasing one big win. Because there is often more resilience to a multi-income business model.”
Sustainable Creator Business Models - The Sovereign Individual Weekly
I was walking down the beach in Waikiki on my first full day in Hawaii at 5:30 am. Waiting to watch the sun come up…
13. “The World is Rapidly Changing: We’re not here to tell you that you can’t catch up. In fact we think you’re still quite early if you’re smart enough to “skate to where the puck is going to be” (Wayne Gretzky — NHL player quote). In general, if you can figure out where the mega trends are and where the big picture is heading you’re going to be fine in life.
What is Changing? Well last year the fiat system decided to print Trillions of US Tokens. Trillions. This means that prices of all assets/goods are going up in price. While most said it was “not going to happen” this was delayed because the economy was shut all of 2020. In 2021? You’re simply lying to yourself if you don’t see it in food/gas/rent costs.”
Some General Cartoon Life Advice and Fun Announcements $$$!
Welcome Avatar! We have a lot of brand new readers here who haven't had the chance to even read our FAQ yet! We suggest…
“For the avoidance of doubt, Argentina remains a country with above-average risk. Politics, macro-economics and the state of the construction industry are all exposed to the particular kind of chaos that the country has become infamous for.
That said, housing and infrastructure remain among any country’s basic needs, and Loma Negra is the dominant provider of the key material needed for any construction.”
Loma Negra - the Argentinean value play with a p/e of 2 - Undervalued Shares
There are some countries where looking for value investments is akin to the proverbial shooting fish in a barrel. Enter…
15. Always a good show.
16. This is illuminating.
“This story does have a moral, and it’s that politics and war touch everyone, even the extremely wealthy and powerful. Never assume that you can be personally insulated from these forces.”
17. “His 2010 book, “The Vertical Farm,” has also proven a foundational text for many. Last year, he marked the book’s 10th anniversary with a new edition that offers an afterword reflecting on much of what has transpired in the intervening decade. “In 2010, when this book was first published, there were no vertical farms,” Despommier writes in a new chapter. “As of this writing, there are so many vertical farms, I don’t know exactly how many exist.”
A chat with the author of 'The Vertical Farm'
Last week, TechCrunch ran my TC-1 about Bowery Farming. What began as a piece about a heartily financed New York…
18. This is incredibly innovative and the future of VC.
“I want to share two different examples of how we at Slow Ventures have answered this question, which I think can help serve as a template for the future — one investment in a family of entrepreneurs, and another in an individual creator. We’re aiming to do a lot more deals along the lines of these two models because we truly believe that in the long term, allowing people to do equity-based financing is critical to the future health of our society.
Why? Because young people have all the equity value in the form of their future sweat and ingenuity, but without the ability to unlock it, we’re stuck in a world where old people rule the roost. When individuals can only access debt, old people with large balance sheets control everything. But when we can all properly leverage our personal equity, the balance of power shifts back toward young and productive people who have decades of potential ahead of them.
Or put another way: Allowing individuals to leverage their personal equity early in their careers is key to getting us out from under the thumb of the baby boomers.”
Investing Directly in People Is the Future of VC. Here's How to Do It.
Earlier this year I wrote about the idea of investing directly in people versus companies-something my venture capital…
19. Idris Elba, one of coolest dudes around.
“It is hard to resist the notion that Elba’s recent brush with mortality might inspire a reframing of his life principles. He’s not so sure. “I’ve lived a proper full life,” he says. “That’s always been my mantra: ‘If I was to go tomorrow, at least I had a full life.’ And if I had succumbed to Covid, I could go with hand on heart saying, ‘Look, I had a good innings.’ But I don’t have the time to mess around. My ambition is bigger than my head, but I still think I’ve got stuff to offer the world. A contribution,” he mumbles, almost to himself as much as to me. “Still got a contribution.”
You Can't Break Idris Elba
The coolest man on the planet won't be shaken from his master plan. But after a bruising 18 months, the multitalented…
20. “The simple, empirical truth is this: Dwayne Johnson is the most successful movie star in the world, and has been for some time. For each of the last five years, he was, according to Forbes’s annual list, either the highest or second-highest paid actor. (In that period, he is estimated to have earned a total of $430.4 million.)
“It sits me down,” says Johnson, mulling this circumstance. “It sits me down. That was never the goal. The goal was just: I didn’t want to be broke. And I didn’t want my family to be broke anymore.” In person — for our first meeting we’re sitting in a Los Angeles hotel room, and he’s idly nursing a different glass of tequila — his affect is far more reflective and soft-spoken than it usually is in the movies that have made him all this money. “And it’s a blessing, man. Are you kidding me? It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing.
Johnson’s movie career has been only one aspect of what he does. Aside from various TV projects, his many other pursuits include his Project Rock Collection sportswear brand with Under Armour; his own sports drink, Zoa; co-owning the XFL football league; as well as the aforementioned tequila, Teremana. Johnson summarizes it like this: “I consider myself an industrialist and an entrepreneur and a businessman as well. And I’m in the relationship business. I’m in the customer service business. I’m in the consumer product business. And I’m certainly in the movie business.”
Johnson’s excitement when he talks about these other parts of his life seems entirely unforced. “I love building,” he says. “And I love creating products and brands that have a certain quality to them to deliver to people. But I think the stripped-away answer here is: I love it. I love what I do. Honestly, I love building from scratch with these two old dinosaur hands.”
Dwayne Johnson Lets Down His Guard
During one of our last conversations, Dwayne Johnson's five-year-old daughter, Jasmine, comes into his office to ask, a…
21. “What does this have to do with the scale of an entrepreneur’s success? Markets. Markets drive everything. No matter how talented the entrepreneur and team, without a great market, the level of success will be stunted. There’s an old saying in the startup world from Andy Rachleff, founder of Benchmark Capital, “When a great team meets a lousy market, markets win.” Ideally, an entrepreneur will pick a great market initially, or pivot into a great one fairly quickly, but without that, the chance of major success drops dramatically.”
Scale of success? Markets, Markets, Markets
Last week I was talking to an entrepreneur and the topic of scale in the context of success came up. Some entrepreneurs…
22. “In fact, I think there are multiple signs that Xi has actually weakened the capabilities of the Chinese juggernaut. So far, China’s power and general effectiveness are so great that these signs seem to have gone largely unnoticed, but I think they’re there. The three big ones are: Slowing growth, an international backlash against China, and missteps related to the Covid pandemic.
It’s time to consider the possibility that for all his self-aggrandizement, Xi Jinping is just not that competent of a leader.”
What if Xi Jinping just isn't that competent?
Xi Jinping is widely hailed as China's most powerful leader since Mao. He certainly has been highly effective at…
23. Lessons from Sequoia Capital.
24. One of my favorite cities in the world: Tokyo. Good article on what makes the place so special as a metropolis.