Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Oct 10th, 2021

“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.”― Gautama Buddha

  1. “For the aspiring Sovereign Individual, a person of humble and growing means, you have to take a pragmatic approach to creating your passport portfolio.

Design your jurisdictional arbitrage strategy so that the countries you select address a couple of lifestyle needs and benefits.

That could include favorable policies for freedom of speech, business rule of law, crime, safety, graft, and quality of life. And of course it should also include countries with Covid policies that align with your beliefs.

You should consider border restrictions and other geopolitical considerations. Are you placing all your eggs in one basket with western nations? Should you be seeking citizenship in Western rival nations?

Are you designing your passport to consider both ascending and descending nations? 1st world, 2nd world, and 3rd world exposure?”

2. Shows how much Hollywood has sold out to China and the CCP.

“Hollywood’s China troubles are well known. Only a few U.S. movies get released each year in the world’s largest film market. Negative portrayals of China risk bans, not just for individual films but entire studios. Plot lines involving China’s government, let alone Chinese spymasters, are thus off limits.

2001’s Spy Game did feature a rare plot linked to China. But in general, no major Hollywood release has portrayed China’s government in a negative light since 1997’s Seven Years in Tibet, as analyst Matt Schrader has shown.”

3. Good observation.

“To me, the Great Fragmentation is the result of an alignment of interests, in every country, between the government and users. As proven by many industries, starting with Hollywood, user demand for customized products was long not enough to make the industry change its approach to serving national markets: the attraction of economies of scale was just too difficult to resist, and every corporation that could afford it tended to impose the same product on everyone on the global market.

Likewise, the fact that governments enforced a set of (stupid) local rules was never enough to make tech companies comply if users were perfectly happy with the product. In the end, the Shift/Fragmentation/Decolonization could happen if users andthe government agreed: together, we want a customized approach to serve our market, and we’ll force those big (US) tech companies to comply.”

4. “In a decentralized world, good geography will be one of the scarcest and most valuable assets on the planet again and it is currently undervalued since for most, they grew up in a world where geography hasn’t mattered.

I started thinking about geography in a decentralized world, and remembering my time in Asia, thought what is more scarce, durable, and independent than the Strait of Malacca?

This helps me think how to diversify investments geopolitically, while also understanding which areas to avoid in a region, like I think the CCP has serious problems for the reasons outlined above, but am bullish on Asia. Just specific places in Asia, like Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The more I thought about how US naval doctrine will dictate responses to anything China does in earnest, it made a lot of sense from a variety of angles that Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia will do well.”

5. Interesting……

“Unlike a few years ago, SoftBank is no longer the only gigantic fish in the VC pond. Rivals including Tiger Global Management, Coatue Management, Insight Partners and Andreessen Horowitz have raised bigger and bigger funds in the past couple of years. That’s helped these firms win some of the deals Son has wanted, said two people with direct knowledge of such deals.

The growing competitors also don’t have SoftBank’s baggage. High-profile implosions of WeWork and other portfolio companies in SoftBank’s first Vision Fund, such as construction tech company Katerra and lender Greensill Capital — both of which are now defunct — have tainted the Vision Fund’s name with some founders, even though the fund’s performance has rebounded overall.”

“All told, 13 of the 23 investment partners listed on the Vision Fund’s website as of mid-2019 have since departed or recently announced they would leave. Only a handful of the departed partners were replaced. The moves resemble an exodus of partners from the Vision Fund nearly two years ago amid internal strife that tore apart the firm’s operations as its bets soured.”

6. Don’t agree with his assessment or conclusions as he definitely has a very Anti-US bent but….still worth a read.

“China, for all of its power and strength, actually has a VASTLY overrated military. The PLA’s record in actual combat is PISS-POOR. Despite the best attempts of Chinese propagandists to rewrite the history of China’s intervention in the Korean War, they lost 200,000 men in that war — that’s the LOWER END of the estimates of their actual casualties. Some estimates run as high as ONE MILLION DEAD on the Chinese side. Compared with some 40,000 (roughly) American and Western allied soldiers killed, and about a million South Korean soldiers and civilians killed, that loss ratio on China’s part is genuinely appalling — and even more so was the PLA leadership’s willingness to use attrition tactics without any thought for the lives of the men.

Some thirty years later, they couldn’t manage to defeat the Vietnamese — indeed, the Vietnamese were so unconcerned about China’s attempts to rebuke them for their invasion of Cambodia that they didn’t even bother diverting mainline army units to fight the Chinese.”

7. YAH! My two favorite countries in Asia: Taiwan and Japan are getting closer.

8. “If I’m playing the first South Asian superhero, I want to look like someone who can take on Thor or Captain America, or any of those people,” he says. But also because the character shrouds himself in the guise of a Bollywood star. Nanjiani grew up watching Bollywood movies — “From the ’60s to the ’90s I know basically every big [one],” says Nanjiani — so he knows those guys are jacked. “I was like, I want this to be believable. I want to feel that kind of powerful in this role.”

But his upbringing and career have primed Nanjiani to see the unexpected contours of things. So now he worries that, despite looking and feeling better than he ever has, he’s nonetheless perpetuating the toxic image of masculinity that he grew up idolizing.

The way he looks is tied to a certain way of being a man. “It is aggression,” he says. “It is anger. A lot of times we are taught to be useful by using physical strength or our brain in an aggressive, competitive way.”

9. “Four years ago, Bankman-Fried had yet to buy a single bitcoin. Now, five months shy of his 30th birthday, he debuts on this year’s Forbes 400 at №32, with a net worth of $22.5 billion. Save for Mark Zuckerberg, no one in history has ever gotten so rich so young. The irony? Bankman-Fried is no crypto evangelist. He’s barely even a believer. He’s a mercenary, dedicated to making as much money as possible (he doesn’t really care how) solely so he can give it away (he doesn’t really know to whom, or when).

Steve Jobs obsessed over his sleek and simple products. Elon Musk claims he’s in business to save humanity. Not Bankman-Fried, whose philosophy of “earning to give” drove him into the crypto gold rush, first as a trader, then as the creator of an exchange, simply because he knew he could get rich. Asked if he would abandon crypto if he thought he could pile up more money doing something else — say, trading orange juice futures — he doesn’t even pause: “I would, yeah.”

10. “Taiwan is the focus of more security cooperation in the United States. Whether or not allies could defend Taiwan successfully is one thing, but I think politically, you are seeing a coalition come together. And for Taiwan, that gives it a bit more space to maneuver, and I think it tends to offset some of the fear generated by this incursion.”

11. Great advice.

“Here’s what I want you to know. It’s ok to walk away. It’s ok to change your mind. It’s ok to deeply listen to yourself. It’s ok to take a different path. It’s ok to press pause. It’s ok to question what matters most to you. It’s ok to leave a “great situation” behind. It’s ok to choose a calling over potential financial upside.

Just because you’re capable of doing something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you. Follow your energy and your passion. When that happens you’ll eventually become the person you are destined to become. I can’t think of anything more fulfilling and powerful than that.”

12. For all founders raising money in the seed stage. Worth a read.

13. “Surely it makes sense to try to pack as many activities as possible into each day, to be sure we meet our goals before we shuffle off this mortal coil?

In reality, this may be the very worst thing we can do to live a happy and fulfilling life. In his new book, Four Thousand Weeks, psychology writer Oliver Burkeman argues that this only leads to disappointment and unhappiness — thanks to a phenomenon known as the “productivity trap”. In his view, we would do far better to slow down, rather than speed up, if we are to make the most of our short lifespans.”

14. “Looking at 2022, any significant level of ongoing power disruptions will begin to cause fractures in China’s economy, particularly in the finance and heavy manufacturing sectors as well as within the population. Such fissures have in the past led to increased belligerence by China against neighboring and regional countries, which could have unexpected disruptive effects on maritime and air traffic in the Far East.

With regard to which sectors of the economic base will receive favored treatment for any surplus power, heavy manufacturing (auto, shipbuilding, infrastructure), high technology, energy (renewable and traditional), petrochemicals, medical, and metal processing will likely be protected first.”

15. I’m a big fan of Georgia (the country) and this shows a strong case for adoption of Bitcoin here.

16. Worth watching this to understand what’s happening in the world.

17. “To say the least, Dastmalchian is no longer broke or, as he puts it of his past, looking for his “next fix.” What he is doing is bringing an enormous amount of humanity to outcasts, even sometimes downright terrible people, who he feels nevertheless deserve a voice. He’s ready to bring it. And based on his standout roles in both The Suicide Squad as the fan favorite Polka-Dot Man (tormented with illuminated spots and not nearly as silly as he sounds) and the hotly anticipated Dune, which reunites him with Villeneuve, he’s delivered.”

18. “Kevin Ryan has become very wealthy by being at the right place at the right time — including at online ad network DoubleClick, which he joined as its twelfth employee and eventually ran as CEO (it was later acquired, twice) — as well as co-founding numerous companies, including the software company MongoDB, which is currently valued at roughly $30 billion as a publicly traded company. (Ryan still owns “at least half my shares” in the company, he says.)

The other day, we talked with Ryan about his biggest, newest bet, which is on healthcare tech.”

19. Interesting observation: shows maturation of VC as asset class. Passive investing.

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