Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Oct 17th, 2021

Marvin Liao
11 min readOct 17, 2021

“Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance.”― Virgil

  1. This is incredibly smart.

“Jon Oringer, the billionaire founder and former leader of ShutterstockInc., a global photography provider, is taking aim at a new gig.

Over the past year, he and a partner have invested in more than 100 high-tech startups, 10 of which Mr. Oringer himself co-founded. He prefers to bankroll executives who have started and run businesses that flopped.

“Trying again after failing shows perseverance,” the 47-year-old entrepreneur explains. “We look for people with that track record because it’s the same as my track record.”

2. There is much we can learn here. Being a Portfolio entrepreneur. The future of work. This is a worthwhile read.

3. “Nearly a decade later, Veritas Capital’s assets have grown from $2 billion in 2012 to $36 billion today, and its funds have generated staggering net internal rates of return of 31%. The funds have lost money on only a single investment ($87 million on a solar panel company in New Mexico), and since Musallam took over, Veritas has distributed $12 billion to its investors. At 53, Musallam finds himself worth an estimated $4 billion, good enough for a debut appearance on this year’s Forbes 400.

Musallam produced this track record by focusing on technology companies that operate in sectors dominated by the United States’ federal government, particularly defense, health care and education. America’s $6.8 trillion worth of annual spending and sweeping regulatory power give it unparalleled sway in these markets. While many buyout firms try to avoid investing in areas affected by government interference, Musallam’s strategy hinges on understanding what the most influential player in the global economy will do next.”

4. Business travelers subsidize 5–6 economy class travelers on flights.

5. The World’s most important Semiconductor chip company: TSMC. A counterpoint to those who do not believe Taiwan is strategic to the USA.

“The $550 billion firm today controls more than half the global market for made-to-order chips and has an even tighter stranglehold on the most advanced processors, with more than 90% of market share by some estimates.

“TSMC is just absolutely critical,” says Peter Hanbury, a semiconductor specialist at the Bain & Co. consulting firm. “They basically control the most complicated part of the semiconductor ecosystem, and they’re a near monopoly at the bleeding edge.”

6. #futureofwork

“Mr Bloom is part of a growing brigade of digital nomads in Europe, who work remotely while satisfying their wanderlust. This kind of itinerant lifestyle is as old as laptops and free internet. But covid-19 has given it a boost. A game of lockdown arbitrage began earlier this year as border controls eased and people fled congested cities like Berlin and London. Some headed for other cities, such as Lisbon and Madrid, which offered sunshine and looser lockdown rules. Others chose remote spots on the Mediterranean and in the Alps.

Now covid-19 restrictions are easing but the trend continues as many Europeans reject a traditional office routine after a year and a half of remote work. As Yoon-Joo Jee, an entrepreneur who has spent the pandemic between Seoul, Geneva and Lisbon, puts it: “there’s an addiction in moving and exploring new places.”

7. This is going to have major implications for the world wide supply chain.

“It’s the worst electricity crisis China has faced in a decade. The immediate cause is that China is still highly dependent on coal, which provides 70 percent of the country’s power generation. The electricity prices paid to generators are regulated by the central government, while coal prices are set on the market. When coal prices rise, unless regulators increase electricity prices, it doesn’t make economic sense for coal power plants to keep supplying electricity. Plants can then avoid generating at a loss by claiming they have a technical malfunction or by failing to purchase the coal they need to run, both of which happened in the run-up to the current crisis.”

8. “There is an opportunity for early adopters to write the conventional wisdom of tomorrow. There is an opportunity for the people that identify trends to take action today. And there is an opportunity to reposition yourself from a dystopian mindset, designed by conventional wisdom of times gone by, to a hopeful and positive mindset empowered by conventional wisdom of tomorrow.

There is an opportunity to attack fatalistic mindsets and empower people to play the long game. To educate them on what they intuitively know. That we are living through the digital transformation. And that the digital age requires a new conventional wisdom.

Those that learn to adapt to this new age quickly and that decisively deploy their money towards it can break free of the established order

of the late industrial age.”

9. Lots of lessons from history here. Well worth a read.

“Politicians wanting to stay in office will always bow to public pressure at the ballot box to inflate the money supply and lower interest rates because that requires less pain than deflation which causes businesses to shutter and lays people off even if it does preserve people’s ability to save money and earn a high rate of return on savings.

There are no bad guys in this story, just everyone with their own problems doing what is best for themselves. I am trying to protect my family and capital, bankers are trying to not get fired, and politicians are trying to be reelected.

It is completely understandable when looking back at the decisions previous generations made.”

People can evaluate for themselves if they want to have a portion of their net worth in an asset which is not dependent on politicians and bankers.

For me after studying history, whether inflationary or deflationary, bitcoin is a way to save value outside the system.”

10. 110% agree here. Hungary, Ukraine, Georgia and Serbia are tops on my list.

“We support the idea of finding a place where you can retire and “live like a king.” In today’s world of competition and opportunity, it only makes sense to go where you’re treated best.

Everything considered — real estate, second residency, currency, investments, lifestyle, all of it — Eastern Europe is the place to go for retirement.”

11. “Inflation Only Benefits Asset Holders: As mentioned many many times here, the only people who like inflation are the ultra rich and the people who do not understand asset valuation. The only people with assets are the wealthy. Instead of addressing wealth disparity they will attempt to address “income disparity”. Which of course, doesn’t impact a CEO making $1/year in annual salary (heroic!).

Since inflation benefits asset holders, you can wager that mainstream outlets will begin to push this narrative. That inflation isn’t “a bad thing”. They will then move to various spins to help the masses agree with this statement. It will be difficult but it’s one of their only hopes in keeping everyone calm.”

12. “The suburbs will not vanish as a result of America’s new need for density; they will simply change. But what will they change into? What will the new suburbs look like, and what will the lives of people in them be like? Obviously there will be a wide variety, but I think that current trends are starting to sketch us a rough outline of that future.”

“The densification of the suburbs that I envision here will not solve all of the problems of American urbanism. There will still be some segregation by class and race. Good local train networks like those enjoyed in Europe and Asia will still be far too few, and cars too common. The suburbs will still be too distant to form a truly efficient urban network. America will not become the Netherlands, and it will not become Japan.

But things will be moderately better. Housing will be a bit more affordable, living near to a knowledge industry center will be a bit easier, cars will kill somewhat fewer people. More people will know their neighbors, and life in the American suburbs will be less socially isolating and stultifying.”

13. I like Matt Damon.

“I ask Bono whether he’s saying that, in the nicest possible way, Damon is not that good at being a celebrity.

“Yeah, that might be the truth,” Bono replies, and contrasts a particular glazed look he has learned to recognize in the eyes of some politicians he meets with the affect of someone like Damon. “He’s not professional,” Bono suggests. “He’s way beyond that. He’s an amateur, in the way that he should always be, regarding celebrity. You know, quite good at it on the weekends, probably falls down in the week. But the respect for people and for human life, and the squandering of it, that’s absolutely core to who he is. And he’s just trying to be useful. Trying to be helpful.”

14. I’m definitely a supporter. It’s early days but the promise is there.

“Although ketamine is legal if prescribed by a doctor, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) lists psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA in schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act, which says they have no medical value and a high potential for abuse. But there’s also growing evidence that psychedelics could lead to game-changing medications and, when combined with conventional therapy, may help people who aren’t seeing results through currently available treatments. Several US cities have already decriminalized psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is overseeing clinical trials into using psychedelics to treat PTSD and depression.

This potentially revolutionary approach to mental health also represents a tremendous commercial opportunity for health care and pharmaceutical companies.”

15. This is worth watching. Don’t agree with all the assessments but overall this is sobering & his points are well argued.

16. This is immensely sad. I really dislike hedge funds. Well, Alden don’t pretend they are saints like others.

“What threatens local newspapers now is not just digital disruption or abstract market forces. They’re being targeted by investors who have figured out how to get rich by strip-mining local-news outfits. The model is simple: Gut the staff, sell the real estate, jack up subscription prices, and wring as much cash as possible out of the enterprise until eventually enough readers cancel their subscriptions that the paper folds, or is reduced to a desiccated husk of its former self.

The men who devised this model are Randall Smith and Heath Freeman, the co-founders of Alden Global Capital. Since they bought their first newspapers a decade ago, no one has been more mercenary or less interested in pretending to care about their publications’ long-term health.

With aggressive cost-cutting, Alden can operate its newspapers at a profit for years while turning out a steadily worse product, indifferent to the subscribers it’s alienating.”

17. This is awesome and long overdue. Standardized Legal templates for VC fund set up, an otherwise very painful and expensive process.

18. For those interested in Asian geopolitics, this is worth watching.

19. This is quite illuminating….worth watching. Kind of explains everything going on in the world.

20. “Despite being a latecomer to Hollywood, Bautista found success quickly, starting with his breakout role as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy when he was in his mid-40s. Now he’s scored the role, as the villainous unit Glossu “Beast” Rabban in the elegant sci-fi epic Dune (out October 22), with the guy, director Denis Villeneuve, and he should play an even larger role in the film’s forecasted second installment. Dune is big — Dune is “Dave Bautista’s arm” big.

For Bautista, who tells me, “It wasn’t until my 40s when I really started to be okay with myself,” his progress from bouncer to wrestler to action star to serious fuckin’ actor is hugely validating. And for those of us who may sometimes feel underactualized and appalled by the rate at which we are careening toward senescence, Bautista’s self-reinvention in his 50s is thrilling.”

21. What a story. Intense too. The point. Learn how to fight and defend yourself.

“I saw in that moment, how everything was, and how everything would be. You’re on your own. There wasn’t anyone coming to save you, cops included. You had to watch what you’re doing at all times, and, when the time comes, you handle your business.”

22. What could possibly go wrong here… the same time I kind of want one or two myself.

23. “Before web3, users and builders had to choose between the limited functionality of web1 or the corporate, centralized model of web2.

Web3 offers a new way that combines the best aspects of the previous eras. It’s very early in this movement and a great time to get involved.”

24. Geography really does matter. The Balkans as a case study (a region I love btw).

25. Hard to argue with this. The extremely high level of dishonesty and fake it till you make it in tech these days. Not good.

“The more I think about all this wackiness and assholery across the economy, it becomes clearer that there have simply been no parents around. The institutions or financial constraints that are supposed to teach a well-formed, but still developing mind, the difference between right and wrong haven’t been around. The entire economy feels like it’s acting like a teenager. Every CEO tweet, every odd price action, Adam Aron not wearing pants, just all of it. The more I remember my own mindset during those awkward, formative years, the more everything starts to make sense.”



Marvin Liao

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