Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Oct 24th, 2021

“What cannot be altered must be borne, not blamed.”― Thomas Fuller

  1. We forget how critical energy is to our society and our economy.

2. This is #futureofwork. Worth a read for the future Solopreneur.

“The indie ecosystem makes people uncomfortable because of how different it is from what we have come to see as work — labor in exchange for a steady salary. Because income from doing this kind of work is often unpredictable and lumpy, attempts to think about it in the frame of traditional work are unhelpful. For example, I have been writing online for four or five years. I’ve made no more than $5,000 from writing. However, I realized a couple of years ago that since I like writing, if I could commit to it for several more years, I would likely discover huge potential from making money from my writing but likely in ways I couldn’t predict.

This is what makes thinking about investing in the broader ecosystem from a political, large business, or government standpoint impossible. They rely on stable systems that can be predictable and grow in a linear fashion. The investor world, especially the VC world, is likely best suited to think about this. However the downside there is that sometimes they forget to model the non-economic possibilities that people value in their lives.”

3. Great perspective here on the wacky VC market right now.

“Here’s the key insight I’ve come to: Later-stage venture capital which was previously all about fundamentals and deep analysis, has morphed into being largely about momentum (will the next round happen? Yes!), indexing (given that the next round always happens, let’s do everything!), and speed (since we’re going to do everything, what are we waiting for?).

This makes the risk to late-stage VC (or early-stage VCs that are indexing) much more systemic (beta!) and the risk to early-stage VC much more idiosyncratic (alpha!).”

4. Word to the wise. Must read.

“Perfect transition here, if Digital is the new way to get ahead it means that you will be left with a few avenues: 1) you are already rich and you are a capital allocator, 2) you become a top 1% creator — famous individual like Logan Paul or 3) you create a niche business online that allows you to outpace the growth of inflation — e-commerce. As you can imagine, since the number of options are thinning it means the pareto distribution will likely get worse before it gets better. The top 10% will eventually dwindle down to the top 5%.”

5. “Most people would be wise to think about Paul Graham’s essay. To seek out communities in the physical world that are more frontier minded when pursuing personal sovereignty. Places removed from conventional society. From conventional thought and influences.

These frontier communities may not perfectly align with the concept of the Sovereign Individual. But frontier communities of oddballs and DIYers are ideal for building something new. Especially a new sense of self.

Whether it be a company or a lifestyle. A frontier in the physical world is a place where you can redefine yourself with less fear of external influences. Where you’ll be embraced for your oddball characteristics. And in this setting, you’ll feel empowered to perform the lifestyle design iterations you need to develop your personal sovereignty.

And so, if you want to reinvent yourself and pursue personal sovereignty in the digital age, get to the frontier. Wherever that may be for you.”

6. Wow this is very impressive for a new fund manager. Also clearly very differentiated.

“The second piece of the diagnosis is that the rules of the game are different for a small solo fund like Not Boring Capital. We are structurally set up to be able to invest in a lot of the most credible companies. We don’t lead deals. We don’t sit on boards. The newsletter generates strong dealflow. If we invest a little bit in companies that can break out, I can often pull the “Deep Dive” arrow out of the quiver to write bigger checks in later rounds. We can often get $250k allocation but rarely $1 million. Time isn’t a constraint, but allocation often is.

At the same time, the biggest funds are getting bigger, which has been well-covered. What’s less appreciated is that, counterintuitively, the bigger and better the big funds get, the better it is for small funds like Not Boring Capital.”

7. This is absolutely invaluable for SaaS Investors and founders. Bookmark this.

8. For anyone who wants to understand Crypto from a man who is both a historian and investor.

9. More about the Supply Chain shortages hitting the global economy.

10. More continuing stupidity from the woke mob.

“The average tech employee isn’t really interested in roleplaying the 1960s between their morning gourmet coffee break and their afternoon massage. Most of them actually like their jobs, and want to do them. It’s also worth remembering that for every Netflix employee furious with the company’s decision to produce relevant content, there are hundreds — probably thousands — who want to work for Netflix.

The minority of cultural authoritarians working in tech don’t actually have much leverage, so why do we keep entertaining their authoritarian demands? The attempted takeover is opt-in. You can truly just opt-out. The Verge won’t like you. This will continue to not matter.”

11. “Until now, “no-code” and “enterprise grade” have been squarely at odds. In my previous experience running growth functions, I used a number of no-code page builders. They were great for tinkering, but typically shunned by engineering leaders as not production-grade. Yet it is the larger businesses who need this flexibility and performance most.”

12. Exciting news and congrats Ankur Nagpal. Like this thesis. Founders do want other founders investing in their company.

13. Good discussion on global supply chains, something we should all be paying attention to.

“The thing is, a supply chain is mostly an emergent entity rather than a designed one, and its most salient features often have very little to do with its nominal function of getting stuff from Point A to Point B. That’s just the supply chain’s job, not what it is. What it is is a homeostatic equilibrium created by billions of sourcing decisions made over time, by millions of individuals at businesses around the world making buying and selling decisions over time.

So just as it is a mistake to think of supply chains primarily in engineering terms, it is also a mistake to think of them primarily in social science terms.

Supply chains are a new class of engineered-emergent artifact, one that includes a few other globe-spanning things like the internet, the air travel system, and low earth orbit, that exist at a level of Gaian phenomenology, terraforming, and planet-scale husbandry. We only ever catch local glimpses of these things. The wholes are too big to fit in a single human mind, and the physical embodiments are too vast to capture even on a single map, let alone in a single photograph.”

14. I cannot wait to see this movie. I hope it does the amazing book justice. Reviews seem to say it does.

15. This is worth watching for those interested in crypto and stuff on the edge of the internet.

16. This is a smart move and OnDeck will be the next YC (whatever that means). But this will be a hothouse of the next generation of rising talent.

“Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, capital and credentials were bottlenecks to starting a technology company. Anyone can start up… so long as you can get an MBA and $10M from Sand Hill Road.

In the mid 2000s, that all changed. With the rise of AWS & open source software, the cost to spin up new software products plummeted. Now, anyone can start up… so long as you can code. Engineering skills became the new scarcity.

Today, it’s never been easier to get started. Knowledge & content are ubiquitous. No-code tools and dev infrastructure are powerful. Sprawling social networks help you discover and serve niche audiences. Anyone can start a tech co, anywhere in the world.

But the scarcity has shifted, again.

Today, what’s hardest is cutting through the noise — to find the right co-founder, get your product in the hands of early users, hiring the right early team. The #1 enemy of any aspiring founder is obscurity. Community is the new scarcity.

The highest-leverage thing you can do as a founder is surround yourself with a community of people who will be early collaborators, possible customers, and care enough to give you raw, real feedback.”

17. This is a really eye opening write up on why the stock market is operating as it is. Lots of implications for all stockholders.

“Passive flows are having an impact on how the market is structured, and shifting market dynamics to an element of *stonks always go up*. It’s important to understand the underlying mechanics, and how that ultimately impacts the entire functioning of the market.

It has increased access sure, but it also has changed the ecosystem of the market functionality.”

18. Bullish on Mexico. Strong case here for it



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Marvin Liao

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