Maximum Bullish: Travels to Ukraine

Marvin Liao
3 min readNov 15, 2023

After a long hiatus due to the barbarian Russian invasion in 2022, I finally made it back in September 2023 for the excellent Lviv IT Arena tech conference. The event for tech startups in all of UKraine. It was excellent and full of positive energy and optimism.

I’ve been coming to UKraine since 2007 and I’ve witnessed an amazing transformation of the country over the last almost 20 years. And I can tell you I’m even more bullish on this country and the people than I ever have been. I love this country.

The number and high quality of excellent tech people has been a badly kept secret for the last decade in tech circles, providing the tech back end for great companies like Ring, now part of Amazon, Grammarly. Also, talk about home grown giants like Genesis, Readdle and McPaw of CleanmyMac fame, this was a tech startup center in the making. The trajectory was incredible especially since 2015 when I came back after Maidan in 2013.

Unfortunately the war has massively disrupted this and caused mayhem. But like the resilient people that they are, Ukrainians are using their intelligence and creativity to keep building. Founders in Silicon Valley have no idea of the challenges these founders face and overcome every day.

Random missile attacks against civilian targets, having to work underground in bomb shelters, having team members called up or volunteering for military service on the front line to defend their country against a vicious enemy. An enemy determined to stamp out their way of life and culture. Yet they keep going without complaint.

I admire them so much and I feel so guilty that I can’t do more than I do now. That I did not sign up for the Ukrainian Foreign Legion to kill Russian invaders or do something beyond donations and charity.

Remember, Russia invaded Ukraine. This is the most black and white, good versus evil situation since world war 2. There is no gray here.

And my guilt also bleeds into massive hate for pro Putin supporters or those who try to undermine support for Ukraine. The hard right GOP, Vivek Ramaswamey, David Sacks, Scott Ritter, Douglas Macgregor, Tucker Carlson are absolutely traitors to America & the West as well as being useful Idiots to Russia. You are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem. History will judge them all very severely. May these people burn in hell.

But I say this now, when this war is over, I cannot wait to move over and help grow this tech ecosystem and rebuild this country to something amazing. The actual trajectory and destination that it was on before Putin engaged in this awful war. The amount of brilliant people who left the country will come back with their networks and knowledge. The middle class professionals who volunteered and fought off the barbarian Russians will not tolerate going back to a corrupt oligarchic system. And the world will be admiring and supportive as they rebuild Ukrainian infrastructure and integrate them into the EU.

I’m obviously biased and apologize that this has turned into a personal rant but I am massively and maximum bullish on this country. My radar tends to be pretty good on this stuff, especially emerging companies and emerging countries. So support and watch Ukraine. Slava Ukraini!

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Marvin Liao

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