This Week I Learned #15

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up”
— Charlie Munger


  • Wise: "A book is a dream you hold in your hands." - Neil Gaiman


  • Wise: An overview on the podcast industry from 2005 to 2015. Over the 10 years the lifespan of a typical podcast was 6 months with 12 episodes. Of the 200K+ podcasts only about 40% have been "active", meaning 1 piece of content per month. Of the categories with the most active podcasts Christianity led the way with 23K active podcasts with the runner up being Music at 13K active podcasts. I love how the category is Christianity and not religion. The trend of more podcasts launching is apparent with 2015 seeing 5000 new podcasts launch per month while the number was below 1000 pre-2008. Podcasts are becoming more global with 36% of History podcasts being non-English. This is a common trend I see in South Korea, a country that thrives on entertainment media, where celebrities are trying to take ownership of their brand in a highly censored and restrictive media environment. Podcasts are also getting longer with median minute per episode increasing to 42 minutes. So, 6 months will be the target to beat for me in the short term. But the growing market and opportunity continues to excite me to create more podcasts in the future.


  • Wise: Whilst cruising through the Amazon Books store in New York I found Gretchen Rubin's book "The Four Tendencies". Turned out the book was a personality test so it was an easy-target for some "loiter in the bookstore and read without buying" situation. I quite enjoyed the test and my result from the quiz was "Questioner". After digging into this tendency more I did find it represented me quite well based on the feedback I had accumulated from my peers. It provided additional insight to how I may go about designing my career and life for the future and I hope you find it just as insightful. At the very least it's fun.


  • Wealthy: Learnings from First Round VC Rob Hayes per Tren Griffin. In my quest to broaden my knowledge of seed-stage venture investing I found the various perspectives to assess the founders and business insightful. "First principle: the team you build is the company you build.", Keith Rabois on the importance of hiring and why 50% of the CEOs time should be focused on hiring the right people. "Missionary vs. Mercenary Founder", the founder with a purpose/"why"/"north star" will be the one who can traverse through the "messy middle"/"dip"/"catastrophic failure" that will be inevitable on the journey to build a company. Rob Hayes' edge in identifying founders => "My question is never 'is this the right time to build this company' but 'is this the right person to build this company given that this person will have to build the market'". "If you invest in something that doesn't work, you lose 1x your money. If you miss Google, you lose 10,000x your money. You must orient yourself toward the question of "what could go right?"", Bill Gurley on the importance of being an eternal optimist in the venture world.. a mindset that resonates well with how I invest in the public equity markets as well.


  • Wise: A look into Uber's business model, strategy and competitive landscape with Lyft. A holistic look at Uber's focus on bundling all transportation services to control demand. With multitudes of transportation related services (i.e. bikes, cars, food delivery) it creates a single source for customers. The single source increases demand and with that demand it would hope to find improvements in operating margins to turn that quarterly $1bn loss around. As with any marketplace business, this is a two-sided equation where driver captivity is also required but that captivity of demand from consumers should help with captivity of supply on the driver side as well. I don't think Lyft will go away and neither do I think Lyft won't apply a similar bundling tactic (especially if the bundling tactic starts to utilize third parties). It will inevitably become an oligopolistic market, unless Uber blows through it's finances on projects like pursuing a self-driving car technology better than Google's. With continued migration to mega-cities increasing the population density of North American cities that are ill-equipped on an infrastructure standpoint a transportation vertical stands to have great tail winds.


  • Wise: Rare long-form interview with Joe Rogan and Elon Musk. Bypassing the worthless media-bait on Elon smoking weed the interview was a highly insightful view on numerous topics like infrastructure, flight, energy and politics. Really enjoyed the discussion on the need to expand transportation infrastructure underground as cities expanded upwards, the safety of tunnels in earthquakes, why Elon believes flying cars won't happen and how the gravitational force actually applies to airplanes. I'm personally not a fan of Elon as a CEO/operator but his vision and thought process behind his engineering designs was truly enjoyable to listen to.


  • Wealthy: Interview with Scott Belsky, VC @ Benchmark + Founder of Behance. I'm a personal fan of Scott and continue to digest whatever interview he does. Scott's been able to build a system to allow him to evolve his angel investing to a role as a VC partner at Benchmark whilst also managing an executive role at Adobe where he focuses on products because that is what he loves and focused on when eh was building Behance. It continues to expand the creativity I should impose into creating my own system. In regards to investing, Scott brings up a great point on thinking about the present when investing. A lot of investing is predicated on forecasting for growth and/or the future state of the company given various factors but you just have no idea when exactly the thesis will play out. This can result in getting burned by your own future-based thesis. So invest considering the market conditions of the present. This does not mean have a short time horizon. But rather have a long horizon of a thesis predicated on the present conditions because the chances of dramatic change happening in the next 5 to 10 years isn't that probable.

Daniel LeeTWIL