Circle of Competence Issue #31

September 30, 2018

Quote of the week: "People calculate too much and think too little." - Charlie Munger

 

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

 

I finally finished the audible version of Yuval Noah Harari's "Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow" this week and it was well worth the effort (H/T Andrew P.). For those who would consider yourself even a mild futurist, I would highly recommend this book for the sole reason that Harari masterfully extends current technological trends to their logical conclusions... and some may just surprise you. Here are a few of the trends that got my neural pathways firing:

 

- The downfall of liberal humanism along with the free market and free will of most of humanity due to extreme technological trends

- The merging of humans with algorithmic computation and automated data processes which may bring about the end of homo sapiens as we know them

- The rise of a new 'religion' or ideology that will replace liberal humanism - his version is dubbed 'Dataism' and emphasizes the free flow of data and information which is connected to an all knowing connected hub of information and intelligence - where coming 'unplugged' from the hub of information is literal death (sounds crazy, but how much time are we spending on devices at the moment... and in which direction is this trend going?)

- The internet of 'everything'  which occurs as the logical conclusion of internet of things when literally everything from inanimate objects to living flora and fauna are connected

- The ability to re-engineer human genomes, brain waves, and electrical impulses (and thus human desire) with new cutting edge technologies

 

Though there are some fundamental assumptions about Harari's worldview that I disagree with (his anti-religious reductionist statements, for one), I still highly recommend this book as it is a tour de force of technology, trends, and visionary predictions. 

 

 

DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL FINANCE

 

- Howard Marks' latest memo is a dandy (Oaktree Capital)

 

- Todd Wenning (@ToddWenning) distills his investment philosophy to one page

 

- Adventur.es' Mills Snell on spending one day as an Amazon seasonal hire 

 

- Adventur.es' new essay on Amazon's effects on various parts of the retail value chain

 

- Martin Feldstein's op-ed on why another recession is looming (WSJ)

 

- Remember how Dell was screwing DVMT shareholders? Now they may IPO instead of buying out DVMT (WSJ)

 

- Eddie Lampert, CEO of Sears, is at it again to save Sears by restructuring the debt and selling assets (WSJ)

 

- Accelerated share repurchases are being increasingly used to manage earnings (CFA Institute)

 

- Blackstone executives show interest in insurance and life science verticals (Institutional Investor)

 

- Exploring investment trends in the private real estate space (Pitchbook)

 

- Roark Capital expands its fast-food empire with $2.3B Sonic takeover (PitchBook)

 

 

DEPARTMENT OF TECHNOLOGY

 

- Unity CEO John Riccitiello Q&A - his thoughts on Fortnite's success (VentureBeat)

 

- Elon Musk announces Spacex's first private passenger to the moon on the BFR (YouTube)

 

- The future of mobility has two wheels, not four - eScooters! (PitchBook)

 

- How vertical farming is aiming to end urban food deserts (PitchBook)

 

- Crypto company Bitmain files for big IPO in Hong Kong (WSJ)

 

- Real estate tech has attracted increasingly more  capital over the last few years (PitchBook)

 

 

DEPARTMENT OF STARTUPS

 

- Jones, a pay as you go insurance co., raises $2.8M to disrupt insurance (VC News Daily)

 

- Convoy raises $185M from Google to continue to build out its on-demand freight service (WSJ)

 

- Compass raises $400M to help owners list, sell, and buy real estate (TechCrunch)

 

- Cargo, an in-car commerce company for ridesharing drivers to earn money, raises $22M (TechCrunch)

 

- Payments startup Stripe raises $245M and is valued at $20B (TechCrunch)

 

- Darktrace, an AI cybersecurity firm, raised $50M to help expand its technology platform to more networks around the world (TechCrunch)

 

 

DEPARTMENT OF PODCASTS

 

- BiggerPockets interview with Annie Duke, champion poker player, on probabilistic decision making 

 

- Crushing it in the multifamily market, even in a hot market on BiggerPockets

 

- Lessons from Bill Gates from The Investors Podcast

 

- Tim Ferriss interviews Howard Marks on investing with clear thinking

 

- David Hunt talks about interest rates after the financial crisis on Masters in Business 

 

- Professor Stephen McKeon talks about crypto security tokens with Ted Seides

 

- Ben Carlson's Animal Spirits Podcast #48 

 

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