Monday, March 18, 2019


"[There are] misperceptions of the salesman as somebody who’s wearing a shiny suit selling somebody something that they don’t need. And so, we have a couple of responses to that. We have a specific response to that, which is actually the role of sales is...not to sell something you don’t need — it’s essentially to help somebody buy what they actually do need.... But even deeper than that, the thing I tell the engineers is, look, dealing with customers, it’s another systems problem. You are the master of solving a systems problem, which is how to get the computer to do what you want. People aren’t computers, they’re different, but there is a system for dealing people. You can engineer a system for dealing with people. And actually, when you work with top-end sales people, what you find is they have incredibly elaborate, very real systems. Like, very, very, very thoroughly thought-through kind of abstract systems of how they basically run a large-scale sales campaign and how they deal with the customer." --Marc Andreessen  (Source)

Warren Buffett describes Haven's plan to improve health care while controlling costs (video) (LINK)

Warren Buffett Is No Fan of Modern Monetary Theory (LINK)

Investing: Theory vs. Practice - by Massimo Fuggetta (LINK)

The Hidden Risk When You Own Stocks for the Long Run - by Jason Zweig ($) (LINK)

Stock Analysis: The Most Important Things (Plus, A Case Study) - by Vishal Khandelwal (LINK)

Why our fund managers would never own up to an error like Buffett did on Kraft Heinz (LINK)
Related book: The Courage to Be Disliked
Bill Gurley - Runnin' Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love [9/14/2018] (video) (LINK)

Decentralized Finance - by Fred Wilson (LINK)

Fives Steps Toward Fairness in College Admissions - by Rick Bookstaber (LINK)

a16z Podcast: For the Billions of Creatives Out There (LINK)
This special, almost-crossover episode of the a16z Podcast features Billions co-showrunner Brian Koppelman — who also co-wrote movies such as Rounders and Ocean’s 13 with his longtime creative partner David Levien — in conversation with Marc Andreessen (and Sonal Chokshi).
Recode Decode Podcast: European commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager (LINK)

Yes, It’s All Your Fault: Active vs. Passive Mindsets (LINK)

FoundMyFitness Podcast: Dr. Matthew Walker on Sleep for Enhancing Learning, Creativity, Immunity, and Glymphatic System (LINK)
Related book: Why We Sleep

"The only thing each of us lives and loses is the present." --Marcus Aurelius 

Sunday, March 17, 2019


What is Amazon? - by Zack Kanter (LINK)

Spinning Gold - by Chris Pavese (LINK)

Counterintuitive Competitive Advantages - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

How Sears Lost the American Shopper ($) (LINK)

Microsoft, Facebook, trust and privacy - by Benedict Evans (LINK)

Some notes on the book Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company's Future - and What to Do About It (LINK)

Exponent Podcast: Fence-building vs. Axe-wielding (LINK)

Pivot with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway (podcast): LIVE! From SXSW (LINK)

Venture Stories Podcast: The Case For Digital Minimalism with Cal Newport (LINK)
Related book: Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
The Epic Hunt for a Lost World War II Aircraft Carrier [H/T @pcordway] (LINK)

A New Discovery Upends What We Know About Viruses - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Sorfis Investments

As many of you already know, my thoughts about starting a Registered Investment Adviser have come to fruition, and Sorfis Investments is now open for business.

The initial letter mostly provides some background about me and how my career and investing philosophy have developed over the years. It’s probably too much detail for many of you, but given that I hope Sorfis will be my main focus for the rest of my investing career, I think it’s worthwhile to give you a written overview describing how I made my way from growing up in Ohio to starting Sorfis in Charlotte, North Carolina. That letter, as well as a sign-up form to receive future letters, can be found on the Communications page.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


"We think the best way to minimize risk is to think." --Warren Buffett (2004)

Brookfield to Buy 62% of Oaktree Capital Management (LINK)

Daniel Kahneman in conversation with Sam Harris (podcast) (LINK)

Where [Elizabeth] Warren’s Wrong - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Adam Smith, Loneliness, and the Limits of Mainstream Economics - by Russ Roberts (LINK)

Prem Watsa on PM Modi, elections and Fairfax’s India investments (LINK)

The Decivilization of Venezuela - by Peter Zeihan (LINK)

The College Admissions Scandal Is About More Than Just Bribery - by Tyler Cowen (LINK)

Hallucination vs. Vision, Selling Your Art in the Real World: Brian Koppelman Interviews Marc Andreessen (LINK)

The Acquirers Podcast: Chris Cole chats with Tobias Carlisle [from last month] (LINK)
Related paper (July 2018): "What is Water in Markets?"
Invest Like the Best Podcast: Michael Mayer – Pseudonymous Social Capital and Bottomless Coffee (LINK)

Raghuram Rajan talks with Tyler Cowen (podcast) (LINK)

Big Questions with Cal Fussman (podcast): Simon Sinek: The Infinite Game (LINK)
Related book (June release date): The Infinite Game
The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes (podcast): The Power of Digital Detox with Cal Newport (LINK)
Related book: Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
This Is a Truly Lousy Experiment About Evolution - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Book of the day [H/T Tom Russo]: The Monk of Mokha

Monday, March 11, 2019


"The philosopher Cicero said something beautiful. He said, 'The thankful heart is not only the greatest of all the virtues, but it is the parent of all the other virtues.' And I think what that means is that people who are lucky should thank their luck, acknowledge it and revel in it. I think it will also make them want to share the fruits of their luck with others." --Howard Marks  [via The Knowledge Project]

Now that we're a decade from the crisis lows in the stock market, it might be an interesting time to revisit some of the FCIC interviews.

Capital Allocators Podcast: Thomas Russo – All About Google (LINK)

Virgin group: Brand it like Branson (LINK)

Jerome Powell's "60 Minutes" interview (video) (LINK)

On Startups, Platforms, and Innovation (LINK)

EconTalk Podcast: Amy Webb on Artificial Intelligence, Humanity, and the Big Nine (LINK)
Related book: The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity
How the U.S.-Russian Relationship Went Bad [H/T @GrahamTAllison] (LINK)

NASA Captures First Air-to-Air Images of Supersonic Shockwave Interaction in Flight [H/T Linc] (LINK)

"Natural desires are limited; but those which spring from false opinion can have no stopping-point. The false has no limits. When you are travelling on a road, there must be an end; but when astray, your wanderings are limitless. Recall your steps, therefore, from idle things, and when you would know whether that which you seek is based upon a natural or upon a misleading desire, consider whether it can stop at any definite point. If you find, after having travelled far, that there is a more distant goal always in view, you may be sure that this condition is contrary to nature." --Seneca

Friday, March 8, 2019


"Charlie is a huge believer in the idea that you don’t sit around sucking your thumb when something comes along that should be done that you pour into it. And that’s generally what we’ve tried to do. But there have been times — and it’s usually happened when I’ve started buying something at X and it went up to X plus an eighth or some intolerable amount like that — and I quit or waited for it to come back. And we’ve missed, in some cases, billions of dollars of profit because of the fact that I’d gotten anchored, in effect, to some initial price when I could have paid more subsequently and it really was inconsequential." --Warren Buffett (2004)

"At least we are constantly thinking about the past occasions when we blew opportunities. Since those don’t hit financial reports, the opportunities you had but didn’t accept, most people don’t bother thinking about them very much. At least that is a mistake we don’t make. We rub our own noses in our mistakes in blowing opportunities." --Charlie Munger (2004)

The First Line of Investing Defense? You - by Jason Zweig ($) (LINK)

The Real Estate Market in Charts - by Ben Carlson (LINK)

Bill Gross: ‘We were looking for every penny we could get’ (LINK)

Lyft Off? The First Ride Sharing IPO! - by Aswath Damodaran (LINK)

Mark Zuckerberg Wants Facebook to Emulate WeChat. Can It? (LINK)

Three Ways Startups Are Coming for Established Fintech Companies—And What To Do About It (LINK)

Exponent Podcast: Mark Zuckerberg’s Projected Self (LINK)

Patience is Something You Do, Not Something You Are (LINK)

Thursday, March 7, 2019


"My partner used to say, a deal of a lifetime comes across your desk every week. You just have to be looking for it. So while there are dramatic changes going on in real estate, there are always misallocations and mispricing. So even in a down market, some assets will be marked down way below even their new lower price and create an opportunity. But it takes a more agile player. It's sort of the difference as a stock picker, where there are markets where you could be what are called "beta huggers." You're just sticking to the index or sticking to the averages. And then there are other markets where you have a stock picker's market, where only the really great stock pickers can find great opportunity." --Michael Sonnenfeldt  [via Real Vision]

Jeremy Grantham on CNBC (LINK)

Facebook’s Privacy Cake - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Leithner Letter No. 233-236: Which Australian Households’ Finances Are Most Vulnerable? (LINK)

Freakonomics Radio: How to Fail Like a Pro (LINK)

Time and money - by Seth Godin (LINK)

What killed the dinosaurs? Astronomy and geology. - by Phil Plait (LINK)

We Are Destroying Chimpanzee Cultures - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


"I don’t know anybody who is wise who doesn’t read a lot. On the other hand, that alone won’t do it. You have to have a temperament, really, which grabs the correct ideas and does something with those ideas. And I think most people who read a lot don’t have the necessary temperament, and they grab the ideas or they’re simply confused by the mass of material. And, of course, that won’t work." --Charlie Munger (2004)

"Phil Carret used to talk about having a 'money mind,' and I would call it a 'business mind.' And there are people...with identical IQs that are better adapted for one than the other. And the temperament is all important. I mean, if you can’t control yourself, no matter what the intellect you bring to the’re going to have disasters. And Charlie and I have seen one after another. It’s not a business that requires extraordinary intellect. It does require extraordinary discipline. That shouldn’t be so difficult. But as I look around the world sometimes, apparently it is quite difficult. I mean, the whole world went a little mad a few years back in terms of investments. And you say to yourself, 'How could that happen? Don’t they learn anything from the earlier ones?' But what we learn from history is that people don’t learn from history. And you certainly see that in financial markets all the time." --Warren Buffett (2004)

Has Kraft Heinz Made $24 Billion Since Merger or $6 Billion? It Depends ($) [H/T Linc] (LINK)

The American With the Toughest Job in Finance: Saving Deutsche Bank ($) (LINK)

Record Number of Americans with Car Leases Ending in 2019 Face Significant Price Hikes, According to Edmunds (LINK)

Pure Downside, No Silver Lining - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

Sam Zell: The US needs centrist leadership (video) (LINK)

The Investing City Podcast: Jim O’Shaughnessy, Founder of O’Shaughnessy Asset Management: Probabilities Over Possibilities (LINK)

TED Talk: How we can store digital data in DNA | Dina Zielinski (LINK)

Hayabusa-2 shot a bullet at an asteroid and collected the shrapnel (LINK)

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


"Anytime you have incentives, with people who are quite smart, to mismark things, you’re going to get mismarks, or temptations to take on risk in an inappropriate manner. Originally with derivatives, the argument was made that it would disperse risk. That, you know, the Coca-Cola Company faced foreign exchange risk, or some bank faced, you know, interest rate risk. And the theory was that you would use these derivatives to spread risk around the system. And indeed, there are many people that make that argument now. I would say that that may work in that manner a great percentage of the time. But the time that counts is when the system has intensified risk and placed enormous credit risk on very, very few institutions. Believe me, the Coca-Cola Company is in a better position to accept foreign exchange or interest rate risk in a year than some derivatives dealer who has tons of positions on. And I think, actually, there is much more risk in the system because of derivatives than the proponents of derivatives would say has been dispersed because of the activities. " --Warren Buffett (2004)

The Knowledge Project Podcast: Luck, Risk and Avoiding Losers (with Howard Marks) (LINK)
Related book: Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side
Kyle Bass talks China, markets, and the Fed (video) (LINK) [Bass also just did another longer interview on Real Vision.]

Greece Looks to Borrow Amid Buoyant Markets ($) (LINK)

Invest Like the Best Podcast: Peter Zeihan – The Future of Geopolitics (LINK)
Related books: 1) The Accidental Superpower; 2) The Absent Superpower
WorkLife with Adam Grant (podcast): The Creative Power of Misfits (LINK)

Edge #531: Lightning talks by thirteen "Possible Minders" at the Brattle Theatre (LINK)

Monday, March 4, 2019


Full Transcript of Daily Journal Annual Meeting 2019 (LINK)

Capital Allocators Podcast: Thomas Russo – All About Berkshire Hathaway (LINK)

The Absolute Return Letter, March 2019: More on the Productivity Conundrum (LINK)

Mutual Fund Observer, March 2019 (LINK)

Aswath Damodaran on Acquisitions: Just Say No [H/T @WallStCynic] (LINK)

Amazon’s Project Zero Aims to Help Brands Target Scammers ($) (LINK)

The Side Effects of Million-Dollar Drugs ($) (LINK)

A Storm Is Gathering Over Container Shipping ($) (LINK)

RightScale’s 2019 State of the Cloud Report [H/T @ivan_brussels] (LINK)

How bad science gets used for power and profit by some activists - by Matt Ridley (LINK)

The Fall of ‘America’s Money Answers Man’ (LINK)

Temasek, GGV-backed Chinese startup Iwjw goes into liquidation [H/T @Jkylebass] (LINK)

An Oakland school upped spending after a $2.8M donation of Chinese paintings. Then came the appraisal [H/T @wolfejosh] (LINK)

Trump, Kim, Cohen, and the Limits of the President’s Power - by Evan Osnos (LINK)

Security Markets: The Lay of the Land (a16z video) (LINK)

Recode Decode Podcast -- Chamath Palihapitiya: People in Silicon Valley are deeply unhappy (LINK)

The Stormtrooper Problem: Why Thought Diversity Makes Us Better (LINK)

A galaxy is blowing enormous megacharged superbubbles of gas and cosmic rays - by Phil Plait (LINK)