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Invest Like the Best

Exploring the ideas, methods, and stories of people that will help you better invest your time and money. Learn more and stay-up-to-date at InvestorFieldGuide.com
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Now displaying: October, 2017
Oct 31, 2017

My guest this week is Brad Katsuyama, the founder of the IEX exchange and protagonist of Michael Lewis’s famous book Flash Boys, which chronicled the role of high frequency trading in markets.

This conversation was yet another reminder of how complicated markets can be, and that very few participants know all aspects of the process well. Brad and I get deep into the history behind his company, and the ways in which markets and exchanges have evolved, better or worse. 

One of my favorite parts of this conversation was our exploration of entrepreneurship. Brad’s whole story is one that entrepreneurs will appreciate, and is full of lessons for those aspiring to start their own business.

Please enjoy my conversation with Brad Katsuyama

 

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast.

To get involved with Project Frontier, head to InvestorFieldGuide.com/frontier.

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub.

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag

 

Books Referenced

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

 

Show Notes

2:10 – (First Question) Brad’s original discovery of a latency problem in trading stocks

12:51 – how the business model of the NASDAQ and exchanges and how it may surprise people 

14:16 – The edge that exchanges are now monetizing 

16:46 – How Brad went from finding a solution to his current firm 

20:18 – Types of high frequency traders that there are 

24:33 – The formation of IEX 

27:56 – Funding IEX

30:48 – What happens to the initial funding

32:30 – Describe what IEX is as it was sold to early buy side investors 

34:31 – Explaining the concept of a speedbump 

38:18 – Pitching companies so they will be listed on their index 

40:37 – Explains maker-taker fees 

44:47 – The sources of revenue for IEX vs traditional exchanges 

46:53 – Most memorable meeting Brad has had in establishing IEX 

49:39 – How did he do this with young kids?

52:38 – Has the pool of potential profits that high-frequency trading firms can earn gone down

53:53 – What has Brad most excited about the future in terms of helping the buyside

55:17 – What was it like to see Brad’s venture get turned into a best-selling book. (Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt)

59:00 – Biggest thing that Brad has learned

1:00:56 – What would Brad do if he couldn’t work in the investing world.

1:02:25 - Kindest thing anyone has done for Brad       

 

Learn More

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag

Oct 24, 2017

This week’s episode is part of an experiment and so requires a longer than normal introduction.

I’ve come to view this podcast as a learning tool, a means to understand a new topic in a short window of time. One of those areas is venture capital and startups—an area that one year ago was completely foreign to me. I think the best way to learn is aggressive immersion in a topic along with some consequences, what we often call some skin in the game. Accordingly, this is a conversation with the founder of a startup in which I am an investor.

I say this in full disclosure because I believe in being very transparent with you, but also obviously want this business to do well. Part of the reason I invested was because I thought I could affect the outcome of the business personally, in part by exposing the model and ideas to you all. I deeply respect your opinions and collective breadth of knowledge, and welcome thoughts you have on this topic. 

The founder is Brett Maloley and his company is called Ladder. Ladder represents an overlap of many topics we’ve explore together over the last year. We’ve talked about venture capital, health and wellbeing, the difficultly of fundraising and power law outcomes in startups. We also spent an entire episode, with Alex Moazed, talking about the business model that Ladder is pursing: what Alex calls platform business model and what my favorite technology writer Ben Thompson calls the Aggregator model.

Alex wrote the book Modern Monopolies about this model, which describes how companies like Uber, Airbnb, and others serve clients. Platform companies sit at the intersection between consumers and producers in a given category, helping make life easier, cheaper, and/or better for consumers and more profitable and flexible for producers. But the value creation itself is about the facilitating the exchange of value more efficiently than it is about actually creating the underlying product. Airbnb, for example, doesn’t own real estate (the value in this case), but they unlock the potential of real estate owned by others.  Same for Uber which, so far, doesn’t own cars.

As Alex explained to me in our discussion, a key sign of a market which might benefit from a platform company is some form of latent, untapped supply. Which brings me back to Ladder. The company is being built to unlock latent potential in fitness and potentially other types of coaching. Personal trainers are typically on the job [or; "at work'] 11 horus a day, of which four on average are downtime. That is the untapped supply. Ladder will allow two key things: much cheaper access to a real fitness coach for consumers who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars a month in the current format, and a way for trainers with lots of free time to both get new customers and to better engage with their existing customers. Think of it almost like Opentable—which started as a way for restaurants to better manage their reservations, but turned into a liquid market for consumers to make reservations. 

The reason this is so interesting, I think, is the enormous size of the commercial fitness industry and the fact that it hasn’t changed for a long time. I love people who have an almost bizarre level of knowledge in a niche field, and Brett certainly fits that bill. He grew up with the industry, his mentors and relatives having literally build the commercial fitness industry, what we think of today as gyms and personal training. He knows how this legacy model works and ticks, the flaws and benefits of different business models, and why the future might be different, with a much larger percent of the population using a fitness coach, and maybe other types of coaches, in categories like nutrition and health. 

To see the app in action and get paired with a coach, Brett kindly set up a promo code of sorts like you often hear on other podcasts. If you search for “ladder coach” in the app store, download the app, and then use the promo code ILTB (as in, invest like the best) you’ll get 50% off the service forever. I don’t get any cut of that at all. Brett and his team are data heads, and their main goal early in this company’s life is to generate data on the relationships between consumers and their new coaches to figure out what works best for both groups to constantly improve the service, so the early adopters among you get a permanent discount. 

Now this will be obvious, but nothing about what I do personally is investment advice—it should not be mimicked. Like my investment in bitcoin, this investment represents a small part of my portfolio, and as always I think the majority of anyone’s portfolio should be balanced and well-priced. I do not expect that I have any skill at selecting startups, as probably very few people do. But I know that having some skin in the game means you learn differently: more efficiently, and faster. I hope you enjoy this collective experiment, which is largely the result of what I’ve learned from past guests and from all of your support which helps me meet those great people in the first place. Let’s dive in to my conversation with the founder of Ladder, Brett Maloley, who starts by describing how he got his start in the fitness world.

 

For comprehensive show notes on this episode go to http://investorfieldguide.com/ladder

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast.

To get involved with Project Frontier, head to InvestorFieldGuide.com/frontier.

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub.

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag

 

Show Notes

5:25 – (First question) – Brett describes his history in the fitness industry

10:04 – Realized he could fix the commercial fitness industry by changing it

12:46 – Explain how Ladder works

14:14 – What does the ratio of digital to in-person coaching need to be in order to be effective coaching

17:12 – Explaining the platform business model as a whole and how to scale these types of business

22:15 – Origin of health clubs

24:01 – Current state of the health fitness space through some key stats

26:44 – What happened where gyms were able to start charging a lot less for memberships

30:20 – How Ladder is going to attract customers in the beginning

36:10 – How to drive engagement

37:46 – The opportunity for coaches on the platform

40:28 – How will ladder ensure the quality of coaches on the platform remains high

42:41 – Exploring the value of the data

45:32 – How will Ladder work with gyms in the scope of how a new business can take advantage of existing businesses

48:58 – Comparing Ladder to crossfit and what is not sustainable about 

53:14 – Difference between a franchise model vs a license model

55:12 – Strategy for building an audience

59:56 – Competitors to this business

1:03:39 – Brett’s thoughts on brand broadly speaking and how he’s worked to shape Ladder’s brand

1:05:00 – Best individual experience of the platform so far 

Learn More

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag

Oct 17, 2017

This week’s conversation is about artificial intelligence and interplanetary travel. Its about content creation, thinking from first principles, and death progress units. Its about brain machine interfaces and why it is crucial that you be a chef and not a cook. 

My guest is Tim Urban, along with his business partner Andrew Finn. Tim is the most entertaining writer I’ve come across in years, who explains complicated and interesting topics to his millions of dedicated readers on the website “Wait, But Why.” As an example, Tim’s last post on Elon Musk’s neurlink venture is 40,000 words long, roughly the length of a short book. It explains almost all of human progress and our potential future using drawings and cartoons. Its impossible to stop reading.

While this conversation is wildly entertaining, it is also chock full of metaphors and lessons that will be useful to anyone doing creative work or building a company. I hope this leaves you as energized as it left me. I called this episode Grand Theft Life because that is the name that Tim and Andrew give to their worldview, which I think will change the way you behave, too. Please enjoy my conversation with Tim Urban.

 

For comprehensive show notes on this episode go to http://investorfieldguide.com/urban

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast.

To get involved with Project Frontier, head to InvestorFieldGuide.com/frontier.

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub.

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag

 

Books Referenced

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

 

Links Referenced

The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce

Wait But Why

Neuralink and the Brain’s Magical Future

Wait But Hi

YouTube Channel  Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell

 

Show Notes

1:50 – (First question) –  Explaining his concept of planets 1, 2, 3 and 4 and understanding the human colossus

5:46 – Tim’s favorite idea of the human knowledge compounding

7:52 – Die Progress Units (DPU)

9:45 – Different stages of AI and the positives and negatives of each stage

14;04 – What happens when AI gains breadth and general intelligence

16:23 – The idea of a cook vs a chef and how Tim had the chance to interview Elon Musk

17:48 – Why you should reason from first principles instead of reasoning by analogies

25:19 – Why it’s possible to turn a cook into a chef

30:08 – Why being a chef is the safer route in a world with AI and what Tim has changed in himself as to why.

31:22 – Looking at the discovery process

            34:39 – Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies\

40:01 – Being the person who creates the metaphor vs being the people who simply using them

            43:41 – YouTube Channel  Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell

44:54 – Most fun that Tim has had researching a topic

46:08 – Musk model for attaining your goals

53:43 – Why not caring what people think is one of the world’s best superpowers, grand theft life

56:50 – Neuralink – what is it and how did Tim come to research it

1:02:38 – Elon Musk’s concerns about AI

1:14:28 – What then if the Neuralink concept works out

1:18:02 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Tim

 

Learn More

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag

Oct 10, 2017

In episodes one and two of Hash Power, we explored blockchain technology and cryptocurrency investing. In this episode, we discuss the current and potential future states of the crypto world. We cover new forms of cooperation, regulation, security and storage, and why blockchains allow systems to evolve at such a rapid pace. 

Be sure to listen until the end, where we close with some advice about conducting ourselves in a new world where creativity reigns and repetitive jobs disappear—a trend that may only accelerate thanks to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

Hash Power is presented by Fidelity Investments

 

For comprehensive show notes on this episode go to http://investorfieldguide.com/hashpower

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast.

To get involved with Project Frontier, head to InvestorFieldGuide.com/frontier.

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub.

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag

  

Show Notes

0:05 – Intro to episode 3 and what to expect 

4:00 - Olaf Carlson-Wee, founder of Polychain, on how the funding and investing in cryptocurrencies could easily get out of hand 

5:00 – How people are creating holding companies to fund cryptocurrencies protocols 

6:45 – Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) and how they will replace the aforementioned holding companies 

8:32 – Could fully decentralized organizations replace other more traditional organizational structures, even outside of crypto currency 

9:59 – How can DAO’s impact everyday lives 

12:39 – Why your skills and accomplishments will become more important than who you are or where you are from

            15:38 – Ready Player One: A Novel 

16:09 - Naval Ravikant, CEO of Angellist, on the way humans cooperate and build new entities 

17:51 – When people will demand oversight and regulation over crypto currency 

20:42 - Peter Van Valkenburg, Director of Research at Coincenter on the current state of regulation 

26:06 - Jameson Lopp on security needed to protect your cryptocurrency

            26:22 - Glacierprotocol.org 

27:51 - Ari Paul, co-founder of Blocktower, on how nail polish is used to protect their crypto wallet 

30:03 – Juan Benet explains the Filecoin Protocol 

35:52 - Muneeb Ali, co-founder of Blockstack, on how his team is plans to provide basic tools that will allow the broader developer community to build apps that the cryptocurrency population will use. 

38:01 - Comparing blockstack to the analogy of creating a city 

40:17 – How the blockstack token fits into everything 

43:15 – Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase, on forking in blockchains 

47:52 – Naval Ravikant on how the idea of work will change in the future, and how that change helped to produce the idea of a blockchain in the first place. 

49:31 – Why curiosity should govern what you do in life

53:22 - Naval’s framework for making money

 

Learn More

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag

Oct 3, 2017

In episode 1 of Hash Power, we explored blockchains as a technology—how they work, why tokens (also known as cryptocurrencies) are an integral part of any blockchain, and how these new networks might change the world. In episode two, we spend time with the leading investors in the field. Like any frenzied asset class, there are countless cryptocurrency hedge funds popping up everywhere. But founders from three of the original firms—Polychain, Metastable, and Blocktower Capital—are our primary guides this week.

As I speak, the total market cap of cryptocurrencies is $136B. There are hundreds of tokens currently available, but bitcoin and Ethereum represent 75% of the total market cap. $136B sounds like a big number, but its tiny relative to any other asset class—and I use that term with hesitation. To put it in perspective, that’s exactly the same size as the market cap of IBM. But IBM had more than $10B of earnings in 2016. Tokens have none. As you will hear, valuing tokens is a very hard exercise.

In such a nascent world, we are seeing investing strategies take hold. Olaf Carlson-Wee, Josh Seims, and Ari Paul walk us through different takes on cryptocurrency investing, be it early stage, long term buy and hold, or more hedge fund style strategies.

Hash Power is presented by Fidelity Investments

For comprehensive show notes on this episode go to http://investorfieldguide.com/hashpower

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast.

To get involved with Project Frontier, head to InvestorFieldGuide.com/frontier.

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub.

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag

 

Links Referenced

Fat Protocols (Joel Monegro)

 

Show Notes

0:05 – Recap of part 1 and introduction to part 2 of Hash Power

2:58 – Ari Paul, CIO of Blocktower explains how he got involved in cryptocurrencies

5:23 – Why do we need bitcoin

7:23 – Polychain Capital founder Olaf Carlson-Wee on why the value of tokens accrue

9:23 – How main stream money is getting into this space

12:26- Useful comparisons when talking about ICOs when compared to IPOs

15:01 - Naval Ravikant, CEO of Angellist, is asked to explain the protocols of cryptocurrencies to platform businesses like Uber or Airbnb

17:43 – Naval’s interest in investing in cryptocurrencies

18:42 – Why average folks should avoid it before they dive thoroughly into the topic

20:25 – what are the most compelling counter arguments to using cryptocurrencies

23:07 - Olaf Carlson Wee on the lifecycle of a token

24:02 – SAFT note, Simple Agreement for Future Tokens

25:31 – What is the earliest stage that edge is most present for investors in cryptocurrency protocols

28:12 – How do you mitigate the volatility that is present in blockchain

31:18 - Jeremiah Lowin, a risk and statistics expert, who runs risk management for a large private family office, talks about why he no longer owns cryptocurrencies

 34:19 - Jordan Cooper, a venture capital investor, is optimistic about blockchains in general, but thinks there may be some overvaluations in current currencies

37:02 – How Jordan would value a single cryptocurrency

42:10 – Fat Protocols (Joel Monegro)

43:52 - Josh Seims, of Metastable, the value investor in blockchain?

51:15 - Ari Paul on the equivalent of listed stocks in the crypto currency world

52:33 – Understanding the concept of a coin in blockchain and how people are getting access to them

55:07 – The fairground analogy to understand cryptocurrencies

57:57 – What lessons from traditional markets can you apply to investing in cryptocurrencies

1:02:48 – Where do family offices stand when it comes to jumping into this space

1:06:51 – Ari is asked to discuss some of the alternative cryptocurrencies outside of Bitcoin and Ethereum. He starts with Ripple

1:10:27 – What would help firms or traders create edge in investing in cryptocurrencies

 

Learn More

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag

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