From FreeWorld to Moats and the Stoic Castle, Plus Leverage

Your weekly 5 things from the mind of Miles Lasater

Happy Saturday! Here are your 5 things from the mind of Miles for this week.

  1. Giving Circle. Would you like to join our Startups for Good Giving Circle? We donate to early-stage tech nonprofits to help them scale and have greater impact. For example, this cycle we’re giving to FreeWorld. Jason Wang, the CEO, was recently on the podcast. The more I learn about the criminal justice system the more I believe we need changes, but that’s a topic for another day.

  2. Teaching at Yale. I’m going to be co-teaching an introductory class on venture capital at Yale’s business school in April and May. If you have any suggestions, particularly for a startup CEO willing to pitch in the class to students, please let me know. It feels like big shoes to fill as I remember the beloved Prof David Cromwell teaching a similar course.

  3. Daily Stoic. I read a page or two from the Daily Stoic most days. I’ve read Marcus Aurelius before and a bit of Seneca but don’t consider myself a stoic. For example, a common stoic metaphor is the mind as a castle protected from bad behavior, thoughts. I’m not sure that you have that much control over thoughts. The Buddhist model of brains constantly producing thoughts is more correct. I do like the stoic sense of striving for virtue and reaching for self-discipline. And I find daily meditation on improving one’s character useful.

  4. Nalebuff’s Lifecycle Investing. I took my own advice from last week and read an older Nalebuff book. Have you read Lifecycle Investing? It argues for an asset allocation strategy that has more than 100% asset allocation to stock when you’re young. If you believe in diversification by company or asset, why not diversify in time, too? Use options or borrowed money while you are young to have exposure to the stock market earlier than you would if you waited to earn the cash to make the investment. The book does say that when Shiller PEs are above 27 you do not want to leverage that much. And we’re at Shiller PE approaching 40 so… Do you know anyone who has more than 100% equity allocation? Are there products to support it? 

  5. Acquired Podcast. I’ve mentioned the Acquired Podcast in passing and wanted to highlight again. A fabulous way to hear stories of technology companies and the playbooks behind them. I particularly like the early seasons and the deep dives on Chinese internet companies. It is very much in the spirit of Venture Patterns. For example, I learned about the 7 Powers competitive advantage analysis from this podcast. If you have not yet listened, you are in for a treat.

Until next week,

Miles