A Few Things...

May 10 2019

I'm writing this from Beijing today.

Here are a few things worth sharing.

1. China. I was lucky to be in Beijing this week. It's been a mix of business & pleasure, including meeting venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and then seeing a bunch of sights. This was my 3rd time in China and 1st time in Beijing. Here's what's surprised me versus my preconceived notions (background: I lived in Singapore for seven years).

- This is a local story. In every single thing I did, the locals outnumbered the foreigners 90/10. Whether local tourism or local money. This country is huge and it's hard to get the scale until you get here. Beijing is over 22mm people and there are ten cities in China, with over 10mm people (NY City is ~8.5mm). Belt Road Initiative is a big deal, and impacting everything from Asia to Europe (Italy). I'm surprised we aren't hearing more about it given the size and breadth of this. China is extending it's influence and reach. They want to trade. 

- The flavor of entrepreneurship is very different from what I've seen in the US / Europe. In China it feels like they are trying to fix more core industrial / economic things. SaaS & enterprise software is 3-4 years away, companies are being built. Companies are being built to compete internationally across SaaS ecosystem. Consumer internet is doing well, but it's all being built on then current super platforms - Alibaba & Tencent. Entrepreneurs are now working on their 2nd or 3rd company having had prior exits. 

Happy to share more detailed notes specifically on funds I met.

Both Henry Kissinger's World Order and Parag Khanna's The Future is Asian were helpful reads before coming here.

2. Three things worth watching or listening to: 

A. The Peculiar Blindness of Experts, according to this article by David Epstein - in most fields, especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. I'm a believer in this idea and think that the world ahead will be about being the jack of many trades (thank you David G). This also reminds of the great book Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock.

B. Have you read the Mueller Report yet (thanks to Marc G for reminding me). It's pretty damning. 

C. Did you see this great video post Berkshire AGM with Buffett, Gates and MungerAlways a great perspective. 

Quotes I am thinking about:

"Now the search expenses that brought us Ajit Jain, now there was an investment that really paid a dividend. I can think of no higher return investment that we’ve ever made that was better than that one. And I think that’s a good life lesson. In other words, getting the right people into your system can frequently be more important than anything else." 

- Charlie Munger

 "When it's hard to predict what the jobs of the next 10 years will be — much less the next 50 years — acquiring the skills necessary to acquire skills is more important than the specifics of any given discipline."

- Mark Somerville, Dean Olin College