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Invest Like the Best

Author: Patrick O'Shaughnessy

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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
206 Episodes
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My guest this week is Lauren Taylor Wolfe. Lauren is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Impactive Capital. Prior to founding Impactive she spent 10 years at Blue Harbour Group, a $3 billion activist investment firm. Our conversation is on the modernization of the activist investor playbook—how investors engage with companies to make them better and improve long term outcomes. We discuss the entire activist toolkit, focuses on what has changed the most in recent years. I’m also very excited to announce a new initiative. After years of building, operating, and investing in software, we are launching Positive Sum, a new early stage equity investing firm. You can read a bit more at positivesumadvisors.com. Now, please enjoy my conversation with Lauren Taylor Wolfe.   This episode of Invest Like The Best is sponsored by Canalyst. Canalyst is the leading destination for public company data and analysis.  If you’re a professional equity investor and haven’t talked to Canalyst recently, you should give them a shout. Learn more and try Canalyst for yourself at canalyst.com/Patrick.     For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (2:31) – (First question) – Her background and how she landed at Impactive Capital (6:25) – Impactive’s strategy vs the stereotype of the activist investor (10:55) – Potential candidates for what they do (13:26) – How they view the small cap tech world as the space is dominated by huge companies (15:24)  - How capital allocation has evolved over her career             (15:30) - The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success (17:38) – Best capital allocation strategies and mistakes that most companies make (18:48) – The levers activists pull: cap structure; capital allocation and operating structure (22:00) – Major lessons from earlier in her career (23:25) – Major changes in Governance as part of the ESG strategy (26:13) – The issue of dual-class in the space (27:35) – Features of a pristine healthy board (28:40) – Board’s role setting incentives and objectives for management (29:55) – How she thinks about the E&S in ESG and how it helps shareholders (32:56) – Applying her strategy in a real-world example (37:40) – What they look for in a business when it comes to sum of the parts (40:29) – Businesses that are misunderstood and what she looks for in that category (41:39) – How she manages relationships with the boards (45:11) – What she has learned transitioning business models (47:08) – The rise of employee activism (50:02) – What she’s seeing in terms of diversity and inclusion in board rooms and C-Suites (53:32) – Best practices and ways to disrupt hiring (57:48) – Something she doesn’t understand well today that she wishes she did (58:59) – Kindest thing anyone has done for her   Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag
My guest today is Rory Sutherland. Rory is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Group, which is one of the largest and most renowned advertising agencies in the world. He’s also the author of one of my favorite recent books called Alchemy: The surprising power of ideas that don’t make sense. In this conversation, we explore many of his counterintuitive ideas about business. Rory makes you think as much as anyone, so I hope you enjoy this conversation.   This episode of Invest Like The Best is sponsored by Canalyst. Canalyst is the leading destination for public company data and analysis.  If you’re a professional equity investor and haven’t talked to Canalyst recently, you should give them a shout. Learn more and try Canalyst for yourself at canalyst.com/Patrick.     For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (2:12) – (First question) – Why spreadsheets and logic kill magic (5:42) – What a product/service is vs how it’s delivered and makes people feel (regular moonshot vs psychological moonshot) (13:22) – Psychological anomalies - doing things faster, better, cheaper (Red Bull vs Coke) (19:54) – Swiss army knife that companies should avoid (22:50) – Don’t design for average (24:39) – How do people approach improving their business through marketing (27:30) – Case for direct mail (29:22) – Turning your weaknesses into a strength (34:29) – The seven deadly sins and how useful they are as guideposts (37:38) – Most powerful sin for marketing (39:14) – Reaching intelligent answers from dumb questions (43:25) – Why the opposite of a good idea can sometimes be a good idea (47:30) – Kindest thing anyone has done for him   Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag
My guest this week is Michael Seibel. Michael is a Partner at Y Combinator, and the CEO of YC's startup accelerator. He was the cofounder and CEO Justin.tv, which eventually became Twitch, and Socialcam. In this conversation, we discuss all Michael has learned reviewing thousands of applications to YC, interviewing countless new entrepreneurs, and watch young companies begin to grow and, occasionally, find product market fit. Listeners will also enjoy when Michael traps me big time in my thinking about AirBnb and his framework for great problems to solve. Enjoy this great conversation with Michael Seibel   This episode of Invest Like The Best is sponsored by Canalyst. Canalyst is the leading destination for public company data and analysis.  If you’re a professional equity investor and haven’t talked to Canalyst recently, you should give them a shout. Learn more and try Canalyst for yourself at canalyst.com/Patrick.     For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (2:22) – (First question) – Emerging trends among founders (6:00) – The long-term impact of Covid on business (7:16) – What an application to YC looks like and what stands out for him (11:46) – What he wants to learn in the interviews (13:54) – Poise in the interviews (15:40) – How the YC experience has evolved and improvements they’ve made (18:38) – How he defines technology             (18:50) – Every Company is Becoming a Software Company (21:12) – His thoughts on non-software companies and how they play into what YC does (23:48) – Why frequency and intensity of the problem matter to him (28:32) – Serving the supplier and building the demand (30:38) – Bravery in founders (36:07) – Partnerships and collaboration in venture capital investing (37:58) – Second time founders focus on distribution (39:23) – Coaching the psychological component of being a founder (44:16) – Learning as a founder vs the education system (46:08) – Customer vs investor focus of founders’ mindset (48:16) – How teams know they are really onto something (52:38) – His being a founder trainable or innate (54:08) – Kindest thing anyone has done for him   Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag
My guest this week is Michael Mauboussin, the head of consilient research at Counterpoint Global. Michael is an all-time favorite guest here on the show, and this is his fourth appearance. We discuss one of the biggest topics in the world of investing: the shift from public to private markets that has taken place over the last several decades. We explore the reasons for this shift, the biggest overall changes in capital markets, and what the future may hold. Along the way we explore other fascinating topics like the rise of intangible asset investments, employee-based compensation as a form of financing, and more. If you enjoy this conversation I urge you to read Michael’s paper on the topic which will be linked in the shownotes. Please enjoy this conversation with Michael Mauboussin.   This episode of Invest Like The Best is sponsored by Canalyst. Canalyst is the leading destination for public company data and analysis.  If you’re a professional equity investor and haven’t talked to Canalyst recently, you should give them a shout. Learn more and try Canalyst for yourself at canalyst.com/Patrick.     For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (2:27) – (First question) – Motivation for writing the book from public to private equity             (2:28) – Public to Private Equity in the US: A Long-Term Look             (3:02) – The Incredible Shrinking Universe of Stocks (4:48) – Size of the public vs private markets (7:20) – History and changes in the public to private markets (12:00) – Public market vs venture capital returns (16:48) – Persistence of returns (20:01) – Role of price and EBIDTA on the returns of a buyout (23:31) – How buyout forms are sourcing the debt (29:31) – Transition to businesses relying on intangibles             (29:42) – Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy             (30:13) – Endogenous Technological Change             (30:36) – Should Intangible Investments Be Reported Separately or Commingled with Operating Expenses? New Evidence             (34:18) – Explaining the Recent Failure of Value Investing (36:21) – Superstar firms and increasing returns (42:38) – Role on monopolies in creating network effects (4:52) – The allocators perspective in these investments (49:16) – How does this all impact public market active management (51:54) – Advice to young people getting into the investment industry             (52:30) – Jeremy Grantham Podcast Episode (53:30) – Other areas he is researching/looking into (55:44) – How investment work and Santa Fe research influence eachother (56:54) – Investors to learn from             (57:15) – John Collison Podcast Episode  Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag
My guests this week are Jeremiah Lowin and Chetan Puttagunta. Jeremiah is the founder of Prefect.io, an open-source software company where my family and I are investors, and Chetan is a partner at Benchmark Capital. Both are past guests and good friends. I asked them on to help the audience understand the open source software business model. I’ve been fascinated with this model in which companies give a huge chunk of their work and value away for free to a community of developers, and then make money by building additional tools, functionality, and services on top of their free and open platform. While this may strike you as a wonky discussion on a niche software topic, I think it is valuable for everyone because the ideas can be applied to more than just code. I view much of my own activity as open-sourcing investment research and knowledge. It is also important because much of the world’s technology is built on top of open source projects. I hope you learn something new about this emerging category. Please enjoy.   This episode of Invest Like The Best is sponsored by Canalyst. Canalyst is the leading destination for public company data and analysis.  If you’re a professional equity investor and haven’t talked to Canalyst recently, you should give them a shout. Learn more and try Canalyst for yourself at canalyst.com/Patrick.     For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (2:40) – (First question) – Originator business in open source software; Redhat (5:51) – Why open source is valuable in building a business (7:40) – Examples of the benefits of open source projects (10:27) – Open source business models that produce the best results (17:04) – Defensibility of open source companies (25:02) – Mentoring younger founders on using open-source (30:54) – The benefits of launching open-source (36:41) – Building a digital community (41:31) – Lessons from Open Source that can be applied to other businesses (50:04) – The opportunity sets available in the open source space (53:33) – Future of open source             (56:31) – Tobi Lutke Podcast Episode   Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag
My guest today is Katrina Lake, the co-founder and CEO of Stitch Fix. Stitch Fix is a multi-billion-dollar public company which has brought an entirely new model to retail apparel by combining data science, technology, and personal stylists to create a unique shopping experience tailored to the individual consumer. I first met Katrina through past guest Bill Gurley and have been excited to host her since that first meeting. In our conversation, Katrina and I discuss all aspects of Stich Fix—its history, business model, innovations, and its future. Please enjoy this great and thought-provoking conversation with Katrina Lake.   This week’s episode is sponsored by Bottomless. Bottomless is a smart coffee subscription which automatically re-orders coffee for you based on your consumption habits.  Bottomless is offering one month and your second bag of coffee for free at bottomless.com/patrick.   For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (2:19) – (First question) – Where E-Commerce stands and what the future might hold (4:37) – Why personalization makes Stitch Fix stand out from the others (9:34) – Why data science is foundational to their business (12:15) – What makes for a good augmented human and hiring stylists (14:34) – Stakeholder value and creating a great partnership with suppliers (18:10) – Their emphasis on stakeholder focus and social justice (19:28) – The capital efficiency of their business in the early days (24:46) – Her superpower of recruiting (29:46) – Her strengths in building Stitch Fix (31:56) – Transparency vs authenticity (32:59) – Big break for the business (37:15) – Exclusive brands to Stitch Fix (39:01) – The next act for Stitch Fix (41:43) – Lessons learned in pricing services (44:24) – Future trends in retail apparel (48:02) – Hardest thing to copy about Stitch Fix (49:59) – Lessons for putting data science at the center of your business (53:37) – Moments during her journey she’s felt most alive (55:23) – Kindest thing anyone has done for her Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag
My guest this week is Brian Armstrong, the co-founder and CEO of Coinbase. The topic of our conversation is the future of cryptocurrency and decentralized finance. Its been a while since I checked in on the world of crypto and while prices are still below the 2017 highs, there’s been a ton of additional work and infrastructure laid. We discuss the major events of the past decade and what might happen in the 2020s. Perhaps most interesting, we cover the potential benefits of a modernized financial system, which Coinbase hopes to help usher in. As I’m trying to do more in conversation with CEOs, we also discuss the lessons he’s learned building a business. Please enjoy my conversation with Brian Armstrong.   This week’s episode is sponsored by Bottomless. Bottomless is a smart coffee subscription which automatically re-orders coffee for you based on your consumption habits.    Bottomless is offering one month and your second bag of coffee for free at bottomless.com/patrick.   For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (2:23) – (First question) – Most important developments in cryptocurrencies             (3:00) - What happened in crypto over the last decade (3:01) – What will happen to cryptocurrency in the 2020s (4:01) – Long term vision for Coinbase (6:57) – Why should we be aiming towards an open financial system (11:41) – How crypto improves the movement of money (14:22) – Creating sound money and currencies (16:21) – Why economic freedom is an important variable in what he’s trying to do (19:44)  - How economic freedom can happen with various regulators around the world and in different countries (22:49) – How Coinbase attracted its first users (26:33) – The December 2017 madness of cryptocurrencies (29:50) – How he thinks about recruiting teams and motivating them to be productive (33:40) – Mistakes with people he’s learned from (34:56) – Steering a product roadmap and creating a successful business (37:17) – What do the non-Bitcoin currencies offer that Bitcoin doesn’t (41:19) – Innovation in cryptocurrency that excites him: DeFi (43:40) – Interesting geographic locations and their impact on crypto (45:29) – How his thoughts on company building has changed over the years (46:47) – Battling any loss of confidence as a founder (51:01) – Improving decision making as a leader (53:54) – Aspects of the job that he loves the most today (56:25) – Largest impediments to mass adoption of crypto (58:25) – His curiosity for scientific research and bioengineering (59:19) – Advice that helped him that he would offer others (1:01:38) – Kindest thing anyone has done for him   Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag
My guest today, Matthew Ball, is a long time coming. He’s the former head of strategy at Amazon Studios, an investor, and probably my favorite business essayist writing today. In fact, I can’t think of another author whose work I read as quickly once a new essay drops. Read his latest on the past and future of Nintendo and you’ll see why. Our conversation is all about the past and future of media. We discuss movies, music, television, video games, and the metaverse. When I re-listened to this episode I couldn’t believe how much information was in Matthew's head and how easily he covered so many topics in depth. Please enjoy this great conversation.   This week’s episode is sponsored by Bottomless. Bottomless is a smart coffee subscription which automatically re-orders coffee for you based on your consumption habits.    Bottomless is offering one month and your second bag of coffee for free at bottomless.com/patrick.   For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (2:20) – (First question) – Compulsive interest of how people entertain themselves (4:19) – Changes of intellectual property and trademark in media (9:12) – Cross media world building and Netflix’s strategy (11:47) – Competing with the major power players at the top (16:54) – Fate of movies in the new media landscape (20:38) – Fate of music in the new media landscape (25:40) – Age and gaming in this media transition             (26:20) – Gavin Baker Podcast Episode (29:50) – Legacy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (34:48) – How he defines the notion of a metaverse (39:53) – Creating a more interoperable version of our digital world (47:37) – What is not included in the metaverse and investing in one (52:14) – Tim Sweeney’s role in Epic Gaming (58:12) – The unreal engine (1:07:46) – What should investors be thinking about when it comes to gaming worlds (1:12:43) – Opportunities in the gaming space for investors (1:19:59) – Cloud gaming’s impact on the space (1:26:54) – Will other media platforms have to copy the gaming industry (1:30:51) – How interactivity and feedback loops plays into his investment decisions (1:33:07) – Ease of creating a new media business today (1:35:20) – Trends media storytelling (1:38:50) – What makes for good IP in media content (1:42;14) – Why he wants to explore payment platforms and block chain (1:44:56) – Kindest thing anyone has done for him   Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag  
My guest today is Kat Cole, the COO and president of North America for Focus Brands, which owns famous companies like Cinnabon, Carvel, Jamba, and more. Kat’s story and career trajectory are remarkable, as are the lessons she’s picked up along the way which she shares with us all in this conversation. We discuss negotiation, distribution, brand building, brand extension strategies, and leadership. I always enjoy having a true operator on the show, so I was very excited to discover Kat and her thinking. Please enjoy this great conversation.   This week’s episode is sponsored by Bottomless. Bottomless is a smart coffee subscription which automatically re-orders coffee for you based on your consumption habits.  Bottomless is offering one month and your second bag of coffee for free at bottomless.com/patrick.   For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (2:13) – (First question) – Her call to prayer             (2:16) – Kat Cole on Pomp’s podcast (5:20) – Her positivity lens (7:59) – Applying that positivity lens in business (13:34) – How to show positivity in early interactions with someone (17:37) – Overview of Kat’s career (21:03) – Lessons learned building brands (27:11) – Changing relevance or differentiation within a brand (32:34) – Keeping a brands dominant position in people’s minds (36:00) – The power of franchising and shared commitment (40:50) – How her experience makes her a better investor (42:55) – Lessons around distribution (46:24) – Effectively negotiating and getting your fair share in a partnership (52:49) – Attributes of a brand that get Kat most excited (56:34) – Transferring her brand lessons to software and tech companies (59:09) – Biggest lessons in leadership she’s learned             (1:04:13) – Checking In: the power of intention, reflection, and action to be your best and help others do the same (1:05:18) – Most effective questions in her check-ins (1:06:29) – Personal check-ins vs professional check-ins (1:10:44) – Balancing gratitude and ambition (1:14:37) – The kindest thing anyone has done for Kat   Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag
My guest this week is Eric Vishria, a general partner at Benchmark Capital. Eric joined Benchmark after spending the first part of his career as an operator and CEO. The topic of our conversation is the past, present, and future of software businesses. We begin by explaining why public software companies trade at such incredibly high multiples today. We then explore the several different generations of these businesses and why the future remains so bright for companies building software as their primary product. I’d go one step further and suggest that the information in this episode is even more valuable for non-software businesses and investors, because its crucial to understand the impact that these products will have on the overall business landscape. COVID has accelerated the long-running transition to digital across the corporate world, and Eric serves as the perfect guide. Let’s dive in.    This week’s episode is sponsored by Bottomless. Bottomless is a smart coffee subscription which automatically re-orders coffee for you based on your consumption habits.  Bottomless is offering one month and your second bag of coffee for free at bottomless.com/patrick.   For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (2:29) – (First question) – His take on public markets, and specifically as it relates to SaaS businesses (4:04) – Why these companies trade so high             (7:53) – Peter Zeihan Podcast Episode (11:19) – The competitive frontier in the digital markets (14:02) – The API competitive frontier             (14:22) – Chetan Puttagunta Podcast Episode             (18:36) – Every Company is Becoming a Software Company             (20:10) – John Collison Podcast Episode (22:54) – Charging in an API business model (24:09) – Describing the different generations of SaaS, starting with Gen 1 (28:15) – Gen 2 SaaS businesses (31:52) – Being an investor in SaaS (36:55) – Gen 3 and importance of traditional SaaS companies to get into API (38:06) – Other problems software can solve (44:19) – Why more money isn’t going into SaaS (46:48) – Lessons from the investment universe and how it could apply to SaaS             (47:26) – The Hierarchy of Marketplaces — Introduction and Level 1 - Sarah Taval (51:49) – Lessons about scaling (57:51) – Cross customer strategy             (1:00:01) – Energy and Civilization: A History (1:01:28) – Qualities of an interesting investor (1:03:52) – Kindest thing anyone has done for him   Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag  
My guest this week is Turner Novak, a partner at Gelt VC. Many of the largest companies in the world today are consumer social companies, so Turner and I discuss the past, present, and future of those businesses. When executed right, they are often the fastest-growing companies in history, and the rise of TikTok and some other companies we discuss makes it clear that there may always be more room at the top. The network effects that support these companies make them unique beasts to analyze, and Turner’s writing has been among my favorite content on the topic. Please enjoy our detailed conversation on this important are of public and private markets.   This week’s episode is sponsored by Bottomless. Bottomless is a smart coffee subscription which automatically re-orders coffee for you based on your consumption habits.  Bottomless is offering one month and your second bag of coffee for free at bottomless.com/patrick.   For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (2:18) – (First question) – History of consumer social companies (3:28 – The importance of quality growth over rate of growth (4:43) – Importance of friends and identity in a social network (6:21) – Major markers he analyzes in new social networks (7:59) – The meteoric rise of TikTok and how it compares to other social networks             (8:08) – The Rise of TikTok and Understanding Its Parent Company, ByteDance (13:38) – How TikTok deals with user friction (17:28) – Why TikTok copies is a waste (21:08) – Advising companies to build a media arm in this environment (24:18) – Business models beyond advertising for social networks (30:44) – His thoughts on Pinduoduo and the opportunity for a similar company in the US (37:36) – What Snapchat is doing (43:51) – How social eCommerce could be a competitor to an Amazon (46:31) – His review of Zynn             (46:36) - Attack of the Clones: TikTok’s Rival Kuaishou Lands in the US (52:22) – The geopolitical battle of social networks (53:36) – Creating social commerce companies (54:27) – Fantasy draft portfolio (59:18) – Kindest thing anyone has done for him   Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag
My guest this week is Charlie Songhurst, the former head of strategy at Microsoft and a prolific investor, having personally invested in nearly 500 companies throughout his career. I met Charlie at an event hosted in New York and you can tell within one minute of meeting him that his mind is sparkling with ideas and curiosity. Its no wonder he’s been among the most commonly requested guests when I asked several top investors and CEOs who I should have on the show. We discuss the lessons he’s learned about business, investing, and people from such a large sample size of companies. I won’t reveal any more here, I highly recommend you just listen to Charlie and learn. Let’s dive in. For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (1:25) – (First question) –  Stack ranking the vices of power, money and fame (2:41) – Memorable response to the stack ranking question (3:13) – Best scenario to explore this stack ranking concept (3:55) – Other ways to rank founders (4:44) – Quick look at this career (5:16) – Time at Microsoft (6:03) – Features he looks for in startups (10:55) – Managing the declining curve of productivity (14:55) – Why founders are often unique people             (14:57) – Jeff Gramm Podcast Episode             (15:04) – Aliens, Jedi & Cults (19;43) – How early entrepreneurs need to make recruitment a serious part of their work (23:06) – How successful founders win the best candidates (25:27) – The East Coast vs. West Coast investment strategies (30:40) – When it’s time to bring in quantitative factors into early stage investing (34:36) – The markers that pop up in companies that hit (37:22) – Boring but successful investments (39:28) – Investor aesthetics (41:29) – Characteristics of investors that he believes are important to success (42:57) – Impacts of Covid and some of the permanent changes that have happened as a result (47:49) – Investing opportunities in the local community (49:13) – His take on cryptocurrencies (53:47) – Most mis valued asset in the world (55:16) – Investing opportunities in Europe (57:34) – Make up of his 483 investments             (57:58) – Matt Clifford Podcast Episode (59:17) – Curation as a skill (1:01:54) – Timing and startup success (1:05:11) – Kindest thing anyone has done for him   Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag
My guest today is Blake Robbins, a partner at Ludlow Ventures. We talk about all things video games, including the major companies in the industry, how games monetize, how in-game economies work, how e-sports has evolved, and much more. This is a fast-growing segment of consumer attention and interest, I believe we are in the very early days of gaming going mainstream. I also have a favor to ask. My team and I have built a small survey for Invest Like the Best listeners and if you’ve enjoyed the podcast, I’d deeply appreciate it if you took 5 minutes to fill it out at investorfieldguide.com/survey. It will help shape the future direction of the show, which I intend to keep improving in the years to come. Thank you, and now please enjoy my conversation with Blake Robbins. For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag   Show Notes (1:35) – (First question) –  Overview of the gaming industry and how folks may get involved as an investor (3:46) – Some of the biggest players in the space (5:30) – The monetization methods of these gams (9:22) – How do these games respond to real currencies (14:49) – The landscape of e-sports/e-gaming as a whole (19:57) – His involvement with 100 Thieves (25:52) – The media landscape and the role of influencers (29:05) – When he invests and what the opportunities are out there (33:07) – The engines behind a lot of this; Unity and Unreal (34:58) – Other investors that get this trend (37:43) – Other interesting areas of investment for him, including the creator economy (41:25) – Opportunities to build out and invest in the infrastructure of the creator economy (45:37) – Infrastructure opportunities that need to be built (48:08) – Advice for younger professionals (49:04) – Investment allocation he is most proud of (50:08) – A unique skill he couldn’t teach or train in others (52:27) – Something in gaming he doesn’t understand or wants to learn more about (54:08) – The kindest thing anyone has done for Blake   Learn More For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast. Sign up for the book club and new email newsletter called “Inside the Episode” at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag  
My guest today is Brad Gerstner, the founder and CIO of Altimeter Capital, a multi-billion dollar technology-focused investment firm. Brad and his team are known for a deep expertise in internet-enabled businesses, including Expedia, Facebook, Uber, and many more. We discuss the evolution of opportunity in this style of investing, including the important shift to private investing, where so much of the value creation now happens. I won’t soon forget our discussion of consumer intent on the internet and how it has shifted, the role that essentialism plays in Brad’s business and life, and the rise of the Chinese internet giants like Bytedance. Please enjoy this great conversation with Brad Gerstner.   This episode is brought to you by the MIT investment management company (MITIMCO) Reach out or learn more:  Email: partner@mitimco.org Website: https://mitimco.org/partner/ MITIMCo 10 year Letter: https://mitimco.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MITIMCo-Alumni-Letter.pdf MITIMCo brochure: https://mitimco.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/MITIMCo-Brochure_web_2018-12-05.pdf   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   Show Notes (2:32) – (First question) – Overall investment philosophy at Altimeter (5:12) – Most interesting thing in the landscape today (11:16) – Disrupting the tech giants moving forward (13:56) – The investing opportunity in the backend of the internet (16:42) – His take on old line businesses and how technology could shift his view on them (18:56) – Lessons from company founders whose platforms rely on consumer discovery (21:32) – Running his business on essentialism             (21:40) – Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (26:11) – Tactical applications of essentialism (29:46) – Applying essentialism outside of business (31:16) – What travel has taught him about business (33:43) – What we should know about the Chinese internet market (37:11) – The emergence of bite sized transactions across the web (39:22) – Bite sized work (42:43) – How early on can you figure out what company would win a vertical (45:36) – What problem space would he tackle today (48:49) – Collaborating in the private markets (57:27) – Pricing businesses as a key component of his investment choices (1:02:47) – Fascination with life sciences and software (1:04:12) – What about the future excites him (1:06:48) – 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
My guest today is John Collison, the Co-Founder of the digital payments company Stripe. Stripe’s mission is to increase the GDP of the internet, a lofty and deeply interesting pursuit. John is clearly a voracious learner across business and investing, which you’ll hear instantly. He started Stripe with his brother Patrick when he was just 19 years old, and has grown it to, at last valuation, a $36B business. In our conversation, we discuss conglomerates, the internet economy, the power of writing, and why board members are like Pokémon characters, each with different powers. It’s a lively and wide-ranging conversation with one of the entrepreneurs I’ve most enjoyed speaking with. Please enjoy.   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   Show Notes (1:30) – (First question) – Interest in industrial conglomerates (9:10) – Their thinking on acquisitions vs starting new companies (11:42) – How the payment landscape looked when Stripe was started (15:55) – View on the internet economy (20:09) – Exciting possibilities for the future of the internet economy (22:11) – The forces of size vs speed among startups (26:53) – Driving reasons why employees choose Stripe starting with clear communication (28:55) – Tips for better internal communications (30:09) – The importance of rigor in Stripe’s corporate culture (32:15) – Investors and investing styles that are most intriguing to him (36:02) – Teaching vs experiencing business lessons (37:56) – Lessons from going to market with new ideas (50:58) – Allowing teams to explore new ideas at Stripe (44:11) – Best startup companies to study to understand the history of this space             (44:52) – Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle             (48:18) – Cable Cowboy: John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business (48:43) – Infrastructures of internet businesses that are missing (52:03) – Does general accounting practices need to change to capture the true value of a company like Stripe (1:01:53) – Shared playbooks in Silicon Valley (1:02:02) – The transition to the no code movement (1:08:22) – Other businesses that pique his interest outside of software (1:10:21) – Future trends that excite him (1:11:10) – First memory when he felt like he was participating in the tech economy (1:12:46 – The role of board members (1:15:48) – Kindest thing anyone has done for him (1:18:49) – Advice for young people 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
My guest today is Jeremy Grantham. Jeremy is the co-founder and chief investment strategist of Grantham, Mayo, & van Otterloo (aka GMO). GMO, which manages more than $60B for clients, was a firm that helped educate me early in my investing career. They’ve long published thought-provoking research, most of which came from Grantham himself. He is regarded as a highly knowledgeable investor in various stock, bond, and commodity markets, but is particularly noted for his prediction of various bubbles. In this conversation we discuss the current crisis, which he calls the fourth major event of his long and storied career as an investor. As he says, this one is the most uncertain. We also discuss unique topics like commodity-based companies, and how opportunity often lies between fields of expertise. Please enjoy our conversation. 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   Show Notes (1:37) – (First question) – What keeps him going in investing (2:54) – Changing approaches to managing money over the decades (7:27) – Their investment forecast for major allocations and how that has evolved (10:06) – How to markets compete with FAANG stocks (16:06) – More opportunity for active investors and where (30:55) – How he talks to clients about major stock market events (34:09) – His interest in natural resources/commodities (47:07) – Long term argument for the three natural resources: oil, metals, and food             (47:10) – An Investment Only A Mother Could Love: The Tactical Case (52:01) – Specific case for particular metals (56:46) – Areas in the future that excite him or that he wants to learn more about (1:03:42) – Advice for people interested in investing (1:05:15) – Kindest thing anyone has done for Jeremy   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
My guest today is Ben Thompson. Ben is the author of my favorite business strategy newsletter called Stratechery. He’s also the host of the exponent podcast, and now the Dithering, a podcast he recently launched with John Gruber. I think Ben is among the most interesting business analysts in the world, and I’ve learned from and directly applied many of his ideas. We cover many of the major concepts he’s introduced over the years, including his well know aggregation theory. I think that to understand how the internet has changed the business world for good, you must read Ben and follow his thinking. I’m excited to finally have him as a guest on the show. Please enjoy our conversation. 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   Show Notes (01:26) – (First question) – Companies that are built for the next disruption             (1:32) – The End of the Beginning (9:58) – Aggregation Theory and the Smiling Curve (13:18) – Steps to creating an aggregator (19:46) – Pattern of successful aggregators or luck? (24:34) – How aggregators interact with suppliers and consumers (30:49) – Taking on other aggregators (34:09) – Platform vs aggregator in the scope of Shopify vs Amazon/Walmart (40:55) – The Moat Map (46:16) – Value chain thinking and profitable business models (51:58) – Future of media and independent content creator’s vs bundles (56:07) – Bundling independent creators (1:00:37) – The infrastructure layer of technology and software companies (1:02:35) – His thoughts on gaming platforms (1:06:13) – The atoms vs the bits in the tech world (1:12:18) – What he’s learned from covering Netflix (1:13:46) – Kindest thing anyone has done for Ben             (1:15:56) – Stratechery Podcast   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
My guest today is Shishir Mehrotra and the topic of our conversation is the bundle: offering access to multiple products, services, or providers for a single bundled price. This topic is full of incorrect pre-conceived notions, and as it turns out, the bundle is one of the most powerful ideas in business. Properly harnessed it is good for everyone involved. Shishir explains the ins and outs of bundles in this conversation. Shishir ran product at YouTube for years and sits on the Spotify board of directors. He founded and now leads Coda (which is “A Doc” spelled backwards) in 2014, to bundle together productivity apps like docs, spreadsheets, databases, and applications. I love this wonky, detailed conversation which has me thinking differently about many businesses and business strategy. Please enjoy.   This episode is brought to by Koyfin.   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   Show Notes (2:08) – (First question) – The arc of his career (3:32) – Why he has an interest in bundling (7:45) – The concepts of superfan, casualfan, and nonfan businesses (11:05) – Using Spotify as an example of bundles (13:24) – The first myth of bundling: Bundling is bad for consumers (17:53) – The second myth of bundling: 1st vs 3rd party providers and the bundlers (23:03) – Low usage but high Marginal Churn Contribution (MCC) business (24:26) – How insurance fits into these models   (26:37) – Myth 3 of bundling: How this impacts consumers (32:12) – How marginal costs play into the thinking of bundling (34:54) – Myth 4: Bundling things that have nothing to do with each other (39:51) – How bundling companies can apply this into their product development (43:21) – Strategic advice to companies building bundles (49:01) – How price and pricing power play into advantages for certain bundlers (54:16) – How does bundling play into his investing thesis (56:47) – Most interesting bundles he’s observed             (58:44) – Eigenquestions: The Art of Framing Problems (59:14) – What the future of this trend is (1:02:24) – What is an eigenquestion (1:06:29) – Kindest thing anyone has done for him   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
My guest today is Hamilton Helmer, the Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Strategy Capital and the author of one of the best business books in history called 7 Powers, which is the topic of much of our conversation. He has spent his career as a practicing business strategist: advising companies, investing based on strategic insights and teaching strategy.  In the last three decades, he has also utilized his strategy concepts as a public equity investor. In this conversation we cover all seven business powers, from counter-positioning to scale economies, and how companies earn and keep those powers. Any investor or businessperson should understand these concepts, and 7 Powers is the best work I’ve seen that explains them in depth. Please enjoy our conversation.   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   Show Notes (1:31) – (First question)  - What power means to him (5:05) – Benefits being more common than barriers in the power equation (6:28) – How early-stage companies develop their barriers (11:23) – The power of counter positioning and how he’s seen it applied (14:47) – The product side of counter positioning             (16:39) – Daniel Ek Podcast episode (17:27) – Applying the idea of counter positioning to yourself (20:40) – A cornered resource (23:49) – A look at google as a cornered resource (27:12) – Unique power of network economies (31:18) – What subtleties disqualify network effects (32:54) – Nuances of scale economies (35:56) – Learning economies and who can scale it better (37:07) – Building a switching cost and barrier into your business (40:10) – Branding as power (44:27) – Defining process power and how it differs from scale economies (46:40) – The notion of the time lag and cash flow (50:42) – Why is so much power concentrated in technology businesses (52:07) – What does power mean for customers (53:43) – Developing power as an art vs science, and the best power artists (55:08) – The kindest thing anyone has done for him   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
My guest today is Tobi Lutke, the co-founder, and CEO of Shopify.  This is both a timely and evergreen conversation.  Timely, as the world as moved aggressively digital in the past two months, and Shopify powers so much of digital commerce.  Evergreen, because while we touch on Covid and the Shopify business, this is much more a conversation on business and personal principles, learning, design, and growth. Tobi is one of the CEO’s I look up to most for the type of company he is building and for the way he conducts himself.  We discuss business focus, why video games help you learn the power of attention, what design means for products and organizations, and much more. Please enjoy my conversation with Tobi Lutke.   This episode is brought to you by the MIT investment management company (MITIMCO) Reach out or learn more:  Email: partner@mitimco.org Website: https://mitimco.org/partner/ MITIMCo 10 year Letter: https://mitimco.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MITIMCo-Alumni-Letter.pdf MITIMCo brochure: https://mitimco.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/MITIMCo-Brochure_web_2018-12-05.pdf 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   Show Notes (2:35) – (First question) – The launch of the new Shopify shop app             (2:44) – Daniel Ek Podcast Episode             (2:45) – Jeff Lawson Podcast Episode (4:56) – Having the right focus and growing a good business (9:06) – Marketplace business model vs the merchant driven business model             9:16 – Bill Gurley Podcast Appearances - 162 | 144 | 137 (11:47) – His role as a decisionmaker as CEO of the company (14:07) – What does he mean when he talks about quality (18:28) – His thinking on design and quality             (18:32) – Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance             (19:59) – The Design of Everyday Things (21:06) – Friction as a force in business and manufacturing (26:04) – His thoughts on systems and being free of process            (26:08) – The Systems Bible  (30:01) – The game of Factoria and how it relates to systems             (32:16) – Transfer Learning (34:33) – What Real-Time Strategy games have taught Tobi (38:30) – Building context inside of a company and making it scale (41:17) – Personality typing (46:22) – The Tobi Blueprint (46:04) – Why he likes The Guide to the Good Life and stoicism (55:38) – Raising kids and the impact of Covid (1:03:16) – The kindest thing anyone has done for Tobi   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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Comments (13)

Ali Fozooni

The best episode 👌

Sep 17th
Reply

vinay kumar Singu

This is the first time I am listening to this podcast and I enjoyed this episode a lot. Katrina's story was really inspiring and it felt that stichfix is going to be huge in future

Aug 23rd
Reply

Chris Anderson

fantastic interview. incredibly insightful; great interviewing technique allowing it to flow.so smoothly.

Jul 11th
Reply

Arunkumar Navasiva

Great content!

Mar 4th
Reply

Kevin T

brilliant

Feb 21st
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Timera Boateng

very interesting

Jan 23rd
Reply

Kurt Edwins

this guy is amazing.and thanks Patrick for letting him. from New Zealand.

Jan 15th
Reply

Manny George

akallq

Dec 26th
Reply

Bob

Blew me away. Great episode!

Aug 8th
Reply

ryan weston

Great conversation

Mar 10th
Reply

hemal dani

superb episode

May 25th
Reply

Anthony Roach

Josh Wolfe is fast speaking and has an intelligence like few other. Great show guys, informative and eye-opening. Thank you!

Feb 18th
Reply

IJS

Excellent podcast.

Feb 5th
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