Top Podcasts of the Week

Below is our “Top Podcast” episode with our curator, Colby Donovan!

Today we have a great episode list: an episode with the chief economist at Vanguard, four episodes with venture capitalists (including Ashton Kutcher and the first investor in Lyft), and a couple episodes to help leaders be more candid with employees and embrace rebels within their organization.


Public Investing

  • ***Must Listen*** The Meb Faber Show: #202 — Joe Davis — The Idea Multiplier…We Believe It’s One Of The First leading Indicators Of Commercial Innovation. Davis is Vanguard’s global chief economist and the global head of Vanguard Investment Strategy Group. They begin by talking about elevated valuations in the U.S., their 2020 outlook, and why investors should expect subdued returns going forward. Then at 20:19 they discuss the CAPE ratio and why they have found if the CAPE is adjusted to reflect real interest rates and inflation, it almost doubles the out-of-sample predictive power of the regular CAPE ratio. They then discuss what international stock markets look like and what Davis’ thoughts on negative interest rates are before talking about what Davis calls the idea multiplier at 51:24. While Davis researched what caused innovation, he and his team defined something called the idea multiplier, which is the first leading indicator of commercial innovation roughly five years out. He notes it has been stagnant for the past 15 years but has picked up in the past 18 months, and the sectors he sees with the largest pickup in innovation going forward are materials (batteries), transportation and energy (sustainability), and genetics. He finishes with the future of work and what jobs will look like and mentions some findings from the research he and his team have found. [February 19, 2020–1 hour, 24 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link
  • Odd Lots: What the Coronavirus Means for Pandemic Bonds. As the coronavirus continues to be front and center in the news everyday, this is a great episode to listen to. In 2017, the World Bank issued the world’s first pandemic bonds, which were meant to shift some of the risk to investors from the World Bank. There have been concerns with what is an actual trigger that would generate a payout, what would need to happen with the coronavirus to cause that to happen, and how, if a payout did happen, it wouldn’t actually be a lot of money for non-Chinese countries dealing with the outbreak. The episode features Olga Jonas, who is a former economist at the World Bank with significant pandemic experience and clearly as knowledgable on the topic as anyone else. [February 17, 2020–29 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link
  • CFA Institute Take 15: The End of a Decade. Meb Faber, the Chief Investment Officer of Cambria Investment Management, joins the episode to cover a variety of topics, including industry trends and what to expect in the next decade. With the U.S. market trading at elevated levels, he emphasizes why it’s even more important to avoid home country bias and have a globally diversified portfolio. He says all investors should own global stocks, global bonds, and real assets. He also discusses the state of systematic investing, how investors are currently using machine learning, and why he thinks some investors (advisors) are 4x levered to the stock market. [February 19, 2020–14 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Breaker | Website Link

Venture Capital

  • Off the Chain: Geoff Lewis, Co-Founder of Bedrock Capital: In Search of Narrative Violations. Lewis is a Founder and Managing Partner of Bedrock Capital and previously was a Partner at Founders Fund (Peter Thiel’s firm). He begins with his path from Thiel’s hedge fund and then ending up at the Founders Fund. He discusses the decision making process at the Founders Fund and what he saw in his first investment there (Lyft), his journey on the board, and competing with Uber. He then talks about why he left to start his own VC firm (he’s since been named one of the top 100 VC’s) and their process of being more concentrated in their investments and doubling down as companies execute, and he uses their investment in The Athletic as an example. This leads to a discussion about the future of media and why email newsletters are a great model, especially as companies like Substack are built to make it easier to have a newsletter. [February 17, 2020–1 hour, 33 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link

The NY Times actually does not have fact checkers on staff; they have the journalists fact-check their own articles.

  • This Week in Startups: E34: “Angel” Podcast: George Zachary, General Partner at CRV shares insights on cancer scare shifting his focus to investing in health-tech, passing on Google at MDV, CRISPR & “designer babies”, coronavirus threat, origins of Sand Hill Road & more! This is an amazing episode about venture capital with a futuristic and health focus. The guest is a long-time VC and currently a partner at CRV and has a major focus on investing in health-tech after having a recent health scare himself. He begins by talking about missing out on investing in Google years ago when it was private, his relationship with Elon Musk, and why he also missed on investing in PayPal (great story with a great thought process on being fine with the outcome). Then he gets into the future of health — curing cancer, creating better ways to early detect cancer, the possibility of designer babies, possible impacts of CRISPR technology, cell-based plants and fish, and possible impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. [February 19, 2020–2 hours, 3 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link
  • The Twenty Minute VC: Ashton Kutcher on Early Lessons from Investing in Airbnb and Spotify. Most know Ashton Kutcher as a famous actor, but he is also the Founder & General Partner at Sound Ventures, a firm with investments in companies like Calm, The Lambda School, and Gitlab. He explains how he went from the actor in “Dude Where’s My Car?” to making angel investments in Spotify, Alibaba, Skype, and Airbnb. He covers how both being a father and his media background have impacted his investment strategy and how he gets founders to see him as an investor (rather than a famous actor) through vulnerability. He then explains what he offers companies he invests in: increased distribution, branding, and public relations. He finishes with how he balances writing angel checks of $25–50k to institutional checks of $1–5M and knowing he has enough skin in the game and how he balances sourcing the next deal and working with existing companies. [February 17, 2020–38 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Breaker | Website Link
  • This Week in Startups: E33: “Angel” Podcast: Dan Rose, Chairman at Coatue Management is leading a $700M early-stage fund. Rose is the Chairman at Coatue Management, a $700M early-stage fund, and previously was a top executive at Facebook and Amazon. He begins with his early days at Amazon and emphasizes the brilliance of Jeff Bezos and his ability to address the innovator’s dilemma within his own company. Rose then led the Kindle launch before joining Facebook (26:05) in the company’s second year as their 125th employee. He also emphasizes how impressive Mark Zuckerberg is and some of the decisions made at the company while he was there (building newsfeed, the rationale behind having advertisements as the business model, turning down $1B from Yahoo, and acquiring instagram and WhatsApp). Then, at 1:03:00, he explains his new fund and the partnership with Coatue Management for his new early-stage fund. His belief is that their ability to focus on using data to better pick companies to invest in and be their data science platform will differentiate the firm and set it up for success. [February 12, 2020–1 hour, 30 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link

The Rest

  • a16z Podcast: Rebel Talent. This is a great episode on how organizations can better utilize “rebel” employees to encourage curiosity, creativity, and innovation. It is with Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino, who is a social scientist studying organizations and recently authored the book Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life. Her idea is that rebels within an organization help break stagnation and be a positive for the organization if the manager can lead them correctly. She also explains some of the positive attributes for rebel leaders, including being more open to other perspectives and leading through vulnerability. [February 3, 2020–33 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Breaker | Website Link
  • HBR IdeaCast: Defining Radical Candor — and How to Do It. This episode is a must listen for all managers. It is with Kim Scott, a cofounder of the executive coaching firm Radical Candor who has consulted for Twitter and Dropbox. Her idea is that too many managers give fluffy positive feedback that is worthless, and instead they could provide meaningful feedback to coach up their employees. She begins the episode with her own story of her time at Google when Sheryl Sandberg (current COO at Facebook) was blunt with her about saying “um” so much it was uncomfortable, but that experience was a huge revelation to her. She says managers should solicit feedback by asking others “what can I do or stop doing to make it easier to work with me?” She emphasizes that you have to continually develop a strong relationship with your employees so they know honest feedback is coming from a place of caring. [February 18, 2020–25 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link

Ashton Kutcher (Actor, Founder, Sound Ventures):

  1. The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Mind by Michael Lewis — About Daniel Kahneman and his research partner Amos Tversky. If you liked Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, you will like this.
  2. Scale: The Universal Laws of Life, Growth, and Death in Organisms, Cities, and Companies by Geoffrey West
  3. Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt

Rahul Vohra (CEO, Superhuman):

  1. The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell — He was previously a game designer and says the bar for product design has risen to such a degree that it has essentially become game design. He strongly suggests that any product designer studies game design in significant detail.

Mike Maples (Venture Capitalists, Managing Partner, Floodgate):

  1. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore — If he could name one book that every startup founder should read, it would probably be this. When he read it, it literally changed his view on technology marketing.

Barry Ritholtz (Chief Investment Officer, Ritholz Wealth Management):

  1. The Spider Network: How a Math Genius and a Gang of Scheming Bankers Pulled Off One of the Greatest Scams in History by David Enrich — It’s about the LIBOR manipulation and reads like a thriller.

Paul Krugman (Economist, New York Times Columnist, Bestselling Author):

  1. An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume — About the philosophy of David Hume and how skepticism and demanding evidence makes a big difference. Krugman realized years later he was probably the first modern economist, even before Adam Smith.

Jim Davies (Cognitive Scientist):

  1. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt — Excellent book that gives an interesting theory: some of the political divides we see are based upon differences in emotional response, and a lot of that is genetic (how we feel disgust and fear).

Good investing,
Meb Faber