Top Podcasts of the Week

Today we have episodes on the story of SpaceX and a friend of Elon Musk on what makes him tick, a double dose of episodes on trend-following, and an episode on the future of the wealth management industry.

  • The Pomp Podcast: 305: Shervin Pishevar On Identifying Industry-Defining Entrepreneurs. Shervin Pishevar is one of the most successful venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and has invested in companies like Uber and Airbnb. After explaining his family’s background immigrating to the U.S., Pishevar discusses traits of both Elon Musk (SpaceX and Tesla CEO) and Travis Kalanick (Founder and former CEO of Uber). He talks about some of the traits they share, their passion for what they are working on, and their ability to go all in on an idea. His explanation of Elon’s story is pretty incredible, from South Africa, to PayPal, and parlaying the money he made from Paypal to both SpaceX and Tesla, which made his friends think he was crazy. Elon’s ability to disrupt the “space” industry was really incredible. He also talks about the story of investing in Uber (8% at a $290 million valuation) and what he saw in both the company and Kalanick’s vision. He finished by talking about the creation economy and what he sees going forward with people’s ability to create value and money for themselves without giving a cut to middle men. [June 1, 2020–1 hour, 16 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link

If you become attuned to the possibility of a massive bet that you believe in and you’re passionate about, that’s when you’re willing to forget your fear.

  • Acquired: SpaceX. This is a great listen the week after the SpaceX launch! It covers Elon’s background and the company since Day 1. He received a large sum of cash from the PayPal sale (~$100million) and parlayed that into SpaceX. While he had no idea what it would require to make it to space, he realized the industry wasn’t innovative and had a bloated cost structure and was able to disrupt the industry by addressing both. He was barely able to keep both Tesla and SpaceX afloat at certain times, but made it through. What’s fascinating is they say the space race is essentially a two horse race between SpaceX and China. At 1:49:00, they finish the SpaceX story and talk about the current contract between the company and SpaceX, why their accomplishment last week was so impressive, and what’s next for the company. [May 26, 2020–2 hours, 39 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link
  • The Meb Faber Show: #225 — Eric Crittenden, Standpoint Asset Management — I Enjoy Trying To Win A Marathon Rather Than Winning Sprints. Crittenden started his firm, Standpoint Asset Management, in late 2019 and joins Meb to talk about trend following and managed futures. He does a great job of presenting data about both, which he think proves they are the best diversifier out there. Crittenden and Meb both talk about why people are still hesitant to fully embrace these strategies (lack of a narrative, human nature makes us want to avoid diversification). Then he finishes with what trends he’s seeing at the time of the recording (mid-late May): downtrend in energy and grains, uptrend in precious metals & bonds. [June 1, 2020–37 minutes] iTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link

Managed futures is the antidote to comfort for most people when they first experience it.

  • Top Traders Unplugged: 90 The Systematic Investor Series ft Jerry Parker. Jerry Parker rejoins the podcast to talk about all things trend following: the importance of using individual stocks instead of just broad indices, how to think about backtests, the difference between multi-strategy CTAs vs trend following CTAs, why to be wary of funds claiming they had huge returns (1000% or more) in a month because they still may have lost money over a certain time-frame, and the role luck plays in returns. [May 31, 2020–1 hour, 21 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Breaker | Website Link
  • Village Global’s Venture Stories: The Future of Wealth Management and Self-Driving Money with Chris Hutchins. As the title says, Hutchins talks about the future of the wealth management industry. He addresses the increasing prevalence of software within the industry and thinks humans will still have a place in the industry to help clients manage their emotions during the most stressful times. He talks about the idea that it’s hard for people to go from having no long-term investing plan to being all-in, so companies need to begin with luring clients in through something small (offer a high-yield savings account), and once customers trust you, you can offer other products. He also covers the impact of low fees and thinks firms are learning they have to provide value than $0 trading costs, the need for companies to focus on relationship building and innovation, and how firms can help the extremely poor in the country improve financially. [May 26, 2020–47 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link
  • The Derivative: Tagging a Value to Pro Sports Teams with Bob Reif and Josh Mascot of TAG. There are now funds that are trying to purchase partial ownership in professional sports franchises and this is a great episode with people trying to do that. It is with two people from The Audible Group (TAG), CEO Bob Reif and COO Josh Moscot. After giving their background, they talk about what type of data they are looking at, the in’s and out’s of buying a team, why someone would want to sell, and what the long-term goal is. Then at 38:45 they talk about the impact of e-sports and the fact that teams are using it to supplement their revenue from the main sports franchises. Finally, at 51:25 they discuss the quantitative model that RCMX created to try and value sports franchises and the resulting unique insights, including the fact that live in-game attendance isn’t a big driver at all, indicating that if leagues can start soon without fans for a short period of time, they can still make money and survive. They finish with the impact of CTE on the NFL and their franchise values. [May 21, 2020–1 hour, 15 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link
  • The Meb Faber Show: #226 — Vineer Bhansali, LongTail Alpha — The Bigger Question To Me Is Now Whether Tail Risk Hedging Is Good Or Bad, But Whether It Is Good Or Bad For Your Current Portfolio Posture. Bhansali is Founder and CIO of LongTail Alpha and a repeat guest (see episode #82). After discussing the current investing environment, he talks about negative rates and what does well if that happens in the U.S. (precious metals), gives some thoughts on tail risk hedging (which he says was unattractive when the market bottomed in March but looks more attractive now). He also talks about the low liquidity earlier this year, which was the worst he’s seen over the course of his career. He thinks people need to be more aware of potential liquidity issues and specifically thinks that people have too much belief that global central banks have an infinite ability to provide liquidity to the system. [June 3, 2020–1 hour, 3 minutes] iTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link
The Rest
  • Against the Rules with Michael Lewis: The Data Coach. This episode focuses on coaches now using science and data to improve performance. The first half of the episode focuses on baseball coaches using artificial intelligence and high speed cameras to learn more about players and help them improve. In the episode, he talks about a coach who was able to increase pitcher’s speed from 92mph to 97mph, which is a huge difference (you can read about it in the book, The MVP Machine). Lewis then talks about how the same idea is being applied to sales forces around the world, as they use speech and language data to help people perfect their sales pitch. [June 2, 2020–39 minutesiTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Google | Breaker | Website Link

The overperformers all had something in common: coaches who use new technology.


Nicholas Pardini (Founder, Davos Platinum Research):

  1. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber — He doesn’t agree with the author on a lot, but the book shows the jobs that have the least amount of impact on an individuals’ daily life are the ones that pay the most, and a lot of jobs only exist to lock in a certain class structure.

Elad Gil (Technology Entreprenuer and Investor):

  1. Master Of The Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro

Andrew Wilkinson (Co-founder, Tiny):

  1. Tao of Charlie Munger: A Compilation of Quotes from Berkshire Hathaway’s Vice Chairman on Life, Business, and the Pursuit of Wealth With Commentary by David Clark

Shervin Pishevar (Angel Investor):

  1. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  2. The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  3. Burn Rate: How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet by Michael Wolff

David Rosenberg (Founder, Rosenberg Research):

  1. Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises by Robert Z. Aliber
  2. The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War by Robert Gordon

Good investing,
Meb Faber