FastCompany.com has an article in its February ’11 issue about Youtube. Sure, it’s an interesting read for those interested in Youtube and Google, or in media, advertising and online services in general. But there were other good takeaways or at least building blocks that we list in the post.
An article in the New York Times raises a red flag about the music industry: could digital music sales not be nearly enough to replace ever-decreasing CD revenues? This reminded us of Chris Anderson’s 2006 classic book “The Long Tail”. What if the long tail just isn’t long enough to save some industries?
In our latest quarterly report, we discuss the notion of “economic moat” in the second part of the Sand Castles, Concrete Walls text. In it we quote from a 1998 Warren Buffett talk to Florida University MBA students that is simply a must-see. It’s a very candid talk in which Mr. Buffett discusses not only the fundamental aspects of value investing in a bit more detail than we get nowadays, but also some sector and company-specific opinions that, again, he now seems more reluctant to share outside of the Berkshire letters to shareholders. We post the 10 videos inside and the link to a transcript of the entire session. Video number 10 alone is worth watching and sharing with friends, and not just those in the financial industry: he proposes a mental exercise about the “ovarian lottery” that’s really thought-provoking.
We’ve discussed “risk management” the TSA way, but you can’t beat nukes. What can risk management in nuclear plants contribute to the design of systems and policies to monitor and manage risk in global finance? The Financial Times ran an article over the weekend about it, and it’s a thought-provoking and fun read. As we’ve highlighted in the TSA post, “we’ll never eliminate risk” but we can always learn more about ways to mitigate it.
One month or so ago we received a newsletter from another asset manager with links to TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson. Today is a holiday in Rio (yet another one), and our state has been hit with torrential rain and subsequent land slides that killed over 650 people – the type of tragedy that unfortunately keeps occurring in Brazil. We can’t help but be reminded of the power of education in changing societies: it’s not all about short-term economic growth. It’s not just “any” education either, although Brazil is still at such a low level that literacy rates still matter, it’s about the quality of education as well. That’s the subject of the inspiring and often funny talks inside. We hope you will enjoy them and think about the issue as it applies to your country.
Great article sent by a reader, who by the way has now sent two great suggestion this year. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about entrepreneurs and how they’re supposedly much more risk-averse than usually assumed. While one can make the usual complaints about Gladwell’s articles (few, carefully selected samples to reach the desired conclusion), the most interesting takeaway is the quest for opportunities with asymmetrical success probabilities.
Bill Nygren of Oakmark Funds just published his letter commenting on the 2000 decade, and it’s a very interesting (and concise) exercise in expectations management. Leaving aside comments on his fund’s performance or musings on the “ideal” hurdle rate for a manager’s performance, the highlight is this: in the 40 quarters that made up the last decade, his flagship fund “only” beat the self-imposed hurdle (make money and beat the S&P 500 by more than 1%) in 8 of the 40 quarters – and still beat the S&P 500 by a large margin in the period. To finish first, first you must finish.
Goldman Sachs spent considerable resources and 8 months in an internal review of its business standards and practices, and this culminated in a 63-page report released on January 11th. In it, it highlights areas for improvements and lists some of the 39 recommendations that were approved and are being implemented. Leaving aside the obvious quip about their motivation for releasing this 63-page report (trying to stop the unending flak from the general opinion, politicians and even some customers since the crisis in 2008), we seldom see documents like these. We comment on a few items.