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What do the startups want?

My friend Joe Wallin passed along a letter he and Dan Lear recently put together about a problem that exists for startups today. The problem is a potential funding gap. I know what you’re going to say, there is tons of money from venture capitalists funding startups… why would startups want money from a few non-professional investors when they can go straight for the big boys. I’ve spent most of my free time in the last eight months interviewing and writing up the interviews of some of the top angel investors in the world. I always dig into the question about what value an angel has in a world of venture capitalists. Often the very best angels answer that they establish a personal relationship with the founders that go far beyond … Read entire article »

Filed under: Entrepreneurship, Investing

Letters to my kids – Smart or hardworking?

Twelfth in the series – letters to my kids… Hey guys, I saw this article a while back and thought it was relevant to your activities as school gets ramped up. We always have the discussion about your grades and how they signal things to universities where you can again get good grades to signal future employers or financiers that you are a hard working individual. The thing is though is that those great grades are SIGNALS that you are hard working. I don’t care how smart or not-smart you are, hard work is really all it takes to get the grades. You have to study, figure out how to put up with teachers, figure out how to deal with peers, and figure out how to still find time for the other … Read entire article »

Filed under: career

What should the IRS tax?

I recently read this article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal about free lunch and other perks getting onto the radar of the IRS. It got me thinking about how much value is really there in some of these perks and how incredible they really are as a recruiting tool. I can see the case of the IRS… sure instead of an employee paying for his own lunch out of a salary that was taxed, the company is now paying for it and thus the employee has a bit of a raise. Where is the line though? If I would normally spend $10 on lunch out of pocket and my employer is feeding me a $50 lunch everyday, should my employer be taxed on the $50, the $10, or the $40? What … Read entire article »

Filed under: Innovation

Startup success and learning to hustle

Following up to my post on Econtalk and his recent series on startups and investing, I’ve really been enjoying James Altucher’s podcast series. Some of them are boring for sure and others are more interesting for different people. Here are a few though that I find interesting either because of the guest on the show or because of how James interviews the guest. By now you can guess that I like podcasts where an interview takes place and the interviewer is an important aspect of that. James has a good style, provides context, and obviously knows the area they are discussing to some extent. The type of content is much different though between Russ & James – Russ can be much more technical and discuss major academic issues as well as … Read entire article »

Filed under: Entrepreneurship

Reported and Pro-Forma earnings

I was reading this article on “Fixing CAPE“, the article itself is interesting if you are into debating the finer details of predictive financial/economic models, but that isn’t the point of this post. One of the concepts that the article discusses at length is how reported vs. pro-forma earnings are shaping the analysis of company and market valuations. Included here is one of many interesting charts in the article – it is amazing that the gap exists at all (pun intended), considering earnings should be earnings and the fact that these are such incredibly different numbers indicates that there is a growing amount of financial wizardry at play. If nothing else, this hurts the individual investor more as understanding the financial structure of the businesses available to invest in becomes harder … Read entire article »

Filed under: Startups, stocks

Copycat investing

Another great talk by Mohnish Pabrai – one of my favorite investors… This is a talk at Google (still waiting for $MSFT to bring Pabrai, Mauboussin, or one of my other fav investors to talk). This is a good follow-up from the last talk I posted from Pabrai at Boston University. I love the insights on excel and it’s lack of value in investing. Another favorite insight is Monish’s expansion on his thoughts around optionality and how he views that in his investing.   … Read entire article »

Filed under: Investing

Landlord luxury

I often end up in conversations about getting into real estate. Sometimes it is related to a first commercial transaction, other times it is simply buying a first rental home or investment duplex. I’m always happy to talk to new investors about the space and find myself emailing or having lunch with someone on the topic every week. This week’s episode was rather interesting, I was emailing with a new potential real estate investor along with several other compatriots of mine. One of them sent a response that I thought was insightful and interesting. The question we were approached with in an email was a question about the profitability and decision making guidelines for a particular single family home rental property. The investor was interested in buying their first investment property … Read entire article »

Filed under: Investing

Economic shifts

The last ten years have been an incredibly fascinating time, being 34yrs old I am really excited to have lived during this time and hopefully have been paying enough attention to take better advantage of the next HUGE cycle change. This one isn’t quite over yet though and there are some interesting things that none of the media pundits, fed, or economists really predicted. The corporate shifts that started small in 2010 are getting really big and impactful now in 2014 and I suspect will continue in 2015 even if the fed stops flooding the market with cheap dollars. What am I talking about? Tobacco buyers are going to get their fix from mostly one company going forward The new hot disruption in real estate is ALREADY consolidating – sorry Estately Washington isn’t really … Read entire article »

Filed under: Technology