Why I Write

I was away for a few days with Ellen in Tuscany visiting our good friend Xenia (I have written about Casetta before) and making some new friends.

We were planning to help pick olives, but the warm weather made the picking season early.

So we drank, we ate ( a lot of bread and olive oil), we walked, we told stories.

At one point we got to talking about writing and the fact that I write everyday here on my blog.

People are so surprised when I say I write here on my blog every day.

Seth Godin says – ‘the secret to writing a daily blog is to write every day. And to queue it up and blog it. There is no other secret.’

The early inspirations for me were Fred Wilson and Brad Feld. Seth Godin is another.

Seth just had his 7,000th post.

The best business decision I have ever made is to start journalling here on my blog. As Seth says, the discipline is priceless.

It helps me think. It keeps me mostly honest. I have endless opinions, but searching for links is research…trying to remember which smart person said what a month ago or year ago helps me check my work and rethink a big (often loose) hypothesis.

When I get recognized, the thrill is fantastic. Yesterday, Morgan Housel included me on a fave financial reading list. Thank you Morgan.

The only metric I count are the daily subscribers and the open rate. Thanks everyone for reading and encouraging me.

As for the markets…not much has changed since I left New York. Donald Trump is still taking credit for the rise and oil is now joining the party.

Music in The Home from Amazon and Apple Might Just Be Getting Started …Again

Before I get started…this is a great read on ‘How Netflix Works‘. We take so much for granted when we Netflix and Chill.

Ok…onwards…

I have been gushing over Apple once again the last few weeks as you have read here, but this piece from Ben Thompson does a better explaining the guts of Apple’s recent moves why Apple might just be getting started.

All Apple love aside, I hate Apple for launching the cellular watch without allowing/showcasing Spotify as a key app. I might just return the watch. I love my Spotify. I wrote a few months ago that Apple should buy Spotify.

Bob Lefsetz thinks that Amazon should buy Spotify

So here’s the story, you can buy a Sonos One and have all the capabilities of an Echo. It’s got the equivalent of a Dot built in. So, what this means is you can get all the skills, all your questions answered, and FAR SUPERIOR SOUND!

This is the way to go. The Sonos One sounds like MUSIC!

But it gets better, if you already have an Echo or an Echo Show, you can control ALL your Sonos zones by voice, RIGHT NOW!

As long as you use one of the suggested names, if you customize your zone names you might have a problem, but that’s gonna be worked out, and chances are you’re not that deep into this stuff anyway.

So, let’s start over. Voice control is it in music. The only problem is right now, the devices have lousy sound. But now you can buy a Sonos One and have GOOD sound! Especially compared to the lousy computer speakers and earbuds most people are presently using.

But if you’ve got an Echo already, and Sonos already, you can control your already existing zones via voice.

But right now Spotify doesn’t work, so I connected Amazon Music Unlimited.

And the thing with Amazon Music Unlimited is you can see the lyrics in your Amazon Echo Show, which is very cool.

And if this all sounds like gobbledygook to you, it won’t be soon. This will be de rigueur overnight. This Christmas is the tipping point, when Apple introduces its smart speaker, the HomePod, but if you expect Apple to dominate…

You’re still living in the Steve Jobs era.

You see Jobs won via monopolies. The funny thing is copy protection aided Apple, it kept people locked into the iPod. And then the iPod gained momentum and killed all comers.

And then the iPhone ruled until Android, no wonder Jobs was suing about that, because he realized you didn’t want to be a player, you wanted to be the ONLY player!

So, one voice-controlled service will dominate. And right now it looks to be Amazon. The only thing keeping people locked into Apple is branding. But, with Sonos you can employ much better speakers than both the HomePod and Sonos One, you can play music through your own stereo via voice via Sonos, you can’t do this with HomePod/Apple. It’s the Wintel wars all over again. Apple is a closed system, Amazon is not.

And Google is an entrant too, and is also an open system, and has the Android advantage, but right now Amazon has a huge head start, and there’s a first mover advantage as long as you continue to innovate.

It’s here right now. Voice control of your favorite music.

And Amazon Music Unlimited is a sleeper of a service. Forget Apple Music, it’s already trolled every credit card on file, whereas Amazon is selling every day and if Amazon purchased Spotify it would be game over, but still, keep your eye on the Bezos company.

A lot of high level chess is happening with our tech leaders in the long-term battle for our eyes, ears and hearts.

The Future – No Facts, Only Opinions

I hate all the self help type content. I am in the massive minority based on all the success of people selling self help.

I only care about living in the future. I find smart people (those with a track record of being early and right) and I follow them.

The stock market is said to look out six months. It might be why I am so fascinated by the stock market. Every price I am looking at is the world’s opinion of what should be six months from now.

Andy Kessler had a great piece up on this titled ‘The Future is Dodgeball‘. The meat:

Ben Rosen, chairman of Compaq Computer Corp. and an early investor in Lotus Development, was the semiconductor analyst at Morgan Stanley eight years before me. In the late ’80s an embarrassingly lame online service named Prodigy was state-of-the-art, but I had visions of a multimedia world with text, pictures and eventually videos delivered through vast networks. Crazy, right? I asked Morgan Stanley’s uber-strategist, Barton Biggs, for advice, and he suggested we have lunch with Ben Rosen.

I was all of 30 and way out of my league, but we still trucked over to the Pan Am Building for a New York power lunch. I explained this multimedia thing. Mr. Rosen waved his hand and said in the nicest way, “I really don’t know anything about that.” I looked at Biggs, gulped, and asked Mr. Rosen for advice in general. He told me about building his venture-capital firm and running into investors on Sixth Avenue.

Then he rambled on about getting in the middle of things at events, conferences and seminars. He said that at first nothing will make sense and all these balls will be flying across the room out of your reach. But eventually you’ll find yourself in the middle of the room and balls will start hitting you. Then you’ll know you’re inside. As we walked out the door, I remember thinking, “That’s it? Gee, thanks for nothing.” Biggs agreed it was a waste of time. Turns out it was the best advice I would ever receive.

The thing about the future is that, as William Goldman wrote about screenwriting, “Nobody knows anything.” Everyone is an outsider, and it’s all up for grabs. Someone might have an opinion, but there are few facts. What you need are your own opinions about where the world is headed in any given industry: artificial intelligence, gene editing, autonomous trucks, marine salvage—whatever.

You need to go to places where the future is discussed. Every industry has these events. Make the time to go. And not only to hear keynoters billow hot air, but for the panel discussions where people disagree. The conversation spills out into the hallways between talks. There will be all sorts. The smug ponytailed guy who talks about his Phish tribute band and insists he knows everything. The woman you see at every event but only in the hallways chatting and who never makes eye contact to let you into a conversation. Barge in anyway. Remember, there are no facts, only opinions.

Have a great Sunday.

Fintech and Falafel

I am off to Tel Aviv next Friday on my now yearly November trip to Israel.

I asked my friend Ronen, a founder of Etoro, to help organize the first ever ‘Fintech and Falafel’ event for investors and fintech founders.

Here are the details.

This year I am heading over as the Nasdaq continues to romp to all-time highs.

Back in 2014, Yoni Assia, Ronen’s brother and co-founder of Etoro, was calling for Nasdaq 10,000.

I will be following up on this discussion with him in a fireside chat at the event. Yoni is famous (with me at least) for telling me to buy Bitcoin back at 12 cents. He did buy $50,000 worth for Etoro back in the early days which is now held on Etoro’s books for $20 million.

I may not have bought Bitcoins, but I was smart enough to invest in the Assia brothers and Etoro.

Most importantly, the falafel should be fantastic.

Apple is my Favorite Crypto Asset

A day does not go by where 10 plus people don’t ask me for stock ideas.

Depending on my mood or which stock has been relatively weaker of late, I mention Apple or Google.

In most cases the conversation is killed because they either think it makes sense or they think I am just blowing them off politely.

This morning Apple will open up strong after their quarterly report at nearly $900 billion.

The numbers that stood out to me were the strong service revenue growth numbers in China and the 300 percent growth in Apple Pay. Obviously the stores continue to be magical.

For me, iOS 11 is perfect because I can doodle on photos and screenshots.

Apple has nearly $300 billion in cash.

Most importantly, even at $900 billion, Apple is one rare crypto asset. Only Apple knows how to organize all the materials that it takes to put together all the iPhones the world demands.

We take that impossible part for granted every day. Sure you can get a smartphone anywhere, but not everyone will be able to afford or even get an iPhoneX.

While we argue which Company or asset like Bitcoin gets to $1 trillion first, my friend Joe says it best:

The question isn’t which company will be the first to reach a $1 trillion market cap, but how many will get there.

As for the other crypto asset Bitcoin, when people ask me whether they should buy it or not, I always say open a Coinbase account and buy an equal amount for 10-12 months.

This morning at $7,300 will be the last day I do that. At least for now.

At $7300, Bitcoins now are valued at over $120 billion.

Apple this morning is just 7.5 times more valuable than all the Bitcoins in the world.

I hope Bitcoin passes Apple in terms of total market value as I still hold some, but I like the idea of owning Apple just a little more at this morning’s ratio.

PS – I heard tonight from a Coinbase investor that 100,000 people opened accounts today. As Bitcoin continues to rise, I check it’s price first on Stocktwits when I open the app. We have entered a very strange point in time where the Bitcoin rise might just be pulling the general markets along.

PSS – One Bitcoin transaction now uses as much energy as your home in a week.

#OnlyIn2017 and #Dayenu

We will look back at markets in 2017 and go WTF.

I have begun to end all my trading/investing/market conversations this year with #onlyin2017 and #dayenu

While I have many of my own investing and trading #onlyin2017 #dayenu stories…this is my favorite…

I was on one of my long walks home to Grammercy tonight and I was on the phone with my partner Gary who was selling some Ripple (not the booze) for us that would convert into Bitcoin. We traded into some Ripple back in the early fall as we diversified out of Civic (please don’t ask) #onlyin2017 #dayenu.

Way back in May of this year after Bitcoin had rallied to $1900 I decided to sell all my Bitcoins. At the same time though, one of our portfolio companies Civic decided to do an ICO. Our fund Social Leverage is an investor in Civic (cap table, not ledger), but because this is 2017 and our high priced fund lawyers that drew up our fund docs back in 2015 had not included the ability to buy tokens/participate in ICO’s, our fund could not participate. I imagine if our lawyers had presented us with this idea in 2015, we would have said, quit making shit up to charge us…get the docs done!

I decided to take a personal ‘flier’ on the tokens and support the offering and Civic (the price would be 10 cents). In order to do so I would have to convert Etherum or Bitcoin into the tokens at the closing date. So I had to hold onto a bunch of Bitcoin. When the conversion finally took place in June 2017, Bitcoin had further rallied to $2,800 #onlyin2017 #dayenu.

I figured I would hold the tokens for five years and Civic would work towards building a big company and maybe the tokens would appreciate along with the equity value.

But, it’s 2017 and by August the Civic tokens were trading above 60 cents.

I always take partial profits when the gods look down on me with 600 percent gains that I never expected to earn (especially in just a few months).

Of course, selling my tokens only meant getting back Bitcoins which by this time were at $3,700. Basically I had given up on 80 percent Bitcoin gains over this time period for 600 percent Civic gains…#onlyin2017 #dayenu.

Tonight I sold some of those Bitcoins for $6,800.

I went from selling Bitcoins at $1,900 to owning more of them at $6,800 with a 600 percent gainer in tokens in between.

In other words, I’ve made so many mistakes in 2017 but most have just resulted in bigger gains…#onlyin2017 #dayenu

I doubt my 2018 investment stories will have similar hashtags!

The Great Digital Pyramid Rally of 2017 – Bitcoin and Egypt at All-Time Highs

The markets around the world continue to romp.

Today, Facebook and Tesla report earnings.

Facebook has so many dials to push that Mark Z. will probably decide on the numbers to report in real time.

Tesla also reports earnings, but his loyalists will declare any negative threads as ‘fake news’

Yesterday I brought up the all-time highs in Apple and the stock continued to romp.

The iPhone X is getting rave reviews (I have not ordered one but plan to buy one). Here is a deep review from Above Avalon.

Yesterday I had to head to the store in SOHO to help explain a few things on my new Apple watch (with cellular service). I also lost my Airpod case and had a cracked screen. It was not free, but I got all that I needed and was sent back into the streets feeling good about my investment.

Apple is now just 16 percent away from $1 trillion.

In the low volatility market we are in, Apple could get to $1 trillion with a great Christmas season.

Nothing says low volatility more than the Dow which has gone a RECORD 51 days without an intraday 1 percent move.

While Trump is in a lather about the US Stock market, Egypt’s stock market has more than Doubled in 2017 to an all-time high. An all-time high in Egypt covers a real long time.

Not to be outdone, Bitcoin is hitting more all-time highs at $6,400. While the media discusses the Bitcoin Bubble, JC puts it out there that maybe the bubble already happened.

I love this Bitcoin description by early adopter/investor in them Albert Wegner who says:

How about Bitcoin? Oddly I think that Bitcoin continues to be misunderstood by many people in the cryptocurrency space who want it to be more than it has to be for it to succeed. It is one of those cases where the more you know, the more you are likely to overthink it. Yes, Bitcoin has all sorts of drawbacks as a blockchain, but it is the one cryptocurrency with a widely understood use case: censorship resistant store of wealth. Fiat currencies, precious metals and real estate (including land) all have more government control and/or are more difficult to move around and transact in than Bitcoin. With everything crazy that’s going on in the world politically, the demand for censorship resistant wealth storage is high and growing.

Enjoy these wonderful markets and opportunities while you can.

Nice Guy or Asshole?

Before I get started….Apple closed at all-time highs. I am excited that this remains my number one position. The attention remains on the products, but as I have been saying since 2006 and my first Wallstrip…it is all about the stores.

Ok…for today’s post…

I consider myself a nice guy.

I have beefs for sure.

The other day Andrew Left sent me an email that opened – ‘I didn’t know you have an issue with me until this mornings tweet.’

Andrew runs Citron Research and it seemed like every stock I owned a few weeks ago was under his attack.

I tweeted something ‘smart ass’ in his direction and even though we have never met or spoke I got the email.

I think we can be friends!

Yesterday, I woke up to an email with the headline ‘You’re an Asshole’.

I figured maybe I forgot to Venmo Max some money, but no, it was stranger that took offense to my post with my Instagram that displayed my ‘Boy George Halloween’ costume.

I share my ideas and opinions everyday, so it is part of the flow that people dump on me.

At least he did not call me a bum.

Late last night I was walking home in Grammercy and I heard my name yelled. I turned and said ‘hello – do I owe you money’? It was just a person that knew me from twitter. His name is Ryan Dawidjan. We walked a couple blocks. Ryan’s friend thought he was weird for talking to a Twitter friend in the middle of the night. I thought it was pretty cool.

I can be a pretty nice guy.

Asshat or Genius

Ellen and I have now been in the big Apple for two months. We are loving the Grammercy neighborhood. No surprises on the food front. Pizza, Falafel and Chinese Food have been the go to meals.

Today we went to ‘Junk‘ a matinee at Lincoln Center. It was our second play of this trip. I slept through the first one so let’s just say that the lighting was good.

After seeing a packed house for ‘Junk’ I think Broadway might be ready for the play I have been working on called – ‘Bitcoin – a Crypto Musical‘.

Ok..on to the post…

On Friday the Nasdaq hit ALL-TIME-HIGHS. Most of us are geniuses again. It feels great.

But, it’s a fine line in the money world between asshat and genius.

Bill Miller was a genius for 15 years straight (1991 to 2005) as he beat the S&P. In 2007, he was named Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of Legg Mason for all his genius and of course the financial crisis came calling.

He quickly became an asshat (at least according to The Fly and in 2008 he won the first and only Stocktwits ‘Asshat of the Year‘ award.

Bill is back now running billions after leaving Legg Mason and one of his smaller funds has 30 percent of it’s assets in Bitcoin and is up 74 percent in 2017.

Bill is a genius!

The markets have a way of making the geniuses asshats and the asshats geniuses.

If you are feeling down because you still own JC Penney or god forbid short Amazon, remember that it is easy to start fresh. Go to cash and start again.

Even Larry Blankenfein – CEO of Goldman Sachs – has to make customer support calls in 2017.

Bitcoin – Errors of Commission and Ommission

I love this tweet from Eric Jorgenson that sums up his investing strategy:

If you invest, you have had ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) and you have had ‘Regrets’.

It may not happen in this perfect circle of investing life that Eric draws, but for most it does.

Over the years, I have developed my own investing strategies that have helped me become a better investor, but I continue to make mistakes.

With Bitcoin, I had no fear, I just did not ask the right questions. I was shown them back in 2010 at 12 cents by Yoni Assia in Israel, but was skeptical rather than inquisitive.

I finally bought some Bitcoins north of $100 when Fred Wilson bought them. But, I never tried to use them (transacted).

I should have played with them more.

In 2015, a friend introduced me to Numerai (probably one of the first, if not most unique crypto hedge funds) and I passed on the investment. Most likely because I had never ‘played’ with Bitcoin. Fred Wilson ended up investing.

In the past month, I have gotten ten Crypto hedge fund pitches. There are now 123 active crypto funds with $2.3 billion in assets and that will likely double by the end of the year.

One thing about all the managers in the hedge funds I have seen…they all have two and three year returns of 1,000 plus percent.

The FOMO is building up inside of me, but instead of chasing, I have been transacting more and more. I am getting closer to the system.

If the crypto assets are a bigger part of our future, there is still much time to back fantastic founders and ride big trends.

Yesterday, Fred wrote about Polychain Capital, yet another investment of theirs that invests in crypto assets. Watch the short Vice video with the founder.

You can overcome a lot of ‘FOMO’ by opening a wallet with Coinbase and just putting in $100. Send $10 to a few friends or start a monthly contribution plan for your kids.

Participating, investing and playing will help calm FOMO and reduce errors of omission.