Data Brokers Is Just The Beginning…

John Oliver did a deep dive on data brokers this week and it was pretty interesting.

We all know we are being watched on the internet, but John turned it around to explain how easy it was to watch people in Congress. The last few minutes are really worth the watch.

My friend Ted Merz, former journalist and product manager (Bloomberg) had an idea to use tweets from a person’s timeline to build a mosaic. He did this with no help from a data broker:

Daniel Loeb, CEO of hedge fund Third Point, joined Twitter in October 2020. Within a year he posted 540 times and accrued 57,000 followers.

As an exercise, I spent a day and read every tweet he posted during those first 12 months. (NB: It’s possible he deleted some.)

Normally, we read Twitter in bits and bobs. The items that stand out are like logs floating in a river, visible only briefly.

If you read one person chronologically you see patterns.

Loeb posts about investment strategies as well as travel, books and people that influence his thinking.

There are some major buckets, including:

Places he’s traveled:
Israel in April to meet VCs
Miami in June for a Bitcoin convention

Podcasts & Blogs he likes:
Common Sense with Bari Weiss
Leaders in Lending
Patrick O’Shaughnessy

Fiction he’s read:
Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The Bacchae by Euripides

Non-Fiction he’s read:
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer
Quality Investing by Lawrence Cunningham et al.
Mindset by Carol Dweck
Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin
Common Sense by Joel Greenblatt
You Can be a Stock Market Genius by Joel Greenblatt
The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
The Art of War by Sun Tsu
Talent is Overrated by Geoffrey Colvin

Books he planned to read:
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher
The End of Accounting by Baruch Lev, Feng Gu
The Big Money by Frederick Kobrick
100 Baggers by Chris Mayer
Investing in Growth by Terry Smith
Never Enough by Mike Hayes

People he admires:
Adam Gazzaley
Alia Crum
Joel Greenblatt
Carol Dweck
Antony Noto
Sahil Bloom
Gavin S. Baker
RJ Scaringe
Mikaela Shiffrin
Charlie Munger
Pat Gelsinger

Things he recommends doing before you die:
Eat at Asador Etxebarri
Order 1982 Cheval Blanc
Hike from Aspen to Crested Butte
Surf in the Maldives

Topics of interest:
The Navy Seals

The picture that emerges is of a person who reads widely and is looking for new ways to understand the world.

Arguably Loeb’s most significant post was on March 1, 2021 when he tweeted that he has “been doing a deep dive into crypto.”

Within a few months, Third Point made several Bitcoin-related investments. Loeb is famous as an activist investor, so it was a big deal.

The crypto post was unusual, however. Most of Loeb’s posts wouldn’t be considered “breaking news” by reporters.

And yet, each post is a tile in a mosaic that if you put it in place provides a “read” on how he thinks.

One could build a product that parses Twitter to detect entities and organizes them automatically into categories as I did manually.

Those insights could fill a book.

It’s a book I bet Dan Loeb would read.

Something to think about as you spend your day online.