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More Details Emerging on the US Capitol Riots

Monday 8 February 2021 The Joe Biden inauguration came and went without incident. Yet, the story of the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol continues to unfold. In this section we’re featuring two stories that add more colour to the story. The first, tells the story of one Pennsylvania mother that was radicalised by far-right media, came to be …

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From Ghost Kitchens to Ghost Franchises

Monday 8 March 2021 A few weeks ago in Thought Starters we shared an article about ghost kitchens. These ghost kitchens are restaurants that have no dine-in and no customer pick-up. They are built exclusively for the food delivery apps – UberEATS, Deliveroo, DoorDash – and are able to achieve lower costs by occupying non-desirable locations and able to create …

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Warren Buffett’s 2020 Shareholder Letter

Monday 8 March 2021 Every year, history’s greatest investor Warren Buffett writes an annual letter to accompany the Berkshire Hathaway annual report. Last week, Buffett released his 2020 letter. Last year was a tough year for Berkshire, returning 2.4% compared to 18.4% for the S&P 500 index (the risk of not owning tech stocks in 2020…). However, zoom out and …

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The Rise of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company

Monday 8 March 2021 Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has been a revolutionary company in a critical industry. Yet, what it has achieved is largely under appreciated (despite the fact that if you’re reading this, you’ve likely benefited from their work). Founded in 1987, TSMC pioneered the ‘foundry’ model of semiconductor production, where TSMC create chips for other customers. This …

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Results from Stockton’s Universal Basic Income Experiment

Monday 8 March 2021 COVID has accelerated a number of changes in our society – the rise of online retail, working remotely, adoption of cloud computing. One other change it may have accelerated is universal basic income. Government’s around the world have shielded people from economic shutdowns with direct cash transfers (think Job Keeper and Job Seeker in Australia). For …

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Shopify’s Plan to Build an eCommerce Ecosystem

Monday 8 March 2021 At this point, most people have heard of Shopify. The $140 billion eCommerce platform offers retailers a plug-and-play option to set up their online store. Some of the biggest companies in the world – Google, Hasbro, The Economist, Heinz, Red Bull, Tesla – use Shopify’s platform to enable eCommerce on their website.  This article takes a …

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The Digital Transformation of Cars is Just Beginning

Monday 1 March 2021 You may not have heard it, but we’re living through a global semiconductor shortage. Perhaps the hardest hit industry is automotive. Demand from the auto industry spiked, just as semiconductor companies like TSMC and Texas Instruments had reallocated their capacity to other, more resilient (they thought) industries. NXP Semiconductor’s recent earnings call explained the situation in …

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The 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2021

Monday 1 March 2021 For the past 20 year Technology Review have been publishing a list of the year’s most important technologies. This week they published their list for 2021.  There’s no surprises for guessing which technology tops the list. In the context of COVID and the rapid turnaround of a vaccine, Messenger RNA vaccines sit atop the list. mRNA …

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Whistleblowers call out Amazon’s Data Security Practices

Monday 1 March 2021 Amazon, like all big companies these days, is collecting so much data. Three current and former employees are blowing the whistle and have reported to Politico that Amazon’s customer data may be at risk. Amazon has pushed back on the claims, calling them inaccurate and unsubstantiated.  This is an interesting story, not so much for the …

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Lessons from the Texas Blackout

Monday 1 March 2021 The recent power outage in Texas was devastating, with over 4.5 million customers losing power amidst a historic cold snap. The freezing temperatures incapacitated about 40% of the state’s power generation and much of the state was left in the cold and dark.  This crisis has sparked a debate about power generation and Texas Republicans have …

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Bill Gates’ Plan to Save Everyone

Monday 1 March 2021 According to Bill Gates, there are two numbers that matter when it comes to climate change – 51 billion and zero. The first is the tonnes of greenhouse gas added to the atmosphere every year. The second is what it needs to be.  In his recent book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, he outlines his …

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A look at recent hedge fund 13F filings

Monday 22 February 2021 In today’s episode of Equity Mates Investing Podcast we speak about 13F forms. These forms offer great insight into what some of the biggest investors in the world are buying. Every quarter, funds managing over $100 million are required to publicly disclose what American stocks they own. From this information, we can figure out what they’re …

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TikTok’s vast censorship machine

Monday 22 February 2021 Over the past few years, there has been increasing concerns over the surveillance and censorship built into ByteDance’s record-breaking social media app TikTok. This culminated in President Trump’s decision to force ByteDance to sell their American operations to an American company (a policy that is now being reviewed by the Biden Administration).  This article tells the …

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The rise and fall of Bitcoin billionaire Arthur Hayes

Monday 22 February 2021 As Bitcoin continues its steady march upwards (last week it passed $50,000 USD) we’re all going to have to get more familiar with the term ‘Bitcoin Billionaire’. One of the first people in the world to achieve this was Arthur Hayes, the founder of BitMEX, a crypto exchange through which more than $3 trillion has flowed.  …

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When it comes to investing, laziness may be a virtue

Monday 22 February 2021 The stock market has been designed to encourage activity. Prices updated every second, the steady stream of company announcements, all amplified by a financial media that breathlessly reports the key moments of the day. For everyday people, it is easy to feel like we can’t keep up.  The good news is, you can ignore all this …

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How an army of ghost kitchens are challenging traditional restaurants

Monday 22 February 2021 UberEATS, DoorDash and GrubHub have ushered in a new era in restaurants. The past few years have seen a rise of ‘ghost kitchens’ (aka cloud kitchens), restaurants with no in-person ordering or in-person dining. These kitchens are set up never to see a customer. Rather, they are optimised for the food delivery platforms. By one industry …

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The Three Countries Exploring Mars

Monday 15 February 2021 An under-reported story has reached its climax and may usher in the next step in the building space race. Three countries have had space ships travelling in convoy, racing to reach Mars. Two of them, unsurprisingly, are the US and China. The third, is the United Arab Emirates. If successful, all three countries will achieve a …

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The US Navy patents ‘sci-fi’ technology

Monday 15 February 2021 When a company or government agency patents a new invention, that patent is made public in return for the government protecting their intellectual property rights. Vice has reviewed some recently filed patents from the US Navy, giving us all an insight into some of the strange, cutting-edge technologies the US Military is working on.  Amongst them …

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The legacy of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

Monday 15 February 2021 With Jeff Bezos announcing that he would be stepping down as Amazon CEO to focus on his space efforts with Blue Origin and his charitable work with the Day One Fund, there has been a lot written about the greatest businessman of our age. As he steps down from the $1.7 trillion dollar company he started …

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The continued rise of eSports leagues

Monday 15 February 2021 If you grew up playing video games, at some point your parents probably told you that video games won’t help you get a job. Well, pick up the phone and tell them they were wrong because video games are now big business.  eSports leagues around the world are starting to take the shape of more traditional …

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Tesla founders on the early days of the electric vehicle startup

Monday 15 February 2021 Elon Musk may be the CEO and face of Tesla, but he was not a founder. That fact is often overlooked as the enigmatic CEO has certainly made the company his own over the past decade and a half. However, the world’s richest person was actually Tesla’s 4th CEO when he took over in October 2008.  …

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The State of Micro Private Equity

Monday 8 February 2021 There’s an ongoing battle amongst hedge funds, private equity and venture capital firms to get a piece of some of the fastest growing technology businesses. However, at the other end of the spectrum, there is a whole different breed of investment firm looking for bargains amongst the unloved. In the massive number of family businesses, side …

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The Battle Inside Secure-Messaging App Signal

Monday 8 February 2021 Earlier this year, WhatsApp, the secure messaging app owned by Facebook, announced it was updating its terms of service. The change, allowing Facebook and other businesses to store messages, created a lot of alarm and set off a search for more securing messaging services. One of the biggest beneficiaries has been Signal. The encrypted messaging app …

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The Outsider CEO

Monday 8 February 2021 Snowflake was one of the best IPOs of 2020. The data warehousing company was led by veteran CEO, Frank Slootman, that is developing a reputation as a ‘CEO-for-hire’ (a label that doesn’t really mean anything, isn’t any CEO a CEO-for-hire?). When Slootman took over, Snowflake was valued at $4 billion. Today, it is valued at $85 …

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Howard Marks on Value v Growth Investing

Monday 8 February 2021 If you’ve heard about the constant struggle between “growth” and “value” stocks, you’re probably aware that lately, it hasn’t been much of a contest. Over the past 13 years, growth has easily outperformed value. In Howard Marks’ latest memo, he discusses this contest and offers a different way to look at this decades-old debate.  Firstly, he …

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What happened with GameStop this week?

Monday 1 February 2021 If you’ve been following the financial news this week, you’ve heard about GameStop. The struggling game retailer, owner of Australia’s EB Games, has been on the decline for years as more and more gamers have moved to buying games digitally rather than in bricks and mortar stores.  This decline had hedge funds overly short the stock …

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Facebook v Apple on the future of internet privacy

Monday 1 February 2021 A battle over the future direction of the internet is being waged in the boardrooms of two of the internet’s biggest companies. In the ring are Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. For years, the internet business model has been simple – gather as much data as possible about users and …

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Palantir’s ‘God-Eye View’ of Afghanistan

Monday 1 February 2021 Palantir may be one of the most controversial companies in the world today. The software company has made a name for itself by taking incredibly complex data sets and making them usable for companies and governments around the world. Famously, Palantir has been embedded with the US Military in operations across both Iraq and Afghanistan and …

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ARK Invest’s 2021 Big Ideas Report

Monday 1 February 2021 ARK Invest, led by perhaps the world’s most famous Tesla bull Cathy Wood, has had an incredible few years. They have created some of the world’s most popular ETFs and positioned themselves as on the forefront of the biggest innovations the world will see over the coming decades. In this Big Ideas report, the ARK Invest …

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Why humans beat computers at jumping into the unknown

Monday 1 February 2021 Two trends are intersecting that are causing humans to doubt their intelligence. Firstly, the increasing application of mathematical techniques to a growing number of fields traditionally outside the reach of maths departments. Secondly, the increasing ability of artificial intelligence to solve mathematical challenges. Together, they are increasing concern that, at some point in the future, artificial …

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Amazon: The 21st Century Tech Conglomerate

Monday 25 January 2021 $600,000 per minute. That is how much revenue Amazon makes. Over the past ten years it has grown its revenue from $27 billion to $347 billion. Not only is it the #1 player in eCommerce but it is the world’s largest cloud service provider. This article makes the case that this is just the beginning. Amazon …

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Climate Change Post-Pandemic

Monday 25 January 2021 When we look back on the 2010’s, we’ll lament the lost time. The opportunity cost of the time wasted as climate denialists held up the policy process and stopped governments around the world from tackling the underlying causes of climate change head on. However as we enter the 2020’s, there is some good news. Climate denialism …

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Bronte Capital: Investor Letter, December 2020

Monday 25 January 2021 2020 was a great year for growth stocks. Hot technology companies, headlined by Tesla, enjoyed big run ups since the market lows in March.  On the other hand, 2020 was a terrible year for short sellers. Low quality stocks seemed impervious to market forces (anyone watching GameStop recently?). Australia’s most famous short seller, John Hempton, is …

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Enemies, a Love Story: Inside the 36-year Biden and McConnell Relationship

Monday 25 January 2021 President Obama was often told he should spend more time with Congress and have a drink with Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. “Why don’t YOU get a drink with Mitch McConnell” was his joking response. The lack of a personal relationship between the two leaders made it difficult for Obama to break through the Congressional gridlock …

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The North Carolina Kid Who Cracked YouTube’s Secret Code

Monday 25 January 2021 Chances are you haven’t heard of him. YouTube’s highest paid earner in 2020, Jimmy Donaldson (aka MrBeast), made $24 million from YouTube last year. This is the story of how he cracked the YouTube algorithm and amassed almost 52 million subscribers.  To give you an idea of MrBeast’s reach, in the 28 days prior to this …

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The Economics of Vending Machines

Monday 18 January 2021 There’s a lot out there to invest in. One alternative asset class that has increased in popularity recently is vending machines. It may seem a little tedious – buying product in bulk, stocking machines and collecting loose change out of the machines. Yet, that tedium can turn into a meaningful passive income stream. In this article, …

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The Dark Money Funding the Rise of Activist Short Sellers

Monday 18 January 2021 Activist short sellers are on the rise. The practice of identifying a fraudulent or overvalued company, taking a short position, and then writing a scathing research report and releasing it to the public has become big business. Australian alternative asset manager Blue Sky Alternative Investments saw the effect as an activist short seller report spooked the …

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What is the Future of Retail Property?

Monday 18 January 2021 Physical retail is facing an existential crisis. Customer preferences have been shifting towards online shopping for years. Last year, in the midst of COVID lockdowns, this trend was supercharged as online retailers saw unprecedented growth. The question then becomes, what will happen to all this retail space? Brookfield, a real estate and infrastructure manager with over …

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Three Wall Street Executives on ‘The Next Big Risk’

Monday 18 January 2021 2020 showed us how some of the most remote risks (would anyone have predicted a global pandemic…) can have the most serious consequences. As we get into 2021 there are plenty of risks being discussed – inequality, right-wing extremism, financial bubbles – but there are may be more consequential risks out there. Bloomberg sat down with …

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Could the Next Decade Be Even Worse?

Monday 18 January 2021 2021 has started with a lot of self-reflection. What happened at the US Capitol? What were the forces that led to such a moment? Was it Big Tech? The Right Wing Media? Trump and his supporters in Government? One historian thinks there is an explanation for it all. Peter Turchin, a Russian-born biologist famous for applying …