lisperati

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Why do all out attacks actually work?

I think two completely different hypotheses for this phenomenon are more likely:

Hypothesis #1: It can be a dog whistle between investors that an entrepreneur will "stop at nothing to succeed" which can include borderline unethical behavior. Investors may prefer to invest in companies that act in this way, but the investors don't want to overtly condone unethical behavior and instead use coded language to avoid personal liability. The poster child of this is probably Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber who reportedly had no problems with booking fake rides on competitor's ride sharing platforms in order to gain an advantage. I bet early Uber investors said stuff like "I had lunch with Travis and we should invest in that guy! He's so driven, he has such a singular focus to succeed!"

Hypothesis #2: Solving valuable business problems is nowadays extremely difficult, because all the low hanging fruit no longer exist. Therefore, it's very easy to run out of money before such problems are solved. This means that the payoff for any effort is extremely non-linear, and an all-out attack is far more likely to succeed before any funding dries up. According to this hypothesis, it may paradoxically NOT be beneficial to do an all-out attack if you have enough funding (but typically people don't have this luxury.) If this hypothesis is true, a person with enough $$ and time may want to "put their eggs in several baskets" and have a greater chance of success through diversification (though it would likely take a longer "clock time" for any project to succeed). Certain types of artists/creators may fall into this zone, and hence many such creative people would probably not benefit from the "all in" approach- I actually developed a productivity system for such people (http://www.lisperati.com/#!A_Productivity_System_For_Creators) which is the antithesis of the "all in" startup mentality.

The EMH Aten't Dead

FWIW, I very much wanted to adjust my investments based on the covid news, but was stopped from doing so mainly via friction:

1. I made recent profits from my stocks, so selling them (even for a short window) would have had bad capital gains repercussions for me... in the US it's a PITA to deleverage stocks that are in the green.

2. I'm not enough of a trading wonk to feel comfortable buying puts, and the little in the past that I've played around with those tools seemed to indicate that it's hard for a non-professional to avoid excessive fees.

3. I just randomly happened to not be aware of the "zoom" phenomenon, so I didn't invest in that. I DID invest in 3M (because of their mask business) but they actually have lost a ton of money during the crisis for some reason (I assume the "price gouging" laws that prevent them from making any profits are a big part of that)

So, to me this is a story mainly of market inefficiencies preventing EMH from coming into play.

HOWEVER, there was also one other reason why I didn't profit off the crisis, which is actually compatible with EMH: I was expecting a large cash infusion from the fed, so I was expecting stock prices to remain stable, at the cost of subsector price inflation. Turns out, I partially got this wrong (because I didn't consider that inflation takes time to develop, so stock prices plummeted despite fed efforts) but was partially right (stocks have mostly recovered, precisely because of the Fed intervention)

TLDR: I was mostly a rational actor that understood the covid threat, but misunderstood the effect of Fed intervention... but you needed to have BOTH in this case, because of the extra overhead of non-EMH market inefficiencies.

When to Donate Masks?

The day that doctors in my area post stuff on social media about performing procedures with plastic bags over their heads (like this: https://twitter.com/rekhakuttikat/status/1240768592880132096) I'll donate my masks to a hospital.

If that doesn't happen and we pass the peak of the illness, I think the masks should instead go to the spouses of people in my neighborhood who have symptoms.

Crisis and opportunity during coronavirus

Problem: Sick or elderly neighbors who can't get groceries and don't know anyone in the neighborhood to ask for help.

Solution: We put fliers into all the mailboxes in our neighborhood just this evening, giving people our phone numbers and an online group we're managing so that we can coordinate future grocery store runs (and other support activities)