[VIC – 100] Don’t talk 💩 . Heeeeeem (heme). The right questions. Samsung soundbar.

Business & Money

I was listening to an episode of a podcast called Industry Focus this week about Fedex (FDX) and UPS (ticker is the same). Basically the conversation was about whether or not these two stocks might offer attractive return profiles in light of the explosion in global shipping volumes (grew by 48% from 2014 to 2016 across 13 major global markets).
During the 30-minute conversation, the following question was posed, “With Amazon entering the shipping and fulfillment market, do you think they pose a threat to FedEx and UPS?”
One of the analysts on the line responded with, “FedEx and UPS have pretty big moats in terms of the sorting centers they have and fleets they operate. That’s not to say that Amazon couldn’t enter the business. They’ve shown over the years that they’re willing to spend billions when Bezos decides to enter a new market. But I think that FedEx and UPS have massive moats nonetheless, and not too much to worry about.”
I literally laughed out loud as I was walking on the sidewalk.
First off, to doubt Bezos is to dig your own grave. When all is said and done, he may be in the running for the greatest business person of all time.
Secondly, we’ve seen this movie before. Analysts and incumbents making foot-in-mouth statements about startup competitors, only to later fall into obscurity at the hands of those same companies.
In fact, here is FedEx’s Executive VP Mike Glenn talking about Amazon:
“While recent stories and reports of a new entity competing with the three major carriers in the United States grabs headlines, the reality is it would be a daunting task requiring tens of billions of dollars in capital and years to build sufficient scale and density to replicate existing networks like FedEx.”
Or remember back when Siebel was the king of CRM. Thomas Siebel of Siebel Systems told Bloomberg in 2003, “Microsoft will roll [Salesforce] over. They get Zambonied.” I used Siebel when I was AT&T, before adopting Salesforce when I moved to AdRoll. It’s unfathomable to me how Siebel owned that market.
And we can’t forget about Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes when he said “Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition. It’s more Wal-Mart and Apple.”
You almost wince at the incredible hubris coming from these guys and gals. The lesson is simple. Stop talking shit and heed the lessons of history!

Human Progress

All animals either eat other animals, plant matter, or a mixture of the two. As you move down the food chain, it’s primarily plants for food, and perhaps bugs. And same goes for bugs. They either it other bugs, plant matter, or a mixture of the two. So it’s fair to say, if you follow the chain, all of the nutrients start with plants.
It’s a pretty basic idea when you really think about it. So there really shouldn’t be anything that we can’t get from plants, from a nutritional standpoint.
But then why is meat consumption so pervasive? First off, it’s been culturally baked in. Our food pyramids have it, our holidays and celebrations are centered around it, you usually have to call ahead to ask about vegetarian options at restaurants. It’s just the default.
Secondly, and more importantly for most people, it’s delicious! But if we go back to our core idea, there shouldn’t be any reason we can’t recreate that taste with plans. If the cows are consuming a purely vegetarian diet, then it’s only the chemical reactions and bacteria throughout their digestive systems that’s responsible for converting the plant matter into meat. I’m not a biology major so I’m just trying to oversimply this matter for sake of conversation.
In any case, it turns out that a specific molecule called heme is a key catalyst in the chemical reactions that take simple nutrients (fats, amino acids, etc) and turn them into the unique explosion of flavor, aroma, and juicy-ness that is the meat we love. This fact was discovered by Patrick Brown and his team from Impossible Foods, a startup making burgers that look, feel, and taste like the real things, but are made solely from plants.
Patrick recently spoke at Stanford about what they’re up to and thought you guys might like to check it out:


I recently had a friend ask me whether I was for or against net neutrality. Easy answer. I’m for net neutrality. A fair and open internet is a no-brainer. It’s key to innovation, economic growth, fair markets, and much more.
But that’s not really the right question. What’s really at issue is how internet companies (ISPs, tech giants, etc) should be regulated and whether Title II of the Communications Act is the right approach. That’s a much harder question to answer with tons of grey areas. And I don’t want to get into that here, but rather to point out that it’s important to focus on the right question.
Let’s frame it differently. Are you for or against killing human beings? Stupid question. Killing people is wrong. But then again, you could get into tons of conversations about capital punishment, assisted suicide, and self-defense. Another poorly framed question.
The framing of questions is so immensely important, and often not given enough attention. I’d even venture to say that this might be one of the most important challenges we face in everyday life.
Are you a democrat or republican?
What religion are you?
Are you for or against Black Lives Matter?
These simple and surface-level questions often lead to equally simple and surface-level responses, that then result in snap judgments, misunderstanding, and polarization. If only people could spend more time asking thoughtful and well-framed questions.

My Latest Discovery

I was recently in market for a soundbar + subwoofer combination for my living room. The speakers on the TV seemed to be on the fritz, but it’s a great TV and not yet ready to be replaced. After a bit of searching, I landed on this one:

It has far exceeded my expectations and I would highly recommend it! Great bang for not so many bucks.