Tag: Featured

A Mental Model for “Cold Launching” Start-ups (Four Launch Modes)

Disclaimer: I cannot claim originality to the framework used here but owe it to Cao Zheng, a former core member of Baidu’s business analysis group, 4399.com chief architect, and a current gaming entrepreneur from China. He is an avid thinker/ blogger on the internet business, from whom I have learned much (link to Cao Zheng’s public account on WeChat “caoz的梦呓”)

After more than half a year in incubation, a friend recently launched the beta version of his marketplace app for people to rent or buy things from people nearby, yes, the old “neighborhood sharing economy” concept again (aka. using app to borrow a power drill from your neighbor). I have served as an adviser to him prior to the launch. During our conversations, one counterfactual I constantly used to push the discussion was all the neighborhood sharing apps that have struggled to gain traction before, which is well documented by this article on FastCompany – The “Sharing Economy” is Dead, and We Killed It.

“Everything made sense except that nobody gives a sh**. They go buy [a drill]. Or they just bang a screwdriver through the wall.”

Continue reading “A Mental Model for “Cold Launching” Start-ups (Four Launch Modes)”

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Demystifying Bitcoin/Blockchain: How it Actually Works

Note: This my second blog post on Bitcoin/Blockchain. My previous postprovided an overview of Bitcoin/Blockchain and some brief commentary on the evolution of its applications, as well as its implications on securities trading. Of course, the potential impact is beyond just payment or exchanging non-physical assets. However, in order to truly appreciate the potential and shortcomings of Blockchain, one has to go back to the origin (Bitcoin and Blockchain were born together as one) and understand how the Bitcoin system works, ACTUALLY.  Only then can one cut through the fog and begin to tell what is truth and what is myth, and start to appreciate the complexities. Inevitably, this Blog runs the risk of oversimplifying things and may appear naive to the true Bitcoin experts. But for the novice and non-techies, this is where we start diving into the rabbit hole… Continue reading “Demystifying Bitcoin/Blockchain: How it Actually Works”

Value Investing – Lei Zhang’s (Hillhouse Capital) Lecture at Columbia Business School

In the high flying world of investing, Lei Zhang maintains a relatively low profile. Yet since being seeded by David Swensen of Yale Endowment with $20 million in 2005, he has achieved a ~40% compounded annual return (28x not adjusting for inflation), making him one of the best performing investment managers. To put it into perspective, Warren Buffett has achieved a compounded annual return of ~22%, albeit for the past 50 years!! Today, Lei Zhang’s Hillhouse Capital, named after a street nearby Yale where Lei received his MBA and master’s in public policy, manages ~$18 billion. Though not exclusively tech focused, Lei is best known for backing several of the most successful Chinese internet entrepreneurs and start-ups (e.g. Tencent, Baidu, and JD.com). On April 29th, Lei paid a visit to the “Temple of Value Investing” Columbia Business School to share his investing and life lessons. Below are my synthesis of his wisdom: Continue reading “Value Investing – Lei Zhang’s (Hillhouse Capital) Lecture at Columbia Business School”

Value Investing – Paul Hilal’s (Pershing Square) Lecture at Columbia Business School

Today (April 14th, 2015) Paul Hilal from Pershing Square came to speak during the “Value Investing with Legends Class.” In his introduction of Paul, Professor Big G (Bruce Greenwald) said this, “The public face of Paul Hilal’s fund is Bill Ackman, the talent to a large extent is standing in front of you.”

Paul certainly lived up to the “generous” introduction. He gave a very meaty lecture, full of insights, important life lessons, juicy and entertaining details of Pershing’s activist campaign against Canadian Pacific Railway in 2012. Paul came across as personable, candid, and grounded. But underneath all these qualities, it was clear that he would not hesitate to turn ruthless (I think all successful business people have this quality more or less) when it comes to sticking to his principles/beliefs and driving value from his investment ideas. Many of the lessons he conveyed are not just about investing, but more importantly about life, about being a principled person, and about life in business. There are lessons to be drawn whether you are an investor, a consultant, a general manager, or a banker. It is learnings like this that makes me feel lucky to be at Columbia Business School. Continue reading “Value Investing – Paul Hilal’s (Pershing Square) Lecture at Columbia Business School”