The Most Important Thing

[TWRL – This Week on my Reading List –  a weekly compilation of interesting articles, reports, podcasts, videos, books, life discovered on Internet and elsewhere]

TWRL 09-Nov-2018

Another great week with lot of breaks due to festival seasons. It gave good amount of time to catch up with my reading online, books etc

Read “The Most Important Thing” by Howard Marks. This was pending for a long time. Finally got a chance to read this masterpiece on investing. Many of my investing blindsides I have started realizing while I was reading through the book. I would like to write a detailed post on insightful passages in the book in a separate post.

One thing for sure, this is “The Most Important” book for any investor to read, re-read and internalize it.


Dodo and finance lesson

Stumbled upon a fantastic take on financial history giving a false sense of security with very apt analogy of rare local species called Dodo, which survived thousands of years in islands of Mauritius, until they saw a ship full of hungry visitors, who wiped out the species to extinction. Here is the small snippet:

This is the pattern breaking that has come to define our world. Just like the dodo, investors are on their own island of financial history with no clue what will wash ashore from the seas of tomorrow. We feel safe on our island, but the ocean will continue to bring chaos. We learn from the past though our returns come from a future that is inherently uncertain. We can hold onto our old beliefs…until something comes along and makes them go the way of the dodo.

Growing Indian e-commerce

Sample this from an article on growing Indian e-commerce:

…. Kabir Siddiq, founder and CEO of Mumbai-based Sleepycat, which manufactures mattresses and started selling on Amazon in August 2017. Last year during the festive season it sold 120 mattresses. This October, it sold 1,500 pieces (1,300 on Amazon) worth Rs 2.5 crore. Siddiq sees the entire country as his market…

Here is another piece from the same article:

“Apart from witnessing the highest traction ever for categories like smartphones and fashion, categories like consumables that include daily essentials & beauty, large appliances, TVs, and home & kitchen have emerged popular this festive season,” said Manish Tiwary, vice-president of category management, Amazon India.

Indian e-commerce is growing exponentially. So far it was about smartphones and apparels, now the new categories are competing the same eyeballs. Not only that, Amazon and Flipkart has created secondary or tertiary effects, paved way to new Indian buying behavior thus creating long tail of niche online offerings from SMEs, small time business men, housewives etc. On the flip side, we’re also seeing backlash among traders and shop owners by buying online and canceling the goods worth 500 crores!

Product Teams

One of favorite topics – software product development. Being in the same professional line, I see a lot of meat in this post by Marty Cagan. He argues, rightly so, the product teams need to be driven by empowered and competent members rather than by command-control managers, which usually happens in many IT outfits. His writing brings in much clarity of thought and instills a sense of purpose for product teams. In my view Product development is hard and it becomes very hard if it is not backed by right team and right set of principles. More on that topic later!


In many IT shops, having rigorous delivery / operations is a table stakes due to the business implications if something goes wrong. This is exactly described in this story where the very DevOps rigor went into a slack. This costed the company hundreds of millions of dollars and landed up in a bankrupt state. Must read for all IT managers.

Kodak vs Fujifilm

We all know what happened to Kodak post digital imaging came to the scene. But we never heard about what happened to its competitor Fujifilm. Here is nice take on how Fujifilm admitted to the reality and took key decisions that enabled them to thrive in next few decades while its erstwhile primary competitor Kodak went into a tailspin.

The president saw that “Fujifilm technologies could be adapted for emerging markets such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and highly functional materials.” For instance, the company was able to predict the boom of LCD screens and invested heavily in this market. Leveraging the photo film technologies, the engineer created FUJITAC, a variety of high-performance films essential for making LCD panels for TV, computers, and smartphones. Today, FUJITAC owns 70% of the market for protective LCD polarizer films.

The company also targeted unexpected markets like cosmetics. The rationale behind cosmetics comes from the 70 years of experience in gelatin, the chief ingredient of photo film which is derived from collagen. Human skin is seventy percent collagen, to which it owes its sheen and elasticity. Fujifilm also possessed deep knowhow in oxidation, a process connected both to the aging of human skin and to the fading of photos over time. Thus, Fujifilm launched a makeup line in 2007 called Astalift.



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