YouTube Joins Facebook in Fight Against Human Biases

YouTube made an important announcement two weeks ago regarding how they are changing recommendations. In summary, YouTube is trying to protect us from our own cognitive biases. Unfortunately, humans are more likely to click on things that are sensational, negative, or fear-inducing.

To be fair, this didn’t start with the internet. For many years, the adage of news programs has been “if it bleeds, it leads.” Basically, news stories get better ratings talking about murder than about decreased childhood mortality.
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Finding Durable Moats is the Key to Finding Good Investments

In November, I spoke at a University of Texas MBA investing course. After introducing myself and my investing strategy, I spent the bulk of the presentation analyzing the competitive advantages of Amazon, Facebook, and Tesla. Specifically, I gave my opinion on how long-lasting each of their moats potentially is and tied that back into my long-term focus. Click below to view the presentation slides.

Finding Durable Moats is the Key to Finding Good Investments

Tesla and Product-Market Fit

Though not on purpose, Tesla has been on my mind a lot lately. Professionally, I’ve been researching self-driving cars and that involves reading up on Tesla (and Waymo and several others). The new book Autonomy is great by the way. And then personally, I just got a new car and thus spent the past several weeks going through the car buying process.

I hate everything about the car buying process and I don’t think I’m alone in that. Every friend I’ve talked to recently about buying cars has said the same thing. I started by entering my information into a few automaker websites to learn more. I immediately regretted that decision. The next few days I was bombarded by calls, texts and emails from salespeople at nearby dealerships.
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Trupanion presentation

Two weeks ago I gave a presentation on Trupanion at the Value Investing Seminar in Italy. The presentation is brief for two reasons:

  1. I only had 20-minutes to present.
  2. I don’t like reading slides when presenting (kind of defeats the point of presenting), so most slides contain high-level thoughts that were explained more in-depth by me.

I wish I would have had 30-40 minutes to present. That way I could have done a deeper dive into the business. Nonetheless, I think some readers will get value out of it.  Click below to view the presentation.

TRUP Presentation – VIS 2018 – Travis Wiedower

Invest in what you know or what you don’t know?

Most companies I’ve invested in have been ones that I wasn’t previously familiar with. I only became familiar with the product and industry after many hours of research. This isn’t on purpose—just a result of me not being a user of most public company’s products. The advantage of this is that I approach learning about these new products from a clean slate with few biases. The drawback is that I will probably never understand the product as well as I would if I was a regular user.

The opposite of this is Peter Lynch’s investing style: “Invest in what you know.” Lynch advised people to invest in companies they know and love. Logically, this makes a lot of sense, but I’m not convinced this method is any better (or worse). The advantage of Lynch’s approach is that a user might have a unique insight into the value of a company that other investors may not have or appreciate. The drawback is the user will almost certainly overemphasize their own experience with the company and may discount what the greater population thinks (i.e. the base rate).
Continue reading “Invest in what you know or what you don’t know?”