G’day galahs. A bittersweet edition this week. Essentially, Curated by Kalani as you know it is changing.
TL;DR? CbK will be switching to a once a month deep dive on a person within Asia-Pacific. To keep up with Asia-Pacific curated news and content, you’ll need to join the Discord. For keeping up to date with the Compounding Curiosity podcast, there’s a new substack for that.
Anyway, I’ll explain more in detail just below, but for now, one of my favourite quotes from Avatar to start:
“What am I going to find, if I get through this?”
“I don't know, but won't it be interesting to find out?”
Here’s the format of today’s email:
Part 1: Time for a change
Part 2: Latest from Compounding Curiosity
Part 3: Keeping up with APAC - Something to Read, Watch, and Listen
Time for a change
Like finding out your parents are don’t love each other anymore, here is a curveball. I just don’t love Curated by Kalani anymore. In its current form, it’s a giant mish-mash. Is it pure curation? Is it investing topics and deep dives on people? Does it serve to promote my podcast? When I look at those questions, I realise it’s better to focus on specific things and drill down. The graph below will probably better explain than I ever could how it’s all gonna work:
You might have a couple questions, so hopefully, I can pre-emptively answer those:
Why only once a month deep dives?
Weekly cadence is too much. And yes, monthly might be a little long between drinks, but at least I know 100% I can do the deep dives justice. If I’m smashing it out the park and killing the pig, I may push for the 15th and 30th each month. But let’s see how it goes. Erik Anders Lang summing it up for me:
Miura-San really taught me the value of putting your heart and soul into something to make it the best it can possibly be. And there's no benefit to cutting corners when it comes to mastering what you've set out to do, because at the end of the day the only one you have to answer to is yourself.
WTF is that logo for Allocators Asia?
It’s a marshmallow with a nón lá. Pretty cute I reckon!
And who am I even planning to feature?
Yes, all very smart and successful people here. But I’m also going to document the flip side and some not so rosy stories. Basically trying to learn what not to do and things to avoid. I wanna see if I can polish a turd.
What will Allocators Asia’s posts look like?
I want to really dive deep and find as much obscure information as possible. Arrogantly, I’d like to think I could be like Neckar for Asia. But at the end of the day, this is me writing it after all. So deadset seriousness is not my forte. Memes and taking the piss will be sprinkled throughout.
Where to from here?
Well, if you’re reading this in your inbox, you’ll receive my first Allocators Asia post on The Legend of Li Lu on January 15th, 2022. My podcast continues to be weekly, so to subscribe on Substack and you’ll get notified each week. And if you want to just hang out, see what links I’m reading and find worth sharing, join the discord!
Latest from Compounding Curiosity
Since there was no email last week, you get treated and receive two awesome podcast episodes in this issue!
Jeevan Vasagar, Lion City: Singapore and the Invention of Modern Asia [Transcript] [Apple Link]
Love these deep-dive episodes! Jeevan is the author of LION CITY: Singapore and the Invention of Modern Asia, which is the focus of this episode. We talk about Singapore’s past, its future, and even just the process of writing his book.
My takeaways and lessons:
Lee Kuan Yew deserves the hype
“There’s really a handful of occasions in history where you have a single political leader who’s completely associated with this turning point in a country’s fortunes. So for me, I was in Germany just before I was in Singapore. And I think the figure of Bismarck in Germany is one of them, this absolutely dominant figure. de Gaulle in France is another. And I think Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore is clearly the outstanding Asian example. […] Singapore’s success is really closely connected to Lee Kuan Yew’s political genius and that political genius, I think for me, lies in a combination of the ability to listen to experts, to bring in people from outside and really hear what they had to say and to cut through all the noise, to reach conclusions about what really matters. And a lot of those sort of big decisions he made, turned out to be really, really fortunate for Singapore.”
The Singapore hybrid might have to change
“you’ve got Singapore, which is this sort of strange kind of hybrid. So Singapore does have elections. These elections are meaningful. The ruling party will take account of them, but there isn’t really a sense that the system is going to change. There, isn’t really a sense that people have much input into the direction of society outside of election time. So it’s sort of halfway house between these kind of full democracies and these sort of full autocracies. I think the question for me is sort of which way or tip? I do think this is an unstable hybrid. I think it sort of is going to tip in one direction or the other. It’s always a bit foolish to sort of predict the future, but my hunch about this, is the rise of China is going to play a really interesting part in this.
So if you look at China becoming increasingly powerful, the Chinese model establishing itself as clearly one of autocracy, I think a lot of Singaporeans are gonna look at that and say, actually, we don’t want that. We don’t want to be this kind of society. What we want is something much more like Taiwan, like Korea, like Japan.”
Thomas Chua, Steady Compounding [Transcript] [Apple Link]
Thomas is the founder of Steady Compounding, where he now runs a stock research service focusing on Compounders and also publishes his weekly newsletter.
In this conversation, we cover Thomas’ investment style and philosophy, and his story behind Steady Compounding.
My takeaways and lessons:
Old ain’t always gold
“the old way of value investing may need some tweaks to its thinking, right. Because we used to be very focused on the tangible assets. But nowadays, when you look at the companies, a common one let’s say, Google or even Facebook, they don’t really have a lot of assets on their balance sheet, but yet they’re making a lot of money. […] But coming from a deep value investing background, I resisted against assigning a very high valuation for a company without that assets to back up. But that thinking has to change when I saw that. And the previous thinking was that without assets like these, what is their moat, but actually, a lot of these company has even stronger moat, like network effects or very high switching costs. And so they’re able to capture their consumers in an even better way, and really deter against competition.
And the beauty about the newer breed of company nowadays is that they tend to have monopolistic or oligopolistic structure, […] especially platform companies, they have a tendency to go towards a winner take all market. And this is where as shareholders, when you invest in companies like these, they’re able to generate a lot of returns for us as shareholders.”
Write often, and for yourself
“try to write extremely frequently when you’re starting out, because you’re trying to find your unique voice. And I find writing for yourself much more enjoyable, rather than writing for everyone because that’s where I learn the most. I only write things that’s helpful to my thinking. I try to compress them into ideas. And when I’m writing like investment theses, it really helps make sure I understand the concepts, otherwise I’ll go back to look at the annual report or talk to other investors to make sure I understand these concepts.”
I don’t know where we’ll be one year from now, but I know that I’m beyond grateful for this year just gone. So lemme plug a couple quick thanks to a few people that made this all possible.
Shai Dardashti, the reason this newsletter even exists. Shai’s push, encouragement, and belief in me honestly got this off the ground. Shai saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself, and had no reason to encourage me so much. This newsletter has also led to my podcast. And those two have led to me meeting the most incredibly smart and friendly people out there. I seriously am forever indebted to Shai.
Aaron, Clayton, and Michael. Without the daily guidance, feedback, and banter from you guys I probably would have quit this lonely journey a long time ago. Also shoutout to Michael for showing the faith and agreeing to be my first podcast guest when I had no backlog of work, I appreciate it like you wouldn’t believe. I’m only as good as those around me, and you blokes always encourage me to be better and try bigger things.
A quick shoutout Mum, Dad, and all my irl amigos! And lastly to my fiance Ella, I think the world of you and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without your help and the healthy dose of reality you give me. Keen to gtfo Australia and get travelling again with ya.
And a massive thanks to you, for reading my rambling and for spending your time with me each week. I’m never quite sure why 900 odd people read this each week, but I’m beyond thankful and hopefully, I can be a meaningful addition and net positive in some small way.
Hoping to build my next chapter bigger and better, and to make it twice as valuable for you. It won’t be easy, but what good things are?