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Foresight vs. Hindsight in Fast-moving Markets

Ars Technia published a lovely history of the changes in market leadership in computers, tables, and smartphones. My takeaway is another reminder of how much more difficult foresight is than hindsight. Especially when I was reading the prospectus to the Apple IPO, where the risks were about the TRS-80, Atari 400, Commodore PET, and other competitors of the day. We all think of Apple today as a...

Growing tiny companies past the $1M+ revenue milestone

I’m often asked what I do. I invest in young companies and help them scale up. That is true but a bit vague. So today let me show you what I mean by scale up, using seven examples from my Africa Eats portfolio. Africa Eats invests in companies building the food/ag supply chain, filling in the gaps of business infrastructure, and our progress ending hunger and poverty. I met all of the...

The Next Step: Paperback

The Next Step 10th Anniversary (header)

Nine of every ten startups fail. For the the last decade I’ve been sharing my 30+ years of experience to help lower that horrible statistic. And it is working. Eight of our ten of the companies at Africa Eats are still running, the oldest now over 10 years old and many soon to reach that milestone? How? Business planning. By not stopping with a Plan A, as Plan A rarely succeeds. By not only...

All positive feedback

A common problem early in the startup process, in the market research phase, is too much positive feedback. Positive feedback feels great. Positive feedback is confirmation that your product or plan will work. Everyone loves hearing positive feedback and no one get mad at you for giving positive feedback. Trouble is, Plan A rarely works and you need the negative feedback to fix those flaws. I was...

The Rise (and Fall) of the US Dollar

The Visual Capitalist comes though again with an animated tale of the last 120 years of world reserve currencies. Some screen shots and commentary below: The start of the 20th Century is the end of the British Empire. The USD is a minor currency. The British Pound is by far the world’s most popular reserve currency and the world’s international trade settled in London, not New York...

INTegrated ELectronics

I always through the company name Intel was a just the first five letter of “intellegent” or “intellegence”. Wrong. It’s a portmanteau of INTegrated ELectronics. This was one of the many tidbits of knowledge that have shown up in The Snowball, the “other” biography of Warren Buffett. Turns out Warren had the opportunity to invest $100,000 into the initial...

Inside the Apple II4

Do you remember my journey down the 8-bit computing rabbit hole? Well… if you are going to do something for fun like designing an upgraded 1976 CPU and writing a 1979 personal computer operating system, you might as well go all the way and write the accompanying book too, in the matching late-1970s style. I read a lot of fan fiction in my free time, but I don’t recall ever seeing much...

Apple’s IPO, before the NASDAQ was a “real” market

Apple went public in December 1980. They successfully raised $100 million at $22 per share. They’ve split those shares 2:1 three times since then, and 7:1 once, and 4:1 once, plus they’ve bought back a lot of shares, but roughly that $22 share today is worth at least $40,000. If you read this blog, you know that rise in value isn’t what mosts interests me, but rather the fact...

Berkshire Hathaway listed in 1988!?

The more I dig into Berkshire Hathaway, the odder it gets. Did you know the company wasn’t listed on the New York Stock Exchange until November 1988? In 1929, Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates was created through the merger of the Berkshire Cotton Manufacturing Company (founded in 1889) with Oliver Chace’s textile companies (founded in 1839). In 1955, Hathaway Manufacturing Company...

Venture Capital Took Decades to Be Significant

It feels like venture capital has been around forever. Forever as in at least a few hundred years, if not thousands, no? No. Venture capital as talked about and practiced today has only been around since 1959. It is younger than my parents. And it wasn’t a $1+ billion industry until the 1980s, when I was in high school. This is part 2 of a series and will focus on that slow growth of the...

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