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Good Reading -- June 2016

Facts and Figures

  • The term "non-GAAP" appeared in 58% of proxy filings for S&P 500 companies reporting so far in 2016, up from 27% of those same S&P 500 constituents five years ago. (Source: Audit Analytics)

  • Spinoffs worth a combined $251 billion were completed globally in 2015, up roughly 2x from 2014 and from the average of the post-GFC years.

  • The S&P Guggenheim Spin-off ETF, which tracks the performance of spinoffs, is down 17% in the last 12 months. (Source: WSJ, Dealogic, S&P/USA Today)



  • Jim Chanos on FT podcast (transcript) -- This interview is loaded with interesting commentary.

  • Internet Trends 2016 -- Mary Meeker is not without controversy, including most recently her board seat at Lending Club. But she's still putting out her annual study of all things digital/media/Internet and it's packed with interesting data as usual. A short recap from a Washington Post writer is here and here.

  • Jim Collins interviews Jorge Paulo Lemann -- This is a long video but it features a good discussion on a variety of topics. And if that's not interesting enough, Gisele Bundchen makes an appearance around the 1-hour mark. She discusses the reasons for her enormous success and multifaceted career.

  • The Secret Culprit in the Theranos Mess -- Since the original round of articles on Theranos garnered almost as much interest as the subsequent mess, this article looking at the journalistic process is well worth some consideration. (On a separate note, the WSJ should win a lot of awards for its work on this story.) Forbes also cut its calculation of Holmes's net worth to zero from $4.5 billion last year.

  • The Lies Busy People Tell Themselves -- "With four kids and a full-time job, time is precious. But it's also plentiful." After keeping a time log for one year, the author found that "life was not quite as hectic as I'd thought." She confirms studies that show "that professionals tend to overestimate work hours; we remember our busiest weeks as typical. This is partly because negative experiences stand out...and party because we all like to see ourselves as hard-working. One study...found that people estimating 75-plus hour workweeks were off, on average, by about 25 hours."

  • John Malone Talks TV Biz, Presidential Politics and His TCI Regret in Candid Q&A -- Plenty of insights in this interview.

  • On his proudest achievement: “After four years of really trying, I got my wife to say yes. It took me four years and that was four years of abstention, by the way. So it was really meaningful.”

  • On sage advice he received from one of his first bosses: “Always analyze the downside and structure everything so that you live to fight another day.”

  • On his preternatural focus on minimizing tax bills: “The government is your partner. They just don’t get to go to all your meetings. In the end, you can invest the money better than they can.”

  • On his greatest disappointment: “I let business take too large a part of my life for a period in my life and probably neglected the kids more than I should have.”

  • On the need for greater scale in traditional media companies: “We no longer can think of scale being sufficient if it’s just the U.S. When Mark Zuckerberg talks about a billion simultaneous daily users — those are big numbers.”

  • On the growth of original series production: “It’s like a children’s soccer match. Everybody in the industry is chasing the soccer ball instead of holding their position.”

  • On the fate of the cable bundle: “I don’t think the bundle will break down by itself. I think other bundles will build up. … The big bundle only breaks down if sports breaks down. That’s really the muscle. Sports is the glue that holds the bundle together. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

  • On his personal fortune (estimated by Forbes at $6.4 billion): “I couldn’t spend the money I’ve made if I lived 10 lifetimes. I’m going to give it away.”

  • Successful? You've Already Won the Lottery -- A useful reminder about the role of randomness in everyday life. I'd also recommend the author's recent conversation on Russ Robert's excellent podcast, Econ Talk.

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