Whitney Tilson In his email discusses favorite Mungerisms; 4 stories by Roddy Boyd; Bezos prime; the last days of Target Canada; and what happened when venture capitalists took over the golden state warriors.

Whitney Tilson – Favorite Munger quotes

1) I recently pulled together a collection of my favorite Munger quotes for a presentation I’m giving. Enjoy!

  • The more hard lessons you can learn vicariously, instead of from your own terrible experiences, the better off you will be…So the game is to keep learning.
  • What is elementary, worldly wisdom? Well, the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ’em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form. You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience – both vicarious and direct – on this latticework of models.
  • Most people are trained in one model and try to solve all problems in one way. You know the old saying: To the man with a hammer, the world looks like a nail. This is a dumb way of handling problems.
  • Our experience tends to confirm a long-held notion that being prepared, on a few occasions in a lifetime, to act promptly in scale, in doing some simple and logical thing, will often dramatically improve the financial results of that lifetime. If you took our top 15 decisions out, we’d have a pretty average record.
  • As Jesse Livermore said, “The big money is not in the buying and selling…but in the waiting.”
  • There’s always been a market for people who pretend to know the future. Listening to today’s forecasters is just as crazy as when the king hired the guy to look at the sheep guts.
  • All I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there.
  • No wise pilot, no matter how great his talent and experience, fails to use his checklist.
  • In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.
  • We have never given a damn whether any quarter’s earnings were up or down. We prefer profits to losses, obviously, but we’re not willing to manipulate in any way just to make some quarter look a little better.
  • To say accounting for derivatives in America is a sewer is an insult to sewage.
  • We think there should be a huge area between what you’re willing to do and what you can do without significant risk of suffering criminal penalty or causing losses. We believe you shouldn’t go anywhere near that line.
  • Our approach has worked for us. Look at the fun we, our managers, and our shareholders are having. More people should copy us. It’s not difficult, but it looks difficult because it’s unconventional.
  • If you rise in life, you have to behave in a certain way. You can go to a strip club if you’re a beer-swilling sand shoveler, but if you’re the Bishop of Boston, you shouldn’t go.
  • Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Step by step you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. But you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts. Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day, if you live long enough, most people get what they deserve.

Whitney Tilson – Articles by Roddy Boyd

2) Roddy Boyd of the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation with four good stories:

  • This enterprise piece takes us back to the bad old days of March, 2008 and Bear Stearns’ collapse. SIRF, through independent reporter Teri Buhl, obtained a just-unsealed lawsuit, emails and dozens of other exhibits from Bruce Sherman’s litigation against Bear Stearns and its former senior management. Suffice to say, the concept of Bear having been done in by a run on the bank is finished for now; the firm was dying for a longtime and its senior management knew it…and did nothing. http://sirf-online.org/2016/03/31/bear-stearns-and-the-bodyguard-of-lies
  • Two weeks ago SIRF put out a deeply reported investigation about the abusive accounting and risks in Diamond Resorts, $DRII. It turns out that just owning a time share company can be deadly. http://sirf-online.org/2016/03/07/27464/

Whitney Tilson – A profile of Jeff Bezos

3) Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky with a profile of Jeff Bezos:

It’s an unexpectedly sunny mid-March morning in Seattle, and Bezos’s disposition is even sunnier. Who can blame him? Amazon’s AMZN 2.34% market value is $260 billion, with Bezos’s stake worth $46 billion. Bigness hasn’t sapped its growth: Sales jumped 20%, to $107 billion, last year, and Amazon surprised investors with operating profits of $2.2 billion, a 12-fold increase from 2014. The Post, a declining icon before Bezos bought it for $250 million in 2013, is bubbling with new ideas. Even Blue Origin, the secretive rocket-ship company Bezos funds out of his own pocket, is enjoying a moment of prominence, having promised to blast off with space tourists in a few years.

To say all this leaves Bezos energized would be an understatement. Dressed in jeans and a checkered shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, the notoriously intense CEO is the picture of contentment. He’s deploying his trademark cackle—the auditory equivalent of Steve Jobs’ signature black turtleneck—liberally. Says Bezos: “I dance into the office every morning.”

He’s got every reason to cha-cha. More has gone right for Bezos lately than perhaps at any other time during his two-decade run in the public eye. His company is expanding internationally and spreading its hydra-headed product and service offerings in unexpected new directions. Bezos, too, is evolving. Always a fierce competitor and stern taskmaster, he has begun to show another side. With the Post, he’s taken a seat at the civic-leadership table. And with his various projects Bezos is also becoming known as a visionary on topics beyond dreaming up new ways to gut the profit margins of Amazon’s many foes.

Bezos is preternaturally consistent. He still preaches customer focus and long-term thinking. Yet of necessity, as Amazon has become massive—and as he has indulged his eclectic and time-consuming pursuits—he has become the sort of leader who empowers others. “He was at the center of everything at the beginning. The leadership was Jeff Bezos,” says Patty Stonesifer, the former Microsoft MSFT 0.44% executive and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO who has been on Amazon’s board for 19 years. “Today it’s not a hub-and-spoke connecting to him. He has become a great leader of leaders.” Indeed, his evolution portends dramatic repercussions far and wide: The possibilities of a less tethered Jeff Bezos are equal parts exciting (imagine what he’ll do) and terrifying (pity whom he’ll crush).

Whitney Tilson – The last days of Target Canada

4) What a fascinating case study of a great company, Target, absolutely falling on its face expanding into Canada, blowing $7 billion!

It was Mark Schindele who took over as head of Target Canada. He was a 15-year company veteran and previously served

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