Quote of the week:

“Buy a business, don’t rent stocks.” (Source)

Tom Russo on investing, markets, and the importance of curiosity 

I’m a fan of the many timeless lessons shared by the value investor Tom Russo, who has made some prescient big bets over his 40+ year career. Recently, Russo—who worked for Bill Ruane in the 1980s and was an early student of Buffett and Munger before he launched his own firm—sat down for a wide-ranging interview with William Green to chat business, stocks, dealing with market drawdowns, and much more. 

Perhaps my favorite part of the conversation is towards the close when William asks a simple (if not pointed) question. “How do you sustain this level of intensity and drive?” William asks. “I mean, what’s motivating you to keep working at this point when clearly you don’t need it financially?”

Russo’s response: “You know, it’s purely curiosity… curiosity is just something that is wired in me.” He continues: 

“And I heard from somebody who happened to visit with my fourth grade teacher back in Wisconsin where I grew up. And they’ve shared a moment about our times together and she said, ‘God, he was a pain. Always asking questions.’ And I think there’s an element of that that’s just continued. I’m curious, and I think that’s something I give wide birth to because I’m just interested in a broad range of different subjects… I’m sure much like you and others as well.”


Andrej Karpathy on Optimus, software 2.0, and data engines

“If you think transportation is a large market, try physical labor,” says Andrej Karpathy in a conversation this week with MIT’s Lex Fridman. “It’s insane.”

For the uninitiated, Karpathy is the former director of AI at Tesla. In his tenure at the Tesla, Karpathy led the company’s most promising developments in the field of artificial general intelligence, which is now being fed into programs like Optimus, Tesla’s general purpose, bi-pedal, humanoid robot division. Karpathy was also an early architect for Tesla’s approach to autonomy via a vision-based neural network that’s powered by machine learning. 

Karpathy’s 3-hour conversation with Lex is characteristically both fascinating and somewhat complex, but hits on essential themes around the future of machine learning, the foundational improvements in “software 2.0,” and how AI will fundamentally alter many aspects of our lives in the future. 

“I think it’s a very hard project, I think it’s going to take a while, but who else is going to build humanoid robots at scale? I do think it’s a good form factor. The world is designed for the human form factor. They’d be able to upgrade our machines. They could potentially drive. The world was designed for humans, and so that’s the form factor you want to invest into… Designing a robot and whole data engine behind it is a really hard problem. So it makes sense to go after general interfaces.”

A few more links I enjoyed: 

“Sometimes it seems like every big company CEO has read the same article about the same tech trend, and sent the same email to their team, asking ‘What’s our strategy for this?!’ A couple of years ago there were a lot of emails asking for a 5G strategy, and now there are a lot of emails asking about metaverse.”
“Making decisions, even in areas you know relatively well, usually involves an element of uncertainty. Sometimes decisions can be made quickly, and uncertainty is acceptable or desirable. Other times, decisions are made slowly and deliberately to remove as much uncertainty as possible. Once you are faced with a decision, the question becomes whether you should make it fast or slow. Do you gather as much information as possible, knowing the process of gathering information slows you down and carries a cost? Or do you make it quickly with imperfect information?”

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