LP Vol 34. - In Search of Premium Thought
My favorite newsletters and podcasts
"The gig economy for brains is exploding and has only accelerated under the world's response to COVID-19" - Doomberg
If you're willing to pay a little bit here and there, the quality of writing about topics you are deeply curious about is astounding. I've made a point during COVID to lean into the Substack boon, liberally subscribing to new voices on a wide variety of topics, in an attempt to diversify my inputs and do my small part in incentivizing said voices to keep going.
I've been asked by a few folks for recommendations on my current favorite media sources, so I've done my best to synthesize that view below. It shouldn't be a surprise that there is a high correlation between quality and the existence of a paywall. "You get what you pay for" is largely true when the comparison is a binary "free versus paid", though paying drastically more does not necessarily convey drastically higher quality. I suspect a gradual shake-out for "premium niche" voices in increasingly specialized spaces that will mean higher price points for a smaller, more calibrated audience, but most of these are priced for growth.
Many of the below sources have a smattering of free content where giving them money simply means more features (more issues/bonus episodes, transcripts, community access, etc), which is a nice benefit of this new media landscape.
The Diff is a daily newsletter covering inflection points in finance and technology. I aim to answer a simple question: in a few centuries, when historians reach a consensus on what was happening today, what will they believe?
This couldn't be more targeted to my core interests. Hobart is the most consistent high-quality writer on tech and finance since Ben Thompson more or less invented the independent tech blogger/analyst role in 2014. (Note: I don't have Stratechery included in this write-up because I assume everyone's heard of it by now, but it remains very good).
Hobart has a good mix of quality profile's on the world's most important tech companies and smart takes on financial innovations / market events.
Doomberg is the anonymous publishing arm of a bespoke consulting firm providing advisory services to family offices and c-suite executives. Its principals apply their decades of experience across heavy industry, private equity and finance to deliver innovative thinking and clarity to complex problems.
About the highest praise I can give is that the writing is so good, I originally assumed there was already a premium tier I was subscribed to. I've learned a lot about how to think about commodities, supply chains and energy markets, and appreciate their educated bear case on crypto and defi (crypto surge is closer to a collective mania than anything rooted in fundamental value). I also enjoy the monthly reflections on building an independent media brand within the roiling storm of the creator economy.
A newsletter from an ex-finance analyst turned independent voice on markets and investing. A healthy mix of financial profiles, thoughts on markets, and pithy insights to keep me entertained.
I've substantially cut down my sources of political/policy news these days, Yglesias is an exception that validates this rule. I admire his willingness to put takes out into the universe that are practical, well-argued, and often not aligned with popular consensus.
I’ve traded options for 21 years to make a living. You get to find out you are wrong about stuff all the time. It's dazing and confusing. But it's helped me improve my thinking. I share in public. I learn in public. My mistakes can be your gain.
Evergreen content on markets, trading, games and contextualizing risk. High signal-to-noise ratio. I also appreciate the approach to curating the content backlog on the web via a public-facing Notion site compared to the weekly newsletter on substack.
Infinite Loops hosted by Jim O'Shaughnessy
Consistently excellent conversations on a wide range of topics from investing to technology to what the future of human creativity and ingenuity hold for all of us. This one is fully free, so I'd scan the back catalog for something that tickles your fancy and dive in (I’m going to highlight 1-2 episodes in my ‘Best Content of 2021’ edition coming before the end of the year).
Hidden Forces hosted by Demetri Kofinas
In Volume 12, I noted:
My single best discovery of 2020 was the Hidden Forces podcast. It's well-worth your time for a wide spectrum of guests exploring topics of "culture, philosophy, economics, technology, social science, and the hard sciences".
This remains true 11 months later. Here are some excellent recent episodes:
The Grant Williams Podcast hosted by Grant Williams
Grant Williams is a long-time investor and finance professional who started his newsletter Things That Make You Go Hmm in 2009 and then went on to co-found Real Vision in 2014. Grant now offers subscriptions to a paid-only podcast, a premium monthly investing note, and a long-form video interview series + online community.
This has been one of my best investments this year in terms of getting smart, timely analysis trying to make sense of what we can, can't, and should be trying to learn from what global markets are saying. You can see the list of recent episode guests and topics here, and although it may not scream interesting, I guarantee it’s worth a $10 one-month purchase to see if listening to an episode or two might convince you otherwise.
The Knowledge Project hosted by Shane Parrish
Parrish's Farnam Street is one of the best curations of content related to decision making and self improvement on the internet. Shane and team have invested a lot in both production (crispy audio) and guest quality this year, and a paid subscription gets you access to ad-free + extended versions of excellent conversations.
If you're looking for a last minute gift for the curious weirdo in your life, may something here be helpful in closing out a task bringing you a rising level of anxiety. I'll be back next week with a rundown of my favorite individual pieces of content (podcast episodes, articles, Christopher Nolan movies, etc).