10 business and investing podcasts for the holidays

At NAOS Asset Management we find podcasts a great learning tool across a wide array of topics, issues and opinions. With so many great listens on offer, we thought we'd put together some of the most interesting business, investing and general podcast episodes that we’ve listened to throughout 2021. If you’re looking for some interesting listens over the holiday period, there should be something below for you to enjoy. Happy listening!

1. Elizabeth Holmes - The Dropout Podcast by ABC Audio

Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of University to start a small blood testing company called Theranos. From the outside looking in, Theranos underwent a meteoric rise. Holmes, the ‘world’s youngest self-made billionaire’, attracted a very high-profile board of directors and graced the covers of magazines such as Forbes, Times and Fortune. Theranos attracted substantial investment from the likes of Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family. In the end it all came crashing down in September 2018.

Season one of The Dropout from 2019 takes us through the fascinating story that is Theranos. The ensuing years have seen the key figures go through the legal process and has resulted in Elizabeth Holmes being on trial facing multiple fraud charges which could see her in prison for up to 20 years. Season two of The Dropout follows this trial which began in September 2021.

2. All About NFTs by a16z - Andreessen Horowitz

NFTs rose into the global mainstream media due to the sale of a digital artwork collage by Beeple for US$69m (third highest price paid for a piece of art by a living artist). You may have heard of NFTs but do you understand what they are? This episode of the Andreessen Horowitz podcast, one of the most iconic US venture capital firms, conducts a technical deep dive into NFTs and the applications for their use.

Where are we heading with NFTs? The possibilities are endless. Any piece of media on the internet could potentially be uniquely owned with its full history of ownership known and the creator can have a monetisation event every time it is used, bought or sold. The applications could be used for not only digital art but also games, songs, blog posts, newsletters, journals, investment research reports or even equities.

3. Can Food Delivery Make Money? The Journal by Wall Street Journal

We have likely all seen extensive marketing and advertising campaigns undertaken by the likes of UberEats, Menulog, Deliveroo and DoorDash. Brand awareness is high and the consumer take-up of food delivery services has seen significant growth, obviously amplified by COVID. User numbers are booming and this trend is likely here to stay. Given this high-demand environment, you would think these companies are turning a profit…but are they? The hosts of The Journal podcast discuss this very fundamental question.

Industry margins are thin, so what does that say about the general business model of food delivery? Will these companies see outsized returns in time with further scale? It is interesting to see that the major players in the food delivery sector are pivoting their business models to try and achieve profitability or achieve profitability sooner. There are different approaches being adopted, so time will tell whether these new and improved business models are viable over the long term.

4. How It Happened: US Presidential Election Campaign by Axios

Australian journalist Jonathan Swan is the political correspondent for Axios, a new start-up American news organisation. Jonathan Swan gained international notoriety in mid-2020 after his one on one interview with then US President Donald Trump went viral. This five-part podcast series is Jonathan Swan’s account of the 2020 US Presidential Election campaign and subsequent fallout that ultimately resulted in the Capitol riots on January 6th 2021.

Swan conducted numerous interviews and conversations with not only former White House officials but also with those within White House at the time including eyewitnesses and even those within the Trump ‘inner circle’. Swan’s somewhat direct and determined line of questioning is again on display through the information he discusses in the podcast series. All of this was done under anonymity, so despite there being no names or direct quotes, it is still a very fascinating listen.

5. Emission Impossible by Planet Money

Corporations are commonly stating their timeframe to become carbon neutral, e.g. Amazon to be net-zero by 2040, whilst Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030. How do they achieve this desired carbon neutrality? Carbon offsets are generally a key component in this. In theory, you could argue a carbon offset is a logical and transparent way for a corporation to manage its carbon neutrality. At this stage, the reality is far more complex.

This podcast provides a brief but informative look behind the scenes into the world of carbon offsets. This world includes those looking to purchase carbon offsets, the forest/plantation owners, the quality assessment organisations and the verification and private regulatory bodies. There is a lot more to be done on the measurement of carbon offsets for them to become the mechanism we all need them to be.

6. Ryan Peterson on How Global Supply Chains Have Gotten Even Worse by Bloomberg’s Odd Lots

Supply chain issues are dominating the global macroeconomic landscape. They are impacting everyone’s daily lives, are causing widespread disruptions and are a major causation for the current inflationary environment. Being interviewed is Ryan Petersen, the CEO of Flexport which is a freight forwarding and customs brokerage platform for global logistics. His position renders him at the centre of this crisis and makes his viewpoint highly interesting.

How did this happen? Why did this happen? When are these issues going to end? These are all very important questions that Peterson provides his informed views on. With the freight and logistics industry currently under the proverbial microscope, it is interesting to see how there may be potential structural changes required to solve the current problem over the longer term.

7. Carson Block on the Short Selling Market by Bloomberg’s Masters in Business

Carson Block is the founder and CEO of Muddy Waters Research. He is now one of the most high-profile short sellers on the planet. This interview between Carson Block and Bloomberg’s Barry Ritholtz talks through how and why, through a series of life experiences, Block found himself doing what he is renowned for – uncovering U.S. listed fraudulent Chinese companies. There is no doubt that his work has created a wider impact for both investors, companies and regulators.

A unique individual with a different way of thinking, on this podcast Carson Block shares the unbelievable story of how he uncovered his first fraudulent Chinese paper and packaging company, Orient Paper. He also shares his views on the current market environment for short selling opportunities including how companies are adapting to change.

8. Wes Maas: How I Made It by Australian Financial Review

This podcast is a very interesting reflection by a former fulltime football player, Wes Maas, who is the CEO of the recently listed diversified construction business, Maas Group Ltd (ASX:MGH). Wes began his career by getting up at 6:00am for footy training, finishing at 12pm, then going straight to work. During this period Wes learned about return on assets, return on invested capital and everything to do with hire-contracts. Beginning to form a very junior career in the construction industry, success was measured on ROTA (return on total assets), measured daily.

Starting with purchasing one bobcat for $14,000 and borrowing $25,000 to buy a tipper, gradually the company has grown over 19 years to now have market cap of ~ $1.5bn. Maas talks not only about return on capital analysis, but the simple power of compounding. The story behind Maas Group Ltd is well worth a listen.

9. Howard Marks, Move Forward with Caution by The Investor’s Podcast Network

This podcast is a genuinely interesting insight into the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Oaktree Capital Management, Howard Marks. Marks begins by communicating the range of mental models investors need to conquer the inherent challenges to stock market investing. He speaks to the need to graduate from overly simplistic “the market is too expensive so sell or too cheap so buy” mentalities. Even concepts such as aggressive versus defensive and value versus growth are deeply subjective, brushing over the true complexity of investing. However, above all else, an emphasis must be paid to what we can control. The foremost amongst them: Price.

Marks gives his views on ‘investment advice that your grandkids should follow’:

  • Start young.
  • Don’t tamper with it.
  • Don’t sell out at the bottom.
  • Don’t get in and out of the market.
  • The market has returned 10% a year, if you assume similar going forward:
  1. Then your money will double every 7 years.
  2. If they are 5 and live to 75, on 10% p.a., it will double 10 times
  3. 1 dollar will be a thousand 70 years from now.
  4. “The greatest invention in history is compound interest”.

10. Patagonia: Yvon Chouinard via NPR How I Built This with Guy Raz

Yvon, the distinctly unique billionaire Patagonia founder, largely egoless, and student of Zen Buddhism speaks at length on conservation and his search for quality and practical clothing.

What's interesting is how he speaks as if the rise of his clothing brand was almost an accident, a product of his frustration at the lack of quality outdoor gear available in the market. At the time, mountain climbing was still a nascent industry, with only 250 mountain climbers in the entirety of the United States.

Yvon first taught himself blacksmithing in his backyard, forging two steel pitons an hour and sold them for $1.50 each, versus the $0.15 single use European products. The difference was his product lasted and were true quality, enabling his market share to grow to 80% rapidly. His tools were cheap so he could travel across America, selling his products from the back of his car. Today Patagonia is one of the world’s largest outdoor brands.

Important Information: This material has been prepared by NAOS Asset Management Limited (ABN 23 107 624 126, AFSL 273529 and is provided for general information purposes only and must not be construed as investment advice. It does not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular investor. Before making an investment decision, investors should consider obtaining professional investment advice that is tailored to their specific circumstances.

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Robert Miller
Portfolio Manager

Robert Miller is a Portfolio Manager and has been with NAOS since September 2009. Robert has completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Business from the University of Technology Sydney, as well as completing his Masters of Applied Finance from the FSIA.

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