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Berkshire Hathaway Part I

Berkshire Hathaway Part I

Wed, 21 Apr 2021 02:02

It's time. After 150+ episodes on great companies, we tackle the granddaddy of them all — Berkshire Hathaway. One episode alone isn't nearly enough to do Warren and Poor Charlie justice, so today we present Part I: Warren's story. How did a folksy, middle-class kid from Omaha become the single greatest capitalist of all-time? Why, like Jordan, did he retire (twice!) at the top of his game, only to reinvent himself and come back stronger than ever? As always, we dive in. Let's dance.

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The Warren Buffett Playbook:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/berkshire-hathaway-part-i )

1. Money can create more money. (aka "Compounding")

  • Very early in life, Warren figured out something most people never truly grasp: money can be used to generate more money. It's sounds simple, but once you fully internalize this concept, you'll never see the world the same again. A given sum no longer represents what you could buy with it — a coffee, a phone, a car, a house, etc — but rather what it could grow to become over time. At the extreme, people like Warren are "cursed", seeing prices for goods not as whatever the sticker says, but 5x, 10x, 20x higher — because that's what the opportunity cost of parting with the capital represents.
  • If you own an asset that's compounding at a high rate with no obvious reason it will stop... dear lord do not interrupt it!! Most people are tempted to meddle: lock in gains, cover other losses, actively trade, or otherwise "manage" their investments. In the long run these actions are almost assuredly all value-destructive behaviors if you own truly great businesses.

2. Align incentives: be a doctor, not a prescriptionist.

  • Warren likened stockbrokers — who got paid based on volume of trades placed, not investment performance — to "prescriptionist" doctors who were paid by their number and type of pills prescribed, versus actual patient outcomes. Once Warren created his investment partnerships (and then later transformed Berkshire Hathaway into something similar), he not only unlocked hugely better outcomes for his"patients", but allowed created a path to pursue his own dream and become fabulously wealthy in the process.

3. You can't expect to control other people's emotions around money (or anything else).

  • However with the right "ground rules", you can mitigate the impact of others on your business and decision making — and even use them to your advantage.
  • Warren's early partnerships had a few ground rules and norms: partners will not know what securities are held, trading in/out is allowed only 1 day / year, and Warren will consistently set low expectations (leaving himself ample room to over-deliver). These set the stage for nearly complete freedom for Warren to operate as he saw fit — to the immense gain of his limited partners.

4. Sins of omission (selling or passing) nearly always cost more than sins of commission (buying).

  • Warren is almost without doubt the greatest investor of all time. However even he made three incredibly stupid "unforced errors" early in his career that cost hundreds of billions in future gains: selling GEICO, selling American Express, and passing on the opportunity to invest in Intel with Arthur Rock.
  • That said, Warren's fourth great mistake (and in his estimation his greatest) was certainly a sin of commission: buying Berkshire Hathaway itself. Warren estimates this single blunder totaled $200B+ in opportunity cost over his lifetime.

Carve Outs:

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Gonna need some of that, you know, running like the goo that you eat. Oh man, I should have brought a snack. Well, great thing about not being alive. We could always just take a break if need be. It's true. On the Warren and Charlie don't take a break. It's true, yeah, we, oh my god. What are we doing? We should have brought peanut brittle and cherry coaks. Oh snap. Well, for part two, peanut brittle and cherry coaks are, are mandatory. Mandatory. Oh. Well, that's okay because we're not really talking about break shorted today. That's right. It was intentional. Yeah. Welcome to season eight, episode five of acquired the podcast about great technology companies and the stories and playbooks behind them. I'm Ben Gilbert and I am the co-founder and managing director of Seattle based pioneer square labs in our venture fund PSL ventures and I'm David Rosenthal and I am an angel investor based in San Francisco. And we are your hosts. Let's talk about the 10 most valuable companies in the world. The first nine are tech companies. There's of course the big five in the US plus Tesla, of course, because it's 2021. Of course. And then you have 10 cent and allie Baba from China. The ninth TSMC, the Taiwan semiconductor manufacturer and the 10th, the only non tech company. It's a 182 year old company that started as a textile mill in New England. Berkshire Hathaway. As most listeners know, Berkshire is far from a textile mill today. It is a holding company unique in every way and by far the most successful in history. A few of the companies that they own outright include Dairy Queen, Duracell, Fritallum, Geico, NetJets, Seas Candies and even Brooks running shoes. Seattle company, right? Oh yeah. Oh yeah, and I'm super loyal. I ran up Mount Si wearing them the other morning. Nice. They also own large pieces of many of your favorite publicly traded companies including Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, American Express, Kraft Heinz, Verizon, GM, MasterCards, Snowflake and now they even own over a hundred billion dollars of Apple stock. And somehow the man behind it all, Warren Buffett, has claimed that purchasing Berkshire Hathaway was the biggest investment mistake he had ever made. And for many of you, you're probably learning that Warren Buffett purchased Berkshire Hathaway and it was not something that he founded, which is the first takeaway from this episode. He claims we will cover this again much later in the episode. He claims that purchasing Berkshire Hathaway cost him $200 billion in opportunity cost. Well, when you compound something over 50 years, you can come up with some large numbers. So what the heck is this company? How did it come to be? And why is it that even at an all time high for the stock, so many analysts think it is underpriced today? Well, to do this right, we are going to need more than one episode, even an acquired sized episode. Welcome to our first part of our two part series on Berkshire Hathaway. And in this first part, most of it won't even be about Berkshire the company. It's about the man Warren Buffett and his mental iterations and learnings that would shape what Berkshire would come to be. People always try and reduce what Buffett does to a simple strategy, or even a few pithy quotes. In reality, Warren has learned, adapted, and reinvented his strategy at least four distinct times over the decades. In doing the months of research to prepare for these episodes, David and I both learned just how much Warren's thinking evolved to create the absolutely unreplicatable juggernaut that Berkshire Hathaway is today. So on this episode, we bring you the story of Warren Buffett, the learning machine. Are you an acquired Slack member? If not, what have you been waiting for? It is a stellar community discussing all things acquired recent episodes, but more importantly it is just a genuine smart group of people having a thoughtful, nuanced, and respectful discussion about the tech and investing news of the day. You can join at acquired.fm slash Slack. Our presenting sponsor for this episode is not a sponsor, but another podcast that we love and want to recommend called the founders podcast. We have seen dozens of tweets that say something like my favorite podcast is acquired and the founders, so we knew there's a natural fit, we know the host of founders. Well, David Senra, hi, David. Hey, Ben. Hey, David. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for having me. I like how they group us together and then they say it's like the best curriculum for founders and executives. It really is. We use your show for research a lot. I listened to your episode of the story of Achaomarita before we did our Sony episodes this incredible primer. You know, he's actually a good example of why people listen to founders until acquired, because all of history's greatest entrepreneurs and investors, they had deep historical knowledge about the work that came before them. So like the founder of Sony, who did he influence? Steve Jobs talked about him over and over again if you do the research to him. But I think this is one of the reasons why people love both of our shows and there's such good compliments. It's unacquired. We focus on company histories. You tell the histories of the individual people. You're the people version of acquired and where the company version of founders. Listeners, the other fun thing to note is David will hit a topic from a bunch of different angles. So I just listened to an episode on Edwin Land from a biography that David did. David, it was the third, fourth time you've done Polaroid. I've read five biographies of Edwin Land and I think I've made eight episodes of them. Because in my opinion, the greatest entrepreneur to ever do it, my favorite entrepreneur, personally, is Steve Jobs. And if you go back and listen to like a 20 year old Steve Jobs, he's talking about Edwin Land's My Hero. So the reason I did that is because I want to find out like I have my heroes. Who are their heroes? And the beauty of this is the people may die, but the ideas never do. And so Edwin Land had passed away way before the apex of Apple. But Steve was still able to use those ideas. And now he's gone and we can use those ideas. And so I think what Akkwari is doing, what a founder is trying to do as well, is find the best ideas in history and push them down to generations. Make sure they're not lost history. I love that. Well listeners, go check out the founders podcast after this episode. You can search for it in any podcast player. Most of companies that David covers that we have yet to dive into here on acquired. So for more indulgence on companies and founders, go check it out. All right. Lastly, to keep this short and sweet, if you are not an acquired LP, you really should just become one. And aside from all the things that we tell you every episode about the LP program, we just did a really cool new thing. We called it a community Q&A with the founder of levels, Josh Clemente, after we had him on the show. I thought, wouldn't it be cool to let all the LPs pepper in with questions and interact with him? That was super fun. If you missed it, you can check out the recording in the LP Google Drive. And if you are not already a limited partner, you can click the link in the show notes or go to acquired.fm slash LP cannot wait to see you in there. All right. David, I think we are ready to do it. Listeners, as always, this show is not investment advice. And like Warren Buffett, we would never profess to give you investment advice. All of our best ideas, we will keep a deep dark secret, maybe until long after we've executed them so we can sort of tell the world about our wonderful investments. But David and I may have investments in the companies that we discussed that show us the educational. Definitely do. Entertainment purposes only. We hope you enjoy it. And without further ado, David Rosenthal, where are we starting this story? I have been a proud Berkshire Hathaway shareholder of the B, not the A, for pretty much my entire life. The greatest things that really gifts that my parents and grandparents gave me was a few shares of Berkshire B when I was a little tight. Never sold them. Very smart investment on their part. What's your cell date on them? What's your, where are you exiting the position? Never. As it should be. As it should be. Okay, before we dive into history in facts, we owe a big, big, big thank you to Alice Schroeder and her wonderful book, The Snowball, which I at least used as my main source for this episode. Ben, you read. Yeah, Buffett, the making of an American capitalist, a great book by Roger Lowenstein. I thought this book was awesome. People talk about snowball all the time as the one, as the sort of more popular Buffett biography. I really enjoyed this book, so I think you can't go wrong. Yeah, well, we'll get to comparing contrast as we go here. But Alice's own story is pretty amazing. I didn't realize to looking this up. She was an equity research analyst on Wall Street covering insurance companies, and she wrote to Warren in 1998, asking to talk to him, and Warren had never talked to Wall Street research analysts before, but for some reason, he takes her call. And she was the first research analyst to initiate coverage on Berkshire. Kind of amazing. And then in 2003, another author approached her about writing a book together on Buffett. She talks to Buffett, and he says, well, why don't you just write it instead, and I'll give you full access, like thousands of hours with him, family, everybody. It's amazing, amazing story. So definitely go check out both the snowball and Buffett. Great books. Highly, highly recommend. And listeners, we'll have to see how this goes. This is the second time, I think the New York Times would have been the first one, but where David and I both just read separate books. And I think we both read them cover to cover. Obviously, we've got a few dozen other sources that we use for this as well. But we may have stories that one another does not know about. Yeah. We shall see. Okay. So I'll go first and start appropriately enough back in 1867 with a journey from New York to Omaha, undertaken by a young gentleman named Sydney Buffett, who was working for his father's farm in Long Island. But he quits because he feels like he's not getting paid enough. And like so many young people, young men of his generation, he decides to go west to seek his fortune. And he ends up in Omaha, Nebraska. He got part of the way west. Part of the way west. I think his maternal grandmother, grandfather was already there in Omaha. That might have been why he headed there. But the other reason was that Omaha was a boom town at the time. So in it existed for a long time, it was a kind of pit stop on the trail west, the Oregon trail or the California trail for gold prospectors heading out west. But after the Civil War, the US Civil War, Lincoln decrees that Omaha is going to be the headquarters of the new Union Pacific Railroad, and which is going to connect up the west coast of the United States with the rest of the country and the town takes off. Now interestingly, Union Pacific is still around and operating today. Ironically as the second largest rail company in America after, of course, Burlington, Northern being first. Burlington, Northern Santa Fe, oh, goodbye. For sure, halfway. But that won't come until part two. So Sydney gets to town. He decides he doesn't want to be a farmer anymore. He instead wants to sell products from the farm. He opens up the first grocery store in Omaha. And he runs it and then effectively passes it on to his son, his son, Ernest Buffett. I think actually technically sets up a different store, but it's like the family business. So Ernest, his son is running the legacy of the grocery store in Omaha. And as Alice points out in this snowball, Ernest was very, very aptly named as, as we'll see, under Ernest's management of the store, his quote that he likes to use is, the hours are long, the pay is low, the opinions cast in iron and the foolishness is zero. Hardcore. Yeah, hardcore. So typical of this sort of a new entrepreneurial middle class, Ernest and his wife Henrietta, you know, they're fine with their children working in the store, but they want them to get a good education and become professionals. So most of their children go to the University of Nebraska, including their third son Howard, who majors in journalism and works at the daily Nebraska school newspaper. While he's working there, he meets a freshman who comes in and is applying for a job, play list stall, whose father owned a local newspaper in Nebraska. And they meet, they hit it off, they marry. Of course, these are Warren's parents that we're talking about. And amazingly, you know, they meet at the college newspaper, the very fitting, the newspaper business is going to play a large part in young Warren's life to come. So Howard graduates in 1925, he and Layla Mary. And as was typical of the time, unfortunately, she drops out of school by all accounts. She was like an incredibly promising student, very good at math. Her professors were very disappointed when she drops out to Mary Howard and become a housewife. Howard, of course, he wants to go into journalism and eventually politics, but Ernest is having none of it. His son needs a respectable professional career, the no nonsense Ernest. So he instead suggests that Howard might want to do something, you know, more, more useful, something more like selling insurance. So the just irides continue to mount here. Boy, we've got newspapers already. We've got insurance already. It's like either Berkshire Hathaway basically has an index on the American economy or the forces that would then shape Warren forever are sort of already playing a role in his role. They're already stackier here. Probably some of both. Maybe more of the latter because there's one more chip to stack, which is Howard for two years. He's an insurance agent selling insurance. But we're in the late 1920s now and it's the roaring 20s and it's go go time and Howard after a couple of years decides, you know, maybe this insurance stuff is pretty boring. You know, my customers here in Omaha, they don't want insurance anymore. They want stocks, baby. So he switches careers to years at a school and goes from selling insurance to being a stockbroker in Omaha. I'd like to look this up thinking about this like, well, you hear about stockbroker. It's like, what does it mean to be a stockbroker in Omaha in 1927? So you got to remember it's like, there's no Charles Schwab for one of it. Schwab was hugely innovative. Right. So how are you brokering stocks if you're not on the floor? Right. So there's the exchange, the New York stock exchange in New York. But then for all the rest of the retail public in America, how do they get stocks? You've got a local broker who is your sort of like combination financial advisor plus, you know, exchange access, you know, you're you call your broker or more often he calls and it was always a he at the time. He called you and would say, hey, you know, I've got this great stock that you might want to think about getting into. You know, I know you and your portfolio, your investment objectives and you had chat on the phone with him for a while or you go to his office and then you would sign up and you would buy shares. He would then call the exchange back in New York, get a trader on the line and then buy in your name. Some shares. So they would get a trader on like it wasn't like the brokerage is bought these big blocks and then they would sort of like subbed it was like your broker would like call a trader on the floor to execute your trade. Well, I think it was kind of both. I think that was if you wanted a specific trade to happen. But more often what would happen was the big banks and financial firms and trading houses in New York, they had like product that they needed to move. They had issuances that they needed to move. They had trades that they were doing. They needed to count in parties to the trades. And so all these local stock brokers distributed throughout the country. They were like the distribution and sales force. Like, you know, people talk about sales and trading back in the day and as part of investment banks, the sales part of it was sales to these, you know, an effort to educate all these local brokers to then recommend and push stocks to the clients. Yeah. Pretty fascinating. I mean, and at this point in history, investing isn't really like a profession with a lot of sort of science behind it. It's kind of looked at as gambling, right? Like buying stocks. Totally. Fundamental analysis does not exist yet. It's like people think about stocks as exactly gambling is the right word. It kind of like, you know, tickets to bed on a horse. Like, oh, I like the name of this company here. I like what they're doing. But nobody's thinking about what's the capital structure of this company? What are its revenues? What are its growth prospects? That's not how this works. So Warren would later in life as we shall see, he would do a brief interview, working for his father at the firm as a stockbroker himself. He called what they did equivalent to being a quote unquote prescriptionist versus being a doctor. It would be like, if you were, you know, a medical professional and you got paid based on the type and amount of pills that you prescribed to your patients versus the actual like outcomes, because you're just getting paid by the commission on every, every stock that you sell. The incentives are totally misaligned. Oh, you're making me pull for my first playbook theme already. Like this is one of more, I mean, where he's not even born yet in this story, but this will ultimately be one of his very first realizations is what is the point of me researching the crap out of these companies and picking stocks when all I'm getting paid for is just to move product. You know, it's like a total, like you said, total incentive misalignment. Total incentive misalignment. But let's, let's stick on Warren's father like a father. Fired, yeah. Yeah. Okay. So Howard, 1927, he switches over to becoming a stockbroker. Things are really great. They're humming, families doing great for two years. And then October 29th, 1929. I don't think we've talked about this on this show yet. Amazingly, no, we've made it 150 plus episodes without talking about Black Friday. Black Tuesday. Black Tuesday. Oh, Black Friday is a much happier event. A real capitalism fest. America has not a capitalism fest on black Tuesday. Left its mark on me. Yeah. All right. So black Tuesday, of course, we're talking about the stock market crash on black Tuesday over, I think it actually wasn't that bad by modern standards. I think the Dow dropped in the low teens maybe percentages on black Tuesday, but it was still shocking to people. The real problem is over the next three years after black Tuesday, the market loses 90% of its value. Could you imagine that? That's unbelievable. I mean, during the, in 2008, I think the market lost close to 50%, maybe 90%. And people just wiped out. It's carnage. Yeah. But the way that it's described in Lonestein's book is that what was unique and remarkable about the Great Depression was that even the smart money got wiped out because the people who sort of realized, ooh, things are cheap now. The crash is over, would buy in. And then even they lost all their money. And of course, that is the thing to fear when everyone's screaming by the dip. And of course, that hasn't happened to this level, as you're saying, since 1929, but just crushed everyone. So to grossly oversimplify, you know, what at least I think happened and why it hasn't fortunately happened since is the stock market crashed. And that led people to panic and that led to runs on banks. People wanted their cash out of banks. Banks were, you know, not nearly as institutionalized as they are now. And there was no FDIC insurance that was put in place after the crash. So when there runs on the banks, that led to bank failures. So when all these local banks failed, the Fed had to, I think, raise interest rates because it was like borrowing was so hard now, there was so much less capital base available to borrow. So the interest rates had to go up. So you've got an economic shock. Oh, wow. And then interest rates are going up. Like I might be like, when coronavirus is... You want to be able to lower them. Right. Like when coronavirus hit the Fed slash it is, you know, less than zero in same during 2008. So no, it was a double whammy of like economic shock plus major interest rate hikes. And that just like that led to... It was a decade of, you know, more than a decade really until World War II, the stock market, the Dow wouldn't return to its high before the crash until 1954. That's 25 years. That's a quarter century just lost. Like crazy. Crazy, crazy, crazy. Okay, so back to Howard and the Buffets. Howard does something pretty crazy here. So like it's, you know, it's bad. Warren is born less than a year after Black Tuesday on August 30th, 1930. Warren Edward Buffett is born. The next year, it wasn't until 31. Howard was working as a stockbroker for Union State Bank and the bank fails. So not only is Howard out of a job, but all the family's monies at the bank. So they got no money. They got no job. And Howard and Layla now have two kids. So what does Howard do? He does the 100% total contrarian move. First he does try to go to his father to Ernest and get a job at the family grocery store. Ernest is like, I can't, I don't have any money to pay you. I can't employ you. So Howard sets up his own stockbrokerage firm. So we're in the middle of the great depression. Really? After the crash and he's like, well, I know it'll be a stockbroker. And he's not totally crazy because you know, the world is melting down. But for anyone who does still have some wealth left, they need something to do with it. Like they're not going to put it in the stocks that they were in before the crash. So Howard has this sort of business plan. He starts going around Omaha to anyone who still has any wealth left. And he advises them on hyper conservative investments that they can use their capital for. So like utility companies, municipal bonds, that kind of stuff. And it works like there's actually demand for this kind of service. So he's placing all these hyper conservative securities. He ends up making, I think pretty quickly, like way more money than he was making at the old job. Wow. I didn't realize that he sort of broke out of his own there and started his own brokerage. Yeah, started his own brokerage. It would eventually come to be known as Buffett and Fock. And so the family actually, you know, Warren has no memory of this of these two years of really hard times, but kind of skates through the depression fairly well off his dad bought the dip. His dad bought the dip exactly. So Warren unsurprisingly to anyone who's heard of him, which is probably everybody listening to this podcast, turns out to be an extremely mathematical kid. So he's like always counting things. This is things counting bottle caps. He's counting his weight. He's running all sorts of analysis, even as a little kid. Did you see he like was counting the occurrences of letters in like newspaper articles? And then he and his friend would like tally them up and make bets on which letters were going to appear more often than others. Like he was he was counting completely arbitrary things just to count them. You might say that he has some budding OCD developing in his personality. He was writing down license plates that went by. I mean, it was hardcore. It was hardcore. So then famously, as the story goes, there's actually a picture of this for Christmas when Warren is six years old. He receives one of those money coin changers like that you wear on your belt, like the old style. I actually had one for my grandpa. Amazing. With the little like dude that we crank that you push down, the little like lever. Yep. And then it spits out, you know, one coin at a time and there's the separate slot for quarters and dimes and nickels and pennies. I mean, that thing was so cool. So Warren gets this and he becomes obsessed with it. This is like, you know, the combination of counting and collecting things and analyzing and money. He's just like, he wants to get as many coins as he possibly can to stuff into this thing. And then he starts keeping jars and his drawers of all the, all the buddy. It's amazing. So he starts to think like how can I get more money? He goes, I assume to his grandfather to the grocery store and he buys packs of gum like in bulk. And then he starts going around door to door in the neighborhood and selling individual packs of gum to mothers in the neighborhood for a five cents a pop. Amazing. Then he starts, you know, he kind of gets this racket going. Then he starts selling soda, door to door. He starts selling. Yeah. Didn't he like on a vacation? He like goes and buys some coaks and he's like wandering around the edge of a lake selling coaks for like twice as much as he bought him for. I don't think this was in the snowball. What? That's exactly that. And it was coaks. I remember that despite his soon to come Pepsi addiction, his earliest childhood sales came from coaks. Amazing. So he started to accumulate the beginnings of the Warren Buffett wealth when he's 10 years old. Howard takes him on one of his trips to New York and to Wall Street. And this is amazing. You probably probably read this too. And actually gets to meet the legendary Sidney Weinberg who was the head of Goldman Sachs at the time. He's 10 years old. Warren Buffett's 10 years old. And his dad takes him to meet Sidney Weinberg. And supposedly as their lead a Warren's Sidneyer star struck the whole time. And as they're leaving, Sidney's supposedly turns to him and says, what stock do you like Warren? And unfortunately in the snowball like Alice doesn't say what Warren responds. He's like, I want to know what the hot pick is. But he's totally star struck. This makes a huge impression on him. And before they come home after the Weinberg meeting, his dad takes him to the stock exchange to the New York stock exchange to the building for lunch. And they have this great like amazing lunch in this kind of gilded building. And after lunch a waiter comes up to the table with a tray that has all of these different types of tobacco on it and rolling papers for cigars. And Warren realizes that like, after lunch at the exchange, you get like a custom cigar made for you. Like you choose the tobacco. And he says he has no interest then or ever in smoking a cigar or even in any of these trappings of wealth, but he realizes like, if this is how they roll at the New York stock exchange every day, there must be so much money here. I got to find a way to get me some of this. Do you know if he got to like see the trading floor as a 10 year old? I think so. I think so. Have you ever been? No, have you? Yeah. So I went and I was 16 or something as part of a high school trip where there was someone who had taken a class that I had previously taken who worked at the stock exchange and sort of got us in and we went on the balcony and all that. And it leaves a mark. I mean, looking out at this, this would have been 2005 or six something like that. So it was mostly already computers and the people that are there are, you know, you don't have people making every trade live on the floor the way that you did what have in those days. But even then it leaves an impression, especially as a teenager, how much gravitas there is there that that's sort of the central clearinghouse of equities in our nation. Yeah. It's an impactful experience. Yeah. It's like it's capitalism there incarnate. So Warren says of this trip and the wealth that he saw at the stock exchange and a Goldman. He says he didn't want, he didn't have any desire to have any of the fancy stuff. But he says he did want independence. He said, I realize wealth could make me independent. Then I could do what I wanted with my life. And the biggest thing I wanted was to work for myself. I didn't want other people directing me. The idea of doing what I wanted to do every day was important to me. Yeah. That certainly happened. It certainly happened. I just like resonates so much. I feel exactly the same way. So when he gets home, he decides that he's going to set a goal to amass this wealth that's going to get him the independence that he wants. He tells all of his family and friends that his goal is he's going to be a millionaire by the age of 35 being a millionaire in those days would be equivalent to about 15 to 20 million dollars in that worth today. So you know, gosh, today I mean like anybody can do it. It's great. And our entrepreneurial startup friendly ecosystem. It's probably not totally crazy if a little kid said that they wanted to amass a 20 million dollar fortune by the time they were 35 in Omaha in 1940. This was like totally nuts. Yeah, I'll bet. I mean, the other thing it reminds me so much too of the, you know, he would say several times throughout his life. And I'm going to paraphrase that he doesn't want to be rich to be rich. He wants to, you know, have a lot of money because it's fun to have a lot of money and it's fun to watch it grow. And you can sort of already see that in like his ambition here is not to make some specific impact or to get to do a certain things he has passion for it. It's like, no, no, I want to be a rich person. And it's fascinating how even so early in his life, he's just unabashed about that. I mean, there's so many like I think we're talking to every founder right now that's going out and like 50% wants to be rich and 50% wants to accomplish the mission that they're on. And they're like, I'm here to accomplish the mission that we're on because we've all had it brow beaten into us that like, it is, it is not virtuous to want to be and he's like, no, no, no, no, no, like I want to be a rich person. And later in his life, he would also decide like, I want to be likeable. I want to be, you know, an icon in America. I want to be a platform for learning. I want to teach. But at this point, he's like, I want to be a rich person. I just want to be rich. Yeah. It's kind of amazing. Even the 50% of, you know, people and founders out there who like, do you just want to be rich? So you would never say that. Right. It's a very buffet, sort of singular focus. And frankly, like not caring about what other people think of him to just have that upfront come out. So this is pretty amazing. He's 10 years old. He has this goal. And he figures something out at the age of 10 that just drives the entire rest of his life. And I think it's something that like 99.9% of people out there in the world never figure out, which is this concept that money can create more money, which is obviously compounding, which will spend most of the rest of, you know, the next several hours here and several hours on the next episode talking about. But he figures this out. Like it just simply reduced to that. Money can create more money. And the way he figures it out, the story goes he had gone to the library and taken out a book called 1000 ways to make 1000 dollars. One of those like books that could only existed like the 40s and 50s. And one of the 1000 schemes that it describes in the book is that you could buy a penny weighing machine. So these things used to exist. They're like scales in public that would be on like strict corners and in drug stores and stuff and you would weigh yourself on it. I guess because like home scales. Oh, I've seen these in like grocery stores. Yeah. And so you'd pay a penny. You put a penny in the slot and then you would get to weigh yourself. And so the scheme in the book is that, oh, you just go buy a penny weighing machine and then you collect the money over time and eventually you'll get a thousand dollars out of it. So Warren reads this and he's like, wait a minute. What if I buy one weighing machine? And then once I earn enough money from it, I use that money to go buy another weighing machine and then I'll put in a different spot. And then I've got these two weighing machines, both earning pennies every day. Well the rate at which I'll earn enough to buy my third weighing machine is going to be half as much time. And then I'm going to buy my fourth weighing machine and you know, another third is last time. And so he figures this out. He apparently literally starts writing out, you know, essentially compound interest tables in his bedroom and his notebook dreaming about all these weighing machines that he's going to have. It's so crazy. Amazing. Other kids would be like thinking about using all this money to buy bubble gum or baseball cards or something. And he's 10. Like I knew that later as he gets into his teenage years, he's, you know, he's got a little pinball servicing business. But like at he's 10, that's crazy. He's 10. So yeah, so you're alluded to he never does do the weighing machines. But when he's in high school, yeah, he doesn't actually end up by. He just like does the formulas to see what it would be. No, he just does the formulas. Yeah. But he does buy used pinball machines in high school and like he makes a ton of money off these things. He puts them in barbershops. It's great. Do you know why he got out of that business? The pinball? No, I assume just because he graduated high school. No, this is a call back to our Nolan Bushnell episode. Warren found out that this was a business that if you get too powerful in it, then you start having to contend with the mafia for, you know, who's getting a cut of doing that servicing. And he basically was like, well, I don't want anything to do with that. And he has his friend got out of that business. Wasn't Nolan saying something about that pinball machines were linked to like boot lagging to during prohibition and like boot lagging, money laundering. Yeah. They've got sort of a story and history there that would then bleed into arcade games too. Because I think one it was an outcropping of the other. That's right. Warren's less groupulous early years. Well, and he had this whole game too that he was running where he and his friend would basically pretend that they weren't the guys in charge that they worked for some bigger company. And so whenever they'd get like, you know, her ass for something or they would complain about prices or something like that, they would say like, look, we're just a, you know, we're the hired hands. Like we're not the guys in charge. We got to, we don't set the prices. It's such a good bit. Oh, Warren. So great. So the other thing he does when he gets back from the New York trip is, of course, he starts buying stocks. He's got his dad, the stockbroker right there. So he's got the line. He can go buy stocks. So he, he convinces his big sister Doris to pool all of their money together. They about like $250 between them. And he decides he's going to buy shares, preferred shares in a company called cities service. So they together, you know, he's, he's the sort of managing partner in this partnership. They buy six shares for 38 bucks a share. And immediately the stock goes down to 27 bucks a share. So not a, not a auspicious beginning. Doris is like freaking out about this. And Warren feels horrible. It's like eating him up. So the stock does recover to $40 a share. And Warren just unloads it. He's like, great. Get the money back. Give Doris everybody back. But it keeps going like pretty quickly. The stock goes to over $200 a share. But Warren had already unloaded this is like me and Bitcoin in 2015. Yeah. Like this is exactly what a 10 year old Warren. If only Ben if only you'd learn these lessons at age 10. Yeah. Blue it. So I'd say the incident makes an impression on him. He says he learns three lessons from this. I think he actually only learns one. But the first that he says he learns is don't fixate on the price you paid for something. It's irrelevant. The second is don't rush to grab a small profit. Stay focused on the big long term wins. The irony is he would violate rules one and two like many, many, many times until he was about 40 years old. So as we shall see. But the third lesson he does learn, which is that you can't control other people's emotions around money. So if you're going to take money from anybody, you need to make sure one that you're not going to lose it. And he's talking about his sister here. He's talking about his sister. Yep. And two, that you need to do something to manage their emotions or their ability to affect you so that they don't freak out and cause you to do uneconomic things. Warren might have sold it $40 anyway. But certainly that his sister was breathing down his neck to sell it. Or reminds me of early secluded days. Warren decides it's best if the clients don't see how the sausage is made. So speak. Which would absolutely inform his perspective on some of the partnerships he would do in the near future where he would not tell people the stocks he was buying on their behalf. Which I remember reading those words and being like, what? This is like a blind undisclosed pool that he's running. And it's so easy to see how these early experiences make him realize, yeah, like if you want to be the completely independent free thinker that you are doing your own fundamental analysis and not moved not only by the current price that things are trading at, but of the emotions of your investors or the demands of your investors for their tax consideration or for whatever reason they want to withdraw funds, then you better figure out how to hold and manage money on your own terms. Totally. Totally. So meanwhile, shortly after the New York trip, Howard's career takes another turn. Pearl Harbor happens. And the US of course enters World War II. Howard is a like staunch isolationist and very. And define that for us like like xenophobic, like anti-tree, anti. It's unclear to me if he was xenophobic. I mean, he probably was. I wouldn't imagine he was the kind of person who loved foreigners, but he was certainly very against America entering the war. And he hated FDR and Roosevelt. He was like a diehard Republican. As apparently were many people in Nebraska at the time because he runs for Congress inspired by the US entry into World War II, which he thinks is the worst thing that has ever happened. And he wins. So the family moves to Washington and Howard becomes a US Congressman. Warren though, he hates it. He wants nothing to do with Washington. He loves Omaha. He wants to go back. So he campaigns his family to let him go live with the grandfather with Ernest back in Omaha. And Warren's like, this is going to be great. You know, me and Gramps, we're going to become industrialists. We're going to be partners, buddy, buddy. We're going to feel like, you know, the Rockefellers and the Morgan's is going to be great. He moves back, lives with his grandfather and Ernest puts him to work in the store as a stock boy. And Warren's like, wait a minute. I thought we were partners here. Yeah. I like the business you're running. I don't so much like the work that I have to do inside of it. Yep. So manual labor, stock in the shelves, extremely low pay Warren's like, this sucks. I got to get out of here. Did you read to that like his grandpa was withholding a penny or two each day to simulate social security to like show Warren what it was like to have to pay different levels of taxes? So great. So great. Ironically, somebody else would feel this exact same way about working for Ernest Buffett a few years earlier, though they would not intersect one Charles Thomas Munger. So crazy. Like how nuts is it that Charlie Bunger worked for Warren's grandfather in the same job that Warren did a few years later and they never met until what their 30s something like that. Yeah, until 1959. They never met wild. Crazy. So after this summer that Warren thought would be his future industrialist summer, he's like, all right, take me to Washington. I got to get out of here, get out of the store. He goes with the family to DC where he devises a new way for making money to earn his fortune. He gets a paper route delivering the Washington Post. Amazing. Like beautiful foreshadowing and when he can profess that I rose all the way from paperboy to chairman, I'll be with some, you know, leaving the coming back in between. Yep. It's an amazing journey. An amazing journey. Yeah, he would later become the chairman of the Washington Post and partner to K Graham. Was Warren the chairman of you? I think he was the chairman. Yeah. And K was the CEO. I think that's right. I mean, he got a board seat commensurate with his investment. And I think she gave him the chairman role because she had so much sort of respect for his council. Well, we'll hear more about that in part two to come. But he's got this paper route now. And remember, he was selling gum and soda door to door back and almost like, this is great. Now I've got the way that literally my foot in the door to all of the housewives in Washington, DC, you know, I deliver them the paper, but I can sell them magazine subscriptions. I can sell them calendars. I can sell them all sorts of stuff. So he starts an empire in the streets of the suburbs of Washington, DC. And he's doing crazy stuff like he's ripping off the labels on subscriptions that I think people have like put out to throw away. So he was basically understanding when subscriptions would expire. So he knew who to go sell what subscriptions to at what time. There's a brilliant strategy. Warren loves digging in the dirt for stuff. Yep. So by the time he is in high school in Washington, he's earning 175 bucks a month, which is more than what his high school teachers are making. It's almost as much as the average US workers salary at that point in time. Wow. Warren's in high school. Totally crazy. He's a master. Okay, he's not spending any of it. Of course, he's a master over $2,000 in savings, which is the equivalent of like, I don't know, $40,000, $50,000 today. How many high schoolers do you know that have amassed self-made almost a full Bitcoin in savings? And how many high schoolers do you know that firmly understand what the value of that is compounded 7% every year for another 80 years? You know that Warren is looking at that stack, imagining its future potential. Totally. So now he's got like some real actual capital to invest. What does he do? He's still buying individual stocks, still playing the stock market, but he really wants to be this like industrialist businessman. He's decides he's going to buy an actual business. He's 15 years old. So he buys a tenant farm in Nebraska back home for $1,200. So a tenant farm, he buys a farm, an active farm with a tenant on it that is working the farm because Warren's not going to work the farm like no way. And the deal is with tenant farmers is the tenant farms, the land and the profits from the crops get split 50-50 between the tenant and owner of the farm. Half the returns to capital, half the returns to labor. And of course if the tenant also gets to live there in addition to getting half the profits, right? Indeed. Indeed. Wow, it's like Warren's first yielding asset. It's his first cash flow business. Huh. So Warren graduates high school in 1947 at age 16. He might have skipped a grade or maybe he was just young. It certainly sounded that way. Sounded that way. And he goes to where else the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School, which then is probably now I still sort of think of it as like the preaminent. You want to be an undergrad business major in the U.S. or anywhere in the world. Like Wharton is the place to go. But it's really his dad who makes him go. He doesn't want to go to school at all. He's like, I already know all this stuff. I just want to go get to work. And he wants to stay in Nebraska. I mean, he doesn't like going east. It's never been a great experience for him. And he's only comfortable doing it because he's like my dad's in Washington. So I have some family sort of close. I'll do it. Sure. So he does it. He doesn't study. He's like, he uses all the tests. It's sort of ridiculous. After two years, his dad loses his congressional seat. And the family moves back to Nebraska and Warren uses this excuse to say, hey, why don't you transfer to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, be back closer to home. He also has something else in mind, which is he knows if he goes to Nebraska, he can take a lot more courses, accelerate and graduate in three years and just get out of there. Yeah, I don't think he was like loving the social scene of college. I mean, he wasn't a drinker. He wasn't going on lots of dates. He had his eye on the prize. And for him, that was making money. And he frankly thought he was smarter than all of his college professors at Wharton. So I think he probably was with Warren Buffett. It's, you know, it's, he's not wrong. He was probably pretty obnoxious about it. So at Lincoln, he goes to the Lincoln Journal newspaper and he gets a job managing the country circulation, which means he now has 50 paper boys reporting to him all across the countryside in Nebraska. So he's, that's his side hustle. He loads up on courses. He finished his degree a year early. So he's 19 now. He's just graduated college. He's ready to start his business career for real. But unlike when he went to undergrad, he actually does see some value in some further education. He decides there is a graduate school that he wants to go to that would actually be worth it. And that is to go to the prestigious Harvard Business School. And he's so sure he's going to get, he's going to like, look, I bought my first business at age 15. I met Sydney Weinberg when I was 10. Like, there's no doubt I'm going to get in. He writes his application. It's all about being an investor and he goes and he does his interviews. He's sure he's going to get in and he gets rejected. Which Harvard Business School would forever forever be regretting. Totally. I mean, I don't know, I don't know exactly what Harvard Business School was looking for in 1947 at the time. But I think kind of sort of either notes or unbeknownst to Warren. I don't think he cared either way. I think this idea of like being an investor was sort of day class A, you know, like what you wanted to do. I mean, because investing, you know, people were still, still hangover from the depression. And it was wartime. I think what you wanted to do is you wanted to be like madman. You wanted to work for, you know, a big firm. You wanted to climb the ladder. You wanted the stability. You like this idea of like being an investor on your own. That was not what was proper at the time. Well, and Ben Graham is only really starting to publish the intelligent investor like this notion of how to analytically and from fundamentals do investing. You know, this still very much looked at as investing equals casino. Yep, we're still not quite in the era of that being respected. And frankly, most people that are doing it are pretty much hucksters are looking for their, their, just to make their commissions on the trades. And the people who were not who were good and professionals and fantastic at their craft at this point in time, most of them are Jewish, which, you know, I, I assume there were probably some Jews at Harvard Business School, but not a lot. Yeah. And it's kind of viewed as a Jewish profession. This is going to come up in a big way in a minute. Ben Graham's Jewish, the anti-Semitism that was running rampant at the time can't have helped things. Totally. You know, Sydney Weinberg, Jewish like Goldman Sachs, the Jewish firm. And it was very much, you know, they were outsiders. They were not the establishment. So Warren is shocked by his rejection from HBS. He starts looking at the course catalogs for other business schools just to like, oh, man, well, what am I going to do? Sydney happens to see in the Columbia graduate school business course catalog that there is a course taught by his hero, Benjamin Graham and David Dodd, of course. And he's like, holy crap. He would joke later. I assume this is a joke. He said, you're right. A letter to them to plead his case to get into Columbia. He's saying, I thought you guys were dead. I didn't realize you were alive in teaching glasses. Because he had like just picked up their book and was like, this is the, you know, he, I want the intelligent investor. I think it's the one he really read and was like, this is incredible. So Graham's book, the intelligent investor had just come out and Warren was obsessed with it. Now, Graham and Dodd together had written, published security analysis back in 1934. But that was a textbook. That was like an academic, you know, I haven't read it. It's super thick, dense, it's not meant to be readable. The intelligent investor is like the Danny Coniman thinking fast and slow, you know, version of like, you know, it's case studies. It's like distilled down for public consumption. And for listeners out there who have read the intelligent investor, you're probably thinking, wait, that was supposed to be the not dense one. Different era. Different era. Yep. So Warren's read, you know, the intelligent investor. He loves these like, this is amazing. And what the intelligent investor and security analysis in a even more dry way before it, what they did was they espoused. They were like, hey, you should think about stocks investing in stocks systematically and based on the fundamentals of the companies that they represent and his pieces of a business, not like tickets on, you know, horse race betting here. And they basically introduced the idea of the discounted cash flow. This is the first notion that like stocks are, you know, the market cap of a company is representative of the sum of all future positive cash flows or I guess all cash flows discounted at a certain rate back to today. And you know, this sort of forcing you to look and say does the price of the stock today reconcile with what you actually believe the business will yield or produce in its full lifetime. You know, that was frankly novel. It was. And so dad is the chair of the finance department at Columbia. But Graham, he's an adjunct. He's a practitioner. So Warren is just so gaggy out here because not only is he like, you know, a professor apparently wrote this book, Graham runs essentially like the first hedge fund in the world. He runs the Graham Newman partnership with Jerry Newman. They are a partnership that invests in stocks on Wall Street. So like there's nothing Warren wants to do more than be like these guys. Right. I can literally go take a class from a guy who is actively employing at a real investment strategy on Wall Street mind blown. Totally. So the deadline for Columbia has passed by the time he gets figures this out. So he writes a letter to dad and Graham is he's basically just like begging them to let him in. Well, low and behold, guess who at the time was chairing the admissions committee at Columbia Business School. It was dad. Hmm. So dad like gets this and you know reads it and is like, all right, well, I'm just going to lean a lot early. Let this kid in. No interview. No. Discussion, no formal application. They just send Warren on and don't be like, all right, you're in. You're starting in the fall. Because this is like, hey, we basically see ourself in you. Like no one is writing us about this thing that we're doing. And here you are crazy excited about this super dry, relatively unexpected thing that we're doing in the world. Yes. Come join us. Come join us. So the fall of 1950 Warren arrives in New York City. At this point, he's compounded his net worth up to $10,000, which is a lot of money. 5x, what it was in high school five years earlier, but he still can't stand to part with any of his money. So rather than staying in the dorms at Columbia or renting an apartment, he rents a room at the YMCA for a dollar a day. This guy is truly cursed with having a firm grasp of the future value of his money compounded in the way that he feels he can get a return on it. I mean, we can talk all we want about the virtue of compounding and the eighth wonder of the world. And frankly, I feel like I have a new understanding for it based on doing all this research. It's only like now that I'm feeling the heft of truly like, what if I just put $1,000 in a savings account, not a savings account, but in an index fund and access to 50 to 70 years from now. And you're like, oh my God, it turns into like a real big amount of money, almost no matter what. And it's like you all know this. But when you're Warren and you've actually done all these calculations and all you're thinking about all the time with singular focus is the future compounded value of this money, how could you ever spend a dime? I mean, it truly is cursing to your lifestyle. Yeah. I mean, Alice writes about that that every time he looked at spending money, he would not see the sticker price for things. He would see it times eight or 10 or 20 of what that money would be worth in the future. And just to come back and say it, so we all have a firm understanding here, if you took that $1,000 and you want to invest it for 70 years, say getting a 10% per year return on it, which would be good. Like that would be a very good return. And I think it's a little bit outpacing public markets. That's $800,000, 70 years from now. And like, you know, 70 years from now, my money has a lot less utility to me than it does today, because I will have not had it my whole life, which is the curse. But if you're Warren and all you're seeing all the time is that money in the future, my gosh. Well, I think that's the difference between Warren and most normal people too, is that money in the future probably has about the same utility to him, because it's not about what he can buy with the money. It's just about the stack of money. Yep. For Warren, it is a scoreboard game, not a utility of the cash game. Yep. Totally. Okay. So he shows up at Columbia in the fall of 1950. Signs up right away for Ben Graham's seminar, which is in the spring semester. So he's already read the intelligent investor cover to cover, you know, he's wearing out the pages so many times. He knows everything. But he really, like, he's such a go-getter for this. He really wants to impress Graham in the seminar in the spring. So he sees, I guess in Moody's and S&P, put out like stock manuals at the time that was the main thing that people like Warren and Ben Graham and Newman and everybody browse through looking for stocks. He sees that the Graham Newman partnership owns 55% of, and Graham is on the board of this little company in Washington called the government employees insurance company. Interesting. Hmm. Sounds familiar. I mean, if Ben Graham's the chairman, like Shirley Warren wants to know more. Yeah. Well, Shirley wants to know more, but the government employees insurance company isn't mentioned anywhere in the intelligent investor. And, you know, the rest of the intelligent investor is full of case studies and talking about different stocks. But they don't talk about this company there. Huh. Why is that? Hmm. I want to go investigate. I'm going to find out more about this company, this guy co, if you will, for short. I'm going to go pay them a visit. So he hops on the train from Penn station, goes down to Washington on a Saturday morning, and he just shows up at the office and he knocks on the door. And he persuades a security guard at guy co to see if anyone's around who could talk to him Warren sort of presumptuously at this time, although I guess he was signed up for the seminars as that he's a student of Ben Graham's and Ben Graham is the chairman of the board. So, you know, might want to let me in as somebody talked to me. Eventually, the company's head of finance, Lorimer Davidson, is there that Saturday morning. And he's like, all right, kid, come on in my office. I'm going to, he's figure I'm going to do like a good Samaritan, indeed, give this kid 10 minutes of my time here. Well, it turns out that Lorimer or Davey, as everyone called him, he wasn't just like a finance dude at guy co. Not that there's anything wrong with being a finance dude. I guess he was a finance dude in a certain respect. He had been an investor and a bond salesman before joining guy co. So he was like, he was a lot more like Ben Graham than just an employee at guy co. The story of guy co the founders had thought that they could make auto insurance cheaper by having commercials with geckos in them. No. By selling the auto insurance direct to customers without using agents and to be as cheap as possible and have the best underwriting profiles possible, they also needed very responsible drivers. So they borrowed an idea from USAAA, which targeted military families for insurance. They target government employees for sure. And since the government employees insurance company. It's also amazing that they're hunched that like government employees are going to be less prone to accidents than the general public was right that they could actually underwrite to, you know, we can give these people cheaper premiums because they're going to be less expensive to us like that that worked out for them. I mean, I guess seemed like a reasonable assumption. Yeah, that if you work for the government, you're maybe more conservative, less likely to drive under the influence of alcohol or you know, who does. Either way it worked. So one of the two founders after a bunch of years wanted to sell the family wanted to sell and their stake and hired Davey to help find a buyer. Davey brings it to Graham, which is how Graham, but the company he ends up negotiating a deal to buy out at a discount to the asking price, of course, because it was fully privately owned, right? It was not a fully privately owned company. Yeah. So he buys out the 55% stake the family owned for a million dollars. And then he turns around and puts Laura in charge of managing Geico's own investments. So Warren happened on the mother load beating this guy here like he's like a Graham disciple. He runs all the investments at Geico. So Warren to start peppering him with questions. Laura is super impressed. He's like, who is this 19 year old kid? They talk for four hours. That's Saturday morning. And Davey tells Warren all about how Geico works, how the insurance industry works, tells him about this magical thing called float. And Warren is like he has seen like the revelation of God has handed down the 10 commandments on the mountain. You mean you have other people's money that they're loaning you for free that you can do stuff with until you need it? Huh. And you may not even ever need it. Well, that's an interesting idea. Yeah. So what is this float idea and how does Geico and all insurance companies work? The premiums that the customers pay Geico for their audio insurance, that cash comes in the door on day one. And Geico's expenses, they have to pay out claims on insurance claims later. So you pay the policy premiums up front. But then when they're accidents and stuff and then they go through court and blah, blah, blah, it could take years before you have to actually pay out any money if you pay out any money at all. Right. Right. Yeah. Supposing you have a good government employee that never wrecks their car, you might just make money. You might just make a lot of money and never have that you sit on and you never have to pay it up. And if you manage it well, you can make investments with it. And that's what Laura Mer is doing at Geico. He's easing all this float to make investments and he's doing a pretty damn good job of it. There's sort of like two things that Warren realizes this that like I never fully put together before about insurance premiums. The first is this is a loan that someone is making you at zero percent interest. You're like, well, that's a pretty good loan. Like I don't, I don't have to the service the debt. Well, like that means that I basically can make more profits because I don't have to take a cut of my profits every month to pay down the debt. Awesome. It's a interest free debt. The second amazing thing is wait, it's not one person that loaned me money. It's a gigantic set of thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that are paying me money. Well, then what that means is they're predictable because that's not just somebody wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and says that they want their money back. Like the worst thing that can happen, save for some hurricanes to force out of the future a little bit, is that like one person wrecks their car and maybe another person's car, but nobody's wrecking all my customers cars at the same time. So that's the second thing that's amazing and the third thing that's amazing is it's not a collateralized loan. So you don't have to have something in your business that sort of like warrants you being able to take on this big debt load. It's just a big uncollateralized interest free distributed loan to you that you get to do something with until you need to pay it out. And especially back then, there was much less regulation about capital requirements for insurance companies and well, all financial institutions. So they really didn't have to keep any cash reserves. I mean, they could kind of do whatever they wanted with the money. Speaking of doing whatever they want with the money, I think what was happening back then is that as you would sort of imagine in the early days of insurance, you would want your premiums to basically equal the amount of money that you would need to pay out in the future. What happens now is it's assumed that you can do interesting things to earn money on the float. And I didn't know this still doing the research. When you pay for your car insurance, they're actually collecting less in premiums than in total they will owe out to everyone. So you need to do something interesting with the float in order to make it so that the insurance company doesn't go under, which I never, I never realized that. It's kind of like a, I suppose that probably happens with competition where everybody's just lowering and lowering their premiums until they realize gosh, we effectively can sell our insurance below cost because we can invest the float. Yep. And Geico's got the additional advantage, which it still has to this day of they don't employ agents. So they just have a fundamentally better cost structure than all of their competitors, which means more money they get to play with. I bet if you call these guys by going direct, they can save you some money in like 15 minutes or less on your car insurance. How much money do you think they could save you like 15%? I would imagine. I would imagine. I can't imagine what the cost of customer acquisition is through an agent, but it seems like they could at least rebate that to you. Yep. One, one final flash forward here before we go back to the story. Everyone should go to BerkshireHathaway.com, one to bask in the full glory of this beautiful website. But secondly, please observe that there is a banner to purchase Geico insurance on the Berkshire website. It is the one thing that they do on that website other than a series of blue links to a shareholder documents. And it isn't ad for Geico. It was like the most hilarious use of of Web real estate. Hey, we have our current insurance through Geico. It's cheap. It's great. All right. All right. Enough of this. So that the next Monday, this is on Saturday. On Monday, Warren goes back to New York City and immediately liquidates 75% of his portfolio and loads up on Geico, like he's 75% concentrated in Geico. He's like in love and he thinks I'm going to show up at Graham Seminar. I'm going to tell him about this. He's just going to go, Gaga, like this is amazing. I'm going to be his boy. It's going to be like, you know, his dreams of Ernest back in the day. Well, he shows up at the seminar and he tells Graham what he's done. Graham is not that impressed. He's like, you put 75% of your portfolio into Geico. What are you nuts? Yeah. Because Graham, first of all, is not a one-stock guy. He's a distributed, you know, portfolio approach guy. And second of all, I'm sure his next question was, yeah. And would you pay for it? You would. So Geico was not a typical investment for the Graham Newman partnership. They probably only did it because he was able to weadle a deal out of a Lorimer and the family. And there's a reason why it wasn't in the intelligent investor. So Graham's whole strategy is whole mantra. Like he basically, like he and dad basically invent discount of free cash flow, discount of cash flow evaluation, fundamental analysis, all that. And it comes to be known as value investing. But there's like a major problem with what they're doing, which honestly, like this conflation that Graham had of what between fundamentals and value investing persists to this day. And it's still why there's like religious wars about value versus growth investing. And that's that he thought there was a very specific way to practice fundamental investing. Would he and others called cigar butt investing? And what does he mean by cigar butts? This is crude. But the analogy is that like you could be walking along the street in those days in New York and you might see smoked cigar butts laying in the street in the gutter. And some of them might still have a little bit of cigar on it. And so you could pick it up for free, not pay anything for the cigar, laid it up, and maybe still be able to get a puffer to out of these cigar butts for free. And the analogy, the reason why this analogy is used is that Graham's whole like thing that he looked for in companies of stocks that he bought was he wanted companies that were quote unquote worth more dead than alive and he actually writes an article by this name. And what this meant was he looked for companies where like the book value of the assets are like the cash on hand, the value of their land, property, buildings, their equipment. Right. Like if you shut the company down today, stop taking money from customers, paid out all your liabilities, stop the business and you just sell off in a fire sale. And then you're saying in the building, would you make more money from what you're selling off than what the market cap of the company is trading at? That was what he looked for, which in that era, I mean, you could find those because you didn't have tons and tons and tons of people whose eyes were always on these stocks trying to figure out, hey, is anything trading below the book value that it should be trading below? And you know, you could find them pretty often. You could find them and not only there were far fewer people participating in the market and far less data available, but the people who weren't participating, they were mostly, you know, handicap and horse races. They weren't thinking like this. So stocks that weren't hot, there were a lot of them out there. And so Graham referred to, he had kind of three big insights. He and dad that revolutionized investing. And was this concept that a stock is a piece of a business with cash flow profiles and going concerns and you should value it as such? Two was that price and value are two very different things. And the price of a stock at any given day may or may not reflect the actual value. Prices what you pay, value is what you get. Exactly. And you can, and you can use this to your advantage. You have this concept of Mr. Market and Mr. Market comes to you every day and quotes prices for what you own and what you're looking, what you're contemplating owning, but he skits a frenic and one day you'll quote, high one day you'll quote low, but the value stays the same. Right. It's, it is the notion that it's, he's your business partner in the venture. And every single day he comes to you offering to buy out your stake at a price that is either too high or too low, almost never exactly reflecting the, the actual intrinsic value. And every single day you have the option to decide to sell or buy more. Yep. Very true. So points one and two. Great. I totally agree with point three. I also agree with, but I disagree with the interpretation. And that's this concept of a margin of safety. The famous Ben Graham Warren Buffett Charlie Munger margin of safety. And of course, the way that Graham wanted to apply that is by companies that are so cheap. They are literally free of risk. Yep, yep. And so, you know, it makes sense like investing involves risk as every disclaimer in history has told you and involves uncertainty. You don't know what's going to happen. So ideally you want enough downside protection built in that you'll do okay no matter what. That makes sense. And yes, you do want that. But Graham's way of looking at this as we said was I'm only going to buy things where if we literally shut down the business and sold off everything on hand, we would get our money back or more. There's two problems with that both on a downside and on the upside on the downside as we shall see. Sometimes the liquidation value of the assets of a corporation aren't worth as much as you think they are. So you can try to sell off the property plant equipment. But if there are no buyers or no buyers at the price that you want, well, just because it says it's worth something on the books doesn't mean it's actually worth that. So that's one problem. The bigger problem though is that like this is the ultimate small ball way of making money. Like your upside is so fundamentally capped when this is how you're looking at the world. Like you could go to a hundred of these cigar butts or you could buy one guyco and just hold it for 20 years and make way more money. Yeah, it's fascinating. The way that I have been thinking about this, I think the closest analog is basically to gross margin in an operating business where if you're running a tech business with super high gross margin and high fixed costs, like yeah, you got to spend on the fixed costs. But then you get that gross margin forever without having to change what business you're in. But if you're in the business of selling lattes, then every single time you need to go and pull a new espresso. And so for Graham, this is the like stock equivalent of that analogy. Yeah, he's in a high velocity business of constantly needing to go and buy a new security, sell it for more than it's worth go buy another one sell it for more than it's worth and you're going to make, you know, his notion is never count on making a good sale. Have the purchase price be so attractive that even a mediocre sale gives good results. You're going to incur transaction costs every time you're going to need to pay taxes every time. Like you're going to have to do the work of actually identifying what you want to buy and sell every time. It's a high COGS business. Yep. And it takes a long time. So sadly, tragically, by the next year Warren has succumbed to Graham's exhortations here and Warren sells all of his Geico stock in 1952 or early 1952 for $15,259. He makes over a 50% IRR on it, which is amazing. But if he just held onto the damn thing, he would have made, you know, hundreds of times more of his money. But of course, the grand way to analyze that business is like, hey, it's actually trading in a high price. Hey, yeah, that it's price is at or above its value. So it's time to get out. Yeah. It's so interesting. I just want to take a step back for a second here and just reflect on that for a minute because this whole growth versus value thing. If you think about value in this narrowly defined concept of like, let's just keep using this agar but analogy. You pick up the cigar, but you smoke it and it's done and now you've thrown away. Like there's all the work we talked about of identifying the cigar, but the transaction cost of picking it up, of puffing it, of paying the tax on your gain of the puff and then discarding it and having to go through that whole process again. But the whole notion of growth investing is, well, wouldn't it be nice if that cigar actually got larger and larger and larger faster than you could smoke it? And like not only do you have to not incur all those transaction costs there, but if you're willing to take some risk and be smart about analyzing what risks you're going to take, the business could sort of grow the value of the business could even grow faster than the way that it's being priced in the market. That's sort of this like completely novel concept that exists outside the universe of what Ben Graham was willing to consider in investment. Totally. Now to be fair to Graham, you know, he was doing all this through the depression. Like if you live 25 years and the stock market is flat to down for 25 years, of course you're going to think this way. Yeah. Of course, we are all a product of our environment. And I think one of the phrases that is a buffetism that sort of applies to this is, you know, we've talked about as the market a weighing machine that where the market basically, if you think about a weighing machine, then it effectively equates value to price. Whatever you are spending is what it's worth. Or is it a voting machine where people are sort of setting price and voting on the price independent of the weight or the value of the actual underlying security? And this is where the realization sort of comes in that in the long run, it is a weighing machine. But in the short run, it's a voting machine, the stock market. Totally. And sometimes the short run lasts longer than you would think. Yep. So all that said, Cigarbine investing was still a sound strategy in the 1950s. You're kind of like in the land of the blind, you know, the one-eyed person is King or Queen or whatever. You know, the Graham approach works. And Warren is just like lapping it up. So he takes the seminar. Warren becomes the first and only student to ever receive an A-plus in the class from Graham. Side note, also in that same class with Warren is one Bill Ruin, who was a stockbroker at the time at Kidder P. Body and was auditing the class. And he realizes, he's like, man, this buff a guy like he's going places. I'm going to become friends with him. That would pay off handsomely, as we will see at the end of the episode. So after graduation, Warren, he wants more Graham. He can't get enough. So he goes to Ben and to do a newman and says, hey, can I get a job at Graham, Newman? Can I work for you guys? It was a pretty small place. I think there were only six or seven people working there. They talk about it and Graham, though, turns them down and says, you know, I'd love to hire you. You're the best student I've ever had. But Jerry and I have a pretty strict policy here. And that is that we only hire Jews. And he would later recant on this and would hire Buffett in a couple years. But it makes sense. Graham was British, I think. This is effectively like an affirmative action type comment, right? Where he's saying, we want to make an opportunity here for those who have been sort of persecuted and discriminated against. Exactly. And this is, you know, 1952. World War II ended four years ago. And Graham was, I believe British European, I used born in Europe. You know, this is like, it's a small firm, but they're like, hey, you know, we're pretty committed to giving Jews an opportunity here. So Warren is heartbroken, but not deterred. He goes back home to Omaha, decides, okay, well, if I can't join the Graham Newman partnership, I'm just going to set up my own partnership. I'm going to do it myself. But both Graham and Howard Warren's dad talk him out of it. They both say, hey, you need some experience first working for someone else before you go and do your own thing. And the natural thing to do is when you go work for your dad's old brokerage firm, Buffett Fox. And so Warren does. And he becomes the dreaded prescriptionist working for his dad. And he just hates it. Hates it, hates it, hates it. He's getting paid on commission, selling stocks. The whole idea of there's a room full of people who are tasked with moving a stock and calling all their customers to say you should buy this thing. It's about the most anti-war and Buffett thing I can possibly imagine. Totally. He's just like, it's like organ rejection. So he's making his calls. He's doing what he has to do. He's moving, trying to move the product. But he gets on the phone with people and he's like, he'll do whatever he has to do. But then he's like, hey, but there's this company called Geico. And there are agentless insurance companies. You should really consider buying that as well. And people think he's nuts. They're like insurance companies that doesn't have agents. I want to talk to my agent. Like, that's weird. So he doesn't have a lot of success. D to C, baby. They got this great website. Yeah. So there are two good things though that come out of his two year interlude. Actually, I am curious. How did Geico work back then? Is it by mail? Is it by phone? Presumably the whole thing is done by phone. That's actually a good question. I assume phone. There might have been some tie-in with the government agencies that, you know, maybe there was like marketing that went out to agency employees. I don't know exactly. All right. We'll have to do a spin out Geico episode at some point. Yeah. Well, it'll come up again in part two. Don't worry. Warren gets another bite at the apple, so to speak. So two good things that come out of this little interlude back in Omaha. One, he reconnects with one Susie Thompson, whose father, Doc Thompson, was a dean at the University of Omaha and had managed Howard's political campaigns. And Warren somehow persuades Susie to marry him, which shocking given what Warren Buffett was his personality and what he was like back then. And two, he also, after, doodifully, you know, working for a while at the brokerage, persuades his dad to set up the first of the Warren Buffett partnerships with him called Buffett and Buffett. And basically Warren puts some of his money in and his dad puts some of, you know, the family's money in and Warren just gets like some more capital under management to invest here. So it's his first sort of taste of being a, being a principal. Yep. And I'd just add a little more color to that comment you made on, on sort of what Buffett was like back then and got Susie to marry him. You know, he was and is a person of singular focus in his life. And he's sort of in his old age, started to do more things, but he was never a social light. He was never someone that was, you know, deeply diving into other people's interests and, you know, socializing to be social. He was a person that has always wanted to invest and make money. And so of course, he did set his eyes on, hey, you know, I want to marry Susie and I'm going to make that happen. Well, there are all these stories about it like family dinners, even like they have friends over and Warren would just wander off upstairs and start go reading annual reports in the middle of like a dinner party. Yeah. He was like a like a wild man who all he did was invest in stocks. However, the flip side of this, these personality quirks of Warren are, he is very singularly focused and he's very persistent. So despite the rejection from Graham Newman, Warren continues to write letters to Ben and Jerry constantly talking about his ideas, talking about stocks, he's looking at, he travels to New York frequently just to go see them and drop in. After two years of this, Jerry finally sits down with Ben and is like, you know, we've got this anti-anti-semitism rule here, but maybe we should make an exception and hire this kid. He's pretty special. So Ben relents, he calls up Warren, he's like, all right, you really want to come work here. Fine, we can make it happen. Well, you don't need to ask Warren twice. He accepts on the spot. I don't think he even talks to Susie about it, even though they have their daughter, little Susie at this point and they're living in Omaha. He just accepts on the spot. They move them back to New York at a moment's notice. He literally shows up at the Graham Newman office a month before his initial start date. He's just like, yeah, you're not paying me this month. That's fine. I'm here. I'm working. That's awesome. Once again, he doesn't want to pay New York City housing crisis. So he moves the family into a crappy apartment in white planes, even though, you know, he's like pretty rich already from everything he's been doing. And he's now working at like the most prestigious hedge fund in the world. And he's paying like, God knows how much like $50 a month for an apartment way outside the city. That's crazy. Is it fair to call it a hedge fund? Like what differentiates a hedge fund versus just like an institutional money manager? That's a good question. I mean, I don't think really. I mean, I don't think they're taking like huge short positions or anything like that at this point in history. I don't think so. I think they would sometimes short stocks. And Warren would actually, famously, I was a good person. I'm not going to put this in the script, but he was a real pain in the ass in high school. Arguably real pain in the ass for his whole life. And in high school, he hated his teachers so much that he knew that they all had the teachers pension was mainly invested in 18 T stock. And so Warren went out and shorted 18 T stock and brought the short the slips in and like put them on his teachers to ask just to show you his betting against their retirement funds. In high school, they would have like, he was already sort of seen as sort of a savant. So that probably would freak people out. Yeah. What like, what does he know that I don't? Yeah, he was, he didn't really care about people's feelings, at least when he was in high school. So he lands, he's at Graham Newman. Unsurprisingly, he just like crushes it pretty quickly within another two years, you know, Ben and Jerry are consulting him on everything that they do. Warren's coming up with most of the investing ideas that they're doing. He's involved in every decision that the firm makes and he's really hitting his stride. So much so that Ben, you know, Ben is, we're not going to get super into it. He's a very colorful character, shall we say, had three wives, I think. And then the story goes, I think he started up a relationship after his last marriage with the girlfriend of, this is at the end of his life with the girlfriend of his son after his son died. He's a character. So he is ready to retire. He wants to move to California, live the good life. So he and Newman is also getting old Jerry's getting old. He's thinking about the same. They offer to make Warren a general partner at the firm and have him essentially continue Graham Newman. I assume they sort of stay as like, you know, partner emeritus or something like that. But this time Warren shocks them and he's like, yeah, no. Remember that home on my terms thing that I really care a lot about? Yep. He's like, I don't know. I don't want to run your firm. If I'm going to run a firm, I'm going to run my firm. And, you know, I'm just here in New York to work with you guys. I don't actually like it to New York. Susie wants to be back in Omaha. I would do it in Omaha. So they end up winding down the firm and Warren and Susie and little Susie, their daughter, move back to Omaha in 1956. This time for good. So here's the plan. Tell me how well you think this is going to work. Warren's net worth is about $175,000 at this point after work in it Graham Newman for two years. So it's a few million dollars by today's. Yeah, so the average yearly salary for a worker in the United States at that point is $4,800 and he has $175,000 saved up in the bank account. And he's 26 years old. So the plan is, they have two kids now, how he's been born. So the plan is he's going to retire. And he says, you know, made my fortune, Susie really wants me to like, you know, be a father and all that be involved at home, you know, small requests. All right, I think I can retire. And if I set a budget that we can live on in Omaha, you know, I'm going to enjoy the good life. This is so not Warren. He says, I think we can, we'll set a budget of $12,000 a year. Remember the annual average income. That's three X. Yeah, like close to three X that he would be spending every year. Well, by a nice house in Omaha, this is huge. We'll live like kings. And then, you know, also, if the rest of the money, that'll be compounding. It'll grow great. It'll all be fine. And how much does he have in the bank again? 175K. So that's what, 6.8%. So that's probably about what he thinks he can generate passively by just leaving it in index fund. And so he's effectively. Well, I'm sure he thinks he can generate more. Right. Because he's still going to dabble a little bit. He's going to do a little bit of active management just on, you know, his own capital. Why do I feel like this didn't happen? I don't remember when he was part of the book. This did not happen. So he's, despite his retirement, you know, he's hanging out with family and friends and stuff and they're talking to him. And all he can talk about is money. And so eventually some of these people are like, well, you want to manage my money? And, and where it's like, oh, okay, twist my arm. I don't even know if he's going to see these. I got some ideas. Yeah. I got some ideas. So he starts setting up these little vehicles around Omaha with family, first like immediate family and then a few close friends to manage their money in addition to his own money that he's managing. And he structures these things actually really, I really like the way he structures these. So he says, remember, these aren't, these are people he really cares about, you know, in his own Warren way. He structures them as partnerships where there's a 4% annual return hurdle. And any returns that he generates above 4%, he is the general partner in these partnerships keeps half of the upside of those returns. Half. I thought it was 25%. No, it was half. At least according to the snowball, wow. So that's pretty huge. I mean, that's like 50% carry effectively. But, but there's the 4% benchmark return. So if it underperforms 4% then he gets no, no money. And he's not paying, there's no fees, right? He's not paying himself down. There's no management fee. But it's even better. This is why I think it's actually pretty fair and I really like this structure. He personally puts himself on the hook for a quarter of the downside. So any money lost, I think between 0 and 4% return, it's like a neutral zone where nothing happens. I think if there's any capital lost, he will personally cover 25% of the losses of his partners, which is, these are pretty good incentives. Yeah, he's so good at incentive alignment. Totally. And he hadn't even met Charlie yet. So he's finally living the dream. He's fully independent. He doesn't work for anyone else. He's got the, he sort of has a partnership like Graham Newman, but it's all part time. He has no employees. They're all separate partnerships. It's all friends and family. It's a little over $100,000 total in outside money. So not that much money. And he does everything, everything himself. So the investing, the accounting, he files all the taxes himself for the partnerships. He has no employees, no outside services. His total expenses for doing all of this in 1956. You ready for this, Ben? Lay it on me. A amount to $22.71. That's like our accounting acquired where all the labor is free. Yeah, totally. And that's between all of the gains that he generates and taking in some more money. By the end of the year, he's managing over half a million dollars for less than $23 in cost. That's pretty good, pretty good feel load on that. So word starts going around Omaha that like, hey, Warren's back in town. And so wait, let me understand real quick here. So this 25% of the downside is that like GP commit where he was putting his own money in and that money was just at risk or was he sort of like additionally on top of that saying I will reimburse you for 25% of your losses. Wow. Like a clave. Yeah. So he actually, at this point in time, at first I thought this was weird, but then I understood it later. He does not really put in any of his own money. He only puts in $100 into each partnership. Huh, he's keeping his own money separate, which at first I was like, well, that's weird. But I think he did that because these are friends and family. The goal is to make returns for friends and family. He's essentially making the same investments separately with his own pool of capital. Ice. And then later when he consolidates it all, he puts in all of his family's money as well. I don't think he really thought of it as like, oh, this is a fee generating scheme. Right. It's just that yeah, each one of these is the pool of capital for my friends. Yep. Yep. So, word starts going around Omaha that Warren's back in town. He's taking on money if you want to invest with him. So he can't help himself. He's loving this. He's going around town. He's meeting with everybody. He can't stop pitching. He's raising money for his retirement activities. One family he gets introduced to is the Davis family in Omaha, the husband of which is a prominent doctor in town. They decide to invest $100,000 in this venture after discussing amongst the family while Warren is there saying, you know, Warren, you really remind us of a really bright young man who actually grew up an extort to us now lives out in Los Angeles. You guys are like the spinning image of one another. It's really bright guy. We remember he was the smartest kid we ever knew. He's left Omaha now. He lives out in Los Angeles. We'll have to we have to introduce you when he's back in town sometime, Charlie Munger is his name. More on that to come in the next episode. But it was a while, right? Like this was yeah, the seed was planted, but they wouldn't meet for years. So that was in 1956 and the dinner that the Davis's would organize would not happen until 1959. So yeah, three more years before Warren and Charlie would meet. So this all goes pretty well and a couple years later. Do you know the one other term that he asked of the Davis's and then he would ask for everyone else going forward after that? Oh no. So this gets to his desire for doing business his way and not having other people sort of influence when he does distributions or anything like that. He is open for business one day of the year to his clients and that day is December 31st. And on that day, they can either take money out or put money in, but other than that, it is managed by Warren and secret. And so he does not have to disclose what he is buying or selling nor can they take money out. Uh, interesting. I knew that he obviously didn't disclose what the holdings of the partnerships were, but I didn't know that it was only that one day that you could take money and are interesting. So this goes pretty well. Pretty quickly Warren's rounded up nearly a million dollars across seven different partnerships. And after the first year or so of running this, his stakes, so his intention with this effectively carried interest that he sets up the half, 50% of the profits above the four percent benchmark threshold is, um, he wants to essentially grow his equity ownership of these pools. He's not going to like take that money out in cash. Of course he's not. There's transaction costs. There's taxes. There's Warren Buffett. He's Warren Buffett. So, um, he does so well within the first year or so that his fees are on paper, $83,000, which is what like almost half of what his net worth was when he started this thing. And due to that, he owns 9.5% of the combined partnership, starting from, you know, essentially zero, his $100 that he put in. He now owns almost 10% of these pools. And that's of course because in that very first year, when the Dow finished the year, down 8.5%, Buffett made 10.5% that year for his, his partners. Pretty good. Pretty good. But he now has enough capital under with the million dollars at his control that he can start to do the kind of things that Graham Newman used to do. So we didn't really talk about this, but there was another aspect to the cigar butt style of investing. It wasn't just that Ben and Jerry and then Warren when he joined would look for companies with book value above trading value. They would then mass big positions in those companies, try and get themselves on the board like Graham did with Geico, although he didn't need to be agitated with Geico. But with the other, with the cigar butt companies, they would then like agitate actively to get the companies to liquidate assets and distribute the cash out to shareholders. Oh, it does sound like a hedge fund after all. Yeah, these guys are like, they're like Bobby Axelrod out there, like corporate raiders. So now with a million bucks at his disposal, Warren can start to do this. So the first of the companies he does this with is a company called Sanborn Map. He puts 35% of the capital of the partnerships into it, gets control of the company, forces it to split itself into and makes a quick 50% profit on the spin off. Boom, like he's shooting fish in a barrel. He can do this all day. By the end of 1960, total capital is up to two million and Warren's share is worth a cool quarter of a million dollars or 13% of the partnership in 1961. This is insane. And let me pause before you go into 1961 just to recap a few of the returns here, year over year. The second year, he made 41%. The third year, he made 26%, the fourth year in 1960, he made 23%. All well, the Dow is having some good years, some bad years. So it's losing money sometimes. It's making money sometimes. Warren hasn't lost a dollar. He's outperformed every single year. He stayed positive every year. In fact, the partnership results as a whole so far, if you compound over those four years, are 141% compared to the Dow's 43%. So whatever Warren is doing is working. So then 1961, I don't have the Dow numbers in 1961. So I don't know relatively how good this performance was. The Dow numbers in 1961 are 22.4%. 22.4? Pretty good year. Pretty good. Warren does 46% in 61, which not only generates a bunch of returns, compounds the capital. The partners are like, please take more of our money. Bunch more money flows in. The partnerships are managing over $7 million in total, which is larger than Graham Newman ever was. Wow. And let me start quoting from some Buffett annual letters here, because this is an interesting phenomenon. He was a wonderful writer. He had sort of trained himself both in public speaking and taken some classes in that and in writing, and he wrote these as I'm sure many people would guess some prolific shareholder letters to his partnership every year. That actually is not something that he did in the early Berkshire years. It took him years to start doing that again, but he really felt like it was incumbent upon him to do this when he was running these investment partnerships. So let me just read from you a few of these 1962. If my performance is poor, I expect the partners to withdraw 1963. It is a certainty that we will have years when we deserve the tomatoes. 1964, I believe our margin over the Dow cannot be maintained 1965. We do not consider it possible on an extended basis to maintain the 16.6% point advantage we had over the Dow. This goes on and on and on where Warren continues to caution, I don't think this is sustainable. I don't think we can keep crushing it as hard as we are. And he does this to this day every year in the Berkshire letter, 50 years later. Amazing. Well, 60 years later, unreal. So at this point in 1962, when he's now bigger than Graham Newman ever was, he finally gets an office. He's been working out of their spare bedroom at the Omaha House all these years doing everything himself. He gets an office. He hires a couple people. He consolidates all these various vehicles into just one vehicle, the Buffett partnership limited. And this is when he puts all of his own money in as well. So he's got a single vehicle. He's now, you know, I don't know if he ever said he officially unretired, but like, he's in business. He's in business. He also codifies in these letters, he's sending out a few official, quote unquote, ground rules for the partnership, just like Don Valentine did back in Sequoia in the early days to their limited partners. And there are a few rules in there. The last one, kind of like you, has been hallmark of the Buffett style for years to come. I cannot promise results to our partners. What I can and do promise is that a, our investments will be chosen on the basis of value, not popularity. B, we will attempt to bring risk of permanent capital loss, not short term, rotational loss to an absolute minimum by maintaining a wide margin of safety. And C, my wife, children and I have virtually our entire net worth invested in the partnership. Pretty good ground rules. By halfway through that year, 1962, when he consolidates everything, Warren is 31 years old and his net worth crosses the million dollar mark. So he's achieved his dream. He made it. He made it four years early. The next year in 1963, Buffett finds the second great investment of his lifetime. And also the second great mistake that he would make on the back end of it, the first of course, being Geico, American Express. So this is great. Some listeners probably already know this story here. And before we dive into this story, I think the framework that I would use for, if you're listening to this and hearing a lot of this for the first time, you know, you heard about Geico, you know, you're sort of hearing these puzzle pieces where there's a lesson learned from each of these companies that Buffett was sort of the first to figure out that these businesses are each interesting in a puzzle piece way that fits in with other businesses that in the sum of its whole could create this kind of unbelievable, capital-efficient flywheel. And I don't know if flywheel is the right term puzzle pieces put together into a beautiful puzzle or mosaic might be the right term. But it really is like him understanding all these unique types of businesses that have these characteristics that he can then use in the future. And American Express, I feel, is sort of like the second big lesson for him after he learns about the insurance business that put the first one. Well, I think you're totally right about the puzzle piece fitting together aspect. He learns that in his third great investment, which will be the last one we'll cover on this episode. So that's coming up. Okay. So back to American Express. In 1963, Buffett is still under the Graham spell here. Like he's looking for cigar butts. That's what he's doing. He's looking for deals and MX is no cigar. Or as as Charlie Munger would later put it, he's looking for fair businesses at good prices. Great prices. Yeah, fair businesses at great prices. Not great businesses at fair prices. Yep. Exactly. Which is the Charlie way of doing things that Buffett would later wisely adopt. So you wouldn't think that MX, you know, MX is at this point. It would still widely respected today. But back then, American Express is like the most trusted financial services company in America. It had been around already for close to 100 years. The Travelers checks business. Some many listeners are probably not familiar with Travelers checks, but was just an absolute juggernaut and an amazing business. The idea was if you were traveling, and this was before credit card. I did screw it up. Yeah. But even when I was in college when I studied abroad, my parents got me MX Travelers checks. The idea was you would go to your local American Express office, give them money, cash. They would in return give you Travelers checks, which were essentially like a guaranteed paper for that amount of value backed by MX. And then you could take those checks anywhere where you traveled. And if you like lost them, you could go to MX. But more importantly, when you're traveling internationally, you could use this as a way to get funds in whatever the local currency was. Right. Because wherever you're traveling doesn't know about your hometown bank and may not even know about your home country bank. And so this is the way to have your credit accepted everywhere. Right. There are no ATMs and credit cards are still early early days, although MX was a pioneer there and had the American Express credit card. Anyway, it's this gilded institution. In 1963, they have a small subsidiary of the company that issued operated warehouses and issued warehouse receipts. So what does this mean? It's like the equivalent of a Travelers check for warehouses. You would have warehouses full of a commodity of something, say salad oil, in this case, soybean oil to be exact. And you would get MX to come in, inspect the warehouse and issue paper that says like, oh, yes, there are XYZ tons of soybean oil in this warehouse. And then you could take that paper and you could collateralize it. You could borrow against it. You could trade against it. You're essentially financializing this product. It was pretty brilliant business that MX was in. But it was small. This was much smaller than their consumer business. So all this is great until a pretty shady commodities trader named Anthony Tino, to Angelus in New Jersey, of course, of all places. Decides that he's going to pull one over on MX. He has his warehouses with them. He decides to fill his tanks, which were supposedly filled with soybean oil with seawater instead and defraud the inspectors and then collateralize it and borrow against it and run a Ponzi scheme, essentially. Didn't he try and bet with it? He then took it and made some risky investment with his check that said, hey, this is worth so many tons of salad oil. And then he ended up basically losing it all. Yeah, there was something about how to deal with the futures market. You can't make this stuff up. There was something with like Russia and the Soviet Union, their soybean crop failed that year and people thought they were going to have to buy US soybean oil and then they didn't so the price collapsed. Anyway, ridiculous stuff. But anyway, suffice to say he's now got a piece of paper that someone's coming and saying, okay, give me what that piece of paper is worth. And of course, not only does he not have it, but there's nothing in the warehouse back it up either. So the piece of paper is worth zero. So all in, it comes to over $150 million worth of fraud that happens. And theoretically, MX is on the hook for this. Now legally, it's debatable like Tino defrauded them. So whether they should actually be on the hook or not is debatable, but like they're not going to express there. The CEO says, we're going to settle with the creditors. We're going to cover this. The scandal like rocks, MX stock on Wall Street. So the share price drops by over 50%. And analysts and people out there think the company's not going to survive. Buffet though thinks otherwise. He sees an opportunity. So he and his new employees, they go around Omaha, New York and a bunch of other places. And they just start like interviewing consumers and talking to them at banks and saying like, hey, what do you think of MX? Have you heard about the soybean oil scandal, the salad oil scandal? Are you still using the travelers checks? Are you using the credit card? And consumers are like, I haven't heard of this. Scandal, what are you talking about? Of course I trust the travelers checks. So a buffet figures that MX can easily absorb all of these losses, even if they covered the whole thing out of cash on hand. They have over $200 million of cash on hand plus over $500 million of float from the travelers checks business. Yeah. And this is a similar lesson that he learns from Geico, which is, look, all of this debt that the company has that they owe out to these people with travelers checks. As long as there's not a scandal, they're not going to have a run on us. They're not going to come at us all at once. They're going to say sort of portfolio distributed liability. And so as long as I do my diligence and I assume that consumer confidence hasn't been rocked and there's not going to be a run on MX, then hey, we're actually in good shape. So he makes a huge bet on MX. At this point in time, the partnership BPL Buffett Partnership Limited has over $17 million in capital. Buffett puts $3 million into MX right away, like a huge position at this time. And eventually he puts $13 million in total into MX and owns 5% of the company. MX ends up settling the case the next year for $60 million. The stock goes through the roof and they make $2.5 times their money on the $13 million invested. So amazing win. Second great investment of his career. And similarly, second incredibly stupid decision. Once he gets up to 1.5x, he sells it all. Brutal. Brutal. Brutal. He did not listen to our Sequoia Capital Part One episode. He did not. And this is something that he sort of saw too that is a departure from Graham and wouldn't really come about until later with like Coca-Cola. But this is the first sort of twink of it. Of Buffett really recognizing the defensibility, the moat that comes from brand. Because brand doesn't show up on a balance sheet. But it's a huge asset. And so it's one of these things where I think Buffett starting to flex a little bit and say, hey, I actually can analyze these businesses a little bit beyond the black and white numbers that are showing up on the financial statements by doing a little bit of a different form of diligence and assigning value to things that are a little bit less tangible than then previous value investors have in the past. Yeah, I mean, Ben Graham, I could you imagine talking to Ben Graham about brand and the value of brand? He would like kick you out of his office. Ben Graham wouldn't even talk to you about product. Like he's like, if you're talking to me about probably, I'm not interested in hearing your opinion on how the company's product blah, blah, blah show me that it's underpriced relative to book value. I can't imagine taking that to brand. I want to know how many machines they have in the factory and what I can sell them for. Yep. Totally. So that's the AMX story right around the same time in parallel. Buffett finds another cigar butt that he is just over the moon excited about. And this one he hears about from a friend, I think in New York, Dan Cowan. It's a failing New England textile manufacturer who stock was selling for well less than the book value of assets. I think about 50%. Yeah, I think the, I have the numbers here. Yes. So the book value of all the property, plant, equipment and cash on hand at this company is $20 a share and the stock is trading at $750. So Warren is just like his eyes get real big, real, real big here. So what is the company we are talking about? We are talking about Berkshire, Hathaway. So Berkshire, the company was really Hathaway. Had its origins way back in New England, whaling times like, like, Moby Dick style, which side note, I tried to read that book once and I was like, oh, this will be cool. It's like a whaling adventure. It's an American classic. That is the most difficult book I've ever tried to read. I got like 50 pages in and I was like, no, it's your intelligent investor. Yeah, totally. It was, it was the security analysis. If I needed the intelligent investor version of it. There you go. Yeah. I mean, I think the, the way to think about New Bedford was like, they were an industry town and their industry was whaling and whaling oil. And then when they sort of pivoted as a town and needed a second industry textile sort of cropped up based on all the competency and talent labor and stuff that they had in the town. The business leaders in town sort of collectively decided that textile was going to be thinking, you know, we think about whaling now and it seems barbaric and it totally was. But it was the biggest industry in America. So New Bedford, Massachusetts was the wealthiest town in America during the whaling years. I did not realize that. Yeah. This was not like some little thing. There's a reason why Melville wrote his novel about whaling. So in 1888, after the whaling business was in decline, thankfully, because it was horrible. Horatio Hathaway and Joseph Knowles found Hathaway manufacturing company, which would then go on to acquire and merge with a bunch of other mills over the years. There's just sort of one problem with this business plan that the elders of New Bedford come up with, which is that building textile mills in New England was a really, really dumb idea. Really dumb idea. Why is that? Because, you know, if you think about it, like what do textile mills do? They take cotton, raw cotton from the south, you know, from the south and they turn it into, you know, yarn, finish products, etc. Berkshire Hathaway eventually would become, I think, the largest or one of the largest producers of men's suit lines. Yep. Symphetics, too, like polyester. Yeah. So, you're importing this cotton from the south, right? That means that like the cotton's got to get on ships and come up to New England. Well, if you're going to put a bunch of cotton on ships, you could also send it to places that have a cheaper cost than the former wealthiest town in America. Or just not put it on ships. Well, not in the beginning. In the 1880s, you had to put it on ships because the climate in the south, the humidity, was such that you couldn't, like, there were problems with producing the... So, they needed to send it to some cooler climate. You needed to send it to a cooler climate, but you didn't need to send it to New Bedford mess, cheesets. It's still like, okay, it's not great off the bat. But then in the early 20th century, industrial air conditioning is invented. And now you don't need to put it in ships at all. Like, just build the factories, the textile mills there, which people did. So, the business is kind of limping along. But it's been operating for a long time. So, there's like a lot of mills, a lot of plant and equipment. There is a decent amount of cash on hand. By this time in the 60s, it's run by a descendant of Knowles named Seabury Stanton. And Stanton, he's like the Don Quixote figure of, like, the New England textile business industry. He is all... He sees himself as like preserving the legacy, the wonderful institution of... Every textile manufacturing in New England. And he is going to do everything he can to protect and bring the industry back to his glory days. So he is every year just spending millions of dollars outfitting all the mills with all the latest technology, doing everything he can to like bring back the glory days. Yeah. He is not once heard of these sort of like Buffett-esque notion of, you know, what's your return on invested capital in the business? Completely capital. If we are capitalists... If we are capitalists... Spend it. Just pouring into the business. Pour it into the business. He's like a Noblesse oblige. So Warren hears about this from Cowan and he's like, oh, this is going to be amazing. I'm going to make so much money here. He starts buying the stock. Seabury, once he finds out that Buffett is buying the stock, he starts buying the stock himself. He's like, oh, I don't want anybody taking my baby away from me. He doesn't let alone these guys that have a reputation of being corporate raiders. And at first Buffett is happy about this because he doesn't really want to own this company. He's like, oh, good. The price is going up. Once it gets to a certain point, I'll sell. And if I sell to Seabury, like all the better, I don't really care. So he goes and he meets with Stanton. They discuss the company making a tender offer to buy outstanding shares, in particular, insurance shares, and they have a corning to Warren. They have a handshake deal at $11.50 a share. And Warren says, great. If you launch a tender offer at that price, I will sell my shares. He goes back to Omaha, gets a letter in the mail, tender offer is announced at $11.38. It's $11.38. So what's that? $11.37, $38. $13.37, $38, something like that? Yep. So 12.5 cents a share less than what they talked about. And this is like, I still don't understand. I've read a lot about this. Nobody, including Warren, can really seem to explain why Warren gets so worked up about this, because that's not in his personality. He cares a lot about money, but it's not in his personality to get worked up about things or to get emotional about stocks. But he goes off the deep end. He is like pissed. The best explanation I've seen is, sadly, his father Howard was dying around this time and passed away right around this time and must have been affecting Warren. Well, and Buffett is also, you know, he's built a lifetime reputation on doing right by his word and in dealing in good faith. And I have to imagine that, you know, facing off against someone who is not dealing with good faith and is sort of reneging on an agreement that can't sit well. Well, totally. Although, you know, the monger version of what to do here would be when somebody deals in bad faith, you just don't deal with them. Oh, Warren, you know, it would have been completely understandable to say like, all right, fine, whatever. I'm just going to sell my stock at 11 and 3.8s. Get out of this. Be done with it. Still make a lot of money. If you want to, you know, fight, it would be also totally rational to just hold the stock and say, I'm not selling. Instead, Warren says, screw you. I'm going to launch a tender offer for your shares. Which is so uncharacteristic for him. He starts canvassing the entire shareholder base trying to get anybody to sell him shares. He is on a mission like a man possessed that he wants to get control of Brokure Hathaway and kickstand out of his company. And this is like a big-ish company at this point. I think it's something like 15,000 people work in the mills. Yeah. It is not a small company. It would become a small company, but it is currently a large company. It's now a non-existing company except in name. So by April 1965, Warren gets enough shares to get himself elected to the board. The next month, he stages a boardroom coup, essentially. Also very uncharacteristic of him. He forces Stanton out and installs himself as chairman. He's won. And his prize is the super crappy company. And it's not like, what's he going to do? He can shut down the mills, but then he's got to lay off like 15,000 people and have the whole town of New Bedford hate him. But then what's he going to do with the buildings? He's going to sell the buildings to whom? He's going to sell the equipment to whom. Right. The wailing industry is done. The other textile manufacturers and also not doing great at this point. It's a pretty terrible asset to own other than if he really could have liquidated it for book value, then awesome. But frankly, he couldn't have. And he's got this reputational thing, which I think we're seeing come into play here and we'll definitely see more of it in the second episode in the series, which is, Buffett deeply cares about his reputation and will ultimately derive a tremendous amount of value from his reputation. So he doesn't want to be seen as this rager who comes in and destroys the local economy and shuts down the mills. And so he basically doesn't. Like he makes a deal with himself with the rest of the company with other, and he's like, look, we're just going to, I think like you probably know better than I do, but basically not continue to invest like crazy, only make very smart investments, eventually make no additional investments into the company, but at least keep it running. Yes. So he would say to Alice in the snowball about this about Berkshire, quote, so I bought my cigar butt and I tried to smoke it. It's amazing. You walk down the street and you see a cigar butt and it's kind of soggy and disgusting and repels you, but it's free. And there may be one puff left in it. Berkshire didn't have any more puffs. So all you had was a soggy cigar butt in your mouth. That was Berkshire Hathaway in 1965. I had a lot of money tied up in that cigar, but I would have been better off if I'd never heard of it in the first place. Oof. What did you say at the top of the show? It cost him in terms of compounded opportunity capital. So yeah, in 2010, he did the math and claimed that not only was purchasing Berkshire, the worst biggest mistake of his investing career, but had he taken the money that he put into Berkshire and instead just invested it directly in an insurance company by 2010, he figures he would have made about $200 billion in incremental returns. Oh, but like Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots looking backwards, not looking forwards. And now there's an energy company that bears its name and real estate brokerage that bears its name and on and on and on. So not only that, but I do think if he hadn't bought Berkshire, I don't think he would have made his third great investment or at least wouldn't have made it in the same way and figured out the same lesson from it that really drove the entire rest of his career and what Berkshire Hathaway would become. So the next couple of years despite all this Berkshire nonsense, things go great. Thanks to American Express at the end of 65, the partnership has $37 million in assets. Buffett's net worth is about $7 million. And that year 1965, the Dow did 14% and of course Buffett's partnership did 47%. So still not only beating the Dow, but positive every year of its existence so far. Crazy. So all this success is sort of building up and weighing on Warren. So in January of 66, thanks to now knowing from you that on December 31st was the day that partners could take money out or put money in on December 31st of 65, partners invest another $6.8 million in the partnership. Wouldn't you? I'd yeah, all in baby. So for the first time Warren doesn't know what to do with all the money. He starts sitting aside some cash reserves. He's never done this before. He's always been 100% invested and he starts to worry that he might not be able to find enough good investments for all the capital he now needs to play. As he is cautioning in his letters every year. Yep. So he closes the partnership to new capital at that point. He says, not going to take any more capital, continue invest this and compounding, but like there's danger in getting too big. I might not be able to perform in the same way. This is like a disciplined seed stage venture capitalist saying, no, I don't want to grow my fun size. I don't want to have to change my strategy and invest in different things. I want to stay true to the thing that I'm good at. Yep. So this is before we get to his third grade investment, I think maybe in part because of this mindset of like I'm going to stay true to do what I've got. He makes like the biggest missed opportunity ever, maybe in history. This is I was teasing Ben over the last couple days texting him saying, I've got something in this episode that I don't know if you know, but is just the most unbelievable thing that you will never imagine. Lay it on me. In 1967, he writes his partners saying that he's introducing a new ground rule to the partnership. This one is quite literally the opposite of Don Valentine. He says, we will not go into businesses where technology, which is way over my head, is crucial to the investment decision. I know about as much about semiconductors or integrated circuits as I do about the meeting habits of the shrunched, it's a Polish word. It means beetle in Polish, typical Warren way with words here. This is very unfortunate. Very, what was the company? Very unfortunate decision to make. Let's see 1967. It predates Microsoft by seven years. Predates Apple. It's way after IBM, what's around this time? Deck? Or no, it's post deck. Oh no. You'll get it if you think about it enough. I mean, is it looking value origins? We've talked about it in a lot of early Sequoia investment. Just pre-Siquia. Sequoia was started in 72, but this is all the crew that down down. Is it an Arthur Rock investment? It is an Arthur Rock investment. Is it Intel? We're talking about Intel here. No way. Get this. Buffet at this point is on the board of Grinnell College in Iowa. He's a trustee of Grinnell College, which by the way, he was introduced to by Susie. Susie became an incredible civil rights activist, and Grinnell College was involved in the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King spoke at Grinnell College six months before he was killed. Susie brings Warren to the college to listen to King speak, and Warren is incredibly moved by Dr. King. We decide after that to join the board, they were trying to recruit him to join the board. So he does. Do you know who else was on the board? One of Grinnell College's most famous alumni alongside Warren Buffet. Noise or Bingo. Robert Noise. Alumni of Grinnell College, inventor of the integrated circuit, part of the traitorous eight who left Shockley, semiconductor to start Fairchild, and then co-founder of Intel with Gordon Moore and Andy Grove is on the board of Grinnell with Warren, not only that, but Warren, of course, chairs the endowment investment committee at Grinnell, right? Of course, that would make sense. Um, when noise leaves to start Intel, and Arthur Rock is putting the deal together to finance Intel, noise brings it to the investment committee at Grinnell College and says, Hey, there's a hundred thousand dollar piece. I think Grinnell should invest in this company. I think this is really going to be big. I know what I'm doing. He saw the deal. Warren approves the investment. And Grinnell does invest a hundred thousand dollars in the Intel seed round effectively, but Warren never goes near it for the partnership for himself. And in fact, says I will never invest in technology companies. Unreal. This is unreal. And basically held to that for another 45 plus years. Totally. Not until Apple. And I think what we haven't done the research yet, I think Apple bubbles up within Berkshire from Todd Tums, not from Warren. I mean, talk about the sins of omission. Like this is before Sequoia. Imagine if Warren had financed Intel, Warren Buffett could have been Warren Buffett plus Sequoia capital. Wow. And what realistically, what would he have done with it? If he did invest in it, like he's never invested in business. So first of all, he's never invested in technology business to this point. He's never invested in something that early, right? Everything he's bought has been these public, you know, their pieces of public companies. Yep. Established on cash flow businesses. Yep. The Buffett partnership doesn't wholly own any businesses. So it's, it doesn't even know anything private, right? Every single thing is a SEC registered. Well, Berkshire is now private at this point. Okay. I'm just trying to do a little bit of math on like, what do you have held it? How long would you have held it? Right. You know, all of these things. But here's the thing, like this, this whole like, Warren always justifies not doing technology investments by, you know, his whole circle of competence thing that really is a Charlie Munger thing, but that Warren adoptively, I stay with him. When I know my circle of competence, I know the boundaries of my competence. This doesn't make any sense to me because he invests in plenty of businesses that he doesn't know anything about at the beginning. Like textiles, like introids, you know, like retail. Yeah. And the question is like, are the dynamics in those businesses more closely related to each other than they are to technology businesses? Like our, our high growth, pre product market fit or like pre scale technology businesses just so completely different. Yeah. I think that's maybe what Warren thinks, but he's got some kind of mental block here. He's like, with Intel, he got noise and more and Andy Grove coming from Fairchild. Like, you know what Fairchild is? It's a staff like, it's an amazing business. And they've like, we've got the thing we're going to basically dethrone. I don't know. Anyway, I just read this and I was like, jaw on the floor. It also goes along with his notion of independence of thought that like he doesn't really care what other people think about a company that if he doesn't understand it from first principles in a way that he's sort of going to build it up from fundamentals, then it's not his cup of tea and he's not investing. I mean, that is a very, all this sounds like Warren Buffett to be, but it turned out to be a bad decision. It does. I mean, that's Warren for you. So anyway, back to the story. I just thought that was so amazing. Yeah. So a Berkshire, meanwhile, unlike Intel, is quickly becoming a major problem. Buffett of course stops, stands, you know, investing in the business. But once he stopped investing, like they were already uncompetitive. Now they're wholly uncompetitive and they're just, you know, losing money. So he says like, gosh, I got to do something. Berkshire is going to burn through all of its millions of dollars at cash reserves if I don't do something here and I don't want to shut the business down as we were saying. Right. So he starts thinking about like, well, could I just buy something else within Berkshire, use the money that's sitting there and essentially just kind of transform the business around it. So he starts looking around and there's a company right there in Oma that he's been eyeing for a while called national indemnity. And this is the third grade investment where we're essentially going to leave the investing portion of this story. And national indemnity, David, to me sounds like an insurance company. Would that be right? That would be right. It is run by jet jack Ringwalt. Okay. So back to national indemnity and jet jack Ringwalt. So what national indemnity does, they're very different than gyco. Indemnity national, they insure super esoteric risks like gyco wants the boring safe driver, low risk, wide aggregate insurance. These guys want like the whole in one policies, right? Like what we were talking about on the Virgin Galactic episode with the X Prize. They would be insuring the X Prize. They want the riskiest, craziest wildest stuff out there as jet jack was famous for saying there's no such thing as a bad risk, only bad rates. And of course, he's right. You could price anything as long as you price it right. And they were very good at pricing risks. And Jack famously like he would personally go dig into they once there's some story about there once insuring like a settlement on a murder case or something like that. And he was a murder case or maybe it was something. And like he went personally and like did a bunch of detective work to figure out like how likely it was that the case was going to go one way or the other and then he praised the risk. So and they happen to be like right down the street from Warren's office in Omaha. I feel like half of like the Berkshire orbit companies are like how Warren happened upon them in Omaha and they happen to be these like best in class businesses. It's unbelievable little nexus. It's so folksy. Yeah. It's hilarious. And differently in how they did this thing, Geico, but similar to Geico, National got to use its float for a super long time because most of the policies they were rating never cashed in like they were the type of things they were insuring were like it was long tail stuff like stuff that was very unlikely to happen. So they just get used to the money for a long, long, long time. Jack though he's getting older. He's considering selling the business, but it's his baby. He's super, super fickle about it. Like, you know, he wants to sell. He doesn't really want to sell any make noises about it every now and then Warren knows all this. So in February 1967, he catches him in sort of a dour mood. They're like having lunch or something at some point Warren's courting him and they work out a deal in 15 minutes, 15 minutes or less to sell your company and Warren's like I'm going to buy this company for Berkshire, not the partnership. This is it. I'm going to transform Berkshire into a Chinese company. So they hammer out a one page deal at the price ring wall wanted no audited financials, promised to keep the company in Omaha, promise not to fire any employees. Every literally gives jet jack everything he wanted, like no reason to say no. And they do it. And Jack even sticks around and continues running the business because he can't like disengage. He's obsessed, which Warren wanted anyway. So it's great. Puzzle piece. That's like a little, little learning Warren's going to employ later. Yep. He's just adding to his, adding to his quiver of tricks of the trade here. So it becomes part of Berkshire. And in doing this deal, it's unclear how much Warren thought about this ahead of time or more like he was just looking for something to buy for Berkshire. But he sort of stumbles upon this is probably like the single greatest insight that Buffett has across his entire career of marrying an insurance business with first one in Berkshire. But then many operating companies. And so how it works is so he know he already knows going back to get go that within the insurance business, you have float, you can invest the flow. That's great. And then you can compound your capital for free. The problem though, not that it's a problem, but the limiter on this is that you do need to keep some cash on hand as an insurance company because like you got to pay out some policies like you know at any given month, you might need to pay some stuff out. So you can't just go invest all of your capital into other things. But if you actually combine an insurance operation with other you know non insurance operating businesses, you can invest all of your capital and all of your float because an operating business both consumes capital, but also spits off cash also produces the capital. And so you can keep the capital from the float tied up in the operations of operating businesses and then buying more operating businesses to attach. And then if you ever need to pay off claims, well you just pull a little capital over from the cash flow every month that's coming out of say a railroad or say like you know anything that's very predictable like a candy store or a dairy queen or you know what have you. This is brilliant because this now enables but Warren through this insight to start building up a two sided flywheel of more and more insurance businesses and operations that generate more and more float that you can then invest that capital in more operating businesses which generate more monthly cash flow which enables him to take on more and more float and you can start to see how this ping pong's back and forth. He actually writes a paper after the national acquisition where he talks about the capital requirements for insurance companies in this insight he says by most standards national indemnity is pushing its capital quite hard. It is the availability of additional resources in Berkshire Hathaway that enables us to follow the policy of aggressively using our capital which on a long range basis should result in the greatest profitability within national indemnity. Berkshire could put additional capital into national should underwriting turn sour. It's a boom. Berkshire is still a dog but the insight was huge like he can go out and just run this playbook all day long. It's amazing. Right. So this is the beginning of Berkshire morphing from a series of textile mills into a holding company that has all these incredible cash flow flywheels happening inside of it. Yeah. And it's not just a holding come unlike the you know nifty 50 conglomerates of the 60s which were just like holding companies for the sake of being holding companies. It's a holding company with a purpose. Right. Like these companies actually benefit each other rather than just hey we have a whole bunch of capital so we're going to roll up companies that never really interacted all. Yeah. And I should say it's not like the products interact. It's not like the managers meaningfully interact the way that and this little foreshadowing here but the way that Berkshire will eventually run is capital is managed by the central head office and when a business you know needs cash or produces cash it goes to the head office and the capital allocation is done there. But all the actual operations of the businesses are done inside the business and so it's this insight that the synergies or the flywheels or the connectivity whatever you want to call it don't have to happen from the managers of the businesses actually dealing with each other. It can happen at the capital allocation level. Yeah. And it also gives foreign you know what foreign is already all what's in a generation talent when it comes to capital allocation. But it gives him this huge margin of safety because back to the Ben Graham you know a concept he doesn't have to chase the garbage anymore because his cost of capital is way lower than anybody else out there. He's got all these policyholders lending him money for free in a non-delutive way like it's not really dead. It's not really equity. It's just free cash that he gets to play with. Yep. So he can go buy businesses and graft them onto this flywheel and he has this margin of safety where like even if he doesn't you know he does make great investments and great purchases. But even when he doesn't it's he's still benefiting from it because he's adding on to this capital flywheel. Yep. Yep. And it's a national and definitely such a good pick up for Buffett to because he's the master of probability. I mean if we go back and look at MX you know the market was scared off because there could have been a run on MX. But Warren looked at it probabilistically figured out the probability of it actually happening was low assess the expected value multiplying the probability by the sort of potential outcome and was like oh this is an expected value positive bet with a margin of safety and he's just a genius probabilistic thinker and so when you apply someone like that to owning an insurance company not only is he a brilliant probabilistic thinker an individualistic decision maker who doesn't need third parties to give him social proof that is something is a good idea. Now there's this third leg of the stool also which is sort of this master capital allocator. So the capital allocation the probabilistic thinking and the individualistic decision making he's now got these like three crazy tools at his disposal and owning an insurance company is awesome for someone like that. Yeah. And he's playing with a stacked deck here like you can't lose. Yeah. So no wonder he becomes the best investor of all time. Well so we're about to see some pretty excellent returns here through 1967 and 1968. The doubt as well in 67 it's at 19% 19% return that year we're starting to kind of see some go go action going on in the market 1968's a little cooler but it's 7.7%. Across those years Warren did 36% in the Buffett partnerships in 67 then had its best year ever with a 59% return in 1968. Like he's untouchable. He's like Steph Curry. He's just draining threes here. I mean if we look all the way from 57 through 69 the Dow the compounded results of the Dow were 153%. The compounded results of the partnership were 2795%. It's a 28x that Warren did over the 12 years of the Buffett partnership. He's just like playing out of his mind. Yeah. He's just like a real wow. But as hopefully we've painted on this episode you know there's probably the best quote. I don't think we said this at the top of the episode but probably the best quote about Buffett that has ever most apt quote that has ever been said about him was in a Forbes piece that came out I think right around this time which and it says Buffett is not a simple person but he has simple tastes. And so hopefully we painted a picture here of like he's a really complex dude like you know he comes across folks he drinks his co-kits his peanut brittle but he doesn't use a computer for his analysis but like there is deep deep analysis. Yeah and there's a lot of there's a lot of psychology going on in his head. So you think like I mean this insight this whole thing about insurance the flow flywheel and the operating businesses this insight should have and did drive the entire rest of his career like the next five decades is this but he doesn't see it like he's really worried at this time you know what started a few years ago of I don't know that I can invest all this capital in the partnership I don't know that I can keep generating these returns close the partnership to new capital I'd have to go buy really big businesses or buy businesses outright to deploy this much capital and I don't have access to that you know these are the types of businesses we can buy and we buy smaller shares of them. Yep so in 67 he writes a letter to the partners saying quote I am out of step with present conditions on one point however I'm clear I will not abandon a previous approach the Cicar but investing strategy whose logic I understand although I find it difficult to apply in the current environment even though it may mean for going large and apparently easy profits to embrace an approach which I don't fully understand have not practiced successfully and which possibly could lead to substantial permanent loss of capital. He's like mentally struggling here with this dichotal like times have never been better and he's never been more worried. Yeah his I mean he is Ben Graham through and through with this point in his life it's rule number one don't lose money rule number two C rule number one and then you also have this thing going on where because everything is so tied to the purchase price rather than the betting that you'll be able to generate a positive outcome his mood is tied to purchase prices so even though everything's going up he's looking at it like this sucks like I can't find anything attractive to buy and it's all you know he's almost his mood is very much inverse of the market and he's feeling I think like I've got so much to lose now I've got all these gains you know he's not playing like he's got nothing to lose anymore he's playing like he's got everything to lose so he's in such a bad place that even after this brilliant national and debnery pickup for Berkshire in 1968 he tries to unload Berkshire he tries to wholesale sell it to Munger and David Goddard's who is an investor in the partnership and fortunately for Warren they're either too smart or too dumb to take him up on it they've a difficult Charlie fashion Charlie's looks at this like you're telling me you want to sell this thing and you want me to buy it knowing that you want to sell why on earth would I buy something knowing that you want to sell and where's like the mutual admiration respect there is so telling so telling so by mid 1969 Warren's like he's done he starts making plans to wind down the partnership he's he's like dejected he's going to hang up his spurs after his greatest year ever after his greatest year ever you know definitely there was some tension with Susie as well or Susie was like we're worth like many many millions of dollars like what are you doing here and interestingly many millions of dollars but he's still kind of an unknown person like Wall Street doesn't yet know the name Warren Buffett the way that they would in the next couple decades and he's not sort of being called on he's not a celebrity investor he's not informing the public on investing this is very much just about staying private and making money. Yep yep so on Memorial Day 1969 he writes a letter to the partners and he says if I am going to participate in the investment business publicly I can't help being competitive I know I don't want to be totally occupied without pacing an investment rabbit all my life the only way to slow down is to stop and then he says he's giving notice of his formal retirement at the end of the year he's going to wind up the partnership distribute out all the securities to the partners in the beginning of 1970 that's it he's done he's walking away he's like Jordan he's going to play minor league baseball. That's a very apt analogy. That's exact this is the last dance except it's not really the last dance the partners are shocked they rightly never thought Warren could give up the game of course he can't give up the game as we'll see next time they ask Warren what to do he thinks about recommending them to Charlie but Charlie at this point is like I don't I don't want a bunch of new investors either I'm worried about the market too so he sends the big investors to David Gattasman at First Man Hatton Bank in New York his big firm can manage big clients and the small one the small investors he ships over to Bill Ruin who had back from his class in Ben Graham Bill had just left Kitter P body and was setting up his own fund the Sequoia fund not to be confused with Sequoia capital but equally incredible performance over the last 60 years and that's kind of where he leaves it so January 1970 he liquidates all the public securities he unwinds the partnership at this point he owns 26% of the partnership he gets 16 million in cash 18% of Berkshire 20% of diversified retail company which was a joint venture he had with Charlie owning department stores ill advised place to invest and we keep mentioning Charlie here do not worry stay tuned we will have the full monger story in part two in part two and 2% of blue chip stamps which was another Charlie J.V. and that's it he also owns the Omaha Sun which was like a vanity purchase to get back to his newspaper roots and the partners have to decide with these private companies Berkshire diversified blue chip and the sun whether they want to sell their stake and Buffett says he's happy to buy their stakes from them if they want to sell or they want to keep them so he writes a long FAQ to the partners including should I hold my stock in the private companies to which he writes all I can say is that I'm going to do so hold the stock and I plan to buy more so with that cryptic statement he drops the mic he's out out of the game and he owns how much of Berkshire Hathaway at this point 18% as he rides into the sunset and I think that little cliffhanger is probably a great place to leave it on history and facts for this first half of Berkshire Hathaway I don't know we're at about three hours do that's enough should we go another hour we could talk about the part after this where he tries to figure out what to do with his life well the market is doing crazy things are you know the little bit of warm water that he gets into with Charlie and the the feds but maybe maybe let's hold on that and and we'll we'll start part two off with some of that wandering pre going all in on Berkshire Hathaway back like Jordan where in the four five yep well boy do we have some fun playbook things to dive into this episode the first one that I have I actually I decided to leave Berkshire land for a moment to illustrate the point so the point that I wanted to make is sure Warren Buffett is really into compounding like I think that would be an understatement and everyone the audience is probably chuckling if they've made it with us that far that another fascinating thing is David you just mentioned he took this distribution in cash at the end of the wind down and what I'm thinking is oh that's got to kill him to have to take these transaction costs these taxes like he must have really wanted to wind down the partnership to make that happen and to illustrate the point of how much transaction costs and taxes can interrupt the beautiful thing that is compounding I went to a paper that was written in May of 2020 from the Yale School of Management by AJ Wassersstein Mark Agnew and Brian O'Connor who are collaborators with someone that we have had on the LP show David do you know who that person is Hamilton will Thorn Dyke will Thorn Dyke I sort of gotten that author of the outsiders who came on our book club course and they did some awesome great analysis in this paper called on the nature of long term holds where they basically ran a little simulation and showed what would happen if you held something that had continuous compounding for 25 years and you paid taxes once in your 25 or if you had continuous compounding happening where you paid taxes every five years basically if you withdrew in cash and then reinvested in the exact same or an equally producing asset and is this assuming taxes are all long term capital gains yep yep it's assuming 25% which would be some combination of federal capital gains and some state tax as well so if you invested one dollar and just let compounding do its thing for 25 years you would end up with 24.9 dollars at the end and this is assuming a compounding rate of 15% so you know you take your dollar 25 years later it's worth 25 dollars now if you pay taxes every five years that same dollar is worth 16.8 dollars so it's a 50% increase in the amount that you are left with at the end if you just don't interrupt compounding by doing the thing that all humans want to do which is manage the money do stuff be active and I think that it's just really an insight that Warren has sort of like begun to have here I think in the Buffett partnership he moves stuff around much more than he later would in Berkshire Hathaway but this sort of uninterrupted power of compounding you know taxes transaction costs whatever the things are if you can find yourself betting on a winner and just let it ride that is the very best strategy you can possibly employ and it feels to me at the end of this story he's like he's really starting to grasp that yeah well it's kind of like so there's this great this is we go way out there in left field but you know hey we're three hours into this episode so who knows how many people are still listening there's this great book called Transitions by William Bridges and it's wonderful and it's about psychologically dealing with transitions in your life even if it's like a good transition like getting married or or having a kid or you know um bad transitions to like big changes in your life and the whole theme of it is that when you have a transition like the old you needs to die before the new you can arise and to my I kept thinking about this through this story here in this part one of like Warren was so successful he was the most successful Ben Graham disciple that there was more successful than Ben himself but that wasn't going to work anymore and he needed to get to start to understand these things that you're talking about and he needed to symbolically you know die the old Warren to have the new Warren arrive and I think that's what happened here with the closing down of the partnership whether he knew it or not almost assuredly he did not he needed to close the chapter on like that part of his life to start to embrace some of these very different philosophies yeah fascinating that's a really good point I've never thought about that sort of like literal let the old you die think that way it's a really good but recommended to anyone well speaking of Ben Graham this notion of independence of thought there's a Ben Graham quote that the stock investor is neither right nor wrong because others agreed or disagreed with him he is right because his facts and analysis are right and this is something that I think as a venture investor is so difficult because so much of the success of a company when you're investing in it depends on its ability to in the near term raise future capital from someone who is not you so it encourages this sort of herd mentality of do other people perceive this to be a you know hot company in the in the same way whereas what Ben Graham is looking at the complete opposite side of the spectrum no growth at all exclusively looking at cigar butts it's like you have to hang your hat exclusively on your independent analysis which is way easier to do when you have a book value staring you in a face and you're only going to do basically a one-time transaction on it but it is I think a thing this sort of independence of thought and is something that we can all bring a little bit of Ben Graham into our lives and it's funny because the positive and the negative hit you in different ways when other people are telling you you are right it's very easy to accept the idea that you are right what other people are telling you you are wrong you know that hey maybe what I'm supposed to do is be contrarian here and trust my gut and it's funny how you want to say well look just because other people are telling me I'm wrong it doesn't mean I'm wrong but if other people are telling me I'm right I'm definitely right totally I think you raise a really good point in there too two good points one yeah we could all use a little more Ben Graham in our lives but people talk about value investing adventure and blah blah blah and like you know some people try to do it other people bemoan why it doesn't happen you raise a really really good point which is that it kind of can't because you need other people to believe too and unless you're going to be willing to just wholly finance a company yourself but even then like that's a slippery slope but but the company needs to recruit employees it needs to recruit partners it needs to recruit customers like you can't just be you gotta be bringing people into the fold you gotta be a missionary to succeed in the startup world right yeah it's funny how it basically it in a growth company and in a very small growth company especially you cannot be the only believer otherwise it won't work yeah which maybe is a reason why as painful as it is to go back and talk about it maybe is why Buffett investing in Intel and technology never would have worked in the first place he just wasn't in a mindset to be able to think like that yeah it is a completely different way of thinking well speaking of not being in the right mindset you know Buffett spinning down the partnership in its very best year ever after it's very best year ever this is sort of like there's a boom time going on and that's a terrible time for war to be buying and I think that the classic Warren Buffett aphorism be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful springs to mind where it's easy to say this guy shut down his investment partnership when everyone else was being greedy you know like he did not return 50 plus percent thing right it's crazy like what what most people would say let's go raise so much more capital to deploy it is like a really adherent to principles approach of you know if you truly do believe the fearful one others agree to invite first a comment and there is no better illustration than that yeah and interestingly though I bet he would probably also say it was the wrong decision you know I mean like the right decision in the long run because it enabled Berkshire but like in a vacuum like he was crazy he sort of kept going yeah maybe I mean that's the whole sort of bilgurly enjoy every last minute of the upside you never know when the downturns going to happen so you have to invest through all cycles that's true unless you're Warren Buffett and you can actually pick the cycles like so far he has proven and we will see in future years too he is remarkably good at having a lot of cash when he needs a lot of cash and being fully invested when he needs to be fully invested yep that is true that is true don't time the market unless you're the Oracle of Omaha I think is the second part of that phrase well he does have is saying that I actually first heard from Jamath of all people very different approach than they weren't all they're great in his own way but the quote from him it's not timing the market it's time in market which do you find it would be like a do as I say not as I do he also says invest in index funds and goes out and is incredibly concentrated himself right yeah I mean it's it's funny listening I was watching the flash forward here a little bit but I was watching the first recorded annual meeting the 94 annual meeting with he and Charlie and he's remarking on well sure if you have no conviction then you're any better than any fool at picking stocks you should go on as many stocks as possible you got to be diversified you got to you know be covered in case of downturns if you feel like you're investing in managers who are excellent and have fortified their businesses so that they'll be excellent through all cycles then you should own as few as businesses as you possibly can I own one I trust the managers implicitly it's just a very worn buffet quip but for all of us who are taught diversification that's another way of saying that we should all be reverting to the mean and if you believe you actually have a gift and are having edge then you know bet on your ability to perform superiorly which he has done incredibly well yeah a couple others here that I think are worth highlighting and I'll save a lot of these that are better illustrated in part two I think the one that I really want to harp on here is Buffett's singular life focus and obsession is getting as much money as possible and watching it grow and doing it in the most ethical stand-up way possible on his own terms and what we're witnessing is just the result of that singular focus of that complete maniacal singular focus when applied by someone who is a genius savant at that and also has trained himself to become a master communicator and I think there's just very few examples in the world where someone truly is world class at something and is singularly focused on it and I think that when you have that that is when you have these you know 10 sigma events or I don't know how many the state of deviations from the mean this is but it is this performance is remarkable and enduring and we'll talk about this in grading but this is a 29.5% compounded return every year for 12 years Partnerships. Yeah, it is you know you mentioned Michael Jordan. I don't think that's a ridiculous analogy and I think Jordan's singular focus on winning I think is a very a very reasonable comparison he's naturally the best in the world he is the hardest working and he's singularly focused on it so I think that's very apt. Totally there's a I just pulled up there's a wonderful quote from Mike Meritz that I love that was in the book leading that he wrote with Sir Alex Ferguson and it says the great ones eliminate all distractions and focus only on what matters shut out the things that don't matter and don't let their time get stolen away people forget how few hours there are in a year you must focus on what's important and not do what's not I mean we haven't talked about his work habits but like Warren is the singular embodiment of that like he sits in his office all day and he reads annual reports period right for like six plus hours a day he's just reading and the other hours he's talking to Charlie right and there's massive life tradeoffs to that like if you've decided that that's the thing you want to do and that's what makes you happy great but do not pretend that it doesn't come without tradeoffs because like for someone who wants a well-rounded life yeah that's not it you're not going to get it totally the last one that I'll highlight here and then I'll save the rest for part two because there's so many other things here worth discussing but I think they'll be better illustrated by the full embodiment of Berkshire Hathaway as it is today is the secrecy of his ideas not to get too much into power but I think he was actually counter position to every other stock picker who got paid to look smart in the short term Warren did not care about looking smart in the short term his business was not that he wanted to make the most money long term so he stayed quiet about his ideas to like a religious extent and he never ever wanted to move the market or cannibalize that rare really good idea that he had by sort of showing his hand too early and trying to appear smart and he didn't have that national brand he was never paid on commission or transactions he aligned the business model with his long term goal and that was totally counter position to the market yep totally agree aligning the business model yep huge only one I throw in there which will probably also come up in part two but but I think it really came out here in part one is just like the I say this all the time it's the Sequoia capital let your winners run like selling Geico selling AMX those were massive mistakes and as brilliant as all the things that Warren did and as brilliant as his performance was in this first part of his career it's just impossible for me to look at it and I think man it could have been 10 times better had he not made two very simple mistakes and when you're saying just like Sequoia you're talking about like the hard learned lesson of selling Apple and making a six million dollar profit on it yep yep so true well all right as a little precursor to grading here let's do a quick value creation value capture on these episodes we always compare how does the value that they create compare to the value that they actually capture you know is it very little like Wikipedia did they capture a lot like Google does and then of course a second part how does the value created for the world not just for shareholders compare to any value destruction so sort of talking from like an ethical moral perspective on the first one David you might say well Warren Buffett he's a pure play investor so that by default means he's just capturing as much value as he's creating like he's not out there innovating and creating a new product for the world is that a value creation type person so I'm curious your thought on that like on part two that will definitely not be true like I think Berkshire Hathaway from this point for a lot of value creation to talk about but what about up to this point to 1970 you know what companies created value for the world that otherwise wouldn't have created net new value because Warren was involved yeah well I mean and even stepping back and looking at the whole Ben Graham entourage and cigar but investing like you could think a super real argument that it's all that is value destructive investing coming after companies and breaking them up and liquidating them like there was a going concern providing value to customers that is no longer going oh and not employing people and like yeah there was definitely some value destruction here now I think you could also argue about the cigar but investing in Ben Graham that before him and them there was rampant speculation that was happening and that's ultimately value destructive for everybody too so he did lay the groundwork for fundamental investing value based investing in the purest sense of the word value not as anti growth but as like true investing in value as opposed to speculating so that's all great for the world right if you think about all the like pensions that invested from the Graham era through today that you know generated money for their the people whose pensions they support like that's awesome to the extent that they had access to public equities that were no longer sort of just treated as lotteries yep so yeah and then Warren you know gosh I don't know I was probably neutral to Berkshire Hathaway his involvement like he stopped investing in the business but the business was going to die any faster that's a good question it is interesting because I the least charitable view that you can take on investors like pure investors is that you're just reallocating piles of money so you're not creating new value for the world and that's like the least charitable in lots of ways I mean if you think about the ways that great venture investors are value add like yes there's something there to bringing a lot more than capital if you think that some of the things we'll talk about in part two where someone with a really strong reputation can sort of come in and save a business who you know has has is sort of in the midst of blowing up like a Solomon brothers or something like that like that is much more than reallocating money from one pile to another so you are legitimately creating new value for the world it's interesting though in up to nineteen seventy the where we've sort of covered here I'm not really sure you could make an argument that what the Buffett partnerships were doing was any type of value creation you know really thinks oh it laid the groundwork for a lot of value creation but yeah yeah that it's actually very interesting to examine like in the financial sector pure play investors what else is value creative well you can if you increase liquidity and markets that's value creative if you come up with more innovative instruments that allow for I guess it's again companies get funded faster or companies to get funded with fewer fees that provides value warrants not really doing any of this at this point though no no not at all yeah not at all it's just coming at it from the other side because normally when we're talking about a new tech product that's created we start from a place of will they created all this value did they capture it and with pure investing and pure finance you starting from this place of like well all right they definitely were moving value from one place to another but where did they grow the pie yeah I don't think they really did at this point no okay so grading the Buffett partnerships returned thirty percent for twelve years compounded so that's a twenty eight X David how do you think about that yeah is that a is that a C well it's interesting right we were talking before the show about how we're gonna approach this question and I think it depends like everything the lens through which you look at it if you look at the Buffett partnerships like a fund which they essentially are this essentially a hedge fund any fund that returns twenty eight X over you know twelve year standardish lifetime of a fund that's incredible that's one of the greatest of all time you know the I there may be some Sequoia and benchmark funds that are approaching that but I don't think any of them hit that number no I think the super fantastic recent benchmark fund was like a twenty five X right so even that and that had what like Uber and we work and snap in the same fund I think yep yep so yeah from a fund grading it through that lens a plus no doubt now interestingly though if you were to look at it relative to a individual company investment which I think would be a stretch I think it is much more like a fund it is a fun total company but it's not that impressive these days you know that you would return twenty eight X on an individual investment over twelve years I mean their individual investments in crypto these days that are returning twenty eight X in six months like well I mean it's been twelve years since Bitcoin was invented and it's returned sixty two no I'm sorry six point two million X so crypto is a whole different right so that just blows it out of the water it's really interesting though like I don't back in these times there probably wasn't anything that was returning on this level an individual style I mean Intel for sure but like the concepts of you know venture investing or investing in private companies we're talking about like maybe fifteen people in the world that did that yeah that's a great point yeah so it's a I hadn't thought about normalizing for the time period because I mean I thought about when I looked at this the number sort of jump out at me of like oh I have an IRR number on a twelve year fund like cool let's compare it to venture oh I have a cash on cash on a twelve year so like a twenty eight X on a ten year fund with a two year extension like this is a top point one percent venture fund you know this is like people say I want to be top desa I want a three X I want a five X like funds don't twenty eight X especially with the inflation adjusted millions that Buffett was investing then so it's a it's a crazy impressive feat I mean I to like just to assign a letter this is an a plus and frankly the fact that a they never lost money they not only beat the Dow but they had a positive return every single year crazy impressive and a positive return with the option to take your money out so the there's not an ill liquidity premium unlike venture you know it's just crazy and actually beats the no credit bookshare halfway has been around a lot longer and it today and they're managing way more money than the Buffett partnerships ever were but you know this thirty percent or twenty nine point five percent definitely beats the pants off of fixtures yeah returns you know it's ever since we're in went full time which we'll talk about in the next next episode what is full time I think Warren was just a man ahead of his time yeah a plus we're dancing around trying to figure it out is a plus no doubt yep all right carveouts carveouts mine is a very very very different way of thinking investing looking at the world but fascinating Bellaji Shrinivasan on the Tim Ferriss show another three hour podcast that came out a few weeks ago wildly fascinating Bellaji is a very interesting character that many people in tech know he was a partner at injuries and Horowitz for a while he founded council he was a founder of a company called earn.com I think that coinbase acquired then he became the CTO of coinbase he's a crypto evangelist trans human evangelist trans national you know anyway very interesting podcast lots of seemingly out there ideas discussed but always worth considering these things I really enjoyed it yeah it's like next on my queue to check out I it's like right after all the stuff that I was listening to to do the Berkshire research yeah we haven't had a lot of time for other carveouts recently I will say this is the first time I've started research like months in advance just like giddy to do this episode so I know this was so fun all right mine is also something that I listened to via audio you can read it via text as well but since time is such a big audio consumer I chose to listen and hearing it straight from the horses mouth I much prefer it to reading especially in this case packy McCormick wrote a wonderful piece called not boring one year in and I can't recommend reading it and especially the narration and hearing it in his voice enough I don't know if it just particularly resonated with me because you know we're friends with packy and we've been watching his journey or if his journey is just like remarkably similar to acquired so just reading it I'm like just screaming in my car while listening to it yes like at certain moments but it is the most awesome open book cathartic telling of his first year I can't believe it's only been a year what a crazy he's crazy he's accomplished and the biggest thing that resonated with me is that like there's both a process and not a process and he's like I have certain things that I do because I need to get the content out once a week or twice a week and so I have a set schedule that I need to follow but I don't I never actually know like what the content is going to be and I need these lightning bolts of creativity and I would say that David and I aren't quite as wide in the gamut that we run of like where the you know a not boring piece can look quite different than the sort of what acquired mold is although recently who knows but I definitely know that thing of like okay there's a set of activities that I need to do to go generate ideas and then I can at some point I need a narrow and pick one and then I need to run with one of those ideas and I think that's a for a person who is creating on any sort of regular schedule be it creating in products you're making creating in the blog stuff you're writing creating in podcast whatever it is like that is such a real emotion to identify with and package to such a great job writing about it I think anyone who makes stuff should go read not boring one you're in yeah it was so good I loved that piece packing my friend you are gifted indeed well as we wind down here we should say there is a a Berkshire Hathaway 2021 annual shareholder meeting that will be coming up on May 1st so if you like David and I are becoming sort of a converted Buffethead that is a great thing to tune into and watch on that lovely Saturday on Yahoo Finance we will have part two coming out here in the near future we definitely look forward to talking about all things Berkshire with you both past as we've covered on this show up to the present as we'll do on part two and looking into the future with the Berkshire annual meeting so tune into that if if it sounds interesting it's more and Charlie on stage just fielding questions for hours and hours and hours on end so it should be pretty good we should totally in post-COVID times a go go next year be be like all you know artists and steal and just do the same thing we should like we should totally do this we should just like get up on stage and then we should have all our sponsors all our partners oh my gosh out in the concourse out in the concourse we'll have bronze bus of Warren and Charlie thank you our good friends at tiny yeah and we'll just have a we'll have a big acquired fast I'm in let's do it all right I'm going to keep the wine down brief everyone if you like this episode share it with your friends if you have a friend who's a value investor or not a value investor or you talk about this stuff with share it feel free to share it from social media if you're getting excited about the annual meeting coming up for Berkshire feel free to point people to this as a resource and it's definitely one of the things that inspired David and I to do it become an LP we love our LPs we love everyone but we love our LPs the most join the slack it's a great conversation there and I'm sure there'll be much discussion of this episode there I think that's all I got listeners thank you so much and we will see you next time see you next time