Discover more from Liberty’s Highlights
443: Threads too Successful?, Exxon Lithium, German TSMC Fab, ARM IPO, Roper, Uber's $31.5bn Loss, Liquid Rock, and Tony Hawk
"whether quills and parchments or undersea fiber optic cables"
A deep interest in a topic makes people work harder than any amount of discipline can.
—Paul Graham, How to Work Hard
🗣️✍️🧠😶🙊 Words are powerful.
Even words that seem to mean the same thing don’t have the same effect.
For example, the word “degrowth” is interesting.
Opponents of progress are afraid of labeling what they want as “decline”, so they sneak “growth” in there and our brains find it more appealing.
It’s similar to how “negative growth” is used in finance to avoid saying that something went “down”, saw a “reduction”, or “declined”.
🤐🤫📜 Freedom of expression is important because it is the external manifestation of an even more important human right:
Freedom of thought.
Those who try to control expression do so because they’re trying to control the foundational layer of thought.
If an idea is not expressed, if it’s not shared, most of the people who would have thought it will never even think it at all. 🤔💭🚫
We’re not smart enough to come up with everything on our own.
But humanity as a collective — a colossus where every person is a cell in the body — can come up with endless ideas which are then shared through a nervous system of whatever is available to form a network, whether quills and parchments or undersea fiber optic cables.
Attacking freedom of expression is like attacking this nervous system.
🗣️🎙️ I was a guest on the Making Media podcast:
It was a fun conversation. I hope that translates to you as the listener! If it motivates you, at least a little, to have more fun exploring and discovering new stuff, then I’ll consider it to be mission accomplished (and not in a banner on an aircraft carrier kind of way 😬).
🏰⚔️🛡️📸🤖 I posted some of my generative AI portraits set in a medieval tavern on Reddit, if you’re curious to see.
💚 🥃 🐇 What has value in your life?
Is it the stuff? Is it the people? Is it the ideas? Is it understanding how things work? Is it discovering new art that makes you feel something? Is it playing pickup basketball with your buddies?
Hey, I’m just asking, I can’t tell you! 💡
Everyone has to figure this out for themselves, it’s crucial because it has an influence on so many other decisions that will then shape your life. You end up in different places based on these forks in the road. 🚦
But if you value what I’m sharing here, I hope you’ll become a paid supporter so that you can get even more of it and help me keep this steamboat in the water!
➡️ There’s a 7-day free trial if you want to explore! ⬅️
🏦 💰 Liberty Capital 💳 💴
Threads: Is there such a thing as too much success, too quickly? 🤔 🚀📈
I have a few thoughts about what may have happened with Threads’ meteoric rise (that’s a weird expression, isn’t it? Meteorites fall, they don’t go up!).
With most apps and products, the first crowd is made up of innovators and early adopters. They move in first and colonize the space, creating a base of content and shared culture that later adopters will adopt when they finally decide to take a look.
But what happens when a launch is so successful — so ridiculously successful — that many who would typically be later adopters all show up at once, before the avant-garde troops have had time to lay out the cultural infrastructure needed to support them?
There is a risk of creating a disappointing first impression.
Innovators and early adopters are a self-selected group used to things being rough around the edges, half-baked, and not feature-complete. They can handle it. Most regular people have little patience for that stuff.
They want to be entertained now or they’ll just move on to their Mr. Beast videos and Joe Rogan podcasts…
I’m not saying that
We will probably never know if a slower and more orderly launch would’ve been better for Threads long term or if this rocket launch — despite its downsides — is still better overall.
Ultimately, it may not matter, but it’s fun to think about the dynamics at play.
🐜🐜🐜🐜 TSMC, Bosch, Infineon, and NXP to build €10 billion fab in Germany 🇩🇪
The planned fab will be 70% owned by TSMC. It will operate the facility in the city of Dresden, and Infineon, NXP, and Bosch will each hold a 10% equity stake.
It won’t be a leading-edge fab, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s high demand for older nodes, and getting supply that isn’t in China or Taiwan could help reduce risk to global supply chains:
The planned fab is expected to have a monthly production capacity of 40,000 300mm (12-inch) wafers on TSMC’s 28/22 nanometer planar CMOS and 16/12 nanometer FinFET process technology [...]
creating about 2,000 direct high-tech professional jobs. ESMC aims to begin construction of the fab in the second half of 2024 with production targeted to begin by the end of 2027.
I have to say it: Germany should restart its nuclear power plants. It would be a great way to help keep its existing manufacturing base and keep attracting new plants, because a stable and reliable energy supply is table stakes, and it’s hard to get cheaper power than from already built plants.
🛢️🔋Exxon gets (back) in the lithium game 🔌🚘
Did you know that a scientist working at Exxon in the 1970s was one of the people who invented the lithium-ion battery?
In the 1970s, Exxon played a key role in the foundation of the lithium industry. Exxon chemist Stanley Whittingham won a Nobel Prize in 2019 for helping to develop the lithium ion battery while working at Exxon’s corporate laboratory in Linden, N.J.
Exxon began to manufacture the batteries in 1976, but the market ultimately proved too small, so the company ceased making the batteries some years later.
Now the company is looking to become a supplier of the soft, silvery-white alkali metal for the EV market:
Exxon Mobil Corp. is in talks with Tesla, Ford, Volkswagen and other automakers about supplying them with lithium [...]
The company has also had conversations with battery giants Samsung and SK On Co. [...]
The world will need nearly 60 new lithium mines and plants to feed the growing demand for the shift away from fossil fuels, according to researcher Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, and more lithium will be required in 2030 than was mined between 2015 and 2022.
That’s a lot!
Chevron Corp., Occidental Petroleum Corp. and SLB, the world’s biggest oil-services provider, have all said they’re considering or actively exploring opportunities in the metal. [...]
Exxon, which has set a goal of extracting 100,000 tons of lithium per year, is exploring a 10-acre site in Arkansas and recently began drilling wells there, but has yet to decide if it wants to produce it on its own or partner with others
Interesting to see oil producers making moves that would be more expected of mining companies.
I suppose that they see it as a hedge to their main business; if EVs ramp up faster than expected, at least they’ll participate in that, though that’ll likely never be anywhere near the size of the oil business.
We have to remember that lithium isn’t destroyed by use, so a lot of it is required during the transition period, but at steady state, a lot of lithium will come from recycling old battery packs (or maybe by then, energy storage won’t even be based on the lithium chemistry, who knows ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).
🇬🇧 💷 ARM said to target $60B IPO “next month” 🐜
SoftBank’s semiconductor unit Arm Ltd. is targeting an initial public offering at a valuation of between $60 billion and $70 billion as soon as September [...]
A handful of big industry names, including Nvidia Corp. and Intel Corp., have been engaged in preliminary talks to become anchor investors in the IPO, which could be the year’s biggest market debut.
Jensen’s consolation prize! 😎
There’s also talk of Amazon being one of the anchor investors.
Earlier this year, bankers were pitching a range of valuations for the chip designer from $30 billion to $70 billion
They’re apparently looking to raise $10bn, which would be the third biggest tech IPO behind Alibaba and Facebook.
🚂 Roper makes $1.25 billion acquisition of Syntellis 💰
Not a ton to say here, it’s just what they do:
[Roper] completed the acquisition of Syntellis Performance Solutions for a net purchase price of $1.25 billion, including a $135 million tax benefit resulting from the transaction. The net purchase price represents approximately 15 times Syntellis’ expected 2024 EBITDA. [...]
[It] will be combined with Roper’s Strata Decision Technology business [...]
Syntellis is expected to contribute approximately $185 million of revenue and $85 million of EBITDA in 2024, including planned cost synergies. (Source)
Based on the stated revenue and FWD EBITDA, they expect Syntellis to have around 46% in EBITDA margin.
I haven’t seen anything on growth yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a MSD to HSD type of asset (with negative working capital and higher recurring revs, of course).
📊 Top 5 contributors to S&P 500 Performance since 2010
h/t friend-of-the-show Conor Mac
Meta + Microsoft + Amazon + TomTom partner on maps project to fight Google & Apple 🗺️🧭
They’re kind of trying to build the free alternative to the two big boys (Google is the true giant):
For many companies, Google’s and Apple’s maps aren’t ideal, because they don’t provide access to the underlying data. Instead, those companies allow app makers to use their maps as a service and, in many cases, charge each time the underlying map is accessed.
They call it the Overture Maps Foundation:
Overture is only offering the underlying map data, leaving it up to companies to build their own software on top of it. [...]
Digital maps are important for nearly all mobile apps. Emerging technologies such as augmented reality and self-driving cars also require high-quality mapping software to work. Using Overture’s data, companies can integrate their proprietary information, such as exact pickup locations for a delivery app, to customize their offerings.
What about OpenStreetMap, the Wikipedia of maps?
Overture is a data-centric map project, not a community of individual map editors. Therefore, Overture is intended to be complementary to OSM. We combine OSM with other sources to produce new open map data sets. Overture data will be available for use by the OpenStreetMap community under compatible open data licenses. Overture members are encouraged to contribute to OSM directly.
Sounds pretty win-win, and like they’ll both improve each other, giving them a better chance of being ‘good enough’ to compete.
📲🚕 "Uber has $31.5bn in operating losses since 2014" 💸
The infamous reverse S-curve!
🧪🔬 Liberty Labs 🧬 🔭
MKBHD's Tesla Solar Roof: One Year Later ☀️⚡️🏠🔋
I like Tesla’s software integrating the solar system and the app. Very neat, though you pay a premium for all that.
I’m not anti-solar. I’m anti-not-thinking-things-through and assuming that solar (and wind) are automatically better than alternatives and the only green solutions.
If you live somewhere very sunny where electricity costs are high, solar can make a lot of sense (large-scale projects have better economics than residential solar, but you can still get a decent payback period).
But if you live somewhere with little sun and low electricity costs (and an already clean grid, like in Quebec and Ontario), then solar makes no sense at all. If we need more clean electricity, building more nuclear and hydro (and someday geothermal?) are the obvious choices.
👷♂️🪄 Cement = Liquid Rock! (it would seem like magic if we weren’t familiar with it) 🤘
Good thread by friend-of-the-show Jason Crawford:
Someone asked me recently what's a boring topic that I'm excited/fascinated by.
That's easy: cement.
If it's wasn't thousands of years old, cement would seem futuristic. Think about it: it's *liquid rock*!
🇨🇳 China Approves Six Nuclear Reactors ⚛️ ⚛️ ⚛️ ⚛️ ⚛️ ⚛️ ($17 Billion Investment)
China’s State Council approved six new nuclear reactors as it continues to expand the world’s biggest pipeline of new atomic energy projects. [...]
China has the world’s third-largest nuclear fleet behind France and the US and accounts for 23 of the 55 reactors currently under construction globally, according to the World Nuclear Association.
This is a competition with China I'd love to see the West take on!
Who can build the most nuclear power plants and totally overhaul their power grids to make them cleaner and more reliable, serving as the foundation for all kinds of future projects?
Rather than an arms race, let’s have a race to have the best infrastructure in the world.
Because energy is life (quite literally), it should be an extremely high priority to invest in and ensure it is reliable and not so directly dependent on authoritarian regimes like so many of the hydrocarbon producers around the world.
🛹 Interview: Tony Hawk 🎮
Just a fun conversation with someone who got to the top of his field by doing things his way.
If you haven’t seen it, I recommend the 2022 documentary ‘Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off’.
🎨 🎭 Liberty Studio 👩🎨 🎥
Opera singer and vocal coach listens to Rage Against the Machine for the first time (Warning: F word lyrics)
Her face during the Tom Morello solo (there’s a digital cat in there! 🐈) and the final crescendo is priceless.
But also, her excitement at the musical choices and performance is contagious and is making me hear this song for the first time through her ears.
She’s such a good example of passion for something being contagious, and her obvious love of music warms the cockles of my heart. 🫀
🤖🎥 AI-generated trailers are getting really good 🔥
I particularly liked this one by Nicolas Neubert, and am looking forward to longer films that maintain a narrative thread.
It’s easier to just show a series of cool moments than to tell a coherent story, so that’ll be the next big step, IMO.
But it’s still really impressive and not something I would’ve expected to see at this level of quality just one year ago.
The tech stack for this one is:
Images: Midjourney Videos: #Runway Music: Pixabay / Stringer_Bell Edited in: CapCut