For those of you wishing for a return to regular content, here you are, though I will put in one more reminder to check the Get Informed site for regular updates and follow us on LinkedIn for company news.
And if you already visited, but didn’t follow up with any feedback, please go back and leave a short note or message me directly. We are seeking as much input as possible before we move into our next phase.
Today, I’m going to do a Thanksgiving post. If you think this is going to be one of those sappy posts thanking all the people who made sacrifices this year, then you’re reading the wrong blog!
No, we are going to make a list of people who ought to be thankful for their extremely good fortune this year and probably aren’t self aware enough to realize they should express gratitude, so I will do it for them!
We can debate whether these people are more lucky or good, but they’ve all definitely had some good fortune.
Tesla’s leader has a lot to be thankful for – people who buy his company’s stock irrespective of the valuation, Cathie Wood and others who publish nonsensical financial forecasts to justify ever higher target prices, government officials who keep subsidizing his sales even after it has become a trillion dollar market cap.
But, most of all, Elon should thank his Twitter followers. Yes, those magnanimous people who compelled him to sell 10% of his stock at the very, very top so he could cash in before people come to their senses and realize there is no rational justification for this to be a trillion dollar company.
As a bonus, the sale helped Elon come up with the cash to exercise his stock options and pay the tax bill rather than have to borrow further against his shares which could possibly prove catastrophic if the stock ever traded down to its fair value.
Nobody knows how to play the Hare better than Elon. He continues to benefit from the goodwill of others more than perhaps anyone alive today.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Rivian is the jackrabbit to Tesla’s hare. A company that has delivered 150ish light trucks has managed to achieve a $100B market cap because…Tesla!
There’s no sane way to explain this. But the team at Rivian should be sending Elon a pumpkin pie every day, because he made Rivian possible.
Wait, there’s more people who should thank the irrational mob for allowing them to create unfathomable wealth, there’s Adam Aron, the CEO of AMC. Aron recently sold $50M of AMC stock (nearly 40% of his holdings).
Aron embraced the “meme stock” culture and his stock went up about 1000% this year. His followers call themselves the AMC Apes. Not only did he opportunistically raise capital for the company to solidify its broken balance sheet and give them a chance to survive (which created a lot of real world value for the company), he has now flipped the script and enriched himself by cashing out at the top.
Arguably, nobody has taken advantage of irrational investors more than Adam Aron. He should be extremely thankful for their benevolence.
Daniel Schreiber and Shai Winninger
Actually, we may have found a challenger to Adam Aron! Lemonade should be extremely grateful to the exuberant investors who let it raise over $500M in January at the absolute top in its stock ($165/sh). Without that raise, the company’s liquidity would be in a much different situation today.
Since the offering, the stock is down almost 70% (ironically, Andrew Left’s barely researched short thesis that he quickly abandoned turned out to be spot on, even if for the wrong reasons).
That didn’t stop the company from issuing another $500M to buy Metromile recently, but clearly that deal would have been a lot harder to do if they hadn’t shored up their balance sheet earlier in the year.
However, it’s not only Lemonade the company that should be thankful that people who don’t know what a combined ratio is bid the stock up to $165. Daniel Schreiber and Shai Winninger figured out to cash out at the top before Adam Aron did! Between them, they punted nearly $150M of stock this year! Talk about a Giveback!
I’d have to do some extensive research, but I bet it’s pretty rare any insiders sell $150M of stock only to see it fall 70% in less than a year. Actually, they probably could have bought Metromile personally. Spend the $150M and borrow another $350M (bankers are generous these days). Then, they could have called it a MGA and charged Lemonade a fee to access the premium!
Anyway, yes, the Lemonade founders need to thank their shareholders even more than Adam Aron does!
Metromile’s SPAC Sponsors
Speaking of Metromile, while their journey didn’t end as they had hoped with the sale to Lemonade more than 60% below the SPAC price from a year earlier, there were some people who made out like bandits. Yes, the SPAC sponsors cash in regardless of how the stock performs in the long run.
In, this case, that was Cohen and Company, who racked in the fees for the deal. They should be thankful that SPAC mania allowed them to pump up struggling companies to take public while they profiteered.
Less thankful were the big name geniuses who came along for the ride and bought the PIPE, like Mark Cuban and Chamath Palihapitiya. For those who don’t recall Chamath’s proclamation that Metromile was the next GEICO, here you go!
Don’t feel bad for Chamath though, he has plenty to be thankful overall. He bilked lots of SPAC buyers elsewhere and also took advantage of the Reddit Wallstreetbets mania. Just cause he got this one wrong, doesn’t mean he didn’t play plenty of others for fools. He has very many people to thank!
And no, Metromile wasn’t the only case where a SPAC sponsor did better than its shareholders. In fact, that list of names it too long to list in its entirety.
Who else has a lot to be thankful for? Oh, the crypto bros! Bitcoin doubled for the year thanks to easy Fed policy and they found all kinds of arbitrary things to spend it on like NFTs and – almost – the Constitution!
They also need to thank the Chinese government and environmentalists for driving up mining costs which, in turn, bolster the price of Bitcoin. And of course, they need to thank the true believers who think Bitcoin will save them from inflation, regardless of the evidence.
But most of all, they need to thank computer hackers who only accept bitcoin as payment. Ransomware is probably the most common use of bitcoin to actually buy something!
Cyber Insurance MGAs
Speaking of ransomware, all those cyber insurance startups getting massive valuations of late…that wouldn’t be happening without the explosion in ransomware! So if you are an investor in one of these unicorns, make sure to thank the bad guys in Russia and thereabouts for their expert hacking skills!
Amazon should be thankful for Facebook. It sure looked like Amazon was going to be the face of anger over big tech with their allegedly onerous working conditions and the plague of bad actors selling illegal, dangerous, or counterfeit goods on their platform.
And then the Facebook papers came along. If there was one bipartisan agreement this year, it wasn’t the infrastructure bill. It was that everyone hates Facebook (even though many of them still use it).
So Amazon, Google, Twitter, and every other tech company acting badly, should thank Facebook for being even worse!
John Deere Workers
If you work at Deere, or any of the other companies that have had a recent labor negotiation, you should be very thankful to Jerome Powell and his colleagues, as well as to money printing governments around the world. The inflation they have created is allowing you to get fabulous terms in your new labor deals!
In fact, there are many people who should be thankful for inflation – workers with negotiating power, companies who are able to raise prices faster than their own cost of goods increases, uncompetitive industries who finally have demand because similar products are out of stock.
While there are plenty of people sore about inflation – namely, savers in a bond market that still thinks rates will never go up and employees who are getting 3% raises in a 6% inflation world, some people win too.
So while inflation may be a negative overall, there will always be some who can take advantage.
A Final Thanks
Also, I lied. Not all savers are screwed by inflation. You can buy risk free government bonds yielding over 7%. Quantities are limited (read the disclosure) but if you’re looking for a little bit of yield and you haven’t heard of these yet, you’re welcome. Now, you have a reason to be thankful for me!
I’m sure there are many others I left out who have forgotten to give thanks to those who deserve it. Maybe we’ll add them to the list next year? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!