David’s Articles

David has been writing and publishing since 2006.  

Issue 346 – 09/13/19

Sep 13, 2019 | Fifteen on Friday

This week’s highlights: Dapper Dan, The Merchant Class, and Volcanoes

woman wearing black red and green tracksuit

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Issue 346

by David Wells – Nashville TN

Happy Friday Everyone,

A quick update – I recently founded a strategy consulting firm focused on working with family offices and family owned companies called Family Capital Strategy. I published our first thought piece this week.  See below:

What I’m Reading Now:
  • How to Build a Car by Adrian Newey  “The world’s foremost designer in Formula One, Adrian Newey OBE is arguably one of Britain’s greatest engineers and this is his fascinating, powerful memoir. How to Build a Car explores the story of Adrian’s unrivaled 35-year career in Formula One through the prism of the cars he has designed, the drivers he has worked alongside and the races in which he’s been involved.”



Food for Thought:

Top Read of the Week:  a16Z – Making Culture, Making Influence

Why It Matters:   This podcast was absolutely fantastic.  Dapper Dan pioneered high-end streetwear decades ago, until he was met with the legal resistance from Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc.  Now years later, he has released an autobiography about his time in fashion and much more.  I was blown away by his depth of insight on building businesses and understanding how culture works.  He now is in business with Gucci, and with the appointment of Virgil Abloh (known for his streetwear style) at Louis Vuitton, Dapper Dan’s fashion vision has become mainstream.

Consider as well:

  1. Atlantic – I Won’t Buy My Teenagers Smartphones.  Denying a teen a smartphone in 2019 is a tough decision, and one that requires an organized and impenetrable defense.
  2. NewYorker – The Perils of Semi-Legal Poker.  By exploiting a legal loophole, two friends tried to build gambling businesses in Texas. They were dealt very different hands.
  3. NYT – What College Admissions Offices Really Want  The presupposition in all this is that college’s are unable to do anything to bend the cost curve of their operations – something Mitch Daniels at Purdue has proven not to be the case. “Elite schools say they’re looking for academic excellence and diversity.  But their thirst for tuition revenue means that wealth trumps all.”
  4. WashPo – Inside the drug industry’s plan to defeat the DEA.  Faced with pressure to curtail suspicious opioid shipments, an alliance fought back with every weapon at its disposal


Top Read of the Week:  Economist – Shopify and the return of the merchant class

Why It Matters:  A Canadian tearaway is doing to sellers what Amazon has done to buyers

Consider as well:

  1. II – The Faulty Metric at the Center of Private Equity’s Value Proposition.  IRR is an easy metric to point to, but is easily manipulated.
  2. CNBC – Spreadsheet jockeys are geeking out over this new Microsoft Excel feature This will only matter to a few readers, but for those who care, it’s a big deal.  “The new XLOOKUP feature gives Excel users an easier, more flexible way to display information in their spreadsheets.”
  3. NYT – One in Four of New York’s New Luxury Apartments Are Unsold  A quarter of the new condos built since 2013 in New York City have not yet found buyers, according to a new analysis of closed sales.
  4. NYP – Carl Icahn moving hedge fund to Miami, whether his workers like it or not


Top Read of the Week:  NYT – We’re Barely Listening to the U.S.’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes

Why It Matters:   A thicket of red tape and regulations have made it difficult for volcanologists to build monitoring stations along Mount Hood and other active volcanoes.

Consider as well:

  1. WashPo – How to make a martini your guests will love — or at least love to argue about
  2. Verge – The High Hopes of the Low-Tech Phone
  3. Slate – The Enduring, Goofy Legacy of American Gladiators  It’s been 30 years since the games in star-spangled spandex became a national phenomenon, changed sports entertainment, and augured a new age of TV.
  4. SvN – Status Meetings are the Scourge


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Nashville, TN