Latest Data: APE Fails to Deliver Hit 7.1 Million

Fails to deliver in shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Preferred Equity (APE) reached staggering levels in December. Failed trades hit over 7.1 million shares in the latest SEC report before falling to end the period.

AMC issued these preferred shares in August as a way to raise capital. Since then, they’ve fallen steadily, losing over 75% of their value.


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Failed trades in APE shares peaked on December 2nd at 7,134,531. AMC shares also showed elevated fails to deliver, at nearly 300,000 shares.

Huge numbers of failed trades in APE preceded a substantial drop in the stock price. The shares lost 23% of their value in the next week alone.

A persistent pattern of huge fails to deliver can be a sign of naked short selling. This illegal practice involves selling short shares you never borrowed.

Naked shorting is a powerful way to crush a stock. If you don’t have to find any shares to borrow or pay interest, you can short as many as you like!

We’ve also seen persistent, massive fails to deliver in AMC’s common shares. Like APE, that has been coupled with a major fall in price.

So what’s going on?

My bet is that hedge funds are breaking the law and naked shorting AMC and APE shares. Why else would these huge numbers of failed trades persist for so long?

To get a sense of how out of line these fails to deliver are with other stocks, let’s do a comparison. Here are the fails to deliver on December 2nd for some of the largest stocks in the market:

Amazon: 40,406

Apple: 319

Berkshire Hathaway (Class B shares): 36

Google: 151,519

Microsoft: 9,233

These stocks are hundreds of times the size of AMC. And yet, AMC sees more failed trades than all of them.

Combined.

The SEC must investigate the chaos in AMC and APE shares. It’s the only way we can have a fair, efficient market for everyone.

What do you think of the failed trades in AMC and APE? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.

There will be no blog on Monday for New Year’s. Thanks for a great 2022 and see you on Tuesday!

More on markets:

Is SBF Laundering Money As We Speak?

New Report: AMC Fails to Deliver Hit 4.3 Million

Tiger Global Losing $185 Million a Day

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Photo: AMC CEO Adam Aron

Whole Fish and Banku, Ghanaian Style

They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. As I dug into the whole tilapia’s succulent flesh, I couldn’t have agreed more.


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Delicious as it is, Ghanaian food is little known in the United States. Even in the New York City area, a Google search reveals just a couple of options.

“Ghanaian food is a whole process.”

Anonymous pal

Fortunately, I had a connection. A Ghanaian friend of mine buys homecooked meals from a woman who runs a restaurant out of her house.

Turns out Travis Kalanick didn’t invent ghost kitchens!

We popped open the warm clamshell containers to reveal a massive, whole fish. The tilapia was marinated and served with two spicy sauces.

The flesh was moist and succulent. I always thought I hated tilapia, but cooked whole like this, it’s wonderful!

Alongside our plates: a massive and scrumptious-looking dumpling. These are called banku.

Banku are a staple of Ghanaian food. They’re made of fermented corn.

Banku’s mild flavor is a perfect match for spicy sauces. It’s kind of like chips and salsa.

The only downside: they’re sticky! My friend dug in with her hand, but I soon switched to a fork.

I guess I can only become so Ghanaian in one day. 🙂

Cooking fish whole as they do in Ghana yields a more tender and flavorful flesh. And never forget to eat the meat from the head — it’s the best part!

I saved the fish bones for a stock I’ll be making soon. Never let anything go to waste!

If you haven’t tried Ghanaian food, I strongly recommend it! It’s flavorful and relatively healthy — mostly protein and vegetables with a modest amount of starch.

What were your most interesting meals this year? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on food:

Korean Noodle Heaven at Food Gallery 32

The Best Mexican Food Is In…New Jersey?

NYC’s King of Sugar: Posh Pop Bakeshop

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Is SBF Laundering Money As We Speak?

Sam Bankman-Fried is accused of committing one of the largest frauds in history. Now out on bail, he may be siphoning off what little money his bankrupt empire has left.

Out this morning from Bitcoinist:

A few hours ago, former Alameda Research wallets came to life, as noted by several on-chain analysts. Oddly enough, the transfers of altcoins come just shortly after Bankman-Fried was allowed to make himself comfortable in his parents’ home, equipped with an Internet connection.

The transactions totaled about $200,000.

Whoever moved the money used tools called mixers to mix the coins with other tokens. This makes them harder to trace.

A liquidator put in charge of the Alameda assets by a court would not use a mixer. This points to the transfers being initiated by a hacker, or by SBF himself.

Shockingly, the terms of SBF’s bail don’t stop him from using the internet.

If SBF is in fact looting the last of Alameda’s assets, he’s committing another crime. This would be ample cause to revoke his bail, putting him in jail until his trial ends.

Since the bail is secured by SBF’s parents’ house in Palo Alto, his parents would also lose their home.

Most people would never consider committing fraud while on bail. They’d be worried about going back to jail, not to mention their parents’ losing their home.

But SBF isn’t most people. If he did this, the level of arrogant stupidity is astounding.

What do you think is going on with these mysterious transfers? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

How SBF’s Hedge Fund Imploded

Seeing Through SBF: How One VC Found the Truth

Why Crypto is Still Massively Overvalued

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Photo: FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried

My 2022 Reading List

Whenever I walk into the library, I think “How can I ever read all these books?”


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For me, finding the right books is hard. And something tells me you might be struggling too!

So here’s a quick review of everything I read this year! If something piques your interest, pick up a copy!

Top Pick: Nonfiction

The Power Law by Sebastian Mallaby. This is on every VC’s list this year for a reason.

Mallaby does an amazing job recounting key moments in the history of venture capital. I found the story about Accel staking out Facebook headquarters to win its Series A fascinating.

If you’re in the technology industry, this is a must read! I wrote a series of posts about it here:

THE POWER LAW (PART ONE)
THE POWER LAW (PART TWO)
THE POWER LAW (PART THREE): ANGELS AND VC’S
THE POWER LAW (PART FOUR): THE FIRST VENTURE DEAL

Top Pick: Fiction

Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg is my favorite poet, so a friend gave me this slim volume as a very thoughtful gift!

I find the Sunflower Sutra particularly beautiful. Ginsberg tells us “we’re all beautiful golden sunflowers inside.” This reminds us to value ourselves and not get too caught up in the day to day!

The Rest of the List

Playing for Keeps by David Halberstam. An excellent account of how Michael Jordan came to dominate the NBA.

Jordan was intensely competitive and hard working. But he was also unusually coachable.

I’m never going to rival Jordan on the court, but his example is instructive in any field.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. The classic text on launching an MVP and iterating your way to success.

Little did I know that later in the year, Eric and I would wind up co-investors in the same startup!

More on The Lean Startup in this post.

Amp it Up by Frank Slootman. The Snowflake CEO provides great insights on leadership in this engaging and brief volume.

He includes tricks for increasing intensity like asking why a task can’t be completed tomorrow instead of next week. More in this post.

The Founders by Jimmy Soni. A deep dive into the founding of PayPal, one of the most iconic tech companies of our time.

Soni includes fascinating tidbits like how PayPal was originally designed to beam money between Palm Pilots. More in this post.

Hunting the Unabomber by Lis Wiehl. Ted Kaczynski is the mirror image of many of the successful founders profiled on this list.

Like many of them, he was precocious and Harvard educated. But he despised technology and its effects on society.

He also showed early signs of being disturbed, laughing as he tried to scald his mother with spaghetti sauce as a child. Perhaps some people are just born with problems.

Into the MIrror by Norman Mailer and Lawrence Schiller. Robert Hanssen was the highest ranking US official ever to become a spy for the Soviet Union.

This is the fascinating story on how he went wrong, and how the government caught him.

Founder by Amos Elon.

Mayer Amschel Rothschild founded the Rothschild banking dynasty. It became one of the most powerful families in Europe.

But the first Rothschild was born in a dank Jewish ghetto. He was orphaned at 13 and faced extreme discrimination throughout his life.

Rothschild grew his business by going out and finding customers, unlike most bankers. Once he had them, he was a loyal partner, always putting their needs first.

I’ve read this book four times now — it never gets old!

Revolutions: A Very Short Introduction by Jack Goldstone. This book covers revolutions from the ancient world to today, digging deep into their causes.

One surprising insight was that poverty alone doesn’t produce revolutions. A destitute populace is no match for a government’s armaments.

Elites also need to withdraw their support from the regime.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel. In contrast to The Lean Startup, Thiel advises founders to create a highly differentiated product 10x better than alternatives rather than a barebones MVP.

I’m not sure who I agree with. But Thiel’s book is a must for any entrepreneur or investor.

More in this post.

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson. I’m almost done with this one!

Simpson tells a fascinating story of breaking his leg on a descent from a massive Andes peak. How he survived this impossible situation makes for a riveting read.

Before a big climb, Simpson told himself “we can do it!” repeatedly. If it works for scaling some of the toughest mountains on Earth, it might work for us too!


It strikes me how few books I read this year. I’d like to get that total up to around 20 next year, perhaps with some of your recommendations!

What was your favorite book this year? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on books:

The High Growth Handbook: Scaling Startups from 10 to 10,000 People

Liftoff: How Elon Musk Built SpaceX

What I Learned From an Investor Who Turned $100,000 into $100,000,000

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Photo: Author Sebastian Mallaby

Christmas Camping in New Jersey

As Christmas drew near and the mercury fell, most people huddled inside with a warm mug of cocoa. Not us.


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On Tuesday, my friend Tom and I cruised down the highway, headed to the wilderness. Already by 3pm, the sun hung low in the sky.

I couldn’t wait to spend time around friends free of distractions. But I also wondered if we could stay warm.

“Land really is the best art.”

Andy Warhol

We pulled up to the little lean-to that would be our home for the next two days. We were utterly alone, every other site deserted.

Surrounding us was Stokes State Forest, a wonderful natural spot in northwestern New Jersey. We settled and in Tom whipped up a Brunswick stew as I warmed myself by the stove.

This delicious dish is easy to make and great for a campsite. Just empty some cans of beans and corn into a pot along with onion and pre-cooked pulled pork, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful hot meal!

Our little woodstove didn’t look like much, but it threw incredible heat! Soon, I was shedding layers down to a light sweater.

The next day, our friend Paulie joined us for a lively hike. We took in streams, a frozen pond, and even an abandoned silver mine!

Winter is a great time to hike. You have the trails to yourself, letting you really focus on nature’s beauty.

We wrapped up the day eating Beyond Meat burgers by the fire — our one nod to healthy eating on this trip!

If you go camping this time of year, be sure to get a cabin with a woodstove. Bring lighter fluid and a mix of kiln-dried and regular wood.

The kiln-dried wood and lighter fluid make it easy to get the fire started. Once it’s blazing, the regular wood can burn more slowly, providing lasting heat.

You’ll also want good sleeping pads and a 0 degree sleeping bag. This is the one I own — it’s amazing!.

Don’t be afraid to enjoy the woods even in winter!

Nature has a special, spare beauty this time of year. And with the right equipment, you’ll be snug as a bug in a rug.

Would you go camping in winter? Why or why not?

Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.

There will be no blog on Monday for the holiday. See you on Tuesday.

Merry Christmas everyone! 🎅❄️☃️

More on nature:

A Hidden Castle…In New Jersey?

North Jersey’s Secret Campground

My Camping Essentials: The Basics, The Wishlist, And The Things I Never Thought I’d Need But Can’t Live Without

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

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Misfits Market

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Why Crypto is Still Massively Overvalued

Cryptocurrencies have had a painful year. But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

The promise of many major protocols like Ethereum is that they can power useful apps. But despite their giant valuations, almost no one is actually building anything.


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From a new report on the Swiss crypto site Blockzeit:

…according to the data from December 2022, Ethereum (ETH +2.21%) has 183 active developers each day, which is the most among all blockchain protocols and dapps. Cosmos (ATOM +1.41%) and Cardano (ADA +0.18%) came in second and third, respectively, with 145 and 142 active developers. A total of 18 active engineers are presently working on Bitcoin (BTC +0.44%), the most valuable cryptocurrency by market capitalization.

Ethereum has a fully diluted market cap of $148 billion. That’s after dropping by two thirds this year.

That puts the value of Ethereum at over $800 million per developer. This valuation is absurd.

Consider that Microsoft employs about 100,000 of the best coders on earth. And yet, each is worth just $18 million of market cap.

Microsoft carefully screens engineers and hires the best of the best. Almost all of them work full time.

Can every random person who writes a single line of code on Ethereum be worth 40 times as much?

The numbers for other cryptocurrencies are even more stark. Bitcoin has just a handful of engineers, despite a fully diluted market cap of $356 billion.

If we follow Microsoft’s developer to market cap multiple of $18 million, Ethereum is worth just $3.3 billion. That’s 98% less than its current value.

There are real use cases for crypto. But enthusiasm, and prices, got way ahead of reality.

“There’s the signal and the noise. In crypto, 99% of it was noise. But there’s real value and signal there.”

Mark Cuban

I’ll be avoiding this market until I see some real products.

What do you think of crypto valuations? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.

The next blog will be on Friday — I’m going camping!

More on markets:

Tiger Global Losing $185 Million a Day

Seeing Through SBF: How One VC Found the Truth

How SBF’s Hedge Fund Imploded

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get $100 in free bonus shares!

Misfits Market

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I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

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Photo: Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin “593513273GS308_TechCrunch_D” by TechCrunch is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Zero to One

Founders should launch an MVP as soon as possible and iterate their way to success…right? Wrong, according to billionaire Peter Thiel.


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The controversial venture capitalist and co-founder of PayPal lays out a very different view in his book Zero to One. As I headed off on vacation last week, I dug into this classic.

Thiel is fundamentally opposed to the Lean Startup framework. Iterating on a minimum viable product (MVP) would never have produced the iPhone, Thiel notes.

Instead, we should create a fundamental innovation. Our new product should be 10x better than alternatives.

And forget about big markets. Thiel’s approach is to completely dominate a small market, then branch out.

“No sector will ever be so important that merely participating in it will be enough to build a great company.”

Peter Thiel

I find Thiel’s approach compelling. Total domination of a small market is a stronger indicator of product-market fit than a tiny slice of a big one.

A monopoly, even in a small area, means you have pricing power. This avoids a race to the bottom with margins headed to zero.

From that strong position, we can branch out to adjacent markets. For example, PayPal was able to move from enabling eBay payments for top sellers to sending money for any reason.

Thiel also includes a great trick for investors: ask founders what they pay themselves.

A reasonable salary of no more than $150,000 ($194,000 in current dollars) strongly correlates with success. This is one of the clearest patterns Thiel has observed from investing in hundreds of startups including Facebook.

I’m going to steal this one! It may lead to some awkward silences on Zoom, but ya gotta break some eggs to make an omelette.

I found Thiel’s take on entrepreneurship refreshing. Zero to One turns the standard startup playbook on its head, and it makes a lot of sense!

I’m going to look more closely at companies dominating an initial small market. And if I ask you your salary, blame Peter.

What do you think of Zero to One? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

Glad to be back!

More on tech:

Seedscout: Where Underestimated Founders Win

Why I Just Invested in Rilla, the Killer App for Outside Sales

Seeing Through SBF: How One VC Found the Truth

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get $100 in free bonus shares!

Misfits Market

I’ve used Misfits for years, and it never disappoints! Every fruit and vegetable is organic, super fresh, and packed with flavor!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

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Photo: “Peter Thiel” by jdlasica is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Seedscout: Where Underestimated Founders Win

Every morning, I have dozens of new LinkedIn messages from founders. I seldom have time to reply. But what if there were a better way for founders and investors to meet?


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Enter my latest investment, Seedscout. Seedscout is an awesome new platform for founders to meet investors.

The magic of Seedscout is that there’s a monthly fee. This filters off people who aren’t serious.

What’s left? Awesome founders I want to meet!

I find myself meeting with almost every Seedscout founder who asks. Meanwhile, my LinkedIn requests languish in digital limbo.

I recently met an amazing founder on Seedscout whose startup is growing revenue at 70% a month. Once I wiped the drool off my chin, I reached for my checkbook!

When a platform gives me deal flow like that, I pay attention to their next intro. Meanwhile, since I rarely find solid deals via cold messages, I often don’t have time to respond to those messages.

For founders without a strong network in venture capital, Seedscout is a super power. You can buy your way in.

With plans starting at $100/month, a scrappy young founder can drive Uber for a few hours and pay for a membership.

Seedscout Founder & CEO Mat Sherman is fanatical about opening up venture capital to all great entrepreneurs. In an industry where just 2% of funding goes to women and just 0.4% to black founders, Seedscout is changing the rules of the game.

In time, Seedscout may replace LinkedIn and AngelList. For me, it already has.

I’m delighted to be an investor in innovative startup. Best of luck to this scrappy team as they take Sand Hill Road by storm!

I’m on vacation for the next two weeks. I’ll see you again on Monday, December 19th!

Until then, please enjoy some classic posts from the archives:

The Startup Pitch Checklist

Mark Twain: Venture Capitalist

North Jersey’s Secret Campground

The Swami Who Taught Me About Politics

The Ultimate Score: Turning $300k into $2.4 Billion on Coinbase

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get $100 in free bonus shares!

Misfits Market

I’ve used Misfits for years, and it never disappoints! Every fruit and vegetable is organic, super fresh, and packed with flavor!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $15 on your first order. 

Why I Just Invested in Rilla, the Killer App for Outside Sales

Every day, sales reps go to meetings across America to land that big deal.


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Their managers hope they absorbed the lessons of training and can bring in the sale. Unfortunately, they rarely have the time to go along.

But with cutting edge AI, sales managers can now analyze every customer meeting without ever leaving their office!

Rilla records sales meetings and tags the most important moments. You’ll know if reps are following the script, what customer objections are, and a lot more.

Other platforms like Gong or Chorus may work for inside sales with its clean audio. But for outside sales in the noisy, chaotic world, Rilla is king.

You just press record on a phone or tablet and that’s it! Rilla takes care of everything else.

No wonder sales teams are adopting Rilla at an incredible rate.

Sales managers see a 20-30x productivity increase. Reps get the feedback to make their pitch better than ever, meaning more commissions.

I’m delighted to be an investor in Rilla’s recent seed round. The founder, Sebastian Jimenez, is tenacious and laser-focused on his customers.

If you’re in outside sales, book a demo with Rilla and see what it can do for you!

More on tech:

Seeing Through SBF: How One VC Found the Truth

Getting to $10 Million ARR Without a Series A

Why I Love B2B Startups

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get $100 in free bonus shares!

Misfits Market

I’ve used Misfits for years, and it never disappoints! Every fruit and vegetable is organic, super fresh, and packed with flavor!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $15 on your first order. 

Photo: Sebastián Jiménez, Founder & CEO of Rilla