063: Twitter – Focused Practice


I hate it when people say Happy Monday, so I’ll say – I hope you got some sleep this weekend? I don’t even care what day it is, I’m just happy to be writing and reading and sending this to you. 

For me, this is starting over. 

I have the strongest flashback to what it was like to sit down with the intention to start investing practice, in my little precious apartment in Boulder Colorado. It’s coming back to me right now. That’s for sure. Just like then – I’m sitting propped up in bed, my favorite place to do investing practice, warm and tucked in and with my water beside me. I remember being stunned. Where do I start? HOW do I start? My time is precious and limited. I can’t afford to waste it flopping around without a clue.

Back then, I started with whatever I was interested in. Anything. Didn’t matter. That’s what I’ve advised others starting out: don’t have any grand plan, just think about what you’re already interested in and go read some stuff about that. 

That’s what I’m going to do now. Find some stuff I’m interested in, and go read about that. 

Today, that’s Twitter. 

Because, as you know, this is about practice, I thought I’d share with you my process when I have an inkling there might be something interesting to look into, but I really have no clue what that is or what to look for. 

“An inkling of something vaguely interesting but no clue what that is or what to look for” should be the motto of my investing practice.

(Note – I started minor research into Twitter some days ago, which got me interested enough to keep going. This is the short Focused Practice I did yesterday. A few articles. More soon, as there is soap opera goodness deep in this Twitter story and It’s ongoing.)

In my course, I define two different types of investing practice: wandering and focused. This is focused. Looking into one topic trying to learn more about it. If you’re interested in Twitter, take this short initial bit as a starting point; if you’re not, take this as an example of how I approach researching a totally new topic. 


Here’s the structure of how I take my notes: 

DATE: I always put the date, and specifically have a field for it because otherwise I’ll forget. Learned that one the hard way a few times when, re-reading much later, I couldn’t decipher at what point in my research all of the ignorant comments I was reading back were made. Ignorant comments! Always. At the beginning of research, all comments are ignorant. I embrace them. Occasionally, one or two are decently insightful and it’s helpful to entertain that fresh perspective again. 

How I Got Here: I always forget, two months or two years later, why I got interested in some random company enough to take notes on it. I need context. So, now I write down why I’m doing Focused Practice. I call it, “How I got here:”

Practice: Then, I have a section simply called “Practice” so that I don’t feel constrained in where my research takes me. 

That’s it.


Date: Sunday, Nov 6, 2022

How I got here:

Constant headlines about the insanity of Elon musk somehow buying Twitter and taking it private. And now he’s laying off half the workforce – naturally, in a deeply insensitive way. My question is: how on earth did he get the board to decide to sell to him? I think I can guess how he got the majority shareholders to agree, probably some combo of the Saudi investors plus Jack Dorsey being enough shares to vote for the sale, plus his own shares of course, but the board? Were they just over it? 

Second question that has intrigued me enough to spend a little time on this: why is Jack Dorsey supporting him?


I put “Twitter” into Google and look at the Top Stories. 

• twitter – Google Search

Typically, these stories Google puts up are from the last few days or even the last week. It’s a good way to get some immediate context. I opened these in new tabs. 

For you, I’ve put notes next to the links. For myself only, I wouldn’t necessarily write this much? Not sure how to share a research process effectively yet, but I think it’s potentially a cool exercise. Let me know what you think. 

Useless – • Elon Musk disbands Twitter’s board, cementing control over company | CNN Business

Decent, and short overview, with an extra point for featuring the poop emoji • Elon Musk: How the world’s richest person bought Twitter – BBC News

From this TechCrunch article: • Twitter will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange on November 8 | TechCrunch “Musk will have to also pick a new executive team, as one of his first steps after taking over was to fire CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, general counsel Sean Edgett and head of legal policy, trust and safety Vijaya Gadde. Musk is likely to assume the CEO position for the time being, but he might hand it over to someone else in the long run. A report from Bloomberg noted that Agrawal is set to receive nearly $50 million while Segal and Gadde will get $37 million and $17 million each as part of the severance package.”

Why is everyone always awful? First, who is running this company today? Second, I just got a clue why some of these people voted for or supported the sale. UGH. While employees are being laid off on no notice. (I saw a bunch of headlines about that yesterday and will go look for that next.) That’s ONE HUNDRED AND THREE million dollars. Would have been nice if that money would go to, oh I don’t know, a lot of severance payments or, like, SAVING THE COMPANY and thereby everyone’s jobs. It makes me burningly angry. And I always defend corporate America! But this is why they are hated. The severance payments were either already in their contracts with the company as long as they did not leave “for cause”, or it was connected specifically to the sale and was negotiated as part of the sale. Most likely it was the former. Either way, each one of the execs knew exactly how much money they would get if they left Twitter.

OK, I am mad now. Onto this guardian article from last Thursday so it’s a bit old, but looks long and in-depth. ‘He is poised to open the floodgates’: can Twitter survive Elon Musk – or even thrive? | Twitter | The GuardianOohhh! The payouts pissed off Elon Musk as well! “Musk fired Twitter’s chief executive and chief finance officer, as well as the head of legal and policy, Vijaya Gadde – the most powerful woman at Twitter and the person most identified with the decision to ban Donald Trump from the site. Despite early reports suggesting the executives were in line for multimillion-dollar golden parachutes, Musk appears instead to have decided that he hasn’t seen enough of courtrooms in the past six months, firing them “for cause” – that is, alleging gross incompetence – and denying them their payouts.”

Juicy. In legal terms, “for cause” is significant. It will be defined in any given employment contract but usually it means that the person has done something that’s a fireable offense. This could be varying levels of offenses. For two extreme examples, maybe in one contract “cause” would be not meeting milestones or being ineffective in the role, as well as moral offenses, crimes, etc, and in another contract “cause” would be only being convicted of a crime (merely committing the crime wouldn’t count). This article is saying that he’s alleging gross incompetence because that’s the term used in their contract as “cause”. Because they essentially ran the company into the ground, by definition they were grossly incompetent and therefore were fired for cause and should not receive severance payments.

Or – did they manage to get an unjustifiably high price for their shareholders by managing to sell an unprofitable failing outdated social media company to a showman? By that measure, they did excellent work.

The Guardian article is well written, by the way. This paragraph nailed the paradox that is the allure of an Elon Musk character: “But Musk didn’t buy Twitter to cut jobs, nor to simply expand his fiefdom, which already covers land (Tesla), space (SpaceX) and the underworld (the Boring Company), into cyberspace. In fact, he was clear about his motivations as far back as April, when he first put in a bid to own the company. “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy,” he said, “and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.””

It’s almost – downright noble? 

As the rest of that article makes clear, the questions are HOW to ethically and financially support such a digital town square.


Good lord, it felt good to do a proper investing practice. Showing up is everything. 

Next, the news of the last few days and then going back in time a fair bit. 

Very warmly,


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