To Be And To Last #12

This week we explore the secrets of a ~$1B baseball team acquisition, the legendary leadership on a 1989 airplane that lost all control, and the biggest phone maker you’ve never heard of.

The phone that took over Africa

Transsion took over the African smartphone market (40% of Q4 2019 sales), because the incumbent brands (Nokia, Samsung, etc) lost sight of their real customer.

Due to pricing/coverage variance, most African mobile users carry multiple SIM cards: one for data usage, one for mobile calls, etc. Recognizing this, Transsion took over the market with dual-SIM phones (making it easy to switch between carriers).

And what of the incumbent brands? They didn’t launch dual-SIM models for another two years. They were so concerned about keeping telcos happy, that they forgot to keep their actual customers happy.

How to crash an airplane

Imagine you’re flying a commercial jet with hundreds of passengers, when suddenly you lose all control. Your steering is completely gone, and so is one of your three engines.

That’s exactly what happened in 1989 to UA 232, yet the leadership of the flight crew saved the lives of more than half the passengers.

If you want to go deeper into the history of heroic flight crews, you might want to read Hijacked, the story of a brave FedEx flight crew in 1994 who successfully stopped one of the first attempted-suicide hijacking attempts in US flight history.

What’s the one thing the Chicago Cubs *can* beat?

The Chicago Cubs might be famous for failing to make it to the World Series for 108 years, but recently released deal analysis shows where they can win: in a performance comparison vs the S&P 500.

In this fascinating look behind the scenes of the 2009 Chicago Cubs acquisition, deal analysis shows that MLB team performance has little/no correlation to the stock market (thus providing a diversified investment opportunity), with upside of 4-13% IRR.

And in a quintessentially Cubs moment, they also note that “attendance has been consistently strong despite inconsistent on-field performance”:


To Be And To Last: Thinker Nate Desmond’s weekly roundup of long reads, contrarian thoughts, and hidden jewels that aren’t getting enough attention.

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