The Monday Media Diet with Latif Peracha
On Michigan, Brian Eno, and Thinking in Bets
Latif Peracha (LP) is a longstanding friend of WITI. He’s a VC with exceptional taste in art, music, and many other things. His Spotify playlists are legendary. We’ve shared many good moments, from his Iftar meals in Tribeca, to train platforms in St. Anton am Arlberg, to Nick Cave shows in Paris, which I am very keen to re-create in the near future. Have a great week. -Colin (CJN)
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit to a Pakistani father and Palestinian mother. As a child I traveled annually to the Middle East and Pakistan and my identity is very much shaped by my upbringing and education in the midwest and my family roots abroad. Growing up in Michigan I somehow became obsessed with British music and constantly bought overpriced import CDs and read British mags like Q and The FACE (RIP to both of those). I discovered Pulp in high school and have very vivid memories of seeing Portishead and Radiohead play small clubs in Detroit. Afterwards, I attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where I met most of my best friends to this day. They are a diverse bunch - finance geeks, sport jocks, artists and musicians - but all share a bond centered around our midwest sensibilities. I have a borderline unhealthy emotional connection to Ann Arbor and the University.
I am a partner at a venture capital firm called M13 which has offices in Los Angeles and New York and focuses on early stage consumer technology companies. It is an enormous privilege to have a job that allows me to constantly learn about new industries and movements, and to support entrepreneurs who are building the products and services of the future.
My wife and two boys are my world.
Describe your media diet.
I consume a lot of twitter for my day job and of course to follow my University of Michigan beat writers. Probably my favorite twitter follow is @morganhousel who always has some serious nuggets of wisdom and great data to share. I’m not sure how old he is but he is wise beyond his years and a real student of history.
Fred Wilson’s AVC has been a real treat for over a decade and my friend Howard Lindzon has a great newsletter on financial markets. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and he is a voracious reader and is my filter to very good stuff that is always embedded in his stories. I also really enjoy Packy McCormack’s “Not Boring” Substack which comes out weekly and goes deep on both public and private companies (10,000+ words per essay). He has a great writing style that is educational, humorous and insightful which is tough to pull off in business writing. Another substack I love is The Profile by Polina Marinova Pompliano. It comes out every Sunday and features profiles of people from the worlds of culture, sports and business. She has great taste.
Otherwise on a daily basis I subscribe to and read the NYT and The Athletic, which has sustained a very high editorial quality for the serious sports fans out there. I also subscribe to a daily music recommendation called Flow State which is excellent and focuses primarily on lyric-less electronic and ambient music intended to help you work. I listen to Brian Eno’s Thursday Afternoon on a nearly daily basis when I need to really focus. It works in magical ways.
What’s the last great book you read? The Obama autobiography. I particularly enjoyed learning about his younger years and his incredibly quick rise from local Chicago politician to President. He will undoubtedly go down as one of the most prominent figures in our nation’s history and one of its greatest orators. There is no other president in my lifetime so far that could make that claim.
What are you reading now? I’m reading Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets. She is a former poker player and the book stresses the need to focus on good decision making versus focusing on end outcomes. There are also good lessons on understanding risk and the power of meeting in small groups and 1:1 communication within organizations to find the surface area of disagreement.
What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication? The only time I read print is when I am on a plane and I have only been on a plane twice (1 roundtrip!) since COVID which has been a startling change for me. In pre-pandemic days the morning flight from NY to London was a particular favorite for reading hard copies of the FT and NYT from beginning to end. In the summer, you can take off in the early morning sunlight at JFK, finish both papers, have a snooze and land at Heathrow with time to make it to dinner before the sun goes down in London. And you wake up in the morning with no jet lag. I also find cultural reading is easier and more enjoyable in print and that has been a real void in my life over the last year.
Who should everyone be reading that they’re not? I think this is a fairly well read bunch but The Courage to Be Disliked by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi is one I keep coming back to. It is a self-help book in many ways and it focuses on the power of interpersonal relationships and the importance of contributing to a larger community and greater good instead of focusing on the attainment of personal recognition. It also removes all hierarchy for relationships which applies to everything from parenting dynamics to corporate structure.
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone? I would say an app called Podz (disclaimer: M13 is an investor!) that provides a personalized audio news feed comprised of 90 second snippets from podcasts served up based on a user’s interests. The company uses machine learning models to assess the best highlight of any piece of audio, no matter its length or number of contributors. Podcasts are only the beginning and I hope many of the esteemed contributors of WITI will start leveraging their creator tools to reach their audiences! :)
Plane or train? Train. But only if overseas. It is a real travesty that Amtrak is so poor. Its revitalization would be an amazing American comeback story. I will say the one American train ride that is highly underrated is the Amtrak from San Diego to Los Angeles. The train itself isn’t particularly nice but there is no one really on board and the track runs right up against the Pacific and you get a beautiful view of the sea (and skip the traffic!)
Sidenote: I took a very memorable train ride many years ago from Geneva to St. Anton in Austria to meet Colin for a ski trip. Swiss trains: On time, beautifully engineered and with stunning mountains all around. I don’t really remember many plane rides, but I do remember that train ride. Thanks Colin for making that weekend trip from NY to meet me!
What is one place everyone should visit?
Mojave Desert. You can get there in less than 2 hours from Downtown LA if you leave early enough. In a former life, I spent many days there working on Virgin Galactic. Right next to the Spaceport facility there was this graveyard of old plane parts and half sawed off 747s with brands on the wing that don’t exist anymore including TWA and Northwest. It is a big aerospace town with a history of training WWII pilots and is also the home of Scaled Composites, Orbital ATK, Virgin Galactic and about 60 other companies pushing the boundaries of what is possible. The whole place feels otherworldly, and there is a terrific, desolate Thai restaurant in town for lunch.
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. My eternal rabbit hole is music discovery. I have a few amazing friends including WITI contributor Sam Valenti that are very musically inclined and we exchange Spotify playlists all the time. Sam sent me this playlist a couple months ago and it blew my mind. It led me to many discoveries. Spotify has become the ultimate rabbit hole platform for music lovers as its library is so rich and vast. And the AI has gotten so good it understands me better than my wife does.
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Latif (LP)
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