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24 Lessons From Warren Buffett’s Annual Letters To Shareholders

Each year, Warren Buffett writes an open letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. Over the last 40 years, these letters have become an annual required read across the investing world, providing insight into how Buffett and his team think about everything from investment strategy to stock ownership to company culture, and more.

At the age of 26, Nebraska stockbroker and school teacher named Warren Buffett took his “retirement fund” of $174,000 and decided to start his own investment business.

Two decades later, he was a billionaire.

Today, the “Oracle of Omaha’s” net worth is almost $83B — making him the third wealthiest person in the world, after Jeff Bezos (another CEO known for his shareholder letters) and Bill Gates.

Buffet’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns nearly 10% stakes in juggernaut companies like Coca-Cola and Wells Fargo. It also owns 50 subsidiary companies that have 200 more subsidiaries themselves, including Geico (acquired in 1996), Dairy Queen (1997), and Fruit of the Loom (2001).

Many of Berkshire’s acquisitions, however, have not been of household names. The firm’s portfolio is full of quiet successes, including See’s Candy, which Buffett bought for $25M in 1972 (and which brought in more than $1.65B in profit over the next several decades).

Investors in his company have also been rewarded. Since 1965, the price of Berkshire’s Class A stock has increased by more than 2,400,000%. It’s returned an average compounded gain of more than 20% per year — significantly better than the 9.7% enjoyed by the S&P 500 (with dividends included) over the same period.

It’s no wonder Buffett publishes an updated table of Berkshire’s per-share performance alongside the stock index at the beginning of each year’s letter.

Berkshire Hathaway stock performance

Beyond some tremendous wins, Buffett himself is in some ways another quiet success. He preaches the importance of fiscal responsibility, and he still lives in the house he bought in Omaha for $31,000 in 1938. He eats at McDonald’s and drinks “at least five 12-ounce servings” of Coca-Cola every day.

This down-to-earth quality comes through in Buffett’s letters, too. In between accounts of Berkshire’s current holdings, he tells jokes, shares anecdotes, and relates quippy aphorisms to help illuminate his core points.

He mocks himself for making mistakes, and sings the praises of Berkshire’s army of CEO-managers. He offers an investment philosophy grounded not in complicated financial analysis, but often in common sense-based evaluations of what a particular company is worth.

The result is an eminently quotable collection of homespun investing wisdom:

  • “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” (2008)
  • “For investors as a whole, returns decrease as motion increases.” (2005)
  • “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.” (2004)
  • “You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” (2001)

Below, we unpack 24 of the most important lessons from the last four decades of Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholder letters.

Together, they form a compendium of the beliefs and advice of the man widely regarded to be the greatest investor in history.


Executive compensation

1. Executives should only eat what they kill

In 1991, Berkshire Hathaway acquired the H. H. Brown Shoe Company, at the time the leading manufacturer of work shoes in North America. In his shareholder letter that year, Buffett talked about a few of the reasons why.

While Buffett recognized that shoes were a tough industry, he liked that H. H. Brown was profitable. He liked that the company’s CEO, Frank Rooney, would be staying on. And he definitely liked the company’s “most unusual” executive compensation plan, which he wrote, “warms my heart.”

At H. H. Brown, instead of managers getting stock options or guaranteed bonuses, every manager got paid $7,800 a year (the equivalent of about $14,500 today), plus “a designated percentage of the profits of the company after these are reduced by a charge for capital employed.”

Each manager, in other words, would receive a portion of the company’s profits less the amount that they spent, in terms of capital, to generate those profits — a reminder to all that capital was not without costs.

The result of this type of plan was to make each manager at H. H. Brown “stand in the shoes of owners” and truly weigh whether the capital cost of a project was worth the potential results — and if they had a conviction, to have a big incentive to bet on their abilities.

This was perfectly in line with Buffett’s “eat what you kill” philosophy of executive compensation.

Buffett successfully lobbied the leadership of Coca-Cola — the largest position in Buffett’s portfolio, with his ownership share coming in at 6.2% — to cut back on “excessive” executive compensation plans. Image source: pValueWalk

For Buffett, executive bonuses can work to motivate people to go above and beyond, but only when they’re closely tied to personal success in places within an organization where an executive has responsibility.

Too often, for Buffett, executive compensation plans impotently reward managers for nothing more than their firm’s earnings increasing or a stock price rising — outcomes for which the conditions were often created by a previous manager.

“At Berkshire… we use an incentive-compensation system that rewards key managers for meeting targets in their own bailiwicks,” Buffett wrote in his 1985 letter. “We believe good unit performance should be rewarded whether Berkshire stock rises, falls, or stays even. Similarly, we think average performance should earn no special rewards even if our stock should soar.”

At Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett enforces an individualized system of compensation that rewards managers for their personal actions — even if that means, counterintuitively, rewarding managers of individual units when the wider business doesn’t do well.

2. Don’t give your executives stock options as compensation

In 2000, the dotcom bubble burst. Across the world, companies shuttered their doors and investors lost thousands or even millions on their holdings.

At the same time, many executives at companies that had failed or suffered huge losses (and whose shareholders had suffered in turn) received record levels of compensation.

In spring 2001, Cisco’s shareholders had lost a total of 28.6% on their investment — yet CEO John Chambers took home $157M, mostly on his stock options (about $330,000 of that total consisted of direct, cash compensation).

At AOL, where shareholders had lost a total of 54.1%, CEO Steve Case came out with compensation totaling $164M. Again and again, at companies like Citigroup, Tyco, CMGI and others, CEOs made hundreds of millions while their shareholders faced heavy losses.

John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, at Davos in 2010. Source: World Economic Forum

Buffett excoriated these leaders in his 2001 letter to shareholders.

“Charlie [Munger, Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman] and I are disgusted by the situation, so common in the last few years, in which shareholders have suffered billions in losses while the CEOs, promoters, and other higher-ups who fathered these disasters have walked away with extraordinary wealth.”

Buffett has several issues with the practice of CEOs granting themselves stock options as compensation.

First, there’s the problem of dilution. New options grants increase the number of shares of a company, diluting the existing pool of shareholders and reducing the value of shareholders’ current holdings. That means Buffett’s share of that company is worth less than it was before — contrary to Buffett’s beliefs that managers should work to increase the value of his share of the company, not decrease it.

Then there’s the corporate malfeasance possible when executives with a better understanding of their company’s value (or lack thereof) can leverage their own options into undeserved wealth.

Buffett writes, “Many of these [CEOs] were urging investors to buy shares while concurrently dumping their own, sometimes using methods that hid their actions. To their shame, these business leaders view shareholders as patsies, not partners.”

Lastly, options plans often allow firms to give their employees massive amounts of compensation without ever accounting for that compensation properly. Companies spending hundreds of millions giving unrestricted stock units to their employees can do deceptively, without reporting that cost to shareholders. In his 2018 letter, Buffett wrote,

“Managements sometimes assert that their company’s stock-based compensation shouldn’t be counted as an expense. What else could it be — a gift from shareholders?”

As far as his own company, Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett sticks to a ground rule he set down in 1956. As he wrote in 2001, his promise to his shareholders is that neither he nor his Vice Chairman Charlie Munger will take any “cash compensation, restricted stock or option grants that would make our results superior to yours.”

He adds: “Additionally, I will keep well over 99% of my net worth in Berkshire. My wife and I have never sold a share nor do we intend to.”

Stock ownership

3. Buy stock as an owner, not a speculator

When many investors buy stock, they become price-obsessed, constantly checking the ticker to see if they’re up or down money on any given day.

From Buffett’s perspective, buying a stock should follow the same kind of rigorous analysis as buying a business. “If you aren’t willing to own a stock for ten years, don’t even think about owning it for ten minutes,” he wrote in his 1996 letter.

Rather than getting too caught up in the price or recent movement of a stock, Buffett says, instead think about buying into a company that makes great products, that has strong competitive advantages, and can provide you with consistent returns over the long-term.

In short, buy stock in businesses that you would like to own yourself.

“Whenever Charlie and I buy common stocks for Berkshire’s insurance companies… we approach the transaction as if we were buying into a private business,” he wrote in his 1987 letter, “We look at the economic prospects of the business, the people in charge of running it, and the price we must pay. We do not have in mind any time or price for sale.”

Take his investment in (and later acquisition of) the auto insurer GEICO — an acquisition that has been called Buffett’s best ever.

For Buffett, GEICO represented everything he was looking for as an investor. It had a great brand. It had a strong management team that he trusted. And when he first visited the company’s headquarters in 1951, he saw “the huge cost advantage the company enjoyed over the giants of the industry.” The combination of all these factors “set his heart afire.”

In 1951, Buffett made the decision to invest more half of his net worth in GEICO. He increased his holdings dramatically during the bear market of the mid-70s when GEICO was struggling. By 1995, he owned half of the company — and later that year, he arranged to buy the rest.

Warren Buffett admired Lou Simpson, the CIO of Geico from 1979 to 2010, so much that he once said that he would feel comfortable having Simpson replace him at Berkshire Hathaway. Image source: Wikipedia

“We agreed to pay $2.3 billion for the half of the company we didn’t own. That is a steep price. But it gives us full ownership of a growing enterprise whose business remains exceptional for precisely the same reasons that prevailed in 1951,” Buffett wrote in his 1995 letter.

Perhaps no other investment better represents Buffett’s ideal as this 50-year investment in GEICO.

Buffett concedes that those who invest in companies on the speculation that they may one day be worthwhile could reap returns — he just has no interest in that kind of investment. He prefers to invest in companies that are already successful (even if that success is undervalued by the market) and that have a strong chance of continuing success over the long term.

That conviction gives him the ability to buy even bigger portions of the companies in which he invests when the overall market goes into a downturn. With a speculator mentality, Buffett might have offloaded GEICO’s stock in the mid-70’s. With a downturn in progress and healthy gains already realized, he would have come out ahead. With his owner mentality, however, Buffett used the downturn as an opportunity to amass an even greater share of the company.

In 2013, Buffett reported that GEICO had generated $73B for Berkshire Hathaway in one year — a significant single year return for a company that it cost Buffett just $2.3B to buy half of.


Download the free report to get insight into Buffett’s views on market volatility, value investing, and more.


4. Don’t ignore the value of intangible assets

Companies have both tangible assets (factories, capital, inventory) and intangible assets, which include things like reputation and brand. For Buffett, those intangible things are of the utmost importance for value-driven investors.

But he didn’t always believe that.

Earlier in his investing career, he admits, he was a servant of tangible assets only.

“I was taught to favor tangible assets and to shun businesses whose value depended largely upon economic Goodwill,” he wrote in 1983. “This bias caused me to make many important business mistakes of omission, although relatively few of commission.”

By 1983, however, Buffett’s attitude had changed — largely because of the success of one of his favorite businesses at the time, See’s Candy Stores.

In the early 70s, See’s was able to produce about $2M a year (after tax) on just $8M in net tangible assets (including all accounts receivable.) For a shop chain like See’s, that far exceeded expectations — and the reason for it, according to Buffett, was that the company enjoyed a subjective competitive advantage in the form of “a pervasive favorable reputation with consumers based upon countless pleasant experiences they have had with both product and personnel.”

Berkshire Hathaway bought See’s, and by 1982, it was up to producing $13M after taxes on just $20M in net tangible assets.

When Berkshire Hathaway or anyone else buys a company, they pay a premium for the company’s subjective assets. That premium is the company’s “economic goodwill.”

When Berkshire first acquired See’s, they paid a small multiple to account for the fact that See’s was able to earn 25% of net tangible assets after tax — an impressive rate of return for a candy business. A few years later, however, See’s was earning 65% of its net tangible assets after tax.

Berkshire had paid a small premium upon acquisition to account for the company’s subjective advantage over other candy stores, but just a couple years later, that advantage had increased and made See’s an even more robust and profitable business. And this was an advantage that Buffett was beginning to see was inflation-proof.

During inflation, the conventional wisdom has been that businesses with lots of tangible capital resources were the best bets. With their factories and machinery, the thinking went, they could better weather the market impact of widespread lower purchasing power and higher costs.

However, Buffett found that “asset-heavy businesses generally earn lower rates of return… that often barely provide enough capital to fund the inflationary needs of existing businesses.”

Because of the success of See’s, Buffett realized that companies with relatively few tangible assets and “combined intangibles of lasting value” ultimately do best in an inflationary environment, because they have less costs to cover and higher rates of return on their existing capital.

“During inflation, Goodwill is the gift that keeps giving,” he concludes.

Market volatility

5. Ignore short-term movements in stock prices

For the layman stock investor, the price is everything — buy low, sell high. There’s even a Wall Street proverb to this effect: “you can’t go broke taking a profit.”

Buffett disagrees completely with this approach, and ranks this maxim as perhaps the “most foolish” of all of Wall Street’s sayings. And with Berkshire’s portfolio, he is adamant that the price of a stock is one of the least important factors to consider when deciding whether to buy or sell shares in a particular company.

The company’s operations and underlying value are the only things that matters, to Buffett. That’s because the price of a stock, on any given day, is mostly dictated by the whims of “Mr. Market” (Buffett’s metaphor for the mercurial movements of the broader stock market).

“Without fail, Mr. Market appears daily and names a price at which he will either buy your interest or sell you his… Sad to say, the poor fellow has incurable emotional problems,” Buffett wrote in his 1987 letter.

For Buffett, investors succeed when they can ignore Mr. Market and his up-and-down emotional states. Instead, they look at whether the companies that they’re invested in are profitable, returning dividends to investors, maintaining high product quality, and so on.

Eventually, Buffett says, the market will catch up and reward those companies.

“In the short run, the market is a voting machine,” he writes, quoting Benjamin Graham, “But in the long run it is a weighing machine.”

6. Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful

In the aftermath of the 2007 — 2008 financial crisis, few economic dogmas were hit harder than the efficient markets hypothesis, or the idea that the price of an asset reflects the market’s rational assessment of available information about it.

When it became clear that executives at some of the biggest banks on earth systematically underestimated the risks inherent to the assets they were trading in, it became difficult to defend the idea that prices were truly ever set rationally.

In the aftermath of the crisis, retail and institutional investors offloaded massive numbers of stocks in businesses weak and strong. Buffett, however, went on a personal buying spree, even penning an impassioned New York Times op-ed titled “Buy American” about the billions he had spent buying up marked-down stock.

Buffett is a moderate on the question of efficient markets and rational actors. Reflecting on the financial crisis, its consequences, and his profits from it, he wrote in 2017,

“Though markets are generally rational, they occasionally do crazy things. Seizing the opportunities then offered does not require great intelligence, a degree in economics or a familiarity with Wall Street jargon.”

Buffett believes that markets are generally efficient. That’s why he generally advises against bargain-hunting or “timing” your entry into a market: because trying to outsmart the wisdom of the crowd that sets prices is virtually impossible.

Buffett also believes that there are world-historical phases where all of that goes out the window — natural disasters, crashes, and other moments where emotions take over and rationalism  flies out the window. He goes on,

“What investors then need instead is an ability to both disregard mob fears or enthusiasms and to focus on a few simple fundamentals. A willingness to look unimaginative for a sustained period – or even to look foolish – is also essential.”

In uncertain or chaotic times, Buffett believes that savvy investors should continue looking at the fundamental value of companies, seeking companies that able to sustain their competitive advantage for a long time, and investing with an owner’s mentality. If investors can do that, they’ll naturally tend to go in the opposite direction of the herd—to “be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful,” as he wrote in 2004.

His reasoning is simple: when others are fearful, prices go down, but prices are only likely to remain low in the short term. In the long term, Buffett is bullish on any business that creates great products, has great management, and offers great competitive advantages.

By piling cash into distressed American companies like General Electric, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America during the 2008 financial crisis, Buffett reportedly made $10B by 2013.

7. Save your money in peacetime so you can buy more during war

In 1973, Buffett made one of his most successful investments ever in the Washington Post.

At the time, the Post was widely regarded to have a value somewhere between $400M — $500M — though its stock ticker put it at only $100M. That was, for Buffett, a signal to buy. For just $10M, he was able to acquire more than 1.7M shares.

The underlying philosophy here is simple: hold onto your money when money is cheap, and spend aggressively when money is expensive.

In 1973, the country was still in the grips of a stock market crash that had begun in January. That slow-motion crash created a two-year-long bear market — the Dow Jones began 1973 at 1020 and was at 616 by the end of 1974. Shares of Coca-Cola, one of Buffett’s major stocks, plummeted from $149.75 to $44.50. Across the board, companies whose fundamentals had not changed were dramatically, in Buffett’s estimation, from the 1973 economic downturn

1973 marked the beginning of one of the biggest stock market downturns in history, particularly in the UK. Image source: Paul Townsend

The Washington Post’s stock suffered too, even after Buffett’s acquisition. After the end of 1974, the Post had officially been a loser for Berkshire Hathaway, falling from a value of $10.6M to $8M. But Buffett had a conviction the company’s fortunes would turn, and he knew he had picked up the company at a great price, despite the fact that it had fallen even more.

By the time Jeff Bezos acquired the paper in 2013, Buffett’s 1.7M share stake was worth about $1.01B — a more than 9,000% return.

“Every decade or so, dark clouds will fill the economic skies, and they will briefly rain gold,” Buffett wrote in 2016. “When downpours of that sort occur, it’s imperative that we rush outdoors carrying washtubs, not teaspoons.”

Investment strategy

8. Don’t invest in businesses that are too complex to fully understand

When Berkshire Hathaway announced that it was taking a $1B stake in Apple in 2016, it surprised many of the company’s long-time observers — not because of Apple’s business model or stock price, but because Buffett had long claimed to have “insufficient understanding” of technology to invest in tech companies.

They were right to be suspicious: a few weeks later, Buffett confirmed that it was one of his recent manager hires who had pulled the trigger on the deal.

In his 1986 letter to shareholders, Buffett laid out the different aspects he and Munger were looking for in new companies, including “simple businesses.” He even went so far as to say that “if there’s lots of technology, we won’t understand it.”

More specifically, Buffett’s model states that it’s inadvisable to invest in a business where you cannot predict whether the company will have a long-term (20+ years or more) competitive advantage.

bitcoin symbol In May 2018, Buffett criticized Bitcoin buyers for “just hoping the next guy pays more” for an asset without intrinsic value. ”You aren’t investing when you do that, you’re speculating.”  

In his 2007 letter, Buffett expands on his thinking about which kinds of businesses he prefers to invest in. “A truly great business must have an enduring ‘moat’ that protects excellent returns on invested capital,” he writes, “The dynamics of capitalism guarantee that competitors will repeatedly assault any business ‘castle’ that is earning high returns.”

When Buffett invests, he is not looking at the innovative potential of the company or, in a vacuum, its growth potential. He is looking for a competitive advantage.

“The key to investing is not assessing how much an industry is going to affect society, or how much it will grow,” he writes “But rather determining the competitive advantage of any given company and, above all, the durability of that advantage.”

In 1999, when Wall Street analysts were extolling the virtues of virtually every dotcom stock on the market, Buffett was seeing a repeat of an earlier time: the invention of the automobile.

When the car was first invented, a naive investor might have thought that virtually every automobile stock was guaranteed to succeed. At one point, there were 2,000 separate car brands just in the United States. Of course, those didn’t all last.

“If you had foreseen, in the early days of cars, how this industry would develop, you would have said, ‘Here is the road to riches,’” Buffett writes. “So what did we progress to by the 1990s?” he asks. “After corporate carnage that never let up, we came down to three US car companies.”

He observes that the airplane industry suffered similarly. While the technological innovation was even more impressive than the car, the industry as a whole could be said to have failed most of its investors. By 1992, the collection of all airline companies produced in the United States had produced a total of no profits whatsoever.

His conclusion about dotcom stocks at the time was simple: there will be a few winners, and an overwhelming majority of losers.

Correctly picking the winners requires understanding which companies are building a competitive advantage that will be defensible over the very long term. During the dotcom boom, that meant understanding how the infrastructure of the web would change over the next several decades — an impossible task for any observer at the time.

Buffett prefers to keep it simple, as he makes clear in his 1996 letter.

“Your goal as an investor should simply be to purchase, at a rational price, a part interest in an easily-understandable business whose earnings are virtually certain to be materially higher five, ten, and twenty years from now.”

As for his lieutenants: Buffett hired Todd Combs and Ted Weschler in 2016, and allowed them to take positions without consulting with him beforehand. While Buffett himself may not feel comfortable taking a position in a company like Apple, he concedes that others might have stronger convictions about the future potential of an investment like that.

9. Invest in unsexy companies that build products people need

In his 1996 letter to shareholders, Buffett recounts Coca-Cola’s 1896 shareholder report, admiring how the company had set — and closely followed — its 100-year growth plan, while the core product of the company had not changed at all.

Buffett uses the example of Coca-Cola to explain one of the biggest tenets of his and Charlie Munger’s investing philosophy: invest in boring companies that are likely to be around for a long time, and avoid investing in anything innovative or revolutionary, no matter the returns you think it might achieve.

photo of an cold coca-cola vending machine Coca-Cola’s product has not changed in any meaningful way in over 100 years — just the way that Buffett, as both an investor and as a consumer, likes it.

“I should emphasize that, as citizens, Charlie and I welcome change: fresh ideas, new products, innovative processes and the like cause our country’s standard of living to rise, and that’s clearly good,” Buffett states in his 1996 letter.

“As investors, however, our reaction to a fermenting industry is much like our attitude toward space exploration. We applaud the endeavor but prefer to skip the ride.”

Buffett goes on to discuss the Berkshire portfolio, which he says features all companies where he and Munger do not expect the underlying industries to change in a major way.

McDonald’s, Wells Fargo, Gillette, American Express, Walt Disney — Buffett’s portfolio looks to some investors like a safe and generic mix, but it is rooted in a philosophy of long-term success.

“We are searching for operations that we believe are virtually certain to possess enormous competitive strength ten or twenty years from now,” he writes, “A fast-changing industry environment may offer the chance for huge wins, but it precludes the certainty we seek.”

This isn’t just Buffett’s philosophy, either. It’s been the philosophy behind some of his favorite companies, including Coca-Cola.

When Coca-Cola first started, it was turning something relatively cheap to produce — syrup — into a branded product. Over 100+ years, that brand has grown to encompass a broad range of human emotions and aspirations.

“‘Buy commodities, sell brands has long been a formula for business success. It has produced enormous and sustained profits for Coca-Cola since 1886,” he wrote in his 2011 letter.

Just as Coca-Cola built an empire buying syrup and selling a lifestyle, Buffett has made Berkshire Hathaway an empire by buying boring companies and selling their ever-returning dividends.

10. Stock buybacks are often the best use of corporate cash

Since Apple first began buying back its own stock in 2012, it has become one of most prolific stock repurchasers in history.

In H1’18, Apple set a record with $43.5B of stock buybacks. In May, it announced an additional $100B would be spent buying back Apple stock.

Some claimed the company lacked imagination, and simply couldn’t figure out a more productive way to spend those billions.

One might expect a figure like Buffett — simple, no nonsense, and focused on intrinsic value — to balk at the energetic spending of capital on stock repurchases. Instead, he was delighted, especially by the idea that his 5% stake in the company might be able to grow to 6% or 7% simply because the company chose to buy back some of its stock.

Buffett is a bigger advocate of buybacks than many other investors and neutral observers of the stock market. At Berkshire Hathaway’s 2004 meeting, he claimed that “when stock can be bought below a business’s value, it is probably the best use of cash” for a company.

Apple headquarters in Cupertino. Apple’s $100B buyback plan, announced in spring 2018, made it the most prolific stock repurchaser in history. Photo Source: Wikipedia

The classic criticism of buybacks is that firms are spending money that should be spend on R&D and product improvement to buy back their own stock and boost the stock’s price — an artificial improvement to the ticker that doesn’t reflect an intrinsic increase in the value of the business.

While Buffett does disagree with executives who buy back their company’s shares simply because they have the cash to do it or to inflate earnings, he also believes in buying stocks when they’re underpriced.

When a company buys back its own stock because it sees that it is underpriced (according to the company’s estimation of its intrinsic value), it increases the ownership share of every shareholder in a way that Buffett likes:

“If Charlie and I think an investee’s stock is underpriced, we rejoice when management employs some of its earnings to increase Berkshire’s ownership percentage,” he wrote in his 2018 letter.

But when a company buys back its own stock while it is priced at or above the stock’s intrinsic value, the company is by definition overpaying. And a company that is in the habit of overpaying for anything — be it stock buybacks or new acquisitions — is not a good hold for a careful shareholder.

“Buying dollar bills for $1.10 is not good business for those who stick around,” Buffett wrote in 1999.

The most common culprits, for Buffett, are the kinds of executives who determine that they’re going to buy a certain amount of stock over a certain period of time.

For Buffett, there’s no difference between a CEO announcing this kind of stock repurchasing plan and a retail investor saying, “No matter the price, I will buy ‘X’ shares of Berkshire Hathaway over the next ‘Y’ months”— an investment strategy even he would deem incredibly foolish.

For Buffett, it is always “buy when it’s cheap” — never “buy just because.”

Value investing

11. Never invest because you think a company is a bargain

Buffett’s distrust of bargains comes mostly from a series of poor acquisitions and investments he made early on in the life of Berkshire Hathaway.

One striking example that he discusses at length in his 1979 letter to shareholders is that of Waumbec Mills in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Buffett decided to purchase Waumbec Mills a few years prior because the business was priced so low — in fact, the price was below the working capital of the business itself, meaning Buffett acquired “very substantial amounts of machinery and real estate for less than nothing,” as he wrote in 1979.

It was, by all accounts, an incredible deal. But despite the appealing nature of the deal, the acquisition still turned out to be a mistake for Berkshire Hathaway. No matter how hard the company worked to turn the struggling business around, it could not get any traction.

The textile industry had simply gone into a downturn.

“In the end,” Buffett wrote in 1985, “Nothing worked and I should be faulted for not quitting sooner. A recent Business Week article stated that 250 textile mills have closed since 1980. Their owners were not privy to any information that was unknown to me; they simply processed it more objectively.”

Ultimately, Buffett’s distaste for cheap companies and their problems means that while some investors argue the merits of taking large positions in companies, Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway are comfortable taking relatively small positions in more expensive firms.

“At Berkshire, we much prefer owning a non-controlling but substantial portion of a wonderful company to owning 100% of a so-so business. It’s better to have a partial interest in the Hope Diamond than to own all of a rhinestone,” he wrote in 2014.

12. Don’t invest only because you expect a company to grow

Buffett is known for his advocacy of the value investing paradigm — buying shares of companies that are underpriced relative to their value according to some kind of analysis of company fundamentals, meaning its dividend yield, price-to-earnings multiple, price-to-book ratio, and so on.

Buffett’s personal formulation of the strategy is simply “finding an outstanding company at a sensible price” as opposed to finding mediocre companies for cheap prices.

But his embrace of “value investing” does not mean Buffett is skeptical of growth — it just means he avoids investing in companies solely because he thinks they have the potential to grow much larger than they are.

For a long time, however, Buffett notes in his 1992 letter, investors interested in “value” and investors interested in “growth” have been considered to be at odds.

Growth investors, the thinking goes, primarily look for companies that show they can grow at an above average rate. Companies that growth investors like might look expensive today, but are worth it if they are going to grow at or above the expected rate.

Value investors, on the other hand, purportedly ignore potential growth as a function in their fundamental analysis.

Buffett rejects this contrast, proudly proclaiming that “growth and value investing are joined at the hip.”

“Most analysts feel they must choose between two approaches customarily thought to be in opposition: ‘value’ and ‘growth,’” he wrote in his 1992 letter.

“We view that as fuzzy thinking (in which, it must be confessed, I myself engaged some years ago)… Growth is always a component in the calculation of value, constituting a variable whose importance can range from negligible to enormous and whose impact can be negative as well as positive,” he adds.

Value investing, for Buffett, means “seeking value at least sufficient to justify the amount paid.” Valuing a company higher because you expect it to exhibit healthy long-term growth is not the same as investing in a company solely because you believe it will grow and then justifying your valuation — a practice which Buffett is not fond of.

13. Never use your own stock to make acquisitions

One of Buffett’s self-proclaimed worst mistakes as an investor came with his all-stock acquisition of Dexter Shoe Company in 1993.

This was one of Berkshire Hathaway’s first major acquisitions in its transition to earning most of its revenue by acquiring other companies. Before this, Berkshire Hathaway had mostly made money from investing in stocks.

With Dexter Shoe, Buffett picked possibly the worst company to help in this transition.

Within a few years, the relatively high priced Dexter shoes were driven out of the market by a flood of cheap, imported versions. The price of the company went to virtually zero within just a few years. “What I had assessed as durable competitive advantage vanished within a few years,” he would write in his 2007 letter. He called it the worst deal of his entire career.

After Dexter Shoe fully shut down production in 2001, the town of Dexter went into a depression. According to Bloomberg, as of 2017, it has still not recovered. Image source: Wikipedia

What made this deal even worse for Buffett was the fact that he had conducted the deal not in cash — as he would virtually every other acquisition made through Berkshire Hathaway — but in Berkshire stock.

“By using Berkshire stock, I compounded this error hugely. That move made the cost to Berkshire shareholders not $400 million, but rather $3.5 billion. In essence, I gave away 1.6% of a wonderful business – one now valued at $220 billion – to buy a worthless business.”

Buying Dexter Shoe would have been a mistake either way, but using Berkshire stock to buy the company made the problem even worse. Instead of spending cash, Buffett spent a percentage of a business that proceeded to dramatically outperform the S&P 500 for the next decade. Each year that followed, his acquisition of Dexter Shoe became more and more expensive in retrospect, rubbing the salt in the wound.

“My error caused Berkshire shareholders to give far more than they received (a practice that – despite the Biblical endorsement – is far from blessed when you are buying businesses).”

“Today, I would rather prep for a colonoscopy than issue Berkshire shares,” he later wrote.


Download the free report to get insight into Buffett’s views on market volatility, value investing, and more.


Global economics

14. America is not in decline — it’s becoming more and more efficient

In 2009, while America was still gripped by the effects of the Great Recession, Berkshire Hathaway made one of its largest purchases ever: BNSF Railway Company.

He called it an “all-in wager on the economic future of the United States.”

While Buffett believes that other countries, particularly China, have very strong economic growth ahead of them, he is still bullish, above all, for his home turf of the United States.

Buffett, who was born in Omaha in 1930 and got his start in business working in his grandfather’s grocery store, is fond of making historical references in his annual shareholder letters. “Think back to December 6, 1941, October 18, 1987, and September 10, 2001″, he writes in his 2010 letter, “No matter how serene today may be, tomorrow is always uncertain.”

But, he adds, one should not take from any calamity the idea that America is in decline or at risk — life in America has improved dramatically just since his own birth, and is improving further everyday.

“Throughout my lifetime, politicians and pundits have constantly moaned about terrifying problems facing America. Yet our citizens now live an astonishing six times better than when I was born. The prophets of doom have overlooked the all-important factor that is certain: Human potential is far from exhausted, and the American system for unleashing that potential – a system that has worked wonders for over two centuries despite frequent interruptions for recessions and even a Civil War – remains alive and effective.”

The core of that success, for Buffett, is America’s particular blend of free markets and capitalism.

“The dynamism embedded in our market economy will continue to work its magic,” he wrote in 2014, “Gains won’t come in a smooth or uninterrupted manner; they never have. And we will regularly grumble about our government. But, most assuredly, America’s best days lie ahead… Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers.”

For Buffett, it is this mixture of system, mentality, and circumstance that has allowed “America’s economic magic” to remain “alive and well.”

Buffett’s belief in the American dream is so strong that he is willing to make huge, capital-intensive investments in companies like BNSF and Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE) — companies that require large amounts of debt (of which Buffett is not fond) but which, so far, have generated high returns for the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio.

By 2016,  BNSF and BHE combined made up 33% of all of Berkshire Hathaway’s yearly operating earnings.

“Each company has earning power that even under terrible economic conditions would far exceed its interest requirements,” he wrote that year, “Our confidence is justified both by our past experience and by the knowledge that society will forever need huge investments in both transportation and energy.”


15. Embrace the virtue of sloth

Asked to imagine a “successful investor,” many would imagine someone who is hyperactive — constantly on the phone, completing deals, and networking.

Warren Buffett could not be farther from that image of the hustling networker. In fact, he is an advocate of a much more passive, 99% sloth-like approach to investing. For him, it is CEOs and shareholders’ constant action — buying and selling of stocks, hiring and firing of financial advisers — that creates losses.

“Long ago,” he wrote in his 2005 letter, “Sir Isaac Newton gave us three laws of motion, which were the work of genius. But Sir Isaac’s talents didn’t extend to investing: He lost a bundle in the South Sea Bubble, explaining later, ‘I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men.’”

“If he had not been traumatized by this loss, Sir Isaac might well have gone on to discover the Fourth Law of Motion: For investors as a whole, returns decrease as motion increases,” he adds.

a beautiful slothImage source: Carol Schaffer

Buffett is a big advocate of inaction. In his 1996 letter, he explains why: almost every investor in the markets is better served by buying a few reliable stocks and holding on to them long-term rather than trying to time their buying and selling with market cycles.

“The art of investing in public companies successfully is little different from the art of successfully acquiring subsidiaries,” he writes, “In each case you simply want to acquire, at a sensible price, a business with excellent economics and able, honest management. Thereafter, you need only monitor whether these qualities are being preserved.”

“When carried out capably, an investment strategy of that type will often result in its practitioner owning a few securities that will come to represent a very large portion of his portfolio… To suggest that this investor should sell off portions of his most successful investments simply because they have come to dominate his portfolio is akin to suggesting that the Bulls trade Michael Jordan because he has become so important to the team,” he adds.

Buffett’s warning was a prescient one for retail investors who decided to take it. From 1997 to 2016, the average active stock investor only made about 4% returns annually, compared to 10% returns for the S&P 500 index as a whole. In other words, constantly buying and selling stock, and thinking that you can get an advantage from your instincts or analysis, has been proven to lead, in most cases, to smaller gains. And not just for your average retail investor.

“Lethargy bordering on sloth remains the cornerstone of our investment style,” Buffett wrote in his 1990 letter, and the difficulty of making any kind of money from buying and selling stocks is the very reason why. “Inactivity,” he adds, “strikes us an intelligent behavior.”

16. Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre

By 1989, Warren Buffett was convinced that buying Berkshire Hathaway had been his first big mistake as an investor.

(By 2010, Buffett would say it was his biggest mistake ever — according to him, buying the company rather than insurance companies directly denied him returns of approximately $200B over the next 45 years.)

He bought Berkshire Hathaway because it was cheap. He knew that any temporary “hiccup” in the fortunes of the company would give him a good opportunity to offload the business for a profit.

The problem with that method, he reflects, is that mediocre companies (the kind that get offloaded for cheap in the first place) cost money in the time between you acquiring it and you selling it for a profit.

The approach of the more mature Buffett is to never invest in a company that can be a success if held for a short period of time. It is to only invest in companies that can succeed over an extremely long period of time, like 100 years or more.

“Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre.”

No business that is not generating value over the long-term is worth holding on to, and holding on to a bad business is never going to be a good investing strategy. This observation is important for Buffett, and for his overall conservative strategy in the market.

“The finding may seem unfair, but in both business and investments it is usually far more profitable to simply stick with the easy and obvious than it is to resolve the difficult,” he writes.

This philosophy extends to how Buffett thinks about finding managers.

“Our goal is to attract long-term owners who, at the time of purchase, have no timetable or price target for sale but plan instead to stay with us indefinitely,” he wrote in his 1988 letter, “We don’t understand the CEO who wants lots of stock activity, for that can be achieved only if many of his owners are constantly exiting. At what other organization — school, club, church, etc. — do leaders cheer when members leave?”

17. Complex financial instruments are dangerous liabilities

In 1998, Berkshire Hathaway purchased “General Re,” or the General Reinsurance Corporation.

In his 2008 letter, Buffett relates how he and Charlie Munger realized immediately that the business was going to be a problem.

General Re had been operating as a dealer in the swap and derivatives market, making money on futures, options on various foreign currencies and stock exchanges, credit default swaps, and other financial products.

While Buffett himself has professed to using derivatives at times to put certain investment and de-risking strategies into action, what he saw at General Re concerned him greatly.

General Re had 23,218 derivatives contracts with 884 separate counter-parties — a massive number of different contracts, most of which were with companies that neither Buffett nor Munger had ever heard of, and that they would never be able to untangle.

“I could have hired 15 of the smartest people, you know, math majors, PhD’s. I could have given them carte blanche to devise any reporting system that would enable me to get my mind around what exposure that I had, and it wouldn’t have worked,” he would later say.

It took Buffett and Munger five years and more than $400M in order to wind down General Re’s derivatives business, but they incurred those costs happily because they simply “could not get their minds around” a derivatives book of that size and complexity, and had no interest in owning a risky business they did not understand.

“Upon leaving,” he wrote, “Our feelings about the business mirrored a line in a country song: ‘I liked you better before I got to know you so well.’”

Warren Buffett with Barack Obama, whose administration pursued action to curb the use of complex financial derivatives in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. 

Buffett’s problem is less with the financial products themselves and more with the motivations behind using them to make a company’s quarterly numbers look better.

The reason that many CEOs use derivatives, Buffett says, is to hedge risks inherent to their business — like Burlington Northern (a railroad company) using fuel derivatives to protect its business model against an increase in the price of fuel.

A railroad like Burlington Northern might buy a futures contract, for example, that entitles them to buy fuel at a certain fixed price at a certain fixed point in the future. If the price of fuel stays the same or decreases, they still have to buy at the elevated price. However, if the price of fuel rises, they will be insulated from that increase and lower the damage to their business.

For Buffett, the problem with using derivatives to make money, rather than hedge bets, is twofold:

  • Eventually, you’re going to lose just as much money on them as you win in the short-term
  • Derivatives inevitably open up your business to incalculable amounts of risk

Putting derivatives on your balance sheets always puts a volatile, unpredictable element into play. And it’s not one that can be fixed with regulation.

“Improved ‘transparency’ — a favorite remedy of politicians, commentators and financial regulators for averting future train wrecks — won’t cure the problems that derivatives pose. I know of no reporting mechanism that would come close to describing and measuring the risks in a huge and complex portfolio of derivatives,” he wrote.

“Auditors can’t audit these contracts, and regulators can’t regulate them,” he added.

18. Investment banker incentives are usually not your incentives

While Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway conduct plenty of business with investment banks and have invested in a few, he has issued some pointed criticisms at the industry over the years.

His main problem with investment bankers is that their financial incentive is always to encourage action (sales, acquisitions, and mergers) whether or not doing so is in the interest of the company initiating the action.

“Investment bankers, being paid as they are for action, constantly urge acquirers to pay 20% to 50% premiums over market price for publicly-held businesses. The bankers tell the buyer that the premium is justified for ‘control value’ and for the wonderful things that are going to happen once the acquirer’s CEO takes charge. (What acquisition-hungry manager will challenge that assertion?) A few years later, bankers – bearing straight faces – again appear and just as earnestly urge spinning off the earlier acquisition in order to ‘unlock shareholder value,’” he writes.

Sometimes this thirst for action even leads them to use fuzzy accounting to value the companies they’re selling.

His frustration with investment banker math reached its boiling point in his 1986 letter to shareholders, in which he dissected the value of Berkshire’s latest acquisition, the Scott Fetzer Company.

Buffett does not believe that standard GAAP accounting figures always give an accurate idea of what a company is worth, so he walks through a valuation of Scott Fetzer Company to explain why Berkshire purchased the company.

He wanted to show that typically, when one looks at a company through the lens of the earnings it will produce for its owners, the result is sobering relative to the company’s GAAP numbers — and that investment bankers and others use faulty numbers to push the companies they’re selling.

“All of this points up the absurdity of the ‘cash flow’ numbers that are often set forth in Wall Street reports. These numbers routinely include [earnings] plus [depreciation, amortization, etc.] — but do not subtract [capital expenditure and the cost of maintaining its competitive position].”

“Most sales brochures of investment bankers also feature deceptive presentations of this kind,” he adds. “These imply that the business being offered is the commercial counterpart of the Pyramids — forever state-of-the-art, never needing to be replaced, improved or refurbished. Indeed, if all U.S. corporations were to be offered simultaneously for sale through our leading investment bankers — and if the sales brochures describing them were to be believed — governmental projections of national plant and equipment spending would have to be slashed by 90%.”

For Buffett, investment bankers are too often simply using whatever math is most preferable for their preferred outcome, whether or not it is deceptive to the buyers and sellers involved in the transaction.


19. Leaders should live the way they want their employees to live

In his 2010 shareholder letter, Warren Buffett provided a breakdown of all the money that is spent outfitting Berkshire’s “World Headquarters” in Omaha, Nebraska:

  • Rent (annual): $270,212
  • Equipment/supplies/food/etc: $301,363

By 2017, Berkshire Hathaway had hit about $1M in total annual overhead, according to the Omaha World-Herald — a paltry sum for a company with $223B in annual revenues.

The point of this breakdown is not to show off Berkshire’s decentralized structure, which offsets most operational costs to the businesses under the Berkshire umbrella, but to explain Berkshire’s culture of cost-consciousness. For Buffett, this culture must begin at the top.

Warren Buffett bought this house for $31,000 in 1958. It’s now worth an estimated $650,000. He still lives in it today. Image source: Smallbones

“Cultures self-propagate,” he writes, “Winston Churchill once said, ‘You shape your houses and then they shape you.’ That wisdom applies to businesses as well. Bureaucratic procedures beget more bureaucracy, and imperial corporate palaces induce imperious behavior… As long as Charlie and I treat your money as if it were our own, Berkshire’s managers are likely to be careful with it as well.”

For Buffett, there’s no reason for the CEOs of Berkshire’s companies to be careful with money if Charlie, him, and the inhabitants of Berkshire Hathaway’s HQ cannot be equally careful with it—so he insists on setting this culture from the top.

20. Hire people who have no need to work

In letter after letter, Buffett reminds his readers that the true stars of Berkshire Hathaway are not him or Charlie Munger — they are the managers that run the various companies under the Berkshire Hathaway umbrella.

“We possess a cadre of truly skilled managers who have an unusual commitment to their own operations and to Berkshire. Many of our CEOs are independently wealthy and work only because they love what they do… Because no one can offer them a job they would enjoy more, they can’t be lured away.”

Warren Buffett’s hiring strategy, as he explains it, is relatively simple: find people who love what they do and have no need for money, and then give them the most enjoyable job they could possibly have. Never force them into a meeting, or a phone call, or even a conversation — just let them work. It is to this strategy that Buffett credits much of the success of both Berkshire and its many companies.

“There are managers to whom I have not talked in the last year, while there is one with whom I talk almost daily,” he adds.

Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting, which no Berkshire CEO is required to attend. Image source: Stefan Krasowski

There’s very little that defines the kind of person that Buffett hires beyond these qualifications. “Some have MBAs; others never finished college,” he writes, “Some use budgets and are by-the-book types; others operate by the seat of their pants. Our team resembles a baseball squad composed of all-stars having vastly different batting styles… [changes] are seldom required.”

Whatever the mentality of the manager, the key is to give them the freedom in how to work and ensure that they get the most fulfillment out of it as possible, an ideal that Buffett sees as less of a science and more an art.

“Managers of this stripe cannot be “hired” in the normal sense of the word. What we must do is provide a concert hall in which business artists of this class will wish to perform,” he writes.

21. Compensation committees have sent CEO pay out of control

In 2017, word got out that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer had been making a staggering $900K a week during her five years at the beleaguered company. This was a massive sum even by Silicon Valley standards, and many were shocked that someone with such a poor record made out so well.

Yahoo wasn’t doing well when she arrived, but many said her management style and decisions made it worse. She resigned in 2017 after the company was sold to Verizon.

CEOs didn’t use to command such enormous sums. Prior to World War I, the average annual salary of an executive at a large corporation was $9,958, or $220,000 in today’s dollars. Between 1936 and the mid-1970s the average CEO was paid about $1M a year in today’s money. By 2017, that average pay had ballooned to $18.9M, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

What happened?

Well, many things. But Buffett believes part of the answer lies with the compensation committees that determine the CEO’s pay package.

There’s often a cozy relationship between members and the CEO. Board members are well compensated, and if you want to be invited to serve on other boards, then making waves isn’t going to help. Buffett notes in his 2005 letter: “Though I have served as a director of twenty public companies, only one CEO has put me on his comp committee. Hmmmm . . .”

Buffett identifies the problem in the comparative data the committees use to determine a CEO’s compensation package. This has led to a rapid inflation in which the offers get bigger and more loaded with perks and payments. There’s little tied to performance.

“The drill is simple,” he wrote in his 2005 letter, “Three or so directors – not chosen by chance – are bombarded for a few hours before a board meeting with pay statistics that perpetually ratchet upwards. Additionally, the committee is told about new perks that other managers are receiving. In this manner, outlandish ‘goodies’ are showered upon CEOs simply because of a corporate version of the argument we all used when children: ‘But, Mom, all the other kids have one.’”

Despite poor performance as CEO, Marissa Mayer made millions during her time at Yahoo, and walked away with a massive severance package after she resigned. Image source: World Economic Forum


22. Never use borrowed money to buy stocks

If there’s a practice that infuriates Warren Buffett more than poorly structured executive compensation plans, it is going into debt to buy stocks or excessively finance acquisitions.

Much of Berkshire’s early success came down to the intelligent use of leverage on relatively cheap stocks, as a 2013 study from AQR Capital Management and Copenhagen Business School showed. But Buffett’s main problem is not with the concept of debt — it is with the type of high-interest, variable-rate debt that consumer investors must take on if they want to use it to buy stocks.

When ordinary people borrow money to buy stocks, they’re putting their livelihoods in the hands of a market whose swings can be random and violent, even when it comes to a reliable stock like Berkshire’s. In doing so, they risk potentially losing much more than their initial investment.

“For the last 53 years, [Berkshire] has built value by reinvesting its earnings and letting compound interest work its magic. Year by year, we have moved forward. Yet Berkshire shares have suffered four truly major dips.”

On four separate occasions, Berkshire’s stock fell by 37% or more within the span of just a few weeks. 

“This table,” he writes, “Offers the strongest argument I can muster against ever using borrowed money to own stocks. There is simply no telling how far stocks can fall in a short period. Even if your borrowings are small and your positions aren’t immediately threatened by the plunging market, your mind may well become rattled by scary headlines and breathless commentary. And an unsettled mind will not make good decisions.”

When a stock falls by more than 37%, a highly-leveraged investor stands a fair chance of incurring a margin call, where their broker calls and asks them to deposit more money in their account or risk having the rest of their securities portfolio liquidated to cover the losses.

“We believe it is insane to risk what you have and need in order to obtain what you don’t need,” Buffett writes. That’s why Buffett is a fan of some kinds of debt, just not the kind that can leave consumers broke when the market swings down.

23. Borrow money when it’s cheap

The Oracle of Omaha’s famous cost-consciousness does not mean that Berkshire Hathaway never borrowed money or went into debt — on the contrary, Buffett makes clear in his letters that he is enthusiastic about borrowing money in one type of circumstance.

Buffett is an advocate of borrowing money at a modest rate when he believes it is both “properly structured” and “of significant benefit to shareholders.” In reality, that usually means when economic conditions are tight and liabilities are expensive.

“We borrow… because we think that, over a period far shorter than the life of the loan, we will have many opportunities to put that money to good use,” Buffett writes, “The most attractive opportunities may present themselves at a time when credit is extremely expensive — or even unavailable. At such a time, we want to have plenty of financial firepower.”

When money is expensive, having more of it (in the form of debt) is a way of setting yourself up to take full advantage of opportunities. This fits Buffett’s general investment worldview — that the best time to buy is when everyone is selling  —very well.

“Tight money conditions, which translate into high costs for liabilities, will create the best opportunities for acquisitions, and cheap money will cause assets to be bid to the sky. Our conclusion: Action on the liability side should sometimes be taken independent of any action on the asset side.”


Download the free report to get insight into Buffett’s views on market volatility, value investing, and more.


24. Raising debt is like playing Russian roulette

All across the business world, from big, corporate boardrooms to the offices of venture capitalists, managers employ the use of debt to juice returns. Whether it’s a company like Uber taking on $1.5B to re-energize its slowing growth or a startup like ModCloth taking on $20M to find that initial growth curve, debt offers companies a way to acquire capital without giving up room on their cap table or diluting existing shares.

Debt also forces shareholders into a Russian roulette equation, according to Buffett in his 2018 letter. And “a Russian roulette equation — usually win, occasionally die — may make financial sense for someone who gets a piece of a company’s upside but does not share in its downside. But that strategy would be madness for Berkshire,” he writes.

Because of the incentive structure involved, the venture capital model where one great success of an investment can cover the losses of a hundred failures is especially prone to recommending the use of debt.

In his 2018 letter, Buffett announced that prices for companies were too high at the moment, and that Berkshire would continue to invest in securities while awaiting another “elephant-sized” opportunity. (Image source: USA International Trade Association)

A stock speculator is equally likely to promote the use of debt to increase returns because they can build out portfolios where they don’t have to worry about the downside risk. For them, it can make good sense to do so, since as Buffett points out, they’re usually not going to get a “bullet” when they pull the “trigger.”

For Buffett, however, who owns so many companies outright and intends to continue holding them for the long-term, an outcome of “usually win, occasionally die” doesn’t make sense.

The risk of a company failing and a significant amount of debt getting called back is too great a risk, and Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway share in that risk equally with their shareholders.

Berkshire utilizes debt, but primarily through its railroad and utility subsidiaries. For these extremely asset-laden businesses that have constant equipment and capital needs, debt makes more sense, and they will generate plentiful amounts of cash for Berkshire Hathaway even in an economic downturn.


(Header Photo: Fortune Live Media)



Toolkit: How to give proper attribution

Own Your Content

This toolkit is a growing library of wisdom that highlights the hurdles of owning your content and building your platform. We not only curate the wisdom from creative leaders and artists, but also from the community—a balance of both, like cheese and wine—so that you’re supported and empowered to build your home on the internet.

Have you ever held a door for a stranger and they didn’t thank you for it? That’s what it feels like when someone uses your work and doesn’t give you credit or proper attribution. It’s not the end of the world, of course, but simple acts of courtesy often feel like they should be a default of internet behavior.

How do we change the culture? Not with shame, but through kindness, patience, and holding each other accountable. It won’t happen overnight, but if we at least start tonight, then tomorrow is more promising.

From thoughtful…

View original post 1,170 more words

Startup Tools by Steve Blank

See more how to Startup videos

Startup Tools

Getting Started

Lists of Tools from Others


Find a Co-Founder

Developer Bootcamps

Job Interviewing Tools

Tools from Steve: Lean Startup/Business Model Canvas/Customer Development Tools

  • Founders Workbook – A Checklist for the Startup Owners Manual
  • Over 500 presentations and videos (mine and my students class finals) on Slideshare
  • Harvard Business Review article on Lean here
  • My free online Lean LaunchPad class on Udacity is here.
    • All the Lectures and their subtitles can be download for free here. Creative Commons license applies.
  • I also share all my syllabi, student presentations and my class lectures slides as well.
  • Educators Training Guide is here
  • Course for Educators is here
  • Teachable moments videos for the Lean Launchpad class here
  • How do Customer Discovery videos here
  • How to do Customer Discovery workbook here
  • Sample Lean LaunchPad Lecture slides and suggested syllabus here
  • Latest presentations posted click here
  • Latest student videos posted here
  • National Science Foundation presentations here
  • Stanford presentations, lectures and syllabus here
  • Berkeley presentations, lectures and syllabus here
  • Columbia 5-day presentations, lectures and syllabus here
  • Caltech 5-day presentations, lectures and syllabus here
  • Business Model Competition slides here
  • Some general customer development slides click here
  • National Science Foundation I-Corps presentations, lectures and syllabus click here
  • National Science Foundation/NCIIA I-Corps Faculty toolkit is here
  • LaunchPad Central– the standard for Bus Model Canvas/Customer Development progress for companies/incubators/accelerators

Business Model Canvas

Customer Development

Social Entrepreneurship / Non-Profits

Customer Discovery Checklist


Before Leaving the Building

Outside the Building

Returning to the Building

How to Do Customer Discovery Interviews

Founder Stories

Website Domain Names

marketingtechnology lumascape 4-23-13
marketing tech landscape 2016

Create Websites Automagically

Build Static-site blogs

  • StaticGen – list of static-site generators
  • Hugo – framework for building static-sites
  • Forestry – static-site content management system integrates into Cloudinary
  • Jekyll – build static sites
  • VuePres – static-site generator
  • HeXo – static-site generator
  • GitBook – static-site generator for documentation
  • MiddleMan  – static-site generator for documentation
  • Pelican – static-site generator

Blogging Platforms

  • WordPress– king of blogging platforms…doubles as startup website
  • Tumblr – another blogging platform
  • Disqus – Comments Platform
  • Livefrye – alternate to Disqus

Website Bounce Reduction

  • BounceExchange – drive conversions and leads on a website
  • Optimonk – monetize abandoning website traffic
  • EarnCoupon – give customers discounts for liking your site

“How Big is the Market?” Tools

“How Do I Contact Customers?” Tools

Surveys/Forms/Focus Groups

Product Launch Tools/Landing Pages

  • Great Landing Page Tutorial – ConversionXL
  • LaunchRock – Create a viral “coming soon” landing page
  • Prefinery– Beta and Launch Mgmt software
  • LaunchEffect – WordPress Landing pages for viral launches
  • Ooomf – iPhone app store build/push/launch
  • Unbounce – create, publish & test promotion specific landing pages
  • Instapage – create a free landing page
  • KickoffLabs -product landing pages
  • LaunchGator – create a viral landing page
  • Lander – create a landing page in minutes
  • Ion – create landing pages that convert
  • Clickthroo – landing pages with split-test, segment, personalization
  • WordSafety – Check a name for unwanted meanings in foreign languages

Product Demo Videos

Screencasting Software

  • Screenflow– screen recording and editing
  • Snagit – screen capture
  • Camtasia – screen recording and video editing
  • Jing – screenshots and screencasts
  • Screen-o-Matic – cloud recording
  • SnapzProX – mac screen capture software
  • ScreenFlow – mac screen capture and effects
  • Screencastify – screen video recording for Chrome
  • Snagit– Chrome plugin/downloadable, they also build a ton of other software (500 person company in Michigan)
  • ClipChamp – online video editor

Streaming Video Marketplace

  • Periscope – live streaming video
  • Meerkat –  live stream video
  • Streamium – Stream live video directly to your viewers and get paid in bitcoin
  • Findstringers – global freelance marketplace
  • Twitch –

Traditional Media


On-Line Advertising Platforms (SEO)

Competitive Online Adword/PPC Analysis

  • SEMRush – SEO and campaign management tool
  • SimilarWeb – discover traffic for any web site or mobile app
  • Thalamus -comprehensive research database of advertising vendors
  • Alexa – competitive website info
  • KeywordEye – generate keywords
  • Spyfu – download competitors keywords and ads
  • BuzzStream – link building and digital PR
  • Market Samurai – SEO Keyword Analysis Tool
  • WordStream – competitive adword analysis
  • K-Meta – find competitive adwords keywords
  • Moz  – keywords, links and on-page metrics

Social Media Advertising

  • Captiv8 – social media mgmt platform – connect brands to advertisers
  • Atlas – Facebook’s cross platform solution
  • Adaptly – twitter and facebook advertising platform
  • MarinSoftware – online advertising platform
  • Adroll – retargeting and display advertising
  • Kenshoo – predictive marketing
  • Adstage – manage google, bing, facebook, twitter & linked in Ads
  • Followerwonk – Twitter analytics, online segmentation

Search Engine Optimization and Tools

marketing technology landscape

SEO and Analytics Tutorials

Online Ad Fraud Tools

  • Forensiq – fight online ad fraud
  • SimilarWeb – website traffic and mobile app analytics
  • WhiteOps – Digital ad fraud detection

Web/Social Customer Analytics Tools

  • Google Analytics – web analytics and optimizer from the borg
  • Kissmetrics– actionable analytics
  • MetricStory – Google analytics automatically delivered
  • QuantcastMeasure – measure reach, traffic, frequency, demographics, interests/lifestyle, etc
  • Comscore – ad agency/enterprise analytics
  • AdobeAnalytics – ex Omniture
  • Amazon Analytics – cross–platform mobile analytics reporting service for your app or game
  • FacebookDomainInsights – provides developers and Page owners with metrics about their content
  • HeapAnalytics – captures user action Clicks, taps, swipes, form submissions, page views and lets you measure it
  • GetClicky – real-time web analytics
  • Grafana – Beautiful metric & analytic dashboards for time series and metrics
  • InfluxDB – the platform for time series data
  • Leadlander – marketing automation analytics
  • – analytics API
  • Wordtracker – find the best keywords and links
  • Serpico – monitor your competition, backlinks & rankings
  • WhatRunsWhere – locate and assess competitors ads and copy
  • – easy analytics for business data
  • Mixpanel– real-time event tracking
  • DigMyData – analytics dashboard for sales, email, social and ad marketing
  • Crazyegg– visualize analytics
  • Mint – site analytics
  • Piwik – open source web analytics
  • Visistat – web analytics measure marketing campaigns
  • DbFace – SQL database application builder build no coding PHP or any frontend html, css
  • Webtrends – analytics and segments
  • Chartbeat – website analytics for doers
  • Kontagent – user analytics for the social and mobile web
  • Forsee – web, mobile, social, contact center analytics
  • Woopra – real time customer and visitor analytics
  • StatsMix – track and display internal & web metrics
  • Keylines – amazing email visualization tool (Palantir for the rest of us)
  • Ducksboard – very cool way to measure any online metrics
  • Dasheroo – Business dashboards done right
  • Cyfe – monitor social media, analytics, marketing, sales, support
  • Mention – media and social monitoring
  • Geckoboard – widget-driven business dashboard
  • Grappster – dashboard for your cloud apps
  • Leftronic – dashboard for real-time analytics
  • Ubiq –data into dashboards
  • PirateMetrics – track acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue
  • – Twitter brand monitoring
  • WhosTalkin – Social Media Search tool
  • Diffbot – identify and extract from any web page (stealth search engine!)
  • Kumu – track, visualize and leverage relationships

IoT (Internet of Things) Analytics

  • Tellient – the only analytics platform built specifically for the IoT
  • First Analytics – predict time-to-failure for industrial equipment or solve complex optimization problems involving industrial IoT
  • Uptake – IoT and data analytics company

SEO for Mobile Apps

Mobile App Store Customer Analytics / Ad Platform

Social Listening

  • Datarank – social listening and analytics tools
  • Bottlenose – social listening for stream data
  • Dataminr – transforms Twitter stream and other public datasets into actionable signals
  • Trendspotrr – transforms social media into action
  • DataSift – human data intelligence
  • Salesforce Radian6 – social media monitoring platform for marketers
  • Brand24 – social media monitoring and analytics

Mobile App Location / Ad Platform / Misc

  • Placed – location based analytics for mobile apps & websites
  • Burstly – mobile app monetization tools
  • Yozio – campaign tracking & viral optimization for mobile apps
  • Tapjoy – mobile app turnkey ad platform
  • Appbackr – market, sell and distribute your apps
  • Chartboost – make money with mobile games
  • Google AdMob – monitize and promote your mobile games
  • Vungle – integrate video ads into your apps

Online Marketing Suites

  • HubSpot – online marketing and web analytics system
  • Eloqua – marketing automation
  • Pardot – marketing automation for multi-touch sales
  • Silverpop – end to end marketing automation
  • AgileCRM – CRM, Sales & marketing automation
  • HipCricket – mobile marketing platform
  • Infusionsoft – small business CRM and marketing automation software
  • Performable – personable web analytics/lifecycle marketing
  • Custora – customer retention, churn reduction, lifetime value
  • Zoho – free/cheap web customer relationship mgmt software
  • Sharebird – Sales enablement software
  • Highrise – small business CRM
  • Pipedrive – sales pipeline management
  • Zferral – affiliate and referral marketing on the web
  • Genoo – marketing automation software
  • Act-on – marketing automation suite
  • Wishpond – social media marketing
  • Intercom – CRM and web messaging tool for web apps
  • Salestrakr – low cost CRM
  • OntraPort – small business CRM, email management, list segmentation, marketing automation, billing, easy website building
  • InviteBox – referral program platform
  • Crowdtap – Influencer Marketing platform
  • Helloworld – promotions, loyalty, mobile, live events, analytics
  • Scaledrone – service for pushing messages to browsers
  • – retargeting and marketing automation for commerce

Content Marketing Tools



Social Monitoring

Social Media Marketing

  • Sprinklr – social media marketing and mgmt software
  • Socialbakers – social media marketing and mgmt software
  • ZohoSocial – social media marketing and mgmt software
  • HootSuite – social media dashboard
  • Buffer – schedule and manage social media posts and analyze performance
  • Postcron – schedule posts on Twitter or Facebook
  • Later – plan and schedule Instagram posts
  • Tweetdeck – twitter real-time tracking, organizing, and engagement
  • Socialoomph – schedule and monitor social media activity
  • Friends+Me – schedule social media posts
  • Crowdfire – publish and curate content

Email Marketing/Blasting

Transactional Email

Email Sender Reputation

Sender Score – reputation mgmt for email senders

Email Testing

  • Litmus – email previews and email analytics
  • Glockapps – spam testing tools for email
  • MailTester – test the spamyneess of your email

Social Acquisition

  • Woobox – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social sweepstakes and coupons


  • Bunchball – gamification for user engagement and loyalty
  • Hoopla – motivate employees, increase sales productivity
  • Badgeville – gamification platform
  • Gigya – social plugins, gamification
  • Spinify  -leaderboards using your own data to motivate teams

Loyalty Programs

  • RewardStream – loyalty, customer referral
  • 500Friends – customer loyalty program for ecommerce
  • NextBee – customer referral and loyalty programs
  • BigDoor – gamified loyalty and reward programs
  • UrbanAirship – push marketing for mobile


  • TeamViewer – remote support, remote access, online collaboration
  • Pastebin – store and share text snippets online
  • Hipchat – private group chat & IM for business and teams
  • Yammer – private social network for companies
  • Google Apps – Email, Chat, Docs
  • LibreOffice – free wordprocessor, spreadsheet, drawing, presentation, pdf maker and database office suite
  • Skype– free voice and video communication tool
  • Fuzebox – web/mobile online conferencing
  • UberConference – online conference with visual icons
  • ProfiConf – HD video conference in a browser
  • Typewithme – document collaboration tool
  • Unison – group communication to send group emails as well as SMS messages
  • Google Hangouts – Googles uber Skype
  • Evernote – remember everything
  • Campfire – team collaboration
  • RealTimeBoard – online whiteboard & collaboration tool
  • Wikispaces – wikis for everyone
  • Slideshare – share Powerpoints and docs with customers
  • – free screen sharing
  • Ning – Create your own social network
  • Doodle – online group scheduling
  • – Free conference calls – awesome!
  • Speek – easy to setup conference calls, file sharing
  • Syncpad – real time mobile collaborative whiteboard
  • Piktochart – make infographics
  • Stormboard– online brainstorming and collaboration
  • Meldium– access all your apps with one click

Personal Cloud Storage

  • Dropbox – free store, sync, and, share files online.
  • Tresorit – secure dropbox alternative
  • Google Drive – cloud storage and file backup
  • iCloud – Apple store everything in the cloud
  • OneDrive – Microsoft store everything in the cloud
  • Box – online file sharing

On-line Q&A / Development Communities

User On-boarding

  • UserOnboard – how web apps handle their signup experiences
  • AppCues – on boarding academy

Wireframing Tools

  • Read this UX tutorial first – Alan Wells
  • Great list of rapid prototyping tools here – dan harrelson
  • Web Starter Kit – Google
  • Web Fundamentals – Google
  • POP – Prototyping on paper for mobile phones – awesome
  • Keynotopia – use PowerPoint/Keynote to create web/mobile apps – Cool!
  • Lean Design – design using HTML5-editor and automatically convert it to XHTML/CSS
  • Saas – CSS Extension Language
  • Balsamiq– rapid wireframing tool. software mockups in minutes
    • Napkee – export Balsamiq Mockups to HTML/CSS/JS and Adobe Flex 3 at a click of a button
  • Justinmind – mac/pc mobile and web highly interactive prototypes
  • Figma – collaborative interface design tool
  • Heflo – business process modeling
  • FluidU/I – mobile prototypes for IOS
  • Briefs – mac prototyping tool for iOS
  • Flinto–  web prototyping tool for iOS and Android from your screen designs
  • Invision – web and mobile iOS and android prototyping & collaboration tools for design
  • – web prototyping tool for iOS and Android
  • Solidify – web prototyping clickable mobile prototypes
  • Axure – mac/pc wireframe software & mockup tool
  • Irise – wireframes and prototypes. Inline requirements management. Real-time collaboration
  • Protoshare – web prototyping tools for web & mobile wireframing
  • Pidoco – online wire framing
  • AppCooker – iOS mockup, wireframe or prototype
  • – draw diagrams online
  • Moqups – HTML5 App used to create wireframes, mockups or UI concepts
  • MxGraph – client side JavaScript diagramming library
  • Sketch – professional digital design for the mac
  • Pencil– Firefox add-on to do GUI prototyping and simple sketching
  • Lumzy – quick mockup creation and prototyping
  • CSS Hat – Turn Photoshop layers into CSS3
  • Mockflow – online/offline, extensible wireframing tool w/design library
  • OmniGraffle – it’s been around before the web even existed
  • Wirify – turn any webpage into a wireframe
  • LucidChart – Cloud-based drawing tool
  • LucidPress – Cloud-based create and print digital documents
  • Cacoo – free online drawing tool
  • HotGloo – Online Wireframing Tool
  • Mocksup – Share your web site mockups
  • Mockingbird – Mock it up and share web site wireframes
  • Creately – online diagraming and collaboration
  • Gliffy – Online Diagraming
  • Keynotopia – wireframing + high fidelity (pixel perfect) prototyping tool
  • Free Wireframe templates for iPhone, iPad and Web
  • Wireframing Tutorial

Markdown – text to HTML Text Style editor

  • Markdown – John Gruber’s original markdown syntax
  • Mastering Markdown –  github
  • CommonMark – strongly specified, highly compatible implementation of Markdown
  • BabelMark2 – tool for comparing the output of various implementations of John Gruber’s markdown syntax
  • MDtest – Michael Fortin’s test suite for Markdown implementations
  • Mou – markdown editor for Mac
  • Markdown editors for Windows
  • Marked – provides a preview of your Markdown as you work in a text editor
  • Dillinger – free online markdown editor that syncs with Dropbox, Google Drive and Github.

Web Drawing Libraries

  • Paperjs – vector graphics scripting framework runs on HTML5 Canvas
  • Processingjs – vector graphics scripting framework runs on HTML5 Canvas
  • Verb -Javascript CAD Library for manipulating NURB surfaces on the web
  • CGAL – Computational Geometry Algorithms Library – gold standard for geometric libraries

Web Screen Scraping Tools

  • – screen scraper and crawler – free

Word Cloud Generators

  • Taxedo – word cloud with styles
  • WordMosaic – create word cloud inside your own symbol/picture
  • Yippy – create world cloud for your blog-generates html and matches blog style
  • Worldle – word cloud generator
  • Worditout – word cloud generator
  • VocabGrabber – word cloud plus visual thesaurus – really useful

Website Usability Testing/Heatmaps/Mouse Tracking

  • Usertesting – $39 live users testing your site – cheap
  • ProdThink – test a feature before you code it
  • YouEye – usability testing with webcam eye tracking
  • Validately – Test a feature before you write code
  • LuckyOrange – affordable usability testing, heat maps, polls, visitor map
  • Experimently – heat maps, A/B testing experiments
  • Nelio A/B Testing – WordPress conversion optimization. Test headlines, posts, pages, widgets, themes, heatmaps
  • Crowdsourced Testing – just like it sounds
  • SessionCam – session replay, heat maps, conversion funnels
  • FiveSecondTest – fine-tune landing pages
  • TryMyUI– watch videos of users using your site
  • FeedbackArmy – $20 website usability testing
  • WhatUsersDo – UK live usability testing
  • Clicktale – watch live clicks and browsing, optimize usability
  • Usabilla – Micro usability tests
  • OptimalWorkshop – tool suite for remote user research
  • Clickheat – heat map of a website (where do users click)
  • Mouseflow – attention heatmaps, mouse tracking and video playback
  • Clixpy – tracks users clicks and browsing
  • Openhallway – lets you remotely record user test scenarios
  • InspectLet – Usability testing/Heat Maps and screen capture
  • UsabilityTools – discover user needs, increase conversion rates
  • – web designers get free feedback about their designs
  • LookTracker – eye tracking maps
  • Omniconvert – A/B tests, personalizations and advanced segmentation

Emotion Analytics

  • Affectiva – Test content for emotional engagement by facial analysis
  • Emotient – facial expression recognition software
  • Realeyes – measure peoples emotions via a webcam
  • Sension – use webcams as a visual interface for interacting with content

Mobile Usability Testing/Heatmaps/Build Tools

  • Amazon Mobile SDK– build mobile apps, mobile-optimized connectors to AWS data streaming, storage and database services
  • HeatData – heatmaps for Mobile website
  • – Heatmaps for IOS apps
  • – A/B testing for Mobile Apps
  • Taplytics – A/B testing on IOS without app store updates
  • Apptimize – mobile A/B testing for iOS and Android
  • TestFlight – IOS beta testing on the fly
  • Elusivestars – mobile app testing for developers
  • Testin – cross platform automated app testing solutions
  • Pusher – hosted API for realtime mobile/web apps
  • PerfectoMobile – mobile app testing
  • MobiReady – testing tool evaluates website mobile-readiness
  • Compuware – test your website for “mobile ready”
  • Rigor – test/monitor performance of mobile apps/websites
  • W3C Mobile OK – test your website for mobile
  • Google Page Speed – test your mobile speed
  • AppMockUpTools – iPhone App Mockups
  • Bugclipper – plug n play bug reporting library  capture screen shots, highlight issues & record screen activity
  • Appery – Cloud-based HTML5, jQuery Mobile & Hybrid Mobile App Builder for Android, iOS and Windows Phone

Website A/B and Landing Page Testing

Website/Browser Testing

Website Performance Testing

  • NewRelic – manage and tune website performance for Rails
  • DareBoost – Test, Analyze and Optimize your website
  • WebPageTest – website speed test from multiple locations around the world
  • Google Pagespeed – performance recommendations
  • PingDom – uptime and user monitoring
  • Super Monitoring – uptime and basic website functions monitoring
  • SpeedCurve – front-end performance benchmarking
  • Monitive – site uptime monitoring
  • Monitor – free website monitoring
  • Webmon – website monitoring and escalation

Website Designers

  • 99 Designs– marketplace for crowdsourced graphic design
  • IconFinder – great way to find free graphic icons on the web
  • FindIcons – 400,000+ icons on the web
  • xScope – measure, align and inspect on-screen graphics and layouts
  • Scoutzle – curated community for the best mobile designers

Website Design Tools

Phone/SMS Cloud Apps

  • Twilio – add mobile and sms to your app
  • Tropo – Cloud API for adding voice and sms to your app
  • Callfire – add voice and sms to your app
  • Voxeo – voice recognition and IVR to your app
  • Jajah -telephony api
  • PlumVoice– IVR Systems

Photo/Video Analysis Tools

Voice Analysis Tools

Learning to Code

Reverse-Engineering Tools

  • Ghidra – NSA open-source reverse engineering tool
  • IDA Pro / HexRays– disassembler with debugger and plugin programming environment
  • JEB – disassembly, decompilation, debugging, and analysis of code and document files
  • BinaryNinja – reverse engineering platform
  • Hopper – Disassembler for MacOs and Linux
  • Radare – Disassembler
  • Binja – Binary Ninja plugin to decompile binaries using RetDec API
  • Retdec – retargetable machine-code decompiler based on LLVM

Application Frameworks

Create Mobile Apps Automagically

  • Xamarin – create native iOS, Android, and Windows apps
  • Codenameone – Write code in Java(tm) using Eclipse, NetBeans or IntelliJ/IDEA move to iOS, Android, and Windows
  • Appcelerator – Write in JavaScript, run native everywhere
  • AppPress – make a mobile app without coding
  • Bubble – enables your to program web and mobile apps without code
  • appery – mobile app builder and MBaaS

Apple iOS and MacOs Development

Android Development

Microsoft Development

Machine Learning/Deep Learning/Data Science


Machine Learning Tutorials

Machine Learning Tools

machine intelligence
machine learning skills

Data Science/Big Data Analytics / Log Management

  • Anaconda – enterprise data science platform – 200 data science Python libraries
  • rStudio – professional software for R
  • OpenRefine – data cleaning and exploring for large data sets
  • Apache Airflow – author workflows as directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) of tasks
  • H20 – implementations of the most popular statistical and machine learning algorithms
  • Splunk – log mgmt searching, monitoring, and analyzing machine-generated big data
  • Sumo Logic – log analytics platform
  • Loggly – mine log data in real time
  • ElasticLogstash – open-source log management
  • RapidMiner – analytics platform, data mining, machine learning
  • DataRPM – machine analytics for big data
  • Metamind – deep learning for the enterprise
  • Wandora – knowledge management application

Speech Recognition

Computer Vision/Image Recognition/Facial recognition/biometrics

  • OpenImages – Google 9million image dataset annotated URL’s over 6000 categories
  • Caletch 101 – Pictures of objects belonging to 101 categories. About 40 to 800 images per category
  • Great paper – Fast, Accurate Detection of 100,000 Object Classes on a Single Machine
  • Clarifai -Machine Intelligence API for mobile devices
  • Torch/fbcunn – examples to train classifiers over ImageNet
  • Pixy – Open source vision system, connects to Arduino
  • Camfind – Image Recognition API
  • Sirius – open source Speech and Vision Based Intelligent Personal Assistant
  • – real-time vision servers and clusters
    • VMX – real-time object detection and recognition system
  • Kitware – open source image and video retrieval platforms
    • KWIVER – support for Kitware –
  • MotionDSP – GPU, realtime video enhancement and forensics
  • Blogs
  • Moodstocks – image search against a database of references you supply; mobile app developer platform
  • Blinkfire – uses computer vision to measure media value and impact for sports teams
  • – visual search, image and retail item identification for retailers and brands
  • ImageVision – big data for images and videos
  • ViSenze – visual search technology
  • OpenALPR – open automatic license plate reader software

Facial Recognition / Biometrics

AI market

Text Analysis Tools/Natural Language Platforms

Social Mining

  • Dataminr – focused on Twitter streaming I&W.  limited to 14 day retro.
  • Topsy – Twitter search, monitoring and analytics
  • Social Crawlytics – user influencer and content marketing tool
  • Metamind – deep-learning experts for sentiment


  • ZeroFox – harness social data to improve information security
  • RedOwl – behavioral analytics security software
  • – find and stop attacks on your data
  • Area 1 Security – combat spear-fishing attacks in a clever way
  • Hyperion Gray – mass fuzzing of the internet and darknet profiles
  • Fireeye – Cybersecurity and malware prevention – machine learning for intrusion detection
  • Digital Stakeout – real time threat intelligence platform


  • GeoMesa open-source system that stores, indexes, and queries hundreds of billions of geospatial features in a distributed database (Accumulo)
  • GeoWave leverages the scalability of a distributed key-value store for effective storage, retrieval, and analysis of massive geospatial datasets
  • LocationTech – working group developing advanced location aware technologies

Physics Engines for games/robotics

  • Box2D – 2d physics engine for games
  • Bullet – physics simulation engine
  • ncollide – 2D & 3D collision library for the Rust language
  • Chipmunk– 2D real-time rigid body physics engine
  • Chrono:Engine – C++ simulation library
  • Farseer – based on Box2D w/collision detection
  • Havok – collision detection and physics engine
  • Matter.js – JavaScript 2D rigid body physics engine for the web
  • Metali – 3D physics engine
  • Moby – multi-body dynamics simulation library written in C++
  • Newton – life-like physics simulation library
  • Open Dynamics Engine – library for simulating rigid body dynamics
  • p2.js – JavaScript 2D physics library
  • PhysX – Nvidia open source physics engine
  • Physics Abstraction Layer (PAL) – unified interface to a number of different physics engines
  • PhysicsJS – physics engine for javascript
  • OpenTissue – algorithms and data structures for rapid development of interactive modeling and simulation
  • Tokamak – real time physics engine
  • TrueAxis – real time physics engine
  • Proteus – A Python toolkit for toolkit for computational fluid and solid mechanics simulation

Simulation/Game AI Engines

  • Stage –sophisticated simulation scenarios across massive gaming areas
  • Artificial Contender – AI middleware for behavior-capture
  • Cyntient AI – AI middleware
  • DI-Guy – human simulation software
  • Gameware – AI middleware, NavMesh generation, hierarchical pathfinding, and path following
  • Masa Life – AI middleware, design how characters behave and how they interact with the world
  • Rain – AI character engine – behavior creation, automatic navigation mesh generation, and animation control
  • SimBionic – create intelligent behavior for games and simulations
  • SpirOps – AI middleware for crowd simulations
  • Kerbal – space program simulation

DARPA Open Source

Space/NASA Open Source

  • Open NASA – 42,966 Data Sets – 449Code Repositories, 50APIs
    • Worldview – browse NASA Imagery
    • Darts – dynamics library for the modeling of robotic platforms, space vehicles, molecular dynamics
    • RCATS – Root cause analysis tool
  • Kubos – open source RTOS flight software for nano satellites, pico satellites and cubesats
  • – Astrophysics Source Code Library


Cloud Services and Tools


Artificial Intelligence


AWS AI Services

  • Amazon Polly – service that turns text into lifelike speech
    Amazon Lex – service for building conversational interfaces using voice and text
  • Amazon Rekognition– service that makes it easy to add image analysis to your applications

AWS AI Platforms

  • Amazon Machine Learning – create machine learning models without having to learn complex ML algorithms and technology
  • Amazon EMR – run Hadoop framework across dynamically scalable Amazon EC2 instances
  • Apache Spark on Amazon EMR – in-memory distributed compute engine that speeds analysis on large-scale data up to 100X engine

AWS AI EnginesStorage & Content Delivery



Developer Tools

Management Tools

Security and Identity


Internet of Things

Game Development

Mobile Services

Application Services

Enterprise Applications


  • Windows Azure – Microsoft Cloud Platform
  • Scalr – cloud management tool
  • mcrouter – facebook memcached protocol router for scaling memcached deployments
  • Joyent – high performance cloud – Infrastructure as a Service

Enterprise Data Center Operating Systems

Container Orchestration System

Orchestration Configuration

Data center orchestration and configuration management tools

  • Puppet – configuration management system
  • Chef – configuration management system
  • Saltstack– cloud orchestration, server provisioning, configuration management
  • Ansible – Redhat configuration management, app deployment
  • Spinnaker – Google cloud continuous delivery
  • CFEngine – IT infrastructure automation
  • NixOS – Linux configuration management system
  • Apache Nifi – dataflow system (directed graphs of data routing, transformation, and system mediation logic)
  • Apache Flume – collect, aggregate and move large amounts of streaming event data
  • Apache Camel – define routing and mediation rules
  • Apache Kafka – high-throughput distributed messaging system
  • Apache Taverna – design and execute workflows
  • IBM Streams/DISTILLERY – platform for near-real-time streaming analytics

NoSQL Databases

GPU-optimized relational and column-store databases/Graph Analytics

  • Kinetica – GPU accelerated database
  • GPUdb – GPU accelerated in-memory distributed database
  • MapD – GPU database for interactive SQL querying and visualization of multi-billion record datasets
  • Blazegraph – GPU accelerated graph analytics
  • BlazingDB –  GPU accelerated data warehouse
  • PG-Strom – PostgreSQL extension for GPUs

Development Tools

  • VirtualBox – x86 Virtualization
  • Perl Object Environment – Perl framework for reactive systems, cooperative multitasking, and network applications
  • Codeacademy Labs – program in Ruby, Python, and JavaScript online without downloading a code editor or IDE
  • Koding – cloud development environment, code editor, hosting service, collaboration platform
  • CircleCi – Continuous integration and deployment tool for web apps
  • yUML – sketch uml diagrams.
  • WebSequenceDiagrams –sketch sequence diagrams. automatic links to generated images
  • Rietveld – asynchronous code reviews on changesets
  • Fluid – turn webapps into Mac OS X apps
  • TextMate – code and markup editor
  • Coda – one-window web development app for the Mac
  • Coderunner – Edit/run code in any programming language with a click
  • SourceLair –cloud coding platform C, Python, Ruby and API
  • WebBiscuits – framework for web apps for smartphones and tablets
  • Best free programming books
  • CodeAcademy – learn to code
  • Webkit – build your own browser
  • Appery – Cloud-based HTML5, jQuery Mobile & Hybrid Mobile App Builder for Android, iOS and Windows Phone

Project Management

Open-source software hosting

  • Github – Free public repositories, collaborator management, issue tracking, wikis, downloads, code review, graphs
  • Sourceforge – Free. For open-source projects
  • JavaForge – free open source project hosting site
  • Bitbucket – free cloud hosting for Git or Mecurial projects
  • Sourcetree – free mac client for Git, Mercurial and SVN
  • Mercurial – free, distributed source code control management system
  • Aha! – product roadmap software

Source Version Control Software

Kanban and Scrum Tools

  • Kanban versus Scrum – description
  • Kanban Tools
    • Kanban Tool – online, web-based, Kanban tool
    • KanbanFlow – free Kanban tool
    • Swift-Kanban – enterprise Kanban
    • Kanbanery – Simple online team or personal kanban board
    • LeanKit Kanban – Great for visualizing work of product development
    • Kanban Pad – “Nice and lean” and free online Kanban tool
    • CodeBeamer – Kanban and Scrum tool Application Lifecycle Management
    • Nutcache – all-in-one collaborative project management
    • Kanbanize – free Kanban software
  • Scrum Tools
  • Basecamp– web-based project management and collaboration tool
  • Confluence – Plan roadmaps, define product requirements, and centralize documentation
  • Pivotal Tracker – Agile project management tool real time collaboration
  • Wrike  – combines project management, collaboration, discussion and document sharing
  • Ansible – configuration mgmt, app deployment, continuos delivery
  • Trello – team collaboration around “boards”
  • Taskade – organization and collaboration tool for getting things done
  • Workflowy – hierarchial task manager
  • Asana – shared task list for your team
  • Wunderlist – light accountability and planning
  • Sqwiggle – all-hands meeting and updates
  • Quip – team tasking
  • Sprintly – agile collaborate>prioritize>create git integration
  • Podio – collaborative project management
  • Flow – collaborative task and project management
  • Interstate – open project management
  • Apollo – integrated project and contact management
  • Rally – agile product management
  • Blossom – lean product management
  • BrightPod – product mgmt for marketing teams
  • Trajectory – agile product mgmt, write and discuss user stories, bugs, and to-dos
  • Clarizen – cloud project mgmt tool
  • Webplanner – online collaborative project management application.
  • ChiliProject – web based project management
  • Exepron – cloud based project management
  • ProofHub – web project mgmt & collaboration
  • Kiln – Version control and code review
  • PushPinPlanner – online real-time resource planning for agile teams
  • DaPulse – cross company collaboration
  • ProdPad – proj mgmt w/road mapping
  • Producteev – web/mobile task mgmt
  • ProcedureRock – create, procedures, instructions, guides, online help
  • – Collaborative Task Manager
  • ProcessPlan – task mgmt via email
  • Redbooth -combines social networking and project management
  • ProjectManager – project planner, time/expense tracking
  • TeamCity – continuous integration/unit testing, code quality analysis, pre-tested commits, report on build problems
  • Milestone Planner – planner for deadline/outcome driven environments
  • 5pm – Online project management tool
  • TimeBill – Replicon task management tool
  • AgileZen – project management visually see and interact with your work
  • GoPlan – collaborative project management
  • Unfuddle –hosted project management solution for software teams
  • Taskpoint – online project mgmt and collaboration
  • Centroy – online project mgmt
  • Do[Box] – project mgmt, save, resuse and share project models
  • Projify – simplified project management
  • Mavenlink – manage project communications, documents, schedules, budgets, payments
  • NeuLexa – enterprise project mgmt
  • ProcedureRock – operations and procedures mgmt
  • Userlike – live chat software for websites
  • Industrial Logic – Agile eLearning
  • PMToolkit – project management templates
  • Kanbanchi – dashboard/collaboration tool for Google Apps
  • Sandglaz – online team collaboration

Product Roadmaps for Product Managers

  • Wizeline – create product roadmaps
  • Aha! – roadmapping software for product managers
  • ProdPad – create product roadmaps

Bug/Issue Tracking

  • Bugherd – simple issue tracking for web developers
  • Lighthouse – Issue Tracking Tool
  • Sifter – hosted bug and issue tracking
  • Toggle – time tracking tool
  • Fogbugz -bug tracking, project mgmt, customer support
  • Bontq – hosted bug tracking and project management needs
  • WakaTime – Automatic time tracking for your text editor
  • Intervals – time tracking and task management
  • Preceden – simple way to make timelines for presentations
  • RayGun – error tracking tool for software developers
  • ClickTime – online timesheets

Web Server Stress Testing

  • Google Page Speed – test your web page speed
  • Httperf– HP Web Server Performance tool
  • Siege – http load testing and benchmarking utility
  • Jmeter – java-based server load testing
  • Tourbus – ruby website load testing tool

Digital Asset Management



Self Created Products Selling Sites

  • Gumroad – sell your digital products directly to your audience
  • Etsy – buy and sell all things handmade
  • Amazon 3D printing store
  • Cafepress – buy and sell T-shirts, Personalized Gifts, Unique Mugs, Posters & More
  • Zazzle – buy and sell T-shirts, Personalized Gifts, and more
  • Folksy – buy and sell handmade gifts and crafts
  • RedBubble – art gallery & community
  • Storenvy – buy and sell goods and brands that inspire
  • Blurb – publish books

Credit Cards/Billing/Subscription Management/E-Store

  • Credit Cards/Payments
    • Square – accept credit cards from ipad/iphone/android
    • Stripe – accept credit cards on the web
    • Amazon Payments – login and pay with Amazon
    • CCBill – merchant services & credit card payments
    • GoCardless -accept direct debit payments
    • Balanced – Payments processing, escrow & payouts API
    • BancBox – Payments service platform
    • Paypal – the standard for payment
    • WePay –  payment API for platforms
    • E-Junkie – shopping cart plug-in for downloads and tangible goods
    • SendOwl – add a “Buy” button to your website
    • 2Checkout – accept payments globally; credit cards, paypal, debt cards
    • ShopLocket – ecommerce solution for hardware makers
    • Zombaio – billing for adult entertainment
    • Billpro – “high risk” merchant account & credit card processing
    • Braintree – online credit card merchant processing
    • Paymill – accept online payments on the web
    • FeeFighters – find the cheapest credit card processors
    • Venmo – make and share payments on your phone
Payments startups
periodic table of payments
  • Fraud Detection
  • Subscription Services
    • Memberful – sell memberships to your audience
    • ChartMogul – subscription analytics and revenue reporting
    • Cloudware City – online app store for subscription services
    • argebee – subscription & reoccurring billing
    • Recurly – Subscription billing
    • Spreedly – sell subscriptions on your site. signup, upgrade, trial pricing
    • Zuora – online subscription management
  • Online Store and Marketplace Creation
    • Shopify – create an online store
    • BigCommerce – ecommerce software & shopping cart
    • Yahoo Small Business – hosted ecomerce website
    • Volusion – shopping cart software, ecommerce & hosting
    • Lemonstand – cloud eCommerce platform for stores that do over 6 figures in sales
    • WooCommerce – free commerce toolkit for wordpress
    • Nearme – create your own branded marketplace
    • Bizwebs – create an online store
    • Shoprocket – sell on a website, blog or Facebook Page using a single line of code
    • Estoreify – create your own online store in just 5 minutes
    • Selz – sell on Facebook, WordPress, from any website w/PayPal
    • IndieMade – Create an artist website with a store, blog, galleries
    • BigCartel – shopping cart for artists, designers, bands, record labels, jewelry, crafters
    • SquareSpace – build a website with commerce
    • EStoreApp – a webstore in 5 minutes
    • PinnacleCart – shopping cart software, ecommerce & hosting
    • CoreCommerce – online store & shopping cart software
    • Fortune3 – shopping cart software, ecommerce & hosting
    • EKMPowershop – create an online store using templates
    • Paddle – create an online store for games, apps and content
    • Retargeting – trigger live and email responses based on consumer behavior in online stores
  • Donations
  • Postmaster – Integrate package shipping, tracking  and notification into your app

Customer Support/Feedback/Engagement

  • Nirror – live support/watch playback of customer actions on your site
  • Conversica – AI software for marketing, virtual sales assistant
  • Tender – support, knowledgebase tool for your site
  • GetSatisfaction – conversations between companies / customers
  • Triibe – incentive-based customer service
  • HelpJuice – knowledge base to scale customer support and collaboration between teams
  • Zendesk – web help software
  • Raaft – customer retention feedback
  • – machine learning for customer success
  • Rollio – CRM now listens via Natural Language Processing
  • Clickdesk – Help desk, live chat, social toolbar
  • Zopim – real time customer support/live chat
  • HelpScout – simple setup, easy integration, help desk software
  • Desk – from Salesforce, easy and simple; email/social/chat/phone
  • SnapEngage – live chat integrates with your apps
  • Freshdesk – completely unique never seen before web help software
  • Olark – live customer chat and customer loyalty
  • LiveChat – live customer chat, archives of conversations
  • Groove – simple online Help Desk
  • VisitorEngage – behavioral-based feedback button, surveys & website notifications
  • Assistly – Support customers by Web, email, chat, and social networks
  • Vision Helpdesk – Support for multiple companies from one place
  • OneDesk – ideation to delivery and support issues, tickets, tasks
  • HappyFox – collate, categorize and respond to all requests
  • CustomerSure –  online customer service, feedback into retention
  • HelpSpot – Helpdesk software
  • Webengage – engagement; website survey, feedback and notification tool
  • SupportBee – help customers via email, robust ticketing
  • JitBit – Help desk ticketing system, cloud and on premises versions
  • HelpRace – helpdesk, knowledge base and a feedback community in one platform
  • NetHelpDesk – Exchange sync, Smartphone apps

Testimonials/Social Reviews

  • PostKudos – collect customer testimonials
  • Yotpo – social reviews for eCommerce
  • Kayako – Help desk
  • UserVoice – turn customer feedback into action
  • Kampyle – turn customer feedback into sales and relationships

Recruiting Tools

Password Managers

Password API’s

  • Authy – add two-factor authentication to your sites
  • Userbin – add two-factor authentication to your sites

Misc Office Help

Phone Systems


  • InDinero – easy business finance software
  • ZenPayroll – delightful employee payroll software
  • WagePoint – online payroll for small businesses
  • Freshbooks – cloud accounting and invoicing
  • Gusto – payroll software for accountants
  • Autotax – eFile IRS 1099 forms
  • Expensify – billing, expenses, receipts
  • BambooHR – Employee Records, Benefit Information, Payroll Data, etc.
  • Harvest – online time tracking
  • Xobni – Outlook plugin to search
  • Think-Cell – Powerpoint (windows) plug-in for advanced charting
  • QuoteRoller – create, deliver and negotiate proposals online
  • WordsRU – proofreading and editing service
  • iProsh – manage your office and workspace online
  • RescueTime – time mgmt software, work/life balance
  • Boomerang – scheduled sending and email reminders for gmail
  • Slack – team communication
  • TradeAbility – free tool from UPS – estimate costs and duty fees and international shipping restrictions
  • Freemind – free mind-mapping software
  • FoxOMS – resource mgmt and scheduling for film, TV and creative businesses
  • FindStringers – freelance journalism marketplace

Outsourcing/Freelance Help

  • Amazon Mechanical Turk – set up any task and get answers
  • Owork – find/hire freelancers
  • SkillsHive – become a/hire freelancer online
  • Upwork – hire low-cost international engineering talent
  • Gigster – hire a quality developer
  • Freelancer – outsourcing for small business
  • VWorker – find/hire freelancers
  • GroupTalent – developers and designers on demand
  • BusinessTalentGroup – consultants and executives on demand
  • Tongal – get creative work -TV commercials, social videos, music videos, branded entertainment on demand
  • Handy – outsource home cleaning, Ikea assembly, handyman
  • TaskRabbit – outsource errands and skilled tasks
  • Medicast – house call doctors on demand

Chips/Hardware Resources/Tools


  • ROS – Robot Operating System – open source framework for writing robot software
  • Artoo – Ruby micro-framework for robotics based on sinatra
  • Gazebo – 3d Robot simulation software
  • MRPT – Mobile robotics C++ libraries
  • OpenPilot – Open Source UAV autopilot
  • Paparazzi – open-source hardware and software  autopilot  for fixedwing & multicopters
  • DIYDrones – community for amateur UAV’s
  • QGroundControl – open source UAV ground control operator station
  • DroneDeploy – outsourced drones
  • Navio+ – raspberry pi autopilot
  • Dronebase – Get imagery & video via drone
  • Prandtl – physics-based CAD for drones

Software Defined Radio (SR)

  • HackRF SDR Tutorial – great intro to SDR
  • Software Defined Radio Basic Tutorial – Schuyler St. Leger at Desert Code Camp
  • GNU Radio – open source software defined radio
    • GqrxSDR – open source SDR built on GNU Radio
    • GRSatellites – GNU Satellite telemetry decoders built on GNU Radio
  • NooElec – $20 USB RTL-SDR Receiver R820T2 tuner 25MHz-1750MHz
  • HDSDR –  freeware Software Defined Radio (SDR) for Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10.
  • HDSDR on OSX – freeware Software Defined Radio (SDR) for Mac OS X
  • ETTUS Research – hardware for software defined radio
  • HackRF – software defined radio 10 MHz to 6 GHz
    • HackRF One – software defined radio half-duplex transceiver, 1 MHz – 6 GHz
    • rad10 – SDR half-duplex transceiver, 50 MHz – 4 GHz works with HackRF
  • OsmoSDR – Software based small form-factor inexpensive Software Defined Radio
  • LimeSDR – open source SDR
  • Nuanced – USB 3.0 software defined radio 300MHz – 3.8GHz
  • FUNCube dongle – software defined radio150kHz to 1.9GHz
  • BladeRf x40 – low-cost USB 3.0 Software Defined Radio
  • Ethos Research – software defined radio development platforms
  • SDR Showdown – HackRF vs bladeRF vs USRP tutorial
  • FlexRadio – software defined radio for ham operators
  • LoRa Alliance – low power wide area network
  • Sigfox –  cellular tech for IoT
  • Ingenu – dedicated IoT connection
  • Beep Networks – real world data to the cloud
  • RTL-SDR – news and projects blog
  • GNURadioCompanion – a graphical tool for creating signal flow graphs and generating flow-graph source code


  • AudioKit – audio synthesis, processing and analysis
  • Essentia – open-source C++ library for audio analysis and audio-based music information retrieval
  • Csound – a C-based audio programming language
  • SuperCollider – environment and programming language for real time audio synthesis and algorithmic composition

Contract Manufacturers/Startup Design/Prototype/Manufacturing Consultants/Helpers

  • Macrofab – software platform view into a contract manufacturer
  • Fusion PCB – hardware platform for Makers
  • PCH – product design, engineering/development, manufacturing, packaging,  fulfillment, etc
  • Proto Services – ISO 9001/2000 certified manufacturing in Silicon Valley
  • The Build Shop – 3D printing and Laser cutting shop in LA
  • MakeSimply – sourcing and manufacturing services
  • Jatco – plastic molding and manufacturing in Silicon Valley
  • Studio Fathom – Prototype Fabrication & Bridge-to-Production Services
  • Fictiv  – order 3D parts easily for hardware prototyping
  • Dix Metals – provider of precision-cut, machine-ready blanks
  • Tempo Automation – desktop pick and place robot automates surface mount assembly
  • Dragon Innovation – works with startups to provide a clear from prototype through production with manufacturing expertise and trusted connections
  • MakeSimply – idea to production, simplified – get MVPs, get products into production

Electronic Prototyping

  • Circuit Simulation Tools
    • CircuitLabs – schematic editor and circuit simulator
    • Yosys – open source Verilog synthesis suite
    • arachne – open source Place and route tool for FPGAs
    • PartSim – online SPICE circuit simulator
    • LTSPICE4 – free analog SPICE simulator
    • ADS –  design automation software for RF, microwave, high speed digital, and power electronics
    • EasyEDA – circuit simulation, PCB design, Electronic circuit design online for free
    • DoCircuits – schematic editor and circuit simulator
    • CEDAR – logic simulator
    • Quiet – circuit simulator with GUI
    • CiruitMod – circuit simulator
    • Falstad – In browser circuit simulator
    • ELN – minecraft mod for in-game circuit simulation
    • Ansys HFSS – electromagnetic (EM) simulation software for wireless and RF
    • Ansys SIwave – design platform for power integrity, signal integrity and EMI analysis of IC packages and PCBs
  • Power Supply Design Tools
  • HardwareHacker – DIY Basic projects
  • Hacked Gadgets – DIY Tech
  • HackersCatalog – technical bookstore
  • Hackaday,io – hardware projects
  • – hardware blog
  • Teensy – USB development board
  • Hopper – OSX and Linux disassembler
  • Binwalk – firmware analysis tool
  • Intel Edison – computer board w/atom processor, wifi, open source tools
  • LittleBits – DIY electronics for prototypes and learning
  • CircuitStickers – peel and stick electronics. great for kids 1st projects
  • DangerousPrototype – open source hardware projects
  • Fritzing – opensource hardware community
  • Beagle Board – Open. ARM. Low cost, low power, open hardware expandible computer running latest Ubuntu and Android.
  • Saleae – Low cost logic analyzer
  • Hardware Debugging and monitoring tools
  • Microsemi (Actel) smartfusion: A low power development board full of peripherals and an FPGA chip
  • FPGA Wiki – Hamsterworks
  • FPGA Development Boards Review – Joel Williams

Electronics Component Suppliers

Manufacturing Resources

unbundling Honeywell

3D Printers

Building information modeling

  • Autodesk Revit – BIM solutions
  • FreeCAD – opensource parametric 3d CAD modeler
  • CadQuery  -python library for building parametric 3D CAD models
  • Vectorworks – 2/3D CAD and BIM solution
  • SketchUp – Google 3D modeling
  • BIMx – sharing hypermodels
  • BIMcloud – BIM in the Cloud
  • AllPlan – EU BIM software
  • OpenBIM – home of Open BIM collaboration via the IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) file format

Low cost 3D/CAM Software

auto startups

3D Printing Services

3d printer market

Custom Machine Parts/Industrial Supplies

3D Software

CubeSats /  Nanosatellites

Life Science Resources

Medical Device Resources – Stanford Biodesign 

Medical Device Resources – General


Synthetic Biology

Digital Health

digital health
mobile digital health


Market Research Tools

Private “pay for market research” firms


U.S. State/Canada/Federal Open Data

Solar & Renewables Open Data

Other Governments Open Data

Research Data


Open Company Data/Stats/API

Open Mapping

Genomic/BioMed Data

Public or University library Resources:

Market Research Resources Online


Starting and Running a Startup Advice

Best Startup Advice

Incorporating Your Company

Entrepreneurship Reading List

Entrepreneurship Online

Startups Data

  • Mattermark – quantifying company growth for startup investors
  • Compass – Turn data into actionable insights
  • AngelList – connecting startups and angels

Coworking Spaces

Angel/SuperAngel Investors

Corporate vc’s

VC’s Focused on Commercializing University Technology


Incubator List/ Startup Jobs

Advice on Raising Startup Capital

Cap Tables / Valuation

Venture Capital Financing

Boilerplate Venture Funding Documents

Building/Managing Your Board

Intellectual Property Advice

Founder Equity Issues


Executive / Advisory Board Compensation

Public Relations (PR) For Tech Companies

Finance 101 for Entrepreneurs


Saas vs. Enterprise Churn Rates

Saas vs. Enterprise Churn Rates

Web/Mobile/Marketplace Revenue Models

Commission Fees

Burn Rate/Balance Sheet

Product Pricing 101 for Entrepreneurs

Channel Partners

Getting Acquired


Fighting Patent Trolls

Corporate Innovation Programs

List of Investment Platforms

Education Startups

Edtech investors
eduation software
New Schools EdTech Map
ed tech mkt map
Higher Ed tech landscape

q2 2015 ed tech startups

China – Doing Business

china ecosystem
2015 china top100 brands

China Blogs

China Military Books/Blogs

Japan – Doing Business

Must Read Blogs

venture blogs

More to read

Lean LaunchPad Videos

This is the complete list of Launchpad Video clips created to date and sorted by topic:

TCTeaching Critigues
SLStudent Learning
CDCustomer Discovery series
UCBUC Berkeley LaunchPad Spring ’13 series
UCSFUCSF Life Science & Healthcare Launchpad Fall ‘2013 series

Mentor Training

  1. Lean LaunchPad Mentor Training UCSF

General Discussion

  1. How Large Will You Scale? (03:03) TC UCB
  2. What If You’re a Visionary? – Risks & Rewards (4:53) SL UCSF
  3. Your Startup: Do You Want to Spend 3 to 4 Years Doing This? (5:14) TC UCSF
  4. Don’t Let the MVP Limit Your Vision (03:40) TC UCB

Customer Discovery

  1. “It Saved Us Several Years” (1:45) SL UCSF
  2. Stop Telling Yourself What You Want to Believe (1.39) SL UCSF
  3. Narrowing the Focus (1:21) SL UCSF
  4. Why PI’s and Founders Need to Get Out of the Building (2:15) SL UCSF
  5. “This Was the Best Outcome” (2:50) SL UCSF
  6. Getting to the “Better Idea” Faster (3:59) SL UCSF
  7. Insights on: Does Customer Development Work in Therapeutics? (6:11) UCSF
  8. The Phases of Customer Discovery (0:37) CD

Before Leaving the Building

  1. Pre-Planning Contacts (4:34) CD
  2. Customer Interview Dry Runs (0:49) CD
  3. Discovery is for Founders (1:30) CD
  4. Pass/Fail Experiments (1:32) CD

Outside the Building

  • Rules of Customer Interviews
  1. Being Aggressive (1:29) CD
  2. Conducting a Customer Interview (1:30) CD
  3. Letting the Customer Interview Flow (1:37) CD
  4. Sizing the Opportunity (2:50) CD
  5. Finding Patterns (1:50) CD
  6. Looking for Insights (0:58) CD
  • Early Mistakes to Avoid
  1. Death by PowerPoint (1:42) CD
  2. Death by Demo 1 (2:18) CD
  3. Death by Demo 2 (1:45) CD
  4. Understanding the Problem (3:22) CD
  5. Multi-Person Interview (2:03) CD
  6. Assuming You Know (1:56) CD
  7. B-to-B to C (2:15) CD
  8. Existing vs. New Markets (5:29) CD
  9. Asking the Right Question (2:37) CD
  10. Public Interviews (2:11) CD

Understanding What the Customer Is Telling You

  1. Engaging the Customer (3:37) CD
  2. Customer Empathy (2:25) CD
  3. The Distracted Customer (3:12) CD
  4. Customers Lie (2:37)
  5. The User, the Buyer & the Saboteur (2:24) CD

Back in the Building

  1. Extracting Insight from Data (2:59) CD
  2. Pay Attention to Outliers (2:16) CD
  3. Getting the MVP Right (3:34) CD
  4. The “Other 85%” (2:32) CD
  5. Finding Early Evangelists (1:17) CD
  6. Communicating Your Discoveries (2:26) CD

Value Proposition

  1. Pivoting…or Groping for a Business Model? (02:37) TC UCB
  2. Seduced by Insufficient Data (02:34) TC UCB

Customer Relationships

  1. Insights on: Customer Relationships – Week 4 (12:00) UCSF
  2. Use Customers to Find More Customers (02:22) TC UCB
  3. Customer Conversion (03:22) TC UCB

Customer Segments

  1. Insights on: Customer Segments – Week 2 (12:43) UCSF
  2. Estimating Market Size (01:49) SL UCB
  3. Customer Workflow (02:10) SL UCB
  4. Customer Discovery / Customer Archetype (04:04) SL UCB
  5. Customer Archetypes; Hypotheses & Experiments (03:21) SL UCB
  6. Customer Segments & Customer Archetypes (03:47) SL UCB
  7. The Fog of Entrepreneurship (03:01) TC UCB
  8. At the Start, All Your Stakeholders Are Customers (02:32) TC UCB
  9. Square Pegs & Round Holes – Mira Medicine (4:33) TC UCSF


  1. Insights on: Channels – Week 3 (14:52) UCSF
  2. Framing the Experiment (02:27) TC UCB
  3. Distribution Channels: One Data Point Is Not a Test (02:37) TC UCB

Revenue Streams

  1. Value Based Pricing – “We Were Gobsmacked!” (6:43) SL UCSF
  2. Insights on: Revenue Streams – Week 5 (17:04) UCSF
  3. The Importance of Experiments (03:57) TC UCB
  4. Validating Product Pricing (03:55) TC UCB

Key Partners

  1. Insights on: Key Partners – Week 6 (17:08) UCSF
  2. Listen Carefully for Customer Discovery (03:20) TC UCB
  3. The Timing of Partnerships (03:46) TC UCB

Key Activities & Key Resources

  1. Insights on: Science Advisory Boards (4:53) UCSF
  2. Insights on: Resources, Activities & Costs (12:26) UCSF
  3. No Laundry Lists. Just Facts! (02:43) TC UCB

Final Video

  1. Accelerated Medical Diagnostics: Final Video (2:41) SL UCSF
  2. Knox: Final Video (2:17) SL UCSF
  3. Magnamosis: Final Video (2:51) SL UCSF
  4. Making Friends: Final Video (2:19) SL UCSF
  5. Mira Medicine: Final Video (2:23) SL UCSF
  6. ResultCare: Final Video (3:08) SL UCSF
  7. Final Video (3:48) SL UCSF
  8. Vitruvian Therapeutics: Final Video (8:34) SL UCSF

Final Presentations

  1. Knox: Final Presentation (8:33) SL UCSF
  2. Magnamosis: Final Presentation (10:19) SL UCSF
  3. Making Friends: Final Presentation (8:38) SL UCSF
  4. Mira Medicine: Final Presentation (9:26) SL UCSF
  5. ResultCare: Final Presentation (11:34) SL UCSF
  6. Final Presentation (16:45) SL UCSF
  7. Vitruvian Therapeutics: Final Presentation (8:34) SL UCSF

“Getting Your Story Straight” – David Riemer on Storytelling

  1. Story Narrative and Product Narrative (10:24) UCSF
  2. Story & Storytelling (4:35) UCSF
  3. The Power of Story (10:24) UCSF
  4. Story Structure (10:24) UCSF
  5. The Main Character (9:27) UCSF
  6. The Main Conflict (6:13) UCSF
  7. Story Challenges & Solutions (2:03) UCSF
  8. Telling a Great Story (13:16) UCSF


Some of the material I have created or use in my classes does not lend itself to blogs. It’s more reference material. Thus, these pages.  I’ll add more as time goes on. See my slide/video links

Tenacity If you’ve gotten this far, here is a visual representation of tenacity and persistence.


Changing Your Idea of What Robots Can Do

Boston Dynamics builds advanced robots with remarkable behavior: mobility, agility, dexterity and speed.

Mush, Spot, Mush!

It only takes 10 Spotpower (SP) to haul a truck across the Boston Dynamics parking lot (~1 degree uphill, truck in neutral). These Spot robots are coming off the production line now and will be available for a range of applications soon.
For more information visit

Boston Dynamics is Launching its First Commercial Robot! – Hashem Al-Ghaili

Google Science Fair 2019 Winners

Grand Prize winner at @googlescifair Fionn Ferreira devised a system that removes microplastics from water using non-toxic iron oxide. He was able to pull 85% of 10 different types of microplastics out of the water. Read about all the winners here:

2019 Thailand Tech Ecosystem Growth

CNNI Click Culture Thailand

HONG KONG, June 10, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — In a special 30-minute program, CNN’s ‘Click Culture’ examines Thailand’s grand ambitions to become a technology hub for the region. CNN International anchor and correspondent Kristie Lu Stout takes the pulse of Thai tech to find the pressure points, as well as the unique opportunities for both local and foreign tech entrepreneurs and investors. CNN hears from tech experts and visits tech-centric locations, like Hubba, a co-working space, and True Digital Park, a newly-opened one-stop shop for high-tech, to find out where Thailand is going next.



Recorded Live! Startup Thailand 2019 Nation

-Opening Remarks


-Opening Speech

By Cabinet Office, Government of Japan

-Open Panel Talk : Startup Ecosystem for Space Business in Asia

Mr. Aukrit Unahalekhaka

Mr. James Yenbamroong

Mr. Amarit Charoenphan

Mr. Takuma Mori

Moderator by Miss Chatpawee Trichachawanwong – Princess of IT Ultimate Miss Twitter World 2009

-Team No.1 One-Sec (Centimetres in Seconds Satellite Solutions) – Australia

-Team No.2 General Agronomics- Development of crop insurance index from remote sensing data – ThailandTeam No.2

-Team No.3 Establishment of Control Points for Land Surveying using Super High-Resolution Satellite – Philippines

-Team No.4 Agrilite – Thailand

-Team No.5 Green fuel for propulsion of spacecraft, to produce oxygen, water and heat on other planet. – India

-Team No.6 Thailand Smart Agricultural monitoring by Tellus platform with Deep Neural Network – Thailand

-Team No.7 Fourestate – Thailand

-Team No.8 SPACE probiotic™ for future space food – Thailand

Watch Recorded Live!

Team No.9 Road surface condition for land transportation – Thailand

Team No.10 Space Communication and IOT integration – Philippines

Team No.11 All India Farmland Visualization Project – India

Team No.12 RS-AR: Remote Sensing Data Visualized in Augmented Reality – Philippines

Team No.13 BlueWatch: Spatial Aquaculture Advisory System for Smart AquaFrams – Thailand

Team No.14 Packagehub – Philippines

Team No.15 Traffic Light Management for Intelligent City by QZSS & 5G Platform – Thailand



– Data Eco Farm :: Vietnam

– Data Cue : Chile

– Fractal Mind : Portugal

– Haulio : Singapore

– Impressius : France

– SmartDrive Inc : Japan

– TrueBizon : Japan

– Solidatus : UK

– Bugsolutely : ltaly


Deep Tech Synopsis English:

Southeast Asia’s biggest tech conference once again gathers the nation’s hottest startups, along with entrepreneurs, speakers and investors from around the globe. Placing Thailand well and truly on the startup map, we unveil Bangkok as a tech hub of the future.

On the 24th of July 2019, KX Knowledge Exchange showcases the latest innovations, insights from global thought leaders, and opportunities for synergy and financing in the Deep Tech space.

Innovation showcases, global trends and market insights in:

AI, Big Data & Robotics

Energy Storage


Technology Commercialization

New grads, budding entrepreneurs and potential investors.

A Journey of a Thai Animator for The Lion King Movie
•Chalermphol Wattanawongtrakool, Animator at Moving Picture Company London

A Journey of a Thai Animator for The Lion King Movie
•Chalermphol Wattanawongtrakool, Animator at Moving Picture Company London

“Cargo bikes are booming”

Your cargo bikes have more designs than Thailand’s Saleng!


The director of the International Cargo Bike Festival, which was celebrated last weekend in the city of Groningen in the far north of the Netherlands, thinks “the tide is definitely turning”. The festival magazine, issued for the eight edition, has another quote from Jos Sluijsmans: “Don’t underestimate the amount of people who want their cities to be safer, cleaner and healthier”. In a better world, city logistics are no longer done by half empty trucks and vans, but by cargo bikes!

The festival area used to be a sugar factory.

The opening of the 2019 Cargo Bike Festival in Groningen.

After six editions in Nijmegen (from 2012 to 2017) last year’s edition of the International Cargo Bike Festival was held in Berlin. I had visited the festival from 2013 to 2016 (and I wrote threeblogposts about it) but I had missed the event in 2017 and…

View original post 780 more words

Internet Trends 2009 by Mary Meeker, Bond

List of Contents

Mary Meeker’s most important trends on the internet

  1. E-commerce is now 15 percent of retail sales. Its growth has slowed — up 12.4 percent in Q1 compared with a year earlier — but still towers over growth in regular retail, which was just 2 percent in Q1.
  2. Internet ad spending accelerated in the US, up 22 percent in 2018. Most of the spending is still on Google and Facebook, but companies like Amazon and Twitter are getting a growing share. Some 62 percent of all digital display ad buying is for programmatic ads, which will continue to grow.
  3. Customer acquisition costs — the marketing spending necessary to attract each new customer — is going up. That’s unsustainable because in some cases it surpasses the long-term revenue those customers will bring. Meeker suggests cheaper ways to acquire customers, like free trials and unpaid tiers.
  4. There are a number of problems ahead for targeted advertising, including GDPR impact and other regulation, as well as pushes for more privacy from hardware and software companies like Apple and Facebook.
  5. Americans are spending more time with digital media than ever: 6.3 hours a day in 2018, up 7 percent from the year before. Most of that growth is coming from mobile and other connected devices, while time spent on computers declines. People are also getting more concerned about time spent online, as more than a quarter of US adults say they’re “almost constantly online.”
  6. Innovation at tech companies outside the US has remained robust. Popular areas include fulfillment, delivery, and payments.
  7. Images are increasingly the means by which people communicate, as technology developments like faster wifi and better phone cameras have encouraged a surge in image taking. More than 50 percent of Twitter impressions now involve posts with images, video or other media; Twitter used to be text-only.
  8. The number of interactive gamers worldwide grew 6 percent to 2.4 billion people last year, as interactive games like Fortnite become the new social media for certain people. The number of people who watch those games — rather than participate — is swelling, too.
  9. As privacy becomes a bigger selling point, expect more options to make your online communications safe. In Q1, 87 percent of global web traffic was encrypted, up from 53 percent three years ago.
  10. The internet will become more of a cesspool: Getting rid of problematic content becomes more difficult on a large scale, and the very nature of internet communication allows that content to be amplified much more than before. Some issues: 42 percent of US teens have experienced offensive name-calling online, terrorists are being radicalized on sites like YouTube, and social media has encouraged increased political polarization.
  11. Of the top 25 most valuable tech companies, 60 percent were founded by first- or second-generation immigrants. They employed 1.9 million people last year. New stricter immigration laws could negatively impact the tech industry and perhaps prevent our next Elon Musk from getting to the US.
  12. Health care is steadily becoming more digitized. Expect more telemedicine and on-demand consultations.