Jul 9 2015

A Week of Intellectual Dissonance

I’ve been heads down this week on a handful of transactions. As a result, I haven’t been paying much attention to the world around me, but it’s inevitable that some stuff leaks through in random conversations, emails that I get and skim to respond to later, or stuff I notice, even though I’m not looking.

While I was just in the shower, I had a handful of random things roll through my head that I realized were creating intellectual dissonance for me. They are the kind of thing that I like to dissect and chew on, and expect I’ll blog deeper about some of them. Whenever I feel intellectual dissonance, it’s usually a leading indicator of something. It’s not necessarily “something bad”, but it’s almost always “something different.”

But for now, I thought I’d share the list just to get it out of my head and on virtual paper somewhere.

1. I saw two situations where angels are being pitched on secondary purchases of late stage companies. While the secondary activity has been going on for a while, I separate for “people trying to buy late stage stock” from “angels investors.”

2. Several people, who I view as generally stable and rational, had unexpected negative emotional responses that I felt were overwrought and inappropriate to the situation. In each case it felt like something else was going on, but when confronted the individual actually dug in on their emotional, non-rational position.

3. I pay little attention to the macro, especially global stock market indicies, but somehow I noticed that the Shanghai Composite was down over 30% in the last month and then up 5% yesterday.

4. I encountered a huge retrade on a deal from someone who doesn’t have a reputation of retrading deals. It’s not something I’m involved in but I noticed it.

5. I saw two situations of what I would consider very bad / disingenuous early stage investor behavior in the context of companies that had previously raised modest amounts of angel money. Each were things that regularly happened in the early 2000s, but I have seen very little of in this cycle. Suddenly, I noticed two different situations in the same week.

6. I thought Stan Wawrinka had a shot at Wimbledon, or at least was going to be in the finals (I love Stan). He was on the receiving end of an 11-9 loss in the fifth set.

7. The NYSE and United both had massive, independent computer outages at the same time. But, it appears not to be cyberterrorism.

I generally define intellectual dissonance as stuff going on in my head about factual / experiential things that seem interesting or different to me in the moment, or things I rarely think about or notice showing up in the thought stream.  While it could just be my brain doing it’s normal garbage collection, it felt worth pondering.