From now on I will use a more encompassing “Work”. 2021 was a year of important steps towards a goal I’ve held for a few years now: to become a full-time investor in the general style of a Warren Buffett and a Ben Graham.
I started the year helping spawn a new team at Circuit, the first official team there. We were happy to welcome two engineers, Christian Kaisermann and Vitor Paladini, who truly hit the ground running. They had worked together before, and their rapport made things move from the beginning.
Around April a friend whom I admire very much, Bruno Bergher, told me about Metabase, a company he had recently joined as VP of Product. Metabase does BI and data visualization. The product seemed quite nice, the company had a good online reputation, and I could imagine that the domain was interesting. Most of all, Bruno is really one of the smartest people I’ve had the luck to meet.
Bruno asked me if I’d consider a position at Metabase. I was satisfied at Circuit: the people were really nice, the work flowed well and the company was soaring, having grown revenue 3 times last year while almost entirely bootstrapped. There were two issues for me: working with Firebase, something I touched every day, was not enjoyable, and judging by the company setup, getting a pay raise would not be trivial. I brought up both subjects, Firebase multiple times, and salary a couple of times. The outcomes of those conversations were understandable from Circuit’s point of view, but didn’t point towards a great convergence with what I preferred.
It seems to happen repeatedly in tech, at least in our long-standing economic cycle, that companies focus on recruiting but not on retaining. Although this did not happen so literally at Circuit, we often see professionals start jobs at much higher salaries than great people who had joined a company months or years before. The churn seems suboptimal from a long term perspective, for everyone involved. As it happens, from the perspective of an employee, joining a different company means you will earn much more than staying put.
Long story short, in May I joined Metabase. Again I went from leading to being an engineer.
In parallel, and I had being working on this for over a year, I kept studying for the Brazilian equivalent of the CFA. Here we call it CGA. Mid-year, I passed. This certification opens the legal doors for me to manage investment portfolios, funds and so on. Investing is something I started reading about in 2007 or 2008, and it became a serious pursuit for me. To illustrate, I have a YouTube channel where I study companies in public, and I’ve done over 730 episodes of it. I started a very informal investment partnership in 2017 that has been beating the most important Brazilian stock index since inception. It’s something that I’ve frankly been enjoying much more than software. It may be because I only have an hour or so a day to dedicate to it. The fact is, it’s going well and I love to work on a much, much wider canvas than the one I see in software.
The experience at Metabase has felt peculiar and is still hard to describe, even after 8 months. It’s a very loose organization that has grown its headcount a lot recently. I don’t get to work with Bruno directly. The codebase and processes have been a challenge for me, and I’ve worked on a few challenging codebases and processes. It feels like I still haven’t understood the company enough to be able to describe it. I am thankful to be there, but must admit I miss working with a bit more structure, and I certainly miss the more frequent human interactions and strategic work of leadership and management.
I have one very clear goal for 2022: to start a formal investment partnership. It will take the shape of an investment “Club,” a legal vehicle in Brazil that is suitable for investment funds that are still not large, between 1 and 15 million reais. I will be able to, indeed must work on it only part-time —as a shareholder in the fund, by law I can’t be paid to manage the portfolio. This will be a very important step in growing a currently informal partnership that has beaten the Brazilian stock index by 61.38% over the last 5 years into a true investment fund a few years from now. If you are reading this and would like to know more about investing with the partnership please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.