Why Contrary

I have an exciting update to share with you. I have decided to join Contrary Capital as Director of Research to lead their efforts in covering private companies in the broader technology sector. But first things first, I will continue to operate MBI Deep Dives, and you should expect no difference in content cadence going forward.

One of my concerns after launching MBI Deep Dives was the inability to tap into the resources any analyst within institutional infrastructure enjoys. It wasn’t just the lack of sell-side resources or expert network calls, but the inability to gain vicarious learnings and wisdom from seasoned investors any buy-side analyst may gain in most funds. In some sense, lack of such resources forced me to think for myself and build a network on my own from scratch. Thanks to twitter and MBI Deep Dives, I have been able to manage to form a decent network of public market investors with whom I can discuss, engage, and debate ideas.

While a few opportunities arose to work for buy-side funds, all of them came with the condition that I would need to shut down MBI Deep Dives. Given my prior immigration related experience and resilience MBI Deep Dives provides to my livelihood, I was mostly reluctant to pursue such opportunities. However, the opportunity at Contrary is different. Considering I will lead Contrary’s Research team covering private tech companies, there is no conflict of interest in covering the publicly listed companies for MBI Deep Dives.

I always want to optimize for things that I believe gives me the best shot to be a better analyst and a better investor. So, when I asked myself whether I would be a better analyst if I spent more time understanding the broader landscape in the private market, the answer was obvious. Given how companies remain private longer than they used to and how almost every publicly listed company, especially in tech, faces competition from those very private companies, it is quite imperative to gain a much better understanding of companies across the board to give myself the best shot to be a better analyst, and an investor.

When I was thinking about my decision to join Contrary, anyone I spoke with intuitively understood the case to pursue such an opportunity but at the same time, a persistent question was whether I would be able to manage the workload. Frankly speaking, that was indeed the primary concern. Publishing one deep dive every month is not exactly a walk in the park. However, one of my core beliefs in life is that almost none of us gets anywhere close to reaching our full potential. One way to get closer is to continue to push ourselves. Of course, you run the risk of falling apart under the pressure, and people fear burnout from such experiences. Interestingly, Nassim Nicholas Taleb mentioned something intriguing in one of his recent talks: “Everybody asks me about trauma (on growing up during war in Lebanon). I was a kid during the war, and it was terrible then. Trauma? No. Well, it turns out it’s not universal for people to get trauma from war, but there’s something opposite and vastly more frequent (10x more frequent) called “Post Traumatic Growth” …guess what, nobody talks about it. Why? Because no clinical psychologists are ever going to make any money by trying to cure you from Post Traumatic Growth.” (Slightly paraphrased for clarity)

Leaving my job in the middle of the pandemic with a six-figure student loan (unlike Americans, I still had to pay back during the pandemic) was certainly a traumatic experience. But Taleb’s words ring true to me, especially in hindsight of the last couple of years. When Kyle Harrison reached out to me, he said Contrary wants to build the best destination on the internet to understand private tech companies. It is the kind of aspiration that will certainly push me, but that’s precisely the reason to go for it.

It’s not necessarily just private; at Contrary, we will touch on all types of technology companies because their stories may often weave together. But our focus is on illuminating the stories of private technology companies. Understanding the private landscape can be challenging for investors as their narratives and numbers are spread across multiple sources. I believe my experience and continued work on understanding public companies should be handy in this context. In order to understand the disruptors, it is necessary to have a good measure of the status quo and the incumbents themselves. I expect my work at both MBI Deep Dives and Contrary to complement each other.

Contrary seeks to back the bold. I have been impressed by how the Contrary Community has been built over the last few years. Contrary itself is at an inflection point today and I feel it is an exciting time to participate in that journey. I am intrigued not only for the opportunity to study private businesses more closely but also for the chance to spend more time engaging with operators and industry professionals.

At Contrary Research, we will publish light memos on companies to familiarize you with what they are building. We have published 25+ of them today, and expect us to gradually cover a lot more private tech companies over time!

Snapshot of few of the companies Contrary Research published so far

We will also delve into Deep Dives to explore notable industry trends, competitive dynamics, and thematic research. We'll drop our first Deep Dive on Snowflake vs Databricks tomorrow.

I encourage you to follow Contrary Research on Twitter, explore our website, and subscribe (it’s free) to receive any update going forward.

Since I have some travel plans later this month, I will publish my Deep Dive on Cloudflare earlier than promised. Expect the Deep Dive to hit your inbox on Tuesday next week (20th September). Thank you for your continued support.

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