Successfully Blending Value Investing, Tennis Parenting, Blockchain and a New Generation of Social Media
This past summer was memorable for many reasons. One of the highlights was my family meeting Anil Nimmagadda and his family and spending a few days getting to know them.
Anil, the founder and CEO of ConneXuz, has been a member of Value Stock Guide Premium since October 2014. Over the last 5 years, we have talked on the phone frequently, perhaps an average of once every two months or so. When he became a member, he was in the process of changing states and moving to Naples, FL. Over the years we have discussed a variety of topics - new investment ideas he was interested in, new businesses he was working on, his retreats, how he traveled to Switzerland for a conference and bumped into Guy Spier, the books we read, etc.
He asked me to visit them in Florida a number of times over the years, and when we planned our summer this year, we included a road trip from Miami, FL to NYC. A few days detour to Naples and meet Anil and his family was an opportunity that I just had to take.
Naples, FL, Stories, Sights, Books and Family Connection
We arrived in Naples late evening. Next day morning Anil came over to pick us up from where we were staying and took us to his place for breakfast. It was the first time we met face to face and he graciously committed two days of his time to show us around.
Meeting his family was a delight. We share a lot in common in terms of experiences, heritage and interests. We also found a lot of things that were new to us. His is a tennis family, and a lot of things revolve around tennis. Their weekends are spent driving their kids to different tournaments. It is a brutal schedule and I cannot imagine many kids able to live it day after day for years at end, but their kids have been successfully doing it since they were very young. Naturally we were curious and we had a lot to talk about.
Value investing, as you can imagine, also featured quite prominently in our conversations. Anil regaled us with his account of bumping into Guy Spier at a remote village in Switzerland, and he has pictures to prove it :). We talked about the value investors' approach to other areas of life, be it real estate, art, career, business or more. We spent some time in his library and he showed of his collection of books to me. Anil has varied interests and it is true that the books reflect the man. Among the Mungers and Buffetts and Grahams lay certain other books that we both shared an interest in, such as Mastery by Robert Greene.
A value investor likes to pay less, but it doesn't mean they do not appreciate finer things in life. You only have to meet Anil to know that he embodies these principles. He took us to an art gallery that houses paintings from one of his favorite artists. We chatted with the curator there for a while and he explained the stories behind each of the paintings. We spent some time in Mercato, Naples' business district where Anil maintains an office. We also toured the waterfront and through the leafy boulevards that house multi million dollar houses.
Anil is the founder and CEO of ConneXuz
ConneXuz is a new and paid mobile app providing a social media platform with no ads, no data mining and no third party plugins.
It provides a pristine space for friends and families to connect, share and interact by uploading pictures / videos / messages and using the voice transcription feature to convert voice to text and vice versa.
Additionally, ConneXuz provides a licensing / white labelling feature that enables groups, networks and organizations to license this mobile social media platform ( as a PAAS ) and create a trusted, secure and private network for their members.
Back at the House
Our kids are the same age as Anil’s and they bonded while we were there. It was inspiring for our children to learn about their dedication to tennis, deliberate practice, and intense schedules. Very soon we found them battling over a game of chess. This is quite funny as we hardly ever play chess at home, so certainly this was something we discovered of our own kids.
We spent some time going over their family pictures and listening to their stories. Both Anil and his wife meditate and have been to meditation retreats. We have been meditating for a while (not as regularly as we would like), and it was very nice to compare notes.
What Impressed Me Most About Anil was …
Anil has a keen business sense and is able to spot opportunities where not many would. Additionally, he takes action. Not everything works out, but as Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take”.
We had a number of discussions on blockchain and its potential to change the business as we know it. We both agree that the potential exists, although it may not be in the form of digital money like bitcoin. Many of these technologies are being integrated in different industries. IBM has gone deep in blockchain, and so has Maersk for shipping and logistics. Anil is a blockchain enthusiast. He also took up an e-residency in Estonia, which probably doesn’t make sense to most, but a forward thinking individual may recognize Estonia as being one of the most connected countries in the world.
(Side note: If you read Howard Marks’ “The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor”, you will come across the concept of first level thinking and second level thinking. 99% of the people in this world engage in first level thinking. For example, “Stocks are going up everyday. I should be buying” is the first level thinking. Rare investors engage in second level thinking. They might say, “Stocks are going up everyday, but the fundamentals do not support it. I will sit out and get back in the market when the stocks are cheap”. Buffett does second level thinking and he is holding on to significant amounts of cash in his portfolio. Value Stock Guide members do second level thinking, and we are also holding significant amounts of cash. I see many new members join VSG Premium professing their long term and disciplined approach, and they leave when they realize I refuse to risk our capital when the markets are over valued like today. Anil taking up e-residency in Estonia strikes me as a prime example of 2nd level thinking. It does not seem to be relevant now, but short term is not why he did it.)
Anil is working on a few different projects now. The most fascinating of these is his bid to create a secure and privacy-focused social media platform. ConneXuz aims to be to Facebook what Duck Duck Go is to Google. Additionally, the platform will allow white labeling feature to allow groups and organizations to create their own private networks. A focus on privacy and lack of data mining makes this decidedly unattractive to advertisers, therefore the platform will likely be supported by a nominal subscription fee and white labeling fees.
Social media seems to be a maturing niche but there are tremendous opportunities in fixing the issues that plague these networks today. Security and privacy are some of these issues. I expect Anil’s solution to fill a need in the market that is not currently being addressed sufficiently. It will be interesting to keep an eye on how this project progresses and we wish Anil all the best in his endeavors.
If you are a Premium member and you want me to feature you or your business on the website, please let me know. It will be my pleasure to do so.