TTD-SQ, A Tale of Two Storytelllers...

So, lately there’s been some grumbling about Square being under-appreciated, while TTD roared back from a recent drop.

TTD CEO, Jeff Green was on “Mad Money” and with expert precision made three key points: 1. TTD does an expert job of managing profitability/growth; 2. TTD can excel in China because they bring ad spend/money into China; the TAM will grow to 1 TRILLION in the next 7.5 years. While Green spoke, Cramer was giddy. My wife normally doesn’t care about the market, but since we have a big hunk in TTD I asked her to watch. We were laughing out loud, I even taped Cramer’s reactions. He literally looked like a school girl listening to an amorous suitor.

I found this downright charming. Cramer genuinely loves business. He is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, but undoubtedly brilliant. He was so delighted because it feels great to see the elite of the elite do their thing. Green had a very short amount of time to do his thing and he smashed the ball out of the park. The next day the stock was up 8%. Storytelling is a fascinating art in that it takes extreme intelligence and hard work to keep things simple. I know very little about the technical aspects of TTD, but I know greatness in storytelling and management when I see it. And he’s not a great looking hunk - meaning his charisma is fueled by intelligence, authenticity, vision, and likability. According to Wikipedia, Cramer gets roughly 500,000 viewers. These are obviously all or mostly investors. And there is likely no shortage of marketing people who watch.

Compare this to Square’s Jack Dorsey. No doubt Dorsey is extraordinary businessman, entrepreneur, personality. But in his last media tour - which was extensive - guess what he virtually never mentioned. Square! Incredible. The entire focus on Twitter, which is arguably the most important media company in the world. How much would companies spend to get big media attention? How much impact does it have? It’s impossible to fully quantify. But it’s a lot.

There are so many great companies around Fooldom/Bert-n-Saulville to choose from that we each need our own little short cuts to prune our portfolio gardens. For me leadership is ultra-essential. When I walk onto a 747 to fly across the ocean I want my captain 100% focused on the flight I’m on. As Tom Gardner once wrote, “Focus! Focus! Focus!”…

Drucker believes that most people – and, by extension, most companies – are terribly unfocused. They have too many loves to satisfy and too few commitments. They dabble here, dally there, and fail to master anything. Peter Lynch, the greatest mutual fund manager of all time, called this phenomenon di-worse-ification. Drucker called it a driver of mediocrity.

Running two separate companies is a form of diworsification. I predict Square with its unfocused CEO, relatively inexperienced CFO, massive product line-up becomes more unstable as it grows into the tens and tens of billions.

I am extremely grateful to all of you here who do deep dives into the finances, run models and deep dive into technology. But sometimes I think it blinds investors to the most obvious and blatant flaws in a company and gives scientific certainty to investing which is as much art/intuition as science. We can talk all day about the 100,000 complex moving parts of an airliner. But if the pilot’s unfocused…

Green has the ability to charm people, to make friends, to bring disparate parties together. He reminds me a lot of Reed Hastings - who somehow built Netflix without infuriating anyone. Again, this doesn’t show up on a spreadsheet, but Hastings charisma/intelligence/maturity, were essential to Netflix going from 1B to 150+ Billion. He made deal after absurd deal in which NBC et al radically undervalued their content. Seriously, watch Cramer’s responses here…

Jeff Green - Mad Money…

This is some high level Jedi mastery.

Fool On!

Broadway Dan,
Champion of the Intangibles


Great post Dan. I was talking to coworker (who was very adamant about evaluating using technicals) about I how I focus more on intangibles and he looked at me as if I had “stupid” tattooed on my face. This board has proven that diworsification is real just in terms of number of holdings in your portfolio. My portfolio is much more diworsified than Saul’s, and so are my returns.

Dorsey’s lack of focus on SQ is starting to worry me. He’s proving that you can be a Jack-of-all-CEOs & master of none. I’ve ditched my Tesla shares for a similar reason; I just can’t trust Musk, he’s too much of a wildcard for me.

Still long SQ, but growing wary.

1 Like

Great management is definitely key. I was actually considering both SQ and TWTR. I am definitely not crazy w the split duties arrangement for Dorsey.

BTW, for anyone looking for something to add. I really think ETSY has a great new CEO/CFO team.

1 Like

But in his last media tour - which was extensive - guess what he virtually never mentioned. Square! Incredible

I’ve listened to several interviews with him and his media tour is in direct response to significant criticism against social media generally and Twitter specifically. Joe Rogan received so much criticism of his first interview with Dorsey that Rogan had to have Dorsey back a second time to ask much tougher questions. It would have been a major mistake for Dorsey to bring up Square in the light of such outrage around Twitter. I think Dorsey is probably worthy of quite a bit of criticism and is definitely not a master salesman but I dont think this criticism is quite warranted.

Disclosure: I own shares in Square but not in Twitter.



It’s funny - I totally get where you are coming from in terms of the leadership, but my conclusions about risk are different: Dorsey has had to build a management structure within SQ that can operate independently of him, and on the other hand how many senior execs at Trade Desk other than Jeff Green are you aware of? JG is a guru in his field, and so I would assign a higher degree of key man risk there than with SQ.


(holding both, by the way)


Dorsey is obviously a fantastic leader and of course must have a deep bench. By all accounts SQ is a solid company. And I’m not questioning anyone else’s decision to stick with it. Again, though, for me, the idea of a CEO running another company is borderline ludicrous. Last time I made this call was with Musk. You want to play around in Space, more power to you, but not while you’re fighting a major war in a fast-changing, difficult industry. This is my bias - To me stocks are living stories. I’m partial to stories with one main character with one clear goal. I have seen 100s of stories go off the rails when the storyteller tries to do too much. For every Amazon there’s a thousand dumpster fires.,_Inc.

Payment processing, banking, website creation, food delivery…

Of course this might all work. I’ll stick with Green, one guy who has spent his career in advertising, making it easier for world (beyond FB/GOOG) to sell all their stuff. Basically one company/one key service/gigantic TAM in essential part of global economy. There is a cleanliness and alignment to the story. Again, just like Hastings/Netflix/movies tv on all devices. Simplicity/Clarity is underrated.



Great post, Broadway Dan. It’s funny, because last night I was watching the musical, The Music Man, with my 4th grade son. (If you don’t know the musical, it’s about a traveling salesman / con man who charms a whole town of Iowans into signing up their kids to be in a marching band. He also woos the town’s skeptical librarian along the way.)

I love a good story, and I feel like I have to be careful that this is not a weakness of mine as an investor. Stories backed by numbers are good. I like that Saul is not-very-much wooed by stories, he looks at the numbers and trends.

I’m long both TTD and SQ, but I am not sure that I would make a decision to lose SQ based on just the CEO. It is certainly a factor to consider, though. I have always liked the phrase – how many rabbits can you catch at once?

I don’t think TSLA / SQ is a fair comparison.

My favorite “story stock” is Stitch Fix, BTW.