🏆 Top 10 Articles of 2023
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Today, we revisit some of the most popular articles published by App Economy Insights in 2023.
I publish articles across two services:
How They Make Money (via Substack):
Weekly business breakdowns for visual thinkers.
Nearly 200 companies visualized quarterly for Premium members.
App Economy Portfolio (via Seeking Alpha):
Popular investing group where I share my entire stock portfolio.
Monthly deep dives, live trades, and watch lists.
Timely quarterly updates on 50+ holdings.
Stock ratings (BUY, SELL, or HOLD).
It’s the last post of 2023. So, it’s time to reflect!
It’s been an incredible year for App Economy Insights:
172 articles published, including:
50 free posts on How They Make Money.
62 posts on How They Make Money Premium.
60 posts for App Economy Portfolio members.
Over 80 million views across posts and social media.
Over 250,000 followers & subscribers across all our channels.
How They Make Money became a best-selling newsletter on Substack.
Our growth has been primarily through word-of-mouth, so thank you for putting the word out! We launched a referral program to ensure readers like you get rewarded for sharing our content.
I cannot say this enough. Your support means the world to me and allows me to do this full-time!
Before we start 2024, here are 10 of the most popular posts of 2023.
1)💡How to Analyze Financial Statements
We launched a three-part mini-series on the three primary financial statements.
What’s included in a P&L, Balance Sheet, or Cash flow statement?
Key ratios and metrics.
Types of analysis.
2) 💳 Visa & Mastercard: Priceless
If terms like acquirer, issuer, or ISOs are confusing, this article will break down the payment ecosystem in plain English.
What is payment processing?
The role of Visa and Mastercard.
How they make money.
The future of fintech.
3) 📈 Stock Buybacks & Dividends Explained
Companies typically have two main options to return profits to shareholders: stock buybacks and dividends. So we look at the pros and cons and visualize the impact of these approaches.
Why Buffett & Munger love cannibals.
Dividends vs. Buybacks: How it works.
Concrete examples such as Coca-Cola and Apple.
What you should focus on based on your investor profile.
4) 🛡️ Cybersecurity: Industry Showdown
We all know cyberattacks are on the rise, and cloud security is an industry poised to perform very well. But how do we get exposure as investors? If acronyms like IAM, DDoS, DNS, CDN, WAF, and SASE are a complete mystery to you, you’re in for a treat!
The state of the cybersecurity market.
The leading players visualized, from Cisco to Zscaler.
Key trends to watch.
5) 🔍 How To Value A Stock: The Ultimate Guide
This is your guide to stock valuation. We start with simple steps. We walk through the tricky stuff together. By the end, you’ll understand how to value a stock.
What drives valuation?
How to evaluate and categorize a business.
The best valuation tools and their limitations.
6) 🌎 12 Global Titans in 22 Charts
If a picture is worth a thousand words, these 22 visuals are worth an entire book. All the largest companies in the world are visualized in a tidy report that will give you crisp insights in a matter of seconds.
It’s been one of our most popular Premium reports. So we made it a free reward if you refer three new subscribers to our newsletter.
7) ☁️ Amazon: ‘The AWS of Everything’
AWS was born from Amazon's internal need to manage vast computational workloads. It democratized scalable cloud infrastructure, showcasing Amazon's knack for turning operational challenges into lucrative opportunities.
After building an unparalleled operations network, Amazon is leveraging this expertise as a service, potentially replicating its AWS playbook in other domains.
How is AWS positioned on the three layers of the AI stack?
Why is Amazon building the “AWS of logistics?”
Could advertising become a bigger contributor than AWS?
8) 🥕 Instacart IPO: Key Takeaways
I spent hours reviewing the 300+ pages of Instacart’s S-1 so you don’t have to. We warned our Premium readers to be cautious out of the gate, and it turned out to be the right call so far.
What is Instacart’s business model?
What are the risks & opportunities?
Why brand new IPOs are best avoided?
9) 📊 Earnings Visuals (10/2023)
So. Many. Visuals.
We publish this report every month with an avalanche of earnings visualized. Our coverage keeps expanding with new businesses added based on feedback from the community. If you have a company you’d like us to cover in mind, let us know by replying to this email.
10) ⚙️ Semiconductor Titans Visualized
As the saying goes, in a gold rush, sell picks and shovels. Compute hardware and chips form the core of AI's capabilities, essential for training and inference.
Who are the key players in the semiconductor ecosystem?
Who are the largest foundries, IDMs, and fabless companies?
Why are export bans critical to watch?
Best and worst investments of 2023
2023 was a pretty great year to be an investor.
Chances are, you are pretty happy with your portfolio this year. Despite a grim outlook and expectations of rising interests and a recession, the indices rebounded after a catastrophic 2022.
The S&P benchmark returned an average 10% annual return from 1926 to 2023, and 74% of the years were positive. The longer the time horizon, the higher the chance of positive returns. If you want to stack the deck in your favor, the easiest step by far is to trade less and ignore the doomsayers.
“Pessimists sound smart. Optimists make money.”
I share my stock portfolio with a community of long-term-focused investors. So I wanted to share the best and worst-performing investments this year:
Atlassian (TEAM): On January 9th, I wrote: “I'm thrilled to add to my small position while shares are close to a 4-year low. There is no sign of a decrease in usage or increase in churn. The current challenges stem from a lack of conversion from new free users, which is macro-related and temporary by nature.” The stock is up 94% since then, beating the S&P 500 by 72%.
NVIDIA (NVDA): My best-performing investment of 2023 is actually one I made in 2022. My NVDA position more than tripled this year. I refrained from buying more in 2023, which, in retrospect, would have been a marvelous idea.
Paycom Software (PAYC): I’ve held PAYC in my portfolio for many years, and the position is still firmly in the green today. But 2023 was an awful year with the stock dropping more than 25% since I added to my position in March. Paycom's employee-driven payroll product "Beti" is performing so well for customers that it allows them to run less payroll, and therefore save money (thereby reducing Paycom's revenue). In a very AWS fashion, management believes reducing costs for customers may hurt Paycom's revenue in the short term, but it could greatly benefit in the long run as customers gain efficiency and are less likely to churn. Of course, there is an execution risk attached to this narrative, hence the lower valuation for now.
Plans for 2024
You can expect How They Make Money to expand in 2024.
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I wish you and your family a wonderful 2024. ✨
That’s it for today!
Stay healthy and invest on!
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Author's Note (Bertrand here 👋🏼): The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are solely my own and should not be considered financial advice or any other organization's views.
Disclosure: I am long AAPL, AMZN, PAYC, NVDA, TEAM, and V in the App Economy Portfolio. I share my ratings (BUY, SELL, or HOLD) with App Economy Portfolio members here.