How's Whitney Tilson Doing? Fine, GREAT, Actually, I Mean I Haven't Slept In Weeks But I Feel Incredible, Seriously, Who Needs Sleep? Also Are My Eyes Twitching?

An adventure in "Extreme Sleep Deprivation" with Kase Capital.
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The last time we heard from Whitney Tilson he was waving a tearful goodbye to the business of managing other people's money in order to focus on more stimulative and enriching life experiences. The goal, Tilson wrote in his farewell letter to investors, was “to find opportunities that are personally interesting, give me the chance to collaborate with great people, and are sufficiently remunerative.”

TilsonColumbo

It should be no surprise that Tilson's search for a pursuit that is interesting, collaborative and remunerative led him to dabble in seminar management, with the Kase Advanced Seminar on Value Investing and Hedge Fund Entrepreneurship. What is surprising is that Tilson's career switch has also allowed him to dabble in acute sleep deprivation and manic Powerpoint-based cries for help, as evidenced by the former hedge funder's recently published slide deck, My Experience With Extreme Sleep Deprivation.

Though Tilson spent decades at the intense and invigorating work of investing (and sometimes losing) investor money – alongside occasional forays into television appearances, blogging/writing, and public speaking – he didn't feel the iron grip of stress-induced madness until he was teaching a course for a dozen-odd hedgies and aspiring hedgies. The seminar ran 8:15 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily, leaving him only the wee hours of the morning to diligently plan (read: feverishly scrawl) the next day's agenda, a process that looked something like this:

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 2.29.14 PM

After a week, Tilson was averaging 5 hours of sleep and beginning to feel a whole lot of feelings, which he was generous enough to share in his powerpoint:

• I feel a bit manic
• I’ve become more giddy/goofy
– Say or write whatever pops into my head (be careful Whitney!)
• I don’t feel as sharp mentally
– Maybe a 5-10% decline if you tested me
– My crossword puzzle times are slower
• My head, throat and eyes hurt and my nose is running
• I’ve become very emotional
– I’ve cried more in the past week than in the past decade
• I started crying in front of my students as I described a particularly difficult episode in my life, which was definitely not on the schedule!
• I get choked up every time I talk about my wife’s serious car accident a few weeks ago, and I feel much more intense love for her than usual (I know, I know, there’s nothing greater than infinity, but you know what I mean! ;-)

But these are just the negatives. Like a good coke binge, Tilson's lowest lows have been eclipsed by the highest highs:

• I haven’t been this creative and productive in more than a decade;
in only a week and half, I’ve created remarkably in-depth, highquality
content (in my opinion), captured in roughly two dozen new
slide presentations across three subject areas:
1) How to be a better investor (find more good investments, avoid value
traps, manage the portfolio better, etc.);
2) How to be a better hedge fund entrepreneur (create/launch a stronger
fund, raise more capital, hire the right people at the right time, create
more compelling presentations and investor letters, better cultivate
mentors, etc.); and
3) How to be a better person (a better friend/husband/father, more
optimistic/confident/resilient/happy, better avoid calamities that can
derail a life (death/serious injury, bad marriage/suffering a permanently
impaired relationship with a loved one, loss of reputation or wealth,
addiction), etc.

Don't believe him? Here's proof the no-sleep thing is working:

• I conceived of this slide deck and created it from 1:00-2:30am on
the 10th night

Also, in a bit of news that would annoy Tilson's past investors:

I’ve had two million-dollar ideas (literally) in the past three days

According to two updates to the slide deck, both added on Christmas Eve upon arriving to Argentina for a family trip, Tilson's now at three-plus weeks of little sleep, waking up around 3 a.m. nightly “bursting with ideas.” He's “almost getting used to it,” which may not be so bad, really: “It would be a game changer if I could add another ~3 hours to every day the rest of my life!” It would also be a game changer if all it took to be a successful hedge funder was to stagger around the office in the same soiled clothes you've had on for the past three days, a haze of cigarette smoke and ground-up Adderall dust hanging in the air, yammering about the vision you had last night of an eagle with the head of a snake devouring a small human child, which was obviously an allegory for value plays in the energy sector. If only.

Tilson's concluding thoughts:

• It’s an amazing feeling to be this creative and productive
– I feel like I could conquer the world right now!
• However, it would not be good for me, mentally or physically, to do this very often
– Saying or writing whatever pops into my head is particularly dangerous
– But going on the occasional “jag” (as my mom calls it) could be very beneficial
• I wonder how long it will take me to get back to normal?

Our concluding thoughts: Please seek psychiatric help and/or medical attention, Whitney. In any case, keep writing.

UPDATE: As of December 28, there is a new update to the slide deck:

• The moment I went on vacation, my sleeping problems
ended
• The last three nights I’ve slept completely normally,
without taking Ambien, for 8-10 hours
• It’s remarkable to me how quickly I’ve gone back to my
usual good sleep
• When I get home, I’d like to try to see if I can adjust to
sleeping from 11pm to 6am regularly on weeknights –
seven hours of sleep is the minimum specialists
recommend – which would add an extra ~30 minutes to
each day

Tilson sent the updated presentation to Dealbreaker, along with the following message:

I’m going to sleep with a calm mind – about to have my third night in a row of good sleep I think. Amazing what a vacation can do…

We're pleased to hear that all is well. You can read the updated slide deck here: My experience with extreme sleep deprivation-Whitney Tilson.

Related

Whitney Tilson's "Blogging/Writing" Diet Not So Restrictive That He Can't Indulge In The Occasional 1,200-Word Product Review

June 22, 2012: To ensure that I can focus intensely on in-depth company and industry analysis, I will adopt a much lower public profile and let my investment returns speak for themselves. Specifically, I will dramatically reduce my television appearances, interviews with the media, blogging/writing, and public speaking, both in the investment and philanthropic realms. I also plan to write letters to you quarterly rather than monthly (our bookkeeper will, course, continue to send you monthly statements). July 23, 2012: From: Whitney Tilson Date: Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 5:43 PM Subject: My favorite gadgets: laptop, phone, cameras, printers I’m a total gadget fiend, usually upgrading my laptop, phone, pocket camera, and digital SLR camera to the latest models at least once a year. In the past month, I’ve upgraded all four to newly released models and am so blown away that I wanted to share my experience (plus two printer recommendations). In order of amazingness: 1) My new laptop: the PC world FINALLY has slim, light, high-res-screen, quick-boot laptops (called ultrabooks) to rival the Macbook Air. I just bought the best of the lot, the ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A. It’s light as a feather, boots in a few seconds, and has an AMAZINGLY high-res 13.3” screen (I don’t miss the 17” screen on my old laptop one bit). Here’s a good review of it: www.pcworld.com/article/255921/handson_asus_zenbook_prime_ux31a.html It’s only $1,080 on Amazon (more if you want a faster chip or 256GB of flash memory; I find 128GB is fine for a secondary travel computer): www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00863L2PK/tilsoncapitalpar 2) My new smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S III, which just became available on Verizon. A couple of years ago, I added an iPhone to my Blackberry because I couldn’t give up the keyboard and found it impossible to type on the iPhone, but I didn’t like schlepping around two devices so when Verizon came out with Android phones with 30% bigger screens (plus 4G, which is MUCH faster), I junked both the Blackberry (good riddance! I had to use one in Europe last week and HATED every minute of it; until you switch, you have no idea of how awful Blackberries are) and the iPhone for the HTC Thunderbolt. No regrets, but the Thunderbolt is thick and bulky, the screen is nowhere near as good as the new iPhones, and the battery lasted maybe 1/3 of a day, so I always had to carry a spare. Thus, it was with great joy that I switched last week to the Samsung, which fixes all three of these problems: it’s super slim and light (while maintaining the large screen), the resolution appears to me to be just as good as the iPhone’s retina display, and the battery lasts most of a day with normal usage (still not great, but much better). In my opinion, this phone is much superior to the iPhone, but if you like your iPhone I wouldn’t switch until we see what the new iPhone 5 looks like. It’s rumored to be out this fall and have a bigger screen. If it’s also 4G on Verizon AND can work overseas (none of the current Verizon Android 4G phones can), then I might switch back to the iPhone. I also wouldn’t switch away from the iPhone unless you’re reasonably technologically savvy – the ecosystem isn’t quite as seamless (for example, it was quite a pain to transfer my music, esp my playlists, from iTunes on my computer to my new phone). 3) I have three kids and take zillions of photos, so I’ve become an amateur digital photo junkie. I find that I need two cameras (given that I hate the crummy photos that camera phones take): a super-small pocket one to take with me everywhere (for 90%+ of photos) and a big digital SLR camera for special occasions when small cameras just don’t cut it (weddings, bar mitzvahs, action sports, etc.). Among pocket cameras, I’ve been a very happy user for at least two years of the Canon PowerShot S90, then S95, and most recently the S100, but the new Sony DSC RX-100 blows every other pocket camera out of the water (if you’re willing to pay an extra $300). It’s maybe 5-10% bigger than the S100, but still fits easily in a pocket – and the results BLEW my mind. I thought I was using a full-size SLR: no shutter lag, amazing many-frames-per-second action shots, brilliant pictures in low light without a flash, etc. Below is the review by the NYT’s David Pogue, who concludes: This is an ideal second camera for professionals. And it’s a great primary camera for any amateur who wants to take professional-looking photos without having to carry a camera bag. Of course, $650 is crazy expensive. You can buy a full-blown S.L.R. for that much. But every time you transfer a batch of its pictures to your computer, you’ll understand why you spent that money. You’ll click through them, astonished at how often it’s successful in stopping time, capturing the emotion of a scene, enshrining a memory or an expression you never want to forget. You’ll appreciate that the RX100 has single-handedly smashed the rule that said, “You need a big camera for pro-quality photos.” And if you care at all about your photography, you’ll thank Sony for giving the camera industry a good hard shove into the future. The quality of the camera is reflected in its price, however: the cheapest I could find it on the internet is $605 here: www.provantage.com/sony-dscrx100-b~7SNYG07U.htm. If that’s too expensive for you, go with the Canon S100 for $335 here: http://bestpricephoto.com/h/product_info.php/canon-powershot-s100-digital-camera-p-20660 4) I also recently upgraded my digital SLR from the Nikon D5100 to the D7000, which is the highest end amateur camera in the Nikon line. The D5100 was buggy so I was pleased to be rid of it. The key with both of these cameras is to get the Nikkor 18-200mm lens – it’s 11x with digital image stabilization built in. It’s the only lens you need, so just buy the camera body plus this lens. The best price I found for the D7000 is $889 at: http://bestpricephoto.com/h/product_info.php/nikon-d7000-162-mp-digital-slr-camera-body-p-19926. The best price on the lens is $847 at: www.buydig.com/shop/product.aspx?sku=NK18200G2 PS—I use and recommend the free Google photo software, Picasa (www.picasa.com), for cropping, editing, getting rid of red-eye, emailing photos (with the photos embedded, not attached), etc. Last but not least, printers: 1) If you want to print photos, I highly recommend a specialized photo printer rather than using an all-in-one inkjet – the quality difference is HUGE. I haven’t upgraded mine in a while, but if I were to buy one, I’d just buy the latest model of my current one (the 4500), the Canon iP4920, which is a mere $80 (they get you on the paper and ink – don’t try generics): www.buydig.com/shop/product.aspx?sku=CNIP4920 2) Complementing my photo printer in my home office is my color laser, the Brother MFC-9560CDW Multifunction Printer for $590 at: www.nextwarehouse.com/item/?999165. It’s a great scanner, copier, fax machine, and prints fast in color and B&W IN DUPLEX (two-sided), which is a must-have for me.

Whitney Tilson Was As Surprised As You Are To Learn That He Was Long Netflix On The Way Up

NFLX is up 75% year to date so you probably assumed that Whitney Tilson had gotten rid of it sometime last year. You were not alone: We thought it was a little strange when Whitney Tilson and Glenn Tongue's hedge fund T2 Partners' latest 13F came out earlier this week and Netflix wasn't included. We sent the hedge fund manager an email to find out why and there's now a corrected version of the fund's regulatory filing out. It turned out, it was just an error. As of December 31, 2011, T2 Partners had combination of 89,771 shares and 81,000 call options in Netflix, according to the updated 13F. Here's Why Whitney Tilson's 13-F Didn't Have Netflix In It When It Came Out [BI]