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No. of Recommendations: 105
The Trade Desk - a moderately deep dive

I’ve taken a new position in The Trade Desk so I thought I should tell you a bit about the company and why I’m in it. It first came to my attention almost two years ago when the wonderful company who supports our board recommended it in Feb 2017. As you know I get a lot of my best ideas from them. I did notice the recommendation and thought about it but I had had bad experiences with advertising companies, and unfortunately I didn’t take a long term position at that time. They had it right!
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Then in May 2017 they recommended it again. This time I did listen enough to take a little 1% position in order to think seriously about it, but still dominated by my bad feelings about investing in advertising companies, I sold it at a couple of percent loss two weeks later. (After all, those earlier advertising companies were supposed to be special too. I just didn’t get it yet.)
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Then I read an interview with the Trade Desk CEO, Jeff Green. By this time I understood that the Trade Desk is a DSP, or Demand Side Platform, which means it sells its services to advertisers who need to buy ad space (‘inventory”), but that it differed from most of them in that:
1. It allies with agencies instead of competing against them
2. It uses a special system called programatic buying which actually buys ads in an intelligent AI fashion, and not just whatever is available. That means they get better resuts and better return on investment.
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Then I read a Digiday article. Digiday is an online magazine which covers advertising, publishing and media. Here’s a little excerpt from the article:

When Procter & Gamble overhauled its programmatic buying operations this month, it decided to switch its demand-side platform to The Trade Desk. That ranked as another big win for them. Their revenue was up 76% in the first quarter.

The stock market has had no love for ad tech firms. For example, the share prices of Rubicon, Rocket Fuel and Tremor Video are down 43%, 89% and 75%, compared to their IPO prices.

Jeff Green, CEO of The Trade Desk, thinks its growth can be largely attributed to its focus on agencies and buy-side technologies, as well as an omnichannel strategy.

‘More than 50% of our revenue comes from agencies. We never compete with them. We are also omnichannel and global…’

Green thinks many DSPs are trying to do too much: ‘They go directly to brands, pitching that they can offer both the tech and the service. But TTD never wants to compete with agencies for brand clients. This is because a big brand may need hundreds or thousands of people to run ad campaigns globally, and there is ad customization involved in each country. If a DSP acts like a tech provider and an agency concurrently, it would be spread very thin. I don’t know how you can be an agency and offer the best tech at the same time’ he said.

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Also in May 2017, The Trade Desk closed a secondary. It was a follow-on offering of 4.3 million shares by certain selling stockholders, at a price of $52 per share. The Trade Desk did not receive any proceeds and didn’t offer any shares of its own. There was no dilution.
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Then, in June 2017, Bear did a write-up on our board. (It was a pretty active couple of months, 😀). Here’s an excerpt:

It plays in the somewhat crowded world of advertising, but it seems the way they've positioned themselves to work with ad agencies (instead of with the companies placing ads) has really made them a preferred source. They also don't buy inventory but just facilitate, so that streamlines their process and enables them to serve their customers without conflict. Their growth is phenomenal: revenue grew by 78% in 2016. And they're profitable with a PE around 50, which given their growth, seems insanely low….Though everything seems to be going great, I just don’t understand the industry too well, or why TTD is growing so much faster than competitors…
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Then skip forward a year to last month (October 2018). Bert sent his thoughts about The Trade Desk in an email, responding to a question by one of our board members who, like me, is a subscriber to Bert’s newsletter, and this board member shared the email with me. (I’ll just say again, if you are investing in tech stocks and haven’t subscribed to Bert’s newsletter, you are out of your mind.) Here’s a paraphrased and shortened excerpt from the email:

This company is turning the ad world on its head, and I think it has a very bright future and will feast at the discomfiture of GOOG and FB. The market is unhappy with hyper-growth names these days. I haven't the kind of crystal ball that is going to predict how long the malaise lasts. But this is a name to own. I wish I had had either the prescience or time availability to get on this one sooner.

I have read many articles about programmatic advertising and the ROI it creates for advertisers. I can only say, hell yes! Most advertisers know that they have to optimize and target their ad buying and this is the leading platform in that regard. It’s no secret that advertisers need to embrace digital if they are going to transmit their message in a timely and efficient fashion.

Obviously the CEO of TTD believes the thesis that privacy, and the GDPR, are big tailwinds for Trade Desk. If you haven't seen it, look at this comment from Jeff Green:

Here are four tailwind factors that I want to touch on, first Google sharply limited how their DoubleClick ID can be used. Second, significant merger deal shifted the TV landscape. And third GDPR went live in the EU, and finally The Trade Desk launched the biggest product in our company's history. I think it's important to discuss each of these events and how they impact the entire digital advertising marketplace….

….You are exactly right that what we are seeing now is that FB and GOOG have to rewrite their playbooks. They simply can't collect data in detail and use that to target ads as they have been doing. And that has facilitated the fantastic growth that TTD is enjoying and is likely to enjoy for the foreseeable future. Honestly, TTD has such an advantage in terms of the environment in which it operates that there is something close to unanimity amongst analysts who cover their name in their positive evaluation.
One of the things I do before I write up a name is to try to take a deep dive. That means I need to read lots about companies to try to educate myself and I like to speak with management. I simply haven't done that yet with TTD, so, I haven't written about it yet, but it is the kind of business I like to invest in and this is a great longer-term investment.


(Bert still hasn’t written it up. Maybe he feels it has gotten away from him), but with Bear and Bert really liking the company I decided to take a small position again.
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There was some discussion on our board and someone recommended an awesome article from August from Seeking Alpha called The Trade Desk: just buy and hold, it’s a high growth, capital-light compounder. By Saga Partners. This article really taught me what the Trade Desk does and what its advantages are. It’s really an excellent, excellent, article.
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Then, in this month (November), came the Q3 2018 results. You don’t often get such amazing results, and such a euphoric conference call. Here is my paraphrased and much abreviated summary of their results and the conference call. Remember that it's paraphrased and I may have made some errors:

We are a provider of a global technology platform for buyers of advertising… As the worldwide programmatic advertising market grows, we continue to outpace that growth. The need for objective, data-driven media buying is increasing. A steady stream of new brands and agencies continues to join our platform. We again broke our previous revenue record and surpassed our own expectations.

Record revenue of $119 million was up 50% yoy, which equaled the 50% yoy increase we had last year. Net income was a record $20.3 million, and was up 99%. Adj EBITDA was $36.6 million and it was up 50% yoy. The Adj EBITDA Margin was 31%. Adj Net was $30 million up from $15 million and Adj EPS was 65 cents up from 35 cents.

Connected TV, audio, mobile and video led our channel growth. Our momentum continued with additional large customer wins and strong international growth. We also saw continued adoption of our Next Wave products.

Continued Omni-channel Growth: Omni-channel solutions remain a strategic focus for The Trade Desk as the industry continues shifting toward transparency and programmatic buying. Specific channel spend highlights include:

Mobile (in-app, video and web) up 65%
Mobile increased to 46% of gross spend, its highest percentage ever, highlighting the growing importance of this channel to advertisers.
Connected TV grew over 10X yoy.
Audio grew 192% yoy.
Mobile video grew 98% yoy.
Mobile in-app grew 90% yoy.

Strong Customer Retention: Customer retention remained over 95% during the quarter, as it has for each of the last 19 quarters.

New Products and Features: We issued several new product features and enhancements to our platform.

Global Footprint Expansion: We broadened our coverage with the opening of our Toronto office.

Best Places to Work: We were ranked #2 among the 100 Best Medium Workplaces to Work for by Fortune.

The many new wins from the top 200 largest advertisers in the world over 2017 and 2018 are helping to drive significant growth. These major wins over the past two years are providing significant momentum and we believe it will continue into 2019 and beyond.
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Conference Call (If you can read this conference call and not run out and fill up on TTD stock, you are a stronger man (or woman) than I am.)

Before we get into our results, I want to set the context of where we fit into the overall programmatic advertising industry. Global ad revenues are estimated to be $700 billion in 2018. Digital is nearly half of that. Inside of digital, programmatic is one of the fastest growing segments.

We think nearly all of advertising will eventually be digital, and that nearly all of that will be programmatic. In 2018, programmatic will grow 21%. We are growing over twice as fast! In Q3, our revenue grew 50%. There are several reasons for our rapid growth.

First, there is strong momentum by advertisers to diversify their ad spend on digital, and programmatic is benefiting. Advertisers are taking a more data driven approach to the way they spend and they are realizing the traditional methods do not deliver the best ROI.

Another reason is that media is rapidly fragmenting, especially in TV. From an agency and advertiser perspective, The Trade Desk is the best way to target audiences effectively across fragmenting distribution channels. This fragmentation enhances our value proposition because we are independent and objective and we nimbly move where the advertising ecosystem moves. This is driving advertisers to spend their marketing dollars beyond the traditional search and social websites.

Finally, our independence, avoiding conflicts of interest by not owning any media and serving only the demand side is more valuable today than ever before. The market continues to validate our business model. This is now the second quarter in a row where our growth rate has equaled the prior year's growth rate. We are seeing measurable results in our numbers.

For 3Q, I'm pleased to report that we had another record quarter. Our revenue increase to $119 million, once again exceeding our own expectations. We have seen significant growth in our most strategic channels. 46% of Q3 spend in our platform was in mobile. This is the highest percentage of mobile spend we've ever had.

Our Mobile Video growth was up nearly a 100% yoy. Mobile In-App growth was also nearly 100%. Data spend on our platform grew by over 70% yoy. We are extremely excited that our first acquisition made almost a year ago, has already paid for itself.

Cross-Device spend was up 3x compared to last year, but perhaps most exciting is what we're reporting in CTV (Connected TV), which once again, grew more than 10x from a year ago. CTV growth and our CTV market share continue to exceed our own expectations. Our expansion and international markets also continue at a strong pace. Once again Q3 international spend grew more than the domestic spend.

This puts international spend on track to exit the year at a much faster pace than the U.S. We continue to expect rapid growth outside the U.S. for the foreseeable future. We're also excited to report that we signed up three more top 200 global advertisers. This includes one of the biggest retailers in the U.S., a huge multinational consumer technology firm and one of the biggest global beverage companies in the world. We view most of their current spend in our platform as small tests relative to what we expect them to do in 2019.(Land and expand) .

Over the past 12 months compared to the same period last year, nearly half of the top 200 brands increased spend with us by more than 50%. Of the top 200 brands that have signed with us, spend has increased by over 5x year-to-date compared with last year.

This positions us very well for continued growth not only in Q4 but also in 2019. While too early to quantify we are more bullish on 2019 than we have ever been going into another year. We're more optimistic about our ability to gain market share than we've ever been. Add to this the growing adoption of Connected TV by large advertisers. Advertisers have only just started to move budget over from linear TV, which is why Connected TV will possibly be the most important channel for our growth in 2019 and beyond.

The largest part of the $700 billion worldwide advertising market is TV estimated at $230 billion according to IDC. But when TV spend is reallocated to web, video, social video, mobile video, and CTV, video content will approach about half of the growing global advertising pot.

While TV has moved to digital, it is still in its very early days. We are witnessing a generational shift with a global convergence of the Internet and TV. Within the next 10 years linear TV as we know it today, will be dead. Technologies such as 5G are expected to start rolling out in China, Japan and the U.S. very soon.

Increased speeds and reduced latency are a big deal for advertising. 5G is expected to accelerate on-demand content. 5G will change the advertising and media landscape. Mobile video usage will increase. Cable companies that leverage 5G will have a huge advantage over those who don't.

We recently met with the head of a major television network and their team. In our meeting, they made their main point very clear. CPM (cost per thousand) is king and they will embrace anything that maximizes ROI, and this is where we come in. Programmatic more effectively monetizes content. It was awesome to see one of the most senior executives at one of the largest content companies in the world embrace programmatic and The Trade Desk.

Driving better CPMs is one of the reasons content owners are coming directly to us. By doing so, these content owners are eliminating many steps in the distribution channels and are monetizing their ad inventory more directly and efficiently. We expect to work with any TV cable or online channel who wants to have a direct relationship with consumers.

Better monetization and the fact that no single company dominates the market share in TV leads us to believe that a walled garden approach will not succeed in TV. TV market dynamics are much different from those of other channels. The Google and Facebook playbooks for search and social do not apply to the TV industry. It is virtually impossible for any one content provider to own as much market share in TV as Google has in search or Facebook has in social. This is why our objectivity from not owning media ourselves makes us one of the most important partners to these TV content owners.

We think that in the long-term we may be the one company who can partner with everyone in digital, because of our scale and independence with no conflicts of interest. That's why we can work with many of the biggest digital publishers on the planet from Google in most of the world, to Baidu in China. From Amazon, in the U.S., to Alibaba in China, and globally on Spotify, and don't forget in TV, AT&T, ABC, Dish Network, Fox, Scripps and DirecTV.

This is why we are so excited about our new global partnership with Tencent. You may recall that we have announced our partnerships with Baidu and Alibaba previously, so this is a big announcement, but let me finish a few things on TV and the CTV front.

Our CTV spend was up strongly again this quarter at over 10x year-to-year. The number of advertisers running on CTV has increased about 100% over the past year. The early investments we made in this channel continue to yield increasing returns and we expect continued growth as the CTV ecosystem matures, but the success in CTV is not only happening in the U.S. We are also seeing great progress in Asia and Europe.

We also recently signed an exclusive deal with ITE Taiwan, Taiwan has a massive user base that is highly engaged with its innovative video and gaming content and is one of the largest publishers in Taiwan. ITE Taiwan is a must have inventory source for digital marketers and that inventory is now available exclusively through The Trade Desk.

In Hong Kong, we recently ran a large CTV branding campaign for a large multinational skincare company. The results were fantastic. The completion rate was nearly 100% and the cost per completed view was 62% lower than on the competing video platform.

We're also seeing growth in Europe in Q3 we again had record spend in the UK, Spain and Germany. Our Hamburg office to cite just one instance, increased its business over 200% from a year ago. Despite the concerns of some, we have not seen diminished spend in Europe as a result of GDPR. Instead, GDPR has enabled us to build trust with publishers and customers. We continue to win spend.

For example, a global media company moved spend from a large competitor due to GDPR. Our competitor was favoring its own inventory instead of supporting the inventory partners that the media company wanted to reach. We see this regularly and it is yet another example of why our objectivity is so valuable to advertisers. We can partner with all publishers that provide premium inventory.

Now, moving to the data side of our business, we are enabling the activation of data to make smarter decisions much easier for advertisers. As a result, we've seen increased adoption of Cross-Device data. In Q3 our Cross-Device spend was up over 3x. Last year we bought a Cross-Device company. It was our first acquisition.

Our intent behind the acquiring Adbrain was primarily as a service to our customers, not as a key revenue generator for us, but when the ability to buy inventory and track results across multiple channels in one place became available, our customers embraced the opportunity and began building multi-channel media plans. By any measure the acquisition has more than paid for itself, but the strategic value of our enhanced ID offering is worth even more than the revenue.

Over the last year we integrated multi-channel campaign capabilities in our platform in a practical, actionable way. Now, one third of our customers are buying inventory in five or more channels on our platform. And we see much of the incremental revenue from their increased spend going straight to the bottom line. Our multi-channel proficiency enhances our position and reputation as the independent alternative to the walled gardens.

Facebook is where people go to buy Facebook, and Google is where people go to buy Google. Amazon is where people, go to buy Amazon, but the Trade Desk is the place where people go to buy everything else worldwide. That's why a recent study showed The Trade Desk ranked third right after Amazon and Google in overall demand side platform usage last year.

We were also a strong third in intended usage for the upcoming year and we are the number one DSP for self-service campaigns and the top multi-channel DSP. We are also rated as number one in thought leadership (the ability to articulate a compelling vision of programmatic).

We're hearing more and more marketers and advertisers from some of the largest brands in the world express the sentiment that The Trade Desk delivers ROI and insights that nobody else can. Our numbers reflect that. As the worldwide programmatic advertising market grows, we continue to outpace that growth. Our fundamental business model continues to be validated by our clients and the overall marketplace.

Our business model is exceptional. A soon to be $1 trillion total advertising market presents an opportunity for us that most companies of any size never see. We benefit from faster revenue growth in the programmatic industry at large, strong profitability and strong operating leverage. We expect to continue to see this for the foreseeable future.

We often benchmark our results against the 40% Rule of other SaaS companies in which the health of a company is expressed as the sum of a its growth rate and its EBITDA margin. 40% is healthy and we're on pace to be about two times that (80%) this year, and even though we are investing our future as fast as we can.

Programmatic is only getting started, it is growing. We believe it will continue to grow and as our numbers quarter-after-quarter show, we are growing even faster. We anticipate these trends will continue for the rest of this year and into 2019.

Now I'd like to turn things over to Rob to discuss our operating performance for the quarter. Rob?

Thanks Jeff. We continue to add new agencies and we continue to see strong cohort growth. We have won significant amounts of new business, large global brands are moving additional spend onto our platform, including one of the largest retailers in the U.S.

These wins continue to come from a diverse group of verticals including brands and sectors such as food and beverage, retail, fashion, fitness, consumer technology and business services. While we see some incremental spend in Q4 from these new client wins, we expect all of these brands to be much bigger contributors starting in 2019, as they ramp up on our platform.

Outside the U.S. the trend is similar. Nearly every office outside the U.S. set records again in Q3 led by Spain, which grew 380% year-over-year. Our Hamburg, Germany at 206% and Hong Kong, which grew by 107% on a year-over-year basis. In Europe there were two notable wins that represent much of the success we see worldwide. One was a high-end luxury automobile manufacturer that moved from a large competitor due to our ability to partner with many publishers in those specific regions that provide premium inventory.

The other was a large global bank and financial services company that moved due to our ability to do custom attribution modeling using the advertiser's own first party data. This just cannot be done on other large competing platforms.

Now in Asia, I want to highlight some of the successes we're seeing in the Australian and Indonesian markets. In Australia we recently won one of the largest travel companies in the country. Our success was due to our omni-channel buying capabilities and a customer service and product support model that is, as our client put it, literally second to none.

Our audio spend was also very strong, growing nearly 200% on a year-over-year basis. Total Mobile dollars reached 46% of total spend in the quarter for the first time while display is now less than 30% of spend. As media continues to fragment and our omni-channel strategy continues to drive spend growth.

In Asia, all of our offices are posting good growth numbers and our client teams are regularly opening up new inventory and winning new business with large global brands.

I'm going to turn the call over to Paul to discuss our financials.

Thanks Rob
. Revenue was up 50% yoy. Adj EBITDA was up 49% yoy and net income increased 98% to a record $20.3 million, all while we continue to invest aggressively for future growth.

Revenue for the third quarter was a record $119 million, which was above our expectations and reflected increased spend by our existing customers and the addition of new customers. About 91% of our growth spend came from existing customers who've been on our platform for longer than a year.

Our operating expenses grew to $97 million in Q3 of 2018 from $61 million during the same period in 2017. This increase was primarily due to increased investments in R&D and technology as we invested for future growth.

Our adj net income was $30.2 million or 65 cents per share, compared with $15.3 million or 35 cents, a year ago.

Adj EBITDA was $36.6 million, with a margin of 31% of revenue.

Our op cash flow was about $26 million. Trailing 12 months of operating cash flow and free cash flow were $63 million and $46 million.

We continue to have zero debt on our balance sheet, and our cash position continues to climb, exiting the quarter at $166 million.

Question-and-Answer Session
Q
- Congratulations on a terrific quarter here. You're more bullish about 2019 and that's quite a divergent from the other SaaS companies who really aren't willing to talk about 2019 yet. Could you give some details?

A - Really appreciate the question. We have the winds at our back. We're in a better position than we've ever been at this point in the year with more confidence than we've ever had at this position in the year.

So the first thing is, just looking at our own performance, it's pretty remarkable that in Q2 and Q3, we equaled our growth rate of 2017 which, given that we're making much bigger numbers now, we're very proud, and that beat our own expectations. But it goes even further when we guide today that for Q4, we expect to accelerate and grow faster this year than we did last year.

So with all of those things happening, we're more confident for 2019 than we ever were. And I compare that to a year ago when we're looking at the next year. It's just night and day difference in terms of our confidence.

Q - Jeff, I would like to ask you to sort of simplify for us the Connected TV advertising process.

A – Sure. So first let me just give everybody a little bit of context for Connected TV. In Q1 I said the most bullish thing in this report is that inventory for Connected TV went up by a 1000%. And then the next quarter, I said the most bullish thing is that our CTV spend went up by 1000%. And I never anticipated that when we are giving our Q3 results I would once again say that CTV spend went up by 10x again. I’d never expected that to happen.

So in answer to the second part of your question. Most of digital is still sold by sales forces, which represent a tremendous opportunity for us. So, the fact that the majority of it is still sort of hand sold, if you will represents future upside. And then of course there's a macro secular tailwinds that is moving everybody off of traditional cable.

So, we've never seen it an opportunity like CTV before and I don't think we'll ever see one like it, again. It is the biggest opportunity we've ever seen probably ever will.

Q - Hey, guys, congrats on the quarter. A couple of questions. First on, I think, last quarter you talked about Google limiting how DoubleClick ID can be used. Additionally, just your thoughts maybe Facebook also kind of limiting advertised data if that's starting to benefit you as well.

A - You bet. Let me explain. So, what DoubleClick used to do is they used to share their ID with everybody. And that was great because it basically became a common currency and it was fine for the industry, it worked well. But they decided to limit the use of that mostly because of the liability of owning the search engine. That's the same thing that I believe made Facebook make the decision to not ever use their ID again.

But in our case, where it's anonymous, we are not trading in personally identifiable information or directly identifiable information because, we don't transact in that. It makes it possible for an advertiser to track exactly what they bought is something that's much more feasible for us because, again, we don't have a search engine. So as a result, we will share our ID with the large CPG, for instance and Google will not and it makes a really hard for that CPG company to know what they bought on Google and especially, it makes it impossible for them to compare the performance on Google to something else.

So, as a result, we're getting new inquiries from advertisers and agencies saying in cases where we used to spend with Google or Facebook, we'd like to spend with you. And in fact we prefer to spend with you and spend as much as we can with you first, and then we'll back-fill with them just because we don't get the insights back.

So because it's complicated and nuanced, I think, we've only scratched the surface of what we will ultimately see as a result of this policy change, it is a huge, huge advantage that we have. They made that choice because their DSP is not core to their strategy, but, of course, it’s at the center of what we do.

A - I think, that we going forward will have a more complex relationship with Amazon. I believe that Amazon is going to be a significant player in the Connected TV sort of OS as a result of their efforts and Fire and that creates an opportunity for them to have influence over advertising. But I believe that nobody has enough of the inventory under their control that they can build a walled garden. There is no walled garden playbook that will ever work in TV and because Amazon is smart they recognize that they will have to welcome demand from other players.

And so I anticipate that we'll be one of those, which I welcome and hope to be a partner of Amazon's when that time in my view inevitably comes, which will make it more complex because on another front Amazon is somewhat of a competitor in the sense that they're trying to get advertising dollars, especially for their site.

In terms of Amazon building a DSP or having efforts to go off site, I worry about them way less than I do Google or Facebook, simply because I think they have more of an objectivity problem than any other company on the planet. And as you already know, Facebook got out of the game in part because of that conflict. I think Amazon has a much tougher road than they did. So, I worry less about them than even Google or Facebook and hope that we have the complex partnership that I'm describing.

A - DoubleClick, when they made that strategic choice to remove the DoubleClick ID, from sharing with clients, it created a huge opportunity for us.

So that's been humongous for us and it means that in more and more head-to-head, we have advantage and as we continue to build out our offering, it is getting more competitive more quickly.

On the GDPR thing, there's probably not a place in the world where there was more discussion about GDPR than Germany and we just talked about how we had nearly 200% year-over-year growth rate inside of Germany. The growth in Europe has been fantastic, and we haven't seen any negative impacts from GDPR.

We've massively increased our legal resources, but more preventative because we want to make certain that we're doing the right thing and that we understand thoroughly the law everywhere in the world, so that we're constantly in compliance in doing the right thing.



Finally, some facts and figures:

Revenue

2016: 30 47 53 72 = 203
2017: 53 73 79 102 = 308
2018: 86 112 119


Revenue % increase

2017: 76 55 50 42 = 52
2018: 61 54 50


Adjusted earnings

2016: 09 23 24 33 = 89
2017: 18 52 35 54 = 159
2018: 34 60 65

Trailing earnings are currently $2.13, so the PE ratio is roughly in the range of 50x




My Take (Saul) – These guys seem so excited it’s like they just can’t believe how they landed in this unbelievable situation! It’s like they are kids in a candy store who just learned all that candy is going to be theirs and they can hardly believe it. Or guys who just learned that they won the lottery. It’s awesome!

I should build out my position as fast as possible! Obviously things have happened (that they discussed above) that have made their business and revenue and profits explode, and that have given them much more confidence than they had a year ago. I certainly feel better buying it now than I would have a year ago.



I hope this has been helpful, but for God’s Sake, don’t just buy it because I did. Do the research and decide for yourself if it’s worth the risk, the high price, and all the things that can go wrong!

Saul
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Thanks for this, Saul.

I took a smallish position a few days ago. Like you, I'd been reading others' opinions about TTD on and off for the last few years, but it didn't "right" to me for some reason until now. Knowing that you've dipped your toe in as well makes me feel even better about my decision to buy some shares.
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Thanks Saul!

I have been excited about The Trade Desk ever since reading the Motley Fool interview with Jeff Green. It's encouraging to see your enthusiasm. I agree the conference call was euphoric. It's really worth listening to because you can really hear the euphoria in everyone's voices.

Connected TV growing by 10x is simply unbelievable, especially considering that Connected TV is just beginning to scale. 5G is going to be a game changer here. This article explains how cable boxes are going away and leave connected tv in their stead. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/15/how-5g-will-change-home-inte...
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Please can you share with me how to find Bert's newsletter
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Please can you share with me how to find Bert's newsletter


Google "ticker target bert".
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Doesn’t hurt that when he left $MSFT in 2009 to found $TTD he vowed to have a “Zero A**hole Policy”.

Scotty G
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Thank-you
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Saul,
I have been buying over the last few weeks as well. One thing I noted was that their #1 customer accounts for 21% of rev. And top 3 account for 43%. It is in the presn. I was surprised that with 200 of the top agencies as customers they had such concentration. Cause for concern or just growing pains?
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TTD for me goes back to a David Gardner podcast right before the new Apple phone where he said to keep an eye on TTD, OLED, and ILMN. TTD kept going down, got out, got in night before thanks to DreamerDad and it went up 66%.

Was half a position, just doubled it, took a smidgen out of each of my biggest to buy it.

John
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Conference Call (If you can read this conference call and not run out and fill up on TTD stock, you are a stronger man (or woman) than I am.)
Conference Call (If you can read this conference call and not run out and fill up on TTD stock, you are a stronger man (or woman) than I am.)


I had been in and out of TTD for awhile, from time to time. Once I lost patience and back when you have an ANET or SHOP to invest in, I just had to put my money back in to that group. However, the last thing I did was read the earnings transcript the night after earnings and then saw the stock crash on what was an exceptional earnings report without any qualifications and I bought it on day 1 and day 3 and TTD has been put in that place I put Mongo, where I invest and add to it to the point that I did not even notice Mongo had not crashed during the recent crash but rather had been near all time highs! I just never paid attention becasue I felt I did not have to.

Dreamer has been in TTD since he pretty much became a Fool I think. But as good as TTD has done, its break in period is over and its business is not just hyper-growth but accelerating hyper-growth and with sufficient momentum that absent cataclysm it is as if 2019 is already set up to be even better given the recent new customer wins, continuing secular switch to digital and programmatic, the early rise of CTV, fall of Doubleclick ID, the new platform, and a whole bunch more.

I read a transcript so as not to get lost in cult of personality as so many CEOs can be. There is no getting away, even by reading, what this company is doing and its excitement to be doing it.

A bit of a warning, back in the internet days one of the leading networking chip companies had the same sort of enthusiasm and was expressing in all his years in the business never had he before seen such demand for a product. That company ended up being a sleepy networking company again with little growth and much smaller marketcap post-bubble. So it can happen.

However that is not the fate of TTD. The demand being created in TTD’s markets is real, sustainable, growing, 5G will only accelerate it more, as will AI, and it will be around for possibly generations. We can only be lucky to be able to hold on until TTD gets to the point of wondering what world’s to conquer next.

Either way you look at it, this industry is in a Tornado - meaning an inflection point where it is moving from early adopters, late early adopters, across the chasm and into the early mainstream. It is here that growth accelerates, takes off, as customer after customer starts on-boarding themselves in heard like fashion so not to be left behind or out of all the excitment. I am quite sure of this, that TTD has reached that place and with less than a $5 billion marketcap ($4-$5 billion) is my Goldilocks zone when a company is no longer a start-up or rookie, but like a 3rd year quarterback and beginning its prime and will be many years prior to it plateaus and starts to think retirement or moving to the booth (sort of analogy).

Anyway lots of gibberish but the timing nearly exactly coincides with what Saul has seen - seems to happen quite a bit - so whether my opinion adds anything or not, what Saul is describing is not limited to Saul, I have to say that Saul is not only “may” be correct, but he is correct with this company.

Now lets hope before the world starts to fall apart (hopefully never, but if said were to happen) we can at least first have TTD become the dominating business it will be, cash out, and then the world can fall apart and we can deal with it, having had of course many years first of TTD doing its stuff.

That is about the only disclaimer I am making to myself with TTD at the moment. World falling apart like scenario. But that is for me. As Saul says, each make your own decisions.

Tinker
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No. of Recommendations: 7
Just a guess, but i wonder if those are the big agencies (which bring tons of clients).

The big ones are WPP, Publicis, omnicom...and then IPG, Others are regional like Dentsu in Japan.

TTD purposely pushes an agency-first mantra which keeps agencies loyal.

From 10Q:
"We had approximately 657 clients, consisting primarily of advertising agencies, as of December 31, 2017. Many of these agencies are owned by
holding companies, where decision making is decentralized such that purchasing decisions are made, and relationships with advertisers, are located, at the
agency, local branch or division level. If all of our individual client contractual relationships were aggregated at the holding company level, Omnicom
Group Inc., WPP plc and Publicis Groupe would each represent more than 10% of our gross billings for 2017."


A good way to think about this is how ANET/Arista was reliant on Cloud Titans. That is what Agencies are to TTD.

Dreamer
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No. of Recommendations: 5
You get another chance to hear Jeff Green talk about TTD today with this webcast per their IR page

http://investors.thetradedesk.com/investor-overview

Webcast
The Trade Desk Inc. at the 2018 RBC Capital Markets Technology, Internet, Media and Telecommunications Conference
November 14, 2018 11:45 AM EST
(described elsewhere as "CEO Jeff Green at a fireside chat")


Other stuff

TTD has a pretty active Twitter feed, and you can catch other articles they re-tweet, such as this:
https://adexchanger.com/online-advertising/advertiser-percep......

https://twitter.com/TheTradeDesk

Dreamer
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No. of Recommendations: 0
Over the past 12 months compared to the same period last year, nearly half of the top 200 brands increased spend with us by more than 50%. Of the top 200 brands that have signed with us, spend has increased by over 5x year-to-date compared with last year.

I found this statement of Jeff Green confusing - is the increase in spend from the top 200 brands of 50 or 5x compared to prior year?
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No. of Recommendations: 15
Over the past 12 months compared to the same period last year, nearly half of the top 200 brands increased spend with us by more than 50%. Of the top 200 brands that have signed with us, spend has increased by over 5x year-to-date compared with last year.

I found this statement of Jeff Green confusing - is the increase in spend from the top 200 brands of 50 or 5x compared to prior year?

---

I am making up numbers here, but believe it goes like this:

In 2017, about 100 brands did $X in spend.
In 2018, those same 100 brands did 50% more in spend than in 2017.

In 2017, we had these top 200 brands and they did $X with us.
In 2018, that same group, as a whole, did 5 times more spend with us.

So half the brands increased their spend by 50%, but within that, some of the brands must have wildly increased their spend to pull the overall net spend increase up to 5x.

This speaks to the trend of ad budgets shifting more dollars towards programmatic and away from legacy display/tv/paper ads.

So without even needing to add more clients (although they still are) they will/should continue to see growth simply due to the nature of the mix of ad spend changing industry-wide.

So Clorox (just an example) spends $1b on advertising each year (making it up). If they are using TTD, they don't even need to increase their $1b ad budget for TTD to benefit. They just need to increase the % of their ad budget that is targeted for programmatic, and then they turn to a company like TTD to execute.

CEO Jeff Green has thrown around numbers and statements akin to:
Total ad spend globally is/will be $700b-$1T
A year or so ago, he threw out a "3%" number as to how much of that ad spend globally was programmatic.
He believes, and trends seem to support, that most of the spend will become digital and most of that will become programmatic over time.

Thus TTD finds itself well-positioned to reap the benefits of shifting ad spend dollars towards programmatic, from existing (and new) clients.

hth,
Dreamer
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No. of Recommendations: 21
I had these webcast notes shared with me elsewhere...wanted to provide here. This is tied to the webcast today.
----

Takeaways -- not much new we havn’t heard already via earnings called or other presentations except that they expect Next Wave adoption to be 50%+ by EoY vs 42% currently. Also, use of Next Wave seems to drive more spend because companies can now easily visualize where to best allocate ad dollars and hence do more cross-device advertising.

I also think some time soon, Traditional TV viewing will drop off a cliff... it’s dropped from 90% to 80% of household subscribing to cable, but I would guess (based off Jeff’s thoughts) that once it hits 70% or 60% it will drop off a cliff because economics won’t make sense at all...versus a slow, gradual decline. To me, this means CTV will continue to go gang busters.

October 14th 2018 Tech Internetn, Media, and Telecommunication Conference

Co-Founder and CEO Jeff Green:

How did they achieve such great growth and margin-
Massive TAM, but very selective on approach. Partner and buy side only, not competitor to ad agencies.

Does anyone get ad revenue other than FB and Google?

When we first went public people thought we were crazy. Jeff said us and mining are most hated industries, portfolio manager said you’re not giving mining enough credit.

The idea that two properties (FB and Google) will monetize all of media

Media has fragmented his entire life and will continue to do so

Used to be 5 tv stations, now hundreds, soon to be thousands (reid hastings)

TTD will continue to select from more than 9million impressions per second to serve customers

Q: Ad agencies going away and companies advertising on their own?

TTD goes to agencies because they have developed a ton of people focused on service. Jeff doesn’t think they get enough credit. It’s really hard to build up agencies over time.

P&G margins have gone from 4% - 3% so it’s a really tough time to say "I need to hire 5k people to replace ad agency" or "I need to ask marketing department to learn all these ad agency skills and how to market in malasia"

Brands are getting more involved, but they’re still working with companies like ours to leverage insights.

Best growing channels?
Mobile video is fasting growing revenue we have ever and will ever seen. Mobile is now 45% of our revenue. 5 years ago, display was 100%

Connected TV is the fastest growing industry we have ever seen

Connected TV not broken out Today
Q4 2017 last year inventory had increased over 1k% yoy
Then spend went up 2100% in Q118
Then Q3 18 over q3 17 spend increased over 1k% - most bullish number we’ve ever shared.

Jeff thinks there’s an argument to be made that what google does isn’t advertising-. How much have you ever been pursuaded, won over, or developed brand affinity from text search. There’s a whole bunch of use for what google does, but TV advertising is how you win hearts and minds and drive connection/stories.

All of TV = 1/3 of global ad spend, jeff believes eventually it will be half.

TV is a ticking time bomb. TV stations are frantically trying to adapt. Netflix and Amazon have lead, ATT, Disney, Fox, Comcast trying to catch up.

Economics are not sutainable as TV viewing goes down. They have to move online.

Linear tv going to programmatic opportunity?
- This is not TTDs focus. ATTs focus is trying to make linear tv transacted programmatically. TTD is focused on making internet or connected TV be transacted programmatically.

Product: What is Next Wave?
- Megagon is datavisualization that cuts to the heart of programmatic.
- Focuses programmtic on how to figure out ad strategies and accurate budgets optimized. We can target, but then how much can we do
- Data visualization on how much you’ve shrunk the ad universe based off your strategy then show you what the costs will be.
- Planner - how to put strategy into place starting with digital first (where all the data is) to help agencies decide where to spend (connected tv, audio, mobile, etc)
- AI KOA to learn/
- 42% of dollars or impressions are running through new product -- expected to be above 50% by EoY
- Because clients are now spending across multiple channels (TTD saying you can take budget from this channel and spend over here for highest ROI, then surfaces mistakes or places they can do better more easily)
- ROI is better, retention is better, and creates more consumer surplus (give them more than value per dollar spent)
- Fully expect going into next year that TTD will continue to get more than its share
- Jeff has never been more bullish about prospects with secular tail winds, move from guessing + strategic choices from walled gardens, work together to help TTD have great 2019
- 40-50% resources were allocated to next wave, now they are focused on helping on board data --more projects than people
- International markets excluding china

- Partnerships
- Bttom line - very few companies that can partner with google, facebook, alibaba, amazon, tencent
- TTD has said for a long time they can partner with any company in media --- this is an example and tencent has very strict requirements with partnerships. Extremely optimistic with opportunity there.

- EBITDA margins at 40% once past land grab stage vs 30% now which is still very good.
- Jeff doesn’t think Walled Gardens exist in the long run -- always better to work together
- In short term, definitely strategic value in google and FB doing that. Only way it works is if you own 50% of market -- FB with social and Google with search
- Mistakes companies have made (snap) trying to apply this tactic when you are a much smaller company with a much smaller market. They don’t have luxury of doing what FB and google have done
- ROIs on connected TV -- lots of case studies on website even though CPMs can be more expensive than linear or broadcast TV, it’s far more efficient because of targeting capability. Must be intelligent about data applied
- Thinks all of $700B advertising becomes programmatic. Computers are just more efficient.. Similar to stock exchanges -- everything should be transacted programmatically (even billboards)
- $15B of 700B is currently price discoverable programmatic-just getting started in his opinion.ammatic-just getting started in his opinion.
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No. of Recommendations: 3
Late getting into this thread, and I have previously harped on this too much but here is another thread from Bear about TTD from February 2018 shortly after their 4th quarter 2017 results came out.

https://boards.fool.com/bear39s-decq-review-of-ttd-32994528....

As an update to thoughts I expressed within that thread in May and again in August lamenting having not added shares, I have subsequently roughly doubled my TTD share count and made it firmly my #3 position (NVDA-#1, MDB-#2). It is in no danger of being passed for the number 3 spot unless Pure Storage has a blowout announcement on Monday (11/19/2018) and re-takes or approaches re-taking its prior all-time highs.

-volfan84
long TTD
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No. of Recommendations: 20
I have been building up my position in TTD for few months.. I till two weeks back when I went back and saw 2017 presentation that talks about 43% of revenue concentration in 2 clients.

Dreamer responded to this with information below:
“From 10Q:
"We had approximately 657 clients, consisting primarily of advertising agencies, as of December 31, 2017. Many of these agencies are owned by
holding companies, where decision making is decentralized such that purchasing decisions are made, and relationships with advertisers, are located, at the
agency, local branch or division level. If all of our individual client contractual relationships were aggregated at the holding company level, Omnicom
Group Inc., WPP plc and Publicis Groupe would each represent more than 10% of our gross billings for 2017."


A good way to think about this is how ANET/Arista was reliant on Cloud Titans. That is what Agencies are to TTD.

Dreamer”


I still think this explanation doesn’t reduce the risk of client concentration. It only adds to the risk - all of these means agency can systematically replace TTD with next shiny DSP tool when available and it will be transparent to end clients like brands.

I have seen similar situation in telecom business where field offices make decisions and have separate contracts but there is a reason they are part of the bing company- the field offices will follow HQ directive when HQ decides to change.

So to me - this explanations by TTD come across as “selling” to share holders.

Tinker pointed out on another thread couple weeks back (I think it was thread related to TLND) where he pointed out how TTD throws these massive % growth rates in different parts of the businesses (e.g. cTV or international expansion etc.) without showing base revenue from where its growing.. point being those triple digit growth rates may be very irrelevant to actual business because they have tiny base today. (Something many people on this board got caught off guard with TLND).

My point is this - TTD seems to be at right place and at right time and executing well, so worth investing.. however it is also carrying same risk as other ad-tech companies before.

I am carrying small position but keep a watch on customer concentration. I would change be lot more positive if I find a report that shows customer concentration has reduced from 2016 to 17 and further reducing in 2018.

nilvest
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No. of Recommendations: 1
It does make sense these 3 ad agencies are their biggest customers. They are 3 of the 4 by largest global ad agencies. Interpublic is missing. And the 3 listed are the result of merger and acquisitions which they all list a group of subsidiaries. So that may create some diversification. I’m afraid by the time we saw a change to that portion of the “risks” in the 10q it will be too late. They apparently only update it once a year.
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No. of Recommendations: 1
Hello,

I am carrying small position but keep a watch on customer concentration. I would change be lot more positive if I find a report that shows customer concentration has reduced from 2016 to 17 and further reducing in 2018.

Do you think shareholders will be better off if TTD adds 10 small agencies and loses their largest? I do not believe that customer concentration is a metric that will help. It might make more sense to monitor the growth in revenue and the percentage take that TTD's revenue is of the spend generated on their platform.

Long TTD (2nd largest position),

Best regards,

Mike
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No. of Recommendations: 1
It most definitely is material. If 20% your revenue signs a “corporate contract” with Adobe you’re going to miss your numbers. It is a risk worth highlighting.
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No. of Recommendations: 6
The sample sizes are relatively small, but the Trade Desk has materially better ratings with customers than Adobe. Although they get ratings for multiple different industries and product categories, in general the ratings I am seeing for Adobe are pedestrian and the ones for Trade Desk are top notch:

https://www.gartner.com/reviews/market/ad-tech/compare/adobe...

For whatever it is worth, Trade Desks ratings are materially higher than Adobe, and as stated above, given the ratings I have seen in multiple other product categories, Adobe's are not so great.

Small samples, but consistent. The only thing I think it means is that it is likely TTD does produce an excellent product, as management describes. It is also probable that Adobe produces a product that is less excellent than is TTD's product.

Whether or not this difference is material, I don't know. What I do see is TTD being profitable where no one else really seems to be, and with a Rule of 40 that is better than anyone else's.

Yes the CTV growth is for PR sake. Obviously the numbers are still too small to mean anything. When it means something is when we will really find out. But from the literature I have read, TTD is always brought up first, called the "titan" {well not titan but I forget the word to me best or largest that is used) and is referenced to betting their future on CTV. It does appear to me that CTV is a done deal that is inevitable. It is not of course inevitable that TTD dominates it. Roku has their own media, and will take a lot of the CTV money, Amazon and Google and Adobe will of course want to sell into the market, etc. I also think it will be more difficult to target CTV. That is unless much of CTV is done directly on the internet. Then it just becomes another internet targeting problem, that TTD can omni sell across platforms.

It is one of those things either you want to get in ahead of the curve, or you are good giving up upside to get in behind the curve, but while there is still market beating growth. We will really not know the competitive landscape until there is enough business to make it meaningful enough for competition to enter the market. I do not see how Adobe or Amazon are conflicted when it comes to CTV. So TTD is not the only neutral party across media. However, when the numbers match the narrative and the rhetoric, then that produces some real credibility. Still, the surprises at Talend and Nvidia have been quite harsh.

In the end, and I have mentioned this multiple times, bear markets expose weaknesses. Talend was exposed, Nvidia was exposed (at least its chink in the armor). At the same time TTD only demonstrated strength in the midst of a market exposing weaknesses elsewhere. Perhaps just timing. At present TTD appears to be one of the most timely investment opportunities. Right up there with Twilio, and as MDB has been. OF these MDB has the least amount of financial backing to support itself (what it has is revenue growth, mind share, and customer numbers, but nothing close to scaling towards economic success - and it of course does not need to at this point in time, as it is land and expand), but Twilio and TTD are financially quite sound and showing potential earnings leverage (TTD the most of course).

I do not know what it all means, but I follow the numbers and the relative strength an the market believes TTD is for real, and the numbers support the narrative, and the narrative support the market. Things can change, but TTD may actually be on to something that its predecessors (other than those that actually owned the media like Google or Facebook or Amazon) were unable to do successfully enough to be worth investments. That is still an overhang over TTD. TTD is proving it wrong every quarter to date.

Tinker
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No. of Recommendations: 0
https://www.trustradius.com/compare-products/adobe-media-opt...

Well, that is frustrating. I posted these links but it did not save to my last post. Here are two other links I looked at regarding relative rankings.

Tinker
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No. of Recommendations: 0
Friggin eh, what is it, one link per post!
https://www.g2crowd.com/compare/adobe-audience-manager-vs-th...
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No. of Recommendations: 4
Any time the competition has articles titled “why you should pick us over TTD” I take that as a good sign. It just solidifies TTD (or whatever company they are trying to convince you not to go with) is the perceived current gold standard in the industry. Adobe compares themselves to TTD on their website.

To me it means TTD is a thorn in their side.
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No. of Recommendations: 1
Hi 12x, your explanation makes sense. Since a large portion ad business is aggregated by top agencies, they should rightly be largest customers.

However, it doesn’t reduce the risk.

Hi Tinker, thank you for sharing your thoughts and convictions. I wouldn’t deny that even with the risk (which is long term in nature), in near term, TTD may be a lot tailwinds.

May be I need to rethink my position size. Because I buy only with intention of long term holding, to me, it will never be same as enterprise SaaS companies. But that doesn’t mean it’s less significant opportunity in near term.
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No. of Recommendations: 13
It certainly does help, such as with TTD, to have a degree of diversity, thus you are more likely to just do nothing until it was really time to do something. I will never advise elsewise.

There is a video (we discussed it on NPI 2x now) of Buffett stating that if you really know how to analyze a business that these can be once in a lifetime opportunities and one should not let them go. For such persons, 6 stocks is as many as one needs.

I do not claim to be such a person. I seem to be quite good at medium term investing, and sometimes short-term, with the rare (fortunately) but occasional fiasco (Nvidia). Nvidia may vey well come back. It is rather, as Goldman Sachs feels (my reading between the lines), a betrayal when management is $700,000,000 off. Let that sink in! It is very hard to believe that management, as competent as Nvidia has been, and who has been in this market since the 1990s, did not know better. Yes, there was a historically large insider sale by the CEO. $40 million or so. I should have paid attention to that (I did not even hear about that until after the fact).

In this context the rhetoric from TTD has to be taken with suspicion because, like also with Talend, TTD is not giving us the underlying dollar amount. It is quite likely that Indonesia or Singapore, growing at more than 100% is a very small relative number. I do not believe that TTD gave us the relative size of the international component of their business. If someone knows it, let us know, but if not, that is a very easy to give number, that would cause no competitive disadvantage, that we should know.

As such, TTD has to be taken with reasonable suspicion. It does indeed appear, however, even with that, that TTD is in the thralls of leading a disruptive market that is starting to explode and they happen to be there as the best executing player in the business. No one can guarantee this but insiders. It would be much nicer if TTD gave us all the numbers.

Say what you will about Nutanix, but Nutanix gives us almost all the numbers. The only ones they do not give us is the breakdown of specific products. Such as Nutanix Files is their “fastest growing” product in their history. But nothing more specific than that. But that could, arguably, be a competitive issue.

Pure Storage is withholding a large chunk of their future business from us. FlashBlade. They refuse to give us any numbers or color on how FlashBlade is doing. To invest in Pure requires you to just accept this. This I do not like.

That is our burden as passive investors however. We sometimes get “betrayed” by what is otherwise considered to be a remarkable management team (and perhaps it is innocent and real mistake and crypto is a historically one time event that did not have a precedent). But come on! This is a multi-billion business that hires very expensive MBAs to check on these things. Did they really not know! Really!

As such, a bit of diversification is indeed wise. We are not Buffett, we do not get to talk to insiders, etc. But then again, many of us have outperformed Buffett over the last decade or so give or take. So who knows.

I am presently very interested in Abiomed. It has SaaS like recurring revenues. But it also has (whereas Nvidia was an effective monopoly in several fields - it still had nagging competition that appeared to saturate the channel) no competitoin at all other than existing balloons that are a 20-30 year old technology. It is quite similar to ISRG in many respects. ISRG was growing faster, but Abiomed is, despite the similarities a much different company. That is if I became more conservative. And being conservative is what usually gets me in trouble. Nearly every time.

Just going on to say, if you feel not comfortable holding too much of TTD, then diversify until you are comfortable to hold it without having to do much with it until a real time (hopefully years from now, but possibly sooner) arrives.

Tinker
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