Hello and welcome to Off to Lunch
In the brilliant Fooled by Randomness, still as relevant today as it was when it was published in 2001, Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about how when he was a trader he would look at fellow commuters on his morning train reading the Wall Street Journal and feel he had a advantage over them. He felt they would be distracted by all the daily noise. Warren Buffett publishes Berkshire Hathaway’s results on a Saturday so that investors have time to properly analyse them before markets open on a Monday. I want to convey similar advantages to you.
After 15 years working in national newspapers, most recently as deputy business editor of The Times, I have decided to launch a newsletter that will cover what really matters in business, finance, markets, venture capital, tech and crypto.
Off to Lunch will step back from the daily noise to give you the information that matters and an insider’s take on why. Writing on Substack will give me the freedom to do that. I will tell you what is noise and what are signals. There will be original reporting and analysis but also curation - I will digest the vast array of headlines across the internet and point you towards what is worth reading.
Off to Lunch will also have a geographic focus - the stories that matter in the UK outside London. These stories are not being told enough right now. Start-ups in the UK outside London raised more money than all the start-ups in France combined last year - $14.7 billion. This newsletter will try to find the promising start-ups, analyse the financial news impacting cities, towns and villages across the UK and identify trends. I will track stories like the emerging tech hubs in Manchester, Cambridge and Edinburgh, the world-leading work on nuclear fusion in Oxfordshire, the Issa brothers' attempts to take on the retail industry from Blackburn, and investment in electric car manufacturing. Levelling up the UK is the biggest political and economic issue of our generation. Perhaps consider this newsletter a tracker of how it is going.
I will not, however, lose sight of the importance of London and the City, the financial heart and facilitator of much of what is going on. You can expect coverage of the stories that are shaping the financial world for everyone. Wherever you are, and whether you're an investor, running a business or simply want to know what's happening on the front line of finance, Off to Lunch is the place to find what's worth knowing. With soaring inflation, volatile markets, and new technologies and working practices emerging, it will be a guide through the uncertainty.
I am launching Off to Lunch after four brilliant years as deputy business editor of The Times, where I worked with and met some of the smartest people you could come across. I will share with you the knowledge, experience and contacts book I have built over the last 15 years. Prior to The Times, I was media editor and senior business reporter at The Guardian. Before that I spent eight years at The Daily and Sunday Telegraph. I have lived in London for the past 15 years, I think it’s one of the greatest cities in the world, but having grown up in Kendal, Cumbria (my parents still live in the bungalow I grew up) and gone to university in York, I know there are great stories across the UK that are not getting enough coverage.
I want Off to Lunch to be a thriving community, so I want to hear from you. What app do you have on your phone that everyone should be talking about? Has there been a regeneration project near you that others could learn from? What is troubling you in the business world? And because “what really matters” isn’t just what you do at your desk, you can expect Off to Lunch to veer into lighter topics too. The final section of the newsletter will regularly look at lifestyle areas such as lunch recommendations, coffee, podcasts, books, beer, wine, TV, film and almost certainly some sport. I look forward to hearing your recommendations....
Off to Lunch will appear in your inbox and on the Substack app on Mondays, Wednesday and Friday at about noon. You can also expect special one-off editions as well as subscriber special events and interviews. I will also be launching a podcast once the newsletter is up and running.
Initially I want to make everything free, so please share this post and spread the word about Off to Lunch. I will be introducing a paid subscription of £6-a-month or £50-a-year in the near future. I have set up the payment system so please do support Off to Lunch now. Your payment will fund this project and would be greatly appreciated.