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Charlie Munger Trashed Crypto, Warned AI Hype Seems Overblown, and Talked Poker and Donuts at a Private Event. Here's an Inside Look at his Zoomtopia Keynote. Six executive attendees share their favorite tidbits from the event.

By Theron Mohamed

Key Takeaways

  • Charlie Munger panned crypto, warned about AI hype, and trumpeted Zoom at Zoomtopia last week.
  • Warren Buffett's business partner laid out some of the best methods to attain wealth and success.
  • Insider spoke to six people who attended Munger's closing keynote at the private event.
entrepreneur daily
CNBC via Business Insider
Charlie Munger

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Charlie Munger trashed cryptocurrencies, warned the AI buzz seems overblown, and praised Zoom for keeping him connected during his closing keynote at Zoomtopia on October 4.

Warren Buffett's business partner and Berkshire Hathaway's vice-chairman also shared some of his best tips for achieving success in business and life at the private event, including hard work, discipline, saving, and investing.

The 99-year-old investor's conversation with Zoom CEO Eric Yuan was a special treat for in-person attendees of the video-conferencing company's annual gathering, and hasn't been shared online, a Zoom spokesperson told Insider.

We spoke to six people who were in the room, and Zoom confirmed their recollections of Munger's key points were accurate. Here are their comments, lightly edited for length and clarity:

1. Tobi Tungl, chief marketing officer at CTI:

"The main takeaways were his opinion on AI being a bit overdone in the market, and his opinion that crypto was never anything. Memory serves me that he said 'overly hyped' or similar. He had some stories on how AI has been around for over 50 years, but we are just bringing it to the surface as of late."

2. Craig Durr, research director at The Futurum Group:

"Munger shared his seasoned perspective on crypto and AI – both of which he was skeptical about. Yet, with nearly a century of wisdom and a financial track record to match, his views command respect. Eric Yuen chose to acknowledge rather than dispute. After all, when a legend speaks, the room listens."

3. Mark Friedler, CEO of Gigex:

"Munger had a wry and great sense of humor. He was super negative about crypto and called it a scam. He said communications help drive business, and business success is about focus and consistency. Like Warren Buffett, he didn't see large success until later in life, and only massive success after his 60s."

4. Eric Kunnen, senior director of IT innovation and research at Grand Valley State University:

"Charlie loves Zoom and uses it frequently for business and to keep in touch with his family, as it's difficult for him to travel. His business advice was to build a better product or offer a better solution, that it's all about competition, and that successful people are those with the acumen to understand life better than everyone else. He said it's up to you to work harder and better than the next person.

Charlie also said investments are better than money in the bank, and it's important to go to the office to work in person."

5. Melody Brue, VP and principal tech analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy:

"I think my biggest takeaway — and probably a big reason for having him — was that Charlie stays connected to people through Zoom at 99 when he doesn't get out as much as he once did. There are physical limitations at that age and Zoom has kept him engaged.

Charlie spoke about working to get ahead. He said to 'spend less than you make,' and invest the money you save.

Eric had a plate of donuts with him on stage, and Charlie made the point that donuts aren't good for you, but you can have them every now and then. You have to be disciplined though, and know that you can only have so much for it to not be bad for you. It was cute and it illustrated Charlie's mental discipline.

Charlie also talked a lot about poker and trust. I don't think he was necessarily saying you can't trust people, but there was a bit of caution about people's motives in business, and how you have to be good at reading them — and be a good 'poker player' yourself when necessary.

He was very funny and the conversation between him and Eric felt like watching old friends catch up - not a typical 'celebrity' keynote that are pretty much all the same. They gave away a copy of Charlie's book upon exit. The books were gone in seconds!"

6. David Maldow, founder and CEO of Let's Do Video:

"Charlie had a few good jokes about his age. I think he used the old standby about how 'it's great to be anywhere' at the start. He is 99, but his thoughts are all coherent and he is charming and funny.

"There were a few moments where Eric was asking about taking risks, and seemed to expect Charlie to encourage risk-taking, but Charlie seemed risk-avoidant. He gave the impression that he didn't get rich from wild, risky investments, but from not being stupid. Basic, smart investments and hard work.

Eric even brought up the topic of poker as part of the risk discussion. Eric wanted to know how Charlie would play poker with a cheater at the table. Charlie's answer was that he wouldn't play poker with that person, and he only plays poker with people that he can beat. The implication was that was how he wins at business at well.

The big, heartwarming moment was when he explained how his entire family does big Zoom meetings, and it's a very big deal for him because traveling is too hard for him now due to the wheelchair. He said that being able to see them all, despite his failing eyesight, meant so much to him."

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