Tune in for a breakdown on how commercial revenue is poised to become a bigger part of the pie for Palantir (NYSE:PLTR), how DataDog (NASDAQ:DDOG) keeps cruising along, and why ad tracking concerns shouldn't faze The Trade Desk (NASDAQ:TTD) shareholders.

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This video was recorded on Nov. 12, 2021.

Dylan Lewis: It's Friday, November 12th, and we're talking about a bunch of tech earnings. I'm your host, Dylan Lewis. I'm joined by fool.com's shifty show man of stock selection, Brian Feroldi. Brian, how is it going, man?

Brian Feroldi: Dylan, it's going great, and we got another action-packed earnings show here. Unlike last week, spoiler alert, we have some good earnings to talk about.

Dylan Lewis: [laughs] We have some good earnings. I think a lot of stuff to be excited about, and we're going to get into it, but I think generally we're looking at strong results from all the companies we've talked about. The market reaction for some of these businesses did not mirror what we saw in the results for these companies. That happens sometimes.

Brian Feroldi: This is why we always say watch the business, not the stock. If you just look at the stock reaction, especially around earnings times, there's always so many factors that go into moving the stock price up or down. But if you focus on the business, that's what matters in the long term.

Dylan Lewis: We've got results from Datadog, we've got results from Palantir, and we've got results from The Trade Desk. Three businesses that I think a lot of folks are probably pretty familiar with in the Fool universe. But we'll run through, give a quick update on what's going on with businesses and of course what they do. Just make sure we're not leaving anybody behind. Brian, let's kick things off with Datadog. This is a business that if you haven't been paying attention to, wow, up into the right absolutely ridiculous performers since coming public. I remember doing that S-1 show with you. It feels like it was eight years ago because of the pandemic, but it wasn't that long ago. This has just been a fantastic stock to own a lot of great results in what we saw at this quarter.

Brian Feroldi: This is a classic recap for me of I don't judge a book by its cover because I still don't like the name Datadog. But if you look at the company, the actual business underneath, wow, is there a lot to like about this company. They provide cloud-based software tools that are really aimed at IT professionals and they help them with observability. It allows IT professional to look at their tech stack, their servers, their databases, their cloud operations, etc. The third-quarter results for this company were just great, pretty much across-the-board. Revenue growth was 75 percent, the $270 million. That exceeded Wall Street's estimate by more than $23 million, and for the first time, this company's annualized run rate is now over one billion dollars. Gross margin was very strong, came in at 78 percent. Believe it or not, that was down slightly when compared to the year-ago period. Combine those two together and gross profit was just through the roof. Even though this company spending really accelerated, especially on R&D, adjusted earnings a year actually grew 160 percent to 13 cents. That was more than almost double what Wall Street expected, and free cash flow very strong at 57 million, it's hard to find any flow in those numbers.

Dylan Lewis: Just to add some context, this business, it was up double-digit percentages after reporting earnings. Wall Street really like the results. It is almost a $60 billion business growing at 75 percent year-over-year, which is absolutely incredible. A large part of that is the growth story is expected to continue, and so this is a little bit of a frothy growth company. When you talk about things like gross margin dipping sometimes, Brian, I think people zoom in on that and think there might be something problematic there. We know that occasionally as businesses scale, you have those quarters where there are a little bit more expenses being pulled in and it's the price of being a bigger business down the road.

Brian Feroldi: That's why I like to look at the absolute results. Gross margin being down, not-great, still 78 percent, which is a number that pretty much every business on Earth would kill for. What's equally exciting is those strong growth numbers were driven by the two things that really drive these numbers. Strong customer growth and increasing spending for their existing customers. This company now has over 17,500 paying customers. That figure was up 33 percent year-over-year. Importantly, their large customers, which they did defined as a customer that will spend at least $100,000, that figure was up 66 percent year-over-year to about 1,800 and they signed their largest ever deal in the quarter. A $60 million deal over five-years were signed during the quarter, and the metric that we love to look at, dollar-based net revenue retention, which yes, includes churn. While we don't get an exact figure for Datadog, management said this number remains over 130 percent. So they're doing a great job about bringing new customers in and upselling existing ones.

Dylan Lewis: Brian, every now and then, we will find a company where I feel like we can distill the thesis down to a very specific number to help immediately communicate how good the business is, or what the opportunity is. We've talked about it with Pinterest in the past where it's like it's as simple as average revenue per user is here, Facebook's is here. That seems like it's an easy 5X or 10X. I think in the case of Datadog, the thesis, the entire time we've been following this company is the DBNR says so much about how useful customers find the product.

Brian Feroldi: It really does. Any SaaS company, that is usually a key metric to look at. It's not universally applicable to all companies, you have to keep in mind who the end-user is. In Datadog's case, it is selling to enterprises, so the DBNR is naturally going to be ability to be higher than if they were selling to small businesses which go out of business often. You do have to keep that in mind. But yeah, the fact this number has been over a 130 percent, essentially since this company came public speaks volumes about its quality.

Dylan Lewis: I mean, it's basically saying, hey, we're going to grow at this rate, even if we don't bring more people in. That's a pretty good flow to be able to set for yourself, Brian.

Brian Feroldi: It makes sense why the stock is always traded at a nosebleed valuation and why it still continues to go up. Now, one thing that management did note is that they made an acquisition during the quarter, a company called Ozcode, which is a "live debugging solution for .NET applications." They think this is going to complement their existing product stack and they also launched 10 new products and features during the quarter. That's one thing I like about this company. They really spend heavily on R&D, and that R&D spending does result in new products and features. Equally as important, those new products are clearly being adopted by the company's existing customer base, hence why the company's financials look so good.

Dylan Lewis: Based on guidance, we'll continue to look good. The party is going to continue based on what we've gotten from management. Strong, top-line guidance, 64 percent growth for Q4, the full-year picture looks pretty good. It does illustrate throughout there, Brian, that 60 billion market cap figure. We're looking at a full-year revenue figure of just under a billion-dollars, hefty price to sales. But because it's such a quality business, people are willing to support that valuation.

Brian Feroldi: To make that valuation continue to hold up, management really has to continually exceed expectations on basically all fronts, and for at least another earnings report, they certainly did.

Dylan Lewis: Quality businesses are worth paying for. This is one of those businesses where if there's ever [laughs] any interruption of the growth story, the market reaction is going to be swift. It's just the reality of owning a company like this.

Brian Feroldi: Very much so, but man, has it paid to bet on this company doing so well. This stock is now up more than 400 percent since investors could have got their first hands on the stock. Again, this company came public in late 2019, just hats off to this management team for executing so well.

Dylan Lewis: My only regret, Brian, is that it's not sitting in my portfolio. I have a whiteboard immediately next to my computer with my new money list and it is on that list. It has been on that list for a while and I just haven't gotten around to buying it. I've seen the opportunity costs go up and up on that lack of action on my part.

Brian Feroldi: Shame on your, Dylan, shame on you. [laughs]

Dylan Lewis: Second company we're going to be talking about is Palantir, ticker PLTR. As a reminder, this is a company that specializes in data analytics for government and commercial customers. I think probably the easiest way to think about this business, Brian, is it's a tech defense contractor. It's a business that we don't see a lot of, but it's worth adding that caveat, not a tech business in the conventional sense.

Brian Feroldi: They've really got their stock by providing their data stack to governments and what the company has been shifting. They've been highly successful in that area, really landing basically all of the three-letter agencies that deal with security in United States and they've been expanding abroad. One reason I think this company actually came public, we should just bring more awareness to the company name and their brands so that could moves successfully into the commercial space, which is something that investors had a lot of questions about, but the numbers clearly prove that they are doing just that.

Dylan Lewis: I think that was probably one of the positive notes for this quarter if you look overall. Revenue grew 36 percent year-over-year, just under 400 million. They posted a GAAP loss of five cents a share. That government revenue up 34 percent year-over-year, commercial revenue of 37 percent year-over-year. But if you look at the US commercial segment up over 100 percent year-over-year, is a lot of growth there. They added over 30 net new customers and they break down the deals within that. Over 50 deals of one million or more, over 30 deals of five million or more, and 18 deals over 10 million, which is more or less in line with what they've been doing over previous quarters. The number I love to pay attention to with this business, Brian, is their total remaining deal value, and that was up 50 percent year-over-year to 3.6 million. Basically, an inventory number that helps you get a sense of what's coming down the pipe in terms of revenue down the road.

Brian Feroldi: Yeah, clearly, great to see that number growing in the right direction and what's equally as exciting to me is, again, government revenue was essentially 100 percent of this company's revenue early on and their push into the commercial sector has really intensified in the last couple of years. In this quarter, government revenue, while it's still continuing to grow, is down to about 56 percent of total revenue. That is clearly a sign that this company is succeeding at diversifying its customer base.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah, and if you look at that breakdown of their remaining deal value, commercial remaining deal value was up 100 percent year-over-year, 60 percent of that 3.6 billion figure I threw out there before is commercial, so it seems like that is where the business is heading. That is the thesis that we've been watching for a while and trying to see exactly how it plays out, just because they obviously serve their government customers very well. But we know that getting into commercial dramatically opens up TAM for them.

Brian Feroldi: It really does. One thing that we noted about this company, selling a software product like this is incredibly challenging. Multi-month, if not multi-quarter, if not multi-year process to really get the key stake opinion leaders onboard. However, once they are onboard switching away from this becomes unbelievably challenging. But getting those deals in the first place requires a lot of upfront investment by the company especially in sales and marketing, and this company has been paying for those things and increasing their spending on those categories. As long as the top continues to drive higher and there are signs that that company's customer count is growing, that expense is worth it, so it's good to see that we are seeing that happen.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah. I think because of that exact dynamic, Brian, this is a business that two people could look at the same results and takeaway something totally differently from it. If you look at the quarterly results and you say, well, actually, sequentially, we're seeing that government revenue isn't as relevant as it was a quarter ago, that might be cause for concern. I would say with this business, it's really tough to grade it on a single quarter because of that customer acquisition cycle that you mentioned. Despite what seemed like an overall pretty strong report, stock was down 15 percent since reporting. Reaction has been negative, in part because of the focus on their government segment and the concerns that the revenue is stalling out there.

Brian Feroldi: That is one thing that Palantir investors just have to be aware of upfront. As you teed up, this company signed 18 deals in the quarter that are worth $10 million, so they are targeting non-governments or enormous enterprises with their tech stock. That means that whether a deal lands in one quarter or another really impacts the top-line and can make that growth look lumpy. If you look at this company on an annual basis and just zoom out and look at the big picture, there's no doubt that they're succeeding.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah. That's why I like to focus on some of that remaining deal value. I think it helps normalize for some of the quarterly movements that we see. The thing that I like to zoom in on as well, and this is unique with Palantir, is they offer guidance, but they also offer guidance in a way that a lot of companies don't and I'm just going to pull directly from their earnings press release. "Per long-term guidance policy as provided by our CEO Alex Karp, we continue to expect annual revenue growth of 30 percent or greater from 2021 through 2025." That statement was unchanged from the previous quarter. They have that on there and it's something that obviously management cares about and they have the visibility into the business to see if they feel good about that. I don't see much in these results to think that that's going to get interrupted.

Brian Feroldi: If that's your yardstick then this quarter revenue grew at 36 percent, so they're exceeding their guidance. Like you, I do like that this company has stuck its neck out and basically said, for the next five years we're committed to growing 30 percent. Obviously, in the out-years that growth becomes harder and harder to come by as the denominator gets bigger and bigger. But so far, they are doing just that.

Dylan Lewis: Brian, the third company we're going to be talking about today is The Trade Desk a Fool favorite and I'm sure there were a lot of people pretty delighted to check their portfolios after this company reported earnings because wow, stellar movement. [laughs] You don't really see those types of single-day hikes too often.

Brian Feroldi: Yeah. As a long-term shareholder of this company, I was certainly pleasantly surprised to see that. For those that need a quick refresher, The Trade Desk is a leading platform that brands and advertisers can use to optimize their advertising spend, so The Trade Desk works with brands and ad agencies not against them. This company has been in high-growth mode ever since it come public and we saw more of the same in the third quarter. During the quarter, revenue was up 39 percent to 301 million, that exceeded Wall Street's estimate by 17 million. Margins were up basically across the board. As a result, adjusted net income grew 43 percent to $89 million or 18 cents per share. That exceeded Wall Street's estimates and the numbers would have been even more impressive, in the year-ago period, they had a very, very low tax bill. This year, they had a more normalized tax bill, so headline numbers here, great.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah. In addition to the tax elements, they were also lapping a period where they were going up against the US election spending. We know there's a seasonality that comes with the holiday quarter Brian, but there's [laughs] also the much broader seasonality that comes with the election cycle with advertising spend, and so these are impressive numbers, just knowing they were going up against some pretty tough comps.

Brian Feroldi: Yeah. Management pointed out that if you exclude the impact of the US election on spending last year, normalized or growth would have been 47 percent. Equally as exciting to me, management here noted that their international growth was even faster than their domestic growth. If you are a long-term investor in this company, that should bring a smile to your face because the international opportunity for this company is huge and it's great to see that they are exceeding there.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah, and the reaction to these results was incredibly strong. I think shares are up about 35-40 percent since the company reported. I think a big reason for that Brian is there were a lot of concerns swirling around ad-based businesses. There have been a lot of shifts in the market right now and would relate it to data, related to privacy, and I think a lot of people were concerned about that having an impact on how effective ads are and what that does for ad-based businesses, marketing ROI, all that kind of stuff. So nice to see these results, but I think management's comments were also maybe relieving for investors.

Brian Feroldi: Yeah. Investors have been worried essentially ever since Apple said that it was doing away with cookies and Google followed suits saying that those changes are coming in 2023. But how is this for a quote, "iOS changes had no material impact on our business and we expect that to continue to be the case." That's actually not new commentary from CEO Jeff Green. He has essentially been saying that for years and the company has been planning for that change out for many years with the rollout of a product that they've created called a unified ID, which is the company's own answer to cookies. They have been signing up brands and partners that have gotten on board with that standard change for a long time. Just in the recent quarter, they had wins with Interpublic Group, Omnicom Group, two of which are massive advertisers and companies like Snowflake. So CEO Green has been very clear this entire time, this isn't going to impact us and these numbers, I think the market finally said, OK, we believe you.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah. I would say few CEOs are as dialed in to their industry as Jeff Green at The Trade Desk. Incredibly visionary [laughs] leader, really knows his space well. I think what people have to remind themselves when it comes to some of these data fidelity type concerns is the other decision is non-digital ads. The marketer spend is something that is zero-sum. If money goes in one place, it's probably not going to go to another place, and Brian, I think even if you have less tracking in digital ad spend, you still have more tracking than if you were advertising on a billboard or advertising on a TV program.

Brian Feroldi: Way more. That is one big reason why I believe that all advertising spend will essentially go digital. The analytics you get, the feedback you get, it's just so much superior than essentially putting it on TV and saying boy we hope. Now on that front the company actually had a really big win earlier this year when it signed up Walmart. It partnered with Walmart to launch its own Walmart demand side platform. This new tool give suppliers to Walmart first-party data that allows them to connect how they're spending on The Trade Desk with actual sales data in Walmart. Management also said that other major retailers are showing interest in exactly this thing panning out, so talk about making advertising spend even more effective. If they can get other big retailers onboard, that would do wonderful things for analytics for advertisers.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah, that's the dream. Is to be as connected as possible and to have as much insight as possible into what you're spending, but also then the activity that it's driving. Brian, The Trade Desk has been probably one of the best performers of Fool stocks in the last five years. I think it's probably pretty safe to say that the returns are staggering if you were someone who bought in early. They are staggering even if you only bought in the last year or so. It's just been one of those performers that has continued to put up great results. The story looks like it will continue based on what we've gotten in terms of guidance. We have to moderate our expectations just a smidge, I think.

Brian Feroldi: I would say so. But for the upcoming quarter, management is guiding for revenue growth of "At least 21 percent to about $388 million." I think it's fair to say they're going to exceed that number and also, it's worth keeping in mind that might not sound great in absolute terms. It also includes the period when the election actually happens, so that just gives this company a really tough comp to go off of. I think, like we've said with many companies that we've talked about in earnings season, 2022 is when we're going to see "Normalized" [laughs] earnings and normalized growth rates for the company. But as a shareholder, I'll accept 21 percent growth all day.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah. That's fantastic. I think the business has reached a point where it is so clearly the leader in its space. As the industry moves, I think it will move with it. It's not really at a spot where it will be supplanted by somebody else. It's established itself and I think it's got the moat. These partnerships that we are seeing it developed only I think further instill that.

Brian Feroldi: Yeah, and the more Unified ID gets rolled out, the more this company becomes the leader. Of course, there's social proof that comes from lending Walmart to say nothing if they can lend, Target, Costco, etc.

Dylan Lewis: Brian, we didn't prepare this in notes, but I want to ask this question. Do you think Unified ID allows for them to develop a network effect like data collection and actually could be a strength for them? They could emerge as a stronger business after all of the Apple-Google data-tracking kerfuffle than they were before?

Brian Feroldi: I definitely think so. That to me is an answer. It's a industrywide answer to cookies. I think it elevates their brand name within the industry, but I don't think it's just them that's got to win for that. I think basically all advertisers are going to win.

Dylan Lewis: There you go. Well, Brian, as always, love talking tech stocks with you, love talking earnings, and loved that. I missed the boat on Datadog and we both get to enjoy the stronger results of The Trade Desk.

Brian Feroldi: Just shows I shouldn't make for them any company name when they come public ever again.

Dylan Lewis: Listeners that's going to do it for this episode of industry focus. If you have any questions or you want to reach out and say, hey, shoot us an email at industryfocus@fool.com. Or you can tweet us at MFIndustryFocus. If you're looking for more of our stuff, subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. As always, people on the program may own companies discussed on the show. The Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against stocks mentioned. Don't buy or sell anything based solely on what you hear. Thanks to Tim Sparks for his work behind glass today, and thank you for listening. Until next time, fool on.

Dylan Lewis: That's a wrap.

Brian Feroldi: We have seven minutes left.

Dylan Lewis: We have seven minutes.

Brian Feroldi: That's not bad.

Dylan Lewis: That's pretty good. We didn't give a specific target in our guidance for Q&A. [laughs]. We just said less than we normally do and we exceeded. I want to hit the second question here. This is from Aaron because I have an immediate and good answer to it. I feel like I should prioritize that one. "If you didn't have a full position in Pinterest, would you be adding at these levels?" Aaron, I do not yet have my full position in Pinterest. I have probably about a third of what I want. I'm down on that position. I'm in the red. My plan is to add, I need to stop talking about it so that I can actually add to the position. But my plan is to continue to build that out. I will say I am still bullish. I am a little bit less bullish than when I first bought, but I see such a massive opportunity like we talked about in the show, with the average revenue per user growth that's available. Just what they're able to do in terms of scaling their ad business. There's so much there and I think there's some optionality with e-commerce. There's clearly interest from the likes of PayPal. I think other people are recognizing opportunity there, which is helping me stay bullish on the stock.

Dylan Lewis: Brian, are you at a full position with Pinterest, or are you still building it out?

Brian Feroldi: Well, I guess I can't talk about it for today, [laughs] so no, I'm not at a full position on Pinterest. The fact that it was trading at essentially 30 times forward earnings the last I looked really had me go, "Hmm." Like you, my enthusiasm for Pinterest took a little bit of a gut punch given what's happened with user growth, but it's hard to say, is that permanent or is that just what's happening right now? Look at all of the major streaming services. Netflix, Disney plus, Paramount, Peacock, all of them. HBO reported massive slowdowns in growth, and investors are throwing up their hand. But basically, that's a macro factor that these companies have no control over. It's going to be something that investors need to watch long-term. But my excitement level for Pinterest is been declined. But getting at the valuation that it is at today, I think it compensates investors for that.

Dylan Lewis: I want to hit the top question here, "Hey, Dylan and Brian," this is from Darrin BFOF. "Nice start for market for Nextdoor post-SPAC merger up another seven percent today. Have you been following?" Brian, is this a business you're familiar with at all?

Brian Feroldi: The only reason I'm familiar with it is because I became a user somehow one, and I know that Sarah Friar, the former CFO at Square, is the CEO here. I was just actually listening to a podcast she did with Patrick O'Shaughnessy yesterday. She is a sharp Executive. I haven't looked closely at the business at all. But maybe we should do a show on them.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah. I will say there are some pretty interesting elements and for folks that are not familiar, it's social media. But I would say like hyper-local social media. It's basically connecting people that live in the same neighborhood, creating that sense of digital community. Sarah Friar is an incredible executive. Square was ridiculously well-run and was an incredible performer while she was at the company. I was actually a little worried about my Square holdings when she left because I realize I don't know if she is running the show or if Jack Dorsey is running the show. Square's been fine since then. But I think she is a great executive to invest alongside. I think there's good opportunity here. We've seen that social media ad monetization is a successful business model. I haven't dug into the S1 for this business yet. I can't say anything too intelligent beyond that though.

Brian Feroldi: Is it? What's the ticker symbol?

Dylan Lewis: I think it's KIND, K-I-N-D, but I think just debuted this week or last week.

Brian Feroldi: Okay.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah. Let's see what else we got here, Brian.

Brian Feroldi: I look forward to digging in.

Dylan Lewis: Question here. "Brian, SEMrush scored highly on your checklist. Are you planning to buy any shares? Does the fact that they are a Russian company give you any pause?" Brian, am I asking you a question about a company you can't talk about?

Brian Feroldi: I guess I can't buy shares for two more days now. Dylan, thanks so much. We have not coordinated this ahead of time.

Dylan Lewis: I'm sorry.

Brian Feroldi: I did an interview with SEMrush's CFO, Brian Stoffel and I had interviewed their CFO earlier this week. Have you looked at them at all, Dylan?

Dylan Lewis: I know the user side of it. I haven't looked at the business yet.

Brian Feroldi: Okay.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah.

Brian Feroldi: I have a feeling you don't like what you see.

Dylan Lewis: Yeah. What I will say, not having looked at the financials for this business is there are some kind of Salesforce-like elements to this business or Autodesk-like elements to this business where if you work in search engine optimization, SEMrush is the tool. It is what people use. It is industry standard. That has proven to be a very successful investing strategy in software-as-a-service businesses is to identify those must-have providers and just know until a better tool comes wrong, that's what people are going to use.

Brian Feroldi: Let me go through it over and under here. What blew me away about SEMrush. The company did $49 million in revenue last quarter. Ballpark, what do you think there's stock-based compensation would be for the quarter?

Dylan Lewis: Do they just come public?

Brian Feroldi: They just came public.

Dylan Lewis: Was it like 500 million?

Brian Feroldi: Six hundred thousand. [laughs] Correct.

Dylan Lewis: How does that work?

Brian Feroldi: Correct. [laughs] Their year-to-date stock-based compensation expense is 1.8 million. Correct. You heard that reaction, it's correct. [laughs]

Dylan Lewis: I'd have to look and see what their equity program looks like for employees.

Brian Feroldi: It must be terrible. [laughs]

Dylan Lewis: It makes me wonder how much skin in the game the people that work there have.

Brian Feroldi: I would guess that's actually pretty low. The co-founders own so much stock. Tons of stocks, but their salaries seem to be the way that they're compensated. But when I was looking at it, I was just like, is that a typo? Is there a zero missing, at least one?

Dylan Lewis: Yeah.

Brian Feroldi: If you don't like an illusion.

Dylan Lewis: Five hundred million is a ludicrous guess.

Brian Feroldi: Yes.

Dylan Lewis: But I still can't believe it's denominated in thousands.

Brian Feroldi: Correct. If you look year-to-date, including their IPO, 1.8 million.

Dylan Lewis: Brian, we are at noon, so I think we are going to have to turn things over to the next hour in programming. But as always, so awesome to head into the weekend getting to talk stocks with you on Friday.

Brian Feroldi: I always enjoy it, Dylan.

Dylan Lewis: [laughs] Folks, that is going to do if our Industry Focus taping. Up next, we have a Backstage Pass original Upgrade or Top Grade, Monetizing Users on the Internet. That's got to pick it up nicely from what we were just talking about, Brian. Hope you all enjoy that and I hope you guys enjoy your weekend. Until we see you again next time, Fool on.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.