Living in the Future | Balaji Srinivasan on The North Star

Check out The North Star Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • “The most challenging thing to do as an entrepreneur but, it’s also absolutely necessary, is to hire people who are better than you”Balaji Srinivasan
  • “2020 is the year the internet starts” Balaji Srinivasan
    • More people are working, shopping, and living on the internet than ever before. People are even attending weddings through the internet.
  • “Twitter and  a lot of social media is like a restaurant that’s learned to put sugar in our food.”
    • “They’re giving us intellectual diabetes” – David Perell
      • “I think that a big part of the next generation of content, for a lot of people to level up, can’t be like the current social media where you interact with it by liking and retweeting; it should be about learning and earning” – Balaji Srinivasan
  • “Every new media company needs to be a media community as well” – Balaji Srinivasan
    • A newsletter is just a broadcast. You want to have a mini social network where you interact with your customers and community members.
  • “Anything that the technology industry touches, prices hyper-deflate”Balaji Srinivasan
    • Tech touched transportation and created Uber. Now anyone can get a private car ride for an affordable rate.
  • Anything industry the state touches, prices inflate. Regulations tend to add more red tape and unnecessary parties which increases the cost of a good or service.
    • By subsidizing or regulating, the government distorts market forces and stops new technology from entering
  • When in a discussion, have references to support your point of view
    • “Arguing from references is summoning reinforcements to any discussion…because it’s not you, it’s you and what army? And it’s this army of scholars.” – Balaji Srinivasan

Intro

  • Balaji Srinivasan (@balajis), is an angel investor and an entrepreneur, He is formerly the CTO of Coinbase and General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz
  • Host: David Perell (@david_perell)

Books Mentioned

Lessons From Academia

  • One of the best ways to learn quickly is to jump in and start doing problems until you reach a point where you need to learn how to do something
  • “I got into liberal arts as a way to win arguments” – Balaji Srinivasan
  • History is most interesting if you go backward
    • E,g: Why is Germany the way it is? It’s because of the Cold War. Why did the Cold War happen? It’s because of WWII. Why did WWII happen? And so on.

Business Advice

  • Balaji’s recruiting tip: Hire people who are “hungry and can teach us something”
    • Find undiscovered geniuses
  • When writing an email, memo, or in Slack, share the most important information first
  • “The most challenging thing to do as an entrepreneur but it’s also absolutely necessary, is to hire people who are better than you”Balaji Srinivasan
  • A company isn’t a family, think of it more as a tour of duty
  • When you’re dividing up labor at the junction point of a manager and employee, you should do a two by two table:
    • What does the manager expect from themselves
    • What does the manager expect from the employee
    • What does the employee expect from themselves
    • What does the employee expect from the manager
      • “That two by two table is so simple but you should do that at every one on one and you should do one a week.” – Balaji Srinivasan
        • Each party holds itself accountable and knows what to expect from the other person

Tech Decreases Price, Government Increases Price

  • “Anything that the technology industry touches, prices hyper-deflate”Balaji Srinivasan
    • Tech touched transportation and created Uber. Now anyone can get a private car ride for an affordable rate.
    • Tech has started to touch education and created online courses at a fraction of the cost of traditional education.
      • Anything industry the state touches, prices inflate. Regulations tend to add more red tape and unnecessary parties which increases the cost of a good or service.
        • By subsidizing or regulating, the government distorts market forces and stops new technology from entering

Valuable Insights From Balaji

  • “It is really hard to make something easy” Balaji Srinivasan
  • Money is a tool that lets you build things you can’t buy
    •  “Elon is doing SpaceX because he can’t buy a trip to Mars” – Balaji Srinivasan
  • “2020 is the year the internet starts” Balaji Srinivasan
    • More people are working, shopping, and living on the internet than ever before. People are even attending weddings through the internet.
  • “Twitter and  a lot of social media is like a restaurant that’s learned to put sugar in our food.”
    • “They’re giving us intellectual diabetes” – David Perell
      • “I think that a big part of the next generation of content, for a lot of people to level up, can’t be like the current social media where you interact with it by liking and retweeting, it should be about learning and earning” – Balaji Srinivasan
  • “You will get what you optimize” – Balaji Srinivasan
    • If you’re optimizing for clicks, you’ll end up writing click-bait articles
  • “Every new media company needs to be a media community as well” – Balaji Srinivasan
    • A newsletter is just a broadcast. You want to have a mini-social network where you interact with your customers and community members.
  • “I think that’s going to be a huge part of the 2020s is this pseudonymous economy with crypto domain names being this kind of pseudonym” – Balaji Srinivasan
    • Balaji predicts an ecosystem where people can share content under a pseudonym which will allow them to speak their mind without any personal repercussions. They will earn karma under a pseudonym account and transfer it privately to another account. 
      • “All of these are types of things which I think allow for people to speak their minds freely on the internet and earn pseudonymously without being attacked”

A Worldwide Ledger Is The Future

  • A worldwide ledger of record is the future we need in an information-driven world
  • “On-chain is the next step after online”Balaji Srinivasan
    • Meaning the information isn’t just on a server that can disappear if it goes offline, it’s posted on a blockchain that will never go down.
      • It will serve as a digital record of history that can track what happened and when
        • “You can’t delete history anymore”
  • “This I think, is going to be one of the most important technologies of this decade if we can popularize it and make it a thing” Balaji Srinivasan
    • Imagine if all of the COVID-19 related deaths were recorded on the blockchain. That way, if any skeptic didn’t believe in the seriousness of the virus, they could see the history of deaths throughout the year.

Helping Humans Live Forever

  • “If the purpose of technology is to reduce scarcity, then the ultimate purpose of technology is to eliminate mortality” – Balaji Srinivasan
    • Technology makes things cheaper, faster, and better. Why is that important? Because your most precious resource is time and you want to have more of it instead of trading it for capital, or resources. 
      • “Life extension makes everything cheaper”
  • “It is possible to reverse-again…there’s some really awesome stuff that’s happening in this area” – Balaji Srinivasan
    • In the next decade, expect to see more life extension, brain-machine interfaces, limb regeneration, curing deafness, bionic sight, and more incredible feats

Building A Digital Country

  • How would Balaji build a digital country?
    • 1) Have people write online and build a community
    • 2) Give people VR headsets and let them build a city in VR
      • “VR architecture is going to be a big thing this decade” – Balaji Srinivasan
        • Just like how you have a lot of publishers and video editors today, you’ll have a lot of VR architects in the future
    • 3) Enforce governance and physical levels of civility
      • Have a digital currency and have the community crypto-crowdfund territory

Additional Notes

  • Building your own company is like building your own city. You get to decide the rules, culture, who can enter and so on.
  • 3 Reasons to study math: 
    • Math is universal
    • It’s cumulative and hierarchical
    • It’s fundamental to technology
  • When in a discussion, have references to support your point of view
    • “Arguing from references is summoning reinforcements to any discussion…because it’s not you, it’s you and what army? And it’s this army of scholars.” – Balaji Srinivasan
  • We are severely underutilizing the collaborative potential of the internet. We have Wikipedia and Github, but there’s so much more than can be done.
  • Balaji and David both believe there will be a self-made teenage billionaire by the end of the decade
North Star Podcast : , , , , ,
Notes By Alex Wiec

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