Delian on Space and Bitcoin on the Pomp Podcast with Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano

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Key Takeaways

  • The hard part of going into space is creating a vehicle that goes fast enough so it can stay in orbit
  • “It isn’t totally unrealistic to say that by the end of the decade we’ll have something that’s 10 x bigger than the international space station.” – Delian Asparouhov
  • The limitations of working with the International Space Station (ISS) include:
    • It takes an average of four years to get scheduled
    • The largest the payload can be is the size of a glove box
  • Institutions used to be the brand but for the past decade it has shifted – now people are more interested in hearing from the CEO of a company than the brand account on Twitter
  • There is a science to building and operating a company including:
    • The people you are hiring
    • The operating cadence you maintain
    • The way you communicate in the company
    • The way you set your goals
  • “I’m not short on crypto I’m just going to put it on a shelve for a few years until the true crypto believers make it more mass market.” – Delian Asparouhov
  • The problem with Bitcoin is its stored value and, therefore, decentralized liquidity

Intro

Delian Asparouhov is an investor with Founders Fund and a co-founder and chairman of Varda, a space manufacturing startup.

Varda’s Skyward Mission

  • Varda is a start-up that focuses on space manufacturing – their goal is to manufacture and build materials in space for use on Earth
    • Cancer drugs have better yield when produced in microgravity
    • Artificial organs are easier to print in space because of zero gravity
  • The limitations of working with the International Space Station (ISS):
    • It takes an average of four years to get scheduled
    • The largest the payload can be is the size of a glove box
  • The problem in leaving ISS is that it is pressurized – to keep things at a low cost, Varda is putting everything in a vacuum because they are not sending up humans
  • Varda uses radiated cooling tubes instead of the atmosphere/ surrounding air to cool their equipment down
  • Varda plans to eventually have multiple reentry capsules coming down each day with a plan to buy a SpaceX rocket every other day

Coming Back to Earth

  • The hard part isn’t going up into space, it’s having a vehicle that goes fast enough so it can stay in orbit
  • One way to come back to earth is to come into the atmosphere really fast and let the atmosphere slow the spacecraft down
  • When Varda launches, they will be the first commercial reentry vehicle to land on land
  • Apollo and Dragon have landed on the water and were originally going to land on land but the process with the FAA and regulatory requirements took too long

Costs

  • Varda plans to build a reusable factory in space
  • Currently, a launch costs $5000 per kilogram with SpaceX – Varda wants to reduce that price
  • “The equation is the cost of raw goods + cost of getting the payload up there to the factory, manufacturing it, and getting it back. You should be able to sell it for 2x to 3x that, then you have a business.” – Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano
  • “It isn’t totally unrealistic to say that by the end of the decade we have something that’s 10 x bigger than the international space station.” – Delian Asparouhov

Founders Fund Philosophy

  • The culture at Founder’s Fund embraces diverse political views
  • The ethos at Founder’s Fund is for employees to be comfortable being themselves and have the courage to say what they think
  • But when everything is intellectually open, it brings on intense debate
  • “During the interview process we often wonder, man, is this person going to be able to survive the intellectual battlefield of Founders Fund.”- Delian Asparouhov
  • Silicon Valley is full of conviction-based investing
  • “Founder’s Fund is like the blockchain of investing – everyone goes off and does his own thing” – Delian Asparouhov

The Brand

  • Institutions used to be the brand but for the past decade it has shifted – now people are more interested in, say, hearing from the CEO of Tesla than the Tesla brand account on Twitter
  • Founder’s Fund is more willing to let people be honest with their core values on Twitter
  • Three types of Twitter accounts:
    • Packaged corporate accounts
    • Virtue-signaling accounts involved with social justice
    • Troll accounts with memes and comedy

What Delian Learned in Silicon Valley

  • Prioritize unique thoughts with broad-ranging intellectual curiosity
  • There is a science to building and operating company including:
    • The people you are hiring
    • The operating cadence you maintain
    • The way you communicate in the company
    • The way you set your goals
  • “Really great things only happen when a small group of people come together and have an aligned vision and build it together.” – Delian Asparouhov

Bitcoin

  • Delian made his first foray into cryptocurrency in 2013
  • Although the stored value of crypto makes sense for a business, it can be difficult to use and the interface isn’t easy
  • “I’m not short on crypto I’m just going to put it on a shelve for a few years until the true crypto believers make it more mass market.” – Delian Asparouhov
  • The problem with Bitcoin is its stored value and, therefore, decentralized liquidity
  • If someone steals your bitcoin there’s no one there to help you; with gold at least the government will try to help you

About Delian’s Move to Miami

  • “When I’m happier, I work harder” – Delian Asparouhov on why he moved to Miami from San Francisco
  • Other reasons for the move:
    • Miami is more diverse
    • Delian found Miami to be livelier and more fun
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Notes By EWerbitsky

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