Fireside Chat with Naval Ravikant
I'm. A certain Valley in California right, now where, I've been an entrepreneur and investor for about two decades. Moved. There straight out of school started. Starting companies because, I loved science and technology, and technology. Is the business of science or. Applying, science, and so I've started a couple of companies one, that made optical, amplifiers, one, that became. What is today Google Earth one. That was. Called opinions when public is part of shopping comm and. Dozens, of failed efforts, things you've never heard of things, that you might yet Europe I, started, angel list which is the largest, online platform. For startup fundraising, we've, now raised over a billion dollars, almost. All four seed, stage startups, we. Also operate the largest free talent, startup recruiting marketplace, we're about half the startups in the english-speaking world find, talent on there we. Own product, hunt which is where companies go to launch their product, we've, also spun. Up coin list which is a giant well-lit regulated, marketplace for crypto and I cos I've. Been an angel investor, in companies, like Twitter and Oberer, and wish. And post mates and a. Bunch, of others. Co-authored. A blog called venture hacks got a little Twitter feed. And. The, JOBS Act which was the US, law that enable crowdfunding, general solicitation, regulus. IPOs. Yeah. So. I asked, I asked involved to do that because there was no way I was gonna do justice to the bio but, for, those who don't know I mean involves a bit of a legend, and across. The world now and especially in Silicon Valley and so, I'm curious from from. Your perspective, navall what, is the opportunity for New Zealand around our technology, ecosystem and what constitutes the. Elements, and the actors in a well-functioning, ecosystem. So, I, mean, it's a hard problem systems, design I think that's what USF was talking about he was basically, positioning. New Zealand as an incubator for systems design which. Is very seductive. And very, difficult because trying, new systems means you're automatically, doing things that the rest of the world doesn't want to or need, to do so it's risky, but.
I Can throw some things out that I think are provocative. And interesting. Let. Me just touch on two one is digital literacy, and the other is immigration, you, know in terms of digital literacy I think that, computers. Are, the most powerful tool ever, created by humanity, they've, they allow for infinite, leverage without, permission and, to. Me that knowing, how to be good with computers, is the modern literacy, it's like the new reading writing arithmetic and, this, will be widely accepted and acknowledged decades from now but today we're in that transition, phase where. As a software engineer you're, very, well paid and there's no unemployment, but as. Someone transitioning, out of the old economy you have this giant gap to jump so, I think it would be interesting in one system design experiment, that would be interesting is to create an entirely digitally. Literate nation. Where, everybody is facile, with computers, and of course not everyone's gonna be a computer related job but. Just the fact that you can use this creative, tool to its maximum output, gives. You an advantage a leg up in every possible way you'll make better podcasts. You'll do better you know you'll be better at creating documents, be better at coding, up your ideas, you'll be better at even just using online banking or your storage but. Just like if, you understand, mathematics fairly. Well then you don't fear science, books you can pick up anything the same way if everybody, understood, computers well enough they didn't fear computers, at all they would be highly leveraged and for. Innovation, and employment that could be a huge thing, it, would also interestingly raise, all the wages across the board in other professions, too because there's, a thing in economics, called bamos cost disease where the the. Value. That you have to pay someone their opportunity, cost of what else they could be doing not, initially what they are doing so even if all the baristas had computer science degrees they get paid a lot more so. That's. An example of something radical, and interesting you could do but I don't think it's it's that radical, and people often would say like well why, do I need to know how to code a computer, I don't need to know how to fix my car to drive my car but, it's different that the car is a utility that gets you from point A to point B and you do the same thing over and over where, it's a computer is a creative, tool in a creative process it's, not gonna be automated away and every, person who uses a computer it's, like using a paintbrush or or writing. Instrument, you're using it for a different thing for. Self-expression a blank, canvass of possibilities, so. I think having a fully digitally, literate nation. And, New. Zealand is well-positioned to do that by being english-speaking, country, first world rule of law good educational, system and. A, fairly, small enough community that, you can make that kind of a push I think, would be really interesting, and you also said immigration, yeah, immigration, is is interesting because I think people look at Silicon Valley and they say how can we create a Silicon Valley here, and. That's an experiment, that's been tried all over the world but. Really Silicon. Valley is not a place that creates, entrepreneurs, or wealth or Technology it is a place that attracts, entrepreneurs, who, create wealth and technology, and and, so it's really an attractor function and that's true of almost any magnet, place like Hollywood, attracts, the potential, actors and artists, into, it doesn't create them those are not necessarily all native Los Angelenos although the natives really benefit, from from, that so. I, think the it's. It's about attracting so intelligent, immigration, policy, is actually the largest well creator in the world and. And. It's not done, that intelligently. In most places most places it's sort of an accident, happenstance. Of history, like oh we have it we have a Technology, University here, we have good weather and so on so. I think that if, you look at especially. In the and I'm focused in technology industry obviously your for immigration you can do lots of things you can say I want to attract, people who'd make an impact I want to attract teachers but whatever, you're doing you can do it intentionally and at, least in the technology, industry these people thanks to again computers are the most leveraged people in the world so their earning power is very high so they actually choose to live in the nicest places so, they want to live in places with good weather and clean water and clean air and high quality of life and culture and I think in all of those things New Zealand scores really well the.
Timezone Is great the access to the Pacific Rim is great so, New Zealand to me already has a lot of the elements to, use. Immigration. Policy, as a force multiplier, so, I think it really just comes down to both. Attracting, and screening, sort of the right people with for the limited resources, that you have and. You know I mean look at the hf 400, visas it's gonna make a big difference before it is not a lot of people right, you can you can fit them in one, small neighborhood. Or one small cluster of houses but it can in theory change change things and. And on the technology, side I'm curious it could speak to the trends, that you're seeing some, of the significant, trends of importance and why they're important we're, actually kind of in a good phase of I think technology innovation, right not there's a good or bad I don't I don't mean to judge but. We've. Gone through different phases where, we. Are creating and discovering, and rolling. Out new platforms, and systems that change things so for example mobile, phones was a platform the internet was a platform. Personal. Computers were a platform. That. That changed, things quite a bit and then we go through exploitation. Phases. On those platforms when we build lots of apps so you know there was the mobile social phase where we built Facebook. And Twitter and so on those are interesting apps but it's kind of a lower level of, innovation, or it's. Equally necessary but, not. As paradigm, busting and I would say now interestingly technology. Is going back into that paradigm busting, phase where, investors. Angels, entrepreneurs, are getting bold enough and, emboldened. And enough. To take the risk to, do things like hey now we're gonna develop supersonic, airplanes we're gonna send Rockets to Mars we're gonna send you, know we're gonna build electric cards we're gonna build. Autonomous vehicles, we're gonna build VR and AR. We're. Gonna get remote working right so that it feels like you're actually there, we're, gonna do synthetic biology and hack humans which is you know both scary and exciting. Scary. First exciting, later unfortunately. It's. The nature of technology, that the destructive power arrives before the creative power you. Get to have. A nuclear weapon before you get to have a functioning, safe nuclear plant you get to have you. Know the you get the, unfortunate. In social media you get combat before you get civil discourse so, it's, it's even. If you go through back to human history you get gunpowder, before, you get steam, engines and airplanes so, it's. Just unfortunately. The nature of technology, that the disruptive, that disassociative, power arrives first. So. We're, gonna get all the dysfunctional. Dystopian. Things, you know maybe VR, and AR it's like a place for people, to rally who couldn't rally in the real world or for you, know how the internet famously adopts porn and gambling but almost any other application, but, eventually you.
Will See the fruits come out of that if we live long enough and synthetic. BIOS is an interesting one that regard. AI, today, is going, through a machine learning machine. Vision revolution. Where computers. Are getting very very good at pattern matching and problem solving if a very specific kind, of problem, but. It does mean that we're. Gonna see very. Intelligent. Agents, living in the networking cloud and changing how we do things so I think all of those are really interesting and I and I, give full credit to people like Elon Musk who just really. Upped the bar on what's. Conceivable, right just by doing audacious. Things or trying audacious, things even, if they fail even if they're not good at it even if you have problems, with the financial shenanigans this, is just at least the vision I think inspires, people to. Move forward and he's not the only one there's a bunch of entrepreneurs now who are kind of just, trying to do very audacious things and, on that point some people say you know we want to shift away from this cult of entrepreneurship, or this worshipping, the entrepreneurs, how do you feel about that, there's. Definitely a cult of entrepreneurship, in Silicon Valley there's there's kind of a hierarchy which is like all the status derives from the entrepreneur, and then it sort of filters down to the. Other people in the ecosystem, who help make things happen and then of course the users and customers and broader society, that that, they stand upon I just. Think it's a nature of humans, that you you're always gonna have a little bit of hero worship you're always going to create a cult like you you you go to Hollywood, and there's a cult of the celebrity, I mean there's such a cult that they give each other awards every year and then we tune in to watch it so. It's, it's just the nature of politicians. We create a cult around the top politicians without, looking at all the people that they stand on it's, just kind of how humans are hard-wired it's how we get inspired, so, I think it's completely fine to use an entrepreneur, as a source of inspiration but. I think it's silly to use them as a source of truth right like in fact it's silly that I'm up here but and I'm kind, of giving you all this so-called truth and really I just have very narrow, specialization. In, a very narrow set of things but somehow for some reason somebody wants to hear my opinion on everything that's, the cult of personality kind. Of poking through but, still you got to pick some monkey to get in front of the try bit you know at various points so this is my turn right now and, one of those things that you've been asked that, is bak chain and so I'd love to hear what is blockchain, why is it important yeah, I got into cryptocurrencies. And block chains back in 2013. And it. Was to me it first, fascinate is its technology, solution, to, a very, particular computer, science problem called, the Byzantine generals problem. But all you need to understand is what, they'd solve is a way of getting a bunch of people who don't know each other and don't trust each other to still agree on something and this, is a much harder problem than it may sound like you. Know humans. Are highly. Cooperating. Organizing, creatures much more so than almost any other species in the natural domain and that allows us to do amazing things, like we can all get in this room and work together to what we believe is a better future it also allows us to do terrible things like get together in a battlefield and kill each other name some ideology. You know monkeys don't have christianity, or fascism they don't they don't come up with those ideology, so they don't they don't murder each other in large quantities, but. That ability to unite together is both, our superpower and our curse because when you get together how, do you operate that network of people how do we make decisions and historically. We've had a couple of answers and they all have different trade-offs. The. Old answer used to be the most brutal monkeys in charge that used to be the king and that's. Still how much of the world lives today under dictators, then, it was just the smartest, and most violent, few monkeys who get together are in charge and that's aristocracies. Or if it's the smartest as the elites but, you have a small number of people sort of running.
Things For society, religion. Was another one you know I talked to God God gave me the answers you listen to me there. Was another model around, democracy. Where we're all equal we all vote but, you also can end up with mob justice mob rule where, the majority turn turn eyes the minority, so you just have all these different systems of organizing, people and in, the last few hundred years we've created a new one called markets, and. These could be markets. And you know things you like and things you don't but it's essentially just this idea that we can trade. Things and sort of self organizes, and there's a merit model in terms of how much money I put in or what assets that put in what I get back but, no one's really in charge if you look at the global credit markets debt markets, equity markets money. Markets, commodity, markets no-one's really in charge. So what blockchains, do is they bring the, ability, to have markets, into any digital, domain so. You can take any digital, network and, there are a lot more digital, networks out there than we think so, for example uber is actually a digital network that's routing cars around your. Local public utility, is actually a digital network that's, routing power around especially if we all had solar and we were trading that power, today. We have cell phone carriers that are top-down but, actually, each of our phones it's broadcasting, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and, you could stay and we have Wi-Fi access points at home you could stitch together a digital. Network and a blockchain based network isn't owned by anybody it isn't run by anybody, it's, sort of I think we're sort of a temporary blip in history where, all of, your connections with your friends are controlled by one small set of people out of palo alto or, all, the digital news media in the world is run basically, by twitter in youtube and it's a very small number of people so, it is the nature of the current generation of technology, that it is a highly centralizing. Force we, have replaced geographic. Oligopolies, with, global, monopolies, well. At the same time there's sort of this long tail of independent. Actors but that fat middle, that used to exist in the old world is gone when, you would have 10 ecommerce retailers, and now you just have one that's, kind of controlling the whole internet, retail when. You would have had hundreds, of local dispatch taxi, dispatchers. But now all taxis are dispatched out of San Francisco by. Uber or lyft so, that trend, line is very worrying because that's not the internet I think we were all promised we, were promised to decentralize, Internet where we kind of all collectively, control outcomes but. Like in any system, you have to have rules you have to have consensus, you have to have ways of rewarding people who contribute to the network you have to wait have ways of punishing cheaters, who harm, the network and and. Blockchains. Use mathematics. Cryptography. Peer-to-peer networking, to, create digital consensus. And allow truly. Leaderless. Digital, networks and I think that is what is compelling about them and we're, starting with the financial, applications, because, money, is a ledger it's it's something that we've been historically, had to put a king in charge for or a state. And they, have a habit you know when you hand somebody the ability to print money then they just print more of it and some of you find this way into their pockets and their and their friends pockets and, it may be not a problem you Zeeland because it's a famously uncorrupt. Country but. Yeah. Even there right there's always something, but. Compared. To other parts of the world that are outright kleptocracy, z', that can be problematic so, you have things like Bitcoin that, essentially. Separate. Money, from, India from any individual, controlling, the money and then it becomes collective, money if. Theorem tries to do that for a programmable financial, system and I think you'll see as block, chains get good at tackling those problems, and they demonstrate, that they can secure, something as hard to secure, as the, ability to make an issue and and transfer, money then, they can be trusted in all other aspects, of life so, I think it's really interesting and, people say well well you know the cryptocurrency markets, down 90%, plus in the last year isn't it over or was. It a fad or how do you respond yeah. I mean look it's a it's.
A Highly speculative, market. It's it's this weird combination of, money and code and governance, and. You. Know calm, went through this in, 1999-2000, so I've seen this kind of movie before and crypto, is a really hard problem crypto, is you're basically saying I'm going to create digital gold, I'm gonna make it unhackable, even, though the reward will be hundreds, of billions of dollars trust, me I don't have a bug in this code because if I do you lose all your money it's, very hard to secure and transfer, it's. Still very very much in development it feels like the computers. Were in the 1980s, not. Where the internet was in 1990s, but it's moving faster, so there's still a lot of fundamental development work to be done, crypto, is not simple. Computer science it is bleeding edge computer science game theory, attack. Vectors hacking, you're trying to solve some very hard problems, so it's gonna take time to figure out and today. For example the, total stock of Bitcoin in the world is evaluated about eighty billion dollars and or. Seventy billion dollars if, you take into account losses, and so on the the. Actually, the actually, sorry higher it would be about about a hundred but the total gold supply in the world is somewhere around seven or ten trillion dollars and bitcoin does a lot of the things that gold does some, better some worse better. In the sense that it's digitally. Transmissible, easier to secure more scarce worse. In the sense that there might be a bug you, can get hacked. You, might lose your password passkey. Which I've seen happen, to friends of mine, so. It's, if so. It's still much. Less certain and it's much more new goals been around forever so, what you have right now is the market is pricing Bitcoin. As being somewhere between one five hundredth, the chance of being digital gold to one one thousand, two one one hundredth and when the market changes mind and these very little probabilities, you're these massive, swings in the price so. It does end up being a very speculative, instrument, today and. It's like an angel investment or like an early venture investment, where you can lose all your money or most of it but. And. There's a lot of risk involved but there's also a lot of reward these are not ready for primetime yet but, we're, gonna go deeper on the blockchain crypto. Theory, and the like I do want to just well we have everyone talk a little bit you're famous on Twitter now where. Did this come from you. Know and if. You could talk a little bit about your, becoming, famous in terms of talking about the, inner game of entrepreneurship. Yeah. So Fame is a curse I don't recommend it for anybody you, want, to be you, want to know, this is glib but you want to be rich and anonymous not poor and famous. Like. This, is the disease of social media everybody, is getting. Their 5 seconds of fame and become a celebrity and celebrities are the most miserable people in the world so it's not necessarily a good thing to go for that. Said you, know I think what. Happened was like anyone, who's been an entrepreneur I was running extremely, high stress lifestyle, and one. Of the things that makes entrepreneurship, especially stressful, is that, not only are you supposed to have. All the answers you. Know you're doing very hard work but you're supposed to never show weakness because. Your board members you show them weakness you know they're not gonna fund you they're not going to trust you you show it to your employees, they're gonna run for the hills your customers are not gonna buy for your no partners I'm gonna partner with you so you have to show extreme stability, and it's. The nature of the technology business that, 99. Out of 100 startups effectively. Fail because. The winners are so outsized, and so rare so most. Entrepreneurs, walking around know that they don't have product market fit to live in mortal terror of it they're not allowed to talk about it and everyone, has to pretend they're winning and crushing it all the time. And and this is highly stressful. So. It, most people I think just meltdown or under the stress and they just hide it because we're not taught the modern coping tools, on. How to work with it and maybe ancient cultures had better answers, you know you meditate, you walk in nature you. Have closer family, ties you have bigger tribes or. You're just much less likely to go. From being fresh, out of school to, landing, into running, a hundred person company so, these are just very modern, pressures and stresses and.
Just Like anybody I had to kind of work through it and as I worked through it I started using Twitter as my open diary on what. I had learned that was useful to me and. I think if anybody else was talking about this it wouldn't be that interesting, but because you. Know I'm in the tech business and supposedly successful, and I'm talking about it I think that gives people license. To talk about it so. I just decided you, know five, or six years ago that I was done being miserable and I was gonna be happy you. Know and I. Know this sounds easy in hindsight but it was sort of like well this, entire time, I've just assumed that happy. People aren't successful and if, I'm gonna be successful then I can't be happy I have to be miserable if I'm going to make a difference in the world I have to be unhappy along the way and I. Just sort of shifted my mindset and decided. Actually I'm out of time, it's now or never there's, no future to live for and if. I don't figure out how to be happy I'm gonna die unhappy, and. It's going to and and I made it a discipline. Like in just like diet, and nutrition. And exercise these, are highly, personal, disciplines, that are unique to each of us and we have to find what works for us and know nobody, else can give, you can make your diet work for you because it's a battle that's fought every. Day you know at every meal and no one can make your exercise. And fitness routine work for you because not even just a half-hour you go to the gym or workout it's literally how you carry yourself how you move what. Activities, you volunteer for so. The same way I think your own internal mental state, is just. As malleable but just as hard and just, as individual, and so, I just started documenting, my journey and and a lot of people actually thought. It was strange and I, did lose some business contacts, it definitely some business over it some people were attracted to it but I don't but part of being happy is not caring what other people think and so I don't care anymore so there, we go so we're gonna go much deeper on this part - we're.
Back Up here on the main stage at 2:30. So. Hope to see you there and we'll open the space for Q&A as well please. Join me in thanking the Balrog account thanks, for sitting please. You.