You can now read #nomercynomalice on Marker @MRKR — a new tech magazine by @Medium. I'm in good company there — @AdamMGrant, @sama. Give it a look, a follow, and no fewer than 50 claps
You can now read #nomercynomalice on Marker @MRKR — a new tech magazine by @Medium. I'm in good company there — @AdamMGrant, @sama. Give it a look, a follow, and no fewer than 50 claps
How the Chairman of Y Combinator Decides Which Startups to Invest In by @sama in @MRKR
How To Invest In Startups:
What are we currently missing but is going to seem obvious in retrospect about the implications/significance of negative interest rates?
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Try committing to one day per week (for me it only works on a weekend, but some people do it on Fridays) where you work in a long uninterrupted block to catch up on the previous week and prepare for the next.
Focus on what matters. Cut all the BS.
Don’t overschedule yourself. Don’t have long meetings except for really important topics, and then have very long ones. Try not to have large meetings, but if you have to, try having large meetings be partially in writing.
Compounding success (which means “growth” in the case of an early-stage start-up) solves almost all internal problems, particularly hard ones.
Have long staff meetings and short 1:1s. It’s much better for information flow and alignment.
The best way to get people to help you is to first help them. The second-best way is to be working on something interesting.
It is very hard to do good work without being optimistic, exceptionally determined, and intellectually curious.
There are exceptions, but the people at the top of almost any field worked very hard to get there. Be skeptical of people who tell you that you don’t have to work hard if you want to have an exceptional career unless they have exceptional careers.
The strongest teams have a lot of diversity of thought but do not have much diversity of values or goals.
Ideal goals are ones that you hit, but just barely. Setting goals that are always a bit too much of a stretch is demoralizing—people want to be on the winning team, and you want to be winning at life. Write your goals down, professionally and personally.
Set and maintain high standards. If you have to be hard on people, do it with love and a genuine wish for them to improve. Praise people when they hit the standard.
If you want to get rich, remember that the way to do it is via equity, not salary.
The best way to have valuable ideas is to understand the entire landscape of a field and figure out what can emerge now that couldn’t before.
The most value comes from doing something no one else can do, or no one else has thought of, in a way that is hard for other people to copy. If you try to be just like everyone else, and do just what they’re doing, you will maybe do ok but certainly not great.
Compounding, in all ways, is a very powerful force. Long-term outlooks and long-term commitments are the easiest way to outperform other people.
Follow your own curiosity, and start looking internally instead of externally for the answers. Be honest with yourself about the intersection of your skills, your passions, and what the world values.
The sooner you can learn to ignore the haters, the better. Avoid the temptation to become one or surround yourself with them—it’s fun in the short term, but they are almost never successful at anything other than social media.
Low-stakes things should be low-drama, and high-stakes things can be high-drama if they have to be. It’s important to get both of these right. Use your stress budget to really focus on the few things that matter.
Getting caught up in the parts of a job that don’t matter is a dangerous trap and for some reason one that a lot of people fall into. Let other people play political games and avoid them as much as you can.
Authentic, high-conviction vision is rare and valuable. Double down when you find it or find people who have it.
It’s really helpful to get someone to take a bet on you (hire you, promote you, invest in your company, whatever) early in your career. The best way to do this is to first do whatever you can to help them.
Spend a lot of time with the kind of people who are constantly producing new ideas.
However, they are willing to work on something for a long time even if other people don’t get it. "Important" does not mean "popular".
You can almost always scale things up more than you think, and the benefits to doing so are almost always bigger and more surprising than you think. This goes from everything from technical systems to companies.
Almost everyone underestimates the value of fast movers, in almost every context. Work with them. Be one yourself.
The best work you ever do is what matters, not the time you worked on alchemy. Optimize for being spectacularly right some of the time, and low-stakes wrong a lot of the time.
Scale benefits, network effects, and the power law are so powerful that people usually delude themselves into thinking otherwise. They are often the best way to make it hard for others to compete with you.
If there is a single key to success, it is the trait of being able to make things happen in the world—willfulness, determination, execution focus, not giving up when you hit a roadblock, the ability to solve any problem that comes your way, and self-belief.
The most successful people (judged by history, not money) continually look for the most important thing they are able to work on, and that’s what they do. They do not get trapped in local maxima, and they do not deceive themselves if they find something more important.
How To Be Successful (At Your Career, Twitter Edition)
Thank you to @DanielleMorrill for writing up the results here: Proposition 1 missed by around 15%, Proposition 2 is up 5x in 5 years, Proposition 3 went from almost nothing to way over the threshold.
The good news: betting on innovation is always a good long-term bet, and with a sufficiently long time horizon you can ride through the ups and downs without too much worry.
I do not know what X is, but I bet it's going to be bumpy.
Biggest prediction of all: we are going to look back at this period in time and say "How did we not realize it was super weird to have negative interest rates? That clearly meant X; how did we miss it?"
Investors who pick companies exceptionally well will continue to do exceptionally well. People who chase the pack will not do as well. There are now so many startup investors it's just all harder.
Specifically, seed-stage software seems quite overpriced, and late-stage everything seems overpriced. A low-confidence guess is that A and B rounds in 2020 will look like the best risk-adjusted return bets in hindsight. And "hard tech" will be good.
Would I make a similar bet today for the next 5 years? Hmm. Probably not. I expect certain segments of tech investing to continue to wildly outperform, but I wouldn't be as comfortable saying everything will do super well.
(The latter is easier to keep saying for a long time, and has some kernels of truth.)
Or it could just be that the media has shifted from the "tech is overvalued" to the "tech is evil" storyline.
In general, it's unlikely to be a bubble when everyone is saying that is, but that it could be a bubble now that not many people are saying that it is.
(It is possible that YC companies have done really well and other companies were very overpriced, but I doubt it.)
Although I lost, I'd say it looks like we were not in a bubble, and categories 2 and 3 performed incredibly well over the past 5 years. Category 1 was close.
It's easy to forget how much chatter there was, mostly from the press but also from VCs, about how certain it was that tech was in a bubble. And it's interesting how little there is now.
I lost the bet here ( from 2015 to Michael de la Maza, a TechStars mentor, and will cheerfully donate to a charity of his choice. Here are some reflections on it:
“I love bubbles. We made a lot of money in bubbles.” - Tom Perkins
Nothing is demoralizing in quite the same way as a weed whacker starting up just when you sit down to write.
Write down your 2020 goals and look at them on the 1st of every month. It's worth it!
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