Categories
Finance Politics

Day 1223 and Human Wants Are Endless

The curriculum of classical economics can be a bit of a blackpill if you are an optimist about the good in humanity.

Economists operate from a model that presumes human wants are infinite but our resources are not. Yes it is reductive, but if your goal is to model something on spreadsheet give got to start from where and somehow the economists picked non-satiation.

I’m using Perplexity more than Google Search these days so I’m delving (apologies to Paul Graham) into deep Reddit territory anytime I’ve got a random query.

Which incidentally is not paying off for Reddit just yet.

Reddit, which is trading about 40 per cent above its opening initial public offering price, is expected to report a net loss of about $610mn on $213mn in revenue.

Via Financial Times (which oddly I can’t share a link to for unclear reasons but here is a link to old reporting in Reuters and I’m writing this before earnings are released today.

Reddit’s artificial intelligence licensing deals have made them more useful to me than ever but it’s unclear how anyone gets paid for the mountain of work required to make it remain useful. Such is the tragedy of the internet commons. Anyways.

I’m feeling particularly sad about infinite wants as a framework for anything today. Ive been disappointed by just how much others view me as a source of want gratification even when I explicitly ask them to clarify their needs.

Much of the language of human wands must be couched in the language of need. Asking someone to be obligated to another person spirals quickly into a sticky web of moralists insisting on the value of their chosen wants. Id be more inclined to say yes to an ask if someone was clear about their needs upfront. Just in case you find yourself asking me for something.

Categories
Culture Finance

Day 1211 and Price of Civilization

Whenever I travel I am reminded of just how good a life I have be virtue of being born American.

I’m kept alive, fed, clothed and connected by a vast web of abstractions undergirding modern civilization thanks to the value of my passport and the exorbitant privilege of the dollar.

Constructs like private property have given rise to elaborate norms of obligation, honors, debts and expectations that enable coordination mechanisms like markets. This seems like a good thing from

All of this feels so astonishingly fragile. We listen when our bankers fret about “rules based western civilization” being under siege because we know those rules are what enables the niceties of our lives.

All it takes are a few assholes breaking the rules and the fabric frays a little more. Blessedly capitalism has its own immune system that is happy to attack all types of hostility.

If you are not integrated into the body politic of the dominant civilization you generally know it. I’ve found those outside of it generally wish they could be assimilated from simple envy. If you want these benefits be prepared to be assimilated to the rules and values of civilization.

Your alternative is struggle to hold yourself apart by your own rules and cultural values and insist others abide by them. This has generally required coercion, violence or shame in the past.

You can say “no” to civilizational benefits simply by opting out. To be left alone is to accept your status and stay outside of the great game of civilization. But to accept the benefits is to in some sense accept to accept that there are rules. You can’t break rules if you don’t know their importance. If you know the rules and break them however you can’t be surprised when it’s viewed as a thread.

Categories
Finance

Day 1180 and Renting Picks and Shovels by The Hour

The board needs to see that we are doing “something” and so management consultants have done a lot of paddling aggressively. Everyone is making money of artificial intelligence right? Well, wrong.

My belief is that this is a result of not having adequate developer tools at the enterprise level so no processes are repeatable or simple yet. Not for lack of trying in a frenzy of weird media panics around whether chat bots are gods or just malign spirits. Which like lol.

This isn’t something that gets solved overnight. Value accrues in strange ways to very particular forms of automation. Whether that gets bought up in bidding wars over core technologies over time or in simple breakout solutions isn’t actually as predictable as you’d imagine it. It’s very much about people who build things that other people want in reasonably reliable ways.

But right now a lot of software is being built in silly and not terribly repeatable ways. It reminds me a little bit of having been at a specialty retailer trying to figure out ecommerce and making a bunch of mistakes. Eventually the market solves it and then it demands a return on investment.

Categories
Finance Media

Day 1157 and Maybe Things Are Good

I remember learning about economic malaise, inflation and oil wars in the seventies at school.

The grand narrative I was raised on was that deregulation led to the go-go eighties as Reagan leaned into free markets as the mood of America changed.

I’ve read a lot of takes in the financial news and on Twitter that suggest we are in a similar period. I tend to land more towards Kyla Scanlan’s position that the Vibecession may be over. And yet we cannot agree on if things are getting any better. We are confused.

So we have this number that no one knows where it’s coming from, yet we are using it to make informed decisions on headline text which informs what is happening in the economy – but also informs how people should feel about what is happening in the economy. No wonder the sentiment is off! No wonder people are confused! It’s hard to understand what’s happening, and that makes all of this so much harder

Kyla Scanlon “Why We Don’t Trust Each Other Anymore” on Epsilon Theory.

I’ve got lots of reason to be optimistic. I see the shock and confusion and culture wars and I still see people who are optimistic.

I’ve taken to joking around about decisions by saying “fuck it, e/acc!” I am extremely online and it’s a contagious cultural meme to root for the future. And so maybe things are getting better.

There is a same shit different day quality to the long now. But I see more and more people committing to build things. Gold rushes are a patten humanity seems to follow at every changing of the generations. Maybe we’ve got reason to think we can come out of this moment better. Or at least work to make it so.

Categories
Community Finance Travel

Day 1155 and On The Ground

It’s come as a bit of surprise to me that I’ve done so much on the ground work in the last two years. Not so long ago I was basically bed ridden and stuck inside for the extended run of the Pandemic. Now I spend half my time on the road again.

Once I was settled comfortably on our homestead in Montana and had an acceptable level of resiliency planning done, I hit the road to pursue my particular brand of weirdo off the beaten path ground work investing.

I cultivate movements, memes, degenerates, eccentrics and engineers. I’ve made many trips to far flung corners of the European continent including extended stays in the Baltics and the Balkans.

You have to experience problems first hand if you are serious about investing in the people whose ideas can have a large enough impact at country, continental or global scale. It’s easy to be bamboozled at the edges so it’s best to be clear eyed about human nature and how technology can improve or harm a given incentive set.

It’s my hope that I’ll put in some face time in other interesting geographically interesting regional hubs. I’ve got Argentina on my agenda but I’ll likely make trips to the Middle East and Singapore as well. If you are in an interesting hub with a desire to pursue ambitious ideas let me know. Maybe I’ll swing by and we can meet.

The emerging network states of culture, affinity and intellect are far flung. The type of free market capitalism preferring decentralized resiliency minded crypto- libertarians are welcomed in as many corners as we are shunned. Either way you will find me on the ground looking for ways to make our incentives improve upon our human natures

Categories
Finance Startups

Day 1147 and Balkan Crypto

I’m in the Balkans for a few weeks doing some scouting and visiting with friends and colleagues. The western Balkans including Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro are known for their occasionally colorful participation in cryptocurrencies.

The region has experienced currency volatility, struggles with central banking and even in Albania a civil war stemming from a financial crisis over government Ponzi schemes.

These negative experience with currency instability, government corruption and sociopolitical unrest has led to a desire to experiment with transparency and decentralization amongst the region’s youth.

The ecosystem is host to serious projects has a talented base of engineers. Ripple is experimenting with a national stable coin in Montenegro. Zuzalu, the two-month invite-only gathering that Ethereum blockchain co-founder Vitalik Buterin led in Montenegro has been a regional hub. And it has inspired a new grants program Zu- villages that strikes me as a cross between network state and a DAO with Gitcoin.

In an editorial in Bitcoin Magazine the founder of the Belgrade Bitcoin Hub summed up the “why”

As a result of years of unfulfilled promises from regional politicians, people of the Balkans are hard to convince about the long-term benefits that can be realized by adopting Bitcoin in one’s life. A low time preference way of life to most people in this region is associated with disappointment and the lowered standards of living that have happened many times before.

Plumski founder of the Belgrade Bitcoin Hub.

Categories
Community Finance Startups

Day 1070 and Allocating Personal Capital

As part the part of Twitter called TPOT comes into its own power the topic of resource allocation and how to route projects to sources of capital game up with Brooke Bowman of VibeCamp. It is a key question for Network State like entities that will need to navigate social ties.

I want to share how I do it as I’ve rooted some amount of capital across very different communities. I do it with some sets of intuitions I’ve gained from existing in a very powerful network of interests that are “The Silicon Diaspora” which is a syncretic coalition.

Much of it comes down to very specific context of what others are looking for in terms of outcomes. Investors with a specific thesis are much easier to work with for this reason. I try to express mine clearly at chaotic.capital and express myself actively through revealed preferences. I assume nothing is personal & everyone is working with some amount of emotional reactivity as it’s a human business.

A lot of it comes down to knowing who is a node in your network that can redirect it to someone who believes their resources can see a good return on their goals that are varying levels of abstract and personal. Skills and passions vary and this is good. It’s a mix of social capital, actual capital, and attention and it’s a giant game of inference

Some folks very good nodes and quite open to a range of different types of projects. Sometimes it’s just as simple as asking if they know someone who knows someone. I see a lot that isn’t in my own thesis but it’s in my own interest to pass it to others for whom it might be. The ecosystem approach has maximum strength when it’s played as a multi-agent pro-social game.

Also you almost never know someone’s full history so taking any reaction super personally is something I find to be too much for my own emotions. And I know a lot of history so if I can’t do it I try to make the presumption others can’t either. Be kind but clear.

That helps avoid a lot of accidental feuds that otherwise can ignite if you try to be delicate. I find transparent assessments of my own incentives goes a long way if I express it as part of my own reason for aligning. This is how I’ve worked with communities as diverse as back to the land doomers and crypto futurists to effective acceleration.

This is a fancy way of saying I don’t think “gossip” aka information sharing is actually bad but part of the empathy process of understanding what people want to work on and pay attention to in how they marshal their capital. You intake the values of your coalition and find shared ground. You keep their confidences by expressing collective goals. I try not to overweight my goals in that process. You have to do what’s right knowing outcomes are uncertain.

Showing you understand their context, their fears and their reputations concerns helps you. An act we denigrate in popular culture actually helps you to deepen the relationships as each signifier breaks down space between two people and builds trust. So don’t knock gossip. It has evolutionary, societal and individual benefit. Just remember the ultimate outcome is about bringing people closer.

Day 146 Gossip

I believe we are in an era where individuals can exercise significantly more agency because of the high leverage nature of the tools available to us. We owe much of this to information access and that is a wide coalition of people who are exercising basic freedoms to self determine because of this march of technology.

It’s my belief that freedom to compute is freedom of speech and these digital communities represent what I hope is more effective self governance through decentralization. We must build up the social trust amongst each other by showing we value each other’s interests. I believe this to be the right thing to do for each other. It’s the human thing too.

Categories
Aesthetics Finance

Day 1040 and Easier To Be First

I was telling a friend of mine, only somewhat hyperbolically, that I’d watched “Margin Call” forty times just this year. The actual number is probably half a dozen (my blog’s search function tells me I’ve mentioned it fifteen times) but it’s still a lot for what was a niche drama about the financial crisis.

There is a speech given by Jeremy Irons that sums up perfectly why finance and fashion are fundamentally in the same business.

What have I told you since the first day you stepped into my office? There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first; be smarter; or cheat. Now, I don’t cheat. And although I like to think we have some pretty smart people in this building, it sure is a hell of a lot easier to just be first.

Being first is my game. I’ve taken it from a career in luxury fashion to a career to a career in venture capital. It’s the same fucking job.

It means I often look stupid as I see emerging trends long before the rest of the market gets there. There is a basic math to this which involves status signaling. If you are the type who must do the math to understand how status works as it’s not intuitive to you I recommend this piece.

Just remember that being first is the key to both. And your ability to be first is almost entirely a function of cool. And being cool means not giving a fuck. And if you don’t give a fuck its generally for one of two reasons. Its either because you have the status to do and can get away with it or or you genuinely don’t care.

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.

Janis Joplin

Categories
Biohacking Finance

Day 1009 and Non-Reactivity

I’ve been working on my Q3 investor update all day. I am a little behind my own artificial deadline for it as I believe it’s good to get it out in the first week of the new quarter. I am chasing down a bigger theme in my market insights section that is being refined as I rework my own narrative understanding in real time.

I feel that there is a collective disagreement on consensus reality. We’ve got multiple worldviews that are being hotly contested. Epistemic status humble as the kids say. And so I am doing what I can to get outside the presumed worldview of my own geography and nation and see if a more global perspective is helpful.

But being able to see any of these different vantage points and narratives will require me to be accepting of other competing or adjacent narratives. The presumption is that I can control my own reactions. My body has to be open. So I am here with my Apollo Neuro band sending sound waves to my body while I listen to Endel’s chill program on my noise canceling headphones. I plan to do a Non-Sleep Deep Rest mediation after I’m finished.

I can only give my best performance when I’m sure my body is in a non-reactive place. Parasympathetic is sometimes called “rest and digest” versus its more active sympathetic nervous system partner “fight or flight.” We must assess our world and the many competing perceptions from a place of non-reactivity. It is the only way through the fog of the moment. Never let the stress of the moment distract you.

Categories
Finance Internet Culture

Day 1001 and Circumstances Change, People Do Not

“The last sustainable edge in markets is arbitraging human nature.”

I had the good fortune to spend an hour and a half with an iconic Wall Street investor last week. I was invited to be a guest on Jim O’Shaughessy’s podcast Infinite Loops. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world.

I’m blessed to have Jim as one of my “Twitter mutuals” where I’ve come to appreciate his endless curiosity, deep empathy and kind friendship for the players of the “infinite game” of life. Plus he’s got the strongest gif game in the business. You should follow him if you don’t already.

I’ve been privileged to work with Jim and the OSV team as one of my LPs in chaotic.capital. Being entrusted with capital from some of finest minds in investing has been as intimidating as it is inspiring.

My fund is an early stage pre-seed venture fund that backs weirdos. Our thesis is simple. The world is increasingly complex, chaotic if you will, and only the most agile will win. We look for those that have the agency to adapt to the one true constant; change. Circumstances changed by the moment but humans remain reassuringly the same.

Obviously it’s hard to imagine a better LP than OSV for chaotic.capital. We are deeply aligned in our thinking on agency, agility, and adaptability. As much as I’d love to prattle on here, I’d recommend you check out the very wide ranging conversations between Jim and I. We cover a lot of ground practically and philosophically. I hope you enjoy it.