Why Technology Still Matters with Marc Andreessen

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hello everyone the a6z podcast is back and this is your new host Seth Smith I'm so excited to explore the world of technology with you through the lens of the builders shaping it and if you've been listening to the Pod for a while I hope you'll stick with me as I take the reins from sonal who by the way is doing really wonderful work at our sister podcast web3 with a16c okay on to the content today we have a very special kickoff episode to start our launch Series where we wanted to explore the age-old question why is building the next generation of Technologies still so important and perhaps even more important who is going to build this

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next generation of technology and what needs to be done to enable those Founders and Builders and I'm a little biased but who better to Traverse this ground than a16c's co-founder and general partner Mark Andreessen someone who is not only Built but also invested in the future time and time again especially when it was not the obvious thing to do so today together with Mark we explore technology through the lens of History including the three stages of human psychology as we encounter these new technologies we also talk about how that process often ends in regulation and we include a couple examples of that which by the way if you've never heard

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of red flag laws you'll want to listen in we also talk about when to change your mind the Cambrian explosion of opportunity coming from distributed work the importance of founder-led companies and so much more and of course we'll end the episode by examining why there's still so much reason for optimism and hopefully this episode will also get you excited about what's to come with the a16c podcast as we do have a lot more coming that includes coverage of major trends like AI space carbon removal and you'll soon hear from Legends like Neil Stevenson ball of Jason New Boston and even Steve Wozniak who shared with us his latest Venture Privateer by the way

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that episode is already live in the feed if you want to give it a listen alright let's dive in the content here is for informational purposes only should not be taken as legal business tax or investment advice or be used to evaluate any investment or security and is not directed at any investors or potential investors in any a16z fund for more details BCA 16z.com disclosures [Music] so this is the first episode of our launch series and in the launch series we're going to cover several Technologies and we're going to cover them with their Founders and dive really deeply into how these Technologies May

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shape our Collective future but before we do that we're going to address an important question and it may sound simple but we need to ask why these Technologies even matter in the first place why is it so essential today that we continue to build and today we have Mark Andreessen talking to us about this very important topic and who better than someone who has built the future and invested in the future many times over especially when it wasn't the easy thing to do so Mark why don't we start there and why don't we start by attacking this question with the lens of History so how

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maybe do people view the importance of technology today and how has that changed maybe relative to how they viewed it in the past yeah so thanks so that's that's a great way to start and you know so many of the discussions about today's Technologies kind of take place in this you know kind of a historical frame where it's as if there had never been any new technologies in the past or that there were new technologies in the past but those were all the good ones and today we just have the bad ones or something like that and so the the the the key question to kind of started out asking on all these topics is basically

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um it's basically like why is there something and not just nothing um but by which I mean basically like what was life like before technology right like what was life like in like its natural state before we had all these wonderful Technologies before we had steam power before we had you know tractors before we had telephones and so forth and and you know there's you know a lot of historians have talked about this but you know the answer is life was what was known at the time at you know Thomas Hobbs famously said it was nasty British and short right and so you'll you'll read these fantasies from time to time about how people kind of in you

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know older periods uh you know more historical periods like somehow they were living in the state of aggressive nature and kind of everything was wonderful and they were just kind of hanging out and having a good time and basically like that those are all just fantasies um you know in reality but basically everybody was miserable all the time everybody was poor everybody was assistance farming just to make enough you know be able to harvest enough food to be able to eat that day or to be able to hunt enough meat to be able to eat that day and for the most part people died young they died sick you know they

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never they never got anywhere they never did anything you know basically like all of recorded civilization is basically only over the course of the last four thousand years you know for the for the many millions of years of humanity before that like there's basically nothing and you know basically because like people had no time to do anything other than just try to grow enough food to eat so so basically it's like okay so basically it's like what happened to cause life no longer being Aster British and short you know what what happened to cause basically the reality of human existence to go from what it used to be to what it

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is today and you know it's not perfect today but it's a lot better than it was and of course the answer is technology and in fact technology is the only answer to that question right there there there's no other answer right it's not like people got smarter it's not like people got you know I don't know human human you know DNA is the same human beings haven't changed uh it's basically only through technology and things have gotten better and and you know the way to kind of think about that is what is technology technology is tools right technology basically is applied human Ingenuity uh in building tools and then and then those tools

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basically give human beings leverage up on the world um you know that that leverage shows up in many forms um you know it it shows up in forms you know for sure in some cases that are that are bad it also shows up of course in in um in the form of many cases that are that are also are very good so I agree with you that progress continues and if you look at all the important markers we are doing better and that has been true for a very long time why is it then that people seem to have this view of where we are today in history in terms of things being so bad

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yeah so you know with that obviously that's a complicated question um the technology part of it I think is very clear though um which is you know and again you kind of think about this historically so so let's let's start with the story of like one of the very original technologies that basically a human beings kind of discovered and mastered which was fire quite quite literally fire um you know obviously today you take fire for granted you just assume it's something that's always been with us but like fire is a tool like fire as a technology was something that at some point you know kind of early human being

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said to figure out how to master and how to take control of um and just to give you a sense of like what a big deal it was to actually Master the technology of fire when that happened you know what one of the sort of you know kind of core fundamental kind of myths of of of human existences is the myth of Prometheus the god Prometheus um and the god Prometheus famously is the you know the way the myth goes you know Prometheus delivered fire to humanity basically delivered fire as a tool uh uh to humanity and and and for me this was not it's not was not beloved as a consequence of of delivering fire

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to people but Prometheus was was condemned specifically he was in the myth he was chained to a rock um uh and uh for and for all eternity um and uh according to math every day a bird comes along and picks out his liver um very painfully and then he according to Matthew were generous every night and then the next day the bird tortures them again and you know this has been happening forever so so like the fact that there's that myth with that outcome assigned to the introduction of fire as a technology to human existence right and and of course the myth is not what assumes that it's not literally true but it's symbolic right which is basically a

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symbolic of the fact that Humanity basically experienced the rise of fire and technology and said like wow this was a big deal and maybe not entirely positive and then and then of course that makes sense because if you think about how fire was used as a technology obviously fire was used for good right which is like fire made it possible to cook meat right fire made it possible to um you know to basically like you know defend the campsite against like you know wolves in the middle of the night it made it possible to keep people warm you can keep your baby from freezing to death like you know fires this like Miracle technology

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of course fire also got used in Warfare right um and you know even up to the modern day like you know what's the you know kind of state-of-the-art weapon of our times it's the nuclear bomb of course what what does that bring it brings fire um and so you know look it is a double-edged sword like would we want to live in the modern world without fire um because it has you know both the downsides as well the upsides we wouldn't but like both of those are present and basically my interpretation and if you kind of go through the history of new technologies basically for every important new technology

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there's always this argument basically there's always this argument of like okay in theory there are all these things we can do with a good technology that are very positive in fact probably there are things the new technology will make possible that we can't even think of today right and that's been a very common pattern by the way which is people don't people actually have a very hard time anticipating the upside for new technologies uh but the same argument basically always applies is with fire which is basically like well what about the potential downsides and then you know say human beings are kind of psychologically wired to the downside

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like we're you know we're we're wired to basically detect and try to try to evade threats um right and so there's basically always the simplest to say okay that you know this is the technology that's going to ruin everything um and if you go through basically the history of every new technology like that you know that argument applied repeatedly give you a couple examples so one is uh outdoor lighting uh so electric lighting right electric lighting actually was first implemented Outdoors because they didn't know how to do it indoors because it kept burning kept burning places down um it took a

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while to get it to get it to be safe but uh the first electric lighting was rolled out in you know big cities in Paris and London you know something I forget what it was like something like 200 years ago now um and you know big deal like outdoor lighting all of a sudden the city is walkable and livable and safer right after dark like you know this this this is a pretty big deal and the Contemporary accounts are basically I mean one was the sense of wonderment that this was now you know basically the the life could now be basically lit 24 hours but then there were also all of these you know kind of you know stories

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of like this is going to like completely destroy civilization this is against the natural order of things you know this is going to completely you know people aren't going to be able to sleep anymore you know all kinds of things all kinds of illicit you know social activities are going to happen at night right in the past everybody just had to go to bed at night now they're going to be out on the streets at three in the morning doing all kinds of bad things by the way there are you know in every major city there are criminals out on the street at three in the morning doing bad things like you know it's not like the downside was was was completely wrong it's just

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that obviously the the trade-off was worth it um you know my favorite story on this is the invention of the bicycle um and this one is really is really great because you know there's this there's this Netflix documentary called the social dilemma that's kind of you know condemns you know kind of social media is this kind of unique threat to civilization and one of the things that one of the guys in that movie says is he's like you know social media is the first you know technology like this that's had these negative consequences it's like nobody nobody ever complained about the invention of the bicycle and

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it actually turns out that's not true he just he just didn't do enough reading like it turns out people actually complained a lot about the invention of the bicycle um and and this story I think it is sort of very symbolic so the so the bicycle is a big deal so the bicycle rolled out as a consumer product about 150 years ago uh you know they kind of got it working and manufactured to the point where it got cheap enough for where kind of normal people could buy it and so the the bicycle starts to roll out kind of across the American Countryside and basically there's this immediate moral Panic about to bicycle and this is

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chronicled in the in the media at the time if you read the Twitter account pessimists spark um it's uh which maybe we can link to he he goes back and reconstructs kind of the the moral Panic around the bicycle and basically the argument against the bicycle at the time was the bicycle is the first transportation technology that young unmarried women in towns and Villages across the U.S could actually afford to be able to buy and use right because cars didn't exist yet like you know whatever horses and wagons are too expensive they couldn't get access to them whatever uh you know walking took too long

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um all of a sudden but all of a sudden like I'm young I'm married to have the bicycle which means young unmarried women can go from like one town to the next town which means all of a sudden young unmarried women can meet you know boys and men not just in the current time but in the other Town um and so obviously to the kind of established social order of the time like this which was was a profound threat right to kind of how things worked the Assumption was you're a young a married woman in town you marry one of the men right in that town all of a sudden your your world opens up and so

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the media at the time uh at that time created completely like had a whole cloth they created a new medical condition called bicycle face um and the idea bicycle face was your young woman you're on the bicycle you're peddling to get to the next town and you know pedaling takes exertion and so you're going to have like your face is going to contort you know because of the exertion and you're going to be like you know pedaling along like this and bicycle face was the idea that your face was going to freeze into that contorted position um and then you know then then you would never be able to get married right

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um now fortunately it turned out bicycle face was not actually a real thing it turned out civilization survived the introduction of the bicycle uh but basically like there's just this there's this constant blowback right and then basically what you find and we'll we'll probably talk about this in some ways but basically what you find is the blowback is nominally a response to the dangers of the technology with the blowback actually is in in almost every case that the blowback actually is it's basically a a fear a statement an assertion a realization um that the introduction of the new technology is going to change the

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society right and and then in particular status and power within the society right who's in charge who's in power who makes decisions who has status who gets money right all of a sudden the orderings of society is up for grabs and that and that's why you get this just like you know spectacular freak out when these things show up yeah I'm glad you brought up pessimist archive because if people are curious we'll bring it up on the screen but basically anything that you you can think of as a prior technology or maybe even things that you take for granted as not Technologies just things embedded in our lives had this blowback you mentioned the bicycle

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but it's also the radio trains teddy bears jazz music I don't know if people would view teddy bears as technology but the point is anything that becomes embedded in society that as you're alluding to can impact Society at scale people start to get afraid of because they start going through all these scenarios and thinking oh who is this going to impact is this going to impact my job is this going to impact the types of people I can interact with it's going to impact the power I have in society so Mark why don't we dive into that how do you see technology and its implementation or really as it's starting to be implemented within

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Society how do people react and what what specifically about the power within Society is being upended yeah so there's this incredible book it's it's very short very good it's actually written 50 years ago by a professor at MIT at the time um and um it's the name Elton Morrison and and what's great about this book is it was written before the internet even before personal computers and so it's kind of it's got this kind of Timeless you know kind of quality to it and it's it's the title of the book is called men machines in modern times it's this topic it's basically okay what what exactly is the process by which a new technology

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enters society and then how does society react basically how does how does this sort of the powers that be or the status quo of society react um and Morrison tells this amazing story he kind of hangs the whole thing on this sort of very amazing story from about 100 120 years ago now maybe 130 years ago um around this guy named Sims and this guy named Sims at the time um worked in the area of Naval Warfare right so you know big big big you know battleships seafaring battleships uh you know firing on each other you know firing on on um you know on each other firing on on land targets and so forth

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and of course you know the the world 120 hundred years 130 years ago you know we didn't really have have airplanes you know sort of military airplanes he added so you know sea Warfare Naval Warfare was Warfare like it was how invasions happened and it was you know and and how countries got defended so this was you know kind of the core kind of aspect of military technology at the time um and so since basically worked on basically guns like big big guns on on big military ships um and then in particular how do you aim big guns on big military ships um and the way The Story Goes is basically before Sims guns were fixed in

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position on a ship right so you'd have a big ship you have you know you've all seen this in movies you'd have the gun sticking out the side of the ship and then basically what would happen is and the gun is in like a fixed position right because it's you know lash of the deck so it doesn't roll around um and so what happens is you know the sea is moving right and so the the ship is kind of going back and forth like this in the water which means the gun is going back and forth like this which means that basically enable battles up until Sims you know thus the accuracy rate of of guns being fired off these ships was like at best 10

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um and you know maybe you know quite often below that which is you know they would just miss most of the time and why did they miss most of the time because the Gunner would be like you know the Gunnery officer would get a get a fix on on the position and he would go to order to fire but by that point right the ocean had moved the ship had moved and then he no longer had a lock and then the thing would fire on the Cannonball would miss the other ship um and so you know a lot of Naval battles up until that point where these ships kind of sitting side by side firing at each other and missing all the time

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right and so sim said well you know gee like there has to be a better way to do this and basically what he designed was a mechanical mechanism that automatically basically worked in opposition right counterbalance uh to the role of the ship and so if if the if the ship is you know if the ship basically is going down right the the mechanism for the gun would automatically correct and so the Gunnery officer could basically get a fix and then as long as the ship stayed in the same position as it rolled around you know the the the the the the the lock you know the sort of lock on the target would stay intact then all of a sudden

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the accuracy rate you know shoots up for like 90 right and so and so what's so great about this this example is it's like the most obvious thing in the world which is it's like obviously every country in the world would instantly adopt this every military would adopt this every ship would instantly be retrofitted to do this right this is like the most obvious slam dunk thing you could do it's a huge advance in Warfare you couldn't imagine living without it like that's what you would assume and of course that's not what happened at all um what happened basically was Sims took it took seems like a full 25 years to

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basically convince the American and British navies to adopt this technology it was was like a full generational shift and the book goes through kind of in detail kind of you know basically what happened he the stereo Sims ultimately had to actually appeal directly to president Teddy Roosevelt at the time that like the entire military command structure of that era basically just told him to basically half off um you know we don't want your newfangled thing you know we're going to keep doing things the old way and he ultimately appealed to Teddy Roosevelt and Roosevelt actually ordered the Navy to look at it and then they you know

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they later ended up adopting it um and so Morrison basically says well okay what you know like it's like the ultimate example like if they wouldn't adopt even that technology like okay this this must be like some very Primal kind of counter Force that's happening and and this was you know and his thesis was it basically uh is the following which is every new technology is a reordering of of the power and the status in society and then specifically in the form of this gun right it was basically like the entire training basically methods all of the officer promotion methods like the entire social hierarchy of Mabel vessels and how

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Gunnery officers were trained and how guns were you know built and manufactured and crewed and managed and how military Doctrine worked right and all the different things about how you make decisions you know about this like it was all based on the old model and and and and basically like that skill set became obsolete when this gun came out and so those people became obsolete or at least they worried they'd become obsolete this new breed of kind of you know more advanced Innovative engineering you know kind of mentality came in and and and and was a profound threat and by the way that's what happened which is you had like a general

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you ultimately had a generational turnover of of of of all of the staff and officers involved in the naval Gunnery um and so Morrison basically derives he goes through this example then he derives basically this three-part process that he says applies to any new technology basically as it is as it is greeted and fought by the status quo by the powers that be and he says basically it's a three-step process so step one is just to completely ignore it like so just pretend it doesn't exist refuse to acknowledge it don't talk about it don't even engage in conversations like we're just not going to do this

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um at some point though it just you know at some point you know these things become too obvious and they have to engage he said step two is rational counter argument right so and rational counter argument is you know this can't possibly work because you know it's going to be too expensive it's not going to be fast enough it's not going to scale people don't know how to use it right all the different kind of rational arguments that you can come up with to to post something and then ultimately you know when those don't work anymore because people you know people are still watching this and being like okay it still seems like a good idea then he

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says stage three says stage three is when the name calling begins right and so stage three is basically just like a full out power status political fight uh where all of a sudden basically it's like okay these are you know these people who are bringing this to technology they're bad people they have bad morals they have bad intent they're going to ruin everything uh right and if you think about it it's so funny because it's like basically the internet followed this exact trajectory like you know crypto cryptocurrency blockchain web 3 is following this exact same trajectory social networking followed this exact same trajectory like I've now

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seen this pattern you know out of 50 times in the you know in in the last 30 years and it keeps playing out the same way nobody learns anything right and it is this is literally what happens with every new technology and I I become convinced that's basically how how this unfolds yeah I think something that reminded me of is something biology said recently which she was reflecting on people's response to Social and how its impacted Society over time and he he noted that maybe 10 or 20 years ago social was seen as like these silly apps being created and like who wants to focus on this and you know why are we directing smart attention into these

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types of fields and then now he's saying or noting that people are framing it as a threat to democracy so it's kind of interesting that people go from one angle or one perception and then because technology in particular tends to be this Force that's very very hard to stop it then turns into something much different and the same people who framed it as a silly app are now framing it as a threat to democracy and to your point this isn't new right we had the same kind of Dynamics happening with the bicycle or actually I think it would actually be fun for us to go into these red flag laws that you told me about quickly and we'll return to to the

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framing that that you brought up but could you speak a little bit more to the red flag laws that were implemented when cars were coming to be yeah and I'd like to I'd like to come back to biology's thing on social by the way because I'll I'll interpret it a little bit differently I'll put it into this the the The Sims framework but um but yeah so cars so this is another great one so like cars it's like okay like we all live with cars we all can't live without cars like you know there's still huge fights about how you know cars should be used in our society but like there's cars everywhere like our society doesn't function about cars and we just kind of

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take them totally for granted uh by the way we take them so for granted that we just like repeatedly bail out the big car companies right like at this point like the taxpayers have kept them in business for a long time um and so you know the car and so and then you're you're just like you know it's just like okay the car must have been this obvious thing like of course you want the car you know who you know who could who could have fought the car at least for any kind of you know kind of valid reason and so again to your point like it turns out actually the cars where we were actually a profound threat to the sort of social order of

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that time uh of the ERA this is like going back 120 years um and uh and it was basically this exact same kind of process played out with the car um and so the the the the thing you mentioned basically the thing that happened at the peak of kind of the anti-car history at the time uh the moral Panic around cars was basically it's basically what happened was cars were a threat to basically they were the threat to like the ordering of like everything from how cities were laid out they were you know a threat to you know they were going to upend you know the ability to have like modern Transportation modern shipping you know

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they were gonna upend everything from the world of local Merchants uh they were gonna upand you know there was an entire industry of blacksmiths you know that you know the horse was like Central to a lot of economies a lot of people made made their living off of you know dealing with you know dealing with horses um you know there were people who were like trained you know Carriage drivers who all of a sudden were out of jobs and so there there was this like all of a sudden this huge backlash and so what happened was uh a bunch of sort of State Municipal level uh areas uh you know both in the US like it you know in and

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around Pennsylvania at the time and then also in the UK um uh implemented their their legislators implemented at the time what became known as the red flag laws um so the red flag law looks works as follows um which is okay Mr car owner you've got your fancy new car congratulations um you know you're you're very proud of yourself you're probably you know you know you're probably a pretty uh you know well-off person uh in the community people probably generally are probably jealously to start with you've got this fancy new automobile um and and by the way in those days like

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cars broke down all the time and so you know when you would take your car out for a ride you'd have like you'd be driving the car um and then you'd you'd often like bring a mechanic with you um right to basically fix the car when it broke they were still getting everything to work um and so you and your mechanic or whatever your family you'd be out you know motoring along in your car on whatever dirt road you know dirt road at the time um and the law was that you had to employ another guy you had to employ a guy um to walk you know 50 feet in front of the car uh carrying big red flags

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right okay so picture this you're driving along you're out for a nice Sunday Drive you've got your kids whatever you got your mechanic you're you're going along it you know cars in those days didn't go very fast but they did go faster than you could walk and so you're driving along at whatever 10 20 miles an hour but according to the lot you have to have a guy in front of you on foot like out in advance and he's got these like big red flags and you have to follow this guy because he has to stay in front of you and so you can only motor along at whatever the three four miles an hour you know that this guy can walk and this

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guy's like waving the red flags why is this guy waving the red flags to warn everybody that a car is coming right um why why was the explanation that he needs to warn you know people that a car is coming well because the car might scare the horses right so like you know if the car comes along it's making noise it scares the horses you know the horses you know whatever you know that most of us on the road at that time you know they freak out or you know but bystanders freak out people get hurt like this would be really bad um and so so literally it's like okay that was how the car got rolled out the the most advanced form of this law that

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I've been able to find um went a step further uh it said basically if you're driving along and you actually see a horse coming at you you see somebody on a horse coming out the other direction you have to pull over to the side of the road you have to disassemble the car you have to take it apart right you and your mechanic would take the car apart and you have to hide the parts of the car so that the horse can't see them right because the horse might get scared right get scared by the appearance of the car and then when the horse goes by you can then reassemble your car right

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and keep going right and of course you look back today you're just like okay this is like incredibly comical like how could they ever do this and then of course you exactly your point like social networking you think of exactly the technology so then you're like oh yeah you know they're putting in place laws that you know 100 years from now you know the laws that are being put in place now on a lot of modern technology topics are going to look just as silliest thread flag laws but since nobody ever learns anything you know history well yesterday we'll repeat Let me just hit real quick the biology point on social networking so this is a

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really interesting one because he described the overall Arc or you describe him as saying the overall Arc was from this harmless you know cat you know who cares what your cat had for breakfast kind of these are silly trivial things too like this you know this is like the fundamental threat to democracy it was actually a three-step process right it was it was step one was ignore right step two in the case of social networking actually we went through the whole argument but there was this other stuff maybe call it step two and a half which basically is like this is the best thing ever for democracy right and you

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may remember around about 10 years ago around 2012 basically two things happened one was Obama got reelected and the Press went like and this was like at the time this was like referred to as like the first Facebook election it was when Facebook kind of had gone really mainstream um and so like there were amazing covers newspaper stories talking about literally the story was Facebook saves democracy right and it was literally Facebook saves democracy Big Data saves democracy all of a sudden like you know politicians thinking about their messages their voters you know the correct Canada doesn't get elected you

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know this is like the most wonderful thing for democracy ever by the way that was also during the Arab Spring right and social networking of course got a lot of credit for the the revolution you know the the at the time the Democratic revolutions that the uh you know of the of the Arab Spring and so there was this like overwhelming sensation like when social networking Executives you know in 10 years ago would go to Washington or Davos or Aspen or any of these places with fancy people you know with important titles like they just hit lavish with praise about how wonderful this new technology is for democracy

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debolges between 10 years later in the story has done a complete 180 right now it's the absolute worst fundamental possible threat you could have to democracy because of course it turns out not just one side can win elections it turns out the other side can too um and it turns out the other side also uses you know uses uses social networking and runs ads on social networking and and to your point basically what's happened is if you track the people involved the exact same people have held every single position right so the exact same experts perfect you know professors you know pundits commentators analysts Think Tank People

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magazine Publishers political activists they exact same people have held every single one of these viewpoints all the way through this with no attempt at any point to reconcile their private their previous points of view and so you know LT Morrison I think is no longer with us but he is smiling down from heaven saying yep that's exactly what I predicted would happen yeah I mean it is fascinating to look at history because you can see these things repeating and I think this three-step process is something that people should you know apply to Technologies of today and ask like where is that technology or the way that people are are reacting to

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this technology where are we in that cycle and then I think another fascinating thing for people to spend time with is this idea of the way that we view red flag laws today what will we view or what will people view in 100 years the same way right like what are the laws that we're applying to social or AI or robotics or space that regulation has its importance but what laws are we influencing today that will seem just as outlandish as someone literally walking in front of a car to make sure that we don't scare horses so I would encourage people to think about that but Mark I want to ask you because you have had a track record of being

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early in right and that's a combination that not many people can say about themselves and I think it's important again taking this framing of people throughout history being scared always looking at things from this pessimistic lens how have you been able to kind of see through that noise like what are you paying attention to when you are introduced to new technology it's really really easy to say well these are all the ways that this technology can go wrong it's not that easy to say oh I see this light of how this could go right so how have you been able to mold that more optimistic lens on technology and how

30:03-30:51

have you also maintained that over time because I think that's an equally hard problem to solve yeah yeah so um start by saying like I have the same instincts as everybody else right so when I when I read The Sims book I was like yep that's also describing me um so I have the same you know same Instinct it's like somebody brings you know something forward and by the way like right new technologies in the early stages like they're really Half Baked you know there's sort of this concept that the same telep talks about about tinkering you know it's usually somebody in a garage or a metaphorical garage a

30:51-30:92

dorm room or something or a computer lab somewhere who's basically working on something it doesn't quite work you know you you have to like really squint and see why this would ever be something that a normal person could could ever even understand much less use much less get value out of um and so you know especially if you're early you know if you're doing like early stage investing like we are really kind of early adopting a new technologies like you do see these things when they're early and they're just not they're just not ready yet and so you have to you basically the natural impulse is very clear which is the the

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the step one of the Sim cycle which is basically just ignore so I had the same instincts as everybody else I think basically what happened to me um is basically this kind of this this whole cycle kind of got beaten into me um which is basically like a very large number of times over the last you know 30 years now when I have had that reaction and that it turns out that whatever the new technology was turns out to be a really big deal um you know it's like if you go through that Loop enough times like at some point I don't know it's like the tenth time or the 15th time or something like at some point you're just like okay like

31:46-32:00

I need to stop you know at some point you realize that basically the cycle is a form of self-harm like if you want to be in the Leading Edge of new technology you basically have to break out of this cycle you have to basically stop holding yourself back now there's a couple of nuances to that right so one is you do have to squint like you do have to look at a new unformed thing right then that and this goes to the step two of the Sim Sim cycle but basically like rationally like has all these problems right and you know and again these problems usually in our era these problems are like it's too slow it doesn't scale it's too expensive you know whatever is too

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confusing um you know it doesn't whatever work with existing systems like whatever it is um uh you know no you know it's or it's like a network effect thing but nobody's using it yet so it's got the cold start problem and so you've got this like list of reasons why these new things can't work and you basically have to be willing to squint and kind of look through that and say okay you know basically like you know like what if those things all get fixed right and basically right the way that the tech industry works is is very helpful in this if you spend right a lot of time

32:45-32:94

with Engineers what you notice basically is that list of kind of rational reasons why something can't work that list is also the same list of all of the technology and business opportunities with that technology right so I always call that it's the punch list of all the things for Founders to do um so how did you get an example crypto web 3 has been going through this for the last 10 years right which is you know crypto web 3 Bitcoin was was greeted early on ethereum was created early on as like this can't possibly work all these different reasons and basically you know incredible engineers and entrepreneurs in the crypto web 3

32:94-33:40

space now are basically fixing all of those things by the way today is actually a great day to bring that up right because today's the day the the sort of ethereum merged what they call the merges took place and so ethereum actually just today switched from the old method of proof of work to the new method of proof of stake right one of the old arguments against crypto right including ethereum was basically the proof of Work Burns all this energy like unnecessarily um proof of stake doesn't have that problem and so like quite literally the ethereum developer Community has basically taken one of those rational

33:40-33:95

objections like completely off the table and that's just like a great example of how these things actually you know actually actually do come to work but here's the other thing and this is also an important one like you're not always right like this way just because every successful new technology is greeted initially as a joke right does not mean that every new technology that's created as a joke is going to be successful right yeah and so you're not always right like sometimes you bet on an early yeah we do this all the time right in Venture Capital you bet on an early stage technology and it actually doesn't work

33:95-34:39

it actually it actually doesn't happen it doesn't take it doesn't become real right I'm not even talking about like I'm even talking about fraud I'm just talking about like we thought we had the idea we thought we had the you know the sort of you know we've had the right people working on it you know it just they just couldn't get the thing to work or they just couldn't get the thing to work at the price point that the market needed or by the way a lot of the times it's just it was 10 or 20 or 30 years too early right so virtual reality is a good example of this like I remember when there was the first VR wave I actually worked on a a bit when I was in

34:39-34:82

college in the in the late 80s like there was this big thing around virtual reality at the time and it just turned out that like you just could build VR headsets that worked properly 25 years ago 30 years ago that the technology wasn't ready yet and and of course you know today you can um and so a lot of times it's just being early but of course being being 30 years early it's the same as being wrong like it you know it doesn't help you anyone everything you're working on fails and then you have to you have to wait 30 years um and so you have to be willing you know if you're going to kind of think in

34:82-35:29

these terms you have to be willing to be open to the idea that you're only going to be right part of the time right and so and you have to be you have to be willing to take the chances anyway you bet you basically and this is kind of the way I think about it is the answer to every new the way I think about it like for our firm is for every new technology that we're exposed to right it's like okay does it pass like the basic sniff test of like okay if this worked would it be a big deal right and then it's like are there really smart people working on getting it to work and it basically if it passes those two sniff tests then we should probably

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be betting on it today because we will be wrong some of the time right but we will also be right early some of the time and then you know the way Venture Capital Works startups work is you at least in theory make more money off the winners than you than you lose on the things that don't work um so so you have to kind of be willing to kind of tilt into the risk by the way some people shouldn't do this right like you know there are people for whom you know ever being exposed to failure is just like too psychologically damaging to them or there's like large companies you know that maybe shouldn't necessarily completely re-invent their

35:80-36:33

entire business on the basis of a new unproven startup technology or something but like you know so so this is like a time and place thing for some people and not for other people but for those of us who want to be on the Leading Edge of new technologies we have to be very open-minded it's also a function of venture capital right the business or the industry that you're in naturally requires some level of risk so that you get the reward at the end of the table but on that note of timing I wanted to ask you about this because of course there are examples of specific companies like I'll just use a simple one segue Segway didn't work out a bunch of people

36:33-36:88

thought it would okay so that was truly something that you know we probably won't see in the future but when we're talking about larger Industries you use VR as an example are there really examples of technologies that a bunch of extremely talented people are working on again really foundational Technologies whether it's AI or crypto insert other foundational technology here that eventually doesn't work out and I'm asking you this because actually several of us on the editorial team were trying to think of an example and as someone who has been investing in technology for so long I was wondering if there has

36:88-37:41

been a case where so many people have been wrong well the big probably famous example was Alchemy um which is uh it's a l c h e m y so Alchemy was the technology to transmit lead into gold um and uh there was this concept that you'd be able to you'd be able to build some form of machine or discover some material that they actually and this is like you know 300 years ago now uh they actually have this tournament called the Philosopher's Stone and there was and basically all these smart people trying to figure out how to basically Adventure discover the Philosopher's Stone by the way talk about smart people Isaac Newton

37:41-37:87

spent 20 years trying to figure this out right so like maybe the smartest human being in history of the planet spent 20 years on this um so at the time you know they were serious um and and you know the and the dream of course was you know transmuting light into gold why do they want to do that of course lead is plentiful and and and and worthless and gold is you know scarce and Incredibly valuable and so you know they were searching for kind of the magic formula for how to basically essentially write create wealth you know basically uh you know kind of

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turbocharged economy you know kind of make Society better in one step and and you know and they never figured it out um by the way it's an interesting question If you happen to know any material scientists I don't think there are any active research programs today um on literally turning lead into gold but it would be an interesting question for any material scientist you know um whether oh there is actually an example of this um there are now synthetic diamonds right and so there's there's now technology for actually turning carbon into diamonds um and so you know what one could argue we did we didn't get gold out the other

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end but maybe maybe they got the Diamond Part to work um you know but but I but I cite that example because like you know that was like 300 years ago um and you know it wasn't you look back now and it's like that wasn't really science since we understand it even even at that point it was kind of there was like a lot of religion involved and they were still you know figuring some really basic thing I mean this is when Newton was still working on his like three laws of like how the universe works and so they were they were still trying to get the basics figured out you know look more recently

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um you know look there's a lot of things people talk about today that aren't working yet um and you know we could have a very long discussion about those um we obviously we can't see the future um you mentioned Segway as an example like I would guess that that comes back you know I would guess that there will come a time uh when people will realize that that actually was a really good idea um and that there will be you know well actually it's been a spend a second on a Segway right so the theory of Segway actually it was a two-part theory part part one was the the device itself and you know it it it it greeted it got

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the backlash right up front for a variety of reasons just like the car did and so it became kind of this running joke and if you've if you like the very funny TV show Arrested Development you know they they take the goofiest you know kind of biggest character in the show they put them on a Segway so you know it became kind of this running joke at the time but but the device itself was only one it was only part one of the theory part two of the theory was that cities would get redesigned around the device right uh and so the theory basically was like why are Cities laid out the way they are cities are laid out the way

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they are because of the car right um I'll give you an example like there are I think the number is there are something on the order of two billion parking spots uh in the United States right so there's like mass in the total amount of for parking lots it's something like there's the parking lots I think if you put them all together in the US and something like the car they would cover the entire state of Connecticut right it's just this like massive amount of space devoted to basically roads and then parking uh you know for cars and then plus there's all the issues there's all the safety issues the cars there's all the you know

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pollution issues of cars you know there's all the noise issues and so forth and so on so basically with with the Segway guys at the time thought was you know really what should happen is City should get redesigned City should get redesigned assuming that there are no cars but you you know you don't just want people walking around you want people to move faster than that you probably don't want to bring horses back um they have other issues um and so if you redesign if you design a city from scratch you could basically design it with sidewalks and paths and then you could have like lots of different Segway power word style right

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things including like you know single passenger ones but also maybe you know little you know cards before people six people you could have cargo devices and so forth and so you know it may be that just what hasn't happened yet is nobody's actually trying to build that city right maybe there just needs to be a new kind of city and by the way maybe at some point somebody will do that and all of a sudden it'll be like wow those Segway guys you know whatever 40 years ago we're actually under the right thing and so if a lot of smart people are working on something it's like virtually guaranteed that it's going to happen it's just a question of when and like I

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said the win might be 40 years out and so it might not like it might not be those people who get the benefit or who kind of harvest the gains from doing the new thing but like It ultimately will happen and if you go back across many something we can spend a lot of time on but if you go back across a lot of historical Technologies you know it took like 50 years to get the TV to work you know there were um Optical Telegraph systems 50 years before the telegraph systems that we became familiar with they had like Optical Telegraph systems working in Paris in like the 1820s 1830s the fact machine the fax machine was invented in the 1870s it wasn't

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commercialized until the 1970s took 100 years right um the computer you know the computer took like 50 years to get into consumer form and another 20 years after that to get into your pocket right and so the the history here is these things often just do take a while a long amount of time and my conclusion from that is basically it's all going to happen it's just this sort of massive question of timing yeah and on this idea of timing sometimes all it takes is a change in regulation a change in another technology becoming Mass Market that allows you know a follow-on effect

42:24-42:74

something that I've heard you talk about before are kind of like these unlocks that happen throughout history that again have follow-on effects and one of them that you've mentioned from way back is the ability for people to own land and how those incentives really spurred a wave of innovation because people had the incentive to build on top are there other unlocks that you're paying attention to today that you've noticed let's say in the last five or so years it could be covid that you know allowed a bunch of people to work online and that's you know the next Industrial Revolution are there things that you think are really really meaningful from

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the last again let's say a couple years yeah so the the big one the big one is sort of the post-covet world so so the big one is kind of you know the rise of kind of remote work virtual work and the reason I say that's the big one is because you know it seems you know it seems relatively straightforward well I you know like you and I are recording this we're in different locations we're you know we're coming in across webcams um so it seems like it's just like a new way to work but it's actually deeper than that uh for the following reason which is basically the economic role of cities for basically all of recorded human history again going back four

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thousand years the role of cities basically is what it's what economists they call it agglomeration so the the role of cities is to basically get a critical mass of people in a single place where those people are able to come together and basically do things that are greater than those people could do as individuals right um and and that ultimately led to the creation of companies and led to the creation of like you know all these technology and science and all these other things that happen kind of as a consequence of kind of culture culture came out of cities like almost everything today that we would consider

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to be kind of good about kind of human existence you know kind of came out of the fact that people gathered in cities um like all the invention basically takes place in cities and so the role of the city was basically okay you you want you basically societally you want to basically attract the sort of smartest most ambitious most Innovative most creative people anywhere in society no matter where they grow up whether it's in like a small town or on a farm or you know by the way in another country whatever and you want to basically bring them to a city The Economist also have this term they call Superstar cities right um and these are the cities that

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basically turn out to be like Ground Zero for like a you know a fundamentally kind of revolutionary you know kind of thing right and become kind of a permanent Hub and so you know historically the San Francisco Bay area has been the Superstar city of Technology right the the way that works is if you're a young ambitious technologist you want to go to the San Francisco Bay Area you want to be a small fish in a big pond because you want to be around all the other smart people because the collective effect is going to be so powerful Los Angeles is a superstar City for you know for film and television New York is a superstar City

44:64-45:14

for finance and for fashion and you know arts and all kinds of things London you know Paris these you know so these cities you know these big cities have played this kind of outside's role in economic history but they've all been based on this idea that you have to get all the smart people together in one Geographic place so that they can actually meet each other and talk to each other and work together and do projects together bounce ideas off each other challenge each other um again this is like a 4 000 year history of how progress has happened all of a sudden for the first time in 4 000 years we now have both the technology in

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the form of the internet and zoom and webcams and remote work and collaboration tools and slack and all these you know amazing you know Technologies we have now uh you know the internet um and we now have this like sudden proof right that during the very you know kind of bad unpleasant dangerous covet lockdowns it turns out basically the companies were basically able to just keep keep running like any any company with knowledge work was able to just keep running you know all the way through coven to to a level of success that like nobody envisioned was even possible but you know before covet and

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so now of course you got this massive societal changes underway and by the way I think the societal changes from covet are just starting you've got this massive societal change underway where all of a sudden people can say like wow I don't have to be in the San Francisco Bay area or in New York City or in Paris or wherever it is in order to be part of the computer industry or the music industry or the movie industry or you know Finance or like whatever it is by the way like my kids are not going to have to be there right so even if I'm raising kids and I'm worried about their future like they don't necessarily have to be there so all of a sudden like the

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potential to fundamentally disconnect where people live from where people work um you know it has basically been open and then of course if you can separate the where you can also separate the how right and so what kind of community right would be the best for for example for kids to grow up in are the communities that we built in the last hundred years where it's been assumed that you have to kind of be part of these you know specific locations to fully participate in economic life are these the actual kinds of communities you want to raise kids in or is there actually completely different kind of community you would build if you knew

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you didn't have to be you know in a specific place to be able to have great jobs and so like and you know a lot we all probably know people like this like a lot of people are fundamentally re-examining like what do they want to do their lives like do they want like do they want to work do they want to work in the industry they're working at before do they want to work at the employer they're working at before right do they want to move to you know another country like they're you know completely rethinking right how many kids do they want to have like whether they want to have kids like all these things um you know do they want to get you know

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reconnected back you know to the extended families that they were forced to move away from all of these like fundamental questions are are being asked and and this I think I think 50 years from now I think we'll look back it'll be like basically the internet and then this where basically the two big things that happen yeah I I have to agree with you I've been working remotely for probably seven years now so a little bit before covid but something that I'm finding fascinating is this idea of remote work in my opinion being a technology or at least there's technologies that enable it and similar to many other

47:64-48:18

Technologies as we've talked about throughout this conversation there is a substantial backlash and also you know I have to give credit to the people who are who are pushing back on remote work because there are things to be fixed just like we talked about every technology has problems to fix and those are business opportunities but I want to hear from you from the perspective that you mentioned before of this Power Balance being messed with with ever new technology and as more people start to work remotely and reconsider all this how would you frame the pushback of remote work with this idea of a power

48:18-48:70

shift or Society reshuffling yeah so this really comes up uh I mean there's a bunch of there's a whole bunch of angles on this but like the one that's the one that I hear about all the time right now is when I talk to big company CEOs right so you talk to CEOs of like big Banks or big software companies right big big big big whatever you know companies um you know this basically is the conversation right because because what happened is basically you know if you're the CEO of a big company today you know you came up in an environment where everybody was in physical proximity right you you came up where the whole

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the whole way that you came up the whole way that you played politics and like got yourself in position that got yourself exposed to the important people and got promoted and like all this stuff you know did work with your teams right you know the way that you did deals the way that you like you know had had relationships with other people in the industry like you know the way you dealt with customers it was all based on in-person proximity right and which meant either in the office or by or by the way it meant on their own right business travel and that's true basically of like the entire management hierarchy of like every existing big

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company like they're all like that right and so all of a sudden now you have this like you have this incredible kind of you know phase shift happening and so now it's like okay like a whole bunch of questions open up like how does the company organize um you know what is the balance between you know kind of you know in person and remote um you know how what is what are the implications of that for the org chart right you know job job roles change um geographically where should companies be located right I'll give you an example I talked to the head of one one big company that has based in Manhattan

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they've got about 20 of their employees are these super Advanced knowledge workers about 80 are kind of back office white white collar clear co-workers you know that SEO is like look like the 80 clearly don't need to be in Manhattan anymore like we can put them in like South Dakota you know we can pay them like half as much there will be their standard of life will be twice as high um you know they'll be a lot happier um and uh and you know we can do that right um now you know he says I think we still need to keep the 20 of the creatives together but like by the way the creatives get a vote too and if they

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decide to leave you know the in-person job and go remote and work for another you know company that industry that's one of the higher remotely like they have the ability to do that so like a lot of of these companies I think are going to like really dramatically restructure over the course of the next five years a lot of these CEOs basically the big company CEOs are like well we could never go full remote like that's impossible we can't do it you know you've got to talk to Startup CEOs and they're like well maybe we can right and so like here I'll talk our book for a second I'll kind of you know um I'll I'll get as close as I can to kind of

50:61-51:04

saying that we might have something figured out um you know look it may be that the remote work Revolution is just really bad for big companies right it just may be that it takes existing systems and models for how big companies operate and it basically breaks them and it may be that remote work is the kind of thing that you need to build a new company to be able to know how to do properly right because you need to kind of build a culture from scratch you need to build systems from scratch you need to build processes from scratch you need to build it may just be remote companies just need to get built differently and it

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might actually not be possible to reconstruct a big old company that's done things things went away and just restructure it so they can do things a completely different way and so you know this may accelerate the process of the you know turnover where some big companies you know go away faster and some new companies get much bigger faster like that's a possibility or by the way you know maybe I'm full of it right and maybe the opposite is true like maybe it turns out work just isn't good enough or maybe it turns out we actually don't have remote maybe we don't have the Technologies yet right maybe we need holographs right maybe we

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need you know big teleconferencing rooms maybe we need you know I don't know maybe I'll give you an example maybe every company in a certain size should own it it should own its own like literally its own hotel resort right and so right and so maybe what happens is basically like every team should be basically in Residence at like a really cool like hotel resort location for like you know a month in the spring and a month in the fall in a resort and maybe the company should just be running their teams through that and unless they do that kind of thing to be able to have critical mass the bonding like maybe it just won't work and like maybe that's a

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you know maybe that's a new kind of real estate development that has to happen you know to be able to have basically sort of think about a sort of corporate Resorts like to be you know right in other words to be an attractive enough place to come where you're willing to actually be away from home for a month maybe you can even bring your family with you right but everybody gets to work together like that you know those don't exist today um and so I'm just speculating but like maybe there are things like that that we have yet to figure out um I I just have like a very strong sense that on the other side of this the

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world's going to work very differently I do too and what you're saying reminds me of something that when I had a chat with Neil Stevenson we we talked about which is when electricity was invented it was very easy to think okay electricity can can be applied to lighting okay that makes sense people can see that line but the example he gave was electric guitars not many people when electricity was first being invented could think oh okay well we're gonna have electric guitars from this and I think when you have these really foundational shifts like remote work it's very hard to think about those second third order effects but you do know they're gonna happen you

53:04-53:62

don't you just don't always know exactly how they're going to manifest but I wanted to ask you quickly because a16z has moved to the cloud recently was there an aha moment or was there a specific thing that got you to change your mind or were you always kind of you know coming around to this idea because a lot of people say you know like strong opinions weekly held or something like that but not many people actually operate that way and so I think it was interesting to see a16z actually make a shift of previously being in the office to uh moving to the cloud so was there something that kind of unlocked that yeah so I was very people who know me

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will confirm this I was very anti-remote work basically before covet um I was probably pretty far on the on the end of like the spectrum of people thinking about this without being open-minded on it and and basically and and but that was true of us as a firm right and so we historically ran as a firm we ran actually a single office we had a single office excuse me in Menlo Park we actually even refused to open an office in San Francisco for for 10 years because we just we wanted like critical mass in the office and by the way people who actually worked or visited our office kind of between call it 2010 and 2020. they will tell you like it was a

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it was a hybrid activity like it was it was it it was a really cool place um and there was always all this all this amazing stuff happening all these amazing people walking around and like it you know we we wanted that kind of hot house environment and we got it but but that meant everybody like had to be in the office um and then the other thing I always maintained was I was like look like there's this Theory remote work but like it hasn't yet worked for any company at any level of scale like the only companies that have made it work are very small um and and then um I said look just look

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at the data right and what the data basically said is the Superstar City thing I mentioned is basically in full effect and what the data basically said was Venture Capital uh it you know the funding for technology was actually concentrating more and more into the bay area right between between 2010 and 2020. if you look at just like the money was flowing more and more into the single place the people were flowing more and more into the single place I mean and to be clear like the valley as a place was bursting at the seams and housing became crazily expensive and transit's a disaster and like the CR you know of all these issues our politicians

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hate us like there's all these issues but this hot house environment this this this agglomeration hot house you know kind of thing was real right and it's and it's the thing that traditionally made you know made the value so special and it's why this was always sort of the hub for you know this has been the hub for 40 years where kind of all the you know almost all the great breakthroughs and and Technology have been happening um and so I was very much kind of on that page so for me it was literally it was literally going through covet right and so it was literally you know and we and again we were looking at this a couple different levels we were looking

55:58-56:06

at this level of like how's our farm going to operate you know under lockdown we were also thinking about like how are our companies going to operate under lockdown and then we were also thinking about okay how is the industry as a whole right going to operate under lockdown like for example like how will new companies get started if a new company starts under conditions of lockdown like how will that actually happen um and then basically we we you know on a completely involuntary you know footing we we basically ran this experiment for two years uh and by the way we did one of the things we did is

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we did surveys the entire time so we did we did repeated sampling of the of the different constituencies and kind of asked you know to try to get a data kind of handled on what was happening and so it was really interesting because it's like six months in like people are like super nervous and it's like are these companies even going to continue working and then it's like 12 months in people are like well actually it turns out remote work at least for now works just as well and if anything maybe even better because people don't have anything else to do so they're actually working more right so the new problem is burnout

56:48-56:96

um you know 18 months later it was well you know actually we're going to start hiring remote people you know now now that we can do remote work we can now hire people who don't live you know you're near the campus so we can hire more broadly right and and so forth and so you could actually see in the data you could actually see basically the the the the the preferences and the sort of beliefs um you know moving and then and then basically what Ben and I decided with our you know with our with our colleagues at the firm basically is like look the whole the firm is built to live in the future the firm is built to fund

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the best new companies and work with the best new entrepreneurs building the future like you know we want to be the Leading Edge in the industry um this is such a big change for the industry that like we have to live it like it doesn't make any sense to try to maintain the old model where we're basically funding the new model like we have to live the new model I think it's going very well like having said that like we're still figuring it out right and so like you know sure you're experiencing this it's like we're still figuring out like so for example in our firm we we put a big premium on having off sites like we now take off

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sites really seriously we really take getting people together on a regular basis very seriously we have like whole teams inside our firm now that are devoted just to like orchestrating all that making making all those all those happen but like is you know do we have the right balance of like remote versus like off-site do we need to have you know people have more some time do we have the right tools and systems in place are we running the first you know we have the right management practices and so you know we're we're certainly still figuring it out but we're definitely on that path yeah and like we talked about that comes with time but

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the reason I asked you how you made that shift or almost in in some way changed your opinion as you got new data is because I wonder how perhaps we might be able to do that within the framing of how people view Innovation and Technology kind of returning to what we talked about at the very beginning of this conversation it does feel like there is this perception of Technology of course not everyone holds it that you know we're in a a bad place or again the world's getting worse or or insert negative thing about our current state of affairs and I think it's really inspiring at at least at a16z to see that people do hold this very optimistic

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View and I wonder what you think maybe we can do as a collective as a society to maybe Orient more around this more positive view of Technology because from my understanding and I'd actually love for you to go into this history it doesn't sound like this was always the case that technology I mean specific Technologies were viewed quite negatively but a sense around Innovation I think has been different in the past is that right yeah so check that's a good point so technologies have always kind of gone through this cycle and I would go so far as to say like the technology adoption cycle resistance cycle like I'm not sure

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it's actually going to change um Douglas Adams the the science fiction author Douglas Adams who wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy had another take on this that sort of both very fun very funny very serious right so he said basically it's like uh any technology that existed before you were like 15 years old um is just like the natural Order of Things um you know any technology that gets invented between the time when you're like 15 and 35 is like new and exciting and cool and Cutting Edge and like maybe you can make a career in it and then any new technology that arrives after the age of 35 is Unholy and against you know

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against the against the natural order right and it's going to bring Doom to civilization you know another way to kind of putting the put in the Sim cycle so so there's a there's a so like the the the most kind of I don't know the most negative thing you could say or something would be like there's just this like permanent generational psychological thing this cycle where it uh another famous wedding it's the great physicist Max Planck once said uh uh science advances one funeral at a time um you're right meaning that like you know in science you need like the old senior scientists who have like one Paradigm to like quite literally die off

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so that the young scientists in the new paradigm can actually like take over you know the the sort of pessimistic view would be like this is just so deeply baked into into uh the mentality of how people operate uh psychologically that it's just like the permanent State of Affairs by the way like you know I don't know if that's optimal for society I will tell you that State of Affairs is very good for entrepreneurs right um because if more people in positions of power were more open to new technologies right the the opportunity especially for the young entrepreneur with a breakthrough idea would actually

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diminish right because the big old companies are already doing all the new things and so it it may be like what one response to me would be like Mark shut up like stop talking to people about this because we actually want everybody in position of power to just assume that all new technologies are stupid and evil because we want all the opportunity to be available to all the kids who are starting all the new companies so so yeah so that side of the thing that's one side of things and then yeah that which you mentioned so this broader societal thing so then there's this broader societal thing that's happening which is basically this the sort of

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society's different societies have sort of different ethics um uh and belief systems around even just like the fundamental idea of progress right and so I I won't I won't I won't I won't pick on I won't I won't name names but let's just say there are certain Societies in global history that you know at different points in time have decided like we're just not gonna do new things like we're not gonna talk to outside people we're not going to adopt new technologies we're just like I mean there are societies on planet Earth you know I mean North North Korea uh you know there are societies like that today

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uh well another example you know the Amish like have a entire religion and belief system right around the the fact that they don't adopt new technologies by the way like I'm a I'm a free market three Minds guy like I think people should live how they want if they want to live that way I think that's fine it's a choice you can choose right to not like think progress is a good thing uh to not think the new technology should be adopted I you know I would argue in the fullness of time but you know it's it's hard to have your quality of life be at the same level as if you're you're more open to new technologies but like you know societies

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do decide that they don't want new technologies um if you kind of look historically at the U.S and more broadly kind of the West um you do basically see this pattern where there was a lot of resistance to new ideas you know call it from the end of the Roman Empire through to basically the Renaissance you know some so-called Dark Ages right so there was like a whatever 1200 year stretch or something where you know not much happened um and then um and then basically you know over the last 500 years like in the west there's sort of this ethos of progress that kind of emerged and you

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know since it's all Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution right and so forth and then you know the rise of protestantism which was very important because it meant that people could seek out the answers to life's mysteries on their own right um and then the rise of what was called natural philosophy that became science and so there was sort of this system that was developed to basically go uncover basically scientific truths and then and then build new technologies and then basically build you know what we consider to be like a modern capitalist economy on top of that

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um if you asked people in 1880 or 1900 um or 1920 or even 1960 if you ask most people if they thought that that whole set of things was a good idea most people would have said yes uh you know they this is a sort of the Eric known as modernity right so this was like basically uh you know this is the era of like you know we want a progress in Civilization we want there to be like you know we want higher standards of living um you know we we you know we we want to be able to look back and say like yeah yes we like we advance civilization as as compared to you know what what our what our forefathers had

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um and you know and if you read like books written in you know kind of in those eras they you know they only take great pride in in all the progress that's been made you know in the West in the last 50 years that's kind of gone sideways um you know there's an ethos in the west that kind of started in the 60s and extends into our era which basically says well maybe you know a lot of this stuff is not so good maybe it's like bad for the environment maybe it's bad for you know whatever whatever like there's you know there's a whole bunch of different arguments like this and like maybe we've had enough progress maybe

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we've had enough science maybe we've had enough technology uh you know the the sort of classic example this is like nuclear power right like you know we invented a way to basically have unlimited clean energy and then we just like decided we don't we don't want it you know people in 1920 if you tell people in 1910 that they could have nuclear power like there would be like 10 000 nuclear plants like in the United States running today you know but you tell people in 1975 or 19 you know 98 or you know whatever 2022 they can have nuclear power and they're like yeah let's not have any of that and so I think there there has been this sort of

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negative cultural shift um Tyler Cohen calls this the complacency you know ross.pat calls this uh decadence um you know there's been this kind of shift to like you know things are good enough we don't need more of this uh you know or or the more extreme form which is like all progress is bad like all these new technologies like they're just flat out bad it's all bad it should all stop you know kind of the Unabomber kind of argument right uh yeah but people weren't born with that mentality right like people weren't born with like uh like progress is bad right they've they've learned that and I do wonder is

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it just because things have been so good right like that we've we've done so well you mentioned specifically this mentality within the West that people no longer have something to strive for even though they certainly do but is that just a reality that things have gone so well that people have obtained this mentality yeah so that's a theory that's a theory some people are calling that it's called upper income trap um so basically it's like the theory basically is yeah once people hit like an upper middle class standard of living um where they're kind of like you know they got a house they got a car you know they got whatever they got you know

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college they got you know hospital nearby and like they got you know Netflix they've got like whatever you know um you know good restaurants nearby whatever like at some point they're just like damn like it's fine you know it's good enough uh you know anything you know anything beyond this is probably excessive um you know some people are joking right now that this explains What's called the Fermi Paradox so the the Fermi Paradox is this question of like why do we not know of other like basically civilizations in the Galaxy like why why you know why do we not know of any like alien civilizations like

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there's you know billions and billions of planets like throughout the Universe and like we should be able to like pick up signals and we should be able to get like you know TV broadcasts or whatever further civilizations traveling across space and like we should know about others and like basically what why aren't you know why is it still after all this time with all these radio telescopes it's just still you know Humanity on planet Earth and the so this argument basically goes it's basically this the same thing it's just like yeah other species of aliens develop the same level of upper middle class lifestyle that we have and then they all just kind

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of shrugged and said you know well you know look you know here we sit like so mankind you know we went to the moon like we went to the freaking Moon um we went to the moon a lot um we went to the moon a bunch of times I think the last time we went to the moon I think the last time humanity went to the moon was in like 1972 or 73 right and so I'm pretty sure that's 1970 1972 right so it's been 50 years since we went to the moon and like our answer to that is right and like you know Elon comes out and he's like let's go to Mars and everybody's like wow you know I I guess

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we could like nobody ever really you know nobody suggests you know like in 1972 it was like the obvious next step is of course you go to Mars right because first you go to the Moon then you go to Mars right then you go to Jupiter right and then at some point you're going other places like you're going other solar systems like of course this is like the arc that you want to be on and you know we in our Advanced era just decided yeah like let's not do it um so yeah I think there's I think there's something to that you know this this gets into you know theories of social you know change and you know so societal forces political forces

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religious forces I mean I've got I've got theories for hours on kind of how we we got here and what the problem is um you know but it it I say it very rapidly gets political uh you know it's hard to talk about kind of societal structure without getting into politics and so I try not to get kind of too kind of kind of kind of fully say what I think on some of these topics but it is just this like prevailing ethos and like one way to think about it is if you think about socially it's like basically there are three areas of human existence there was like pre-modern which was basically like caves all the way up through like kings right and then there

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was Modern which is like science technology democracy you know capitalism um and then in progress and then now you could argue like we're in this post-modern phase where we're just gonna like sit around and argue all the time instead of actually doing anything you know yeah maybe like I I would like to believe that this is not you know I would like to believe Netflix and chill is not the terminal point of humanity well I I think this this picture that you're painting of a bunch of other alien species getting so complacent that they just decided never to venture out or maybe they discovered VR or just went into their screens the way that a lot of

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people are going today but um I want to just quickly ask you about what you're excited about because you are someone amongst there still is a large cohort of people who are excited to go to Mars or to take things further than we ever have before so I think that's exciting and I think many people take inspiration from that um So within that Dimension like what are you excited about we already talked about this like kind of next Industrial Revolution through remote work but are there other things where you're like wow this is really game changing and this is really exciting and I'm glad that us as a society have smart people working on

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this yeah there's a bunch of things I mean there's a bunch of like specific Technologies and so I mean the easy ones to kind of bring up you know kind of off the cuff it's it's you know AI like it's just like it's amazing what's happening with machine learning right now um and then biotech like the genomic Revolution is like a really big deal um and there's all kinds of questions I mean we're just seeing mind-blowing Concepts now on that front um and then we I won't reveal it but we saw one the other day where like I literally had to stop my tracks my jaw hit the floor I had to spend like the next hour just like processing what I

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just seen um and so there's um you know there's it's like oh my God like this could you know it's one of those literally like this could change everything moments um so so biotech's going through a lot of really you know kind of profound change and then um and then crypto web 3 you know is we you know we've we've talked about a length before as a firm but like is I think you know very profound um so you know there's a there's a member there's a bunch of others those are like three big ones but like there's a whole bunch of other spaces that are like that um you know actually space you

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know yeah Elon God bless him it's like reinvigorated you know the whole idea of space he's what did he do the other day he tweeted his like he's got that he's just talking about like he said he said the other day on Twitter he said um they have not yet discovered an upper limit on how many launches they can do with the same rocket um right and and it's like like rockets went from like disposable which is like one and done right all the way to like he's not sure you know he just doesn't know it's like 50 times 500 times 5 000 times you know we'll see and so like you know really really revolutionary things happening uh on that front which is

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exciting um you know a couple other big things I would highlight so one is just like the the the long-term kind of implications of the the internet I think are still in the early stages and and one that you know I think is kind of a that's in the background but it's like really important relevant everything we've been discussing is that like most people in most of history have not had access to the Leading Edge right no no you know most people throughout human history who have been like super smart and super curious and super ambitious and willing to work hard you know most of them have not ever gotten to one of these you know cities that I was talking

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about most of them never worked in an advanced field like most of them were doing subsistence farming or they were working in you know other kinds of you know whatever they were doing whatever was the local thing to do they never got an opportunity you know most even Just Like Music most of the people who could have composed great music never got the chance to you know they never got the training they never they never had access to the culture they never had the ability to produce music like they just couldn't do it and you could say that's true of everything from music to Art to books to you know to science to like every every field of human activity and

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you know the internet really is like the great equalizer leveler opportunity machine right for basically anybody in the planet who's curious with an internet connection uh to be able to learn and explore and start to create and start to join and meet like-minded people so there's a collective effect like like in my optimistic moments I kind of think of it as like Humanity as sort of a group group uh organism like like the true Global Society like is actually just waking up for the first time um as a consequence of being connected you know all connected online and and of course there's there's good aspects of

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that and maybe bad aspects to that but it it is sort of this this this fundamental thing is happening and so you know hopefully we will discover that there are you know I don't know what the number is but 10 or 100 or a thousand or ten thousand or a million more people around the world who could be doing a really original creative work who just never had the chance in Prior generations and all of a sudden you know you can imagine things progressing much faster as a result of that yeah I think even another aspect of that is more people who are coming online you are having them get access to remote work and you know another second order

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effect of that is that remote tends to be more asynchronous so certain people don't always benefit from the nine to five as an example and you know I saw this infographic today of just like the schedules of all these luminaries from back in the day who had created wonderful things and they were all over the place so that's just again one example of as more people get access to this information as more people have access to different types of schedules or different types of companies or people facilitated through the internet I think we're going to be really surprised by what comes out of that yeah that's right that's right yeah so I

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think I think one thing I really want to ask you about is how Society values certain things and I've heard you talk about this to an extent before but Society will fluctuate throughout time and and different people within that Society will value different things but society as a whole does seem to find virtue in in certain things at certain times so for example you mentioned before in history maybe entrepreneurs were valued more so as people built things Society rewarded that type of achievement how do you view that changing today what what do you think Society is valuing today and perhaps if

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you're willing to share what do you wish Society valued more so basically there's this Theory this guy James Burnham um articulated this Theory uh back in actually the 1940s that I think applies um and he called it the time he called the managerial Revolution um and so basically what he said was they're basically two phases to capitalism um there were there was basically what he called the face of Bourgeois capitalism which is sort of famously the sort of phase that you know the robber bear you know the robber barons and then you know the phase that the Communists hated and like all you know the right

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the rise to kind of Bourgeois culture um you know and and this is that you know the Bourgeois capitalism era was the era of like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison and Carnegie and you know kind of all you know all these JP Morgan and and all of these kind of you know kind of iconic Henry Ford all these kind of business Builders uh you know who built the companies off often name the companies after themselves often around the companies their entire lives kind of drove the companies through kind of sheer force of personal kind of uh you know kind of animal magnetism and force um and then he said basically there's an evolution that takes place and it kind

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of started in the 30s and 40s and extends into our period and he called that the air of managerial capitalism um or just more generally he called it managerialism um and basically the idea there is it's sort of the second phase um and of capitalism and it's basically the phase at which you can no longer just have a guy you know you can no longer just have a Henry Ford or whatever who's just got a car company called for it and he just like orders everybody around and tells everybody what to do like that basically modern business modern technology right modern society it's too complicated for that

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um and so you're not basically the model of capitalism goes from the basically sole proprietorships in the Bourgeois era right to basically what you'd consider to be like the modern multinational you know Delaware C corporation with like a board of directors and an executive management team and a CEO and the CEO is probably not the founder in fact the CEO has probably trained at a business school you know like Henry Ford never went to business school right uh but you know you know they got you know Jim Farley was running I haven't checked but I'm sure Jim probably was running for today I'm sure that he did right so like you

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know all of a sudden it's basically like you have the basically you said you have the rise of sort of the managerial class so you have the rise of basically these people who are sort of technocratic experts who would never start their own thing like they would never invent the car or they would never you know start the car company um but but they are necessary to run the large-scale industrial organization that is like a modern you know giant car company or a modern giant electrical Grid or a modern giant telephone Network or a modern giant whatever you name it chip company like whatever it is um and so and it's a little bit if you

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think about it's a little bit of like basically founder-led companies to basically quote unquote professional CEO LED companies you know it's basically top-down kind of dictatorial management versus kind of Bottoms Up consensus management um it's basically the principal running the company right with his like often with his name on the line his entire net worth is in the company and like his name is on the line um to you know what what you know you refer to as the principal agent problem which is okay these companies are run by people but like you know are these people really going to be with the

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company for the next 30 Years you know they get paid annually or their incentives more annual as opposed to long term um and what Vernon basically said was this is an inevitable process to go from Bourgeois capitalism to managerial capitalism it's inevitable because of scale and complexity right and and you you can't you know Henry Ford today could not run for a motor company like it's too big and complicated you need a different skill set um but he said look it it is a very different it is a very big social cultural change and it's a change basically from valuing right agre you

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know sort of individual aggression uh individual Merit individual achievement individual accomplishment individual force of will right to a much more Collective right way of operating right groups groups operating in sort of consensus collaborative form you know people haven't come to agreement on things committees bureaucracy right and he basically decided sort of you know stage one stage two the way I do kind of what we do like in Venture Capital what we do is we basically are we're basically the throwback so the startups that we fund are being funded we we fund startups that fit that old model like we're trying to find the next generation

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of Henry Ford's right and and um and um and Andrew carnegies and so forth and you know Leela Stanford you know the the railroad guy who you know ultimately funded Stanford University was or was a robber baron in the 1880s we're trying to basically go find those sort of modern Bourgeois capitalists who are kind of Throwbacks to the old model why are we doing that because like that's the only way to do something new right that was the model for doing new things all these things used to be new like if you want to do anything new today that is the model you do need to bring back this model of capitalism um and then basically we work with our

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companies to try and basically keep them from basically just turning into you know sort of this you know kind of board-like managerial capitalism kind of outcome on the other side becoming just like every other big company which by the way many of them kind of Follow that path and many of them just become like the companies just like all the rest of the companies end up being run by professional CEOs and that that's just kind of I was going to quickly ask how do you stop that I don't know that you do well so Burnham would say that you don't like Vernon would say that it's inevitable process basically he's like what Vernon would say if he was talking

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to me is be like okay look smart guy you're just going to keep repeating history because you're going to start these companies you're going to have a Henry Ford kind of character in charge of them at some point they're going to reach a level of scale and complexity where like one guy just can't like run everything and you're going to need to bring in the the experts right the experts the technically trained experts the managers right the people with like business school degrees the people with like you know the people who have grown up basically getting trained to run large-scale systems um and you know these companies are

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naturally going to evolve kind of in in that direction um okay so there's all that and then and then Bruno made the following point is he said look the transition from Bourgeois capitalism to managerial capitalism is not just happening in business it's happening everywhere else in life it's happening everywhere else in our society so for example it's also happening in the government right and so the government right just take the U.S federal government as an example like there's has basically been three different forms of federal government in the last hundred years there was sort of

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the pre-fdr era in which the federal government was just basically small and basically not very relevant and then there was the FDR era where he basically appointed himself King when he made himself basically essentially the Henry Ford of the government or something and then he basically just like told everybody what to do and that was you know the New Deal in World War II and like all this stuff and serving four terms and and sort of this this model of the imperial presidency um and then there's sort of the model the government we have today which is it's just basically bureaucrats it's politicians and bureaucrats as far as

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the eye can see well that's not how these this it's not structurally how anything is supposed to be run anymore you're not supposed to just have a guy who just tells you what to do you're supposed to have process you're supposed to have managers you're supposed to have experts right you're supposed to have professors you're supposed to have think tanks you're supposed to have the Press everybody's supposed to weigh in you're supposed to have this big conversation everybody's supposed to get along everything has to be negotiated right and so basically what Brandon would say is like like the entire Society transitioned from kind of

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individualistic um to basically collectivist or let's call it bureaucratic or as he would call it managerial and like basically that that's happened to basically all of society right and this is kind of the experience that you have if you think about this is an individual this is the kind of experience you have because like everywhere you go in life now you're like dealing with some bureaucracy right you're it's like you've got a problem with your cable you know internet hookup you know you're going to talk to the cable companies bureaucracy like you can't call the CEO the cable company and by the way if you did you can't do

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anything like it's going to be somebody deep in the balls the organization that's going to get your internet to work you know you you need to get your driver's license renewed you can go to the DMV right it's just like everything you do you know you go out to eat and like the place where you go out to eat it's like one of three thousand right restaurants that that company manages that are all identical right everything you do Mass manufacturing everything you buy right has been manufactured by a company's manufactured for scale um all of your entertainment you watch a movie it's the same movie 100 million other people are watching you know it's like

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you know the actors don't come to your house anymore and like act on a play you're you're watching a mass-produced production you know built by this Jag bureaucracy Hollywood um so and you're like wow this movie it seems like I've seen this movie like 80 times before you know why aren't they making like more creative movies well it's because it's movie making is a machine now right it's a you know movies cost 300 million dollars and there's like a whole process and a whole bureaucracy for making these things and so what Brandon would say basically is the whole the whole country the whole society has evolved into this kind of

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bureaucratic managerialism which and you know another word for that is just stagnation right it's just like the whole the whole system is on autopilot like the the whole society's not a pilot the government's not a pilot it's all an autopilot and and then you know every once in a while you get any you know you get a neon musk right or you know you get the kinds of Founders that we deal with and they they kind of step forward and they say well actually I have a different idea um and then they have the temerity to you know build a new piece of software or to start a new kind of company or to propose some other you know do creative

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you know creative idea and so anyway you just you you see kind of all these kind of you know perturbations in the force where these kind of creative individuals pop up um and then you know like Society freaks out and everybody's got an opinion whole thing but like you know if there is to be progress right if there are to be new ideas in the world New Concepts new forms of Art New forms of culture new ideas by the way new forms of politics right by the way new you know new new ways to think about how you raise kids like all you know basically anything new it's going to come from some unusual individual basically stepping up and

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saying I I think that the system is wrong um and so that that you know that that's kind of the fundamental battle that we'll probably spend the rest of our you know probably spend the next thousand years of our civilization trying to basically balance between yeah I mean I can see the example with a company right these companies stagnate and then new startups come and replace them and that's that's something we've seen over and over and over it also happens at the individual level right you see celebrities become popular and then they just go and do the same movie over and over and over because they're

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trying to retain they're following and then people move on to the next new thing um something that we talked to biology about because he came on to talk about the network state is the need for this kind of Revolution or innovation at the government level or the state level I'm just interested in your perspective on that because we have seen it at the individual level the company level but we are seeing stagnation at that higher government level so are you also thinking that we're going to see some of these smaller Nations or completely new nations come up as we see the stagnation in the western world yeah so there's

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this great word that gets used um reform right um reform is one of those words where my ears always perk up when I when I see the word because I kind of know the game is being played um and so I'll give you an example I have all these friends who are very into this thing they call it education reform right and so they're you know philanthropists you know they've been successful they've got money and they've got a foundation now and they want to like make the world better and so what do they do they look around they're like what are the big problems in the world and they inevitably you know a lot of a

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lot of times they end up looking at public education and they're just like wow like public education is like this you know huge force in our society and all these kids you know legally you like have to send your kids to basically a you know most most people legally are required to send their kid to a to a public school and it's like wow like the outcome seem like really bad and like you know we keep injecting more money into these schools and yet the results don't get better and then by the way there's all these problems and there's all this like you know child abuse you know that takes place and there's all this you know

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these like teachers sex scandals and then there's you know all these controversies over the curriculum and like our kids being taught the right things um and it's just like wow this thing just seems like a giant mess um and so therefore we need education reform right we need to like go into the bureaucracy and we need to like re you know we need to retool it we need to we need to improve it we need to make it better we need to re-engineer it um and and basically the you know the story is kind of always the same which as they go in they do all this work they spend all this money and then basically

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nothing changes um you know there have been many famous cases of this I won't pick on people um I will say the Gates Foundation has done a lot of work in this area and they actually to their credit they actually came out with a public report about four years ago where they did this retrospective of they did a retrospective of the last 50 years of education reform efforts um and all of the different work that has been done all the different ideas that people have had that like make schools better and they did this big report basically the results report was nothing has worked like nothing has

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worked for 50 years like there has not been a new idea in 50 years that has been like tried and large-scale education that's had any impact at all basically the whole the whole the whole effort's just been like a complete a complete zero and and I think that that's basically like I've become convinced that's basically universally true uh which is basically things don't get reformed like it's never gonna you know whatever if you have a problem with XYZ existing institution existing system for the reasons we discussed earlier like it's just it's not going to get better it's not going to get reformed you can go spend an arbitrary amount of

86:18-86:63

time and money trying to reform it and improve it it's not going to happen why is it not going to happen because it doesn't you know it doesn't have to happen the people running it don't want it to happen you know this so-called principal agent problem the people in charge aren't actually responsible for it you know there's the incentives problem you know especially when you deal with large bureaucracies people are much more focused on not getting fired than they are on improving anything and so they'll basically but a lot of presidents encountered this right a lot of presidents come into the White House right for the first time and they're

86:63-87:10

like wow I have all these ideas on how to make the government better they issue all these orders and then the bureaucracy just ignores them right because right because the federal government companies like what do they know they know the Press the president's going to be gone in four years or worst case eight years nobody's even remember what that guy tried to do right and so all they they just like they just wait out the politicians right and and then and then nothing changes and so anyway so like it's like like by default it's like stagnation as far as the eye can see I've reached the

87:10-87:59

conclusion this is kind of how I spend my time and this is why I continue to do what I do and I think I'll basically do it forever um is like I really no longer believe in the concept of institutional reform like I think fundamentally it doesn't happen uh or it's so rare as to like be basically something that you can't ever count on I I think basically progress happens by starting new things right and so like if you want to like reform the school system the thing you need to do is build new schools right from scratch like the correct way if you want to have like a new car company if you're Elon Musk and you want to have a car company

87:59-88:04

you don't spend your time trying to go get whatever existing car company to build a better car you just like start the car company and then you know our friend biology extends it you know one step further which is like okay you don't try to reform the country you just like start a new country now the obvious problem the challenge right is like you know there was an era of human history where people were starting new countries like all the countries that we have today are countries at some point that somebody started um you know unfortunately in the modern era like you know the real estate on the planet's kind of been divided up

88:04-88:51

um and you know the world's not really that amenable to you know changing you know which country controls which territory through Conquest like that's kind of frowned upon these days um and so you know starting a new country in the modern era is probably not a process of like going and staking out a bunch of land and then like declaring yourself a new kingdom and then you know planning a bunch of new whatever your own legal system it's probably something else and of course biology's book kind of explores the something else with a with this idea of the network state so you know as usually biology pushes it to a level that you

88:51-88:99

know probably you know beyond where I would um but but I think but I think look I think everything he says everything like his situational analysis I think for sure is 100 correct overall you could say like this is a very depressing analysis of the State of Affairs and like this basically means the world is going to stagnate and like how much is going to happen I I and there's a lot to that there is always this concept of Arbitrage which is like if most of the world is not doing new things then the person who can do something new has an outsized opportunity right and this is the thing that kind of gets me up every morning

88:99-89:45

which is like okay because most of the world will not change because most existing companies won't change because most existing bureaucracies won't change systems won't change people won't change because of that the person who has the genuinely new idea who's willing to put themselves on the line and try to build something new like has a really big outsized opportunity because if they succeed right they'll they'll just they'll they'll they'll they'll get all the benefit they'll get all the gains like they'll they'll they'll all of a sudden be the person who's like building and running everything right because it's not going to be the status quo

89:45-89:94

that's going to adapt right so therefore like all opportunity in the world is still basically available to all of these you know kind of disruptive new entrants um and so basically the more the sort of older world stagnants the bigger the opportunity on the entrepreneurial side um and and honestly like I think that's what keeps us in business basically in perpetuity um is you know the the this the model of kind of entrepreneur capitalism or more generally just entrepreneurialism that you know having new ideas and putting them in the world like that that model is the only source of progress

89:94-90:48

yeah I love the way you put it of not counting on the status quo to innovate I think that by Nature allows the really intelligent the really creative the really Innovative people to have an opportunity right because if we use companies as an example if smart companies that became big stayed smart then we wouldn't have opportunity for new smart people to innovate right there wouldn't be room so I think that's a wonderful place to end because I think throughout this conversation you've highlighted so many opportunities for people to get involved and for new businesses to be built and I think most importantly as we started off this

Key Themes, Chapters & Summary

Key Themes

  • Transformation Through Technology

  • Societal Response to Technological Advances

  • Impact on Power Dynamics

  • The Role of Innovation in History

  • Distributed Work and Emerging Opportunities

  • The Future of Technology and Society


Chapters

  • Introduction to Technology's Role in Progress

  • Reactions and Resistance to New Technologies

  • Technology's Challenge to Established Systems

  • Historical Case Studies of Technological Change

  • Remote Work and the Pandemic's Impact

  • Conclusion: Embracing Technological Evolution


Summary

In the podcast "Why Technology Still Matters," featuring Marc Andreessen, a co-founder of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), the conversation explores the pivotal role of technology in shaping human history and the future. The host, Seth Smith, engages with Andreessen in a deep discussion about the evolution and impact of technology, drawing on historical examples and looking towards emerging trends.


Andreessen begins by reflecting on how technology has transformed life from its natural state, arguing that it is the sole factor that has made life better than it was in the past. He asserts that human beings have not fundamentally changed; it's the tools and technologies they've developed that have driven progress.


The conversation then shifts to understanding the societal and psychological reactions to new technologies. Andreessen points out that each significant technological advancement is typically met with skepticism and fear, leading to a three-stage response: ignoring it, rational counterarguments, and, ultimately, name-calling and political battles. He illustrates this with historical examples, including the initial reception of fire, bicycles, and cars.


Andreessen further discusses the impact of technology on society's power dynamics. He emphasizes that new technologies often challenge existing structures and hierarchies, resulting in resistance from those who feel threatened by these changes. The discussion includes an in-depth analysis of Sims' gun technology in naval warfare, highlighting how new innovations can upend established systems and require a generational shift in mindset.


The podcast also delves into the concept of the "Cambrian explosion" of opportunities emerging from distributed work and the importance of founder-led companies. Andreessen discusses how remote work and the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted a reevaluation of work, life, and the role of cities. He suggests that the move towards remote work could have profound implications for how societies and economies are structured.


In conclusion, the podcast offers an optimistic view of the future, driven by continued technological advancement. Andreessen's insights provide a compelling perspective on the importance of embracing new technologies and being open to the changes they bring, despite the initial resistance and fear they often encounter. The conversation is a thought-provoking exploration of technology's role in human progress and the challenges and opportunities it presents.