Illustration via 99designs
“If code scripts machines, media scripts human beings.”
— Balaji Srinivasan
Balaji S. Srinivasan (@balajis) is an angel investor and entrepreneur. Formerly the CTO of Coinbase and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, he was also the co-founder of Earn.com (acquired by Coinbase), Counsyl (acquired by Myriad), Teleport (acquired by Topia), and Coin Center.
He was named to the MIT Technology Review’s “Innovators Under 35,” won a Wall Street Journal Innovation Award, and holds a BS/MS/PhD in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Chemical Engineering, all from Stanford University. Balaji also teaches the occasional class at Stanford, including an online MOOC in 2013, which reached 250,000+ students worldwide.
To learn more about Balaji’s most recent project, sign up at 1729.com, a newsletter that pays you. They’re giving out $1,000 in BTC each day for completing tasks and tutorials. Subscribers also receive chapters from Balaji’s new (free) book, The Network State.
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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…
If this nearly four-hour episode isn’t enough for you, perhaps you’d like to hear my three-and-a-half-hour conversation with Basecamp’s David Heinemeier Hansson (aka DHH)? In it, we discussed the power of being outspoken, running a profitable business without venture capital, Stoic philosophy, parallels across disciplines, and much more.
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
Connect with Balaji Srinivasan:
Learn Skills & Earn Crypto | 1729.com1729: The Magic Of Hardy-Ramanujan Number | NDTVGood Will Hunting | Prime VideoThe Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert KanigelThe Man Who Knew Infinity | Prime VideoSoftware Is Eating the World | Andreessen HorowitzHubble Space Telescope | NASAA Complete List of MOOCs and Free Online Courses | MOOC ListChasing the Parallel Postulate | Scientific American Blog NetworkNational Science Foundation Network and Acceptable Use Policy | Wikipedia“‘Balaji Was Right’ Might Be the Most Terrifying Phrase in the English Language.” | Conor White-Sullivan, TwitterTemptation at Checkout | Center for Science in the Public InterestDon’t Read This, Oracle… It’s the Rise of the Open-Source Data Strategies | The RegisterBlock the New York Times | BlockNYTThe Journalist and the Murderer by Janet MalcolmTrust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan HolidayAmerican Resistance to a Standing Army | Teaching History8 Things You May Not Know About the Praetorian Guard | History300 | Prime VideoIn Nagorno-Karabakh, Drones Gave Azerbaijan Huge Advantage and Showed Future of Warfare | The Washington PostThe Future Has Arrived — It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed Yet | Quote Investigator113 Journalists on Why They’re So Despised | NYMagThe Case Against the Media, by the Media | NYMagThe 11 Layers of Citizen Journalism | PoynterThe Truth About Blockchain | Harvard Business ReviewInside the Twitter Hack — and What Happened Next | WiredSmart Contracts | InvestopediaOracles: The All-Seeing Eyes That Guide Crypto Networks | CoinMarketCapBest Places to Live for a Digital Nomad | Nomad ListCompare Cities’ Quality of Life | Teleport CitiesLeanFIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) | RedditEarly Retirement Through Badassity | Mr. Money MustacheThe 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy FerrissYes Chad | Know Your MemeBooks & Resources | Beautiful TroubleShift the Spectrum of Allies | Beautiful TroubleWhat Is Cancel Culture? Why We Keep Fighting About Canceling People | VoxThe Cultural Revolution: All You Need to Know About China’s Political Convulsion | The GuardianGOP Voters Trust CNN, NY Times Over Breitbart, InfoWars | PoliticoSeeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed by James C. ScottFirst Bolshevik Decrees: Seventeen Moments in Soviet History | Michigan State UniversityThe Treaty of Westphalia | History TodaySolarWinds Hack Was ‘Largest and Most Sophisticated Attack’ Ever: Microsoft President | ReutersHackers Leak Customer Info from Crypto Wallet Ledger | InvestopediaBalaji Srinivasan on Building a “Pseudonymous Economy” | BlockstackCorpse Husband | YouTube“What If This Coronavirus Is the Pandemic That Public Health People Have Been Warning About for Years?” | Balaji Srinivasan, TwitterEarn | CoinbaseFew Developing Countries Can Climb the Economic Ladder | St. Louis FedLearn the Latest Tech Skills; Advance Your Career | UdacityBuild Skills with Online Courses from Top Institutions | CourseraAmazon Mechanical TurkAsk HN: How to Earn Karma on HN? | Hacker NewsKatie Haun on the Dark Web, Gangs, Investigating Bitcoin, and The New Magic of “Nifties” (NFTs) | The Tim Ferriss Show #499Code Practice and Mentorship for Everyone | ExercismThe 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy FerrissThe 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by Timothy FerrissLiberty, Equality, Fraternity | Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs‘Sorry’: Brokerage Chief at Heart of GameStop Saga Apologises | Al JazeeraDiscord Bans WallStreetBets for Hateful Conduct Amid GameStop Stock Surge | GamesIndustry.bizUS Government Financial Bailouts | InvestopediaA Deep Dive Into Satoshi’s 11-Year Old Bitcoin Genesis Block | Featured Bitcoin NewsDodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act | InvestopediaBalaji S. Srinivasan: The Network State | Foresight InstituteHow a Centrifuge Works | Federation of American ScientistsChina’s Communist Party Is at a Fatal Age for One-Party Regimes. How Much Longer Can It Survive? | Australian Broadcasting Corporation NewsSome Oregonians Want to Leave and Take Part of the State to Idaho with Them | All Things Considered, NPRCatalans Rally for Independence Despite Health Warnings | ReutersHow is America Going to End? Who’s Most Likely to Secede? | SlateSilicon Valley’s Elite Don’t Want to Secede. They Just Want to Stay on Top | WiredFiat Money | InvestopediaFabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino | FIATHacker Houses Offer Shared Living for the Young, Green, and Tech-Obsessed | GristBitcoin News: China’s Great Firewall to Block Crypto Websites | Fortune(American) Successes Of The 20th Century | Pew Research CenterMusic Piracy: From Napster to BitTorrents | The RunnerMagnet Links Become the Official Currency of Pirate Bay | Ars TechnicaPopcorn TimeThe Block Chain and the CAP Theorem | Stuff Yaron Finds InterestingNew York Moves to Lure Crypto Startups as BitLicense Turns Five | CoinDeskHow Miami Mayor Francis Suarez Is Luring Tech Players from Silicon Valley and New York | CNBC“@LorenaSGonzalez: Message Received.” | Elon Musk, TwitterColombia, Estonia Upload the Bitcoin White Paper to Their Governmental Websites | CoinDeskWyoming Is Crypto’s ‘Wild West,’ Which Is Exactly What We Need | CoinDesk“‘Win and Help Win’ Will Always Outcompete ‘Live and Let Live.’” | Balaji Srinivasan, TwitterLittle House on the Prairie | Prime VideoWhy Is the Three-Body Problem Unsolvable? | Popular MechanicsThe Three-Body Problem by Cixin LiuThe Cause of… and Solution to… All of Life’s Problems. | The SimpsonsSecure Storage Solutions for Bitcoin | CasaVitalik Buterin, Creator of Ethereum, on Understanding Ethereum, ETH vs. BTC, ETH2, Scaling Plans and Timelines, NFTs, Future Considerations, Life Extension, and More (Featuring Naval Ravikant) | The Tim Ferriss Show #504Proof of Work vs. Proof of Stake: Basic Mining Guide | BlockgeeksStarkWare Industries Ltd.ZK-Rollups | EthhubHow Life Has Changed in the Last 20 Years | Business InsiderBalaji Srinivasan: Coronavirus Will Shape This Decade Like 9/11 Shaped the 2000s | ReasonTVBalaji Srinivasan: Applications: Today & 2025 | TechCrunchBalaji Srinivasan: Technology Will Lead to a Borderless World | ReasonTVOur Deepest Fears Realized: Most Couples Meet Online Now | ViceLink Between Health Spending and Life Expectancy: The US Is an Outlier | Our World in DataBalaji Srinivasan, Who May Run the FDA for Trump, Hates the FDA. But Silicon Valley Likes Srinivasan. | Vox“Y-Shaped Recovery…” | Balaji Srinivasan, TwitterLung Cancer Immunotherapy Darkens Patients’ Hair | GENForget Exercise — These Mice Got Ripped with Gene Therapy | Singularity HubAnarcho-Primitivism | WikipediaVoluntary Human Extinction Movement | VHEMTNo Death and an Enhanced Life: Is the Future Transhuman? | The GuardianZoltan Vs. Zerzan | Stanford TranshumanistsSuperman II | Prime VideoReady Player One | Prime VideoAnother Inconvenient Truth: The World’s Growing Population Poses a Malthusian Dilemma | Scientific AmericanThe Lessons of History by Will and Ariel DurantFrom Third World to First: The Singapore Story – 1965-2000 by Lee Kuan YewDisneyland with the Death Penalty | WiredThe Opium Wars in China | Asia Pacific CurriculumToomas Ilves: Lessons In Digital Democracy from Estonia | Stanford School of EngineeringDramatic Photos Show How Radically Dubai Has Changed in 50 Years | Business InsiderPhotos: Stunningly Green Dubai: What City Looks Like In 20 Years | Khaleej TimesFacebook and Google Won’t Save Local News | The New RepublicSwitzerland: This European Nation Has Most Potential for Future Growth, Study Says | CNBCIsrael and Iran Just Showed Us the Future of Cyberwar With Their Unusual Attacks | Foreign PolicyTaiwan’s Digital Minister Knows How to Crush Covid-19: Trust | WiredMonaco: From Billionaire’s Playground to Crypto Paradise? | CopperThe Hottest App in China Teaches Citizens About Their Leader — and, Yes, There’s a Test | The New York TimesWhy Did Alibaba’s Jack Ma Disappear for Three Months? | BBC NewsBalaji Srinivasan on Communist Capital vs. Woke Capital vs. Crypto Capital | CoinDeskWhy All Soviet Jokes Needed to Be Approved by the Department of Jokes | We Are the MightyUS, Allies Announce Sanctions on China Over Uyghur ‘Genocide’ | PoliticoWho Lives? Who Dies? NYC Hospitals Could Soon Be Forced to Triage Coronavirus Patients | NBC New YorkThe Maginot Line, Scapegoat of the French Defeat in May 1940 | Normandy American HeroesThe Story Behind That Viral Chinese Train Station Video | SlateAfter Sinking 18 Inches, SF’s Millennium Tower Finally Has a Fix | SFGateSalesforce Transit Center: It Was Supposed to Be the Safest Building in the World. Then It Cracked. | Popular MechanicsCoronavirus: How Can China Build a Hospital So Quickly? | BBC NewsDr. Vivek Murthy — Former Surgeon General on Combating COVID-19, Loneliness, and More | The Tim Ferriss Show #417Red Dawn (’84) | Prime VideoNiall Ferguson: A Taiwan Crisis May End the American Empire | BloombergThe Russo-Japanese War and its Impact on Anti-Colonial Nationalists | Faisal Ali, MediumBuster Douglas Shocks the World with 10th-Round KO of Mike Tyson | ESPN ArchivesWhat Happened to Occupy Wall Street? | The AtlanticHow 9/11 Caused An Increase In Islamophobic Hate Crimes | Refinery29Hate Is Haunting Asian Americans. Their Fear Underscores a Racial Reckoning That Is Far from Over | CNNRegaining the Edge In US Chip Manufacturing | SMGThe Hidden Troubles of the F-35 | Defense NewsThe Physics of the Fosbury Flop | Stanford UniversityManufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam ChomskySelling Votes Is Common Type of Election Fraud | The Washington PostGovernment Scraps ‘Shadow Mayor’ Plans for Big Cities | BBC NewsBenevolent and Protective Order of ElksThucydides Trap: An Overview | Belfer Center for Science and International AffairsHow the SWIFT System Works | InvestopediaWhy India Should Buy Bitcoin | Balaji SrinivasanHow India Legalizes Crypto | Balaji SrinivasanJio 4G LTE Network | RelianceStablecoin Price and Circulation Monitor | Stablecoin StatsChina’s Massive Belt and Road Initiative | Council on Foreign RelationsExplainer: The Non-Aligned Movement in the 21st century | The ConversationSocialism: Definition, Pros, Cons, Examples, Types | The BalanceSoviet Denim Smuggling: Jeans Behind the Iron Curtain | HeddelsChina’s Fast Climb up the Value Chain | McKinseyWhat Is Bollywood? What to Know About Hindi Language Movies and Music | OprahTenet | Prime VideoArcelorMittalBlack Mirror | Prime VideoSuper 30 | Official TrailerRocky | Prime VideoThe Terminator | Prime VideoIndia’s Ambitious Nuclear Power Plan – And What’s Getting in Its Way | The DiplomatHouse of Cards | NetflixGhostbusters | Prime VideoDallas Buyers Club | Prime VideoThe Correction Heard ‘Round The World: When The New York Times Apologized to Robert Goddard | Forbes
What is the significance of 1729, and what is Balaji’s mission in launching a website named after this “not boring” number? [06:02]What was the subject matter and the intent behind the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) Balaji taught prior to joining Andreessen Horowitz? [10:21]Balaji’s thoughts on the state of media (particularly podcasts), how product is merit and distribution is connections, and why I trust my dog to tell me if a journalist is trying to set me up for a “gotcha.” [16:57]Just as the Founding Fathers advised against the establishment of a standing army in the United States, Balaji wonders if we should be cautious of relying on a standing media to deliver us the news of the day — or if there are better, decentralized options. [29:57]What can we do to protect ourselves as we wait for the future to be evenly distributed? We dive deep into everything from achieving financial independence to auditing our social ties to securing our privacy with a pseudonymous economy that could diminish the effects of cancellation and discrimination. [40:27]Roam Research co-founder Conor White-Sullivan once said: “‘Balaji was right’ might be the most terrifying phrase in the English language.” Eerily accurate early speculation about the COVID-19 pandemic aside, how would Balaji strategize a sizeable investment made today? (A reminding disclaimer: we’re not registered investment advisors, so do not take this or anything else here as legitimate financial advice.) [1:07:29]What participating in 1729 — “the first newsletter that pays you” — would ideally look like. [1:10:55]How Balaji envisions 1729 as a skyhook to rescue the world’s brightest minds from places that usually get overlooked — like developing countries and war zones — or allow them to operate on home ground pseudonymously. [1:14:01]A digital native solution to education that qualifies students to work as they go instead of waiting years until a full degree is earned. [1:17:37]How do you pseudonymously show proof of skill? Enter the crypto credential. [1:21:33]Don’t underestimate the power of microincentives. [1:25:27]How does Balaji rationalize a “half in Bitcoin, half in Ethereum” investment, and how does it tie into shifting establishment dynamics? [1:27:51]Why does Balaji believe that “not many institutions that predated the internet will survive the internet” — including nation states and fiat currencies? [1:35:44]Addressing downside risk, what circumstances might make Bitcoin or Ethereum bad investments? [1:45:06]How can we expect crypto regulation to play out in the United States? How are cities, states, and countries with an eye on the future currently signaling their friendliness toward innovation? [1:51:57]Why Balaji believes “win and help win” is neither progressive, nor conservative, nor libertarian, but a concept that beats them all. [2:02:22]How Bitcoin regulation thus far hasn’t followed the course that popular opinion predicted, and why you should hold your keys locally. [2:05:07]How do Ethereum risks differ from those faced by Bitcoin? [2:09:44]Want to get an understanding of how unrecognizable the near future will be? Consider how much the world has changed between the year 2000 and now — and how little it changed, comparatively, between then and 1970. [2:12:36]Does Balaji believe the changes we’re about to experience en masse will be mostly positive or mostly negative? [2:22:16]Thinkers, scientists, or resources Balaji would recommend for people who want to further explore life-extension and transhumanism. [2:32:16]Who was Lee Kuan Yew, and why he is interesting? [2:35:04]What countries are on Balaji’s shortlist to watch as examples of what the future holds? [2:39:56]Woke capital vs. communist capital vs. crypto capital, the Maginot Line revisited, and why China is so underestimated while the US is overestimated when it comes to facing the challenges of present and future. [2:45:28]If there were a conflict with China over Taiwan and the US lost, what would be the consequences? [2:56:44]Does Balaji see any obvious fixes the US could implement to mitigate against the risks of a cold war with China turning hot? Is there any way we can select our leaders for legitimacy and competence over popularity and inheritance? [3:01:38]Balaji explains how a 51 percent democracy is like a Fosbury Flop, and the types of votes that really make a difference in such a system. [3:05:18]What a convince-oriented “crypto” government versus a coercion-focused fiat government might look like. [3:12:41]India: the dark horse, what is currently at stake as it considers banning crypto, and what Balaji sees as its way forward — by embracing crypto, learning from China’s ascendancy in the global value chain, and claiming its rightful place in the media hierarchy. [3:17:42]Parting thoughts. [3:40:00]
Srinivasa RamanujanG.H. HardyLee Kuan YewEuclidConor White-Sullivan CassandraPeter ThielMollyJanet MalcolmRyan HolidayMr. Money MustacheTaylor SwiftDeng XiaopingVladimir LeninMartin LutherCorpse HusbandKatie HaunVlad TenevChristopher J. DoddBarney FrankJim BarksdaleNiccolò MachiavelliFrancis SuarezSteven MnuchinHomer SimpsonJordan PetersonTed KaczynskiDavid SinclairAubrey de GreyZoltan IstvanJohn ZerzanDeng XiaopingToomas IlvesAudrey TangAlbert II, Prince of MonacoXi JinpingJack MaJeff BezosYakov SmirnoffZayn MalikWinston ChurchillMike TysonBuster DouglasManmohan SinghMark ZuckerbergDick FosburyJoseph StalinNoam ChomskyRonald ReaganAdolf HitlerLeon TrotskyMiles DysonRobert Goddard
DISCLAIMER FROM TIM FERRISS: I am not an investment adviser. There are risks involved in placing any investment in securities or in Bitcoin or in cryptocurrencies or in anything. None of the information presented herein is intended to form the basis of any offer or recommendation or have any regard to the investment objectives, financial situation, or needs of any specific person, and that includes you, my dear listener or reader. Everything in this episode is for informational entertainment purposes only.