Dec 29, 2022 • 1HR 21M

Aarthi & Sriram - Twitter, 10x Engineers, & Marriage

What Sriram would say if Elon tapped him to be the next CEO of Twitter, Why more married couples don’t start businesses together, & How Aarthi hires and finds 10x engineers.

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Host Dwarkesh Patel interviews intellectuals, scientists, and founders about their big ideas. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/DwarkeshPatel Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3oBack9 Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3S5g2YK
Episode details
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I had fun chatting with Aarthi and Sriram.

We discuss what it takes to be successful in technology, what Sriram would say if Elon tapped him to be the next CEO of Twitter, why more married couples don’t start businesses together, and how Aarthi hires and finds 10x engineers.

Aarthi Ramamurthy and Sriram Krishnan are the hosts of The Good Times Show. They have had leading roles in several technology companies from Meta to Twitter to Netflix and have been founders and investors. Sriram is currently a general partner at a16z crypto and Aarthi is an angel investor.

Watch on YouTube. Listen on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or any other podcast platform.

Timestamps

(00:00:00) - Intro

(00:01:19) - Married Couples Co-founding Businesses

(00:09:53) - 10x Engineers

(00:16:00) - 15 Minute Meetings

(00:22:57) - a16z's Edge?

(00:26:42) - Future of Twitter

(00:30:58) - Is Big Tech Overstaffed?

(00:38:37) - Next CEO of Twitter?

(00:43:13) - Why Don't More Venture Capitalists Become Founders?

(00:47:32) - Role of Boards

(00:52:03) - Failing Upwards

(00:56:00) - Underrated CEOs

(01:02:18) - Founder Education

(01:06:27) - What TV Show Would Sriram Make?

(01:10:14) - Undervalued Founder Archetypes

Transcript

This transcript was autogenerated and thus may contain errors.

[00:00:00] Aarthi: it's refreshing to have Elon come in and say, we are gonna work really hard. We are gonna be really hardcore about how we build things.

[00:00:05] Dwarkesh: Let's say Elon and says Tomorrow, Sriram, would you be down to be the 

[00:00:08] Sriram: CEO of Twitter Absolutely not. Absolutely not. But I am married to someone. 

We 

[00:00:12] Aarthi: used to do overnights at Microsoft. Like we'd just sleep under our desk,, until the janitor would just , poke us out of there , I really need to vacuum your cubicle. Like, get out of here. 

There's such joy in , Finding those moments where you work hard and you're feeling really good about it. 

[00:00:25] Sriram: You'd be amazed at how many times Aarthi and I would have a conversation where be, oh, this algorithm thing.

I remember designing it, and now we are on the other side

 We want to invest in something , where we think the team and the company is going to win and if they do win, there's huge value to be unlocked. 

[00:00:40] Dwarkesh: Okay. Today I have the, uh, good pleasure to have Arty and Sriram on the podcast and I'm really excited about this.

So you guys have your own show, the Arty Andre Good Time show. Um, you guys have had some of the top people in tech and entertainment on Elon Musk, mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Yang, and you guys are both former founders. Advisors, investors, uh, general partner at Anderson Horowitz, and you're an angel investor and an advisor now.

Um, so yeah, there's so much to talk about. Um, obviously there's also the, uh, recent news about your, uh, your involvement on, uh, twitter.com. Yeah, yeah. Let's get started. 

[00:01:19] Married Couples Starting Businesses

[00:01:19] Dwarkesh: My first question, you guys are married, of course. People talk about getting a co-founder as finding a spouse, and I'm curious why it's not the case that given this relationship why more married people don't form tech startups.

Is, does that already happen, 

[00:01:35] Aarthi: or, um, I actually am now starting to see a fair bit of it. Uhhuh, . Um, I, I do agree that wasn't a norm before. Um, I think, uh, I, I think I remember asking, uh, pg p the same thing when I went through yc, and I think he kind of pointed to him and Jessica like, you know, YC was their startup , and so, you know, there were even pride.

There are a lot of husband and wife, uh, companies. Over the last like decade or so. So I'm definitely seeing that more mainstream. But yeah, you're right, it hasn't been the norm before. Yeah, the, the good time show is our project. It's 

[00:02:09] Sriram: our startup. Very, I mean, there are some good historical examples. Cisco, for example, uh, came from, uh, uh, husband, wife as a few other examples.

I think, you know, on, on the, in, on the pro side, uh, you know, being co-founders, uh, you need trust. You need to really know each other. Uh, you, you go through a lot of like heavy emotional burdens together. And there's probably, and if you, you're for the spouse, hopefully you probably have a lot of chemistry and understanding, and that should help.

On the con side, I think one is you, you're prob you know, you, you're gonna show up at work, you know, and startups are really hard, really intense. And you come home and both of you are gonna the exact same wavelength, the exact same time, going through the exact same highs and lows as opposed to two people, two different jobs have maybe differing highs and lows.

So that's really hard. Uh, the second part of it is, uh, in a lot of. Work situations, it may just be more challenging where people are like, well, like, you know, person X said this person Y said this, what do I do? Uh, and if you need to fire somebody or you know, something weird happens corporate in a corporate manner, that may also be really hard.

Uh, but having said that, you know, uh, 

[00:03:13] Aarthi: you know, yeah, no, I think both of those are like kind of overblown , like, you know, I think the reason why, um, you know, you're generally, they say you need to have you, it's good to have co-founders is so that you can kind of like write the emotional wave in a complimentary fashion.

Uh, and you know, if one person's like really depressed about something, the other person can like pull them out of it and have a more rational viewpoint. I feel like in marriages it works even better. So I feel like to your first point, They know each other really well. You're, you're, you are going to bring your work to home.

There is no separation between work and home as far as a startup is concerned. So why not do it together? Oh, 

[00:03:51] Sriram: well, I think there's one problem, uh, which is, uh, we are kind of unique because we've been together for over 21 years now, and we start for, we've been before, uh, let's not. Wow. There's gonna be some fact checking 19 on this video.

99. Close enough. Close enough, right? Like close enough. He wishes he was 21. Oh, right, right, right. Gosh, feels like 21. We have do some, um, 

[00:04:15] Aarthi: editing on this video. No, no, no. I think 20 years of virtually knowing, 19 years of in-person. 

[00:04:20] Sriram: There we go. Right. Uh, fact check accurate. Um, ex experts agree. But, um, you know, but when you first met, we, we originally, even before we dating, we were like, Hey, we wanna do a company together.

And we bonded over technology, like our first conversation on Yahoo Messenger talking about all these founders and how we wanted to be like them. And we actually then worked together pretty briefly when you were in Microsoft. Uh, before we actually started dating. We were on these sort of talent teams and we kind of met each of the word context.

I think a lot of. You know, one is they have never worked together. Um, and so being in work situations, everything from how you run a meeting to how you disagree, uh, you know, uh, is just going to be different. And I think that's gonna be a learning curve for a lot of couples who be like, Hey, it's one thing to have a strong, stable relationship at home.

It'll be a different thing to, you know, be in a meeting and you're disagreeing art's meetings very differently from I do. She obsesses over metrics. I'm like, ah, it's close enough. It's fine. , uh, it's close enough. It's fine. as e uh, here already. But, uh, so I do think there's a learning curve, a couples who is like, oh, working together is different than, you know, raising your family and being together.

I mean, obviously gives you a strong foundation, but it's not the same thing. Have you guys 

[00:05:25] Dwarkesh: considered starting a company or a venture together at some point? 

[00:05:28] Aarthi: Yeah. Um, we've, uh, we've always wanted to do a project together. I don't know if it's a, a startup or a company or a venture. You have done a project together,

Yeah, exactly. I think, uh, almost to today. Two years ago we started the Good Time Show, um, and we started at, uh, live Audio on Clubhouse. And, you know, we recently moved it onto video on YouTube. And, um, it's, it's been really fun because now I get to see like, it, it's neither of our full-time jobs, uh, but we spend enough, um, just cycles thinking through what we wanna do with it and what, uh, how to have good conversations and how to make it useful for our audience.

So that's our 

[00:06:06] Sriram: project together. Yep. And we treat it like a, with the intellectual heft of a startup, which is, uh, we look at the metrics, uh, and we are like, oh, this is a good week. The metrics are up into the right and, you know, how do we, you know, what is working for our audience? You know, what do we do to get great guests?

What do we do to 

[00:06:21] Aarthi: get, yeah, we just did our first, uh, in-person meetup, uh, for listeners of the podcast in Chennai. It was great. We had like over a hundred people who showed up. And it was also like, you know, typical startup style, like meet your customers and we could like go talk to these people in person and figure out like what do they like about it?

Which episodes do they really enjoy? And it's one thing to see YouTube comments, it's another to like actually in person engage with people. So I think, you know, we started it purely accidentally. We didn't really expect it to be like the show that we are, we are in right now, but we really happy. It's, it's kind of turned out the way it has.

[00:06:59] Sriram: Absolutely. And, and it also kind of helps me scratch an edge, which is, uh, you know, building something, you know, keeps you close to the ground. So being able to actually do the thing yourself as opposed to maybe tell someone else, telling you how to do the, so for example, it, it being video editing or audio or how thumbnails, thumbnails or, uh, just the mechanics of, you know, uh, how to build anything.

So, uh, I, I dot think it's important. Roll up your sleeves metaphorically and get your hands dirty and know things. And this really helped us understand the world of creators and content. Uh, and it's fun and 

[00:07:31] Aarthi: go talk to other creators. Uh, like I think when we started out this thing on YouTube, I think I remember Shram just reached out to like so many creators being like, I wanna understand how it works for you.

Like, what do you do? And these are people who like, who are so accomplished, who are so successful, and they do this for a living. And we clearly don. And so, uh, just to go learn from these experts. It's, it's kind of nice, like to be a student again and to just learn, uh, a new industry all over again and figure out how to actually be a creator on this platform.

Well, you know 

[00:08:01] Dwarkesh: what's really interesting is both of you have been, uh, executives and led product in social media companies. Yeah. And so you are, you designed the products, these creators, their music, and now on the other end, you guys are building 

[00:08:12] Sriram: the, oh, I have a great phrase for it, right? Like, somebody, every once in a while somebody would be like, Hey, you know what, uh, you folks are on the leadership team of some of these companies.

Why don't you have hundreds of millions of followers? Right? And I would go, Hey, look, it's not like every economist is a billionaire, , uh, uh, you know, it doesn't work that way. Uh, but during that is a parallel, which, which is, uh, you'd be amazed at how many times Aarthi and I would have a conversation where be, oh, this algorithm thing.

I remember designing it, or I was in the meeting when this thing happened, and now we are on the other side, which is like, Hey, you might be the economist who told somebody to implement a fiscal policy. And now we are like, oh, okay, how do I actually go do this and create values and how? Anyway, how do we do exactly.

Create an audience and go build something interesting. So there is definitely some irony to it, uh, where, uh, but I think hopefully it does give us some level of insight where, uh, we have seen, you know, enough of like what actually works on social media, which is how do you build a connection with your audience?

Uh, how do you build, uh, content? How do you actually do it on a regular, uh, teams? I think 

[00:09:07] Aarthi: the biggest difference is we don't see the algorithm as a bra, as a black box. I think we kind of see it as like when the, with the metrics, we are able to, one, have empathy for the teams building this. And two, I think, uh, we kind of know there's no big magic bullet.

Like I think a lot of this is about showing up, being really consistent, um, you know, being able to like put out some really interesting content that people actually want to, and you know, I think a lot of people forget about that part of it and kind of focus. If you did this one thing, your distribution goes up a lot and here's this like, other like secret hack and you know Sure.

Like those are like really short term stuff, but really in the long term, the magic is to just like keep at it. Yeah. And, uh, put out really, really good content. 

[00:09:48] Sriram: Yeah. Yeah. And yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Um, that's good to hear. . 

[00:09:53] 10x Engineers

[00:09:53] Dwarkesh: Um, so you've both, um, led teams that have, you know, dozens or even hundreds of people.

Um, how easy is it for you to tell who the 10 X engineers are? Is it something that you as managers and executives can tell easily or 

[00:10:06] Sriram: no? Uh, absolutely. I think you can tell this very easily or repeat of time and it doesn't, I think a couple of ways. One is, uh, Uh, before, let's say before you work with someone, um, 10 x people just don't suddenly start becoming 10 x.

They usually have a history of becoming 10 x, uh, of, you know, being really good at what they do. And you can, you know, the cliche line is you can sort of connect the dots. Uh, you start seeing achievements pile up and achievements could be anything. It could be a bunch of projects. It could be a bunch of GitHub code commits.

It could be some amazing writing on ck, but whatever it is, like somebody just doesn't show up and become a 10 x person, they probably have a track record of already doing it. The second part of it is, I've seen this is multiple people, uh, who are not named so that they don't get hired from the companies actually want them to be in, or I can then hire them in the future is, uh, you know, they will make incredibly rapid progress very quickly.

So, uh, I have a couple of examples and almost independently, I know it's independently, so I have a couple of. Um, and I actually, and name both, right? Like, so one is, uh, this guy named, uh, Vijay Raji, uh, who, uh, was probably one of Facebook's best engineers. He's now the CEO of a company called Stats. And, um, he was probably my first exposure to the real TenX engineer.

And I remembered this because, uh, you know, at the time I was. Kind of in my twenties, I had just joined Facebook. I was working on ads, and he basically built a large part of Facebook's ad system over the weekend. And what he would do is he would just go, and then he con he 

[00:11:24] Aarthi: continued to do that with Facebook marketplace.

Yeah. Like he's done this like over and over and over 

[00:11:28] Sriram: again. . Yeah. And, and it's not that, you know, there's one burst of genius. It's just this consistent stream of every day that's a code checkin stuff is working. New demo somebody, he sent out a new bill or something working. And so before like a week or two, you just like a, you know, you running against Usain Bolt and he's kind of running laps around you.

He's so far ahead of everyone else and you're like, oh, this guy is definitely ahead. Uh, the second story I have is, uh, of, uh, John Carmack, uh, you know, who's legend and I never worked with him in, uh, directly with, you know, hopefully someday I can fix. But, uh, somebody told me a story about him. Which is, uh, that the person told me story was like, I never thought a individual could replace the output of a hundred percent team until I saw John.

And there's a great story where, um, you know, and so John was the most senior level at Facebook and from a hr, you know, employment insecurity perspective for an individual contributor, and it at, at that level, at Facebook, uh, for folks who kind of work in these big tech companies, it is the most, the highest tier of accomplishment in getting a year in a performance review is something called xcs Expectations, or, sorry, redefines, right?

Which basically means like, you have redefined what it means for somebody to perform in this level, right? Like, it's like somebody, you know, like somebody on a four minute mile, I'll be running a two minute mile or whatever, right? You're like, oh, and, and it is incredibly hard sometimes. You doing, and this guy John gets it three years in a row, right?

And so there's this leadership team of all the, you know, the really most important people on Facebook. And they're like, well, we should really promote John, right? Like, because he's done this three years in a row, he's changing the industry. Three years in a row and then they realized, oh wait, there is no level to promote him to Nick be CEO

Well, maybe I don't think he wanted to. And so, uh, the story I heard, and I dunno, it's true, but I like to believe it's true, is they invented a level which still now only John Carmack has gotten. Right. And, um, and I think, you know, it's his level of productivity, uh, his, uh, intellect, uh, and the consistency over time and mu and you know, if you talk to anybody, Facebook work with him, he's like, oh, he replaced hundred people, teams all by themselves and maybe was better than a hundred percent team just because he had a consistency of vision, clarity, and activity.

So those are 

[00:13:32] Aarthi: the two stories I've also noticed. I think, uh, actually sheam, I think our first kind of exposure to 10 x engineer was actually Barry born, uh, from Microsoft. So Barry, um, uh, basically wrote pretty much all the emulation engines and emulation systems that we all use, uh, and uh, just prolific, uh, and I think in addition to what Fred had said with like qualities and tenets, Um, the, I've generally seen these folks to also be like low ego and kind of almost have this like responsibility to, um, mentor coach other people.

Uh, and Barry kind of like took us under his wing and he would do these like Tuesday lunches with us, where we would just ask like, you know, we were like fresh out of college and we just ask these like really dumb questions on, you know, um, scaling things and how do you build stuff. And I was working on, uh, run times and loaders and compilers and stuff.

And so he would just take the time to just answer our questions and just be there and be really like, nice about it. I remember when you moved to Redmond, he would just like spend a weekend just like, oh yeah. Driving you about and just doing things like that, but very low ego and within their teams and their art, they're just considered to be legends.

Yes. Like, you know, everybody would be like, oh, Barry Bond. Yeah, of course. 

[00:14:47] Sriram: Yeah. It, I can't emphasize enough the consistency part of it. Um, you know, with Barry. Or I gotta briefly work with Dave Cutler, who's kind of the father of modern operating systems, uh, is every day you're on this email li list at the time, which would show you check-ins as they happen.

They would have something every single day, um, every day, and it'll be tangible and meaty and you know, and you just get a sense that this person is not the same as everybody else. Um, by the, this couple of people I can actually point to who haven't worked with, uh, but I follow on YouTube or streaming. Uh, one is, uh, Andrea Ling who builds Serenity Os we had a great episode with him.

Oh, the other is George Hart's, uh, geo Hart. And I urge people, if you haven't, I haven't worked with either of them, uh, but if I urge which to kinda watch their streams, right? Because, uh, you go like, well, how does the anti killing build a web browser on an operating system? Which he builds by himself in such a sharp period of time and he watches stream and he's not doing some magical new, you know, bit flipping sorting algorithm anybody has, nobody has seen before.

He's just doing everything you would do, but. Five bits of speed. I, yep, exactly. 

[00:15:48] Dwarkesh: I I'm a big fan of the George Hot Streams and Yeah, that's exactly what, you know, it's like yeah, you, he's also curling requests and he is also, you know, you know, spinning up an experiment in a Jupyter Notebook, but yeah, just doing it 

[00:15:58] Aarthi: away way faster, way efficiently.

Yeah. 

[00:16:00] 15 Minute Meetings

[00:16:00] Dwarkesh: Yeah. That's really interesting. Um, so ar Arthur, I'm, you've gone through Y Combinator and famously they have that 15 minute interview Yes. Where they try to grok what your business is and what your potential is. Yeah, yeah. But just generally, it seems like in Silicon Valley you guys have, make a lot of decisions in terms of investing or other kinds of things.

You, in very short calls, you know. Yeah. . Yeah. And how much can you really, what is it that you're learning in these 15 minute calls when you're deciding, should I invest in this person? What is their potential? What is happening in that 15 minutes? 

[00:16:31] Aarthi: Um, I can speak about YC from the other side, from like, uh, being a founder pitching, right.

I think, yes, there is a 15 minute interview, but before that, there is a whole YC application process. And, uh, I think even for the, for YC as, uh, this bunch of the set of investors, I'm sure they're looking for specific signals, but for me as a founder, the application process was so useful, um, because it really makes you think about what you're building.

Why are you building this? Are you the right person to be building this? Who are the other people you should be hiring? And so, I mean, there are like few questions or like, one of my favorite questions is, um, how have you hacked a non-computer system to your advantage? Yeah. . And it kind of really makes you think about, huh, and you kind of noticed that many good founders have that pattern of like hacking other systems to their advantage.

Um, and so to me, I think more than the interview itself, the process of like filling out the application form, doing that little video, all of that gives you better, um, it gives you the, the entire scope of your company in your head because it's really hard when you have this idea and you're kind of like noodling about with it and talking to a few people.

You don't really know if this is a thing. To just like crystallize the whole vision in your head. I think, uh, that's on point. Yes. Um, the 15 minute interview for me, honestly, it was like kind of controversial because, uh, I went in that morning, I did the whole, you know, I, I had basically stayed at the previous night, uh, building out this website and, uh, that morning I showed up and I had my laptop open.

I'm like really eager to like tell them what you're building and I keep getting cut off and I realize much later that that's kind of my design. Yeah. And you just like cut off all the time. Be like, why would anybody use this? And you start to answer and be like, oh, but I, I don't agree with that. And there's just like, and it, it's like part of it is like, makes you upset, but part of it is also like, it makes you think how to compress all that information in a really short amount of time and tell them.

Um, and so that interview happens, I feel really bummed out because I kind of had this website I wanted to show them. So while walking out the door, I remember just showing Gary, Dan, um, the website and he like kind of like. Scrolls it a little bit, and he is like, this is really beautifully done. And I was like, thank you.

I've been wanting to show you this for 15 minutes. Um, and I, I mentioned it to Gary recently and he laughed about it. And then, uh, I didn't get selected in that timeframe. They gave me a call and they said, come back again in the evening and we are going to do round two because we are not sure. Yeah. And so the second interview there was PG and Jessica and they both were sitting there and they were just grueling me.

It was a slightly longer interview and PG was like, I don't think this is gonna work. And I'm like, how can you say that? I think this market's really big. And I'm just like getting really upset because I've been waiting this whole day to like get to this point. And he's just being like cynical and negative.

And then at some point he starts smiling at Jessica and I'm like, oh, okay. They're just like baiting me to figure it out. And so that was my process. And I, by the evening, I remember Shera was working at. I remember driving down from Mountain View to Facebook and Sheam took me to the Sweet Stop. Oh yeah.

Which is like their, you know, Facebook has this like, fancy, uh, sweet store, like the ice cream store. I 

[00:19:37] Sriram: think they had a lot more perks over the years, but that was very fancy back then. 

[00:19:40] Aarthi: So I had like two scoops of ice cream in each hand in, and, uh, the phone rang and I was like, oh, hold onto this. And I grabbed it and I, and you know, I think it was Michael Sibu or I don't know who, but somebody called me and said, you're through.

So that was kind of my process. So even though there was only 15 minutes, mine was actually much longer after. But even before the, the application process was like much more detailed. So it sounds 

[00:20:01] Dwarkesh: like the 15 minutes it's really there. Like, can they rattle you? Can they, can they 

[00:20:06] Aarthi: you and how do you react?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, I also think they look for how sex you can be in explaining what the problem is. They do talk to hundreds of companies. It is a lot. And so I think, can you compress a lot of it and convince, if you can convince these folks here in three months or four months time, how are you going to do demo day and convince a whole room full of investors?

[00:20:27] Sriram: Yeah. Yeah. For, I think it's a bit different for us, uh, on the VC side, uh, because two things. One, number one is, uh, the day, you know, so much of it is having a prepared mind before you go into the meeting. And, for example, if you're meeting a. very early. Are we investing before having met every single other person who's working in this space, who has ideas in the space.

So you generally know what's going on, you know, what the kind of technologies are or go to market approaches are. You've probably done a bunch of homework already. It's usually, uh, it does happen where you meet somebody totally cold and uh, you really want to invest, but most often you've probably done some homework at least in this space, if not the actual company.

Um, and so when you're in the meeting, I think you're trying to judge a couple of things. And these are obviously kind of stolen from Christ Dixon and others. Um, one is their ability to kind of go walk you through their idea, ma. And so very simply, um, you know, the idea MAs is, uh, and I think say the biology of Christen came with this, the idea that, hey, um, uh, How you got to the idea for your company really matters because you went and explored all the data ends, all the possibilities.

You're managing around for years and years, and you've kind of come to the actual solution. And the way you can tell whether somebody's gone through the idea Mac, is when you ask 'em questions and they tell you about like five different things they've tried, did not work. And it, it's really hard to fake it.

I mean, we, you maybe fake it for like one or two questions, but if you talk about like how we tried X, Y, and Z and they have like an opinion what of the opinions, if they've thought about it, you're like, okay, this person really studied the idea, ma. And that's very powerful. Uh, the second part of it is, uh, you know, Alex sample.

Uh, uh, one of my partner says this, Yes, some this thing called the Manifestation Framework, which sounds like a self-help book on Amazon, but it's not, uh, uh uh, you know, but what if is, is like, you know, so many, so much of early stage startup founders is about the ability to manifest things. Uh, manifest capital, manifest the first hire, uh, manifest, uh, the first BD partnership.

And, um, usually, you know, if you can't, if you don't have a Cigna sign of doing that, it's really hard to then after raising money, go and close this amazing hotshot engineer or salesperson or close this big partnership. And so in the meeting, right? If you can't convince us, right? And these are people, our day job is to give you money, right?

Like, if I spent a year without giving anybody money, I'll probably get fired. If you can't, uh, if you can't convince us to give you money, right? If you wanna find probably a hard time to close this amazing engineer and get that person to come over from Facebook or close this amazing partnership against a competitor.

And so that's kind of a judge of that. So it is never about the actual 60 Minutes where you're like, we, we are making up of a large part of makeup of mind is. That one or two conversations, but there's so much which goes in before and after that. Yeah, yeah. Speaking of 

[00:22:57] What is a16z's edge?

[00:22:57] Dwarkesh: venture capital, um, I, I'm curious, so interest and Horowitz, and I guess why Combinator too?

Um, but I mean, any other person who's investing in startups, they were started at a time when there were much less capital in the space, and today of course, there's been so much more capital pour into space. So how do these firms, like how does A 16 C continue to have edge? What is this edge? How can I sustain it 

[00:23:20] Sriram: given the fact that so much more capital is entered into the space?

We show up on podcasts like the Lunar Society, , and so if you are watching this and you have a startup idea, Uh, come to us, right? Uh, no. Come, come to the Lunar society. . Well, yes. I mean, maybe so Trust me, you go in pat, you're gonna have a find, uh, a Thk pat right there. Uh, actually I, you think I joked, but there's a bit of truth.

But no, I've had 

[00:23:40] Dwarkesh: like lu this 

[00:23:40] Aarthi: suddenly became very different 

[00:23:43] Sriram: conversation. I have had people, this is a totally ludicrous 

[00:23:46] Dwarkesh: idea, but I've had people like, give me that idea. And it's like, it sounds crazy to me because like, I don't know what, it's, what a company's gonna be successful, right? So, but I hasn't 

[00:23:55] Aarthi: become an investor.

[00:23:57] Sriram: I honestly don't know. But it is something like what you're talking about Lu Society Fund one coming up, right? You heard it here first? Uh, uh, well, I think first of all, you know, I think there's something about the firm, uh, um, in terms of how it's set up philosophically and how it's set up, uh, kind of organizationally, uh, and our approach philosoph.

The firm is an optimist, uh, uh, more than anything else. At the core of it, we are optimist. We are optimist about the future. We are optimist about the impact of founders on their, on the liberty to kind of impact that future. Uh, we are optimist at heart, right? Like I, I tell people like, you can't work at a six and z if you're not an optimist.

That's at the heart of everything that we do. Um, and very tied to that is the idea that, you know, um, software is eating the world. It is, it's true. 10 years ago when Mark wrote that, peace is as true now, and we just see more and more of it, right? Like every week, you know, look at the week we are recording this.

You know, everyone's been talking about chat, G p T, and like all the industries that can get shaped by chat, G P T. So our, our feature, our, our idea is that software is gonna go more and more. So, one way to look at this is, yes, a lot more capitalists enter the world, but there should be a lot more, right?

Like, because these companies are gonna go bigger. They're gonna have bigger impacts on, uh, human lives and, and the world at large. So that's, uh, you know, uh, one school of thought, the other school of thought, uh, which I think you were asking about, say valuations, uh, et cetera. Is, uh, you know, um, again, one of my other partners, Jeff Jordan, uh, uh, always likes to tell people like, we don't go discount shopping, right?

Our, the way we think about it is we want to, when we're investing in a market, We want to really map out the market, right? Uh, so for example, I work on crypto, uh, and, uh, you know, we, you know, if, if you are building something interesting in crypto and we haven't seen you, we haven't talked to you, that's a fail, that's a mess, right?

We ideally want to see every single interesting founder company idea. And a category can be very loose. Crypto is really big. We usually segmented something else. Or if you look at enterprise infrastructure, you can take them into like, you know, AI or different layers and so on. But once you map out a category, you want to know everything.

You wanna know every interesting person, every interesting founder you wanna be abreast of every technology change, every go to market hack, every single thing. You wanna know everything, right? And then, uh, the idea is that, uh, we would love to invest in, you know, the what is hopefully becomes the market.

Set category, uh, or you know, somebody who's maybe close to the, the market leader. And our belief is that these categories will grow and, you know, they will capture huge value. Um, and as a whole, software is still can used to be undervalued by, uh, a, you know, the world. So, um, we, so, which is why, again, going back to what Jeff would say, he's like, we are not in the business of oh, we are getting a great deal, right?

We, we are like, we want to invest in something which, where we think the team and the company and their approach is going to win in this space, and we want to help them win. And we think if they do win, there's a huge value to be unlocked. Yeah, I see. I see. Um, 

[00:26:42] Future of Twitter

[00:26:42] Dwarkesh: let's talk about Twitter. 

[00:26:44] Sriram: Uh, . I need a drink. I need a drink.

[00:26:48] Dwarkesh: um, Tell me, what is the future of Twitter? What is the app gonna look like in five years? You've, um, I mean obviously you've been involved with the Musk Venture recently, but, um, you've, you've had a senior position there. You were an executive there before a few years ago, and you've also been an executive at, uh, you've both been at Meta.

So what 

[00:27:06] Sriram: is the future of Twitter? It's gonna be entertaining. Uh, uh, what is it El say the most entertaining outcome is the most, 

[00:27:12] Aarthi: uh, uh, like, best outcome is the most, uh, most likely outcome is the most entertaining outcome. 

[00:27:16] Sriram: Exactly right. So I think it's gonna be the most entertaining outcome. Um, I, I mean, I, I, I think a few things, uh, first of all, uh, ideally care about Twitter.

Yeah. Uh, and all of my involvement, uh, you know, over the years, uh, uh, professionally, you know, uh, has, it's kind of. A lagging indicator to the value I got from the service person. I have met hundreds of people, uh, through Twitter. Uh, hundreds of people have reached out to me. Thousands. Exactly. Uh, and you know, I met Mark Andresen through Twitter.

Uh, I met like, you know, uh, people are not very good friends of mine. We met through Twitter. We met at Twitter, right. There we go. Right. Uh, just 

[00:27:50] Aarthi: like incredible outsized impact. Yeah. Um, and I think it's really hard to understate that because, uh, right now it's kind of easy to get lost in the whole, you know, Elon, the previous management bio, like all of that.

Outside of all of that, I think the thing I like to care about is, uh, focus on is the product and the product experience. And I think even with the product experience that we have today, which hasn't like, dramatically changed from for years now, um, it's still offering such outsized value for. If you can actually innovate and build really good product on top, I think it can, it can just be really, really good for humanity overall.

And I don't even mean this in like a cheesy way. I really think Twitter as a tool could be just really, really effective and enormously good for everyone. Oh yeah. 

[00:28:35] Sriram: Twitter is I think, sort of methodically upstream of everything that happens in culture in uh, so many different ways. Like, um, you know, there was this, okay, I kinda eli some of the details, uh, but like a few years ago I remember there was this, uh, sort of this somewhat salacious, controversial story which happened in entertainment and uh, and I wasn't paying attention to, except that something caught my eye, which was that, uh, every story had the same two tweets.

And these are not tweets from any famous person. It was just some, like, some, um, you know, somebody had some followers, but not a lot of, a lot of followers. And I. Why is this being quoted in every single story? Because it's not from the, you know, the person who was actually in the story or themselves. And it turned out that, uh, what had happened was, uh, you know, somebody wrote in the street, it had gone viral, um, it started trending on Twitter, um, and a bunch of people saw it.

They started writing news stories about it. And by that afternoon it was now, you know, gone from a meme to now reality. And like in a lot of people entertainment say, kind of go respond to that. And I've seen this again and again, again, right? Uh, sports, politics, culture, et cetera. So Twitter is memetically upstream of so much of life.

Uh, you know, one of my friends had said like, Twitter is more important than the real world. Uh, which I don't, I don't know about that, but, uh, you know, I do think it's, um, it has huge sort of, uh, culture shaping value. Yeah. I thing I think about Twitter is so much of. The network is very Lindy. So one of the things I'm sure from now is like five years from now, you know, what does that mean?

Well that, uh, is that something which has kind of stood the test of time to some extent? And, um, and, uh, well the Lindy effect generally means, I don't think it's using this context with ideas like things which, with withstood the test of time tend to also with some test of time in the future, right? Like, like if we talked to Naim is like, well, people have lifting heavy weights and doing red wine for 2000 years, so let's continue doing that.

It's probably a good thing. Um, but, but, but that's Twitter today. What is the future of Twitter? Well, uh, well, I think so one is, I think that's gonna continue to be true, right? 10 years from now, five years from now, it's still gonna be the metic battleground. It's still gonna be the place where ideas are shared, et cetera.

Um, you know, I'm very. Unabashedly a a big fan of what Elon, uh, as a person, as a founder and what he's doing at Twitter. And my hope is that, you know, he can kind of canoe that and, you know, he's, you know, and I can't actually predict what he's gonna go Bill, he's kind of talked about it. Maybe that means bringing in other product ideas.

Uh, I think he's talked about payments. He's talked about like having like longer form video. Uh, who knows, right? But I do know, like five years from now, it is still gonna be the place of like active conversation where people fight, yell, discuss, and maybe sometimes altogether. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, the Twitter, 

[00:30:58] Is Big Tech Overstaffed?

[00:30:58] Dwarkesh: um, conversation has raised a lot of, a lot of questions about how over or understaffed, uh, these big tech companies are, and in particular, um, how many people you can get rid of and the thing basically functions or how fragile are these code bases?

And having worked at many of these big tech companies, how, how big is the bus factor, would you guess? Like what, what percentage of people could I fire at the random big tech 

[00:31:22] Sriram: company? Why? I think, uh, 

[00:31:23] Aarthi: yeah, I think. That's one way to look at it. I think the way I see it is there are a few factors that go into this, right?

Like pre covid, post covid, like through covid everybody became remote, remote teams. As you scaled, it was kind of also hard to figure out what was really going on in different parts of the organization. And I think a lot of inefficiencies were overcome by just hiring more people. It's like, oh, you know what, like that team, yeah, that project's like lagging, let's just like add 10 more people.

And that's kind of like it became the norm. Yeah. And I think a lot of these teams just got bigger and bigger and bigger. I think the other part of it was also, um, you lot of how performance ratings and culture of like, moving ahead in your career path. And a lot of these companies were dependent on how big your team was and uh, and so every six months or year long cycle or whatever is your performance review cycle, people would be like, this person instead of looking at what has this person shipped or what has like the impact that this person's got had, uh, the team's done.

It became more of like, well this person's got a hundred percent arc or 200% arc and next year they're gonna have a 10% increase and that's gonna be like this much. And you know, that was the conversation. And so a lot of the success and promo cycles and all of those conversations were tied around like number of headcount that this person would get under them as such, which I think is like a terrible way to think about how you're moving up the ladder.

Um, you should really, like, even at a big company, you should really be thinking about the impact that you've had and customers you've reached and all of that stuff. And I think at some point people kind of like lost that, uh, and pick the more simpler metric, which just headcount and it's easy. Yeah. And to just scale that kind of thing.

So I think now with Elon doing this where he is like cutting costs, and I think Elon's doing this for different set of reasons. You know, Twitter's been losing money and I think it's like driving efficiency. Like this is like no different. Anybody else who like comes in, takes over a business and looks at it and says, wait, we are losing money every day.

We have to do something about this. Like, it's not about like, you know, cutting fat for the sake of it or anything. It's like this, this business is not gonna be viable if we keep it going the way it is. Yeah. And just pure economics. And so when he came in and did that, I'm now seeing this, and I'm sure Sheam is too at like at eight 16 Z and like his companies, uh, but even outside, and I see this with like my angel investment portfolio of companies, um, and just founders I talk to where people are like, wait, Elon can do that with Twitter.

I really need to do that with my company. And it's given them the permission to be more aggressive and to kind of get back into the basics of why are we building what we are building? These are our customers, this is our revenue. Why do we have these many employees? What do they all do? And not from a place of like being cynical, but from a place of.

I want people to be efficient in doing what they do and how do we 

[00:34:06] Sriram: make that happen? Yeah. I, I stole this, I think somebody said this on Twitter and I officially, he said, Elon has shifted the overturn window of, uh, the playbook for running a company. Um, which is, I think if you look at Twitter, uh, you know, and by the way, I would say, you know, you know the sort of, the warning that shows up, which is don't try this at home before, which is like, so don't try some of these unless you're er and maybe try your own version of these.

But, you know, number one is the idea that you, you can become better not through growth, but by cutting things. You can become better, by demanding more out of yourself and the people who work for you. Uh, you, you can become better by hiring a, you know, a higher bar, sitting a higher bar for the talent that you bring into the company and, uh, that you reach into the company.

I think at the heart of it, by the way, uh, you know, it's one of the things I've kinda observed from Elon. His relentless focus on substance, which is every condition is gonna be like, you know, the, the meme about what have you gotten done this week is, it kinda makes sense to everything else, which is like, okay, what are we building?

What is the thing? Who's the actual person doing the work? As opposed to the some manager two levels a about aggregating, you know, the reports and then telling you what's being done. There is a relentless focus on substance. And my theory is, by the way, I think maybe some of it comes from Iran's background in, uh, space and Tesla, where at the end of the day, you are bound by the physics of the real world, right?

If you get something wrong, right, you can, the rockets won't take off or won't land. That'd be a kalo, right? Like what, what's a, the phrase that they use, uh, rapid unplanned disassembly is the word. Right? Which is like better than saying it went kaboom. Uh, but, you know, so the constraints are if, if, you know, if you get something wrong at a social media company, people can tell if you get something really wrong at space with the Tesla.

People can tap, right? Like very dramatically so and so, and I think, so there was a relentless focus on substance, right? Uh, being correct, um, you know, what is actually being done. And I think that's external Twitter too. And I think a lot of other founders I've talked to, uh, uh, in, sometimes in private, I look at this and go, oh, there is no different playbook that they have always I instituted or they were used to when they were growing up.

We saw this when we were growing up. They're definitely seen some other cultures around the world where we can now actually do this because we've seen somebody else do this. And they don't have to do the exact same thing, you know, Elon is doing. Uh, they don't have to, uh, but they can do their variations of demanding more of themselves, demanding more of the people that work for them.

Um, focusing on substance, focusing on speed. Uh, I think our all core element. 

[00:36:24] Aarthi: I also think over the last few years, uh, this may be controversial, I don't know why it is, but it somehow is that you can no longer talk about hard work as like a recipe for success. And you know, like growing up for us. When people say that, or like our parents say that, we just like kind of roll our eyes and be like, yeah, sure.

Like, we work hard, like we get it. Yeah. But I think over the last couple of years, it just became not cool to say that if you work hard, then you can, there is a shot at like finding success. And I think it's kind of refreshing almost, uh, to have Elon come in and say, we are gonna work really hard. We are gonna be really hardcore about how we build things.

And it's, it's very simple. Like you have to put in the hours. There is no kind of shortcut to it. And I think it's, it's nice to bring it all tight, all back to the basics. And, uh, I like that, like, I like the fact that we are now talking about it again and it's, it's sad that now talking about working really hard or having beds in your office, we used to do that at Microsoft

Yeah. Uh, is now like suddenly really controversial. And so, um, I'm, I'm all for this. Like, you know, it's not for everyone, but if you are that type of person who really enjoys working hard, really enjoys shipping things and building really good things, Then I think you might find a fit in this culture. And I think that's a good thing.

Yeah. I, 

[00:37:39] Sriram: I think there's nothing remarkable that has been built without people just working really hard. It doesn't happen for years and years, but I think for strong, some short-term burst of some really passionate, motivated, smart people working some really, you know, and hard doesn't mean time. It can mean so many different dimensions, but I don't think anything great gets built without that.

So, uh, yeah, it's interesting. We 

[00:37:59] Aarthi: used to like do overnights at Microsoft. Like we'd just like sleep under our desk, um, until the janitor would just like, poke us out of there like, I really need to vacuum your cubicle. Like, get out of here. And so we would just like find another bed or something and just like, go crash on some couch.

But it was, those were like some of our fun days, like, and we look back at it and you're like, we sh we built a lot. I think at some point sh I think when I walked over to his cubicle, he was like looking at Windows Source code and we're like, we are looking at Windows source code. This is the best thing ever.

I think, I think there's such joy in like, Finding those moments where you like work hard and you're feeling really good about it. 

[00:38:36] Sriram: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, so you 

[00:38:37] Next CEO of Twitter?

[00:38:37] Dwarkesh: get working hard and bringing talent into the company, uh, let's say Elon and says Tomorrow, you know what, uh, Riam, I'm, uh, I've got these other three companies that I've gotta run and I need some help running this company.

And he says, Sriram would you be down to be the next, 

[00:38:51] Sriram: uh, next CEO of Twitter Absolutely not. Absolutely not. But I am married to someone. No, uh uh, no, uh uh, you know, you know when, uh, I don't think I was, the answer is absolutely not. And you know this exactly. Fun story. Um, uh, I don't think it says in public before. So when you, when I was in the process, you know, talking to and nor words and, you know, it's, it's not like a, uh, it's not like a very linear process.

It's kind of a relationship that kind of develops over time. And I met Mark Andreen, uh, multiple times over the years. They've been having this discussion of like, Hey, do you want to come do venture or do you want to, if you wanna do venture, do you wanna come do with us? And um, and, and one of the things Mark would always tell me is, uh, something like, we would love to have you, but you have to scratch the edge of being an operator first.

Um, because there are a lot of, there are a lot of ways VCs fail, uh, operator at VCs fail. Um, and I can get, get into some of them if you're interested, but one of the common ways that they fail is they're like, oh, I really want to go back to, um, building companies. And, uh, and now thing is like antis more than most interest, like really respects entrepreneurship, fraud's the hard of what we do.

But he will, like, you have to get that out of a system. You have to be like, okay, I'm done with that word. I want to now do this. Uh, before you know, uh, you want to come over, right? And if you say so, let's have this conversation, but if not, we will wait for you. Right. And a woman telling me this all the time, and at some point of time I decided, uh, that, uh, you know, I just love this modoc.

Um, you know, there are many things kind of different about being an operator versus a BC uh, and you kind of actually kind of really train myself in what is actually a new profession. But one of the things is like, you know, you kind of have to be more of a coach and more open to like, working with very different kinds of people without having direct agency.

And it's always a very different mode of operation, right? And you have to be like, well, I'm not the person doing the thing. I'm not the person getting the glory. I'm here to fund, obviously, but really help support coach be, uh, a lending hand, be a supporting shoulder, whatever the, uh, the metaphor is, or for somebody else doing the thing.

And so you kind of have to have the shift in your brain. And I think sometimes when VCs don't work out, the few operator on VCs don't work out. There are few reasons. Uh, number one reason I would say is when an operator, and I, I hate the word operator by the way, right? It just means you have a regular job.

Uh, you know, uh, and, uh, but the number one reason is like when you have a regular job, you know, you're an engineer, you're, you're a product manager, you're a marketer, whatever. , you get feedback every single day about how you're doing. If you're an engineer, you're checking in code or you know your manager, you hire a great person, whatever it is.

When you're at Visa, you're not getting direct feedback, right? You know, maybe today what I'm doing now, recording this with you is the best thing ever because some amazing fund is gonna meet it and they're gonna come talk to me, or maybe it's a total waste of time and I should be talking some else. You do have no way of knowing.

So you really have to think very differently about how you think about patients, how we think about spending your time, and you don't get the dopamine of like, oh, I'm getting this great reinforcement loop. Um, the second part of it is because of that lack of feedback loop, you often don't know how well you're doing.

Also, you don't have that fantastic product demo or you're like, you know, if an engineer like, oh, I got this thing working, the builder is working, it's 10 x faster, or this thing actually works, whatever the thing is, you don't get that feedback loop, uh, because that next great company that, you know, the next Larry and Sergey or Brian Armstrong might walk in through your door or Zoom meeting tomorrow or maybe two years from now.

So you don't really have a way to know. Um, so you kind of have to be, you have a focus on different ways to do, uh, get. Kind of figured out how well you're doing. The third part of it is, uh, you know, the, uh, the feedback loops are so long where, uh, you know, you, you can't test it. When I was a product manager, you would ship things, something you, if you don't like it, you kill it, you ship something else.

At, at our firm in, you invest in somebody, you're working with them for a decade, if not longer, really for life in some ways. So you are making much more intense, but much less frequent decisions as opposed to when you're in a regular job, you're making very frequent, very common decisions, uh, every single day.

So, uh, I get a lot of differences and I think, you know, sometimes, uh, you know, folks who, who are like a former CEO or former like VP product, uh, uh, I talk a lot of them sometimes who went from, came to BC and then went back and they either couldn't adapt or didn't like it, or didn't like the emotions of it.

And I had to really convince myself that okay. Hopefully wouldn't fate those problems. I probably, maybe some other problems. And, uh, uh, so yes, the long way of saying no, , 

[00:43:13] Why Don't More Venture Capitalists Become Founders?

[00:43:13] Dwarkesh: um, the desk partly answer another question I had, which was, you know, there is obviously this pipeline of people who are founders who become venture capitalists.

And it's interesting to me. I would think that the other end or the converse of that would be just as common because if you're, if you're an angel investor or venture capitalist, you've seen all these companies, you've seen dozens of companies go through all these challenges and then you'd be like, oh, I, I understand.

[00:43:36] Sriram: Wait, why do you think more VCs driven apart? You have some strong opinions of this . 

[00:43:40] Dwarkesh: Should more venture capitalists and investors become founders? I think 

[00:43:43] Aarthi: they should. I don't think they will. Ouch. I dunno, why not? Um, I think, uh, look, I think the world is better with more founders. More people should start companies, more people should be building things.

I fundamentally think that's what needs to happen. Like our single biggest need is like, we just don't have enough founders. And we should just all be trying new things, building new projects, all of that. Um, I think for venture capital is, I think what happens, and this is just my take, I don't know if Farram agrees with it, but, um, I think they see so much from different companies.

And if you're like really successful with what you do as a vc, you are probably seeing hundreds of companies operate. You're seeing how the sausage is being made in each one of them. Like an operating job. You kind of sort of like have this linear learning experience. You go from one job to the other.

Here you kind of sort of see in parallel, like you're probably on like 50, 60 boards. Uh, and oftentimes when it comes to the investor as like an issue, it is usually a bad problem. Um, and you kind of see like you, you know, you kind of see how every company, what the challenges are, and every company probably has like, you know, the best companies we know, I've all had this like near death experience and they've come out of that.

That's how the best founders are made. Um, you see all of that and I think at some point you kind of have this fear of like, I don't know. I just don't think I wanna like, bet everything into this one startup. One thing, I think it's very hard to have focus if you've honed your skillset to be much more breath first and go look at like a portfolio of companies being helpful to every one of them.

And I see Sure. And do this every day where I, I have no idea how he does it, but key context, which is every 30 minutes. Yeah. And it's crazy. Like I would go completely and say, where if you told me board meeting this founder pitch, oh, sell this operating role for this portfolio company. Second board meeting, third, board meeting founder, pitch founder pitch founder pitch.

And that's like, you know, all day, every day nonstop. Um, that's just like, you, you, I don't think you can like, kind of turn your mindset into being like, I'm gonna clear up my calendar and I'm just gonna like work on this one thing. Yeah. And it may be successful, it may not be, but I'm gonna give it my best shot.

It's a very, very different psychology. I don't know. What do you 

[00:45:57] Sriram: think? Well, Well, one of my partners Triess to say like, I don't know what VCs do all day. The job is so easy, uh, uh, you know, they should start complaining. I mean, being a founder is really hard. Um, and I think, you know, there's a part of it where the VCs are like, oh, wait, I see how hard it is.

And I'm like, I'm happy to support, but I don't know whether I can go through with it. So, because it's just really hard and which is kind of like why we have like, so much, uh, sort of respect and empathy, uh, for the whole thing, which is, I, 

[00:46:20] Aarthi: I do like a lot of VCs, the best VCs I know are people who've been operators in the past because they have a lot of empathy for what it takes to go operate.

Um, and I've generally connected better with them because you're like, oh, okay, you're a builder. You've built these things, so, you know, kind of thing. Yeah. Um, but I do think a lot more VCs should become 

[00:46:38] Sriram: founders than, yeah. I, I think it's some of the couple of other things which happened, which is, uh, uh, like Arthur said, like sometimes, uh, you know, when we see you kind of, you see, you kind of start to pattern match, like on.

And you sometimes you analyze and, and you kind of, your brain kind of becomes so focused on context switching. And I think when need a founder, you need to kind of just dedicate, you know, everything to just one idea. And it, it's not just bbc sometimes with academics also, where sometimes you are like a person who's supporting multiple different kinds of disciplines and context switching between like various speech students you support.

Uh, but it's very different from being in the lab and working on one problem for like long, long years. Right. So, um, and I think it's kind of hard to then context switch back into just doing the exact, you know, just focus on one problem, one mission, day in and day out. So I think that's hard, uh, and uh, but you should be a founder.

Yeah, I think, yeah, I think more people should try. 

[00:47:32] Role of Boards

[00:47:32] Dwarkesh: . Speaking of being on boards, uh, what the FTX Saga has raised some questions about what is like the role of a board, even in a startup, uh, stage company, and you guys are on multiple boards, so I'm curious how you think about, there's a range of between micromanaging everything the CEO does to just rubber stamping everything the CEO does.

Where, what is the responsibility of a board and a startup? 

[00:47:54] Aarthi: What, what, what are the, this is something I'm really curious about too. I'm 

[00:47:57] Sriram: just, well, I just wanna know on the FDX soccer, whether we are gonna beat the FTX episode in interviews in terms of view your podcast, right? Like, so if you folks are listening, right?

Like let's get us to number one. So what you YouTube like can subscriber, they're already listening. 

[00:48:10] Aarthi: What do you mean? Get us 

[00:48:10] Sriram: to number one? Okay, then, then spread the word, right? Like, uh, don't 

[00:48:13] Aarthi: watch other episodes. It's kinda what you 

[00:48:15] Sriram: should, I mean, if there's 

[00:48:16] Dwarkesh: like some sort of scandal with a 16 Z, we could definitely be to fdx.

[00:48:21] Sriram: Uh, uh, yeah, I think it's gonna, well, it's gonna be really hard to read that one. Uh, , uh, uh, for for sure. Uh, uh, oh my goodness. Um, uh, but no, 

[00:48:29] Aarthi: I'm, I'm genuinely curious about 

[00:48:31] Sriram: these two. Well, uh, it's a few things, you know, so the multiple schools of thought, I would say, you know, there's one school of thought, which is the, uh, uh, you know, which I don't think I totally subscribe to, but I think some of the other later stages, especially public market folks that I work with sometimes subscribe to, which is the only job of a, uh, board is to hire and fire the ceo.

I don't think I really subscribe to that. I think because we deal with more, uh, early stage venture, um, and our job is like, uh, you know, like lot of the companies I work with are in a cdc c, b, you know, they have something working, but they have a lot long way to go. Um, and hopefully this journey, which goes on for many, many years, and I think the best way I thought about it is to, people would say like, you want to be.

Wave form dampener, which is, uh, you know, for example, if the company's kind of like soaring, you want to kind of be like kind the check and balance of what? Like, hey, okay, what do we do to, uh, you know, um, uh, to make sure we are covering our bases or dotting the is dotting the, crossing The ts be very kind of like careful about it because the natural gravitational pool of the company is gonna take it like one direct.

On the other hand, uh, if the company's not doing very well and everybody's beating us, beating up about it, you're, you know, your cust you're not able to close deals. The press is beating you up. You want to be the person who is supportive to the ceo, who's rallying, everybody helping, you know, convince management to stay, helping convince, close host, hire.

So, um, there are a lot of things, other things that go into being a board member. Obviously there's a fiscal responsibility part of things, and, um, you know, um, because you kind of represent so many stakeholders. But I think at the heart of it, I kind of think about, uh, you know, how do I sort of help the founder, uh, the founder and kind of dampen the waveform.

Um, the other Pinteresting part was actually the board meetings. Uh, Themselves do. Uh, and I do think like, you know, about once a year or, uh, so like that there's every kind of, there's, there's almost always a point every 18 months or so in a company's lifetime where you have like some very decisive, interesting moment, right?

It could be good, it could be bad. And I think those moments can be, uh, really, really pivotal. So I think there's, there's huge value in showing up to board meetings, being really prepared, uh, uh, where you've done your homework, you, you know, you've kind of had all the conversations maybe beforehand. Um, and you're coming into add real value, like nothing kind of annoying me if somebody's just kind of showing up and, you know, they're kind of maybe cheering on the founder once or twice and they kind of go away.

So I don't think you can make big difference, but, uh, you know, I think about, okay, how are we sort of like the waveform, the, you know, make sure the company, 

[00:50:58] Aarthi: but I guess the question then is like, should startups have better corporate governance compared to where we are today? Would that have avoided, like, say the FTX 

[00:51:08] Sriram: saga?

No, I mean, it's, I mean, we, I guess there'll be a legal process and you'll find out right when the FTX case, nobody really knows, you know, like, I mean, like what level of, uh, who knew what, when, and what level of deceptions, you know, deception, uh, uh, you know, unfolded, right? So, uh, it, yeah. Maybe, but you know, it could have been, uh, it could have been very possible that, you know, uh, somebody, somebody just fakes or lies stuff, uh, lies to you in multiple ways.

[00:51:36] Aarthi: To, there's only so much you can do as a board member. 

[00:51:38] Sriram: Uh, well, well, yeah. Uh, and, uh, you know, but who knows? I know there's maybe a counterfactual universe where, you know, there was a board and, uh, do you think 

[00:51:44] Aarthi: this is gonna lead more boards to be tighter about governance? Oh, absolutely. 

[00:51:49] Sriram: You think so? Okay.

Absolutely. For at least in the latest stages. I think the early stages, you have very different kinds of issues where you're just trying to, you know, make sure the company has product market fit and, uh, you know, uh, or just survive or, you know, keep growing. How, how big, by the way, 

[00:52:03] Failing Upwards

[00:52:03] Dwarkesh: is failing upwards in, in tech?

So if I, if somebody's not good at their current role, but they get promoted to their highest level of 

[00:52:12] Sriram: incompetence. Yeah. Who are you thinking of? Que names and names here? . I 

[00:52:15] Dwarkesh: don't know any, but, um, is that common or is that 

[00:52:19] Sriram: these people get vetted out 

[00:52:20] Aarthi: over time? You know, it does happen. We've seen that. No, it's definitely not common, at least in my perspective.

But what I've generally seen is that it all levels itself out. Um, like you might, sure, like somebody might just like fail upwards, like once, get a job that they're not really quite capable of or something of that sort. But then, you know, like the next cycle or, you know, they end up like not shipping some product or like something happens where you, it just kind of like level sets over time.

So I just think there is this like just carmic closure that just happens where you just, uh, close the loop 

[00:52:57] Sriram: on this stuff. Yeah, I, I mean it, this happened, I think happens view art. I have this conversation the other day about like how people get promoted or get, you know, sort of interesting questions. I think there are a few patterns.

One is, uh, you know, you have a mentor and that mentor and you kind follow this person everywhere they go and it's kind of, they climb the corporate ladder. You climb the corporate ladder. And often, for example, they might jump from. Say a VP of product in one company to being a CEO of another company, and they take you along and you become CEO o That happens.

Uh, the other pattern which winds up happening is what I call a battlefield promotion where, uh, you know, the person above you gets fired, replaces, goes away. Um, and then you are like, well, all of a sudden you're running 150%. This is so common in the early days of startups. Right. Uh, you know, that is very, uh, common and I think each one of these cases, right, like, you know, you could maybe call it failing upward.

Um, and you know, 

[00:53:42] Aarthi: whenever, I don't know if battlefield promos are failing upward. I think it's like stretches you in a different capacity. But that's not a failure state for, for individual by any means. Well, 

[00:53:50] Sriram: I think what que maybe means failing, I don't know. It depends on what you may failing up. It maybe means like you are in a role that maybe you shouldn't have or maybe you didn't deserve.

Yeah, 

[00:53:58] Dwarkesh: yeah, yeah. That too. And that once it's like discovered that you are not a good fit for the role, you go to another role that is an. So the people kind of get rid of you, but you get promoted and that process get 

[00:54:10] Aarthi: promoted. So you're like another level of abstraction away from the, the core of the 

[00:54:14] Sriram: business.

Um, actually, can I tie this back to the earlier conversation on Twitter? Um, which is, I think one of the things that has happened over the last 10 years, which, uh, is as these big companies have gotten really bigger and bigger and, uh, there is kind of a pool of people who are, say, directors, VPs at these fan companies to kind of rotate among each other.

And one of the questions is, uh, and especially, you know, in these companies, right, it's really hard to go from say, you know, hundreds of billions of dollars to, you know, uh, several trillion dollars, right? It's just really hard. It's large number, large of the law of large numbers. So I think somewhere that's principal agent problem.

Where if you're in one of these kind of roles, you're more incentivized to kind of advance within the status of your role, what Mark Andreeson would call, you know, ensure the survival of a professional managerial class. Yeah, yeah. Uh, as opposed to being incentivized 100% with the goals of the company, which will be different if the company, you know, was much smaller and growing very rapidly and your financial carrier incentives are 100% line at the company.

And, uh, so I think some of what happens is, you know, that kind of contributes to what you're talking about because, you know, uh, you have a class of people, it is much safer to be like, oh, this person was a VP at Company X, which is obviously credible, let's get them in, as opposed to taking a total chance on somebody new.

And, and also the only way to kind of like climb up sort of the social ladder, uh, or the corporate ladder in this case is to. Team larger, right? The first thing you would say is like, I oversaw X thousand engineers, X thousand people. That's kind of the, it becomes your currency. So I do think it's kind of a symptom of the P M C, the professional manager class and the stuff in technology and what Elon is doing, um, is kind of, you know, saying, okay, let's just focus on the actual people who do the work and go upgrade that.

And I think that's at the heart of this. Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

[00:56:00] Underrated CEOs

[00:56:00] Dwarkesh: Um, speaking of Elon, I, this can't be the answer to this next question. Who is the most underrated, uh, big tech c e o right now? And unless you think Elon is still underrated, I mean, it'd be surprising if, cuz he's quite highly rated, right? So who else 

[00:56:16] Sriram: is underrated?

Big taxi ceo. Underrated. I think I was gonna say, I, I, I, I, I I to use the telecom online, I, I think all the big tech CEOs are correctly rated . Really? You think so? I think so. I think 

[00:56:31] Dwarkesh: so. I mean, there's none of them where you feel like they have a bad reputation, but actually they've done a good job 

[00:56:35] Sriram: given the circumstances they're in.

Uh, hard to say. I don't know. What do you think? I'm trying to think of who each one of them and go through them in the list. 

[00:56:42] Aarthi: Yeah. I mean, big. They, I mean, I feel like they're big tech gets a lot of attention and from that standpoint, I feel like they're like adequately rated. 

[00:56:50] Sriram: Yeah. Can I maybe name a past one?

Go for it. Exactly. Friend of mine. Um, and, and this isn't called the big tech ceo, but I'm gonna name, uh, Nat Friedman. Who? Iran GitHub. Ah, yeah. Right. And I'll tell you why. Um, you know, so four, uh, GitHub was bought by Microsoft about 3, 4, 4, 4 year, four years ago. And, um, probabilistically, you know, acquisitions usually don't work.

Um, uh, you know, and especially Microsoft acquisitions often don't work. They get bot, you know, they, you're doing the culture, et cetera. So that's number one. Um, and number two is, um, you know, due to, by the time it was kind of on this decline, they hadn't shipped anything for many, many years. Um, you know, they had a bunch of different competition.

And, um, and so Nat, who I think had sold, uh, Zien, uh, to Microsoft, uh, you know, was appointed the CEO by Satya at the time, and he really revitalized and energized. GitHub and he just wound up leaving like I think a few months ago. Uh, and, uh, uh, but you know, GitHub is the forefront of innovation, you know, between GitHub and VS.

Code Max dominates a developer landscape. Uh, GitHub co-pilot is maybe when people ask me like, Hey, do you have an example of ai, you know, actually working at scale? I point to like, there's a non-I percentage of code and vs code, uh, uh, or GitHub and or GitHub being generated by co-pilot and all comes to Nat.

Um, and I don't wanna speak for him, but he did so many things really well, like came in, really focused on shipping very, very quickly listening to the community was, uh, out in for, uh, you know, out in front whenever there was a controversy. Um, and, um, it's, you know, and the odds were against him. If I was a betting person in 2018, 19, I would've said NA's gonna fail.

He succeeded. He left GitHub a lot better than he found it. And, uh, I think I under. Ceo, 

[00:58:31] Aarthi: I think, uh, yeah, I think that's totally right. Um, I think two people I can think of. I think one is, uh, Reid Hastings. I worked with, uh, Reid over a decade ago at Netflix. This was when the Quickster fiasco was happening, where they were trying to break up the company into Quickster and like the DVD business and the streaming business with two different businesses.

And they were just trying to like split the company apart. The company almost died. And uh, I remember being in those, in, in those team meetings, company all hands and feeling the sense of, oh my God, like this company's gonna die. And I think a lot of like my leadership lessons comes from just like watching Reid perform in that state and like the company was just like failing and not hitting revenue goals and all of that.

And people just like, People writing off Netflix. And you could see, and this is like Netflix of, you know, over a decade ago. So no international content, no original programming, like no House of Cards, no crown, nothing. Yeah. This is just like, you know, licensed content from, uh, other studios and US only. Um, and just like Reed leading, its his way through this whole thing.

And I think he's, I know he gets a lot of attention, but I still think he's like very underrated as a CEO to also look at TE technology as a distinction for video streaming and a video streaming platform. I think Ferra and I used to have these debates back then where he'd be like, wow, you know, everybody can build this.

And you realize that not many people can actually build it, uh, the, the technology behind Netflix. Um, and I think, um, I think Reed's one of them. I think the other person I can think of is Katrina Lake, uh, from Stitch Fix. And, uh, Katrina, uh, she's, she, she was a founder. She's a founder and ceo. She's no longer the ceo.

She is a chairperson. Um, but building this company from scratch. And she was kind enough to be an advisor for me when I was building my company. And incredibly smart, incredibly driven, but very, very low ego, humble, just willing to show up, add value, just, you know, was just willing to help me out. And I was like, nobody building the startup that nobody knew about.

And she just took the time at that time to like, reach out and just help be helpful, but also like took the company public Stitch Fix and public in the record time, like six years of tech starting. Um, this is a hard business. This is like physical goods, pick, pack, and ship, like three pl logistics, uh, algorithms based on that.

Like, it's like, you know, uh, a box of stuff that is like curated for you kind of business. So very, very hard from all angles, but found a way to like really quickly scale it and build it. Yeah. So, geez, I think pretty 

[01:01:02] Sriram: underrated. Uh, I have one more name I think I was thinking of, which is, uh, uh, closer at home for me is Brian Armstrong of Coinbase.

Yeah. Um, and the reason I say that is, uh, if you look at Brian and Coinbase history, Surviving multiple crypto winters. And I think at one time they had like 25% of the company leave, which would destroy most companies surviving. That uh, and plan has this crazy line, like, you know, you don't have a real crypto winter unless you go to a party and people are asking you like, why are you still working in crypto?

He's been through that so many times, uh, and company to innovate, continuing to build a fantastic company. And, uh, 

[01:01:33] Aarthi: Yuka, when he came on our show, he had this one line, which is so inspiring. He kind of said, if everything went to share and Coinbase didn't work out as a company, I'll always still have my laptop and I can always build another company and I can, I have enough confidence in me to be able to like, have an idea and see it through.

And it just felt so simple and so profound that he just had the courage and the confidence to go, like, go through with it. 

[01:01:57] Sriram: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh yeah. Keep it going. I, I mean, just look at the last month, I mean, you know, he's done such a fantastic job. I. Being the statesman figure, uh, for the entire industry, uh, um, especially with everything else that was going on, and kind of being the spokesman and talking about how to do things the right way.

So, huge, huge, uh, fan of Brian. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just the fact that 

[01:02:18] Founder Education?

[01:02:18] Dwarkesh: there's not a Coinbase token itself is in, in and of itself, makes him a highly, um, highly worthwhile ceo. But, um, if you had to design a college or high school course to make more founders, what would it look like? And I asked, because I actually did one of these courses and it was pretty boring.

I, I don't know if anybody who went through it and decided, I'm gonna be a founder, what, what would a course that actually does this look like? Or 

[01:02:40] Aarthi: is it not possible? I actually think it's gonna, it'll look a lot like yc. Um, yeah. Um, I think, uh, I think there. I think if you are truly trying to build a company, uh, what you, what you need isn't like all the courses and the theoretical knowledge of how other people have built companies, I think that's somewhat useful, but not really.

Like every founder's journey is gonna be very, very different. So I almost don't think that's useful at all. And she just throw it all away. Uh, I think what is going to be helpful is to surround yourself with people who are similar to you, uh, who are going through the startup journey in a way similar to yourself and, uh, and having like very strong characteristics like foundational behaviors, like, you know, being really scrappy, um, you know, having a, and if you're building a tech startup, like focusing on like an engineering centric culture.

And I think YC was the closest that came to like all of this. They, like, for the longest time it was PG and Jessica just running the whole show. Um, and they would have, you know, Tuesday dinners where they would like invite founders to do these talks. Uh, and these founders, like, you know, in my batch, I think like Mark Zuckerberg showed up.

Marka showed up, like all these folks would like show up and not you do the usual PR spiel. Like they would talk about all the ways in which their company almost died, and you kind of sort of want to know, and it's all off the record. Um, and it was just such a great conversation to have because you realize that every one of these folks went through a similar journey as yourself.

And it's, it's really powerful to have that and have it all in this like enclosed space in this room. Very scrappy, very minimal. Like this is like PG serving burritos on Tuesday night dinners. Um, and just managing the whole process. And I think there's, it's, there's just something really powerful about it.

The other thing they did, and they started doing this in my batch, was, uh, these office hours that were group office hours and my batch is one of those like historic batches, uh, where you, you had DoorDash and you had like all these like phenomenal companies coming out of it. And there were all these other founders sitting around in the circle being like, well, one person would be like, my junior quit today.

And you know, I have to figure out like what we should do about this. And then the other person's like, well, my customers said they would never, ever try a product again because we like. You know, uh, we just did this, like the, our website had this horrible bug and they, they just churned and every person would talk about their, their deepest, darkest failure states.

And it somehow made everyone feel a little bit better about ourselves and also feel good about like, going through this journey together. And I think every startup school, or if you're building a school for getting more founders in, you need to do that. You need to normalize the fact that, um, this kind of like, uh, the facing adversity on a pretty much daily basis is going to be the norm and make that, like, make that acceptable and okay.

And I think that's a single biggest thing you can do in, in this college or in this setup. 

[01:05:21] Sriram: Yeah. But we can't add anything more. That's perfect. I think, uh, 

[01:05:24] Aarthi: and I think we aspire to do that one day. You know, we wanna like, have something of that sort, especially for folks, like, for us, we've always seen of ourselves as like, uh, outside the Silicon Valley system, we've been outsiders.

We didn't, we weren't born in this country. We grew up in India, came here not even to study, to like work at Microsoft and then like found our way throughs to Silicon Valley. And so we've always figured out, we've always seen ourselves as outsiders, but now we are somehow inside this whole circle. And now we look at so many people outside, and I don't mean geographically, but whatever your meaning of outsiders and our like, I think part of our responsibility is to like how to make them insiders and get them into the circle that they wanna be in.

And I think part of why we do the show, why we expose, you know, these guests and all of that is like for us to be able to have that conversation and bringing outsiders to insiders. And we see a lot of really awesome founders who are, you know, who don't have this access, who don't have this network. And I think at some point someday I think we have that in our to-do list to be able to like build something like that.

Yeah. 

[01:06:26] Sriram: Yeah. Um, 

[01:06:27] What TV Show Would Sriram Make?

[01:06:27] Dwarkesh: slight, uh, topic change. You have five years to make a movie or a TV show. It can be about anything. , no budget. Hire all the talent you want. What is a movie 

[01:06:38] Sriram: show about? Oh my goodness. Uh, you've earned screenplays, right? Yes. Uh, which nobody shall ever see . Um, it's a, well, you know, maybe there's a few ways to answer this.

Um, I would say, well, um, it'll obviously be some super amazing, killer, entertaining movie that, uh, she's gotta be a blockbuster. A blockbuster that will excite people on the silver screen and on your, some local streaming service someday. Um, I don't know. But if I had to guess, I would have it have elements of a few things.

I would have it have a very resonant heroes journey with something Joseph Camp would be proud about. Or, um, it would have, uh, you know, it would, okay, let me, can I, let's take a backup, right? Yes. Maybe let me access this with like, things I would steal from and try and incorporate elements if I had the skills off.

Okay. Um, number one, I would, from the wwe, I would, uh, professional wrestling, I would steal the ability to have hugely emotional resonant moments, which is, uh, wwe, you know, is amazing. A lot of things. But I think they're really good at is when they deliver an emotional moment, and they do every once in a while it really lands.

That's number one. Uh, number two, uh, from Spielberg. I think one of the things that if you watch his movies that you really observe is he has his way of trying to portray something really big through the very personal, so alien showing up on earth. Well, it's a, uh, kids interacting with somebody they think is a pet, right?

Um, uh, the Holocaust, well, it's one person. And so he has this amazing way of trying to take something which is very big and it, uh, something deep and profound, but look at it as well lens of something very intense and personal, which I think is like, uh, a super interesting, uh, from Tarantino. I think, uh, especially dialogue, tension, pop culture references, uh, who among us hasn't dreamt of writing a Tarantino as dialogue of two people across the table, uh, with, uh, a, a glass of, uh, whiskey between them, and then somebody dies at the end of the conversation, right?

Like, so like, uh, uh, um, you want, uh, that, and uh, and I think at the heart of it, I think, you know, the best movies are one, which have something which is entertaining, but have an underlying core human theme, which makes you, you know, we reflect about your own sort of journey as a human being. So something which makes you go like, ah, okay, like, you know, I can sort of see.

My own journey reflected on screen. So some elements of all of that. Yes. And then what is the topic? 

[01:09:09] Dwarkesh: Is it some, is there some historical era that you're interested in writing about? 

[01:09:13] Sriram: Um, I don't, I don't know. I think one of the things I would be very interested in is, uh, tying back to what we're talking about is we really think technology building things are so key to everything that we do.

Um, and if you look at like, some of the stuff that I read growing up, like Toms, uh, the Swift novels or even the original versions of like, stuff that got me interested in tech, something which kind of has, uh, you know, um, the idea of like engineering, building science, um, tied to humanity, for example, I think something like, say Interstellar does a fantastic job of this, or, you know, there are certain episodes of track, which is part of this, but the idea that human enterprise, human ingenuity, science, and technology, Is the path to Yeah.

Uh, uh, uh, to infinity, uh, uh, of the story of Elon Musk, . Well, uh, uh, maybe that's not over yet. Yeah. , that's gonna be a multi-part movie. Uh, uh, for sure. So something along those lines. Who knows? We'll see. Yeah. Stay tuned. Excellent, excellent. 

[01:10:14] Undervalued Founder Archetypes

[01:10:14] Dwarkesh: Um, so getting back to venture capital and investing, there is this sort of, uh, stereotype of a 20 year old person in a hoodie who's a hacker, 

[01:10:23] Sriram: um, and maybe in The Bahamas with an 

[01:10:27] Dwarkesh: Afro.

Um, and maybe, uh, actually that's a great example, right? Because maybe 15, 20 years ago that was, um, that was underpriced, but maybe at this point that archetype has been priced in. What is the kind of person at this point where you feel that people don't realize that this archetype is actually a powerful founder?

Is it some grizzled old tech veteran? Is it a humanities person? What is the. What does a person look like? Who's, uh, venture capitalist or, and investors are underestimating? I think they're 

[01:10:55] Aarthi: synonymous. I think, uh, a lot of these folks, you don't know them. Like, you know, I've literally, they're, there're I think there's at least one company I've backed where I don't know who the founder is and, uh, , it entirely synonymous.

And, you know, I think through Covid and being remote, I think it's become more acceptable to like, not really think about what this person looks like or how they talk or any of that. Like, at least for me, it doesn't really matter. Um, I think it, you know, what are they building? How are they scaling it? How are they thinking about it?

I'm very left brained as a person. I look at it as like, you know, growth, distribution, uh, that kind of thing. And I think, uh, yeah, fairly agnostic to, you know, how the person looks like. I think. 

[01:11:35] Sriram: Yeah. Uh, I would say, 

[01:11:37] Aarthi: I dunno, is that gonna get me canceled? ? 

[01:11:40] Sriram: Uh, well, uh, this entire podcast I think is already canceled.

Uh uh, no. I think, well, I dunno if it's a content intake or a society content intake, but I think. Technologists who are incredibly good at what they do, running companies is still enterprised. Wow. Okay. Right. Even at this point. Even at this point. Right. And I, I said technologist, I'm not talking about an appearance.

I don't really care what you wear, what do you look like, what you've got a haircut. But, um, you know, if for example, if you look at someone and say, Dylan Field, who's a founder of Figma, um, if you look at his history pre Figma, right? He has such an amazing track record, even for Figma, right? He, yeah. He was building all these projects, uh, even before he became a Thiel fellow, it was very clear that this person was Publically going to do something very, very interesting.

And a lot more people like Dylan feel out there. And by the way, I don't know, care how they look, where they are, what they speak, uh, often, for example, in the world of crypto, you don't even know, you know, uh uh, uh, you never even know the real name. Um, let learn anything else about them. But I think at the heart of what we do is technology.

And I think, um, a strong technologists who know what they're doing, building something, Was, is and will continue to be underpriced. Hmm. Mm-hmm. Why are there 

[01:12:45] Dwarkesh: so many Indians in the suites of, 

[01:12:48] Sriram: uh, texa or dazzling? Good looks? Yes. . I'm on the thumb. Well, that's obvious, 

[01:12:52] Dwarkesh: but what is the thing that people don't realize?

[01:12:55] Aarthi: Um, I know you used to go for it. I think you, yeah. You've, you've thought this through. 

[01:13:00] Sriram: Uh, well, I, I mean, I think this, there's a few surface level answers. I think, uh, number one, you kind of generalize whenever you talk about a culture, but like, you know, uh, but India has a strong focus on a. Strong focus on STEM engineering.

Uh, we were told that, you know, if we didn't get good marks grades in college, like our life would be a disaster. We would not get married. Right. Like, uh, you know, um, and, uh, which is I think hopefully not true, uh, and, uh, but uh, and the city where I come from tonight, right? Um, you know, if when the lights went off at 7:00 PM you know, it's not like everyone's out partying.

Everyone is at home doing homework. Um, and 

[01:13:37] Aarthi: I mean, China is like the nerd capital. No, I think we are like the, the only sport that we are good at is chess. 

[01:13:42] Sriram: We, we, we rule in spelling base a lot of spelling base, uh, and, uh, uh, we dominate, right? We're like, LeBron Chess is spelling beast, but, uh, uh, you know, so there was such a huge focus on, I would say academic stem, but, and obviously the tech industry that kind of lend itself very, very well.

I think the other part of it was, uh, you know, in circa 2000, say late nineties to 20 10, 20 11, the Indian. Tech sector, uh, was still very services dominated, right? It was, uh, Infosys, cts, cogni, um, Accenture, all these kinds of players. And at the time, they didn't really have startups, entrepreneurship, uh, venture, which obviously they do know.

There was amazing Indian companies the last year, 10, 12 years, but not 10, I would say very few examples. Late nineties, early two thousands. And so because of that, you are a lot of really talented Indians who kind of wound up flying out here because they idolized, you know, uh, they idolized Steve Jobs and Riesen and Laia and Serge, and they wanted to come here.

So you got this huge influx of talent, uh, which came here. That's number two. And I think, uh, third part of it was, you know, Indian society at the time was at, you know, Focus on hard work, getting your job done because you are so trained, uh, you know, by the, the academic system you are in to go, um, do all that.

No, I think the interesting question is, uh, you know, and that's kinda leads to the meme, which is, you know, di founder or live long enough to see yourself being replaced by an Indian c e o . Uh, but having said that, 

[01:15:04] Aarthi: I think you're trying to make it into a 

[01:15:06] Sriram: meme. a definitely thing on Twitter. Uh, uh, but I think the, in the, the interesting, um, uh, and I think the interesting question now, and I think it's maybe through which is, uh, are there gonna be enough interesting Indian founders in, uh, Indian founders who, uh, who build these amazing companies from scratch in the us Uh, as opposed to kind of climbing up the corporate ladder and um, and then being chosen as consensus.

Right. Like Satia for example, you know, if I remember it was in Bing, windows, Azure. Then when, um, bill Gates retired, you know, became c e oscha, I think kind of was building, running Google Chrome, then a bunch of other stuff then became, um, c e O. So I think they kind of all had like, kind of went up the corporate ladder and then uh, was kind the consensus person to run things.

I think it's be interesting to say, hey will be an Indian person in the us They're obviously amazing Indian founders in India. Uh, you know, from like Ptn to Sugi to, you know, Ola to so many other companies, but in the US who are creating a hundred billion dollar companies from Sky. I think that's gonna be interesting.

Yeah. Yeah, it will be. And final question, 

[01:16:06] Dwarkesh: what is next for you guys? So, uh, you guys move from clubhouse to YouTube. Uh, is the YouTube Spotify, apple podcast, is that the future? Where, where, where are you guys 

[01:16:14] Aarthi: gonna, yeah, I think we're gonna continue to do this. Um, I think we just about getting started on YouTube, it's been about six months.

Yeah. Uh, and you guys have blown off. It's, it's been pretty good so far. I mean, um, we didn't know how it was gonna be. I think for us a lot of. Why we wanna do this. We didn't, we wanna move away from live because live was just like too time consuming. We didn't have like that exact, you know, put the kids to bed and then go do the show thing.

It was just too time consuming. So we wanted to do this recorded so we had enough bandwidth to like do the editing and all of that later and just have a few episodes done together. So that bed has worked out. Like we've tried to like make this show, uh, work around our, like, make it convenient for us to be able to continue to do it because I think, uh, otherwise we just like give up and, uh, it won't be sustainable.

So we'll continue to go build on this. I think at some point we will like launch an email newsletter. Yeah. Uh, and just scale out as such in, uh, 

[01:17:05] Sriram: different platforms. Yeah. I think at the heart of this is that we start doing this because, uh, when we do the show, we would get all these people to reach out. . Um, and they'd be like, oh, disconnected with me in some shape or form.

Art would get all these hundreds of dms, um, you know, often from like young women being like, oh, I'm going to something similar in my career and this helped me. Uh, or if I'm from India, I knew this was possible. And that is really the fuel of fuel which keeps us going. Um, and you know, so I think more along those lines, which is how do we connect with a broader audience?

How do we bring in more interesting founders? How do we maybe support like people like yourself who trying to build, you know, I think we spiritually align things, which is like, you know, have conversations, uh, with technologies and builders. So I dunno what that makes means, whether that means, you know, more content.

Definitely, hopefully whether that means more live things, maybe things in the Metaverse or 3d. But I think it's all going be a lens of um, you know, we like, think about as outsiders who are now kind of on the inside, quote unquote. And we wanna be able to tell people, Hey, you can also do it in the world of technology and entrepreneurship.

So something in that path is what we want to be on all so far. It's just, 

[01:18:07] Aarthi: it's been really fun. This is our. First ever project where we worked together, and this is like two years now. And so, you know, we just wanna keep this going as long as 

[01:18:16] Dwarkesh: we can. Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Okay. So w where can people find the Good Time Show?

[01:18:21] Aarthi: We are on YouTube. Yeah. Uh, we are at the Art insurances. Good Time show. 

[01:18:24] Sriram: Yeah, so it's our names anywhere on 

[01:18:26] Aarthi: the web. Uh, YouTube is where we do the video. We are also on, you know, all the podcast platforms, Spotify, apple, you'll find us everywhere else. Yeah. Yep, 

[01:18:33] Dwarkesh: yep. And then your Twitter handles. We can also 

[01:18:36] Aarthi: make them in the description.

First name, last initial, first name, last initial. So for K Rt R. There you 

[01:18:41] Sriram: go. Yeah. And did you guys plan that, by the way, but 

[01:18:43] Dwarkesh: when you, did you guys make Twitter accounts together 

[01:18:44] Sriram: or just coincidence? Uh, no, but do not mention it. All right. Okay. I would, uh, she has very, uh, unique. Email address. Email address, which, uh, in 2004, I managed to get her as a gift because actually you can, it's, it's on my Twitter bio.

Yeah. So it was, uh, her email address is her first name@gmail.com. And, uh, it's very hard for people to get first names. Uh, um, which somebody said it's exactly, you just makes you feel old now, which may, it may not be a good thing anymore, but 

[01:19:10] Aarthi: I still get, every once in a while, at least once a week, I get somebody being like, oh my God, you have rhea gmail.com.

That's crazy . But he's 

[01:19:16] Sriram: responsible for that. Yeah. So back in 2004, I thought the way to impress a young lady's heart was to get her and invite to this mythical service called Gmail, which other time people thought was an fool joke. But we know it's a very hard, again, we are 

[01:19:27] Aarthi: so old that we know when Gmail launched as an April, April 1st two 

[01:19:29] Sriram: joke.

Yeah. Um, and, uh, because we one gigabyte that is so much and, 

[01:19:34] Aarthi: uh, yeah, we were in college and we were like, this is so 

[01:19:36] Sriram: cool. So I got invited and gave it to her. Sadly, did not manage to get the same for myself, but I gave it to her and it's been the same ever since. Okay. 

[01:19:42] Dwarkesh: Excellent. Excellent. Yeah. Awesome.

Thank you guys so much 

[01:19:44] Sriram: for coming out the show. This is, appreciate it. This is so much fun. Thank you. Thank you. We are we gonna beat the SBF episode? We'll 

[01:19:49] Aarthi: see. We'll see. But, but, but in all seriousness, you know, you have such amazing guests. The quality of conversation is just fantastic. So for us, this is such a privilege.

Yeah. You know, we look at it and we are like, my God, we have people like Tyler Covin, like, you know, we have all these like incredible people here and then there is us. Yeah. I mean, 

[01:20:03] Sriram: I hope you don't lower the bar for the, I was making this point about one of the things you do as a v see you start pattern matching and you start extrapolating points and trajectories.

And if we're founders, And you try and get in early. Um, and I don't think we are early, but like, you know, it's very clear to me that, you know, you're going be in the Bo Rush board of Podcasts. Uh, and uh, so I was like, Hey, we need to get booked on this show. We can be like, we 

[01:20:24] Aarthi: knew him back 

[01:20:25] Sriram: then. We knew him back then.

Uh, because then in like a few years he's gonna be like, well, talk to my people and then maybe we can slaughter him. Yeah. My people will talk 

[01:20:32] Aarthi: to your people. Yeah. , 

[01:20:33] Dwarkesh: I'm incredibly flattered to hear that because I'm also a big fan of your podcast. So, um, yeah, it's very flattering to hear that. And, uh, yeah, I'm a big fan.

Um, keep it off. Yeah. I'm looking forward to hearing the next episode. We can have Elon Musk. You can have Elon Musk back again once, uh, Twitter is 

[01:20:47] Sriram: on the, uh, 

[01:20:48] Aarthi: let he probably start with what have you done this week? Yeah, let 

[01:20:51] Sriram: that, let that sing, sinking all that. Thank you. So this is amazing. Okay. Thank you so, so much.

Hey, thanks for listening. 

[01:21:00] Dwarkesh: Many thanks to my amazing editor, Graham Belu for producing this podcast. Remember to subscribe on YouTube and your favorite podcast platforms.

Cheers. See you next time.