Who to Follow in Silicon Valley

Improving your startup media diet

Welcome to Silicon Valley Outsider, a newsletter for aspiring startup founders and investors who live outside the SF Bay Area.

For exciting reasons that I am not yet able to disclose, today’s version of Silicon Valley Outsider will be shorter than normal.

In lieu of sharing my own thoughts this week, here are a few folks to follow if you want to understand Silicon Valley.

Sriram Krishnan

Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, host of one of the most popular Clubhouse shows

🧑 The Observer Effect: Super in-depth profiles of Silicon Valley’s best investors and founders. His interview of Marc Andreessen put The Observer Effect on the map:

Yeah, and so we really don't spend a huge amount of time on [looking at our track record]. What we’ve zeroed in on is - what's the optimal way to run the process? What’s the optimal way to run the firm? What’s the optimal way to help the entrepreneur?By the way, the optimal way to help is not too much help. The optimal way is to make sure we understand what's happening in the industry, what's the best way to help with our network, the optimal way to help the management teams. It's all a process. 

Honestly, this also goes a little bit to my psychology - I actually don’t have the gambling gene. I get no rush from the bet or the result. I sit down for one of those and nothing happens. My pulse chemistry is just flat. And then the mathematical part of my brain is like, well, the expected return for this exercise is negative, what the fuck am I doing? And so it becomes unfun in the first 10 seconds and then I just walk away. One of the things in the firm is we actually don’t celebrate our successes enough. We don't get enough of a rush out of actually winning. We're extremely competitive but the payoff is not the point.

Strategy: Sririam’s collection of articles that explain next-generation business strategy.

"Business strategy" is an incredibly broad space with a lot of seminal works (Clayton Christensen's work for example) and no one page can hope to collect them all. This is meant as a cross-section of writing that has resonated with me and is biased towards the spaces I've worked on - consumer technology.

Sam Altman

Former President of Y Combinator, CEO of OpenAI

🆕 Moore’s Law for Everything — A piece Sam published this week explaining how the world might look if run by Silicon Valley founders and investors:

  1. [The AI] revolution will create phenomenal wealth. The price of many kinds of labor (which drives the costs of goods and services) will fall toward zero once sufficiently powerful AI “joins the workforce.”

  2. The world will change so rapidly and drastically that an equally drastic change in policy will be needed to distribute this wealth and enable more people to pursue the life they want.

  3. If we get both of these right, we can improve the standard of living for people more than we ever have before.

🌟 How to Be Successful — A classic piece by Sam, describing the Silicon Valley model of a successful career.

You also want to be an exponential curve yourself—you should aim for your life to follow an ever-increasing up-and-to-the-right trajectory. It’s important to move towards a career that has a compounding effect—most careers progress fairly linearly.

Want to keep expanding your Silicon Valley media diet? Follow along by subscribing, and there’s much more where this came from:

Kara Swisher

Silicon Valley’s top journalist, founder of Recode

🏆 Kara has the best access to founders, like Elon Musk:

🔥 And uses her influence to hold tech execs’ feet to the fire:

David Pierce

Founder of Protocol, author of my favorite Silicon Valley newsletter

🥇 David’s newsletter is simply the best I’ve found yet. Yesterday’s version shared a few awesome links:

A hacker got all my texts for $16 — Vice

Kill the passwords, they said! Two-factor authentication, they said! Turns out it takes almost no time and no effort to exploit SMS. I'm with Brian Krebs on this one: Can we stop pretending SMS is secure now?

The secret auction that set off the race for AI supremacy — Wired

This story — an excerpt from Cade Metz's excellent new book, "Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought AI to google, Facebook, and the World" — is set in a Tahoe casino, features a bunch of names I bet you know, and makes clear just how expensive and competitive the race to win at AI is going to be. And we're just getting started.

Your face is not your own — The New York Times

Clearview AI has become a poster child for all the scary things tech companies can do with publicly available data. But does it change anything when you learn all the good it can be used for? How do people and companies balance principles with results? If anything, this story will make you realize how complicated all those questions really are.