Who to Know in Silicon Valley
Building your follow list (and, therefore, your brain)
Before starting the usual programming, I have an exciting announcement: I’m launching a cohort-based course on Maven!
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Who to know in Silicon Valley
In real life, you become the average of the five people you interact with most often. But none of us live in “real life” anymore.
A cursory Google search says that the average person spends 7 hours per day on the web — but, honestly, that feels low. What do people do with their other waking hours? Genuine question.
In today’s world, we’re becoming who we follow on the internet.
Spend time hate-reading the New York Times, and you’ll become a wanna-be pundit. Spend time watching gossipy, horrible dating shows on Netflix, and you’ll become gossipy and horrible. Spend time following the lives of the mega-rich, and you’ll become financially irresponsible and unmotivated.
When I moved to San Francisco to join the startup scene, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who to follow.
I read the startup books, followed the tech blogs, listened to the VC podcasts, started a few companies, met some venture capitalists, attended lots of objectively boring networking events, and even paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for an MBA degree from UC Berkeley. I ultimately joined Astranis, and have spent the last four years on the inside of a Silicon Valley unicorn, meeting various Twitter personalities in real life and learning how the startup ecosystem ticks.
As such, I’ve learned who’s who in Silicon Valley and would love to help you upgrade your startup attention diet.
Entrepreneurs to follow
Nikita Bier — Founder of two hyper-viral social apps that sold to Facebook and Discord
Anne Wojcicki — Co-founder and CEO, 23 and Me
Austen Allred — Co-founder and CEO, Bloom Tech (coding school)
Patrick Collison — Co-founder and CEO, Stripe (payments platform). Possibly the smartest human in Silicon Valley.
Patrick McKenzie — Advisor to Stripe. Also named Patrick, also insanely smart.
Lucy Guo — Co-founder of Scale.ai (data labeling for AI).
Sam Altman — Former CEO of Y Combinator, current CEO of OpenAI (makers of GPT-3). My current frontrunner for “the next Elon Musk.”
Palmer Luckey — Founder and inventor of Oculus VR, founder of Anduril (defense hardware).
John Gedmark — Co-founder and CEO of Astranis (internet satellites).
Susan Wojcicki — CEO, YouTube. Yes, Anne’s sister! Power fam.
Ryan Petersen — Founder of Flexport (shipping logistics). Once rented a boat and drove a customer into the LA ports to diagnose what was wrong.
Joe Gebbia — Founder of Airbnb. Just started a new company, Backyard.
George Hotz — Founder of Comma.ai, a self-driving car company with <20 employees and a working product. Hacker, best known for being the first person to SIM-unlock an iPhone.
Lenny Rachitsky — Product guru, formerly Airbnb.
Balaji Srinivasan — Former CTO of Coinbase (crypto exchange).
Web Smith — Co-founded Mizzen and Main (menswear), now running a media company.
Trevor McKendrick — Founder of Seis (Spanish-native banking). A real homie.
Investors to follow
Delian Asparouhov — Investor at Founders Fund and founder of Varda Space. Has worn non-matching shoes his entire life.
Ann Miura-Ko — Investor at Floodgate, board member at Lyft.
Paul Graham — Co-founder of Y Combinator. Incredible writer.
Marc Andreessen — Invented the modern web browser, then became one of the best investors of all time.
Ben Horowitz — Wrote the best startup book of all time, then became one of the best investors of all time.
Cyan Bannister — Early investor in Uber, SpaceX, Postmates, others.
Seth Bannon — Founder of Fifty Years. Climate, bio, and deeptech.
Naval Ravikant — Angel investor in Uber and Twitter. They made a book about his sage wisdom.
Garry Tan — Former founder, early employee at Palantir, brand-new President of Y Combinator.
Logan Bartlett — Investor at Redpoint. Has a great podcast.
Turner Novak — Investor at Banana Capital. Meme machine.
Arlan Hamilton — Founder of Backstage Capital. Was homeless in 2015, before starting her own investing firm.
Katherine Boyle — Partner at a16z, co-founder of their American Dynamism practice.
Tim Ferriss: Investor turned writer of “Four Hour Workweek.”
Silicon Valley Writers to Follow
Kara Swisher: The best tech reporter of all time.
Ben Thompson: The best serious tech blogger of all time.
Benedict Evans: Former investor who publishes an epic year-end report every year.
Mike Solana: Incredible writer, shares the vibe of the more conservative corners of Silicon Valley (i.e., Founders Fund).
Taylor Lorenz: Washington Post columnist that tech bros love to hate (but mostly love, no matter what they say)
Roon: Pseudonymous account with objectively absurd sway over some of the most influential people in tech.
Noah Smith: Economics writer in San Francisco. Bunny-owner.
John Coogan: Recent addition to Founders Fund. Makes great videos.
Thanks for reading Silicon Valley Outsider! Here are a few past editions that you might like if you enjoyed this one:
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