a16z Podcast: Talent, Tech Trends, and Culture

I interview Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, not a Conversation but nonetheless a conversation, they were both in top form.  Here is the link.

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Nice, but I was struck by something in the discussion of block chain. While math is pure, software implementations are anything but.

After seeing a great variety of cyber-currency theft, and loss, thid purity of the math seems less an issue.

Maybe we should even go in the opposite direction, treating computer networks as inherently unsafe. Implying that someone like a bank or an insurer must provide assurance in the face of inevitable crime.

Blockchain is overrated

Just because you don't understand the math doesn't mean its overrated.

No, the fact that most cryptocurrency is stolen by hackers means it's overrated

Most banks are robbed by bank robbers. Money must be overrated too using your superior logic.

If we end up with something like an FDIC for blockchain, what was the point?

What dont I understand about complicated math requiring someone to pay people to build computer hardware, power generation, distribution, etc, plus ongoing maintenance, for the vague promised benefits to be trusted?

If blockchain is the means of giving me title to property, but payments for electricity stop, how can anyone know I own my property.

Government records title and liens and births and deaths on an ongoing basis by taxing society in many ways, which pays the workers maintaining the records. Dictators who claim to be the law tend to be more trustworthy recod keepers than republics where paying taxes is too often considered undesirable because ensuring trust is too costly. The keepers of trust, whether record keepers or enforcers of property rights work for the highest bidder.

Blockchain et al are libertarian free lunch. Magic, pixie dust, voodoo, will pay the workers, not taxes, fees, collectivism.

Nearby was the reference about system effects of hiking minimum wages, which I'm certain is about how the speaker will start fasting an additional day soon after the minimum wage hike, along with everyone he knows, to force food industry job cuts.

I've seldom seen any reference to higher wages increasing consumer demand for labor intensive goods, so im guessing his wink wink commment reflects the really smart economists who know no worker is ever a consumer, and consumers have an unlimited supply of money to spend which they spend based purely on low prices.

The recent reoport from the Fed that millennials spend less because they earn less was met with shock, mostly shock the Fed was so stupid.

Given they are in L.A., why didn't Tyler ask, "when will VR allow Elon to go through production hell without leaving his home?" and eliminate his frustration with traffic because never leaves home, And never imagines boring tubes for people and cars to zip through like the high tech pneumatic messaging systems 60-80 years ago?

Why do you think you're a "Martin"? Isn't self-evident

Ben notes that he values two skills that make for great managerial talent, systems thinking and being perceptive about people.

These are incredibly intangible skills that seem almost impossible to "credential" or to validate outside of direct professional references that have observed those capabilities. If the theory is that there is untapped talent available, people who possess those skills but currently have limited or no direct references on their ability to perform on them, how do you find those people? Are there creative ways to identify and elevate those with that skill set? Or are the search costs too high such that we're going to be stuck with underperforming managers?

"If the theory is ... how do you find those people?"

Excellent question!

Even if those people are "found", you still have the problem of the bias inherent in the interviewing process.

There are a lot of managers with terrible people skills, including some (many?) with personality pathologies, but they hang on. As long as their managers like them and they produce, they remain in place. The costs are often difficult to see or measure.

Based on my work experiences in vastly different organizations (large Fortune 500, start-up, government, university), I would rephrase your second to last sentence as: "As long as their managers like them." The "and they produce" part can get you re-assigned or even terminated if you outshine the boss - since you're viewed as a threat.

Should their confidence that future existence will be mostly a virtual existence be a concern? It's their confidence that surprised and concerned me: they don't just believe it, they absolutely know it. The influence of Rene Girard in their thinking is obvious. Sure, I am aware of Girard's influence on Peter Thiel, but Girard's influence seems to pervade throughout Silicon Valley. As it should: tech's success is built on the human propensity to copy others. We are not autonomous creatures, as much as we wish to believe we are. It's an existence of envy and jealousy. Andreessen and Horowitz have made a fortune from it, and they are creating a future (through their investments and influence) tied to it. Welcome to their world.

As usual, a very good interview by Cowen.

I hope this podcast doesn't get lost in the holiday season. It's less than 40 minutes but full of gems. Here's two: Cowen laments a world without shopping, with no malls for him to wander around, and Horowitz identifies the most important skill when hiring, the potential employee's ability to closely observe people (he states it somewhat differently, but that's what he meant, a true disciple of Girard). My observation about Silicon Valley is that, although all of us are hypocrites, the self-proclaimed libertarians in Silicon Valley get the award for most hypocritical: how does one justify the manipulation that is the center of success of Silicon Valley if one is a libertarian. Did the inventor of the so-called smart phone realize what he was creating, a device that not only tracks one's location but sends a perpetual stream of propaganda to manipulate. Maybe not. It was Andreessen who realized the potential of the internet when accessible via a smart phone. Is Andreessen wicked or a genius, or a wicked genius?

I am not seeing where to click to download this podcast. I would have expected a download option when clicking on "Share". Any hints?

There is a widget in the page. Do you have JavaScript disabled?

Alternatively:

https://a16z.com/podcasts/

It appears that Soundcloud offers the creator of a podcast the option of making it downloadable or not downloadable. There is no download button that I can find on this one. Perhaps Tyler could ask them to add one. The lack of one makes it unusable on my MP3 player.

Transcript at https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/a16z/a16z-podcast-talent-tech-I9smhU0O1zo/#transcript

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