Video Of The Week: Kim-Mai Cutler and Sam Altman

This past week YC announced a $700mm Continuity Fund to allow YC to continue to invest in its portfolio companies. YC has become one of the most important investors in the startup sector and it’s leader, Sam Altman, is driving it to do more faster. This interview he did with Kim-Mai Cutler recently reveals a side of Sam that many may not see that often.

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. sachmo

    The commentator seems to be blaming the tech industry for the San Fran housing crisis. I tend to agree with Sam, that the exorbitant housing prices are exacerbated by bad public policy.

  2. jason wright

    if we start by setting aside the sideshow that are elections, city authorities are the aggregated embodiment of vested interest (and influence) over many generations. old families and their old money hold sway and they don’t give up their inherited privileges just like that. the French revolution was a bloody affair.minimum income is a necessary next step in the maturing of capitalism.

    1. PhilipSugar

      Could not disagree more.

      1. jason wright

        which bit? :-)think macro.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Minimum income. Minimum wage? Big yes. $20/hr?? I am good with that.But the concept of giving people money that don’t work??? Only could be conceived by people in Ivory Towers.

          1. Jake Baker

            Non-trolling question: serious people like Albert Wenger seem to think that minimum income is a viable tool as automation/technology shift towards eliminating MAJOR swaths of jobs for large portions of the population. Not agreeing or disagreeing with this assumption, but curious about question of whether minimum income is a possibility in the scenario of major job destruction?

          2. PhilipSugar

            Not trolling serious reply: People that see their parents not work whether they are too rich or too poor have the same outcomes (which are really bad).Not working and making a minimum income seems like a utopia (or I would say a way to get rid of guilt) for those that are profiting by their productivity.I don’t disagree that we need some rules around capitalism. But the rule shouldn’t be take what is mine and give it to somebody else. It can however be that if I want to get something it will cost me more. It can be that I can’t pass so much wealth to my grandkids that their kids never have to work.The top 1% is bullshit. It really is the top .01%…

          3. Salt Shaker

            Agree w/ you 100% on min income guarantee, raising min wage and the top .01%.In case you missed it, really good article in yesterday’s NYT: “What Can Raising Taxes On the 1% Do? Surprising Amounts.”…®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

          4. LE

            People who make gobs of money spend money. They just don’t spend it on the same things that people living hand to mouth do. [1] However the money they spend gets into the economy and filters down to middle and lower class people.Whenever people talk about rich people they act like they are stashing money away under the bed and it just accumulates with no impact on the economy. Perhaps the “serious people” even think this.Not your fault but that article that you linked to is total crap. It doesn’t take into account (because it can’t possibly take into account) how people will work differently if they perceive more of their money is going to the government. This paragraph in particular:Raising their total tax burden to, say, 40 percent would generate about $157 billion in revenue the first year. Increasing it to 45 percent brings in a whopping $276 billion. Even taking account of state and local taxes, the average household in this group would still take home at least $1 million a year.”They say”. Well then it has been scientifically proven in the Ivory tower. What bullshit.I can’t even deal with and comment on the balance of the assumptions and conclusions in that article. Truly disturbing.[1] You can only buy so much alcohol, booz, drugs and copays on diabetes medication.

          5. PhilipSugar

            Yes, but it really should say the top .01%

          6. LE

            or I would say a way to get rid of guilt) for those that are profiting by their productivity.Exactly. And further, the mafia rule applies “spread around the cheer and buy turkeys at Christmas so people won’t complain about the crimes that you commit and will look the other way”. Ditto for when big corporations contribute to charity and “get involved in the local community”. A way of ingratiating themselves with the people who could potentially reign them in. It can be that I can’t pass so much wealth to my grandkids that their kids never have to work.Failure of parenting. Not something that the government needs to get involved in (to solve that problem) by estate taxes. All of Trumps kids are hard working for example. Yet they live very well. I deal with some people who have rich parents and you wouldn’t know it from how hard they work and how they spend their time. Really nice people by the way. [1] Fred works and doesn’t have to. As I am sure many people who read this blog and do business not for the money but for other reasons.Besides, how does the tax code work with respect to that anyway? A 100 million dollar estate even taxed at 90% leaves 10 million which means “don’t have to work”.[1] Otoh many of the middle class is spending time making kids soccer games and extra curricular activities [2] (leaving work early for them) a priority and then when they loose their jobs they wonder how they will earn a buck. Maybe you should spend some of your time on a “plan b” as well.[2] Things that simply didn’t exist back when I was growing up (sure on a very very very small scale) and kids were fine a world that gave us Einstein and the Space program.

          7. Matt Zagaja

            I think the thing is that capitalism does not reward hard work, it rewards smart work. I’ve seen too many people (and a few times myself) work too hard on the wrong things and realize that I was just wasting time.

          8. LE

            Exactly. So capitalism rewards smart people. Since you are a smart person then the mistake that you made you will learn from it and not make that mistake again. You will make new mistakes So smart people have an advantage. That is no surprise. Survival of the fittest.Story: The painter that just did work for me is not stupid and he is hard working (and does damn good work) but I can see immediately how he doesn’t maximize the money that he could make because he is not smart in that subject. Ditto for the handyman who in no way charges enough for what he does he could easily raise his rates and get supply and demand in balance. And this doesn’t take a college degree, advice from someone or a course in business (I did it in middle school maybe even elementary school on intuition). The point is both the painter and the handyman don’t easily learn from their mistakes or think about what they do. Yet they are really good at what they do. They do not evolve and get better even though they do exactly the same thing everyday. (Which amazes me actually..) So yes capitalism rewards people who are smart and who learn and evolve and put in effort and hard work. But all things are usually needed and with no guarantees. (The lack of guarantees is what screws up many people they expect some kind of 1 to 1 payback for what they do).I was telling someone a while back that I often need to do 100 things for 1 thing to end up working. The “100” is totally arbitrary it just is a made up number. I don’t keep track of the “things” that end up leading to something good I just keep plugging away. Otoh the “loser” mentality is “I tried that it didn’t work so I will stop trying”. Small example: I plugged away for years and years on online dating and finally ended up in a good, no a great, relationship. What I heard from everyone else? “Online dating doesn’t work I don’t meet any good people doing that”. So even that is not hard work. It’s more attitude and not giving up.

          9. LE

            serious people like Albert WengerWhat does that mean exactly? What do you mean by “serious people”?

          10. Jake Baker

            Short hand for someone who is not explicitly acting as an ideologue/talking head/pundit. Albert’s writing seems to reflect a genuine desire to analyze problems and find solutions.

          11. jason wright

            i would agree in the economic landscape of the past and this present, but many smart people are now hinting at the impending mass hollowing out of the wage labour market by new tech and the further concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. this is new. we need to be flexible in our thinking about to deal with it.

          12. LE

            I am against minimum income. Essentially “Albert’s idea”.As far as minimum wage all that will probably do is move the goal post for everyone and end up bidding up the cost of goods and services (inflationary).

  3. awaldstein

    Enjoyed how smart and bright these two are.Got a sense of how the world has yet to figure out how to mop up and capitalize on disruption. Best example here is how growth creates massive housing issues.How brilliant the creations and efforts are to spurring those growth cycles and how really poor the thinking is in how to create the modern smart city that can contain that.Who is doing the best thinking on this, especially the urbanization of density in the modern city?

    1. Aviah Laor

      Great point. Traditionally VC seems like the business of betting on the right horse. It’s really important, once in while, to consider where this horse is going, especially if it wins. What impact will it have. Maybe part of the VC business is not just to pick the right horse, but to pick the right race. It’s really great that he seems conscious about the broader perspective.

      1. awaldstein

        Agree.I think the cultural exhaust of disruption to how we all live, not just the entrepreneurial community itself, is what interests me the most.If I could reemerge at the corner of Church and Chambers Streets some 50 years from now, what societal changes would density and change have engendered?

        1. Aviah Laor

          That’s a really good question. I don’t know.

      2. Girish Mehta

        Speaking of the business VC is in – there is an excellent piece by Jerry Neumann a couple of days back – on the deployment stage (to use Carlota Perez’s framework). Thought provoking.If you believe we are in the deployment stage of the ICT revolution (marking 1971 as the start). And the predictive power of a theory if it is right.Excerpt – “…Financial capital in this cycle is none other than yours truly, the venture capitalist. Is our job done? If you look at the current VC pace of investing, we certainly don’t seem to think so. And the championing of Perez by some of the smartest VCs out there, like Fred Wilson, Chris Dixon, and Marc Andreessen, seems…odd. Why champion a theory that says you are now irrelevant?…”…

        1. Jake Baker

          You champion theories you think are right and then evolve around them. Championing theories that support your world view = ideology, not rigorous fact/reality based evaluation of the world.

        2. Richard

          I dont think that FW or MA positions are that we have reached the end of the VC cycle or are even clise to it.

          1. Girish Mehta

            I know….I don’t believe its Jerry Neumann’s position either. He is inviting opinion.

    2. fredwilson

      Dan Doctoroff has partnered with Google to create Sidewalk Labs. They are doing some interesting things regarding smart cities. IBM’s efforts here are more than marketing. And NYU’s CUSP Institute is doing some of the most interesting scientific research on urban life that I’ve seen

      1. awaldstein

        Thanks–checking them out.

    3. Richard

      When it comes to housing, VC is alot like the big gov. Both borrow a lot of $ from across the globe, spend it locally, and distort the market

      1. awaldstein

        don’t see how investing and creating companies that succeed and impact local economies are in any way distorting anything.what am i missing?

        1. Richard

          It not a bad thing, but VC is driving up housing prices. Its not the successful companies that distort the market, its the unsucessful (running on debt) ones. the track record of a successful VC is it misses on 8 To 9 of its investments leaving a single investment to produce returns. If VC scalled back so would housing prices.

          1. LE

            Very possible that similar to what happened before with commercial re in the bay area that we could end up hearing the sucking sound as the air exits the balloon.

  4. sigmaalgebra

    So, here are roughly the topics Sam talked about:Housing in San FranciscoSam mentioned San Francisco’s deliberately constrained housing market and that people might want to leave.Well, east to west, north to south, the US is awash in relatively inexpensive land and housing. Some cities are eager for tech startups. Chattanooga has been offering 1 GbE Internet and is now starting to offer 10 GbE. Broad approach: Locate in college towns in most of the states in the country.Part of what the Internet does is in effect make distances unimportant. So, San Francisco and Silicon Valley have such big and important advantages sounds like some quite limited vision in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.Global WarmingWe can address questions of global warming and climate like at one time civilization addressed leach bleeding, the flat earth, flogiston, snake oil, bad air, superstition, wild conjecture, etc. But history shows that we shouldn’t do that.Instead, we should proceed scientifically. Then, measuring temperature by pictures of sea ice and polar bears is just total nonsense and not scientific at all.Also we have to consider several candidate hidden agendas.But we can look at the science now: Over 10 years ago, the science made a lot of predictions of a lot of warming by now. As we can see now, those predictions were wildly false.E.g., at…is…So, the candidate science made predictions that were wildly false. In that case, in science, we discard the candidate science. Sorry ’bout that. So, case closed. Done. F’get about it.Since we have freedom of hysterical click bait, uh, freedom of the press, e.g., the highly self-esteemed NYT, the global warming hysteria won’t go away, but it belongs on the pages of the alarmist grocery store checkout tabloids and equivalent, e.g., the NYT, NBC, and much more. Apparently there is some significant revenue to be had from click bait. Revenue? Maybe. Science? No.Artificial IntelligenceSam mentioned that in the future technology will be able to emulate circuits of the brain. Maybe so, but there’s little hope that that will result in anything as powerful as human intelligence.Sam is too impressed with the hype that somehow comes along with too much of the work in computer science. Really, going way back in computing, one of the first and still continuing approaches to attention, publicity, hype, click bait was to claim that some development was like a human brain. So far, and as far as we can see for a long time, that’s just hype, i.e., nonsense.YCSam’s description of YC is to “fund 10,000 companies”. That’s been working quite well. Just why other funders don’t do that is curious. Maybe the reason is that too many limited partners took a course in accounting too early in their education and stopped learning after that.Universal basic income in response to jobs eliminations due to techMaybe we will have to do that. If we need to and can, then we should.Greatest threat to US is incompetence of governmentSpecial case of the greatest threat to nearly anything good for the future is incompetence.

    1. LE

      First, upvoted just for the formatting clarity. Nice.Well, east to west, north to south, the US is awash in relatively inexpensive land and housing.Doesn’t matter. No cute corner coffee shops, dining and leisure activities. Location location location. Princeton where Temple U (North Broad Street, Philly) is located or where Cornell (Ithaca middle of nowhere) is located is not Princeton. (And you know that..)Global warming: “White men” always think they are right until someone else comes along (with a new study or theory) which proves them wrong. Further we have no data on weather extremes 400 years ago. What is that story about the mouse and his perspective on the world? Or was it some other small creature.Sam is too impressed with the hype that somehow comes along with too much of the work in computer science.Sam is burning a bit to “bright” for my tastes. He is moving at to fast of a pace and YC is going in what appears to be many directions and expanding in a way that could hurt the core that made them successful. “Perhaps” doesn’t mean definitely, it means the strategy comes with risk of the entity collapsing on itself and not sustaining long term. Harvard was not built in 10 years.Maybe the reason is that too many limited partners took a course in accounting too early in their education and stopped learning after that.They’ve got a good gig going there for sure. I am jealous I wish I could do that. What could be more fun than having a ton of people throwing money at you and a bunch of young people who want to be you and get funded by you and will listen to every single word and take it like gospel. That must feel really good. That said neither Sam nor Paul Graham has any long term business experience. Long term perspective is important in business. Even Jobs and Trump flamed out when they burned to bright to fast. And on a smaller scale (small business) there are many examples of this as well.Sam mentioned that in the future technology will be able to emulate circuits of the brain. Hmm. What about solving the spam problem first? My brain knows spam (Scotus in action re: porn) when it sees it. But yet the spam filter constantly gets it wrong. Big annoying problem but I guess it’s not sexy enough to spend any time on.Edit: I had a guy that worked for me in my first business. The business had all of these production problems. Yet this manager, all he talked about was adding new products, services, machinery and expanding. I said “why don’t you get our shit together on what we are doing now first so we don’t screw up so many jobs then we can talk about expanding” (and that is just one example). Here is the important part though. OPM. He could gamble and be bold because if he was wrong (with the expansion) it would be my money and my mess to clean up. Are you listening Charlie Crystle? So he had more to gain and less to lose than I did. Lesson learned very early on. Which is what I mean by “long term perspective”. People will always push you to do things (that hey might work) depending both on what their downside risk is and what their risk tolerance is which may very well be different from the way that you see the world). Important principle.

      1. Lawrence Brass

        Jobs never flamed out.. what are you are talking about? He was almost always right and he took all the time he needed to do things.. right.

        1. LE

          How long have you been following Steve Jobs for?When he got fired from Apple the first time. Jobs hires Sculley, is best buds with him “we finish each others sentences” (was a love fest) and then ends up being forced out by Sculley. I’d say that is a flame out. What would you call it? A bit of a miscalculation no question about that. [1]Apple made some big bets. If those bets were paying off he would not have been forced out, Sculley would have lost. NEXT didn’t work either. And that was totally under his control. Mac was a niche product at the start with a very small footprint in the market. And so on.Fred in his first fund (Flatiron) when he over-expanded and hired people (according to a blog post that he did as I recall it). I don’t mean “failed”. I mean expanded past the point (which is what I am suggesting with YC) of being able to manage the organization and growth. Once again, this is not an absolute and definitive point. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. This is my take based on patterns that I have observed.

          1. Lawrence Brass

            For how long? Since the apple II i would say.. In my view of the world at the time, he and every other leader of the pc revolution were heroes and role models, so there was no need to follow them, they were omnipresent in the printed tech media. Sculley has recognized that Jobs leaving Apple was an error, and insists that he was not forced to leave. Jobs was just following his vision, not flaming out in my opinion. And remember that Next was sold to Apple as part of his coming back. There is still Next IP inside OSX and even iOS. Anyway, I can’t be objective about Steve Jobs, in many ways he still inspires me.As for YC, if the plan is to invest in the next stages of development of the same companies they have seeded and coached, specially the successful ones, it seems quite wise to me. After all they already know the teams and the people. I agree with you in the sense that there is a risk in that these two lines of business functioning under the same roof may interact in undesirable ways, limiting or coercing the options of the weaker participants in favor of the stronger ones, or even rushing the strong companies into fund rounds they don’t need (yet). If they manage both lines of business with a strict separation of interests, it should be OK.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        > Doesn’t matter. No cute corner coffee shops, dining and leisure activities.Cornell? It’s pretty up there. E. Dynkin has long been there. I was there one afternoon: One of the best optimization guys in the world walked us to the art gallery. Then we talked about some practical optimization problems. I showed him a nice problem with part of a solution and another problem for which I didn’t have much. For that second problem, he gave me three words of advice, and that became my direction for my Ph.D. dissertation when later I went for my Ph.D. In my first summer, I applied that advice, wrote 50 pages, and Ph.D. research DONE. Somehow, I suspect there is some coffee in Ithaca!Or, try Bloomington, IN. Except for Juilliard, best music school in the country. Josef Gingold, long concert master at Cleveland, was a prof there. A guy, Gingold student, Stern protege, in the dorm put his 18th century Italian violin under my left chin and got me started. I took a course. At the end, due to the rules, I had to play for Gingold and the rest of the violin faculty — horrible embarrassment, but the teaching was terrific, and later, from nearly no more instruction, I made it through a lot of the Bach Chaconne, not too bad! At the end of the semester, my teacher went to Toronto and played, with an orchestra, the Brahms concerto — darned competent teaching! There were several concerts a week. They did a good job with The Magic Flute,, Mozart, Die Zauberflöte, K. 620 — super sweet story, lots of really good music, lots of fun.Lots of coffee shops, informal restaurants, pizza shops, white tablecloth places, etc. Really good music store, with great prices on Eudoxa violin strings! Lots of football, basketball, swimming. Good hospital — went there once for some little thing.But from any spot in town, five miles in any direction is farming country. So, find a piece of farm land, say, five acres, with a lot of rocks, that is, not good for farming, make an offer, put up a house, etc.Similarly for a large fraction of the better universities in a large fraction of the “fly over states”. @JLM might be able to give advice on nice, not too expensive, places to live near Austin, with its famous university, lots of BBQ, etc.Like water and want a yacht? Okay, be near the Great Lakes or maybe in Maine, North Carolina (near UNC), Virginia (near UVA), Georgia (near Georgia Tech). Want high end culture? Drive down to Boston.Net, in the US, the high cost of living areas have to be under 2% of the nice places to live. And nearly all of them have good Internet access if only because nearly all of them have cable TV.> Global warming: “White men” always think they are right until someone else comes along (with a new study or theory) which proves them wrong.Lots of people have been fooled by that absurd, hysterical scam. Again: if we proceed without good science, then we are at high risk, near certainty, of doing another leech bleeding. However, as I showed solidly, the proposed science is just junk. Sorry ’bout that.> Further we have no data on weather extremes 400 years ago.We have lots of data going back a long way. E.g., we have ice core data going back ballpark 600,000 years that Saint Laureate Al Guru showed in his inconvenient BS.However apparently Al is pushing a fliim-flam fraud scam or needs work on his eyes: He showed when CO2 went up and when temperature went up, but, poor Guru, the CO2 went up about 800 years after the temperature went up. So, no way did the CO2 going up cause the temperature to go up. I don’t think there is anything seriously wrong with Guru’s eyes. Between his ears? Sure. His eyes? Nope.We’ve got lots and lots, and lots more, data. But that’s not science. Instead, science makes correct predictions. Again, once again, over again, one more time, want to be totally clear on this, when the candidate science makes bad predictions, then we drop the candidate science in the wet, round file and pull the chain. Number of Ph.D.’s, a popularity poll of climate scientists, academic appointments, number of published papers, scary stories about what would happen if all the ice melted, pictures of polar bears, etc. mean zip, zilch, and zero. And, as in the graph from the WSJ reference I gave, that’s the case. Climate science just went down the tubes. So, what we are left with is, yes, lots of data, and pictures of polar bears, but no SCIENCE. Clear enough?Good science can be terrific stuff but usually is TOUGH to do. Sorry ’bout that.> Sam is burning a bit to “bright” for my tastes.Well put. It looks like his first mistake was his $10 million for some long range, relatively pure research. From what he’s said, it looks like he is on a long walk on a short pier and will end up quite wet.> when they burned to bright to fast.One of the crucial lessons is, “Measure twice, saw once.”> What about solving the spam problem first?Of course they haven’t solved it. What they have is nothing like human intelligence.Here’s a story about human intelligence: At the end of the spring semester in Bloomington, I, my girlfriend, to be my wife, got in her family car with her sister about three years younger and their mother to head to their family farm. Well, we tried to get into the car, but the three women couldn’t get all the stuff to fit into the trunk. Of course not! Did I mention, they were women? No joke: Women are terrific, much better than men, at lots of things, but loading the trunk of a car is very much not one of them.For me, sure, piece of cake. So, I just gave a glance, pulled out a few things, put them back in different order leaving fewer empty spaces, and, presto, bingo, everything, including the bicycle, fit fine, nothing damaged, no rattles, etc.So, for that AI, we’re talking human male or female?Ah, in front of those three women, packing the trunk of that car established my competence as a man! Guys, sometimes that’s all it takes! And all the way home the sister flirted with me outrageously, even provocatively. Later I had to conclude that she was not joking. But, just because her hormones were out of control, my judgment was not, and nothing happened.Guys, one of the best ways to get a girl wildly interested in you is to have her see that some other girl is wildly interested in you. It’s like the first girl gave you a stamp of approval, and the second girl is just exploiting that! Gee, anyone who has read about VCs might understand that!I gave a paper at an AAAI IAAI conference in Stanford. Our work was called AI but, really, was just some okay software with some somewhat original and okay software engineering. Watching the other presentations, it was clear: All of the work was done much like ours except some of the best work which was just good, traditional engineering.Or, in such engineering we might engineer and develop a machine that does terrific work on a production line, does it faster, better, cheaper, more accurately than any human could do. Maybe what that machine is doing is putting Fig Newtons into the plastic packaging. Terrific. But that success is nothing like that machine having human intelligence. Or, now let that machine go pack the trunk of that car. Oops. It’d be worse at it than the women!Sure, detecting spam is a classification problem, that is, classify each e-mail message as spam or not. Okay. There is at least a stack of books that talk about how to solve classification problems. None of the books says how to be intelligent!For some classification problems, some of the techniques in the books can work very well, better than anything else, including unaided humans.For spam, humans do the work with part of actual intelligence. The techniques in the books are not at all intelligent and, generally, need more data, say, before the most recent e-mail message arrived, than just the e-mail message. Then, commonly one of the best sources of such data is, right, presto, intelligent humans. Again the work need not be easy or even doable, but at times we can have success.How, in advance, to know when? At times can observe some features of the work that can justify some mathematical assumptions, use those assumptions to prove some math theorems, and use the theorems to justify some techniques that can work. Whew!Don’t try to explain this role of math to anyone in Silicon Valley: The results will be like trying to teach arithmetic to a dog: The arithmetic won’t be any good, and you will just irritate the dog.Search can use page rank, but where did that data on those links come from? Right: Human intelligence! Is that all that can be done? Nope. How much more? At least enough to build Silicon Valley since so far no computer in any significant sense has human intelligence, or even kitty cat intelligence. Sorry Sam.I never wanted to be a college professor; the pay sucked. Here at AVC U, it’s even worse!

      3. Matt Zagaja

        I think it’s important to note that the developers and cities are not at all blind to the desire for all these amenities to attract SV type talent. But you are right that these amenities are not sufficient and that these places are not equal. For the rent that I pay for a room in a 3BR in Cambridge I can get a 1BR/1BA Class A apartment stock (constructed in the past year) in Hartford. While you might be able to replicate the amenities the one thing you can’t replicate is the culture and people.

  5. William Mougayar

    Very true that governments incompetence can be problematic, but I’m still pinching myself that UBER is worth 50B $.

    1. LE

      I think I heard on “Shark Tank” Marc Cuban say that he was the first guy that Uber came to for funding. He passed on the idea because he didn’t think that they would be able to get by the T&LC or something like that. Perhaps the local barber (who wasn’t as smart as Marc) would have made that investment. Or Travis’s aunt Jennie. Does that make Marc wrong? Not at all. Marc was right. This is really the curse of knowing to much. The reason being that as you go along and learn and evolve, the more you know can hold you back. Meanwhile someone who knows less, or is a bigger gambler, can get much bigger as a result of taking a particular path. Taking a chance (for no good reason). Like if I bought a basketball team and managed (w/o knowing shit) to beat Marc’s Mavericks.Uber is an outlier. Marc was right. Anyone can tilt at windmills and if enough chances are taken something can for sure work out. It doesn’t take any skill to simply click your heals and wish and end up being right and making a killing in the end.As I’ve said in the past this is like the “Xerox passed on buying IBM because they didn’t think that computers would work..” fallacy. (Or was it the opposite doesn’t matter). What you never know is the thousands of other opportunities that Xerox passed on (or any big company) that never worked out and failed miserably. (This is the press in action and monday morning quarterbacking at it’s best). Or the other example is how HP passed on Woz’s idea. What about all of the other employees ideas, did they work? (probably not logic says..)

    2. LE

      Uber helping drunk drivers get home:…The Burlington County town announced Thursday that it will partner with two big-name ride-service companies to transport bar- and restaurant-goers to their homes late at night – part of a continued effort to combat drunken driving – through the end of the year. For free.”You can sit at a bar and literally push a button on your phone and have someone come pick you up,” Mayor Randy Brown said. “We wanted to make it that easy.”Uber, a popular car-service company, will feature an Evesham “safe ride” option for customers to request free rides through UberX.It’s the first partnership of its kind for Uber, company officials said. Local officials hailed the program as unique also because it requires no money from taxpayers or the riders. It will be funded solely through donations, including some from the local nonprofit Evesham Celebrations Foundation.So there we have it. Instead of some program that prevents people from getting drunk in the first place (alcohol abuse) let’s just give them free rides so they can drink even more! Makes total sense to me.

  6. Simone

    A relevant chat. First time I heard of the idea of a ‘techie’ president, it may become necessary in 10 years. Also, Sam mentioned the coming abrupt reduction in jobs, I believe it’s happening but I don’t think people outside the industry realise it or take this seriously and the short time frame for the changes to come (except for the IT people busy implementing it).Housing issue, same as London – reached a supportability and also common sense limit. I think it is only a matter of personal tolerance for pain, but people will start to reconsider location(s).What I don’t see ever happening is someday having people being paid a minimum income for doing nothing. It is not that I don’t like the idea (I don’t think it is healthy, fair etc.), it’s just that this is not what we would do as a species. There are many small things we could do today to improve the common well being, but we watch the news like it’s the movies, so I really don’t see how we will make the mental jump from ‘not our problem/country/continent’ to – let’s pay everyone some money.I agree with all opinions below stating that this solution can only be invented in the ivory towers and it is also a naive or romantic view of people behaviour.I entertain much easier e.g. the idea of micropayments for contributions to internet, as put fwd by Jaron Lanier in his book ‘Who owns the future’.

  7. george

    Enjoyed this interview. Something that is becoming somewhat of a recurring message is how tech is reshaping our world – jobs, housing, and capital investments, $700MM in this case targeted mainly on disruption.There’s tremendous dispositional optimism about tech and its favorable affects over our life experiences but sometimes, this man in the machine manifestation feels uncomfortable.

  8. Tom Dorsey

    I am very surprised that he had an understanding of Joseph Schumpeter’s work. I enjoyed the interview and have to say again I was totally, and pleasantly surprised with his comments on many subjects. I really have no idea who he is but do know a little about the YC. I’m east coast and a Wall Street entrepreneur.

  9. Mark Essel

    I’m behind the times, had no idea Sam was running YC. Some fun/interesting topics like AI and basic income.

  10. Bernardo de Pádua

    Sam Altman for US president in 2030! (Or maybe Fred Wilson in 2020?)

  11. awaldstein


  12. Phillip Trotter

    Arnold,While academic by nature checkout Michael Batty’s CASA group at UCL in england:….Mike’s website is a wealth of thinking on the analytics side. Fred said IBM Smarter Planet initiative is a lot more than succesful marketing (its a great marketing and repositioning example with excellent tech and product follow through especially with their some of their smart city projects) and similarly Siemens Intelligent Infrastructure is worth looking at too.

  13. awaldstein

    Great info thanks!