Greed Isn't Good

The famous Gordon Gekko line that “greed is good” is bandied about quite often to explain why capitalism, and the pursuit of riches, is a positive thing for the economy, society, and the world at large.

Greed is not good. There is a fine line between the profit motive and greed.

I am a firm believer in the profit motive. It drives many of us to work hard, make new things that can move the world forward, and better our lives and the lives of our children, and others, through philanthropy.

But when the profit motive is taken to excess and you enter into the territory of greed, things go bad quickly.

We have seen this in the tech sector in many places, we have seen it in wall street, in real estate, and elsewhere. And we certainly are seeing it crop up in the crypto sector as well, particularly recently.

I like the concept of checks and balances. It is important to make sure to stay on the right side of the line between what is reasonable and what is excessive. Surrounding yourself with the right people, who have been around this issue a lot, can help a lot.

There are a lot of temptations out there when a lot of money is sloshing around. It is good to resist them.

#blockchain#entrepreneurship#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Mike Zamansky

    Love this post.The question is who draws the line? One person’s reasonable is another person’s excessive.I’ve seen more than a few ed endeavors start with “we can do these great things for the kids and, well, if we make a small profit on the side, that’s ok too.” The problem is that sometimes it’s a slippery slope. It takes good balance to stay on the right side of the line. If one isn’t careful, you start to thiink “Hey, we can cut costs by doing this…. the kids don’t really need that….” and the slide down begins.

    1. fredwilson

      A board of smart people who understand where to draw the line can help a lot

      1. Mike Zamansky

        I wonder if smart is the word you’re looking for there. We frequently casually use and equate smart with good but I’m guessing something like empathetic – also maybe not quite the right word is more appropriate?In any event, yet another reason to strive for diverse boards and teams.

        1. fredwilson


        2. PhilipSugar

          I will also point out another side, which is people many times equate money to quality, especially money that is spent on things to look nice. You know I have a fellow CEO who took over a school board. He was disgusted at the waste.They bought a giant tractor so big they needed to build a new building the old one was fine, every administrator had an assistant, but they said they didn’t have the money to keep a band. Now this guy refers to band members in a most politically incorrect fashion, but it incensed him so much he got elected and then got all his buddies to run as well.Don’t get me wrong, every teacher I know spends money out of their own pocket for necessary stuff for the kids. That money should be coming out of the fat.

          1. LE

            They bought a giant tractor so big they needed to build a new building the old one was fineObviously I am talking w/o knowing the specifics but ‘old’ machinery is a big time and attention drain keeping it up and working and so on.One of the great things about being able to have and spend money is that you don’t take all your time trying to work around and get anxious about not having money. This is often missed in the discussion. It simply gives you more freedom and in most cases lesss stress. For example if you decide to do repairs on your house and the estimate is off no big deal you pay the extra money because you have it. So you are ‘self insured’. But the person w/o a pot to piss in has to spend more time and attention because they can’t afford to be wrong literally they might not have the money to make any mistakes.

      2. JLM

        .Is a board more likely to be a driver, an enabler of greed or a limiter?A board’s job is to represent the interests of the shareholders. It rises to the level of a fiduciary duty.I have never heard a board member say, “Sales are too high. Profits are obscene. We must limit this.”Maybe the answer is that that is not greed.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. sigmaalgebra

          At one point my highly ethical, liberal, compassionate, charitable, concerned brother got involved in investing some family funds. Then some of his attitudes on profit changed! At one point he exclaimed: “Obscene profits? Those are the best kind!”.

      3. LE

        A guess. I think this is a case of people who got to where they were with everyone telling them (friends, family, investors) that they were going to fail or that they were doing the wrong things or were crazy.So… If they listened to ‘you’ then they probably wouldn’t be in a position to listen to you now. It makes sense. This isn’t anywhere near the only case where you have frustrating stubbornness to deal with.It takes a great deal of time, strategy and effort to out manipulate this type of situation. [1][1] Which is why I have said that people who try to change a certain person who they currently hate that i won’t mention are going about it in such an obviously wrong way.

    2. LE

      The question is who draws the line? One person’s reasonable is another person’s excessive.Exactly true. Anyone who goes to synagogue or church more than you is ‘real religious’. Anyone who studies more than you is ‘a nerd’. Anyone who chisels a price down more than you is ‘really cheap’. Anyone who complains more than you is ‘being unreasonable’. Anyone who goes away more than you ‘travels a great deal’. All of this is relative to either a particular person or what it appears the group seems to spend time doing.You know the one about when they find someone who commits a crime and they call him a loner (usually a ‘him’). As if to imply not associating with people is a crime in itself. Or when the police charge someone because they don’t react to a crime in the way the police feel they should react. In their own personal bias of what they do or how they see ‘normal’.

  2. LIAD

    “When Fred points at the moon the fool examines the finger” ― Confucius

    1. LE

      The question is what is the investment that he is pointing toward…

      1. fredwilson

        got that question on twitter, answered it here…

  3. Girish Mehta

    Kurt Vonnegut’s verse – ——————————–“True story, Word of Honor:Joseph Heller, an important and funny writernow dead,and I were at a party given by a billionaireon Shelter Island.I said, “Joe, how does it make you feelto know that our host only yesterdaymay have made more moneythan your novel ‘Catch-22’has earned in its entire history?”And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”Not bad! Rest in peace!”———————————

  4. TRoberts

    Greed is ill-defined today.Most people seem to agree it is good to want to serve more to earn more. Wanting to earn more is not greed. Serve more people, earn more money, no problem. Serve a shoe customer every hour, you’re a an average shoe salesperson; find a way to serve a million shoe buyers a month, you’re Tony Hsieh and earn accordingly.But greed is different — it is rooted in covetousness & lust, or “craving something have not earned.”So we need to define our terms; greed is never good, by definition; there is no value added by trying to take what you have not earned. A fully-informed market will reward your effort by gladly paying what you have earned by your service. — even if you serve billions and profit proportionately.All examples to the contrary arise from cheating rather than adding value — trying to take by way of shortcutting… not earning.Examples are many — they include artificially destroying competitors, plundering environments (offloading costs of legal production to society), and faking standards (taking full market value but providing substandard goods).

  5. brockco

    “of course none of use are greedy, its only the other fella whos greedy”…

    1. Kenneth Younger III

      Came here to post exactly this. One of his best.

  6. JamesHRH

    I’ve always equated greed with fear.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      I think you are right, James. Observing some hoarders in my life, the underlying factor is a fear of not having enough or of running out, often rooted in childhood poverty even though they have lived comfortably for decades.

  7. CorkageVIP

    “Greed….for lack of a better word…is good”.Here’s the video. Gekko implies that there might be a better word to describe the “evolutionary spirit” for life, money, ect.

    1. JLM

      .Still one of the greatest clips ever. Nailed it.Michael Douglas.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  8. Twain Twain

    In SF, I met one or two guys who were clearly after greed not mission. They talked in terms of copying Snap and being able to “flip” the company after a couple of years.Mission-centric founders live and breathe in terms of decades and centuries — which is how long they want their companies to continue operating and being profitable.

  9. panterosa,

    Greed’s most common bedmate is cheapness. A truly ugly pair.

  10. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    A couple of yardsticks can help classify:Assuming some moral compass:1) If I do this – and ‘future me’ has this held up in front of the future audience I may care about – Will I be comfortable ?Assuming no moral compass2) Can I get away with it ?If you are not asking 1) or you go ahead and get it wrong they will assume 2)PS – Same is true of hate-speech and stupid comments in forums !

  11. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Of people with no regrets :The beautiful, the confident, those who know failure is Ok and the jerks

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Piaf references are an automatic upvote from this reckless romantic 😀

  12. curtissumpter

    GM Fred –While I agree with your overall sentiment and thank you for actually talking about this (b/c it’s a super important message to get out there, basically updating outdated cultural code) I take slight issue with your statement:I am a firm believer in the profit motive. It drives many of us to work hard, make new things that can move the world forward, and better our lives and the lives of our children and others, through philanthropy.Rather, I don’t take issue with the factual basis of your comment ‘many’. I think that’s true. But you’re a VC. Therefore to be commiserate with the level of risk you embrace you must be looking for the few, the outliers on the right tail-end of the curve.These people I find are often not motivated by the profit motive, i.e. Brin, Page, Musk, and Todd McFarlaine. I watched an interview with McFarlaine on Complex Hustle. It’s a simple Google. His take on entrepreneurship is what I believe separate these 10X entrepreneurs from others.I heard Bill Gates say something that McFarlaine re-confirmed. Gates said (paraphrased), “I’m not some entrepreneur. I’m a software guy. If software didn’t work out I wasn’t going to go start a cupcake company.” As soft as it sounds, I think what separates 10X entrepreneurs is love. They love what they do. It isn’t a choice. It’s an obsession.The business is simply what’s required to allow them to do what they do. The business is simply a vehicle. The money is simply a bi-product. The love, the passion, is truly the driving force.

    1. JLM

      .I agree more with you than you do with yourself as it relates to finding one’s passion and obsession.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. sigmaalgebra

      Significantly but not entirely true: Gates saw early on that he was (1) on the way to putting a computer on the desk of everyone in the more developed world and (2) getting rid of the old means of “document preparation”, e.g., typewriters, graph paper, spread sheets, graphic arts departments, etc.Gates was a high energy, bright, driven guy: He dropped out of Harvard and went for software on a lot of vision and darned thin evidence. The software he went for was a Basic interpreter and nothing like an operating system and far away from Windows 10 and Windows Server now. E.g., Gates started working with floppy disks, and the 5 MB hard disk was a big step up. Now the size of the download of the 64 bit version of Windows 10 is 20 GB. And, he didn’t really try to get into the operating system business. Instead some IBM people came by, seeing much more future in personal computers based on recent microprocessors than Gates was attempting, and wanting an operating system, and Gates went and bought one, not very good but something, revised it, and gave IBM their PC/DOS.Then Gates began to see farther than IBM did. Then Apple borrowed the GUI ideas from Xerox PARC, and Gates saw the advantage of a GUI for the UI for the common man in the street, and pursued Windows, just as a DOS extender instead of a new operating system.By then operating systems and associated instruction set tweaks were very well understood — IBM, DEC, Multics, and more — and virtual machines had also long since been well understood and deployed, especially IBM’s VM/CMS. And more: IBM had object oriented computing in microcode. IBM’s System 38 was highly polished, easy to use, relational data base.By the 286, Intel was making progress on a processor suitable for a more modern operating system. Slowly Intel and Microsoft with Windows, WinTel, got significantly caught up on implementing what had long been well understood and deployed. Bell Labs had done Unix; a computer support group at Berkeley with some DoE funding tweaked Unix; the Motorola 68,000 processor and Unix permitted Sun Microsystems; and Linux came along and has grown and grown and become very important. And now the Intel based servers have virtual machine. Along the way Microsoft picked up the Mach kernel (IIRC from CMU); IBM already had their OS/2 running with the Mach kernel. Now we have containers, etc.Of course, IBM totally blew the marketing and development of OS/2, nicely ahead of Windows until Windows NT. E.g., there was the famous Gerstner statement, IIRC “I’m not going to drop $1 billion in another Intel, desktop operating system” — dumb de dumb, dumb.Some people are born to greatness; some people achieve greatness; some people have greatness thrust upon them! The Gates had all three, but his really big success was from the third. Then he converted from being just a software guy to a captain of industry running a big organization that, way down there, the worker bees were writing software. For a long time, the really big deal was Microsoft Office, that is, mostly for document preparation. Long ago Gates confessed that Microsoft would no longer want to ship any code Gates wrote!

      1. pointsnfigures

        Read Hackman-Oldham Theory of Motivation. It’s great. I had Professor Oldham at the College of Business back in the day. I got in a massive argument with him in class over what motivates people. I said money. He said it wasn’t. His theory proved with data that it wasn’t money. (he tested it on beaver trappers in Oregon-a dirty horrible job)After I traded for myself for a few years I called him up. I told him he was correct. The money from trading was nice but the intrinsic things from being self employed were pretty sweet too.TL:DR, he was right. He’s at Tulane now. Take his class if you can.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Sure he’s right AS LONG AS the person has basically all the money they both need and want. Otherwise, money comes to the top of the list of motivations.

    3. LE

      These people I find are often not motivated by the profit motive, i.e. Brin, Page, MuskDon’t forget the tremendous boost they get from the smoke blowin’ up thar ass.It’s addictive. And while Brin and Page may seem different in that respect than Musk (who clearly loves the adoration and attention) keep in mind they went straight from college (as did Zuckerberg) into a world of being surrounded by people who stood to gain something from them. This is not a normal life by any stretch. It’s like being a child star. You don’t even know what it’s like to be a normal kid. Like growing up with your father as President or Frank Sinatra or Bruce Springsteen.Sure Springsteen is not about making money he gets a bigger buzz from being Springsteen. But he keeps most likely most of his money. And my guess is he is not performing or working generally unless he gets money (and I don’t mean just to pay his expenses..). They love what they do.What do they do exactly? In the case of the three you mentioned (Brin, Page, Musk) they spend their day dabbling in something that interests them. Almost like a retired person just with a bit larger canvas and budget. My point is ‘what they love’ is being able to focus on anything they want to do at a particular moment. I don’t think this is the same as, say, Sam Walton, or Warren Buffet or Stephen Schwartzman or Henry Kravis. Sure Musk rationalizes it as making the world better. But who believes that is what drives him at the core. No way. No more than Geffen putting his name in front of the Met is about helping the arts (at the core). Or Koch brothers doing the same. I’m a software guy. If software didn’t work out I wasn’t going to go start a cupcake company.” As soft as it sounds, I think what separates 10X entrepreneurs is love.Don’t mix a software guy and an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur would start either a software company or a cupcake company if it was an opportunity that seemed both profitable and interesting. At least in the classical sense of business person and company builder. It would be more like ‘almost anything with a few exceptions’. Making money is fun. Making money is to entrepreneurship what winning in a sports game is to a person playing sports. Sure you prefer some sports over others but in the end you need a way to keep track and in the case of business the extra points allow you to do something (which winning a tennis game if no prize does not).

  13. Vendita Auto

    Wealth is like manure. It stinks when it piles up, and it’s only useful when it’s scattered. [LTolstoy]

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      He was such a utopian guy. Really, the only book anyone needs to read to understand the world is War and Peace.I highly recommend the translation by Pevear and Volohonsky. They capture much more of the nuance –

      1. JLM

        .When last I read it, I made up a list of all the characters’ names. It is impossible to understand with those Russian names.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          That’s true. Especially because different people, depending on class and relation to the person will call the character a different name — there’s the formal, informal and intimate version of each character’s name. However, once you get the naming structure down, it’s absolutely revealing how the people of different rank and class converse with each other.

      2. Vendita Auto

        Thanks, on my list. I recommend “Reality is not what it seems” [Carlo Rovelli]

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Thanks. Just ordered it.

  14. William Mougayar


  15. JLM

    .Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production, distribution, exchange of funds, creation of wealth are controlled by individuals rather than government.A key driver of capitalism is the ability of an individual to invest time, money, talent, work to create a product or service and to thereby obtain or create wealth.The magnitude of personal risk one is willing to take has a direct impact on the outcomes — good or bad. It creates leverage.One may put a silk wrapper on that and call it “profit motive.” I do.The striving of man for the basics of life is subsumed in the striving to create a better life as those basics are fulfilled.That is not the only reason why people go into business. Early in my business career when I was building high rise buildings, I would have paid for the opportunity. You cannot imagine the thrill it gives me to stand and look at a building that I developed. [I imagine the buildings talk to me. And, I talk back. I put so much of myself into those buildings, I am talking to myself.]Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark is a true character.Entrepreneurs are paid in money, ego enrichment, self-esteem nourishment. Once one has a taste of money, the other things become far more important.There is nothing even remotely sinister about pursuing money, ego enrichment, self-esteem nourishment as it gives us the opportunity to accumulate and then share.Life is all about learn, do, earn, share.The test of a man is not what he does or how me makes a bit of success in the world, but what he does with it and how he shares it. The most common question I get from CEOs when they contact me for a bit of coaching is always: “Why are YOU doing this?”I got that question from a young CEO on this blog just last week. The answer is quite simple: “I am trying to square my account. I don’t do this. I can’t not do this.”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      Wow. You nailed it with: “Life is all about learn, do, earn, share.” All you really need is that statement as your quest.

  16. sigmaalgebra

    So, there’s a fine line between greed and profit motive. We are short on clear definitions!Sure greed is pejorative; profit less so; we’ve got that.=== 1. GreedMaybe the point about greed is the threat of following some ways of being nasty about getting to profit.=== 2. People Being NastyIn business, I’ve seen a lot of really nasty behavior: Yes, in the few times there was fighting over maybe big bucks but also many times fighting over less than even chump change and even things, trivial things, other than money.There can be a lot of fighting: E.g., If President Trump said “Nice day”, then there’s a big chance Senator McCain would accuse Trump of exaggerating, lying, or some such, seconded by both Bill Kristol and Maxine Waters.Then there’s Fat Face Little Ill in Ping Pong Yang eager to shoot nukes at the US; the guy acts perpetually pissed off over the outcome of the Korean War and wants to restart it, take over South Korea or some such. Sure, maybe Fat Face just wants to use that old war and the US as means to dominate the attention of his people and, thus, maintain his dictatorship and access to imported French wine and ice cream.There was Saddam: He and all of Iraq were sitting on liquid gold that could have given them all lives of luxury, but, no, somehow Saddam wanted to take over Kuwait and be very nasty about it.Once I knew a guy from Iran: His family back there ran some restaurants; he was Zoroastrian. [Right, R. Strauss wrote some music about that, e.g.,…although…with a nice duet is nicer in some ways!] IRCC the guy from Iran had gotten an ME degree from UNC and seemed like a well balanced guy.But now Iran is run by some Ayatollah Kockamamie who keeps screaming “Death to America”, “Death to Israel”. Again, they are sitting on liquid gold and could have nice lives just by calming down.So, a lot of people want to be nasty over whatever, sometimes money.=== 3. Too Much ProfitBut for profit, at times that can get to be a bit much:E.g., the news today says that Buffett now has over $100 billion in cash with the suggestion that that’s much more than he wants and has it because he is short on places to put it, that is, good companies to buy.E.g.. there is a current CNBC report that Apple has $256.8 billion in cash. Gee, they can afford their $5 billion space ship headquarters. But even spending $5 billion on a building, they are short on what productive use to make of $256.8 billion.E.g., sure, I saw a problem and derived some applied math for a solution. The computer science programs don’t teach the students the prerequisite math I used or how to derive new applied math; so, the problem I’m solving is still just sitting there, unsolved by the funding and efforts of Sand Hill Road, e.g., that is highly impressed with computer science but regards math research as less relevant to their ROI than the results of kindergarten finger painting.I’m just trying to make some money, e.g., get a nice house in an area with some scenery and wildlife, four distinct seasons, etc., have a truck good for charging through snow in the winter, a high end Corvette for fun in weather without snow, and a good way to travel on trips of up to 1000 miles without the hassle of the TSA, and an SUV for stuff, go to operas, symphony concerts, seminars on mathematical physics, in the house have a nice kitchen, get Nathan Myhrvold’s books on cooking, and give some dinner parties. So, for $50 million I could be comfortable, fund educations for some of my relatives, etc. For $500 million, I could make donations that have a chance of making some positive difference in some research universities and their results.Alas, first, the problem I’ve selected is common to nearly everyone in the world on the Internet, say, 3+ billion people, and the math I’ve derived for a solution is far ahead of anything else out there. So, if people like my work, I could be worth many times $500 million. Second, my business is dirt cheap to start, and I’ve got the code running and in alpha test; it looks fine; and I should go live soon. So, I am and apparently can remain a sole, solo founder and 100% owner. It’s all just a result of the fact that the problem is sitting there unsolved, 3+ billion people have the problem, and I derived some nice math for a solution. Moore’s law, widely available infrastructure software, and the Internet are both the source of the problem and how to deliver the solution.So, “profit motive:” My being worth many times $500 million is too much: There’s no way I’d have the time, ideas, etc. to make really efficient use of that much money. And that much money would mean more than the uses I’ve listed and, instead, would be a source of power, in politics, etc., over the lives of many people. Observe that in my list above of what the heck to do with the $500 million, I didn’t mention politics. So, I’d be afraid of heirs having that much money/power. So, net, there can be such a thing as too much profit.That’s just me: I was a math major; I’m trying to be in business; I saw a problem; I derived some math; I’m able to write software for the math and the rest.So, just one guy, some math education, talent, and work, Moore’s law, infrastructure software, the Internet, and a cheap, first server threaten to combine to make super big bucks, big enough to concentrate a lot of power.So, we have a case of a small input to the economy, i.e., my work, have a big result, too much power. So, that means that the current economy — small input, big result — is unstable. That’s not good and is dangerous.=== 4. A Big ThreatBut there’s another threat of too much profit: So far AI/ML ideas are close to silly and trivial with not much potential, laced with a lot of BS, wrapped in a lot of hype.But there is some danger that some significant progress will be made. Even if the progress is way short of “real AI”, there may be enough progress to put a major fraction of all the employees in the world out of work.There could be some really big profits, just from the “profit motive” and without “greed”.There would also be a lot of people out of work, a lot of people seriously hurt, some big political fights, maybe some big wars.A small version of this imagined future is Amazon’s automation of the picking, etc. in their warehouses. Their very well done Web site running on their very well done server farm has already nicely automated the selling side of retail; a consumer customer doesn’t have to go to a brick and mortar store, and Amazon doesn’t have to provide such a store or hire sales clerks to staff it.There are suggestions that Amazon’s success has made Bezos the richest guy in the world and closed a lot of brick and mortar retail. Also, in buying WaPo, Bezos has a lot of political power.Lesson: On greed, being nasty, and profit, we have to be careful.

  17. Tom Labus

    Greenspan called it “infectious greed”. The time during/end of a cycle when conventional norms break down. It happens in all markets, private or public, when things get a little out of hand. Is an ICO the same as a synthetic CDO?

    1. JLM

      .No, a CDO had a debt obligation beneath its silk dress. If only someone had thought about how to recover those obligations when they went sour.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. sigmaalgebra

        In principle, a CDO and more in exotic options would, could, should be good financial instruments, e.g., for whatever expected interest rate (alpha) you want, less risk (variance). So, read some Karatzas and Shreve, H. McKean, E. Wong, etc. and dig in!Alas, in practice, for the mortgage backed securities, there was a lot of incompetent, financial hanky-panky, and maybe worse going on. And there was a bubble, with a lot of details in a really good Frontline piece…Richard KovacevichChair, Wells Fargo (2001-09)So, in practice, exotic options, etc. became Buffett’s “weapons of financial mass destruction”.

        1. Adam Sher

          A CDO was a good idea executed poorly, and are coming back in the commercial real estate market. Will this time be different?Is there a difference between a good idea executed poorly and a bad idea?

          1. sigmaalgebra

            One problem is the rating agencies: Who can you trust? It looks like they can be bought off for $10, $5 on any day except Friday the 13th, and are incompetent to evaluate even five year old Sandra’s front yard lemonade stand or her Golden’s dog house.Another problem is the investment banks — who can you trust?So, for CDOs or anything on the way to an exotic option, I’d be very careful until I knew a LOT and was really happy with what I knew. Maybe the cost of checking out the whole setup would be worth it for a big investor; otherwise I’d be darned reluctant.Generally, there’s a lot of junk out there. E.g., just today I discovered that Microsoft’s important disk backup program NTBACKUP, to backup a boot partition while it is booted and running, now won’t work on my system because the partition I want to backup has some SQL Server files on it. Bummer. Really sick-o bummer.To backup a booted partition while it is running, and get a consistent backup, NTBACKUP uses Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). But somehow SQL Server doesn’t want its files backed up that way, and restoring them with NTBACKUP can leave the SQL Server files corrupted. Bummer.Well, I have SQL Server installed. Recently I discovered that SQL Server writes a lot of log files to my main boot partition whenever I restart the computer. Gads.So, SQL Server has some of its files on my main boot partition, thus, ruining NTBACKUP. Bummer. Grotesque incompetence. Close to sabotage. Outrageous. How the heck can I have SQL Server but have all its files OFF any bootable partition? Didn’t see that in the documentation.So, now I will have to do mud wrestling trying this and that based only on wild guesses, throwing wet, used toilet paper against the wall to get some to stick. Outrageous. Sick-o. Bummer. System management mud wrestling I, no one, should have to do.It’s routine, but it’s still mud wrestling and throwing wet, used toilet paper.This is not nearly my first outrageous problems with SQL Server.There’s a LOT of junk out there.RIGHT! AI taking over the world! Ah, Microsoft can’t get even the simplest issues in their basic products working right.LOT of junk out there. Trust the investment bankers and rating agencies to get CDOs to work right? Not easily!

          2. Adam Sher

            You can’t trust the people selling you the products because they’re not your fiduciary. And we learned that you can’t trust ratings agencies. The institutional investors that are our fiduciaries <should> do their own homework. That is their job. Call it laziness, or gullibility of the crowd.

  18. JLM

    .I think greed most often manifests itself in possessions, excessive possessions.Excessive possessions are a time drain as they all have to be maintained.I have lived on the wrong side of that distinction and am streamlining the Hell out of my existence. The time I have recovered is amazing.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. PhilipSugar

      There is a saying you don’t own your stuff your stuff owns you. At one time I had seven cars, a BIG boat, plane, and two jetskis and I was a bachelor.I was running around one Labor Day weekend just taking care of my stuff. I told people I didn’t have time to go to parties, and I took two days of vacation as well.Who owned who? I couldn’t be with friends because of my stuff?That is where the younger generation has it right with leasing stuff or renting stuff and not owning it.

      1. LE

        Remember when I used to use my small shore place (I rent it now) and had a boat. When the weather was bad I remember actually being somewhat happy. Because then there was no obligation to take the boat out and I could just sit and read and enjoy the view. It was kind of peaceful. Later I decided to rent the place because I got tired of the obligation to pack and go down every weekend. (Not that way in the beginning of course this took years). You know as much as you think you won’t have to pack you still do. You don’t remember what is there and you always have favorite clothing and so on.I was paying storage on the boat for years and not using it. I had passed up a decent offer to sell but thought ‘I will use it next year for sure’. A few years later I finally just gave the title to the dealer and said ‘it’s yours’. They said nobody every did that before. (It wasn’t super valuable and I just didn’t want the stress of waiting for a buyer and paying storage).I was running around one Labor Day weekend just taking care of my stuff.Growing up my mother’s mantra was ‘a pool is a lot of work’ as the reason for not getting a pool. But truth is she had a skin condition where she couldn’t stay in the sun (she looks very young as a result for her 90 years never being exposed.). And also all the work would be on her, not my dad. That was the way the old timers did it.One more thing about boats. When you are out on a boat yourself (or with your wife/young kids) it’s not the same as when you take friends out on the boat. When you take people out you have to entertain them. And entertaining is work. So you drive differently and you end up answering the same questions to any guy up front with you that has never had a boat. It gets draining. And you go to different places. And you can’t just drop anchor and rest. You have to talk to people and you have to make sure they are happy. You can’t go below and just fall asleep.That said a boat is a great way to ‘have friends’ if you want to call it that. So is having anything nice that other people want. They come out of the woodwork and cozy up to you to be able to enjoy what you have. That is certainly one of the reasons that people buy expensive houses and throw parties. It’s about making friends and having what you think are the right people around you.That is where the younger generation has it right with leasing stuff or renting stuff and not owning it.I have never liked leasing/renting. When owning you get to decide when you want to get out. Remember that car I bought last year? Didn’t like it and called the dealer the next day (and then got the manufacturer to credit me against another purchase). Had I leased it I would have been SOL. Ditto for homes and offices. You buy you have more control and as a result less anxiety. Of course not applicable in all situations.I remember when my uncle was a pharmacist. He rented his space. Later a pizza joint came in and wanted the property so they paid him a small fee to get him to move out. Years later he was left with nothing. He ended up having to work for Rite Aid. If he owned the real estate instead of paying rent his widow would be collecting a check to this day. My dad as I have mentioned before a few times bought all his properties and didn’t rent any. Obviously that worked out for him and it ended up being more valuable than the actual business he was running. (And of course this is also where McDonalds makes their money as is well known).

        1. JLM

          .I love my pool. I like to clean it (overhanging blueberry and crepe myrtles) and get it spotless and then I float for hours thinking.I have a fountain flowing into the pool from a hot tub. The sound of the water is incredibly relaxing. I love that hot tub. I like to go in the hot tub late at night and I sleep like a stone.I built an outside grill, fireplace, two eating areas and used Pennsylvania blue stone (slate) which is unusual in Texas. There is nothing better than a fire and dinner in the winter.I added it to my house about 10 years ago and wish I’d done it 20 years ago.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. LE

            I like to clean it (overhanging blueberry and crepe myrtles) and get it spotless and then I float for hours thinking.This is an example of the ‘ritualism’ . it is similar to me and machinery. It ends up being a labor of love to clean it. In the case of the machinery it’s because of the association between the machine and ironically (given today’s topic) making money. [1] Nothing like the glistening chrome honestly it’s fun as I remember it.With ‘programming’ maybe close is inserting comments when you are at a final point in doing the writing. A ritual.@philipsugar:disqus likes to do lawn and garden work I think and I do not. Why? Well for one thing I associate it with a project that I took on when I was a kid to weed someone’s lawn. It took way longer, and was way hotter for the amount of money that I got. No positive reinforcement. So it just left a bad taste in my mouth. I did end up mowing lawns later for money (had a brand new lawn boy which I loved) but didn’t particularly like the cut grass part and allergy issues.[1] I suspect it’s the same with a boy in high school and washing the car (and I still have it to this day.) The clean car is either associated with or the means to a particular end. You can speculate on that end. To this day even though the goal is not needed anymore I still like to wash the car if I have the time (no car washes, rather it be dirty..)

          2. JLM

            .Haha, you are so right.When I was in the Army, I was in the combat engineers and we had tons and tons of equipment from CEVs (combat engineer vehicles, M60 tanks with 120mm bunker busting guns) to dozers to every piece of heavy construction equipment you could imagine to chainsaws and blasting machines.We also had a lot of weapons and tons and tons of explosives and blasting caps and machines.When you turned over a unit, it took more than a week to inventory everything. I had to sign for every stick of equipment and I had to deliver it when I turned it over to the next guy.We trained constantly, but my most favorite thing was blowing stuff up. I spent a year in Korea destroying fortifications at river crossings and rebuilding them to sustain hits by bigger artillery.Every time we returned from the field, everything had to be maintained and cleaned to spotless condition. Everything consumed had to be resupplied.Every unit I commanded I made into a ritualistically clean enterprise with weekly inspections and performance tests. I would inspect the equipment box for every squad and make them start up their chainsaws on the first pull. It, somehow, just hit my fancy.In life we don’t get what we expect, we get what we INSPECT.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. LE

            Exactly. Also isn’t there a part of ‘an idle mind is the devi’s workshop’ and/or rigid control and discipline in the military that also plays a role? I am thinking of another example is with firemen and equipment cleaning. If not fighting fire they have time on their hands. So could say ‘so why not spend it keeping things ship shape’ but I think the underpinnings go way beyond that. And we all know how we tend to be more efficient in a busy schedule than an empty one.

          4. JLM

            .I had a bad, grossly overstrength unit at the end of Vietnam. I was at a domestic location not far from you. It had a lot of guys awaiting their final appeal at the Court of Military Appeals — murderers, rapists, violent men. Fluctuated between 400-600 men. I was 26 years old and the unit should have had 186 men. I got no more supervision — officers or sergeants.I had 2-300 good soldiers who were just assigned there because of their combat engineer MOS and the fact the post was a discharge point. Men waiting to get out of the army.Under the UCMJ an otherwise innocent bystander was charged with the same crime. Five guys standing around, one guy shoots a sergeant. They all get charged with murder.One third were bad to the bone. One third were innocent — wrong place, wrong time. One third did whatever the last person to speak to them told them to do.I had no idea how to maintain discipline, so I ran them 5-10 miles every day. Lots of physical work. Made them march to the work site. Pull stumps by hand using 20-30 guys on a chain. Literally, chain gangs. Enormous racial tensions and lots of drugs.Had an hour of hand to hand combat training daily. [Perhaps, a mistake on my part, but I always liked hand to hand combat to stiffen up a unit.]Made them maintain equipment constantly. Put them on the rifle range for days at a time until everybody could shoot expert. Had to be careful with the criminals and the weapons.The barracks were quiet at 8:00 PM because everybody was asleep. Oh, the stories I could tell you about what I learned about evil.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. LE

            Sure and at your age at the time, 20’s, you were doing that. Today people of the same age are floating around Europe eating at cafe’s and hiking. Of course they read about things like that in school and think they have that base covered.

          6. JLM

            .Funny thing is that young folks are being cheated. I marvel, even today, what we ask of young men and women in the military.Today is a particularly poignant day as I learned that one of the Marine pilots killed in the Osprey crash in Australia was a Marine officer who’d gone to VMI.It is hard to believe that the US has been at war for almost two decades in A’stan. We seem to be crushing ISIS, but A’stan is still a bit of a mystery.When I go to VMI, it is hard to believe the quality of the graduate they are producing today. The current Superintendent, Gen Binford Peay, has built that school into a powerhouse both academically and professionally.Serving the nation at a young age is a blessing.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          7. sigmaalgebra

            A’stan, a.k.a, Akrapistan? There is a culture there. It runs essentially everything — dress codes, social norms, gender roles, romantic relationships and marriage, diet, education, architecture, media, the legal system, most of the economy, government, the military, foreign policy, and religion. For everything else, it is kept out, and for everyone else the goal is to kill them or convert them.That culture is essentially medieval and 500 years out of date. But in Akrapistan, for nearly all the population, that’s the culture they have, and they have all of that culture and next to nothing else except AK-47s and a RPGs.For the people in that culture, for anything or anyone else, they don’t want it for anything but target practice or as customer for drugs.And there’s another problem: Pukistan likes Akrapistan that way and helps it stay that way.If we took over Akrapistan, ran it like the British long ran India or just ran it with Stalinist techniques like Saddam ran Iraq, a lot of torture, stringing people up on lamp poles, summary, public executions, making any display of the old culture instant, public death, e.g., put all the men in the army and train them there in everything about a new culture, then in about 5 generations we could get them up to the 20th century, ah, say the 19th.Meanwhile there’s no way we can change Akrapistan.Again they HAVE a culture; it is deeply seated; it runs everything and keeps out everything else; super tough to replace that culture; until that culture is replaced, there’s not much that we can do to influence Akrapistan.There are lesser approaches: E.g., supposedly all the country outside of a few cities is run by local war loads who extract taxes and act as local dictators. Okay, necessarily everyone knows who the war lords are. So kill’m. Generally, truncate the leadership we don’t like.Problem is, as soon as we quit doing that, certainly as soon as we leave, it will all come back.But we are not in Akrapistan to save it; we are there to defend ourselves from it since it was used as a base to attack us on 9/11. So, by now we’ve spent how many trillions of dollars in Akrapistan to do WHAT? WTF?????A fool and his money are easily parted.Ah, we want to defend ourselves from Akrapistan? And now that we have the TSA, our borders tightened up, and lots of good intel, just how the heck is Akrapistan going to attack us? How many aircraft carriers does Akrapistan have?In Akrapistan we should put some intel in place. Maybe we should keep an air base there, one with one heck of a wide boundary with the rest of the country, declare victory, and LEAVE. With our intel, we should monitor the place. If any threats develop, say, more terrorist training camps, then we should use the air base to “make them an offer they can’t refuse”, that is, tell them to cease and desist or bomb them back to rubble and bounce the rubble.That culture? Let’m have it, and stay medieval — easier to kill them if they get out of line.But give them a new culture? Next to hopeless, no matter how many schools, hospitals, and roads — stuff they didn’t have 500 years ago and still don’t want now — we try to give them. We should be able to see that by now, after 16 years and ~$2.5 trillion.Look, guys, really, 9/11 was as much our fault as that of Akrapistan: We long knew who the risky people were, taking flying lessons, “how to fly the big jets, take offs and landings omitted as unnecessary”, etc. Lots of alarms went off; we just ignored them.We can do a really good job stopping the dirt bags from killing us; we can’t do much at all to stop them from wanting to kill us; so, we still have to defend ourselves; and we can do that for chump change compared with the $2.5 trillion we’ve wasted so far.

          8. JLM

            .The amount of money we have spent in Iraq and A’stan is obscene. We should never have tried to create a new A’stan. We should have eliminated the training camps and turned the keys over to the UN.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          9. leigh

            Friend who lives in Kabul also says to focus on the funders…aka Saudi Arabia

          10. sigmaalgebra

            What a shit pit! Wow.

        2. Matt Zagaja

          I lease and hate doing it. I have many things I want to customize about my space but choose not to make a donation to the landlord. Would definitely choose to own if I could afford it.

      2. awaldstein

        Owning artwork makes me happy for a broad array of reasons.

        1. jason wright

          More so than simply being in its presence? the need to own it adds something more?i always think at about what the artist would think about their art being privately held.

          1. awaldstein

            Having it in my home matters as I am just one of those people who needs to be surrounded by images that matter.Art of all the occupations is capitalized by scarcity and that implies ownership and limited editions. Even the most public graffiti artists like Haring embraced that.He is one of my faves and love having two small pieces of his around the home.

        2. PhilipSugar

          Yes artwork does not require maintenance. Look, I didn’t want to redo my yard and my wife insisted. Same thing.

        3. leigh

          I buy art every time something big happens – child being born, death of a parent, bought or sold a house. It makes me very happy to support the arts and I love every piece I have.

          1. awaldstein

            That is nice and I have friends that do it that way.Whatever makes us happy is ok in this respect.For me, there are images that have haunted and defined me and when the opportunity arises I grab them and move them closer.Bourke-White, Eisenstaedt, Feininger, LIchtenstein, Haring, and others.As eclectic as myself I fear.

      3. JLM

        .The younger generation borrows their parents’ stuff.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Vasudev Ram

          Ha, reminds me of those old kids comics (Archies, etc.) in which the teenager says “Hey Dad, can I have the car keys for the night?””plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”…

    2. sigmaalgebra

      The early part of Dad’s education and career involved a lot of tools for both wood and metal working. So, there were sheet metal snips, a big carpenter’s square, spirit levels, hand saws with various sizes of teeth, some micrometers, a brace and bit, and much more. So, he had two cedar tool chests, distributed these items between the two, gave one to my brother and the other to me. It’s in the basement on cinder blocks to keep it from the cool of the floor and resulting condensation. I’m supposed to junk this? I have a car a lot like the JLM-BRC; if my startup works, then I want to restore it; I’m supposed to junk it? I have something of a workshop with electric drills, a circle saw, lots of other hand tools, I use for repairs and small projects, and I’m supposed to junk it? I have a garage for my main car, keep rain, snow, and sun off the car, keep down rust, do light maintenance in the garage, and have several shelf units for tools and supplies — oil, ATF, brake fluid, washer fluid, anti-freeze, spare headlights and bulbs, etc., and I’m supposed to junk that? I have a piano, two violins, a shelf unit with sheet music, cookbooks, and VCR tapes, and I’m supposed to junk those? Books? WOW do I have books! I don’t want to junk them.Naw! Maybe I want an out building with a work shop and lots of storage space, but I don’t want to cut back to my dorm room in ugrad school.Besides, I don’t want to take out time to cut back and, instead, want to make the money to expand!

    3. baba12

      sadly whats excessive is a relative term. how much of any thing is enough and if one knows that to begin with and still knowingly continues to amass more of stuff…

  19. JLM

    .Greed is not well defined as a pinch of it comes out to play in clean clothes as “profit motive” while a handful of it destroys things and is a thug.What is easy to see and understand is cheating.When Volkswagen cheated on its US diesel emissions, I was incredulous that a major corporation would do something so obvious and criminal.When I see Amazon and Walmart destroying local business, I am not quite as outraged because their behavior is not criminal.When I see the Pharma Bro, Martin Shkreli, buy a drug (Daraprim 2015) and raise the price from $13.50 to $750, I am not remotely confused. Or amused. Now, that is greed without the benefit of the Emperor’s new clothes.Take note that 34-year-old Brooklynite Shkreli was convicted on 3 counts of securities fraud last week and is looking at a long appeals process and some jail time. Karma?BTW, the guy is “happy” with the outcome?…JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  20. Vitomir Jevremovic

    Talking about FileCoin ICO? I still don’t understand how is that most of discussions are around cost of coins, ICO rules, greed and profit opportunities, but no one is talking about users, implementation, usability, competition, pricing models.. not even the founding team. If we had more understanding of what is the final product, maybe asking for more money could be translated into actionable milestones and goals, and thus greed would not be a subject of discussion.

  21. Alex Murphy

    A good model to follow: Profit maximization through Utility maximization with a backbone of empathy and improving the general halo effect of those around you.

  22. Bobby Breyer


  23. Frank W. Miller

    Taking profits when there’s a bubble isn’t greed. Its luck combined with intelligence. Slosh away, it will teach all these folks a lesson about the casino.

  24. PhilipSugar

    There are going to be those that disagree with me but greed is at the core of why we need regulation. Greed to me is not caring about what happens to others as you accumulate wealth.Accumulating wealth is great. Huge believer in the capitalistic system. Do not believe in redistributing wealth.But when you don’t care about resources: Human, Environmental, Economic things fall apart very quickly.Sure it’s cheaper to flog people and not give them the right safety equipment, sure it’s cheaper to dump toxins into the environment, sure it’s more profitable to pump and dump securities.But all of these have grave consequences for the commons.

    1. PhilipSugar

      As I was driving I thought of two examples:One I took over house manager at my fraternity. I noticed all of our cleaning supplies, etc, were really expensive. I told the contractor, no thanks. He said: Oh, here is a TV and VCR for your room??? Huh??? Looked at the old house manager’s room. TV and VCR. Going to increase dues so I can get a TV and VCR??? Greed.Second, in the 90’s we merged with a company so we could get big enough to get bought out. We examined the benefits plans (I did with a noncom) We looked at their 401k 3% off the top and fully loaded shares. Ours 0% off the top, institutional shares.What the hell gives? Oh we really like this broker (and then the controller told me the HR director and the CEO got premium tickets to whatever they wanted) Broker calls me and says hey I can get you tickets for whatever you want. Greed.

    2. JLM

      .Human nature (of which greed is an element) is exactly why we need a pinch of regulation.The challenge is this — No amount of regulation will make a crook honest (Bernie Madoff). No amount of regulation is necessary for an honorable person to know what to do in any situation.The essence of regulation has to be to PUNISH the Hell out of the transgressors.I admit to being fascinated by the Martin Shkreli case and his incredible greed. I applauded his being found guilty — not because of the fraud allegations, but because of his entire Daraprim $13.50 >>> $750 drug excess.Karma.JLMww.w.themusingsofthebigredc…

      1. PhilipSugar

        On this we completely agree. You cannot make regulations or rules so tight people cannot violate. You have to have principle over procedure. I know we are going to disagree, but if I say you can’t go to these websites, you will find another. If I say you go to an offensive website and you are out? Different.Instead of SOX they should say a restatement? We retroactively cut everybody’s salary down to $100k during the restatement time. You make more than $100k? You sign off on that.

      2. PhilipSugar

        Could not agree more. Just charge 56 times more.

      3. sigmaalgebra

        In many competitive situations, if the other guy is acting like a dirt bag, then you have to do much the same or be at a huge competitive disadvantage and go out of business.So, regulations help keep the kitchens clean, the lead out of tin cans, sick people out of chefs uniforms, etc., things that maybe most or all in business would like to do but can’t do if the other guy is not.

      4. LE

        I admit to being fascinated by the Martin ShkreliAs I will often do (my game of trying to be a criminal defense attorney) I will take the other side of this.First as with increases in health premium rates there is nothing to say the drug (or rates) was priced fairly or correctly to begin with (just like with the epi pen). Now those drugs may very well have been priced correctly but when a story breaks on the subject all of the pain in the ass bystanders, bloggers, news paper and broadcast people ‘the media’ goes for the low hanging fruit to paint a picture of greed and try it in the media. And everyone and their uncle chimes in because for sure it’s a shitty move to jack up prices like that!. Just like if you went into a restaurant that charged $50 for a steak and they put a charge for tap water of $5 you’d think that was screwy even if the steak should have been priced at $60. Because nobody charges for water although they invented bottled water so people somehow felt it was acceptable to charge for mere water. What a great manipulation, eh? Watch and learn.Second part of Shkreli’s ‘crime’ was that he smirked to much. Most likely because a personality disorder. Or aspergers and so on. Or sure maybe because he is a shmuck. But being a schmuck is not a crime. In my mind that is not a reason to get unfair treatment in a court of law. But of course it is both by jurors and by the media. But honestly it shouldn’t be.Simpletons always want a particular behavior and respect out of people. This makes sense when people control your destiny (judge and jurors) but you know in all fairness it really shouldn’t matter if the law is applied fairly.They could probably prove this out with some experiment on college kids. Two groups of people, one raises prices but has all the right moves the other appears as an outward jerk. You know the outcome. Further mix in some sob story as far as why the company that raises prices did so. Even more predictable.We have gotten into this territory with the ‘dreamers’ now. The mitigation that should not matters ends up mattering.

        1. JLM

          .You can just look at this guy and know he needs a beating. He’s a punk.$13.50 >>>>>>>>>>>>> $750 per dose?He needs a beating.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. LE

            This is exactly why a good criminal defense includes jury consultants!!!

          2. Aaron Fyke

            Jesus JLM, I think I’ve said this before: I come to AVC for Fred, but I stay for your comments.

        2. PhilipSugar

          Nope. I always say know that the ass kicking boot is going to be on another’s foot. When your ass kicking boot is a 5,600% price increase, the other ass kicking boot involves you going to prison.

          1. LE

            I repeat my reply to JLM:This is exactly why a good criminal defense includes jury consultants!!!Of course Skreli was a ‘hog that got slaughtered’. But the truth is there are many issues with drug prices. In particular the fact that we pay more for the same drugs than overseas and we are subsiding them.Over the weekend I was an an affair with a younger cousin. He has a big medical practice. I find out that drug companies are flying him all over the place to shill their drugs. Now he is making huge money in the medical practice as well. In one procedure he charges $50k and has a doc working for him doing the procedure. Of course he has overhead and has to pay the doctor but he is obviously doing very well with this particular procedure he does. It’s done afaik in the office.Anyway whatever he is getting paid by pharma is enough to be able to take off from a lucrative practice (25 employees, probably 5 doctors and support staff). Not only that but in addition to pay they have to fly him and put him up in a hotel. A nice one I am sure. But this is just a typical anecdote that I am telling. For all I know the facts are vastly different.That’s how much money is swashing around in at least certain parts of medicine.That said our particular system at the high cost does appear to have benefits. But it unfortunate that we pay extra to support other developed countries. And no it’s not a matter of just negotiating better in the US either.

          2. JLM

            .Which is, of course, why our drugs are so expensive, says the guy who buys his drugs from Canada Drug Center for 22% of US prices.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  25. feargallkenny

    So in the VC space, as firms are by definition cash flow negative (at least when you first see them), do you witness greed around valuation (on both sides), a company trying to bite off more than they can chew with addressable market or something else? (or is this post more reserved for later stage greed)?

  26. jason wright

    Well said. It needed to be, especially about crypto, which is becoming grotesque.

  27. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Timely post :)Each one of us has the last word on just how much we let greed drive our actions.The question for me (and I’d say for many of us here) is, how much are we building greed, and the stoking of greed, into our systems? How much thought and effort do we put into designing those systems to help people avoid the vortex of greed?Some may say that the systems aren’t the problem or bear no responsibility, that we each have a personal responsibility to resist greed. But if you’ve built a system that rewards greed, haven’t you abdicated personal responsibility right there?

    1. Donna Brewington White

      This is food for deep thought.I am rethinking my client acquisition philosophy and strategy. You bring up an important factor for me to consider in shaping my business for the next phase.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Thanks, Donna! I’ve recently learned a lot about the importance of your work. You’re in a position to do a great deal of good in the world, and I’m sure that you do 🙂

    2. Vasudev Ram

      Good points. I’ll piggyback on it to trot out my old hobby horse (which I’ve mentioned a few times before here on AVC) – the concepts and philosophy laid out in E. F. Schumacher’s book Small is Beautiful:Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered:…E. F. Schumacher:…Excerpt from the Wikipedia article about the book:[ First published in 1973, Small Is Beautiful brought Schumacher’s critiques of Western economics to a wider audience during the 1973 energy crisis and emergence of globalization. The Times Literary Supplement ranked Small Is Beautiful among the 100 most influential books published since World War II.[2] A further edition with commentaries was published in 1999.[3] ]The irony is that following that sort of lifestyle [1] (even in part, it does not even have to be mutually exclusive between that and the current big-co/big-tech/big-biz style), can even (gasp!) be more fulfilling and enjoyable, to us as humans.I have some prior background in living and working in that way, and been around other people who do it too, so I’m not speaking entirely out of my hat.[1] The broad general concept goes by various names, with overlapping meanings and areas of concern, like appropriate technology, sustainability, permaculture, organic gardening and farming, greentech, etc.

  28. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Will defer to the Websters College Dictionary for defining greed.Greed- a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as money) than is needed motivated by naked ambition and greed.https://www.merriam-webster…How many homes or material possessions is enough.If you don’t control the narratives in your life someone else will.

  29. Ronnie Rendel

    Sounds like you have something you want to say about BCH and not saying it. I understand why you’re not saying it, because you are not just an investor, but a mentor to Coinbase, which was the product that got me off the bench in the crypto world. But they lost me, when they inherently froze BTC accounts the days before the split (complaining about processing too many transfer orders) – I’m not accusing or making implications – I don’t understand enough to say that, I was just speaking as a consumer. But I want to hear in good old fashioned New York business “no BS” language – what do you think is going on.

  30. pointsnfigures

    I am cool with your point as long as the check and balance is the invisible hand.

  31. george

    Dare to draw a correlation but simply observing behaviors: I would suggest VC firms are innately greedier; investors take on much more risk, expect higher returns and they are generally not satisfied with average success. Perhaps the description aligns a bit better with a private equity group; good operators with clear profit goals.

  32. 土火

    team of Flecoin demonstrate greed perfectly. it was planning for a 2bn–>20bn market cap or rasie 10% for 500-700mn usd before real protocol coin issued. This is how to turn an well anticipated project sours

  33. pointsnfigures

    Also think that there should be some healthy fear with the greed. Not seeing that either

  34. Dorian Benkoil

    But, Fred, how to know, where to draw the line between reasonable desire and greed?

  35. Pam Bryce Gilbert

    Greed isn’t good? Are you remotely aware of what is going on at Etsy? What happened to their FIDUCIARY duty to their SELLERS who pay the fees? Do you know that if Etsy ever started treating their sellers with RESPECT, and stopped playing games with live shops, and maybe even *GASP* listened to their sellers, they would become profitable again??? Please.

  36. JLM

    .The grandest lie ever told is that all men are created equal. It is simply not true.What is true is that every person gets 24 hours in each day.We do not get the same number of days, but we get 24 hours in each one of them.Time is the most precious commodity a man can husband. The obvious: Don’t waste time on stupid stuff.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  37. Girish Mehta

    See Kurt Vonnegut’s poem below about Joseph Heller’s remark.

  38. awaldstein

    You are a good guy my friend and we are likeminded on many things.

  39. Susan Rubinsky

    You just summed it up nicely, “I’m not willing to accumulate wealth in unethical ways.” LOVE that.When the last recession hit and I had a lot of “asshole” clients (I took them on only because I needed to put food on the table), I decided that my new business vision would be “Good work begets good work.” That has been the compass rose I navigate by ever since. I ask this simple question of every new opportunity that I see or that falls in my lap, “Is this good work?” Good being a double entendre: is the work itself good work and will the work bring good to the world? Works for me.

  40. PhilipSugar

    I believe the thing is this. You can create wealth. It is not a zero sum game. The key is not to destroy other’s wealth as you create yours.

  41. LE

    Part of the ‘problem’ with a small business is that there is no easy way to modulate directly the amount of time spent and the reward. It’s not like you are on an hourly wage with a secure job and can just decide to work less. You don’t know what is around the next corner so you have to over prepare for the future and any downturns, changes and problems. That is often something that I find that people who don’t run businesses (and small ones in particular) don’t understand.Plus things creep up on you and then it’s to late and you can’t fix the situation.I’m not willing to accumulate wealth in unethical ways.This gets down to the ‘I let my kid ride the carnival ride so it’s safe’ concept. All of us vary in the way we see ethical behavior. Not only that but even within a particular person or company that behavior changes over time. There are probably things you might be willing to try if you are a sinking ship that you wouldn’t ever do if you were super profitable.

  42. JLM

    .I agree more with you than you do with yourself.We are all entitled to the same starting place and a chance to put our feet into the starting blocks.How we run the race is up to each of us.Where we are at the finish line, is a factor of how hard we ran.Again, I agree with you.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  43. Susan Rubinsky

    I think it should be equitable opportunities.

  44. awaldstein


  45. Susan Rubinsky

    I often wish that that phrase is about equity versus equality.A person who has a disability, for example, has limits that most other people do not have, yet that person may have capabilities that are different that non-disabled people. At my local grocery store, they hire a lot of people who have downs syndrome and other disabilities to do things like collect carriages and bag your groceries. I will tell you, for some reason that I am sure has to do with their “disability” most of these people are so happy and kind. Happier and kinder than everyday folks without disabilities. That is their strength. You can’t help feeling really happy after a conversation with your bagger at the grocery store.My thought always leans toward: what is the equitable situation for each person based on what their strengths and weaknesses are?

  46. Amar

    It is not just “how hard we ran”, it is also the choices we made and the wisdom we demonstrate in learning from mistakes. I don’t think you disagree (disagree if you do disagree ;-))”Grit” is now the in phrase and all of a sudden everything is reduced to “Grit” 🙂 Few things in life are that simple. The birth lottery we won matters, grit matters, learning to say no often and early matters and most of all having the courage to identify our priorities and tending to them matters.

  47. LE

    When the last recession hit and I had a lot of “asshole” clients (I took them on only because I needed to put food on the table),More or less what I was saying in my reply to Charlie above. You changed the line depending on the circumstances in your life.Would be curious though what makes someone an ‘asshole’ client. Is it what they do, how they act, how they treat you, or just the way they make you feel? And further what happens if they are referred by someone who is a source of other business for you? I would think that makes you much less likely to turn them down as a client. Or maybe it makes you more emboldened and the people who refer think what you do is even more special. See things like that can be done if you have an otherwise solid business. You can turn down work for any and all reasons.

  48. JLM

    .We never know what we would do until we feel the pressure of the situation.We never know what we are capable of doing until we feel the same pressure.I watched seemingly little men grow into giants when the shit hit the fan.We just never know who we are until friction exposes our character.We never know our values until we confront the price tag and then we know. We are our actions, not what we write on a paper, not what we want to be.I have watched big men cut down to size when the shit gets real.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  49. Susan Rubinsky

    Lots of things can add up to an asshole client but the ones that stand out from the past for me all shared one primary character flaw: greed.Greed, in turn, was united with character flaws in the company owner which included: unethical behavior, general negativity in the personality, and inability to commit to a long term strategy.Every single one of these clients also were slow payers and every single one defaulted on their last payment at the conclusion of the contract. Although, I was already aware of their unethical behaviors before ending the business relationship. In all cases, I was completely unsurprised that they did not pay me, based on their past behaviors with me and how I observed their treatment of other vendors.Every single one of these clients also lacked humility. I have since created a list of questions that I ask during my initial needs assessment that are designed to expose these types of character flaws so I can decide if I want to decline the contract.

  50. PhilipSugar

    The biggest challenge we all have is that we all want to grow, and we are willing to delude ourselves that a client is not really an asshole.You saw my definition of greed, it is not caring about what your actions do to others. An asshole client doesn’t care about screwing you. They ask for more than they should, pay slow, complain, and as you are right skip out on the last bill.

  51. Donna Brewington White

    A lot of wisdom here, Amar.

  52. PhilipSugar

    Totally agree. The only I would caution people is that sometimes people think blunt talk is “being an asshole.

  53. PhilipSugar

    Your competitors can help you build your market.Let’s say there is no market for organic food. You get competitors that start saying there is. Do they cut into your percentage? Yup. But can they expand the entire market? Yes. Now then we can get into the bad actors, etc.But no competition. No market. It is why there are malls.

  54. Susan Rubinsky

    Ah. Good point. I actually prefer bluntness. It make it easier to get down to business.

  55. Amar

    Thanks Donna — these days I am always on the lookout for folks with visible battle scars I can learn from. There are too many high IQ but insufficient experience/EQ folks dispensing advise thanks to social media 🙂 As my friend says “advice is cheap, wisdom is hard earned”