Chamath Palihapitiya on SPACs, Bitcoin, and the New World of Finance (w/ Raoul Pal)

Chamath Palihapitiya on SPACs, Bitcoin, and the New World of Finance (w/ Raoul Pal)

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RAOUL PAL: Chamath, great to get you on Real  Vision. You are one of the people I have really,   really wanted to sit down and talk to because you  cover all sorts of spectrums and there is just a   lot to dig into. Before we start, your story is  amazing. I am the son of an Indian immigrant to   the UK, and you have a story as well. It is  just part of you and part of your character,   and I would love you to share some of that coming  from Sri Lanka. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: Sure. Well,  

first of all, thanks for including me. I have  been a fan of yours for a while, so it is great   to be on. The short version of the long story  is I was born in Sri Lanka. At the age of six,   my parents were posted to the Sri Lankan  High Commission in Canada, and so we moved to   Ottawa, myself and my sister and my parents.  In the middle of that tour of duty there,   he was supposed to be there for four years,  he was a mid-level diplomatic person there.   A civil war really accelerated and at the time,  there were multiple factions fighting each other.  

There was the Tamil minority fighting for a  homeland in Sri Lanka. Then there was also an   extremist Sinhalese Buddhist minority as well  also fighting for a much more firm response.   Long story short, my dad who  is a pretty devout Buddhist,   wrote some articles. He got in a lot of trouble.  His life was threatened, and we filed for refugee   status and the Canadian government gave it to us.  Then it is a typical hardscrabble immigrant story.  

You go off the government dole. We grew  up on welfare. My mom was a housekeeper,   then a nurse's aide, my dad bounced around  jobs for a while. I went to school in Canada,   Electrical Engineering, and then for a few  years, I spent as a derivatives trader,   and then moved to the United States. RAOUL  PAL: I am sorry. I was a derivative salesman.   Who were you working for? CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA:  Bank of Montreal, BMO Nesbitt Burns. I created   cross currency swaps, USCanada, US-Japan,  US-Mexico, but really, I started out as a coder   helping to design math models, and then was able  to be a part of running a book and managing risk.   Anyways, long story short, I really put a pin in  that because in 2000, I moved to the United States   to go back to more of an engineering skill  set, and I worked at a bunch of startups.  

RAOUL PAL: What made you do that, because finance  at the time was the thing to do, it was the brain   drain was sucking into finance. Still, at that  point, what made you swim against the tide?   Go to California and start from there. CHAMATH  PALIHAPITIYA: I have been the byproduct of a   lot of incredibly fortuitous decisions. Some of  them were not made by me. In that case, it was   not. I had a boss, his name was Mark Kaplan, Da  Capo, the boss's boss, and he gave me zero bonus.   I was a high performer who I think had gotten  a little over his skis, I thought too much of   myself, and I was pretty arrogant. I had become  just not as good as I was when I was hungrier  

and more humble. He sent a wakeup call, and that  is the strongest wakeup call you can get because   if you are expecting several hundred thousand  dollar bonus as 21-year-old kid, and I had all   these plans about paying off my debts and paying  off my parent's debts and buying them house.   I had been able to do some of those things already  through this job, I had really lofty expectations.   It was a huge coming down to earth for me. NICHOLAS CORREA: Sorry for interrupting   your video, but I have a very  important message to share.   At Real Vision, we pride ourselves on providing  the very best in-depth, expert analysis available   to help you understand the complex world of  finance, business, and the global economy.  

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it costs you just $1 to get a month's access  to this incredible content. I don't think it's   something you can afford to be without. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: to   do some of those things already through  this job, I had really lofty expectations.   It was a huge coming down to earth for me.  It was more of anger and spite that I said,   fuck this, I am quitting. It turned out to  be a great decision. The embarrassment was  

really incredible for me, because it was  my first really big professional failure,   but I overcame it pretty quickly.  I have always had a tendency to   learn from things and you learn that the cost of  that failure is not that high. I was still able to   feed myself, I was able to help my family. Nothing  changed. All of a sudden, just a consequence of   trying and failing and then learning and being  better and figuring out where you are not good,   and figuring out your blind spots, that stayed  with me. That is what caused me to leave.   It did not come from the best place. It came from  a peak of insecurity and I learned a lot from   it. RAOUL PAL: A lot of people get paralyzed by  fear of failure. Actually, failure, I always find,  

creates change. In change, there is always an  opportunity. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: Well, the thing   is that most cultures, this is why Silicon Valley  is so special, the real thing that if they can   export to the rest of the world, I think sometimes  it gets caricatured here as a bunch of dilettante,   mostly guys, mostly thinking about stupid first  world problems. There is some of that, but when   I came here, and I think that the enduring  thing that this place has, which is a feature   is a bug everywhere else, which is that everybody  else points to and laughs, and mocks failure.  

Whereas here, it is a real badge of honor. It  is because people have found that there is a   secret that is hiding in plain sight in Silicon  Valley, which is that when you fail, you learn.   Instead, if you say you are learning things, then  the more failures you have, it just means the more   knowledge you are acquiring, which means  the closer you are to figuring it out.   The people that are the most respected here  are the ones that have had some spectacular   failures by conventional measure. In reality,  what they are, are incredible learners,   and then that has caused them to have some huge  outcomes. That is an incredible insight that   it is hard to internalize. Most places just  do not embrace that. One thing about Canada  

that I will say is, I am the byproduct of  an enormously important social safety net.   Whether it was welfare, or whether it was  federally subsidized health care, or federal and   provincial subsidized education, I had the benefit  of every single social safety net possible.   A lot of my politics and a lot of my beliefs are  governed because of that. Despite all of that,   Canada was not super accommodating for somebody  like me, because I was willing to fail.  

I was willing to be an outlier. It is very  difficult to be quite honest, unless you are   around other people who will tell you that failure  is okay, and I did not find that until I moved   here in 2000, 20 years ago. Because in every other  place, they look at you and say, you should be   toeing the line and being part of the established  aristocracy if you can be a part of it.  

It is an incredibly important thing that Silicon  Valley got right, then when I moved here,   I felt very much at home. RAOUL PAL: Yes,  because the UK where I grew up is terrible   for it as well. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: The  UK is even worse because the entire peerage   infrastructure and system and the classism that  is so incredibly entrenched retards progress,   ultimately. You are always fighting a very, very  small number and ever shrinking number of haves  

versus an ever larger pool of have nots, and  really, what they are fighting over is power.   Because it is not that they are fighting over  resources and money, but they are fighting over   judgment and they are fighting over all  these very elusive psychological things.   The most important thing that the "have  nots" can do is just decide that the power   that they haves have does not matter anymore. That  deconstruction is actually an incredibly powerful   element of societal evolution and those that  get it right, thrive, and those that do not,   just go by the wayside. Ray Dalio has a scene,  he had a really good book about four years ago.  

I cannot say that I read it, except the last  few chapters he summarized in a YouTube video,   which I really liked. Essentially, it was like  he talks about these economies and the great   periods of time as countries defined in these four  phases, which are poor countries acting poor, then   a poor country that becomes rich, but still acts  poor, then a rich country acting rich, then a rich   country that has become poor and has not realized  it and still acting rich, and then a rich country   becoming poor again. It is this entire cycle.  When you look at who is in the ascendancy of power   geopolitically today, it is all these folks  who have completely deconstructed a social   hierarchy from 100 and 200 years ago that they  have found to just be really not that helpful.   RAOUL PAL: That is an interesting point,  because something-- I think we have all   seen it and you get this as your background,  you go to Silicon Valley, you get involved in   what becomes social media and the revolution.  That changed everything for everybody. It created   a society of which there was no sovereign  borders, a society around which you could   operate only within people that you wanted to  operate within. I have always talked about this,   you could be a chihuahua lover, and you only  have to hang out with chihuahua lovers online   and you can hate the rottweiler lover, you  can basically create any tribe you want,   and that is different. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA:  It also did something really, very visceral,  

and psychological and it also reallocated power  and influence. When you see how the establishment   reacts to social media today, I would say that  the US election is a great window into this.   The 2016 election was about castigating  Facebook. 2020 has really been the election of   throwing Twitter under the bus, but really what  it is, is an emerging realization by both the left   and the right, that social media reallocates  power and influence in a way that disrupts   the allocation of power and influence. Meaning  it is much more likely, and Donald Trump I think,   is the canary in the coal mine, it is much more  likely that future leaders of politics are really   people that can coalesce movements online. In  that, you are much more likely for The Rock,  

or Kim Kardashian, or Charli D'Amelio to be  the next great politician, then you are some   person who is steeped in policy and  who really understands what to do.   RAOUL PAL: I heard you recently talking, I  think it was on Kara Swisher's podcast about   that potential move towards centrism, but it feels  that it is the opposite. It is a bifurcation and   it is a multifragmentation, it is difficult to get  any consensus in a world where everybody shouts.   CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: That is true. I think  that basically what is happening is part,  

it is 50% what you said, and 50% what I just  said in that podcast. To unpack it, I think   what is happening is that you are absolutely  right that that social media, and just like the   way that we organize ourselves now is becoming  highly fragmented, because you have a tendency   to seek confirmation bias. What that  puts you into is your own echo chamber,   whatever that is. That could be believers  of climate change versus non-believers,   vaxxers versus anti-vaxxers, queueing  on people versus non-queuing on people.   Across any dimension, no matter how normalized  or no matter how extreme political views are,   you can find your own echo chamber, and you will  stay there gladly, because it is confirmatory.   In a place like the United States, where  there are still only two political parties,   and the allocation of power is a  binary decision between two people,   I think what it means is that you then  optimize for the lowest common denominator,   and the political strategy in the future to win--  I am not saying it is right, but the strategy to   win is one of centrism, because the centrist  platform now embraces 50% of the left's agenda   and 50% of the right's agenda, because that is  the only way mathematically to get a plurality,   just the way that the US is governed,  the way the electoral college works,   the way that these 50 states are really completely  discontinuous bodies of electoral and political   will. RAOUL PAL: Basically building a Venn diagram  and looking for the [?]. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA:  

That is exactly it. I think politics in America  for the foreseeable future is a cold calculation   of the intersection of Venn diagrams. RAOUL PAL:  One of the things that interests me that I am sure   you have got a view on is obviously online trust  and digital identity. Because somewhere within  

this, there is fake news and deepfakes, and it  is becoming, it is going to become an issue. We   do not really know how to deal with it yet. How do  we solve for this? Is this a blockchain solution,   digital identity? How do you see this evolving?  Because I think something big is going to come out   of this, because out of crisis comes opportunity.  CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: You are incredibly right  

here. My view on this is that we are-- and I have  said this before, and it triggers people, but   it is true. After the attacks in  the World Trade Centers on 9/11,   we had the creation in the United States, or  something called the Patriot Act. What that  

essentially allowed was a level of government  oversight that we still have, and if anything,   has gotten even more dramatic than it was even  20 years ago. What it is, is that basically,   the creation over the last 20 years of a modern  surveillance state. It is not just an American   phenomenon. It exists all over Western Europe. It  exists in Russia. It exists in China. It exists in   every single country. We made it okay and it was  under the guise of our of our physical safety.   After the pandemic, I think we are going to  see the emergence of a new form of the Patriot   Act as well, except the key differentiation  here is that it will be highly decentralized,   and I think it will be individually controlled  and administered. There, there will be a handful   of companies that pay a critical role. One example  is Apple. Apple's stance on privacy puts them at  

the forefront, and in a really unique position to  help. How would this play out? I think that what   you will have is more trust but more anonymity  through a service that essentially allows you in   a public-private key model to exchange critical  Information at key points of transaction.   If you wanted to walk into your offices at  Google over the next four or five years,   I suspect you will take off your phone, that  you will authenticate with your face or your   retina or your fingerprint or a combination  of those things plus a code of some kind.  

It will generate some QR code in real time, and  then you will scan it into a scanner. What that   code will basically tell people is not that  it was Raoul or Chamath, but it will tell them   that you are disease free, that you have been  vaccinated against the measles, that you have   been vaccinated against the coronavirus COVID-19,  but maybe also COVID-22 when that occurs. That   some other airborne pathogen that all of a sudden  emerged, you have been vaccinated against as well,   that you have been recently swapped and PCR-tested  for some other set of things. Then you will walk   into the building, and you will be able to be  economically productive with your other coworkers.   The reason we are going to go there is because  every other person has an incentive to actually   ask that the people around them sign up for  the same restrictions. It is one of these  

unique opportunities, where I think what we are  seeing is actually people sponsored surveillance,   where there has been no other thing you  could have created in the world that would   have basically said, I trust you, but I do not  trust you. I need a third party intermediary to   basically validate that you are who you say  you are, and you are what you say you are.   I think that that writ large is where we are going  to go. You are going to basically walk around   with a digital passport. The entries in  that passport are not necessarily going to   be visas that allow you to go to one country  to another, but it is going to be statements   that cannot be repudiated, about things about  you. Those things are going to be important for   you to conduct your normal life going forward.  RAOUL PAL: There is a couple of logical parts  

of this that I am interested in as well. I  have been thinking through this, thinking,   okay, we all have a digital identity  and whether it is anonymous or not,   one of the features of the current social media  system and the online system is supernormal   profits attracted two or a few players. Now,  if you are in control of your own data--   now, Tim Berners Lee is working on stuff like  this, there is ways that you can use this digital   identity to get rewarded, I am thinking, here  is a way of solving for universal basic income,   because people who have more time on their  hands can spend time online and you can get paid   by the advertising cut, essentially. CHAMATH  PALIHAPITIYA: You are saying something really   important, which is that once you actually make--  I do not know how to say this in a non-pejorative   way, and there probably is a better way, but  conformity a feature, confirmation a feature,   then you can design incentives around that  confirmation. You are exactly right. I think   companies and governments will be able to say, I  am going to pay you or incentivize you for these   specific forms of behavior and confirmation. RAOUL  PAL: That sounds like a redistribution of wealth,  

because the people who got super rich  were the people who basically used us for   free. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: Exactly right. That  is exactly right. RAOUL PAL: That solves a lot   of problems, because you do not even need to tax  people, because it is hard to tax these companies.   If you are paying it directly to me for using  my attention, fine. That is a fair [?]. CHAMATH   PALIHAPITIYA: I have said this a couple of times,  but it is something I have not spent enough time   maybe discussing. I really believe that when you  look at efficient market theory, that is a model   that worked to define extremely capital intensive  industries. Because the point of differentiation  

was a universal resource that everybody had,  which is money or had access to effectively   and so markets would compete away profits.  Efficient markets gave us a warm, fuzzy blanket   to roll ourselves around and that capitalism  in the way that we had designed it would work.   That is not true anymore, because now,  there are these critical assets that   nobody ever thought would get created. You cannot  even define them in law, what is a network effect?   How would you define that for the purposes of  law? That a company can create, that basically   creates an involuntary form of entrenchment  and effectively quasi-regulatory capture?   That is a crazy dynamic, and so the only way that  you can compete those companies away is actually   through incentives and taxation. It is not through  government intervention. RAOUL PAL: For me,   it is the rise of behavioral economics. Behavioral  economics is basically destroying all the previous  

forms of understanding business models, because  once you applied big data to people's attention,   you have crazy incentive systems, and  that changes everything. Governments--   and we will come on to this in a bit-- it is all  coming out of Central Bank Digital Currencies,   I think the rise of behavioral economics is got  led by Facebook, Google, and everybody else,   as we know and Daniel Kahneman and everybody else  was involved in it. It is coming to government as   well in a much more meaningful way. Just before  we get onto some of this stuff, the other thing--   I do not know if you have been following the whole  IndiaStack story. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: I have. In  

fact, I was actually going to tweet something out  today. Today is- - what day is it today? November   the 16th. Because I have a payments business  in India that I have been working on for almost   10 years now and it has absolutely exploded 10  years in, just a 10-year overnight success story,   and on the back of the pandemic, but  I have been following UPI and Aadhaar,   for a long time. I have been a big believer  in that Stack. RAOUL PAL: Me too, and Silicon   Valley missed the whole thing. I am like, there  is 1.3 billion people on a super-fast UPI payment   system. IndiaStack, as they are building it  out, you will have your medical records or your  

KYC. The only thing people do not like  about it is it is not distributed. It is   centralized. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA:  Exactly. I think that that is the key   element of it, which I think will limit it is  used, but I think it will be used so pervasively   in finance that that is good enough, because  that is a hundred billion dollar, maybe it   is a trillion dollar market. RAOUL PAL: Just the  frustrations of KYC in this current world, it is   simply ridiculous and that can be solved so  quickly once you have digital identities.  

The problem is everybody thinks there is  just going to be a disruption of your freedom   and there is that big shit fight going on. CHAMATH  PALIHAPITIYA: I do not think that-- it is not that   everybody, there is always a vocal minority who  basically needs to have a view to sound smart.   Most of the time, they are pretty fucking stupid.  To be honest with you. The loudest people are   never the smartest people. They are just the ones  that want to be heard because they want attention   for some other set of reasons that come from their  own psychology and insecurity. Anybody who spends   the time to learn about anything always comes  off as pretty moderate and boring because they   tend to just come to a balanced perspective. The  more you learn, the more confusing things are,  

so that the more almost conservative in the  presentation of the facts one is. It is when you   are just starting to learn about something and you  think that you can be heard that you start to just   spout off and frankly, to the people that  know more, you just sound like a dumbass.   RAOUL PAL: Here is something I want to learn  about, and you know all about, there are   two things. One is that there  was a dichotomy going on between  

Main Street and Wall Street. The equity  market is at alltime highs, and clearly,   Main Street is totally fucked. People do  not get this. It is destroyed, because   we have now got a secular change of business model  going on as well. What do you think about that,   and how is this going to  evolve? CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: We   have had, since Ronald Reagan really, one form  of economic policy, and one way to view the   interaction of fiscal and monetary policy, which  is effectively trickledown economics. We have  

always done it under Democrats and Republicans, we  have always thought the right way to think about   this is effectively some forms of low taxation  for corporations and the idea that put the money   into the hands of people. What those people will  do is redistribute that. I tend to think that   that is turned out to not be true anymore because  what we are learning is that it is just way too   complicated. The financial incentives for these  companies are too perverse and so the distribution   of dollars to the edges is not happening the  way that we thought it could have in a much   simpler economy in 1980. I think we have to go  to the extreme other end, which is to say, okay,  

maybe the right way to think about this is to  actually put money into the hands of individuals,   let them spend. By spending, they are doing two  things. They are going to stimulate the economy,   but they are also driving more capital markets  efficiency, because they are going to be voting   with their dollars about which products that they  want to win. 300 million people's decisions in   America, 330 million people's decisions in America  is probably a lot more valid than the 500 CEOs of   Fortune 500 companies. That signal is probably  much more high fidelity and more reliable.   This was an opportunity in the pandemic to  actually experiment more with putting money   into the hands of individuals, and then observing  which businesses that they pick on the presumption   that that is actually a better implementation  of efficient markets theory, and that instead of   going top-down, this bottom-up is actually the  right way to go. The thing to remember is that   we have spent the last 30 to 40 years completely  perverting the incentives in the capital markets.  

We were an environment that rewarded diversity,  that rewarded specialization, that rewarded   R&D, that rewarded savings, and that rewarded  future profits. Then over the last 20 or 30 years,   we have completely flipped that script. Instead,  what we have told CEOs, it is about ruthless   efficiency at the sake of resiliency. It is about  consolidation. It is about current profits. It is   about consolidating dividends and consolidating  share purchase agreements or share purchase   buybacks. It is about current redistribution to a  small money class. Then a thing like the pandemic,   basically exposes that the emperor has no clothes,  and that most of these boards were making these   decisions to placate a CEO, who was making these  decisions to reinforce the compensation model   that those board directors gave them. Then  when you want to look at the incentives,  

the board directors get paid $500,000 a year so  it is just a bunch of ex-bureaucrats that get   can collect a million dollars by being on four  boards and acting like a dipshit. It is a CEO,   who basically does not know their head from their  ass, did not know how to invest, did not know how   to do R&D. The investable universe in the meantime  shrank from 8000 companies in America to 4000.   We literally have spent zero on R&S. We have been  completely passed over by countries like China.   You just throw your hands in the air and say, wow,  we need a wholesale reset of what is happening.   The simplest way to do it is to let people  decide. I do not think that I need to punish   a crappy airline company and their crappy board  and their crappy CEO, but I do think that if you   gave consumers money, that consumers would  also realize that that product was crappy,   and just use a different competitor, and then that  would solve it. RAOUL PAL: How do you give people  

the money? Because what you are talking about  here is-- CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: Cut them a check,   just cut them a check. RAOUL PAL: Just cut them  a check. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: By the way, we did   that. In the United States, we gave people money,  it is just idiotically, we stopped. For every   dollar we gave, we gave $10 or $12, to all kinds  of, again, 500 CEOs of which I would say 100 are   really smart and 400 are eh, if I am being really  kind about them. What do we do there? Then it  

turned out that $660 billion went into an entire  program, PPE, that turned out to be riddled with   fraud. What were we thinking? RAOUL PAL: Well,  this is what I was coming into, is once you put   the banking sector in the middle of this, a lot  of stuff does not work. The money mechanism, the   central bank prints money, it goes to the banks,  it does not go, so there is no velocity of money.  

When you have got a structured program, like the  PPP, what happens is it goes to the wrong people.   It feels like that process of the banks having  a monopolistic control over the distribution   of money is probably going out the window. CHAMATH  PALIHAPITIYA: It is probably going out the window.   I think the banking industry will not have some  fatalistic death blow. It is death by 1000 cuts.   We are now seeing the emergence of an entire  class of FinTech companies that are slowly eroding   the value proposition of entrenched financial  institutions. It will take another 10 or 20 years   for us to see it happen in enough scale where you  can see these-- the concept of too big to fail to   me is just asinine. It is insane. It is actually  should be the opposite. It is like, no bank should   ever be too big to fail that it matters. We should  have many, many small banks of which there can be  

umpteen failures, and the system just moves  on, and it can self-heal. What does it mean   to actually have six banks where the FDIC limit  on deposits is still a million dollars? Well,   by definition, you cannot be an enormously big  bank with a whole bunch of assets of which any   individual account is less than a million. That  is just the reality of the law of large numbers.   There are enormous amounts of pools of capital  that are effectively uninsured. Does not make any   sense. I just think that financial institutions,  and then the zero rate environment has completely   exposed these folks. I just think the  incentives and financial organizations  

are being rewritten, and 20 to 30 years from  now, I do not think you will have these too   big to fail banks, they will have decayed to the  wayside and instead, you will have hundreds and   thousands of small vertical specialists in every  specific niche. RAOUL PAL: Yes, somebody asked me   yesterday on Twitter, what is the biggest TAM  available? It is money. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA:   I saw your answer to that to SuperMugatu,  to Dan McMurtrie. My answer was energy.   I understand where you are coming from when you  say money because I do think the business of money   is enormous. RAOUL PAL: Just even energy is priced  in money. It is the denominator of everything.   CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: Exactly. I was going to  say is mine was a more tactical answer that,   to me is more obvious to disrupt. The disruption  of energy will have the most important impact in  

reallocating and reassessing  geopolitical power. It actually solves   most of the big pernicious corrosive issues  that we have geopolitically. RAOUL PAL: Yes,   talk to me about that. Climate change and  technology and solutions, because it is huge and  

it has been something, it is difficult to talk  about, or it has been difficult to talk about,   because you get wildly attacked for even  talking about it. It is clearly one of the   biggest opportunities we have ever seen. CHAMATH  PALIHAPITIYA: It really is. This is, again,   speaks to whenever people get really emotional  about it, I just think they are a fucking moron.   The left should just shut up and realize that  climate change is simply not a politicization   of having breathable air, but it is just  breathable air. It is a nonpolitical issue, and  

the right should shut the fuck up and realize that  climate change is the simplest path to normalizing   the geopolitical shitshow we have been in for 20  years. Ever since 9/11, we have been literally   and figuratively but literally, on a death  barge, to destabilize the Middle East in   this wag the dog scenario, where making it  the centralized place where all the chaos in   the world happens is our simplest path to safety  and security domestically in the United States.   That has not turned out to be that way, because  it has created all kinds of other whack-a-mole   problems that we never anticipated. Now, knowing  what they did, maybe that was the best solution.  

I do not know. I was not obviously in the  bowels of that decision making. In 2020,   what I can tell you is if you want to fix our  problems with Russia, China and the Middle East,   the simplest thing is climate change. Why is that?  Well, if you actually have the cost of wind and PV   batteries, et cetera, cheaper than the  cost of fossil fuels, the simple economics,   forget the value added of clean air and a better  Earth and less deforestation, less destruction,   less, less, less, all of that is good. At a simple  level, if the cost per gigawatt hour basically   gets cheap enough, and it is cheaper than fossil  fuels, you stop ripping the fossil fuels out of   the ground. Now, where are the fossil fuels? They  are in the Middle East, and they are in Russia.   Now, what do those two bodies of country, what  are they forced to do? They are forced to monetize   all of that today. Because if they see  a cost curve that is going down, down,  

down, where at some point by 2030, the price of  fossil fuels is basically effectively negative.   Their decision is, oh, gosh, we need to monetize  all of this oil right now. Now, that has   this other order effect, which is in the price  of oil, drops even further. We have this crazy   contango event in May of 2020 where you had  negative $30, or $50 per barrel oil. The reality  

is that the Middle East will monetize their oil,  Russia will monetize their oil, they will pull all   of those future profits into today's profits, and  then they will try to reallocate and diversify.   Why is that an important thing? Well, it is  an important thing, because all of a sudden,   there is not as much money left  to have all kinds of excursions,   to have other kinds of things that  could have mattered when you had   a 50- year supply of $30 oil. Extremism all  of a sudden becomes very unprofitable to fund.   State-sponsored actions become very unprofitable  to fund. You have to become much more centrist,  

and you have to be focused on current stability  of the population, because you know the money is   running out. You have to be much more aggressive  in educating your population, in making sure that   they are well, and they are healthy, that they  are fed, and that they can then create an economic   substrate that helps you transition away from oil.  All of that is a massive thing that just consumes   time, energy, and focus. Nobody has time to be  hacking and blowing things up and being extremist   when you are focused on economic survival,  up and down the political spectrum.  

Climate change has this incredible feature  that it is a Trojan horse for normalization.   Now, let me tell you something else. For the  economic salvation of the Middle East, it is an   incredible platform. Why? Because much like oil,  the Middle East has this incredible distribution  

of sunlight that is just not true in other  countries. Now, how does that play out? Well,   when the price of PV and the price of  solar becomes super, super, super cheap   and over time, we figure out there is  one massive thing in climate change--   there is a set of big order issues, but one  big order issue is how do you run a furnace   at extremely high temperatures? Now you may think,  what the hell does that have to do with anything?   It happens to do with everything. How do you  refine oil? How do you make plastics? How do   you manufacture steel? How do you do anything is  with a high temp furnace. If you figure out how   to capture the sunlight, which the Middle East  is in an overwhelmingly better position to do,   quite honestly, because they just get more  sunlight than the rest of us. It is Armenia   that has the most sunlight of any country in the  world. Theoretically, the richest country from a   resource perspective is Armenia. Now, to go back  to the Middle East, you have a ton of sunlight,  

there will be somebody somewhere that invents  an arc furnace that can essentially be run   with photovoltaics or wind or something. All of a  sudden, you know what the Middle East will be able   to do? They will disrupt China. Why? Every single  low cost manufacturing capability will move there.   Now, China already has a demographic  death bomb that they are dealing with,   which is that in the next hundred years, they are  going to have 500 million people in that country.  

Because that one child policy has created such an  overhang of older people versus younger people,   they have this massive inverted demographic  pyramid, it is the exact opposite of India,   that you are on a death march to having half  as many people. If you have a combination of   half as many people all getting older, and  a manufacturing substrate that is moving   to a place that is lower cost, because you have  photovoltaics and rich, cheap, abundant energy,   all of a sudden, the Middle East becomes a  renaissance of GDP. We know what GDP does. It   normalizes everything. People want cars, they want  clothes, they want to go to McDonald's, they want   to have Starbucks. RAOUL PAL: We are seeing it in  Saudi now. They get this. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA:   They get it. Saudi Arabia, that is it. They are at  the leading edge of it. I think what MBS is doing   is actually really incredible, because he realizes  he has to monetize the oil and transition the   economy. Once somebody comes to him and knocks on  his door and says, I have a set of climate change  

solutions that can really make you a manufacturing  hotbed, of course, he says yes. By the way, the   other thing is the Middle East was manufactured  after World War II to divvy up oil so that the   first world countries had access to a critical  resource. The Middle East has 10s of countries   really embedded within. There are probably 50  countries in there is 30 plus dialects, that   could be 30 plus countries. The reality is you are  going to have a fragmentation in the Middle East,  

and you will have a renaissance in manufacturing  and GDP, that basically makes extremism   just inefficient and not a good feature. It is  a failed startup, it cannot raise it Series B.   Got out of the gate strong, raised a series  A but oops, no more product market fit. The   market moved away from it. Think of Russia,  same situation, except that Russia cannot   actually deployed a manufacturing substrate  necessarily as easily as the Middle East can. If   you look at climate change, you save the Earth,  you stop the extinction of all these species,   you take carbon out of the atmosphere, and you  basically create a soft landing for geopolitical   normalization, less war, less strife, less famine,  less extremism. Wow. RAOUL PAL: I got involved in  

Climate Change Twitter by mistake once and it  was a pretty tough fight. I actually just want   to understand, okay, what was the behavioral  motivation by many people? A lot of it was   basically, the same thing that you have talked  about is people are up to here right now.   They are thinking, my gas price is going  to go up, or my tax is going to go up.   Actually, technology is deflationary,  not inflationary. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA:  

One thing that people like you make  popular, people like me make popular   is this idea of first principles thinking. I  think that you cannot build a following anymore,   at least in substantive areas like economics and  Bitcoin or climate change, without at some level,   being a first principles thinker. I think a lot of  these people that spout off on Twitter or Facebook   or wherever are just afraid. I do not think they  really take the time to understand. Like I said,   they are more interested in burnishing their  social media credentials. The problem is, it is   always fleeting because they will get exposed for  basically being rude. There is a lot to be said  

for being thoughtful and first principles in your  thinking. This is why again, the politicization of   climate change is so stupid because it is  like if you centralize what is happening,   nobody can disagree that any of these things  are bad. Guys like us will present it and   extremism of all kinds now are being exposed for  being at the worst simplest case, inefficient.   It is an inefficient way to accomplish  your goals because you sound like a   fucking crying, whining baby. People are just  tired of that shit. Just shut up, stop whining,   let us find a simple reasonable solution for an  important problem that we can all agree on, and   let us move forward. RAOUL PAL: What is amazing  about finding solutions that involve massive  

change is this massive wealth to be made, and  massive advantages. If you have massively dropped   the price of fuel, everyone is going to benefit.  Whoever comes up with some groundbreaking science   and turns it into a product is going to become  hugely wealthy. Great, everybody is benefited.   CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: People get too wrapped up  in wealth creation. Today, again, it has become a   popular distraction. There is like a secret hiding  in plain sight yet again. A good mental outlook,  

mental health is just about finding some  of these secrets hiding in plain sight   and saying, okay, wow, okay, that is okay. Now,  what is an example of that related to wealth?   Very few people become wealthy  by focusing on getting wealthy.   Of all the rich people that I have met, they  have always been focused on solving a problem.  

The byproduct is that the bigger the problem  is that they solve it, and the more powerful   the solution is that they deliver, the more  wealth that they create, but it is a complete,   accidental byproduct of problem solving.  I tweeted this out a few weeks ago that   solving climate change is what will  create the world's first trillionaire.   The reason I said that is not because of the price  of photovoltaics, or the price per gigawatt hour   of anything. If you take this framework and  apply it to climate change, what you are doing   is you are actually bringing peace. Well, what  is the economic value of peace? It is infinite.   Even if you captured a few basis points of  infinity, it is probably a few billion dollars.   That is why the world's first trillionaire will  be in climate change. That person I do not think  

is trying to be a trillionaire, that person  is going to be obsessed with carbon capture   or obsessed with building an arc furnace. The  byproduct will be peace. The economic rewards   will be in the trillions. I am okay with that. I  do not think it will be me, but I am not jealous   of that person. In fact, I am hopeful that he or  she is somewhere in the world right now learning   about this problem and will go off and do  it. RAOUL PAL: What I find interesting is  

the trend towards applying an  engineer's mindset to global problems,   because it used to be a political mindset but  the actual answer generally, is a pragmatic,   cold, hard look at a problem and find a solution.  It has nothing to do with politics. That creates   much better outcomes. Again, the classic example  of that is Bitcoin. When you want to reinvent   the whole monetary system from scratch, that  comes out. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: My whole view   of Bitcoin was always that it is much better to  be pragmatic, and lay out a moderate case, which   is that it is a hedge in a portfolio against the  traditionalist financial infrastructure. So many   people would get mad because they would anchor on  this extremist view that it had to be everything,   it would have to be the solution and panacea to  everything. The problem with that view is that   that is just not how you maximize demand. When  you think about products that really get to scale,  

there is a simplicity and what that simplicity  gives people a very simple decision to make,   do I want to use this, or do I not want to use it?  If you want for example, Bitcoin, to get the mass   market scale, the most powerful thing that you  can do is describe it in simple pragmatic terms   that do not require zealous belief. It is just  an example to me that reinforces this idea that   extremism never wins, and centrism is the value  maximizing function. RAOUL PAL: Because when I   am looking at that whole world, I see all of the  other platforms, blockchains, tokens, and I am   just thinking, okay, well, here is a big, diverse,  deep, rich universe. I cannot just seeing it being   about Bitcoin. Yes, Bitcoin is this great asset,  and it is a wonderful gift for us all. Thank you   very much, we can all make some money, but this  whole space, that is super interesting to me.  

Because it is it is anti-fragile and it is [?]  and it offers a whole bunch of solutions to the   problem of finance, which is a total shitshow.  CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: It is true. It just requires   a deescalated-- I find that a lot of  people in Bitcoin, and it is so funny   because many of them got there well after  I did. They are just so arrogant about it.   I do not know, maybe I am just dumber, but  I just do not understand why people need to   believe so much versus view it more pragmatically  and unemotionally, because I think they will find   more success in the more unemotional treatment  of what it is. Another example is the entire   defi movement. I got laughed at, because somebody  asked me, Laura Shin asked me what defi was, and I   was like, I have no idea, but I own Bitcoin. I was  just telling the truth, which is I do not have the  

time to learn about all this stuff. At some point,  somebody will explain it to me, and I will know a   little bit better. It is not to say that it is not  important, but it is to say that everything has a   time and place, and if we are going to focus our  energies on making Bitcoin mass market and scale,   we have to dial down this zealous rhetoric and  dial up pragmatist rhetoric. Pragmatist rhetoric  

is what will get your mother and your grandmother  to have Bitcoin in their wallet. RAOUL PAL: That   is right. I love Michael Saylor and his interview  has been amazing. He was on Real Vision. He speaks   in a term that no corporate Treasurer understands.  They want to hear about hornet's nest, or anything   else, they want to hear about diversification  of portfolio returns, and stuff like that.  

CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: To your point, look, I  have started an insurance company that is doing   a bunch of very, very esoteric exotic insurance  policies. One of the interesting things that I   have learned with my co-founder, my partner in  this, he is the CEO, I am just the chairman,   is how many of these corporations view their  balance sheets, and how they are buying all   kinds of esoteric insurance. The instant  thing that pops to the top of my head is,   wow, these guys should also own Bitcoin as  something like that. If they are going to own   CAT bonds, and they are going to own business  interruption risk insurance and all kinds of   hedges on PMI, my gosh, why do they not own some  Bitcoin? Well, it is because the presentation of   that idea is done in such a way where they are  forced to make a leap too far. Because if you   decompose what the treasurer or the CFO, how the  lens in which they are making decisions, it is   just career risk. It is that old adage, it is,  you are never going to get fired for buying IBM,  

and so you are never going to get fired for  just having the money sit in a corporate account   earning zero at JPMorgan, then pounding your fist  on the table for Bitcoin. What we need is, again,   more pragmatism around what it is. I have  always found the presentation of the idea as   a deeply fundamentally uncorrelated hedge to the  existing financial infrastructure to be boring,   not that salacious, but very pragmatic and  effective. RAOUL PAL: A lot of people want   to get the institutions into the space, but  I keep explaining to people stop talking   about libertarian philosophies and all of this  stuff. Everybody in the asset allocation space,  

the boring pension funds, use something called  BERRA. B-E-R-R-A. It is an asset allocation   model. You need to go and talk to them how it  fits into the BERRA model, and they will go,   oh, perfect. I will speak to my trustees. It is  as simple as that. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: It is so  

boring. At the end of the day, it is like, this is  the boring blocking and tackling that is required,   and it is fine. Look, I have different personas,  we all have different personas. There are parts of   my persona that are very extreme in certain  views on certain topics in certain markets.  

I have also learned that there is a time and place  for that, but then there is a time in place for   just pragmatic product building, blocking, and  tackling, and reputation and trust when you are   trying to get something to scale. Another example  that I have been at the forefront of is in SPACs.   If I were zealous about SPACs, you would not  have seen the change in the capital markets   that we have seen in two short years. RAOUL  PAL: We attracts you to SPACs? What is it,   apart from the fact that it is  just easier to get something away,   and there is some interesting economics? What is  so great about it? CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: SPAC is   really important. Well, I will give you why it  is important to me, and then I will give you  

why it is important to an entrepreneur. Selfishly,  for me, it allows me to basically be a conduit and   act as a principal while I take companies public,  meaning I can use my balance sheet to basically   empower companies to fulfill a mission that I  believe and underwrite in, and then I can be a   big part of them as they grow in scale. The only  places to make money in the private technology   markets are all the way up front at the Series A,  the Sequoias and the Benchmarks and the Andreesens   of the world. I used to do that at Social  Capital. We did a good job, but it is very hard,  

and the returns are extremely long-dated. Or you  just wait for these companies to get baked into it   at the back end where instead of putting in 10s  of millions, you put in hundreds of millions or   billions if you are able to do it, and you own  the same amount as they end up owning anyways   10%, 12%, 15%, 20% and then you can basically  help them grow and scale. That is selfishly   why I was attracted to SPAC. Then now you get into  the Venn diagram part of why I liked it, and why   it makes sense for an entrepreneur. It is because  you can talk about the future. The most important   thing in underwriting returns, as you and I  know, in disruptive technologies is all about   future returns. I do not care about 2019 and 2018.  Tell me about 2028 and 2029. What is your plan?  

The only way that you can talk about that when  you are bringing a company public is through   an S4 process because it is a merger, because the  S1 process does not allow that. The SEC rules are   very strict around basically talking about future  prospects, future strategy, future cash flows,   you cannot even produce a forecast. The S4  in a SPAC, it is the intersection between now   my desires, and the entrepreneur's desires,  is about talking about the future in detail.   Then for the entrepreneur, what they get is a  couple of things that are not as important to me,   but important to them, which is speed, you take  an 18-month process and compress it to 100 days,   and certainty of price. You exactly know what  your cost of capital is. You and your board can  

underwrite that and decide whether that is  too expensive or not. RAOUL PAL: Is it also   an arbitrage? Because look, private markets and  public markets trade at different prices relative   to each other, and for a period of time, the  pre-WeWork world, it was all trading at a premium,   then it trades at a discount. Now, if the private  markets are trading at a discount, this is an   easy way to arbitrage the value difference as  well. Because it is pretty quick, you can take  

advantage of it. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: I think it  is more appropriate to describe what you say on a   company by company level. I am not sure that it  is necessarily true that a company like WeWork,   which is in a very different space than  for example, like an AI chip company,   that there are these impacts where all of a  sudden, the person that is underwriting the chip   company sees a discount where they otherwise would  have been paying a premium. I am not sure that   that is necessarily true, but I do think broadly  speaking, what you are saying is right, which is   that right now, there is this weird opacity  between the private and the public markets.   The most important thing is that mostly  for your viewers or your listeners as well,   is that the returns that are available  in the private markets are still blocked.  

There is no access for average ordinary normal  folks to get access to that return stream.   The SPAC does basically do that, because it allows  you to pull forward the IPO two or three years   into the typical decision making process that  the company has. Then you can own that in an   exchange tradable or a market tradable security.  There is a democratizing effect here, which is  

very important and powerful. RAOUL PAL: What is  your view on tokenization? Is that going to take   play a role in some of this eventually? Because  again, it is a different way of bringing companies   into the hands of others earlier on. CHAMATH  PALIHAPITIYA: I think it will. I am going to say   something crazy, which is that the tokenization  is actually not necessarily for the company itself   and the unit allocation of ownership, but things  that the companies will want to create and then   pass on to its unit holders, or stakeholders, if  you will. For example, I could see that a company   creating carbon credits and tokenizing those and  giving them to everybody that is a stakeholder   in the business. RAOUL PAL: Different things  have different value that you cannot realize  

now, you can realize in the [?]. CHAMATH  PALIHAPITIYA: I can see a company that basically,   this is going to sound crazy as well, but a  token that you can redeem for free vaccination.   That you get all stakeholders, because it  is important for a company to have all their   employees, but all their stakeholders as well, be  healthy. There are all kinds of like crazy things   that you could think happens. RAOUL PAL: It goes  back to that behavioral incentives discussion we   had before. Once you got tokens, you can  create all sorts of viral incentives that  

did not exist. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: Yes, exactly.  Exactly. RAOUL PAL: The last thing I want to come   on to, something also you have been looking at,  and we are looking at at Real Vision is education.   It just feels that everything has changed. We knew  it. We knew that video was changing everything in   the way that software did, but it feels like  education is one of the big ones out there.  

What is your view on this? CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA:  I think that this is the grand equalizing force.   I do not think that we should have a world  where there are equal finishing lines,   but I do think that we would be in a much  better place if we had equal starting lines.   I had been a citizen of three countries. I am  a single East Buddhist male. Born in Sri Lanka,   where I was part of the majority. Grew up in  Canada, where I was part of the minority. Now   in America, I have essentially become part of the  moneyed establishment, for lack of a better word.   I have lived a very crazy odd life where I have  all this cognitive dissonance from very different   phases of my life. The best thing that happened to  me was in those critical years of six through 20,  

I was in a place that valued an even starting  line. Growing up in Canada, it would not have   been the same in the United States. My father died  five years ago, had diabetes for a very long time,   struggled with alcoholism, struggled with  depression, very turbulent household,   but the great savior was the fact that we had  state-sponsored healthcare and state-sponsored   education. If I were in the United States,  and we were dealing with all those issues,   my life would just not going anywhere.  What is my takeaway from that?   I think places like Harvard and Stanford  are really corrosive. They are worthless.   They have created a monoculture of check boxing  dipshits. They are money management institutions  

that basically dole out power and influence based  on acceptance and admittance that just entrenched   the money classic. There is not a single person  that is the son of a rich kid that I have ever met   who I think is as smart as the person who actually  made the money. These kids are fucking morons.   They are better off going to some crappy school  and finding something that they are passionate   about, versus riding on daddy's coattails. We have  an entire political and economic and educational  

class that does not believe that that should be  what is happening, in fact that if you are rich,   you have a right to keep your kid rich, and  you have a right to keep your kid powerful.   That to me is really disgusting. The  faster we rip that down and rip it apart,   the better off we will be, that the smartest  kids should be going to the best schools. Well,   what is the best school? Well, the best school  now is actually just the best teachers. Well,   where are the best teachers? The best teachers  are actually all around the world, and so really,   what we need to have is a very different form of  what we value. RAOUL PAL: Well, one of the things   I think about is that teachers, they are going  to be the new rock stars. Teachers are going  

to get paid millions of dollars, millions.  [?] CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: I hope they do.   I hope they do. Yes. RAOUL PAL: Because  we can change all of this now. Because   basically, you applied the SaaS business model  to education. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: I will give   you an example. I send my children  to a school that is still closed.   What is crazy to me is, okay, well, they are  sitting here, and they are learning virtually,   but the teacher on the other  end could be any teacher.   I think to myself, wow, well, I understand why  I sent them to the physical place I did when the   school was open. That made sense. We are really  paying for social interaction. I do not think we  

were ever paying for education. This pandemic  actually probably made that pretty obvious.   If you can learn at home, or you can learn in the  school, what is the difference? The difference is   you can hang out and you develop social norms  and hierarchies, and you learn to deal with   all kinds of important psychological building  blocks that make a kid able to function as an   adult in society. That is really what school  is there for. If you take that away, then you   should be learning from the best history teacher,  the best science teacher, the best math teacher,   that person should be running a massive online  course. We should have a common curriculum where  

nine to 10 Eastern, every 10th graders should be  learning from the best algebra teacher, and that   person should be making $10 million a year. They  should be getting paid more than an athlete. RAOUL   PAL: I am not entirely sure. Now, that sounds a  bit controversial that the kids need to socialize   together physically, because they already  socialize in Minecraft and online, digitally.   I am not sure that the same things that we had  growing up in the playground and having your   first fight or whatever it was or flirting with  the first girl is even going to apply necessarily,   because kids now do not necessarily do that.  They get together for sports and stuff like that.  

CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: You are saying something  that is much more evolved in my thinking, but I   agree with you. I just have not spent enough time  to get psychologically comfortable with that yet.   I am still anchored in this place where physical  spaces and physical interaction are really   important, just because I do not think we have  evolved just from an evolutionary perspective   enough, where we are capable of processing that in  a healthy way. I do think that it is true that the   brain of an equivalent human 500 years  ago, and today is very different.   What its needs are and what its capabilities are,  I do not think we have any empirical proof, but we   have a lot of anecdotal proof that that is true.  Now, we will be able to study and I do think that   from an evolutionary perspective, our great, great  grandchildren's brains will be very different. I   do think you are probably right that we are going  to live in a world that has far less physical   interaction and far more virtual interaction.  We will adapt and cope. We will thrive.  

It is just going to take a few  generations. The problem is that   our generation and our children and our  children's children will be the guinea pigs,   will be the bridge to that new evolutionary  frame, and so I feel a little sad and nostalgic.   RAOUL PAL: Yes, well, because we are the  last generation, as Gen Xers, we were the   last generation who did not do that. CHAMATH  PALIHAPITIYA: Yes, we are the last generation to  

care about physical concerts, like my son came to  me and he saw Travis Scott into concert. I said,   excuse me? He is like, yes, it was on Fortnite.  I was just like, what? He is like, yes, I am   listening to it. We were going to do a viewing  party for a Marshmallow concert. I was like,   well, what about saving for a concert ticket and  getting a ride for your dad to go to the O2 Center   and see U2, or at Wembley? When you see Queenie  concert at Wembley, you are like, God, I wish I   were old enough to have been there, like 100,000  people. My kids could not give a fuck. They are   like, nah. RAOUL PAL: I like cling on to the fact  that I was at Live Aid and I was in concert at   Wembley, and I saw U2 at the O2. These things are  anchor points to my life. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA:  

They mattered to me. Yes, they really mattered  to me, those were really important. I remember   seeing U2 in Las Vegas, and I was just like,  it really mattered to me and just my kids do   not think that. RAOUL PAL: There is a glory to a  crowd as well. CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: I have always   th

2020-12-26 19:42

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