Everything Everywhere All At Once
Maybe it's just me, but it feels like there's a lot of stuff happening. More than usual. And there was already a lot going on.
From Covid to the bull run. Tiktok and BeReal. Crypto is a thing. Crypto is dead. Straight into AI. Hold it. Banking crisis. Venture is dead. Never mind. Depositors guaranteed. Cutting rates? Venture's back on. AI still ripping.
If any of this is news to you I salute your ability to protect your attention.
To bring up some key points from this last week just in case:
OpenAI launched GPT-4 which is basically an even better version of GPT-3. The key differences being that it's "multi-modal" and way better at taking the BAR exam. There's a lot more to it than, but I'll leave you to google it.
Silicon Valley Bank crumbled in a matter of days due to a bank run. The government stepped in to guarantee depositors. Looks like risk mismanagement (incredibly broad thing for me to say but also true) in the face of rising rate. Will also leave you to google that.
Stripe closed their $6.5B round at a $50B valuation to execute on their plans to provide employee liquidity. This happened privately. This was not a public offering. I make a point of this because semi-recent tech IPOs like Airbnb, DoorDash, and Snowflake were considered big at ~$3B each. So yeah. That happened.
And finally, to lead into my larger point, the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once won basically all the Oscars.
My larger point is that everything is speeding up. Things feel faster because they are.
Information moves faster. Money moves faster. Things get built faster. Things get left behind faster. Economic cycles are happening faster.
Boom to downturn back to boom faster.
Given this, as an entrepreneur or investor I think it becomes even more important to get yourself outside the noise. To look in on hype cycles as well as the idea that it could all come crashing down at any second without getting too caught up in either.
Speaking to friends, there seems to be two definitive ways of looking at this.
1. Everything is happening so fast. I have no idea what's going on. This is bad.
2. Everything is happening so fast. I have no ideas what's going on. This is exciting.
Player 1 has whiplash and a fear of being left behind and/or a fear of being brought into a future they don't enjoy.
Player 2 wouldn't necessarily characterize it as "good" or "bad" - but they do comment on things in a positive way. They enjoy the action generally and are optimistic about the future.
From those two archetypes, to generalize the most pivotal underlying characteristic: Agency.
Player 1 seems to feel they have a lack of agency. An inability to participate or mold the future. Player 2 feels a part of it. That they can use these new tools and steer the ship even if it is speeding up.
"Feel" is the key word here. Neither is necessarily true. As movies like Everything Everywhere All At Once and shows like Rick and Morty enjoy pointing out - we all seem to be insignificant and omnipotent all at once. Whether you decide to feel one way or the other seems to be up to you. It's not a coincidence that this theme has grown in popular media. It is a core theme of the current zeitgeist because it's something we're all grappling with.
The world of startups. Of investing and building. Is dealing with the same theme and I think it's hugely important for the industry to continue to lean towards Player 2.
Overall it's definitely an industry made up of Player 2s. I'd assume much more than a random sampling of the population. But when things get moving like this I think (and personally fee) some Player 1 creeping in.
I say this all to myself as much as I say it to you as a reader:
If you can, it's much better to be Player 2. The world is built by Player 2s.
And finally, one of my favorite quotes as a reward for you somehow making it this far in this post.
From Blood Meridian (or the Evening Redness) by Cormac McCarthy:
“Everybody don’t have to have a reason to be someplace.” - The Kid
“That’s so. They do not have to have a reason. But order is not set aside because of their indifference. Let me put it this way. If it is so that they themselves have no reason and yet are indeed here must they not be here by reason of some other?” - The Judge