Naval Ravikant answers questions on life, startup ideas, next big investment bets and more

Entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant did a three-and-half-hour-long AMA on Twitter and answered a barrage of questions on everything from his views on life, free will, and happiness/fear, to the world of technology, investing, and startups/entrepreneurship.

Naval Ravikant answers questions on life, startup ideas, next big investment bets and more

Monday November 02, 2020,

7 min Read

Naval Ravikant did a Ask me Anything (AMA) on Twitter and startup founders, investors, and product/tech guys had a field day.

The highly respected and admired entrepreneur and investor answered a barrage of crowd-sourced questions on everything from his views on life, free will, and happiness/fear, to his thoughts on the future of technology, the next big investment bets, crypto, and on startups/entrepreneurship.

Naval's three-and-half-hour-long AMA attracted questions from several well-known names in the Indian startup ecosystem, including CRED founder Kunal Shah and Prime Venture Partners’ Managing Partner Amit Somani, and from many in Silicon Valley.

Naval's motivation for doing the AMA on Twitter? Boredom, he says. “Plus some misguided notion that making my followers happy means something.”

As the co-founder of AngelList, a platform where startups and angel investors can connect and hire teams, a serial entrepreneur, and an investor in many technology giants such as ride-hailing firm Uber, social media platform Twitter, and hundreds more, Naval's views on wealth creation, on life and happiness, on startups and investing, and on product and tech are widely followed and revered by the startup and tech world.


Entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant

Here are some key takeaways from Naval Ravikant’s latest AMA on Twitter:

Question: What is Naval afraid of?

Naval Ravikant: “(Afraid of) Well-meaning people with easy lives throwing away the unique freedoms that they take for granted.”

Question: What made you who you are today?

Naval Ravikant: Intellectual curiosity + determination.

Question: What’s the future of firms?

Naval Ravikant: Decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs), someday.

Question: Three best investments for the next decade?

Naval Ravikant: Crypto and tech startups.

Question: What's your view on remote work?

Naval Ravikant: I’m rooting for it. Harder for creative groups.

Question: How much will bitcoin be at the end of next year?

Naval Ravikant: It’ll moon right after you’ve given up hope.

Question: Which sector would see the most disruption from technology over the next five years?

Naval Ravikant: Finance

Question: What’s your view on DeFi or decentralised finance?

Naval Ravikant: The beginning of the end for Wall Street.

Question: Silicon Valley and universities are pathological, to say the least. How would you create new Schelling points for smart people?

Naval Ravikant: On the web. Crypto is one such Schelling point.

Question: What will be the most attractive (in demand/necessary) skill five years down the line? Why?

Naval Ravikant: Hard sciences, math, computers, and engineering are never going out of style.

Question: Which academic discipline for example Psychology, Physics and History should everyone learn?

Naval Ravikant: Physics. The social sciences are heavily propagandised, non-falsifiable, and don’t replicate.

Question: Does the goal-post of happiness change once it is achieved?

Naval Ravikant: Happiness is not a thing that can be possessed.

Question: Your view on the future of status driven societies like India?

Naval Ravikant: “All society is everywhere status driven. The question is if India can sustain an creator/innovator class that isn’t corrupt”.

Question: How do you know when you’ve found the thing you want to focus all your life and energy on? Do you wake up some day and realise it or is it a slow process?

Naval Ravikant: You’re overthinking it. As Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots looking backwards.

Question: What was the one thing your mother did for you you're most grateful for? What was one thing your father did for you you're most grateful for?

Naval Ravikant: My mother gave me unconditional love. My father gave me self-reliance.

Question: Is there any meaning to our existence as conscious balls of meat?

Naval Ravikant: If there was any single meaning, then we’d all be prisoners to that meaning.

Question: How do you become less emotional?

Naval Ravikant: Soak in the consequences of being emotional.

Question: What do you think about free will?

Naval Ravikant: Human mind can’t model its own future actions (not enough computation power). Universe can’t model its own actions either. Therefore one can have no free will (it’s all particle collisions), but the future stays indeterminate.

Question: What are the most common/harmful cognitive traps that people fall prey to?

Naval Ravikant: Wanting to be liked.

Question: Your favourite philosopher?

Naval Ravikant: Karl Popper, David Deutsch, Arthur Schopenhauer, Osho, J. Krishnamurti, Anthony DeMello, Seneca, Kapil Gupta, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, there are too many...

Question: How do I steal your money?

Naval Ravikant: Steal my ideas, they’re worth more.

Question: Ways to get startup ideas?

Naval Ravikant: They are literally everywhere. Ideas are not the limiting factor.

Question: From the reference frame of a junior engineer, what do you look for in an early-mid stage startup before you decide to climb aboard?

Naval Ravikant: Team quality

Question: Your biggest concern/worry for the next decade?

Naval Ravikant: The US becomes inhospitable to innovation and goes the way of much of Europe. And Asia/Africa aren’t yet ready to step up.

Question: How can I learn to reason in first principles?

Naval Ravikant: Make sure that you really, really understand something from the ground up before reasoning about it.

Question: What is the greatest invention of our lifetime?

Naval Ravikant: The smartphone, and that’s why Apple is the most valuable company in the world.

Question: Best book you have read?

Naval Ravikant: The Beginning of Infinity (by David Deutsch).

Question: Favorite podcast?

Naval Ravikant: Currently, Theory of Knowledge podcast by Brett Hall (@ToKTeacher)

Question: Advice for a non-technical background person… in a highly technical world?

Naval Ravikant: Learn some tech basics, it’s not so hard and even a little bit goes a long way.

Question: Number one skill to pick up for people with no coding background?

Naval Ravikant: Coding

Question: Best way to get started making a stream of passive income?

Naval Ravikant: Build something the Internet wants.

Question: How would you deal with indecisiveness on life path/career choice?

Naval Ravikant: Keep looking. You’ll know when you find it.

Question: Is there any formula for retirement?

Naval Ravikant: Find work that doesn’t feel like a sacrifice and then you won’t be thinking about retirement.

Question: Suggestions on when to decide to move on from a job?

Naval Ravikant: If you’re thinking about it, then it’s probably time.

Question: You think it is possible to be at peace without being happy?

Naval Ravikant: When most people say they want happiness, they actually want peace.

Question: What's a common trap to avoid in pursuit of self-awareness?

Naval Ravikant: Feeling like you’ve accomplished something.

Question: One piece of advice on how to take better decisions in life?

Naval Ravikant: Complete, utter, and total honesty.

Question: Why do you spread wisdom on internet?

Naval Ravikant: I’m just talking. Some think it’s wisdom, some think it’s drivel.

Question: What do you wish existed in the world that does not?

Naval Ravikant: Genetic engineering and spacefaring vehicles.

Question: If you could teach everyone just one concept / idea, what would it be?

Naval Ravikant: The Principal-Agent Problem (Act like an owner: If you think and act like an owner, it’s only a matter of time until you become an owner.)

Question: What's the most important thing a 20-year-old should do today to be happy?

Naval Ravikant: Make it a priority.

Question: How to be the best in your respective field?

Naval Ravikant: Give a damn.

Question: What percentage of your thoughts/beliefs do you withhold from sharing due to the fact that the majority of ppl would likely misunderstand/lack the context to fully appreciate them?

Naval Ravikant: Almost all.

Question: When are you planning your next tweet storm? Also, what would that be about?

Naval Ravikant: I don’t plan them. So maybe never, maybe tomorrow.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta