Naval Ravikant

CEO and co-founder of AngelList. Investor in Twitter, Uber, Product Hunt and other great startups.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 10, 2015

Discussion

I am the CEO and a co-founder of AngelList. I previously co-founded Epinions (which went public as part of Shopping.com) and Vast.com. I’m an active Angel investor, and have invested in dozens of companies, including Twitter, Uber, Yammer, Postmates, Wish, Thumbtack, and of course Product Hunt. I'm also fascinated by cryptocurrencies. Ask away!
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey Naval! You mentioned half-jokingly in the Tim Ferriss podcast something along the lines of "You don't need to find me, you need to find you" - where do you think this hero worship/need of validation from "successful" people comes from and how can we as a community quell it?
@eriktorenberg Humans are hardwired to listen to authority. We're tribal / hierarchical primates. Julian James makes the arguments that the first Gods were actually dead kings whose authority we still craved. And it's the nature of society that the people on top, either politicians or business leaders, want hero worship since it gives them power. I think it just helps to be very aware that fundamentally, there are no adults. Everyone is making it up as they go along. You have to find your own path, picking, choosing, taking and discarding as you see fit. I choose mostly to learn from books - those are my "authority figures" but even there I try to be very selective.
Brent Summers@brentsum · Founder, Code-Free Startup
@naval this is gold.
OMAR Jalalzada@omar___oj · Product Designer
@naval very well put. A well rounded perspective into a independent state of mind.
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@naval I find it fascinating that authority has a couple of key meanings. I have authority that can come from strength/manipulation/derived power, and/or I can be an authority on a given subject. To me the ideal leadership paradigm is one where authority over others is derived from being an authority in a non-religious sense.
Mayank Agarwal@mayank25may · Co-Founder @sendxio
@naval This is an amazing insight Naval. Thanks for being live.
Sudheendra@webaficionado · Product Guy
Hey @naval, would love to know if not having a .com domain hurt AngelList in any way?
@webaficionado I think we'd be slightly better off with a good .com (and we have angellist.com now) but angel.co worked at the time. It didn't hamper us.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Welcome, Naval! What product or app do you love the most (and define love however you'd like) that relatively few people know about or use?
@rrhoover Not sure anything is that unknown these days, especially given the existence of Product Hunt :-) I'm a big fan of Notational Velocity's search as you type function. Wish more apps would integrate that paradigm.
AJ@alanaut24 · Engitrepresigner
@naval Hi! Angelist is glorious. That is all. Thanks for building!
D 0'clock@d0clock · RedHare
@alanaut24 ditto
Kamil@kamilszybalski · Growth Entrepreneur. Was @Hootsuitelabs
@naval Thanks for doing this. I'm wondering what your currently reading and what's on your bookshelf at home?
Kamil@kamilszybalski · Growth Entrepreneur. Was @Hootsuitelabs
@naval Thanks for that Naval.
Lyle McKeany@lylemckeany · growth marketer
I finished reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind recently after hearing your glowing recommendation on Tim Ferriss' podcast. I was blown away by so much of it and it sounded like you were too. I've found myself looking at situations at home and work slightly differently now, or more orthogonally, perhaps ;). How has that book impacted your personal or working life? And are there any other books that have had a similar impact? Thanks!
@lylemckeany Another book I would put in the same league is "The Rational Optimist" by Matt Ridley. In fact, most of Ridley's books are of that caliber - Red Queen, Origins of Virtue, Genome, etc.. After Sapiens, I look at humans more as cooperating, story-telling monkeys that conquered the earth, and I realize more how much of society is just stories that we tell each other.
Lyle McKeany@lylemckeany · growth marketer
@naval Thanks for the reading suggestion(s)! I totally agree about society being composed mostly of stories. I told my CEO a bit about the book and how we're essentially just trying to get a lot of other people to buy into the "story" of our company. It's an interesting perspective to have on it. I'm still trying to process the book and might have to re-read it at some point. Thanks for taking the time to answer!
Kai Gradert@kaigradert · Designer
@naval More like gossiping monkeys :)
Thanks everyone - my appointed hour is up. I appreciate your joining and I'm sorry that I couldn't get to every question. Peace.
Sam Houston@samhouston · Senior Community Manager, Bugcrowd
@naval Hi Naval, thanks for doing this Live Chat. AngelList has brought some transparency to the startup recruiting and hiring process with the public listing of salary and equity ranges for open jobs. Have you seen this have an impact on the overall startup ecosystem and how it hires or fills roles, and if so, what is that impact?
@samhouston It has definitely had some impact, more sites and companies are doing it. The best outcome is that it lets us generate averages and data at https://angel.co/salaries . You'd be surprised how many companies hate it, though. It's controversial. In an ideal world, we could even value the stock but that's a very hard problem.
Brent Summers@brentsum · Founder, Code-Free Startup
Hi Naval, thanks for coming by. I really enjoyed your recent interview with Tim Ferriss, in particular this quote jumped out at me: "If you want to be successful surround yourself with people that are more successful than you are, if you want to be happy surround yourself with people that are less successful than you are.” If you were just starting out again, what are the 1-2 steps you’d take to surround yourself with successful people?
@brentsum Figure out what you're good at and start helping other people with it, give it away. Pay it forward. Karma sort of works because people are very consistent. On a long enough timescale, you will attract what you project. But don't measure, your patience will run out if you are counting...
Brent Summers@brentsum · Founder, Code-Free Startup
@naval Thanks for the thoughtful answer. What do you need help with? ;)
joanna@joannapantages · Founder, Scenester.tv
@naval you probably have to reject/say no alot.. yet you are extremely nice.. so what are your 1 or 2 best ways to say no?
@joannapantages I'm sorry, but this isn't a fit for me personally right now. Can I help in some other way? (Preferably via email).
joanna@joannapantages · Founder, Scenester.tv
@naval sorry, just was thinking there's probably an art and form behind the "no" and wondered what the fav or 'go to' might be for you (or anyone who probably does it a lot). all good-no answer needed!!
@joannapantages That's my generic turndown line that I pasted above :-) No one can argue with it...
joanna@joannapantages · Founder, Scenester.tv
@naval Ha I totally just fell for it! That was pure gangsta
- Kim Pham -@kimpham404 · Growth Engineer
@naval What is something that most people don't know know about you? You have so much to be proud of, but what’s something you’re not proud of and what did you learn from it?
- Kim Pham -@kimpham404 · Growth Engineer
cc @eriktorenberg :)
@kimpham404 Ha, thanks for asking but at this point I feel like people know too much about me :-)
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful
@naval Hi Naval! Thanks for doing the AMA! You say that your favorite founders are the ones you learn from. What are the most surprising things you’ve learned from founders you’ve advised that you think would benefit most early stage founders, companies, and products? Thanks! Sydney
@sydney_liu_sl The best founders are extremely thoughtful and have an eye for quality. I don't know if there's any generic advice here that would be helpful. Startup knowledge is a moving target. Rather, suggest you associate with and help the best founders you know. On a long enough timescale, it pays off.
D 0'clock@d0clock · RedHare
@naval Gd morning Naval. Two questions wrt @angellist as an investing platform: (1) New Markets: Any intention to open @angellist to investors outside of US and Europe? (2) New Products: With crosshairs on institutional money (http://for.tn/1fV7Ruk), what are your thoughts on introducing cross-collateralized (hence, portfolio carry) fund-style investment products *directly* onto @angellist itself rather than offline via Maiden Lane (http://on.wsj.com/1EYGVG8)?
@d0clock Re: 1) Very complex - securities laws vary from country to country. We are trying. 2) We have funds at https://angel.co/funds . We can't do cross-collateralized since the syndicate leads underneath are paid separately and we like to have the ability to opt-out of deals. It's the quid-pro-quo of the opt-out capability.
D 0'clock@d0clock · RedHare
@naval thanks for the reply. re: (2), sure - i respect the qpq. do you think though there is a potential product-market (esp. in insto money) fit for something that wld trade deal selection in return for paying portfolio instead of deal carry? re: (1), can i help? 😄
Hi @naval thanks for doing this live chat. I had two questions for you: 1) how do you see the SEC's new regulation A+ affecting startups raising funding on platforms such as AngelList? 2) what are your favorite books?
@alfink92 Reg A+ still requires a lot of money, lawyers and accountants. It's good for later stage companies, doesn't work for early stage. Favorite books? I put up a list on Product Hunt and there's one in my Tim Ferriss podcast as well. I have many :-)
D 0'clock@d0clock · RedHare
@naval Forbes mentions you did “a brief and unsatisfactory stint in a VC firm” (http://onforb.es/1EY64AN) before you started angel investing. What part / aspect of that experience was unfulfilling?
@d0clock It's not for everyone. I'm more independent / entrepreneurial.
Adam Scavone@adamscavone · Lawyer, Scavone Law Firm
@naval Any advice on developing capacity for instinctual blunt honesty?
@adamscavone Tell everyone. Start now. It doesn't have to be blunt. Charisma is the ability to project confidence and love at the same time. It's almost always possible to be honest and positive.
Maurizio Wagenhaus@m_wagenhaus · Professional procrastinator
@naval: In your opinion, how valuable are certificates gained at Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) like Coursera, Udacity, Udemy etc.? Are they of less value than university courses? Do you consider them in your hiring decisions?
@m_wagenhaus We are entering an age in which what you've done (your projects, products, blog, etc) matter far more than where you got your education or what certificate you have. If the MOOC will help you learn something, do something and build something, do it. If there are other, better ways for you to learn, use those instead. Don't focus on the credentials, focus on what you know.
Maurizio Wagenhaus@m_wagenhaus · Professional procrastinator
@naval Thank you very much for the wise words, Sir!
Chandra Kalle@chandrakalle · Maker @orangecaffeine.com
Would love to hear about one low point as an entrepreneur and how did you cope with it / get out of it?
@chandrakalle Every other day is a low point. They're everywhere. Comes with the territory. Entrepreneurship is really hard and painful, not sure I'd recommend it for anyone who can't handle the extreme stress. The coping mechanisms are the usual ones, unfortunately. The happiest entrepreneurs that I know seem to be able to treat it as a game. Unfortunately doesn't work for me.
rajeev lunkad@rajeevlunkad · collaborator
@naval : heard you saying in a podcast: "in the future everyone will be working for themselves, you would get up in the morning and will see what assignments you have, what you want to do..." do you know of some companies that are already on that route for creating this environment in a comprehensive way? ... beyond the industry specific segmentation model like Uber or AirBnB or fiverr and many others?
@rajeevlunkad Not yet. But it's quite likely, I think.
rajeev lunkad@rajeevlunkad · collaborator
@naval ... Wow that's a big-big opening... whats the best way to pitch to you?
Philip Tribe@ptribal · Co-founder, Designer
@rajeevlunkad What podcast?
Philip Tribe@ptribal · Co-founder, Designer
@rajeevlunkad thank you ;)
Kunal Tandon@kunaltandon · kunaltandon.com
@ptribal Tim Ferriss