Vidy Thatte


Welcome to my brain. A blogging experiment where I write a paragraph per post. Mostly Rants.

It's true that a lot of entrepreneurship is literally just managing your emotions. One way to deal with this is recognizing different feelings by labeling them and not incorporating them in your decision making when they show up. In other words, being aware of what your feelings are and not mixing them in your work. One of the most prominent feelings that shows up again and again is this dread when people don't use your app early on and you start thinking if you're working on the wrong thing. Whenever this happens, I tell myself that a company like Airbnb, which is literally a unicorn did not have any users during the first year of their existence. They had to get their supply together and obsess over growth to get to the point they are right now. A lot of the work was around execution, the idea was brilliant, but just building a website and putting it out there wasn't enough. So one thing I've learned from my experience is to stay strong on the idea and core insight. Take a lot of time to think before landing on the insight and once you have it locked down, don't get insecure about it and change it later on in the process. Just focus on execution, and growth. If people aren't using your app it's probably because they just forget so focus on capturing their attention and work on that, don't change your core idea.


I was walking through queens the other day and as I was crossing the street, while music was playing through my AirPods, a voice appeared out of nowhere preceded by ding "Rockaway brewing company, rated 4.8 stars on foursquare". For a second I was like, wait what? and then realized that I had Marsbot (Foursquare's beta app) installed on my phone. It was tracking my location in background and told me about a popular place whenever I walked past it. I looked around to see a weird looking building that I always passed by but had no idea that it was a brewery. 2 blocks later, same thing happened, except this was a famous Japanese restaurant. I always assumed it was a bar. I was learning things, I felt a little excitement to explore more places and get more dings in my ear instead of just music playing all the time. I wanted more dings with all kinds of different information that I would only spend time reading wikipedia when I was bored. I had free time, after all I was walking and my brain was ready to learn things about my neighborhood.

From this experience, I realized that we're still in the early innings of audio experiences. Before smartphones, I used to spend most of my time watching television, it was my one go to, default activity. After I got a smartphone, I could do so much more, I could go on instagram, play games, etc. I think music (Spotify) is like TV, there's only one type of content, no two way interaction and it's my default thing to listen to because there are no other compelling experiences yet. Maybe one day we'll look back and say, holy crap we spent so much time just listening to music.

MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2020

When I woke up today, my twitter feed was filled with a lot of people I follow, dunking on this guy who works at Vox because he had the worst possible take in the history of twitter. It made me realize how journalism has taken a weird turn in the last few years. The biggest issue with current journalists is most don't seem to have deep knowledge about the industry they're usually reporting about. It's especially worse when it comes to tech, fueled by all the crazy politicians. I'm not an expert in this but I don't think the internet is hurting journalism, it's only exposing its pre-existing flaws. I think the next wave of "journalism" isn't going to be a bunch of people whose sole job is to investigate and write about things, it's going to be driven by people in all fields, who have skin in the game and expose wrong doing either to the public via distribution channels like substack, podcasts and twitter. I don't think there will be a "journalist" in the future. If most people who drive cars don't have drivers or most people who use elevators don't need an elevator person operating it. We might not have a need for people whose sole job is to write hot takes on industries they have no idea about.


I wonder if it's easier to start fusion reactors in space rather than on Earth. I mean, if we look at the sun, it's a naturally occurring fusion reactor that's supplying free energy to us. As we all know, stars are formed when hydrogen atoms start crashing into eachother due to their own gravity. In space, there's comparatively less gravity than on earth, creating higher chances for hydrogen atoms to collide into each other. Another option would be on the International Space Station or some large satellite in a geo synchronous orbit. Because in geo-sync orbits, objects are not typically under the influence of gravity either. I also wonder if there are alternatives to steam turbines for converting energy from these reactors. More on this in another post.

MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2020

I just read about the concept of "designing progress" from a friend's blog. I completely believe in this idea. I don't know if we can make a perfect world, but we can totally make progress where tomorrow is better than yesterday. There are different types of "progress" - technological progress and social progress being two of them. In order to design our world around it, it's important to understand what makes progress happen. There are probably a bunch of things, but one core element is probably just taking responsibility. When people say, "this is on me" things actually move forward. Leadership is taking responsibility for both the upside and the downside, it's Nassim Taleb's "Skin in the game". Responsibility is underrated. But it's simply about asking yourself - what do you really give a shit about? and having the courage to take charge.

FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020

Real artists ship.

FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020

Watching this today as I get some work done.


This virus situation is clearly getting serious and we need to take care of ourselves and each other while hoping for the best. As I'm learning more about the pandemic, I'm starting to think about how humans have evolved and gotten stronger against natural forces throughout time. For example, New York City can get incredibly cold during the winter. You could probably die or lose an arm if you stayed outside naked, for more than an hour. But nobody does that. Everybody wears layers of clothes, don't run in shorts and set their room temperatures to 65F and above. While some of us complain a lot, most of us make it through the winter - no problem. As viruses evolve, I wonder if we'll have routines similar to dealing with an annoying winter. A virus "winter" in the future where we expect to get sick but take necessary pre-cautions by wearing masks, working from home, closing borders and not shaking hands. Although, it's probably harder with new viruses compared to changing weather, because new pandemics are not periodic.


PSA: Flume dropped a new track.


I think this is pretty obvious but Stripe's business model is freaking genius, where they take a small percentage from every transaction they enable. It's similar to AWS, Youtube, Substack, and many others where the company succeeds if their customers succeed. There are no upfront costs because it's free to use and install. The more transactions your business makes the more money Stripe makes - their revenue is directly linked to your business' upside. All the products they launch, things like Stripe Atlas, etc., is done so, to make your business better and successful. It's the ultimate positive some business. It's like investing - except they get to invest in millions of companies - at scale. I wonder what other industries could use a positive sum model like Stripe's, perhaps the government?


It's Sunday my dear friends. Take it easy.


Language is a compression technology we use to transmit information about the things we experience, with one another. Before cameras, and snapchat, (a few thousand yrs ago) I'm pretty sure it was insanely hard to describe an experience, so we came up with a way of expressing and storing information in the form of written language. But I wonder how long written language is going to last as a way of transferring information. It lacks a lot of things, it's also more efficient to watch a video about an event than read a paragraph about it. Language is also not inclusive i.e. somebody who doesn't know English will never understand it. And it's generally less intuitive than video or audio. I do see that in the near future, there's a good chance of a significant amount of text on the internet getting replaced by podcasts, and also a rise in new formats of communicating - now that we don't have to rely on this compression technology i.e. written language.


Our smartphones are more powerful than the computer that took us to the moon, think of all the things that can be accomplished with so much power. If you look at electricity, most of the breakthrough innovations aka "killer apps" came almost 50 - 100 years later, with the latest innovation being electric cars. Smartphones are barely 15 years old. That, coupled with the internet which is about 30 years old, low barrier to entry and non-existent government regulation - the amount of things one can build in this space is infinite. The only limit, at this point, is our imagination.


I think to-do lists are productive but counter creative. I get some of my best ideas when I'm in the shower, or taking a walk, etc. It's an unconscious process. I also use to-do lists extensively on a daily basis. But one of the side effects of to-do lists is I use them to delegate my brain's memory function. While this is effective, I think there's cost associated with it. Because by delegating my brain's functions, I end up not ruminating about the task I'm supposed to do. And when I'm not constantly obsessing about the task in the back of my mind, I lose out on all the creative ideas that would have come out of it. So as an experiment, I'm going to stop using to-do lists from now on. I'm not going to delegate my memory functions to Notion, at least for things related to phonogram this next month and see how it goes.


Playing to learn vs playing to win. I play temple run when I'm listening to podcasts in the background, really helps me fall asleep/take my mind off of work. I get into two modes when I'm playing. Mode one is when I want to maximize and win every single game. I'm anxious, I feel every jump and I treat every game like it's my last one. In mode 2, I care less about winning individual games, I'm less conscious about the score, I care more about "learning" and I'm aware that I can always play another game if this one fails. I'm in mode 1 more than I'm in mode 2 and most of my highest scores in the game have been set when I'm in mode one. I haven't finished reading finite and infinite games but I'm guessing this is one of those examples. Mode 1 is finite, you play to win, the game ends when you fail. Mode 2 is infinite, you play to learn and you're aware that you can always play again. The percieved cost to start over in mode 2 is very low. Both modes have their drawbacks and advantages. I guess, in life, key is to choose which mode you want to be when you decide to participate in a game.


I was listening to DHH and Jason debate about capitalism, etc on the this week in startups podcast. After listening to DHH talk, I feel like I have some weird brain virus now (fyi I've muted him on twitter). For a brief 30min, I felt like I lost all of my motivation to work hard and build an impactful company. For a second I felt like I was aspiring to be a super villain. This explains the backlash that a lot of the SV people & tech community in general are making against the general rhetoric against "capitalism" and "billionaires". I think we should all have great health care and a social safety net. I have student debt and it sucks. It's a very demotivating thing and generally demotivates people from starting companies which is really really bad. But taking that to the extreme where you eliminate billionaires is literally the stupidest argument. I want to live in a world where millions (if not billions) of people are billionaires and our way of living improves drastically. Rockefeller, who was one of the richest people back in the day is way poorer than me and you. He didn't have air conditioning, didn't travel in a plane, didn't have access to all of world's information in the palm of his hands and so much more. And that doesn't happen automatically, it happens when young and hungry people are motivated to work hard and gain outsized rewards for it. You think Larry and Sergey would have started Google if their leaders said being super rich is an evil thing? Hell no, they would probably finish their PHDs, teach at Stanford and vote for Bernie. Stories & anecdotes are powerful, stories that our leaders tell us have a huge impact on us. As a politician, you want to scape goat a minority group to direct people's anger and win a stupid election, but the repercussions of it can be really harmful. I really hope this whole debate is a temporary thing and people get back to working, learning and aspiring to be great. I really hope this rhetoric against being successful don't become hard written policies, because that would be really really disastrous. I hope you, as a reader aspire to become a billionaire by creating something incredibly valuable like JK Rowling who wrote Harry Potter or Larry and Sergey who started Google. Keep grinding!


Oh damn, it's March already. I don't know if I've made any progress this year. I mean, I've built stuff, launched a beta, burnt through the runway - but should I be doing more? am I doing enough? Is this type of thinking irrelevant? Is this anxiety a good thing that'll drive me to work harder? - I know one thing, I need to keep working. I think what I really want to do is be more efficient. Before I had any funding, almost a year ago, I assumed I could do a lot if only I had decent runway. Were those expectations too optimistic? - I am aware of the fact that this stuff, "creation", and making "product" is a very inefficient process. You get breakthroughs through inefficiencies. Once you have a repeatable model, you make it efficient. But I wonder if there are inefficiencies that we can eliminate now. Things we can do to go faster. Maybe it can start with me writing code, perhaps I should turn it into a ritual where I code when I'm fresh, in a certain position, at a certain sterile place. Or perhaps, I'm the most creative when I'm on my bed, eating pizza and writing spaghetti code. I don't know. I do know what works for sure is setting insanely aggressive deadlines for myself and working non-stop to reach them. If I had to get a tattoo, it would be "work like hell". Perhaps it starts with the initial goal setting, maybe more thought has to be put into that. Maybe that should be the real ritual. Set goals with the right mindset.


I'm going to stop reading all the self-help, psychology crap from now on. A lot of it is starting to feel like pseudo-science. It also feels like, I'm more attracted to it because I want to get better at the playing status games between me and the people I regularly interact with. One of the things I want to do is become aware of the status games I play and stop playing them. They're incredibly distracting and take time away from the things that are more important to me in life. I also want to start learning more hard sciences, more quantum mechanics, evolutionary biology, crispr stuff, chemistry, AI & machine learning, etc. - I'd rather have my mental models defined by hard sciences than pop culture. So let's see how this goes!


A lot of my smart friends who are a few years older than me (late 20s) are getting into this weird limbo where they want to start taking it "easy" or "slow down" and "live their life" and "focus on family" and "focus on relationships", etc., etc., etc. - I think it's a huge fucking problem. These people are really smart. They're the top 0.1% of the world's population in terms of their capacity to make an impact in the world. And because they're so capable, I think they have a huge responsibility to work hard and contribute to progress. Most of humanity's progress truly depends on these people. If they don't do anything, nothing will happen and we'll ascend to the dark ages again. I think the reason why these people think this way is because 1. they don't realize how privileged/smart/capable they are 2. they're not aware of how much responsibility and impact they have on the world 3. they're stuck in weird status seeking games with their tiny ass, boring group of friends. Progress doesn't happen on its own, it only happens when smart people work like hell. Please get your shit together my dear friends and do something useful for humanity's sake.


Writing is useful. It not only helps me think better, but it's a great way to show others that I'm capable of thinking. I enjoy writing, it's a form of creation and I like to create things. I can also influence the world around me in little ways through it. But for me at least, writing feels like a daunting task. Using Substack or or any of the existing long-form blogging tools makes me want to dedicate a lot of effort to create something. I have a lot of ideas but I don't know if they can fill up a 1000 word essay nor do I have the time to do so. I also don't think that my thoughts are short enough to be a tweet. The medium of creation does influence what we make. So I'm going to invent my own medium for my writing. All I want to do is write a paragraph dedicated to a topic. It doesn't have to be a long post, or a bite sized, attention grabbing tweet. It's a well formed thought that I want to share with the world, and nothing more. It's an experiment!