Lindy Letters (04/18/21)

Engelbart's Key Concepts, Coinbase YC Pitch, Inside PayPal

Hi everyone,

Writing to you from Los Angeles, CA. I’m working with a group of artists and technologists to create a physical NFT gallery in Venice. We’re keeping it under wraps for now, but if you live in the area and want to hear when we launch you can follow along here.


From me

  1. This post remains my standard answer for anyone who asks what I think about cryptocurrencies. It’s impossible to determine what the markets will do, so I choose to invest my time and energy into projects that inspire my imagination with a definite plan for the future. This helps me focus on the long-term and avoid the manic depressive nature of the daily price fluctuations.

  2. Balaji Srinivasan’s recent podcast with Tim Ferriss is a four-hour whirlwind. I took detailed notes, including every prediction made during the interview. You can read it here.


From the web

Doug Engelbart’s Call To Action

Doug Engelbart is best known for inventing the computer mouse, thereby pioneering the field of human-computer interaction. Along with dozens of other technologies, Engelbart’s group also inspired the graphical user interface that appeared on the first Macintosh.

For anyone else, these breakthroughs would have been enough to cement a place in the computer hall of fame. However, Engelbart’s big idea, the one he wanted people to remember above all else, was that the world’s problems were getting larger and more complex. He issued a call to action: develop tools to help us manage the complexity and increase the “Collective IQ” of organizations.

I call this strategic approach a bootstrapping strategy, an important aspect of which is that the teams that are accelerating the co-evolution use what they are developing in support of their own collective work. They are thus simultaneously improving Collective IQ capability for themselves, and for their end user organizations, thereby continuously enhancing their own ability to further improve the Collective IQ capability (improving how they improve).


Brian Armstrong Pitches Coinbase in 2012

This video of Brian Armstrong practicing his YC pitch is the best thing I’ve seen all month.

If you listen carefully, you can hear Paul Graham giving him tips in the background to keep it simple and focus on the growth rate to attract investors. 9 years after this video was recorded, Coinbase went public at a valuation of $100B.


Inside PayPal

"The first team that I built has become known in Silicon Valley as the "PayPal Mafia" because so many my colleagues have gone on to help each other start and invest in successful tech companies. We sold PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002. Since then, Elon Musk has founded SpaceX and co-founded Tesla Motors; Reid Hoffman cofounded LinkedIn; Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim together founded YouTube; Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons founded Yelp; David Sacks co-founded Yammer; and I co-founded Palantir. Today all seven of those companies are worth more than $1 billion each. PayPal's office amenities never got much press, but the team has done extraordinarily well, both together and individually: the culture was strong enough to transcend the original company." (Peter Thiel, Zero to One)

This post, rescued from The Wayback Machine, collects anecdotes about the decision making process and company culture during those early years.


have a great week,

phil