In this episode, we are joined by Pratyush Buddiga, and Dr. David Jarvis to talk about how Pratyush came to Christianity, how to win in highly competitive environments, and how to make America better. Pratyush is an investor at Susa Ventures.
William Jarvis 0:05
Hey folks, welcome to narratives. narratives is a podcast exploring the ways in which the world is better than in the past, the ways that is worse, and the paths towards a better, more definite vision of the future. I’m your host, will Jarvis. And I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen to this episode. I hope you enjoy it. You can find show notes, transcripts and videos at narratives podcast.com.
Well Pratyush how are you doing today?
Pratyush Buddiga 0:44
Pretty good. I finished up a long day. But that’s That’s always how it is nine VC land?
William Jarvis 0:50
Absolutely. Oh, I always a lot a lot of deals to be done. Well, do you mind hopping around in and giving us a brief bio and some some of the big ideas you’re interested in?
Pratyush Buddiga 0:59
Yeah, sure. So I would say hey, even though I am in BC, I’m definitely not the traditional VC as I currently work at Susa ventures, but I’ve been in hyper competitive environments my entire life. So at 13, I was the National Spelling Bee Champion, and then won the high school version of the geography as well. When I was an adult, I started playing some of the highest stakes tournaments, the worlds in the world in poker. I guess I pretty much sort of ran my own fund within the realm of high stakes poker by getting like investors to back me and super high rollers and all these other systemization Foreman’s ball, also putting up my own GP stake, which is my share of the money. After poker, I got into crypto trading, and I was also working on a crypto gaming startup. I think that all sounds like super nice, but I think the underlying thread is it made and lost a fortune twice. So like, once in poker, and once in crypto, I’m kind of grateful to have been able to learn so much from that rise and fall at a pretty young age. So it’s been a pretty interesting and circuitous journey to get to where I’m at now, which is investing at a venture fund. But it’s been, you know, pretty awesome, learned a lot and really, like happy with where I’m at today.
I guess I would say in terms of big ideas, I’m interested in I guess, Christianity in general, severely Christianity in the modern world, and how do you reach out to people in this sort of like, post post Christian world, I don’t even know, I don’t even know where what level of that but
and then I relationship between faith and work. So this is something I’m currently exploring as well. And I call my vocation, in venture like fits in with Christianity. The other two are maybe a little bit more specific, which would be I think, I’m pretty interested in the idea of startup cities. But then there’s also this tension with the Christian idea of being planted with where you’re at, and really investing in your local community and like, not necessarily just exiting, because it’s a better alternative. So this is a tension I’m like, really trying to play with and you know, living in San Francisco and a lot of issues of governance around here. It’s kind of one that I’m struggling to figure out, like, where exactly I fall in. And this might actually be the subject of my next piece actually will be something about, like, where do you fall in in terms of like, the Balaji exit versus like the stay and, you know, rebuild the city. And I guess I’m still not sure there. And probably the last one will be on apprenticeship and mastery. And so that’s kind of like a theme that’s run through my entire life in terms of always finding like a master or someone to learn from, and then trying to like ascend to being one of the best in the world, or what I do.
William Jarvis 3:37
I love that. And there’s a ton to unpack here. And I’m a fairly fellow geography kid as well. So I really appreciate that. You know, you mentioned I guess it’s not on outline. But this struck me, isn’t it really interesting question, you have spent a lot of your life living in hyper competitive environments? Yeah. How do you? And this is like, a very difficult question to answer. So like, just keep that in mind. But how do you think about finding alpha? Because you’ve been successful in all these areas? Like, how do you think about being successful when there is a lot of competition?
Pratyush Buddiga 4:09
Totally, I think there’s two kinds of thing, two kinds of questions I want to ask myself, and I think it starts with, like, and this I would say, I never thought about it this way explicitly, but it’s actually through conversation with a pretty like, well known investor person who sort of like was able to, like, give me the framework to do it. So I’m not gonna like, give pretend this was like my, my idea. But I think like, when you want to think about your edge, you, you should like, try to really figure out what that is. And then once you figured out what that is, it, there’s sort of two follow on questions from that which is like, Okay, where do I not want to spend any of my time and then where do I want to what do I want to resource with 10x order of magnitude? So like, if you’re say in like investing, it’s like, and you’re like, okay, one of my edges investing is like, I’m a real Good, fundamental investor. And I like I really understand markets and product and everything like that I’m not really good at like some of the psychological stuff. It’s like maybe you want to like hand out some of the psychological stuff to some of your partners or someone else who can help you out with that. And really just like double down on what your edges, so I think it takes a like a lot of self awareness and understanding what your alpha is. So like in poker, I think something I was really good at, or when a lot of my edges was from like developing a strategy. And who was superior to strategy some of the other people I was competing versus, and maybe not as some of the like more gut infield type stuff. And so like, that’s sort of the way like I try to like really focus on what I was good at, I’m probably like, cover up some my weakness? I’m not sure if I really answered your question there. But
William Jarvis 5:47
no, and I think I think generally, that’s probably that the that I think it’s a really good answer to that question. You know, you need to find like, where your edges and you did like, yeah, you know, how do you deal with your weaknesses? Or how do you reinforce your strengths?
Pratyush Buddiga 5:59
Exactly. And like, I think the the question was, like, how do you find alpha is kind of like a difficult question, because a lot of times it involves like zagging or others or like going in one direction, right. So like, because otherwise, what you end up getting stuck in is you’re just trying to like, do something that’s like your best, you’re gonna be like one to 3% better than everyone else. So like, in poker one, everyone was playing very, like feel oriented and wasn’t using strategy or game theory at all. Like being a very game three onto player was like a great way to like, develop alpha versus other players. And then once maybe like everyone in the superpowers is basically playing the same way or using a lot of the same strategies that they developed, it was kind of like useful to eventually be able to deviate from that, or you use like, mixin elements of like, more exploitive strategies. So like, some of the best players in the, at least during the time I played, were able to like mix that in. And I think that was part of their edge. So I think sometimes it’s like zagging right. So like, if every early stage venture fund is doing the exact same thing, in terms of like, looking for the same deals, looking for the same types of people looking for the same pedigree, it’s probably the best, you might be able to outperform them by like one to 5%, but you’re not gonna be able to really, like create real alpha. And so that’s when you should always be looking for the Zag, I guess.
William Jarvis 7:17
Definitely. And it seems like a real problem, because I feel I have a feeling that a lot of VCs and I don’t think this case for you at all. But a lot of VCs are hyper mimetic, like they really copy each other, and there’s like, a lack of like, they’re trying to think for yourself, in some sense.
Pratyush Buddiga 7:34
Yeah, no, right. I mean, part of that has to do with like, the nature of investing. So like, venture is somewhat different than public markets. And that you really do need to find like someone else to, like, invest in your company and like 18 months. So this was something that I like, didn’t have enough appreciation for before I joined the venture industry was like, I from before, I was like very much like, Oh, I’m just gonna be first principles super contrarian, and like figure things out for myself, doesn’t matter what the rest of the market, what are things. And then I realized that, hey, like, you’re only gonna be able to fund them for like, 18 months, especially if you’re like just a seed stage fund, right? So some investor has to like be able to invest in them in 18 months, that means there needs to be enough progress, enough traction, something that makes people like excited about it. So like, if investors hate the market, the founder is in or they hate the, you know, like, whatever their like specific things are, it just makes it much, much harder. So like, if you’re in a category that everyone likes, or everyone in DC likes like FinTech or something like that, or crypto now, right? It does make, like, I can see why people get drawn into this mimetic games, I think the issue is, then it’s like, again, hard to create alpha, there’s a lot of money that ends up chasing the same deals, or copycats. And that’s when you can get sort of like, these narratives that formed that probably aren’t entirely real. And that’s like, why people like bedrock, and all the type of narrative violations and things like that. So I think there’s like, you kind of have to, like, be able to hold both in your head like, Okay, I want to be not mimetic, I don’t want to just follow what everyone else is doing. But also be realistic about what can the company do? And like, also, where do what what is my strategy? And what type of fund Am I right? Like, if you’re a16z, or a founder, someone that can really fund every round of a company, and you’re like, Well, I don’t even care if another company will, like another fund will like them in 18 months, I’ll just fund them myself because I like them so much, then that’s you have much more leeway than let’s say just like a small seed stage fund that’s counting on a series a fund delete the investment later. So there’s there’s a lot of like factors in play, but I mean, I think there is, like, I that’s like the bullish case for why a lot of seats Herman which, you know, I generally want to avoid that, obviously, but I think there is like, kind of a reason that people are a little bit that way.
William Jarvis 9:52
So it’s something where, like, you know, if you know, VCs, like as a rule they hate redheaded founders, and you’re like me This redheaded founder like they have the best company ever is like this will be a DECA corn, it’s gonna be incredible. But you’re like, wait, like, I have to think about the meta level if in 18 months, they can’t get funding, because no one invest in redhead and founders, despite the underlying fundamentals, like you’re just not gonna be able to it’s not gonna be successful.
Pratyush Buddiga 10:16
For sure. And I do think a lot of those like, for what it’s what I do think a lot of those like, you know, traits like red headedness or things like that. I don’t think those are really factors. He said, I think the I think pedigree and stuff like that does matter. So like, if you’ve worked at big companies, like big hot companies, or hot startups, or if you have like an elite school in your background, there’s no doubt that helps.
William Jarvis 10:40
Gotcha, gotcha. Very interesting. Very interesting. You know, you’re a Christian. And it’s almost a, what’s notable to me is, you know, I grew up in a fairly rural community, fairly Evangelical community. So you know, this was the norm, you know, working in tech now, like, this is very much not the norm. And it’s almost like weird to have someone you know, like, working in venture that’s like, yeah, like, Will is not afraid to proclaim that. Yeah. You know, how has that experience been so far? I mean, yeah, and that maybe even a weird question. But how has it been being in tech being a Christian being like fairly loud about it, I would say compared to what most people would do?
Pratyush Buddiga 11:20
Well, I guess, like, the interesting thing is like, when I joined Tech, I wasn’t exactly loud about it, right. And I remember having a conversation with my wife, while she was my fiancee back then. But like, a year and a half ago, when I joined the previous startup I was at before the fund. And I was very much like, oh, like, I feel kind of lame, because I’m not putting like Christian in my bio, and things like that, because I was kind of like, scared to do it. Because I’m like, wait, I’m entering tech, I’m moving to San Francisco, like, do I want to declare this kind of publicly? And you see people, like, people that I admire, like a brand, be sure you know, you’ll literally the first thing in his bio is Christian, I was like, like, Why do I not have the guts to do that? So it’s definitely been a journey, right? Like, I don’t think it was very easy. And there has been moments to where, you know, something will happen to someone you know, or a friend or in your company or in Yeah, in your company, or fund. And, you know, you’ll want to say like, Oh, I’ll pray for you or like for, you know, something like something very personal, you want to like pray for them. But then it’s also you kind of like overstepping the line, if you say like, too, specifically, or it feels like you don’t want to like say that and kind of like out yourself as like a Christian or someone who like believes in God. So I think it was kind of it was kind of a difficult journey. And honestly, I think part of the reason why I wrote the piece eventually was good, like, I kind of was like, tired of hiding that because it’s such a big part of like, who am I like, who I am and what my identity is? And ultimately, like, if that makes some people, like, I wouldn’t say like, I guess it’s I don’t know, if it makes people uncomfortable. I think it’s just like, it’s just part of who I am. And I just wanted to be out there. And it. I think it creates like, sort of, like, open conversation with anyone I want to work with that. They know, like, what really drives me and like what I do on weekends. I’m like, why? You know, why think about the things the way I do, and also why I’m driven to do what I do. Because I think there’s sort of like, there’s this perception of produce that you can draw, if you just look at like Wikipedia, or Google or somebody’s like, Okay, this guy was like, you know, won the spelling bee, and then he’s like, a poker player. And like, now he’s in BC, so he must be a certain way. And he’s probably driven by like, money and these other things. And I think, like, being very upfront about my Christianity, and how that changed the things that mattered to me. And like, why I do the things I do is, is like, important, so we can like have like an honest, upfront conversation rather than it’s very surface level. Like, you know, like bragging wasn’t good. Yeah. Yeah.
William Jarvis 13:53
I’m curious, how do you see your work kind of intersecting with your faith and your working venture?
Pratyush Buddiga 13:59
Yeah. So I mean, I think there is, there, there’s a few Bible verses about, you know, how you there’s the story that the the talents are the means where, you know, you take the means and you like, double it, and it’s well done, good and faithful servant. And I think Peter Till’s bring about like the city of God, you know, sorry, not the City of God, but like the New Jerusalem and things like that. And I think there is something about like, venture is about like, creating wealth, not for just for oneself, but for others. Like it’s positive, some wealth creation, right, it makes it very different than poker, which is zero sum wealth creation. And so through the startups we’ve found and companies we help build, there is going to be like, massive positive externalities and wealth creation for you know, billions of people. So I think that’s what gets me excited about it. And that’s why I like see it as like, you know, a vocation that I can be like, really proud of being part of.
William Jarvis 14:57
I love that and Can you talk a little bit about, you know, for the listeners, the PC wrote on cards, crypto and Christ I it was really incredible. I really loved it. And that’s actually how I found you originally. I’m curious, you know, what was that journey? Like? You know, finding Christ, like, like, what was that like for you?
Pratyush Buddiga 15:18
Sure. I mean, I grew up in an evangelical town, Colorado Springs, but I mean, I thought Christians were stupid. Like, I started off as a Hindu, but then eventually became like, full blown atheists. Like, you know, Sam Harris, his theory and Kolsky all like hyper rationalist. Basically, anyone who was religious, I thought was dumb. And I think that, I don’t know if there’s like, as many of those types of people around these days, but there was like, a very much like this. 2006 2014 You know, like, Reddit, like, this is like, atheism. Yeah. Yeah. It’s like zeitgeist, right? I don’t know why it exactly flip. That’s actually kind of a question. I’ve been, like, playing around with my head is like, why did that like suddenly change? But yeah, it was very much a part of that, like, fear, I would say, on it really took until I started watching Jordan Peterson videos in 2017 or so. And it was like, you start with the psychological significance of Bible. And hearing those, those lectures. It made me realize there wasn’t, it wasn’t dumb. Like, there was like, actually a reason why people believe these stories. And so I wouldn’t have said, like, Oh, this is truth. I was like, Okay, there’s like a truth Enos to it, like, it helps people live their lives, there’s like, moral value that comes out of it. And like, religion isn’t just like this chaotic, evil force that like ruins people’s lives and causes a war or, you know, whatever. They’re like cliches of like, you know, our atheism might be and it was like, Okay, be these people aren’t dumb, but like, I mean, I still didn’t believe like, there’s, that’s there’s solid math, there was a massive gap there. And it was only like, in 2019, when I kind of had, I was in a pretty dark place. Like I mentioned, I lost a fortune twice before. So this was like, the second time. And I was, you know, in a pretty dark place didn’t really know like, you know, I was contemplating suicide, like, didn’t really know where I was going in my life. But I was going on some dates, and I ended up going to church with a girl who’s just was dating happened. And yeah, so we, we went to church. And I mean, the moment I walked into church, like, I just had this, like, overwhelming experience where, like, the music started, and I like, you know, just felt like I was home and I like, felt like Tears are coming in my eyes. And I couldn’t explain it. I was like, This is my first time ever in a church actually. I mean, other than, like, Notre Dame, or like, during, like an actual church service. Yeah. And that was like, pretty incredible. But it was like, mostly, like a curiosity, more than anything. I was like, Okay, why did it happen to me? Like, this doesn’t make sense. Like, I didn’t become a believer like that, you know, like, I’ve heard many stories from people who, you know, the first time they walked into church for the first time, they they heard the gospel, they were like, they converted, but for me, it was like, Okay, I’m curious, I still don’t get it. I still don’t believe like, in a man in the sky. Like, you know, like, let me read more about this. Right. You know, so I, there was a couple of books I started reading one was cold case Christianity, which was like, written by this homicide detective kind of like going through like evidence around the Gospels and like, like, I want to take for like, for factor granted that everything that happened that we like know from stuff that happened in 200 BC, or 300 BC, or Alexander, again, he these things like all these things are like, oh, yeah, this is what happened with Plato and Socrates, etc, etc, etc. And it’s like, all of these have less documentation in the New Testament, like, much, much less like in terms of like any how any of these people live their lives, or what they believe, and things like that. So it was like a very interesting book for me and from that perspective, but like, there was very much it was very much like an intellectual philosophical. And this is sorry, this isn’t in the piece at all, but it’s just kind of like an interesting topic, the which is that, like, I noticed, there’s like, a lot of people I meet these days who are in the, on that intellectual philosophical journey towards Christianity. And they like they read these books, they listen to these podcasts. And they find it very compelling from an intellectual perspective, but they can’t get over to the, the, the faith side, right? They can’t believe in the resurrection. They can’t believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And that’s where I was at, as well. You know, there was like, okay, like, I see all the arguments for why Christianity is good, like it’s a valuable religion. I see, like, this argument around the evidence, but I still don’t believe in the resurrection. I don’t believe that, you know, Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Or that is even is a god, you know. And it was only when I went to a worship ceremony in middle of July, I guess, two years, two and a half years ago, that
this worship has this session started is As American singer Pat Barrett, and this is in Singapore, actually. And like the the worship was going on, I remember the first half of it just thinking like this. This is, this is stupid, like, I don’t understand what these people are doing like at all, like singing and waving their hands. I mean, I’ve seen that in shirts, but like, it just felt like it just felt very alien cuz like, you know, the types of people who go to like a midweek session of worship. Yeah, they’re like, they’re, they’re like, hyped up days and they know this stuff. So I was like, Okay, this is, this is not me. And I was dating that girl at the time. I was like, Okay, I’m gonna break up with her tonight. This is dumb. Like, I don’t like I’m just never gonna be a Christian, you know? Yeah. And then, yeah, they have an intermission, and they were doing testimonies. And this kid in with cerebral palsy came up. And he just, like, gave his testimony about, you know, how you want to use younger, like, no one thought he would be able to, like read or walk, like, talk and things like that. Yeah. And he gave this very powerful speech about, like, how, you know, he’d gotten his degree, he wanted to be used going on mission trips, and all these sorts of like, amazing things. And I just remember thinking, like, wow, this is a person who could like, you know, hate the world, you know, curse God, if you believe in God, not even believe in God. And he’s still like, chose to glorify God, it was like, always grateful. And, like, as an him become a believer, and all those things that they had said, were proven. Not true, right. Like he, even though like he had been told he wasn’t going to do that for that, like, they believe in God, all those things changed. And for me, that was like, Okay, well, I if I want to give God a chance, I are sorry, not I should. I should just give God a chance. And the second half of this like, yeah, I don’t know, if you’re real. Just prove yourself to me. Like if this person couldn’t believe, like, why can I? Yeah. And it was just like, some point during the second half. I mean, I think I wrote in the piece, like, I don’t remember which song it was. It’s a It’s like one of those famous talks. Good, good father. My life for some, it was one of those. I just remember, like, basically, like time, almost like, basically time stop. And I just felt like this connection with something just like, basically eternal, divine powerful. There wasn’t like, you know, a voice that told me Hey, I’m, like, hi, or something. But it was just like, Oh, you’re real, like, I connect with you. And I know who you are. And that was it. Like, the second before. I wasn’t a believer, the second after I knew God was real. And I was like, Okay, I’m a believer. And, like, yeah, my life, I think my life completely changed in that moment. I mean, there was, there was a lots of like, other things that were very important. Like, I would say, like, I knew he was real. After that moment, I was only like, a month later that a different sermon, where I watched, you know, Jesus healed the leper in a video that, like, I realized that not only was God real, that he loved me, and that’s why He sent Jesus and Jesus loved me as well. And that was when it like, was completed hard transformation in terms of the type of person I was and who I am. And like, my everything, my relationship with God and everything like that.
William Jarvis 23:13
That’s that’s really cool. That’s, that’s such a cool. I love that. That progression, right? Like, that’s, it’s really powerful. I, I’m curious, and this is a bit of a left hand turn. But you know, envy, you know, it’s a sin. But, you know, how concerned should we be about it? It seems like it’s one of these things in the modern world that people ignore the most. I Yeah. What do you think about it?
Pratyush Buddiga 23:39
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s, it’s definitely underrated as a topic, actually. I think many of the political discussions, we have battles with organizations, all these things come from envy. I don’t want to rehash Gerardi in concept of mimetic desire, because like, it’s been done to death, like everywhere, in tech circles, but like, perhaps better to go over it. Yeah, yeah, exactly. I do think it’s important. Like, I think like, one thing I often think about is if you hear someone’s opinion, and it doesn’t make sense to you just try to trace it back to like, how does this make this person feel better about their position in the world relative to others, and you’ll understand their opinion, like 99% of cases. And, like, there’s like one specific example that I also think about, like, it was from Keith Raboy. He made this comment on a podcast a few years ago, and like, it’s just stuck with me sends just like, Why does media hate tech so much? Right? And like, the standard reply is like, oh, it’s because tech is killing its ad model. It’s, you know, they, they, they hate Tech because of the Facebook, what Facebook did to newspapers, they hit Tech because of the 2016 election. These are like classic reasons that like everyone in tech thinks about, but like real boy gave the point, which was that a lot of these journalists went to school with these tech people at elite schools, and now they’re making 30k a year. writing articles for Buzzfeed living in a small apartment in Brooklyn. And some like these, the same people they went to school with are making like 500k a year to like do something for Netflix right? Or like even in even the more extreme cases, they’re like someone who just coded NAB and became a billionaire or, like ran an enterprise offer and became a billionaire. And that sort of resentment from that, like the people you’re like, most closely compare yourself to, is like, very deep and intrinsic. And it’s like very hard to escape like that feeling of raison to MMA, or whatever you want to call it, right? It’s like, it’s like deep in your bones. And it’s like very, very hard to escape and like, I think a lot of the if you look at the the most like angry or vitriolic articles from media people, they all went to elite schools, they all most of them went to elite private schools to like, it’s not just like, Oh, I got into Harvard from a public school. It’s like, they went to like one of those, like, 60k year high school. So they have been in that world the whole time. Yeah. And they, they, they feel envious of the like, the wealth, the power of the tech people, but they can reframe themselves as the heroes for going after these big bad tech people. Right. And it’s like, a lot of envy is like about recasting yourself as a hero or being able to cope with your own, like, you know, failures or insecurities. So yeah, that’s, I guess that’s like, something that I just like, think about a lot with enemy. And I think in terms of like, how do we escape it? Or like, well, how can we do about it? I mean, I do think artists, right, like, the only way is through Christ and your identity being in Christ, right? Like, if you find your identity in your work, or the things you do is always gonna be subject to comparison to others. But if your identity is in Christ, then you don’t have anyone else to compare yourself to.
William Jarvis 26:40
Right, you should look up more and look around
Pratyush Buddiga 26:42
less. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Right, cool.
William Jarvis 26:47
Another hard left hand turn to web three, you know, is there something there? You know, all these terms, it’s like internet of things? Like I’m always like, is it a mirage? Like, like, do you have you? And I don’t know how much time you spend in the space. But now you’re in vitro right now. So, sir,
Pratyush Buddiga 27:03
I’m sure. I mean, I think it’s a mix of both. And there’s something there is there’s something a mirage. I mean, I think the reason why people use the term web three, like the pod, the positive view would be like, well, we’re talking about VR, protecting the entire internet, Internet now just building like decentralized money or financial answer asset and we want to talk about use cases like NF, t’s gaming, etc, etc. So like, that all makes sense, right? On, like, decentralized everything on the internet with Financials, but I guess like a lot of, I kind of joke that it’s just a rebrand for crypto, just because it’ll be associations with scams and iced tea, and all these other things. And I, but sometimes a rebrand is good, you know, like, it creates like an aura of inevitability to it, it makes people feel like they’re early adopters as well, which creates like excitement and buzz, like, I think a lot of people can like, talk about themselves as lead investors, or when through joining a web three startup and feel like, Hey, we’re part of like building the ground floor or something. And that creates more excitement. And then like, oh, this has been around for like, 10 years, and like, just like the negative connotations and crypto. And I think it makes people who are engineers as well, and builders feel like better about participating in it, because like, it feels like less than like, Oh, we’re just like, like participating this casino. Which I guess is like, in terms of the Mirage thing, I think. I mean, everyone knows the majority of use case right now is still speculation or crypto as Casino. And I guess like, how I think about it is like, I mean, the trite VC thing, obviously, as I say, the application layers of what’s going to bring the next 1 billion users and like gaming and all these other things, like what’s exciting. I think the idea I try to hold simultaneously, my simultaneously my head is that the killer app is already here. And that’s speculation. You know, like that is a killer app to love gambling. And maybe speculation takes you all the way up to bootstrapping and decentralized money or decentralized financial applications, you know, we’re trying to people are trying to do something that’s never been done in history. And maybe what gets us there isn’t what people want to talk about, like a decentralized Uber or gaming or something. And it’s just speculation, right? So yeah, and I think like in terms of speculation, though, I was listening to a podcast today, actually, by Suzu and hospices to like was, was one of the investors at three years capital, which is fun that incubated the gaming startup I worked on, and hosue, the researcher paradigm. And they’re kind of talking about like, No, you new user really wants to use Bitcoin or eath. Really, or buy it at this point, like anyone, they’ll if you have 1k or 10k, you want to try to turn it into 100k. And you want to use all coins to do that. Like, yeah, which means that like, a lot of these things don’t really have network effects, or they taper off at a certain point. Like there’s massive network effects early, but there’s really not at some point, like the reason like new users The only no new user new user is going to really become a Bitcoin maximalist unless everything goes 90% down and again and Bitcoin outperforms, like that’s how we created a new wave of Bitcoin Maxis in the last 2017 to 2018 cycle or eath, Maxis, depending on which coin you had. You had. So, I guess, like, on the speculation use case, I guess, the thing I think about is like, I don’t, I don’t know if that promise or excitement around wanting to be an early adopter ever goes away. And when there’s so much like easy financialization available, like maybe people just like, always try to like, be it the next new thing, right? Like, yeah, maybe you’re just like, eventually, like, you know, that you’re always just like, flipping to the next thing. And I think like, a lot of you saw that with nfcu profile pic projects, meaning out like this, everything just is like, Well, how do I get my own share of something new where I can be the early adopter? And I guess like, in a way, maybe that’s bullish for like Ethan Bitcoin, they just like compete for money status. And then just like there’s a cycling, like group of just like chains that are just like, keep doing you want to go in technology or applications. But yeah, so I mean, I think there’s some mirages, there are some real things like I personally care about decentralized money, decentralized, anonymous, like financial application. I like NF T’s is digital, virtual art, modern band, things like that, or assets for games, but I’m not sure that any of those use cases, like the latter ones really caused mass adoption, like maybe it is just speculation, and that just like, Trojan horses into having a decentralized money.
William Jarvis 31:35
I think that’s, that’s the best explanation I’ve ever heard. I really like that, or like, yeah, focusing on speculation, I think that, you know, that that’s actually it’s a robust use case, people like, you know, they like gambling, they want to be on the ground floor. And I think that’s a, that makes a ton of sense. Another hard left hand term, you know, what is common knowledge in the field of professional poker, that, you know, would be surprising to just lay people
Pratyush Buddiga 32:01
around. I mean, I think this is a topic that any Duke has talked a lot about. And she I mean, she doesn’t really have a great reputation in the poker space. We’re just kind of funny how she was when she how she became a decision making guru. But I mean, she’s fundamentally right about like, this is something that every poker player knows that like no one else really talks about, which is that decision making should be based on the quality of inputs and the knowledge you have at the time. Like, the result is not what matters. It’s like, what did you know when you know it? And like, Can you analyze those inputs and change that so like, hindsight bias, retrofitting knowledge, you only get out for five, all these things don’t matter in terms of like understanding the quality of your decision making on cheap branded it as a resulting, which, like, no one in poker I’ve ever talked to has ever called. We call it being results oriented, like you don’t want to be results oriented. And I think the reason she might have rebranded that way is because that sounds very bad. And like a corporate context, like, hey, team, we don’t want to be results. You know, but like, a player I ever talked to called it, which is like, you don’t want to be results oriented. You want to be focused on like, your decisions, like, Okay, I knew this, these are the stats I had at the time, like, Okay, did I make the right decision? Gotcha. Like, if you think of someone as like, if you know, someone plays super tight, and they Oh, they never blocked on the spot. And that’s like, the only just like info you have, and you folded. And then like five hours later, you saw something, some other information that changed your mind, it doesn’t mean that your initial decision was wrong, necessarily. You could go back and analyze. Okay, were there things that I missed? Are there things that I actually knew at the time that I didn’t take into account? But you don’t want to like, just include stuff that, you know, it’s just like, after the fact.
William Jarvis 33:44
Got it? And this is this is very, this is difficult question to answer, because it’s very generalized advice. Generalized advice, probably usually bad. But do you think people in general would be better if they focus more on, you know, the quality of the decisions and less on the results and outcomes?
Pratyush Buddiga 33:59
Yeah, I think so. I think that, like, it’s, it’s just something that just gets bred into poker in poker, because you realize how many things in life include have some variants have some luck? There’s elements of things you can control. And if you focus on the things you can control just over time, your decisions get better, and you will, you will learn eventually. Yeah, yeah, the individual outcome is not necessarily like indicative of like long term outcomes.
William Jarvis 34:26
That makes sense. And you know, a lot of people make the comparison between VC and poker. Do you see that there are some parallels that have been useful to you?
Pratyush Buddiga 34:35
Totally. I mean, I think the results oriented thing is definitely a parallel. I think like a lot of people will lament their misses or the anti portfolio or even like give themselves a lot of credit for the one they did get. I think it does. The only thing that matters in terms of like, how good of a decision maker is like what did you know at the time and what did you miss? Not things that like you couldn’t have foreseen right there. I mean, there’s once Like antiparallel, which is like, in VC, like a lot of those early successes can help you build a brand that like makes it almost like a self fulfilling prophecy as to resistance need to be successful, which isn’t the case in poker, you know? Like, there’s definitely some like compounding benefits of like, if you have success early, maybe you can get a sponsorship or like, you know, people like will give you more support and backing but like ultimately, if you keep playing at the same level and you’re making mistakes, or you’re you’re not improving your game, you will be taken apart eventually. Whereas like, I think some things in VC can be more self alone filler and process prophecies just because of like, Brandon, like maybe you do learn to improve your decisions later on just to experience and being around other smart people and things like that. But I think there’s there’s less of there is something where like, if you do just get lucky early, you can take advantage of it in a way that in poker, you really can’t like to the people who won the big tournament, like they locked out in the main event for $12 million. Or they won like a few big tournament and felt like, oh, I can play in highrollers. Now, they all eventually got their clocks cleaned out. They lost all their money, you know, but I think it’s not necessarily like that in BC. That’s that’s one trade off. I guess the there’s like two others I was thinking about in terms of like parallels. I think willingness to take risk and bet on asymmetric outcomes. Like I think that’s just like both poker and UFC thing like people like, I definitely just don’t fear losing money, which is probably why I lost money, all my money twice. Like, I think I think that I think it is good to have this like not not have a fear of losing money, because it makes you comfortable with taking bets on companies. Right. So I think I think that’s pretty good. Um, and then I think the last one is, I think the best poker players and the best venture investors will be able to mix this revelation and reason idea because like, you understand this the right you have a strategy, you have a lot of reasons for why you doing things. But you mix that in with an element of like understanding like, the psychological aspects of something or just like God feel intuition and mixing both of those, like what I like is, I think what separates some of their like very best from dislike the very good.
William Jarvis 37:14
Got it got
David Jarvis 37:15
it up there, we’ll just Yeah, go. Party. Within the last year Road, read Maria Kournikova, his book, The biggest bluff. And what I really came away with was how much concentration focus elite players had to have for hours and hours and hours on end. And you obviously can do that analysis and strategy, you can do that. But you just touched on the part that really interested me in what are what one of the things that I read that you wrote, and that is the intuition part that you fall on that final step was that part? Yeah. It seems to me just listening to you talk. Even the way you came to Christianity seems to have an intuitive feel to it. Can you talk about intuition? Some?
Pratyush Buddiga 38:01
Yeah, no, that’s a great insight. Actually, I’m, in a way, it was like a reason thing. And then I had the intuition, like, you know, through faith, I guess like in terms of intuition. So the funny part is like, I think if you ask a lot of poker players who played with me back in 2015 2016 2017, there was any day you could get a candid answer, they would say, like, probably one of my biggest weaknesses was not being willing to trust my intuition, and not being willing to go outside, like what the correct strategy was like, okay, like, you know, the solver says, you always call it this hand, or like, game theory says, You always do this or whatever. And like, a lot of people would say, one of my biggest weaknesses, and like, I feel like this as well was that I wasn’t able to trust my intuition, because I was like, No, this is just the right answer. Again, this is when I was in my peak rationality days, you know, like, this is like, when I really didn’t believe any of that stuff. So in a way, these things are intertwined, even though like, maybe I didn’t realize it at the time. Like, in some ways, I do think I would be a better poker player now because I have like this understanding of like, intuition and the value of like these things outside, just pure reason. And I think like, the, the, there’s a, there’s Picasso’s saying that, like, learn the rules as an amateur, so you can break them as a master. So like, initially, your intuition sucks, like when you’re starting out doing something, so like, there is something where like, a lot of people like think like, oh, no intuition is always right. And that’s not necessarily the case. Like whenever you want to when you’re learning something, you should really understand the fundamentals, the reason, the strategy, the reasons why you do the things you do, like, even in venture, it’s something I’m very conscious about, which is like my intuition around companies and founders and things like that is probably fairly weak compared to some of the best investors right? Like maybe I have some like, good skills from like, having been a poker player, like I can, like, I’ve learned a lot of like, I’ve read a lot of books. I’m like, you know, there’s like things I’ve learned, just like from investing, and working on with the great team at Susa. compared to someone who’s been investing for 2030 years, there’s just like, there’s just like, No, no, no clue, you know, no comparison, really. And so I think like, what you really want to do is like, learn, go learn the rules to then leave the roles, right? Like, you learn how to, like, do all the things like, you want all the best strategies, you learn everything that matters, but then, you know, when to deviate, you know, when things aren’t quite adding up. And I think that’s, and when to trust your intuition. And, like, how strong that intuition is. And I think that’s like the, that’s what separates like the true masters from just like the the very good, or the average, you know, on and, like, that’s why when it comes to like, the truly like, crazy, like, you know, contrarian outcomes in investing and all that it’s like, there’s this mix of like, no one everyone, everything on paper said don’t do it. And then like someone would just like bet on it anyway.
William Jarvis 40:55
I love that it does seem particularly difficult in venture because the feedback cycles are so much longer than something. Yeah, yeah. Right. Like, like, the learning cycle just takes a lot longer.
Pratyush Buddiga 41:04
Totally. And like, you don’t really have that much. Not much rope, like, you know, like you because you’re you’re you’re generally like having you’re deploying after two, two and a half years, and then you have like you’re trying to raise for another fund, like another fund and things like that a lot of these outcomes don’t come for like eight to 10 years, like, I’ve heard that a lot of people are like, yeah, it’s easy to it’s, I mean, it’s really hard to raise fund one, it’s easy to raise one too, if you get some markups on that it’s hard to get a raise for free because then by then, like people are starting to be able to see like, Okay, did you actually are you companies actually good or not? And I think the the feedback loop question is like, it’s one I asked, basically, every investor I talked to, yeah. And the answer, like invariably has always been something around like, well, the markets you get are like a signal for, like how good your decision making has been. I think there’s definitely an argument that these signals have been broken over the last like 18 months, especially where like with these, like, very quick follow on rounds, and like how hot the market is on. And I wish I would love to figure out a way to like, have a better, quicker feedback loop because that like the greatest thing about poker is that quick feedback loop, like you can play million hands like really fast, and like you can get better much, much quicker. So I think, you know, that’s just like the nature of the game. And I haven’t figured out a way to cut down those feedback loops, to be honest. Sounds
William Jarvis 42:26
really tough. Another left hand turn, you know, should you ever bet against America? Is that just a bad idea?
Pratyush Buddiga 42:36
I just want to preface that by this by saying like, I love America, like I’m so grateful for like everything it gave me like, I think a lot about like, if I’d grown up somewhere else, then, you know, if my parents had stayed in India, or like if I just you know, been born anywhere else, like I consider myself like, incredibly, incredibly blessed to grow up here. Like I love this country very, very much like I like, yeah, it’s one of the like, most important things to me like home in terms of like, the things that I’ve said has shaped who I am and something that I’m just like, incredibly grateful for. And I think I wrote an articles maybe a year ago or something about like, you know, don’t bet against America, even when things look bad or like looks like things are falling apart. And I thought the election would really change things. Like I thought I thought Trump might be like the Gerardi and scapegoat we needed to like are you just exercising? Yeah, exactly. Um, but like, I I’m pretty worried honestly, right now, it feels like we do have two Americas right now that are living in two completely different realities. Like, you know, and if you go one place, or you go the other, that you realize that you are living in like two different countries right now. Like, whether it comes to like mass vaccination policies, like all these things are like, it’s just literally two different countries right now. And it’s like, it’s very bizarre when you go from one to the other. And, like, I think that’s sort of emblematic of like this, this question I’ve been thinking about, which is like, if 911 happened today, would the country actually unite? Or would it just be continued? Just like, we just continue to live in our two different realities. And the scary part is, like, not sure we would end like that is very concerning, and that some very much like, oh, maybe I understand why people want to want to bet against America. You know, that’s why Balaji talks about exit he talks about, like, the future is, you know, Asia, or, you know, there’s like, there’s, there’s, like, it’s just not the future of America is not going to have is not going to be the same as the past. I think the problem we have right now in America is that we have like a big blaming culture. So and this comes like, from everyone, you know, so like, I think SF can be like kind of a prime example. Right? Like, rich people are sorry, tech people blame, you know, politics and they claim the the, like the local community for Like voting against housing or like not walking them and like the the housing people, the local politicians, they blamed house people for like causing rents to go up and they’re like, Get out of here. We don’t want you and, you know, Republicans blame Democrats, Democrats, Republicans, like, you know, there’s just yeah, this issue of just everyone blames each other for like, the problem, like, why are things the way they are? It’s someone else’s fault. You know, it’s, it’s not my fault. It’s someone else’s fault. And, you know, this goes rich, rich versus poor, poor versus rich, like, you know, rich people, like, oh, like, I blame the criminals for doing this criminals. You know, everyone just blames everyone, right, right. And no one is sitting up and taking, like, Extreme Ownership, as, you know, code job, right? Like, no one says, like, Hey, I’m like a tech person in San Francisco. The reason why Cisco is the way, the reason why San Francisco the way it is, is my fault. Like, I mean, that’s like an extreme position to take, but like it, maybe reframe things, and you feel like less like, this sense of like, lack of agency, where you just like, sit around blaming people, and like shouting on Twitter, about it, and maybe it like, forces you to go invest and go see where you can actually do versus just like sitting around and blaming others and scapegoating others. And like, the, the reality is, of course, it’s not like actually your fault or not actually like the singular person’s fault. But it’s like a useful exercise to sort of think about like, hey, like, what can I do? How can I do anything to like, help the situation? And if you fundamentally actually taught like, hey, if my file, this is something I control, maybe there will actually be some like meaningful change. But I don’t know. Like, I, we need this sort of Extreme Ownership. We need like a revitalization in America. I don’t know. What does it like, I don’t know what reunites us. Like, you would think something like COVID could have been it, but like, it clearly wasn’t it just like divided things even worse.
And I don’t know if it’s like, like, history would say maybe it’s like a charismatic leader movements, something like that. But like, I really don’t, I honestly don’t know. And I guess it’s like one where I’m worried. All I know is that like, I’m not exiting, like, like, ready to fight for America fight for the places that I care about. And I know that’s like, it’s, it’s maybe not the right it’s maybe contrary into like, what a lot of my, like, smart and like really talented friends think. Yeah. And but like, I don’t know, I just like love this place. I’m grateful for it and don’t want it to see it, like, you know, be the next Europe or somewhere else where it’s just like, yeah, it was once great.
William Jarvis 47:38
Yeah. I love that. It’s such a good message, just to remind people, like, you know, you can do something your individual actions matter. Do you think that, you know, your Christianity plays into that at all, like this idea that, you know, maybe you really can do something and you know, your actions, individual actions do matter?
Pratyush Buddiga 47:55
Yeah, totally. I think Christianity definitely plays like a big part of it. Like hey, we, we it’s like, we can bring the kingdom of heaven down to earth. So like, let’s let’s do it. Let’s be a part of that. And like the idea of being planted in your city being part of what you’re like, local community, all these things are like very Christian concepts that like I do think affects, like how I feel about this, like, I would say, like, three years ago, before I met Christian, I wasn’t very much like, exit like libertarian mode. Like, I mean, even part of like going to Singapore. It’s like, oh, this is like, you know, I would have definitely been like, Oh, this is fine. Like, who cares? What happens in America, all those sorts of things. So I think like, Christianity definitely changed me to feel like I need to, you know, be loyal to the things that like mattered to me.
William Jarvis 48:39
I love that. Are you done for a round of overrated or underrated? Sure. Okay, sure. So I’ll throw a turner just give a overrated underrated correctly write it and then just maybe a sentence or two about why the fourth turning overrated or underrated?
Pratyush Buddiga 48:53
I think overrated if you know about it, underrated if you don’t. So, I wouldn’t say it like a manifest, like way of the universe. But I think it does show you so like the people were like, We are in the fourth turning, that means XYZ. Yeah. I don’t know about that. But it does show like how generations impact one another how the environment affects you. And again, it’s basically an embodiment of like bad times, create strong men strong men create good times, good times, create weak men, weak men create bad times, sort of that cycle like within the generations. So that’s what I think is interesting. I think I think it’s a I think it’s a must read book, honestly, just because it like it puts you in an interesting frame of mind.
William Jarvis 49:34
Definitely. Yeah, it seems like there are few historians that would even have the conviction or confidence to try and put together some kind of granola like that today. Churches theory of social class and education overrated or underrated.
Pratyush Buddiga 49:52
Well, underrated because I’m the one Yeah, I think like people don’t really Understand how much cloth impacts things when it comes to education like especially when they talk about like college disappearing and all this like kind of stuff. And I think people don’t really understand like how much like, a consumption good and part of the American Dream ethos fabric colleges become like is is really an argument disappear overnight, the middle class and labor costs will go to college forever, I think elite class will largely still send their kids to college, I do think there will be some more dropouts and, you know, things like that like it just because there’s going to be more alternatives. But I think the vast majority of kids are still going to college. And I think a lot of people will talk about how they’re not going to send their kids to college will still send their kids Stanford and Harvard at the end of the day. So
William Jarvis 50:42
yeah, yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. And there was the, you know, there’s the line like, Obama was like, you know, my kids, you know, there’s many great colleges and us to go wherever they want, you know, where did they go, you know, they all get to Harvard right.
Pratyush Buddiga 50:57
Now, I really don’t, I will see if people put their money where their mouth right now, I do think there will be a good section of like, children of tech people, especially tech elites who might potentially opt out of college, and like, sort of, like, go view things like Y Combinator, the teal fellowship as like alternatives. Yeah. And I think but that’s like, it’s it’s like the terms of the percentage of the population like it’s, it’s very small, they also might have an outside and outside company formation and like wealth, creation and all that, but in terms of like, percentage of the population whether going to college or not, I don’t see that potentially changing.
William Jarvis 51:39
Yeah, that’s why Warren Buffett overrated underrated
Pratyush Buddiga 51:44
I think properly rated I think yeah, he’s just one of the greatest you know, greatest all time any everything he says about investing is like mandatory reading for any would be investor. Although, like, a lot of his readings, reading a lot of those books during the 2017 2018 Crypto market was like not a good strategy because like, you like huddled like hot, a lot of nonsense, but on the other hand, you could say like, oh, well, if you like only did the best assets like Bitcoin and eath like maybe you wouldn’t have done like Maga stupid ICOs? Yeah, exactly. I mean, of course, like, the reason I wouldn’t say underrated because like, everyone knows how good he is. And like how valuable His writing is, I mean, and they definitely miss tech and they missed crypto. But on the other hand, they’re also like, 70 plus years old. So like, I don’t know, I guess. I kind of give them a pass on like, not understanding crypto, like, I mean, I think most of them are like 90 at this point. Like, if it’s kind of like, okay, that they don’t understand crypto like I I don’t understand, like people who get like very angry and vitriolic about it when it’s like the fact that they’re even still working and trying to invest. It’s like, I think there’s a lot of wisdom and value and all of his reading or all of his writings and manga, especially the same. Definitely.
William Jarvis 53:08
One one last, overrated or underrated the UNC Duke rivalry.
Pratyush Buddiga 53:14
I say properly read, like, Yeah, I mean, I had an amazing time, like camping out for those games, like the energy is like unparalleled. I mean, I think it’s the best rival in sports, but I think everyone else has that already. Underrated. I do think it’s something like everyone who’s a sports fan should definitely go out and check out a game at one point in their life. They can because it’s like, there’s nothing like the energy is pretty incredible. So
William Jarvis 53:40
definitely. That’s great. Well, producer, thank you so much for coming on taking the time to come on. Where should we send people?
Pratyush Buddiga 53:48
You can follow me on Twitter. It’s just my name. Pritish but EGA or you can email me produce at Susa ventures.com.
William Jarvis 53:55
Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Pratyush Buddiga 53:58
Yeah, thank you for having me.
William Jarvis 54:07
Thanks for listening. We’ll be back next week with a new episode of narratives.
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