The Founders Pledge

I’ve signed up for the founders pledge inspired through Y Combinator’s blog post.

With Founders Pledge, founders can sign a pledge to donate some portion of their personal equity and then figure out the recipients for the donation later. Founders Pledge handles all the legwork. As a charity itself, pledges are eligible for tax relief at time of exit and funds can be deployed globally.

Founders Pledge (1) allows founders to decide now that charitable giving is important to them, (2) doesn’t impact other stockholders of their company and (3) requires only about 5 minutes of time and no participation costs. Founders Pledge also provides substantive post-exit support including cause area analysis, charity sourcing, deep due diligence, and impact reporting.

I’ve been keeping my donations private so far, but moving forward, I hope I can nudge someone out there just a little bit more by making my commitments more open and public.

I believe in the quote “be the change you want to see in the world.”

As a mere mortal, I’ve made lots of mistakes in the past and will continue to make more mistakes, but hopefully this will be one of those decisions that will be certain to bring good outcomes.

Order and Chaos in a Company Culture

The society today upholds diversity as an absolute virtue. Diversity across educational backgrounds, race, ethnic group, gender, age is something we all pursue vigorously. It seems almost trivial to choose diversity over conformity or homogeneity in any discussion.

However, to put things into perspective, nature having evolved through millions, if not billions of years, may provide a slightly different view to this pro-diversity world. The balance and the timing of convergence and divergence play important roles in reaching the global optimum in any search space. The selection pressure from the environment acting as a converging force, offset by mutation from perturbation balancing as a diverging force are what make organisms so durable and adaptable to the ever-changing world we’re living in.

fractal

Having a set of strong company values and a mission statement act as the selection pressure for hiring, promoting, demoting, and firing of people within the organization. However, if the values are set to allow only homogeneity to thrive, the organization is subject to premature convergence of its culture, hindering the full growth potential of the company, or even worse, shifting towards the state of absolute stability, which in nature is called “death.”

By setting the company values to embrace the right amount of diversity for the organization – hiring new blood from different backgrounds, adopting new ideas, foreign technologies, and best practices from outside the company – are exactly the things that nurtures favorable mutation towards global optimum, which the economists like to call “innovation.”

Contrary to what the public believes to be of absolute truth, having high diversity can also cause complex systems, such as companies to collapse. This is why it’s important to have a consistent framework, such as company values, applied during the hiring process to ensure the right amount of pressure is put on the convergence.

As the management of an organization, leaders need to make sure the company finds the right balance between the order and chaos of its culture and people, which is crucial for the sustainable long-term growth of the company.

CO2 Level and Unit Carbonomics

This scared me. I’m open to changes, but I also think a few million years of evolution has gotten human beings to be pretty good at surviving around the nature’s balancing point we have today.

We’ve been hearing about the rise of CO2 level for some time now, but I feel like we’ve actually gotten to a point where we may end up turning our planet into an inhabitable one. Living in the bay area, it’s hard to actually experience what it’s like to live in a harsh environment, but whenever I’m on a business trip to Korea/China, I definitely feel the air quality can and is killing lives already. The pollution is wide spread over a massive area and it’s very, very real.

Above and below photos of Seoul are only a few days apart. (September, 2016)

On a personal level, I’ve decided to become more electric (than fuel/coal powered) and donate more to the environmental conservation and climate changes (although I will continue to donate in education). I know what a bad environment looks like. I’ve lived there for many many years and it feels truly horrible not being able to see the stars in the sky or to simply walk around your house. You WILL miss this, something that we take for granted here in the U.S.

We need to start thinking about something I’d like to call “Unit Carbonomics.” Basically, every human being, every organization, every business, every country should be reducing carbon footprints more than it generates. Whether through a ‘green tax’ that every person’s income is spent literally on planting trees with a quota per unit. The more things you buy that generates CO2, the more tax you have to pay which will be used to plant trees and save the environment. Simply put, you need to reduce more CO2 than you generate. The same goes for businesses. Whoever emits CO2 will have to eliminate more CO2. Making it ‘Net negative CO2’ per unit.

Believe me. You will miss the blue skies. You will miss the stars. You will miss the hikes and the walks. Your kids will miss the Earth that we have today and you will and should feel very sorry for messing it up.

AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol

AlphaGo won twice against Lee Sedol, one of the greatest Go players in history. This is a significant milestone in the history of AI, because the sheer scale of the problem space Go has is one of the biggest among the games humans play.

This makes me think hard about how and what to teach our future generation to prepare for the era when people will blindly follow many decisions that have been made by AI without (or incapable of) fully comprehending their meaning and consequences.

New Jobs for VR Industry

I’m a big fan of VR. There’s a lot more things that need to be fixed before it becomes mainstream, but I can definitely see the value that will unlock for humankind in the distant future.

Here are few jobs I’d like to see for VR industry:

  • VR Schools/Teachers/Tutors: teachers that best leverage VR experience for learning
  • VR Trainers: a guided simulation of extreme sports, race cars, flight sims, martial arts for training
  • VR Real-Estate Agents: provides 3D tours of real-estates
  • VR Cafes: a place to hangout with friends supplemented with visual/aural experiences
  • VR Photographers: photographs nature and places in their real-scale through VR
  • VR Photo Studios: scans your face and body in 3D and give you a high-polygon model f yourself
  • VR Brands: creative products that you can harness in the VR that defies the limits of physics
  • VR Architects: 3D/nD space architects that also defies the limits of the real world
  • VR Pets: AI-powered pets that you can bring to any VR space
  • VR Artists: advanced form of media art that use spacial transitions

Can’t wait for the VR era to come. We’d still need to fix the display, audio, and input.

The Evening with Michael Moritz

At Y Combinator‘s Tuesday dinner event last Tuesday (2/23/2016), Michael Moritz came for a talk. It was deeply inspiring to see him in person, but it was even more energizing to see him still so ‘obsessed’ about his work at Sequoia Capital.

Here’s a brief excerpt from his talk:

That’s what, at Sequoia, we’ve always been focused on: How do we maintain a consistent level of exceptional performance? Most entities, most organizations are capable of doing it through a year, or five years, maybe ten years. Very few are able to do it over multiple decades. And I’m not saying that we’re exemplary, but we’ve worked really, really hard on trying to perform at an extremely high level.

How have we done it? It all sounds very, very mundane. You can read a book about the principles of high performance, or great leadership, and it’ll all sound very straightforward and rudimentary. The difficulty is doing it every day, doing it every week, month, quarter, year, and keeping that beat up.

Which is part of the reason we don’t have all sorts of lucite blocks commemorating this or that anniversary of some company hanging around the office at Sequoia: Because all of that is yesterday, and it’s irrelevant to the future.

Read (or listen to) the rest of the conversation here at The Macro.