21 December 2019

How Selfish and Selfless Overlap

Let us say that you were a complete hedonist. You only did what made you feel good.

Wouldn't you still do things for other people? Given how we are wired, doesn't it make a person about as happy to make someone else happy as anything one can do? For instance, have you ever seen anyone making a baby laugh who looked like they were having a miserable time?

"Bring me a wave separate from the ocean and I will show you a person separate from the universe."
- Alan Watts

14 December 2019

Has Wealth Creation Become More Exclusive?

As managing partner of Andreessen Horowitz, Venture Capitalist Scott Kupor argues that much of the gains from startups have shifted from later-stage, post-IPO to pre-IPO private markets. By the time we normal people get into the market, early investors have already captured a lot of the value.
From Scott Kupor's Secrets of Sand Hill Road (updated with data as of today).

"Consider the following example. Microsoft went public in 1986 at a $350 million market capitalization. Today, Microsoft has a market cap of approximately $1.2 trillion. That's a 3,430x increase in market cap as a public company. [An initial $1,000 investment in MSFT when it went public would now be worth $3.4 million.]
"In contrast, Facebook went public at a $100 billion market cap and now trades around $555 billion.[An initial $1,000 investment would now be worth $5,550.] ... For the public market investors to eventually earn the same multiple on their Facebook holdings as has been the case for their Microsoft holdings, Facebook would have to reach a market of more than $340 trillion. To put that in perspective, US GDP is about $20 trillion and global GDP is about $100 trillion. "

[Ron again, not Scott.]
In other words, folks who bought Facebook stock will never get the returns of folks who bought Microsoft stock.

Two possible explanations - not mutually exclusive.
My notion of the third economy is that finance was democratized (banks and stock markets made tools of us common folks in the same way that the first and second economies made tools of church and state). It seems sad that we've gone backwards on this and so much of the gain on capital has been pushed back into less accessible private markets that fund early stage startups where elite investors can get higher returns.
There may, of course, be another explanation for this. Capital no longer limits but knowledge workers do. Median pay at Facebook is $240k. That's median pay. It might be that the knowledge workers who are the limits to the information economy are now getting the returns that capital used to get.