Lex Fridman Podcast - #159 - Richard Craib WallStreetBets, Numerai, and the Future of Stock Trading

The following is a conversation with Richard Crabe,

founder of Numeri, which is a crowdsourced hedge fund,

very much in the spirit of Wall Street Bets,

but where the trading is done not directly by humans,

but by artificial intelligence systems

submitted by those humans.

It’s a fascinating and extremely difficult

machine learning competition

where the incentives of everybody is aligned,

the code is kept and owned by the people who develop it,

the data, anonymized data is very well organized

and made freely available.

I think this kind of idea has a chance to change

the nature of stock trading

and even just money management in general

by empowering people who are interested in trading stocks

with the modern and quickly advancing tools

of machine learning.

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As a side note, let me say that this whole set of events

around GameStop and Wall Street Bets

has been really inspiring to me as a demonstration

that a distributed system,

a large number of regular people

are able to coordinate and collaborate

in taking on the elite centralized power structures,

especially when those elites are misbehaving.

I believe that power in as many cases as possible

should be distributed.

And in this case, the internet, as it is for many cases,

is the fundamental enabler of that power.

And at the core, what the internet

in its distributed nature represents is freedom.

Of course, the thing about freedom

is it enables chaos or progress, or sometimes both.

And that’s kind of the point of the thing.

Freedom is empowering, but ultimately unpredictable.

And I think in the end, freedom wins.

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at Lex Friedman.

And now, here’s my conversation with Richard Crabe.

From your perspective, can you summarize

the important events around this amazing saga

that we’ve been living through of Wall Street Bets,

the subreddit and GameStop, and in general,

just what are your thoughts about it

from a technical to the philosophical level?

I think it’s amazing.

It’s like my favorite story ever.

Like when I was reading about it,

I was like, this is the best.

And it’s also connected with my company,

which we can talk about.

But what I liked about it is like,

I like decentralized coordination

and looking at the mechanisms

that these are Wall Street Bets users use

to hype each other up, to get excited,

to prove that they bought the stock and they’re holding.

And then also to see that how big of an impact

that that decentralized coordination had.

So it really was a big deal.

Were you impressed by the distributed coordination,

the collaboration amongst like,

I don’t know what the numbers are.

I know I’m numerized looking at the data.

After all of this is over and done,

it’d be interesting to see like

from a large scale distributed system perspective

to see how everything played out.

But just from your current perspective, what we know,

is it obvious to you that such incredible level

of coordination could happen

where a lot of people come together in a distributed sense,

there’s an emergent behavior that happens after that.

No, it’s not at all obvious.

And one of the reasons is the lack of credibility.

To coordinate with someone,

you need to make credible contracts or credible claims.

So if you have a username on our Wall Street Bets,

like some of them are, like deep fucking value

is one of them.

That’s an actual username.

By the way, we’re talking about,

there’s a website called Reddit

and there’s subreddits on it.

And a lot of people, mostly anonymous,

I think for the most part anonymous,

can create user accounts

and then can then just talk on forum like style boards.

You should know what Reddit is.

If you don’t know what Reddit is, check it out.

If you don’t know what Reddit is,

maybe go to the awesome subreddit first,

aww with cute pictures of cats and dogs.

That’s my recommendation.


Okay, yeah, that would be a good start to Reddit.

When you get into it more, go to our Wall Street Bets.

It gets dark quickly.

We’ll probably talk about that too.

So yeah, so there’s these users

and there’s no contracts, like you were saying.

There’s no contracts, the users are anonymous,

but there are little things that do help.

So for example,

if you’ve posted a really good investment idea in the past,

that exists on Reddit as well.

And it might have lots of upvotes.

And that’s also kind of like giving credibility

to your next thing.

And then they are also putting up screenshots,

like here’s the trades I’ve made and here’s a screenshot.

Now you could fake the screenshot,

but still it seems like if you’ve got a lot of karma

and you’ve had a good performance on the community,

it somehow becomes credible enough

for other people to be like, you know what?

He actually probably did put a million dollars into this.

And you know what, I can follow that trade easily.

And there’s a bunch of people like that.

So you’re kind of integrating all that information

together yourself to see like, huh,

there’s something happening here.

And then you jump onto this little boat of like behavior,

like we should buy the stock or sell the stock.

And then another person jumps on,

another person jumps on.

And all of a sudden you have just a huge number of people

behaving in the same direction.

It’s like flock of whatever birds.


What was strange with this one,

it wasn’t just let’s all buy Tesla.

We love Elon, we love Tesla, let’s all buy Tesla.

Because that we’ve heard before, right?

Everybody likes Tesla.

Well, now they do.

So what they did with this in this case,

they’re buying a stock that was bad.

They’re buying it because it was bad.

And that’s really weird because that’s a little bit

too galaxy brain for a decentralized community.

How did they come up with it?

How did they know that was the right one?

And the reason they liked it

is because it had really, really high short interest.

It had been shorted more than its own float, I believe.

And so they figured out that if they all bought

this bad stock, they could short squeeze some hedge funds.

And those hedge funds would have to capitulate

and buy the stock at really, really high prices.

And we should say that shorted means that

these are a bunch of people, when you short a stock,

you’re betting on the, you’re predicting

that the stock’s going to go down

and then you will make money if it does.

And then what’s a short squeeze?

It’s really that if you are a hedge fund

and you take a big short position in a company,

there’s a certain level at which

you can’t sustain holding that position.

There’s no limit to how high a stock can go,

but there is a limit to how low it can go, right?

So if you short something, you have infinite loss potential.

And if the stock doubles overnight, like GameStop did,

you’re putting a lot of stress on that hedge fund.

And that hedge fund manager might have to say,

you know what, I have to get out of the trade.

And the only way to get out is to buy the bad stock

that they don’t want, like they believe will go down.

So it’s an interesting situation,

particularly because it’s not zero sum.

If you say, let’s all get together

and make a bubble in watermelons,

you buy a bunch of watermelons,

the price goes up, it comes down again,

it’s a zero sum game.

If someone’s already shorted a stock

and you can make them short squeeze,

it’s actually a positive sum game.

So yes, some Redditors will make a lot of money,

some will lose a lot,

but actually the whole group will make money.

And that’s really why it was such a clever thing

for them to do.

And coupled to the fact that shorting,

I mean, maybe you can push back,

but to me always from an outsider’s perspective,

seemed, I hope I’m not using too strong of a word,

but it seemed almost unethical.

Maybe not unethical, maybe it’s just a asshole thing to do.

Okay, I’m speaking not from an economics

or financial perspective,

I’m speaking from just somebody who loves,

I’m a fan of a lot of people,

I love celebrating the success of a lot of people.

And this is like the stock market equivalent of like haters.

I know that’s not what it is.

I know that there’s efficient,

you wanna have an economy efficient mechanism

for punishing sort of overhyped, overvalued things.

That’s what shorthand guess is designed for.

But it just always felt like these people are just,

because they’re not just betting on the loss of the company.

It feels like they’re also using their leverage and power

to manipulate media or just to write articles

or just to hate on you on social media.

Then you get to see that with Elon Musk and so on.

So this is like the man,

so people like hedge funds that were shorting

are like the sort of embodiment of the evil

or just the bad guy, the overpowerful

that’s misusing their power.

And here’s the crowd,

the people that are standing up and rising up.

So it’s not just that they were able to collaborate

on Wall Street bets to sort of effectively

make money for themselves.

It’s also that this is like a symbol

of the people getting together

and fighting the centralized elites, the powerful.

And that, I don’t know what your thoughts are

about that in general.

At this stage, it feels like that’s really exciting

that people have power,

just like regular people have power.

At the same time, it’s scary a little bit

because just studying history,

people could be manipulated by charismatic leaders.

And so just like Elon right now is manipulating,

encouraging people to buy Dogecoin or whatever,

there can be good charismatic leaders

and there can be bad charismatic leaders.

And so it’s nerve wracking.

It’s a little bit scary how much power

a subreddit can have to destroy somebody

because right now we’re celebrating

they might be attacking or destroying somebody

that everybody doesn’t like,

but what if they attack somebody

that is actually good for this world?

So that, and that’s kind of the awesomeness

and the price of freedom.

It’s like it could destroy the world

or it can save the world.

But at this stage, it feels like, I don’t know,

overall, when you sit back,

do you think this was just a positive wave

of emergent behavior?

Is there something negative about what happened?

Well, yeah, the cool thing is they weren’t doing anything,

the Reddit people weren’t doing anything exotic.

It was a creative trade, but it wasn’t exotic.

It wasn’t, it was just buying the stock.

Okay, maybe they bought some options too,

but it was the hedge fund that was doing the exotic thing.

So I liked that.

It was, it’s hard to say, well, we’ve got together

and we’ve pulled all our money together

and now there’s a company out there that’s worth more.

What’s wrong with that?

Yeah. Right?

But it doesn’t talk about the motivations, which is,

and then we destroyed some hedge funds in the process.

Is there something to be said about the humor

and the, I don’t know, the edginess,

sometimes viciousness of that subreddit?

I haven’t looked at it too much,

but it feels like people can be quite aggressive on there.

So is there, what is that?

Is that what Freedom looks like?

I think it does, yeah.

You definitely need to let people,

one of the things that people have compared it to

is the Occupy Wall Street, which is, let’s say,

some very sincere liberals, like 23 years old, whatever,

and they go out with signs

and they have some kind of case to make.

But this isn’t sincere, really.

It’s like a little bit more nihilistic,

a little bit more YOLO, and therefore a little bit

more scary because who’s scared of the Occupy Wall Street

people with the signs?


But these hedge funds really are scared.

I was scared of the Wall Street bats people.

I’m still scared of them.

Yeah, the anonymity is a bit terrifying and exciting.


I mean, yeah, I don’t know what to do with this.

I’ve been following events in Russia, for example.

It’s like there’s a struggle between centralized power

and the distributed.

I mean, that’s the struggle of the history

of human civilization, right?

But this on the internet, just that you can multiply people.

Like some of them don’t have to be real.

Like you can probably create bots.

Like it starts getting me, me as a programmer,

I start to think like, hmm, me as one person,

how much chaos can I create by writing some bots?


And I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking that.

There’s, I’m sure there’s hundreds, thousands

of good developers out there listening to this,

thinking the same thing.

And then as that develops further and further

in the next like decade or two,

what impact does that have on financial markets,

on just destruction of reputations of just,

or politics, the bickering of left and right

political discourse, the dynamics of that

being manipulated by, you know,

people talk about like Russian bots or whatever.

We’re probably in a very early stage of that, right?

Yeah, exactly.

And this is a good example.

So do you have a sense that most of WallStreetBets folks

are actually individual people, right?

That’s the feeling I have is they’re just individual,

maybe young investors, just doing a little bit

of an investment, but just on a large scale.

Yeah, exactly.

The reason I found out, I’ve known about WallStreetBets

for a while, but the reason I found out about GameStop

was this, just I met somebody at a party

who told me about it and he was like 21 years old

and he’s like, it’s gonna go up 100% in the next one day.

That we’re talking about in last year?

This was probably, no, this was, yeah, a few days ago.

Yeah, it was like maybe two weeks ago or something.

So it was already high GameStop,

but it was just strange to me that there was someone

telling me at a party how to trade stocks

who was like 21 years old.

And I started to, yeah, I started to look into it.

And yeah, and he did make, he made it, yeah,

he made 140% in one day, he was right.

And now he’s supercharged, he’s a little bit wealthier

and now he’s gonna wait for the next thing.

And this decentralized entity

is just gonna get bigger and bigger.

And they’re gonna together search for the next thing.

So there’s thousands of folks like him

and they’re going to probably search

for the next thing to attack.

People that have power in this world that sit there

with power right now in government and in finance

and any kind of position

are probably a little bit scared right now.

And honestly, that’s probably a little bit good.

It’s dangerous, but it’s good.

Yeah, it certainly makes you think twice about shorting.

It certainly makes you think twice

about putting a lot of money into a short.

Like these funds put a lot into one or two names.

And so it was very, very badly risk managed.

Do you think shorting is, can you speak at a high level

just for your own as a person, is it good for the world?

Is it good for markets?

I do think that the two kinds of shorting,

evil shorting and chill shorting.

Evil shorting is what Melvin Capital was doing.

And it’s like, you put a huge position down,

you get all your buddies to also short it

and you start making press

and trying to bring this company down.

And I don’t think in some cases,

you go out after like fraudulent companies say,

this company is a fraud.

Maybe that’s okay.

Like some, but they weren’t even saying,

they’re just saying it’s a bad company

and we’re going to bring it to the ground,

bring it to its knees.

So a quant fund like Numerai,

we always have lots of positions

and we never have a position

that’s like more than 1% of our fund.

So we actually have right now, 250 shorts.

I don’t know any of them except for one

because it was one of the meme stocks.

But we shorting them not to make them go,

we don’t even want them to go down necessarily.

That doesn’t sound a bit strange that I say that,

but we just want them to not go up as much as our longs.

So by shorting a little bit,

we can actually go long more

in the things we do believe in.

So when we were going long in Tesla,

we could do it with more money than we had

because we would borrow from banks

who would lend us money to go down.

Who would lend us money because we had longs and shorts,

because we didn’t have market exposure,

we didn’t have market risk.

And so I think that’s a good thing

because that means we can short the oil companies

and go long Tesla and make the future come forward faster.

And I do think that’s not a bad thing.

So we’ve talked about this incredible distributed system

created by Wall Street Bets.

And then there’s a platform which is Robinhood,

which allows investors to efficiently as far,

you can correct me if I’m wrong,

but there’s those and there’s others in this new MRI

that allow you to make it accessible for people to invest.

But that said, Robinhood was in a centralized way

applied its power to restrict trading

on the stocks that we’re referring to.

Do you have a thoughts on actually

like the things that happened?

I don’t know how much you were paying attention

to sort of the shadiness around the whole thing.

Do you think it was forced to do it?

Or was there something shady going on?

What are your thoughts in general?

Well, I think I wanna see the alternate history.

Like I wanna see the counterfactual history

of them not doing that.

How bad would it have gotten for hedge funds?

How much more damage could have been done

if the momentum of these short squeezes could continue?

What happens when there are short squeezes,

even if they’re in a few stocks,

they affect kind of all the other shorts too.

And suddenly brokers are saying things like,

you need to put up more collateral.

So we had a short, it wasn’t GameStop luckily,

it was Blackberry and it went up like 100% in a day.

It was one of these meme stocks, super bad company.

The AIs don’t like it, okay?

The AIs think it’s going down.

What’s a meme stock?

A meme stock is kind of a new term for these stocks

that catch memetic momentum on Reddit.

And so the meme stocks were GameStop, the biggest one,

GameStonk, as Elon calls it, AMC.

And Blackberry was one, Nokia was one.

So these are high short interest stocks as well.

So these are targeted stocks.

Some people say, oh, isn’t it adorable

that these people are investing money

in these companies that are nostalgic?

It’s like, you go into the AMC movie theater,

it’s like nostalgic.

It’s like, no, it’s not why they’re doing it.

It’s that they had a lot of short interest.

That was the main thing.

And so there were high chance of short squeeze.

In saying, I would love to see an alternate history,

do you have a sense that that,

what is your prediction of what that history would look like?

Well, you wouldn’t have needed very many more days

of that kind of chaos to hurt hedge funds.

I think it’s underrated how damaging it could have been.

Because when your shorts go up,

your collateral requirements for them go up.

It’s similar to Robinhood.

Like we have a prime broker that says, said to us,

you need to put up like $40 per $100 of short exposure.

And then the next day they said,

actually you have to put up all of it, 100%.

And we were like, what?

But if that happens to all the short,

all the commonly held hedge fund shorts,

because they’re all kind of holding the same things.

If that happens, not only do you have to cover the short,

which means you’re buying the bad companies,

you need to sell your good companies

in order to cover the short.

So suddenly like all the good companies,

all the ones that the hedge funds like are coming down

and all the ones that the hedge funds hate are going up

in a cascading way.

So I believe that if you could have had a few more days

of GameStop doubling, AMC doubling,

you would have had more and more hedge fund deleveraging.

But so hedge funds, I mean, they get a lot of shit,

but they, do you have a sense

that they do some good for the world?

I mean, ultimately, so, okay.

First of all, Wall Street bets itself

is a kind of distributed hedge fund.

Numeri is a kind of hedge fund.

So I got, hedge fund is a very broad category.

I mean, like if some of those were destroyed,

would that be good for the world?

Or would there be coupled

with the destroying the evil shorting,

would there be just a lot of pain

in terms of investment in good companies?

Yeah, a thing I like to tell people

if they hate hedge funds is,

I don’t think you want to rerun American economic history

without hedge funds.

So on mass they’re, yeah, they’re good.

Yeah, you really wouldn’t want to.

Because hedge funds are kind of like picking up,

they’re making liquidity, right, in stocks.

And so if you love venture capitalists,

they’re investing in new technology, it’s so good.

You have to also kind of like hedge funds

because they’re the reason venture capitalists exist

because their companies can have a liquidity event

when they go to the public markets.

So it’s kind of essential that we have them.

There are many different kinds of them.

I believe we could maybe get away

with only having an AI hedge fund.

But we don’t necessarily need

these evil billions type hedge funds

that make the media and try to kill companies.

But we definitely need hedge funds.

Maybe from your perspective,

because you run such an organization

and Vlad, the CEO of Robinhood,

sort of had to make decisions really quickly,

probably had to wake up

in the middle of the night kind of thing.

And he also had a conversation with Elon Musk on Clubhouse,

which I just signed up for.

It was a fascinating,

one of the great journalistic performances of our time

with Elon Musk.

Pull a surprise for Elon.

How hilarious would it be if he gets a pull a surprise?

And then his Wikipedia would be like journalist

and part time entrepreneur.

Business magnate.

As you know, I don’t know if you can comment

on any aspects of that,

but like, if you were Vlad,

how would you do things differently?

What are your thoughts about his interaction with Elon?

How he should have played it differently?

Like, I guess there’s a lot of aspects to this interaction.

One is about transparency.

Like how much do you want to tell people

about really what went down?

There’s NDAs potentially involved.

How much in private do you want to push back

and say, no, fuck you, to centralize power?

Whatever the phone calls you’re getting,

which I’m sure he was getting some kind of phone calls

that might not be contractual.

Like it’s not contracts that are forcing him,

but he was being, what do you call it?

Like pressured to behave in certain kinds of ways

from all kinds of directions.

Like what do you take from this whole situation?

I was very excited to see Vlad’s response.

I mean, it’s pretty cool to have him talk to Elon.

And one of the things that like struck me

in the first like few seconds of Vlad speaking was like,

I was like, is Vlad like a boomer?

Like, but hear me out.

Like he seemed like a 55 year old man

talking to a 20 year old.

Elon was like the 20 year old.

And he’s like the 55 year old man.

You can see why Citadel are NMR buddies, right?

Like you can, you can see why.

It’s like, this is a nice, it’s not a bad thing.

It’s like, he’s got a respectable professional attitude.

Well, he also tried to do like a jokey thing.

Like, no, we’re not being ageist here.

Boomer, but like a 60 year old CEO of Bank of America

would try to make a joke for the kids.

That’s what Vlad’s like.

Yeah, I was like, what is this?

This guy’s like, what is he, 30?


And I’m like, this is weird.


But I think, and maybe that’s also what I like

about Elon’s kind of influence on American business

is like, he’s super like anti the professional.

Like why say, you know, a hundred words about nothing?

And so I liked how he was cutting in and saying,

Vlad, what do you mean?

Spill the beans, bro.

Yeah, so you don’t have to be courteous.

It’s like the first principles thinking.

It’s like, what the hell happened?


Let’s just talk like normal people.

The problem of course is, you know, for Elon,

it’s cost them, what is it?

Tens of millions of dollars is tweeting like that.

But perhaps it’s a worthy price to pay

because ultimately there’s something magical

about just being real and honest

and just going off the cuff and making the mistakes

and paying for them, but just being real.

And then moments like this,

that was an opportunity for Vlad to be that.

And it felt like he wasn’t.

Do you think we’ll ever find out what really went down

if there was something shady underneath it all?

Yeah, I mean, it would be sad if nothing shady happened,

but his presence made it shady.

Sometimes I feel like that would mark Zuckerberg,

the CEO of Facebook.

Sometimes I feel like, yeah,

there’s a lot of shitty things that Facebook is doing,

but sometimes I think he makes it look worse

by the way he presents himself about those things.

Like I honestly think that a large amount of people

at Facebook just have a huge unstable chaotic system

and they’re all, not all, but mass are trying to do good

with this chaotic system.

But the presentation is like,

it sounds like there’s a lot of back room conversations

that are trying to manipulate people.

And there’s something about the realness that Elon has

that it feels like CEO should have

and Vlad had that opportunity.

I think Mark Zuckerberg had that too when he was younger.


And somebody said, you gotta be more professional, man.

You can’t say, you know, lol to an interview.

And then suddenly he became like this distant person

that was hot.

Like you’d rather have him make mistakes,

but be honest than be like professional

and never make mistakes.

Yeah, one of the difficult hires I think

is like marketing people or like PR people

is you have to hire people that get the fact

that you can say lol on an interview.

Or, you know, take risks as opposed to what the PR,

I’ve talked to quite a few big CEOs

and the people around them are trying to constantly

minimize risk of like, what if he says the wrong thing?

What if she says the wrong thing?

It’s like, what, be careful.

It’s constantly like, ooh, like, I don’t know.

And there’s this nervous energy that builds up over time

with larger and larger teams where the whole thing,

like I visited YouTube, for example.

Everybody I talked at YouTube, incredible engineering

and incredible system, but everybody’s scared.

Like, let’s be honest about this like madness

that we have going on of huge amounts of video

that we can’t possibly ever handle.

There’s a bunch of hate on YouTube.

There’s this chaos of comments,

bunch of conspiracy theories, some of which might be true.

And then just like this mess that we’re dealing with

and it’s exciting, it’s beautiful.

It’s a place where like democratizes education,

all that kind of stuff.

And instead they’re all like sitting in like,

trying to be very polite and saying like,

well, we just want to improve the health of our platforms.

Like, it’s like this discussion like,

all right, man, let’s just be real.

Let’s both advertise how amazing this fricking thing is,

but also to say like, we don’t know what we’re doing.

We have all these Nazis posting videos on YouTube.

We don’t know how to like handle it.

And just being real like that,

because I suppose that’s just a skill.

Maybe it can’t be taught, but over time,

the whatever the dynamics of the company is,

it does seem like Zuckerberg and others get worn down.

They just get tired.


They get tired of.

Not being real.

Of not being real, which is sad.

So let’s talk about Numerai,

which is an incredible company system idea, I think,

but good place to start.

What is Numerai and how does it work?

So Numerai is the first hedge fund

that gives away all of its data.

So this is like probably the last thing

a hedge fund would do, right?

Why would we give away a data?

It’s like giving away your edge.

But the reason we do it is because we’re looking for people

to model our data.

And the way we do it is by obfuscating the data.

So when you look at Numerai’s data

that you can download for free,

it just looks like a million rows

of numbers between zero and one.

And you have no idea what the columns mean,

but you do know that if you’re good at machine learning

or have done regressions before,

you know that I can still find patterns in this data,

even though I don’t know what the features mean.

And the data itself is a time series data.

And even though it’s obfuscated, anonymized,

what is the source data like approximately?

What are we talking about?

So we are buying data from lots of different data vendors

and they would also never want us to share that data.

So we have strict contracts with them.

So we only can,

but that’s the kind of data you could never buy yourself

unless you had maybe a million dollars a year

of budget to buy data.

So what’s happened with the hedge fund industry

is you have a lot of talented people

who used to be able to trade and still can trade,

but now they have such a data disadvantage,

it would never make sense for them to trade themselves.

But Numerai, by giving away this obfuscated data,

we can give them a really, really high quality data set

that would otherwise be very expensive.

And they can use whatever new machine learning technique

they want to find patterns in that data

that we can use in our hedge fund.

And so how much variety is there in underlying data?

We’re talking about,

I apologize if I’m using the wrong terms,

but one is just like the stock price.

The other, there’s like options and all that kind of stuff,

like the, what are they called, order books or whatever.

Is there maybe other totally unrelated

directly to the stock market data,

like natural language as well, all that kind of stuff?

Yeah, we were really focused on stock data

that’s specific to stocks.

So things like you can have like a,

every stock has like a PE ratio.

For some stocks, it’s not as meaningful,

but every stock has that.

Every stock has one year momentum,

how much they went up in the last year,

but those are very common factors.

But we try to get lots and lots of those factors

that we have for many, many years,

like 15, 20 years history.

And then the setup of the problem is commonly in quant

called like cross sectional global equity.

You’re not really trying to say,

I believe this stock will go up.

You’re trying to say the relative position of this stock

in feature space makes it not a bad buy in a portfolio.

So it captures some period of time

and you’re trying to find the patterns,

the dynamics captured by the data of that period of time

in order to make short term predictions

about what’s going to happen.

Yeah, so our predictions are also not that short.

We’re not really caring about things like order books

and tech data, not high frequency at all.

We’re actually holding things for quite a bit longer.

So our prediction time horizon is about one month.

We end up holding stocks

for maybe like three or four months.

So I kind of believe that’s a little bit more

like investing than kind of plumbing,

like to go long a stock that’s mispriced on one exchange

and short on another exchange, that’s just arbitrage.

But what we’re trying to do is really know something more

about the longer term future of the stock.

Yeah, so from the patterns,

from these like periods of time series data,

you’re trying to understand something fundamental

about the stock, not like about deep value,

about like it’s big in the context of the market,

is it underpriced, overpriced, all that kind of stuff.

So like, this is about investing.

It’s not about like, just like you said,

high frequency trading,

which I think is a fascinating open question

from a machine learning perspective,

but just to like sort of build on that.

So you’ve anonymized the data

and now you’re giving away the data.

And then now anyone can try to build algorithms

that make investing decisions on top of that data

or predictions on the top of that data.


And so that’s, what does that look like?

What’s the goal of that?

What are the underlying principles of that?

So the first thing is,

we could obviously model that data in house, right?

We can make an XGBoost model on the data

and that would be quite good too.

But what we’re trying to do is by opening it up

and letting anybody participate,

we can do quite a lot better than if we modeled it ourselves

and a lot better on the stock market

doesn’t need to be very much.

Like it really matters the difference

between if you can make 10 and 12%

in an equity market neutral hedge fund

because usually you’re charging 2% fees.

So if you can do 2% better,

that’s like all your fees, it’s worth it.

So we’re trying to make sure

that we always have the best possible model

as new machine learning libraries come out,

new techniques come out,

they get automatically synthesized.

Like if there’s a great paper on supervised learning,

someone on Numerai will figure out

how to use it on Numerai’s data.

And is there an ensemble of models going on

or is it more towards kind of like one or two or three

like best performing models?

So the way we decide on how to weight

all of the predictions together

is by how much the users are staking on them.

How much of the cryptocurrency

that they’re putting behind their models.

So they’re saying, I believe in my model.

You can trust me because I’m gonna put skin in the game.

And so we can take the stake weighted predictions

from all our users, add those together,

average those together,

and that’s a much better model than any one model

in the sum because ensembling a lot of models together

is kind of the key thing you need to do in investing too.

Yeah, so you’re putting,

so there’s a kind of duality from the user,

from the perspective of a machine learning engineer

where it’s both a competition, just a really interesting,

difficult machine learning problem,

and it’s a way to invest algorithmically.

So like, but the way to invest algorithmically

also is a way to put skin in the game

that communicates to you that the quality of the algorithm

and also forces you to really be serious

about the models that you build.

So it’s like, everything just works nicely together.

Like, I guess one way to say that

is the interests are aligned.

Okay, so it’s just like poker is not fun

when it’s like for very low stakes.

The higher the stakes,

the more the dynamics of the system

starts playing out correctly.

Like as a small side note,

is there something you can say about which kind,

looking at the big broad view of machine learning today

or AI, what kind of algorithms seem to do good

in these kinds of competitions at this time?

Is there some universal thing you can say,

like neural networks suck,

recurrent neural networks suck, transformers suck,

or they’re awesome, like old school,

sort of more basic kind of classifiers are better,

all that, is there some kind of conclusions

so far that you can say?

There is definitely something pretty nice about tree models,

like XGBoost,

and they just seem to work pretty nicely

on this type of data.

So out of the box,

if you’re trying to come a hundredth

in the competition, in the tournament,

maybe you would try to use that.

But what’s particularly interesting about the problem

that not many people understand,

if you’re familiar with machine learning,

this typically will surprise you when you model our data.

So one of the things that you look at in finance

is you don’t wanna be too exposed to any one risk.

Like, even if the best sector in the world

to invest in over the last 10 years was tech,

does not mean you should put all of your money into tech.

So if you train a model,

it would say, put all your money in tech, it’s super good.

But what you wanna do is actually be very careful

of how much of this exposure you have to certain features.

So on Numeri, what a lot of people figure out is,

actually, if you train a model on this kind of data,

you wanna somehow neutralize or minimize your exposure

to these certain features, which is unusual,

because if you did train a stoplight

or stop street detection on computer vision,

your favorite feature, let’s say you have an auto encoder

and it’s figuring out, okay, it’s gotta be red

and it’s gotta be white,

that’s the last thing you wanna reduce your exposure to.

Why would you reduce your exposure

to the thing that’s helping your model the most?

And that’s actually this counterintuitive thing

you have to do with machine learning on financial data.

So reducing your exposure

would help you generalize the things that are…

So basically, a financial data has a large amount

of patterns that appeared in the past

and also a large amount of patterns

that have not appeared in the past.

And so like in that sense,

you have to reduce the exposure to red lights,

to the color red.

That’s interesting, but how much of this is art

and how much of it is science from your perspective so far

in terms of as you start to climb

from the 100th position to the 95th in the competition?

Yeah, well, if you do make yourself super exposed

to one or two features,

you can have a lot of volatility

when you’re playing Numerai.

You could maybe very rapidly rise to be high

if you were getting lucky.


And that’s a bit like the stock market.

Sure, take on massive risk exposure,

put all your money into one stock

and you might make 100%,

but it doesn’t in the long run work out very well.

And so the best users are trying to stay high

for as long as possible,

not necessarily try to be first for a little bit.

So me, a developer, machine learning researcher,

how do I, Lex Friedman, participate in this competition

and how do others,

which I’m sure there’ll be a lot of others

interested in participating in this competition,

what are, let’s see, there’s like a million questions,

but like first one is how do I get started?

Well, you can go to numero.ai,

sign up, download the data.

And on the data is pretty small.

In the data pack you download,

there’s like an example script,

Python script that just builds a XGBoost model

very quickly from the data.

And so in a very short time,

you can have an example model.

Is that a particular structure?

Like what, is this model then submitted somewhere?

So there needs to be some kind of structure

that communicates with some kind of API.

Like how does the whole,

how does your model, once you’ve built,

once you create a little baby Frankenstein,

how does it then live in the world?

Okay, well, we want you to keep your baby Frankenstein

at home and take care of it.

We don’t want it.

So you never upload your model to us.

You always only giving us predictions.

So we never see the code that wrote your model,

which is pretty cool,

that our whole hedge fund is built from models

where we’ve never, ever seen the code.

But it’s important for the users because it’s their IP,

why do they want to give it to us?

That’s brilliant.

So they’ve got it themselves,

but they can basically almost like license

the predictions from that model to us.

License the predictions, yeah.

So. Think about it.

What some users do is they set up a compute server

and we call it Numeric Compute.

It’s like a little AWS kind of image

and you can automate this process.

So we can ping you.

We can be like, we need more predictions now.

And then you send it to us.

Okay, cool.

So that’s, is that described somewhere,

like what the preferred is, the AWS,

or whether another cloud platform,

is there, I mean, is there sort of specific technical things

you want to say that comes to mind

that is a good path for getting started?

So download the data, maybe play around,

see if you can modify the basic algorithm provided

in the example.

And then you, what, set up a little server on the AWS

that then runs this model and takes pings

and then makes predictions.

And so how does your own money actually come into play

doing the stake of a cryptocurrency?

Yeah, so you don’t have to stake.

You can start without staking.

And many users might try for months

without staking anything at all

to see if their model works on the real life data, right?

And is not overfit.

But then you can get Numeraire many different ways.

You can buy it on, you can buy some on Coinbase.

You can buy some on Uniswap.

You can buy some on Binance.

So what did you say this is?

How do you pronounce it?

So this is the Numeraire cryptocurrency.

Yeah, NMR.

NMR, you just say NMR?

It is technically called Numeraire.

Numeraire, I like it.

Yeah, but NMR is simple.

NMR, Numeraire.

Okay, so, and you could buy it basically anywhere.

Yeah, so it’s a bit strange

because sometimes people are like,

is this like pay to play?


And it’s like, yeah, you need to put some money down

to show us you believe in your model.

But weirdly, we’re not selling you the,

like you can’t buy the cryptocurrency from us.


It’s like, it’s also, we never,

if you do badly, we destroy your cryptocurrency.

Okay, that’s not good, right?

You don’t want it to be destroyed.

But what’s good about it is it’s also not coming to us.


So it’s not like we win when you lose or something,

like we’re the house.

Like we’re definitely on the same team.


Helping us make a hedge fund that’s never been done before.

Yeah, so again, interests are aligned.

There’s no, there’s no tension there at all,

which is really fascinating.

You’re giving away everything

and then the IP is owned by sort of the code.

You never share the code.

That’s fascinating.

So since I have you here and you said a hundred,

I didn’t ask out of how many, so we’ll just,

but if I then once you get started

and you find this interesting, how do you then win

or do well, but also how do you potentially try to win

if this is something you want to take on seriously

from the machine learning perspective,

not from a financial perspective?

Yeah, I think that first of all,

you would want to talk to the community.

People are pretty open.

We give out really interesting scripts and ideas

for things you might want to try.

And, but you’re also going to need a lot of compute probably.

And so some of the best users are, you know,

actually the very first time someone won on Numerai,

I would, I wrote them a personal email.

It’s like, you know, you’ve won some money.

We’re so excited to give you $300.

And then they said, I spend way more on the compute,


So this is fundamentally a machine learning problem first,

I think is this is one of the exciting things.

I don’t know if we’ll, in how many ways we can approach this,

but really this is less about kind of no offense,

but like finance people, finance minded people,

they’re also, I’m sure great people,

but it feels like from the community that I’ve experienced,

these are people who see finance

as a fascinating problem space, source of data,

but ultimately they’re machine learning people or AI people,

which is a very different kind of flavor of community.

And I mean, I should say to that,

I’d love to participate in this and I will participate in this

and I’d love to hear from other people.

If you’re listening to this,

if you’re a machine learning person,

you should participate in it and tell me,

give me some hints how I can do well at this thing.

Cause this boomer, I’m not sure I still got it,

but cause some of it is, it’s like a Kaggle competitions.

Like some of it is certainly set of ideas,

like research ideas, like fundamental innovation,

but I’m sure some of it is like deeply understanding,

getting like an intuition about the data.

And then like a lot of it will be like figuring out

like what works, like tricks.

I mean, you could argue most of deep learning research

is just tricks on top of tricks,

but there’s some of it is just the art

of getting to know how to work in a really difficult

machine learning problem.

And I think what’s important,

the important difference with something

like a Kaggle competition,

where they’ll set up this kind of toy problem

and then there will be an out of sample test,

like, Hey, you did well out of sample.

And this is like, okay, cool.

But what’s cool with Numeri is the out of sample

is the real life stock market.

We don’t even know,

like we don’t know the onset of the problem.

We don’t, like you’ll have to find out live.

And so we’ve had users who’ve like submitted every week

for like four years because it’s kind of,

we say it’s the hardest data science problem

on the planet, right?

And it sounds maybe sounds like maybe

but too much for like a marketing thing,

but it’s the hardest because it’s the stock market.

It’s like literally there are like billions of dollars

at stake and like no one’s like letting it be inefficient

on purpose.

So if you can find something that works at Numeri,

you really have something that is like working

on the real stock market.

Yeah, because there’s like humans involved

in the stock market.

I mean, you could argue there might be harder data sets

like maybe predicting the weather,

all those kinds of things.

But the fundamental statement here is, which I like,

I was thinking like,

is this really the hardest data science problem?

And you start thinking about that,

but ultimately it also boils down to a problem

where the data is accessible.

It’s made accessible, made really easy and efficient

at like submitting algorithms.

So it’s not just, you know,

it’s not about the data being out there, like the weather.

It’s about making the data super accessible,

making the ability of community around it.

Like this is what ImageNet did.


Like it’s not just, there’s always images.

The point is you aggregate them together.

You give it a little title.

This is a community and that was one of the hardest,

right, for a time.

And most important data science problems in the world

because it was accessible, because it was made sort of,

like there was mechanisms by which like standards

and mechanisms by which you judge your performance,

all those kinds of things.

And Numerize actually step up from that.

Is there something more you can say about why

from your perspective it’s the hardest problem in the world?

I mean, you said it’s connected to the market.

So if you could find a pattern in the market,

that’s a really difficult thing to do

because a lot of people are trying to do it.


But there’s also the biggest one is

it’s non stationary time series.

We’ve tried to regularize the data

so you can find patterns by doing certain things

to the features and the target.

But ultimately you’re in a space where you don’t,

there’s no guarantees that the out of sample distributions

will conform to any of the training data.

And every single era, which we call on the website,

like every single era in the data,

which is like sort of showing you the order of the time.

Even the training data has the same dislocations.

And so, yeah, and then there’s so many things

that you might wanna try.

There’s unlimited possible number of models, right?

And so by having it be open,

we can at least search that space.

Zooming back out to the philosophical,

you said that Numerai is very much like Wall Street Bets.

Is there, I think it’d be interesting

to dig in why you think so.

I think you’re speaking to the distributed nature of the two

and the power of the people nature of the two.

So maybe can you speak to the similarities

and the differences and in which way is Numerai more powerful

in which way is Wall Street Bets more powerful?

Yeah, this is why the Wall Street Bets story

is so interesting to me because it’s like,

feels like we’re connected.

And looking at how,

just looking at the form of Wall Street Bets,

I was talking earlier about how,

how can you make credible claims?

You’re anonymous.

Okay, well, maybe you can take a screenshot.

Or maybe you can upvote someone.

Maybe you can have karma on Reddit.

And those kinds of things make this emerging thing possible.

Numerai, it didn’t work at all when we started.

It didn’t work at all.


People made multiple accounts.

They made really random models

and hoped they would get lucky.

And some of them did.


Staking was our solution to,

could we make it so that we could trust?

We could know which model people believed in the most.

And we could weight models that had high stake more

and effectively coordinate this group of people

to be like, well, actually there’s no incentive

to creating bot accounts anymore.

Either I stake my accounts,

in which case I should believe in them

because I could lose my stake or I don’t.

And that’s a very powerful thing

that having a negative incentive

and a positive incentive can make things a lot better.

And staking is like this,

is this really nice like key thing about blockchain.

It’s like something special you can do

where they’re not even trusting us

with their stake in some ways.

They’re trusting the blockchain, right?

So the incentives, like you say,

it’s about making these perfect incentives

so that you can have coordination to solve one problem.

And nowadays I sleep easy

because I have less money in my own hedge fund

than our users are staking on their models.

That’s powerful.

In some sense, from a human psychology perspective,

it’s fascinating that the WallStreetBets worked at all, right?

That amidst that chaos, emerging behavior,

like behavior that made sense emerged.

It would be fascinating to think if numerized style staking

could then be transferred to places like Reddit, you know?

And not necessarily for financial investments,

but I wish sometimes people would have to stake something

in the comments they make on the internet.


That’s the problem with anonymity is like,

anonymity is freedom and power

that you don’t have to, you can speak your mind,

but it’s too easy to just be shitty.

Yeah, exactly.

So this, I mean, you’re making me realize

from a profoundly philosophical aspect, numerized staking

is a really clean way to solve this problem.

It’s a really beautiful way.

Of course, it only with Numerai currently works

for a very particular problem, right?

Not for human interaction on the internet,

but that’s fascinating.

Yeah, there’s nothing to stop people.

In fact, we’ve open sourced the code we use for staking

in a protocol we call Erasure.

And if Reddit wanted to, they could even use that code

to enable staking on our Wall Street pets.

And they’re actually researching now,

they’ve had some Ethereum grants

on how could they have more crypto stuff in there

in Ethereum, because wouldn’t that be interesting?

Like, imagine you could, instead of seeing a screenshot,

like, guys, I promise I will not sell my GameStop.

We’re just going to go huge.

We’re not going to sell at all.

And here is a smart contract, which no one in the world,

including me, can undo, that says,

I have staked millions against this claim.

That’s powerful.

And then what could you do?

And of course, it doesn’t have to be millions.

It could be just a very small amount,

but then just a huge number of users doing that kind of stake.


That could change the internet.

It would change, and then Wall Street.

It would change Wall Street.

They would never have been able to,

they would still be short squeezing one day

after the next, every single hedge fund collapsing.

If we look into the future, do you think it’s possible

that numerae style infrastructure,

where AI systems backed by humans are doing the trading,

is what the entirety of the stock market is,

or the entirety of the economy, is

run by basically this army of AI systems

with high level human supervision?

Yeah, the thing is that some of them could be bad actors.

Some of the humans?

No, well, these systems could be tricky.

So actually, I once met a hedge fund manager,

and this is kind of interesting.

He said, very famous one, and he said,

we can see, sometimes we can see things in the market

where we know we can make money, but it will mess shit up.

We know we can make money, but it will mess things up.

And we choose not to do those things.

And on the one hand, maybe this is like, oh, you’re

being super arrogant.

Of course you can’t do this, but maybe he can.

And maybe he really isn’t doing things

he knows he could do, but would be pretty bad.

Would the Reddit army have that kind of morality or concern

for what they’re doing?

Probably not, based on what we’ve seen.

The madness of crowds.

There’ll be one person that says, hey, maybe,

and then they get trampled over.

That’s the terrifying thing, actually.

A lot of people have written about this,

is somehow that little voice that’s human morality

gets silenced when we get into groups and start chanting.

And that’s terrifying.

But I think maybe I misunderstood.

I thought that you’re saying AI systems can be dangerous,

but you just describe how humans can be dangerous.

So which is safer?

So one thing is, so Wall Street bets these kinds of attacks.

It’s not possible to model, numerize data,

and then come up with the idea from the model,

let’s short squeak, just game stop.

It’s not even framed in that way.

It’s not possible to have that idea.

But it is possible for a bunch of humans.

So I think this, it’s, numera could get very powerful

without it being dangerous.

But Wall Street bets needs to get a little bit more powerful,

and it’ll be pretty dangerous.

Yeah, well, I mean, this is a good place

to think about numera data today and numera signals

and what that looks like in 10, 20, 30, 50, 100 years.

Right now, I guess, maybe you can correct me,

but the data that we’re working with is like a window.

It’s an anonymized, obfuscated window

into a particular aspect, time period of the market.

And you can expand that more and more and more and more,


You can imagine in different dimensions

to where it encapsulates all the things that,

where you could include kind of human to human communication

that was available to buy GameStop, for example,

on Wall Street bets.

So maybe as a step back, can you speak

to what is numera signals and what are the different data

sets that are involved?

So with numera signals, you’re still

providing predictions to us, but you can do it

from your own data sets.

So numera, it’s all you have to model our data

to come up with predictions.

Numa signals is whatever data you can find out there,

you can turn it into a signal and give it to us.

So it’s a way for us to import signals

on data we don’t yet have.

And that’s why it’s particularly valuable,

because it’s going to be signals.

You’re only rewarded for signals that are

orthogonal to our core signal.

So you have to be doing something uncorrelated.

And so strange alternative data tends to have that property.

There isn’t too many other signals

that are correlated with what’s happening on Wall Street


That’s not going to be correlated with the price

to earnings ratio.

And we have some users, as of recently, as of a week ago,

there was a user that created, I think he’s in India,

he created a signal that is scraped from Wall Street bets.

And now we have that signal as one

of our signals in thousands that we use at Numerai.

And the structure of the signal is similar,

so it’s just numbers and time series data.

It’s exactly.

And it’s just like, you’re providing a ranking of stocks.

So you just say, a one means you like the stock,

zero means you don’t like the stock,

and you provide that for 5,000 stocks in the world.

And they somehow converted the natural language

that’s in the Wall Street bet.


And they open sourced this Colab notebook.

You can go and see it.

And so, yeah, it’s making a sentiment score.

And then turning it into a rank of stocks.

A sentiment score.


Like, this stock sucks, or this stock is awesome.

And then converting.

That’s fascinating.

Just even looking at that data would be fascinating.

So on the signal side, what’s the vision?

This long term, what do you see that becoming?

So we want to manage all the money in the world.

That’s Numerai’s mission.

And to get that, we need to have all the data

and have all of the talent.

Like, there’s no way, first principles,

if you had really good modeling and really good data

that you would lose, right?

It’s just a question of how much do you need to get really good.

So Numerai already has some really nice data

that we give out.

This year, we are 10xing that.

And I actually think we’ll 10x the amount of data

we have on Numerai every year for at least the next 10 years.


So it’s going to get very big, the data we give out.

And signals is more data.

People with any other random data set

can turn that into a signal and give it to us.

And in some sense, that kind of data

is the edge cases, the weirdness is the,

so you’re focused on the bulk, the main data.

And then there’s just weirdness from all over the place

that just can enter through this back door of Numerai signals.


And it’s also a little bit shorter term.

So the signals are about a seven day time horizon.

And on Numerai, it’s like a 30 day.

So it’s often for faster situations.

You’ve written about a master plan.

And you’ve mentioned, which I love,

in a similar sort of style of big style thinking,

you would like Numerai to manage all of the world’s money.

So how do we get there from yesterday

to several years from now?

Like what is the plan?

So you’ve already started to allure to get all the data

and get all the talent, humans, models.


I mean, the important thing to note there is,

what would that mean?

And I think the biggest thing it means

is if there was one hedge fund, you

would have not so much talent wasted

on all the other hedge funds.

Like it’s super weird how the industry works.

It’s like one hedge fund gets a data source and hires a PhD.

And another hedge fund has to buy the same data source

and hire a PhD.

And suddenly, a third of American PhDs

are working at hedge funds.

And we’re not even on Mars.

And so in some ways, Numerai, it’s

all about freeing up people who work at hedge funds

to go work for Elon.


And also, the people who are working on Numerai problem,

it feels like a lot of the knowledge

there is also transferable to other domains.


One of our top users, he works at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.

And he’s amazing.

I went to go visit him there.

And he’s got Numerai posters.

And it looks like the movies.

It looks like Apollo 11 or whatever.

Yeah, the point is he didn’t quit his job to join full time.

He’s working on getting us to Jupiter’s moon.

That’s his mission, the Europa Klippa mission.

Actually, literally what you’re saying.


He’s smart enough that we really want his intelligence

to reach the stock market.

Because the stock market’s a good thing.

Hedge funds are a good thing.

All kinds of hedge funds, especially.

But we don’t want him to quit his job.

So he can just do Numerai on the weekends.

And that’s what he does.

He just made a model and it just automatically submits to us.

And he’s like one of our best users.

You mentioned briefly that stock markets are good.

From my sort of outsider perspective, is there a sense,

do you think trading stocks is closer to gambling?

Or is it closer to investing?

Sometimes it feels like it’s gambling as opposed to betting

on companies that succeed.

And this is maybe connected to our discussion of shorting

in general, but from your sense, the way you think about it,

is it fundamentally still investing?

I do think, I mean, it’s a good question.

I’ve also seen lately people say, this is like speculation.

Is there too much speculation in the market?

And it’s like, but all the trades are speculative.

All the trades have a horizon.

People want them to work.

So I would say that there’s certainly

a lot of aspects of gambling math that applies to investing.

Like one thing you don’t do in gambling

is put all your money in one bet.

You have bankroll management, and it’s a key part of it.

And small alterations to your bankroll management

might be better than improvements to your skill.

And then there are things we care about in our fund.

Like we want to make a lot of independent bets.

We talk about it, like we want to make

a lot of independent bets, because that’s

going to be a higher sharp than if you have a lot of bets that

depend on each other, like all in one sector.

But yeah, I mean, the point is that you

want the prices of the stocks to be reflective of their value.

Of the underlying value of the company.

Yeah, you shouldn’t have there be like a hedge fund that’s

able to say, well, I’ve looked at some data,

and all of this stuff’s super mispriced.

That’s super bad for society if it looks like that to someone.

I guess the underlying question then

is, do you see that the market often drifts away

from the underlying value of companies,

and it becomes a game in itself?

Like with these, whatever they’re called,

like derivatives, like the options, and shorting,

and all that kind of stuff.

It’s like layers of game on top of the actual,

like what you said, which is like the basic thing

that the Wall Street Bets was doing,

which is like just buying stocks.


There are a lot of games that people

play that are in the derivatives market.

And I think a lot of the stuff people dislike when they look

at the history of what’s happened,

they hate like credit default swaps,

or collateralized debt obligations.

Like these are the enemies of 2008.

And then the long term capital management thing,

it was like they had 30 times leverage, or something.

You could just go to a gas station

and ask anybody at the gas station,

is it a good idea to have 30 times leverage?

And they just say no.

It’s like common sense just like went out the window.

So yeah, I don’t respect long term capital management.


But Numerai doesn’t actually use any derivatives

unless you call shorting derivative.

We just we do put money into companies.

And that does help the companies we’re investing in.

It’s just in little ways.

We really did buy Tesla.

And it did.

And we played some role in its success.

Super small, make no mistake.

But still, I think that’s important.

Can I ask you a pothead question,

which is what is money, man?

So if we just kind of zoom out and look at,

because I’d love to talk to you about cryptocurrency, which

perhaps could be the future of money.

In general, how do you think about money?

You said Numerai, the vision, the goal

is to run, to manage the world’s money.

What is money in your view?

I don’t have a good answer to that.

But it’s definitely in my personal life,

it’s become more and more warped.

And you start to care about the real thing,

like what’s really going on here.

Elon talks about things like this,

like what is a company, really?

It’s a bunch of people who show up to work together

and they solve a problem.

And there might not be a stock out there

that’s trading that represents what they’re doing,

but it’s not the real thing.

And being involved in crypto, I put

in crowdsale of Ethereum and all these other things

and different crypto hedge funds and things

that I’ve invested in.

And it’s just kind of like, it feels

like how I used to think about money stuff

is just totally warped.

Because you stop caring about the price

and you care about the product.

So by the product, you mean the different mechanisms

that money is exchanged.

I mean, money is ultimately a kind of a little,

one is a store of wealth, but it’s also

a mechanism of exchanging wealth.

But what wealth means becomes a totally different thing,

especially with cryptocurrency, to where it’s almost

like these little contracts, these little agreements,

these transactions between human beings

that represent something that’s bigger than just cash being

exchanged at 7.11, it feels like.


Maybe I’ll answer what is finance.

It’s what are you doing when you have the ability

to take out a loan?

You can bring a whole new future into being with finance.

If you couldn’t get a student loan to get a college degree,

you couldn’t get a college degree

if you didn’t have the money.

But now, weirdly, you can get it with, and all you have

is this loan, which is like, so now you

can bring a different future into the world.

And that’s how when I was saying earlier about if you rerun

American economic history without these things,

like you’re not allowed to take out loans,

you’re not allowed to have derivatives,

you’re not allowed to have money,

it just doesn’t really work.

And it’s a really magic thing how much

you can do with finance by bringing the future forward.

Finance is empowering.

We sometimes forget this, but it enables innovation.

It enables big risk takers and bold builders that ultimately

make this world better.

You said you were early in on cryptocurrency.

Can you give your high level overview

of just your thoughts about the past, present, and future

of cryptocurrency?

Yeah, so my friends told me about Bitcoin,

and I was interested in equities a lot.

And I was like, well, it has no net present value.

It has no future cash flows.

Bitcoin pays no dividends.

So I really couldn’t get my head around it,

that this could be valuable.

And then I didn’t feel like I was early in cryptocurrency,

in fact, because it was like 2014.

It felt like a long time after Bitcoin.

But then I really liked some of the things

that Ethereum was doing.

It seemed like a super visionary thing.

I was reading something that was just

going to change the world when I was reading the white paper.

And I liked the different constructs

you could have inside of Ethereum

that you couldn’t have on Bitcoin.

Like smart contracts and all that kind of stuff?

Exactly, yeah.

And even spoke about different constructions you could have.

Yeah, that’s a cool dance between Bitcoin and Ethereum.

It’s in the space of ideas.

It feels so young.

Like, I wonder what cryptocurrencies will look like

in the future.

If Bitcoin or Ethereum 2.0 or some version

will stick around or any of those,

who’s going to win out?

Or if there’s even a concept of winning out at all?

Is there a cryptocurrency that you especially

find interesting that technically, financially,

philosophically, you think is something

you’re keeping your eye on?

Well, I don’t really.

I’m not looking to invest in cryptocurrencies anymore.

But I mean, and many are almost identical.

I mean, there wasn’t too much difference

between even Ethereum and Bitcoin in some ways, right?

But there are some that I like the privacy ones.

I mean, I like Zcash for its coolness.

It’s actually a different kind of invention

compared to some of the other things.

OK, can you speak just briefly to privacy?

Is there some mechanism of preserving

some privacy of the universe?

So I guess everything is public.


Is that the problem?

Yeah, none of the transactions are private.

And so I have some numeraire.

And you can just see it.

In fact, you can go to a website and it says like,

you can go to like, etherscan.

And it’ll say like, numeraire founder.

And I’m like, how the hell do you guys know this?

So they can reverse the near, whatever that’s called.

Yeah, and so they can see me move it, too.

They can see me.

Oh, why is he moving it?


So but yeah, Zcash.

Also, when you can make private transactions,

you can also play different games.


And it’s unclear.

It’s like what’s quite cool about Zcash

is I wonder what games are being played there.

No one will know.

So from a deeply analytical perspective,

can you describe why Dogecoin is going to win?

Which it surely will.

Like it very likely will take over the world.

And once we expand out into the universe,

we’ll take over the universe.

Or on a more serious note, like what

are your thoughts on the recent success of Dogecoin

where you’ve spoken to sort of the meme stocks,

the memetics of the whole thing, that it feels like the joke can

become the reality.

Like the meme, the joke has power in this world.


It’s fascinating.


It’s like why is it correlated with Elon tweeting about it?

It’s not just Elon alone tweeting, right?

It’s like Elon tweeting and that becomes

a catalyst for everybody on the internet kind of like spreading

the joke, right?


The joke of it.

So it’s the initial spark of the fire for Wall Street

bets type of situation.


And that’s fascinating because jokes

seem to spread faster than other mechanisms.

Like funny shit is very effective at captivating

the discourse on the internet.

Yeah, and I think you can have, like I like the one meme,

like Doge, I haven’t heard that name in a long time.

Like I think back to that meme often.

That’s like funny.

And every time I think back to it,

there’s a little probability that I might buy it, right?

And so imagine you have millions of people who have had

all these great jokes, told them,

and every now and then they reminisce,

oh, that was really funny.

And then they’re like, let me buy some.

Wouldn’t that be interesting if we travel in time

like multiple centuries where the entirety

of the communication of the human species is like humor?

Like it’s all just jokes.

Like we’re high on probably some really advanced drugs

and we’re all just laughing nonstop.

It’s a weird like dystopian future of just humor.

Elon has made me realize how like good it feels

to just not take shit seriously every once in a while

and just relieve like the pressure of the world.

At the same time, the reason I don’t always like

when people finish their sentences with lol

is like when you don’t take anything seriously.

When everything becomes a joke,

then it feels like that way of thinking

feels like it will destroy the world.

It’s like, I often think of like,

will memes save the world or destroy it?

Because I think both are possible directions.

Yeah, I think this is a big problem.

I mean, I always felt that about America,

a lot of people are telling jokes kind of all the time

and they’re kind of good at it.

And you take someone aside, an American,

you’re like, I really wanna have a sincere conversation.

It’s like hard to even keep a straight face

because everything is so, there’s so much levity.

So it’s complicated.

I like how sincere actually like your Twitter can be.

You’re like, I am in love with the world today.

I get so much shit for it, it’s hilarious.

I’m never gonna stop because I realize like,

you have to be able to sometimes just be real

and be positive and just be, say the cliche things,

which ultimately those things actually capture

some fundamental truths about life.

But it’s a dance.

And I think Elon does a good job of that

from an engineering perspective of being able to joke,

but everyone’s mostly to pull back and be like,

here’s real problems, let’s solve them and so on.

And then be able to jump back to a joke.

So it’s ultimately, I think, I guess a skill that we

have to learn.

But I guess your advice is to invest everything

anyone listening owns into Dogecoin.

That’s what I heard from this interaction.

Yeah, no, exactly.

Yeah, our hedge fund is unavailable.

Just go straight to Dogecoin.

You’re running a successful company.

It’s just interesting because my mind has been in that space

of potentially just being one of the millions of other


What’s your advice on how to build a successful startup,

how to build a successful company?

I think that one thing I do like,

and it might be a particular thing about America,

but there is something about playing,

tell people what you really want to happen in the world.

Don’t stop.

It’s not gonna make it,

like if you’re asking someone to invest in your company,

don’t say, I think maybe one day we might make

a million dollars.

When you actually believe something else,

you actually believe you’re actually more optimistic,

but you’re toning down your optimism because you want

to appear like low risk.

But actually it’s super high risk if your company

becomes mediocre because no one wants to work

in a mediocre company.

No one wants to invest in a mediocre company.

So you should play the real game.

And obviously this doesn’t apply to all businesses,

but if you play a venture backed startup kind of game,

like play for keeps, play to win, go big.

And it’s very hard to do that.

I’ve always feel like, yeah,

you can start narrowing your focus because 10 people

are telling you, you gotta care about this boring thing

that won’t matter five years from now.

And you should push back and do the real,

play the real game.

So be bold.

So both, I mean, there’s an interesting duality there.

So there’s the way you speak to other people

about like your plans and what you are like privately

just in your own mind.

And maybe it’s connected with what you were saying about,

yeah, sincerity as well.

Like if you appear to be sincerely optimistic

about something that’s big or crazy,

it’s putting yourself up to be kind of like

ridiculed or something.

And so if you say, my mission is to, yeah, go to Mars,

it’s just so bonkers that it’s hard to say.

It is, but one powerful thing, just like you said,

is if you say it and you believe it,

then actually amazing people come and work with you.


It’s not just skill, but the dreams.

There’s something about optimism that,

like that fire that you have when you’re optimistic

of actually having the hope of building

something totally cool, something totally new,

that when those people get in a room together,

like they can actually do it.


Yeah, there’s, yeah, that’s,

and also makes life really fun when you’re in that room.

So all of that together, ultimately,

I don’t know, that’s what makes this crazy ride

of a startup really look fun.

And Elon is an example of a person who succeeded at that.

There’s not many other inspiring figures, which is sad.

I used to be at Google and there’s something that happens

that sometimes when the company grows

bigger and bigger and bigger,

where that kind of ambition kind of quiets down a little bit.


Google had this ambition, still does,

of making the world’s information accessible to everyone.

And I remember, I don’t know, that’s beautiful.

I still love that dream of that they used to scan books,

but just in every way possible

make the world’s information accessible.

Same with Wikipedia.

Every time I open up Wikipedia,

I’m just awe inspired by how awesome humans are, man.

And creating this together,

I don’t know what the meanings are over there,

but it’s just beautiful.

Like what they’ve created is incredible.

And I’d love to be able to be part of something like that.

And you’re right, for that, you have to be bold.

And there’s, and strange to me also,

I think you’re right that there’s

how many boring companies there are.

Something I always talk about, especially in FinTech,

it’s like, why am I excited about, this is so lame.

Like what is, this isn’t even important.

Even if you succeed, this is gonna be like terrible.

This is not good.

And it’s just strange how people can kind of

get fake enthusiastic about like boring ideas

when there’s so many bigger ideas that,

yeah, I mean, you read these things,

like this company raises money,

and it’s just like, that’s a lot of money

for the worst idea I’ve ever heard.

Some ideas are really big.

So like I worked on autonomous vehicles quite a bit.

And there’s so many ways in which you can present

that idea to yourself, to the team you work with,

to just, yeah, like to yourself when you’re quietly

looking in the mirror in the morning,

that’s really boring or really exciting.

Like if you’re really ambitious with autonomous vehicles,

it changes the nature of like human robot interaction,

it changes the nature of how we move.

Forget money, forget all that stuff.

It changes like everything about robotics and AI,

machine learning, it changes everything about manufacture.

I mean, cars, transportation is so fundamentally connected

to cars, and if that changes,

it’s changing the fabric of society,

of movies, of everything.

And if you go bold and take risks

and be willing to go bankrupt with your company,

as opposed to cautiously, you can really change the world.

And it’s so sad for me to see all these autonomous companies,

autonomous vehicle companies,

they’re like really more focused about fundraising

and kind of like smoke and mirrors,

they’re really afraid,

the entirety of their marketing is grounded in fear

and presenting enough smoke to where they keep raising funds

so they can cautiously use technology of a previous decade

or previous two decades to kind of test vehicles

here and there, as opposed to do crazy things

and bold and go huge at scale, do huge data collection.

And yeah, so that’s just an example.

Like the idea can be big,

but if you don’t allow yourself to take that idea

and think really big with it,

then you’re not gonna make anything happen.

Yeah, you’re absolutely right in that.

So you’ve been connected in your work

with a bunch of amazing people.

How much interaction do you have with investors,

that whole process is an entire mystery to me.

Is there some people that just have influence

on the trajectory of your thinking completely,

or is it just this collective energy behind the company?

Yeah, I mean, I came here and I was amazed how,

yeah, people would, I was only here for a few months

and I met some incredible investors

and I’d almost run out of money.

And once they invested, I was like,

I am not gonna let you down.

And I was like, okay, I’m gonna send them

like an email update every like three minutes.

And then they don’t care at all.

So they kind of wanna, I don’t know, like,

so for some, I like it when it’s just like,

they’re always available to talk,

but a lot of building a business,

especially a high tech business,

there’s a little for them to add, right?

There’s little for them to add on product.

There’s a lot for them to add on like business development.

And if we are doing product research,

which is for us research into the market,

research into how to make a great hedge fund,

and we do that for years,

there’s not much to tell the investors.

So that basically is like, I believe in you.

There’s something, I like the cut of your jib.

There’s something in your idea, in your ambition,

in your plans that I like.

And it’s almost like a pat on the back.

It’s like, go get them kid.

Yeah, it is a bit like that.

And that’s cool.

That’s a good way to do it.

I’m glad they do it that way.

Like the one meeting I had,

which was like really good with this

was meeting Howard Morgan,

who’s actually a co founder of Renaissance Technologies

in the like 1980s and worked with Jim Simons.

And he was in the room

and I was meeting some other guy and he was in the room

and I was explaining how quantitative finance works.

I was like, so they use mathematical models.

And then he was like, yeah, I started Renaissance.

I know a bit about this.

And then I was like, oh my God.

So yeah, but then, and then I think he kind of said, well,

yeah, he said, well, cause I was talking,

he was working at first round capital as a partner

and they kind of said, they didn’t want to invest.

And then I wrote a blog post describing the idea

and I was like, I really think you guys should invest.

And then they end up.

Oh, interesting.

You convinced them on that.

That must be good.

Yeah, cause they’re like,

we don’t really invest in hedge funds.

And I was like, you don’t see like what I’m doing.

This is so a tech company, not a hedge fund, right?

Yeah, and Numerai is brilliant.

It’s, when it caught my eye,

there’s something special there.

So I really do hope you succeed in the,

obviously it’s a risky thing you’re taking on,

the ambition of it, the size of it,

but I do hope you succeed.

You mentioned Jim Simons.

He comes up in another world of mine really often on the,

he’s just a brilliant guy on the mathematics side

as a mathematician,

but he’s also brilliant finance hedge fund manager guy.

Have you gotten a chance to interact with him at all?

Have you learned anything from him on the math,

on the finance, on the philosophy, life side, things?

I’ve played poker with him.

It was pretty cool.

It was like, actually in the show, Billions,

they kind of do a little thing about this poker tournament

thing with all the hedge fund managers.

And that’s real life thing.

And they have a lot of like world series of bracelet,

world series poker bracelets holders,

but it’s kind of Jim’s thing.

And I met him there and yeah, it was kind of brief,

but I was just like, he’s like, oh, how do you,

why are you here?

And I was like, oh, Howard sent me, you know,

he’s like, go play this tournament,

meet some of the other players.

And then…

Was it Texas Holdem?

Yeah, Texas Holdem tournament, yeah.

Do you play poker yourself or was it?

Yeah, I do.

I mean, it was crazy.

On my right was the CEO,

who’s the current CEO of Renaissance, Peter Brown.

And Peter Muller, who’s a hedge fund manager at PDT.

And yeah, I mean, it was just like,

and then, you know, just everyone.

And then all these bracelet world series,

like people that I know from like TV.

And Robert Mercer, who’s fucking crazy.

Who’s that?

He’s the guy who donated the most money to Trump.

And he’s just like…

It’s a lot of personality.

Character, yeah, geez, it’s crazy.

So it’s quite cool how, yeah, like the, it was really fun.

And then I managed to knock out Peter Muller.

I have a, I got a little trophy for knocking him out

because he was a previous champion.

In fact, I think he’s won the most.

I think he’s won three times.

Super smart guy.

But I will say Jim outlasted me in the tournament.

And they’re all extremely good at poker,

but they’re also, so it was a $10,000 buy in.

And I was like, this is kind of expensive,

but it all goes to charity, Jim’s math charity.

But then the way they play, they have like rebis

and like they all do a shit ton of rebis

because it’s for charity.

So immediately they’re like going all in

and I’m like, man, like, so I ended up adding more as well.

So it’s like you couldn’t play at all without doing that.

Yeah, the stakes are high.

But you’re connected to a lot of these folks

that are kind of titans of just of economics

and tech in general.

Do you feel a burden from this?

You’re a young guy.

I did feel a bit out of place there.

The company was quite new

and they also don’t speak about things, right?

So it’s not like going to meet a famous rocket engineer

who will tell you how to make a rocket.

They do not want to tell you anything

about how to make a hedge fund.

It’s like all secretive and that part I didn’t like.

And they were also kind of making fun of me a little bit.

Like they would say, like they’d call me like,

I don’t know, the Bitcoin kid or.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And then they would say, even things like,

member Peter, yeah, said to me something like,

I don’t think AI is gonna have a big role in finance.

And I was like, hearing this from the CEO of Renaissance

was like weird to hear because I was like,

of course it will.

And he’s like, but he can see,

I can see it having a really big impact

on things like self driving cars.

But finance, it’s too noisy and whatever.

And so I don’t think it’s like the perfect application.

And I was like, that was interesting to hear

because it’s like, and I think it was that same day

that Libra, I think it is, the poker playing AI

started to beat like the human.

So it was kind of funny hearing them like say,

oh, I’m not sure AI could ever attack that problem.

And then that very day it’s attacking the problem

of the game we’re playing.

Well, there’s a kind of a magic to somebody

who’s exceptionally successful looking at you,

giving you respect, but also saying that what you’re doing

is not going to succeed in a sense.

Like they’re not really saying it,

but I tend to believe from my interactions with people

that it’s a kind of prod to say like, prove me wrong.


That’s ultimately, that’s how those guys talk.

They see good talent and they’re like.


And I think they’re also saying

it’s not gonna succeed quickly in some way.

They’re like, this is gonna take a long time

and maybe that’s good to know.

And certainly AI in trading,

that’s one of the most philosophically interesting questions

about artificial intelligence and the nature of money.

Because it’s like, how much can you extract

in terms of patterns from all of these millions

of humans interacting using this methodology of money?

It’s like one of the open questions

in the artificial intelligence.

In that sense, you converting into a data set

is one of like the biggest gifts to the research community,

to the whole, anyone who loves data science and AI,

this is kind of fascinating.

I’d love to see where this goes actually.

I think I say sometimes long before AGI destroys the world,

a narrow intelligence will win all the money

in the stock market.

Way, like just a narrow AI.


And I don’t know if I’m gonna be the one who invents that.

So I’m building Numerai to make sure

that that narrow AI uses our data.

So you’re giving a platform

to where millions of people can participate

and do build that narrow AI themselves.

People love it when I ask this kind of question

about books, about ideas and philosophers and so on.

I was wondering if you had books or ideas,

philosophers, thinkers that had an influence

on your life when you were growing up

or just today that you would recommend

that people check out blog posts, podcasts, videos,

all that kind of stuff.

Is there something that just kind of had an impact on you

that you couldn’t recommend?

A super kind of obvious one that I really,

I was reading Zero to One while coming up with Numerai.

It was like halfway through the book.

And I really do like a lot of the ideas there.

And it’s also about kind of thinking big

and also it’s like peculiar little book.

It’s like why, like there’s a little picture

of the hipster versus Unabomber.

And it’s a weird little book.

So I like, there’s kind of like some depth there.

In terms of a book on a, if you’re thinking

of doing a startup, that’s a good book.

A book I like a lot is maybe my favorite book

is David Deutsch’s Beginning of Infinity.

I just found that so optimistic.

It puts you, everything you read in science,

it like makes the world feel like kind of colder

because like it’s like we’re just coming from evolution

and coming from nothing should be this way or whatever.

And humans are not very powerful.

We’re just like scum on the earth.

And the way David Deutsch sees things

and argues, he argues them with the same rigor

that the cynics often use

and then has a much better conclusion.

That’s some of the statements of things like,

anything that doesn’t violate the laws

of physics can be solved.

So ultimately arriving at a hopeful,

like a hopeful path forward.

Yeah, without being like a hippie.

You’ve mentioned kind of advice for startups.

Is there, in general, whether you do a startup or not,

do you have advice for young people today?

You’re like an example of somebody

who’s paved their own path

and were, I would say exceptionally successful.

Is there advice, somebody who’s like 20 today, 18,

undergrad or thinking about going to college,

or in college and so on that you would give them?

I think I often tell young people don’t start companies.

Is it not, don’t start a company

unless you’re prepared to make it your life’s work.

Like that’s a really good way of putting it.

And a lot of people think, well, this semester

I’m gonna take a semester off.

And in that one semester,

I’m gonna start a company and sell it or whatever.

And it’s just like, what are you talking about?

It doesn’t really work that way.

You should be like super into the idea,

so into it that you wanna spend a really long time on it.

Is that more about psychology or actual time allocation?

Like, is it literally the fact that you need to give 100%

for potentially years for it to succeed?

Or is it more about just the mindset that’s required?

Yeah, I mean, I think, well, any, I think, yeah,

you don’t wanna have,

certainly don’t wanna have a plan to sell the company

like quickly or something,

or it’s like a company that has a very,

it’s like a big fashion component.

Like it’ll only work now.

It’s like an app or something.

So yeah, that’s a big one.

And then I also think something I’ve thought about recently

is I had a job as a quant at a fund

for about two and a half years.

And part of me thinks if I had spent

another two years there,

I would have learned a lot more

and had even more knowledge to be where,

to basically accelerate how long Numerai took.

So the idea that you can sit in an air conditioned room

and get free food,

or even sit at home now in your underwear

and make a huge amount of money and learn whatever you want

and get, it’s just crazy.

It’s such a good deal.

Yeah, oh, that’s interesting.

That’s the case for, I was terrified of that.

Like at Google, I thought I would become really comfortable

in that air conditioned room.

And that, I was afraid the quant situation is,

I mean, what you present is really brilliant

that it’s exceptionally valuable, the lessons you learn,

because you get to get paid while you learn from others.

If you see that, if you see jobs

in the space of your passion that way,

that it’s just an education.

It’s like the best kind of education.

But of course you have, from my perspective,

you have to be really careful on that to get comfortable.

Again, in a relationship, then you buy a house

or whatever the hell it is, and then you get,

and then you convince yourself like,

well, I have to pay these fees for the car,

for the house, blah, blah, blah.

And then there’s momentum and all of a sudden

you’re on your death bed and there’s grandchildren

and you’re drinking whiskey

and complaining about kids these days.

So I’m afraid of that momentum, but you’re right.

Like there’s something special about the education

you get working at these companies.

Yeah, and I remember on my desk,

I had like a bunch of papers on quant finance,

a bunch of papers on optimization,

and then the paper on Ethereum, just on my desk as well,

and the white paper, and it’s like,

it’s been amazing how kind of, and you can learn about,

so that, I also thought, I think this idea

of like learning about intersections of things,

I don’t think there are too many people that know

like as much about crypto and quant finance

and machine learning as I do.

And that’s a really nice set of three things

to know stuff about.

And that was because I had like free time in my job.

Okay, let me ask the perfectly impractical,

but the most important question.

What’s the meaning of all the things you’re trying to do

so many amazing things, why?

What’s the meaning of this life of yours or ours?

I don’t know.


Yeah, so I have yet had some people say,

asking what meaning of life is,

is like asking the wrong question or something.

The question is wrong.


No, usually people get too nervous to be able to say that

because it’s like your question sucks.

I don’t think there’s an answer.

It’s like the searching for it.

It’s like sometimes asking it.

It’s like sometimes sitting back and looking up at the stars

and being like, huh, I wonder if there’s aliens up there.

There’s a useful like a palette cleanser aspect to it

because it kind of wakes you up to like all the little busy,

hurried day to day activities, all the meetings,

all the things you’d like a part of.

We’re just like ants, a part of a system,

a part of another system.

And then asking this bigger question

allows you to kind of zoom out and think about it.

But there’s ultimately,

I think it’s an impossible thing for a limited capacity,

like cognitive capacity to capture.

But it’s fun to listen to somebody

who’s exceptionally successful, exceptionally busy now,

who’s also young like you,

to ask these kinds of questions about like death.

You know, do you consider your own mortality kind of thing

and life, whether that enters your mind?

Because it often doesn’t,

it kind of almost gets in the way.


It’s amazing how many things you can like that are trivial

that could occupy a lot of your mind

until something bad happens or something flips you.

And then you start thinking about the people you love

that are in your life.

Then you started thinking about like,

holy shit, this ride ends.


Yeah, I just had COVID and I had it quite bad.

What wasn’t really bad is just like,

I also got a simultaneous like lung infection.

So I had like almost like bronchitis or whatever.

I don’t even, I don’t understand that stuff,

but I started, and then you’re forced to be isolated.


And so it’s actually kind of nice

because it’s very depressing.

And then I’ve heard stories of, I think it’s Sean Parker.

He had like all these diseases as a child

and he had to like just stay in bed for years.

And then he like made Napster.

It’s like pretty cool.

So yeah, I had about 15 days of this recently,

just last month.

And it feels like it did shock me

into a new kind of energy and ambition.

Were there moments when you were just like terrified

at the combination of loneliness?

And like, you know, the thing about COVID is like,

there’s some degree of uncertainty.

Like it feels like it’s a new thing, a new monster

that’s arrived on this earth.

And so, you know, dealing with it alone,

a lot of people are dying.

It’s like wondering like.

Yeah, you do wonder, I mean, for sure.

And then there are the even new strains in South Africa,

which is where I was.

And maybe the new strain had some interaction

with my genes and I’m just gonna die.

But ultimately it was liberating somehow.

I loved it.

Oh, I loved that I got out of it.


Because it also affects your mind.

You get confused, you get confusion

and kind of a lot of fatigue

and you can’t do your usual tricks

of psyching yourself out of it.

So, you know, sometimes it’s like, oh man, I feel tired.

Okay, I’m just gonna go have coffee and then I’ll be fine.

It’s like, now it’s like, I feel tired.

I don’t even wanna get out of bed to get coffee

because I feel so tired.

And then you have to confront,

there’s no like quick fix cure and you’re trapped at home.

But that, so now you have this little thing

that happened to you that was a reminder

that you’re mortal and you get to carry that flag

in trying to create something special in this world.


With Numerai.

Listen, this was like one of my favorite conversation

because the way you think about this world of money

and just this world in general is so clear

and you’re able to explain it so eloquently.

Richard, that was really fun.

Really appreciate you talking to me.

Thank you.

Thanks for listening to this conversation with Richard Crave

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And now let me leave you with some words from Warren Buffett.

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Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.

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