Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello everyone. And welcome to the 89th episode of the Atlas society asks. My name is Jennifer on Jew Grossman. My friends call me JAG. I'm the CEO of the Atlas society. We are the leading nonprofit introducing the ideas of iron ran to young people in fun, creative ways like animated videos and graphic novels. Today we are joined by on-job Massaad. Um, before I even get into introducing, um, John, I want to remind all of you that are watching us on zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, wherever you are. We want to hear from you. So use the comments section and shoot us some questions. Uh, our guests today, um, John massage landed in America, Bob a decade ago with nothing but credit card debt and with hard work and risk-taking and Bishan, he became one of the country's youngest and most successful tech entrepreneurs. After working at engineering roles at Facebook and Yahoo, then helping launch code academy.
Speaker 0 00:01:14 Um, he in 2016, he founded replicate an online coding environment designed to make coding more fun, approachable, and social, kind of like what we'll try to do here at the Atlas society, uh, while he's widely respected in Silicon valley and the tech community, he broke into the national consciousness. Uh, last month when he authored a thread on Twitter, uh, on 10 things I love about this country, uh, which got picked up in various outlets, including a beautiful op-ed by pecking. And we'll put those links in the comment section. I'm John. Welcome. Thanks for joining us.
Speaker 1 00:01:57 Thank you. It's my pleasure. A beautiful introduction. I appreciate it.
Speaker 0 00:02:02 So, uh, at first I was interested to learn that you were born in and grew up in Jordan, but you can correct me because I know your family moved around a little bit. Um, I actually spent some time there, uh, doing research from my Harvard thesis on the Hashemite dynasty. So would love to hear a bit about your backstory before coming to the United States?
Speaker 1 00:02:27 Yeah, for sure. Um, so, uh, yes, my, my parents, I come from, I guess, multiple generation of immigrants. My father is a Palestinian Palestinian immigrant first to Syria. My father was born in Syria and then moved to a mine when a man was kind of just, uh, just, uh, D becoming, becoming like a major city in that region. And my mom's family are Algerian and they kind of fled the, um, Algerian French war, went to Syria. And then from Syria again to Amman, my dad and my mom met in a mine and my brothers and I were born and raised in Amman Jordan. Um, and, uh, my father is an engineer. My, my, my mom is sort of a, more of a, kind of a liberal arts type. Um, I think she studied psychology. She was, um, she always kind of made us read poems and, uh, and, and draw and do art.
Speaker 1 00:03:31 And my father always pushed us to do kind of math and physics. And we had, we had sort of little means and, um, but, but, uh, my parents always, uh, you know, they had this value, um, you know, they always valued education and they, uh, they spend, they went to, to debts to, to give us a great education. Um, and, uh, my father was working in government, um, in Jordan. He, um, he started in, um, in the, um, Amman, uh, in the city of Amman as an engineer, as a civil engineer. And, um, he found it hard at first because it's hard as a Palestinian to, to kind of really make it in government in Jordan, but, uh, it was beautiful watching him, uh, you kind of fight and, and, and, and try to do the best for the country. And, um, and kind of as an immigrant, really adopt a new, a new country and try to contribute the most.
Speaker 1 00:04:29 And the kind of, I, I carried that with me today as, as I, as I do the same thing in the United States, but, um, my father got us a computer when we were, uh, very young again, sort of, uh, went into, into debt for that. It was way above his means, but he just saw something in computers that was 1993. And we were the first in our neighborhood, even in our, like, if of anyone I know that we had a computer and I remember just one of my earliest memory memories was just standing behind my father's shoulder, as he was learning how to use the computer. He was using dos, he was entering the commands. And like, I remember what's what was going through my head was that, wow, this is a machine that can talk to you, uh, and that you can like have a almost conversation with.
Speaker 1 00:05:20 And, um, it was just sort of like started making mental notes of like what the, what my father and his friends were doing on the computer. And then, then when they would leave, you know, wake up at night, get up from bed, go to the computer and then mess around with that and start typing commands. And eventually I got caught, but they were, my father was so impressed with my abilities with, uh, with the computer that came sort of naturally to me. And they just like, let me mess with it. Um, and, um, I learned a bit of programming. One of the interesting thing about, about computers in the nineties and eighties was, and before that was that you had to learn some programming in order to use computers unlike today, where sort of, um, you know, Silicon valley does the programming for you. And, um, and, uh, and like everyone is a consumer of computers, um, as opposed to being able to manipulate the software and the data yourself.
Speaker 1 00:06:14 And maybe we'll get back to that. Once I talk about my journey, uh, and, and business and entrepreneurship, um, I started my first software business when I was 15 years old. I sold software to, uh, internet cafes and in Jordan, which was becoming a big trend, I sort of, I sold like management software and they had contracts to fix their computers. Um, it w I was uncalled the whole time and I kind of invested in a pager so that they can reach me. There were no cellular phones at the time in Jordan. And, um, and so I would run away from class in order to go fix my software, which often broke. I made a lot of money as a kid when McDonald's first came to Jordan, I took my entire class to eat at McDonald's. And I was just like bawling for our 15 years old, a kid.
Speaker 1 00:07:06 And, yeah, and that's why, that's how I caught the entrepreneurship bug. It just felt like software and computers were this like, thing that could give you super powers, um, and was really inspired by that. Um, I went throughout college, I worked in it. Uh, I sort of stopped doing software for a while. Um, you know, I had this theory that maybe, uh, AI will be able to automate software that didn't turn out to be kind of dumb because AI is the software is the last thing that AI will will automate, um, before everything else is automated. So I went back to software and I had this vision in my head that software was sort of like the highest leverage thing since the Dawn of humanity. Um, and like, you can sort of just think of things it's kind of, you can, you can think of things and with little resources, turn it into reality, turn it into something that affects people's lives.
Speaker 1 00:08:08 And so I made it my life's mission to, um, to make software creation, more accessible. Uh, and I wrote, um, I wrote, uh, you know, I wrote a, sort of a breakthrough piece of software that we open sourced to make, um, programming more accessible in a web browser. Traditionally, you'd have to download a lot of software in order to start programming. And so I tried to do two software. What Google docs did to Microsoft word, you know, just put it online, make it collaborative, make it easy, make it easier to share. It was a lot harder than just pros because you're dealing with code. But, um, that got me, uh, that got me a lot of press and kind fame in the United States. Um, people were talking about our technology and using it and talking about it in conferences. So I got a job offer from code academy as the founding engineer, and, uh, they got me an, an O one visa, uh, to go to the United States.
Speaker 1 00:09:13 I mean, the story behind the credit card debt was that I saved up a lot of money in order to go to the United States, to buy the tickets and go there and get situated in the airports. They, um, they looked at my visa, they saw the O one visa. They did not know what a no one visa is. They never seen it before from a Jordanian, uh, an alien of extraordinary ability. That's what it's called. And they made me buy a ticket back. And I was, they basically took all my cash from me and I had to put some on my credit card. So by the time I landed in America, I really had very little money. It kind of struggled with that a little bit. Um, and, um, but like the, the startup, uh, started taking off and, and, um, and, um, you know, eventually, um, I left that company today, code academy kind of powers, uh, you know, tens of millions of people, uh, learning how to code. They just had a big exit. They were acquired for half a billion dollars. And, um, and after that, I went to work for Facebook a little bit before in 2016 and kind of starting my own business, which is replica.
Speaker 0 00:10:27 So when you came to the United States, had you, had you been here before, uh, was it kind of a culture shock at all because you're, you have zero? Uh,
Speaker 1 00:10:39 Yeah. So, um, you know, the, uh, the accident, uh, is, is something I actually worked on. I wanted to fit in. I didn't want to, there's nothing wrong with an accent obviously, but, um, yeah, I just, uh, I just wanted to fit in, I wanted to be an American, um, and, um, you know, as you know, uh, you know, us Jordanians were, um, were fascinated by American culture. When we were growing up, we'd listened to rap music, we dressed like Americans, we ate McDonald's and we, um, and just w we grew up with American culture. And so in a lot of ways, it wasn't a culture shock. Um, and, um, and, uh, uh, maybe California was, was because I landed in New York, maybe California is, was a little bit more of a culture shock because the culture here is pretty, pretty different. Um, and, uh, and, uh, like, uh, like new Yorkers are a lot more confrontational and like, um, it's more similar to two Arabs, I guess, but, uh, but in California, there's this niceness and sometimes fake niceness, that's hard to that's to really, um, parse. So that was, that was a bit hard, but, but other than that, it's pretty well acclimated.
Speaker 0 00:12:00 So tell us about replica. How is it different than toad academy? You know, this is a philosophy audience. Hopefully we have some of your fans who are watching as well, but for our core base who are relatively tech, non savvy, what's your product and, uh, who are your customers or consumers what's the business.
Speaker 1 00:12:23 Yeah, for sure. So code academy is a business model was, uh, education. You paid the, you paid us to, uh, teach you how to code. And we, um, had some software contents that we sold at code academy. Um, I felt like we stopped short of the potential because I felt like the potential was to not only give you some the training wheels, but actually give you the bike itself. Right. So, um, I felt like there's an opportunity to make coding fun, accessible, but also give people the tools in order to build monetize software. And, um, you know, I know the Atlas society is about, uh, Liberty, freedom, capitalism, and all of that. And, uh, these ideas are embedded in replica because we want people it's. So, you know, going back to my story about thinking of software as this huge leverage, this great equalizer, it's the best thing, you know, it's the best thing in a long time for entrepreneurship, but it's not as accessible as it could be.
Speaker 1 00:13:33 And we could get a lot more entrepreneurs building software. And I think, um, it's much better to have this like decentralized form of entrepreneurship, as opposed to, you know, Silicon valley sort of building software for everyone. And, um, we know the negative effects of that. And so w with replica, we want people we want to teach. We want to give people tools to learn how to code, but also tools to build and ship software. And so we have people going from their first line of code to the first app to the first dollar, right. And we have people taking the tools to their jobs. We have people starting startups on our platform and the really one of the Lord, the distinction between learning the craft and putting it to use.
Speaker 0 00:14:21 All right, well, we're going to get into, uh, your famous Twitter thread. I want to remind everybody who is watching, and hopefully we have some international viewers, cause I, I know that your, uh, reputation has, has grown internationally. And I do want to talk about, um, all of the ways in which replica is helping, you know, people in Venezuela and other countries, uh, which also don't really have reliable, um, internet connections to, uh, to just start to get a leg up on that ladder of economic opportunity. But as I mentioned on December 28th of last year, you posted a thread to Twitter, uh, which again, we're going to put posts into the comment section, which started off. I landed in the United States 10 years ago with nothing but credit card debt after one startup, exit one big tech job, one unicorn. I, um, I genuinely believe that it wouldn't have been possible anywhere in the world, uh, anywhere else in the world here are 10 things I love about this country. So what inspired you, did you have, uh, any premonition that it would have so much impact and, uh, was, was there a last straw? Was it sort of like, oh, I'll just, this is what's on my mind. Is it something that had been building for a while?
Speaker 1 00:15:55 Yeah, sort of, uh, you know, when, when, um, I have this tradition of towards the end of the year, I typically go into this like more, uh, reflective mode. Like what if I'd done this year? Um, you know, w what is our life like, you know, what's changed. Um, my wife, uh, is a big part of my story. She is, uh, I met her at work in Jordan. We get married and we actually, she, uh, she is, my co-founder at Rutledge is a designer. And so, uh, we were talking Haya and I, uh, at lunch and we were just like talking about, you know, um, just reflecting and the main thing on our mind was that, okay, we've been 10 years almost to the day, uh, and the United States, what have we been able to achieve? And we, we talked a lot about that, you know, the startups, the career, uh, achievements, um, the financial achievements, um, and all of that, and, um, and really felt a sense of gratitude, uh, towards this country.
Speaker 1 00:17:05 Um, and, um, and also like a, a sense of like, you know, I can, how can we give back? How can we, there are a lot of things that I don't like, the trends of that are happening. And I felt like, let me highlight the things that I really love about this country. What I think is really special and maybe hold up a mirror to, to Americans just to see, see what's great about them, but the culture and about the country. And, um, and, and maybe we can start a discussion around, around that. And, um, and so that, that, that kind of was brewing and, and, uh, and then it just, like, it just came out of me. Like I started writing it and, and, uh, you know, it's, I guess it's been brewing in head for so long, and it was so easy to get it out. Like I had just so much to say and so much love to give and, um, gratitude. And, uh, yeah, that, that was the impetus for the thread.
Speaker 0 00:18:04 It's interesting. Um, that you mentioned that it was kind of gratitude that, that moved you, that that actually is a big theme of ours at the outlet society. Uh, you know, it's, it's not necessarily a core tenant of objectivism, but, uh, looking at that value and that attitude, that feeling from an objectivist wins, um, it's, it's quite empowering, you know, you're, you're not coming from a place of warrant or scarcity, um, and anyone can feel grateful, you know, for what, for what they have, even if it's very little. Uh, and we also think it's, you know, you talked about some of these trends and, um, some of the trends that we're concerned about are things like envy, no, uh, we call it the socially transmitted disease of envy, which is very disempowered. You know, it's just focused on what other people have and, uh, rather than focusing on yourself, um, vices like victim hood, which now it's almost like, you know, Olympics of victim hood, whoever can play to be the more victimized, uh, you know, has the moral superiority and resentment and gratitude really does, um, almost inoculate you to, uh, to that. So that's, that's really beautiful. So the response were you surprised by just the magnitude of it, or, uh, will you, what, what did you think you were going to get?
Speaker 1 00:19:43 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, well first, uh, just to comment on, on this idea of gratitude, um, and its connection to, uh, self-reliance and it's, it's, uh, it's the opposite of victim hood and, and it is a very astute observation. I haven't thought about it that way, but it's absolutely true because, um, how can you be envious if you're actually thankful, right. If you are, if you're counting your blessings, like, um, how are you like you can't, you can't focus on your, uh, uh, you can focus on your, uh, shortcomings or your misgivings, or you're just like focused on how good things are and how you could make things better. And that's the kind of mindset that I, um, I really liked to have. Um,
Speaker 0 00:20:40 Yeah, I mean, I kind of think of like, even when things are going bad and things have gone bad in my life that this house burned down, this is the house that I rebuilt, but, you know, in kind of taking on a big task, if you are just feeling like, so down about yourself, so down about, you know, your situation, uh, you feel like a victim, then it's really hard to motivate yourself and just kind of figure out, like looking around, what do I have, how do I make the situation better and sort of a gratitude focus? It's like, okay, no, I got my family, got my friends, I've got my mind, I've got my values. I have my philosophy, right. This is what I'm going to use. Um, thank goodness I have these tools.
Speaker 1 00:21:29 Yup, exactly. Eh, for the response, like I, you know, I expected, I expected to get a fair, fair amount of, uh, uh, traction on the, on the thread, but what, what transpired was way more than I expected getting printed in the wall street journal. Um, I think a feature then the hill, a bunch of local newspapers, and then trending on Twitter, Facebook, a bunch of other places that was, I did not expect that I expected within my network to get, to get a fair amount of, of positive feedback. And I expected to get some pushback because, because again, there was, uh, you know, I try to highlight the really positive things. And there are some people who are just so caught up with the negative things that, that they will get mad if you, if you show a lot of optimism. And I actually like to show a lot of optimism and really don't care if that really rubs you the wrong way.
Speaker 1 00:22:36 Like, you know, you can just, you know, you're just pissed off. Like, I don't really care. Like, you know, we like, we really should be proud of our optimism and we should really be, be proud of our nation and proud of our country and proud of what makes us great. And, and so I want to, uh, you know, so, so that was one thing on my mind, in terms of the response, um, immigrants, other American immigrants had the most positive response, like quote, tweets, replies, um, people saying, you know, you know, I'm coming from a place where I faced so much discrimination in America and America was, was the first place I've been able to really, um, live life without that kind of fear, uh, looming over my head to be able to be like a lot of entrepreneurs shared, uh, what, uh, what I, what I talked about, um, it was, it was also surprising that given the division in the country that both left-leaning and right-leaning people enjoyed the thread, like a one example is like Chris Hayes followed me and bill crystal, and they could not be more diametrically opposed.
Speaker 1 00:24:00 And, uh, and that was good. Like, it, it was great to see that there's, that, that, um, you know, I've been, I've been able to appeal to, to, to, to the entire spectrum of political ideology and the United States. Um, the biggest pushback was on infrastructure. I said this thing, which is like, I didn't know, it was like a triggering word infrastructure, but it is where a lot of people, a lot of people were like, kind of like discounted the whole thread or thought it was fiction because I said, America has good infrastructure. And I said, Americans take care of their public spaces. I'm I stand by it. And even Peggy who loved the thread when we were talking, she even pushed back on that. And I said, look, look, no, I'm going to, I'm going to stand my ground. I really believe in what I said.
Speaker 1 00:24:54 You have to understand, like my perspective, like I am here in Palo Alto. I take my kid outside to the, to the park and it's, it's, it's like, it's epic, it's wonderful. It's, um, it's squirrels and it's dogs and it's people and it's clean. And that to me is fantastic. It's fascinating. I realized that not all of America is like that. Especially places where audio logs have really taken over like San Francisco, you see these places getting destroyed, but like, I don't feel like that's inherently American. I feel like that's, anti-American a lot of ways. And this is like, um, a lot of this is, are like blips and I hope we kind of correct away from these, from these things. I know, I know it's, it's getting hard to believe that California could, could turn things around, but, but hopefully we can. Um, but even, even in New York, when I came, like just the subway is a fascinating thing.
Speaker 1 00:25:56 Like it's really, um, and I know Americans, we'll, we'll look at Japan and other places and say like, you know, we suck and it that's great. That's a great thing about America is like, we want to improve. But from my baseline, as you've probably seen in Jordan, like nothing runs on time. Uh, you know, everything is, uh, like, you know, public transport is super, super dirty on unsafe. And all of that New York was, was the opposite of that. And I, um, from my point of view, uh, I think American infrastructure is, is good. And I really hope we can, we can make it even better. Like w when I say something as good, a lot of people will, you know, they feel like, you know, it's, it's being complacent. I'm not being complacent. I'm just recognizing that this is something that's, uh, that I feel is, is great and I'm grateful for.
Speaker 1 00:26:44 Um, and so, so that's, that was the biggest, uh, biggest pushback. Uh, and of course, uh, there are people who, who want to really focus on the negative things, and it wasn't like a huge number of them, but like, uh, like, you know, um, some people like sort of hated the fact that I didn't talk about discrimination, or I didn't talk about any of their pets issues. Um, and, um, and there's so much to talk about in terms of what we can do better. And I do believe we can do better on, uh, giving more equal access to more people. And I'm working on that. Like, that's literally our job at lettuce too, is to provide equal opportunity for everyone. Um, and, but by, by having gratitude, I really do not mean that we should not also be working on the, on the things we could get better at it.
Speaker 0 00:27:38 Really interesting. And I wonder with the infrastructure, because I wouldn't have thought of that. I mean, I've been in Jordan, I've been overseas in places where you can't literally cannot drive on the roads. I mean, just completely unbelievably messed up. So compared to that, uh, it's, it's pretty darn good, but maybe because there was the infrastructure bill and the build back better. And so you were being seen to say, Hey, you know, the infrastructure is pretty good and that didn't, you know, kind of, uh, set the political narrative. So I suppose, yeah,
Speaker 1 00:28:15 I, I sort of, I, uh, stumbled on a, on a landmine, I guess, but I did not that I did not know. And I know, um, like, you know, there was this, this a debate about what is infrastructure and what is not. And there was like a ton of things that like, like, uh, oh, okay. I guess this word is like, is, is sort of yeah. Is a trigger word right now. So yeah,
Speaker 0 00:28:37 So many are so many appear to be, so, um, all right, well, can we have another half an hour? So I do want to encourage people to jump in with questions, but I still have a few of my own. So, um, uh, let's go through some of the items that you had mentioned in, in your list. The first one on your list was, uh, the work ethic. And, and by the way, I just want to mention for our viewers, one of the reasons, uh, this list really fascinated me, and I thought it would resonate with, uh, with our audience is if you are well read in Rams, um, not the fiction so much, but, but her nonfiction has speeches or interviews. Uh, you will actually see a lot of resonance and similarities between, um, jobs, um, observations and hers coming from some Russia, you know, and she talks about the, uh, kind of industry and the hustle.
Speaker 0 00:29:38 Uh, w one, of course, an Atlas shrug, um, the money speech Francisco den pony is money. Speech talks about America as the place where he coined the phrase to make money. You know, that that was, uh, not, not, uh, in currency, so to speak before, before, uh, the United States. So, um, so I'm, I'm picking out a few things that I, again, I, I see a lot of overlap with, uh, with the philosophy that we promote. So the first thing on your list was the work ethic. Um, you observed in the United States, you remarked that regardless of the occupation, people want to do a, a bang up job, you know, whether it's sweeping, uh, the hallways cleaning up or whatever it is even, and even when nobody was fucking, even when they didn't have to. Um, and you said, uh, I, you asked why do you pour everything into doing a job when it is seemingly thankless? Um, and it was like asking fish, what is water? Um, so yeah, maybe, maybe some, some examples of that, you know, because we, we get questions about menial jobs, you know, and thankless jobs. Um, but maybe there's a sense to which, you know, they're not meaning less if you find your life and supporting yourself, supporting your family, um, and being productive, meaningful. So what were some, what kind of, why did this get to be the first thing on your list?
Speaker 1 00:31:17 Because it's the first observation that I made. It was like, you know, just everyday things like going to the mall and, and, and seeing a janitor, you know, really put in there their best in terms of cleaning and keeping everything clean and, uh, dealing with baristas who feel something for their craft. I didn't even know that it's a graft or it's a, it's a thing like you're making coffee, right. Um, and in my mind, at least, and, um, and just like in every facet of everyday life, you see people that really care about their job. And when you complain as a customer, like nobody like nobody, I mean, these are generalities, but like very few service providers, waiters, um, um, companies will complain, you know, they'll really customer satisfaction is something that is also uniquely American and, or the idea of their customer's always right.
Speaker 1 00:32:23 And you see people really caring about doing a good job and you complaining, they feel, they feel something. And, you know, I compare to my experience back home and elsewhere where, you know, there's this, low-level cynicism of, what's the point, you know, if, if, um, if I'm, if I'm not, um, if like, maybe I'm not going to get rewarded for this, like, look, what's the point of doing a great job. Like, what's the incentive, and then you compare it to that to America. Um, and, and I think this is how, why I speculate their work ethic is so, um, so important here is because you can be, you can have any profession, historically speaking in Greeley, still have the American dream, right? Like, you know, you hear stories all the time. And we used to hear them, even back home, someone going through the United States, working in a gas station, rising up, becoming the manager of that gas station, saving money, starting their own gas station, uh, becoming successful, starting a chain of gas stations like that path exists.
Speaker 1 00:33:41 And you can say that about most of the world, you know, um, and, and a big part of the Western world as well. Like, you know, this is very uniquely American that you can start at the absolute bottom and really have a path towards not only career success, but wealth and, and getting rich, um, in, in, I think that combined with the fact that there's some selection mechanism that's happening because it's a country of immigrants that, uh, only the people who truly want to work hard and leave the comfort of their own country in their own home to travel, to, and take a big risk and go somewhere unknown that it's sort of selects for the trait of hard work. Um, and I think he combined these two things, the idea that you can start anywhere somewhere and really be, and really kind of progressing and build, uh, build a life for yourself.
Speaker 1 00:34:48 And the fact that the sort of the population base already selected to be the one that's like hardest working. Um, and I think the third thing is, uh, the craft, the art, like, you know, talking about the concept of a barista. I did not have it. Like everything in America could be a craft. Like you could be the best barista you could be. Um, you like, you could be, um, you know, the best chef, you could be a great waiter. You could like everything has some kind of progression and has some kind of a leveling up that you could do. And I think these factors, uh, combined to give people incentives to two, to one, to one, to work hard. And of course, there's this a virtual cycle of working hard. You see your, your, your parents working hard, you, you want to work hard. Um, you see people in your community and neighborhood, um, and, um, and that's just absolutely great.
Speaker 0 00:35:53 You know what you're saying? Reminds me of a former colleague of mine. I was a immigrant scientists from great Britain, married to an American wife. And, um, the company that we worked for transferred him and his wife's had been the manager of a restaurant and kind of transferring to a sort of smaller town. And I said, oh, gosh, no. Where, where is she ever going to find, uh, another job, like an opening for a manager of the restaurant? And he said, oh, no, she'll just take, she'll just start busing, you know, and she'll be, I'll tell you within six months, she'll be running the place. So kind of that confidence that like, yeah, you can work harder, you can bring it. And, uh, and you can
Speaker 1 00:36:43 Actually, yeah, actually I had a similar experience where, uh, you know, I came, when I came to work at, at code academy, I, I was, I was, uh, somewhat of a minor celebrity because I had invented this, this technology. And, um, I was, uh, known in that like sub field of tech. But then when I went to work at Facebook, I was a total unknown and I had to like reset, um, and also rose at Facebook to become a team lead and starting my own team and, and building tools that millions of people use. I didn't work on the main site to work on. Again, I've worked on tools. I love building tools for people worked on open source tools that, uh, at, at Facebook and, and, um, you know, just, just like I was so nervous that I am, that I built up a lot of, um, social capital and I had left it and they started over and you could do that over and over again in the United States.
Speaker 0 00:37:42 Yeah. Um, I've my grandmother used to say when I was working at Dole seed company, no one ever expected me to be working at a seed company. And, uh, you know, like my grandmother who died at 99 would say, oh, it's early days. And this is when I'm in my forties. It's early days for Jennifer. I'm like, okay. All right, well, let's get to some of these questions. Cause a lot of people, uh, are curious about the thread and about your experience. Um, we've got a question coming in on Instagram, um, when Quinlin Pirro asks, does the us have more or less opportunities now than when you arrived? Which I guess we could also just use that question to say what, how in the past 10 years gotten better? You know, these things that you remarked on?
Speaker 1 00:38:42 Um, I would say, yes, I like my point of view is all, is entrepreneurship one because I'm an entrepreneur. And because I think this is the lifeblood of this country is entrepreneurship. And in the United States, entrepreneurship is not just for the capitalist class. You as a worker, you're also an entrepreneur because of the concept of at-will employment. You're sort of responsible for your own progression. If you, if you don't like a place, you can take a risk and go somewhere else. There's this freedom, this dynamism of movements, and that's only got better. You know, there's this concept of the great resignation, partly because a lot of people are starting their own businesses, starting your businesses become so easy when we started our business, you just fill an online form and you have an LLC and, um, everything's automated, you know, there are things that like help you with taxes.
Speaker 1 00:39:45 There are services that help you with payroll. All this infrastructure is getting built up. And, uh, and that's not just, that's not just like completely virtual or software businesses, even, you know, with things like square, like, you know, um, brick and mortar businesses can run like, like software businesses, you get all this intelligence and all the software, um, and, um, uh, to, to help you kind of run your business. So I think, uh, I think that, thanks Al you know, in, in a big part to, to, to the software industry in tech, um, you see the bar lowering for entrepreneurship. So the entry is as going to lower and you see it in the numbers. Like the number of firms started specially in 2020 has, has risen a lot. And I think that's really great news people moving is a, is a good thing as well. Like I think what made America so great, um, is that people could vote with their feet. Oh, that, you know, the east coast is getting calcified. It's getting like a little bit old money and people are comfortable. Let's go west, you know? And, uh, and now at least for my friend network, they're going back east, they're going back to Miami, right. Miami is becoming the hot tech center because San Francisco is throwing up like, and now San Francisco politicians are waking up. They're like, we're losing all these talents and all those people, oh,
Speaker 0 00:41:18 Oh, let's hope so. You know, I recently wrote an article called vagrants in our driveway, a teachable moment in that I was saying the way we talk about homelessness, which is clearly a key problem in, in San Francisco, that the very term, you know, that the words matter and using that term makes it, you think that it's a housing problem and that oh, that people are so successful and successful entrepreneurs are coming here and they're, you know, uh, they're buying up all of the real estate and driving costs up. And I said, well, if you think that, uh, homelessness is a problem now wait until they leave really going to have that.
Speaker 1 00:42:03 Yeah. I think that's one of the, the negative trends, the, um, the, the, um, sort of the, the, the, the treadmill of political correctness, like even homeless nurses sort of now considered maybe a little bit impolite and like, there's a, there's a new term housed. And I agree with you, these language games, like they're not helping anyone, like, you know, like, what are you doing? Like, you're just inventing new terms. Like, how is this useful? Um, and it comes from a good place. I think, uh, Americans tend to want to be polite and nice, especially California, but, uh, uh, but I, I like, it's a distraction. It's literally distraction. Like, you know, there are like, we should be focusing on real solutions,
Speaker 0 00:42:55 Right. And, you know, a is a, you have to call things what they are, you know, to correctly recognize the reality of the situation. And if the problem is that you have somebody who's deeply in the clutches of an addiction, uh, you know, that's, that's what we're dealing with. We're dealing with somebody who's a drug addict, not somebody who's just simply unhoused. So, all right. Uh, another question also from Instagram, Anthony Slater saying, uh, so many people think you have to go to college in order to, uh, get in the door, replicate seems to work differently. How can program or stand out without a stand out to get in without a degree.
Speaker 1 00:43:42 Yeah. You can totally do that. Um, we, we hire a lot of young people, our youngest employee joined when he was 15 or 17. Yeah. Um, and, you know, uh, we, I talked about being open to weirdos and the thread and, um, you know, that's, uh, you know, especially clear in the tech industry where you, you can, um, you can have a totally unconventional life path and you can be missing some, some skills like, you know, and, you know, Musk, you know, came out as, uh, like having Asperger's syndrome or something like that. There's a lot of people in tech that might be missing some, uh, uh, social skills or something like that. And they still are able make it, and they're still able to contribute, and they're still able to build, um, value in the world. Um, and you have people on the other extreme, like complete extroverts, um, you know, the marketing types, the sales types, and, and those two groups are able to coexist in a lot of ways.
Speaker 1 00:44:49 Um, and, um, and, you know, just like the American history of, of weirdness, like, you know, I remember reading about, um, Jimmy Hendrix, um, like did not know how to read music and was playing the guitar upside down because he was left-handed as like, where else does that happen? Like, I don't think there's anywhere else where you literally can be a self-taught autodidacts and, uh, do things totally different than what other peoples do. And as long as you're contributing, as long as you're creating value, and you're bringing something new and interesting, then you're going to find a place for yourself. Um, and, uh, and so that's, that's very uniquely American in terms of the question of, of college. Um, I think that's right. Like, you can, you can totally skip college. Like, I, I take a software softer sort of stance on, on, on education, done a lot of my P my friends and tack and, and people in the libertarian community and things like that.
Speaker 1 00:45:55 Like, I think, um, you know, I think college can be, can be good for some people, like, I think just the idea of having, you know, 2, 3, 4 years, whatever it is to like completely explore what your incident could be. Good thing. I think committing to early in life to a certain path might not be the best always. Um, and I think a lot of the benefits of college are these like, uh, non-academic benefits of, of meeting people and, and all of that. There are also downsides, like, um, you know, uh, they becoming an ideological, uh, uh, echo chamber in a lot of ways. Um, and, um, and you could like learn bad things, uh, from, from college. And so if, if, if you don't have the money for it, if you don't have the aptitude for it, um, if you feel like you can work and go and do something in the world, then the first thing you do is like, prove yourself. So websites like replica and, um, get hub and others in the programmer space allow you to build a portfolio online and show potential employers that, uh, that you're actually good at your craft, or you can start your own business.
Speaker 0 00:47:11 All right. Uh, we have a question on YouTube Ali, I, uh, Hathaway, uh, shout out to Amjad. I had the chance to work with, uh, this brilliant mind. I'm not sure if I'm John had the, to read Atlas shrugged or what his take on objectivism is.
Speaker 1 00:47:35 Yeah. We were talking about that before the show. I, I, I'm sort of like, not a big like fiction, um, reader. Um, I'm like always in a rush to get to the T to the point to the meat of the things and it kind of Atlas shrugged as beautifully written, but it's like, uh, long and all of that, I got, I got the, like I, um, so I, uh, played it on audio at three X speed. And so I, I got, I got, I got all the way through, um, and I, I, I I'm in agreement with, with a lot of the, uh, in agreement with a lot of iron Rand's ideas. Um, and, uh, I am, I, you know, what we talked about in terms of, um, uh, against victim hood, more about software Alliance that, um, being incentivized to do what's well for you and your family actually ended up adding up to being very good for society.
Speaker 1 00:48:36 Um, I am in agreement on all these things, um, and, uh, capitalism being, um, being a natural most freedom maximizing system. Um, I think maybe where, uh, you know, where, I don't know if that's iron ran stand, but like, um, like maybe I'm like, I think sometimes you have to, you have to, um, you have to fight and not just leave, like, you know, the idea of like, uh, you know, John and, and, and those people kind of leaving is an interesting idea. And you see it a lot, the like tack libertarian circles kind of, um, like Peter teal, who is an investor in rapid, um,
Speaker 0 00:49:19 Oh, I didn't know that. Okay. You know, he was our honoree at our gala
Speaker 1 00:49:23 Last year. He
Speaker 0 00:49:26 Had to send them this interview.
Speaker 1 00:49:28 Yeah, please do, um, uh, you know, uh, you know, building things like seasteading, and maybe it's worth exploring these things, but ultimately, like, I really think that, uh, that America is a, as I said, an a threat is worth protecting and, um, um, and, uh, like the message should not be that we should like leave.
Speaker 0 00:49:49 Right. So, uh, which feeds into a question from Harold Rogers, I'm asking over Facebook, speaking of leaving, what are your thoughts on all the people leaving California, all your friends, going to Miami and, uh, in Austin, and, uh, would you go elsewhere or stay and try to change things?
Speaker 1 00:50:10 Yeah, I'm so far, uh, decided to stay. Um, and, um, and I'm like, I'm not as involved as I like to be in local politics, but this is something that I'd love to explore, been having some, some conversations, things like my thread, hopefully, and like my writing. Um, hopefully we'll, we'll start to have some positive impact. Actually. Some politicians reached out Democrats, um, center, left type people reach out, uh, after, uh, the news came out and wanted to chat here in Santa Clara county. And so there, there are, there are a lot of good apples here. And, um, I think we have a fighting chance. Again, the attitudes are changing a little bit. You see London breed, uh, had a, like a tough on crime, um, speech and, uh, and hopefully that's, um, that's, uh, that has some staying power. Um, so, um, but I am very sympathetic to, to inter state competent or not sympathetic, but very supportive of voting with your, with your feet of the American, um, tradition of interstate competition, the mayor of Miami saying, like, um, saying like, if, if California San Francisco doesn't like the tech entrepreneurial class, then come here, you know, and, uh, a lot of other mayors have had said the same thing.
Speaker 1 00:51:41 Um, recently, um, the mayor of New York has been signaling a lot of support for crypto and Bitcoin. Um, you said he's gonna take his salary. I think Eric Adams said that he's going to take a salary in Bitcoin, and this is great. This is awesome. Like, you know, politicians fighting for talent is awesome. I just don't think we should. Um, we should, we should, uh, you know, we should be so down on America itself. I think, I think the NRSA stuff is fine, but like not, not, not be thinking about escapism, um, too, too much.
Speaker 0 00:52:19 So, uh, we have little less than 10 minutes and you were mentioning, um, and it's one of the items in the thread about, uh, how America is, um, open to weirdness where does thrive without being crushed. So, you know, weirdness is being different, thinking differently, doing things differently. Um, I wonder if, uh, there is, uh, the same kind of toleration for quirky personal styles, personal taste. Um, is there a same tolerance for kind of non conformists when it comes, uh, in, in Silicon valley when it comes to those who have different political points of view? I mentioned, uh, Peter teal, who was someone who we honored at our gala. Um, one of the reasons he left, you know, um, uh, Silicon valley was, uh, because of the sort of political monoculture that there wasn't a lot of diversity or tolerance for diversity of, uh, ideologies. Um, Palmer Luckey spoke at our, at our gala and, uh, you know, he's founded Oculus, but, uh, just supported a different candidate and the guy got kicked out of his own, um, own company. So,
Speaker 1 00:53:40 Yeah, I, I think, um, I think, um,
Speaker 0 00:53:44 I mean, maybe it is that premises even,
Speaker 1 00:53:46 Right? No, it is, it is somewhat right. I think, I think it's especially Fang, uh, sort of, um, phenomenon, uh, like, you know, Facebook, Google employees. Um, there are a few reasons for that. I think Google started this trend of like treating employees like children. Uh,
Speaker 0 00:54:11 I've never
Speaker 1 00:54:11 Heard about, yeah. I mean, like you go to the campus, it's all colorful. It's all like, you know, they have these, these playground playground, um, they feed them, they do their laundry, they do their all this. Yeah. It's, it's crazy. I mean, it looks great from the outside, but it had a lot of these negative downstream effect of actually people becoming children. And, um, and I th I think that, that, that is like changing a little bit, especially with a pandemic. And I think because they had so much success and they were insulated from market pressure because as a monopoly with a, like a cash cow, you sort of become totally. And this is one, some failure modes of, of capitalism that maybe I depart from some libertarians from is that you can have situations where companies become so corrupt because they've been too successful for too long.
Speaker 1 00:55:06 Um, and, and, and so ideological conformity became part of that. And I saw it, um, really peak during the, um, the like, uh, Trump Clinton sort of elections. And, um, it, it drove people really mad that, um, that, uh, that Trump, uh, Trump won. I wasn't happy about it, but, but I, like, I think some people just really fundamentally had, um, were, um, were effected, um, mentally by it. Um, and, uh, th they, there was a ramp up, uh, in terms of like, you know, wokeness for a long time in Silicon valley. Um, and it, it kind of peaked, uh, in 2020. Um, and, and I feel like it's gone, it's going down. Um, and, um, and I think, uh, there's opening now for reasonable people, uh, to, to talk, to have new ones to, um, to realize that we're all striving for the same thing.
Speaker 1 00:56:11 And a lot of people that adopted, uh, those mentalities, you know, have different approach to maybe solving things that they want to do well. And I, I believe in the, of most people, but, um, shutting down debate counseling, people, taking things out of context, digging into people's history to find things they don't like, you know, supporting a different candidate being against that. Um, uh, or like, you know, shutting that down. I th I think that's bad and like, people know that SPAD, but there was, there was a mania moment of mania, I think, uh, in Silicon valley specifically by the United States in general, that sort of peaked, uh, and, and, you know, uh, in, in 2020, maybe, maybe a bit last year, but don't, you feel like things are changing a little bit?
Speaker 0 00:57:04 I think so. Uh, but I think that we're, we're still seeing, um, just in terms of irrationality, I'm still seeing a lot of irrationality unwillingness to admit things, uh, didn't turn out the way that, um, they, they were intended to, if a lot of the, uh, the mandates and the, and the lockdowns, you know, um, United States is really kind of an outlier. He looked over in Europe and, uh, other other countries where they're, they're just not persisting in a lot of these, um, interventions. And so it almost seems like until we can kind of mean, cause it's a big deal, it's kind of a deal.
Speaker 1 00:57:55 Yeah. Yeah. I would agree with that. I, I think it's like slightly distinct than, than the ideological thing. Cause, cause you see people on the left end, right. Sort of being so tied to, uh, to lock downs and mandates and things like that. Uh, despite the data, despite like we know so much now, but this disease and who it affects and what are the facts and, um, and you see some of the policies that are, that are getting, um, pursued, uh, really be anti, anti American anti freedom. Uh, I'd say a lot of things that made this country special. Um, and, um, yeah, I don't think anyone, like I mentioned that in my thread, I say like, it's a cliche, but freedom is, is very important for me. And why, why I'm here. Um, like, you know, being, being forced to take medicine against your well is probably one of the worst thing you could, you could be doing.
Speaker 1 00:58:47 Um, and like just to like be measured, um, like, um, you know, here in the peninsula and the bay area, we don't have a vaccine passports. We, um, like, you know, people are outside, you know, if they have a mask they're not going to bully you to, to put a mask on, uh, you know, there are places where those irrationalities still still exist, but, but, but, you know, just to be, to be measured, like there are a lot of places that are not like that, you know, including Texas Miami and like places in California that are dark
Speaker 0 00:59:24 Well, uh, I, I need, you know, I, I haven't gotten, uh, my, my booster of a vaccine, but I, I feel like I've gotten my booster of optimism and gratitude because I can get, you know, guilty as anybody else I can get wrapped up in the negativity. And so, uh, this is a good course corrective awesome job. Thank you so much for joining us, uh, check out those books that I mentioned, and if we can get a address for you, we'll send you a care package. One of the things that we do at the outlet side of Judy pocket guides, so we make, make things more also about making things accessible in front of you. So thank you very much. Um, and, uh, hope to, uh, get to meet you on one of my next trips up to the valley.
Speaker 1 01:00:13 Yeah. I'd love that. I'd love that. Thank you so much for having me. And, um, I'm excited to, to, uh, to dig more into Iran's, uh, books and, and, and your community.
Speaker 0 01:00:24 Great. And I want to thank everybody who joined us today. Thank you for all of the wonderful questions. Uh, I really, really enjoyed this conversation. Check out the events section of our site. Uh, tomorrow I'm on clubhouse with our founder, David Kelly, talking about fact versus opinion and objectivity. Uh, and then next week, um, I am going to be, uh, speaking with the author of, uh, the gray lady, wait, Ashley Mintzberg, um, who, uh, has documented some ways in which historically, uh, the, the newspaper that we usually take to be a objective, um, that, that some of the bias or the misreporting of the fake news, if you will, uh, is not necessarily a new phenomenon. So that will be a fun conversation. So thanks everyone. Thank you, John. Thank you.