Podcast #3 | Thoughts on Investment, Long-Term Vision, and Wayra UK Accelerator


Show Notes

Tom:

We've just finished our induction to Wayra UK, these last three days. And yeah there were some really interesting topics brought up. I think one for me, it was very interesting, was the talk that was given on investment. There is a comment the guy made on the central bank's printing money and essentially that's why we're seeing an increase in investment across technology companies over the last 10 years. That makes sense since the central bank's printed about a trillion pounds since 2009 - I'm sorry, 2008 - when we had the recession crash (Extra note: It's actually much, much more than that... See here.).


One thing that let me down about the inductions to Wayra was I feel as though time frames were only on about 10 years long - so 10 year time spans. That let me down a bit because… You have in the room people that can potentially change the world with their ideas and technology they're working on. And the effects of what they're doing should, my view, stretch far further than 10 years. The idea I wanted to put in people's heads - and had a few conversations with various people about this topic - is the idea that we've lost - or should I say, buried - the cathedral builders. The guys whose drawings for cathedrals would never live long enough to see those cathedrals stand. They’re 100 year plus projects. And that takes real visionary foresight. And today we've we've buried or lost that mentality. And I feel it was definitely apparent when we were sat there with all the other startups that 10-year time frames are the most we're really gonna be thinking about at the moment.


So Decio, what do you think about that as as an overall idea?


Decio:

I think you have a fair argument. What I noticed is not a lot of people go into business and they have these incredible ideas for products and for solutions to solve particular problems and many of them are thinking with their own selfish wishes, ahead of problem that they're trying to solve. They're looking to exit fairly soon.


Tom:

That's the time cycles that capitalism has brought about. This mentality of either you do an exit or an IPO (Initial Public Offering) - and that's got to be within the ten years. I'm all for getting the returns and bringing about economic prosperity but there has to be something wrong if the cycles are… There has to be something that's fundamentally not right if the cycles are just 10-year long periods, in my view. But who knows.


Adam:

Well, for me... I get what you're saying… There's a few things for me are good points to raise here… Ten years: that's a long time. We've only been on the earth for two lots of ten years and a bit; when you actually think about it like you're going on with “ten years”...


But what kind of things are you talking about that couldn’t actually be done in ten year? Because if you're on it for ten years you can get a lot done. That's my first point and all pass it back to you in a second. And I think it's purely selfish as well - a lot of the cathedral builders you're talking about, Kings ordered them to do it. They believed in this grander vision. Although, when you look at it a lot of Kings didn’t have a lot of vision until they got to the top. And some of them seen it as an honour. But these days there's not necessarily an honour for doing something for longer than that.


And my final point is that that's the VC (Venture Capital) world. 10 years is the game they play. But there's other places that are rarer, or hard to come by, that can appreciate a 10-year plus vision. Maybe we just don't know any of these people or we're not quite ready for that stage yet. That's the only one drop in the ocean, for me at least. And hopefully we’ll maybe become some trendsetter in the long-term vision rather than the 10-year vision. I think it's Jeff Bezos who says you know 20-year vision or whatever. He's maybe the only vaguely successful person, who talks…


[Laughter]


Well yeah, he himself is not vaguely successful but I’m just considering that pool of people that people consider successful. Many of them talk about the 10-year plus vision and if they do…


Tom:

But that's fundamentally because the system rewards a certain type of mentality or behaviour. And that's on a system level so I'm not talking about making a bet on the individuals as such but, more a bet on a wider vision that these funds need to push for or government organisations or other large institutes. So overall, what do they want to strive for that pushes like 20, 30, 40 years plus... We got the 2030 vision…


Adam:

The Scottish Government?


Tom:

Yeah… Decio:

I don’t know. They have so many strategies... I really have lost count.


Tom:

Also, it's tricky to know whether these organisations are the right ones to achieve these things. But the point I'm trying to get across here is: there should be a consensus, at least, on a few topics where we collectively want to push forwards toward. And there should be resources and initiatives, institutes that are there to implement on those things. And that's really what I'm trying to push for here and if SageCity plays part in this idea of long-termism, that would be an amazing thing.


Adam:

So here's an interesting question I want to ask both of you. The reason why VCs and all of these other people are stumbling around looking for money, trying to make money, etc. is because their needs, in some form, aren't being fulfilled. And if we continue to build systems that provide people with their needs, people will be able to look more long-term. So maybe we have to be bringing about the change that we want ourselves, you know?


Tom:

One hundred percent. And that's, in my view, why I believe so much in this thing of zero cost living. And by that I'm not talking like “let's just give people money so they can have a basic level of life” - no, no, I'm not talking about using capitalism to solve capitalism. That's like giving more fire to the fire. I'm talking about bringing technology together that reduces the cost of living and therefore you have a basic level of life. And you have your needs fulfilled at a basic level, always. You're the one who has to look after it, though. You're the one who has to maintain it. It's not looked after by governments or other businesses. You have to maintain the place. From there you have a place of freedom to make choices and those that are creative will make choices that go on to create more things. And there will be no limit to what they could create if they all band together towards common initiatives.


Adam:

One of the people that surprised me in a sense, but it's just because it's difficult to judge someone from an online persona, was MrMichaelNye (@MrMichaelNye). He, in a sense, talks about this stuff and he was quite a big advocate - very in line with some of those ideas we had.


What were your thoughts on on him? And how what we were discussing could actually happen?


Tom:

So I thought it was very interesting, some of the points he brought up. He mentioned for a moment “spirituality” and I feel like that got a bit wee-foo in the room. And I kind of interjected, or added my opinion, and said: Yeah, spirituality is good. I think we’re in spiritual poverty and by that I mean people lack purpose or a reason why they do things on an individual level, and then collectively band together around things lack substance, subsequently. For if you're to find something meaningful in a collective way, you must first find it as an individual. And I guess you could say that's a very judgemental view on the way people approach life these days. And I'm not saying that everyone is some purposeless existing person, corporate drone. Not everyone is a purposeless corporate drone but we have to see in all of ourselves that maybe we can be a little bit superficial or even disrespectful to our own self, basically.


And when I say long-termism, one of the most long-term things you can do is invest in yourself. In growing your own person.


If we're living here in this first world, I reckon our generation’s gonna, on average, live at least 90 years to a 100 years. And that's long term. And if you get those people, you invest in yourself and grow yourself, that is a - by default - 100 year vision, right there.


Decio:

Yeah, one hundred percent. I'm a huge advocate for personal growth, personal investment. Personally, my definition of purpose is to invest in oneself, to develop oneself, to hone one's skills so that you can help others more effectively.


What that requires is a huge amount of time and resources put into education and put into experimentation. You should minimise your expenditures so that you can use that money to invest in yourself and to experiment, also. And what a lot of people suffer from in this current environment, this current ecosystem, is a lack of opportunity to taste experiences and taste what they could be good at. And try out new things and figure out what they like and what they don't like… And eventually find a particular problem in the world or something that they're not happy with or affects them personally or affects others personally and contribute something towards improving that scenario.


Adam:

What would you say your goals are with the program?


I think for me, that’s something I'm still trying to figure out. I'd love to your initial thoughts on what we could do, and what could actually happen.


Tom:

I'd like to connect with people who have experience in areas I don't have, myself. But, ideally, I wouldn't like to get lots of advice. I would like to get people who come and help us actually do things. And at the very least I can learn from watching them help us and get involved.


Decio:

Yeah, exactly. I'm tired of the wishy-washy, motivational rah-rah nonsense. I'm very much into the operations, hands-on, strategies, tactics, how to approach things, how to… You know, the unsexy boring stuff. That's why I'm personally into. And I hope to meet people who can dig deep on these aspects - figure out exactly how we can get knowledge we can turn into an application and hence improvement in the business, itself. Likewise, from this program I hope to learn immensely from people who have been there done that and have succeeded and failed. And not simply learn remotely like I've been doing for a long time - from people I have never met before - through books, podcasts, and other material online. Which I'm a huge advocate of…


Adam:

Decio, why are you making that transition from books and stuff to the real world? Because I think that for me at least this is like… There is an element of that but in a slightly different form - actually using cryptography in the blockchain to do something real. But yeah, I'll let you answer.


Decio:

It’s not a transition. It's more of a missing puzzle piece. Because the book industry right now is cluttered and it's saturated with people who are not particularly intending to provide new value and new knowledge. There's very much a lot of people who are trying to prove themselves in this world and validate their position in their industry through the production of books. Likewise, there are a lot of solopreneurs and consulting businesses and marketing businesses that use books as a lead generator, as well, for example. So they're not written with the same intention they were written 100 years ago... Maybe, I don’t know. I wasn’t here…


Adam:

Yeah and that’s an interesting topic to explore a little. It's not just books that are saturated. It's the same with experiences. It’s the same with movies, games, activities… It’s part of some of things SageCity is trying to solve. We've grown up in terms of globalisation, anyone can come from anywhere and we can get anything from anywhere… And I feel the infrastructure and the way we do things hasn't scaled up alongside it.


What do you think can be done to improve that? I think right now there's a lot of focus on algorithms and things like that to find things for you. But for me, I've always been a bit cautious of that. Because at that point it's synthetic and you don't know what you can't see and you could be missing something great. And in a kind of weird dystopian world, those things could be purposely being hid from me to keep you in some kind of box.


Tom:

Yeah! I think earlier today there was a point made about technology and blockchain. And that point was made by me, actually - so I'm gonna say it right now!


Man and technology have always worked together - maybe for good or bad reasons - but when you think about technology it fundamentally is something which amplifies or magnifies what is already in the person. By that I mean if you want to go from point A to B, man creates a bike, then he invents a car, a plane, a ship… And all these things are different technologies to fulfil the same yearning - which is to go from here to there. Or maybe you want to communicate with someone and so we begin talking, then writing, then we invent phones so we can call each other across the world. And all of that are different technologies that we are using to amplify a fundamental human need. And if you look at blockchain as a technology, I feel that that is something which will magnify or amplify our need to feel trust in our data, have security, to remove middlemen that shouldn't be involved with things that they just shouldn't be involved with in the first place. And that for me is a fundamental shift because we now have a technology that's going to amplify all those good things in us.


Now there's the other end of that… Which would look at… What are some of the negative aspects that blockchain could amplify in people? You can argue all the speculation that’s gone on in cryptocurrencies is an amplification of people’s - I don't know what that’s amplifying, actually… Adam what would you say?


Adam:

I'll probably say it is amplifying their desire for freedom. Not even talking about any of the ideological elements of what blockchain and cryptocurrency can do. It’s a brand new asset class. It's been around technically about 10 years now. Obviously when it began, there weren’t many markets or trading… So it's in such an amazing position to continue to grow and build adoption. Obviously, if you can ride the waves of that then eventually there's gonna be a huge redistribution of wealth and resources. So I think it's that… Everyone sees money's - not exactly as a means to an end - but as a way to have options, you know?


That's exactly what the crypto markets do…


Tom:

Yeah! Too right! I can definitely agree with that one. I guess… That yearning, is it based on false hope, in this case? Well, we'll soon see…


Catch you all later!


And be sagacious.


#cryptocurrency #crypto #blockchain #technology #startup #podcast

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