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#274 Jim Clark (Silicon Graphics, Netscape)
October 27th, 2022 | E274

What I learned from rereading The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story by Michael Lewis


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[1:23] Maybe somewhere in a footnote, it would be mentioned that he came from nothing, grew up poor, dropped out of high school, and made himself three or four billion dollars.

[7:41] She explained that the shares in Netscape that Clark had given them had made them rich.

"And you have to understand," she said, “that when this happened, we were poor. I was ready to cook the cat."

I assumed this was a joke, and laughed. I assumed wrong.

[12:48] He was expelled from school and left town.  One time he came home talking about nothing but computers. No one in Plainview had even seen a computer except in the movies.

[13:21] I remember him telling me when he came back from the Navy, ‘Mama, I’m going to show Plainview.’

[14:42] In under eight years this person, considered unfit to graduate from high school, had earned himself a Ph.D. in Computer Science.

[15:05] I grew up in black and white. I thought the whole world was shit, and I was sitting in the middle of it.

[17:17] If you want to understand the entrepreneur, study the juvenile delinquent. The delinquent is saying with his actions, “This sucks. I’m going to do my own thing. — Yvon Chouinard

[17:56] The most powerful paragraph in the book: One day I was sitting at home and, I remember having the thought ‘You can did this hole as deep as you want to dig it.’ I remember thinking ‘My God, I’m going to spend the rest of my life in this fucking hole.’ You can reach these points in life when you say, ‘Fuck, I’ve reached some sort of dead-end here. And you descend into chaos. All those years you thought you were achieving something. And you achieved nothing. I was thirty-eight years old. I’d just been fired. My second wife had just left me. I had somehow fucked up. I developed this maniacal passion for wanting to achieve something.

[19:00] Two part series on Vannevar Bush

Pieces of the Action by Vannevar Bush. (Founders #270) and Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century by G. Pascal Zachary. (Founders #271) 

[21:38] New Growth Theory argued that wealth came from the human imagination. Wealth wasn’t chiefly having more of old things; it was having entirely new things.

[22:54] On creating new wealth/companies: A certain tolerance for nonconformism is really critical to the process.

[24:31] The internet has massively broadened the possible space of careers, and most people haven't figured this out yet. —The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness by Naval Ravikant and Eric Jorgenson. (Founders #191)

[25:06] A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.

[27:36] George Lucas: A Life by Brian Jay Jones. (Founders #35) and Steven Spielberg: A Biography by Joseph McBride. (Founders #209)

[33:10] The independence and the control is worth a lot more than the money.

[33:32] These people could never build the machines of the future, but they could sell the machines of the present.

[35:02] Clark on how to avoid being disrupted: For a technology company to succeed, he argued, it needed always to be looking to destroy itself. If it didn’t, someone else would. “It’s the hardest thing in business to do,” he would say. “Even creating a lower-cost product runs against the grain, because the low-cost products undercut the high-cost, more profitable products.” Everyone in a successful company, from the CEO on down, has a stake in whatever the company is currently selling. It does not naturally occur to anyone to find a way to undermine that product.

[40:41] The young were forever eating the old. In this drama technology played a very clear role. It was the murder weapon.

[40:55] The art of storytelling is critically important. Most of the entrepreneurs who come to us can't tell a story. Learning to tell a story is incredibly important because that's how the money works. The money flows as a function of the stories. —Don Valentine

[42:53] The Pmarca Blog Archive Ebook by Marc Andreessen (Founders #50)

[45:48] What is the role I want to play in my company? I need to make sure to design my environment so I am always playing that role. Make sure you design the job you want. What is the point of being an entreprenuer if you don’t do that?

[47:45] John Doerr had cleared $500 million in 18 months. 30 times his original investment.

[49:13] You must find extraordinary people.

I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1.

Given that, you're well advised to go after the cream of the cream. That's what we've done.

A small team of A+ players can run  circles around a giant team of B and C players.

In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World by Rama Dev Jager and Rafael Ortiz. (Founders #208)

[52:03] Clark liked to say that human beings when they took risks, fell into one of two types, pigs or chickens. “The difference between these two kinds of people is the difference between the pig and the chicken in the ham-and-eggs breakfast. The chicken is interested, the pig is committed. If you are going to do anything worth doing, you need a lot of pigs.”

[53:14] In our 10 days at sea the value of his holdings had nearly tripled. This is fantasy land he said.

[53:54] There are vastly more conceivable possibilities than realized outcomes.

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