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10 Lessons on Startups, Life and Investing from Chris Dixon

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Hey friends đź‘‹ ,

Happy Monday and welcome to the fifth issue of Through the Noise!

Today we're diving into the learnings from the #1 ranked venture investor of 2022, Chris Dixon.

It's time to strap in and enjoy.


10 Lessons from Chris Dixon on Startups & Life

The Forbes Midas list ranks the best venture capital investors in the world. In 2022, Chris Dixon was number 1. Here are 10 lessons on startups, life and investing from the world’s best.

1. Have conviction

12 of the world’s best VCs on the Midas list bet on Coinbase. Chris Dixon was one of them. But he was the only one who did it 15 times across EVERY funding round, including one "down round". His firm a16z amassed a 15% stake leading to a 60x return at IPO.

2. Capital and information are the two currencies of venture capital

There is little publicity for what is going on behind the scenes. You gain an informational advantage by speaking to those who are actually in the arena. Be amongst the informational flow.

3. Technology adoption is non-linear

You can't extrapolate technology trends. Instead, understand complement effects and network effects. Complement effects mean the existence of one thing makes the other thing more valuable. An example would be making something open-source with related products layered on top. Network effects mean something becomes more valuable to you when more people use it. More participants, more value creation.

4. Don't climb the wrong hill

People tend to systematically overvalue near term over long term rewards. This effect is exacerbated in highly ambitious people– they struggle to forgo the appealing nearby upward step. If you're early in your career, go on a "random walk". Try and test new things, don't be put off by stopping and starting. When you find the highest hill, waste no time on the current seemingly "important" one– go and climb it.

5. Ask people lots of good questions

It's a surefire way to maximise serendipity by making connections and often unexpected discoveries. You never know who you're sitting next to.

6. The next big thing will start out looking like a toy

New "big things" sneak by the eyes of incumbents as they are dismissed looking like a toy. They are undervalued yet grow at a non-linear rate due to complement and network effects.

7. What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years

Many technology breakthroughs were forged from hobbies. People aren't constrained by near-term financial goals– pure enjoyment and momentum lead to the next breakthrough.

8. If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough

Rejection is often based on information presented at a given state, never the full picture. A resume is rejected, not the individual. Develop a thick skin and depersonalise.

9. Don't be secretive about your idea

When you're starting a company, talk about your idea to everyone. The upside is you discover improvements, flaws, competition and excitement.

The downside is near zero. Only a handful of people in the world will drop everything to take your idea.

10. Don't argue your startup will succeed, argue there is a small probability your startup could be a billion dollar company

VCs only care about the upside case– the right tail of the distribution. Leave the VC with the thought that your idea could be "the next big thing".


Speaking of "the next big thing"...

Through the Noise Podcast

E5: Andrew Yeung - Throwing Parties and Building Communities

Last week we recorded the fifth episode of the Through the Noise podcast.

Our guest was Andrew Yeung, Strategy & Operations Lead at Meta/Facebook. Andrew is also a community builder and writer. He's active in the NYC tech community and regularly hosts dinner parties, mixers, and events for 1,000+ people.

This was a lot of fun to record. We dived into:

• Bringing people together through dinners

• Social capital

• Engineering your serendipity

Catch the episode on Spotify, Apple and Callin.


That's all for today friends!

As always feel free to reach out @thealexbanks as I'd love to hear your feedback.

Thanks for reading and I'll catch you next Monday.