All of billzito's Comments + Replies

EA Forum Lowdown: April 2022

I found this useful, thanks!

billzito's Shortform

Tweet thread for "What is operations and why EA needs great people doing it."

For "what is operations," Holden’s post on aptitudes https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/bud2ssJLQ33pSemKH/my-current-impressions-on-career-choice-for-longtermists#_Organization_building__running__and_boosting__aptitudes_1_… is the best thing I’ve read on this— the “organization building, running, and boosting” aptitude, including management, recruiting, legal, hr, finance, events, etc.

I’m always confused when an EA says they want to do community building, but aren’t interes... (read more)

reallyeli's Shortform

I agree with this take (and also happen to be sitting next to Eli right now talking to him about it :). I think working at a fast-growing startup in an emerging technology is one of the best opportunities for career capital: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ejaC35E5qyKEkAWn2/early-career-ea-s-should-consider-joining-fast-growing 

billzito's Shortform

Cross-posted thread.

Some other people including Asya have floated the idea of having a "despair day" where people question their core assumptions of their current work. I like this a lot, and also like encouraging more of this mindset in EA. (I'm not speaking for her, just for myself).

Oftentimes I'm having a 30m one on one with someone, and I don't know where they want me to be on the spectrum from "encouraging their ambitions" to "ruthless honesty about whether it sounds like a good idea."

This is sad because I think the latter is more helpful, but it's al... (read more)

billzito's Shortform

Fun project idea: gpt-3 app where whenever you finish a Google doc draft, it gives compliments on the contents, helping build a positive feedback loop to encourage writing. (From convo with Eli Rose and others a while back).

billzito's Shortform

(cross-posted from twitter).

I bet Twitter would be good if all my friends used it and only to talk about interesting things. I’m imagining some slack-Twitter integration where my coworking space slack came with a private Twitter network that everyone was on. Feels possible currently, just annoying to do.

Also I want it to be halfway between Twitter and EA forum short form. More focus on interesting ideas instead of memes (memes still welcome).

It’d also be great if there was auto cross-posting between EA forum short-form and Twitter.

billzito's Shortform

I made a twitter! Copy/pasted thread.

Lots of young EAs want to found companies. I like encouraging people to be ambitious, and this can be really good. Oftentimes the reasoning seems somewhat confused though.

1. People say it’s for personal growth, but don’t have great models of how startups are good for growth. Starting a 3-5 person organization that never does very big things in the world isn’t good for growth. Joining as employee 10 at a top company that grows to 100 is great

I first came across that idea in a Dustin Moskovitz talk ~7y ago, second half of... (read more)

Nuclear Preparedness Guide

Thanks for sharing! As a heads up, several of the amazon links go to items that are sold out or no longer exist (which makes sense given that there's more demand for those items right now, and it's hard to keep links like this up to date).

1Fin2mo
Thanks for pointing that out. Perhaps I should remove them. I didn't do much research into what the best options are, just thought that would reduce the cost of searching for people.
Buck's Shortform

Some chance it's outdated, but my advice as of 2017 was for people to do one of the top bootcamps as ranked by coursereport: https://www.coursereport.com/ 

I think most bootcamps that aren't a top bootcamp are a much worse experience based on a good amount of anecdotal evidence and some job placement data. I did Hack Reactor in 2016 (as of 2016, App Academy, Hack Reactor, and Full Stack Academy were the best ranked bootcamps, but I think a decent amount has changed since then).

2Jack Ryan7mo
Good to know--thanks Bill!
An update in favor of trying to make tens of billions of dollars

I think $20B in 4y is somewhat of an outlier, even among super successful billionaire founders. Eg a few quick googles (assuming CEO has something like 10% of the company after several rounds of dilution)

  • Facebook founded 2004, 2008 valuation $15B, CEO $2B?
  • Airbnb founded 2008, 2012 valuation $2B, CEO $200M?
  • Uber founded 2009, 2013 valuation $3.5B, CEO $350M?
  • Stripe founded 2009, 2013 valuation $2B, CEO $200M?
  • Aurora founded 2017, 2021 valuation $13B, CEO has something like $4B
  • Tesla founded before Elon, but Elon CEO 2008, 2012 valuation $3.5B, CEO $400M?
... (read more)

Definitely - but that could make the point even stronger. If it's such an outlier, maybe that means it's become easier to do something like this, which is an update in favour of trying.

In line with the above analysis, I vaguely recall seeing one news source refer to Sam's fortune as "one of the fastest accumulations of wealth in history", or words to that effect. 

EDIT: Here's the article, from Yahoo Finance: "[SBF's] sudden prosperity appears to constitute one of the fastest accumulations of self-made wealth in history."

Early career EA's should consider joining fast-growing startups in emerging technologies

I agree that selection bias and survivorship bias affect things like this, and it probably would’ve been good to call those out explicitly. I have a draft part 2 of this post that discusses that and how hard it is to get a job at one of these companies.

I also appreciate the comment directed at people that might feel alienated by the post, and agree that I don’t want those people to feel alienated by this. A more positive frame on this post would be: some people think that they can only work at the ~10 EA orgs they think most highly of to have a good next ... (read more)

Early career EA's should consider joining fast-growing startups in emerging technologies

I have a draft part 2: it’s easier than it sounds. One of the reasons I believe that is because many of the best-of-the-best startups have many vc’s that want to fund them (so it’s not as hard for them to identify which are the best, but it is hard for them to compete to be the one to fund it). On the other hand, these startups need all the excellent employees they can get.

4Linch7mo
One EMH-obeying way you can estimate whether the "market" expects a startup to grow is tracking the valuation:# employees ratio. Startups that are highly valued per capita means either each employee is already responsible for a lot of revenue growth (with some asterisks) or the market expects large revenue growth. This isn't helpful if you want a large payout, but is very helpful from a career capital perspective, assuming billzito's model is correct.
Early career EA's should consider joining fast-growing startups in emerging technologies

Makes sense, upvoted. I like “fast-growing” more than “top,” because “top” makes me think more “is already Airbnb” vs “could be the next Airbnb.” Maybe the best term would be “exceptionally fast-growing” or “exceptionally likely to be successful.”

Fast and successful are definitely a spectrum, and it seems definitely true that somewhat successful is still good for career development. I think one claim I didn’t spell out fully is that people aren’t selective enough in choosing which startups to work at. Of friends who worked at companies in the “YC or Techst... (read more)

6Linch7mo
I think this implies some breakdown of efficient market in startup valuations, like saying that EAs are (much?) better at picking startups than top 10% of VCs or so. I sort of agree with this personally, but I think many other financially literate EAs who I respect disagree (and also others who believe this much more than I do); I'm not sure why, and it'd be good to know where the cruxes are.
1Eli Rose7mo
Re: not being selective about what startups to work at -- oh that's interesting, makes me more think I got lucky (in startup selection or in some other way).
We're Redwood Research, we do applied alignment research, AMA

We're a nonprofit. We don't have plans to make profits, and it seems less likely than e.g. OpenAI that in the future we would go nonprofit --> tandem for-profit / nonprofit, but there are a variety of revenue-generating things I can imagine us doing (e.g. consulting with industry labs to help them align their models).

When to get a vaccine in the Bay Area as a young healthy person

(As of  ~4/1, I've seen a much higher anecdotal success rate w/ strategies like this)

When to get a vaccine in the Bay Area as a young healthy person

In hindsight, I would've liked to spend more time editing my original post  (I was trying to get it out quickly). I think the framing I would use in hindsight is:

I'm hugely in favor of young healthy people finding vaccines that are either 1) going to be thrown out, 2) at a place w/ extra time slots that wouldn't go to someone else, but 3) from the evidence I've seen, it seems like 1/2 aren't options right now, and so 4) trying to find a way to get a vaccine right now seems likely to be taking directly away from someone else who is higher risk. There a... (read more)

When to get a vaccine in the Bay Area as a young healthy person

I agree that slow rollout is more of a problem than poor prioritization.  But at least in the Bay Area, I think trying to get a vaccine as a young healthy person right now is in expectation directly taking away a vaccine from a more at-risk person  for x weeks, and haven't seen significant evidence against that yet. As soon as there is the ability to e.g. drive somewhere to get vaccinated where the time slot would have otherwise gone to waste, I'm strongly in favor of doing that.

When to get a vaccine in the Bay Area as a young healthy person

Agreed that driving somewhere seems like a good option -- that's what I was trying to allude to with my comments like "there appear to be some mass vaccination events that people are likely to be able to access in the next month." That being said, I know of many people who've tried to do exactly that and have not found available appointments. I mentioned in the comments below that the website linked there for instance didn't have any options within ~1hr of the bay, although I found one 3.5 hours away.

When to get a vaccine in the Bay Area as a young healthy person

Ya that seems like a decent approach for people that want to get one early. To be clear, I know of people who are making the arguments I said above to justify getting one early (and who have no plans to offset), and I think there are other arguments to justify getting it early, but I don't think "there are many opening available in the bay" is backed up by evidence from what I can tell.

3catherio1y
Right. AFAICT the openings available are in Sacramento, Auburn, or other places >1 hr drive.
When to get a vaccine in the Bay Area as a young healthy person

Hmm actually on second-look, that site doesn't seem to show any available slots for the vaccine, but does show some for pcr tests? Perhaps more will open up soon.

[addition: I found one site 3.5 hours away from Berkeley on that site that does appear to have openings today, https://curative.com/sites/26207#9/36.1656/-119.3247 but didn't find any  vaccine openings for the places in the bay]

When to get a vaccine in the Bay Area as a young healthy person

[Edit: the link appears to be misleading, see my follow-up question below]

That does seem quite compelling, thanks for sharing. I think I'll check again in a couple days as it sounds like CA is opening up slots to 4.4M more people tomorrow. Perhaps there is an effect where right at the start of a new section of people, there are some extra slots?

1billzito1y
Hmm actually on second-look, that site doesn't seem to show any available slots for the vaccine, but does show some for pcr tests? Perhaps more will open up soon. [addition: I found one site 3.5 hours away from Berkeley on that site that does appear to have openings today, https://curative.com/sites/26207#9/36.1656/-119.3247 [https://curative.com/sites/26207#9/36.1656/-119.3247] but didn't find any vaccine openings for the places in the bay]
When to get a vaccine in the Bay Area as a young healthy person

Also, if you don't feel comfortable making a public counterargument but do in a private message, I'd still be interested to hear it