Drew Spartz

Head of Incubation Program @ Nonlinear
Working (6-15 years of experience)


Building Superlinear.


Interesting, that updates me! I've added more qualifiers to that point.

Hi Aman, 

Appreciate the question. We’ve received funding from different sources like the Survival and Flourishing Fund, Future Fund, and other private donors, with Emerson Spartz donating six figures annually.

This project would not fall under the scope of what the Future Fund granted us, so we will not be using their funding for this. 

This is coming directly out of our operating budget, so we're aiming to make payouts that have a higher counterfactual likelihood of impact.

Hi! Thanks for the questions. 

I remember hearing that Emerson/Nonlinear invested quite a lot into crypto - presumably with the current markets, his/Nonlinear's portfolio must've taken a hit? 

Yes, most crypto people have taken a hit, including Emerson. As far as I know, he has no plans to slow down his donations to Nonlinear.

Secondly,  Nonlinear received a Future Fund grant: https://ftxfuturefund.org/our-grants/?_search=nonlinear Are you potentially concerned about clawbacks to the money you hand out, especially if you're dispersing small amounts to several people who could then be affected?

We’re not using Future Fund grant money for this. That being said, we are still gathering information, but based on our conversations with lawyers and distressed debt investors, we are not as concerned as some community members are about clawbacks, especially for very small grants. This may update in the future as more information comes out.

Also, will additional funders top you up, or will the money go directly to the people affected? 

We have had several funders reach out to us. Still working out the details :)

I can see how you might think that, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. 

My opinion is that the presumption of innocence is not just a legal principle, it is a foundational principle of most justice systems because one accusation can forever ruin someone’s reputation whether or not they are proven innocent in the future.

Accusations can draw a lot of attention, but retractions receive far less attention.

I believe it’s very important to be careful damaging someone’s reputation before hearing both sides because it’s really hard to repair it.

Additionally, it’s much harder to prove accusations wrong than it is to anonymously make them in the first place, so most cultures have immune reactions against anonymous accusations.

It’s also just bad epistemics to only hear one side. Every side always thinks they’re in the right, so if you only hear one side, it’s practically impossible to have good epistemics. 

He still has ~$600m of HOOD stock plus whatever equity stake is left in FTX.us. FTX.us is probably worth at least a few billion. 

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Getting legal counsel advice was always the intended procedure internally. Thanks for pointing out that the way I worded it had the potential to be misconstrued so I've updated it again :)

Thanks for the flag! Was already aware of this but added a qualifier in the post above and added this to our org payout guidelines for extra redundancy.

Ryan, glad you liked the prize, and thanks for your feedback! Our partner has significant IP law and branding experience and does not share your concerns.

His perspective: the general case is that

  1. Celebrating our ancestors is common practice. Long-dead famous people frequently get things named after them. 
  2. Negative outcomes are unlikely. What you're proposing could happen, but is quite an edge case.
  3. Branding is important. A better-named prize can lead to more impact and improved community health.

So why are we calling this “The Truman Prize?” instead of something like “The Anonymous EA Award”? 

  1. There’s a reason why inspiring people from the past get things named after them. Could write a whole post on our thinking around this, but let’s just say we think having a community health prize with a more inspiring name would be more effective and lead to more impact.
  2. Spending a lot of time on preventing low probability, low downside possibilities, is low EV. 

Things like this usually end up being really bureaucratic and could take months or years to approve, so the cost is higher than a simple quick email. Following this general approach to low probability, low downside risks, would lead to it being prohibitive to get things done. 

It's low probability because first, a descendant of Truman would have to 

  1. Actually learn of this prize which is unlikely
  2. Not feel like we are honoring Truman by celebrating anonymous altruism, which seems unlikely. 
  3. Care enough to actually ask us to change the name, which is also unlikely. 

And in the unlikely event that all three of those things happen, then we'll just change the name. Which is also low cost.

Great idea. If anyone wants to run a prize like this, I'd be open to funding it.

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