Chris Dixon and Naval Ravikant — The Wonders of Web3, How to Pick the Right Hill to Climb, Finding the Right Amount of Crypto Regulation, Friends with Benefits, and the Untapped Potential of NFTs (#542)

Illustration via 99designs

“What the smartest people do on the weekends is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years.”
Chris Dixon

“Denying and pushing back against NFTs and crypto is basically saying: ‘We’re not going to have a collectively owned future. We’re going to have a corporate-owned future, and we’re going to have a government-owned future.'”
Naval Ravikant

Chris Dixon (@cdixon) is a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, where for the past six years he has been an active seed and venture-stage investor.

Previously, Chris co-founded and served as the CEO of two startups, SiteAdvisor and Hunch. SiteAdvisor was an internet security company that warned web users of security threats. The company was acquired by McAfee in 2006. Hunch was a recommendation technology company that was acquired by eBay in 2011.

Chris has been a prolific seed investor, co-founding Founder Collective, a seed venture fund, and making a number of personal angel investments in various technology companies. Chris started programming as a kid and was a professional programmer after college at the high-speed options trading firm Arbitrade. He has a BA and MA in philosophy from Columbia and an MBA from Harvard.

He has written about his theories and experiences as an entrepreneur and investor on Medium and before that at cdixon.org. His a16z Podcast appearances can be found here.

Naval Ravikant (@naval) is the co-founder and chairman of AngelList. He is an angel investor and has invested in more than 100 companies, including many mega-successes, such as Twitter, Uber, Notion, Opendoor, Postmates, and Wish. You can subscribe to Naval, his podcast on wealth and happiness, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find his blog at nav.al.

For more Naval-plus-Tim, check out my wildly popular interview with him from 2015—which was nominated for “Podcast of the Year”—at tim.blog/naval. We also had a second long-form conversation in 2020, and you can find that here. His most recent appearance was helping me interview Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform.

Brought to you by UCAN endurance products powered by SuperStarch®, Theragun percussive muscle therapy devices, and Tonal smart home gym. More on all three below.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#542: Chris Dixon and Naval Ravikant — The Wonders of Web3, How to Pick the Right Hill to Climb, Finding the Right Amount of Crypto Regulation, Friends with Benefits, and the Untapped Potential of NFTs

This episode is brought to you by UCANI was introduced to UCAN and its unique carbohydrate SuperStarch® by my good friend—and listener favorite—Dr. Peter Attia, who said there is no carb in the world like it. I have since included it in my routine, using UCAN’s powders to power my workouts, and the bars make great snacks. Extensive scientific research and clinical trials have shown that SuperStarch provides a sustained release of energy to the body without spiking blood sugar. UCAN is the ideal way to source energy from a carbohydrate without the negatives associated with fast carbs, especially sugar. You avoid fatigue, hunger cravings, and loss of focus.

Whether you’re an athlete working on managing your fitness or you need healthy, efficient calories to get you through your day, UCAN is an elegant energy solution. My listeners can save 30% on their first UCAN order by going to UCAN.co/Tim.


This episode is brought to you by Tonal! Tonal is the world’s most intelligent home gym and personal trainer. It is precision engineered and designed to be the most advanced strength studio on the market today. Tonal uses breakthrough technology—like adaptive digital weights and AI learning—together with the best experts in resistance training so you get stronger, faster. Every program is personalized to your body using AI, and smart features check your form in real time, just like a personal trainer.

Try Tonal, the world’s smartest home gym, for 30 days in your home, and if you don’t love it, you can return it for a full refund. Visit Tonal.com for $100 off their smart accessories when you use promo code TIM100 at checkout.


This episode is brought to you by Theragun! Theragun is my go-to solution for recovery and restoration. It’s a famous, handheld percussive therapy device that releases your deepest muscle tension. I own two Theraguns, and my girlfriend and I use them every day after workouts and before bed. The all-new Gen 4 Theragun is easy to use and has a proprietary brushless motor that’s surprisingly quiet—about as quiet as an electric toothbrush.

Go to Therabody.com/Tim right now and get your Gen 4 Theragun today, starting at only $199.


What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Want to hear my most recent interview with Naval? Lend an ear to our conversation in which we discussed why there’s no such thing as science with a capital S, the problems that arise when jargon masquerades as knowledge, how to get rich without getting lucky, get-rich-quick schemes for losers, anxiety control, cryptocurrency (of course), and more.

#473: Naval Ravikant on Happiness, Reducing Anxiety, Crypto Stablecoins, and Crypto Strategy
  • Connect with Chris Dixon:

Website | Twitter | Medium | a16z

  • Connect with Naval Ravikant:

Website | Twitter | AngelList | Naval Podcast

SHOW NOTES

  • Chris explains his interest in philosophy and the advice given to him by philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett. [07:44]
  • How long is Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper? [11:05]
  • What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in 10 years. How this has been true of the development of the personal computer, and how will this play out with blockchain technologies and cryptocurrency? [12:20]
  • The problems proof-of-work system Hashcash was created to solve, and how it was adopted by we know today as Bitcoin. [17:02]
  • What is the Byzantine Generals Problem, and how does it relate to decentralization? [19:36]
  • What are Web1, Web2, and Web3? [20:20]
  • Digital scarcity, open source, composability, and the real promise of Web3. [27:01]
  • What gives digital assets like altcoins and NFTs value? [41:53]
  • How Web3 rewards creative people in ways Web2 has only robbed them. [50:07]
  • How video games are adapting to the Web3 world. [55:45]
  • Naval expands on the idea of NFTs being more than the sum of their JPGs. [1:01:12]
  • The data science of Sorare. [1:04:28]
  • Don’t have a house to offer as collateral on that loan? Maybe the bank will accept your CryptoPunk. [1:06:16]
  • What Gall’s Law tells us about who will win in the battle between decentralized gaming and centralized gaming. [1:07:35]
  • How skeuomorphic design has been used in the past, and how it will fit into a Web3 world. [1:08:47]
  • A couple of recommendations to prepare you for Web3. [1:15:42]
  • Weaknesses of — and challenges presented by — Web3. [1:16:31]
  • What is hill climbing in computer science, and how can you be sure you’re not climbing the wrong one? [1:22:38]
  • You’re not late to the party (yet): decentralization is still in its early days. [1:26:41]
  • The sticky wicket of regulating decentralization with archaic laws designed to govern the world where our grandparents and great-grandparents grew up. [1:28:33]
  • How mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies is held back by the same political divides that are holding back society. [1:32:40]
  • How do novices — especially policymakers — even begin to wrap their minds around what’s going on in the world of crypto and separate signal from noise? [1:34:24]
  • Thoughts on decentralizing the American Dream to preserve the US as a bastion of innovation. [1:35:48]
  • Policymakers who seem to have the right idea about how to coexist with crypto, and what Chris and Naval think sensible regulation should look like. [1:41:24]
  • Streamlining philanthropy, fundraising, and production by blockchain. [1:47:08]
  • Where does Chris rate on the hierarchy of vices with his gum-chewing habit? [1:53:56]
  • Most gifted books. [1:55:04]
  • “Wen Tim Ferriss NFT drop?” [1:59:10]
  • How DAOs can serve communities, organizations, and governments in the real world. [2:00:09]
  • A disclaimer: do not take anything you hear on this episode as financial advice! Support the projects that genuinely appeal to you rather than trying to predict the future and cash out with a fistful of crypto. [2:03:54]
  • The lens through which Chris views NFTs. [2:07:57]
  • Further thoughts on motivations for participating in NFT markets. [2:09:07]
  • How the NFT market has finally made generative art profitable for the artists who create it, and why now may be the greatest time in history for creative people. [2:12:31]
  • Are we in “the kitchen recipe period” of NFTs? [2:16:04]
  • Still don’t get NFTs? Consider, instead, the humble sneaker. [2:19:21]
  • Vetting customers and ticketing with NFTs. [2:20:59]
  • Friends with Benefits and other spiffy DAOs. [2:22:11]
  • Parting thoughts. [2:25:03]

MORE CHRIS DIXON AND NAVAL RAVIKANT QUOTES FROM THE EPISODE

“We were told the internet is bad for creative people. The internet is not bad for creative people. Web2 is bad for creative people.”
— Chris Dixon

“Denying and pushing back against NFTs and crypto is basically saying, “We’re not going to have a collectively owned future. We’re going to have a corporate-owned future, and we’re going to have a government-owned future.'”
— Naval Ravikant

“As with all sorts of tech things and money involved, there are bad people. It’s just inevitable. It happened in the ’90s; it happened in the 2000s. It happens now. And those people give Web3 a very bad name. We want to get rid of those people.”
— Chris Dixon

“Where we started was we actually decentralized the hardest thing. The hardest thing to decentralize is money. And once you have money decentralized, then you can own private property.”
— Naval Ravikant

“The killer app of the internet is networks. We’ve got a million networks built on this thing now.”
— Chris Dixon

“Any regulator that stops the next generation of artists and musicians and gamers and game developers from owning their platforms and their work is going to go into the wastebasket of history as a villain. It’s that simple.”
— Naval Ravikant

“Step one will be you take the existing artists and they get more money. Step two is you’re going to incentivize a whole new generation to go do these cool things.”
— Chris Dixon

“This should be the greatest time in history for creative people.”
— Chris Dixon

“I really believe very strongly that one of the most important things you can do is just go speak to a lot of people. That’s where I get all of my information is talking to entrepreneurs, talking to people that are smarter than me.”
— Chris Dixon

“I think Web3 is not only better for the world, but it’s also going to beat Web2. It’s going to be more popular because the people get really excited when they actually get to participate.”
— Chris Dixon

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

27 Replies to “Chris Dixon and Naval Ravikant — The Wonders of Web3, How to Pick the Right Hill to Climb, Finding the Right Amount of Crypto Regulation, Friends with Benefits, and the Untapped Potential of NFTs (#542)”

  1. An amazing interview, with among the best thinkers of our time.
    I am fortunate to have read their works when I did.
    They would be enviable mentors to have.
    Thank you Mr. Ferris.
    [Moderator: YouTube channel URL removed.]
    [Moderator: Email removed from public forum but preserved in intake field.]

  2. Hi Tim,

    As a web 3 explorer and optimist, watching you take the web3-pilled the past few months via the podcast and Twitter has been beyond exciting. Your podcast and content inspired my life in many ways – the most formidable being my goal of becoming a great podcaster and inspiring me to start my own web3 podcast (tagged in profile).

    I am searching for a way to go full-time into crypto, preferable in research, venture or podcasting. It sounds like you are spending more and more time thinking about yourself and the space (perhaps an NFT mint, the foundation as a DAO or the place of the creator in web3). I would love to join your team and help you explore/research your many ideas, keep up with the space and plan for future crypto native guests.

    With the convergence of someone that shaped my life and an idea we share the same fire for (the keep you up all night sensation), I thought it would be worth a 12:43 am blog post comment. (Also based in ATX!)

  3. Hey Tim. A little unrelated to this specific episode however we’re looking to invest in psychedelic research / medicine. We know this is one of your many areas of expertise, and looking for one that takes crypto donations asap. If this finds it way to you, please get in contact wit us! Thanks

  4. Hello Tim! First-time commenter, thanks for the content you put out. I’m a Mendocino (ARG) listening from Southern California, drinking some mate 🧉. As a self-publish author, I am wondering how one can sync content into the Web3 revolution. I’m sure if I keep listening I’ll find actionable advice. 🤷🏽🤷🏽 All the luck on your NFT project for scientific R&D!

    1. I am also searching for a way to publish on Web 3.0. The excitement in the episode can be felt and wanting to participate after listening is impossible to resist.

  5. Hello Tim , Your 5 Bullet Friday blog lists Destino by Disney & Dali . Disney was a racist & Dali a fascist and it brings to mind how non white people like me reconcile the race / facism issue. There is often an extra layer non white people have to deal with . I do not know if this issue has been discussed in your podcasts but it would be interesting to know your views. Thank you 🙂

  6. Thank you for this interesting podcast episode. When the question on learning about crypto came up, it seemed like it was tailored towards politicians. What about the regular internet people? If you want to learn the basics of crypto, I’d recommend the still underappreciated YouTube series School of Block created by Ledger and The DeFiant.

    [Moderator: YouTube link removed to prevent embed.]

    I like the series for its entertaining value and covering the basic concepts, which get compared with the real-world equivalents. It even covers the pump and dump scams and how risky it might be to get into any crypto asset, so not only showing the positive side of web3.

    For years, I’ve been very skeptical about crypto assets, and this series adjusted my direction towards considering owning some assets. Yes, there are still numerous issues to solve like the high demand of power for transferring or creating these assets, which are not yet renewable. It does, however, solve several other issues, that our economies haven’t tackled for decades and even centuries, when it comes to ownership and supporting the people, who do the actual work. Even during this interview, I was wondering about the opportunities of an Uber alternative because the drivers deserve more of the fare they collect.

  7. Heyo Tim!

    This is my first time to your website; I love your books and podcast. You rock!

    I was excited by this eye-opening interview about NFT’s because I’m a creative.

    I looked further into it and found some disappointing challenges.

    Is anyone addressing these important issues?

    1. Many artists are deeply dismayed because people are grabbing (stealing) their images off the internet and minting them for their own profit. What would be celebrated by artists is actually making artists angry and fearful. This is also a bummer for buyers who want to support artists and buy something authentic.

    2.The computing power to process the blockchains creates a huge gob of pollution because of the energy it consumes. It’s contributing an alarming amount to global warming.

    3. Security for the tokens and wallets is not always the highest. Millions of dollars have been lost.

    If you hear of emerging solutions to these problems, please share it with us in follow up podcasts. I am interested in hearing more.

    Keep up the amazing work!

    -Michelle

    1. Hey Michelle, I’m also really interested in hearing what Tim & CO have to say about #2 on your list. The pollution and climate change/global warming issue is real, and is vitally important.

      Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention.

      Garrett

  8. Regarding your comment about your foundation and philanthropy. You might be interested in looking into Angel Protocol on Terra. The amount you donate to a charity becomes an endowment that pays out regular contributions to them forever.

  9. We are yet to get a full grip of the sudden surge of cryptocurremcy and we have the NFTs pushing the boundary of our imagination, these technological transformation seems is just the beginning, as we are entering the web3.0, just tip of the iceberg, and we have the full stack digital disruption coming like a tsunami.We get the answer how we need to prepare ourselves for such an onslaught of disruptive digital ideas…

    There couldn’t have been three better experts to simplify these complex concepts and lay it so beautifully for common person like me to have a good understanding of the multiplicity of loaded layers between the new peices of technology at play. We are all playing but we are very little aware of the game behind the scene.

    Thank you so much for such a lovely and enriching discussion. I really loved the way three of them have such deep respect for each other and waiting for their turn without having to cut over other. There is fun and there is this eye for finer print. Striking the perfect chord. All have one clear objective in their mind of breaking down the complexity of such technological concepts and making it simpler for such easy understanding.

    Also, so much to learn from Chris who has been there when these technologies were in their embryonic stage, we can learn so much more from their mistakes and Naval highlights what he missed out and how we should all be vigilant of things and spot certain hidden trends, if we are deeply observant, we can recognize those finer aspects, we can all make the difference that matters, we can as well be part of making the market, become the creators where we are now frantically trying to participate…and many times miss the bus and find it hard to board the next…

  10. Ti

    Terrific show and guests.
    The thing that jumped out is the need for messaging/branding around web3 – the perception around the blockchain and crypto seems really problematic.

    My brother and I are native Austinites and own a branding firm here. We’re best known for creating the Austin FC branding from identity to ‘Grow The Legend’. We just finished our first meta verse / NFT related project for a video game called Million On Mars which is an Austin startup. We’ve worked in public health, food, politics, music, whiskey, healthcare and more.

    Would love to connect if you want to talk about brand.

    Marty

  11. Show note classic from last episode – Trident Spearmint Sugar Free Gum, 24 Packs of 14 Pieces (336 Total Pieces) | Amazon

    Got a solid laugh out of that.

  12. Hey Tim,

    This was such a fun episode and was really pertinent – I’ve spent the last 2 months building an NFT for mycophiles and have been trying to figure out the best way to use it to support my favorite research and teams (primarily Johns Hopkins and MAPS).

    If you’re interested in connecting sometime, I’d be open to donating the art/concepts you need to launch your series.

    Thanks for the many years of entertainment and info – your work has been ever-present throughout the last decade of my life.

    Cheers,
    Josh

  13. Hi Tim,

    The Tim Ferris Show was the first podcast I ever heard in my life during the pandemic ( April 2020) last year and after the first episode thought how on earth I missed such wealth of information and it had to be gold standard of podcast! Since then I had been swept away by the vortex of podcast and created mine own for fun.

    Hearing this podcast I still belief your show is still the GOLD standard of podcast world.

    P.S. I was coming back from an investor meeting a bit demotivated as was quoted “You are daring to go into a complex , super fragmented world “. This podcast fired mw up with inspiration and fire power to my engine.

    Many regards

  14. Hey there,

    I’ve spent weeks exploring the space and don’t agree with any of what these experts are saying.

    The nobel price servant Paul Krugman said it best in his post “Technobabble, Libertarian Derp and Bitcoin”.

    “And nowadays we use Bitcoin to buy houses and cars, pay our bills, make business investments, and more.

    Oh, wait. We don’t do any of those things. Twelve years on, cryptocurrencies play almost no role in normal economic activity. Twelve years is an eon in information technology time. Venmo, which I can use to share restaurant bills, buy fresh fruit at sidewalk kiosks, and much more, was also introduced in 2009. Apple unveiled its first-generation iPad in 2010. Zoom came into use in 2012. By the time a technology gets as old as cryptocurrency, we expect it either to have become part of the fabric of everyday life or to have been given up as a nonstarter.

    But I’ve been in numerous meetings with enthusiasts for cryptocurrency and/or blockchain, the concept that underlies it. In such meetings I and others always ask, as politely as we can: “What problem does this technology solve? What does it do that other, much cheaper and easier-to-use technologies can’t do just as well or better?” I still haven’t heard a clear answer.

    Why are people willing to pay large sums for assets that don’t seem to do anything? The answer, obviously, is that the prices of these assets keep going up, so that early investors made a lot of money, and their success keeps drawing in new investors.

    This may sound to you like a speculative bubble, or maybe a Ponzi scheme — and speculative bubbles are, in effect, natural Ponzi schemes. But could a Ponzi scheme really go on for this long? Actually, yes: Bernie Madoff ran his scam for almost two decades, and might have gone even longer if the financial crisis hadn’t intervened.”

    First, crypto boosters are very good at technobabble — using arcane terminology to convince themselves and others that they’re offering a revolutionary new technology, even though blockchain is actually pretty elderly by infotech standards and has yet to find any compelling uses.”

    I’ve read dozens of white papers, most of them written in conjunctive saying “Could possibly to this and that”. Not a single technology (other than maybe the NFT games) have so far done anything. Let alone replaced any of the large tech giants.

    It’s all about profit. I would never take advice from either of the two podcast guests as they are financially incentiviced to talk positively about it.

    Would be interested about other peoples opinions who can think more critically.

    For me, I’ll much rather stick to stock picking.

    Phil

  15. Strong work as always Tim!
    I tried to read the Ebook but the yellow print was almost impossible to see.
    BYW, regarding the latest trend, climate change, younger folk may do well to know this:
    These predictions have always been around and there is a vast difference of opinion with scientists.
    [Moderator: link removed per link policy.]
    Keep up the good work!

  16. Excellent episode as always I feel these deep dives are slowly helping to understand blockchain. I am attempting to ask a follow-up question correctly.

    You bring up the potential of NFTs to bring better equity of income to creators, but I’m curious if/how these works pass into the public domain. i.e. could some very egregious IP owners (e.g.Disney) use NFTs as away to lockup art forever or would/should NFT’s eventually become public domain?

  17. This is a really important episode, one that will be remembered as being a critical turning point in crypto where we started to see mainstream adoption and acceptance of things like tokens and NFT’s. Really great conversation, have recommended this episode to a lot of people.

  18. I felt really excited depressed after this pod. I am a 50 year old contractor/finish carpenter with a degree in drama, math and science are not my strong skills and I just feel like I am going to be left out of this amazing web 3 experience. Anyway, you could do a pod about how a mere mortal like myself can get involved? I don’t even know where to start, do I have to learn to program? Are there websites that I can utilize that can m\help me get involved?
    It sounded like you, Tim. are still trying to figure things out so I feel like if you don’t get it I am hooped. anyway. great pod love the show.
    Take good care,
    Christian Jacob

    1. Hi Christian, I don’t think that you will end up being left out. You don’t need to be able to code as the web3 developers will make sure that their apps are easy to use. I would suggest getting started with buying small amounts of crypto and go from there. There is an overwhelming amount of services out there so I get your point.

    2. Christian, you and I are nearly the same age with what sounds like similar vocations, and I had exactly the same reaction. I already feel like a buggy-whip supplier.

  19. I kept waiting to hear how to write for 3.0! Has the Tim Ferris blog figured out how or where to host/post? Create content for the 3.0 Substack or Medium?

    I’ve heard of some NFT books, but I’m super curious how to simply blog. Also is an NFT podcast scene happening? My search has only just begun but I wonder if anyone knows already.

    So far I have not seen any NFT art I want to hold for 5 years… but there are people I have been reading for a lot longer than that. Supporting the creators I love, along with publishing my own writing in a less saturated space is a concept that has me captivated.

    I could feel the excitement in this podcast, it was intoxicating. Super fun to feel like I can get involved in my little way along with the frothing VC guys haha

  20. Thank you for the stellar podcast! I have a question:

    The group in this episode mentions people who may have missed the first few boats in web3 shouldn’t feel rushed to get on the next one or worried there aren’t more boats coming to build wealth, but I was wondering when will be the time to be worried about not getting on the boat to just survive in the new decentralized financial world?

    When do any of the above thinkers (or people in the comments section) think fiat currency will be almost worthless? When will people be saying, “I need BTC, ETH, etc. to feed my family”?

    Many thanks!