5 1/2 Questions for David S. Rose

David S. Rose

Arch Angel

[note — David Rose’s career is so diverse and accomplished, there’s not enough room here to print his bio and credentials. Even the summary is longer that the usual space allowed. See the wikipedia page for David S. Rose or his Website for the complete picture. (he’s even one of the few investors/entrepreneurs who have an IMDB page!)

But here’s the summary:

David S. Rose is an Inc. 500 CEO, serial entrepreneur and investor who has founded or funded over 100 pioneering companies. He has been described by Forbes as “New York’s Archangel”, by BusinessWeek as a “world conquering entrepreneur”, by Crain’s New York Business as “the father of angel investing in New York”, and by Red Herring magazine as “patriarch of Silicon Alley”. He is the New York Times best-selling author of both Angel Investing: The Gust Guide to Making Money & Having Fun Investing in Startups, and The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business.

David is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of New York Angels; Managing Director of Rose Tech Ventures; a Founding General Partner of True Global Ventures; He is also the Founder and Executive Chairman of Gust, which operates the world’s largest online platform and community for entrepreneurs and early-stage investors.

David is well known in the business startup community for discovering and mentoring high-potential entrepreneurs, and has been profiled by BusinessWeek as “The Pitch Coach” for his ability to help CEOs perfect their fundraising skills. He is a regular speaker at the TED conferences, and his TEDtalk on How to Pitch a VC has been viewed over a million times. David has been named a Top Writer for five years in a row by Quora, the knowledge-based website where his more than eleven thousand answer to questions about entrepreneurship and investing have garnered him over 100,000 followers. His writings have been featured in Inc. magazine, Huffington Post, Slate, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes. David is a frequent lecturer at business schools including Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Cambridge, Stanford, UVA, CUNY, and Stevens, and he was named Mentor of the Year by NYU’s Stern School of Business.

David can be followed online @davidsrose

1 — What’s the most enjoyable aspect of your job these days?

Well, I am one of those who go through life being always enthusiastic. So I am happy about everything, enthusiastic and everything. I find joy and delight in basically everything I do.

And so being both an entrepreneur and an investor, I take great delight in creating new things as an entrepreneur, in mentoring startup, other entrepreneurs, in investing in companies that become successful. So I find even though the entire world of startup companies and ventures is, is crazy making and stressful for everybody, and the majority of startups fail completely. You know, at some point … Schumpeter — the concept of creative destruction applies.

So this is the way the world is built. The world is built on entrepreneurs and therefore everybody who is an entrepreneur who gives it a shot. They’re Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘man in the arena.’ You’re an entrepreneur; you are in the arena. And that is great — and you should be celebrated. I love being one — whether or not I succeed. I love investing in them — whether or not I succeed. I hope I succeed. I hope they succeed. I hope we all make a lot of money. But it’s the essence of creation and changing the status quo is seeing things as they should be — not as they are. That really makes me excited.

[Rose gives an analogy of some historical innovator/entrepreneurs including Ben Franklin and especially Johann Gutenberg — it’s a fascinating analogy and story — most people are unaware of the details and nuances. Watch David S. Rose’s popular TED Talk: Gutenberg as an Entrepreneur.

2 — What is the most frustrating aspect of your job?

The most frustrating aspect is probably that not everything works the way it should.

There is a large amount of luck in every there’s a lot of luck in life. I mean, I happen to have lucked into all kinds of privileges I was born into and nothing I deserve, quote unquote. I don’t not deserve it. But but it’s not a I didn’t do anything for it. So that was luck.

And I know many, many entrepreneurs who had brilliant ideas, really smart, decent people who work really hard and really smart. And for whatever reason, it didn’t pan out. Somebody else got there first. The market changed. They just had a bit of bad luck with a customer. And so I guess the more mature I get, the more frustrating it is to see people, including myself in certain circumstances, do everything right, have the right ideas, the right concept, execute appropriately, work hard, work smart, work fast, be straight. And still it doesn’t quite work for for reasons outside of your control. That can be frustrating.

3 — Your future self travels back 20 years to give you advice today — what does he tell you?

Well, that’s a that’s a really interesting question. And you know the answer to that, you know, plastics or whatever, which they would probably be web3 or blockchain or form 20 years from now, right? Yeah. Well, absolutely.

Let’s see 20 years from now is 2042. And according to Ray Kurzweil, the singularity is coming to 2045. So we’ll be pretty darn near the singularity, at which point all bets are off. We’re past the event horizon. So I guess the answer is, “hey, it’s really cool here. Stick around and see it.”

4 — Who is your favorite non-fiction writer — why?

Nonfiction writer? I think I would probably have to say Ray Kurzweil. In his own way, he is a little nuts — but brilliant. Also he is the one person who has really brought the whole concept of “exponentials” to the fore is really focus on it. Exponentials are really key to everything that we’re doing. And so I think as a seminal writer and theorist on the future of technological change, it has to be exponential.

You’ve heard of Moore’s Law, no doubt. So Moore’s Law is about the pace of change. That’s what some 20 plus years ago, 30 years ago, that the number of transistor equivalents that Intel could fit on a single integrated circuit was doubling every 18 months. And so two, four, eight, 16, 32, 64, one, 22, 56, five, 12, ten, 24 Next thing you know, one gig, two gig, four gig, eight gig. And that’s how we have the computing power we have today.

So Ray Kurzweil looked at this and said, okay, well, I wonder how far back that can go and how can you figure out how far back that technological advancement can go? If Moore was talking about transistors on a chip, well, what happens before transistors and before chips? So Kurzweil said, okay, let’s try and generalize the question to make it apply to all of technology.

So ultimately, he settled on millions of instructions per second per dollar to sort of factor in cost and speed and power. And he said, okay, once you generalize it to that thing, let’s look back all across the whole 20th century. Did this exist before? Gordon Moore noted a bit about Intel’s chips and he goes back to the end of the 20th century and notes that, well, you start with Herman Hollerith punch cards and IBM for the 1910 census, and then you look at things like relays which allow you to throw a large load with a small effort. And then you look at vacuum tubes which allow you to store one bit of data, and then you look at solid state circuits and transistors and integrated circuits, each of these paradigm shifts.

And it turns out that once you generalize a definition, this doubling every 18 months goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. And so he said, whoa, wait a minute. If this doubling of technology, this exponential growth to 48, 60 and 32 goes back to 1900 across multiple different paradigms, maybe it goes back farther. So he went and pulled everybody’s lists of technological advances, of major paradigm shifts and technology back to the beginning of recorded history — from the Bronze Age fire, the wheel, Roman aqueducts, you know, movable parts, the cotton gin, all these things. And he put plotted everything on the line to try and figure out where these breakpoints were and how far back the change went… It turns out that technology has been advancing at this doubling rate since the beginning of recorded human history.

So you said, well, wait a minute, what if that was the case? How come Neanderthals didn’t have iPhones? But it’s moving so fast. And the answer is, if you start really, really small, 0.0001 and you double it, you get to 0.0002, which is a doubling, but it’s only incremental change, it’s only 0.01. Then the next incremental change is 0.00 or two and then 0.004. So so it’s going to be you can’t even see it. And so if you graph that on a, on a standard linear scale, the changes are so small, so tiny, it looks like flat, you can’t see it. But once you hit the near the curve, once you had like one one, two, four, eight, 16, 36 for 21 gig, two gig, four gig, one terabyte two terabytes. The next thing you know, sure it goes if you if you a straight line on a logarithmic scale on equals a power curve. And a power curve looks like this extraordinarily immense jump, and that’s with exponential force.

And on the basis of that, he wrote this book called “The Singularity Is Near,” about how this technological advancement is advancing so fast that the next major paradigm shift after integrated circuits that we have now and computing technology, is when the next generation of computers begins designing the following generation of computers and other is when humans and computers merge.

When is this going to happen? And his projection date is 2045, that within by 2045, which by the way, is only in case you can’t count 23 years from now, within my working lifetime, that we will be at a point where technology has advanced so much. It is beyond our ability to comprehend. We have no friggin clue as to what’s going to happen when the computers are designing computers. So in any event, I think that Ray Kurzweil has to be my vote for most important nonfiction writer.

5 — Overnight you are named head of the SEC — what’s your first major order of business?

Oh, interesting. Interesting. Probably accelerate some serious investigation of blockchain, digital currencies and revamping securities system. We have securities regulations which were great for 1930s when they were developed by Joe Kennedy putting the chicken the wolf in charge of the hen house, which was a very smart idea, and great for that time. And these regulations have given America the foundational base of a free market, capitalist market with appropriate guardrails. But now the technology is moving so fast, and all of the systems that were designed initially for an effectively an analog world and then a digital world, but not a meta world, are now being rapidly outmoded. And the SEC needs to keep up with that.

5–1/2: …. And … the bonus question:

Real-life aliens from outer-space land in your yard. They’re friendly. Over drinks — what do you talk about?

Effectively the vastness of space and what lies beyond. Because if there are any aliens, there are an unlimited number of aliens [David goes back to quoting Ray Kurzweil — how Kurzweil methodically theorized about the “exponential” theory and the Singularity — and how this precludes the existence of aliens] … and summarizes:

If there was ever any other intelligent species that was developing technology that advanced exponentially, but exponentials grow so large that by this point, unless we happen unless they happen to start at exactly the same micro nanosecond that we did, or unless we were the first out of an untold quadrillion of these things, definitionally, they’d be ahead of us, they’d be exponential, and they would be have such a large footprint in the universe we wouldn’t be able to miss.

So the short answer is, I would love to hear from them about what’s what’s going on out there.

For more 5–1/2 Questions Interviews, see:

5–1/2 Questions” from CJ Cornell is a new series of mini-interviews with leaders in the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem around the world. In less than a half-dozen short questions, we’ll try to learn more about each leader, and what makes them successful and unique.

The questions are designed a little like a “Magic Eight Ball” (my GenX colleagues know what this is): A set of questions, posed at random. Plus, at least one question, or half-question, is designed to find out something about their personality that most people might never suspect (I mean expect).

CJ Cornell is a serial entrepreneur, investor, advisor, mentor, author, speaker, and educator. As an entrepreneur, CJ Cornell was a founder of more than a dozen successful startup ventures that collectively attracted over $250 million in private funding; created nearly a thousand new jobs; and launched dozens of innovative consumer, media, and communications products — that have exceeded $3 billion in revenues.

He is the author of the bestsellingThe Age of Metapreneurship — A Journey into the Future of Entrepreneurship.”

And the upcoming “The Startup Brain Trust — A Guidebook for Startups, Entrepreneurs, and the Mentors that Help them Become Great.”

Follow him @cjcornell or visit: www.cjcornell.com

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