Reputed as one of the most influential individuals worldwide, Naval Ravikant has helped to shape various modes of thought and communities. Most recently, he has been making waves in the crypto world. Ravikant is a key influencer to keep an eye on in crypto, and here we take a look at the most salient points you should know about him.
WHO IS NAVAL RAVIKANT?
Originally from India and best known for being the CEO and co-founder of AngelList, Naval Ravikant is a 44-year-old, self-made multi-millionaire and serial entrepreneur who has invested in over 100 companies such as Twitter, Uber, and Foursquare, among many others. He has also gained popularity and respect as a strategic thinker and an intellectual who has contributed to the startup community, and more recently, the crypto industry.
RAVIKANT AND HIS ANGELLIST
Describing itself as the “Match.com for startups,” AngelList helps startup companies to connect with employees and investors to fund their business. Ravikant founded the company to help entrepreneurs have ownership of what they create and how they create it, ultimately enabling them to lead the kind of lives they choose for themselves in the context of business.
Angel investors are wealthy providers of capital for startups. In return for their investment, they receive equity in the company. Angel investors tend to take a hands-off approach to investing. They are accredited and have a net worth of $1 million at a minimum, or their annual income comes to more than $200,000. On the other hand, venture capitalists take a far more active role in the companies in which they invest. However, because they work with a firm, they tend to also invest more than angel investors.
To get on AngelList profile, entrepreneurs have to apply, and their membership is far from guaranteed; with only a 1-2% acceptance rate, AngelList is known for being highly selective. Their objective is to work with technology that is based in the United States, or tech-enabled companies that have a network of impressive founders, the potential for venture-scale returns, large or emerging markets, and usage that is suggestive of customer demand — although there are always exceptions. If accepted, AngelList generates a list of accredited investors recommended for each startup based on their location, market, and stage.
As AngelList describes on its website, “We look for weird things…Obscure markets. Awesome founders. Freaky corners of the internet where magic happens.” And it has been a powerful resource for funding startups. In 2014, 243 startups listed on AngelList received $104 million in funding.
Additionally, AngelList serves to connect startups to talent, and talent to jobs. Just like most job search platforms, users create a comprehensive bio, browse job listings, apply to the opportunities that interest them, and wait for a response for their application.
The idea is that startups will match with the two most crucial elements to get their business off the ground — both funding and employees.
RAVIKANT AND CRYPTOCURRENCY
More recently, Ravikant has turned into a cryptocurrency enthusiast. Extending far beyond the founding of his two cryptocurrency companies — MetaStable Capital and CoinList — Ravikant has been gaining traction in the crypto world with his sudden prediction expressed over a 37-part tweetstorm:
“Blockchains will replace networks with markets. Humans are the networked species. The first species to network across genetic boundaries and thus seize the world. Networks allow us to cooperate when we would otherwise go [at] it alone. And networks allocate the fruits of our cooperation. Overlapping networks create and organize our society. Physical, digital, and mental roads connecting us all. Money is a network. Religion is a network. A corporation is a network. Roads are a network. Electricity is a network… Networks have ‘network effects.’ Adding a new participant increases the value of the network for all existing participants. Network effects thus create a winner-take-all dynamic. The leading network tends towards becoming the only network. And the Rulers of these networks become the most powerful people in society… until now. Blockchains are a new invention that allows meritorious participants in an open network to govern without a ruler and without money. They are merit-based, tamper-proof, open, voting systems.
“I’d been thinking about the problem for a while. I went to sleep, woke up in the middle of the night, 3 or 4 a.m, and I just regurgitated that entire thing on Twitter,” explained Ravikant to CoinDesk.
Ravikant’s tweets shed perspective that money, along with other institutions such as corporations or religion, are all various types of networks. What makes them a network is the dynamic that their value increases as their membership grows. Ravikant’s views have led a paradigm shift in Bitcoin from being just an exchange protocol to a game changer in how startups get funding. It can take power away from investors — from venture capitalists to bankers to angel investors — and give it back to the startups themselves by crowdfunding directly from users, based on the market value of their ideas.
INFLUENCING THE CRYPTO INDUSTRY
Now, in the past year, Ravikant has been laying the groundwork for a new emerging token economy. It has been not only a financial and political groundwork but also an intellectual one.
Ravikant believes that cryptocurrency is not just money or a protocol. It is “a model and platform for true crowdfunding — open, distributed and liquid all the way.” More than just being a medium of exchange, in Ravikant’s vision cryptocurrency could help startups raise money with fewer steps and barriers. He also sees it as a means to personal freedom.
“Bitcoin is a tool for freeing humanity from oligarchs and tyrants, dressed up as a get-rich-quick scheme,” Ravikant expressed in a tweet.
Ravikant’s activity and advocacy for blockchain technology may prove to be a significant factor in the broader adoption of the industry and its long-term success. As was noted by Peter van Valkenburgh, director of research at Coin Center, “Naval brings a certain amount of Silicon Valley credibility to what is otherwise sort of a weird, strange crypto community phenomenon.” It will be worth paying attention to what Ravikant does next, and the ideas he continues to express that can influence future activity in the industry at-large.