This is going to be a time of change and reshuffling. There is a 3-5 year period to hustle and strategically position ourselves to create positive impact in this world.
On March 17th, the moment we heard that our city in the San Francisco Bay Area will start to go through a stay-home quarantine in midnight, we bought a one-way ticket for the whole family to fly to Taiwan.
We literally had two hours to pack out of the blue, and could only bring the essentials for a trip that could be anywhere between 3-8 months. Usually it takes two hours to pack for a one-day trip for my twin daughters, but this time it was like escaping an army of plague. We only grabbed what we needed to survive the plane flight, and planned to figure out where to live and what to wear after.
Taiwan was one of the first countries to get hit by COVID-19, as every week there were 150,000 people commuting between Taiwan and China.
But Taiwan managed it very well and so far has only experienced 3 deaths to date. When we left the US on the 17th we believe (and still believe) the worst was yet to come. In Taiwan we believe the worst is already over (these 2 weeks due to a mass reverse-exodus of people like me, Taiwan’s cases jumped from 50ish to 300ish with deaths 2 and 3 during this time too, but it is not the fault of Taiwan operations and they still handle things very well as will explain below).
Also, Taiwan is very aggressive in testing people so the numbers should be exhaustive (as opposed to many countries saying you have symptoms would not get you treated if you did not travel). Even after the virus wave, I believe there will be so many/much bankruptcies, unemployment, social unrest, and aggression towards Asians that it wouldn’t be an ideal place to stay for my daughters.
Here’s what Taiwan is doing:
All foreign returns including myself are self-manage quarantined for 14 days.
What makes Taiwan stand out is that my neighborhood head (like mayor but for the neighborhood) calls around 2-3 times a day to make sure my family is staying home and feeling well (we get individual calls for each individual in the family).
The CDC also texts us daily to make sure we are feeling well, and if not, responding to the text would trigger a special vehicle to take us to the hospital (many global cases were results from Taxi rides to the hospitals).
Even at home, I’m supposed to be wearing a face mask at all times to make sure other family members are not affected (btw, since most sick people don’t know they are sick, saying you should only wear masks if you are sick is not useful).
The Taiwanese government also provides some money for each day of self-quarantine to ease economic impact or get a helper to buy food for individuals etc.
Last week they even sent a full police force to bust into nightclubs, Karaokes, and markets proactively to escort violators back home and fine them $3K – $30K USD which is substantial for a Taiwanese salary.
Again, the people who are fined huge amounts are not confirmed cases, just foreigners returning from risky areas are supposed to be quarantined.
The government is taking no chances of this breaking out. Everyone is afraid of the chink in the armor for the national defense and is preventing that outbreak in all means.
What’s also unique is that each sick person has a unique number. So everyday in the news we will see statements like, “We now know #25 transmitted to #36 as they were attending the same school in the UK. #43 recovered and returned home from the hospital last Tuesday but a follow up check shows that she seems to be getting worse again.”
This is why despite being the inconvenienced quarantine foreign returns, I feel much safer and better being here in Taiwan than anywhere else in the world.
This whole experience became a prelude for me to think about the Post-COVID Resistance, which I will talk about in another post.
As some may know I’ve been fascinated and slowly becoming in favor of Presidential Candidate (2020) Andrew Yang. At first I thought he was a populist (for getting votes) who is promoting Marxist socialism ($1000/mo Universal Basic Income). After reading his book I changed my mind and felt pretty good about him.
A few useful things to share to people who are unfamiliar:
1. His UBI replaces (unless opted out) all welfare programs.
It reduces incentives to be in weak positions (unemployed and pretending to find jobs or divorcing etc) and shrinks government (no more complicated and long-winded approval process and checking if a person still qualifies every month)
2. He says after that it’s going to be still $1.3 Trillion below budget. He plans to get it via VAT (value add sales tax) that would optimize for luxury and AI driven items.
Profitability from automation and GDP will rise dramatically, and we need to make sure machine profits don’t screw over the hard working humans. He says that with a 10% VAT (20% for most non-US western countries), if one gets $12K more per year, people would only be worse off if they spend more than $120K per year. But Amazon has to pay taxes on transactions instead of just “our accounting methods shows we don’t need to pay taxes.” Btw, he doesn’t try to vilify Amazon as having evil agendas, but he says people will suffer due to optimization.
3. The rest he believes in trickle up economy.
Most people will spend most of the $1000/mo (most Americans needs to as they have less than $500 savings) and help other local businesses and income, as opposed to big government just keeping it and spending on inefficient large items in military and others. In Econ 1 we learn about the multiplier effect, where if $1000 passes through 5 people, 5 people made $1000 each and the GDP increases by $5000 (not counting taxes) and the government will get more taxes back too on each step.
4. It may or may not be perfect calculations, but it’s not wishful dreaming and promising.
His policies page estimate costs for dozens of his policies and also how he expects them to be paid. https://www.yang2020.com/policies/ I especially like the one where all field cops should have cameras on constantly to really resolve police brutality issues as everyone has better information and context.
5. The automation crisis is happening now.
Just look at empty malls closing because of Amazon (robots in their warehouses), self-checkout at groceries, casinos replacing bartenders this year, and Tesla launching autonomous fleet next year.
6. UBI is different to socialism because..
In Traditional Socialism, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, everyone will have the same outcome. In Yang’s economy, if you consistently do the correct things and have a bit of luck, anyone can become a millionaire. UBI just makes sure that everyone has a few chips to participate in the game to begin with.
7. $1000/mo is not going to solve all problems.
It is just around the poverty line so if people could work they should want to (outside of outliers). But $1000/mo would make it easier for people to relocate for other opportunities, go back to school or be retrained, or decide to dedicate more time to raising their children. Also, rich people get $1000/mo too, because instead of the “F you rich people!!” narrative, it honors them by saying, “You will be paying significantly more taxes not from your wealth/income but on your luxurious enjoyment of American goods. But you will get your Freedom Dividend as a respected citizen of the United States, just like everyone else.”
8. Trump won President because Americans in Middle States were hearing the awful narrative about White Privilege
…about how white people get everything so easy and all America’s problems are coming from them; but yet they are struggling in the millions, losing their jobs to automation and failing to support their families. Strong man Trump shows up and says, “the media and democrats say YOU are the problem. You are what makes America bad. They don’t care about you. Well guess what, you are not the problem. You are a victim, and I will fight back those jobs from those foreigners!” When you are drowning, you grab on to whoever actually says will save you as opposed to those calling you the bad guy.
9. I’ve met many people saying that when they voted for Trump they were looking for someone like Andrew Yang
…someone who is concerned about their problems, not vilifying them, and ACTUALLY having a plan. These Middle State Americans don’t need a big white man to be President. They just need someone who cares about their problems to be President. Imagine how they feel when the media just calls them racists during this process of struggle and grasping for hope from anywhere.
10. I’ve always felt that the largest threat to America is how divided we are.
I got myself immersed in both left and right echo chambers and it was mind blowing how the two sides can’t even begin to communicate due to name calling as the first step. That’s why I think Andrew Yang’s campaign of “Not Left, not Right, but Forward” is very appealing to me personally.
11. Polls indicate that right now 3% of Americans would vote for Andrew Yang
…from being a complete no-namer last year. His is currently ranked 5th in the Democratic Party lineup. It’s still a long shot, but I think he has a chance.
(Disclaimer: even though at the beginning I was pretty turned off by Andrew Yang’s running for presidency, my knowledge in behavioral science tells me that I would be be more open to be won over due to our shared background as Taiwanese American Entrepreneurs. Also, Elon Musk claiming UBI being the necessary solution for the future also opened me up to the concept)
(Note: this is a blogpost I originally wrote in 2009 during the financial crisis. In 2019 I became a supporter of Andrew Yang, and remembered that my proposal ten years ago, while not as “complete,” was very similar. So I updated it a little bit and surfaced it back. Despite having a degree in Economics, I am NOT an expert on the economy but an expert on behavioral design and gamification)
A few weeks ago, I was exercising while listening to the Wall Street Journal This Morning about what the government is doing to save the economy. I have also been paying attention to how governments are giving grants to startups who can prove that they are very innovative.
For validation, I took this plan to two of my friends, one who is an ex-VC and Boston Consulting Group Consultant, and the other a Stanford University Researcher. They haven’t been able to poke holes in this theory *yet*, so I thought I would share it on my blog and hopefully I will find out the flaws in my thinking or it will get discovered by policy makers to really execute it through.
Foundations of my theory: nodes and 3 coefficients
When the government throws money into the economy, it passes through many “nodes” (person or organization), and each node has three coefficients along with it: spend/save, innovation, and upside.
Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) is the best “Angel Investment Opportunity”
I’ve often asked myself: why am I a Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) bull, despite unimpressive financials (to say the least), sky-high valuation, and a seemingly unfocused CEO.
If you look at the financials, things aren’t that great. Tesla in general is still losing lots of money (especially if you don’t count occasional Carbon Credit Tax Credit boosts). It still requires a TON more money to expand and operate. For some reason Elon Musk was already working on Giga Factories 3, 4, and 5, when Giga Factory 1 hasn’t even been completed and required more capital. The whole company’s success weighs on Model 3 and Tesla’s ability to suddenly mass produce cars that not even much larger automakers could do. Finally, growing competition in many other well established car brands are coming into the market and stealing Tesla’s pie.
How does it make sense to invest in this company?
Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) and the Silicon Valley way
After pondering about this question for a while, I realized that the reason why I like Tesla, is that it is almost the most conservative and strongest type of Angel Investment Deal one can find.
In the past, I have made non-trivial money from Startups, and I know how things work in this world (many Venture Capitalists like to refer their portfolio companies to me for my help). When you look at Tesla, Inc as a public company value stock, it may not be that attractive. However, if you still see Tesla as a growth phase startup that requires capital to grow and can take over an entire industry, this is a huge opportunity. As an Angel Investor myself, I couldn’t give up on this opportunity.
In the startup world, when we invest we mostly look at a few things.
Total Addressable Market Size
I will explain in this post how Tesla fits the perfect pattern for all of the above. However, I first want to address one thing.
Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) does not lose money on every car sale
Many bears like to throw out the statement that “Tesla loses money on every car it sells.”
This is false.
Tesla makes a margin on every car it sells. However, because it is so aggressively setting up new infrastructure and new R&D, it ends up losing money. Let’s say you run a restaurant and invest $10,000 to put iPads on each table. Then say that each food item costs $1 but you can sell it for $11. After selling 900 of this food item, you would have made $9,000 in gross profits. However, since it does not cover the $10,000 investment towards new technology, you post a net loss of $1,000. This does not mean that you lose money on every food item you sell.
Even though the “Tesla loses money on every car it sells” term sounds fancy and catchy for bears, it is entirely inaccurate. If you are a bear for this very reason, I believe the risk you are taking is based on misinformed decision-making and would recommend reconsidering (of course, other reasons could still justify a bear thesis).
With that out of the way, lets cover the fundamentals of startup investing for Tesla.
The Team behind Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA)
OK, so there are a lot of great talent behind Tesla, but for now I’m only going to cover Elon Musk for somewhat obvious reasons. For research on this, I have actually read his whole biography, so I may know more than the average bear about the entrepreneur behind the company.
In startup investing, we look at whether the entrepreneur has successful past “exits” – meaning they made their investors a lot of money. Entrepreneurs who have big exits are hard to come by, and every angel investor wants to jump on that deal when the opportunity becomes present. Even if an entrepreneur has failed 8 times in the past, as long as they have 1-2 successful exits, they are considered gold and a worthy bet.
Now the thing about Elon Musk is that, Elon Musk has NEVER had a failed venture. We all know about his successful endeavors at Paypal (sold to eBay for $1.5 billion) and SpaceX (being the third entity – behind the U.S. and Russian governments – to launch rockets into space at 10% the cost). Tesla itself of course is a successful example.
Critics might unfairly call Tesla a funding-sucking Ponzi scheme, but even if they believe Tesla is overvalued, it definitely HAS value. Tesla makes cars that people want to buy, and these people are willing to pay $100K for these cars. After the purchase, many say their next cars will be Teslas too.
That’s value. It may or may not be a $50 Billion company, but I’m sure everyone will agree it is at least a $1 Billion company. That means, irrefutably, Elon Musk is a successful entrepreneur with Tesla.
Well, every successful entrepreneur must have many little failures before they turn big right? What a lot of people don’t know is that even Elon Musk’s first venture that most people have never heard about about (Zip2) was also sold to Compaq Computer for $307 Million. If any smart-smirky bear wants to call Elon Musk an incompetent executive, first ask themselves if they or someone they know and respect have created companies worth over $300 Million in the past – multiple times.
Well, actually, Elon Musk does have one failed venture. When he was a boy he wanted to start an arcade company in South Africa. But after getting all the prep work done, the venue required an adult to sign the paperwork, and his parents refused to. Perhaps Elon Musk is over his head in optimism after all.
I strongly believe if there was an opportunity to invest in a startup that is run by Elon Musk, every serious and experienced Angel Investor would rush to become part of that deal.
The Traction behind Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA)
The next thing a startup investor looks at is Traction. Traction blinds all eyes. Even if the investor has no idea why someone would use a nose-picking app, as long as you can tell him that you have 5 million active users every month and its growing by 20% each week, he’ll give you money if he believes that can be sustained.
Now, traction does NOT mean profitability. Traction means growth, demand, and product-market fit. It means that if investors put in more money, it will contribute to the business becoming more successful, as opposed to “figuring out how to get the first customer.” Startup Investors actually don’t care about profits much, because all revenue generated should be put back into growth, R&D, and expansion.
Many Venture Capitalists actually call their portfolio companies that are just making decent profits the “walking dead,” because it makes enough money to sustain forever, but it will never grow fast enough to dominate an industry (and lead to an Exit).
If you look at Tesla (and companies like Amazon – NASDAQ: AMZN), they have traction. The Model S was a big success. People not only buy it, they rave about it. It receives huge (or ewwge) reviews. Model X – while having some operational issues due to complexity in vendors – is also a product that people want and are willing to pay for. Model 3 has over 400,000 people putting in $1000 deposits to say they want the car. I think there is no denying that Tesla has traction.
Now the question is whether Tesla can service that demand. Well, let me just say that startup investors LOVE to jump on deals where the demand is too high but they don’t have enough capital to supply the product. The traction is there, and if money can help deliver value to the demand, money is well invested.
The Market of Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA)
So sometimes you would have a great entrepreneur with great traction, but there isn’t a big market anymore, or perhaps it has been “tapped out.” For instance, you could say Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) has a successfully proven CEO, and great traction. However, you could argue that Twitter has already acquired most of its market, and it is unrealistic for it to get another 50% more users. That puts a limit to the stock. Some people believe that Tesla has already tapped out the Electric Vehicle market, but I think that is extremely far from the truth.
We are only at the beginning the EV Market. More and more people are moving toward hybrids and EVs, not necessarily because they care about the planet, but because they like the cars better. Many people like how fast the cars can accelerate. Many people like how quiet it is. Others like the feeling of never needing to go to a gas station as long as they can charge at home (growing startups like Filld (a former client of mine) are there specifically to address this need by sending gas trucks to fuel your car where it is parked). A great amount of EV buyers and Tesla owners say they will buy the same thing again.
This market is only growing at a rapid pace and not shrinking. Even for those who don’t believe in global warming, we know that smog in a city is undesirable. Beijing and Los Angeles are filled with smog and you could barely see the sunrise. Reduced emissions has many appeals that is seen and felt.
The only two barriers to adopting more EV’s are 1) Pricing and 2) Range Anxiety. People often can’t afford the EV’s that can give them over 300 miles per charge (even in the $30,000 range). There is no doubt in my mind the cost and range of EV’s will dramatically decrease in the future years to come, removing those barriers. When those barriers are being slowly lifted, I believe that we currently are not even at 10% the market capacity for EVs in the future world.
Another thing to remember is that Tesla is also not just a car company. It is an ENERGY company. This is why it is not unfathomable that Tesla can grow to become bigger than Ford or GM. Its addressable market includes the car industry, solar panels industry, and energy industry. Here I point out some opportunities in the solar panels and energy industry.
Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) will dominate in Solar Energy
The Solar City acquisition was questionable to many people. The valuation of it might be high, and the cash situation isn’t that stellar either. However, it is still a dominating player in the solar industry. If you believe a lot more organizations will use solar panels in the future, then is makes sense to bet on the biggest companies in that space. I don’t think many people are “against” solar energy. The only barrier for people to have it is: 1) integration hassles – too lazy to investigate or roof too small 2) cost to implement.
As we know from Behavioral Science (which happens to be what I’m good at), we often don’t want to make big changes to our behavior until we see our neighbors do the same thing. I believe as more and more people get solar panels, it will only create a ripple effect in driving up demand.
However, the key is that the cost and installation process of solar panels would become a lot easier. As Elon Musk said,
It’s looking quite promising that a solar roof will actually cost less than a normal roof before you even take the value of electricity into account. So the basic proposition would be, ‘Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, last twice as long, cost less and by the way generates electricity?’ Why would you get anything else?
Now, there are comments about the “cheaper cost” is compared to more expensive roofs, and not the asphalt ugly ones. Besides the fact that Tesla is addressing wealthier families anyway as his target market, I believe over time, the cost would still become lower and lower, eventually being affordable for more households. Betting on this is betting on minimum linear advancement of the human race. I’m in on that bet.
Every power outage crisis is an opportunity for Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA)
Beyond the car and solar part of Tesla’s business, another huge potential is its energy and battery business. For this industry, the sky is the limit. You may already know that the State of Hawaii has already deployed 272 Tesla power packs and is expected to save them 1.6 million gallons of diesel fuel annually. South Australia had a total black out, and immediately they pursued the opportunity to work with Tesla on providing 24/7 power no matter what the condition.
Do you know what that means? It means that every time there is a power outage, that becomes an opportunity for Tesla (luckily, these “crisis opportunities” don’t have to cost people lives). The weeks prior to this writing, San Francisco and Fremont both had a power outage, causing the BART public transportation system to stop functioning, as well as the traffic lights of the already-hectic San Francisco streets. People are talking about how the government needs to buy Tesla products to make sure this doesn’t happen again. It would be crazy to not see this as a great line of growing business (especially when the buyers are big pocket governments).
Unfortunately and fortunately, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said to investors, “At this time, we ascribe zero value to Tesla shares from this business.” To me. this just means untapped upside potentially not factored into the stock.
Competition expands market for Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA)
Another big critique is that the competition will suddenly burst ahead and steal Tesla’s lunch. Many startups as well as large companies like GM, Audi, and Porsche are all launching long range EV’s that people would want to buy. In the startup world, that is actually not a problem, AS LONG AS the company stays innovative AND the market is expanding fast.
As mentioned above, I believe EV is going to become more and more dominant in the future (you can see that the people that first endorsed online shopping are the ones that are first endorsing EV’s – early adaptors of a new trend). Often when you have a “new” market, it takes a lot of time and investment to “educate the market” and generate demand. When the competitors come in, they will also spend considerable (and even more) amount of effort and advertisement to educate the market.
Those critics who used to say, “EV’s will never be picked up by serious car companies and consumers. Tesla will die,” (this was not that long ago) – suddenly are being shut down. Now they are saying, “See, everyone major car manufacturer are doing EV’s. Tesla will die.”
Consumers who are not sure about the viability and attractiveness of EV’s are suddenly seeing respectable companies telling them that it is okay and even good to get EV’s. I believe since the market is so untapped, having competitors come in only expands the market.
This leads to the 2nd point:
Can Tesla continue to innovate in this growing market? My answer is yes. Many of the serious car companies are trying to chase after what Tesla accomplished 5 years ago. Many of them say they will launch a competitive EV by 2020. By then, Tesla would continue to be 5 years ahead, and the competitors would have more copying work to do.
This is common in the startup world. A Startup does something cool, and is ignored by the big companies. After the startup proves to become a “threat,” big old giant company spends 4 months of executive meetings to decide they want to do something similar. And after 2 years, they launch a product that is about 70% as good as the first product they were trying to copy. The 2 years allows the young startup’s lifespan to DOUBLE, becoming way better than what the giants copied. As a result, many large companies buy small startups just to shut them down.
Tesla continues to invest in innovation. This is why it does not turn a profit. It wants to always be 5 steps ahead when others are playing catchup. Other car companies might get a tremendous amount of sales and become very successful. But would this stop the growing market from buying Tesla cars? I don’t think so. I have seen enough of this same pattern to be willing to bet my money on it.
Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) will require more fundraising, and true investors are willing to fund it
Another big critique on Tesla’s stock is that they continuously need new rounds of capital raising, diluting the stock. In the startup investment world, people who are extremely worried about dilution due to future rounds are often unseasoned.
The very meaning of raising investment money is that a company can take the money and create more value than the amount received. If a company raises $100 because it can generate $1000 in value after, the $100 is a no-brainer.
The only question is, do people believe that the extra capital raised can contribute to more or less value than the received amount? If the capital raising for Tesla is only to do random unproven things that may or may not result in a return, that could be questionable. However, if we know that Tesla has 400,000 deposits and needs to invest in gigafactories to deliver to the demand, or to continuously stay innovative, it is not crazy to believe that the money invested would result in much higher value growth for the company.
But, what about the dilution? It’s great that Tesla is taking new money and becoming more valuable, but I’m being diluted so it must be bad right?
Well, the key is this:
If Tesla raises a lot more capital and you are diluted by 30%, but Tesla is able to take the capital raised and increase the value of the company by 150%, then suddenly the value of your stock actually went up significantly. In the startup world, we know that if you own 10% of a $9 Million company (so $900K in equity), and suddenly it raised another $1 Million, yes your allocation of the company’s equity is diluted by 11%, but you now own 9% of a $10 Million company, which is still $900K in equity.
The simple breakdown is that, if a $9 Million company raises $1 Million, it’s new value is at the minimum $9 Million + the $1 Million cash raised. If the company has an extra $1 Million in the bank, it of course is at least $1 Million more valuable than before. If you believe the $1 Million raised would generate more than $1 Million in value due to clever investments (by an intelligent leader – see above), then each dilution round is actually a gain for your investment.
Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) investors are motivated by Epic Meaning & Calling
So I am known for my work in gamification and behavioral design. Among the 8 Core Drives of my creation the Octalysis Framework, there is a motivation driver called Epic Meaning & Calling.
This means that people are taking an action because they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. When people are driven by Epic Meaning & Calling, they tend to commit seemingly irrational behaviors, often asking how can they become self-sacrificial to fulfill the bigger vision.
While I am a Tesla Bull, there are times where I increase my ownership if I know the consumer market will push it up more, and I get rid of many shares when I feel that the shorts would suddenly decide to double down. I’ve made quite a decent profit (mid to high double-digits) from that. However, often times when I feel like Tesla is stretched too high and is going to have a strong correction based on some one-off bad news, I’m often surprised that the stock doesn’t drop as much as I thought it would.
That is because Tesla investors are driven by Epic Meaning & Calling. Often times, it doesn’t matter what happens, or what the numbers say, there are Tesla investors (myself not included) who would still own the stock and even double down on the dips. People believe in Elon Musk and his mission, whether it is to go to Mars or populate the world with EVs. Because of that, they are not the type of investors that scurry away when bad news hits. This makes me feel very comfortable as I am riding the growth.
No matter what happens to the Tesla stock or the company, there is a whole army of people passionate about the cause to back it and keep the stock high. If Tesla ever gets to the point where they may risk bankruptcy due to their aggressive expansion plans, there will still be people waiting to fund it. And as mentioned above, raising new money and being diluted is a good thing I happily experience as long as I still believe the executive team remains competent.
Conclusion: Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) is still NOT a startup investment
Now given the arguments above, Tesla is still not a real startup investment. Even though it has significantly less risk, it also has much lower upside (we won’t be seeing 50x returns in five years). Also, it is definitely a lot riskier than a regular value stock play. I would not recommend people to bet their life savings on Tesla.
There is still probability where Tesla never fulfills its super ambitious mission and ends up dying (even Elon Musk admits that). But to those who have some extra money and are thinking about investing in startups, I would say that Tesla is one of the best bets out there. In addition, Tesla also has a lot more liquidity than real startup investments as you can enter and exit at will as a public company…for now.
At the end of the day, I find Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) a great hybrid investment that is less risky than investing in actual startups, but has a tremendous amount of upside compared to most public stocks. The public investors that have no idea/experience investing in startups do not understand how startup investing works, and therefore creates an opportunity for the rest of us who do.
So some of you might know that I recently started to get involved with Captain Up as their Behavioral Scientist, which is mostly a fancy title for an Advisory position to help them become more successful.
I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain why I decided to take on this role.
Why Captain Up
Many of you know that I have been using Captain Up’s platform on my own site for a long time now. At the beginning I was looking for a variety of Gamification platforms to experiment and research on, and most of them either required too much setup know-how (I am not a programmer), or is very limited in what can be customized.
My friend Andrzej Marczewski recommended Captain Up to me and since I respect his opinion I decided to give it a try.
The setup only took a few minutes, and then I spent a couple hours customizing it to create challenges and language that fits my site. I even documented my thinking process in this blogpost (as well as my upcoming book).
Too friendly and enjoyable to quit
The team at Captain Up then reached out to me and asked if I needed more support. They proactively helped me on all my questions and needs, and it actually created a lasting impression: “Wow, I would love to work with these guys at one point.”
After a while, I was ready to move on and study other Gamification platforms, but then I realized that my readers loved the current Captain Up one so much, they kept on asking for more challenges and tried to level up more. Many would say they were trying very hard to level up or reach the top of that week.
That was to some extent expected, since the design is meant for people to fall in love and stay engaged with the experience, but it nevertheless gave me great emotional encouragement, so I decided to just stick with it and use it for my blog.
It was useful because I regularly get questions from my own readers on how to use Captain Up better, so now I have a great place to refer them to.
Taking Captain Up to New Heights
Even though Captain Up is a great platform, they are still very young and still trying to cover all the amazing features that people want. Since I am using their platform and my readers all depend on Captain Up to create more enjoyable experiences, I thought I should get involved with how the product evolves and how they incorporate sound principles of my Octalysis Framework.
Because of that, when they reached out again to talk to me, we quickly reached an agreement where I would try my best to help them become a great platform and something that can implement all the Core Drives via unpredictability, meaningful choices, and social platforms.
This is an exciting journey. As my own company The Octalysis Group is growing substantially, I don’t know how long I will be able to stay committed to Captain Up, but as of now I’m looking forward to make them as successful of a company they can be. Hopefully my involvement will help turn them from a great product/platform to a great company.
You may have noticed, I’ve been pretty open about my Christian faith on my websites and social profiles. It doesn’t mean I am asserting my own beliefs onto others, and I’m certainly not claiming that people who don’t have similar beliefs are worse people, but since this site is YukaiChou.com, I figured that Who I am (Taiwanese Third Culture Citizen), What I believe (Christian Bible), and What I do (Gamification Designer and Entrepreneur) are all topical and relevant here.
The above presentation is the most complete document of my life, where I lived, some obstacles I faced, companies I started and how I came to faith from a skeptic who used to challenge and make fun Christians. I certainly know how annoying it is to be preached upon with irrelevant circular logic and accusations of not having faith in something that just sounds ridiculous. I generally just offer my prayers when people seem to be in need, and generally they do appreciate it.
Nowadays, publicly proclaiming about one’s Christian faith is like the new walking out of the closet (though I do have a lot of empathy of the sufferings of those who do that, as well as admire their courage of doing so). You feel that people instantly start to judge you. Publicly sharing about my Christian faith has also denied me some opportunities. There have been companies that decided not to have a partnership with my website because the author of the site states that he is a Follower of Christ. Perhaps even some of you would stop reading anymore after you see this – sometimes I switch from being in a position of being respected to needing to defend my own intelligence. I’ve been on the skeptic side – I know (I used to think a lot of the most famous Christians are all actors. That’s worse than intellectual naivety – that’s morally dishonest).
The renowned author Malcolm Gladwell recently became a devout Christian too. Chi-Hua Chien, Partner of the top VC Firm Kleiner Perkins, has been a devout Christian for many years too. Clearly there has to at least be something there right?
Anyhow, I was invited by a Christian organization to talk about my experiences, so I did a talk like that for the first time in my life, and I thought I would share it on my blog too.
I’m actually really into talking about hard and challenging questions people have about my faith, even if it is rude. So feel free to shoot them over.