Twitter's Biz Stone is a humble 'Hallucinogenic optimist'

Twitter's Biz Stone is a humble 'Hallucinogenic optimist'

Summary: In an interview with Vanity Fair, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone says he is self-conscious about being rich.



John Helpern at Vanity Fair has lunch with Biz Stone, a co-founder of Twitter. They eat at one of my favorite spots: Liverpool Lil’s. 

Biz Stone speaks very humbly despite his hundreds of millions of dollars in wealth. He says he is too embarrassed to buy a new car but he did buy a house for his mom.

He likes opera, early nights, movie matinees with his wife, and P. D. Scotch. He is vegan.

Here is a sample:

“We have everything we could need. I’m very comfortable with my dented old Volkswagen Golf. I would feel embarrassed if I bought a fancy-looking car or a new home. It would just reflect poorly on me somehow.”

…The most important thing for me about having money is that it takes away most of the anxiety I’ve lived with my whole life.”

His childhood wasn’t easy. His mother struggled along on welfare in Wellesley, Massachusetts. (His father was mostly absent.) When he noticed that his socks and underwear were “Irregular,” he thought it was a brand name. For years of his working life, he struggled with serious credit-card debt. “It was like bone on bone,” he said. “You have no cushion, no resistance to anything.”

…“People might say you’re a naïve idealist about the helpfulness of mankind,” I said.

“Or a hallucinogenic optimist,” he replied.

Twitter Co-founder Biz Stone is Very Comfortable Driving A Dented Old Volkswagen | Vanity Fair

Biz Stone is way too humble. What’s the point in hitting the jackpot when you are too self conscious to use the money in a way that you weren’t able?

Time to grow up and grow into your money. You are forty years old. You can live well and do well too.

Money is more than philanthropy it is also a means of actively creating the future. Techno-optimists must also become techno-activists — to make sure we get the right future. It won’t come about by itself. We could easily end up in some nightmarish version of a tech-enabled North Korea.

The future of technology is easy to predict but predicting how we will live in that future is much harder to know. But this is the story in a post technology world where we have plenty of technologies, and where the tech disappears into the framework of our lives and our glasses.

The future is about how people and communities thrive on these technologies and how we remake our world culture and economy. 

We’re heading for the end of materialism and the end of work. It’s going to have a massive effect on us all and we need to get ready or it'll be very painful. I will write more on this soon.

Topics: Start-Ups, Tech Industry

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  • It all depends on which class you are in

    Tom Foremski wrote "We’re heading for the end of materialism and the end of work"

    This statement is true, but I wonder if Foremski intended it the way it should be.

    We are headed back to the days of Charles Dickens, if not to the days of lords and serfs. The lords will be materialistic, but the serfs won't have time for such nonsense, as they will be working multiple part-time jobs just to survive. The "end of work" should have been written "the end of full-time jobs with benefits."

    Stone could do his countrymen a great service by creating employment, and not in the Apple mode where most jobs are outsourced to a far-off country or are minimum-wage retail ones. He could create companies and only take a salary of a symbolic $1 as Mayor Bloomberg did. He could be the anti-Jobs (and anti-Gates). Of course these companies would be ones in which he has an interest. And if he wants to be the anti-capitalist, he can use affirmative action for currently unemployed people.