#AIS: Palmer Luckey on Anduril - Transcripts

June 23, 2022

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This talk was recorded LIVE at the All-In Summit in Miami and included slides. To watch on YouTube, check out our All-In Summit playlist:  0:00 Jason intros today's episode 2:31 Palmer Luckey on Anduril, national defense & the current thing 25:24...

Transcript

Hey everybody, hey everybody, we have an exciting show for you today. This is the 15th And the final episode from the All in Summit 2022, I wanted to take a quick moment to thank my team. They worked tirelessly over 100 days to make the event magical for everybody who was able to make it. Thanks to the audience for coming next year. We'll try to have twice as many of you there. Just a quick thank you to Amber Ashley, Jackie nick, fresh marine, molly big mike, andre times to Rachel reporting, producer, Justin Jamie jimmy day, my brother josh, everybody who came and supported the event. We had an incredible crew, we had an incredible time and of course I would be remiss if I didn't thank the amazing speakers who joined us from all around the world, so candid so insightful, my pal, Bill gurley brad gerstner, Adina mar Tandy's tim Ellen and Tony or Nate Ryan claire, my boy or boy, Antonio Garcia Martinez, joe Lansdale, James matt, Taibi Glenn Greenwald and of course today's guest, the one and the only mr Palmer Lucky and most of all I'd like to thank my besties, Jamaat Saxon Freeburg who did an amazing job of hosting the event. Now, a little preamble here, before we start this episode. Many of you have heard that this is a controversial episode, It is a little controversial, There may be a little twist in it. So I will be coming back after Palmer Lucky's talk to give you a little context because it might get a little confusing. I don't want to spoil the surprise for you. So enjoy this episode.

But before we go to this episode, a lot of you have questions, you have questions about the future of the island podcast and those questions are important and they're never going to be answered. They're never gonna be answered. But just so you know, I'm not leaving what I'm not leaving, I'm not leaving. The show goes on, this is my home. They're gonna need a wrecking ball to take me out of here. They're gonna need to send in the National Guard cause I ain't going nowhere. The show goes on,

Let your winners ride Rain Man David.

So my name is Palmer Luckey I founded two companies. My first was a company called Oculus VR, that I founded when I was 19 years old and living in a camper trailer. Thank

you. Thank you

sold that too for a few billion dollars to facebook and then got fired a few years later and then started Andrew because I wanted to work in the National security space for a variety of reasons and I'll get into some of those reasons today. So the technology industry for many years has prided itself on being the first to understand where things are heading so that they can build the things that are gonna be relevant for the future on national security though. And on the rise of our strategic adversaries. It was one of the last industries to realize where things were going due to a variety of ideological reasons, but also business reasons. Silicon Valley didn't just predict the importance of defense in the 20 twenty's, it largely took the exact wrong position, the opposite position. Uh, first of all, you have the obvious examples, like big technology companies explicitly refusing to do work with the Department of Defense google is one big example. But the worst examples are really in the startups that don't exist because people didn't want to even get into such a controversial space, less it ruin their careers. Um, you know, when I started and all, I had already sold a company for billions of dollars and investors still didn't want to invest. I still had a tough time in a lot of meetings with venture capitalists and none of the conversations with VCS that I had were about my ability to hire or execute or build products. Everyone believed that I could do those things. Even the ones who didn't like me much, The vast majority of conversations that we had were about whether or not it was even ethically okay to ever build a company that would build weapons and the people who turned us down, the ones who decided not to invest in and roll actually believed that we had a good team and good people and good product market fit the issue is that they thought that it was inherently wrong to build tools capable of being used for violence because they believed that the idea of deterring violence through having a strong arsenal was fundamentally obsolete and itself wrong. Uh even imagine how hard it would have been to raise money if I hadn't founded Oculus would have been impossible.

Even after we raised money and got traction. The negativity continued. There was a really interesting uh Cover story in Bloomberg in 2019. They called us text most controversial startup. This was a year where Tiktok was banning users for calling attention to the weaker genocide in in china and banning users for posting homosexual content. This is a year in which Adam Newman paid himself tens of millions of dollars for the right to use the word. We it's a year that Uber was under a federal investigation for its workplace culture immediately after a board coup that ejected much of the leadership at the time where facebook was getting hauled in front of Congress to testify. But of course as a tiny defense company making a handful of purely defensive based security systems that committed the crime of building technology for the military and role was the one that claimed the belt for the world's most controversial technology company. I'd say that the war in europe has totally shattered the idea that we live at the end of history. Every few decades we start to believe that economic ties have ended all prospect of war and every few decades reminded this isn't true that it's a very popular idea, especially in D. C. That we live and what they call the end of history.

It's this idea that economic ties and interconnections make the prospect of conflict fundamentally unthinkable, ignoring the fact that many people see this as a matter of destiny and economics. In 1909. English economist and politician, norman Angela published an entire book called The Great illusion and it was entirely about how war in europe was impossible and that spending money on building militaries that could deter conflict was a waste of time, that could be better spent building utopia. He basically argued that any european country annexing another would be as absurd as London and in Hartford and the book was actually the number one best seller in 1909. Now, we've had some version of this argument for a few decades now. Ever since the Cold War started, luckily a lot of people are waking up, but unfortunately it's not because they've come to a reasoned decision based on the fundamental principles at play. It's because right now, supporting the military, supporting defense and supporting Ukraine in particular has become the current thing. And in current year. Current thing is the thing that you have to support regardless of what you think of the underpinnings unfortunately for issues like defense and national security, the stakes are too high and the relevant timelines far too long for people to start caring about things at the moment that they need to start caring about them. So today I want to talk a little bit about why I started and Raul and why you should all think exactly the same way that I do. Yeah. So why I found it and all I thought that I would work on virtual reality for my entire life.

I had no plans on leaving Oculus at all and I love virtual reality. I loved virtual reality. I started Oculus as a teenager and I would have been there for another 50 years. I said as much less than 30 days before I was fired. Uh, there's, there's a lot, a lot of reasons for that, some of which I'll get into later. But the decision was made for me. I gave $9000 against the wrong political candidate and it was pretty unpopular in Silicon Valley. Before I worked on Oculus, I actually worked in an army affiliate research center on a program called Brave Mind, which was an army project to treat veterans with post traumatic stress disorder using virtual reality exposure therapy, basically putting them into virtual reality environments that would set off their symptoms and then under the guidance of a licensed therapist who's also in the simulation, they could be taught coping skills. It would reduce their dependency on medication and medical aid. It was a really fantastic program. I wasn't doing anything important on it. I was just a lab technician cable monkey.

But I got a lot of exposure to both the virtual reality technology side but also how broken defense procurement was, how slow it was, how old a lot of the technology was, how the incentives were totally misaligned. And ever since then I always wanted to make a contribution to national security if I could just took a few years for the right for the right set of circumstances to come up. The defense industry in America is fundamentally broken uh before even getting into the specific problems of our defense industry, the United States has the strongest commercial artificial intelligence industry in the world followed closely by china. But at the same time the United States military and the prime contractors that dominate the military industrial complex have none of the right tools talent or incentives to apply autonomy to the system to do. There's no reason to save costs because they don't get paid for making things that work, they get paid for doing work. And in a world where you get more prestige in more money by having more people working on bigger things. There's no reason to use autonomy to reduce costs and increase capability. The U. S. Military is well behind the chinese people liberate people's Liberation Army and the implementation of artificial intelligence. Um There's more better ai in john Deere tractors than there is in any U. S.

Military vehicle. There's better computer vision in the Snapchat app on your phone than any system that the U. S. Department of defense has deployed and other countries are taking notice of this countries like Russia and china do not want to compete with us toe to toe with the tools that we have. People will make fun of china and say oh they have, they don't have a blue water navy. They only have one aircraft carrier coming up on two. Uh they could never fight us. The reality is that that's not where they're going to fight us, They're going to arm proxies or if they engage directly they're gonna use technologies that give them an asymmetrical advantage in the areas where we are the least competent. These are the areas where they are putting a lot of their resources. The reason that Vladimir Putin is saying that the ruler of the world is going to be the country that masters artificial intelligence is not because he thinks that they're going to lose at this. It's because he thinks that that is one of the only ways that they're going to be able to get the best of us. Now.

The people who are building technology for our military, the large defense primes. I won't name any names because I'm not I don't wanna I don't wanna wrestle too many feathers in that area. You never know who's in the room but the people who are building the technology for the United States military. The people who spend all their time do not have access to the best talent. They do not have access to the people of the technology industry has largely had a monopoly on in areas like autonomy, artificial intelligence, sensor fusion, high end networking. And then at the same time the people who can build, who can build good software, the ones who do work in these technology companies are largely prohibited from doing so. And even if they're working on something that military buys, let's say all the people at Apple who are working on an iphone that can be sold to the US Air Force. That same iphone is also being sold to Russian intelligence. That same iphone is being sold to the Chinese navy. Uh working on technologies that help the United States don't give us such a strategic or competitive advantage of everyone else is getting the exact same thing. Uh The other problem to consider is that asymmetric technologies like artificial intelligence are almost certainly going to empower nations that we aren't thinking about today. Some of them are a little more obvious like Iran, it was a close U.

S. Ally until the late 19 seventies and today obviously is in a very different position. There's about a dozen countries in Africa South America and Asia that were they to acquire extremely advanced artificial intelligence. Either through coincidence or by proxy arming would almost certainly start to wage war on their neighbors in a very destabilizing way. It would have been much. Sure bet for me to found a second unicorn in a different industry. That wasn't so fundamentally broken gaming, fast casual dining fintech could have made some eight coins, but there have actually been more mattress unicorns than defense unicorns in the last 35 years. Uh, but I decided the best thing that I could do to try and solve this problem was to use the fact that I had a bunch of money and I had a bunch of credibility to do something that was hugely unpopular, unpopular, to ignore the fact that people were belittling, belittling me for it and try to convince a bunch of brilliant people to come along with me so that they wouldn't waste their lives spending augmented reality mustache emojis and instead they could do some work for our armed forces.

But

it's worth looking at the past and realizing that this is a recent problem. It's not something that has been the case for a very long time. Um, Silicon Valley was largely built on the back of defense in 1947. Half of stanford's engineering budget came from the Department of Defense fred Terman stanford Dean brought D. O. D. Contracts and interest to the West Coast in a way that has fundamentally been limited almost entirely to the East coast and Silicon Valley helped power a lot of the things That are powering the modern military machine. In the 1950s alone, we built the pentagon and well, sorry, I have an error in my notes, this is wrong. Um, in the lead up to the fifties and the early fifties, we built the pentagon. In 16 months, we completed the Manhattan project in three years. We put a man on the moon in under a decade. And just between 1951 and 1959 we built five generations of fighter jets, three generations of bombers, two classes of carriers, nuclear powered submarines and ballistic missiles to go on top of them.

If you look at the current state of the industry, we're lucky to do even one of these things in a decade. And I can't really blame the defense industry for not working with the D. O. D. Entirely. It's not just an ideological problem. It's also an economic problem. When the Cold War ended, the government really became a pretty terrible customer. The technology industry drifted away. Most engineers in Silicon Valley do not remember a great power conflict because they haven't lived in a world where a great power was an existential threat to the United States. And so you have a lot of people who are ideologically opposed to working with the military. Now, we could spend an entire talk.

I only have a few minutes to talk today. We talk, spend a whole talk talking about the ethics of defense and you know what the reasonable critiques of the military are and how you can change what you build for them in a good way. But I'll throw out a factor that I think most people don't think about enough. Even the people who do agree on working with the military. Um, there's a lot of companies in Silicon Valley and, and, and elsewhere who look at those employees who are ideologically opposed to working with the military. And they use them as a smoke screen pretending that it's principled opposition that drives the decision when in reality they want access to chinese markets, they want access to chinese investment, they want access to other countries that are tied into these things. And so they're able to use these people who are ideologically opposed to working with the military, which actually pretty small fraction of the US population as a smokescreen for their real intention, which is to preserve access to those markets, preserve access to those capital. Um, our largest companies are not making these decisions based on what is best for the United States. Certainly not what is best for the United States. And long term they're largely making the decisions based on short term ideas that are not based in any kind of long term thinking if you look at the recent chips bill that Congress passed saying that they're the United States government is going to put uh, $50,000,000,052 billion into building semiconductors in the United States. You have to compare that with the recent news that well, at least it wasn't, it wasn't on purpose, but Apple has pledged to put $275 billion as one company into chinese manufacturing. You have one company putting in more than five times as much money into manufacturing advanced technology as what is supposed to be a landmark piece of us legislation.

The situation that we're in is pretty weird. Uh

this

is gonna sound hyperbolic but bear with me the situation we're in right now would be like if in the build up to World War Two, General Electric had said you know what we really like. The United States were actually very bullish on imperial Japan. We think it's gonna be a huge growth opportunity for us and our metrics just aren't gonna look the same if we wipe those off of our roadmap. Imagine if in the build up to the Cold War, if you had had Westinghouse and other major U. S. Technology companies say you know we love manufacturing the United States but we actually think communist manufacturing is a really interesting experiment that we need to see through. And you know we're not sure that we really want to take a side on this. Uh the situation that we are in today is as dire or worse. The only reason that it seems ridiculous and the only reason it seems hyperbolic is because conflict has not actually broken out yet. If a conflict does break out, we're going to look at the current situation where we are hugely strategically and economically dependent at the highest levels of our technology industry and government on an adversary that is literally committing genocide, enslaving millions of people. We're gonna look back on ourselves and feel really stupid now. The good news is that because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine defense is now the current thing uh in the United States, there is this idea that any problem can be fixed at the last second with just a really incredible twist if we just come up with the right thing.

But there's a lot of problems out there that cannot be solved that way. National security, economic policy, environmental policy. These are things that require nonpolitical, bipartisan agreement on the problem decades before it becomes a really big problem? Those are not things that are acceptable. Current things, shape rotation. This is an acceptable current thing to debate. Whether or not will smith was wrong to uh to wrong to take the slap or if he's just, you know, a representative of warrior culture. You know, that's that's a that's a fair debate to have the idea of the United States having a military that is strong enough to deter conflict should not be in that category. Um, so why is it too, why is it too late to care about defense Now, at this exact moment in time, why is it too late for everybody to suddenly change their minds. Uh well, a few things one you go to war with the tools that you have not the tools that you wish you had all the tools that you start working on. When things become a problem. If you look at the weapons that were given to Ukraine, they were built in the eighties, nineties and two thousand's $40 billion plus worth of them for all their differences.

Defense is one of the few things that republicans and democrats alike have realized transcends the partisan divide. On one level, it's obviously very bad that we don't have more modern weapons to give to Ukraine, but on the other, it shows a level of foresight and planning that we've been stockpiling and building these legacy weapons systems for decades explicitly for a situation like today which has been war war Gamed out to the end degree. Imagine if the Department of Defense had done nothing to prepare for war for 40 years. And then as soon as war broke out, they started tweeting a lot and changed their profile pictures to Ukraine flag and then started saying, we stand with Ukraine. The people who were actually tasked with solving these problems are uh, they generally have good planning, but there's only so much they can do without good technology. Um, so I want to reiterate if you only start building now you've lost the chance to deter war from happening. That's the real purpose of the defense industry. It's not to fight wars? It's not to win wars, it's to prevent wars from happening wars happen when one or both sides mis estimate their probability of winning. If both sides agree that one side or the other is going to win, typically you end up with diplomatic resolution. It's when both sides disagree about the possibility of winning that conflict actually actually breaks out. And so if you actually want to prevent conflict from happening in the first place, you have to get involved well ahead of time.

If you get involved after conflict breaking out breaks out. Like so many companies have, you're ensuring that you're only going to be a part of the killing, You're only going to be a part of the bloodshed. You're only going to be a part of the war. You're not going to be a part of preventing the war from happening in the first place.

So

I would argue that people in the technology industry need to work on defense. Not because it's the current thing, but because it's the right thing. I have one more thing that I want to say,

thank you. I

talked earlier about NPC thinking that prioritizes popularity over principles, what I'm about to do is in very, very bad taste, but I'm gonna do it anyway.

Yeah,

we'll see one of the people

who

I think embodies this type of NPC thinking of going with what's popular and not being willing to, to to ever reverse their position, even when they're proven wrong is Jason Calacanis, let me read about some of the things he said about me over the years. Just just just a small sampling.

Yeah.

Palmer. Luckey hideous. What an idiot!

A

moron this guy. Parker! Lucky Parker! Lucky. A complete and utter moron, jesus. This kid is an idiot. Palmer. Luckey is just an idiot and a troll. He is dumb, so, so, so dumb. Oh no. We gotta keep going

for him

to pull the plug on the palmer. Luckey experience was brilliant kudos, Zuckerberg, a complete lack of moral character and leadership. Palmer. Luckey a complete moron palmer doesn't care about any of his employees. Family members or team members. Now this doesn't include any of the lies that he's told about me. This doesn't include any the lies he's told about my business is this doesn't include any of the terrible things that his co host and guests have said about me over the years that went unchallenged and egged on. If I'm a hideous stupid person with no morals who doesn't care about my family or my employees, I shouldn't be invited here, no matter how relevant Ukraine is, he's had many chances to retract or apologize these statements rather than taking any of them. He keeps telling people that the reason I won't be on the show is because I'm too thin skinned because I disagree with him on some of the things he said about Oculus is not the case. I explicitly told him why I refused to be on the show because he and his crew have bullies have been vicious liars who have attacked me for years and berated me for years and spread lies about me for rear years in a way that I've been able to overcome that very few entrepreneurs would have the money or the resources or the credibility to do and being nice to a few people like I'm sure he's being nice to you does not excuse this. This isn't debatable whether it happened or not. It clearly happened.

These are all direct quotes from things that he said over the years, both while I was at Oculus and during my time after Oculus and Jason, like many influential people, some of them, even in this room who have treated me like ship for years suddenly changed their tune As soon as Andrew was on the upswing as soon as we were doing good things, they started inviting me on their podcast, liking all my social media posts, putting me on their innovator lists, all without any acknowledgement whatsoever. That they were the ones that were attacking me when it was popular, kicking me while I was on the ground and treating me like garbage. It's really pathetic because a lot of my remaining critics at least are basing their opinions on some kind of consistent worldview, A lot of other people are attacking me and the work that I do because it's popular when it's popular to attack me. They attack me when it's unpopular to attack me. When Ukraine is being attacked, they are suddenly friends And those are the same people that I know are going to go back to shipping on me the second that it becomes popular again. Um, I'm coming to the end of this and I know that you guys are probably thinking, wow, this guy is pretty thin skinned for a billionaire. That's fair. That's fair.

But

I want to remind you of something Jason and the people like him are the reason I was fired from my, from Oculus, my own company, the company, it was my heart and my soul for my entire teenage and adult life. For him. It was a game, It was his show and for me it was everything and I lost everything.

It

almost destroyed me. I'm still filled with rage about it. I always will be, I'll end with this. I was able to create Andrew because a small group of people were willing to give me a second chance to let me build something great in an important but controversial industry that was being constantly berated by people who thought we lived at the end of history. They invested in me while Jason was trying to poison my career and keep me on the ground. Thank God he failed. Thank God for investors who ignore him and people like him. The market conditions suggest they're going to be a lot of founders. Hopefully none of the people in this room losing their startups over the next year or so. And I pray that they get a second chance like I did. I pray they aren't deterred from working on important but unpopular problems. I pray that they will successfully claw their way back to success, that they aren't deterred from working on things that really matter.

I pray that they managed to do this despite the inevitably stupid and hot takes. Its sorry, inevitably stupid and spiteful. Hot takes that Jason, his associates and the many people like him who make money spewing bullshit are certainly going to be putting out there. Amen. Thank you.

Great to meet you in

person.

Mhm. Um, Jason, What lessons have we learned here today? Well, I mean, I guess we were talking backstage and Jason's like, oh, you know, I had to do so much to get this guy here because I think he hates me. And this was before the sh it happened. And I was like, well, maybe you shouldn't talk about

people.

Well, the good

thing is I was able to make it to the stage to say this. Most of the people that you've gone after this way will never have that opportunity because they won't start a second unicorn. I'm only here because I managed to claw my way back. Remember this is personal because it's not just you, it's you, you're one of the most influential, certainly. But it's you and really a small cadre of people that by attacking me ceaselessly made it impossible for me to continue my tenure at Oculus. I'm really lucky. I clawed my way back because it's exceedingly rare for a company to do a person

to do that. I was hoping to talk about your new thing. But I guess since we have no choice but go here well, what happened at

facebook

and maybe you just explain that and what I got wrong about what happened?

Well, it's not just what's wrong. This is actually why I went out of my way. There's actually a lot of lies you told and spread and your co host and your guests. But I'm not even talking about those are the things that I listed. You'll notice these aren't material accusations. These are just personal attacks you've made on my character. These are just things you've said about me personally as a founder and entrepreneur, vicious personal attacks separately. There's all of the lies that you've said about how Oculus didn't have any differentiated technology. It was totally commoditized anybody could have done it. It really was just the right thing at the right time. We could spend all day talking about why these aren't true. But the real reason that it became untenable for me.

And the real reason that I'm not in the VR industry is because people like you were enabling those lies and then being vicious about it and attacking me personally. It became clear I couldn't be a representative in an industry where people are gonna treat me fairly or not.

Imagine doing a podcast with him. What's that? Doing a podcast?

I

guess I have no choice but to keep I'll just ask you wanted you wanted to just describe what Palmer is talking about. Can I can I try my best to hold on? What what because my memory of the events uh just read all the things you said. Right. But what is the what were we talking about at the time? Well there was a lot of controversy on facebook about some donations, anonymous accounts things just said.

So those that wasn't one thing that was over the course of years. So that was just a small sampling. Um I had to really find a small sample. You know you can't you can't ever do anything. But I'll tell you what happened

fired from facebook. What was the controversy there? Because that's what I was commenting on in this.

Well no some of those were after I was fired and you were saying it was great that I was fired. Um And actually by the way it's like one of your one of your co host said on your show that they're glad I got fired from my politics. And that line is mysteriously missing from your transcripts

by the way.

Um And we never

have we don't edit any of the things and I didn't have a coast at the time. It's probably one of the news reporters who came on, we would have interviewed them. But there's a lot of

here's what happened. I gave $9000 to a group that ran a single anti Hillary clinton billboard. That was actually the extent of it. And then a huge number of people in the tech influencer space, the social media talking heads and media, they started saying, Palmer Luckey is this terrible person who's funding

all started just to be clear. So you made a donation and it was on an FCC filing somewhere. Somebody pulled it out and then basically said to pack or something. It

was so it was too, it was to a

501 C4, I believe who used

that for their political arm. Um, so, but it was, it was public. This was, it wasn't filing. Yeah. Yeah. And so, and I, and I actually end up giving a quote to a reporter about it. So it wasn't, it wasn't, it wasn't something that people understood what it was. But then people just lied. They said Palmer Luckey was funding, uh, people who are attacking Hillary clinton supporters online. There are a lot of people who, I think we're looking for a scapegoat to kind of be the right wing, the right wing reaction to correct the record, which actually was paying people to attack.

Why did, what's that, Why did,

why

did face face, why did I'll just ask the third time. Why did facebook fire you? There's

a lot of reasons.

I

always had good performance reviews. Uh,

but

here's what it really boils down to is this is my

favorite talk by far.

But

what it really boils down to is this, uh, it was clear that there were a lot of people in the media and in the tech industry who were going to continue attacking me. We hoped it would blow over, but they kept attacking me for months and months and months and months. I was put on leave for six months. I don't know if you know that. All

Right, this is all on the heels of this one political donation, 9000

dollars

and

so on the heels of the hope was that it would go away now. I think here's, here's the real problem. I think if trump had lost, people could have said, oh well, you know, he's just one of those eccentrics impact, no mps, a loser, you loser, but whatever trump winning is, I think what made it

so because people

continued to attack me, not

$18,000 donation was the reason you were fired just for just for supporting trump

as you know, these things are very complex, but more or less yes. I mean there's there's a direct causal line from that to me being put on leave to me not being allowed to come back and then pushed out.

We talk a lot about this on the pod on mob behavior and I think Marc Andresen said the smartest thing I've read on twitter in the year, I retweeted it and I took away and I think he pointed out that it's, it feels safer to be in the mob than to not be in the mob because when you're in the mob you're part of the group, but you also get to attack and it's safe to attack when you're in the group. And I think by the way, what you did there one of the things I will highlight it regardless of the content and the thing that was very brave and we don't see a lot of bravery nowadays. I don't mean that honestly, I don't mean that to disparage Jason, but like that sort of behavior where you stand up and you say something that will be highly controversial and go against the mob and against the tide and maybe piste off an entire room is something that we don't see a lot of And I think that that level of bravery is also what's missing going back to the mid-20th century which allowed us to do all the things you highlighted as a country last century that we're not doing any more. I appreciate your bravery more than anything.

But look,

I don't know about the specifics with Jaeckel but it certainly seems that there's a lot of this, We talked about this like with with brian Armstrong standing up the coin base and all the stuff that's gone on that we think I would argue probably made twitter a highly complacent places everyone wants to be, you know, you don't want to stand up and you don't want to make that change and you don't want to be brave and you want to be part of the mob, of the, of the crowd attacking the

right people. See what happens, I mean

what

happened to me has like this is this is I can't, I can't back this up. Obviously this is getting into personal anecdote which is never a good way to support any idea. But you know, I know a lot of people who remain at facebook

and

they will not say anything and they will not donate to any politician

who's

left of Bernie because they saw what happened to me and they've explicitly said, I saw what happened to you remember it wasn't just the public, it was the internal reaction where people were saying oh my God, like I will not work for a trump supporter, this is terrible. I mean

actually one great example

Andrew bosworth,

he

Ran ads on Facebook for 14 years, he was put in after my departure as the head of Oculus and he was the guy who was putting things on social media, like I think the exact wording was if you support Donald Trump because you don't like Hillary Clinton, you are a shitty human being and he's the person who's allowed to lead Oculus now. So it's, it's not a problem of being aggressive

and it's

being on the right side of the politics. And so there's a lot of people where they're just, they're not going to say anything because they see what happens to me. Now. I,

I

let you guys

know

I

the real, real, real irony here is my contributions have been very open, but my advice to founders who are on the right has actually been, don't be public about your political leanings. You won't accomplish anything. You will just, you will be terminated by the mob. You should focus on building, you should focus on creating value and then after you don't need the rest of the industry,

you can kick

him to the curb and do something. How

do you, how do you implement that philosophy um, differently now at an drill so that you have a more inclusive place where folks on the left hand, folks on the right come together, work on things that really matter. I mean, I think everybody agrees you're building really important things in the world. So how do you do that this time around? That's different from the facebook experience. So a few

Things. one, I think that building, working in national security has been a great filter where people aren't going to come work for you unless they're okay working in a bit of a controversial field. I'm actually somewhat concerned about the Ukraine conflict in that regard, in that, in the making, in making defense mainstream, it makes it possible for people to potentially say, oh, that isn't controversial. Now I'm gonna go to this place and then I'm gonna potentially attack people with their views. But I think when you run a company that is inherently working on something that's controversial, people on the right and on the left, both feel like they're on the side of this important bipartisan issue and all of these other policy differences can kind of go to the side and the culture at an drill is everyone is free to have whatever politics they want. Like I'm a Republican. Our ceo brian Schimpf is a democrat. We both make significant contributions to our respective sizes and we have employees the

prospect. And

I think also it's nipping in the bud. You know, it's about when somebody says something that is out of line, it's about getting in early and say, hey, that's not okay at this company. We're here to talk to work on a common mission. For example, if we had a manager who then publicly went and said the half of my employees who support this political candidate, They're terrible people there shitty humans.

Yeah, I'll give you a counterfactual to what this is, which is very aspirational, which is seven or eight years ago, we funded a business that actually makes seafaring drones. And the whole point was to actually measure the surface flux in the oceans, which you can use to get a really good sense of climate change. And somewhere along the way, we had the chance to do a contract with the doD. Um, but invariably there's a faction of folks inside this company that said under no circumstances are we going to put our efforts towards that. And as a result, then the company spent a three year detour trying to build a weather app um, which turned out to not be the right thing. And, and three years later, um, you know, they're doing a bunch of stuff now with these government agencies. Um, and it turns out that's the right thing to do because now they're that much closer to actually mapping the world's oceans, which creates a repository of data and there's all these positive knock on effects that sometimes folks don't see and you need strong leadership to kind of say it's what Elon said yesterday. You know, companies are there to make products that people and organizations want to need, uh, not necessarily to fight over political ideals.

I think one of the interesting things in the example you just gave, like I mentioned earlier, I have some empathy for people who work in companies who don't want to work in defense. Like I think broadly the technology industry needs to support the military and I'm glad that the conflict in Ukraine has changed at least the thinking around that. But at the individual level people should have the right to choose to work on what they think is important. And so the google example is interesting because it was google employees saying, hey I didn't sign up to work on weapons and I can understand that maybe they're pacifists and they say, you know, for religious reasons for reasons I cannot work on this. And they were upset that their work was put to work on defense without it being clear. And I suspect that when the situation you're talking about it's similar objections were raised, hey, this is what I joined the company to do. This isn't what I signed up for and so Andrew one of the ways that we've been able to get around this is being very clear like you are signing up to work with department defense. That is that is the mission that you're signing up for and uh I mean we're about a third U. S. Service veterans that Andrew which is higher than any company that I'm aware of and were about 1000 people now.

Um so

these are people who

understand the importance of the mission.

Uh just shifting gears for a second. I want to ask you about the first me just say that the first time I tried VR which is Oculus, I thought it was one of the most magical computing experiences I've ever had. So I don't have you guys tried, you put the goggles on? I know you're in the Oculus trailer and it's like, it was amazing.

I did the thing where you show like a big hole, like facebook, have this demo for a while or whatever and I thought I was gonna fall into the hole, I fell forward and you're

on the edge of the cliff. I didn't, I didn't want to like tiptoe beyond it. I'm like, I'm like, wait, I know this is not real, but

it's so funny. I feel these mental circuits that haven't activated for years activating. So I've got my talking points, but VR is the final computing platform, it's not the next one, it's the final one and people talk about augmented reality and it's very interesting. I love a are, we did a lot of great a are foundational work, but at the end of the day, if you can make a tool that allows you to experience anything and in any way they can emulate every other medium. It is going to be

the yeah, that sounds like a question

I was gonna actually ask about drones. Um so, well

maybe you should answer, why isn't it caught on? It's not, it's not good enough yet. People ask.

I'll have this debate.

People like, well I'm not sure if we are ever really gonna be a thing

explain the dimension when you say it's not good

enough, is it? Wait,

is it physical interface?

It's a whole bunch of its content being available. You need a self sustaining ecosystem of a broad enough variety of content that enough people can use it to create further network effects. So that's part of it is just a content that you have to build a self sustaining flywheel until you have that.

That's not good enough yet to draw people and

they're not good enough and they don't they don't have broad enough appeal. There's a particular niche where we have a flywheel like there's dozens of developers that are making many millions of dollars making games for quest to but that's its own little niche. The other thing is quality, its weight and its cost. Like the example that I like to use when arguing with people who say that VR is not going to be a thing that they spend their whole life in. Okay, wait, imagine this What if for $99 you can pair it by a pair of sunglasses and it gives you an experience. The quality of the matrix or sort of line or whatever your sci fi pic is and you can do anything and there's endless content

and

people like well of course I would use that but that's not what we are is well then that's just a tech disagreement. Philosophical,

we agree how

fast we get

there. So I mean listen, you created the category, How far away are we?

It depends on the experience. So the hardest things to simulate are gonna be the ones that are kind of like these multi haptic, multi element things that rely on scent and most like surfing is gonna be really, really hard. Uh on the other hand, being able to perfectly simulate the experience of being in a brightly lit fluorescent fluorescent conference room that's gonna happen within 10 years, like the resolution will be there, the weight will be there, you'll be able to experience and you know how much of my life I've spent flying to the other side of the world to sit in fluorescent lit conference rooms and then flying back if I can just eliminate that part of my life, it's way better for me, but it's it's going to start by simulating that experience where it's low dynamic range you don't need and then it's gonna go from there. So

we're gonna talk about drones.

Yeah, let's just shift gears for a second to two drones. So obviously in Ukraine right now the the Russian military and specifically their armors has been pulverized by the combination of the javelin plus this Turkish drone, this director. Yeah, so I guess this has raised the profile, I would imagine it's raised the profile of drones and the use of drones in the military. Also it points out the weakness of having kind of a large platform strategy in the case of the Russian military, their platform is this Russian tank, but so is our military were built around and the f 35 you know the Abrams tank, all these things I would imagine are susceptible to drones. And the thing that's destroying the Russians is their tank costs A couple million bucks and it can be destroyed by a drone that cost 200,000, so

many, more than a million

tens of

millions.

We just want a billion dollar contract with us Socom Special Operations command to do counter drone work. And so to a certain extent that what you have to do is then say okay we're gonna have these these armored systems are gonna have these vessels and then we need to have technology that allows to counter drones and it is possible to counter drones. What's going on with Russia is they don't have the technology to counter drones. And so they're they're largely just totally

can I ask you something about this contract, just general terms, you said something very important before which is the military industrial complex today is basically paid to do work not to get to a

result. Yes. How

do you fight that when you're like when when you hear a billion dollar contract is that cost plus that D. O. D. Just is willing to give you.

So this is what we can do a whole talk on this, but fundamentally for people don't know a cost plus contract structure is the way that most work for the Department of Defense has done that means you get paid for your time, your materials, your people and then a fixed percentage of profit on top. Even if you're way, way, way, way, way over your budget until Congress eventually take someone

and there's layers of subcontractors. So the costs are

exactly. So the bad, the bad thing about this is that not only the prime contractor owns the contract, but everyone under them is incentivized to come up with the most expensive way of solving a problem that they can convince the government to fund. So they wanted to build the most expensive system with the most expensive parts with as many hours as possible.

And the kids are so complex that you're only gonna have one or two real bids and they're basically gonna be the same price.

And those top bids, that part is they're not just trying to come up with a solution there, even encouraging the subcontractors

under because

They get a percent of that. And so if I'm getting, let's say 6% profit margin, I want to make it

as big as possible.

And I want to drag it out.

And that's why this budget ballooned like crazy despite the

more money when they do poorly because they're not being paid to make things that work, they're being paid to do work. That's what I said, just the act of the doing is what gets

for you, what do you do different.

So we use our own money to decide what to build, how to, build it when it's done. We're using building our own products and then we're going to the customer, we're not going to them. First of all, I can just build whatever I want. I can't build a Batmobile and then try to sell it to the army. But I we talk to them about their problems, they understand their problems. They don't, it would be cool

but but I'm sorry, sorry, would you build someone in this room at Batmobile if he could come up with it?

If it solves a real problem? If that was the right way to solve a problem.

Alright.

I probably not.

But

the nice thing about this is that when we go to customers, we're not going to them in the white paper saying, hey, let the taxpayers pay for us to try this out for years and years. We say we've already proven that this works. It will not be a boondoggle for you. It will work. We go to them with a working system with a full

delivering goods and services already de risked. Exactly.

And the thing is this is popular with the customers and politicians alike because it removes the risk of them getting into political boondoggles like the F- 35 program being a trillion dollars.

This creates this creates new budget line items because now folks are saying I can actually get shipped out of this. I'm gonna move money from whatever bullshit pot of money I'm spending over here moving into this sort of a structure. And then that creates competitive dynamic market. That's right. So how does it, how does it actually close the loop? So for example, you deliver a drone to the D. O. D. It costs 10,000 making up a number. It cost $10,000 and it works on abc dimension. And then there's whoever makes general dynamics makes the hellfire drone. Again, I don't know the

specifics of course,

Uh and they want to charge 90,000 or 110,000. How do they still not get picked? Because it seems if you look at their um performance as public companies, it's an incredibly steady, it's almost like an inflationary line item. You know that you can predict 689 10% growth consistently every year,

correct? And the defense companies are not high growth, high margin companies. They're extraordinarily predictable. People basically see them as an extension

of the U. S. Government.

It's like buying

us federal budget.

Yes, exactly. When the budget goes up, you see a direct proportional and linear increase.

Let me ask you, hold on, hold on, let me ask you a question about something very pragmatic, knowing what you know in the in the two of your building and I do appreciate the work you're doing defending the country. I think it's

important work. And I told

you that. Um And I lobbied you to be here

uh

to have your platform and to have your voice and I've Probably send you know, less than 30 or 40 invites to come on the pods. Can't deny that. And so I told you I'm willing to have any debate any time, I'm going to put aside the personal stuff, but knowing what, you know, doing this very good work. The situation in Taiwan, if it does materialize, what would it look

like

today, given the tools we have and would we be able to Taiwan be able to defend itself? What would that look like? Because that seems to be the next hot spot that we may have to do? Well weapons get shipped in there. Like they were in the Ukraine

know that we were able to ship weapons in the Ukraine because we had countries like Poland that we're willing to massive existential risk to themselves step forward. Yeah, Poland has been

paint the picture unsung

hero in this and getting weapons through. But Taiwan, what's gonna happen is there's a few ways this could go, it could either be just a blitzkrieg where they go and destroy the ports, destroy the airports immediately occupy that. That could happen. The other way this could happen could be a more drawn out blockade where they blockade the island, like is the U. S. Willing to pull the trigger on a blockade, it's unclear but if you can stop trade if you can economically strangle them make sure new weapons don't get to them. They can be in a very very bad position. And it's not clear that we or anyone else able to do that. Now there's different opinions on how things are gonna go. I can't pretend that I know exactly what it is. I can say Taiwan does not have the tools today that they need to deter chinese aggression. They might have had the tools they needed to deter it a decade ago.

But chinese chinese military has been ascended. They've been investing so heavily in new technology distributed, distributed swarms high in electronic warfare systems and all of the amphibious landing craft that they're going to need to perform an invasion. They they've just they've built the capability that they need. It's just how

vulnerable our aircraft carriers, how vulnerable our aircraft carriers,

they are extremely vulnerable to the point where we feel like we can't use them. The problem is aircraft carriers were not designed to be a peer to peer, a peer to peer great powers tool for us to go toe to toe with the Soviets or the chinese. Like the reality is if each

side launches two

100 missiles, one of them is going to get through and it's going to end up hitting. And this is especially true with satellite targeting systems. They were designed in the modern day to project power to places where you have air superiority uncontested. So it's great to have a mobile base that can go somewhere and project power, but you cannot stop the Chinese that way. And also if we sent a carrier out there uh and they managed to sink it, that's 5000 lives lost in one hit.

Hey farmer, we gotta wrap. But I say this,

I got to say one more thing on Taiwan,

hold on a second. Not about me, great, no, no,

no,

not this time, not

this time,

I was bracing for impact. I don't have any anti palmer drone systems. I will, but I will be working on this about if you did that to Kara Swisher, she would have, she would have like not, she would've pulled you offstage, I think I think

I will

take and is um he's an incredibly loyal friend, he's got an incredibly good heart and I think that you know, whatever he said or did, it was really brave of him to come out here and also have the conversation and he wants to have the conversation, want to have a dialogue and he always wants to do that with all of us. Sometimes he conflicts a bit and he and he butts heads, but I will say this about Jaeckel, he means well and I want to kind of say

that what

is your point about Taiwan? Let's talk about the

important stuff,

Keira

says, I'm a douche man boy and 1/4 Reich pro Nazi, So

not that you remembered. Gotta love memory, I think your cosplay stuff

is cool.

I was brave enough to do cosplay, I'm

a little jealous

of that, I'll be honest, and I would love to go cosplay with you sometime. Tell us your final point on Taiwan, not the way to wrap up, I want to point out Taiwan

alright, yes, the big difference between Taiwan and Ukraine is that we still have a chance to make a difference. So what I'm so terrified of is that all these people who say, oh we stand for Ukraine, we have to do this, this is the fight of fight of fight of our generation and they're not gonna do anything. And then immediately after Taiwan is invaded, they're gonna change their profile pictures to a Taiwanese flag and say, oh we stand with Taiwan like no, that's not good enough. If you care about this issue, there's things you can do

right now

and and what's really amazing to me is you have people who are saying like, oh man, I stand with Ukraine, we're cutting off all of our Russian business. I'm like, oh wow, so brave, you cut off an entire country that's a regulatory nightmare, has an economy smaller than most US states, Sorry, not most many, Yeah, it was like, wow, you're so, so brilliant for cutting off the Russians and then at the same time they say, oh, but all of our expansion is in china and and I'm not gonna say anything about that. I think worse than the people who changed their profile pictures are gonna be the people who are in silent when Taiwan is invaded and they say they just can't say anything because their business interests are so international and so inter tangled and that like that

china

has been fighting a strategic and economic war against us for a long time and it is extremely good. Like the last thing I'll say this, I talked about it earlier, there's a uniquely american delusion probably from our own Hollywood films that we can solve any problem the last second that will come in and just

boom, that

isn't how Taiwan is gonna go, There is no, we know exactly what's gonna happen. The war planners had figured out exactly one of several scenarios that's going to go and when it's happened, we can't pretend like we didn't know. Um and there isn't gonna be anything that flies into safe. So okay,

so I just want to say one more thing and then I'll let you close you and I can debate anti Hillary adds that donald trump subreddit, all of those things. What we cannot debate is how important it is that the United States win and that democracy wins and that freedom comes to all of these countries, you and I are 100% aligned on that. Even if we disagree about the anti Hillary ads or any of that stuff And then I appreciate you coming and I'll debate you on anything anytime anywhere.

I do care about my family by the way. That was the worst thing you said.

Okay. And fair enough, I will apologize for that statement if I did say, I just said if I said something that hurt your feelings about that and it was out of line, I apologize. But what's more important right now is that you're here talking about the work you're doing and you and I will debate to the cows, come home. This other stuff. I can't stop you. I can't stop. You know, commentator. No journalist can stop the founder. I disagree with that. Um you can

stop a lot of people. I

think we're overestimating my influence in the world. You're a force of nature. The work you do is undeniable. We can debate politics as much as we want. This country needs to be protected. The people at google are cowards for not doing D. O. D. Contracts. You're not a coward. You came out here. You you take me on straight up as a man.

I appreciate it. It was a little bit of a blind side, but I can take it. What's most important is the work you're doing. That's what's most

important.

I mean it's a sucker punch but I'm from Brooklyn.

We

appreciate you coming. We appreciate you coming. Bottom

line. Well, let your winners ride.

Hey everybody. That was pretty crazy. What an amazing moment. I think we all learned a lot but I actually wanted to show you the clip of the comments that Palmer referenced just to provide some context for those of you who are unaware of. The clip Was from a show in March of 2017 episodes 7:21 of my other podcast this week in startups. And listen, I'm super aware that this could come across as defensive, but I think some people might not know what Palmer was talking about. So I'll let you decide for yourself. We recorded um Uh that Episode 7 21, the day Palmer Luckey was fired from Facebook and it was a news roundtable of the podcast, I'm talking to Austin Peter smith who worked at inside at the time and Ian Thompson of the Register, he's a great journalist. Uh and just to clarify some facts here on the timeline. These are from the Daily Beast article in which Palmer was interviewed. You can go read that, it's in the show notes. Um and the facts are pretty basic.

Palmer Luckey donated some amount of money to a pro trump political organization was called nimble America right before the 2016 election. And as you just heard during the all in Summit talk, Palmer said it was like $9000. Nimble America was part of the infamous subreddit page, the donald, if you remember that nimble America. They basically made anti Hillary and pro trump memes and they were self proclaimed ship posters as we now talk about on the internet. The organization said it was dedicated to proving quote ship posting is powerful and the magic is real. Palmer was posting to the R Donald under the anonymous Reddit account called Nimble Rich Man. Here was one post which Palmer confirmed writing that was referenced in the clip. You're about to see the american revolution was funded by wealthy individuals. The same has been true of many movements for freedom and history. You can't fight the american elite without serious firepower. They will outspend you and destroy you by any and all means. And here is what Palmer told the daily beast in 2016 when asked about supporting Nimble America, I've got plenty of money.

Money is not the issue. I thought it sounded like a really jolly good time again. If you're listening you might hear some other voices talking. Those are the two guests that I mentioned before. You can watch this three minute and 22 2nd clip which is just a mash up of my commentary. I'll see you on the other side of three minutes. Mhm He was supporting like one was a violent trolling but extreme trolling would be the way to do it. That's right. And his comment about it was really insensitive kind of that it was, it was almost maybe not super um ideologically driven as much as it was like fun for him. What an idiot. Well, it actually lost and lost in a fair amount of business. There are about three or four games studios that said, right, we're no longer developing for the Oculus on this one because he came out and said basically well to overturn an entrenched elite, then you need to be able to fund it and fight back and you're like, that's not you're you're not a revolutionary.

This is just a chai tea posting about politicians. This is not constructive dialogue. This is not an attempt to get reform the american political scene. This is just, let's be a troll. Yeah, If you want to see like a person's true character, give them a pile of money or a bunch of power and then you will see two bottles of vodka works very well on that as well. It's like the sort of quick way of being a billionaire or whatever. But I mean, can you imagine, I just want to stop for a second and just give everybody in my portfolio or the people I work with just a public service announcement. If you are lucky enough to hit the jackpot and make hundreds of millions of dollars, behave yourself, you moron, you hit the jackpot. It's like somebody winning the mega ball lottery and then just going on the street and randomly punching people in the face like this guy. Parker, Lucky is a complete and utter moron for somebody to be a visionary to create something like Oculus and make VR, I bought the Oculus, it's pretty impressive, I have to say. I believe that VR is at least two years away from being a meaningful business opportunity, but that's about the window where I like to invest. So it's it's kind of on my radar now.

In fact we have one company in our incubator, but jesus, this kid's an idiot. But this case Palmer Luckey is just an idiot and a troll. So dumb. Here's the other thing I think on a leadership basis if you represent The company, so you represent your company 1st Oculus and your vision of the world behave yourself. Number two. If you represent the company that's worth a couple of $100 billion that made you a billionaire and you represent Marc Andreessen who invested in your company and Andresen Horowitz and you represent all the employees and all their families and everybody who's entire network is locked up in this, you have a higher uh duty of service and this is a complete lack of moral character and leadership for someone like palmer lucky to be doing this shit posting effort, I'm gonna say. So let's move on to the next facebook story. Now that we got over the Palmer, Luckey is just a complete moron who doesn't appreciate his success or care about any of his employees. Family members. Team members. If you're gonna do that kind of shenanigans if you don't, here's a clue, I hate to get totally crazy. If you're doing something like this anonymously, you might want to think that the anonymity plus Reddit plus you would be ashamed about it.

Like think about what you're doing. If it's anonymous. In other words, if you have to put a mask on and then you throw the brick through the window, you may not want to throw the brick through the window because you weren't willing to do with your mask off. Okay, so closing thoughts. I respect Palmer Luckey for his incredible innovations, both with Oculus and his new company. We actually agree on many things which actually people in the tech industry might not, which is producing weapons systems to protect America and democracy around the world is a beautiful and important thing. I respect Palmer for what he's doing there and we have a disagreement about, you know, this, uh, meme action that he did, but all's well, that ends well, it was an interesting moment in time. I don't regret exactly what I said. I think what I said was fair and when I talked about it in context, I was, you know, coming from a place that if you're gonna post up post it under your real name, not anonymously. And so there you have it folks, that's the entire controversy. Uh, thank you to Palmer Luckey for coming. Thanks to my besties for having my back there was this big question of if I would go out and engage the discussion, of course I want to go out and engage discussion, I want to talk.

I don't mind a hard discussion and in fact, that's what this podcast is about, Having hard discussions and then keeping our friendships and keeping it moving forward. I look forward to hosting this podcast forever. They're gonna have to take drag me out of here and I hope we can host another all in summit and all of you can attend either virtually or in person. It's great to uh have had farmer at the event and actually I hope he comes next year and shares more of the exciting work he's doing at Andrew and I wish him the best.

Well let your winners ride brain man. David sacks fans and they've just gone crazy. What what what is right? That is plenty of dog taking out in your driveway. Just get a room and just have

one big huge or

just like this like sexual attention, but

they just need to release

somehow. Mhm.

Okay, wait here, nick nick. Can you cue the, can you cue the photo?

What photo

is it? What happened at the last break? I think we got there. Well, this is what I said. I said,

your you don't have drones over my house, right? Just to

confirm and he said, can someone tagline that? I cannot

confirm or deny

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