- Jeff Booth
- Jeff Booth
Setting the scene:
As always we were knee-deep in conversation, the kids were nattering, playing, bumping into and interrupting us, but it was all white noise. They were happy and entertaining Badders’ young son who was revelling in the playing and learning opportunity with older kids.
Our wives were locked in a conversation about the latest round of the bullshit narratives coming out of MSM concerning Novid19 and putting the wider world to rights.
Badders and I, were, of course, discussing Bitcoin and 21ism, the project that he (and the others) started 8 months ago with great success. The plans he was sharing with me coming down the pike were blowing my mind and I was getting more and more excited about being a part and so close to the whole project. Then he hit me with it…
“For the writing block next month we would like to feature Jeff Booth’s book ‘The Price Of Tomorrow’ do you think he would be up for doing an interview with you?”
Jeff and I have become good friends over the last year and I was sure he would be happy to contribute to 21ism and gave it the old ‘I got it covered’ look.
But to my concern that had not satiated Badders. He locked my gaze, leant forward and pushed on…
“Princey, we don’t want the usual type of interview. You know we love Jeff’s work, we have all read his book and thanks to him we now understand that deflation is necessary and will lead us to an abundant future, but what do we know about Jeff? “
You know, the real Jeff? What makes him tick? What was his upbringing like? What were his failures, successes, challenges and down moments? What were the learnings along the way and how did that shape his thinking?
Damn it, what has made Jeff…….well, Jeff?”
My facial features quickly transformed from the ‘I got it covered look’ quickly turned into the ‘Oooof’ meme we have all seen so many times on Bitcoin twitter. After a moment of thought, I knew he was right, this was the exact interview we all wanted to hear with Jeff and I was certain we could deliver.
I hope you enjoy this rip with the one and only Jeff Booth.
To the moon,
Host Of The Once BITten Podcast.
The Price of Tomorrow
We live in an extraordinary time, where there could be global prosperity. Perhaps not in the same way we think about it today, but global prosperity, nonetheless. Technological advances are happening faster than our ability to understand them. In a world that moves faster than we can imagine, we cannot afford to stand still. We cannot afford to cling to systems and pretend they are working because they did in an era before technology. Continuing on the existing path, without significant changes to the way we think about economics and the way we have constructed economies will ensure chaos. On this path, the price of tomorrow is set to explode. In this extraordinary time, it is not reasonable to believe that what will work in the future should necessarily be built on what worked in the past. Who am I to be saying this? I’m someone who has an unearned advantage and wants to use it to help.
I grew up with incredibly good fortune. I was born in Canada, a nation that consistently ranks at the top of international polls of best places to live. I grew up with amazing parents who loved and supported me and my brothers, parents who taught us right from wrong and constantly challenged our learning through vigorous debate. It was an upbringing that allowed me to see a different world than many people see and then build on the edge of that knowledge. It’s not that I faced no adversity—we did not grow up wealthy, and I have experienced tremendous loss, the kind when it feels like everything is taken in an instant. But my upbringing drove a deep curiosity to learn from everyone around me; that helps me to consider the world as it might look like from others’points of view. From a young age, I was always curious. Curious to know how the world worked and why it worked that way, and I was never afraid to ask a big or seemingly crazy question. Even with all of the distractions of life today, I still take time to read about fifty books per year. That curiosity, combined with a drive to create something better in the world, was the start of an incredible adventure as an entrepreneur, an adventure that has had me alongside and inside some of the top technology companies globally. An adventure that also allowed me to gain friendships and learnings in many countries all over the world. As my friend Thuan Pham, the chief technology officer of Uber, recently said to me over breakfast, “I am a firm believer that talent is distributed evenly around the world, but opportunities are not.”I wholeheartedly agree. If our success in life depends on what and how we learn, and the people and environment around us—and I believe it does—then I had a head start that not everyone in the world, or even everyone in developed countries, has access to. I have been in the front seat for technology change for about twenty years. In 1999, my friend Rob Banks and I founded BuildDirect, a technology company that tried to simplify the building industry.
Driving change in an industry not generally known for innovation and transparency was filled with lessons and many ups and downs—going from an idea to more than $ 500 million in market capitalization and a doubling of sales each year to swinging for the fences to build something even bigger (and ultimately failing). Leading a technology company for nearly twenty years, through the dotcom meltdown, the 2008 financial crisis, and many waves of technology disruption has given me a unique insight on the ever-changing world around us. The external challenges of building a business in times that are changing so fast were hair-raising enough, but they were trivial compared to the many things I learned about myself through the adventure. Every one of the technology founders and leaders I have spent time with is determined to use technology to make a positive impact on the world. I believe it is a trait shared by most technology entrepreneurs. Beyond building their businesses into successes, they are determined to make the world a better place.
They, like all of us, make mistakes, but common in every one of them is a genuine desire to help. Most times, the entrepreneurial spark comes from envisioning the way the world could work versus the way it does now. In other words, the opportunity to create something better comes from observing something broken or that doesn’t work the way you believe it should. That, oftentimes, creates the highs and lows of the entrepreneurial adventure because even if you are right, change is never easy. Many of history’s greatest entrepreneurs, scientists, and leaders were ridiculed early on, but continued, because they saw something that needed change. That itch had to be scratched. They, in turn, create their own reality—and ours with it. The truth is we all have that power. How we each view our own reality and the stories we tell ourselves about who we are determine many of the actions we choose. Those choices compound and sometimes we don’t realize, or we forget, that we control our own thoughts, and we control our time. We all have choices on how and with whom to spend our time; it is one of the most important choices you can make. Today, I am in the fortunate position to spend my time helping some of the most extraordinary technology entrepreneurs and their companies in diverse industries. From that vantage point, I have a rare view to many of the changes underway that promise a better tomorrow. There is Karn Manhas, the founder and CEO of Terramera, who wondered why farming required toxic pesticides when for millennia plants have thrived in harsh environments. That question led him and his team to invent a technology that allowed organic compounds to outperform synthetic ones. Not only does this change the game for organic farming, when the technology is applied to synthetic pesticides, it reduces their use by up to 90 percent.
Those same pesticides that we use on our food to kill insects end up in our bodies, so removing or reducing them is a big deal. Understanding that home ownership is one of the most important wealth generators, Michael Stephenson and Steve Jagger set out on a mission to deliver home ownership to the 90 percent of people left out. Their company, Addy, uses technology to democratize this asset class and lets people own real estate for as little as a dollar. In a world that is becoming more unequal, giving access to a generation left out could help stem the tide. Chonlak Mahasuvirachai is determined to build one of the largest marketplaces in Southeast Asia by simplifying the home-building industry. Frustrated by the lack of access and control for consumers, she chose to build NocNoc to bring far better choice, value, and simplicity than could otherwise be achieved. By designing the company around some of the platform principles shared in this book, the company is growing quickly—from just over a million in revenue in the second quarter of 2019 to over 55 million bhat in the third quarter. These are just a select few of the leaders I have had the privilege of witnessing change their respective industries. Each of them is distinctive in their approach and market, but they have in common an unwavering drive to help people, and the companies are successful because they do. Almost every company I’m involved with is in some way using artificial intelligence to make better decisions. Many of the companies create success by removing massive inefficiency in the market. Unfortunately, projected forward, that comes at the expense of the jobs of today. For the companies and leaders that win, that will be very lucrative—but when you add up what is happening across the technology landscape, it means fewer winners and more losing out unless there are massive new industries created. I am not a technology utopian: I don’t believe that technology will solve all of our ills. Nor am I a technology dystopian: I don’t believe that technology will ruin us. These are far too simple frameworks. The human condition cannot cope with either unilaterally. We would be unhappy and rebel in either case.
In a world where there were no problems and technology did all of our bidding, we would quickly become bored and yearn for a problem to solve. In a more dystopian world where technology was used to control us, people would eventually rise up and fight that control. I do believe, though, that technology today is different than technology in the past. The thesis of this book is something that I have been following closely for almost a decade, talking about it with family and friends and watching things unfold as expected—like signposts on a road, knowing what the next sign would say. At the same time, I was hoping I was wrong. The scope of this book needed to be broad, while at the same time going deep enough in certain fields of research and technology to demonstrate patterns otherwise unseen. Choosing to write this book meant publicly challenging universal truths which many in our society believe—something that rarely wins popularity contests.
But it is something I felt I must do, because technology changes the operating system of the world we live in. That operating system—the rules by which we have built our wealth and economies—will need an overhaul, and there has not been sufficient debate or dialogue. For reasons we will explore, instead of focusing on root-cause issues to fix, the dialogue is focused on second- and third-order effects of those root causes. It’s time we started asking bigger questions and then listening to the answers—not just for our future but that of our children.
Jeff Booth’s Articles
The Greatest Game
Breakthroughs, that step-change our lives for the better, invariably come from something that most people couldn’t see. Our belief of how the world should exist and operate is shaped from looking backwards, not forward, so it makes sense that new paradigms that change everything — face resistance in our minds. Go to Article
An Economic Fairy Tale
You and your neighbor Bob choose two very different paths. The year is 2001. You choose to live within your means, only paying for what you can in cash and never taking a loan. Go to Article
The System We’re Living In Is Crony Capitalism. Not Capitalism.
A hot topic coming out of the World Economic Forum is Capitalism. According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer launched by CEO Richard Edelman in Davos, more than half of the 34,000 people surveyed believe that capitalism does more harm than good and that fears have eclipsed hope. Go to Article