Today’s Reason Podcast conversation is with Michael Solana, a vice president at the venture capital firm Founders Fund. The firm, which is worth upwards of $3 billion, founded by Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder Luke Nosek, former PayPal CFO Ken Howery, and Sean Parker of Napster and Facebook fame.
Some of the fund’s investments include SpaceX, Airbnb, Lyft, and Oculus, as well as variety of lesser-known companies in the realms of aerospace, biotechnology, energy, and internet technology.
I spoke with Michael about the future, which he thinks about a lot both as an investor in emerging technologies and as host of the official Founders Fund podcast Anatomy of Next, the latest season of which explores the ways technological advancements in rocketry, materials science, augmented reality, fertility science, and artificial intelligence will get humanity to Mars and beyond.
But Solana and his colleagues also believe that Silicon Valley is mired in groupthink and susceptible to the false promises of socialism. In this conversation, we talk about what Founders Fund is doing differently, why Solana believes capitalism is necessarily the engine of growth and innovation, the promise and perils of privatizing government functions, and what he’s learned from the famously contrarian Peter Thiel about what it means to be an independent thinker.
Listen to Should Presidential Candidates Get Into The Weeds?
“If platform companies are going to provide the broadcast tools for sharing hateful ideologies, they are going to share the blame for normalizing them.”
What happens when a police department can no longer afford its bad behavior?
In 2013, Tony Miranda was brought in to lead a police department in crisis. Bad behavior by a handful of officers had led to investigations and lawsuits with costs in the millions of dollars. That was more than the city could cover.
He knew change would be difficult. But he also knew he had a powerful ally on his side: insurance coverage.
On today’s show, the overlooked force motivating police departments to reform bad behavior — not protests and picket signs, but spreadsheets and actuaries. This is the story of how Irwindale, California turned its police department around.