There are things that sound good and there are things that are true. In a world full of signallers and our own biases, the hardest job is to differentiate between the two.

And I know truth is subjective, but I will still try to explain what I mean by using 3 recent examples.

  1. Nick Huber, the tomato farmer.
  2. The smug Indian techbro sitting in Bangalore.
  3. The trad video games enjoyeeer who hates web3.

Nick Huber is a storage space enjoooyer. His pitch is ‘let’s make unsexy small businesses sexy again’. Things were going great for him. 100K followers. Tomato NFTs. Then he made a big mistake. He talked about how he hires people in the Philippines to manage his business. He pays 4X the minimum wage and it is still cheaper than hiring people in the US.

And now people are sending him death threats. He is the villain of the week on r/antiwork.

“How dare he not give these jobs to people in the US. He is evil to hire people from the third world.”

What sounds good:

  • An entrepreneur supporting the local economy.
  • Acting like there is an onus on the tomato farmer to hire local workers.

What is true:

  • A job is nothing but demand and supply match in a marketplace. Earlier it was local, now due to covid, it is global. With remote, you are competing across the world, not just in your city.
  • There is no obligation for anyone to hire you. Sounds unfair, but it is what is true.
  • If your job can be automated it will. It will take time, but that will happen. If a US company can outsource your job to the Philippines or India, they will.
  • It is nothing different than going to Amazon to shop. You know you can support the local merchants, but you will still buy the cheapest chinese items and will ask them to be delivered on the same day if possible. Both are examples of capitalism and globalization. One is not better or worse than the other.

Now that you have got an idea of what I am trying to say here, let’s go through the next two examples.

Take the average Indian techie sitting in Bangalore. She is so fucking happy right now. There has never been a better time to be a techie in India. There are unicorns being minted every week. We are being paid insanely well. And of course there are threads being written every week on how India is the best place to build your career right now. I have had people remark “Oh, why did this person move to London/US? India is where all the action is. Balaji says so.”

We all know how this works. Praising India on Twitter is a sure shot way of getting 1000 likes.

And if you are a founder or a VC in India, this is the narrative you want to sell as well.

But let’s say you were not born in India. Did not have any ties here. Forget about your relatives, the cuture, the ecosystem you are part of, your friends. Maybe you were born in the US. Will you still say the same thing? Will you leave US if you were a white person and move to India? If you were born in Europe, and there were options to move either to the US or India, would you choose India over US?

As an Indian, if there was an easy way for you to get a green card there, will you still say the same things about India? Decide to stay here?

I am asking this because what I am seeing with friends does not match the narrative on Twitter.

I know a lot of people who have moved to the US/Canada recently. I can understand the US, but why Canada?

The honest answer from them: If you can survive 3-4 years in Canada, you will get your citizenship, and then you can just cross the border and work in the US during your peak earning years (30s).

An Engineering Manager in India earns 75L-1 Cr INR base + similar amount in stocks (vested over 4 years). While Canadian salaries are, let’s just accept it, not great. But look at the comp of people who are at L6+ levels in FANG. Do an estimate of how much you wil earn over the 10 years in both scenarios: staying back vs Canada + US (if you fail to move to the US straightaway).

Now money is not everything. There are a lot of factors like social set up, whether you can celebrate Diwali with family or not. Happiness is a multivariate optimisation problem, while we are just talking strict career optimisation here.

If people are moving to FANG in the US after their VP/SVP stints in Indian startups, there is a reason.

My point: India might not be the best place to have your career. There might be better options, even though that is not the dominant narrative on social media.

But if you stay back, and build your career here, there has never been a better time to be in India.

And if your goal is not to be a middle manager at FANG and work at startups, I would say even today building a startup in the US is a better idea. I can name enough CEOs who have made the move to the US based on their VC’s advice. Again, something you won’t hear about often on Twitter, and someone that might not make you happy as an Indian, but something that can be backed with data.

Debarghya Das has written on this topic here, here and here.

Finally, let’s go to the last example: trad game enjoyer. You can replace it with any trad person who hates where the world is going. Want specific examples? Read the QTs on Shaan Puri’s metaverse thread.

“I hate it. This is not how I want to live my life”

You see these visceral reactions often, especially when it comes to web3.

“Gaming should be for the experience. Incentives will destroy it”

I play FIFA. Have played for 2 decades. I don’t play FUT champs or weekend league. That has not stopped FUT champs from being the most popular FIFA mode. It is Play to Win. It sucks. I would rather play Seasons, but the best players are there.

And we are talking Play to Win here. Let’s move to Play to Earn.

If Pay to Earn is a better model for gaming, and enough people believe so, it will win. It is as simple as that.

What I want, and whether the world is moving towards a state that is consistent with my values, has nothing to do with what will happen in the future.

I had shared a meme on the future of humanity; a take on the metaverse. How the future might look. The same meme got different responses from two different sets of people. People who want to make that future happen replied “We are working on a product for this, please check it out”. While others DMed me on Whatsapp and said “Good satire.”

We believe what we want to believe. We have our own ideas about the future. What we want it to look like.

But I want to understand what is the truth, let’s say most likely outcome, and not what sounds good to me and feeds my confirmation bias. You shold listen to Cobie’s Bankless interview. It is one of the best podcast episodes I have listened to in a while.

Not because I learned something new about crypto, but because I absolutely loved Cobie’s arc and how his thinking has evolved over the last 10 years as a participant in the crypto market.

He started as an idealist, but became a realist as he observed how the crypto world actually works.

Bankless (big Eth ecosystem supporters) kept needling him during the enture podcast, wanted him to speak shit about the alt L1s, and how they go against the ethos of web3. His response was to remind them about the history of Ethereum. He mentioned how an idealist would have invested in zcash, and lost their money, while people who just went with the dominant narrative, not identified themselves as a maximalist of anything, would have gained by investing in BTC and then ETH. And maybe in Solana over the last year. Listen to the full interview to understand the central theme behind this post better.

Trust the narrative, but always check the facts (h/t Pomp).