Episode 0054 · June 27, 2023

The podcast about what to do next.


[Unedited Transcript]


Paul Ford: All rich.

Rich Ziade: Hey Paul, what’s, uh, you sound tired.

Paul Ford: Uh, I don’t know how to tell you this.

Rich Ziade: Uhoh,

Paul Ford: Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have agreed to a mixed martial arts fight in the Octagon in Las

Rich Ziade: No. Whoa, that sounds cool. I’m

Paul Ford: I’m tired of our industry.

Rich Ziade: Okay,

but uh, when’s the fight?

Paul Ford: I don’t know.

Rich Ziade: Alright,

Paul Ford: let’s talk about

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: All right. So look Rich, these absolute two chowder headed gazillionaires Yeah.

Have had some sort of beef because you know, Elon Musk is like, Instagram sucks, man. And Mark Zuckerberg is like, I’ll take you on, dude. And Zuckerberg [00:01:00] apparently has been going, like, doing the full Putin.

Rich Ziade: he’s like a juujitsu

Paul Ford: Yeah. And he’s all jacked, you know, he’s,

Rich Ziade: bet he would meet Beat Musk.

Paul Ford: I mean, and he’s younger and he’s stronger.

Those are, and he’s pretty smart. Those are, you know, gonna work in his favor.

Rich Ziade: learning Juujitsu, it’s very, it’s a very, it’s a very powerful set of tools you’ve got there to disable the opponent.

Paul Ford: although Elon Musk will show up with, you know,

Rich Ziade: guns

Paul Ford: a robot.

Rich Ziade: Yeah. Um, okay. Uh, why does this exhaust you? It’s just two dudes pick. It’s like, uh, Aaron Burr and, uh, Hamilton,

Paul Ford: Yeah. Okay. Okay. It’s like that. Um, it, it’s, they would like that comparison. Um, you know what it is? It’s just. I really feel that all the fun is gone. Right? Like, because they’re, they’re having, it’s just idiots having stupid beefs. It’s bro culture. It’s two [00:02:00] men who are have.

Told us all that they are the shepherds of humanity. Literally, almost in those words, like Zuckerberg sees himself as like a policy setting, almost like a, a Roman emperor. He’s really into Caesar Augustus, um, Musk when he bought Twitter said, you know,

Rich Ziade: I’m, you’re not just talking

Paul Ford: No, I, I love humanity. You know, these are people who, their platforms are so vast and they’re like, what’s up?

You know, you know, who else had a vast platform, Alexander of Macedonia, right? Like, I’m gonna get, you know, that’s, I’m one of those, I belong in that And then it’s like, but I’m gonna meet you, you know, in, in the, in the octagon.

Rich Ziade: Yeah. I mean, look, uh, if you really want to get a sense of the, the disparity between their own self perception and reality, all you have to do is look at the fact that it all got reduced down to a pay-per-view event in Vegas.[00:03:00]

Paul Ford: That’s where we’re at.

Rich Ziade: right? It wasn’t like, well, we’re gonna do this at the World Economic Forum at the UN because we are.

We affect everything. Instead, they, they went back to Vegas to fight in a cage.

Paul Ford: let, let me tell you something here, and I think it’s important. They’re part of the world, they’re part of the internet just increasingly sucks. Social media kind of sucks. We all know it. It keeps sucking worse and we’re tired of the suck. Like right now on social media. It’s like dead billionaires in a tin can at the bottom of the ocean, this thing.

And you know, Elon Musk saying, SIS is a slur, right? This is where we’re at. And meanwhile, you know, who’s like still got tech going on. . Rich, I’m gonna say a name to you and I want you to tell me who it is, okay? Okay. Here’s the thing. These guys, these guys make tech boring and narcissistic about them. I’m gonna name a Zillionaire, super success, who makes tech that’s exciting and interesting, [00:04:00] even if it’s not always relevant.

Rich Ziade: Okay?

Paul Ford: Jensen, Huang.

Rich Ziade: CEO of Nvidia.

Paul Ford: There you go. Yeah. Have you ever watched any of his videos?

Rich Ziade: It’s just he’s caressing a graphics card. A graphics card. By the way, that’s the size of a small lawnmower. They’re huge. Now, I couldn’t fit the last one I bought.

Paul Ford: We gotta give it to Nvidia, who make some of the ugliest products physically, like just

Rich Ziade: oh, oh, oh and

Paul Ford: deeply.

Comically, hideous.

Rich Ziade: You know what’s hilarious about it too? Their aesthetic, which is essentially large slabs of black metal.

Paul Ford: Yes. But now, now they have the cooling pipes coming off of

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: like an H. They’ve miniaturized an HVAC system.

Rich Ziade: Oh, what’s hilarious [00:05:00] is it, it also like permeates into like the driver software. Like the driver software is like 400 megs, and when it loads up, it just has this glow to it of like green and black.

It’s kind of hilarious.

Paul Ford: The custom software that now comes with a Windows PC that controls the 3D subsystem is one of the like greatest atrocities. But notice as we’re talking about this, did you ever watch the video where he takes the, the, the video card out of the oven?

Rich Ziade: Yeah. I love it.

Paul Ford: And he’s like, look at this big

Rich Ziade: fresh outta the

Paul Ford: He’s wearing like a leather jacket. It is co Here’s, here’s what I’m saying. Why did I

Rich Ziade: yeah, why did you go here?

Paul Ford: Because that’s what I’m looking for in my tech industry. I’m looking for goofy, incredibly successful people who care about the thing and, and here, here’s what I love about that guy.

That guy seems to really believe that more 3D cards, Will make people more powerful. Let ’em do, you know, millions of [00:06:00] simultaneous computations a second, and that’s gonna be amazing for humanity. Hundreds of millions. And we’re gonna have better games and better AI and better experiences as a result. And he is happy to live his life that way.

And I look at these two just bros. Who wanna have a battle in the octagon where they’re in the middle of the conversation. And I don’t get that sense from the, from the Nvidia guy. I get the sense that those goofy GPUs are the center of the world.

Rich Ziade: I, I think the way I would, I think it’s a, it’s, I think that’s right and I think it’s an even more subtle distinction than that, which is for Zuckerberg and, and, and Musk. It, it is.

About them, about their themselves. It is about their brand and their status. Um, the Nvidia guy who knows, he may snap one day and make it about him. It isn’t about him at all actually. It isn’t about his personality or about how you crossed the line with him.

Paul Ford: him. No. It’s about how Call of [00:07:00] Duty looks on your curved monitor.

Rich Ziade: about their, the, the, you know, the wild, frankly incredible success of Nvidia. Nvidia is a breakout success that has been added for almost 30 years, by the way, it’s been, they’ve been doing this forever. I remember when they first came out, uh, cuz they were patching games to make them work with

Paul Ford: No, and there’s like steam coming out of those cards back then. I mean,

Rich Ziade: back then, the games didn’t support ’em. And so what Nvidia did was they, they sent out engineers to work with the game developers to say, can you please patch Tomb Raider to do this? And then it was like the world

Paul Ford: And you know what they did do too, and this is again, we’re back to like this giant conversation happening around Texas.

They showed value over and over again. It’s not always the value that I care about, but like they went to those game developers and they’re like, I can make this thing shinier and better. And then game developers went, it’s worth it. Let’s do it. Here’s

Rich Ziade: what I think is happening with Musk and Zuckerberg. I think what’s happening is this is, I think they see astronomic success.[00:08:00]

There’s nothing to buy. There’s nothing really to buy.

Paul Ford: you. Well, you can go get the world’s biggest yacht. Like,

Rich Ziade: you can do

Paul Ford: Bezos just did

Rich Ziade: you can do that, but that’s, that’s not interesting because you’re mortal and you will die one day. And so what they start to tell themselves is that, This can’t be it.

I can’t be, let me be Zuckerberg for a second and I’ll get to Musk in a different way. If, if I’m Zuckerberg, it can’t be that tens of millions of dollars in Velveeta cheese ads. Can’t be my destiny. It cannot be it. It cannot end with double stuff. Oreos being marketed. Around the world in different languages as my legacy.

It just can’t be it. And so what they start to say,

Paul Ford: so, so we’re gonna build the metaverse,

Rich Ziade: I, I think, I think even before that, I think what you started to see was him shifting his perception of his legacy beyond [00:09:00] double stuff, Oreos, to the point of affecting culture and affecting policy

Paul Ford: There’s a huge, huge not-for-profit. You know, they funded a lot of medical research,

Rich Ziade: Facebook itself, you know, forget the fact that it spawned, you know, a lot of misinformation and a lot of ill-advised, you know, revolutions that frankly netted out negatively in a lot of places cuz it’s just, I, he doesn’t have any ability to wrap his head around.

The, the, the sort of fractal possibilities that come off of a platform that big, he doesn’t know. He had no plan around it. It got away from him. And, and what he starts to do is rationalize like, well, you know what? I probably had a bigger impact on culture in this world than anybody else in the last 30 Instead of, you know what, no one’s bought more. Um, Fruit Loops ads on my platform than on my platform than anywhere else. That’s not

Paul Ford: interesting.

You know, [00:10:00] these, these people never seem to have a good sense of humor. There’s no, there’s no irony. There’s no, like, I’m sure he looks himself, he’s like, well, what a wild ride. And that’s kind of it. And then it’s like, I, I’m gonna go have a

Rich Ziade: here is, here is, you wanna really go right to the vulnera, the achilles heel of all of it.

They want to be taken seriously. That’s what it

Paul Ford: well wait. They wanna be taken seriously in anything they set their mind to

Rich Ziade: in anything they set their mind to. Now let’s jump to Musk Musk. Is the Nvidia guy for the longest time,

Paul Ford: it, he had

Rich Ziade: and butter. He’s giving internet to, to people in the middle of Africa.

Spaceships, uh, Tesla, I mean, home run after home run. And I, I do admire Musk for one particular reason, which is he will tell a small, talented group of people you can do anything.

Paul Ford: obviously. Right? Like he gets that group around him. He’s, let’s, and we’re going, we’re gonna do a conference call every night until the rocket’s up [00:11:00] in the

Rich Ziade: I believe in you. if they come back and say, look, I know you wanted it zero to 60 in five seconds, we’re not there yet. He’s like, what do you need? And they’re like, well, give us another six months and we’ll get there. And he’s like, you can have another six months. And so what he does is he, it is almost, he applied a cult leader belief system so that, I mean, you can’t deny it.

There has been a flurry of innovation that’s come out of his companies.

Paul Ford: a reason he is the richest man in the world. Maybe he doesn’t, maybe he should be the 50th, richest man in the world.

Rich Ziade: not the richest anymore, but

Paul Ford: whatever, but you know what I mean.

Rich Ziade: people in the world. In any case, so what does this guy do? Let’s remember the Zuckerberg narrative I just described.

What does he do? He decides, wait, that’s it. Large batteries in people’s garages,

Paul Ford: rockets, they go up, they come down.

Rich Ziade: I’m 52 or whatever his age is,

Paul Ford: Then he dated Grimes, which took a lot of energy.

Rich Ziade: That took 10 years off his life.

Paul Ford: really

Rich Ziade: right there. So what does he do? [00:12:00] He buys a box of shit on the internet.

Paul Ford: He

did. He bought the ultimate mystery box.

Rich Ziade: He bought the ultimate

Paul Ford: The 44 billion. I wonder what’s inside.

Rich Ziade: sounded negative. I’m on Twitter. I continue to be on Twitter. I can’t look away lately. O off of Twitter. Twitter is something I’ve been using for many years. I’ve spent money advertising on Twitter.

Twitter is, is, is this incredible? It’s actually not the most valuable asset on the internet, but my God, if you want cultural and a real platform. To

Paul Ford: What the internet became around, let’s say 2022, like, you know, but like the, the internet as we understand it today as like a social high velocity, feed driven, conversational medium. Twitter is the, the fundamental infrastructure. Facebook lives in its own giant universe.

Rich Ziade: It is unheard of for a Mark Zuckerberg, [00:13:00] after all his success, to come to terms with the fact that nobody cares about what he says.

Paul Ford: Oh, it’s gotta

Rich Ziade: This is pre-Twitter. Yeah. The idea that he is not being asked to give a talk about something way outside his lane at the Aspen Ideas Festival or wherever is absolute torture, and it’s no different than Zuckerberg.

Being repulsed by the idea of being remembered as the guy who pushed macaroni and cheese ads on people around the world. It’s not enough. It’s just not enough for them.

Paul Ford: You know? It’s gotta be weird

Rich Ziade: not enough for their

Paul Ford: You know what it is too? You know, who is the sterling technology leader that everybody looks to? The one he, he rest in [00:14:00] peace Exactly. And before him, uh, land at Polaroid, like there’s this list and it’s a short list of these sort of deeply inspired, super billionaire product geniuses.

Rich Ziade: but jobs never look, jobs was a jerk. He was a really mean boss. That’s a fact. It’s like written up, uh, many times over. But what jobs didn’t do is say, ah, you know what? I put a phone in your pocket and now I’m gonna tell you a thing or two about diabetes.

Paul Ford: Well, he actually did that, but he didn’t do it in public.

Rich Ziade: Oh, did He

Paul Ford: Oh yeah. He was always like, you know, if you just eat more limes, you know,

Rich Ziade: Well, that didn’t work out

Paul Ford: No, he died as a result. Yeah.

Rich Ziade: yeah, we don’t have to get into his story, but he had opportunities to be

Paul Ford: No, no, but he, he was a narcissist, goofball, but it didn’t, it seemed to be constrained to a local blast radius

Rich Ziade: He didn’t seek the

Paul Ford: well, the platform that he wanted.

And this I think is what, this is where I like [00:15:00] jobs. And I think you do too. And I, I think like ultimately what it came down to, he loved the product. He loved technology. He actually understood where all the bits were. Like he started out really low level. And you know, at places like Atari and hp, he’s a salesman.

He’s just a great salesman. He loved those, um, product releases. Uh,

Rich Ziade: He loved them and he loved telling a story to get people excited. He loved connecting emotion. He wanted you to connect emotionally with his product. Look,

Paul Ford: but that’s a good salesman.

Rich Ziade: It is a good salesman. But here’s the thing, dude, it’s not about him. It’s just not,

Paul Ford: No. But Zuckerberg is a terrible salesman.

Rich Ziade: Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg is a genius. Elon Musk is a genius. Steve Jobs is a

Paul Ford: genius. Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm. Right. Um, Alan Kay is a genius. Sure. But the thing that you have happening, and it’s, I would say probably less so with Zuckerberg than with Musk. I feel like Zuckerberg has sort of recoiled back into Juujitsu and his nonprofit in a lot of ways

Paul Ford: until this moment.

It, it actually seemed to be going a little better around him. Like he [00:16:00] was, you know, doing his hydrofoiling and having a good life. And then Facebook, Facebook also seems to be causing less genocide than it used to. And I think that’s good.

Rich Ziade: to. It’s probably because they’ve shifted focus to the headset, to the, to the VR stuff. Like I,

Paul Ford: I think also they, they kind of buttoned it up. I have to imagine that the departure of Sandberg changed. It just seems like a simpler. Platform. Although I would like to say, let me just, let me just go on a brief digression for a minute. I hadn’t used Facebook for a while. My father passed. I logged back in.

Okay, here it is. It’s kind of a mess. Okay. And then I was like, you know what? I’m, in a sense, let’s see what a Facebook marketplace looks like. That’s the single worst product I’ve used on a computer in like the last 10

Rich Ziade: What is Facebook

Paul Ford: It’s supposed to be like Craigslist inside of Facebook.

Like you list your stuff that you have for sale and so on and so forth. And you can respond to people, you cannot tell what you’re buying, where you’re, so if you show like interest into five different things, five different groups, it collages them all together. It starts local, then it goes [00:17:00] global, and suddenly you’re like, oh, maybe I’ll buy that.

But it’s in

Rich Ziade: Is it a big deal? I’ve never used it. Is it a big deal? Because it sounds like a pet project that was sort of bolted

Paul Ford: I mean, it’s facing, it’s one of the buttons right there on the bottom. Oh, okay.

Rich Ziade: So it it is a big

Paul Ford: deal. Oh no. They were counting on this. They really wanted Facebook marketplace to be a thing.

It is the worst product implementation if you work on it. I, I respect you as a human being and I hope you’re happy in every way. But what did you do? Why did you do it that way? Come on the show and explain it, because I would like to understand.

Rich Ziade: when I think about, you know, the Musks and the Zuckerbergs of the world and, and, other, by the way, extremely successful people who, because they’re successful, think they can chime in on, you know, neurosurgery, uh, for whatever reason. I, I think what you, you end up with is, is sort of, and I, I see this at a lower level when I meet successful people, most are unhappy.

Most of the successful, like really successful, they can’t seem to find [00:18:00] peace. They really can’t. And and I think part of that is what got them there is a particular engine, a particular drive that they don’t know how to throttle down. I’ll tell you one counter example of It may snap one day because he may lose his mind, but Jeff Bezos said, I arrived and I’m at a resort and they have pina coladas.

Paul Ford: Jeff Bezo, here’s what you look at. It’s that divorce. Like the whole thing kind of like cracked for him?

And then he got a completely age appropriate really hot girlfriend and a really big boat and went to Coachella.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

No, no. This is his life now. Look, he may snap and say, wait a minute, I’m Jeff Bezos.

I should be the governor of Texas

Paul Ford: I don’t think, I don’t think you got there.

Rich Ziade: I don’t think you got

Paul Ford: I, I think what you have there is a vast portfolio. I think there’ll be like, It’ll be sort of like the Bezos Charities will be like the Gates Charities, like these sort of vast bureaucracies.[00:19:00]

Rich Ziade: Yeah. why

do you think certain people duck away?

I think the ones that are well adjusted and are more comfortable with

Paul Ford: look, I mean, I know I, I opened his talking about Bezos’s divorce, but there’s a guy who started this enterprise when he was a little older. I think it was in his thirties.

He was married for a long time, had kids, like the marriage seemed to be pretty successful. Like he did keep a thread open to re to like basic human reality and he got to it a little bit after everybody else.

Rich Ziade: I think, I think that’s right and I think, I think people, this is a loss of perspective more than anything else, right? I think that’s what

Paul Ford: can you have perspective if you are Mark Zuckerberg? It’s not possible. And, and Musk was, man, they primed the pump on that guy.

Rich Ziade: Did JP Morgan do this?

Paul Ford: Oh, JP Morgan was weird. He had like a doctor just so he could like get abortions for the girlfriends.

Like it was bad. He had, he had a huge bulbus nose. They called him the nose.

Rich Ziade: Like, like Vanderbilt.

Did he [00:20:00] do this? Are they, did they all lose their minds when they get to this level of

Paul Ford: Yeah. Yeah.

Rich Ziade: Hughes kept jars of urine.

Paul Ford: Yeah. It’s, look, it, it’s, um, then again, like Julia Louie Dreyfus is a really funny actress who has billions of dollars. Right. So I, I, I don’t, I think we, you know, we overthink these people. I’m actually, mostly what I, we, we worry too much about their personal wellbeing. What I wanna get back to Richard, and we’re not gonna get back to it on this podcast, but the reason that the Octagon exhausts me, dammit, is that I want to talk about tech again.

I wanna talk about the thing. We have a lot of real problems in front of us that aren’t gonna be solved by two bros. I was about to say something else. Fighting in the octagon. I miss it. Uh, why won’t anybody like, tell me what, how the Apple Watch works in a new and exciting way?

Rich Ziade: I think, uh, well, I think, look, you, you happen to be a thoughtful, well-adjusted nerd.

Paul Ford: Oh, thank you. That’s kind of

Rich Ziade: A lot of people [00:21:00] love to see, um, you know, Ben Affleck walk out of the Dunking Donuts and, people love this shit.

Paul Ford: I get him, man.

Rich Ziade: they’re public figures and they’re, they’re, they’re offering, look, if, if, Two, any two actors decided to fight in a ring in Vegas. It’s gonna be good. It’s gonna be really

Paul Ford: good. It, it’s true. That is just, it’s, that is made for tv, et cetera, et cetera.

I want to go back to a particular era. The era when there were lots of blogs about different Android devices. That’s, that was when I think we didn’t realize what we had

Rich Ziade: They’re still there.

Paul Ford: Yeah, there,

Rich Ziade: a non-tech, there’s Android Central, there’s Tom’s Hardware.

Paul Ford: Maybe I just need to get back in

just dive,

Rich Ziade: where are you hanging out? On the internet. That’s what it comes down to. And this [00:22:00] reinforces my point that you’re seeing the like the ridiculous shit and you’re like, let’s go see what’s going on over there.

Paul Ford: Maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s time for me to

Rich Ziade: maybe it’s on you.

Paul Ford: time to dive into Tom’s Hardware for a little while and just find out about the new CPUs.


Rich Ziade: you been to an non-tech review?

Paul Ford: Oh, I love it, man. What I, they still have, do they still have the paginated like 20 sections

Rich Ziade: It’s like 30 pages. I love

Paul Ford: I love

Rich Ziade: This guy is running tests against 20 different benchmarks and it’s about 20,000 words.

It’s incredible. I,

Paul Ford: I love,

Rich Ziade: absolutely incredible.

Paul Ford: they like blur an image in Photoshop and they’re like, look, it’s, it’s 1.7%

Rich Ziade: It’s amazing. It’s amazing. Um, but you know what’s, but it’s also boring. You know what’s less boring?

Paul Ford: Elon Musk fighting. Mark Zuckerberg punched

Rich Ziade: in the kidney.

Paul Ford: Yeah. That could be cool. I don’t know. Okay, well, we’ll close with this. Would you watch it?

course. Yeah. I [00:23:00] would watch it with two. I mean, you, I’d be,

Rich Ziade: You thought we were gonna sit here and talk about how to be better people?

Paul Ford: no, no. Because I’d watch it with you. I’d pay-per-view it and it would be stupid. And we’d make fun of the

Rich Ziade: We would order Papa

Paul Ford: Yeah.

Oh, B Buffalo Wild

Rich Ziade: No,

no. Papa John’s were in the corners because as pizza’s round. Yeah. And the box is square and Papa John’s, somebody in r and d was like, you know what?

In that area where the round pizza isn’t touching the corners of the square, we can put garlic sauce.

Paul Ford: That’s somebody, that’s somebody who quit Amazon Logistics and went over to Papa John’s. Is you

Rich Ziade: Um,

look, is it us or them? Paul Ford.

Paul Ford: I guess we’re, I guess we all have a little of the schmitz on our hands from this, uh, this ridiculous world we’re in.

Well, rich, you and I are software entrepreneurs, but we’re not burdened by the shocking success that has come

Rich Ziade: We also don’t have egos. We’re well adjusted, loving families.

Paul Ford: no, definitely ask all of our former employees.

Rich Ziade: We do have a startup, though, called a [00:24:00] board@aboard.com.

Paul Ford: What a, what a good site. It’s, it’s coming along, man.

I really like where it’s at right now.

Rich Ziade: It looks great. It’s a place to collect, organize, and collaborate from anything on the web.

It’s a, it creates calmer, more sane spaces to talk to each other and share things that you find on

Paul Ford: the

internet. If you want a product that is the opposite of the octagon. In Las Vegas.

Yeah, it’s a board.

Rich Ziade: It’s a board.

Paul Ford: So check us out, check out, uh, z

Rich Ziade: somebody’s gonna create a board with UFC

Paul Ford: Fine. We’ll do it. It’s fine. Um, check out Zdi Ford on Twitter. Send us an email at hello zdi zdi ford.com and we are all always glad to hear from you. Give us five stars if you’re in the mood and we’ll see you soon.

Rich Ziade: Bye

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