Bradley Tusk (@bradleytusk) joins Erik on this episode to talk about the intersection of politics and tech. He’s founder and CEO of Tusk Ventures and author of The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups From Death By Politics. He’s also a philanthropist, political strategist, and hosts his own podcast, Firewall.
Bradley has worked with Michael Bloomberg, Chuck Schumer, Uber, and many others. He shares the lessons he’s learned throughout his experience both working in politics and helping guide startups through the political and legislative processes. He explains the psyche of politicians and says that the actions of virtually every one is guided by whether it increases or decreases the chances of winning their next election.
He talks about his work with Uber and how grassroots campaigns on behalf of startups with fervid customers can sway politicians to change existing regulations that tend to benefit entrenched interests. He discusses some of the best policies that legislators can implement to benefit startups and innovation and talks specifically about some of the areas that involve the overlap of governance and tech, including charter cities, co-living, and income-share agreements.
He also talks what Silicon Valley misunderstands about politics, whether a Silicon Valley candidate could run in 2020, and how he is trying to increase voter participation through his foundation’s work on mobile and blockchain-powered voting.
Quotable Lines From This Episode
“Every single politician I’ve ever worked with, with the exception of Mike Bloomberg, is solely motivated by the next election, and if you can do something that makes them think they’re going to lose the next election, or that you can do something to make them win the next election, they’re going to do what you want — and if you can’t do that it doesn’t matter what you want.”
“It’s especially hard with crypto and probably harder than any other sector — how do you regulate this thing that by design is meant to avoid federal currencies, avoid sovereignty, avoid nationality and is a reaction against all that?”
“The vast, vast majority of politicians, to be blunt, are desperately insecure, often self-loathing people who can’t live without the validation of holding office and running for office and they will do anything to fill that hole in their psyche.”
“In my experience, the vast majority of journalists are just curious people who are trying to figure out in any given situation. Where people get into trouble is in trying to spin them.”
“People in the Valley tend to not know what they don’t know, meaning that because they are very intelligent and because they have had success in some areas in life, they assume that that is applicable to everything they can do.”
“Politics is its totally own world, totally own world language, totally own set of norms, and just because you were a really good engineer or you figured out how to market a product that you could figure out politics too, that’s an incredibly dangerous assumption.”
“The naiveté of people in the Valley in thinking that just because they attend political fundraisers and write checks that they have some level of understanding or influence over the process. They have none.”
“There’s no one in the Valley at the moment who could plausibly be a presidential candidate in 2020.”
“You look at issues in this country like guns or immigration or healthcare or climate change, most polls show that 70% of people agree on the basic tenets of what to do about this stuff, and then there’s about 15% on either side that disagree but unfortunately right now the 15% on either side are the people that vote in primaries, so they really call the shots.”
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