May 8th, 2022
It's only been than three months since I've moved to San Francisco, yet I've met more people, made more friends, consumed more alcohol, and attended more parties in these past three months than in the past two years.
San Francisco is definitely back* and I'm so glad to have finally moved to the land of dreams.
Finding Aurora house, my current co-living house, in February was a godsend. Living with people makes forming close relationships so much easier and I was able to further expand my SF network by throwing parties and combining all seven of my housemate's networks. Everyone got along well because Hannah, the organizer of the house, interviewed and hand-picked all of us out of 50 people. Co-living houses are so common in San Francisco that there are even mixers between different houses. I was finally able to live the frat life that I never got the chance to experience in college. We often visited other cool co-living houses such as Elysian House (web3 founders), Genesis House (founders, Thiel Fellows, and AI researchers), and Dropout DAO (dropouts and allies).
We hosted a ton of parties and went out nearly every weekend. We danced at Arena, Temple, Butter, Halcyon, Monroe, and Westwood too many times to count. We walked through Russian Hill, Hayes Valley, Nob Hill (Polk St), Little Italy (North Beach) Cow Hollow, Pac Heights, Japantown, Chinatown, Marina. We went to equally many 15 million dollar mansion parties as sweaty warehouse parties.
Perhaps I'm still in my honeymoon phase with SF, but I'm in love. Sure, there are areas with homelessness and feces on sidewalks, but those are far and few between–virtually none if you avoid certain areas of the city like the Tenderloin. The beauty of the endless number of parks, the absence of the tall poppy syndrome, and likely the densest population of overachievers on Earth makes this a truly one of a kind place. In fact, excellent satire like Every Bay Area House Party by Astral Codex Ten (highly highly recommend reading/skimming) may seem exaggerated to the uninitiated, but from personal experience, could absurdly be true. Sometimes, it seems like everyone and their dads are starting companies (in some cases, literally).
Sometimes my friends and I will be chatting about something and burst out laughing after realizing just how absurd we would sound to a non-SF-startup-web3-techie (AKA normal person). Recently, I was explaining to some friends about a fusion (energy) DAO that I was working on. I explained that it was similar to VitaDao and that you can use tokens purchased using WETH on CowSwap to vote on proposals via Snapshot. Another recent conversation was explaining one of my friend's startups. He's working on DAOs to make validator yields on PoS chains like Celo regenerative, perhaps using the Toucan protocol which brings carbon credits on-chain. These conversations that used to be a jumble of foreign words to me are now nothing but a part of our mundane daily chatters. And it's not just intellectual conversations in the web3 space that have been so titilating, it's also the conversations about startups, SaaS, VC, philosophy, economics, finance, space, nuclear fusion, longevity, nootropics, nutrition, and of course AI.
Growing up, I always felt like I had so much more knowledege about random things than my peers. But here, I'm not special. I learn something new every time I talk to someone. In SF, you overhear conversations about HFT at the climbing gym and you overhear people use phrases such as local optimas and binary search into their daily conversations. Nearly everyone you meet can code and meeting dropouts at parties is the norm.
I've never lived in a place with this many hardworking and smart people before. People aren't just academically smart with top pedigrees but are also charismatic and have expertise and interests in multiple domains. And a combination of SF's small population (< one million) and the tight-knit tech yuppie communities means that we're all two connections away from each other, including high-status people like Sam Altman and my Hinge matches. It's so humbling and motivating at the same time. We're all definitely living in a bubble in SF, where there's API companies on billboards and people are always striving for more. But I'd choose this over a non-innovative bubble where people are set in their ways anyday.
At the beginning of 2022, I had one new year's resolution: to have more fun. I had been grinding for the past two years–first on a startup then for an Ironman; I needed a break. I guess I can say I finally accomplished what I set out to do.
These past few months have been crazy fun, but now I've had my fill and it's time to get back on the grind**. It's perfect timing, as in a few days, I'll be moving from my current co-living house of seven other 21-26 year olds in the popping Victorian-style Polk St area to a high-rise closer to downtown SF with Victor, one of my current housemates and friends from UMich. I'll meet other overachieving, hardworking yuppies in the building's lounge and library and continue to work on side projects on weekends until one of them brings enough value to people so that I can raise funding. Equally importantly, I'm looking forward to bring back a sense of routine and get my health back in check after these past months of heavy drinking and staying out late.
I'll continue to meet people here and there but ideally in a much more intentional manner so that I can be more productive with my time. Though I'll be on that sigma grindset, there are plenty of parks that I still plan to see, clubs to do more degenerate shit at, and neighborhoods to wander aimlessly through. I'm prepared to take advantage of my apartment building's comprehensive amenities to start swimming and playing basketball again. Being in the Civic Center, I'm also looking forward to shows at the Opera House, Symphony Hall, Bill Graham Auditorium, and exhibits at the Asian Art Museum.
If I were to name this ending phase of my life, I'd name it "SF degeneracy". Next up: "value creation". I can't wait.
Acknowledgements: Shoutout to Victor Maher for helping me find the co-living house and Hannah Jian and Alex George who organized it and for taking me in. Here are some people that have made these past few months so much fun: Shrav Kasralikar, Iban Sadowski, Wayde Gilliam, Luella Sun, Anthony Tan, Alexander Bricken, Joseph Yeh, Melody Lyu, Seth Saperstein, Douglas Qian, Letao Chen, David Hu, Steven Phan, Ethan Benjamin, Peggy Wang, Austin Wong, Mathurah Ravigulan, Newton Xie, Liam Hinzman, Yunji Jang, Allison Luan, Michael Phillips, Brando Vasquez, Johnny Yun, Richard Chen, Evan Rinder, and MANY others.
*referring to everything being closed in SF for much longer than other cities due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
**for most people in my stage of life, a lifestyle of binge drinking and going out every weekend is pretty normal. However, to accomplish great things, I believe you also need to work harder than most. Hard work is obviously not the only ingredient, but it is a necessary one.