Hi! I'm Hari Raghavan.
👋 About me
I love moving atoms and pennies with bits.
I'm a loyalist to some people, some causes, and all dogs.
I love unblocking bottlenecks, anything that makes the world more efficient or less annoying. I love talking about / working on / investing in anything that can be described as an “API for X”.
What sparks joy at work
Optimizing strategy at the intersection of Product x GTM, especially for complex businesses (data companies, marketplaces, fintech, or new categories)
Compensation approach (especially for tricky roles like founding team / execs)
Fundraising strategy — as both a founder at AbstractOps and active investor (out of Operator Fund), we see a lot of data on both sides of the table
How to value and invest in companies with alpha
What sparks joy in life
How government / politics in the US is broken, and how one might fix it
Hanging out with my family, friends, and dog
Great wine or cocktail bars
Fantasy novels (huge Brandon Sanderson dork)
Good TV (I think I’ve seen ~150 shows)
Reads that have had a profound impact on my thinking
Modestly long article (under an hour). Every person who has an opinion on how companies work should read this:
The Concept of the Corporation - John Kay
The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in Business History (15 Jan 2019) http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00076791.2018.1509956. For the past fifty years or so, the economic theory of the firm has been based on the paradigmatic model of corporate activity which perceives the firm as a nexus of contracts, its [...]
Long-form multi-part article (few hours). Far from a settled matter, but this long breakdown was thought-provoking in getting me to question assumptions about our biology. What if we’ve been “looking under the street lamp” on obesity?
A Chemical Hunger - Part I: Mysteries
The study of obesity is the study of mysteries. Mystery 1: The Obesity Epidemic The first mystery is the obesity epidemic itself. It's hard for a modern person to appreciate just how thin we all were for most of human history. A century ago, the average man in the US weighed around 155 lbs.
Moderately short but easy to read book (few hours). The seminal work on how human psychology and persuasion works:
Influence: Science and Practice, 5th Edition
Robert B. Cialdini, Arizona State University Click, Whirr. Betting the Shortcut Odd. The Profiteers. Jujitsu. Reader's Report. 2.Reciprocation: The Old Give and Take ... and Take. How the Rule Works. Reciprocal Concessions. Rejection-Then-Retreat. Defense. Reader's Report. 3.Commitment and Consistency: Hobgoblins of the Mind. Whirring Along. Commitment Is the Key. Defense.
Short article (under an hour). A great breakdown on how inequality has been the norm, not the exception; and how we have been living in a period of unique prosperity in the second half of the 19th century. This is not saying how it should be — instead, just pointing out historical norms so we can make more educated decisions about socioeconomic policy.
January 2016[[[[[[[ One advantage of being old is that you can see change happen in your lifetime. A lot of the change I've seen is fragmentation. US politics is much more polarized than it used to be. Culturally we have ever less common ground.
Moderately long multi-part article (couple of hours). I didn’t understand how seismic a shift Artificial Superintelligence could be until I read this:
The Artificial Intelligence Revolution: Part 1 - Wait But Why
PDF: We made a fancy PDF of this post for printing and offline viewing. Buy it here. (Or see a preview.) Note: The reason this post took three weeks to finish is that as I dug into research on Artificial Intelligence, I could not believe what I was reading.
Short article (five - fifteen minutes). Honorary mention for an excellent summary, even if the individual points weren’t perspective-shifting (summarization is an art form):
How This All Happened
This is a short story about what happened to the U.S. economy since the end of World War II. That's a lot to unpack in 5,000 words, but the short story of what happened over the last 73 years is simple: Things were very uncertain, then they were very good, then pretty bad, then really good, then really bad, and now here we are.
Short blog (five - fifteen minutes). A list of things that have been built fast, across the world, over the last couple of centuries… contrasted by more recent, sclerotic development in today’s society. Calls into question whether we simply have political will to build great things anymore.
Fast · Patrick Collison
Some examples of people quickly accomplishing ambitious things together. The Spirit of St. Louis. In 1927, Donald Hall and Charles Lindbergh designed and built Spirit in 60 days. "To determine the amount of fuel the plane would need, Lindbergh and Hall drove to the San Diego Public Library at 820 E St.
Long-form multi-part article (a few hours to digest properly). A brilliant, deeply detailed breakdown of of “rhyming” themes in Star Wars.
star wars ring theory | Mike Klimo
How George Lucas used an ancient technique called "ring composition" to reach a level of storytelling sophistication in his six-part saga that is unprecedented in cinema history. By Mike Klimo The interesting thing about Star Wars-and I didn't ever really push this very far, because it's not really that important-but there's a lot going on there that most people haven't come to grips with yet.
Tweetstorm (five - fifteen minutes). I’ve never thought of freedom of transactions as a concept, but this lays out a brilliant argument for why you can’t have freedom of anything without freedom of transaction.
My digital exhaust
On Deck: hariraghavan
My doggo's Instagram: @puptimusprime