I’m Ben, and this is where I put things I write! If you’re a new visitor, check out the best-of list, and if you like it, subscribe. Or read some recent posts:

Unintended consequences and GDPR (but not the way you think)


Somehow I never worried about this particular failure mode (in either component):

Are venture capital markets inefficient?


Top venture capital firms predictably earn massive returns. Is this a violation of the efficient market hypothesis? And why might it be happening?

Is treating a cold with zinc still evidence-backed?


I used to think zinc was the only known evidence-based cold treatment, but the analysis everyone cites was recently retracted. Is it another victim of the replication crisis?

What to care about in a job


In 2014, I wrote about how I chose my first job out of college. I’ve learned a lot in the 4 years since then–here’s how I would change my criteria if I were picking a job today.

Where, why and how I donated in 2017


This year, I met my goal of donating 50% of my income. The donation was split 20% to GiveWell and 80% to a donor advised fund (effectively deferring a decision until later). Here’s why.

People seem very confused about 401(k) loans


While deciding how much to contribute to my 401(k) this year, I discovered that the Internet is full of urban legends about 401(k) loans causing double taxation.

The product


95% of the feed is crap, because 95% of everything is crap. But sometimes there are good things in the feed. You want to see the good things in the feed. You can’t miss out on the good things.

The Globalization Paradox and the perils of simple models


Some thoughts after reading The Globalization Paradox. Dani Rodrik makes the case that economists have been over-interpreting simple economic models in favor of free trade and its effects on economic development. Thinking about the implications of this for other simplified economic models.

How bad are bad fundraising terms?


Suppose you took a job at Square in November 2014. A stock option package you valued at $500k then would have become worthless a year later, when they IPOed at less than half their previous valuation. Yet it seems like Square did quite well in 2015. What’s going on? I go over the startling findings of a new research paper that explains this and lots of other venture capital mysteries.

Startup options are much better than they look


People often make several complaints about how employment works at startups:

  1. They don’t pay well. They claim to make up the difference with stock options, but the options are worthless and you can earn more by working for a big stable company.

  2. They prey on starry-eyed, young, naive people …

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