Thanksgiving Dinner Talking Material: Watching This Video Of Bill Gurley Discussing Just How Bad Big Business Owns And Controls Everything In This Country Will Make Your Head Explode

I've been going back and forth on this for a couple weeks now after watching it. I didn't want to waste my time blogging it only to see it not get published for being too political or something. But after more and more thought, and showing it to a ton of people I know and seeing them have the same reaction I had to watching it (my mind being fucking blown, and rage overcoming me at the very thought of this) I figured it's worth it to get more people to see it. And at the very least, it will allow for people to bring it up at Thanksgiving dinner and sound like they're more informed and smarter than their family gives them credit for. I'm always looking out for my people. (Who loves ya babe?)

For starters, this presentation was given by Bill Gurley, two months ago, in LA, at the "All-In Summit". 

I'll break that down here piece by piece.

At the risk of being crucified by the Wall St. bros in the comment section, from what I know about Bill Gurley, he seems like the fucking man. He's like a superstar coach for tech startups. He's one of the big-shot investors in Silicon Valley, working with a firm called Benchmark. He's got a knack for picking winners – he backed huge names like Uber and Zillow before they were household names. He took wildcard CEO of Uber Kalanick, in its infancy stage, and helped turn it into a unicorn. He’s really intelligent, logical, and doesn’t seem like he smells his own farts. Aka very humble. Basically, he's the guy tech entrepreneurs dream of getting funding from.

Steve Jennings. Getty Images.

The "All In Summit" is a big conference hosted by the "All In Podcast", where a bunch of smart and influential people, mostly from the tech industry, come together. Think of it as a meet-up where entrepreneurs, investors, and big names in technology hang out to talk about important topics in their field. They discuss the latest trends, share ideas, and talk about challenges and opportunities in the tech world. It's a bit like a festival for tech enthusiasts, where they get to network, learn from each other, and maybe get inspired for their next big project or investment.

The "All In Podcast" is a digital talk show focused on technology, business, and politics. It's like a regular gathering of friends who are also high-profile, big shot tech investors and entrepreneurs. These guys – Jason Calacanis, Chamath Palihapitiya, David Sacks, and David Friedberg – are known for their experience and success in the tech industry.

In each episode, they discuss current events, share their perspectives on the latest happenings in tech, finance, and the broader business world, and sometimes delve into political issues. It's casual yet insightful, like listening in on a conversation among your wicked smart friends who are deeply involved in the tech scene. They cover a range of topics, from startup culture to major trends shaping the tech industry, making it popular among listeners who are interested in technology and business. I found out about it because my much smarter, much more successful friends all listen to it weekly.

Bill Gurley, the guy Ive grown to really like; big-shot investor, big swinging dick, gave not one, but two presentations at this event. In this one, which he titled, "2,851 Miles" (because that's the distance from Washington D.C. to Silicon Valley), he focuses all on how regulations in business usually end up helping the big companies instead of the smaller, new ones. He points out that the rules are often made in a way that benefits the industry bigwigs, not the public or the small players.

Shocker, I know.

He points out how the names and faces you see involved in major policy decision making, and law writing, are usually the same. It’s a constant revolving door of these same people going back and forth between the public and private sector- policing the same industry they were just working in the day before, and vice versa. This obviously makes for very messy, and shady situations. 


He talked about how he's seen this firsthand with companies he's invested in. Like, this one, Tropos Networks, that wanted to provide free Wi-Fi to urban areas like Philadelphia, were blocked and boxed out by the big telecom companies like Comcast and Verizon because they had more power and influence.

It's fucking wild hearing how he and his company had Philadelphia and Pennsylvania politicians from both sides on board to make this happen, because it was a common good that would greatly benefit the public as a whole. Think about it, free reliable wi-fi blanketing the entire city would be a game changer for underserved communities, schools, churches, as well as municipal services and private industry and businesses.

It was all shaping up to be a great test run that would show how successful it was in Philadelphia and stand as a blueprint for other cities to get on board on until this cock sucker - David L. Cohen, one of the most powerful people in Washington D.C. got involved.

Who is David Cohen you ask?

Oh just one of the most powerful lobbyists in America, which makes him one of the most powerful men in America. As the guy representing telecommunications giants, like Comcast, he has politicians from everywhere in his pocket, and is capable of not just railroading a project like this from happening, but ensuring laws are enacted guaranteeing private megacorporations that he represents never have to worry about it in the future either.


As if we needed any more reasons to think Comcast is the worst company on the planet.

I'm sure in typical commenter fashion very few will watch the video before commenting, and call me a communist because I must be anti-business if I think it's bullshit that large companies pay to "influence" moronic and spineless legislators to pass laws that only benefit them, but I really hope people watch this. Because it's infuriating.


Gurley goes on to point out how back in the day Venture Capital firms put nearly all their funding into exploring and developing new technology, especially in telecom. 

But as you can see from the graph, since lobbyists shifted to regulating things, those numbers have gone off a cliff. Which explains why most of our cable boxes and tv equipment still looks like its from the 1980s. 

He cites George Stigler, the father of regulatory capture and noble prize winner for economics along with some damning evidence of just how bad this really is.


He then shifts gears into the healthcare sector and its somehow even worse.

He highlights a group out of Wisconsin, Epic, and their CEO Judith Faulker, who was a major donor to Obama's administration, and was given a position on the "health IT counsel". She was the only private sector person on it. Thanks to legislation passed, 

Her company Epic, who specializes in digital medical records, as Gurley explains, was able to to literally buy off doctors and hospitals for $44,000 each in exchange for them buying Epic's software for their offices and record keeping. Then they paid them $17,000 more (per doctor) months later for giving testimonials on how great the software was. They even got the Department of Justice to get involved and drop massive fines on hospitals and doctors who weren't using Epic's software. 

Giphy Images.

In Obama's defense, he later stated (multiple times) that this was the thing he was most disappointed in occurring with "Obamacare".


I think the most damning thing, albeit the most simple, that he talks about in the entire presentation, is just how bad of a scam the whole "Rapid Covid Antigen Tests" thing was that we were all subjected to during the pandemic.

He points out how the technology used for these tests is far from revolutionary. It was invented 80 years ago back in 1943 and is a basic commodity, still used today because it's simple, cheap, and effective.

He pointed out before explaining what occurred in the United States, how countries in Europe, like Germany, rounded up their smartest scientists, and tested out 122 different vendors' products. They validated and verified 96 of them!

As a result, you could buy 5 of these tests for $3.75. 

In Britain, they did such a good job and lowered the price so low that they were given out to people free of charge.


But in the United States, as we all know too well, things were totally different.

First off, they resisted allowing Rapid Tests because hospitals were making so much off of the PCR tests. 

The NYT ran a piece on which companies were "ramping up" production of rapid tests and it was far from shocking

Gurley goes on to point out how this guy, Timothy Stenzel, worked for the FDA and was in charge of reviewing the proposed antigen tests from the various healthcare companies- Abbot and Quidel among them.

(You already know where this going)

Where did Stenzel work before landing a job at the FDA?

Well, none other than at Abbot and Quidel of course.

He continues by rehashing how the Biden administration eventually leaned in to the antigen tests, and allocated $2 BILLION dollars towards purchasing them for the American public. Gurley points out how he could have just went to Germany and bought them from them for .75 cents a pop, but instead Stenzel's boys at Abbot landed the government deal, and how fixed pricing was implanted across the board to fuck us, the public, in the ass.


The definition of a racket.

If you haven't stopped reading this blog and started watching the video by now I don't know how. 

Gurley later shifts to talking about the tech space and artificial intelligence, AI, in particular. 

He points out that capitalism isn't necessarily "broken", it's just severely influenced by regulatory capture, to the point things are upside down. I mean look at this fucking data-

He's worried about how the big companies in AI are trying to influence the government to make rules that serve their interests, especially against open-source AI – that's when the AI tech is openly available for anyone to use and improve.

Elon Musk, who helped start OpenAI, is even like, “Hey, this isn't what I wanted. It's supposed to be open, but now it's all about profit and controlled by Microsoft.” And the OpenAI guys are like, “Yeah, we thought about it, and making our AI tech open to everyone might be risky and not a great idea.”


At the end of his talk, Gurley says, “Innovation is key to prosperity, so if we kill innovation with all these rules, we're basically shooting ourselves in the foot.” He wants more transparency in government, especially about where political donations come from. 

So, basically, it's about how big businesses and government regulations can stifle innovation, especially in tech and AI, and how this guy thinks things should be more open and transparent, and I couldn't agree more.

He ends by explaining why he titled his talk "2,851 Miles" and says "because that's how far it is between Silicon Valley and Washington D.C., and the reason Silicon Valley has been so successful is because it's so fucking far from Washington."

Giphy Images.

We really are the biggest suckers.