They say you should never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket, and Naval has mastered the art of creating his own happiness. Like pressure makes diamonds, Naval Ravikant opines that for anything great to be achieved, the beginning must be challenging. He speaks from his difficult experience, both growing up and trying to become an entrepreneur, but his efforts have ensured he is now a millionaire. So, how did Naval Ravikant’s net worth get to $60 million? Here is the story of a man who describes himself as a rat in a race, and who once the most-hated in the Silicon Valley.
Books and love set the pace for his success
If Naval were asked, talking about his childhood experience would not be part of his interview. Still, when Killing Buddha asked him to share his experience, he readily acknowledged the influence his mother played in his current prosperity. The entrepreneurs said that although times were tough in his home, his mother ensured they never lacked love. With her being a single mother to two boys, she had to juggle jobs, school, and parenting. Naval revealed that her unconditional love helped build his self-esteem, especially when the family moved to the US, where he did not know anyone.
Luckily, he did not become rebellious but instead found refuge in books, and when he looks back, he thinks that the tough times molded him into the successful investor he has become. He admits that buying a book never an expense but an investment instead. Therefore, every book he has read that was not assigned to him in class is a worthwhile investment, and to him, cultivating a reading culture is a superpower. According to Medium, he confessed that although he reads for at least an hour each day, the habit alone accounts for any material success and intelligence he has today. That does not mean he did not pay attention to his classwork- he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Dartmouth College.
Becoming Silicon Valley’s “radioactive mud”
After college and getting to Silicon Valley, where he worked for a few companies, Naval decided to start a consumer review site, Epinions, in 1999, which he co-founded with Tolia. Unfortunately, in 2003, the site was acquired by Dealtime, thanks to misleading information that Epinions was not heading in the right direction. As per the suit that Naval and former employees filed, before the acquisition, they were presented with false information regarding Epinions’ financial status and material information about how the shareholders would be compensated after the merger was omitted. Using the incorrect information to make informed decisions, Naval and other plaintiffs gave up their stake in the company for nothing. The truth of the matter is that the company had a very bright future having sealed an agreement with Google worth $12 million to see its profits and revenue increase significantly.
That lawsuit alone, which was settled in 2005 for an undisclosed amount, earned Naval the nickname “radioactive mud” since he had opened up an avenue for venture capitalists to be sued, a rare occurrence in Silicon Valley that likes to air its dirty laundry in secret. However, for Naval, that incident opened his eyes to the theatrics that can be involved in fundraising, and he became more knowledgeable about the mechanics behind the scenes. He started a blog to educate the public on details surrounding venture capitalism and what to look out for when choosing a co-founder.
However, readers became interested in wanting to get funding than advice in venture capitalism. By 2009, he and the co-author of Venture Hacks created a list of 25 investors hoping to share with them startups that would interest them. He still confessed that the decision was against him since, as an investor, he would have prioritized getting such sweet deals for himself before inviting other parties to partake of the pie. All the same, as he told Fast Company, he considered himself more of an entrepreneur than an investor
The failure of The Hit Forge Incubator
Naval disclosed that he was struck by ADD in the sense that he wanted to be involved in many projects as possible. He was further interested in companies during their startup stage. Hence, hoping to start an incubator fund and realizing that in Silicon Valley, the operators are the ones who get paid, Naval got 20 entrepreneurs to start an incubator.
Unfortunately, none of the companies he approached was interested in joining his incubator; they preferred Y Combinator. Naval remembers that he pursued DropBox’s CEO, who also did not give him a chance. However, after holding on to the incubator for so long, Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder, convinced him that the idea was not going anywhere, and it was much better to become an investor. It dawned on him that those he sought to join incubator were accomplished people who did not need him, but he could be involved by investing his own money.
The founding of AngelList
However, his interest in investing in startups proved inefficient because all it took was five minutes to decide if he would invest in the startup. Unfortunately, out of being courteous, he continued listening to entrepreneurs pitch for another 55 minutes making the process ineffective. Luckily by February 2010, the list of 25 investors had doubled prompting Naval to announce that he had started AngelList since the prospective investors were willing to stake $8 million in startups. With AngelList, connecting investors and entrepreneurs was much more efficient.
Today AngelList boasts of assets worth billions of dollars as Naval has continued to invest in startups and expanded even to India through syndicates. The platform maintains strict criteria; those interested in investing in it should have an income of $200,000 or more in a year or a net worth of at least $1 million. The platform made money by listing companies and taking a percentage of their equity. Consequently, by being the CEO of a company worth billions and with multiple investments, it makes sense that Naval has managed to accumulate $600 million in net worth, an amount bound to grow through his commitment to improving his portfolio.