Why I'm Taking Time Away From School

"There's nothing so damaging to one's sense of self-being as watching a friend get rich"

2017 was the year of cryptocurrencies. To say that there is irrational exuberance surrounding this new technology is an understatement. Stories of people making 10x, 100x and even 1000x their money surfaced to the mainstream media and incited FOMO.

Cryptocurrencies look very much like a Ponzi scheme on the outside. I, like many others, was initially drawn to it through the promise of steep returns on my money. Fortunately, I dug deeper and discovered that blockchains enabled more than just a speculative asset — they represented an entirely new way of governing humans. It was a cross-disciplinary haven which combined economics, game theory, computer science, mathematics and government. I believe that anyone remotely intellectually curious would become enamored. I knew this could be the biggest shift in society that I would ever witness in my lifetime, and I knew that I would spend at least the next 10 years working in this field.

Consequently, I was offered an position at Numerai, where I would have the opportunity to work on both cryptocurrencies as well as machine learning — arguably the two most important fields in the next decade. I was also interviewing with Basecoin, a price-stable cryptocurrency. Where Bitcoin was gunning to become the Gold 2.0, Basecoin could become the USD of the cryptocurrency world through their brilliant algorithmic central-bank. Eventually, I ended up going with Numerai before Basecoin could give me a final offer.

When I finally broached this topic to my parents and friends, there were concerns about how risky this move was. My schooling would be disrupted. I would graduate late. I would be behind my peers. These were are risks I was supposedly assuming.

However, this was so blatantly wrong from my perspective. The real risk here was the opportunity cost of missing out on the greatest shifts in humanity since the Internet. Putting my head in the books for the next 2.5 years may cause the entire cryptocurrency wave to sweep right across my head. I may miss the largest opportunity I will ever have to leave a damn dent in this universe because I wanted to graduate on time. Yes, there are risks associated with leaving school, but the risks of not doing it is a million times larger.

This is why I am here, in San Francisco instead of Ithaca — where my real education begins.