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Ask HN: 8 figure parents
16 points by pinnbert on Jan 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments
I'm an only child with 8 figure net worth aging parents. Even if they die, I'm tied to trusts that give me money slowly. What can I do to make my life interesting? I'm very technical and interested in AI, but don't have the drive to be an entrepreneur myself.

Why not just ignore the money and work like anyone else (not being sarcastic, being serious). You'll have resources if it all causes problems, or to modulate around the edges (pay cash for your home, take slightly nicer vacations than you and your spouse might otherwise have done, have a full time nanny when the kids are small).

I've sold some companies here in the Valley and I've noticed that the most fun people to hang out with do the same old stuff as everyone else (scout troops, poker, skiing, writing code, etc). If you're biking with your buddies does it matter how much money any of you have? If you have kids they'll be easier to raise and will themselves have more fun if they're just like their classmates. Even at Paly (Palo Alto High School) there's a mix of kids whose families have little (yes, even some getting food stamps) and kids whose parents have private jets. Don't you want your kids to have the maximum set of possible friends? If you live it, they will too.

I sent my kid to private school (for certain specific reasons) and the worse part of selecting a school was finding one without the snotty factor.

Take this chance, take some risks that others cannot. You'll make great friends in the process and equally formidable enemies. There are a lot of real problems to be solved like housing, food, transportation, fighting exploitation, building things cheaper, etc. These don't need a lot of innovation that isn't there already. They need slightly deeper pockets ( that you have ) and a lot of courage that is derived from purpose (which you will find as you get out). As long as money isn't your sole and immediate purpose, there's a lot that you can do.

I'm having trouble seeing how your parents' net worth is relevant here. If you're interested in AI, you get a job with an AI company or you study AI in school, same as anybody else.

I'm guessing that none of that sounds appealing, though, or you'd already be doing it / wouldn't be asking this question. My guess is you're kind of like me - because you're in a good place economically, you don't have a lot of tolerance for the hard and boring grunt work that goes into intensive study or challenging jobs, and because of that you're not going to be able to achieve something awesome.

The solution is to find the thing you love to do so much, it makes the hard and boring grunt work pleasurable. That thing probably isn't AI, since you've got a MSc in Computer Science - if your thing really was AI, you'd just be off doing it. So if I were you, I'd free up as much time as possible and then use that time to experiment widely. Get an easy job or some unstructured academic thing to keep your parents happy and then explore whatever catches your eye. When you find the right thing, I suspect you'll know it.

I know lots of people in this situation, including more than a few with "10 figure" parents, and the happiest ones are those who choose to ignore the money and live a normal life. They might live in nicer apartments, but for the most part they get the same jobs as their peers and go down the same career path. If they didn't do that I imagine it could become quite isolating.

If that doesn't interest you, you could start a company or go to school. You don't have the same pressure to make money that many recent grads do, because you have a big safety net if you fail. So the risk/reward ratio is higher for you in startup land.

I don't see why rich parents should change your behavior. Don't you want to be successful on your own? Or do you just want to wait for an inheritance (read: wait for both of your parents to die)?

What would your parents think if they read this post?

Well I know a mid 8 figure only-child family, but don't know or lie about knowing "10 figure parents".

I'm working and getting a $28k bonus for evading the gift tax--that's fine for now. My parents would know about that part. I have the pressure to present any business ideas to my parents, or even the trustee. Video games frankly seem tempting.

Don't be that rich sucker that jumps into a business sector he knows little about and either wastes enormous amounts of money or is taken for a ride by some cynical people. In the end, you'll probably lose the money and may end up being a local laughing stock ("- Remember that guy who knew nothing about video game development and yet thought it's a good idea to pour a couple millions into idea X? - Yeah, we made a killing off him too!").

IMO the smart thing to do would be to be cautious about choosing your industry (that's assuming you want to be entrepreneur, which may change with time). Video games development is definitely not for the faint of heart (i.e. when you're starting out, to turn a profit you need to be either very very good AND lucky or just plain super-lucky), so I'd suggest spending some time in the industry as an employee first to assess whether you like what you're getting into. This has the benefit of being exposed to a lot of things, so, in the end, even if you come to conclusion that you don't want to start a game dev company, you might figure that you really liked what programmers|artists|musicians|managers|marketers did in that company and choose it as your next pursuit. Life is a journey really and it's best to treat it as such from the start.

There is a wide gap between making games, and enjoying them.

Once they're reduced to nuts and bolts and hard work, they become much less interesting.

Likely true, although I was referring to playing them.

It sounds like you're pretty young, so I definitely don't think you should consider retiring, or even travelling the world, just yet. Let me tell you why.

I grew up in a very affluent area in Stockholm, and although my parents were far from 8 figures, we had it very comfortable. My parents were extremely strict about not spoiling us, so we got nothing for free. When I was around 15 or so however, my grandmother gave us a tiny inheritance so she could spend the rest of her money backpacking with a good conscience. Anyway, that very small amount of money meant that I could take long breaks from university to travel the world, live in Shaolin, China etc, and I definitely didn't have any financial motivation to work hard and finish university quickly.

I did have some great experiences, but I ended up never finishing my degree, despite also being very technical and finding university extremely easy. It hasn't been a problem for my career, but it has stopped me from pursuing other goals, such as getting a PhD.

What I'm trying to say is, very few people can handle being even slightly free from economic constraints without becoming idle, and as nice as idleness may sound, it's really harmful in the long run. If you're anything like me, you'll regret it.

I think the best thing you can do is to get a degree, not because you need it but because learning is interesting. If you're past that stage in your life, join a startup (such as ours, kitex.tech), your financial freedom means you don't have to get a second job, you'll be a great addition to any team.

If you really feel the urge, take a year to travel, but be disciplined about it. But in my experience, travelling, like anything, is much more rewarding when there's a goal. Better work with something that involves travelling to exotic locations, than bum around as a directionless backbacker.

Imagine how good it would feel to be able to say to your parents:

"It's been really nice to know I'd be taken care of if things didn't work out, but as it turns out I don't think I'm going to end up needing anything from you guys. Is it too late to restructure things so that any inheritance skips me and goes straight into a trust for the grandchildren?"

That's a realistic position that you can get yourself into (it just happens that the rest of us need to get there). Having the inheritance as a safety net will actually make it a bit easier, since you'll be able to take a few more risks, career-wise, or even do some of that entrepreneuring that you don't seem interested in.

But I think you'll be surprised what it does to your feeling of self worth to know that you actually accomplished something on your own, rather than just waiting for a trust to mature.

Buy the Winchester Mystery House and start extending it. The haunted house space is ripe for disruption. Eventually, sell the whole thing to Google as their newest campus. Then join the board of YC and spend the rest of your days funding apps that let people send the word "yo" to each other.

Graduate school is wonderful, and AI departments are looking for students. Grad school made for some of the best years of my life. Eventually you have to crank out a thesis, but the journey is very rewarding.

Already have MS computer engineering.

So get a doctorate. You could even afford to avoid TAing classes, since you don't need the money.

will consider.

I'd recommend taking a look at projects such as 80,000 hours - from their site "Make the right career choices, and you can help solve the world’s most pressing problems, as well as have a more rewarding, interesting life."


Somewhere there's the intersection of: (a) what you want to do - i.e. your interests & 'passions', (b) your skillset, or potential to learn a skillset (c) worthwhile problem to work on (d) something that will financially support you; but this is not a concern in your case (e) something that provides you with dignity, purpose and meaning in life

I like the idea that it's an optimisation problem, to seek something which achieves these criteria and maximises beneficial impact to society.

Down the track, I'd buy a place on http://aboardtheworld.com/ and just network with others of your ilk. They'll have faced the same challenges and could offer some good advice I'd suspect.

Otherwise, what are you interested in beyond AI? I see AI as interesting, but a means to an end. Gardening, for instance, interests me. I would look at ways of improving crop yield, rehab'ing land etc (perhaps naively), or anything with a quantifiable goal. The current wealth imbalance of the world interests me, I'd research ways of coming to terms with that or fixing it :p

neat link.

If you don't have to worry about finances and you have the ability to take time off for yourself, you could always travel the world and meet new people, explore new cultures. You might end up inadvertently being exposed to something that you become passionate about. In the worst case scenario, you'll probably get to experience some incredibly beautiful places.

How do you feel about charitable work? Is it something that would give you satisfaction? And do you enjoy working with people? I always imagine how great it would be to have money and be able to make small loans/donations to entrepreneurs just starting out. I think I would find it equally satisfying to providing funding for small businesses as much as the next world changing startup.

Do you have some hobby you really enjoy? Maybe you could start a small business involved in that as a sort of side job, without the pressure or drive needed to launch a full time business.

Slightly off topic, but I couldn't even imagine what I would do with that amount of money. I remember when I first started making $35k-$40k here in LA, not exactly a low COL area, and I had more money than I knew what to do with.

In my case, I'd need to convince my parents or trustee to start loaning out the money. I suppose that makes it a loan or angel arrangement over a donation. True about small businesses. My dad's mainly into apartments, commercial real estate, and housing on long term (rented) basis. Myself I work as a programmer in a small business. More to life than the BIG FOUR or whoever wants to become the fifth.

Go around the world in 160 days, spending as less as possible, always using the cheapest way of transport. You'll figure it out before you get home. Meet people, talk to them, take some risks, live in the moment.

ps. Don't try to be an entrepreneur, to be yourself, just figure what you want now what is cool. You're the one that gives purpose to a cause/item/person.

>aging parents. Even if they die

When they die. May I suggest you make the most out of the time they have left and enjoy them while they're still alive. The pursuit of income is one of the main reasons separating families and you don't have that problem. You can learn whatever you want to because you don't have the constraints 99% of people have. You are alive and they are now. Cherish these moments for they are never coming back. Ever.

I'm not being patronizing and I'm doing a whole lot of projecting here. I wish I knew my parents better. They are still alive, but I wish I had spent more time with them. Something I am trying to correct.

"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone."


We would love to have you look into joining our project.

We work from Oregon and Maryland. Currently we are a team of 2.


Interesting. I'm aware of angel investing, and appreciate that low investments can single-handedly push a concept forward.

Project does not need funding, but could use another motivated technical person. Work on whatever you enjoy. Email is in my profile and on website.

What are you passionate about? Do that.

The advantage the money gives you is an ability to fail. You can follow your passion, fall flat on your face, and yet still have stability in your life. So shoot for the moon.

If you follow this route you will meet fellow travelers who are passionate about the same thing. Help them out. Encourage them. Find a way to extend that stability into their lives.

Join our startup and work in the AI team! (Assuming you would be able to pass our interview process)

We won't pay you as you don't need the cash but your life would definitely be interesting and you would do exciting work.

Like everyone else in the same boat (having both the awareness to ask and enough money to do something about it)... you spend the rest of your life trying to answer this question.

Good luck.

Do volunteer charity software development work for some worthy cause.

Might be something to do if they die.

I'd say forget about the money just live a normal low-stress comfortable life doing what you enjoy.

Thanks--everyone. I don't vote here, but appreciate the thoughts.

^ Neal Khosla.

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