Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
RxBar co-founder Peter Rahal on life after becoming a millionaire (marker.medium.com)
264 points by neha_t 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 180 comments



I don't like articles like this for two reasons: (1) they trivialize actually building a company, growing it, and selling it, and (2), they provide comfort for those that don't have the drive/luck/privilege of getting there by arguing that "hey, money doesn't make you happy!"

First of all, as others mention in the thread, this is hardly an example of an "overnight success" -- there are no such examples, barring a few extreme outliers. Not only do the great majority of startups fail, the great majority of successes grind for years and years before seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It's not like some dream-land utopia. If you're like me (and I think most HN'ers are), you continue building stuff in spite of the overwhelming odds. That's the real lesson here. Trying, failing, trying, failing, and doing this over and over, even though expecting a different outcome is technically insanity.

Secondly, the adage of "money doesn't bring happiness" is obvious to anyone that's not young or incredibly naive. We get it -- money is not the end-all of life (duh). But at the same time, can we not kid ourselves? Money makes life much easier than the alternative. Anyone that grew up poor and achieved some modicum of success (I grew up in essential poverty in a third world country; now I make a "modest" six figure salary and live in Los Angeles) realizes this. I'm reminded of a (2008 crash) documentary I saw years ago where a banker says: "I grew up poor, and now I'm rich; trust me, I'd rather be rich."


Agreed. I also grew up poor and now live comfortably. Having my own place with no roommates (or mentally ill family members screaming at me) brings me a lot of peace. Being able to just uber somewhere when I have an appointment but feel too tired to take public transit for 45 minutes makes my life easier. There are a lot of problems in life that you can make disappear (or simplify a lot) by throwing a little money at them. You can remove a lot of stress factors. Money gives you more freedom to choose what you want your life to be like.

The flipside is that I know very well that, if I'm in an anxious mindset, my brain will find things to worry and be unhappy about. I know being a multi-millionaire wouldn't bring me bliss, but... Being able to work on my own projects, as much as I want, whenever I want. That would be fucking awesome.


The most precious thing money can buy is freedom. Any more money than that and it can become a burden. The tricky part is the sweet spot, you have to find it, be aware of it. Ah, and yes, just where that spot is so depends on everything that it won't be the same for more than one person.


Essentially, money is freedom. It's a wonderful, marvelous experience when you can suddenly turn your problems into expenses.


I recall reading that sweet spot is around $150,000 per person.


I often hear the “money isn’t everything” platitude from people who already have it. It’s gatekeeping.

See also: “You don’t REALLY want to be promoted like I was—it’s so much more stress and work. You should be happy as an individual contributor!”


I like to say, money can't buy happiness, but it can keep at bay a whole lot of the kind of grief and worrying that comes with just scraping by.



Thanks for digging this up!


It's also embarrassment at success, rather than deliberate gatekeeping. It holds a lot of people back, too...


The bit about being promoted - I said that. And then after a couple years I quit and went back to being an individual contributor... management is not for everyone.

EDIT: Maybe I should say, not every promotion is a positive step...


"management isn't really a promotion" from people who went into management and saw their responsibility (and compensation) very quickly outpace the people stayed as corporate code monkeys.


This 100%. I also grew up poor and having a certain amount of money alleviates a ton of problems and people don’t realize how taxing day to day survival can be in the modern economy with not enough. It is pure survival mode until you reach a threshold.


I don't really get your point. First of all, this isn't an "article." It's a story about one founder and one company. It's not supposed to be a middle-of-the-road case study on building startups.

Nowhere in the story does he suggest that being poor would be better than being rich or that having financial security isn't objectively better than the opposite. He's basically saying that the downside of his wealth is living a life without purpose because he can afford to do nothing all day, and how he misses the feeling of having a purpose to wake up to.

Even if you aren't extremely rich, I think most people can relate to that feeling. The reason why the story resonates is because it's a reminder that money does not buy purpose more than anything else.


> First of all, this isn't an "article." It's a story about...

I hate to be pedantic, but "article" and "story" are synonyms.

> The reason why the story resonates is because it's a reminder that money does not buy purpose more than anything else.

I think it resonates purely because it's a "human" story but, again, I really don't think anyone seriously thinks money brings happiness or purpose. Essentially, the story argues against a manufactured strawman. What the story does, imo, is minimize the hard work that went into his million-dollar venture while at the same time hinting that his small fortune might actually be a detriment, not a boon.


I mean, you criticized a human interest story for not being something like a business school case study for how to build startups. My counterpoint was that human interest stories aren't meant to do that.

> I really don't think anyone seriously thinks money brings happiness or purpose.

I was commenting on the purpose piece of the message not happiness, and no if this was another "money didn't bring me happiness" piece I don't think it would have resonated as much as it did. Maybe we've all finally learned that above a certain threshold of wealth you won't be any happier, but to see a man feeling a bit lost without purpose despite creating so much wealth for himself (and not having inherited it) is surprising, which is why this is resonating.

Even Naval said a few weeks ago "Money does buy happiness, if you earned it," which is clearly not really true in this case. He missed the fact that money can actually remove purpose from your life, whether it was earned or not.

Source: https://twitter.com/naval/status/1165866280181628928?lang=en


> My counterpoint was that human interest stories aren't meant to do that.

That's a fair point, maybe I'm looking at it from too much of a "startup-y" perspective.


I agree with your gist here, but once upon a time I was drinking beer in SF with a guy who was among the first dozen or so engineers at YouTube. He was a multimillionaire because he happened to be doing more or less the same thing I had been doing at about the same time, getting paid about the same, not shouldering any particular risk -- but he happened to be doing it at a company that Google bought. That really made me think.

While this might not be the case for the author here, I think in the startup scene (and thus for the HN audience) it's not all that uncommon for people to go from "very well paid engineer" to "FU Money" overnight and for reasons not related to their actual engineering prowess or effort.


>(2), they provide comfort for those that don't have the drive/luck/privilege of getting there by arguing that "hey, money doesn't make you happy!"

That's not too far off.

First, beyond a certain point (more easily achievable than a $600 million exit), money really don't make you more happy.

Second, it's not like building such a company or performing some great achievement (whether sports, arts, science) is some necessary part of being a human, and those that didn't or don't "have the drive/luck/privilege of getting there" are failures.

>But at the same time, can we not kid ourselves? Money makes life much easier than the alternative.

Which is neither here, nor there, regarding such cases as in the article. You don't hundreds or even tens of millions for that. A million or a couple millions are more than enough.

>I'm reminded of a (2008 crash) documentary I saw years ago where a banker says: "I grew up poor, and now I'm rich; trust me, I'd rather be rich."

Perhaps this is more of a preoccupation/conditioning/fear for those that grew up poor / much poorer? Or rather, for some of those?

If one is brought up in comfortable middle class / upper middle class, they can be quite satisfied with much less material success and without some huge financial fallout like in TFA.

Somebody who had lived through poverty though, might develop some need to overcompensate in excess.


I agree that if I read the article the way you did, I would find it condescending. I think part of what makes the article interesting is an implied counter-argument to this point you made:

"If you're like me (and I think most HN'ers are), you continue building stuff in spite of the overwhelming odds. That's the real lesson here. Trying, failing, trying, failing, and doing this over and over, even though expecting a different outcome is technically insanity."

So you are doing it, perhaps, for the sheer pleasure and joy of building, experimenting and using your mind.

If that is the case, then when you actually make the payday, the article argues you may be robbed of this in the future. In the article, the entrepreneur lost his motivation because it seemed pointless to struggle and build after the payout.

Its not just that money didn't make him happy, but that it reduced the prior satisfaction he had in building.

Note that this is not inevitable. We know of entrepreneurs (Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Musk etc) who continue to work very hard after they have become wealthy.


Yes. And this isn't really "overnight". Overnight millionaires are those who win the lottery or a TV show. That tends to vanish quickly. This guy built a business, the very opposite of overnight.


"Money doesn't bring happiness" is upper class shorthand for "incomes above six figures in the US don't provide significant marginal benefits in terms of personal satisfaction and overall happiness".

Money is obviously pretty great to have. The point of the cliche is to caution people about making too many sacrifices to chase millions.


I think if happiness was a function of money, then it would very much look like the sigmoid / logistic function. You have a linear region where there's a very dramatic relationship between money and happiness (a $100k salary makes life so much easier than a $30k salary), but there's very small difference at the different ends...a $5k salary will not improve your life much over a $500 salary, even though there's an order of a magnitude in difference - just in the same way that $50MM won't make you much happier than $500MM.

And this is something I feel is important, because people tend to compare extremes. It's always poor vs rich


All the research I’ve seen basically points at happiness having a fairly straightforward logarithmic relationship to wealth.

So it’s not true to say “money doesn’t make you happier”, it just gets you less marginal happiness per increment of income (research on wealth is less clear, but wealth can be converted to an income stream).


I agree with your premise on the higher end but a $500 and $5000 salary are dramatically different. You won’t go hungry on 5k if you are frugal while $500 could kill you.


I'd imagine that people in most western countries on either salaries would also receive some kind of welfare benefits to supplement those kinds of low salaries.


I really dislike that the saying is "money doesn't buy happiness." In German it is much more sensible: "Money alone doesn't make you happy." Which emphasizes the role of money as part of the formula.


"Geld allein macht nicht glücklich", (for the curious). Aber, es hilft sehr ;)


"They say money doesn't buy happiness. It buys a jet-ski. Have you ever seen someone frown on a jet-ski?"

-Daniel Tosh


Spot on. People also don't realize that spending money effectively is a skill. $1000 bottles of champagne are for those that lack creativity with how to deploy their capital. Those of us who practice conscious spending can derive significant joy from money.


Out of curiosity, can you give some examples of spending money effectively?


Nice property, investing in an interesting and potentially business venture, buying $1000 fundraising tables with local politicians, buying an artist you like who has potential to become collectable, buying a car and learning how to maintain it, home or garden upgrades, a degree in something you are interested in, .

Happy to help you spend your hard earned dollars ;)


Healthy delicious food, investing in one’s community, subsidizing ethical sourcing of materials, local craftsmanship, business opportunities that create value for others, education, unique life experiences

>Money makes life much easier than the alternative.

I don't think that's true. If it were, you wouldn't see these companies fundraising 9+ figures and then still failing to turn a profit and crashing and burning. It didn't make anything easier for them. If anything, it made it harder because the management got overconfident.


Makes life easier for you personally after an exit / liquidity event.

Not related to funding of a company, that's a whole different ball game.


Net assets, and net income, make life happier for companies.

What you describe is cash flow, which is often necessary, but not really analogous.

It’s like saying “access to low interest rate 30 year mortgages makes life happy”, which might be true if you’re looking for a mortgage, but isn’t really generally applicable.


Thats not at all how any of the mechanism you're talking about works. The alternative OP speaks of is having no money. Everything gets more difficult if you lack any of this resource.


That also isn't true as long as you retain the ability to obtain money. Or just have rich friends you can mooch off of. Either one of those seem to work for a lot of people.

Now if nobody around you has any money, that might be an indication of a serious problem, but still in that case a little bit of economic knowledge can go a long way.


> retain the ability to obtain money

Still not the same as having no money.


I really don't know what you want me to say. If the problem actually is "no money" then there are many solutions to that. Whether you find them acceptable is a different story. But my point is that often that really isn't the core of the problem.


The story holds it's own, and doesn't really need the "Overnight Millionaire" click bait.

Also,

> He and a buddy from elementary school started RxBar in 2012... By the time RxBar became a business with revenues north of $100 million, with virtually no outside investment, Rahal was grinding at it from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m daily.

This is anything but "overnight". Reminds me of the "overnight success" quotes in many forms, but recently from Shopify founder.

> It took about 10 years' time for Shopify to be an overnight success. - Tobias Lutke


He went from nothing to $600M in 5 years. It isn't "technically" overnight but 5 years is not that long.

And the 7-10 grind was probably only true of year 0-1. RxBar got a lot of traction well before they were sold, and so to believe he was grinding for the entire 5 years in the same way he was in the basement when they first started is a bit naive.

Worse than "overnight millionaire" porn is "hustle" porn. The truth is for businesses that are fortunate to find product market fit the market carries you more than anything you've personally done.


This shouldn't be overlooked either:

"son of Lebanese American parents whose families were both in the juice business. His father’s family supplied ingredients, his mother’s sold consumer juice brands, and they met at the funeral of an industry executive. His father worked in the family juice business, too, and Rahal shaped himself after his father’s work ethic"

Upbringing and a significant degree of business and industry "in" couldn't have hurt. Nobody exists in a vacuum and I'm not saying this to take away from individual merit, but it often takes more than just hard work and talent to succeed like that.


Nice catch. It doesn’t totally invalidate the “self made” narrative but puts it in perspective. A lot of EntrepreneurPorn glosses over the entrepreneur’s pre-existing family wealth and connections and other advantages they started the game with.


> "RxBar got a lot of traction well before they were sold, and so to believe he was grinding for the entire 5 years in the same way he was in the basement when they first started is a bit naive"

I would have the opposite perception. That it is naive of your part assuming that once a business gets good traction that its founders start working less hours.


If they kept working the same hours as when they just start up then it's because they want to and not because they need to. Your sales figures once you achieve product market fit is not a function of how many hours you can work in a day.


Success is not a binary. It is relatively easy to build a small team that functions well. When you try to scale, it gets exponentially harder. This is why there are few successful startups, fewer successful scale ups, and even fewer unicorn success stories. This shit is hard and requires more investment from more people over time, not less.


I don't know what area of sales you've worked in, but that absolutely doesn't hold in many industries. Founders need to keep promoting the product, feeding the pipeline, aligning the employees on strategy, etc.


>> RxBar got a lot of traction well before they were sold

And I'm not entirely sure why. The product is barely edible, and I'm pretty sure it's terrible for one's health, contrary to being marketed as a health food. This much sugar can't be good for you no matter what else you add. Seems like blind luck to me.


Obviously "barely edible" is subjective; I like many, although not all, of the flavors I've tried. Beyond that, RxBars are high in fiber -- something a lot of American diets are pretty low in -- and high in protein. Its fat is mostly unsaturated. And while it's certainly not low sugar, it has no added sugar -- the sugar in them comes from fruit, mostly dates.

So, no, they're probably not "health food," but they're no worse than much of their ostensible competition and arguably better than many, some of which are way closer to Snickers bars than RxBars.


Well, they sold at the exact right time just as the Keto diet trend gained mass appeal.

Free startup idea: the market is lacking an edible Keto bar. There are some but no break out success yet. Instant unicorn (no joke) if you can get it right.


Keto? Their bars have 22-24g of carbs in a 52g bar. 12g of that is sugar, but still. Keto would be right out of the window after a couple of these.


Ha, I know. I said they sold in 2017 right as the keto trend was taking off in the mainstream, not that the bars are keto.

I'm saying there is a unicorn in developing a bar that is keto-friendly. There are a few I've tried, but nothing good yet and nothing that has hit it out of the park like RxBar did in its day.


I believe Land-O-Lakes, Plugra, and Kerrygold have all been making keto bars for decades. They just need to rebrand a bit


Hang on though, you can be not an overnight success and still an overnight millionaire (even ignoring the pedantic 'at some point you tick into the 7th figure') - you can certainly spend years living off beans on toast while you work hard at building something that you then suddenly sell (at least a piece of) for >1M. The success took years, but the money came quickly.


I did not expect to read the whole thing through but I guess I just did.

It's fascinating the inner struggle of someone so successful yet who still feels the need to find something bigger to accomplish, a higher mountain to climb.

I feel for him, since life is not easy for most of us and he purposefully tries to make it harder for him. But I also think, that the meaning he so desperately wants can come from other things than just building bigger companies with bigger stakes. There's always a bigger stage play, a bigger house to build or company to create.

For me art is quite enjoyable, as there are no specific limits to your proficiency or rules to play by (well there are some very good guidelines). It just is what it is to amuse you, make the time go a little faster and perhaps amuse other people too. Or friends, children and family in general, relationships that aren't bound by status or money but by mutual enjoyment of each other's company.

Maybe what Peter needs to do is just go away for a while and travel the world, and find out what it actually means to be human in broader sense. Just put everything on hold and go somewhere, with a fake name if you must and just hang out with random people and experience their reality for a while. It isn't the end-goal to have "made something" but the trip to get there, even if it sounds like a cliche. I'm sure he could too find something satisfying that isn't just building companies. Or maybe I'm wrong, as I've never met the guy and don't know him personally. And building a more meaningful and successful company must sound like fun too. It's just that is not all that there is.


That is what makes ambitious people successful. They always want more and never stop wanting more.

Those who are content with settling don't have the drive to make it.


I think HK Rowling is a solid counter to that argument. Success is far more about leverage than drive. Drive is still extremely useful, just not the root cause for success.


Two points perhaps worth considering:

1) Defining "success" as "made a ton of money" is reductive and probably not very useful

2) Many (most?) successful people are ambitious, but lots of ambitious people do not succeed, at least by their own standards


Writing novels while you're dirt poor and riding a train to your low paying job does not count as "drive"?

I would love to hear your definition of "drive" then.


By her own words she took five years to write the first book, but mostly wrote it while unemployed at coffee shops. Ignoring her later success, most unemployed people sitting around coffee shops writing are considered to have low drive.

I mean if you think she qualifies that’s fine, but kind of lowers the bar to irrelevance.


There's writing aimlessly, and then there's successfully writing a coherent book. The latter is very difficult.

> That is what makes ambitious people successful.

No, that's the myth sold to you.

If hard work made you successful some guy who busted his ass for 50 years would be president instead of a dude who was born obscenely wealthy.


Peter is clearly not the type who can travel for fun or really enjoy it the way most people do. He has no "off" switch. I would guess if you spent any real time with him he'd probably come across as fairly abnormal.


Just means you are responsible for deploying more liquid capital into productive assets. Have fun finding those. If you are creative and a builder, the people who made you what you are were the ones who told you "no," and now there are a lot fewer of those once they think you have money.

Barring a few quality of life things and some freedom, the rest is just symbols and artifacts.

That bit about finding a woman who will love him for who he is inside and not for his money is silly. In case he hasn't noticed, who he is inside is also now richer than croesus as well.

Very simply, the money event was a huge recent peak experience that totally re-based his identity, and until he either recognizes it again as external, or accumulates newer more intense experiences to offset it, he's going to struggle with accepting it and finding a personal equilibrium again. If he wants a partner to validate that he is more than his money, he's starting from a dangerously flawed premise. If he takes responsibility for himself and his identity and doesn't outsource his self worth to a partner/family, he'll be fine.

Otherwise, he should just put up a dating profile that says, "millionaire seeks emotional hostage for codependent death spiral." I'm a fan of Epictetus on that one, who essentially rephrases it so that things are not yours, they are things you relate to. e.g. the family I have, support, love etc, instead of "my family." It's not "my money," because it's not essential to who he is, it's "the money I have."

I'd say if he's looking for someone to complete and validate his essential idea of himself "without the money," he doesn't have a sufficiently complete sense of self yet to share. He'll probably be cooler after 40.

Anyway, good luck to anyone who ends up in this situation. It's rare and a huge distraction from more basic human needs that might have still needed work before the event.

I like to think I would make a very good rich person, but mostly because it sounds like an interesting job.


I think the whole thing boils down to the idea that, someone who manages to make this much money on pure ambition, hard work, and yes, a decent amount of luck and being in the right place in the right time - well, they’re not likely to be able to enjoy this amount of wealth. They ground it out in a way that I can’t even imagine having the energy to do.

I’m a relatively lazy 9-5er who basically refuses to work past 5:01 PM unless there’s a pants on fire emergency.

If I had 600 million dollars, that’s it. I’d never work again. It’s really that simple. I would sleep just fine knowing that I have already completed my life’s task of providing for myself and my family.

I’d be basically doing what the old dude on the Netflix original “Samurai Gourmet” is doing. Walking around finding the next place to eat lunch and solving minor conflicts in between food porn segments.

Or just taking up whatever hobby I want, traveling the world like MySpace Tom.


I'm with you all the way on this one. There are so many more interesting things to do than work.

Yes, the old adage is do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. Problem is what I love to do: relax, enjoy time with my family, read, watch Star Trek reruns... pays squat.


I mean, I haven’t even gotten through all of deep space nine because I haven’t had the time! Because of work!


My father used to be a very diligent worker who did a fair amount of overtime and always seemed to be in the middle of some important project at work. When it came time for him to retire he expressed concern that he'd be bored or feel a lack of purpose.

A few years later he commented how it still felt like every day was a vacation and there hadn't been a single day that he regretted retiring.

He still keeps very busy, always has projects and plans. But it's all things he feels like doing and he has no external commitments. He can change his mind at a moment's notice and go on a roadtrip to another European country. In fact, my parents have done so multiple times since retiring.


I became a paper millionaire due to cryptocurrencies and it almost upset my entire life. My outlook and some of my habits changed for the worse for a period until I was able to readjust. Luckily I was able to take a step back and look at myself and decide I wanted to define myself based on core characteristics. I can see how it is a trap you can fall into to define yourself based on money because it is something many of us work hard to achieve.


Upvoting because there is a lot to unpack here. As others have noted below, it would be a worthwhile to many and I daresay yourself to develop it.

Perhaps you meant he "accumalates newer more internal experiences to offset it". The problem I see with his outlook and many other entrepreneurs is that we are only as alive as the warmth radiating from our last kill - the hunt we bagged or the corpse of our last startup. The colder the kill the less alive we feel.

In the model of existence of being-doing-having [1] the ones who are the happiest are the most fulfilled are the ones who embrace being –> doing –> having instead of having –> doing –> being.

[1] http://www.davewheitner.com/living-life-forward-the-being-do...


Appreciated. I've got a book simmering on the back burner and that's where some of these ideas have more form, but the statements were precise.

There are a few cognitive hacks that (like your very good "being, doing, having") that make more sense in the context of conversations like this. If I finish the book, I'll do a Show HN post.


> That bit about finding a woman who will love him for who he is inside and not for his money is silly. In case he hasn't noticed, who he is inside is also now richer than croesus as well.

That's not who he is inside. As Gabriel Garcia Marquez said, "I am not rich. I am a poor man with money, which is not the same thing."

And if money isn't really part of his internal identity, if he sees it as something kind of separate from himself, then it's perfectly reasonable for him to want a woman who loves him, not just his bank account.

In fact, it's perfectly reasonable even if he has internalized his wealth. Who wants to be married to a gold digger?


Re: Marquez, if he is merely a poor man with money, why, given the options, should someone want a man who identifies as poor, and still again in spite of having money?

Further, why make the long bet on a guy who got what he wanted and is still unhappy. The "gold digging," accusation seems like sour grapes to me.

If you are newly wealthy but are preoccupied with ideas like this, get thee to a wealth manager who will tie up your money, either in a trust and a directed giving fund, or a some hedge funds with a lock in period, or get you participation in VC funds with people whose judgment you respect.

Seriously, what really smart thing were you planning on doing with it?

If you didn't have a plan, let me introduce you to some yacht brokers, because so long as the boat costs you less than half your net worth, I assure you it's a better financial plan than finding true love.


> so long as the boat costs you less than half your net worth, I assure you it's a better financial plan than finding true love.

Now who's doing sour grapes?


So, it was a joke, however I think it was Jane Austen who said something along the lines of, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a super yacht, must be in want of a wife..” which I'm totally sure is true.


I’m upvoting and I wish you could develop your first 4.5 paragraphs. The rest is just logical conclusions, but each of your first 4§ nails something that I’m not entirely grasping about identity and love, and I bet there are hundreds of people who would benefit from this too. (there are many other ways - a slightly more developed essay, a discussion filmed and made available on Youtube, etc).


I wonder if he struggles with these underlying things not because of the money but because of his own grappling with his success and identity. The money makes these things louder because he 'made it' yet nothing is better.

I grew up on the 'stupid list' too (I was the only kid who made it on there one year), and like him, I suffer from ADHD. Growing up as the idiot does serious damage, and it drives you to succeed like no other sometimes. The trouble is you can convince others that you're capable, you can be admired for how far you've ascended from the stupid list, but at the end of the day you're still wired to feel like nothing is ever enough. You're still the kid on the list. No girlfriend or boyfriend fixes that. No amount of money fixes that.

I hope that's not the case - I hope he finds something to do that brings him a lot of joy. Apart from the money though, all of this seems fairly relatable to me. I don't think external validation is the answer to these kinds of feelings.


This hits too close too home :(


Actually getting the money itself in reality did happen overnight, but the setup took him years and thousands of hours of work and much blood sweat and tears.

This isn't so much about what happens when you become rich quickly, as "What happens when you achieve your goal?"


What I'm discovering in my own life is that goals are inherently unsatisfying. What's satisfying is living well, not in terms of a goalpost you've passed but in terms of an undulating way of existing in the world. Goals serve a purpose (heh), but they will never bring you happiness.


Based on the title I was expecting something akin to winning the lottery. Working 15 hour days for years to build a successful company from the ground up and selling it isn't what I think of when I think "overnight millionaire."


It's like the reverse of the Hemingway quote:

"How did you go bankrupt?"

"Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly."


apparently to this guy, it means once you achieve your goal you manually carry groceries, start intermittent fasting, and switching between first class and coach


I mean, going from 0 to $600M in a couple years may as well be overnight.


Well, yes and no, the article does grapple with the issues of becoming rich. So... both things can be true.


For whoever down-voted this: Finding a spouse is not specifically challenging due to having achieved your goals... it is, however, coloured by money. "Is she only dating me for my wealth?" is not something that occurs to someone who does not have wealth but has achieved their goals.


According to Chekhov:

"One is shy of asking men under sentence what they have been sentenced for; and in the same way it is awkward to ask very rich people what they want so much money for, why they make such a poor use of their wealth, why they don't give it up, even when they see in it their unhappiness"


This. The trivial answer to 'reintroducing struggle' isn't even discussed.


Sure, because that's not actually the problem.

What he was looking for was self-actualization. He thought he'd find that through building a company. He was wrong. That doesn't mean building a company js a bad thing! It's more like watering your plants when what they actually need is higher nitrate content.

It's easy to mock the rich for being at a bit of a loss on how to live life, but in their defense, they have fewer models to follow, and many of the most important lessons apply to private rather than public behavior.

There are lots of people out there who unironically believe that "if they only knew how to code" a lot of their problems would be solved. And perhaps they would---but new, unforeseen ones would arrive.


It's very nice to not have to worry about money. I think people tend to downplay the importance of removing this stress from your life. No, money doesn't solve everything, but for me the lack of it created an immense amount of stress.


With that much money you would be thinking about it more often. How to protect and grow and can be more stressful.


I can tell you it is much less stressful.

"Having money's not everything, not having it is"


I've heard this alternately stated: "It's better to be poor: you're just as unhappy as a rich person, but you still have hope that money will help."


“That’s one of the problems he seems to be grappling with: more money, generally, means less struggle, and if it’s struggle that made him, how does he find that going forward?”


Money only removes some struggles. As Steve Jobs found, even ridiculous money won't prevent you from struggling if you have terminal cancer.


He didn't get a terminal cancer, I remember with all his money he went the looney way of treating cancer and then it was too late for a proper treatment. Money does gives you opportunity to get better healthcare that the mere mortals can only dream of.


Solution for Peter Rahal: get cancer.


Maybe then he'd plow his money into something useful like cancer research.

Of course, even better if he puts his money to a good cause without getting cancer.


By simply reinvesting his money into the economy via stocks and bonds he is contributing the making the world a better place.

Market economics has been lifting the world's humans out of poverty at an alarmingly fast rate since 2000. You'll never hear about this in the news of course.


>You'll never hear about this in the news of course.

Why I heard that very sentiment this morning on the news.


Reintroducing struggle is directly discussed in the article.


In tech it's pretty rare to become a millionare overnight. You can go overnight between each of these phases:

Phase 1: You are making very little money. You are excited when there is free pizza at an event, because you got a free dinner.

Phase 2: You are making a decent salary, enough to survive quite comfortably, even in a pretty expensive location. In tech, often this salary is enough to make you a millionaire if you just invest it conservatively and wait a decade.

Phase 3: You are still making that decent salary, but now you are also a millionaire on paper. Your stock is worth millions of dollars, but that isn't directly relevant to your daily life.

Phase 4: You have millions of dollars in liquid assets.

I have worked with a number of people who have gone through each of these phase changes. In my experience, going from phase 1 to 2 is by far the biggest change. After that, things just don't change immediately. You might move to a nicer place to live, or have enough money to become an investor or leave the conventional career track, but those things happen slowly.


Very well put.


This marketing team needs to step up their game, I only had to scroll for 30 seconds to get past the header. Best practice says if I'm not scrolling for a minimum of 3 minutes, I'm going to leave their site too soon.


I double plus appreciated the giant footer telling me to sign in with facebook or google. Even though the header also has a signin link.


"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."


Seems like this individual is in need of a re-branding as much as the re-branding that turned RX Bar from a soulless company into a raging success.

(Shoutout to The McQuades and Scott & Victor for their incredible brand and package design work. http://www.themcquades.com/rx-bar)


I was looking at that packaging last week at the store and was impressed by it. Although I became fixated on them putting "No B.S." rather than "0 B.S." It seemed more natural to me to say 0 considering the rest of the design. It made me wonder if that's something that they tested and there's a consumer-related reason they went with "No," or if there was a product-labeling regulation that prevented it. And then I realized I was spending too much time staring at an endcap in the grocery store and I needed to move on.


Based on my experience as a designer, I would say that idea was to separate "BS" from the ingredients and make the phrase more impactful. "No B.S" also works as a tagline in a way that "0 B.S." doesn't


"what's OBS?" {moves gaze to next product}


That was exactly my thought after reading the article. I'm always wondering whether subtle differences in how I would have done something are meaningless, or due to my lack of understanding of whatever it is I'm looking at (in this case advertising).


> Before the Kellogg deal was finalized and he was about to suddenly become very rich, Rahal got worried. “Can I seriously find someone who’s going to love me without the money?”

This seems like an easy thought exercise to work through.

If you're rich enough to worry about being loved for your money, then you're probably rich enough to have a second modest existence to date from (modest apartment, car, etc). So, don't show any sign of wealth to people you date, until after you're already in love. If they love you for you, they'll love you regardless of your circumstance, no?


Would you stay with someone who lied to you for potentially years? Over and over with a straight face? They did it for their own selfish reasons although not malicious ones. Assume they aren't a multi-millionaire.

Now, would that answer change if you were simply given $100 million for saying that you'll stay. What if you had to lie to them that you still love them? Keep in mind, after all, they did exactly that to you for years.

My point being, a modest fake second lifestyle doesn't alter the potential distortion of money being involved.


I don't know if I'd be impressed if a guy did this.

In theory, this sounds like a fairytale, an ordinary guy turns out to be a multi-millionaire.

In practice, this means that he lied to my face the entire time, presumably got his family and friends to lie to me as well, because apparently the entire time we were dating he thought that I might be a gold digger?

Creating an entire separate identity because of your gold digger paranoia doesn't seem like a healthy behavior.


Do you ask all your dates for net worth? I never had this question asked, so I can imagine doing this without lying.


Okay, so, realistically, if the guy in the article wants a woman to be in the dark as to what his net worth is, he'd need to:

1. Use a fake name.

2. Create a fake story as to what he's been up to for the last five years professionally.

3. Get an ordinary apartment, car, clothes, etc. all for the purpose of appearing to have regular income.

4. Get his friends to support his fake name, fake life, fake career story, etc.

5. Get his family to support his fake name, fake life, fake career story, etc.

You don't think all that counts as lying?


1. I just don't give my family name to a date.

2. I don't talk about work, it's rarely a deal breaker.

3. It's a normal thing to have a pied-a-terre.

4-5 Don't mix your friends-family and your date until you are sure in them. Actually, get an apartment on a different coast.

No, I don't think it's lying. And it's easy to do for someone with 8-9 figures in a bank.


Okay, so assuming things go well, what time period would need to pass before you reveal your true identity?

60-80 years should do it.

Sounds like a plan!

just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

You'd also have to go by a pseudonym or a perspective partner might google you and ruin the whole charade. At that point your behavior is fairly duplicitous, which is hardly a solid foundation for one of the most meaningful relationships of your life.


Anyone out there achieve fsck you money? I have been between gigs this summer and brainstorming inventions. I seem to come up with one or two a week, but have only written down the most viable ones, so have maybe 20 or so that could provide FU money to someone, if a way could be found to manufacture them.

To be completely honest, this is why I find stories like this a bit disheartening. I'm happy for anyone that wins a large amount of money in the internet lottery, but I worry that countless other people will never have a chance to make it because they're too busy making rent each month.

If I had anything above the amount of money it would take to retire (roughly $2-5 million), the rest would go to grants and setting up inventor think tanks. I know that number varies, and mine might even be low (I live in the northwest), but surely everyone has considered a number of their own.

If you made it and are interested in funding inventors, open source projects, things of that nature, it would be great to hear your thoughts on being a benefactor for people who maybe aren't great at business but whose ideas could potentially change the world. Even anonymous replies would be a great resource for how to think about connecting philanthropists with makers.


It is interesting that creating a healthy bar with 'No B.S.' seemed to be motivated entirely by money, no idealism, no concern for public health, etc. He was totally willing to sell to a massive corporation that will almost certainly dilute his product to save cash and his main concern around that seemed to be 'but what will I do now?'.

Maybe his life doesn't seem empty now that he has money, maybe it has always been empty.


That seems like a partial mis-characterization - he did insist that the buyer keep the company as an independent unit and retain all the employees, which is about as much as you can do when you’re selling. And he was likely tired and burning out as well - better to sell than run it to the ground or wait till someone else kills you off.

That said, he does seem to have been hustling from a young age, so why not? Could have just as easily been a new department store chain or movie theatre chain that he started instead, and we wouldn’t think he had “no idealism, no concern for public health”. Why the negativity for a food company?


>Why the negativity for a food company?

Presumably because a food company has direct effect on the health of a person consuming the product.


But all points seem to indicate that the food was good and clean, and he went through great trouble to keep it that way. But why is someone making food more obligated to continue doing so than someone making non-food?


His selfish motives resulted in a new product that many people seem to like. I think it’s amazing that we have a system that can harness his ambition, benefitting both him and the consumers of his product.


I was more referring to his level of personal satisfaction than the actual value provided by the product. He was never working towards a fulfilling goal (providing healthy food) but towards making money.


Eh, that's a bit tough on him. He ran the company for 6-7 years. Considering how much he grew, he probably run through some challenges and quite a stress.

Maybe it was a journey worth going, but it's understandable that people need to take a break.


I was thinking about this as I read the story as well.

I'm not familiar with the product at all, but I suspect it's hardly a "healthy" snack to begin with, and then Kellogg is not exactly a company dedicated to public health.

Similar concerns exist in tech as well, for example, if Facebook wants to buy your startup, would you feel good about selling it to them?

I suspect that people who are not bothered by ethical considerations are much more likely to succeed as entrepreneurs.

I wish I was more like them to be honest.


General question, not a business person:

Where does existing cash in the bank go upon an acquisition? To the seller, buyer, or something that is generally negotiated?


Existing cash goes to the buyer, but it’s fully accounted for, so the seller gets it in the end.

I.e. company is worth $600M including $50M cash on hand. Seller gets $600M.


Yes - another way to look at it is that liquid cash in company's bank accounts is an asset of the company and the company valuation "includes" it.


Thanks, guys, appreciate the explanations!


Interesting read.

Not that it matters, but I hate the consistency of those bars. It’s like eating a bunch of taffy. I always wonder if I’m missing fillings after.


thoughts on it vs clif bar?


i think cliff bars have way more ingredients (not necessarily bad ones) and more sugar.

i think rxbar appeals to the "food as fuel" crowd. there is a continuum there from those who don't want to think about healthy stuff, just get quality calories in (think soylent and/or more healthier home stuff, "rations" types who cook 15 meals at once, etc.) to those who want to signal that they are willing to eat gross stuff to look good or hit fitness goals, and lots in between.

cliff bars i think are more acceptable taste but don't really have a niche - too much sugar to eat if you want low % body fat, too many carbs generally, but decent to throw in a bag if you don't want to eat some uber-processed alternative like whatever cereal bars normally have


I prefer Cliff bar overall, but the Rx bar isn’t bad at all. Seems healthier (more protein than Cliff), but the texture is hard to get used to.


Interesting story. He really did become a millionaire overnight, it was a lump sum payout with no obligation to work for the acquiring company.

Different than other founders where you get stock in the acquiring company and you’re locked up for 2 years. You get to watch your potential payout oscillate in value all the while working for a big Corp.


In most of the stories I've read where the founder is required to stay on, they typically have very little duties or responsibilities. Often it seems like the "show up at 11 and leave by 2" type situations.


Agreed, but even with the minimal responsibilities, it’s a burden to founders because they can’t do anything else (non-competes).


This is the embodiment of "money doesn't buy happiness". If your only life goal is the acquisition of money, then you get stuck once you achieve your goal.


How common are acquisitions without any earn out periods?


As the former CMO of Quest Nutrition, which just sold for $1b, I have many thoughts. I'll have to come back to this.


Would love to hear them, I cofounded a children’s nutrition company here in the Bay!


You put it in an index fund and get back to work?


You write post on medium.


paywall


If this article was trying to depict this man as thuroughl vain and void of humanity it could not have done a better job.

He moved to Miami Beach to avoid paying taxes? This hundreds of millionaire couldn't just move to a place he liked because he was worried about his marginal tax rate?

He bought a house that's empty and has accoutrements for a lifestyle he doesn't have or plan to have. This is a person buying something that looks like what other rich people by because it's what he's supposed to do.

He's succeed and now is not just overwhelmed by the opportunities he can tackle but is paralyzed by a lack of struggle.

I see these articles over and over again about entrepreneurs and what they show me is that many are not successful because they are imaginative people full of passion and ideas. Rather they are like robots who can see and optimize some little piece of the economy. And by and large they never tire of working at their own little corner. They are different from normal people not in their vision but because they do not tire of bulldoging one very tiny little thing.

I know that's not all entrepreneurs but there are so many profiles like this and they do not make me empathize with these people. They send a shiver down my spine.


I see people are downvoting this, but I confess that "he chose Miami Beach in part because Florida has no personal income tax" in the introduction instantly rubbed me the wrong way as well -- and, yes, "buying something that looks like what other rich people buy because it's what he's supposed to do" seems fundamentally correct.

And, sure, #NotAllEntrepreneurs. But if this fellow dropped $20M in investments that returned merely 3% a year, he could pay himself a "salary" of half a million a year just from the interest. I'd really like to read an article some time about someone who walked away with a one-time payout of a few hundred million from a deal like this and said, "Hey, you know what, I'm going to put 90% of my new wealth toward benefiting others, and still have enough money that I'll never have to work again if I don't want to."


I think you do have a point about him trying to buy what you are "supposed" to buy once you are wealthy.

However, I think that your robot criticism of entrepreneurs is unfair.

Street sweepers, cashiers at a grocery store, McDonald's employees are doing work that is way more repetitive than what an average entrepreneur does, yet you wouldn't call them robot-like, would you?


When I say robotic I'm not referring to the reptitiveness of the work.

I'm talking about the singularity of focus and mind founders often posses for things that are utterly mundane. Making an energy bar is surely exciting at first. Creating recipes, working out deals to sell them, building a brand.

But at a certain point your energy bar is about as good as any other. And it tastes as good as any other. And your branding is as good as any other.

And the only thing that really differentiates you is how well you can wedge your prybar into the market. That work is really mundane but there is a type of person that thrives doing that.

I've known a few people in this situation and many of them are like this guy. When the struggle is over, the mission is achieved and they just kind of shut down.

They've spent so much time obsessing over how to sell a freaking energy bar that they've never developed themselves or their passion.


Wouldn't in that case making money be their passion?

I can't relate to that either, but I think that this is common among successful entrepreneurs, often going all the way back to their childhoods (the guy in the article was buying and selling stuff in elementary school).


If he's miserable he can always give it away.

Oh no? Won't do that. Then shut up you incredibly entitled whiny jerk.


We've banned this account for breaking the site guidelines. Would you please not create accounts to do that with?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


A poor little rich boy is all I can say! If he is feeling so unchallenged and wants "skin in the game" then give away all your money and start again. But he won't, no one can, once you've got a taste for the good life.. Btw, the RX bar tastes awful.


My theory is that the people buying the energy bars prefer that they taste like shit to make themselves feel more hardcore about whatever dieting philosophy du jour they abide by.


I've not come across a single protein bar that tastes good - I'd rather make a smoothie ( not convenient I know!), or why not just eat jerky ( not vegan/vegetarian-friendly, but for the meat-eaters there are some awesome flavors out there!).


I can believe that, IIRC research shows that placebos work better if they taste bad (also if they're red?).


they are a good snack right before you lift weights ... they do taste like shit but who cares


Business idea: rX bar that doesnt taste like shit.


Most of those involve adding copious amounts of sugar to make the bars taste bearable. This, of course, has other health negatives. I've seen protein bars with 50+ grams of sugar in them!


I mean, RxBars are full of dates, which are basically pure sugar.


Cut out three of the ingredients from each bar.

4 Cashews, No BS

1 Egg, No BS

2 Dates, No BS


I happen to like RxBars quite a bit and was upset when they had to do that peanut-allergy-related recall a few months ago. My palette is probably unsophisticated but the taste of dates dominates the flavor and I don't mind that at all.


Why not just drink a protein shake straight up mixed with water then? More protein for a lesser amount of carbs.


i guess for me it's just easier to buy an rx bar on the way to the gym. i also do not like consuming protein in liquid form

These types of young people have no class, no style and no real dreams to follow - other than making money.

Because someone makes money does not make then interesting to read about. This is a perfect example


You say that they have no class, no style, and no dreams, however you don't really have much to go off to make such definite generalized statements about a whole class of people.

Seems more like you created an emotional image about a group you don't like and this is the conclusion that would produce.


He has eating utensils made of gold.


I mean... there is a chance he got them ironically.


> I mean... there is a chance he got them ironically.

Sure, I see where you're going with that. Miami, a fully-furnished house that is expensive for the sake of being expensive, filled with items that can be converted to clean, legal cash with minimum overhead once the home is purchased. The irony is that a home intended for money laundering was bought by a guy that got boatloads of clean cash dumped on his head, wondering what to do with it all.


(◔_◔)


The guy built a brand around a growing lifestyle and changed the way products are communicated.

His impact on packaging is present all over the place if you look. He’s just looking for his next calling.

I thought it was interesting read, but it’s a story without a resolution yet.


And what sort of "young people" is that comrade

qes 14 days ago [flagged]

Oh boo hoo. Multiple-hundred millionaire is lonely and doesn't know how to define himself. Cry me a river.


Ok, but please don't post unsubstantive comments here; especially not ragey ones or shallow dismissals. That only poisons the thread and makes this place even worse.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: