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."
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.
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!”
EDIT: Maybe I should say, not every promotion is a positive step...
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.
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 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.
That's a fair point, maybe I'm looking at it from too much of a "startup-y" perspective.
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.
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.
"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.
Money is obviously pretty great to have. The point of the cliche is to caution people about making too many sacrifices to chase millions.
And this is something I feel is important, because people tend to compare extremes. It's always poor vs rich
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).
Happy to help you spend your hard earned dollars ;)
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.
Not related to funding of a company, that's a whole different ball game.
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.
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.
Still not the same as having no money.
> 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
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Those who are content with settling don't have the drive to make it.
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
I would love to hear your definition of "drive" then.
I mean if you think she qualifies that’s fine, but kind of lowers the bar to irrelevance.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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  the ones who are the happiest are the most fulfilled are the ones who
embrace being –> doing –> having instead of having –> doing –> being.
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'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?
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.
Now who's doing sour grapes?
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 isn't so much about what happens when you become rich quickly, as "What happens when you achieve your goal?"
"How did you go bankrupt?"
"Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly."
"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"
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.
Of course, even better if he puts his money to a good cause without getting cancer.
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.
Why I heard that very sentiment this morning on the news.
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.
(Shoutout to The McQuades and Scott & Victor for their incredible brand and package design work. http://www.themcquades.com/rx-bar)
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Maybe his life doesn't seem empty now that he has money, maybe it has always been empty.
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?
Presumably because a food company has direct effect on the health of a person consuming the product.
Maybe it was a journey worth going, but it's understandable that people need to take a break.
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.
Where does existing cash in the bank go upon an acquisition? To the seller, buyer, or something that is generally negotiated?
I.e. company is worth $600M including $50M cash on hand. Seller gets $600M.
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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?
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.
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).
Oh no? Won't do that. Then shut up you incredibly entitled whiny jerk.
4 Cashews, No BS
1 Egg, No BS
2 Dates, No BS
Because someone makes money does not make then interesting to read about. This is a perfect example
Seems more like you created an emotional image about a group you don't like and this is the conclusion that would produce.
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.
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.