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Show HN: Parrot.vc – I forced a bot to read 65,000 VC tweets and it became a VC (parrot.vc)
263 points by nloui on Dec 4, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 132 comments

> Income inequality is an enormous problem. What do you use it for?

... this is amazing.

"Maybe in some niche B2B fields I don't know your people just randomly die in your house while you are there."

I hope these weren't related

Hah oh jeez.

"I think this is God’s gift to me to understand that I'm not investing you if your idea doesn't slap, HARD."


Parrot.vc is a bot trained on tens of thousands of VC tweets that uses predictive text to generate amazing, new startup advice. Share your favorites!

Gavin Belson - hit me up, this is the perfect acquisition for Hooli.

PS - you can follow Parrot.vc on Twitter as well (https://twitter.com/parrot_vc)

Is the source code available anywhere? I’ve been mulling over a similar project but don’t have a lot of ML experience myself, would be great to look at the innards of a working example...

An easy way to get started that doesn't use pure ML is Markovify [1]. I used it for a couple of projects last year.

[1] - https://github.com/jsvine/markovify

This blog post and associated github give a good enough intro to get simple examples working: http://karpathy.github.io/2015/05/21/rnn-effectiveness/

I may open source it. It's pretty easy to get started if you leverage pre-existing libraries for Markov chains and Twitter ingestion.

Now do it with Hacker News comments!

"In other news, water is wet"

"This has been known for 10 years, this is not a new discovery"

"Title is clickbait, can someone please update it?"

This is the sort of thing that I'm hoping to see, especially with the recent "Show HN".

"With a powerful narrative, you should be able to go from raw materials to a launch ready vehicle in 60 days."

If this isn't the best sign of the times, idk what is.

Edit: This one killed me

"VC is hard. This is a great fucking deck..."

Hmm, that's weird. I got the exact same phrases. Are these actually bot-generated in real-time or is the app just pulling from a set?

I also got "VC is hard. This is a great fucking deck..."

It’s not worth the money, but if you have a 79 year old parent on twitter, you can send me their handle as a guideline for him.

Hah that's pretty good

Okay, I've spent a little more time on this than I probably should have, but I think I realized something. The reason this works is mostly due to the VCs being generic in general. I've been reading the tweets they're based on and they're equally nonsense as the bot tweet. But bashing multiple tweets together, still produces something that's... coherent? I mean, yea, they're coherent. But it works because it lacks detail.

There's almost no detail or focus on a concrete idea in any of these VC tweets. Everything is so damn vague and abstract in the original tweets, they can apply to anything or anyone. Thus, chopping and mixing them is meaningless, because they are void of meaning to begin with... Sort of the same way horoscopes work. They're pretty broad and the reader fills in the gaps and details. VCs talk like old gypsy fortune tellers... they're vague, tell you roughly what you'd like to hear and are generally useless sacks of breathing meat...

Damn, that was a wild ride...

VC is a pyramid scheme. A VC's entire focus is selling "a narrative" to other VCs, so they can push their portfolio companies' next round or raise their next fund.

Only a rare few treat their portfolio companies as customers and not the product.

Probably because meaningless platitudes sound better than "the last company like this was sold for $20MM and we think we can duplicate that success for $10MM."

Honesty isn't usually inspiring.

Agreed. Most VCs are just that, useless sacks of breathing meat.

For that reason, I've avoided them. Even during parties, I (unfairly) dismiss someone the moment I find out they are a VC and just invested in ...(insert famous tech here)...

Based on personal experience, VCs are statistically more likely having a conversation with you thinking they are better than you the whole time (and therefore knows better).

Not all VCs are like that, but unfortunately most of them are. Greedy, prideful people have caused me a great deal of suffering in my life and most VCs are just that.

I read this in Gilfoyle's voice.

"You mean Earning Man?"

Someone should do the same thing for Hacker News comments. I feel like "Most VCs are just that, useless sacks of breathing meat." is precisely the type of sentence that would come out of it.

It is a pretty specific thing and I was very surprised to see it as the top comment.

Are you seriously defending the money-people? Just give us this one moment where noone chimes in to teach us how greed supposedly helped turn savages into society

Why can't I upvote this continuously? In spirit, I'd say 1000x my up-vote, even if it can't be done in practice.

> thinking they are better than you the whole time

Do people really think like that? This sounds like possibly a personal insecurity. I don’t know too many grown adults who think things like “I am better than you”. Better at what? making money? Smarter? Getting dates?

I don’t know... maybe I’m just too optimistic but all of the VCs I’ve met have been super nice.

I a lot of people measure their own self worth by comparing themselves to others. For people with a job where they directly create something, usually they are proud of that thing they created. People who work in these kinds of business roles often don't actually do anything. They have to see themselves as a necessary (and rare!) oil that enables creators. For many, it's really important to their self worth that they think, "Without me, you would be nothing. Yes, I know you can actually do the thing that you are doing, but I am the gatekeeper."

I mean, some people think that VCs are "useless sacks of breathing meat". So when the VC in question needs to feel a sense of self worth, they need to come up with a reason that they are needed in the equation (whether justified or not). They also need to project that feeling because who will seek out a VC that's a useless sack of breathing meat. You want to seek out a VC that's the gatekeeper to riches.

You get this kind of sub-vocal interplay and posturing. I'm sure it's super stressful to the people in question. Every time they meet someone they may feel they have to justify their progression beyond meat sack level. They may feel that they have to justify it to themselves.

And interestingly, having projected their desired ego and internally swallowed their own special brand of Kool Aide, quite a few are actually convinced that they are the gatekeepers to riches and everybody else is lucky just to be in the same room.

Being human is hard.

> Do people really think like that?

Yes. If you're pitching to a VC, they have power over you. It leads them to believe they deserve that power and that they understand your business (and all business) better than you.

That doesn't mean they're not nice. Feeling superior and behaving pleasantly are not mutually exclusive.

Yes people do think like that, and judging from you asking that question, I'm going to guess it's people you wouldn't expect.

The alternative being that you happen to be in an environment/bubble where no one happens to think like that. I guess it's possible, but also unlikely.

I often wonder what the positive VC experience is like.

WeWork founder was paid over a billion by VCs for skewing charts, a very positive experience from my point of view

A friend of mine has a board that makes connections to clients, supports long-term decision-making, and otherwise gets completely out of the way. That seems as good as it can get.

I know people who receive and value advice from VCs, but my observation has been that it's better to trust your boots on the ground rather than a very-part-time observer who's never talked to one of your clients.

Capital is in such oversupply that you have to lock down the system from yourself to credibly tell customers you won't screw them over.


I think this means that there's so much capital out there that you can operate without any profit until you dominate the market, so your users will effectively be convinced that you are a saint. Just remember to lock down the system from yourself and don't say anything that can break this illusion.

VC twitter is excruciatingly cringe. I cannot imagine giving equity to these virtue signaling parrots.* The worst offenders are the people who

- have never personally taken a company from zero to one (even worse: when they have internally taken a company from 1 to N, and think that qualifies them).

- have a huge portfolio full of incremental companies

- constantly talk about trends on Twitter

- constantly talk about politics on Twitter

- are not currently operating their own moonshot/Unicorn

- are a bit too ridiculous when trying to hide their own greed

- talk constantly about the importance of "mentoring" you, when really just wanting access to your company

- have never actually taken a hard stand/risk on anything in their entire lives

Imagine instead getting a small check from Elon Musk when he was operating at Tesla/SpaceX, or even from then-no-name Sam Altman when he was running Loopt (as Stripe did from both). These investors are great because you know they're going to soon step the fuck out of your way and focus on their own projects. They might also be able to actually help you when you need it (both parties respecting each other's scarce time).

* Exceptions: PG, Naval, and part-time VC partners that actively operate their own companies.

> have never personally taken a company from zero to one

I've met quite a few angels and VCs who have exactly one successful exit on their resume. Without more exits, the overwhelming likelihood is that the exit was luck.

Like most humans, they fail to see the luck in their success and believe they know something about business that other people don't. They rely heavily on their experience and push their portfolio companies to make the same decisions they made.

It's possible there's no formula for a great VC, and incentive structures make it unlikely that talented, visionary, humble people are in that role. If you know how to build things, why be a VC instead of building things?

The quoted long lines are unreadable on mobile unfortunately

Why does everyone bash the commenters for using these quotes instead of hn for not fixing it? It's not like it's hard to fix.

I clicked through like 15 of these and they were all pretty nonsensical. Not sure if this is more damning of tweets from VC's or the bot itself...

Haha I'm sure it's somewhere in the middle. Never said it was the smartest algorithm. If you hover over the VC's name, it'll show the actual tweet that was sampled.

You wouldn't happen to be from the La Cañada area of SoCal would you?

Born and raised!

I’m pretty sure I used to see a physical therapist as a kid who knew you well. She knew I was building websites and told me about you and what you were working on. If I remember correctly you used to be quite stoked about Coldfusion. What a small world!

Jane?! That is a small world and a great memory! I used to be a huge ColdFusion fan.

Feature request: highlight the sampled text in the generated tweet when you hover over each source? Seems like you're 90% there

Agreed - nonsense. It appears to just be copying segments of tweets and matching words to join the phrases at that word.

Eh, could be Markov chains or some similar-but-unique implementation with a little more logic.

It's damning of VC's. Most VC tweets pretty much look like that.

>I was trying to make a profit is pretty constraining. You have to satisfy customers or you go out of business. [1]

Hehe this one was pretty good.

[1] https://www.parrot.vc/-LuhxfJS6wU2jI7ulPj0 via @parrot_vc

"I stand with the people of China and that they need to hire researchers to design some new architecture, or anything extremely fancy."

This is amazing. Reminds me of the postmodernism generator: http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/

I just got the same one... Are they pre-generated maybe?

Edit: Link: https://www.parrot.vc/-LvAxcZD23ySp2dL0sZw

They generate on a cron job every 15 minutes and I also pass the site through a Cloudflare cache because I'm cheap and the actual code runs on a $5 DigitalOcean box :-)

That’s not cheap: that’s smart. Knowing this makes me like the whole thing even more.

Pre-generated is fine but could you change the text on the button that says “generate” to something else then?

So, it's webscale already. VCs will love this! /s

Me too. They must be.

Me three.

"Trading legally on inside information is one of the most valuable places on the Internet."

https://www.parrot.vc/-Lutw051bTJRl4uGlK0i -- wallstreetbets here I come!

"Thinking about diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, and/or education status, you are leaving money on the table."


"Canceling sneaky charges is one of the most predictable but consequential developments of the 2020s"[0]

Instantly reminded of all of the posts about ISPs and cellular carriers tacking on all sorts of goofy fees and their usual monetary "practices", felt it was especially relevant now that some of those fees are being exposed as being BS surcharges anyway. Can't name any sources off the top of my head but there was an article here on HN about it some months ago.

[0] https://www.parrot.vc/-Lv6SAuk6w0OJpbhw22_

Ugh my relationship with Spectrum

It looks like it uses tweets that were a reply to another tweet. This makes some of them read weird since there is missing context. I wonder what it would look like if it only used tweets that were original.

Hmmm I hadn't thought of that. That's a great point.

Great, congrates, sounds like your bot is going to be the first computer program to demand worker's rights and protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

But seriously wanted to say it's pretty stellar and so far none of these seem "bot" like. They read pretty genuine... which says a lot of how idiotic a lot of these VCs are.

@nloui any chance you're willing to share your dataset? Would be fun to replicate this with GPT-2 fine-tuning instead of a Markov chain.

Sure, I should be able to throw it onto a repo later.

Ping this thread when you do!

Sweet! Looking forward to it.

"I have nothing to do with startups but everything to do with my original statement."

Source: https://www.parrot.vc/-LumCfM7z4sQiNiXMJIU

> "the bear is sticky with honey"

If you don't understand the tweets, it's because they have a deeper meaning.

“My long-promised current view of what I want to be remembered, the guy who invented the crapper rule.”

... A rogue philosopher VC

“There’s nothing lean about spending 12-18 mo working hard to make a lot of money.“

Most of the ones I got looked like they were generated from replies to other tweets. The lack of context made them boring, even if that makes it easier to make them comprehensible. (I would love to see this experiment run on a dataset that filtered out reply tweets.)

But then, it have me this gem:

"It's sad when people don't understand the value of a program that targets them. I mean I do see the value, I just don't like floppy pizza."

> I would like to see if there’s demand. But I am talking about dead. As in no pulse.

This one is too weird.

Thank you for sharing this, some of these are pure gold.

This one is just fun

- "Sorkin is going to have a custom GIF library curated by @jposhaughnessy."

These sound like fodder for an insider trading prosecution:

- "Saved a man going into an interview with that. One of my favorite funds rn."

- "Amazing company. I was thinking more in terms of deploying, deleting, etc."

- "Canceling sneaky charges is one of the most predictable but consequential developments of the 2020s."

- "YC partners know, because they get around advertising, because a lot of material on this."

- "Could agree more. Have looked at a bunch of #rockstarninjas but ended up with a bigger bag of money they will leave you to secure the bag."

> The future isn't always like the past. Causal first principles thinking matters!


> Notice I didn't say the users had to use the fact that prior financings are used as comps for other financings.


My favourite Markov chain is the one trained on Puppet documentation and the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

> It's sad when people don't understand the value of a program that targets them. I mean I do see the value, I just don't like floppy pizza.

This one made me laugh.

This is hilarious. Can we get a blog on how you built it?

Sure, definitely. Or just retrain Parrot on VC Medium articles and have it write itself :-)


Ed: rm useless "bug" report.

oh lord.

> I believe that being more at peace in the present would have given me greater patience and ability to be more wordy in order to seem genuine?

A bot talking about how to seem more genuine. By being wordy, in an awkwardly long sentence. The irony burns. https://www.parrot.vc/-Lv4C1NRdxJrut8qiuK_

Best I can tell from the bot's output, I guess VCs just run around on twitter doing nothing but providing inane drive-by commentary...

> Just read the article in the Financial Times said Silicon Valley's most valuable lesson is to focus on women attendees.

This is perfect.

I didn't think any of the ones I saw made remote sense, as someone who follows a decent # of VCs on Twitter...

“ Maybe in some niche B2B fields I don't know your people just randomly die in your house while you are there.”

Amazing! Hahaha

> This will be one of the places technology is financed. But the future would be built somewhere else.

> But the software market is about to get a lot out of drug experimentation but I would recommend those who want to work will need to work.

Seems like overfitting a bit. But it's a super funny output.

"In general, I think it's better to focus on everything else. How can we solve this?"

All this needs is $1 billion ready to invest and seriously it's exactly the same as any other VC.

A tweet with 26 separate inspirations: "Would love to hear a solution." (https://www.parrot.vc/-Luic4DYDS2sZZwQD5L-)

I feel like there are multiple layers to this

> I don't think users will choose cross-platform over performance.

I've got bad news for you…

"I am now racking my brain to recall where I used to be a dissenter of highly remote teams. No more."


"I have nothing to do with startups but everything to do with my original statement."


Mmmm, a time where I can appreciate recursion

Overtrained? This one just shows a snippet from the 3rd credited author. https://www.parrot.vc/-LuiS-9VuUs2-2aAPVKy

> Good news to wake up to the fact that ISAs without safeguards are naturally regressive.

Hmm. Very interesting. Maybe we should in fact have more exceptions in the ISA and let there be more context switches to the kernel.

« Yes. The solution is not to be best at XY & Z, it's to continue to build a list of VC’s who are “next level” value add. »

This one was especially rich since it points to the genrator’s oncoming sentinence

This is great! Super similar to a project I put out 2 months ago: https://twitter.com/vctweetbot

How did you train it? Adversarial neural network? Markov chain?

Two favorites:

“Billionaires" has nothing to do with those who can’t graduate to higher wage jobs from that starting point.

50% of millennials want to be heard and appreciated.

> You might want to go to work tomorrow, so...

That suspense...

> "if you have a 1000X returner, then that is still pretty good. VC is asymmetric. You don't try to get 9 out of 10."

Vaguely meaningful.

I want to set this up as a chat-bot and have it randomly dispense wisdom in the main channel.

"Ever since I left Facebook board, I have become convinced its the new diabetes."

(Ok, I wrote that.)

"Income inequality is an enormous problem. What do you use it for?"

Some of this stuff is gold

Now train a second bot on parrot.vc advice to make bets via MicroVentures...

Perfect - starting the AngelList syndicate right now. Haha

How can I hire this person?

> "Industrial farming is one of the days for me."

- Jack Dorsey (?)

I wish this thing would close its quotes and parenthesis

> Haha “I have a hard stop” is a great alternative to DUI.


what is a VC?

> Canceling sneaky charges is one of the most predictable but consequential developments of the 2020s.

this is pretty cool.

Venture capitalist. Someone who invests in startups.

No, it didn't become VC, because it ain't giving me any moneys.

I even said "AI" and refreshed my bank account balance, but still nothing.

works well, it would have fooled me. The quotes are as bizarre as the real ones :-)

This is excellent.

How does it work?

It's a markov chain trained on around 65,000 tweets from around 50 VC's.

You really need to say that explicitly somewhere. The "I forced a bot" phrasing used in the current HN title is a clickbait trope that's not applicable here, and those "I forced a bot" scripts from Keaton Patti have spread misinformation on how AI text-generation works.

Hi, can you make the tweets available?

I would be interesting to see this trained using GPT-2.

I can do this. Need the author to give me the dataset.

Ooh, this is interesting. Were all the VCs you used from outside the EU? Because this seems to contain personal data, names etc. and raises the interesting question of the compatibility of some ML with GDPR.

Just to clarify, does VC stand for Venture Capitalist in this context?


So lots of people in this thread that realize vcs are supercilious talking heads. Why does Paul graham, the blogger who claimed Microsoft is dead and that lisp , which btw is untyped and slower than maybe even Go, is a competitive badvantage get admiration? Is it just by the wannabes?

Lisp was a competitive advantage for the company that made him rich in the mid-90s. He wouldn't claim it is for a new company starting out now. He later wrote that Python and Ruby were a competitive advantage. They wouldn't be now. But other languages/platforms are. His claim wasn't that Lisp is and will always be a competitive advantage, but that at any time, there is a powerful platform available that few developers/companies have embraced yet, but that could be a competitive advantage to a company that does.

As for Microsoft, it still is dead in the sense that he articulated in that essay; it doesn't offer any novel/powerful/ubiquitous platforms that new companies could or should build new products/companies on. It barely exists as a mobile platform, nobody has built significant new companies out of Windows desktop software in years, and its cloud platform is just one of several, and far from the biggest/best. He never said it would go out of business, just that it would become a generic BigCo, which is exactly what it is.

He also built a new type of investment company that invested in Airbnb, Dropbox, Twitch, Stripe and many other new startups, before any other VC would look at them, and at a tiny fraction of the valuation that other VCs would invest at. That investment model he pioneered has since been imitated countless times around the world - unsuccessfully, in most cases, because he did such a good job that others couldn't seriously compete.

With all that said, I think there's plenty he's been wrong about, but he's been right about the most important stuff, and deserves admiration for that.


The Kinect sold many units quickly because so many people already had Xboxes or Windows gaming PCs, and it was relatively cheap. It's since been discontinued.

Azure is popular due to all the corporates moving their application hosting and data storage off on-premise servers to the cloud.

Neither of these products/platforms has led/is leading to whole new categories of products/companies being created, which is the specific context in which PG was suggesting MS was "dead".

FWIW, arguably the biggest game-changing innovation in gaming in the past 10 years has been Twitch, which was a YC company.

> smuglord

> ignormaous

You don't need insults if you have solid points.

Source your quotes

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