[Simblified] Ep. 148: On FinTech, startup life & investing – with Satyen Kothari

Ep. 148: On FinTech, startup life & investing – with Satyen Kothari

02/09/2019 by IVM Podcasts

Web player: https://podplayer.net/?id=79986084
Episode: http://traffic.libsyn.com/simblified/E148Simblified.mp3?dest-id=359939

We’ve seen a lot of action in the space of financial technology in the last few years. Satyen Kothari knows a thing or five about the space, having started multiple companies, including Citrus Payments and Cube Wealth, his newest venture that aims to make investing simple and relateable. Srikeit and Chuck have a chat with him, traversing lots of terrain – including startup stories, life at Stanford, and how different Silicon Valley is from India. Needless to say, Satyen raises both the average IQ and average net worth of the room considerably. We could have honestly gone on for an hour each on several topics but we’ve tried to compress it all for a nice, non-technical chat for you guys, and hope you enjoy it! NEW TO SIMBLIFIED?
It’s an Indian podcast – probably the best to come from Malad West – that takes things that happen around us, and deconstructs them in a language you can understand, often surmounting several puns and PG Wodehouse references along the way. We aim to make you appear smarter during parties, job interviews, and dates. Your hosts (and Twitter / Instagram handles) are Chuck (@chuck_gopal / @chuckofalltrades), Srikeit (@srikeit, @srikeit) and Naren (@shenoyn, @shenoynv). You can listen to this show and other awesome shows on the IVM Podcasts app on Android: https://ivm.today/android or iOS: https://ivm.today/ios, or any other podcast app. You can check out our website at http://www.ivmpodcasts.com/

Listen date: early November 2019


  • I slightly judge this episode on two aspects: first, it never mentioed that Citrus Payments was brutally hacked some years ago. exposing an alarming amount of credit card information. And second, Kothari’s pitch for active management. Thu. It’s one thing to go for an actively managed fund because there aren’t enough index funds or total market funds around; it’s quite another to say that active management is better.
  • Though I might have ended up trying out Cube Wealth if I had been just a little bit faster on podcast listening, and had heard this episode ten days earlier than I actually did. But by the time I got around to it, I had already asked around for suggestions for a website that let me purchase mutual fund direct plans across all fund houses, and been told about kuvera – which looks really good, to be honest.
  • Judgement over active management aside, I appreciate Kothari for at least talking the talk on building a product / service for the long haul, even if that means that the revenue from the first few years of a customer relationship is pathetic. Only time will tell if Cube Wealth stays away from the exploitative practices he says he disdains.
  • The arc of Kothari talking about Silicon Valley life being too easy, coming back to India, and then thinking ‘Oh Amma What Have I Done’ was quite something. And reminded me of both Rincewind on boredom, and my own desire for an exit to a peaceful life, which my guilt or conscience keeps sabotaging.
  • The last bit, about privacy tradeoffs, and how getting traffic information on Google Maps requires lots of people giving up their locational privacy was fine in theory; and echoes what I’ve said earlier when writing about SemiosisGoogle, for all its faults, at least gives you something back in return for surrendering your privacy, unlike Facebook or Amazon. It’s an uneasy commensalism or symbiosis; rather than pure parasitism. All the same, after the Shoshana Zuboff interview, I wish I had better options.
  • The ideal flow would probably be that you have location sharing on, which leads to all the mutual benefits of society getting traffic congestion details, and you getting details of nearby destinations. After fifteen or thirty days, you download your past data to your device, and scrub it from Google, so that you know your locational history, but Google doesn’t use it.
  • Between taking notes and writing this blogpost, I went and checked – that is actually possible to do manually, and maybe even automatically. The question then is if there’s a desktop application which can read and let you browse a Google locational JSON archive with any level of competence. Which seems to be the real sticking point.


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