Balaji Srinivasan: Saying Goodbye to One of Twitter's Brightest
On January 13th, Balaji Srinivasan—a successful entrepreneur, a board partner at Andreesson Horowitz, and the current CEO of 21.co— mysteriously and unexpectedly deleted all of his tweets.
In their place, he posted a single tweet to his 50,000 followers:
Don’t argue on Twitter.
Build the future.
Mr. Srinivasan is well-respected in Silicon Valley.
He’s smart, knowledgable, accomplished, and possesses a keen ability to see through bullshit. Yet Balaji retains an unspoiled passion for improving the human condition through science and technology—a obvious theme of his earlier startup in the health care space.
Personally, since Balaji stumbled onto my own timeline, I’ve learned much from his tweets on technology, politics, and society.
When Balaji quit Twitter, it was a shock to me and countless others. Speculation abounded, but all discussions seemed to center on a rumor that Balaji was being considered by Trump to head up the FDA, an idea I find incredibly attractive.
Gizmodo speculated that Mr. Srinivasan deleted his tweets because he had previously posted unflattering tweets about Trump. Recode, in much harsher words, argued that Balaji’s outspoken criticism of the FDA was to blame.
Personally, I have a different theory about why Balaji quit Twitter: he quit because Twitter’s fucked.
The medium is custom-designed to signal virtue and vice. If you aren’t into either of those, then you can share links and cute cat pics, but that’s about it.
In particular, if your goal is to inform and persuade, to use reason and data to bring about the change you want to see in the world, then long-form beats the living shit out of short-form.
In what may be Balaji’s smartest move to date, he’s basically said he’s done trying to change the world 140 characters at a time (a strategy that can never work). Instead, he’s going to build the future with his own two hands.
People can talk trash to you on Twitter all day long, but it’s impossible to argue with the enormous power of actual change. The real mystery is not why Balaji quit Twitter, but why more people haven’t.
Keep an eye on Mr. Srinivasan. While he’s gone from Twitter, my guess is that the impact he will have on the world is just getting started.