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Johnathan Bi: René Girard & Mimetic Desire

Johnathan Bi
Johnathan Bi
Founding Team
Opto Investments
April 18, 2023

Johnathan Bi is the host of a fantastic seven-part lecture series on the work of philosopher René Girard. He’s also a member of the founding team at Opto Investments. 

Auren and Johnathan discuss some of the fundamental concepts in Girard’s philosophy and how they apply to startups, venture capital, and life more broadly. They break down physical vs metaphysical desire, the power of self-delusion, and Girard's concept of zero-sum and negative-sum human interactions.

Johnathan explains what to make of Girard’s apocalyptic thoughts on the future of humanity, and makes some useful recommendations for using mimetic theory to improve your life. 

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You can find Auren Hoffman on Twitter at @auren and Johnathan Bi on Twitter at @JohnathanBi.

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Tyler Cowen: Identifying Talent and Measuring Organizational Capital

Tyler Cowen is Professor of Economics at George Mason University, host of the Conversations with Tyler podcast, blogger at Marginal Revolution, author of several books (including one my personal favorites, the Great Stagnation). 

Tyler is one of the very few truly committed to constantly learning. He also reads 5-10x faster than a fast reader, so his superpower is consuming large amounts of information.

Auren and Tyler cover how the last year drove the end of the Great Stagnation, society’s newfound appreciation for big business, why Tyler thinks economists’ use of data is overrated, how to spot talent, why organizational capital would be one of the most valuable data sources, and so much more.

World of DaaS is brought to you by SafeGraph & Flex Capital. For more episodes, visit

September 17, 2021

Daniel Gross: Why Energy is the Best Predictor of Talent

Spotting talent is really hard. Identifying A-players can feel impossible. Peter Thiel has one of the best interview questions for identifying talent, “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” But Daniel Gross disagrees. Daniel believes easygoing questions like “What movies do you like to watch?” elicit more telling responses.

Daniel Gross is the CEO of Pioneer, a reimagined version of the startup accelerator focused on identifying, motivating, and enabling the next wave of founders. Daniel previously founded Cue, which was acquired by Apple, and was a partner at Y Combinator. Daniel co-authored with Tyler Cowen the soon-to-be-released book, Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World. Simply put, Daniel is an expert on spotting talent.

Auren and Daniel dive into Daniel’s favorite interview questions, how to distinguish between good and great employees, what makes a 10xer, and how to measure productivity. They also explore why the strongest leaders are energetic, enthusiastic, and funny.

World of DaaS is brought to you by SafeGraph & Flex Capital. For more episodes, visit

September 24, 2021