Naval Ravikant is an angel investor, podcaster, and entrepreneur. He is best known for being the CEO, chairman, and founder of AngelList. However, others may know him from his other entrepreneurial activity as the founder of Epinions, The Hit Forge, Genoa Corp, Vast.com, and MetaStable, or through his blogging and podcasting activities at Venture Hacks. Naval Ravikant hosts his own podcast called Naval and has been invited to participate in several popular podcast shows, such as The Joe Rogan Experience, Spartan Up, and The Tim Ferris Show.
Naval Ravikant graduated from Stuyvesant high school in 1991 and from Dartmouth College in 1995, with a bachelor's degree in economics and computer science. After completing his education, Ravikant made the move to Silicon Valley to work for an internet service provider called @Home in 1996.
In 2005, Naval Ravikant founded Vast.com, an online white-label classifieds marketplace. A year after its founding, Vast.com had twenty-five employees working on two continents across five times zones — making it one of the first examples of a distributed micro-multinational technology company. Naval Ravikant had the following to say about the technology making the distributed and multi-national nature of Vast.com possible:
This is core stuff, very advanced technology. We are building a company in a way that would have not been possible even two years ago.
In 2017, in partnership with Protocol Labs (Filecoin), Naval Ravikant spun-out CoinList from AngelList. The company is a platform for cryptocurrency companies to launch their initial coin offerings (ICOs). CoinList restricts the sale of ICOs to accredited investors to ensure all transactions on the platform are legally compliant. To comply with securities regulations, CoinLIst uses the Simple Agreement for Future Token (SAFT).
In 2009, Naval Ravikant cofounded AngelList with Babak Nivi in San Francisco, California with the goal of connecting founders and entrepreneurs more efficiently. The first version of AngelList was unofficially launched in 2007 on the Venture Hacks blog, and it was originally called AngelBase. The official AngelList website was officially launched in 2011; it was initially mostly closed to people outside of the AngelList community, but in 2012 AngelList became an open website. AngelList acquired ProductHunt on December 1, 2016 for $20 million.
In an interview in 2011 on Mixergy, the interviewer asked Ravikant what kind of companies are looking to raise money on AngelList, and Ravikant had the following to say:
I'd say about 80% are web companies, consumer or enterprise, so software service or consumer web companies. Although, we do also now consider healthcare, green tech, biotech, anything technology related essentially.
At the age of twenty-five, Naval Ravikant walked away from $4 million unvested stock options in @Home to begin working on an idea he had for a startup company with Nirav Tolia. In 1999, Naval Ravikant and Nirav Tolia founded Epinions, a company for logging consumer reviews.
Eleven weeks after starting Epinions, Ravikant and Tolia recruited three employees and secured $8 million in seed funding from individual venture capitalists and Benchmark Capital. The company grew very fast from its initial conception, and Bill Gruly of Benchmark capital had the following to say about the growth of Epinions:
This is, unequivocally, the fastest I have ever seen a start-up move.
Twenty-five-year-old Ravikant also commented on the speed of growth of Epinions, twelve weeks after founding the company:
Who's afraid of competition? We're a start-up. We've got focus. Nobody will be able to move as fast as us. I pity the fools!
In 2003, Epinions merged with DealTime and went public via Shopping.com. In 2005, Ravikant and several others sued two former venture capital investors of Epinions, claiming they "cheated them out of nearly $40 million" during the merger of Epinions and DealTime. After some legal back-and-forth about the case, it was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Ravikant commented on the lawsuit he went through with the investors of Epinions by saying
Essentially it was a learning and growing experience for me, and as part of that learning experience I realized that entrepreneurs fundamentally have an information asymmetry relative to investors in the market. And so we set out to correct that.
The company would later be acquired in 2005 by Ebay for $620 million at $21 per share, a 20 percent premium of their closing price of $17.44. A month before Shopping.com was acquired by Ebay, Nielsen/NetRating reported that Shopping.com had 14.6 million unique monthly visitors.
In 2007, Naval Ravikant founded an investment firm called The Hit Forge in San Francisco, California focused on investing in social media technology companies. The company has invested in the following companies: WeGame, Jambool, Cabify, Mesmo.tv, and SocialMedia. The Hit Forge has had three exits, which include Jambool, WeGame, and Mesmo.tv.
In 1998 Naval Ravikant founded a company headquartered in Fremont, California called Genoa Corp that developed linear semiconductor optical amplifiers. On April 1, 2003 Genoa Corp was acquired by Finisar for $5.5 million.
Venture Hacks is a blog founded in 2007 and run by Naval Ravikant, Babak Nivi, and Kartik Agaram. The topics focus on offering advice on entrepreneur financing. Ravikant says the purpose of Venture hacks is to be "educating entrepreneurs on the process of how you raise and negotiate venture capital". The first blog post on Venture Hacks was the first version of what would later become AngelList in 2009. On April 16, 2019 Venture hacks became completely independent of AngelList.
Naval Ravikant acts, or has acted, as an advisor for the following organizations: Index, The Human Diagnosis Project, Maiden Lane, MediaSpike, Space Monkey, Shyp, Hack Fund I, Kinnek, Unsplash, Junglee Games, Gigster, cofounder.co, Philz Coffee, PandaWhale, Hack Fund II, Republic, PicCollage, Vault12, Breezeworks, Flipagram, HireAthena, Zeus, Mirror, Skycatch, NOW Ventures, Evolve VC, Fragrantica, bloXroute Labs, Stellar Development Foundation, The Good Party.
Naval Ravikant has served, or is currently serving, as a board member at the following companies: Vault12, AngelList, Heyzap, and Flipagram.
Naval Ravikent has personally invested in over 200 companies, including the early venture rounds of Uber, Twitter, Wish and Thumbtack, and is a general partner in a cryptocurrency fund called MetaStable investing in blockchain technologies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Zcash. Naval was also previously a Venture Partner at August Capital and DotEdu Ventures.
When making decisions on what companies to invest in as an angel investor, Ravikant says that anytime he considers investments, he needs to genuinely like the founders, and goes into every deal with the assumption that the founders will be part of his life for the next ten years. Ravikant seeks out founders of the companies he invests in that make him a smarter entrepreneur. He stated the following to Business Insider:
My favorite founders are actually the ones who I learn from. So every time they call me up because they need help with something I jump on it because I know [after] walking around the block with them for an hour I'm gonna [be] much smarter.
In August of 2018, a journalist named Alejandro Cremades, working for Forbes, analyzed Crunchbase data and ranked the top fifty angel investors, based on their total number of investments, and also ranked the top five angel investors based on their number of exits. Based on the Crunchbase data, Cremades ranked Ravikant sixth out of the top fifty angel investors overall, with 121 investments, and third overall out of the top five angel investors, with the most exits with a total of thirty-eight exits.
Naval Ravikant was named Angel Investor of the Year by TechCrunch and received a Crunchie award during the 10th Annual Crunchies Awards. Naval is also one of the leaders in the cryptocurrency world, and in 2017 was ranked as the fourth most influential person in the world in the blockchain industry by CoinDesk.
Naval Ravikant was born in 1974 in New Delhi, India. When Naval Ravikant was nine years old, he and his family (his mom, dad, and brother) moved from New Delhi, India to New York City. His father was a pharmacist in India, but his pharmacist credentials were not acceptable to practice pharmacy in the United States. Both of Ravikant's parents did clerical work in New York City after their move to New York City. Shortly after moving, Ravikant's parents split up, leaving his mother responsible for raising him and his brother for the majority of their childhoods.
During his childhood, Naval Ravikant claims that reading was his first love. He spent a lot of time reading growing up because his mother was always working multiple jobs and attending night school.
Basically the library was my after school center. After I’d come back from school, I’d just go straight to the library and I’d hang out there until they closed. Then I’d come home.
Ravikant continued his love for reading during the course of his life, and has the following to say about his investments in good books:
A really good book costs $10 or $20 and can change your life in a meaningful way. It’s not something I believe in saving money on. This was even back when I was broke and I had no money. I always spent money on books. I never viewed that as an expense. That’s an investment to me.
Naval lobbied for The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act, a law intended to encourage funding of small businesses in the United States by easing many of the country's securities regulations. It passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 5, 2012.
A Calm Mind, a Fit Body, a House Full of Love
May 21, 2019
A Calm Mind, a Fit Body, a House Full of Love
May 21, 2019
A Founder's Anxiety
January 4, 2019
A Venture SLA
June 28, 2013
Accountability Means Letting People Criticize You
June 23, 2019