Eden Chen

Compromise

Eden Chen January 27, 2019

A few months ago, a journalist was ordered to be killed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. I’ll spare you the gruesome details as they’ll make you sick to your stomach but after a period of international outrage, there have been largely no real consequences. ”I don’t see any issues — quite the opposite — in terms of our investment, it’s welcomed,” said Amin Nasser, the CEO of Saudi Arabia’s ARAMCO. A journalist’s life is clearly not worth more than getting the money that you need.

Every time I read about SoftBank and their $100 billion Vision Fund, I think about the Saudi’s killing of that journalist. Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund has committed $45 billion in the first fund and another $45 billion committed to the second fund, SoftBank has already said that it has a “responsibility” to keep investing their money even as it condemns the murder. All that money flows into the Silicon Valley ecosystem and few people think twice about taking it.

In my time in business, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with many in power and there are few that don’t compromise. I see this compromise everywhere, whether it’s in Google’s exploration of search in China, or in political parties who, on both sides, confuse their power hungry agenda with “public service.”

In some ways, when I used to work in finance I appreciated my peers, who unashamedly pursued wealth (and then donated it all at the end of their lives when they felt like it was time to do good).  Those in tech, however, try to convince themselves they are working for the good of the world, when in reality, those with money generally have all looked the same to me. The same club of Ivy League guys that used to go to Lehman Brothers now go to the hot venture fund and go sailing on Thursdays together with their uniform Patagonia vests, except maybe now they invite some minorities in the mix to make it look like they care about diversity.

When I left my hedge fund and was figuring out what to do next, I recall that a mentor of mine, Todd Burns, told me never to compromise. I’m 100% sure that I have compromised over and over since then so I’m partly writing this as a reminder to myself. Oftentimes, I walk into any conference or sales meeting and I feel like I’m there to meet with people just to extract as much value as possible. As soon as I hear a signal that tells me there’s no value here, I lose interest.

A law was passed in New York last week that removed abortions from the criminal code, allowed abortions from non-medical professionals, and allowed abortions after 24 weeks if the baby was deemed as not viable or if the mother’s health was at risk.  The law makes no sense and is a political statement at best about how X politician ”cares for women”, when there’s almost no realistic situation when there would be a baby in the third trimester that would not be able to be C-sectioned and saved but I digress. I generally don’t like commenting on things that have political implications because there’s almost always positive and negative implications to every decision and it’s hard to convince people one priority is more important than the other but this law is just too crazy not to say something.

When our daughter Talitha was 13 weeks in gestation she was deemed as “not viable” and it was suggested to us that we should consider abortion. This was stated as almost conclusive to us and it wasn’t until I demanded a second opinion that we found out that the diagnosis was incorrect.

Our baby was born 5 weeks early at 35 weeks and I’ve heard of many babies surviving at 23 weeks and even earlier in some cases. If Talitha was born and we poisoned her it would be murder, but if we kill the baby in the womb we look at it differently? This is only justified by people because our society’s culture and laws allows us to justify it.

Choice is important (having freedom), and women’s rights are important and need to be constantly reassessed in light of the historical atrocities that women had to go through in our own country. I’m on board with that (for my daughter, my wife, and all women), but abortion is the epitome of compromise. Let’s take the logic of an economic argument that says let’s eliminate all people that could have a negative economic impact in some way and apply that to anything except for babies in wombs and it would be moral outrage (oh wait, the Nixon administration justified this when they did this with black people in the war against drugs). Let’s put choice (a good thing) up against ending the life of a fetus (a bad thing) and we quickly realize that the ONLY question that we have to decide is whether a fetus is a person. Sadly, I’m certain that there have been people that have had abortions who have been in similar situations as us. Talitha though, was a person at 13 weeks, at 35 weeks, and she’s thankfully here with us today because she had parents that had to make a decision to keep her.

God is good,

Eden

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