Billionaire, Genius, and This?

Nathan Myhrvold is presumably a billionaire. He is regularly called a genius. Yet he is in charge of a business (Intellectual Ventures) that one person, in a great This American Life podcast, compared to the Mafia.

6 Responses to “Billionaire, Genius, and This?”

  1. wcw Says:

    The only surprise here is that you are surprised.

  2. Seth Roberts Says:

    wcw, why should I have not been surprised?

  3. Nathan Myers Says:

    I can answer that. This person learned business at Microsoft, where the most appealing business model in any market was always extortion. He found a business that was inherently extortionate, yet inherently proof against anti-trust law, and is exploiting it with great energy.

    Were you going to suggest that genius implies ethical behavior? Maybe you should see the movie “Mars Attacks”. Or, that everybody’s definition of genius is the same? Many people admire “genius” Bill Gates, apparently just because he got lots of money through largely extortionate means. Did Myhrvold ever do anything that benefited society or the species, or is he just clever with applied math problems? There’s nothing more wrong with cleverness than with a capacity for hard work. Either way, what matters is what you do with it.

    Edward Teller had a (probably much better deserved) reputation for genius, yet spent most of his life arranging for a large fraction of his adopted country’s wealth to be consumed in constructing and operating weapons of mass destruction.

  4. Darrin Thompson Says:

    The US patent system is an economic disaster. Patent trolls are this disaster’s looters. Their only redeeming purpose in life is that they call attention to the problem that is modern patents. If Nathan Myhrvold is a genius then so is Jeffrey Skilling.


  5. Seth Roberts Says:

    My reasoning is

    billionaire x genius = better business opportunities than patent troll

  6. Dr W Says:

    Nathan Myers, funny thing you should mention Teller, Myhrvold’s best friend is apparently Lowell Wood, the man who was chief scientist for the US “Star Wars” program and actually did much of the technical work for Edward Teller back in the day!