Austin Chen

Hey there~ I'm Austin, currently building Always happy to meet LessWrong people; reach out at, or find a time on !

Wiki Contributions


Warning: Dialogues seem like such a cool idea that we might steal them for Manifold (I wrote a quick draft proposal).

On that note, I'd love to have a dialogue on "How do the Manifold and Lightcone teams think about their respective lanes?"

Haha, this actually seems normal and fine. We who work on prediction markets, understand the nuances and implementation of these markets (what it means in mathematical terms when a market says 25%).  And Kevin and Casey haven't quite gotten it yet, based on a couple of days of talking to prediction markets enthusiasts.

But that's okay! Ideas are actually super hard to understand by explanation, and much easier to understand by experience (aka trial and error). My sense is that if Kevin follows up and bets on a few other markets, he'd start to wonder "hm, why did I get M100 for winning this market but only M50 on that one?" and then learn that the odds at which you place the bet actually matter.  This principle underpins the idea of Manifold -- you can argue all day about whether prediction markets are good for X or Y, or... you can try using them with play money and find out.

It's reasonable for their reporting to be vibes-based for now - so long as they are reasonably accurate in characterizing the vibes, it sets the stage for other people to explore Manifold or other prediction markets.

Yeah, I guess that's fair -- you have much more insight into the number of and viewpoints of Wave's departing employees than I do. Maybe "would be a bit surprised" would have cashed out to "<40% Lincoln ever spent 5+ min thinking about this, before this week", which I'd update a bit upwards to 50/50 based on your comment.

For context, I don't think I pushed back on (or even substantively noticed) the NDA in my own severance agreement, whereas I did push back quite heavily on the standard "assignment of inventions" thing they asked me to sign when I joined. That said, I was pretty happy with my time and trusted my boss enough to not expect for the NDA terms to matter.

I definitely feel like "intentionally lying" is still a much much stronger norm violation than what happened here. There's like a million decisions that you have to make as a CEO and you don't typically want to spend your decisionmaking time/innovation budget on random minutiae like "what terms are included inside our severance agreements?" I would be a bit surprised if "should we include a NDA & non-disclosure" had even risen to the level of a conscious decision of Lincoln's at any point throughout Wave's history, as opposed to eg getting boilerplate legal contracts from their lawyers/an online form and then copying that for each severance agreement thereafter.

Yeah fwiw I wanted to echo that Oli's statement seems like an overreaction? My sense is that such NDAs are standard issue in tech (I've signed one before myself), and that having one at Wave is not evidence of a lapse in integrity; it's the kind of thing that's very easy to just defer to legal counsel on. Though the opposite (dropping the NDA) would be evidence of high integrity, imo!

On the Manifund regranting program: we've received 60 requests for funding in the last month, and have commited $670k to date (or about 1/3rd of our initial budget of $1.9m). My rough guess is we could productively distribute another $1m immediately, or $10m total by the end of the year.

I'm not sure if the other tallies are as useful for us -- in contrast to an open call, a regranting program scales up pretty easily; we have a backlog of both new regrantors to onboard and existing regrantors to increase budgets, and regrantors tend to generate opportunities based on the size of their budgets.

(With a few million in unrestricted funding, we'd also branch out beyond regranting and start experimenting with other programs such as impact certificates, retroactive funding, and peer bonuses in EA)

Thanks for the feedback! We're still trying to figure out what time period for our newsletter makes the most sense, haha.

The $400k regrantors were chosen by the donor; the $50k ones were chosen by the Manifund team.

I can't speak for other regrantors, but I'm personally very sympathetic to retroactive grants for impactful work that got less funding than was warranted; we have one example for Vipul Naik's Donations List Website and hope to publish more examples soon!

I'm generally interested in having a diverse range of regrantors; if you'd like to suggest names/make intros (either here, or privately) please let me know!

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