The Network State Podcast

By Balaji Srinivasan

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What comes after Google, Facebook, Bitcoin, and Ethereum? Perhaps it's the startup country — the network state. Balaji interviews tech founders and policymakers from around the world on managing billions of dollars and millions of people, as well as what it might take to start a new kind of state.

Episode Date
#3 - The President of Palau

The President of Palau and Balaji discuss how the tiny island country is becoming a digital leader, experimenting with everything from on-chain identity to drone delivery.  

Despite having less than 20,000 citizens, Palau is a full UN member state. Its path to diplomatic recognition holds many lessons for aspiring founders of new communities. Joining Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. in this chat is William Wang, founder of, the Palaun government’s crypto identity partner.


0:00 - Intro 

2:03 - The Republic of Palau 

6:18 - Palau's path to sovereignty 

8:35 - How Palau is using crypto 

10:40 - The President's background 

16:51 - Returning to Palau 

18:42 - What is RNS.ID?

25:08 - Palau's government structure 

27:23 - Partnerships in Palau 

34:15 - Diplomatic relations 

36:29 - The advantages of small countries 

42:00 - Palau's developing technologies 

45:04 - Gaining diplomatic recognition 

48:59 - Outro  







Feb 24, 2023
#2 - Tobi Lütke & Kaz Nejatian on Shopify's Country-Sized Economy

Tobi Lütke (Shopify Founder & CEO), Kaz Nejatian (Shopify COO), and Balaji review how Shopify rose from tiny startup to $180B+ global economy, with an annual GMV on par with the GDP of New Zealand. In the process they touch on Hayek, the Hanseatic League, merchant cavemen, the history of the corporation, and the optimal level of platform decentralization.

00:00 - Introduction
02:39 - Shopify has the scale of a small country
08:49 - Lifestyle businesses take up your whole life
20:52 - SMBs can be harder than startups
27:13 - Shopify could invest in its merchants
32:23 - Shopify's economy is on par with Greece or New Zealand
38:40 - Money, time, risk, attention
39:55 - Is all retail a form of arbitrage?
47:14 - The history of the corporation informs the development of smart contracts
56:57 - Founders start as lead engineer, end up as chief psychiatrist
1:00:27 - Shopify is not just technology but community
1:06:26 - The concept of computational context
1:14:34 - Shopify as a dashboard for the global economy
1:22:48 - Atoms are so much more complex than bits
1:28:41 - Balancing centralized vs decentralized at Shopify
1:43:26 - If they could start a new country, what would Tobi and Kaz build?
2:03:28 - Kaz on working at Shopify
2:04:31 - Tobi's parting thoughts

1) 100 true fans:
2) Gobekli Tepe:
3) Shopify active merchant:
4) Fall of Civilizations:
5) Founding vs Inheriting:
6) Shopify careers:




Feb 15, 2023
#1 - Vitalik Buterin on Starting New Countries, Upgrading Ethereum, and Improving Yourself

A discussion between Vitalik Buterin and Balaji Srinivasan on starting new countries, improving yourself, and upgrading Ethereum.

00:00 - Introduction
01:27 - A brief history of Ethereum
16:54 - The DAO hack
20:32 - The Devcon 2 attack
33:24 - The Merge
35:52 - Ethereum Roadmap
47:41 - The de-OFACization of Ethereum?
1:06:18 - Starting new countries
1:22:20 - Svalbard
1:27:29 - Network effects
1:33:12 - Regulation as a bounding box
1:35:42 - What new country would Vitalik start?
1:39:39 - Network states and social networks
1:43:19 - Advice on leveling up
1:51:17 - How Vitalik learned Chinese
1:55:14 - Learning by doing

1) Ethereum Average Block Time:
2) What is EIP-1559:
3) Quadratic Hash problem:
4) The merge:
5) MEV watch:
6) Sousveillance:
7) Best weather cities to live in the US:
8) Global passport ranking:
9) Longyearbyen:
10) Demography of the Roman Empire:




Feb 07, 2023