Balaji Srinivasan: The Coronavirus Might Eat the World
The biotech entrepreneur and Silicon Valley visionary calls for a "digital Dunkirk" to fix government failure and preserve future freedoms.
How should the United States government and the rest of us respond to the coronavirus, which the World Health Organization has just declared a global pandemic?
Balaji Srinivasan, who was on a short list to run Donald Trump's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has some strong opinions on the matter. Srinivasan is a former venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz and a serial entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. The genetic testing company he co-founded, Counsyl, helped change the way millions of people prepare for parenthood; his cryptocurrency startup, Earn.com, was acquired by Coinbase, where he served as chief technology officer.
In his prescient and lively Twitter feed, Srinivasan has been ahead of the curve in noting the coronavirus's potential to cause a global public health crisis and to disrupt our economic and social lives. During a conversation conducted via Skype, he talked about why he thinks the coronavirus may have as big an impact on our way of life as the 9/11 attacks, how the United States government—especially the FDA he once might have headed—has fumbled its response, and why we're likely looking at mandatory quarantines at the national level.
At the same time, Srinivasan believes that private-sector and nonprofit actors are conducting a "digital Dunkirk" rescue operation that could not just save countless lives but accelerate positive forms of decentralization in our political, economic, and personal lives.
Photo credits: Balaji Srinivasan speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017, Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch