The Quality Time Billionaire
Defying Age with Steroids, Iron, and Real Meat
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Four Things I’m Excited About
Investing in growth is, in large part, betting on what’s going to be big before it gets big.
There are four major trends that I’m getting increasingly excited for over the next decade. They could each be really big:
Quality Time Billionaires
The Aligned Identity
Rational Clean Energy
Each idea touches on some trends that are more mainstream but with some uncomfortable and contrarian nuance. I’ll detail each over a four-part series.
This is part one: The Quality Time Billionaire.
The Quality Time Billionaire
How much do you think 92-year-old Warren Buffett would pay to rewind his clock to age 40?
Buffett is a multi-billionaire, but at 92, he’s probably a time millionaire at best.
A time billionaire is most simplistically someone who has youth on their side. Graham Duncan, the inventor of the concept, first talked about it on Tim Ferriss’ podcast a few years ago. Duncan described the vast difference between a million and a billion: “A million seconds is 11 days. A billion seconds is slightly over 31 years.”
A piercing thought for any time-bound mortal.
But something about the time billionaire idea felt slightly off for me. I don’t just want a billion seconds but for half of them I’m old and frail and weak. I want a billion quality seconds. I want to be a quality time billionaire.
The mere time billionaire has odds of survival on his side yet faces inevitable decline with age. The quality time billionaire maintains, or even enhances, physical and mental capabilities in defiance to the natural decline of age.
I’ve probably spent close to six figures on health experiments over the past decade. Hormones, anabolics, peptides, supplements, stem cells, diets, and more. I’ve been a guinea pig, and it’s worked. I feel better now in my late 30s — I can barely type that number because I don’t feel that age — than I did in my 20s. And I think I can keep feeling better.
My experience taught me that it’s possible to defy age. Or at least significantly delay its effects. And who doesn’t want that?
To not age is one of the few things that literally everyone in the world wants.
I’m lucky to have been able to spend so much money on grand health experiments. A broader opportunity exists to bring the least accessible parts of high performance health to broader audiences. No one wants to get old, and frail, and weak. That’s why I’m so excited about creating quality time billionaires (QTB hereafter) as an investment opportunity.
The QTB Mountains
One becomes a quality time billionaire by optimizing and enhancing two things: physical and cognitive function.
There is extensive and significant overlap between the two. How we feel physically affects how we feel mentally and vice versa. To improve and enhance physical and cognitive function, there are three broad subcategories QTBs must optimize: Performance Medicine, Nutrition, and Fitness.
In this piece, I’ll focus primarily on performance medicine since it’s the least understood area of the three. Before I do that, it’s worth sharing a framework I’ve begun to use in thinking about optimizing my own performance because I think there’s an opportunity there.
Visualize performance medicine, nutrition, and fitness as three separate mountains. At any given time, you’ll be further up relative to the others. The higher you scale any single QTB mountain, the harder it is to generate incremental physical or cognitive benefit from that effort.
QTBs — and health enthusiasts in general — often err in over-optimizing one mountain while they are significantly lower down the path in the others. It’s often easier to take an under optimized variable from a 10 to a 40 on the mountain (100 scale) than a more optimized variable from 75 to 78. The latter optimization will have a significantly smaller impact on one’s health quality, and it might take close to as much effort as the former.
We all have areas of passion and areas where we need to force effort. I like nutrition alright but I love hormones and fitness. I’m about as far up the latter mountains as I can get, so it usually makes sense for me to spend more time optimizing nutrition even though I enjoy the other variables more.
There could be a meaningful business here to serve QTBs because many of us have a hard time shifting, or even knowing where to shift, our focus to where we can get the biggest results for our effort.
Fount is an interesting effort to deliver an advanced holistic solution to optimal health. I don’t know the company, but using my mountain metaphor, it appears they help the health-interested manage their journeys up QTB mountains. The program is expensive ($5,000/month) but knowing what I’ve spent on my journey and the time it took to get here, that’s probably about the right cost for top quality, personalized QTB care. QTBs are a high dollar value customer. As more of us emerge, the larger the market becomes.
Beyond Fount, I am more skeptical of companies that aim to optimize health for the average consumer. The average person doesn’t need health optimization or customization, he needs basic action.
If someone doesn’t diet, work out, or have any idea what their blood and hormone profiles look like, they just need a cookie cutter plan. Basic hormone management, a simple linear strength training program, some cardio, and a diet that avoids sugars and empty calories is where all beginners should start. Few people need special treatment until they get 30-40% up their QTB mountains. Just get the general public to care about health in any basic way, and you’ve performed a miracle.
Performance medicine includes hormone replacement therapy, peptides, stem cells, brain implants, psychoactive drugs, and other prescription medicines aimed at defying age and enhancing performance. In my personal experience, if your hormones are not optimized, there is no greater improvement you can make in your health.
That’s what excites me about it as an investment category.
Hormones, namely testosterone and its analogues, are the most exciting area today because they have a long clinical history of effectiveness. Many of the other exciting performance health categories are still nascent with limited clinical evidence of effectiveness.
More importantly, we’re in a crisis of declining testosterone levels. The average testosterone level has declined by 20% over the last 20 years.
Declining testosterone levels have several negative impacts. Lower testosterone levels affects fertility levels and libido. It’s also shown to be associated with depression and low motivation.
While testosterone is thought of as a male hormone, it’s also important for women. Testosterone deficiencies in women can lead to lower libido, lower bone density, physical frailty, and lower cognitive function.
Testosterone may be a sort of universal miracle drug capable of addressing mental health issues in many people that are treated with ineffective SSRIs as well as libido, erectile, motivational, cognitive, and weight issues.
The challenge for testosterone is the persistent stigma of steroids. Many doctors don’t want to prescribe testosterone because of the connotation. In my decade long journey, I’ve spoken to close to two dozen doctors about testosterone. Of the six that have prescribed it, only two knew how to really manage it. Several of those doctors laughed off my request to even test my testosterone levels. One accused me of taking anabolic steroids. What an embarrassing way to “practice” medicine.
Even among doctors that offer testosterone therapy, few are great at managing it. Great doctors understand the complexity of hormone therapy whereby introducing one new hormone creates a cascade of potential downstream effects in how it converts to other hormones, suppresses certain activity in pituitary gland, increases red blood cell production, etc. While every patient will handle hormones differently, many of these changes to the body are common across individuals.
Given their rarity, great doctors are both busy and expensive (see Fount). The persistent opportunity across all performance medicine types is scaling the constrained expertise of great practitioners to larger patient populations.
While testosterone is the most immediately promising performance medicine given its long clinical history of use, there are many other emerging performance medicines that I expect QTBs to find interesting. Many of these areas have limited clinical evidence and may be years from mainstream usage.
Here are some thoughts on the major ones:
Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone modified to more specifically promote molecular growth (i.e. anabolism vs catabolism which is molecular breakdown).
Many anabolic drugs that have long been popular in the bodybuilding and strength community are viable in treating age and health related issues. Anabolic drugs can be used to prevent loss of muscle mass in the face of disease or injury. Numerous studies have shown nandrolone to be effective in reducing pain from arthritis. Oxandrolone is also approved by the FDA for joint related issues. I personally use low dose nandrolone to deal with some early arthritis. It’s been more effective than anything else I’ve tried.
I suspect that QTBs will find other uses for anabolic drugs given properties related to healing tissues.
Our future consists of a lot more jacked grannies taking anabolic steroids.
Growth hormone (HGH) is another powerful hormone naturally created in the human body. It’s responsible for our physical growth as children as well as maintaining tissues throughout life. Like testosterone and anabolic steroids, HGH can have positive effects on strength and other physical markers by increasing one’s ability to recover from stress. That makes it another popular drug amongst bodybuilders.
A compelling use case for HGH is aiding in recovering from injury. Recent studies show improved recovery from ACL surgery, particularly in the avoidance of muscle loss. Another study suggests that HGH may help with recovery from stroke.
These recovery mechanisms hint that HGH may have enhancement properties attractive to QTBs. HGH may be a powerful cognitive enhancer or maintainer given the stroke study, and I hope to see more studies on the hormone; however, some literature questions the effectiveness of using growth hormone for “anti-aging.” Given current knowledge around hormones, we can likely achieve much of what HGH might offer in terms of quality of life with testosterone that has a more known side effect profile.
If you thought testosterone was stigmatized, wait until you learn about using psychedelic drugs to enhance cognitive function.
A study suggests that LSD and psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”) offer persistent alleviation for depression, while ketamine may offer transient positive effects. The same drugs have demonstrated improvements in cognitive function — “time perception, convergent and divergent thinking” — in other studies.
Here's what we know: People want cognitive enhancement. Abuse of Adderall has increased markedly over the past decade. Even when I was in college, many friends used Adderall to help them study even though they didn’t have ADHD. ADHD is a complicated and controversial topic. There is real concern about over treatment and misuse of prescribed drugs, and some people are even dubious that it is a genuine condition.
Personally, I think people should have access to focus drugs if they want them provided they understand the risks. I feel the same about testosterone and the other substances mentioned here. The promise of psychoactives is that they may carry less risk than pharmaceuticals for QTBs while also potentially creating permanent positive change in brain function.
Perhaps the most sci-fi and earliest-in-development segment of performance health is implantable devices. Brain implants are the area I’ve spent the most time considering.
Brain computer interfaces (BCIs) create a sort of read/write interface between the human brain and a computer. The connection enables clinicians — and eventually individuals — to understand brain function and potentially offer corrective signal in the event of dysfunction. Fairly basic low bandwidth BCIs are already being used to incredible effect to restore feel and motion in paralyzed patients. Paradromics (portfolio co), is developing a high-bandwidth neural interface that may be even more effective in connecting and repairing issues related to the human brain.
Not only do invasive BCIs show promise for clinical breakthrough, minimally-invasive devices may be able to do the same. Inner Cosmos (portfolio co) is building a coin-sized device that would sit on top of the skull to treat depression through brain stimulation.
While these interfaces have powerful potential to correct significant health problems, they also have powerful potential to augment human performance for QTBs, both physical and mental. Imagine a world where a minimally invasive implant could help optimize the stimulation of motor neurons for sports performance or even maintain reflexes as we age. The same implant could optimize neuronal function to focus on important work. Or stop doomscrolling Twitter. Now that’s a superpower.
Rapamycin, metformin, stem cells, gene editing, NAD+, SARMs, cellular rejuvenation, low dose lithium,peptides. I’ve tried several and could list a dozen more. One of our venture portfolio companies, Hone, is trying to make several of these performance health drugs more accessible.
QTBs will use a cocktail of several of these performance medicines to stave off the effects of aging. Remember the mountain. A few of the right drugs will get you more than 50% of the way to the top. The rest might be incremental improvements to a high-quality life.
There’s untold financial opportunity in figuring out the right cocktail of medicines for willing QTBs. More quality time on this world is priceless.
Fitness and Nutrition
For these QTB categories, I’ll only offer quick opinions rather than deeper analysis given greater general familiarity with the spaces.
QTBs must be strong, have good cardiovascular endurance, and be flexible. They must also adequately recover from training to optimize those qualities.
Strength is the most important component of fitness because strength makes everything easier. Strength is not only functional. It’s also aesthetic, and physical aesthetics have powerful impact on cognition. Muscle is the ultimate accessory. It’s literal proof of work. It’s proof of health and strength. You can’t fake it, and you can’t buy it.
Fitness largely does not require technological innovation. The same basic principles that worked to make humans strong and fit 50 years ago work today, as does the same equipment. I suspect we’ll largely be saying the same 50 years from now. That makes it a hard category to invest in for lack of big winners.
If you do invest in fitness, you must invest in cults. Crossfit was probably the best example of what a great fitness business must be: Undeniable results combined with a rabidly loyal community. It was a religion as much as a fitness company. Anything short of a new fitness religion won’t generate the kind of outcome I’d look for as an investor seeking long-term growth.
Recovery is the one area of fitness that does seem to invite technology. Eight Sleep is an example. Everyone needs to sleep. When we sleep better, we perform better. If Eight Sleep products do what they say, they’re a bargain, and a lot of people should use them (not an investor).
In stark contrast to fitness, there is great excitement about technological innovation in foods. Lab grown meats, plant burgers, eating bugs. Contrarian view: Markets for most alt-proteins will prove to be smaller than optimists believe. There will be advocates and zealots that push the benefits of climate and sustainability, but I challenge the effectiveness of alt-proteins to nourish high-performing individuals.
A study comparing whey and plant protein found that plant blends were not bio-equivalent to whey even when adjusting for amino acid profiles. The hypothesis was that amino acids from the plant proteins may be processed at different rates than the whey (animal) protein. I suspect we will find similar inefficiencies in alt-proteins that will make them fine as sustenance for the average person but not QTBs looking to maximize performance and life quality.
Alt-proteins may be the next ESG/energy style blowup like the one we just experienced. Something well-meaning but ignorant of the unyielding demand of humans for comfort in a world of discomfort. Everyone wants to save the environment until it means turning off their air conditioning in 90-degree heat. Or giving up their private jet.
Who the hell wants to eat bugs anyway?
The best diet lives at the intersection of sustainability and health. I don’t mean sustainable as in the environmental variety that I just decried. I mean that for any individual, you should create the healthiest diet that you can adhere to for the rest of your life without stopping. Most people try to make their diet perfect in hopes of rapid improvements in body composition or health. The problem is most people can’t sustain an optimal diet of no sugar, no unhealthy fats, no ice cream, lots of vegetables. Basically no fun. Instead, we should strive to always improve our baseline sustainable diet to gradually progress up the nutrition mountain. Tools like Levels (portfolio co) can help QTBs understand how certain foods affect your body so you can make diet changes accordingly.
Most sports supplements are garbage. The experienced meathead’s rule: If some “miracle in a bottle” is available over the counter at a reasonable price, it doesn’t work. It might not work because the underlying ingredients just don’t do anything. Or the ingredients might drive effect at a high enough dose, but a high enough dose would be too expensive to ever sell, so you get watered down supplements that don’t drive outcomes.
The only supplements that offer any verifiable benefit are whey protein, collagen, creatine (for mental performance too, not just muscle), and vitamins (particularly for areas of individual deficiency). That’s it.
I’m sure many sizable supplement companies of questionable efficacy will be built on influencer personalities, but I’m not sure many will be exceptional outcomes investors.
Disclaimer: My views here do not constitute investment advice. They are for educational purposes only. My firm, Loup Funds, may hold positions in securities I write about. See our fuller disclaimer.
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