Information Asymmetries

How to find and profit off of them

I have a weird hobby: finding Information Asymmetries.

“Information Asymmetry” is a fancy was of saying 1 person in a deal has more information than another. Anytime you go to a mechanic, the mechanic has an information asymmetry. They know how cars work, you don’t, so they can make stuff up and overcharge you.

The only solution is to learn how a car works and most people will never do that, so mechanics can and will continue to overcharge you. For most of us, we are OK with that. Maybe we call our Dads to ask for advice, but at the end of the day, we accept it how it is. The difference between $300 and $800 isn’t big enough to warrant learning mechanical engineering.

But what if you’re talking millions to billions?

The person with more information will make more money.

This is why I have a page in my Notion titled “ASYMMETRIES” where I keep all the information I know, but 99% of people don’t. This is why VCs and investors spend so much time on due diligence because they don’t want to get screwed by an information asymmetry. Sequoia Capital lost $150M on FTX because they didn’t have enough information on Sam Bankman-Fraud.

Or maybe you remember OlympusDAO. It was a fancy-sounding beautifully designed-project with a very “complex” financial structure that promised high APY returns. I saw brilliant investors lose $100K and more because they fell victim to thinking “it’s so complex that I can’t understand it but all of Twitter is talking about it—which means this must be good.” I didn’t invest because I was like “it’s too complex, I don’t understand it, which means I won’t invest in it.” Why would I invest in a business I don’t understand?1  

The goal is to always have an Information Asymmetry in any business.

Not so you can screw people over like OlympusDAO, but so you can win and beat out your competition in whatever industry you decide to compete in, be it science, marketing, or making content.

How do you obtain information asymmetries?

Know more than others about your specific field.

Become a knowledge-acquisition machine. Sure, for a scientist, that might mean a PhD. But that ain’t most of us (I still don’t know how my car works). For entrepreneurs, information asymmetries can be obtained in 3 main ways:

  1. Rabbithole Diving (Easy)

  2. Access (Medium)

  3. Experience (Hard)

Rabbithole Diving: You go down weird rabbitholes.

This is the easiest way young people can profit off of information asymmetries.

If you’re young and don’t have experience or a network, then the best way to build and profit off of information asymmetries is to go down weird rabbitholes and share what you learn on the internet.

Think of it as a weekly research paper but instead of sharing your research with a teacher, you’re sharing it with your friends and colleagues on the internet. If you do this at a high enough level and consistently, you’ll build up respect in your industry, grow a following, and make money.

  • I read obscure books about marketing that most people haven’t heard of, and then sharing my learnings in viral posts like this that lead to new startup clients and newsletter readers

  • My friend Nathan Baugh writes a newsletter about storytelling; to promote the newsletter, he collects powerful sentences from fiction books he reads and shares them in viral posts

  • College student Brian Ji shares clips from tech podcasts and has grown his Twitter from 0 → 17k in the past few months

If you’re young and hungry, start rabbithole diving and sharing your research on the internet. And while you’re doing this, focus on the next 2 as well: Access and Experience.

Access: You have a network you can learn from.

Access is its own asymmetry.

If you’re a dropout like me, the internet is the best (and only) place that you can access the brightest minds in the world.

Yes, you can pay for access—BUT you can also talk to anyone on the internet for FREE on the timeline, in DMs, or pro tip: by having a podcast.

If you want to gain an access-based information asymmetry, a podcast is the best hack in the world. This week, I talked to centimillionaire former CBO of Uber Emil Michael for 30 minutes about dealing with the press on my podcast (he charges $1450 for 30 min which I got for free) and former White House Official Joshua Steinmann about US-China Relations and cybersecurity for 60 minutes (he charges $1776/hour which I got for free). These guys are SUPER successful with experience-based information asymmetries they gained from years in their arenas—and I got access for free thanks to having a podcast.

“You need an audience to do this”, you might say.

Au contraire. I’ve been getting big guests since day 1 totally for free. It comes down to the fact that people are more willing to talk on a podcast than when you ask to “pick their brain” because they get free content to share plus any distribution you may offer. The real reason to start a podcast is about access to information, not about being the next Joe Rogan.

Remember: Both of these podcasts will be going live in the next 2 weeks, so make sure to subscribe on Spotify, Apple, or YouTube.

Experience: You’ve spent serious time in the arena.

Chamath is right tbh

Emil Michael and Joshua Steinman can charge thousands for their time because they’ve been in the arena and were learning.

A couple more examples.

Peter Levels is an solo hacker who codes cool apps and makes millions. People are obsessed with him. He has 400k followers. They think he’s the GOAT. And he is. But you can’t forget this here. He didn’t become the GOAT automatically, he failed for A LONG TIME. Lots of iterations and lessons along the way.

Along the way, Peter has learned quite a lot of valuable lessons. That’s why he’s able to grow his following to 400,000+ followers, charge people for access to him, and make $20k/month off his book on indie hacking. You can’t just do that straight out of the gate with no experience.

Nikita Bier failed on dozens of apps and was on his last try when he launched TBH which he grew and sold for millions to Facebook. Then 5 years later, he launched Gas App, grew it into a viral app, and made millions selling it to Discord. The dude learned a shitload. He has an experience-based information asymmetry that only years in the arena can get you. So now he charges app founders for consulting and is making a lot of money doing it.

The same is true for me and my work.

I’ve been running internet businesses since high school, grew my personal following to 75+ across platforms, wrote a book about meme marketing, worked with dozens of startups on organic growth, and am now Head of Growth at Product Hunt. While I’m not Nikita or Peter yet (they’re both 5+ years older), the reason startups/VCs sign up to work me is because I have experience-based information asymmetries in the world of marketing to share.

There’s no shortcut or hack for this.

If you want an experience-based information asymmetry you can profit off of, the only way is to get in the arena. I failed on the internet for 10+ years. I wouldn’t change a thing about it, it taught me everything I know. As my friend Jordan Mix says, “You gotta take mad L’s. No L’s, no lessons.”

😸 There’s Product Hunt meetups happening around the globe in SF, NYC, Miami, New Delhi, and more. Wanna party with Product Hunt?

Memes of the Week:


Yup, it’s here.

I started a 2nd newsletter where me and internet-famous memelord Charlie Light give our “Memes of the Week” picks every Monday.

Plus we give some meme marketing hacks and tricks. It’s completely unhinged and so much fun, subscribe here for free:

Meme MailDank memes delivered weekly

Ok onto more serious things for a bit.

Let’s blow up the internet together.

Thanks for reading nerds.

Jason “The Memelord” Levin

Head of Growth @ Product Hunt, Author of Memes Make Millions

1  A good rule of thumb I live by: generally, only con-men make things complex when trying to sell; if you can’t explain it simply, it’s probably a sham. Simple is solid, complex kills.