Thursday, May 26, 2011

Intrade Founder and CEO John Delaney, R.I.P.

Business Insider -- "John Delaney, founder and CEO of Intrade, the prediction market, has died while trying to climb Mt. Everest. He was less than 50 meters from the top, according to the Daily Mail."

36 Comments:

At 5/26/2011 9:36 AM, Blogger Michael E. Marotta said...

It is unfortunate, but it is a cliche that entrpreneurs seek risk and profit from uncertainty.

Peter Bernstein pointed out in Against the Gods that Pascal and Fermat's making measurable the distinction between risk and uncertainty was the origin of modern capitalism.

In this case, we have no way to measure the loss of a brilliant young capitalist.

 
At 5/26/2011 10:18 AM, Blogger NC said...

Climbing Everest and back home are a 3 year old, a 2 year old and a wife about to give birth again. Wow, talk about making it about "self". What was this guy thinking?.... oh, yea, self.

 
At 5/26/2011 10:21 AM, Blogger Bill said...

I am very sorry to hear of his death but it was incredibly irresponsible of him to take such grave and foolish risks while having a wife and very young children.

 
At 5/26/2011 11:13 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

NC and Bill:

You might be right, but the flip side of risk is reward. Do you suppose Delaney's wife and children would have been better off with a less risky husband and father? When you say foolish and selfish is it tinged with a little bit of jealousy?

It seems like a lot of greatness is achieved by those who are not afraid of risk. I doubt the world would be better off without such people, and I know it would be a much more boring place.

 
At 5/26/2011 11:43 AM, Blogger Bill said...

Walt: I am all for taking financial risk (and do). What I am saying is that taking chances with your own life while you have small children is selfish, foolish and wrong. Also, if this guy was single or his kids were grown, I would have no problem with his attempt to climb Everest. But, this was not the case.

 
At 5/26/2011 1:25 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Bill:

We all take risks everyday. Part of that is what makes us who we are. Would the Delaney who climbed mountains be the same Delaney who did not climb mountains?

I had a friend who was the picture of health, a priest who ate properly, and he died of a heart attack jogging at 38-years-old. Does not knowing your risks really change your risks? Maybe when it is your time to go, you just go, but the trick is to live your life up to that point.

I would not look down on Delaney at all for climbing Mt. Everest. We should all have our own Mt. Everest type goals to accomplish in life.

 
At 5/26/2011 2:07 PM, Blogger Steve Rider said...

Intrade was amazing last election. It was the only place I saw that correctly picked the results of the Nevada and Alaska Senate races, while every other poll showed the outcome was pretty certain to be different.

Climbing Everest with small children was probably not a good risk to undertake.

 
At 5/26/2011 2:14 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

perspicacity is important.
I don't see that it follows that a risk taker in business would also be a risk taker in their private life.
Frankly, I don't think anyone should be climbing Mt. Everest. Too many fatalities.

 
At 5/26/2011 3:18 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

bix1951,

You have a 100% chance of dying. The real risk is getting to the end, whenever that might be, and regretting you did not live life to the fullest.

Personally, most people would assume my risks are motorcycles and guns because I have been in the hospital over both, but people usually have a different perception of themselves than other people have.

 
At 5/26/2011 3:49 PM, OpenID Sprewell said...

For those who think he was irresponsible to leave his young kids, I'll note that Intrade was valued at $10 million in 2009, so the guy was very likely a millionaire and the kids will be well taken care of after he's gone. Of course, he won't be there to raise them.

 
At 5/26/2011 5:47 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

I've been popping in to read the comments since I saw this post this morning (I love intrade so very much).

I have some personal opinions about how life should be lived. My husband accepted as part of our marriage contract many years ago that he will no longer be allowed to die and he will be forced to don a fireproof suit and a crash helmet just to drive to the grocery store in our super safe car (I checked in consumer reports for the safest one). I exaggerate.....a little bit.

For me, the reward for such an enormous risk is not worth it. The opportunity cost (the kids, the wife, the life) is too high. But, that's me. It's probably most of us. But, it's not him. His utility curve is entirely different from mine and his wife accepted this life when she married him. Like everyone else, I'm inclined to judge his decision by my standards, but it's still inappropriate, IMO.

It's just sad. That's all.

 
At 5/27/2011 4:23 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Do you suppose Delaney's wife and children would have been better off with a less risky husband and father?"

I suppose we would have to ask them, but If I had to guess, I'd say that about now, their answer would be yes. They probably would prefer "some" to "none".

What would the family's reward be from saying he had climbed Mt. Everest? It's about "self".

 
At 5/27/2011 6:03 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"What would the family's reward be from saying he had climbed Mt. Everest? It's about "self"."

It's not about climbing Mt. Everest. It's about being the type of person who would climb Mt. Everest. I never could explain why I wanted to run a marathon to a lot of people, but I did it anyhow even though I disliked running many, many days. I guess you either internally understand why or you don't.

Sure it's about self. We are a complete package that we present to others. The only thing that separates the common person from a high achiever like a CEO is vision and drive. It was that vision and drive to climb Mt. Everest that made Delanery who he was and who his family loved.

It's sad John Delaney is gone. It is not sad he died while climbing Mt. Everest. We all have our own Mt. Everests. You have to admit John Delaney has one hell of a tall monument.

 
At 5/27/2011 11:18 AM, Blogger NC said...

Walt,

Look at his Risk - Reward equation.
Risk: losing life
Reward: look what I did.

He is not experimenting on a new cancer cure. This guy was all about self.

 
At 5/27/2011 12:25 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

NC:

Risk: not living life to the fullest

Reward: living life to the fullest

Self: do you want to have an existentialism discussion?

 
At 5/27/2011 2:47 PM, Blogger Dad said...

"Living life to the fullest" is a really silly expression.

ME: While you're giving birth to our third child, I am going to be climbing Mt Everest and living life to the fullest.

WIFE: The Hell You Are! While I'm giving birth to your third child, You are going to be right here with your family, living life to the fullest.

 
At 5/27/2011 3:37 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

""Living life to the fullest" is a really silly expression."

Not on your last day of life--whenever that might be. You are 100% guaranteed to die.

Think of a sterile white room on one end of a continuum and blasting off into space on the other end of the continuum. Most of us will live our lives with a risk and reward level somewhere in between those two points. What's your flavor?

 
At 5/27/2011 5:30 PM, Blogger Dad said...

Tell me when my last day of life is and I'll reconsider. As this one doesn't appear to be it, so far, I'll maintain my opinion that it is a silly expression. If you cut your life in half, is that living it to the fullest? If one's living life to the fullest means that four other people's lives are shattered, is that living it to the fullest? I grant that our ideas of "living life to the fullest" are likely different. But somewhere in the math there should negatives for the other lives that won't be "lived to the fullest."

 
At 5/27/2011 5:47 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"Tell me when my last day of life is and I'll reconsider."

I see that as the reason you climb your own Mt. Everest--today.

"If one's living life to the fullest means that four other people's lives are shattered, is that living it to the fullest?"

I've had my driver's license for 14,510 days and driven or raced a car or motorcycle most of those days (ain't Excel cool!). If I decide to climb Mt. Everest once, and I am well-prepared, what are my chances of dying during the climb compared to my chances of dying in a vehicle accident?

"If you cut your life in half, is that living it to the fullest?"

How do you know Delaney would not get run over by a drunk and killed on his way home after canceling his Mt. Everest climb? His family might even be with him and killed, too.

 
At 5/27/2011 8:26 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"If I decide to climb Mt. Everest once, and I am well-prepared, what are my chances of dying during the climb compared to my chances of dying in a vehicle accident?"

Your chances of dying in an auto accident during your life, are about 1 in 100. One in 61 people who climb Mt. Everest die. Almost twice as many. Two important differences are that you squeeze the risk from climbing Mt. Everest into just several days, and you can choose to avoid the risk altogether.

 
At 5/28/2011 8:15 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

If you avoided all risk in life it would be very, very boring.

The fantastic shape that people have to get themselves into to climb Mt. Everest probably extends the lives of the ones who make it, so the ones who don't die get to spend more time with their families than the people sitting and typing at computers all day.

I have the pleasure of knowing a famous mountain climber, Nancy Norris. She was a trainer for our running group back when I did that in the 90s. Check our her Website. She is amazing. I’m sorry, Blogger will not go to that page using a Blogger link for some reason.

http://nancynorris.net

 
At 5/28/2011 11:54 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"The fantastic shape that people have to get themselves into to climb Mt. Everest probably extends the lives of the ones who make it, so the ones who don't die get to spend more time with their families than the people sitting and typing at computers all day."

All this speculation, based on...nothing.

This is just silly, Walt. Do you mean that, although you have no evidence that extreme conditioning extents life, if it did, these people could enjoy that extra time with their families between, say, the ages of 82 and 85? Even though we could easily imagine them being non-ambulatory, due to injuries and damaged joints from having abused their bodies earlier in life?

I could as easily say that people who spend their time sitting and typing in front of computers can spend more time with their families - during their young, healthy years - as they are just in the next room, instead of off around the world climbing mountains, and become less of a burden in their later years, as they have the decency to die at an appropriate age.

Think about this stuff before you type it.

 
At 5/28/2011 12:19 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Ron H.,

I've had the pleasure of knowing a Mt. Everest mountain climber, a 5-time world AMA motorcycle champion, a three-time world motorcycle ice racer, a national dragster champion, a national snowmobile champion, 3 professional football players, 2 professional baseball players, a Gold Medal Olympic winning boxer, and Michael Moore.

All pushed themselves to the extreme and took risks that other people would not normally take. I am sure I learned more from them than they ever learned from me while becoming a better person, and I am proud I know them all. I would have been proud to know John Delaney as well.

 
At 5/28/2011 12:37 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I'm sorry. I forgot Ken Morrow, U.S. Gold in hockey. Probably the most famous hockey game ever played, "Miracle on Ice" 1980 Olympics.

I am truly blessed to have met and known so many people who have accomplished so much in life!! I guess I take it for granted, and I assume everyone else has the same life experiences that I've had.

 
At 5/28/2011 5:09 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I've had the pleasure of knowing a Mt. Everest mountain climber, a 5-time world AMA motorcycle champion, a three-time world motorcycle ice racer, a national dragster champion, a national snowmobile champion, 3 professional football players, 2 professional baseball players, a Gold Medal Olympic winning boxer, and Michael Moore."

But...how long did they live?

What's your point? I haven't questioned what fine people top athletes are.

Michael Moore?

 
At 5/28/2011 6:15 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

My point is people who take risks are often winners or high achievers because of the way they think and act, and that risk taking ability does not turn off when they change activities. It is all rolled into one huge life experience of who they are.

There are qualities that some people have that just shine. Talk to someone like Jim Abbott who was born with one hand and pitched a no-hitter in the major leagues and you will come away amazed. That does not mean people who don't take risks are necessarily losers, but people who defeat "Mt. Everest" obstacles often go farther than anyone--even themselves--believe they can.

Yes, I've known Mike Moore since high school. I used to write about the auto factories for him back in the 70s when he was just an editor of the local alternative newspaper.

You keep mentioning how long someone lives instead of how much someone lives. If you don't know the difference, I doubt if I can explain it to you.

 
At 5/29/2011 1:12 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"The fantastic shape that people have to get themselves into to climb Mt. Everest probably extends the lives of the ones who make it, so the ones who don't die get to spend more time with their families than the people sitting and typing at computers all day."

You seem to have forgotten this nonsensical comment you made earlier. I asked you to support it, and you haven't done so, because you know you can't. Now you have changed the subject as usual, Teflon Walt.

 
At 5/29/2011 7:15 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Ron H.,

You need to get out more. None of this is really about Mt. Everest and it is not a research paper. It is a discussion about high achievers--people who have guts--and their unique qualities.

There's no way to hold back the "Delaneys" of the world climbing their "Mt. Everests" or hold them to our ideas of risk because they don't see risk the way we do. That's what makes them who they are. They accomplish lofty dreams by pushing themselves to the extreme and conquering their fears.

Most of these people are already pretty fearless, so they will naturally end up on tall mountains, in deep seas, driving fast, or training over 100 hours a week eating a bowl of rice to get where they yearn to be physically and emotionally. Nobody can stop these people--many can't even stop themselves because they are wired that way.

Maybe we should all try to learn a little bit from them as we live our lives instead of calling them names and trying to hold them to our standards.

 
At 5/29/2011 12:22 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Walt G.

"You need to get out more. None of this is really about Mt. Everest and it is not a research paper. It is a discussion about high achievers--people who have guts--and their unique qualities. "

I agree, and haven't objected to anything you say except the silly comment you made about people living longer due to extreme conditioning, and therefore spending their bonus years with family. You haven't responded to that, because you recognize it as nonsense. You can try to spin your comments into glorification of the indominable human spirit if you wish, but that's not my complaint, and doesn't address it.

It's OK to admit it when you're wrong, Walt.

 
At 5/29/2011 2:00 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

John Delaney's widow was aware of the risks and said that "John went to Everest with my blessing."

 
At 5/29/2011 2:37 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"The fantastic shape that people have to get themselves into to climb Mt. Everest probably extends the lives of the ones who make it . . ."

I will change the "probably" to "possibly" and stay with what I said previously, Ron. I know many people who are running the Boston Marathon and the Western Ultra marathon 100 miler every year who look and act years younger than they really are. As a rule, I don't see that in sedentary people.

If you don't want to accept my personal experiences, Ron, get out and get your own and come back and add it to the commentary. I will be waiting.

 
At 5/29/2011 2:50 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Mrs. Delaney: "I can appreciate many people asking why, but only those who are truly passionate about something can fully understand John's reasons," she said."

Those who ask why will never understand while those who know why never have to ask. And the truth is somethings you don't know why, but you know you have to do it.

 
At 5/29/2011 3:55 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I will change the "probably" to "possibly" and stay with what I said previously,"

Thank you Walt, that's all I ask. Speculation about possibilities is fine. Stronger assertions require support.

 
At 5/29/2011 4:22 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Do you suppose Delaney's wife and children would have been better off with a less risky husband and father?"

By the way, I did respond to this earlier, before you changed the subject. I suggested that only the family could answer that question, not any of us, but we could speculate. Prof Perry has since provided the answer.

 
At 5/29/2011 5:40 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Ron H.,

Actually you said you thought that Delaney's family would wish he was less risky: "They probably would prefer "some" to "none"."

Maybe your "probably" should be possibly, too? :-)

Let's hope all people are able to live through achieving their dreams--however small or large they may be to us.

 
At 5/31/2011 11:17 PM, Blogger Rand said...

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."
- General George S. Patton, Jr

 

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