Some interesting bits from Dr. K's Reddit AMA

Our CTO Kailash Nadh recently did an AMA session on Reddit answering lots of cool questions for nearly 6 hours. Sharing below some of the interesting Q&As from the session:

Top 3 Life advice

Q: What are the top 3 life advice you’d like to give everyone?

  • There is no one-size-fits-all top 3 meaningful advice anyone can give anyone :slight_smile: That said, I would like to reassert that nothing in life is absolute and every single decision is a trade-off.

Studying abroad

Q: Do you think studying abroad helped you a lot? If yes, then what was different there compared to India?

  • I ended up studying abroad by sheer luck / coincidence. I ended up there at a time when I didn’t even know that it was possible for an Indian student to study abroad. How did it help? Education/“career” wise, very little. Changing my worldview for the better, significantly.

Remote work and Work from office

Q: What’s your opinion on working remotely vs working from an office, for developers, managers and leaders? While I understand the answer to this is a combination of many factors (remote working culture, organization size / stage, collaboration tools, individual competency, etc). I’d love to know your view point. Specifically how does this impact growth of an individual and how do you think the remote work culture will pan out over the next 10-15 years given that the “hubs” are getting over-populated and are eventually becoming unfit for living. Thanks :slight_smile:

  • You answered the question yourself. It is entirely contextual.

  • It is very difficult to replicate in-person human relationships and bonding (in a work context) online. This is not rocket science. Humans have evolved to be social beings. That’s the very basis of humanity and civilisation. Our physical and cognitive machinery are wired to pick up on in-person nuances.

  • For us, we’re able to be productive work wise after we’ve become a remote team (although many of us in the team meet up once a week) only because we got many years to sit together as a tight team and build those bonds. The vast majority of technical and non-technical breakthroughs, the culture at Zerodha, have been results of the creative sparks from ad-hoc conversations from sitting together. That is diminished greatly in remote work. So in the context of Zerodha and for me personally, remote work sucks. It’s great for sitting in peace and pushing code without distractions, but very difficult for small, creative, personal teams to grow into an org.

Q: Have you ever thought you would be in this position 10years back?

Nope. Who knows if the current position is inherently good in the grand scheme of things. Maybe it could’ve been far better? Or worse?


Q: Why do you identify as an Absurdist? Especially considering that absurdism is a highly incoherent philosophical position. Even Camus actively admitted to not being a philosopher and his philosophical positions not containing a hint of rationality.

The world is neither rational, nor coherent! Look at the plight humanity has brought upon itself and this planet despite many a millennia of learning.

I’m an absurdist. My life has been a series of co-incidences (and if one reflects, we’ll realise that the world is the result of chaos and randomness). I could slip and fall this afternoon and my life could change drastically. Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t think about what will happen to me tomorrow or 10 years from now. Whatever happens, happens and I can only think about the actions that I can take, that are in my control, in the present.

Earning and settling

Q:Did you ever get a thought “I have earned enough now, I should settle” ? Or “I should startup on
my own” in something you found really interesting ?

I never set out to earn $X but to pursue what I enjoy and what drives me. I’ve never had any particular financial or material goals in the past and don’t have any now either. I’m happy to continue working on projects and hanging out with the team that I like hanging out with!

ChatGPT and progress in AI

Q: Your take on ChatGPT and other promising LLMs changing the world: for the good and for the bad.

I think it’s different this time. Amazing technologies … with also the potential to replace a lot of human work. I’m concerned about what the multi-dimensional, infinite possibilities of automations these technologies bring about will do to not just jobs, but society in general. And it’s only been a few months. Imagine the next few years.

Building approach

Q:Hi. I’ll keep it simple. How do you go about building for the next billion?

I’m not a fan of the top-down “build for billion” approach. You solve problems from first principles for 10 people, and if it’s meaningful and logical, it can be scaled gradually to millions or billions of people.

You go about building / solving problems from first principles. Million, billion are eventualities.

Future of some of the tech roles

Q: Hi Kailash. I am a big fan of your work and tech philosophy.

In this tough market for software devs, what can the senior and staff level devs to do remain relevant? There are so many grad devs flooding the market, it’s almost impossible to stay up on everything.

Thank you. Honestly, at this point, I think it is going to get increasingly difficult, given the recent breakthroughs in AI (or “AI”). A large number of roles are going to be automated away soon, not just in tech, but outside tech, at an unprecedented rate. I’m already witnessing this.

To have an edge (barring random luck), you’ve to try and excel at what you do. What can one do differently that N others can’t? This is where not just technical skills, but developing a certain meaningful philosophical approach to tech becomes crucial. This is really age-old common sense, but now, we’ve to compete not just with other humans, but “intelligent” machines unlike ever before.

Specialization vs being a generalist

Q:What is your opinion on specialization in a tech stack vs being a generalist?

Do you foresee AI disrupting software development work? If so, in what ways? In what ways can developers leverage it today to be ahead of the curve?

What is your opinion on Twitter layoff with elons reasoning being that so many developers weren’t needed to run Twitter (since you also run with a small team)

  1. My view is that everyone should try to be a generalist for as long as possible. In this process, one or more specialisations naturally emerge. A good generalist is naturally a specialist in one or more areas. This allows people to seamlessly keep expanding their general horizons and develop new specialisations as technologies inevitably change and become obsolete.

  2. After observing the breakthroughs in the last few months (and now almost at a daily rate!), I am convinced that AI technologies are going to disrupt not just software development, but entire spectrums of work. Already witnessing this first hand. I don’t have a clear answer apart from a general notion that software developers should use these (and whatever other tools), to try and truly excel at what they do.

  3. Twitter had 1000s of engineers, which is a lot. Logically (making assumptions of the nature of the product and its complexities in the backend), there had to have been a lot of bloat surely. However, to say that instead of X number, Y number is enough and fire people overnight tumultuously (and then call some back), was not good. The erratic, ad-hoc, whimsical, unemphatic treatment of people, the public humiliation and charades, was abhorrent.

Suggestion to young entrepreneurs

Q:What will you suggest young entrepreneurs to focus in their initial stages who want to make big?

Don’t focus on big. We never did at Zerodha. Focus on solving problems meaningfully and sustainably. If you do it well, and if the problem is genuinely big, you might become big as well.

Being hard on self and feeling stuck

Q: What would you do when:

You are being hard on yourself always, undermining what you have done till date due to getting stuck to one place/role/type, leading to committing mistakes just because you are in these blurred state of mind.

What if you have started with a field or domain which after a year or 2, you have gained so much knowledge about completely due to experience of doing it and not really being curious about it. So you look to switch to a different domain but stuck in a loop of Figuring Out, leading to getting deeper into the quick sand and time seems wasted thereby

Over a long period of time, I’ve developed an absurdist worldview. This helps make sense of such feelings. We can only focus on what is in our control. This beautiful 3 minute clip, Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot monologue helps me find perspective whenever I’m lost. We’re fickle, nothing, in the grand scheme of things, and history.

Don’t have an answer, but overthinking and overanalysing won’t help. At a complete deadlock between two choices, might as well toss a coin and take a certain calculated risk by asking the question, “If I were to pick choice X, what is the worst that can happen? If that happens, can I handle it?”

Protocol in Indian markets

Q: Hi Kailash,

I work in the trading vertical for a big buy side firm and I also have experience of working with an institutional broker. I work on FIX protocol which is the technology used to establish the connectivity between traders and brokers for institutional trading. Could you give some insights as to what technology is used for retail and how different is it from FIX?

There’s little to no FIX in Indian markets, unfortunately. Each exchange has its own proprietary protocol that we’ve to parse and each broker then translates this into their own custom protocol that they’ve developed for their desktop/web/mobile applications. Basically, it’s all custom protocols in every institution.

Here’s the link to the full reddit AMA:


A related question,

I heard that TCS had their strategy meeting at a foreign country. I heard this in news when Rajesh Gopinath resigned and there were lot of news flows.

Any reason why they do this. If this is for motivation, I am sure all the guys who attended gets paid in crores and they must have travelled across the world. As if Rajesh and his top notch guys have not ever travelled and TCS wants to show him their gratitude. I have heard Corporates
sending their outstanding staff overseas for training or to attend seminar. All this is acceptable as this is surely motivational. But why would Board or CEO want to go abroad and do strategy meeting. Even overseas meeting to get business is fine, but strategy meeting huh?

I am sure they can still discuss all this at their HO and save a lot of money for the shareholders.

The idea is to go for a family vacation at the expense of company. Plan a meeting overseas and take your family along and claim all expenses from company as work related.
This is very common in Railways where my father works (not overseas, restricted to India only). Senior officials like DRM plan their visits to tourist places in the name of inspection and take their families with them and then claim all expenses from the Government in the name of Travelling allowance.