Yuri Milner Wants to Talk to Aliens | Summary and Q&A

September 21, 2015
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Yuri Milner Wants to Talk to Aliens

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Yuri Milner, a successful investor and explorer, discusses various topics in an interview. He talks about his investment strategy, his experiences with companies like Facebook and Twitter, and the growth of e-commerce in China. Milner also shares his thoughts on artificial intelligence and his ambitious project to search for extraterrestrial life.

Questions & Answers

Q: How does Yuri Milner feel about relating to the end users of the companies he invests in?

Milner explains that despite the diversity of cultures and demographics, there are often similarities and recurring business models across different countries. This observation helps him relate to the end users of the companies he invests in.

Q: Did Yuri Milner sell his stake in Facebook and Twitter?

Milner confirms that his company made significant investments in both Facebook and Twitter, but he prefers not to discuss the details of their positions.

Q: Why does Yuri Milner choose not to join boards of companies?

Milner believes in maintaining a hands-off investment approach. While they do establish a close relationship with the founders and offer insights from their global experience, they prefer not to join boards of companies.

Q: Does the fact that Yuri Milner does not take board seats make his investments more attractive to founders?

Milner believes that initially, founders might have been attracted to the fact that they don't take board seats. However, he feels that their global experience is now a more significant factor in convincing founders to take money from his firm.

Q: How often does Yuri Milner's team travel?

Milner explains that their team is global and covers all continents. They have to travel extensively throughout the year. Collectively, the team travels to the moon and back three times a year.

Q: Is China experiencing a growth and plateau pattern similar to what the US has seen?

Milner thinks it's too early to say for sure, but he believes that there is a possibility that, like in the US, certain tech companies in China could accelerate even during times of economic crisis.

Q: Does Yuri Milner think Xiaomi, an investment of his, will benefit from the current situation in China?

Milner believes that Xiaomi, a company producing high-quality inexpensive phones, will drive demand in China and other developing markets. The company offers high-quality products at a lower price compared to more established brands.

Q: Why is e-commerce in China growing at a faster rate compared to the US?

According to Milner, the larger and faster-growing e-commerce market in China can be attributed to factors such as less organized retail, the density of the population, and the shipping efficiency resulting from higher population density.

Q: What is Yuri Milner's view on the future of artificial intelligence (AI)?

Milner disagrees with Elon Musk's belief that AI is an existential threat to humanity. He argues that there is a convergence between human brains and computers, and AI development will involve a peaceful coexistence and collaboration between humans and machines.

Q: Why has Yuri Milner invested in breakthrough initiatives to search for extraterrestrial life?

Milner explains that scientific evidence shows the existence of a large number of earth-like planets in our galaxy. He believes it is our responsibility to explore the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life and communicate with them. The recent advancements in technology and the low cost of communication make this project feasible.

Q: What would Yuri Milner say to intelligent life if it is found?

Milner believes that communicating with intelligent life from other civilizations would be a complex task that requires careful consideration. He mentions a prize competition to create the best message to be sent if we receive communication from them, but he personally hasn't thought about his own message yet.


Yuri Milner's interview covers a wide range of topics, including investment strategy, technology, and the search for extraterrestrial life. He highlights the similarities in business models across different countries, the value of global experience in investments, and the potential for e-commerce growth in the US. Milner also shares his optimistic view on artificial intelligence, emphasizing the collaboration between humans and machines. Finally, he discusses his ambitious project to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, citing scientific evidence and advancements in communication technology.

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