Few people know that we tried to start something pretty similar to Rethink Priorities in 2016 (our actual founding was in 2018). We (Marcus and me, the RP co-founders, plus some others) did some initial work but failed to get sustained funding and traction so we gave up for >1 year before trying again. Given that RP −2018 seems to have turned out to be quite successful, I think RP-2016 could be an example of a failed project?
That’s fascinating! What do you think were the key differences between the 2016 approach and the 2018 approach, and how much was just luck of timing?
I think three key differences:
By 2018, we had more of a track record before starting.
For the 2018 attempt, we self-funded for six months before seeking funding to build an even bigger track record, rather than trying to get funding right at the beginning.
EA funding was notably more plentiful in 2018 than 2016. (Though still notably less plentiful than in 2022.)