Blog articles

Hailo and MyTaxi

A VC - 9 hours 27 min ago

The news broke this morning that our portfolio company Hailo is combining forces with MyTaxi.

The combined company, which will operate under the MyTaxi brand, will be the dominant taxi hailing app in Western Europe.

Hailo is huge in the UK and Ireland and has a strong position in Spain. MyTaxi operates in Germany, Australia, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. So this combination is a great strategic fit and the new company will benefit from a lot of synergies.

Andrew Pinnington, the current CEO of Hailo, will become the CEO of MyTaxi and the company will consolidate its operations in Hamburg Germany. The combined company will be majority owned by Daimler.

Unlike the US, the regulated taxi business in Europe got on the ridesharing bandwagon early and it is as simple and easy to hail at taxi in Europe as it is to use Uber. If you travel to Berlin frequently, you will know that ridesharing in Berlin is all about taxis.

I can’t reveal numbers, but the combined MyTaxi/Hailo business will operate at a scale that puts it in the big leagues along with Uber and a number of other emerging winners in the ridesharing business.

This is a great outcome for Hailo and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Andrew Pinnington for his incredible leadership at Hailo over the past 18 months. Without that, none of this would have been possible.

Categories: Blog articles

Dump Trump and Hillary, Too

Beyond Money - July 25, 2016 - 4:40pm

I don’t usually put much energy into partisan politics but comes the time when opportunity knocks and we all must stand up and be counted. That time is now.

The US has been on the road to fascism for a long time. Both Democrats and Republicans have for decades been advancing the same agenda of ceding power to transnational mega-corporations and the global banking cartel. So called “free trade” agreements are simply ways of allowing capital to more freely exploit labor and the environment and forcing governments to guarantee their profits.

Changes in financial regulations, like the repeal of Glass-Steagall under Bill Clinton in 1999, have enabled banking companies to grow to monstrous size (“too big to fail”) and to more easily cheat the clients they are supposed to serve. In this article, James Rickards places the blame for the 2008 financial crisis squarely where it belongs and demolishes the arguments of the big bank apologists: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2012/08/27/repeal-of-glass-steagall-caused-the-financial-crisis.

Many countries are caught in the debt trap and are being forced to sell off government owned assets which further concentrates wealth and control of “the commons.” Those who control the creation and allocation of money are able to control politics, economics and virtually everything else.

When political and financial pressures prove inadequate, the US military is used to bludgeon countries into line with the global financial regime which is the most anti-democratic force in the world today. General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, testifies in this 2-minute video that the US planned to overthrow seven countries after 9/11: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. A thorough account of General Clark’s story is told by Glenn Greenwald here: http://www.salon.com/2011/11/26/wes_clark_and_the_neocon_dream/.

Under Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, the Pentagon came up with a new organization–the “Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG) to carry out secret missions designed to “stimulate reactions” among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to “counterattack” by U.S. forces. Those “violent acts” would also be used to justify regime change in countries accused of harboring the terrorists. This article from 2002 clearly described the causes of the mayhem we have seen unfold in the years since then: http://www.counterpunch.org/2002/11/01/rummy-s-plan-to-provoke-terrorist-attacks/. A little research will make it clear that the US and NATO are responsible for the turmoil in Syria and the consequent refugee crisis.

Hillary is clearly in the pocket of the banking/corporate elite and will continue to promote their agenda, just as Obama has. We were sold on Obama with promises of change and the feel-good idea of electing the first black President. Hillary is being sold to us as the non-Trump candidate together with the feel-good idea of electing the first woman President. I’m all for making the oval office accessible to minorities and women but what we have gotten is a lot of broken promises, a continuation of the Clinton-Bush policies, and an escalation of US interventions in other countries and a rekindling of the cold war against Russia.

Trump appeals to people’s fears and outrage over being misled by both parties. He promises what he cannot possibly deliver, while pandering to the religious right with his selection of a running mate whose policy positions seem diametrically opposed to much of what Trump says he is for. That makes his promises as unbelievable as Hillary’s and leads me to wonder if he has even a glimmer of understanding of the geo-political facts of life. I can only conclude that he is a megalomaniac to whom winning is everything.

So, what can we do to stop this madness?

We can continue to bide our time, watch the chaos unfold and hope for the best while waiting for new opportunities to emerge, and working to make our communities better and more resilient in spite of it all.

But maybe we already have an opportunity to make a change at the level of national politics. There is a viable third choice, and it is on the ballot in every one of the 50 States. It is the Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. Johnson is a former businessman and Republican governor of New Mexico, and Weld is a former Republican governor of Massachusetts, US Attorney, and head of the Department of Justice Criminal Division. In this short twitter video they make a strong pitch for their progressive social and anti-war agenda. https://mobile.twitter.com/GovGaryJohnson/status/748320273754165249/video/1. It sounds good to me.

This ticket should have broad appeal, especially among Sanders supporters who cannot bring themselves to vote for Hillary and Republicans who cannot bring themselves to vote for Trump. With the Republican Party in disarray and Hillary’s vast unpopularity among voters, this may be the year when a third party candidate can win the White House and upset the pattern of politics as usual.

With virtually no advertising, a recent CNN poll shows Johnson already with 13% support (and the Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 5%), and a CBS/New York Times poll had Johnson at 12 percent. According to the Libertarian Republic, “If Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, polls at least 15 percent in five national public opinion polls before the first presidential debate, he’ll be eligible to appear on the stage with the Democratic and Republican nominees.”

If Libertarians, Greens and all the rest of us who are dissatisfied with the state of politics in America can get behind the Johnson/Weld ticket, we can have the much needed Second American Revolution before this year is out.

Are we the people ready to govern ourselves? The power elite think not; let’s show them that we are.

#     #     #


Categories: Blog articles

Start, Grow, Mature, Consolidate

A VC - July 25, 2016 - 4:10am

The life cycle of tech companies is pretty straightforward. They start, they grow, they mature, and they consolidate.

The news that Yahoo is finally selling to Verizon and joining forces with AOL is a not in the least bit surprising and probably long overdue.

Yahoo has not been a growth business in quite a while.

Putting AOL and Yahoo together allows Verizon to cut costs and rationalize the two businesses and add scale to Verizon’s growing base of Internet assets.

But this is yesterday’s news in many ways. It is the denouement of the web 1.0 era when AOL and Yahoo were the Internet to many. They operated the training wheels that got so many of us online.

I am not saying these businesses do not matter anymore. Together they serve hundreds of millions of Internet users around the world, they produce a lot of revenue, and when structured properly, a lot of profit.

But these are not growth businesses, they are mature businesses. So it is time to extract profits, not revenue growth, and run them appropriately for what they are.

And that is what is happening with this merger that will be announced this morning.

In twenty years, the same thing will likely happen to thousands of businesses that are starting up this year.

That is the life cycle of tech businesses, shorter than many sectors, but a wild ride while it lasts. As was Yahoo.

Categories: Blog articles

On The Beach

A VC - July 24, 2016 - 7:38am

I’m taking the weekend off to spend it with my entire family (parents, brothers, wives, children) on the beach.

Here are a couple podcasts that Harry Stebbings did with my partners Albert and Brad in case you want to spend some time going deep on USV this weekend

Podcast w/ Brad

Podcast w/ Albert:

Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: William Talking Blockchains At Google

A VC - July 23, 2016 - 4:39am

AVC regular William Mougayar gave a talk about blockchains at Google a few weeks ago. It’s a good overview of where we’ve been and where we are going in the blockchain sector.

Categories: Blog articles

Hard Forks

A VC - July 22, 2016 - 4:00am

The crypto-currency Ethereum completed a hard fork on Wednesday. The Ethereum core developers, after getting a vote of support from the Ethereum community, hard forked Ethereum to “get back” the roughly $40mm of Ethereum that was taken in the hack of The DAO.

Hard forks are a bit of a lightning rod issue in the blockchain sector. The Bitcoin community has been debating the idea of doing a hard fork to increase the block size for well over a year. It seems that most of the Bitcoin core developers are against a hard fork and see it as risky. Bitcoin did have an accidental hard fork back in 2013, but that was dealt with quickly and confidence in the Bitcoin blockchain was restored.

I believe that hard forks are an inevitable occurrence in the blockchain sector. There have been, and will continue to be, issues that crop up that are best solved with hard forks. I do not think they will be common and I do not think they should be common. But they are an important tool in the toolset that core developers have to move these protocols forward. And so I see the successful Ethereum hard fork this week as an important milestone for public blockchains.

I like what Cornell CS Professor Emin Gün Sirer said about the Ethereum hard fork:

It’s a point of strength to be able to adapt to that change, to be able to respond to it, to be able to do it in an orderly fashion. Ethereum just demonstrated this. I think this is a rite of passage for ethereum.

In my mind, adaptability is more important than immutability.

And to some extent, that is what is now at the center of the Bitcoin vs Ethereum competition for the hearts and mind of developers. I believe the Bitcoin core developers have more or less landed on immutability and Ethereum core developers are very much into adaptability. It may be that it is useful to have two significant, liquid, and highly capitalized public blockchains, one that is immutable (think of gold) and one that is adatpable (think of the dollar).

There was a time when I was a Bitcoin absolutist. That changed a while ago and I now believe that we are going to have multiple blockchains, multiple currencies, and a ton of app tokens, some with their own blockchains, some built on top of Bitcoin or Ethereum.

It’s a very interesting time in the public blockchain sector right now. Stuff is happening. Lot’s of stuff.

Categories: Blog articles

Stack Documentation

A VC - July 21, 2016 - 4:13am

Our portfolio company Stack Overflow (or Stack as I prefer to call them) has launched something new and interesting today.

It is called Stack Overflow Documentation.

This is what Stack co-founder and CEO Joel Spolsky told me about Documentation a few weeks ago:

The current state of developer documentation is pretty abysmal. It’s spread all over the place, in a million different formats. It’s never complete and rarely includes good example code. Even the best developer documentation is usually on a static website with no community or crowd sourcing features, so it stagnates. After months of beta testing, we are launching a global, crowdsourced developer documentation section on Stack Overflow that covers everything from programming languages to APIs and frameworks. It will be completely community generated, with all the reputation stuff that made Stack Overflow successful (voting, reputation, tags, community moderation, etc). When you poke around at the state of developer documentation on the web in 2016, it feels a lot like… developer Q&A before Stack Overflow. It’s fragmented, half of it is out of date, it’s very very uneven in quality, and when you find a bug there’s no way to fix it. We think that applying the mechanics of Stack Overflow Q&A to crowdsourced documentation will make as big a difference in developers’ lives as the original Stack Overflow.

The secret sauce behind Stack’s success is the fact that crowdsourcing information is way better than the top down approach when it is combined with a specific set of tools that make the crowdsourced data super high quality. The latter is what Joel calls the “reputation stuff” (voting, reputation, tags, community moderation, etc).

It makes all the sense in the world that Stack would focus their secret sauce at Developer Documentation in addition to Developer Q&A. So if you are working in Javascript and want to find some documentation or contribute some documentation, go here. If its Docker that’s giving you fits, go here. And for Android devs, this is for you. The entire Documentation section is here.

Developer Documentation is in Beta right now and though it is pretty good already, I expect it will get a lot more complete and a lot more thorough in the coming months. And if you are so inclined, please help make that so.

Categories: Blog articles

Trashing Tumblr

A VC - July 20, 2016 - 4:36am

So Scott Galloway thinks Tumblr was nothing more than a “porn site.”

I think that is a ridiculous comment coming from someone who says ridiculous things.

Tumblr was, and still is, a vibrant social media platform. Just talk to the tens of million of people who have had Tumblr blogs and have gotten tremendous value out of them.

I am one of them.

I just hate jerks who want attention by saying crazy shit, like the current Republican nominee for President.

So I am calling bullshit on Scott Galloway and standing up for Tumblr, which I love and have always loved.

Phew. Now I feel better.

Categories: Blog articles

Dear Fred

A VC - July 19, 2016 - 4:34am

I get so many emails from people who are thinking of starting a company and they share their idea with me and ask me if they should do it. They want my feedback on their idea. These are, for the most part, people I have never met and have no context for. I came across five of them this morning in my inbox. It reminded me of this tweetstorm from last year.

tweetstorm

I understand the need for validation. And part of me wants to tell them “go for it.” I would like to see more people get up the nerve to chase their dreams. But I don’t want to be complicit in that. So most of the time, I just delete the email and move on. Sad, but true.

Categories: Blog articles

Some Thoughts On Steem

A VC - July 18, 2016 - 3:59am

About a year ago, in the middle of the Reddit soap opera that played out last summer, I wrote a post about how someone could (and would) build something like Reddit on the blockchain.

A number of developers and entrepreneurs have done that and the one that has garnered the most interest is called Steem.

The community is still small and the links are still a bit all over the place. But things are happening at Steem and I think its worth paying attention to.

At the heart of Steem is a tipping system, called Steem Power, based on a crypto-currency called Steem. All of this runs on the Steem Blockchain.

Readers can buy Steem Power with Bitcoin and then they can tip posters who receive Steem Power. Steem Power can be converted into Steem through a mechanism I don’t really understand to be honest.

So unlike Reddit, where posters receive no compensation other than upvotes, on Steem upvotes are done with money.

Steem is traded like other crypto-currencies, and currently has a market cap of $287mm. That feels a little bit ahead of itself (Reddit was valued at $500mm a couple years ago), but markets go up and they go down. We will see where the Steem market cap goes from here.

Another thing that is interesting about this whole model is that Steem can finance itself, the cost of its team, an office, bandwidth, servers, etc by selling Steem vs selling equity.

This is the Decentralized Autonomous Organization model that many blockchain entrepreneurs are following today.

So if you like the idea of Steem, and want to back this company, all you have to do is buy some Steem, some of which you might be buying from the Company. And if you change your mind, you can sell your Steem and move on.

I think Steem is a really interesting experiment that may turn into a really nice business. The Steem founders are experimenting in multiple dimensions at the same time. They are trying a “paid” model vs a “free” model for curating a content discovery engine. That’s interesting. They are using blockchain technology vs some centralized system to build all of this. That’s interesting. They could finance this business via their users vs VC or something else. That’s interesting. And their users can participate in the value creation, if this turns out to be valuable. And that is interesting.

I am rooting for Steem. They have some things to get right and watch out for (including the rapid rise in the value of Steem which is concerning) and I hope they take steps to avoid the “dollar/hype cycle” I talked about in this post. That is one of the great challenges with this whole DAO model of starting and building a company. But someone is going to figure this out. The Steem founders have already figured out a few things which I am sure others will now emulate. And that is what is great about experiments, even if they fail. We learn something. And when they are done in public more of us learn something.

Categories: Blog articles

Active vs Passive Investing

A VC - July 17, 2016 - 8:23am

When you buy a stock in the public markets, that is passive investing.

When you buy 10% of that public company in the open market and then seek to obtain board seats, that is active investing.

When you buy a REIT, that is passive investing.

When you buy vacant land, build an apartment building, and lease it up, that is active investing.

When you buy a treasury bill and collect interest, that is passive investing.

When you make “hard money loans” to developers, that is active investing.

When you toss some money into an angel deal that others are leading, that is passive investing.

When you lead a seed round and take a board seat, that is active investing.

Both models work, but when you do passive investing, it is best to invest in liquid markets so you can get out when things aren’t going your way.

When you do active investing, you are most likely investing in illiquid markets and you have to invest your time, energy, and intellect to make sure things go your way.

It is hard to “beat the market” when doing passive investing. That doesn’t mean you can’t make good money doing passive investing, particularly over a long period of time.

But like everything else in life, if you really want to make big gains with your investments, you are going to have to invest your time, energy, and intellect as well as your capital.

And that means being an active investor.

That’s how I like to invest and it limits how many investments you can make. It is hard to scale “active investing.”

One of the things I see in the angel, seed, and VC markets is investors and firms trying to scale their investing while pretending to be active investors.

I don’t think that is possible.

You have to either choose to be active and concentrated or passive and diversified. Either model works, but I think you need to be one or the other. It’s not really possible to be both.

Categories: Blog articles

Remembering the Life and Career of Bill Campbell

A VC - July 16, 2016 - 6:01am

Last week at Fortune’s Brainstorm Conference, Adam Lashinsky led a panel discussion about Bill Campbell, who passed away earlier this year. There are some great anecdotes about Bill in this 30min video.

Categories: Blog articles

What Do You Do? What Do You Say?

A VC - July 15, 2016 - 4:58am

It’s friday morning and we are waking up to yet another story of a twisted madman engaging in mass murder. We did this last friday.

What do you do? What do you say?

Yes, we should Pray For Nice. They can use our prayers.

And yes, we should give generously to the victims and their families. I did that just now.

But it doesn’t feel like enough. What is an appropriate reaction to these horrors?

And what if you are the CEO of a rapidly growing company who has to stand up in front of the team today at the weekly all hands? What do you do? What do you say?

Do you ignore it because stuff like this doesn’t belong in the office? Should we just focus on our jobs and keep doing what we are doing?

Or do you talk about it with the team? And what do you say?

I don’t even know what to say to all of you. I didn’t know what to say to my friend who is from Nice when I wrote him an email this morning. “I’m thinking of you. I hope everyone you know is OK.” What else is there to say?

There is an epidemic in the world, a sickness that is spreading and afflicting more and more people. It is mental illness. We need to diagnose its cause and treat it. Until we do that, we will be facing more of these mornings.

I think many of us are wondering what we can do to help with that. I certainly am.

Categories: Blog articles

The State Of The NYC Tech Ecosystem

A VC - July 14, 2016 - 4:16am

Matt Turck has penned a “State Of The City” post about where the NYC tech ecosystem is right now. I get asked this question all the time and I haven’t been doing a great job of answering it. I will use some of Matt’s work the next time that happens.

Here’s some of my favorite points from Matt’s post. If you live and work in the NYC tech ecosystem, or care about it, you should go read the whole thing.

NYC as a leading AI Center:

The New York data and AI community, in particular, keeps getting stronger.  Facebook’s AI department is anchored in New York by Yann LeCun, one of the fathers of deep learning.  IBM Watson’s global headquarter is in NYC. When Slack decided to ramp up its effort in data, it hired NYC-based Noah Weiss, former VP of Product at Foursquare, to head its Search Learning and Intelligence Group.   NYU has a strong Center for Data Science (also started by LeCun).  Ron Brachman, the new director of the Technion-Cornell Insititute, is an internationally recognized authority on artificial intelligence.  Columbia has a Data Science Institute. NYC has many data startups, prominent data scientists and great communities (such as our very own Data Driven NYC!).

 

NYC as a home to “deep tech”:

Finally, one trend I’m personally particularly excited about: the emergence of deep tech startups in New York.   By “deep tech”, I mean startups focusing on solving hard technical problems, either in infrastructure or applications – the type of companies where virtually every early employee is an engineer (or a data scientist).

For a long time, MongoDB was pretty much the lone deep tech startup in NYC.  There are many more now.  A few of those are in my portfolio at FirstMark:  ActionIQ, Cockroach Labs, HyperScience and x.ai.   But there’s a lot of others, big and small, including for example: 1010Data (Advance), BetterCloud, Clarifai, Datadog, Dataminr, Dextro, Digital Ocean, Enigma, Geometric Intelligence, Jethro, Placemeter, Security ScoreCard, SiSense, Syncsort or YHat – and a few others.

 

The Diversification and Broadening of NYC’s Tech Ecosystem:

One way of thinking about New York’s tech history is one of gradual layers, perhaps something like this:

  • 1995-2001: NYC 1.0, lots of ad tech (Doubleclick) and media (TheStreet)
  • 2001-2004: Nuclear winter
  • 2004-2011: NYC 2.0, a new layer emerges around commerce (Etsy, Gilt) and social (Delicious, Tumblr, Foursquare), on top of adtech (Admeld) and media
  • 2012-present: NYC 3.0 – in addition to the above, just about every type of technology covering just about every industry

Certainly, the areas that put NYC on the map in the first place continue to be strong.  New York is the epicenter of the redefinition of media (Buzzfeed, Vice, Business Insider, Mic, Mashable, Bustle, etc.), and also home to many great companies in adtech (AppNexus, Tapad, Mediamath, Moat, YieldMo, etc.), marketing (Outbrain, Taboola, etc) and commerce (BarkBox, Birchbox, Harry’s, Warby Parker, etc.).

But New York has seen explosive entrepreneurial activity across a much broader cross-section of verticals and horizontals, including for example:

  • Fintech: Betterment, IEX, Fundera, Bond, Orchard, Bread
  • Health: Oscar, Flatiron Health, ZocDoc, Hometeam, Recombine, CellMatix, BioDigital, ZipDrug
  • Education: General Assembly, Schoology, Knewton, Skillshare, Flatiron School, Codecademy
  • Real estate: WeWork, HighTower, Compass, Common, Reonomy
  • Enterprise SaaS: InVision, NewsCred, Sprinklr, Namely, JustWorks, Greenhouse, Mark43
  • Commerce infrastructure: Bluecore, Custora, Welcome Commerce
  • Marketplaces: Kickstarter, Vroom, 1stdibs
  • On Demand: Handy, Via, Managed by Q, Hello Alfred
  • Food: Blue Apron, Plated
  • IoT/Hardware: littleBits, Canary, Peloton, Shapeways, SOLS, Estimote, Dash, GoTenna, Raden, Ringly, Augury, Drone Racing League
  • AR/VR/3D: Sketchfab, Floored

 

 

I like the NYC 3.0 moniker. It’s a very different place to start and invest in tech companies than it was even five years ago. Bigger, deeper, broader, and scaling nicely. Just like the companies themselves.

Categories: Blog articles

The Rise Of Women Leaders

A VC - July 13, 2016 - 4:32am

Although we are not where we need to be, it feels to me that we are entering a period where women will be increasingly the choice for leading our companies and our countries.

The rise of Theresa May in the UK is the latest high profile example of a woman being selected to occupy an important leadership position.

In the US, Hillary Clinton is currently the odds-on favorite to win the Presidency.

Imagine the power of the imagery of Angela Merkel, Teresa May, and Hillary Clinton meeting at an important event. That picture will tell a thousand words about the rise of women leaders.

In the tech business, women have rarely been in top leadership positions. But that too is changing. Women hold the CEO positions at IBM, Oracle, HP, Yahoo, and a number of other leading tech companies.

In the largest companies I work with, women hold many of the top leadership positions and these women are extremely talented executives and are likely to end up running companies someday soon.

So from where I sit, I feel we are on the cusp of a new era for women.

None of this changes the specific challenges that exist for women, the conflicts between family and work that are still more acute for women than men, the societal biases that still exist, and the muscle memory that will take time to unwind.

But as a husband and father of three amazing women leaders, it’s a great feeling to see the promised land emerging over the horizon. I am quite confident we will see real gender equality in the workplace in my lifetime.

Categories: Blog articles

Sleeping On It

A VC - July 12, 2016 - 4:07am

I like sleeping on decisions. I think it leads to better decisions.

I am not in favor of delaying decisions, particularly hard ones. I want to make them and move on.

But making a decision and giving yourself 12 hours to “sit with it” really helps. Sleeping on it does that for you.

It also does something else, which is it lets your subconscious brain work on the problem overnight and you wake up with more clarity than when you went to bed. At least that is how it works for me

So “sleeping on it” literally means sleeping on it as well as buying a short amount of time to sit with the decision and make sure it feels right.

There are certainly times when you don’t have the luxury of taking the night to sit with a decision. In those moments, you need to deliberate with whatever your team is and make the call and execute. These are crisis driven decisions, war time stuff. There is no sleeping on them.

But when you have the luxury of a night to sleep on something, I would encourage everyone to take that time. It really helps.

Categories: Blog articles

Nailing It

A VC - July 11, 2016 - 3:34am

I saw dozens of pitches for what was essentially YouTube between 1998 and 2005. But when YouTube launched, it was pretty clear pretty quickly that they had nailed it and nobody else before them had.

I saw way more pitches for what was essentially Pokemon Go between the arrival of the iPhone and now. But when my daughter told me to download Pokemon Go and play it, I immediately realized that they had nailed something that nobody had before them

AVC regular LIAD tweeted this today:

Saving myself the anguish of digging up the 2008 game spec & mock-ups we made for a AR treasure hunt/landmine avoidance game. #PokemonGO

— Liad Shababo (@L1AD) July 11, 2016

You are not alone LIAD.

I recall seeing John Geraci‘s ITP senior thesis project in 2005 which was a web version of this idea powered by Google Maps, and understanding that we all want to interact with interactive media in the real world.

I’ve always loved the idea that we could do a massively public treasure hunt together using the web and mobile. But it took over ten years since I first saw this idea to have it really happen.

It made me smile when Emily told me to download it and I am still smiling days later. And I have a gym right outside my front door.

gym on W side hway

Categories: Blog articles

Usage Based Pricing For Code Execution

A VC - July 10, 2016 - 4:31am

I’ve been thinking about Amazon’s Lambda service which I mentioned in the Hacking Echo post last week. Lambda is not new, but last week was the first time I saw it in action. I need to see things in action to understand them.

Business model innovation is interesting to me, maybe more than technology innovation. Because new business models open up new use cases and new markets. And new markets create a lot of new value. And I am in the new value business.

Think about this value proposition:

AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume – there is no charge when your code is not running. With Lambda, you can run code for virtually any type of application or backend service – all with zero administration. Just upload your code and Lambda takes care of everything required to run and scale your code with high availability. You can set up your code to automatically trigger from other AWS services or call it directly from any web or mobile app.

“You pay only for the compute time you consume, there is no charge when your code is not running”

So we have gone from “you have to buy a server, put it in a rack, connect it to the internet, and manage it” to “you can run your code on a server in the cloud” to “you can run your code on a shared server in the cloud” to “you can pay for code execution as you use it”. And we have done that in something like ten years, maybe less. That’s a crazy reduction in price and complexity.

But we also have put a ton of code in an open repository that anyone can access and copy from.

So, like we did in the Hacking Echo situation, you can now browse GitHub, find some code, use it as is or modify it as needed, and then put it up on Lambda and pay only when you execute it.

I think this is going to make for a lot more hacking, experimentation, and trying new things.

And that is going to result in new use cases and new markets. It may already have.

Categories: Blog articles

Why the Brits voted to leave the European Union

Beyond Money - July 10, 2016 - 3:01am

No, it’s not xenophobia, as the elite propaganda machine would like us to believe. It’s the same phenomenon we’re seeing in American. Quite simply, people in Britain, America, and elsewhere are finally getting wise to the neo-liberal agenda which seeks to disempower people and their elected governments and place power in the hands of the unelected, undemocratic, global banking and corporate elite. As I said in an earlier post (What do Trump supporters and Sanders supporters have in common?), people are sick and tired of:

  • Politicians who promise one thing but deliver another.
  • “Political correctness” that interferes with our ability to debate the deeper issues and concerns.
  • The rich getting richer and ever more powerful while the middle class is being destroyed.
  • Big banks that are “too big to fail” yet refuse to provide adequate financing to small local businesses.
  • Legislation that favors big corporations over small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Fiscal policies that reduce taxes on corporations and the rich while forcing states and municipal governments to assume ever greater burdens.
  • Trade agreements that cede power from sovereign governments to transnational corporations thus undermining democratic government, the rights of labor, and environmental protections.
  • A disastrous foreign policy of interference in countries around the world that kills thousands of innocent people and stirs up hornet’s nests of resentment that manifest as massive displacements of people and acts of terror against the U.S. and its European NATO allies.

And as I concluded in another recent post, “Since the debt crisis of 2008, Americans of all classes and ideologies have finally begun to wake up to the facts that the game is rigged against them and that they have been manipulated and exploited by the Wall Street-Washington nexus. The next American revolution will happen when liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, Americans of all religions and races, stop being seduced by “hot-button” rhetoric and come to realize what their common interests are and are able to work in harmony toward the common good.”

In the following video, British filmmaker John Pilger expresses similar thoughts with regard to Brexit:

https://youtu.be/anht7KXQHBM


Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: Regulating With Data

A VC - July 9, 2016 - 5:23am

Here’s a talk my colleague Nick Grossman gave at Personal Democracy Forum last month. We have been advocating for some time with anyone in government who will listen that we need to change the paradigm of regulation from yes/no to yes,if and the if is all about data. We call this new data driven regulation paradigm “Regulation 2.0”. Nick walks the audience through this thinking in this talk.

And here are his slides from the talk
Regulating with Data — Solving for transparency, accountability, privacy and surveillance from Nick Grossman

Categories: Blog articles
Syndicate content