Blog articles

Summer Internships

A VC - April 6, 2020 - 6:24am

There are so many challenges facing us right now that the smaller things often get overlooked. One of those things is summer internships for students who are focused on a career in tech. Many companies are struggling to stay afloat and have canceled all of their summer internships. That makes total sense as you can’t really consider having summer interns when you are laying off half of your workforce or more.

But there are many companies in the tech sector who are going to be able to get through this crisis without major cuts. And I am hoping that they can pick up the slack a bit.

Etsy, where I am Chairman, just notified all of their summer interns that they are maintaining the program, but all of the interns will work remotely this summer. That will be challenging for Etsy and the interns, but I am thrilled that Etsy is able to do this.

Our portfolio company Cloudflare went a step further last week. They are doubling the number of summer interns they will take. And they are encouraging other companies in a position to do this to follow suit.

If you have a summer internship program and are in a financial position to continue it, please consider doing so. A remote internship might not be as great as an in-person one this summer, but it is way better than sitting at home doing nothing.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Apr 4, 2020
VC Backed Startups and PPP: Do You Really Need It?

Nick Grossman — Apr 3, 2020
Quarantine Creativity

Categories: Blog articles

Funding Friday: Americas Food Fund

A VC - April 3, 2020 - 3:27pm

As we continue to make our way through this pandemic, I keep coming back to the question of how do we help those in the most need right now. Last week it was our health care responders on the front lines, the week before it was workers in the hospitality industry who are now out of work.

This week, I’m drawn to this huge GoFundMe campaign that Apple, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Leonardo DiCaprio launched yesterday to raise money for World Central Kitchen and Feeding America, two large charities who run food programs for the poor and dislocated.

When things go wrong, it is always those with the least who suffer the most. So I am helping this campaign get to its $15mm goal. If you want to join me, you can do so here.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Apr 4, 2020
VC Backed Startups and PPP: Do You Really Need It?

Nick Grossman — Apr 3, 2020
Quarantine Creativity

Categories: Blog articles

The SoundCloud Stimulus Plan

A VC - April 2, 2020 - 8:52am

As Billboard is reporting this morning, our portfolio company SoundCloud is putting up $15mm to support its creator community in this difficult time for musicians.

Musicians can’t tour right now. That’s a huge part of their earnings. Many are turning to live streaming and I hope that will turn into real money for them. But regardless, everything that supports musicians right now will help.

SoundCloud is investing an additional $10mm in its Repost Select artist services platform to get money into the hands of artists now. They are also making $5mm of Promote On SoundCloud inventory free to artists.

And SoundCloud has made it one-click simple for artists to connect to Kickstarter, Patreon, Bandcamp, and PayPal so their fands can provide direct support.

And last but not least, SoundCloud has relaunched its Repost by SoundCloud offering that makes it simple for its artist community to get plays (and get paid) across all of the major streaming services.

All of this will help the SoundCloud artist community make more money online while their in-person business is offline. And that is a really great thing.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Apr 4, 2020
VC Backed Startups and PPP: Do You Really Need It?

Nick Grossman — Apr 3, 2020
Quarantine Creativity

Categories: Blog articles

An Emergency Response Startup Story

A VC - April 1, 2020 - 1:09pm

My friend Matt Blumberg, who ran USV’s former portfolio company Return Path for twenty years before selling it last spring, got a call from Colorado’s Governor Polis two and half weeks ago asking him to fly out and be the founding leader of an innovation startup to help Colorado’s Covid 19 response. A large part of Return Path’s organization has always been in Boulder so Matt is well known out there.

Matt said yes and spent fourteen days getting it off the ground and hiring his replacement before flying back to the NY metro area last weekend.

He took notes throughout the entire two week experience and is sharing them on his blog, called Only Once.

Here are Days Zero and One

Here are Days One Two and Three

Here are Days Four Five and Six

Matt will post the rest of the days over the course of the next week.

You can subscribe to his blog and get the posts via email.

I asked Matt to send me the entire thing yesterday and read it last night.

It is fascinating reading and I think all of you who start and lead companies will think so too.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Apr 4, 2020
VC Backed Startups and PPP: Do You Really Need It?

Nick Grossman — Apr 3, 2020
Quarantine Creativity

Categories: Blog articles

Drones – A Socially Distant Way To Get Work Done

A VC - March 31, 2020 - 1:24pm

If you have a roof that needs to be inspected but you don’t want people crawling all over your house right now, if you have mission-critical infrastructure that needs to have its regular inspection done but you don’t want third parties in your environment right now, if you want to have your facade inspected but don’t want to be putting up a sidewalk shed and all of that, then you might want to use a Drone mission to get that work done.

Our portfolio company Dronebase is in that business and has been doing “socially distant” missions for over five years. Over the last three weeks, as much of the US and Europe have shut down with work from home orders, Dronebase has been able to deliver on that vast majority of its missions and is very much open for business.

One of Dronebase’s smaller customer sectors is media, but they do regularly fly missions for news organizations and here is some imagery of New Orleans that they captured recently for Reuters (video link, image below):

Here is some from Santa Monica, where I just was socially distant biking this morning (video link, image below):


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Apr 4, 2020
VC Backed Startups and PPP: Do You Really Need It?

Nick Grossman — Apr 3, 2020
Quarantine Creativity

Categories: Blog articles

Startups and SBA Loans

A VC - March 30, 2020 - 7:54am

Last week Congress passed the CARES Act which provides a vast array of financial relief provisions to people and businesses in the US.

Congress is providing relief to small businesses via a forgivable loan program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA has long been in the business of making small business loans, but the loans under the CARE Act are very different. Here are the primary provisions of these CARE Act loans (cut and paste courtesy of my friends at KE Law):

  • Loan Program Eligibility.  Any business concern (including franchises) as well as non-for-profit organizations, with no more than 500 employees are eligible to receive a single loan under this Act.  The maximum amount of the loan is the lesser of (1) $10M, and (2) 2.5 times the monthly payroll costs determined over a specific testing period.  No personal guarantees or collateral will be required for loan eligibility under this Act.
  • Loan Proceeds Usage.  Loan proceeds can be used for payroll and other compensation costs, health benefits, insurance premiums, mortgage interest, rent, utilities and interest on other outstanding debt.
  • Loan Forgiveness.  Perhaps the most important element of the Loan Program is its loan forgiveness element.  Pursuant to the Act, borrowers under this Act will be forgiven a specific sum equal to the sum of (1) certain payroll costs, (2) mortgage interest payments, (3) rent, and (4) utility payments that were incurred during an 8-week period beginning on the loan borrowing date.
  • Forgiveness Penalties.  Given the intent of the Act to save American jobs and salaries, the amount of the foregoing loan forgiveness will be reduced by certain factors.  These factors include a reduction in the average number of full-time employees as well as substantially reduction (beyond 25%) in employees’ salaries.
  • Other Terms.  The maximum loan term under the Act will be 10 years (for amounts that were borrowed that are not subject to loan forgiveness), and the maximum interest rate is 4%.  The first payment on any loan under this Act will be for at least six (6) months, but not longer than a year.
  • How to Apply.  Eligible business should seek competent counsel immediately to work on the application, as the loans will begin to be available likely by the middle of April 2020.  Required information for the application will include payroll documentation, tax filings, unemployment insurance filings, proof of payment of payroll taxes, mortgage applications and the like.

So this sounds great for startups, right?

Well not so fast.

The law as written requires “affiliates” to aggregate their employees into a total and that must be below the 500 employee threshold in order to qualify for these loans. And most of the lawyers that I have talked to over the last few days read the affiliate provision in the CARES Act such that any venture capital-backed startup would need to affiliate with all of the other startups that are backed by the same venture capital firm or other kind of investor.

There are many folks in startup land (lawyers, investors, CEOs, lobbyists, etc) who are working with Congress and the SBA to address this issue. Many of the largest employers in small businesses in the US are backed at some level by investors who back many startups, including angels, seed funds, VC firms, and corporate investors.

From what I can tell, based on some work but not exhaustive work, this was not intentional on the part of Congress and there seems to be a willingness to figure this out.

If you are planning on accessing these loans, I recommend talking to a lawyer who is well versed in venture capital and startup law and make sure you are looking carefully at the affiliate provision. And if you have a relationship with your elected officials in Washington, you might want to reach out to them and explain that the Cares Act affiliate rules are problematic.

It is my hope that this “bug” in the law will get fixed over the next week or so. It may be possible for the SBA to address this issue without the need for any more work by Congress and that would be ideal in my view.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Apr 4, 2020
VC Backed Startups and PPP: Do You Really Need It?

Nick Grossman — Apr 3, 2020
Quarantine Creativity

Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: The Bill Gates TED Interview

A VC - March 28, 2020 - 10:58am

Earlier this week Chris Anderson, who runs TED, hosted a 45min conversation with Bill Gates. I heard a lot about it in the last few days (it has already had 1.2mm views) and this morning the Gotham Gal and I watched it over our morning coffee.

What I like about this conversation is that Bill provides a lot of information and helpful context in a very calm, serious, and helpful way. It made me more comfortable just watching it. And we can all use some comfort right now.

If you do watch this, please make sure to stick around to the last six minutes or fast forward to it. It has such a hopeful ending. Bill is a long term optimist about science and technology, as am I, and the talk ends in a discussion around that.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Apr 4, 2020
VC Backed Startups and PPP: Do You Really Need It?

Nick Grossman — Apr 3, 2020
Quarantine Creativity

Categories: Blog articles

Funding Friday: Helping Healthcare Workers

A VC - March 27, 2020 - 6:46am

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the US, the people who are stepping up the most to meet this challenge are our country’s healthcare workers. We should do everything we can to help make sure they can work safely during this crisis.

So today I am highlighting two fundraisers for protective equipment for these health care workers. Both are on GoFundMe (which happens to be a USV portfolio company but that is just a coincidence here). I have given to both of them.

A Million Masks For NYC – This one was started by a bunch of folks in the NYC tech sector and has raised from individuals (like me) and NYC tech companies. You can give here.

Frontline Responders Fund – This is a $10mm campaign started by Edward Norton and the logistics company Flexport to fund supplying “masks, gowns, gloves and other critical supplies to protect medical professionals in hospitals across the world.” You can give here.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Apr 4, 2020
VC Backed Startups and PPP: Do You Really Need It?

Nick Grossman — Apr 3, 2020
Quarantine Creativity

Categories: Blog articles

Buying Bitcoin In Your IRA – The Alto IRA

A VC - March 26, 2020 - 7:27am

I wrote about the idea of buying Bitcoin in your IRA last year. I got a lot of responses to that post and one of them was from the founder of Alto IRA.

I set up an Alto IRA, moved my old IRA over to it, and waited. When they had an alpha version of the crypto service up and running, I bought some Bitcoin in my Alto IRA via their Coinbase integration.

Now that service is fully battle-tested and ready for everyone.

Here are the details of the Alto Crypto IRA. If you are interested in buying crypto in your IRA, they have a slick Coinbase integration that worked great for me and should work well for you too.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Apr 4, 2020
VC Backed Startups and PPP: Do You Really Need It?

Nick Grossman — Apr 3, 2020
Quarantine Creativity

Categories: Blog articles

OnCoins

A VC - March 25, 2020 - 7:53am

If you are a crypto enthusiast like me, how do you stay on top of the daily crypto news cycle? There is crypto twitter, but that’s not for the faint of heart. If you hang out there, you know what I mean. You can read the news at Coindesk, Cointelegraph, and the other leading crypto news sites. I do both of these things as well as participate in a number of chat groups where we trade links. It gets the job done, but it’s a lot of work.

Enter OnCoins, a crypto news aggregator by our friend William Mougayar. It looks like this:

You will find the format familiar if you use Techmeme to follow the tech sector news. It’s a great format, efficient, clean, fast, and it lets you go deep when you want to.

William told me that he has used some technology and some tricks to make this work a bit differently than Techmeme and he has more planned.

You can get OnCoins by email once a day if you prefer that format. Sign up here if you are interested.

Well done William. I look forward to getting my daily email and staying on top of the fast-moving crypto sector.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Apr 4, 2020
VC Backed Startups and PPP: Do You Really Need It?

Nick Grossman — Apr 3, 2020
Quarantine Creativity

Categories: Blog articles

Firefox Better Web (with Scroll)

A VC - March 24, 2020 - 9:23am

Ad blockers are hugely popular. Close to 800mm people around the world use them to avoid intrusive ads and data collection. I do not use an ad-blocker but I completely understand why one would choose to do so.

And yet much of the media business is supported by advertising. There are a growing number of subscription-based media services, but many people cannot or won’t pay for content and the vast majority of content consumed on the web is advertising supported.

So USV has long felt that a subscription-based ad blocker would make a lot of sense. Ad-supported publications could opt-in to get a piece of the subscription revenue and agree to block ads to the subscribers who have the ad blocker.

And that is why we invested in our portfolio company Scroll which makes exactly that.

And today, Scroll and Firefox are launching Firefox Better Web, which is a service inside of Firefox ($2.50 a month to start and $5 a month in time).

I downloaded the latest version of Firefox this morning and signed up. It went like this:

I signed up by giving my email address and entering my payment credentials.

And then I added the Scroll browser extension and was good to go.

I visited SB Nation and got an ad-free experience.

Which compares to this experience in my Chrome browser without Scroll (Scroll works on Chrome too)

The partnership between Firefox and Scroll makes a ton of sense. Firefox has long been committed to privacy and making the web work better for its users. If you use Firefox try the Better Web service. And if you use Chrome or another browser, you can get Scroll and experience more or less the same thing there too.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Apr 3, 2020
Quarantine Creativity

Albert Wenger — Mar 29, 2020
Privacy, Power and the Commons

Categories: Blog articles

Teaching Online

A VC - March 23, 2020 - 7:00am

I have been teaching in one form or another since college. I helped pay for graduate school by teaching other grad students. For most of my life, teaching has meant standing up in front of a group of people and explaining things to them in a large group setting.

But, like many things, that is quickly changing right now.

I mentioned that we have a new group of analysts at USV. And we are doing an onboarding program for them where the various partners at USV take turns teaching them things they will need to know during their time at USV.

When we planned this onboarding program, we thought those classes would take place in person. But now they are taking place online.

This week, I am going to teach a three-hour class on cap tables and liquidation waterfalls. These are the spreadsheets we use to track everyone’s ownership in a company and how much money each shareholder gets in a sale transaction. While much of this is straightforward, there are edge cases that can be pretty gnarly. I am looking forward to teaching this class.

As I prepared for it this weekend, I decided to create the bare bones of a google sheet that will have one tab for the cap table and another for the liquidation waterfall.

The three analysts will act as the three founders of a company and we will simulate three rounds of financings and then a sale of the company.

We will all be in the google sheet together and also in a zoom room together. I will coach them through the exercise but they will do all of the work.

And as I was planning all of this out and building the bare bones google sheet, I thought to myself, “this may be the single best way to teach this material that I have ever come across.”

I have taught this material to many people, but never quite like this.

We are leveraging two technologies that have come of age in the last ten years; collaborative documents (google sheets) and videoconferencing (zoom). And we are using project-based learning in a small group setting which has always been one of the (the most?) powerful teaching/learning models.

The question I am wondering about is once I teach this subject this way, will I ever want to teach it any other way? I think maybe not.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Mar 29, 2020
Privacy, Power and the Commons

Nick Grossman — Mar 24, 2020
Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?

Bethany Crystal — Mar 24, 2020
Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

Categories: Blog articles

Funding Friday: The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation Relief Fund

A VC - March 20, 2020 - 7:26am

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that when this is all over, I can’t wait to go to my favorite restaurants and enjoy their hospitality and food. If they are able to re-open.

While many industries are facing difficult times in this crisis, the restaurant and hospitality industry is particularly hard hit.

So for today’s funding friday, I am encouraging everyone to do what I did this morning – make a donation to the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation Relief Fund.

So far, the RWCF has raised close to $100,000 for this relief fund. I hope they can raise a lot more. The funds will go to these three areas:

50% FOR IMMEDIATE, DIRECT CRISIS RELIEF ASSISTANCE TO INDIVIDUAL RESTAURANT WORKERS

25% FOR NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS SERVING RESTAURANT WORKERS IN CRISIS.

25% FOR ZERO-INTEREST LOANS FOR RESTAURANTS TO GET BACK UP AND RUNNING.

There are more details on the RWCF relief fund here.

Again, if you’d like to make a donation, go here.

Also, if this is a sector you care about, you might want to subscribe to Some Meals Considered, a newsletter written by our daughter. She has been covering the challenges facing the restaurant industry almost daily this week and is surfacing a lot of useful and helpful information.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Mar 29, 2020
Privacy, Power and the Commons

Nick Grossman — Mar 24, 2020
Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?

Bethany Crystal — Mar 24, 2020
Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

David Gabeau — Mar 22, 2020
Synchronous Entertainment

Categories: Blog articles

Correlation and Market Meltdowns

A VC - March 19, 2020 - 4:04pm

On the first episode of Howard’s new podcast, his guest said, “in panics, all assets are correlated.” I suspect that is true to some extent.

When bad news hits, I have seen traders sell quickly, get to cash, and then take some time to evaluate the situation before acting on the news. That is true of a company missing its quarter, a sudden management change, and many other forms of bad news. It is also the case when macro events hit the market.

So when a macro event hits the markets, all assets get sold in a “risk off” trade to increase liquidity and buy some time to figure out what is going on.

But soon enough, the market starts to sort through winners and losers. That’s when things stop correlating.

The obvious example is Zoom which is clearly a major beneficiary of this macro event we are in the middle of.

Zoom sold off with the market over the last week and a half but has rebounded nicely and year to date is up something like 75%.

Blue Apron, which the market had left for dead, is another example of a business that will likely do well in this macro environment, or at least it seems that the market thinks so.

Contrast that chart with Bookings, one of the largest (the largest?) online travel businesses, and you can see the lack of correlation.

I believe this downturn will see a greater number of winners and losers than most of the downturns I have lived through. That is because we are already into a pretty meaningful transition from an industrial/physical economy to a knowledge/digital economy and the very nature of this macro event is accelerating that transition in many ways. We just won’t go back to doing some things the same way.

I do plan to go out to my favorite restaurants as soon as I can. But I also plan to fly even less for business when this thing is over. Some things will return to normal. Others won’t.

And that is what the market will sort out over the course of this downturn and is already busy sorting out.

Which takes me, naturally, to crypto. Crypto, to true believers like me, was supposed to be a place to go for safety. We can trust crypto when we can’t trust banks or governments, right?

Wrong.

Bitcoin crashed harder than anything in the first few days of the market selloff. It was down 60% over five days from March 7th to March 12th. But since then it has recovered nicely and is now only down about 30%.

Howard’s guest was right. In panics, all assets are correlated because the market needs to deleverage. Margin loans get called. Leveraged bets go bad. Weak hands fold. And in crypto that happened faster and more furiously than any other asset class. That’s because the market infrastructure is less mature, there are places (largely outside of the US) where you could (and maybe still can) get 100x leverage on a crypto trade, and because these markets are not as liquid and other markets.

But now that the deleveraging has happened, we can look at what crypto has to offer.

Bitcoin is “hard money.” There is a fixed supply of it. 21mm bitcoins to be exact, some of which are gone and are never coming back.

Contrast that to what the central banks are doing right now. The printing presses are melting down there is so much money being printed to stabilize the global economy.

So if you want to hedge your portfolio from that risk, where can you go? Actually a few places. But one of them is Bitcoin. And I suspect that will be where some smart money will go over the next few months, quarters, etc.

But that’s not all that crypto has to offer. The entire decentralized finance stack (fintech 2.0) is being built on Ethereum. And we are seeing decentralized bandwidth, storage, and other critical infrastructure being developed in a number of new protocols.

I’m not going to write an entire crypto thesis here. But my point is that crypto won’t be correlated with the overall market for long. It’s doesn’t even appear to be a week in.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Mar 29, 2020
Privacy, Power and the Commons

Nick Grossman — Mar 24, 2020
Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?

Bethany Crystal — Mar 24, 2020
Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

David Gabeau — Mar 22, 2020
Synchronous Entertainment

Categories: Blog articles

New Faces At USV

A VC - March 18, 2020 - 9:50am

We onboarded our new analyst team over the last few weeks at USV.

As is our tradition, they have each written a “hello world” blog post on usv.com introducing themselves.

They are:

David

Hannah

Hanel

I can’t imagine how hard and surreal it must be to join a new firm just as we are all starting to work from home. So they are going to be challenged getting out of the gate more than prior analyst teams, but I am confident that each of them will rise to the challenge and we are learning some new tricks on how to remotely onboard too.

I hope that many of you will get the chance to meet or engage with them. They are a great group of analysts and I am excited to work with them.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Mar 29, 2020
Privacy, Power and the Commons

Nick Grossman — Mar 24, 2020
Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?

Bethany Crystal — Mar 24, 2020
Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

David Gabeau — Mar 22, 2020
Synchronous Entertainment

Categories: Blog articles

Howard and Fred On Panic With Friends

A VC - March 17, 2020 - 11:21am

I promised to post this once it is live and it went live today.

So here it is:


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Mar 24, 2020
Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?

Bethany Crystal — Mar 24, 2020
Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

David Gabeau — Mar 22, 2020
Synchronous Entertainment

Albert Wenger — Mar 21, 2020
Putting the Economy in Suspended Animation: A Proposal

Hannah Murdoch — Mar 18, 2020
Joining USV

Hanel Baveja — Mar 18, 2020
Joining Union Square Ventures

Categories: Blog articles

Outschool needs 5,000 teachers to start offering online classes in the next 2 weeks

A VC - March 16, 2020 - 7:30am

I tweeted on friday that our portfolio company Outschool, which offers live K12 classes delivered by real teachers over video, would be offering free classes to those who need them for their kids and can’t afford to buy them right now:

"we’re announcing that we will be making $100K worth of Outschool classes free for public school K-12 students affected by school closures. To get started taking Outschool classes for free, visit https://t.co/WX2G9pBRSi and sign up" https://t.co/j9nu7bEOvT

— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) March 13, 2020

As you might imagine, the response to Outschool’s offer has been off the charts (an 11x rise in enrollments) and now Outschool is concerned about running short on classes to offer to families that are temporarily homeschooling their kids.

So Outschool is looking for 5,000 more teachers who can start offering classes in the next two weeks. If you are a K12 teacher who wants to start teaching online during this downtime, or if you know a K12 teacher who would want to do this, please read visit or share this link.

Here is a post by Outschool’s CEO explaining all of this in a bit more detail.

This is a challenging time for all of us, but being a parent with kids at home who want and need to keep learning is a particularly challenging situation. Thankfully we have a technology, online video, that can help. And we have K12 teachers who aren’t at school teaching right now. So getting them online and teaching our kids is a great solution and I hope we can all help Outschool quickly find another 5,000 teachers.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Mar 24, 2020
Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?

Bethany Crystal — Mar 24, 2020
Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

David Gabeau — Mar 22, 2020
Synchronous Entertainment

Albert Wenger — Mar 21, 2020
Putting the Economy in Suspended Animation: A Proposal

Hannah Murdoch — Mar 18, 2020
Joining USV

Hanel Baveja — Mar 18, 2020
Joining Union Square Ventures

Categories: Blog articles

Newsletter — Spring, 2020

Beyond Money - March 15, 2020 - 10:41am
  • My latest article, Riding the Populist Wave
  • The Economics of Peace, Justice and Sustainability
  • How can the next world war be averted?
  • System change demands economic change–building the Open Credit Network
  • Swami Beyondananda
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
  • The dangers of 5G wireless technology: Warnings from an industry insider

__________________________________
My latest article,
Riding the Populist Wave

In my latest article I report that capitalists now admit that the system is “rigged” in their favor. I argue that Trump and Sanders represent two edges of the populist wave that is now dominating U.S. politics, that a Sanders win over Trump is entirely plausible, that the New Deal of FDR has been systematically dismantled and needs to be reestablished, and that in the long run people will need to work together in communities to build systems and structures that can circumvent the rigged system.

Here is an excerpt, but click here to read the entire article.

There, the capitalists are admitting it–the system is rigged.

In his latest newsletter, financial advisor, John Mauldin, Co-Founder of Mauldin Economics, acknowledges that the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy and powerful, and against everyone else, including the shrinking middle-class. Mauldin says:

The “financialization” of the American economy has led to increasing income and wealth disparity. As much as it pains me to say it, the “system” really is rigged. Whatever the good intentions of the Federal Reserve in particular and the US government in general have been, it has distorted the economic feedback loops that balance a true market-based economic system. The fact is we already have “socialism” today. It’s not the socialism we feared in 1974. We have socialized the risks of capitalism, to the benefit of a small portion of the country, while a larger portion struggles.

So, Mauldin admits what has been obvious for a long time, that the U.S. economy is characterized by socialism for the rich ruling class, and dog-eat-dog competition for everyone else. He cites this fact as the main reason why political outsider Donald Trump was elected President in 2016 and why “socialist” Bernie Sanders might conceivably be elected President in 2020. I agree.

So, what do Trump and Sanders have in common?

As I see it, both are viewed by the electorate as “populist,” which ostensibly means anti-elite, Trump representing right-wing populism and Sanders left-wing populism. But, except for paying lip service to a plan to shift U.S. foreign policy away from the imperial belligerence of the deep state, Trump’s actions as President belie any anti-elite sentiment. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.

What people want is something other than the globalist, interventionist, imperialist policies of the past several decades that have wasted enormous amounts of resources, killed hundreds of thousands of people, destroyed communities and nations, and caused political upheaval around the world. People want relief from the economic policies that have favored capital over labor by increasing capital mobility while shifting jobs from the U.S. to low wage countries especially in Asia, and at the same time reduced constraints on banks and corporations, enabling them to more fully exploit people and the environment. … More…

The article has also been published on Medium and republished at OpEd News
__________________________________
The Economics of Peace, Justice and Sustainability

This video was recently prepared by Ken Freeman based on a presentation I gave at the Economics of Peace Conference in Sonoma, California in October, 2009. My prescriptions for reclaiming the credit commons and creating a new “butterfly economy” remain completely relevant, and their implementation is becoming ever more urgent.
__________________________________
How can the next world war can be averted?

If you want an answer to that, listen to this interview with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts’ on Ellen Brown’s podcast, Resolved for 2020: Come Together, starting around 21:20. The most interesting part of the interview is toward the end (at 45:50) where Dr. Roberts talks frankly about the current geopolitical situation and the response to his recent article, Putin’s Hour Is At Hand, which has gone viral around the world. If you can put aside any judgments you may have made about Putin and Russia based on the chorus of Russophobic rhetoric coming from the mainstream media you may learn something important.
__________________________________
System change demands economic change, by Oliver Sylvester-Bradley

In this recent article, Oliver Sylvester-Bradley of the Open Coop, announces the alpha launch of the new web platform for the Open Credit Network (OCN), a cooperative mutual credit clearing system that enables the moneyless exchange of goods and services among its member businesses. The Open Credit Network has the potential to realize the ideals and processes that E.C. Riegel expounded and that I have been elaborating and refining for the past 40 years.
https://www.thealternative.org.uk/dailyalternative/2020/1/11/open-credit-network
__________________________________
Swami  Beyondananda

Swami  Beyondananda (Steve Bhaerman) makes light of the heavy. An occasional dose of Swami’s wisdom can help to keep you sane in this insane world. https://wakeuplaughing.com/.

And check out Steve’s other website, https://wikipolitiki.com/, “Where left and right come front and center to face the music and dance together, to turn the funk into function and leave the junk at the junction”
__________________________________
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

This book by Chip and Dan Heath, rated at 4.5/5 stars on Amazon.com, is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. I read parts of it a few years ago and was quite impressed but too busy at the time to finish it. Recently, as I was scanning the shelves at my local public library I noticed the audio version of the book so I picked it up and checked it out. Over the past few weeks I’ve been listening to it in my car, a few minutes at a time as I travel about town. Whether the change one wishes to make is on a personal level, an organizational level, or the societal level, this book is a treasure trove that provides important insights and basic principles about how change happens, and numerous fascinating stories that illustrate their successful application. Whether your intention is to change yourself or to change the world, this book is essential reading (or listening). Find it at your public library or at your favorite bookseller.
__________________________________
The dangers of 5G wireless technology: Warnings from an industry insider who tells it all.

In a recent message, long-time correspondent Ben Levi alerted me to a video by Frank Clegg, former President of Microsoft Canada, in which he talks about the dangers inherent in 5G/Wireless Technologies. This is something that must be taken seriously; evertyone’s health depends on it. You can view the video here. Ben also recommended an alternative to 5G that he is promoting and is described at http://www.safeg.net.
__________________________________
As I write this the drama surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to intensify. Around the world events are being cancelled, people are limiting their movements and interpersonal contacts, and many spheres of routine activity are being disrupted. Can the spread of the virus be stopped or is it destined to become, like the flu, a universal and recurrent cause of disease? What will be its social, political, and economic implications? Is there a silver lining to this dark cloud? Time will tell.

Wishing you a healthy and happy Spring season,
Thomas

Categories: Blog articles

Spring Break At Home

A VC - March 15, 2020 - 7:17am

The Gotham Gal and I have been largely self quarantining in our home for the last two weeks and are preparing to continue doing so for a while longer.

It’s a bit depressing to be honest and I’ve been looking for ways to get the proper mental state for what could be an extended stay at home.

My friend Brad Feld wrote a blog post yesterday calling this “spring break at home.” I like that framing. It puts a positive spin on this challenging situation.

Our oldest daughter told me that a lot of great work has been done by people when they were under quarantine for the plague.

So I’ve been thinking about what I can accomplish with all of this new found time. Of course I plan to work as USV is open for business. But I also have down time which I am now going to spend at home.

We certainly could binge on all of the TV shows we’ve never watched (Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, The Wire, etc, etc) but somehow I doubt that’s where we are headed.

Our younger daughter suggested I learn French on Duolingo. That’s a possibility. She also suggested I finally learn to cook. That probably isn’t. Thankfully the Gotham Gal is a fantastic cook so I’m set there.

My point is this. It’s a shitty situation we are all in right now. But I’m going to try to make the best of my spring break at home and I hope that all of you can too.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Mar 24, 2020
Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?

Bethany Crystal — Mar 24, 2020
Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

David Gabeau — Mar 22, 2020
Synchronous Entertainment

Albert Wenger — Mar 21, 2020
Putting the Economy in Suspended Animation: A Proposal

Hannah Murdoch — Mar 18, 2020
Joining USV

Hanel Baveja — Mar 18, 2020
Joining Union Square Ventures

Categories: Blog articles

Funding Friday: Bold Maid

A VC - March 13, 2020 - 7:55am

This reimagination of the card game Old Maid is terrific. I backed it immediately this morning.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Mar 24, 2020
Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?

Bethany Crystal — Mar 24, 2020
Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

David Gabeau — Mar 22, 2020
Synchronous Entertainment

Albert Wenger — Mar 21, 2020
Putting the Economy in Suspended Animation: A Proposal

Hannah Murdoch — Mar 18, 2020
Joining USV

Hanel Baveja — Mar 18, 2020
Joining Union Square Ventures

Categories: Blog articles
Syndicate content