Blog articles

Peak Valley?

A VC - September 2, 2018 - 4:52am

The Economist has a cover story this week called Peak Valley.

The article suggests that Silicon Valley’s lead as a hub for innovation has peaked and other regions are rising. It ends with the concern that innovation more broadly has peaked.

I somewhat agree with “the rise of elsewhere” narrative and disagree that innovation has peaked.

Our experience at USV has been that we can and do find high impact startups to invest in outside of Silicon Valley but that we find just as many in Silicon Valley.

In our first four funds spanning the vintage years of 2004-2014, we have had twelve very high impact startup investments. Seven of them were from outside of Silicon Valley and five were from Silicon Valley. The seven outside of Silicon Valley came from NYC (four), Pittsburgh, London, and Austin. Each of the funds we raised and invested during that period have had at least one high impact investment in Silicon Valley and at least one outside of Silicon Valley.

But our data set is small. We made investments in a total of sixty to seventy startup companies in that period. And we don’t invest in Asia, South Asia, Africa, The Middle East, and Latin America so we don’t touch large swaths of the area outside of Silicon Valley. And we are based in NYC so we have a home-court advantage there.

My point is that it has always been possible to build a high impact startup outside of Silicon Valley and invest in it too. But if we were to stop looking for investments in Silicon Valley, our opportunity set would be significantly reduced.

What is true is that Silicon Valley has gotten extremely expensive to operate in. We see that across many dimensions. Valuations of startups in Silicon Valley are significantly higher than outside of Silicon Valley. Cash compensation for employees is significantly higher in Silicon Valley than outside of Silicon Valley. Equity compensation for employees is significantly higher in Silicon Valley than outside of Silicon Valley. And the cost of living for employees in Silicon Valley is much higher than outside of Silicon Valley.

All of that means that capital (both human capital and invested capital) needs to achieve a much higher return on input in Silicon Valley than outside of Silicon Valley, all things being equal. I am not sure all things are equal though and that is really the rub.

Silicon Valley has always had one important advantage over other regions when it comes to the tech sector. There is a much higher density of talent, capital, employment opportunity, and basic research in Silicon Valley versus other locations. When I say density, I mean physical density. If you walked a mile, how many tech companies would you pass along the way? That metric in Silicon Valley has always been higher than elsewhere and still is. So even though the return on capital (human and invested) has significant headwinds in today’s Silicon Valley, it is still a lot easier to deploy that capital there. And I think that will continue to be the case for a long time to come.

The Economist piece ends with the observation that some macro dynamics (large incumbents capturing the lion share of the economics in tech and bad governmental policy toward tech) are making innovation harder. While both observations are correct, I do not think we are seeing any downturn in global innovation. What is happening outside of the US, particularly in Asia, is amazing and there are many new sectors that are just emerging now that will drive innovation in new and exciting directions. Things always look darkest right before the dawn and I believe we are seeing the dawn of a number of important new sectors. And I think Silicon Valley is on to all of them and will make a play in all of them. But so will many other regions around the world.


USV TEAM POSTS:

naomi.shah@usv.com — September 11, 2018
Unbundling Healthcare

Albert Wenger — September 10, 2018
World After Capital: The Promise and Peril of the Digital Knowledge Loop

Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: GoTenna Mesh

A VC - September 1, 2018 - 6:17am

It’s a long weekend with many of us off the grid.

So what do you do when you are off the grid?

Get a GoTenna to stay connected.

This promotional video explains the power of GoTenna when you and your friends are off the grid.

Disclosure: GoTenna is a USV portfolio company.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — September 10, 2018
World After Capital: The Promise and Peril of the Digital Knowledge Loop

Categories: Blog articles

Feature Friday: Gmail Reminders

A VC - August 31, 2018 - 4:57am

I don’t know when Gmail started doing these for me but it was around the time I switched over to the new UI. Most likely this is one of the features of that new UI.

When I have not responded to an email that Gmail thinks is important, or when someone has not responded to an email from me that Gmail thinks is important, it resurfaces that email near the top of my inbox.

It looks like this:

The first email is a reply I sent to an email and the recipient has not responded in seven days. Gmail is suggesting that I follow up.

The second is a back and forth with my brother and I failed to reply to his latest. I just did. Thanks Gmail.

While this is a relatively small feature in the overall Gmail offering, I have found it quite useful in the month or two that I have had it.

Thanks Google.

Categories: Blog articles

Atoms and Bits

A VC - August 30, 2018 - 4:35am

There is a framework I’ve/we’ve used over the years to think about where to invest and where not to invest that I call “atoms vs bits.”

I am not sure where I got it from but the concept is simple. Is the software being built and taken to market dealing with just bits or are atoms also involved?

The idea being that it is going to be easier to make something work if there are just bits involved. Atoms make things more complicated and more expensive.

In the 90s, when I first came across this framework, it led us/me to focus on areas like media and financial services where the product was end to end digital. And the first industries to be truly disrupted by the Internet were the ones, like media and financial services, that are end to end digital (or can be).

I’ve held on to this framework over the years and while we’ve veered from it from time to time, often unfortunately, it still holds up.

If you look at machine learning, possibly the most impactful technology right now (and I mean right now), you can see this at work.

Machine learning algorithms have massively transformed online advertising (just bits), online commerce (just bits on the UI), trading of financial assets (just bits), and our attention (just bits and neurons).

But in areas where atoms are involved, not so much. There appears to be a growing acknowledgement in the tech sector that the timeline to fully autonomous vehicles is going to be longer than some had thought. It is not that surprising. There are lots of atoms and lives involved.

I’ve been waiting patiently for the day that I don’t have to do the dishes after yet another amazing meal by The Gotham Gal. I will likely wait longer. Atoms are involved.

I am not saying that we should not work on these harder problems. We should. But we should also understand that the timelines will be longer and the road to adoption will be more challenging. That means these efforts will be more capital intensive and should ideally be investable at more attractive valuations. Sadly the latter has not been the case.

When you are investing other people’s money, you need to be mindful of where the timelines are shortest and the path easiest. And that has been bits for the totality of my investing career.

Categories: Blog articles

Crypto On Campus

A VC - August 29, 2018 - 7:16am

Our portfolio company Coinbase partnered with Qriously to study the adoption of blockchain and crypto on campuses around the world.

They published their findings on the Coinbase blog yesterday.

Here are some interesting findings:

Stanford, Cornell, and Penn lead the way in the number of crypto and blockchain courses offered to students.

Blockchain and crypto courses are taught by math, science, business, finance, and social sciences departments.

 

Almost 20% of surveyed students own crypto assets and 26% want to take a course on crypto.

You can read the entire report here.

Categories: Blog articles

Chromebook

A VC - August 28, 2018 - 5:41am

I’ve been thinking about moving from a Mac to a Chromebook as my primary computing device.

I have not used desktop software for probably a decade now. The browser is how I do all of my desktop computing. Paying up for a full blown computer when all I need is a browser seems like a waste.

And there are some security things that appeal to me about a Chromebook. I like the ability to do two factor authentication on signing into the device, for example.

I am curious what advice those of you who use Chromebooks have for me.

I like to use a desktop style setup vs a laptop unless I am traveling. So the Acer Chromebase and Chromebox look interesting to me.

But I am hearing great things about the Pixelbook and am wondering if I should start there.

I am also curious how one uses a Password Manager on a Chromebook. That’s the one desktop app that I regularly use.

If you have any advice for me as I consider this move, I would appreciate hearing it.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — September 5, 2018
Uncertainty Wednesday: A New Tack

Categories: Blog articles

Being Public

A VC - August 27, 2018 - 5:01am

The back and forth that Elon Musk did over the last few weeks about being public begs the question about whether the challenges of operating a public company outweigh the benefits.

Elon wrote this in a letter to Tesla’s employees:

As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders. Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term. Finally, as the most shorted stock in the history of the stock market, being public means that there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company.

I fundamentally believe that we are at our best when everyone is focused on executing, when we can remain focused on our long-term mission, and when there are not perverse incentives for people to try to harm what we’re all trying to achieve.

A few weeks later, Elon wrote this:

After considering all of these factors, I met with Tesla’s Board of Directors yesterday and let them know that I believe the better path is for Tesla to remain public. The Board indicated that they agree.

So which is it?

I strongly believe that being public is the best form of shareholder ownership for the vast majority of companies and advocate for that path to the companies in the USV portfolio that have the opportunity to be a public company.

The pressure of quarter to quarter execution is hard on a team. But running a company is hard. And the accountability that comes from this quarterly reporting is a good thing too. If you have problems in your business, you can’t hide them. You have to come clean about them, deal with the implications of them, and fix them.

The long-term vs short-term thing is the critique I hear most often. But I don’t buy it. The best run public companies manage to think and act with a long-term focus while being public. I think it comes down to leadership, courage, and foresight more than whether you are public or not.

Stock price volatility is a factor no matter if you are public or not. At least when you are public, everyone knows when your valuation is going down. Private companies are able to hide that from their employees, the media, and others. Which is just kicking the can down the road and that always ends badly. I prefer the transparency of being public on this one.

And the short seller argument is nonsense. People are always working against you. Your competitors are working against you. The media may be working against you. The regulators may be working against you. Short sellers are just another group that wants to see you fail. But they are not the only ones and you can make them pay by executing against your commitments and guidance.

For me, it just comes down to leadership, courage, execution, and setting and meeting expectations. All good companies must have those in place. If you do, being public is not only manageable but preferable.

And I am pleased to see more and more high growth tech companies coming to this conclusion and taking the plunge.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — September 5, 2018
Uncertainty Wednesday: A New Tack

Categories: Blog articles

Duty Honor Country

A VC - August 26, 2018 - 4:54am

I was born at and spent a fair bit of my childhood at the United States Military Academy where my father taught engineering.

It’s a magnificent and beautiful place, full of history and meaning.

The motto of the academy, enshrined in its coat of arms, is “Duty Honor Country”.

In 1962, when I was less than a year old, General Douglas MacArthur came to West Point to accept the Sylvanus Thayer Award and gave the famous Duty Honor Country speech, in which he said:

“Duty, Honor, Country” — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. 

I am reminded of those words upon the passing of John McCain, a man who embodied them in the world of politics that is mostly bereft of them.

Though I did not vote for John McCain when he ran against Barack Obama in 2008, I always appreciated the way he conducted himself in a political system that mostly seems to bring out the worst in people.

He was a sharp contrast with our current President, who exhibits none of these values.

Rest In Peace John McCain. You were a great American.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — September 4, 2018
Form factor

Albert Wenger — September 3, 2018
Labor Day: AI & Labor

Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: Silvio Micali on Algorand

A VC - August 25, 2018 - 6:20am

Silvio Micali is the founder of USV portfolio company Algorand, which is building a foundational blockchain of the same name.

In this video, Silvio explains what is different and important about Algorand.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — September 3, 2018
Labor Day: AI & Labor

Categories: Blog articles

Funding Friday: The Last Blockbuster

A VC - August 24, 2018 - 3:38am

We’ve been talking about the “over the top” video business and other related subjects here at AVC.

But this documentary is about something whose time has come and gone.

The video rental store.

I backed this project to make a documentary about The Last Blockbuster earlier this week.

I can’t wait to watch it when it comes out.

Categories: Blog articles

Mapping A City

A VC - August 23, 2018 - 10:00am

My friend Ro Gupta co-founded and runs a company called Carmera which makes real-time HD maps for the autonomous driving market.

They do this by operating “an owned and professionally crowdsourced vehicular sensor network” (ie Google StreetView) which captures real-time data about what is happening at street level.

In an announcement they made today, they describe a partnership with the City of New York in which they “will share data with the NYC Department of Transportation, including historical pedestrian density analytics and real-time construction detection events. In turn, we’ll gain access to key city data sets that allow all parties to work together to improve the accuracy of street inventories while doing our part to increase private-public transparency.”

This is an example of a pedestrian density map of the west village in NYC, where we live.

This is an example of a growing trend I am seeing where tech companies, which traditionally have wanted to “do it ourselves”, are partnering with the broader ecosystem (large companies, governments, public agencies, etc) to build more comprehensive data sets.

It is also an example of goverments and other large bureaucracies getting more comfortable sharing their data and being more open to working with startups and the broader tech sector.

This is a very hopeful trend.

We have significant problems to solve in the coming decades around a warming planet, overloaded and failing transportation systems and urban infrastructure, and many other things.

If all sectors of society come together to work on these problems, we stand a much better chance of solving them.

Categories: Blog articles

The 30% Tax

A VC - August 22, 2018 - 5:06am

Apple and Google’s duopoly on mobile operating systems give those two companies incredible power in the market and one of the most obvious places to see that power is the 30% tax they take on transactions that happen in their app stores. For subscriptions the tax is 30% in year one and 15% on the renewal.

Typically transaction fees on payments are 5% or lower with the credit card networks being the obvious comparison at roughly 3%.

But Apple and Google are able to charge 5-10x what a typical payment system charges because of their dominant market position and because the economics of acquiring a customer and renewing that customer in their ecosystem is so strong.

While it is hard to stomach the 30% number, it is the case that many companies have done the work to look at their acquisition and retention numbers in and out of these environments and often it is the case that paying the 30% tax is rational behavior.

So I was interested to see that Netflix is currently testing a bypass strategy. Certainly the biggest brands like Netflix and Spotify have the market power to at least consider this approach.

If the biggest brands can condition users to bypass the app stores maybe we are seeing the beginning of a crack in the armor. It may also be possible for these big brands to bundle subscription offerings and take a piece of the action themselves.

Imagine if Netflix let you subscribe to a bunch of other services via your Netflix account which you pay for directly on the web outside of the app stores. Or imagine if Amazon offered something similar.

The economics of that relationship for a smaller company could be more attractive than the economics of the current Apple and Google channels. And most companies would likely participate in multiple channels, including the app stores, as well as sell direct.

It seems inevitable that subscription bundling is going to happen. It already does via the Apple and Google app stores but that’s a crude version of what I’m thinking is on the horizon.

Consumers have demonstrated a willingness to pay for the apps and the content they value most. The subscription business model is a terrific one that aligns the interests of a company and it’s customers. But managing dozens of subscriptions via multiple payment systems is annoying. And there should be attractive economics for both bundlers and bundled apps.

So while I’m not predicting the end of the 30% tax anytime soon, I do think we will see Apple and Google’s largest competitors build significant bypass user bases and potentially start competing with Apple and Google in the subscription bundling business. There is a lot of money up for grabs and I think at least some of it is available for companies other than Apple and Google.

Categories: Blog articles

Panic Attacks

A VC - August 21, 2018 - 3:59am

I read the ESPN piece on Kevin Love and other NBA players’ mental health issues this morning. My son had sent it to me yesterday.

The bit about his panic attack during an Atlanta Hawks game, initially disclosed in this piece Kevin wrote on The Players Tribune, was particularly hard to read.

Kevin Love started out his Players Tribune post with this:

It came out of nowhere. I’d never had one before.

That’s how it happened to me too.

I was on a flight from NYC to DC in my mid-thirties, trying to close an important acquisition of a portfolio company by a publicly traded company.

I had no idea what was happening to me, but I couldn’t breathe, and I was freaking out.

Anyone who has had one of these things knows how it feels.

Right after it happened I went to see my regular doctor and got a prescription for medication that can calm me down in that situation.

I have carried that medication with me when I travel ever since.

But the real solution has come from many years of trying to understand the root causes of the panic and anxiety and working to deal with them.

Kevin also describes another aspect of his personality (and mine too):

“I’m a type of guy who has a very long fuse,” Love says. “I try to be as nonconfrontational as I can, but when that fuse breaks, I explode. 

Understanding things like that about yourself and working to change that kind of behavior is hard work. It takes years and you are never really done.

But I have found that admitting that you have an issue and need help is the hardest and most important part.

Once you do that, you can get help and eventually get better.

I really admire Kevin Love and the other NBA players who are speaking up and talking about this.

It is hard when you are a superhuman to admit that you really aren’t.

Categories: Blog articles

Fifty-Seven

A VC - August 20, 2018 - 5:04am

I am fifty-seven years old today.

As I have done for the last twenty years, I plan to spend the day at the beach surrounded by family.

Birthdays don’t bum me out. I look forward to them. They are a time to celebrate life.

And that is what I plan to do.

I will make time today for myself, my work, and my friends and family.

Which is a microcosm of where I find myself in mid-life, seeking and largely finding a balance that keeps me healthy, happy and engaged.

And this blog is a big piece of that and I appreciate the role that all of you play in my life.

Categories: Blog articles

First Mover Disadvantage

A VC - August 19, 2018 - 5:11am

Getting to something first has tremendous advantages but also comes with a bunch of challenges.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I was setting up a couple iPads to be used around our house as smart home controllers.

The Apple identity management and app store systems feel like they were built for a different era. Because they were.

Comparing those experiences to Google, which is not a new company either, is eye-opening.

You can also see this in crypto. Companies that were built in the age of one crypto-asset (Bitcoin) have to retool their software to make it work well in an age of multiple crypto-assets. Companies that were started in the age of multiple crypto-assets have the benefit of starting day one with a different perspective.

If I had to pick first mover or second mover, I would still pick first mover because I think it is easier to attain a dominant market position when you don’t have any competitors.

Once the market opportunity has been identified, and there are multiple companies competing for market leadership, it becomes more difficult to win.

But if you are the first mover, you need to understand a few things:

1/ Life gets harder, not easier, when you have established yourself as the market leader.

2/ You need to invest in top-notch product and engineering teams because product execution and technical debt will become significant challenges.

3/ You need to use your market leadership to build a balance sheet and a team that can allow you to manage the transition from first mover to market leader.

4/ Many of the best ideas will come from your emerging competitors. Look at their product execution for inspiration (Facebook has done an excellent job at this).

It is not a given that fast followers will beat a first mover, but that has certainly happened time and time again in the world of technology, internet, and mobile over the last thirty years.

I think that bad management and weak leadership of the first movers has as much to do with that as anything.

First movers can and often do maintain their market leadership. But doing so is a lot harder than people think.

Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: Getting Water Out Of A Flooded Jeep Wrangler

A VC - August 18, 2018 - 7:13am

We had torrential rains last night and around 3am, I woke up and realized that I had left the soft top open on our Jeep Wrangler.

The lighting was coming down hot and heavy so I waited it out and eventually went outside and put the soft top up.

But the damage was done.

When I went out for coffee and bagels this morning, I was driving a lake.

I was texting with my friend Kirk and he told me that the Jeep has plugs to get the water out of the car.

So when I got home I googled “Getting Water Out Of A Flooded Jeep” and found a video that shows how to do it.

I then recorded this video and posted it to YouTube. I am a believer in paying the favor forward.

Categories: Blog articles

Feature Friday: Now Playing

A VC - August 17, 2018 - 7:47am

I’ve written about this Android feature before. I am a bit obsessed about it.

When you are in a place where music is playing, the Android operating system notifies you what is “now playing.”

I have two things I would love to know how to do with this information.

1/ Access it via an API so I can favorite it in my preferred streaming service (which is SoundCloud but Spotify and Apple Music would be great too).

2/ See the history someplace on the web so I can search it by time, place, artist, song, etc.

This is an example of where taking an app like Shazam or Soundhound and turning it into a feature in the operating system can open up a lot of potential additional functionality.

Categories: Blog articles

Commercial Trade Exchange Architecture and Operations—A Conversation with Chip Davis and Charlie Davis by Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

Beyond Money - August 16, 2018 - 11:14am

Recently, I came across an article about what seems to be a significant development in the commercial trade exchange industry. Published on February 15, 2018, the article, TradeAuthority rebrands as Moxey with new digital currency, national expansion plans, tells about the expansion and rebranding of a commercial trade exchange heretofore known as TradeAuthority. Operating for the past several years in the Gulf Coast region of the southern United States, TradeAuthority has developed along lines somewhat different from most other trade exchange companies. I’ve had some peripheral knowledge of TradeAuthority for a long time but after reading the article I decided it was time for me to reach out to its founder, Chip Davis, with the intention of gaining a more detailed picture of how they operate and their plans for further development and expansion. The company, now named Moxey, is a network of 14 autonomous member-owned local trade exchanges, member ownership being a unique feature in the commercial trade exchange industry.

The key players in the Moxey enterprise are Chip Davis, founder of TradeAuthority and current  Executive Vice President of Moxey, Charlie Davis, President of Moxey, and Warren Sager, Moxey Vice President of Operations.

Some Key Questions 

In my message to Chip Davis, I posed the following questions:

  • What degree of autonomy do the various (14) exchanges in your network have?
  • Is it possible for a member in one exchange to buy/sell directly with a member of another exchange in the network? Does your platform provide that functionality or does the trade need to be pre-arranged with brokers in the two exchanges?
  • Is there a single Moxey ledger for the entire network or does each exchange have its own? If the latter, how are accounts reconciled among the exchanges, and how often?
  • Do you participate in UC? [UC is “Universal Currency,” a credit currency that many trade exchanges use to enable their members to buy goods and services from members of different trade exchanges.]
  • What are the factors you use to allocate lines of credit? How are they weighted? Are all exchanges in the network required to apply the same algorithm in allocating credit lines to their members?
  • You say, “Moxey intends to be a better Medium of Exchange by removing the concern of inflation.” How does it do that?
  • Is you online portal a complete marketplace that includes offers and requests? Vendor and client background? Reputation ratings?
  • When using the app or online portal, is approval of the transaction immediate?
  • You also say, “It also removes the extreme deflationary dangers that can exist in a purer form of money such as gold.” Can you explain that?
  • What additional functionality will be achieved by using blockchain? “The major thing behind all currencies is a trust and transparency in knowing the currency is strong and blockchain technology will allow an additional level of transparency,” says Warren Sager, Moxey vice president of operations. “It will allow our currency to become stronger and more trustworthy.” But that does not address the transparency of the credit allocation process. Please comment.
  • The trade exchange industry seems to have been for some time on a plateau or slow growth trajectory. How do you see moneyless trading alternatives evolving over the next few years, and how much of an increase in scale do you anticipate?

You can read Chip’s and Charlie’s answers, and our full conversation by clicking here. –t.h.g.

Categories: Blog articles

Disclosure

A VC - August 16, 2018 - 4:49am

The disclosure police have been making noises in the comments here at AVC and on Twitter that suggest I do not disclose conflicts and other important information when I write about things I am close to here at AVC.

I thought I would take a moment to describe how I think about this issue:

1/ I want AVC to have a casual informal feel, like a conversation between colleagues in the office or friends over a drink at the bar. I work hard to write in a conversational tone. I like to tell stories and use my own voice.

2/ I do want to disclose when I am writing about something where I or USV has a financial interest. But I don’t want it to feel like a lawyer wrote it. So I typically will say something like “our portfolio company Coinbase” or “LittleBits, a company that the Gotham Gal and I are investors in.”

3/ My goal is not to soft pedal the disclosure. I want to do it in a way that doesn’t ruin the flow and readability of this blog.

4/ I am not going to go overboard and negatively disclose things. It was suggested yesterday on Twitter that I should have disclosed that I do not have a financial interest in AirBnb. If I don’t disclose a conflict, you should assume I don’t have one.

5/ I miss things every now and then. I write a post every morning. I am writing this one on my phone on the park bench outside my favorite coffee shop. I don’t have an editor or any review process. I will hit publish in a minute and the post will go live. As hard as I try to be diligent about disclosure, I don’t get it right 100% of the time. But I am certain I do better than 90% and likely higher than that.

6/ When people alert me to mistakes (typos, no disclosure, misspellings, etc), I will go and edit the post and address it. But many of you read this blog via email and once those go out, I cannot edit them.

7/ Check the comments if you have questions about anything in the post. The comments are a daily conversation about things I wrote in the post and I often clarify things there.

In summary, I am trying to do the right thing. I realize that I have influence via this blog and Twitter and that I could use it in ways that benefit me financially. I realize that this blog does benefit me financially. For example, I understand that my seven years of bullishness on crypto here at AVC has benefitted our personal crypto portfolio and USV’s crytpo portfolio.

But I am not blogging for those reasons. I am blogging to share my views with all of you so that I can have a dialog with the world at large about them. I am thinking out loud and learning immensely from it. That is my agenda and those of you who have been reading and hanging out here over the years understand that. My hope is that the disclosure police will too.

Categories: Blog articles

A Fair Share From Airbnb

A VC - August 15, 2018 - 7:40am

I will be attending a press event today in NYC where Airbnb is announcing a $10mm program to support local efforts that improve the lives of New York State residents.

Airbnb calls this program A Fair Share and it estimates that the $10mm is just 10% of what a home sharing tax in New York State would produce for the city and state governments.

The $10mm in financial support is going to seven organizations. They are:

  • The New York Immigration Coalition

  • New York Mortgage Coalition

  • New York State Rural Housing Coalition, Inc.

  • Win

  • GMHC

  • CSNYC

  • Abyssinian Development Corporation

These are all organizations that benefit from city and state tax dollars but need to tap into the generosity of others to deliver their services.

Take CSNYC, where I am leading the $40mm CS4All private sector capital campaign to bring computer science education to every public school building in NYC. CS4All is a ten-year $80mm effort develop over 5,000 public school computer science teachers. Half of that $80mm is coming from the NYC taxpayers. The other half is being raised from private donors. Airbnb’s generous support helps us meet our budget this year and beyond and we are very grateful for it.

But there is a larger point being made here and one that I want to highlight. Airbnb wants to operate legitimately in New York City and New York State. It wants to collect taxes on behalf of hosts of non-hotel accommodations in New York. And it wants to be a positive force for the economy in New York. But its opponents, largely the hotel industry and its employees, are standing in the way of that. This is politics getting in the way of good sense. And that is irritating to me as a citizen of New York City and New York State.

I am thrilled to accept the generosity of Airbnb on behalf of CSNYC and I am also happy to be a participant in helping Airbnb make a larger point about what is right and what should happen here. I hope that A Fair Share helps them do that.

Categories: Blog articles
Syndicate content