Blog articles

Pacific Time

A VC - January 21, 2018 - 8:22am

It’s that time of year again. The Gotham Gal and I are spending the rest of the winter out west.

Blog posts will start coming in around 6am PT/9am ET.

We plan to spend this winter in Utah (where I am now), LA, and I will also be in the Bay Area a fair bit.

I find this time of year to be particularly invigorating for me.

Getting out in the fresh air and skiing, biking, and that sort of thing always gets me going.

But it’s mostly about reducing the back to back to back meeting grind that my work day in NYC has become and replacing it with reading, writing, thinking, and dreaming that I find so helpful.

The Gotham Gal and I are going to go out and ski the 16″ of new powder that we have gotten in the past 48 hours this morning and then go see some great indie films this afternoon.

Should be a great Sunday.


Albert Wenger — January 29, 2018
World After Capital: Work In Progress & Preface

Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: A Conversation with Fred Wilson and Carlota Perez

A VC - January 20, 2018 - 9:37pm

This was seven years ago. I went back and watched it recently and it has stood the test of time.


Albert Wenger — January 29, 2018
World After Capital: Work In Progress & Preface

Categories: Blog articles

Funding Friday: Milford Graves Full Mantis

A VC - January 19, 2018 - 7:37am

I want to see this documentary when it comes out so I backed it on Kickstarter today to make sure it gets made.


Bethany Marz Crystal — January 26, 2018
The Lisa Frank Sticker Experiment

Categories: Blog articles

Owning Yourself

A VC - January 18, 2018 - 6:54am

I saw the news today that HuffPo is shutting down their “contributor network.”

we are ending the HuffPost contributor platform. The platform, which launched in May 2005, was a revolutionary idea at the time: give a megaphone to lots of people ― some famous, some completely unknown ― to tell their stories. At that time, social networks barely existed. Facebook was a nascent dating site for college students. Twitter had not been invented. The platforms where so many people now share their views, like LinkedIn, Medium and others, were far in the future.

While that is sad news, it is not the least bit surprising.

I said this on Twitter about this news:

you have to blog on your own domain. medium, facebook, linkedin, huffpo will do what are in their interests, not yours. i have been doing it every day for 15 years this year. feels great to own my archive, my brand, my content, myself.

— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) January 18, 2018

I would never outsource my content to some third party. I blog on my own domain using open source software (WordPress) that I run on a shared server that I can move if I want to. It is a bit of work to set this up but the benefits you get are enormous.

I have been asked to blog at Medium, LinkedIn, HuffPo, and many other places. I always tell them that I am not going to do that. If they want to repost something I have written here on their platform, that is cool with me. The content here at AVC is creative commons licensed and freely available for reposting with a few reasonably constraints.

But this is part of a much larger and more important narrative. We are in the “Internet Two” phase as Steven Johnson called in it his piece that I blogged about yesterday. Internet One was an open network, open protocols, open systems. Internet Two is closed platforms that increasingly dominate the market and own and control our content and us. We need to get to Internet Three where we take back control of ourselves. It is high time for that to happen. The HuffPo news is a small example of what that is so important.


Bethany Marz Crystal — January 26, 2018
The Lisa Frank Sticker Experiment

Categories: Blog articles

Beyond The Bitcoin Bubble

A VC - January 17, 2018 - 8:04am

My friend Steven Johnson has penned a long and wonderful piece exploring what lies beyond the speculative market in crypto tokens.

This essay, which will run in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, but is online now, could not have come at a better time.

All most people know about Bitcoin, Ethereum, ICOs, and alt-coins, is that you can trade them and make (and lose) money on them.

But that is not what interests me about crypto tokens and blockchain technology and it is not what interests USV and the folks in this sector we work with.

What interests us is that “crypto” could well be the architectural breakthrough that we need to move beyond the current Internet market dominated by a few large tech companies.

And Steven, as is his gift, explains this beautifully and easily in roughly 9,000 words.

This is a piece that requires sitting down with a cup of coffee or tea and reading it.

I would suggest you find some time this week to do that.


Albert Wenger — January 26, 2018
Mycroft: Open Consumer Voice Platform

Bethany Marz Crystal — January 25, 2018
USV Manager Bootcamp: A cross-company learning opportunity

Categories: Blog articles

Newsletter—2017 Year-end, and prospects for the coming year

Beyond Money - January 16, 2018 - 11:16pm
  • New web posts:

            Disruptive Technologies Making Money Obsolete

            Limiting Factors in the Operation of Commercial Trade Exchanges

  • Newly discovered video from 2003 interview, Democratizing Money
  • 2017 recap
  • Thoughts on the state of the world, plus recommended authors, commentators, and sources


It’s been a long while since my last newsletter. It’s not that I’ve been idle, rather, more preoccupied with other aspects of my life. I’ve been somewhat less motivated to keep my nose to the grindstone, and more inclined toward spending time with friends and family, and recreational pursuits like playing bridge, enjoying the outdoors, and reading good literature. My commitment to societal improvement remains, but I realize that it is necessary to have the proper balance in life in order to be both happy and effective.

Now that 2017 is behind us, we can be hopeful that 2018 will bring better conditions and new opportunities for progress in our work.
New Web Posts

Broadly speaking, technology is the organization of knowledge, people, and things to accomplish specific practical objectives. It includes processes, practices, techniques and systems as well as things. So what are the disruptive technologies in money and finance? Or is that even the right question to be asking? Is it Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other so-called crypto-currencies? Is it the blockchain, “smart contracts,” “big data,” algorithms?

To find out, watch my 15 minute video, which was extracted and adapted from a longer recording of A World Without Money and Interest: A pathway toward social justice and economic equity, the presentation I  made to the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 10, 2016. It describes how communities and businesses can escape the debt trap and become more resilient and self-reliant? New independent approaches to payment and reciprocal exchange are being deployed which are making conventional money obsolete. It’s not as  complicated as you may think.

You can view the video at either of the following links:

YouTube link:

Vimeo link:

Many thanks to Ken Richings for doing all the hard work of editing and preparing the video for publication.

I’ve also posted another excerpt from my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

This one, taken from Chapter 15, Commercial Trade Exchanges—Their Present Limitations and Potential Future, describes the ways in which present practices of commercial trade exchanges are limiting their own growth and development.
Newly discovered video from 2003 interview, Democratizing Money

A long-time correspondent recently alerted me to a video that was made during my tour of the Pacific Northwest in 2003. It is an interview on Network X, in which the late Jeff Fairhall and I spoke about Democratizing Money. This is still every bit as relevant today as it was back then. You can find it on YouTube at–g.
2017 recap

Travel in 2017 was minimal, only two trips, one to South Carolina to visit family on the occasion of my granddaughter’s university graduation, and the other to Greece in June/July to conduct my weeklong workshop at Kalikalos Holistic Summer School and to confer with colleagues in Volos and Athens. I’ll not be conducting another formal workshop at Kalikalos next summer but I may spend some time there at the Kissos campus as a Facilitator In Residence (FIR)

During the first part of 2017 and the last two months of 2016, I participated in a cooperative living experiment in Tucson with two friends and colleagues, Susan and Jock. Susan is an author, administrator and grant writer, and Jock is an expert in community living and the founder of Kalikalos. We took a 6 month lease on a house in central Tucson with the intention of working out some alternative possibilities for seniors to age in place in a supportive community, and to take a first step in establishing a learning center that I call the E. C. Riegel Institute for Sustainability and Financial Innovation. With Susan’s expert help, we submitted a couple grant proposals for funding  the Institute but did not manage to get a grant, so by the end of April when our lease expired, the experiment was wrapped up and, as planned, we scattered. Susan moved back east to be closer to her son and daughter, Jock developed some health problems so he chose to move into an assisted living community in Marin county California, and I moved into another shared house in Tucson.

I maintain regular correspondence and collaboration with many in my peer networks but I’m finding it impossible to keep up with all the email I receive, so I’m having to be more selective about what gets answered. Also, there continues to be a steady stream of groups and individuals asking my advice about their ideas for a new economy, community currencies or credit clearing exchanges. As you might imagine, many of those who contact me have only a germ of an idea and little background in the principles of economics, money, finance and exchange. I try to direct them to resources (my own and others’) that are appropriate to where they happen to be on the learning curve, but there are a few who seem better prepared and have demonstrated abilities in related fields that I choose to work with more intensively. It’s hard to assess the ultimate impact of these efforts, and I’m still hoping to connect with social entrepreneurs and funders who are willing to take my advice to create and take to market an exchange system or currency that is sound, credible, effective and scalable, one that can adequately demonstrate the real potential and effective enough to be widely replicated.

In the meantime, I keep trying to improve my communication skills so that people can better understand, not only what is dysfunctional about conventional money, banking and finance, but also the principles and technical details required to realize the great potential of private currencies and moneyless exchange systems. Last year I published the Solar Dollar white paper, and I will soon be publishing another article in which I will try again to clear up the most common misconceptions, and help the next corps of social entrepreneurs to avoid repeating the old recurrent errors.
Thoughts on the state of the world

2017 has sure been an interesting year geopolitically, with Trump’s tweets, Russiagate, North Korean weapons tests, mass killings, and continuing U.S. interventions in the middle-east and elsewhere,  giving the pundits plenty of material to yack about 24/7. U.S. politics is playing out like a melodramatic farce. The executive branch seems to be a house divided against itself, and the political landscape is undergoing a seismic shift. The Trump presidency has shaken things up and it’s difficult to predict what might happen next. The corporate and banking oligarchs seem to be getting  enough out of Trump to accept (for now) his presence in the White House, but his rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and his coziness with Putin and the Russians must be exasperating to them.

It’s getting ever more difficult to sort out the real facts from the fake news and propaganda. If you get your news solely from the main TV channels, newspapers, and magazines you’re getting only a small part of the big picture and are thereby being misled. For a more complete picture, one needs to study history, listen to whistle blowers, and consult independent authors and commentators, and foreign as well as domestic sources. My current list of  recommended sites and sources is here. It’s up to you to decide what makes sense and what to believe. As one sage told me long ago, “Don’t believe everything you hear, and only half of what you see.” Over the past several months, I’ve posted five segments in a series I call, What in the world is going on? Go to my website,, and search on “What in the world” to find them.

Finally, regarding the economy, since the 2008 financial crisis the central banks have been inflating asset bubbles in stocks, bonds, and real estate by their policies of market interventions (quantitative easing) and low interest rates. Now they are making noises about raising interest rates and reducing the size of their balance sheets (by selling securities), but I don’t expect they will be able to go very far with those moves without causing more economic distress. They are more window dressing than real policy shifts. The Republican tax bill which was recently passed into law will, in the short run,  add to that bubble inflation by giving the rich and the corporations additional funds which they will mainly invest, not spend. Corporations, rather than raising wages or building new capacity, will likely use much of the windfall to buy back their own shares. That added demand will keep stocks pumped up for a while longer. But nothing has been done to remedy the flaws that are inherent in the global system of money, banking and finance (MBF), which in fact have been made worse. Another financial crisis is surely on the way and it’s likely to be more severe than the last one, but when it will break is difficult to predict.

Everyone wants to know how to protect their nest egg. My general advice for communities is to convert financial resources into resilient infrastructure that provides a steady stream of necessary goods and services. But what can individuals do? An inflationary depression is the most likely scenario, so keep enough cash on hand to last a couple weeks and hold some liquidity in a credit union account, but invest a major portion of your money in real things that will be useful and hold their value no matter what. For more detailed advice about that you can read my post Survival Strategies for Troubled Times.

Wishing you peace, love, and joy throughout the coming year,

Categories: Blog articles


A VC - January 16, 2018 - 6:51am

I saw my friend Chris tweet this question yesterday and had to respond:

Yubikeys are awesome. Not supported everywhere. I use them where I can

— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) January 15, 2018

Nick helped me get Yubikeys set up on all of the services I use that support them in the past few weeks. If I had a new year’s resolution, which I don’t, it would have been to start to use Yubikeys.

So what are Yubikeys?

They are a brand of “security keys” that are supported in the two factor authentication offerings at Google and many other Internet services.

They look like this:

You can buy Yubikeys here.

The idea is you keep one with you and one in a safe place in your office or home or a bank safe deposit box.

If you lose your phone, you have a Yubikey to get you back into the service.

But I don’t only use Yubikeys as “backup codes”, which I also keep stored safely.

I have started using my Yubikeys instead of a Google Authenticator code. It can be easier if you have the Yubikey handy.

But whatever you do, don’t use SMS for two-factor codes.

I was hacked this summer and the attacker tried (unsuccessfully thankfully) to port my phone number.

My partner Albert recently experienced a similar attack. He wrote about it here.

So here is the best practice as I see it:

  1. Always use two-factor authentication if it is offered. And it is almost always offered on popular services.
  2. Don’t use text messaging to deliver two-factor codes. It is not safe. You can have your number ported way too easily.
  3. Use Google Authenticator to deliver two-factor codes onto your phone.
  4. Use a Yubikey as a backup in case your phone is lost, stolen, or dropped in a swimming pool or toilet.
  5. Print out the backup codes to the two-factor services and put them in a safe place.

Personal data security is a big deal. Trust me on this. Don’t let yourself get hacked to understand why.

And Yubikeys are a nice addition to the personal security mix. I like them a lot.


Bethany Marz Crystal — January 25, 2018
USV Manager Bootcamp: A cross-company learning opportunity

Albert Wenger — January 24, 2018
Uncertainty Wednesday: Sample Variance (Cont’d)

Categories: Blog articles

Light And Love

A VC - January 15, 2018 - 5:07am

Today we celebrate the life and teachings of the great Martin Luther King Jr.

He had a way with words and among my favorites is this quote, which seems very apropos right now:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.


Albert Wenger — January 24, 2018
Uncertainty Wednesday: Sample Variance (Cont’d)

Categories: Blog articles

Some Thoughts On Equity Compensation

A VC - January 14, 2018 - 10:18am

A hallmark of startup companies, the tech sector more broadly, and certainly our portfolio companies, is that they include equity in their compensation packages for their employees, often all employees.

If you work for a tech company, chances are good that you will get options as part of your compensation package.

I have written extensively on this topic over the years and even published a framework for issuing equity to employees on this blog.

That framework is now out of date as the market has moved (up in case you were wondering) and I need to update it. It’s a project and we are working on it at USV but I can’t promise it any time soon.

A few years ago I met with a very successful entrepreneur who built his company outside of the tech sector. When I asked him about equity compensation he said to me “You people in tech are crazy. I pay my employees handsomely in cash and I keep all of the equity for myself.”

I’ve thought about that comment a lot in the years since. I grew up in the business doing things a certain way and never questioned it until that moment.

The truth is that equity comp has its disadvantages. You can’t pay your rent or take a vacation with your options. They might be worthless if the company fails or is sold in a fire sale. You have to pay taxes when you exercise and if you can’t sell the underlying stock that can be painful. If you leave and can’t exercise, you could lose the equity.

And it is hard to compare two competing equity packages if you have two (or more) competing offers. Companies often purposely make it hard to understand the equity they are offering you. But even if they give you everything you need to know to value the equity, you still need to make assumptions about the future value of the equity to value it and nobody has a crystal ball.

For all of these reasons, many employees don’t really value the equity and they often don’t understand it either. But they understand the cash part of their compensation and know how to value that.

For companies, the equity they grant their employees is costly. Annual dilution can be as high as 5% per year just for employee compensation. We work hard with our portfolio companies to keep this dilution as reasonable as possible but I have never seen it, regardless of stage, much lower than 2% per year. Compound that over ten years and you can see what happens.

And companies have to expense the cost of issuing equity to their employees on their income/loss statements and the amounts can be massive when the companies get to be large publicly traded companies.

This recorded cost on the income statement is not theoretical. If you bought back as much stock as you issue to employees every year, something I strongly recommend to companies that have the cash flow to do it, the expense in terms of cash is very real.

So this issue of employee equity, whether to include it in your comp packages, for whom, and how employees should value it, if at all, is a big fucking deal for our industry.

And yet we treat it like something that is non negotiable, like it is part of the ten commandments of tech companies handed down by God to the Hewlett Packard founders eighty years ago when they were starting their company.

I don’t have any specific recommendations to make on this topic except that Boards should be thinking way more deeply and creatively about this issue than we are. We should be confronting the true cost of this practice and asking ourselves if it is best for our employees, and if so, which ones, and if it is best for our companies and our shareholders.

The answers to those questions is not definitively yes for all employees and all companies. As the unnamed entrepreneur who got me thinking about this proves.

Categories: Blog articles

Audio Of The Week: Empowering Women with Tech – Fereshteh Forough

A VC - January 13, 2018 - 10:48am

A few weeks ago on the Gotham Gal’s podcast, she had Fereshteh Forough, founder of Code to Inspire, an organization that teaches women in Afghanistan to code.

There is so much to like about what Fereshteh is doing. It’s a great podcast to listen to this weekend:


Albert Wenger — January 22, 2018
The Importance of Sleep

Categories: Blog articles

Funding Friday: Make 100

A VC - January 12, 2018 - 5:16am

Like last year, our portfolio company Kickstarter is starting the new year off with a Make 100 campaign.

The idea is simple. Make 100 of something and fund it on Kickstarter.

Here are a bunch of live Make 100 campaigns

And if you want to do a Make 100 campaign, you can start here.

Make 100 campaigns are fun because they are typically low budget affairs.

I backed a bunch of them today and look forward to seeing them come to life.

Categories: Blog articles

Losing In Double Overtime

A VC - January 11, 2018 - 6:00am

Longtime readers know that I am a Knicks fan. Or as the Signal group I have with a couple of my kids is called, a “Frustrated Knicks Fan.”

Last night we lost at home in double overtime to the Bulls. That is the third time this season we have lost to the Bulls. Twenty percent of the Bulls wins this year have been against the Knicks.

Last night’s loss was a microcosm of the season and this team for me.

We played hard, we made a couple big buckets to take the game to OT and double OT.

But in the end, a boneheaded play by the player who was keeping us in the game lost it for us.

Fandom is such an interesting emotion.

It is self-torture and yet we enjoy it.


Categories: Blog articles


A VC - January 10, 2018 - 8:50am

There is a big difference between being right about something and being right about when something will happen.

Sadly, to profit from being right you either have to get the timing right or you have to hang in there until the timing is right. The latter can be incredibly painful and most investors don’t have the stomach for it.

This is particularly true of short positions. It is not enough to know that something is going to blow up. You have to know how, why, and when.

On long positions, like venture capital investments, you do have the ability to buy time but it requires a lot of conviction and patience and the carrying costs can negatively impact the returns.

Which is why the best venture capital investments are always the right idea at the right time by the right team.

I remember watching streaming video over a 14.4 modem in 1997. Ten years later YouTube nailed that opportunity. Right place. Right time.

A lot of venture capital investors ask “what can go right” instead of “what can go wrong” and that is exactly the right mindset in VC investing. But you also have to ask “when will it happen and why?”

Categories: Blog articles

Being Direct

A VC - January 9, 2018 - 6:51am

I saw The Gotham Gal’s reply to an email this morning that we were both copied on. I can’t remember exactly what she said but it was something like “I understand, but no.”

No beating around the bush, no letting down softly, just complete and total honesty about where our heads are at on something.

She has taught me this lesson consistently over our almost forty year relationship. I have a tendency to be too nice and leave people with an unclear view of where I am at.

I’ve gotten much better at this over the years as the pain of leaving things hanging has taught me this very important point.

Being clear and direct with people, even if it means upsetting them, is better than being nice and leaving them confused.

Seeing that email reminded me of that and the next hundred emails I replied to got a very direct answer this morning.


Albert Wenger — January 17, 2018
Uncertainty Wednesday: Sample Variance

Categories: Blog articles

Meditation And Distraction

A VC - January 8, 2018 - 5:31am

I’ve been meditating for ten to fifteen minutes every day for the past two months. I have not missed a day since I started. I find it to be a wonderful practice which I enjoy and look forward to very much every day.

I am experiencing a number of benefits but the one I am most cognizant of is an increased ability to avoid distraction in a conversation or some other situation where I need to be focused.

I’ve always been good at being focused, sometimes to a fault. But I also find my mind wandering in situations where I am losing interest and that’s obviously very bad.

At the core of my meditation practice, as it was taught to me, is bringing my mind back in focus and back to the breathing. It is that thing “snapping back into focus” that I do regularly in my meditation practice that has helped me so much with staying present throughout the day.

Meditation is like repetitive exercise of the focus muscle in the brain.

So if you are having trouble being present in situations you want to be but can’t, I would strongly recommend trying meditation. It’s helped me with this and I imagine it will help you too.


Albert Wenger — January 17, 2018
Uncertainty Wednesday: Sample Variance

Categories: Blog articles

Taking Money “Off The Table”

A VC - January 7, 2018 - 9:47am

One of the hardest things in managing a venture capital portfolio is managing your big winners. A big winner can dwarf the rest of the entire portfolio and you end up sitting on enormous paper profits that you can’t get liquid on. I realize that this seems like a great problem to have, and it is, but it is still a challenging situation.

We faced it in Twitter in 2010/2011/2012, in the years before Twitter went public (which happened in the fall of 2013). We had bought 15% of Twitter for $3.75mm in the first VC round in 2007 and though we had been diluted down a bit in subsequent rounds, we had a very large position that was worth in the neighborhood of $1bn by 2011. Our entire fund was $125mm and so we were sitting on a position that was worth 8x the entire fund. It was a wonderful situation in many ways but I was nervous that macro events or a setback at Twitter could go against us and the position would go down in value, possibly significantly.

The way we managed this issue is we sold a portion of our position in two secondary transactions and in connection with those sales, I stepped off the board, making room for an independent director who would be helpful as the Company scaled and got ready to go public. We sold about 30% of our position in those two secondary transactions for about $250mm and returned 2x the entire fund to our investors.

That allowed us to “chill out” and hold the balance until the IPO, which had a customary 180 day post IPO lockup. After the lockup came off, we distributed the balance of the position, returning another ~$700mm to our investors.

Though we sold stock in the secondary transactions at lower values than the eventual IPO, I have never regretted doing that and believe that it was the right thing for us to do for many reasons.

We have done similar things in many other situations including Zynga, Lending Club, MongoDB, and a number of other investments. We typically seek to liquidate somewhere between 10% and 30% of our position in these pre-IPO liquidity transactions. Doing so allows us to hold onto the balance while de-risking the entire investment.

I was reminded of this topic when I saw the news that Benchmark, First Round, and Menlo sold between 15% and 50% of their positions in Uber to SOFTBANK. I think they all acted rationally and responsibly in doing that. It does not mean that SOFTBANK is making a mistake purchasing the shares. There are many reasons to believe that SOFTBANK made a good deal. But if you look at First Round, for example, they have a position worth $2bn or more at the $50bn valuation of the SOFTBANK tender. I don’t know the exact details, but I believe First Round’s fund that holds Uber is less than $100mm. So they returned something like 8x the entire fund and still hold the majority of their position. That was “well played” in my book. Same with Benchmark. Same with Menlo.

Taking money off the table is smart portfolio management. It is very different from selling your entire position, which could be brilliant but is equally likely to be a mistake. Selling a portion of your position, returning a multiple or two (or eight) of the fund, and holding on to the balance works out for you no matter which way the position goes in the future. If the position blows up, you got a lot out and booked a huge gain. If the position goes up significantly, you make even more money on the part of the investment you retained. If it goes sideway, you got a little bit out early. It is a win/win/win pretty much every way you look at it.

Which takes me to crypto (naturally). If you are sitting on 20x, 50x, 100x your money on a crypto investment, it would not be a mistake to sell 10%, 20% or even 30% of your position. Selling 25% of your position on an investment that is up 50x is booking a 12.5x on the entire investment, while allowing you to keep 75% of it going. I know that many crypto holders think that selling anything is a mistake. And it might be. Or it might not be. You just don’t know.


Albert Wenger — January 15, 2018
Martin Luther King Jr Supported Basic Income

Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: Vitalik Buterin

A VC - January 6, 2018 - 5:43am

In honor of Ethereum trading (briefly) at north of $1000USD this week, I thought we’d hear this weekend from Ethereum’s founder Vitalik Buterin.

This is an interview that he sat for in October at the ETH Waterloo event (where, among other things, CryptoKitties was born).


Nick Grossman — January 14, 2018
You need a budget

Categories: Blog articles

Funding Friday: Shantell Martin

A VC - January 5, 2018 - 6:07am

I support a bunch of artists on Kickstarter’s new Drip service.

One of my favorites is Shantell Martin.

She draws her dreams and makes music and shares her work regularly with her backers.

It’s great to get a little bit from her on a regular basis.

Check out her page and maybe back her and see what that is like.

UPDATE: AVC regular Kevin Marshall just joined Drip today. Good timing. I backed him too. If you want to do the same, you can do that here.


Nick Grossman — January 14, 2018
You need a budget

Categories: Blog articles

I’m Having A Meltdown

A VC - January 4, 2018 - 8:36am

So the chips we use in our personal computers and cloud computers have some newly discovered security holes. One is called Meltdown. The other is called Spectre.

My first reaction upon hearing the news yesterday was “so what do we do about this?”

The answer is you can’t do much on your own.

For Meltdown, we need the operating system and hardware manufacturers to issue patches and firmware upgrades. I am sure they are furiously working on them.

The Verge has a good piece on what we can and should be doing about this.

Here’s the key part of that post:

  • Update to the latest version of Chrome (on January 23rd) or Firefox 57 if you use either browser
  • Check Windows Update and ensure KB4056892 is installed for Windows 10
  • Check your PC OEM website for support information and firmware updates and apply any immediately

I expect Apple will be issuing an update shortly for their OS.

Apparently Microsoft, Google, and Amazon’s cloud services are already patched for Meltdown.

As for Spectre, apparently there are no fixes for it as of now, but it is also a lot harder to implement hacks using that one.

Finally, my partner Albert has some optimism about all of this. We should expect some good to come of this mess.


Albert Wenger — January 12, 2018
A SIM Switch Account Takeover (Mine)

Categories: Blog articles

Some Thoughts On Checking References

A VC - January 3, 2018 - 9:03am

We do a lot of referencing in our business. We certainly ask around about a team before investing in them. But we do even more referencing post investment when we help the founders and management of our portfolio companies build a team. Investors often have access to references that founders and management don’t. So we can add a lot of value to the hiring process by reaching out to our network and asking about people.

The thing I have learned in thirty plus years of making reference calls is to pay attention to how things are said more than what is said. And pay particular attention to what is not said.

I have also learned to call people instead of sending emails. Most people don’t want to put negative things in writing, but will do so on the phone, particularly with someone they trust.

It is also helpful to talk to people with knowledge of a situation but not handcuffed by it. For example, a CEO may not feel comfortable saying something negative about someone they transitioned out of their company, but a co-worker might be. Or a close friend of a co-worker might be.

I don’t mean to suggest that references are all about finding out the negatives. You should also seek to hear what someone’s strengths are. Most people are good at some things and not so good at other things. Getting a sense of strengths and weaknesses and making sure the person is a good fit for the role is what referencing a person is all about.

But I do believe strongly in hearing the negatives when hiring someone. If you can’t find anything negative about someone, that is a red flag to me. Often negatives in one situation can be positives in another.

If someone says to me, “they were great when the company was small but got lost as the company scaled” that means that person is great at the very early stages of a company’s development. And that is often the most valuable time in a company’s life. Finding people who can operate in that environment is not easy. So I like hearing that about people. I know where to orient them.

I am not a fan of calling the references on someone’s list unless I know those people well. What I do instead is figure out who I know well that knows the person or knows someone who does. And then I reach out and call them. It’s more work but it yields much better results.

I am also a believer in having a group of people do the referencing. Getting multiple angles of attack on a situation is valuable and multiple people will have a much bigger network of close relationships to leverage.

I am not a fan of referencing by checklist questions. I have been on the other end of calls where the person is reading from a list of questions. That strikes me as an odd way to do a reference check. I think a conversation where you can dig into the meat of the issue in a natural way works a lot better. At least it does for me.

Finally, I think you should wait until you have a good sense of the person and are seriously considering them for the role before doing the references. The more information you have about the person and their potential fit for the role, the better your calls can be. But you don’t want to wait too long. If there is a big red flag on a candidate, you want to know that before you spend too much of your time and their time on the hiring process.

Referencing is an art more than a science. Getting people on your team and around you (on your board, your advisors, your investor group) who are good at it can be super helpful. And don’t forget to reach out and use them in your hiring process. It can make a huge difference.


Albert Wenger — January 12, 2018
A SIM Switch Account Takeover (Mine)

Nick Grossman — January 11, 2018
The weakest link

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