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Musings of a VC in NYC
Updated: 2 hours 15 min ago

Funding Friday: The Last Blockbuster

August 24, 2018 - 2:38am

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

August 23, 2018 - 9:00am

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

August 22, 2018 - 4:06am

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

August 21, 2018 - 2:59am

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

August 20, 2018 - 4:04am

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

August 19, 2018 - 4:11am

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

August 18, 2018 - 6:13am

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

August 17, 2018 - 6:47am

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

Disclosure

August 16, 2018 - 3:49am

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

August 15, 2018 - 6:40am

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

Investor Friendly Terms

August 14, 2018 - 3:02am

At USV, we have always had simple and investor-friendly terms with the institutions and individuals that provide the capital we invest.

I got thinking about that this morning in reading Brad Feld’s post about recycling management fees, something we do aggressively at USV (we have recycled between 20 and 25% of our mature VC funds).

We have never charged a premium carry or off-market management fee, we return all capital before taking carry distributions, and we recycle aggressively.

Certainly, we could charge more, but we have never wanted to do that.

When people ask me why not, I like to tell a story.

When Brad Burnham and I were raising the first USV fund, into the teeth of the VC and Internet meltdown of the early 2000s, we visited one of the top VC LPs in the world and he told us the story of a VC firm that they had been investing with for more than twenty years.

As the Internet bubble neared its pinnacle in late 1999, that firm came to the LP and told them that they were raising the carry from 20% to 30%. The LP, who had been supporting this firm for twenty years, was not comfortable with this hike in carry, but held their nose and went along with it.

Three years later, the firm came back for another fund, this time with a 1999 vintage fund in shambles.

They started out the pitch like this “we have had a wonderful and profitable relationship with you for twenty-three years.”

To which the LP retorted “Not really. We had a wonderful relationship with you for twenty years, then you reset the relationship and it has sucked ever since.”

That was the end of that LP/VC relationship.

That story has really stuck with me. Every time I think “we are well below market” I then think “but this is no time to upset the apple cart.” And I get back to work.

The same is true of entrepreneurs and VCs. You can push things too far and if you then stumble, it will come back to haunt you.

But if you are fair and reasonable, it will get paid back over time, particularly in times when you are struggling and need more capital.

That is how the world works. What goes around comes around. Best to be in good standing with your investors when it does.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Dani Grant — August 22, 2018
Observations About The Crypto Dev Experience

Categories: Blog articles

Strike When The Iron Is Hot

August 13, 2018 - 8:18am

I introduced a young friend of one of my children to a colleague in the tech business last month. The young friend took a day to reply to the email introduction and by then the introduction had gone cold.

Happily the introduction resurfaced this week and something may still come of it.

That story reminds me of another.

It was 1996 and Flatiron Partners had just relocated to the Flatiron district of NYC (we really had no choice but to locate there). A friend invited me to lunch at Gramercy Tavern which had opened a couple years previously and was one of the most happening restaurants in NYC.

We sat down to lunch and Danny Meyer, the owner of Gramercy Tavern, comes into the restaurant and starts working the lunch time crowd.

When he gets to our table my friend says to Danny “please meet Fred Wilson, founder of Flatiron Partners who has just relocated his business to the neighborhood.” Danny reached into his pocket, took out his business card, and said to me “Welcome to the neighborhood. If you ever need a table please give me a call and we will take care of you.”

That night when I got home I told the Gotham Gal “I met Danny Meyer today and he gave me his card and said I could call him whenever I need a table.” To which she replied “go there for lunch tomorrow.” And I told her “I don’t have a lunch tomorrow.” She said “Get one. He will remember who you are tomorrow but won’t next month.”

So I got a lunch, called Danny, got a table, and he again said hello when he worked the lunch crowd (something he used to do whenever he was in town). I became friends with Danny and still call him when I need a table at one of his restaurants and can’t get one on Resy.

Striking while the iron is hot is so important. I often thing of the Gotham Gal saying “get one.” It was absolutely the right thing to do and always is.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Dani Grant — August 22, 2018
Observations About The Crypto Dev Experience

Dani Grant — August 21, 2018
‍ Announcing Gravity

Categories: Blog articles

Capitulation?

August 12, 2018 - 4:50am

One of the things I have disliked the most about the crypto sector is the idea that people should “hodl” or “hold on for dear life.”

I have written many times here at AVC that one should take profits when they are available and diversify an investment portfolio.

The idea that an investor should hold on no matter what has always seemed ridiculous to me.

Now, the crypto markets are in the eighth month of a long and painful bear market and we are starting to see some signs of capitulation, particularly in the assets that went up the most last year.

Whether this is the long-awaited capitulation of the HODL crowd or not, I can’t say.

But capitulation would be a good thing for the crypto markets, releasing assets into the market that until now have been locked up by long-term holders.

Until then it is hard to get excited about buying anything in crypto.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Dani Grant — August 21, 2018
‍ Announcing Gravity

Categories: Blog articles

Audio Of The Week: Ryan Selkis On The Messari Project

August 11, 2018 - 8:25am

On this episode of the Epicenter podcast, Ryan Selkis, founder of the Messari project, talks about what they are trying to do with Messari and how it might bring needed transparency and accountability to ICOs and other token projects.

Categories: Blog articles

Funding Friday: This Place Will Be Water

August 10, 2018 - 7:10am

The neighborhood where we live in NYC will be underwater with a 2-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures.

This Kickstarter project will create stickers that all of us can place on places like ours and remind everyone that climate change is a big deal.

I backed this project today and you can too right here.

Categories: Blog articles

Regulating and Legislating Tech and Tech Companies

August 9, 2018 - 10:54am

More and more of the news around tech these days is about the relationship between technology companies and government. That was not the case a decade ago when regulators and elected officials took a largely hands off approach to technology, particularly the Internet, web, and mobile.

While I am not a fan of many of the moves that regulators and elected officials have made over the last few years, including the NYC City Council’s recent bills to clamp down on home-sharing and ride-sharing in NYC, I do believe that the tech sector and tech companies must engage with the public sector and they must do it earlier in their development.

It is hard to be an advocate for the tech sector and tech companies with the public sector, a role I play fairly regularly, when the companies in question have not been the best actors themselves.

The good news is that the tech sector no longer naively believes that it can opt out of the public discourse and political engagement.

The bad news is it is playing catch-up and is on it’s heels. That is going to take time and money to fix.

Emerging sectors like crypto and machine learning should pay heed to what has happened here and not make the same mistakes as their predecessors.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Dani Grant — August 17, 2018
Planet Money Buys A CryptoKitty; Takes Them Over An Hour

Categories: Blog articles

Reporting

August 8, 2018 - 12:21pm

At USV, we report to our investors on our portfolio and performance four times a year, once a quarter. We produce an audited report once a year, with our Q4 results.

We do that in writing and we also do a quarterly call for our investors three times a year (we combine our Q4 and Q1 calls since our annual audit process slows down our Q4 reporting).

In our annual and Q2 written reports, we prepare a short update on every one of our portfolio companies. We call these “one-pagers.”

This can be a fair bit of work but we do it regularly and have been doing it since we started USV.

I think it is a great discipline for investors to take the time on a regular basis to sit down and write and speak to their investors about what is going on in their portfolio and in the macro environment.

It is a time-honored tradition that fund managers write a letter to their investors explaining what they are seeing and doing. Warren Buffet’s letters are a particularly great example of that. But there are many fund managers who are excellent writers and whose letters get passed around and read by many in the investment community.

Everyone here at AVC knows that I think writing and investing fit like a hand and glove and writing and thinking out loud can make you a better investor.

The Gotham Gal and I are investors in a number of venture capital funds and I have noticed a trend among venture fund managers to reduce the amount of writing and verbal communication they do with their investors. I understand that it can be time-consuming and that many fund investors don’t even bother to read the reports.

But I would urge my peers to resist that urge and to take time to regularly sit down and write about what is going on in your portfolio companies and the markets you invest in. I think it provides insights, raises issues, and gets the entire investment team talking about things in a way that few other regular processes do.

Plus I really enjoy doing it.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Dani Grant — August 17, 2018
Planet Money Buys A CryptoKitty; Takes Them Over An Hour

Categories: Blog articles

Selling

August 7, 2018 - 6:02am

I like to think of the investing discipline as composed of three key modes of operation.

Buying – Figuring out what you should buy and what you should not buy. There are many strategies that work here but my favorite is buying things that others are not buying. And my preferred reason for “others not buying” is that they don’t know about it yet.

Managing – This is the work an investor does to manage the investment. It includes decisions around whether to buy more of an investment that is working, which is incredibly important and can massively impact returns. But I believe that the most powerful thing an investor can do to impact their investment is to work with the management of the investment to make sure that the team is making the right strategic and operational decisions.

Selling – This is all about when to exit an investment and how. It is the hardest part of the investing discipline in my view.

The conventional wisdom on selling is that an investor should set a target price when they buy and once an investment reaches that target price they should sell.

That approach doesn’t work very well in venture capital because as a minority investors in an illquid investment, we don’t control the sell decision.

That doesn’t mean I/we don’t have targets when we make our investments. But it does mean that we don’t usually have the ability to do sell when those targets are hit.

And, as a result of this dynamic in venture capital, I have learned a different lesson over the years about selling and that is to let your winners run and sell everything else.

As I mentioned previously, as minority investors in illiquid investments we don’t control the sell decisions. They are made by the Board and driven strongly by the founders and management.

But that said, when we have the opportunity to sell an investment that is not one of our big winners, I have found that it is generally the right idea to do that.

When you make an investment that is really working out, I have found that it is generally a good idea to hold on to it even when it goes past your original sell targets for it. It can be a useful discipline to develop new sell targets when this happens based on the new information you have about this investment.

In the venture capital business, your best investments often go public and the venture capital fund distributes the stock to the underlying investors (called LPs) in the venture fund. Those investors then have to make the sell decisions on those investments.

As a general partner in these venture capital funds, I receive these distributions too.

And, as a result of some really poor decisions earier in my career around selling or not selling public stocks that were distributed to me, I have developed an approach for selling stock that is distributed to me.

I like to sell one third of the position immediately, put one third away for a long term hold, and actively manage the other third.

This method insures that if the whole thing blows up, at least we got something out. If it goes up 10x or more, at least we didn’t miss out on all of that. And it is simple and easy to execute and we do it this way all of the time.

But even with all of these lessons I have learned and approaches I have developed over the years, I continue to struggle with selling. It is hard for me to do and I resist the urge, particularly with the big winners. It is like taking your medicine. You know it is the right thing to do but it doesn’t feel very good when you do it.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — August 15, 2018
A little, and then a little more

Categories: Blog articles

Voice Input – Some Observations

August 6, 2018 - 3:47am

I have an excellent voice assistant on my Android phone. I never use it.

I could be dictating this blog post using the same voice assistant. I don’t do that except when I want to prove that I can.

We have had Alexa and Google Home in our home. We shut them off and sent them away.

But we use the Siri voice assistant on our AppleTV all the time.

Why?

Well for one, searching for video content does not have to be exact. Just close enough. So when you say “Allen Iverson crossover Michael Jordan” into your AppleTV remote, even if Siri doesn’t translate that perfectly, YouTube understands it and delivers up one of my favorite basketball moments reliably.

Second, the keypad entry on AppleTV is horrible. I spent some time yesterday setting up apps, entering passwords, etc and it is about the most frustrating experience I’ve had on a computer in a long time.

Siri on the AppleTV is so much better than the alternative and reliably good enough that it has become the way we interact with our AppleTV.

Another example is my car. I have a Jeep and it has this awful smart car UI called UConnect in it. It’s the worst. Except I can say “call Joanne Wilson” while I am driving and it does that pretty reliably. I have called a person we know named Jan Wilson a few times by accident, but that is way better than another kind of a accident in my Jeep.

So while voice imput has not taken hold in our life where text input works reliably and conveniently, it has taken hold where text input is not reliable, convenient, or safe.

What this tells me is the path forward for voice input technology, which has gotten very good, is in applications that are not mainstream yet but can get mainstream by solving the data input problem.

And, in fact, that is what is already happening.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — August 15, 2018
A little, and then a little more

Categories: Blog articles

What Was, What Is, and What Will Be

August 5, 2018 - 3:36am

A friend shared this book and blog with me called Vanishing New York. Both chronicle the loss of the culture and institutions that made NYC a magical place to live in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Certainly rising rents, rising wealth, a rising proportion of apartments owned by people who don’t live here, and all in all, a major bout of affluenza is afflicting Manhattan and possibly greater NYC right now.

But I personally struggle with sentimentality and wistfulness. Yes, the NYC that I fell in love the in the early 80s is no more, replaced by something that is much harder to sing the praises of.

But what interests me more is not what was or even what is, but what will be?

Where is NYC heading?

How will it manage it’s transportation crisis?

How will it cope with rising sea levels?

How will it deal with entire blocks of empty store fronts, brought on by the rise of ecommerce and landlords who won’t accept that their space is no longer worth what it once was?

I loved this Atlantic piece that suggested NYC should reimagine it’s massive array of subway tunnels as the underground highways for autonomous vehicles. I have no idea if that is a good idea or even feasible. But I love the ingenuity and thinking the author displays.

The Gotham Gal and I are making an apartment building in Brooklyn that is heated and cooled by solar power and has enough left over that we can sell it to the deregulating energy markets in New York State. We hope to make a few more of these buildings and maybe we will inspire other developers to do the same.

I am drawn to the vitality of life in the outer boroughs where the melting pot vibe still pulses through the neighborhoods. Of course, gentrification can and will mess them up the same way it has messed up Manhattan if we aren’t careful. But we still have time to implement policies that can mitigate the negative aspects of gentrification.

My point is this.

We can, and probably should, bear witness to what has become of NYC and what we have lost in the process.

But we must also be working on, investing in, and imaging what NYC (and life in general) can and will become.

Change is the only constant. Fighting it is a losing proposition. Shaping it is the winning one.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — August 13, 2018
Layers

Categories: Blog articles