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Net Neutrality Day Of Action

A VC - July 12, 2017 - 4:05am

Today, July 12th, is the Net Neutrality Day Of Action.

More than 70,000 websites, online services, and Internet users are participating including Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, Kickstarter, Etsy, Reddit, OK Cupid, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Spotify, Soundcloud, Mozilla and AVC.

The grassroots power of the Internet is how we won the strong net neutrality rules that are now in place and are threatened by the new leadership at the FCC. The big telcos have their people in power now. But we can keep fighting with our grassroots efforts. They have worked in the past and I hope they will continue to work to keep the Internet an open and level playing field for everyone.

If you want to participate with your website, blog, or social media profile, go here and join this online protest.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 19, 2017
Uncertainty Wednesday: Continuous Random Variables (Cont’d)

Nick Grossman — July 19, 2017
Getting Help

Bethany Marz Crystal — July 18, 2017
The Creation Story of Women in VC

Categories: Blog articles

Podcast To Listen To: Ayah Bdeir on Positively Gotham Gal

A VC - July 11, 2017 - 3:56am

Ayah Bdeir is one of the most impressive entrepreneurs I have come across in the last ten years. The Gotham Gal invested in the Little Bits seed round in 2011 and we have watched her build that company over the past six years. In this podcast Joanne and Ayah talk about the early days of Little Bits and the power of people believing in the vision early on.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 19, 2017
Uncertainty Wednesday: Continuous Random Variables (Cont’d)

Nick Grossman — July 19, 2017
Getting Help

Bethany Marz Crystal — July 18, 2017
The Creation Story of Women in VC

Categories: Blog articles

A Visit To Crypto Valley

A VC - July 10, 2017 - 3:42am

I blogged about Crypto Valley yesterday (aka Zug Switzerland).

Well it turns out that a couple of AVC community members (Ken Berger and Jeremy Epstein) have put together a three day trip to Zug on August 14-16. Details are here.

Ken Berger wrote this in his post yesterday:

Our target attendee participants are enthusiasts already well-versed in decentralizing internet technologies, including blockchain, crypto-currencies and beyond. We’ve already confirmed some VC’s and hackers, but other deep thinkers and some simply curious will likely make the list too; will be a great group. The event is free of charge. And hey, it’s gorgeous Switzerland in summer.

Unfortunately, we are very limited in spaces. To indicate interest as a participant (or speaker, or host), feel free to message me or use the instructions on the event’s post.

I will not be making this pilgrimage but I suspect some of you may be interested in doing so.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Bethany Marz Crystal — July 18, 2017
The Creation Story of Women in VC

Albert Wenger — July 17, 2017
Be Careful of What You Wish For: Token/ICO Edition

Categories: Blog articles

Jurisdictional Competition

A VC - July 9, 2017 - 4:06am

The economist Paul Romer introduced me to the idea of jurisdictional competition about ten years ago and I’ve been fascinated with it since. His TED Talk about charter cities from 2009 is a good primer on the concept.

The basic idea of jurisdictional competition is countries, cities, and regions can compete economically with each other by adopting more favorable laws and social norms.

We are actually seeing this play out right now in the crypto sector with the Swiss Canton of Zug becoming the preferred location to domicile a crypto-currency business.

Zug has even taken to calling itself Crypto Valley.

We have watched the blockchain companies in our portfolio struggle to adapt their business models, financing approaches, and more to US laws. We have been working with them to come up with creative ways that they can continue to operate in the US while executing the crypto playbook. It has been quite challenging. Many have advocated just moving the businesses to Zug, like so many others have done. And that may happen. We are for whatever is best for the founder and the business they create and have no preference for US domiciled companies. We have invested in Canadian companies, Estonian companies, French companies, Dutch companies, German companies, and likely a lot more. Investing in a Swiss domiciled company or foundation would not be a big deal for us.

The crypto playbook is a disruptive one. It is not a new way to raise money. It is a new way to architect a business. The profit motive is flipped upside down. You extract profits with your currency, not your business model. They are so many institutions, laws, even governments that look at that playbook and freak out. There has been pressure for years to rein the crypto sector in. And many rules and laws have been passed. And yet the crypto sector continues to flourish. Some of that is because it is, like the Internet, a global technology that knows no borders. Some of that is because lawmakers and regulators have been wise to tread carefully. And some of that is because nobody wants to drive this sector out of their city or country.

And yet that might happen anyway. It is already happening. And the US, and Silicon Valley in particular, have the most to lose if it does.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Bethany Marz Crystal — July 18, 2017
The Creation Story of Women in VC

Albert Wenger — July 17, 2017
Be Careful of What You Wish For: Token/ICO Edition

Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: IPFS and Filecoin

A VC - July 8, 2017 - 6:09am

Our portfolio company Protocol Labs built IPFS and will now launch a token for decentralized storage called Filecoin.

Juan Benet, the founder of Protocol Labs, explains all of that in this Y Combinator video.

This is super long, but the first part (30-40 mins) explains most of what they are up to.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 17, 2017
Be Careful of What You Wish For: Token/ICO Edition

Categories: Blog articles

Feature Friday: Make Your Own Moment

A VC - July 7, 2017 - 4:33am

Twitter Moments initially launched as a consume only service. But at some point, I’m not sure exactly when, Moments was opened up and anyone can create one now.

I created my first Moment just now.

You go to your Twitter profile, click Moments, and then click “Create New Moments.”

Then you can curate the Tweets you have liked, you have sent, and from accounts you like, into a single stream.

I decided to curate some of the music tweets that have hit my timeline this week.

Here’s my first Moment (click here to see it on Twitter):

Categories: Blog articles

Startup Truths: Users Will Determine How Your Product Is Used

A VC - July 6, 2017 - 4:11pm

one of the truths of successful startups. the thing you set out to make is not usually what you end up making.

— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) July 6, 2017

Categories: Blog articles

Working Across Many Time Zones

A VC - July 5, 2017 - 5:38am

I was in Europe for most of June and working on a lot of things with people in the bay area. The nine hours of time zone difference was challenging. I was doing a lot of calls in the evenings with people who were just waking up.

There were many times when I woke up in Europe to a brief window where I could talk to people in the bay area who were still working and had not wrapped things up for the day before.

Our portfolio at USV spans ten hours (Estonia to San Francisco/Los Angeles).

Being based in NYC helps a bit as we have longer overlaps between Europe and the Bay Area than those two locations have with each other.

But I continue to find working across many time zones challenging.

Yesterday I had a conference call between people in five time zones. Getting everyone to agree to the correct time was almost laughable.

I’ve learned to use the time zone feature in Google Calendar to make sure I’ve got the time right. That helps me a lot.

As the world becomes more globalized, we find that we can do business more easily across time zones. And so we do more business across time zones.

That in turn leads to longer days.

When I am in LA, I often wake at 5am to an inbox that is full and active.

When I am in Europe, I am often on conference calls on the way to dinner.

I suspect there is someone working at a USV portfolio company at every hour of every day.

And new technologies is pushing this trend even farther.

Traditional capital markets open and close. The NYSE will open for trading today at 9:30amET after being closed all day yesterday for the July 4th holiday.

But crypto traders can trade on GDAX 24/7 and do.

So the tech and startup business is quickly becoming a 24/7 affair.

It wasn’t that way at all when I got into the business in my mid 20s.

But thirty years later the pace and rhythm is very different.

Keeping up with that pace and rhythm can be exhausting if you let it be.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 12, 2017
Uncertainty Wednesday: Continuous Random Variables

Categories: Blog articles

Happy Birthday America

A VC - July 4, 2017 - 5:00am

For many Americans, this one included, the last eight months have been hard. We are not showing the world the side of our country that we love and are proud of. We are showing the world the side of our country that embarrasses us.

But even with the recognition that America has an ugly side, I still am incredibly proud to be a citizen of this great country. Warts and all, the United States of America is a land of opportunity, hope, and freedom. You can be who you want to be and what you want to be here. I am proof of that.

So Happy Birthday America. Let’s wave our flags and be proud today.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 12, 2017
Uncertainty Wednesday: Continuous Random Variables

Categories: Blog articles

My Very Own Rare Pepe

A VC - July 3, 2017 - 3:52am

I’ve written about Rare Pepe a bit here at AVC. I am fascinated by the combination of trading cards, internet memes, and crypto assets that Rare Pepe represents.

This morning I woke up to this news on Twitter:

it finally happened, @fredwilson has been honored with a certified rare pepe – Series 21, Card 14 @aweissman @myrarepepe pic.twitter.com/q5cvss13kf

— (╯°□°)╯ ︵ ┻━┻ (@wasthatawolf) July 2, 2017

Of course I went to my Rare Pepe Wallet and offered 400 Rare Pepes for it. I hope that trade clears and I become the owner of one of the 100 that will exist.

It is Series 21, Card 14 in case others want to collect this gem.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 12, 2017
Uncertainty Wednesday: Continuous Random Variables

Albert Wenger — July 10, 2017
Assessment of Trump Presidency?

Categories: Blog articles

“The Big Lie” and the tragedy of Europe –Yanis Varoufakis blows the lid on Europe’s hidden agenda

Beyond Money - July 2, 2017 - 3:33am

In this interview, former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, outlines the nature of the 2008 financial crisis, the reasons for the program of “quantitative easing” and the irrational actions of the western European leaders. The fundamental point he seems to miss is the debt growth imperative that is inherent in today’s global money system, the underlying fact that keeps everyone trapped in a system that is driving the whole of civilization toward disaster.


Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: Purpose, Mission, Strategy

A VC - July 1, 2017 - 4:25am

Last month my colleague Nick Grossman gave a really great talk at The Next Web in Amsterdam. In it, he talks about the importance of purpose, mission, and strategy and how to connect them in your company. And he shares a lot of great examples from our portfolio in his talk.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 10, 2017
Assessment of Trump Presidency?

Categories: Blog articles

Funding Friday: Kickstarter Gold

A VC - June 30, 2017 - 2:37am

Our portfolio company Kickstarter launched something cool a couple weeks ago. It is called Kickstarter Gold:

From June 20 through July 31, we’re spotlighting new projects by exciting artists and makers who use Kickstarter to sustain their creative independence.

Why? Because repeat creators are an integral part of the Kickstarter ecosystem. In fact, a third of all pledges to successful projects —over $1 billion since 2009 — go toward projects by creators who have run two, three, four, or even 100+ projects.

We selected Kickstarter Gold creators for their creativity, ingenuity, and success using the platform. They’ll be making new works inspired by their past projects, so backers can discover extra-amazing ideas, plus special rewards that aren’t available anywhere else.

Here are the projects. I just backed a bunch of them. It’s Funding Friday so maybe you might want to do the same.

Categories: Blog articles

Flip

A VC - June 29, 2017 - 3:47am

Last year our niece decided to move about half way through her lease and ended up having to Airbnb her apartment for six months until she got out of her lease.

This summer our daughter is at graduate school upstate and rented her apartment to her friend for the summer.

One of our analysts decided to move to Brooklyn and had to figure out what to do with her apartment in Manhattan.

This is how millennials live. They go from apartment to apartment, roommate to roommate, city to city, job to job.

But this is not how apartments are rented. The apartments are leased for one year, two years, three years, with upfront security deposits, brokers fees, and a bunch of other costs that make the “fluid” approach to living difficult.

Enter Flip.

Flip is “the easiest way to sublet or get out of your lease and it is 100% free to list”

So if you or someone you know is looking to move and wants help with a sublet or needs to get out of a lease, Flip is the place to go.

The Gotham Gal has been an investor in Flip since the very beginning. I have been watching the company grow and build out this market opportunity with interest.

Earlier this year, she introduced the Flip founders to my partner Andy and the result is that USV is now also an investor in Flip.

Andy explained why USV is so interested in Flip on the USV blog a couple of days ago.

It’s a great post and you should go read it, but my favorite part of the post is this word cloud, taken from Flip’s listings, that explains why people use Flip:

Finally, Flip is looking to hire some engineers. They have built everything with just four people. That’s bootstrapping. I love it. They plan to double the team to eight people with this new investment. So if you want to work with great people, building technology that helps people with important changes in their life, Flip would be the place to do both of those things.

Categories: Blog articles

Bearing Witness

A VC - June 28, 2017 - 2:32am

Yesterday afternoon I spent a couple hours sitting on the stage at the high school graduation ceremony for the Academy For Software Engineering.

This evening I will spend another couple hours sitting on the stage at the high school graduation ceremony for the Bronx Academy For Software Engineering.

Both yesterday and today are busy days with lots of work obligations, board meetings, decisions, and family time.

But these four hours are the most important hours I will spend this week.

About two hundred young adults will graduate from these two NYC public high schools over this two day period.

These are young adults who made the decision four years ago to take a risk on two brand new high schools with no track record and no reputation.

But this week they are walking off the stage with a high school diploma and a set of skills in extremely high demand in today’s economy.

They also know how to talk to machines, tell them what to do, and make them work for them.

I am proud of these roughly two hundred young adults and I am pleased to bear witness to their accomplishments and the very bright futures that they all have in front of them.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 7, 2017
Individual Courage and Lasting Change in Tech

Categories: Blog articles

Putting Harassment On The Table Vs Under The Table

A VC - June 27, 2017 - 1:00pm

A lot has been written in the last week about the way the tech sector treats sexual harassment and a lot of suggestions have been made.

I am particularly enthusiastic about what our fomer USV colleague Brittany Laughlin suggests, which is putting the entire issue on the table, talking about it regularly in the workplace, discussing specific situations as a group, and avoiding the urge to come to quick conclusions.

There is so much good sense in her blog post and I would urge you all to go read it.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 5, 2017
Uncertainty Wednesday: Variance

Categories: Blog articles

The Selloff

A VC - June 26, 2017 - 4:30am

My oldest daughter Jessica send me a message last night “what’s going on with Ethereum?”. I told her it was a selloff. I said that people who had made a ton of money in the run up over the last six months were taking profits and I thought it could go on for a while. She said she was going to buy some more. I told her that was fine, but if I was going to buy, I would buy a little bit every week and not a whole bunch right now. As I have said on this blog so many times, I am a fan of dollar cost averaging and building a position over time, sometimes a long time.

I have been buying Bitcoin since early 2013 and Ethereum since last year. I keep buying but never that much at one time. Just a little bit every week. You can build a pretty big position that way, but you have to be patient and you have to keep at it.

Doing it that way takes a lot of the ups and downs out of the equation. I don’t try to time market bottoms and market tops, even though I can sense when they are happening. I don’t try to predict where these assets are going in the near term and I just believe they will be a lot more valuable in five or ten years than they are now. That’s good enough for me.

The other thing I believe in is asset allocation. I’ve told a lot of young people, including my children, that having 10-20% of your net worth in crypto might make sense. But not 100%. The category is too volatile and you could lose a lot if you aren’t careful. Having a reasonable asset allocation across all asset categories; cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, venture capital, crypto, etc is what I recommend and what we do. It might not be as exciting but it lets you sleep at night.

So, my gut says we are headed for a selloff in the crypto sector. But of course, I could be wrong about that. I am wrong a lot. But honestly, I don’t really care. I will keep buying into this correction or rally, whatever it turns out to be. Because the more important question is where these assets will be in five or ten years. And I have a lot more conviction about that one.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 5, 2017
Uncertainty Wednesday: Variance

Categories: Blog articles

Doing The Heavy Lifting

A VC - June 25, 2017 - 2:00am

Most venture capital investments are made, over time, by syndicates. This means a group of venture capital firms develops around a company, usually built over multiples rounds. Some of the firms in the syndicate agree to (or require) having a partner from their firm join the Board of the company.

If you look at the roughly dozen boards I am on, most of them have multiple venture capitalists on them. Some also have independent directors, something I believe strongly in and have written about frequently.

Not all venture capital firms in your syndicate will be the same. Not all of the VCs on your board will be the same. Some will be challenging to deal with. Some will be unproductive and distracting. Some will be nice to have around but won’t do much. A few will roll up the sleeves and do the “heavy lifting.”

It is this latter group that is super valuable. You saw it in action last week when the partners of Benchmark apparently negotiated a change in leadership at Uber. That is hard, painful work. But someone has to do it. And I have seen the partners at Benchmark do it before. They don’t shy from the tough stuff. Nobody enjoys doing things like that, but they know when it is needed and they step up and do it.

I was talking to another VC I work with yesterday about a completely different situation. The company is doing great. We have some important decisions in front of us, all good choices to have to make, but selecting the right ones will matter a lot. This VC has been deeply engaged in the process, providing a lot of super valuable advice, and saying things that need to be said, even if they are not popular. I feel incredibly lucky to have someone like that in a syndicate with me. And I told him that yesterday.

You can put together a list of the top VCs by returns. That is done annually. It’s all nonsense. There are a ton of shitty VCs on that list. Returns matter, for sure. But what really matters is who shows up when the hard conversation has to be had. What really matters is who provides the right advice at a critical time. What really matters is who puts aside their own personal interests and does what is in the best interests of the company. What really matters is who steps into a vacuum and provides leadership when it is badly needed.

When you are picking investors, you should call around and check references. Ask about this stuff. Find out who does the heavy lifting and who goes along for the ride. Pick the one who does the heavy lifting. Because you will need it, frequently.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 4, 2017
Happy 4th of July: Celebrating Truths

Categories: Blog articles

The war against cash continues apace

Beyond Money - June 24, 2017 - 5:36am

Thanks to Michael Nevradakis for his excellent article, How Greece Became A Guinea Pig For A Cashless And Controlled Society, that recently appeared in Mint Press News.

The world has long been heading toward a neo-feudal world order headed by a global elite that uses its control of money, banking and finance to fleece and disempower the masses. Georgetown Professor and Bill Clinton’s mentor Carroll Quigley, told us 50 years ago that:
“The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank . . . sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.”
––Prof. Carroll Quigley, Georgetown historian, mentor of former President Clinton, and author of Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, 1966, p. 324.

To anyone who cares to look, it is clear to see how that precise agenda has been playing out over the past several decades, and what the end state will be. The war against cash is a logical next step in achieving the plan that Quigley outlined. I strongly urge the reader to study Nevradakis’ entire article here.


Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: Unpacking Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and Token Sales

A VC - June 23, 2017 - 10:29pm

It’s a travel day for me. We are flying back home today after four weeks away.

William told me to watch this video about ICOs and Token Sales. So I will do that on the flight home. Maybe you all might like to watch it too.

Categories: Blog articles
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