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Succession Planning In Partnerships

A VC - July 18, 2017 - 6:35am

I read today that the founders of KKR have named Joseph Bae and Scott Nuttall as co-Presidents and heir apparents. I’ve written before about succession planning in investment firms. Getting this right is challenging. There are a lot of stakeholders; the investors, the partners, the employees, the portfolio companies. Everyone worries about what might change under new leadership.

I am a fan of gradual but clear and transparent transition, which is what KKR is doing and what we have done at USV.

Our partners Albert and Andy have been running USV for the last eighteen months as Brad, John, and I have focused our time on our portfolio companies and new investment opportunities (which Albert and Andy also do).

Giving everyone clarity about what is going to happen but allowing the transition to play out over time seems to work best in investment partnerhsips, which contrasts with the quick handovers which seem to work best in operating businesses.

Partnerships are complex and powerful operating models. When they work well they are a beautiful thing. But they are easy to mess up and so transitions need to be handled with a lot of care.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 26, 2017
Uncertainty Wednesday: Functions of Random Variables

Albert Wenger — July 25, 2017
Attention on Digital Monopolies

Categories: Blog articles

SegWit2x vs UASF

A VC - July 17, 2017 - 6:37am

Bloomberg has a good piece on the struggle between the Bitcoin core developers and the leading miners on how to best scale Bitcoin.

I am for the SegWit2x proposal and hope that we see it broadly adopted later this month.

There is a chance that doesn’t happen and a user activated soft fork (UASF) could be used to force SegWit into the market.

I personally hope that a user activated soft fork doesn’t happen as it would create a lot of turbulence. The Ethereum fork last year (almost exactly a year ago) that created Ethereum Classic is a good case study to look at if you want to see how that might play out.

Ultimately I do believe the best ideas will win out and that Bitcoin can survive any of these scenarios. But it would be good to see the Bitcoin community agree on something and implement it. That would build confidence that the governance model, which has been a bit shaky, is maturing.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 25, 2017
Attention on Digital Monopolies

Categories: Blog articles

Easy Come, Easy Go

A VC - July 16, 2017 - 4:21am

I saw a friend last night who has been trading fiat currencies for thirty years. He looked at the Bitcoin chart and said “I would be worried about Bitcoin if I were you.”

He knows that we own a fair bit of Bitcoin (and Ethereum).

My take on the selloff that continues in the leading cryptocurrencies is “easy come, easy go.”

Anything that goes up 38x in six months can easily go down by just as much.

I am not saying that ETH is going back to $10 or that BTC is going back to $1000. That of course could happen. I am just not predicting it.

It has been too easy to make money in crypto this year. It has been too easy to raise money in token offerings this year.

Tapping people who have made 50x their money on ETH to invest in your whitepaper is a great way to raise money until those people start to lose money on their ETH and fear starts overtaking greed as the dominant emotion in crypto land.

But crypto has not been an easy business to be in over the last eight years. It has just been an easy business to be in over the last seven months.

I remember the two bubbles we experienced in BTC back in 2013:

In April 2013, BTC peaked at just over $200 and then quickly retreated back to below $100.

In November 2013, BTC traded briefly above $1000 and then faded, and did not see that level again until January of this year.

I remember back in the late 90s, a reporter asked my partner at the time Jerry Colonna what he looked for in entrepreneurs.

Jerry said “I want to back people who are doing a startup because of the mission rather than the money, because someday the market will crash and the money will be gone and I want to be with an entrepreneur who will still be around then.”

Bubbles always attract people who are chasing the easy money. And those people come and go.

But crypto is about a lot more than making money.

And the people who are into crypto because of the mission, a global decentralized platform for innovation, are going to be around after this bubble bursts, and the next one bursts, and the next one bursts. They have been around since before the April 2013 bubble and the November 2013 bubble, building this important technology. And so have I and I’m not going anywhere either.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 25, 2017
Attention on Digital Monopolies

Categories: Blog articles

Aaron Schwartz, revolutionary genius

Beyond Money - July 15, 2017 - 12:50pm

I could not help but be moved by watching this documentary about the life and death of Aaron Schwartz. Aaron fought for justice and for open access to the information commons. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude.


Categories: Blog articles

Video Of The Week: Richard Craib: Numerai

A VC - July 15, 2017 - 4:15am

In this episode of This Week In Startups, Jason Calacanis talks to Richard Craib, founder of our portfolio company Numerai.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 21, 2017
Homo Deus by Yuval Harari (Book Review)

Categories: Blog articles

Funding Friday: The Other Music Documentary

A VC - July 14, 2017 - 4:43am

Other Music was an iconic record store in Greenwich Village in NYC. It closed last year.

This project is a documentary about an amazing place that no longer exists.

I backed it this morning.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 21, 2017
Homo Deus by Yuval Harari (Book Review)

Categories: Blog articles

Clarifai Mobile SDK – Machine Learning On The Phone

A VC - July 13, 2017 - 7:32am

Our portfolio company Clarifai introduced something exciting yesterday.

It is a mobile SDK that any developer can put into their mobile app and it will allow for machine learning on the device:

Machine learning (the process by which computers can get smarter through data examples instead of explicit programming) requires massive computational power, the kind usually found in clusters of computer servers in massive datacenters (ooooh, the cloud). This means that machine learning technology is usually only available to those who can connect to the cloud.

Not anymore! Clarifai’s Mobile SDK gives users the power to train and use AI in the palms of their hands by installing machine learning capability directly on their devices, bypassing the traditional requirement of internet connectivity and massive computing power. After all, these days we have tiny supercomputers in our pockets – our mobile phones. Starting with an iOS SDK, Clarifai is on a mission to make user experiences uniquely personalized on any device from your cellphone to your toaster, anywhere in the world.

Here’s a slideshow that explains how this works:

Clarifai – MobileBeat 2017 AI Showcase Presentation from Amy Liu
USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 21, 2017
Homo Deus by Yuval Harari (Book Review)

Categories: Blog articles

Trump resists pressure from the war mongers; makes friends with Russia

Beyond Money - July 12, 2017 - 1:24pm

The meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit was encouraging in its length, breadth, and outcomes. The western mainstream media propaganda machine has been relentless in its barrage of allegations, innuendo, and hype against Russia in the elite’s attempt to rekindle the cold war and corral every nation into the global debt-money regime that is their greatest lever of control.

President Trump seems to have thrown a monkey wrench into the works on that, but it  remains to be seen how far his administration will be allowed to get out of line before the rug is pulled out from under him—one way or another. This article by Israel Shamir on the Global Research website provides a thorough account and analysis of the Trump-Putin meeting. And this article by Finian Cunningham about the reaction from the US Deep State, is also worth reading. -t.h.g.


Categories: Blog articles

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
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