One of my favorite moves that I have seen founders do in the early stages of their company (think pre-seed, seed, and possibly into the Srs A stages), is the weekly email.
This can take a number of forms; a weekly email to the team, a weekly email to the investors, a weekly email to everyone, even a weekly email to yourself! It matters a bit who the audience is for the weekly email because it determines what the founder can put into the email.
But I am not sure it matters that much who the audience is. What matters more is a weekly cadence of what is on the founders mind, what happened in the last week, and what the objectives are for the coming week.
Early stage startups are hyper-changing environments. The founder needs to keep everyone aligned and on-board as he or she weaves and bobs around
David Steinberg, founder and CEO of Zeta Global, the owner of Disqus, saw my blog post last week expressing a desire to make this blog easier to manage. He reached out, asking how Zeta/Disqus could help.
I explained my frustration with the comments here at AVC and he asked the Disqus team to see if they could help.
And less than a week later, we have the first result of that assistance. AVC is running an experimental feature that Disqus is working on called “collapsed comments”.
One of the things that I find challenging with the comments is when a group of people decide to have a conversation with each other and it results in dozens of replies, one after another.
I don’t want to stop them from doing that, but I also don’t want that conversation to take up a ton of space on the page.
The Gotham Gal wanted to get a new laptop. Her late 2015 Macbook has started to fade on her.
So yesterday we made a visit to the local Apple Store and checked out the options. We looked at the Macbooks, the Macbook Airs, and we also looked at the iPad Pros. We debated the choice and she ended up deciding to go for the iPad Pro. We work with a few people who have iPad Pros and love them. And she noticed how much I am using and enjoying my Pixel Slate.
One of the most interesting things about these hybrid tablet/laptop devices is that they run operating systems that are designed for the tablet or phone. They are touch devices like our phones vs mouse devices like our laptops.
A good example of this is how I do email on my Pixel Slate. I could run Gmail in the
First of all, I’d like to say that I have a number of connections to this project that I am highlighting today. The young women who are behind this project are the same ones I mentioned at the tail end of the talk I posted last saturday. I have been inspired by these young women and their teacher since I met them at the Annual CS Fair a few years ago. And in this project, they are “modeling our curriculum and teaching practices on NYC’s Computer Science initiative (CS4ALL)”, which is a project that I helped start and am leading the fundraising effort for. So this project is very close to home and heart for me.
OK, on to the project. This summer six young women will travel to Mendoza Argentina to teach coding curriculum to teachers and students in an effort to get computer science classes into
NY State Senator Michael Gianaris is leading the efforts to stop Amazon from opening up a large presence in the borough of Queens in NYC.
I get that this makes for good politics at some level. Standing up for the taxpayer and expressing outrage at a massive tax giveaway to the one of the wealthiest companies in the world, run by one of the wealthiest people in the world, makes for great stump speeches.
What has happened over the last five years in venture capital is the seed boom stalled out, the late stage market exploded, and the traditional venture capital business (Series A and Series B) largely remained the same except round sizes, valuations, and fund sizes have all gone up.
There have been about 250 comments to date and a similar number of email replies.
Not surprisingly the feedback from the email replies was overwhelmingly supportive of removing the comments. It seems that most of the people who read via email don’t wade into the comments. And they email me directly with comments which often leads to a one to one private conversation.
The feedback in the comments was overwhelmingly to keep them. And there were lots of strong arguments for that.
I did get one email from a reader who told me the ability to engage in the AVC comments helped him get through a difficult time in college. That got my attention.
I also got a ton of suggestions on how to modify the comments to make them more manageable (limiting the number and length of comments, limiting the
Many AVC readers don’t bother with any of that and simply subscribe and read via email. For them, AVC is an email newsletter. The number of readers who engage that way has been growing a lot in recent years and it is now the majority of readers. That speaks volumes to me and suggests that is how most people want to get this content every day.
I realize that publications need to have a business model to stay afloat. And the past month has seen a number of online publications (and offline publications) layoff a large number of employees. So it isn’t even clear that all of these hard paywalls, soft paywalls, and advertising based models are going to make the online publishing business work.
But the cost of all of this business model exploration and extraction is a continued degradation of the clean and fluid user experience that made the early free and open Internet so compelling.
A few days ago I saw a link on my phone that said “John Dingell’s Last Words For America.” I thought it was worth reading what a lifelong public servant had to say on his deathbed. So I clicked on the link and got this:
I never got to read what a lifelong public servant’s last words
Tabletop games (or party games) is one of the top categories on Kickstarter (a USV portfolio company). There has been a real resurgence in these sorts of games in recent years and most of the innovation in this category is happening and being funded on Kickstarter.
Today’s project is Wavelength, a guessing game that looks super fun.
Ever since I got interested in crypto, I have looked at the emergence of the commercial Internet in the 90s as a roadmap for what to expect.
And while that has largely been useful as a frame of reference, I’ve struggled with the huge bubble of 2017 which felt to me like it came too early relative to the maturity of the sector.
Yesterday I read this post which has a great explanation for that:
The bubble came early because blockchain technology enabled liquidity earlier in its life cycle.
That makes a ton of sense to me and reframes the timelines in my mind.
Some of you may have noticed that I waited until very late in the day today to post. I’m struggling a bit with adjusting to time zones, a head cold, and today was just one of those days where nothing went as planned.
A trend we’ve seen in the financing of startups in the last five years is the “SAFE between rounds” which means raising a convertible note (or SAFE) to provide more capital and runway in between financing rounds. It often comes in the form of an offer by an investor who missed the last round and doesn’t want to miss the next round.
It is a tempting offer because there is no immediate dilution from the capital and it usually converts at the next round price or a small discount to it.
Most founders look at the offer and think “why not?”
Here is why you might not want to do this.
The SAFE or convertible note can “crowd out” new investors in the next round and make it very hard to find a lead investor or any high quality investors.
To some extent, this blog has been about demystifying venture capital and in particular me and the firm I work at, USV.
There are many reasons why I think that is a useful exercise. When I got into the VC business in the mid 80s, it was a fairly opaque business and that did not change a lot over the next 15 years. When the Internet came along, it promised more transparency and I thought that using the Internet to help facilitate more understanding about VC was a good idea.
But also it was, and is, a self interested move. I believe that entrepreneurs are more likely to take money from a firm that they feel like they know, like, and trust. And in the hyper-competitive world of startup finance, being an open book can pay huge dividends. We have seen that to be true again and again.