When you look at industries that continue to operate on old, outdated, and highly regulated models (education, health care, banking, brokerage, etc, etc), it is interesting to look at the numbers of consumers who are opting out of the legacy model.
In K12 education, many people think of charter schools as the disruptive model and there are something like 3.5mm to 4mm students attending charter schools in the US now (out of roughly 55mm K12 students in the US: 50mm public, 5mm private).
But if you really want to look at where the disruptive models exist, you need to look at consumers who are completely opting out and in K12 education, that is the homeschooling movement.
My partner Andy sent around this tweet this morning and it is quite interesting:
I’m trying to understand which are the fastest growing trends in education. Homeschooling seems to be one of them.
As I wrote in yesterday’s post, there are good and bad things that come from new technology and new innovations.
The challenge for many of us is that the promoters of the technology only want to talk about the upside. And often the media responds by focusing on the downside. It is hard to find a balanced take on things.
Let’s take this Bloomberg article on ISAs in which students trade a percentage of future earnings to fund tuition. The headline is “College Grads Sell Stakes in Themselves to Wall Street.” Which of course, is the negative narrative on this innovation in financing education.
As my colleague Nick pointed out to me this morning, “the stories often seem to ignore the reverse: how hard it can be to carry a large amount of debt, which is the situation that the vast majority of student loan holders find themselves
I like going to hackathons. A number of USV portfolio companies have emerged out of hackathons, like our portfolio company Dapper which created its hit crypto-collectible game CryptoKitties at a Hackathon in late 2017.
So yesterday I headed down to NYC’s City Hall which was hosting the finals of a citywide hackathon competition (called The Hack League) among NYC schools to create the best software applications to make the city better.
The final projects were judged by people like the Chief Policy and Data Office (Comptroller’s office); the Chief Analytics Officer (City of NY); the Chief Technology Officer (Mayor’s office); the Executive Director of NYC311 (City of NY) and other folks in city government tasked with a similar mandate.
There were 28 finalist teams at City Hall yesterday competing to win the trophy. They were from all five boroughs, representing schools from all kinds of neighborhoods. It was as
Over the last five years, we have stepped up our investing in and around healthcare. About 15-20% of the early stage companies we have invested in over our last two fund cycles are working in this sector.
If you look at our current investment thesis at USV, you will see that wellness is one of the key areas of interest for us:
USV backs trusted brands that broaden access to knowledge, capital, and well-being by leveraging networks, platforms, and protocols.
So where in the healthcare sector are we focused?
Rebecca tweeted this out yesterday and I think it is a good articulation of what we find most interesting in healthcare:
What excites us about whats happening in healthcare: 1) tech + humans: data powered humans=better decisions than either data or humans alone 2) broaden access by increasing value & decreasing cost of care 3) outcome orientation: not just care, better
One evening last week my daughter and I spent an hour with a team from our portfolio company Pilot Fiber who were pulling a new fiber cable from Sixth Avenue to Fifth Avenue along a cross street is in lower Manhattan.
My daughter is doing a project and wanted to understand how this all worked and I was curious myself. It was fascinating.
We met them at a manhole near Sixth Avenue where they had pulled a fiber cable into a building where one of their large customers is based.
The team uses a thin line of “mule tape” that is placed in the conduit between the manhole and the building to pull the fiber cable from the manhole to the building. Ideally the mule tape stays in the conduit so that the next team that needs to run fiber from one manhole to another or into a
Our portfolio company Dronebase is announcing some big news today.
They are going to be offering thermal imaging missions in partnership with FLIR, the leading provider of thermal sensors. And FLIR has made a strategic investment in Dronebase.
What is thermal imaging? Thermal imagery, which is also called infrared imagery, is the ability to see a much larger portion of the electromagnetic spectrum than what is visible to the eye. This page from FLIR’s website does a good job of explaining the technology.
If you put a FLIR thermal sensor on a drone, you can learn a lot more about buildings, equipment, terrain, etc, etc. The military sector has been doing this for years and the commercial sector is starting to use the technology a lot now too.
Here is an image of a roof captured with a traditional drone camera:
Over the last decade, the costs of scaling a company in the bay area, NYC, and many other startup regions in the US has escalated sharply. We have encouraged our portfolio companies that are located in these high cost regions to build out secondary locations where they can hire high quality engineering and other talent at lower costs. Locations in North America that have been attractive to our portfolio companies are cities like Des Moines, Indianapolis, Toronto, and a number of others.
Another approach that has worked well for our portfolio companies is to have a secondary location outside of the US, where talent can be hired a much lower cost than the US.
Many of USV’s portfolio companies use an OKR process to create this rhythm in their teams. What I have learned from watching these companies and listening to how the teams talk about the OKR process is that to some extent it is “form over substance” in that the process is ultimately more important than the specific objectives and key results that flow through the process.
I am not saying that teams shouldn’t be thoughtful in setting objectives and committed to hitting them. They should.
But I am saying that the regular setting of objectives (quarterly is a
I appreciate the power of religion although I am not religious personally. I respect the followers of Allah, Jesus, Moses, Buddha, and other religious figures. I know that the beliefs of religious people give them great comfort and a purpose in life.
What I don’t appreciate is when a person of faith believes so deeply that they cannot tolerate beliefs that are different from theirs. I call this Orthodoxy and it has led to wars, horrible crimes, and many other bad things. It is the downside of what is and should be a very positive thing for humanity.
We see this same behavior developing in the cryto sector. Bitcoin and other cryptoassets have become a belief system. That is at the core of their value. Why would I give you $5000 of my dollars for one of your Bitcoin? Because I believe in