Email, Twitter, Blog

I exchanged emails today with someone who wanted to connect with me on LinkedIn. I told him that “I don’t do LinkedIn.” I have a profile there and I use it regularly as a resume database to check out people. I keep a profile there so others can do the same. But beyond that, I don’t do LinkedIn. So to everyone who is sending me messages via LinkedIn, please know that I am not reading them. I suspect that is obvious to anyone who has tried that approach more than a few times. The same is true of many social platforms. I have profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and a bunch more social platforms. But I don’t use them. For me, the trifecta is email, twitter, and this blog. That is a pretty large surface area via which folks can connect with me. Email is hit or miss. I
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Keep The Degree Of Difficulty Down

In many sports, like diving, gymnastics, skating, etc, the way to win is to perfectly execute a high degree of difficulty move. In startups, I advise founders to avoid that way of thinking and try to execute a simple dive and hit the water perfectly. I have sat through numerous pitches where I am listening to the founder explain their technology and go to market plan and I think “this is going to be a reverse triple somersault with two twists in pike and there is no way they are going to land it.” There is plenty of risk in doing a startup. People quit their good paying jobs and take equity in lieu of cash, investors risk capital, customers are asked to try something new that might not work. Amplifying all of that risk with a high degree of difficulty product roadmap or go to market plan is
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Video Of The Week: Digital Art On The Blockchain

About 3:15 into this video Chris Burniske asks an interesting question about how the CryptoKitties team thought about designing the kitties and the next ~four minutes are a revealing discussion about how blockchains may change the way digital art is created and sold in the future.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — April 30, 2018
just_work = true

FINOS

In December I wrote about the Symphony Software Foundation as it was launching the NYC Open Source Fintech Meetup. Yesterday the foundation announced a new name: FINOS. FINOS is about supporting open source software efforts across the financial services industry. Financial services has often lagged other industries in adopting open source software related development practices, but that situation is changing quickly. Quantitative trading firms like Jane Street have built entire businesses based on open source. And perhaps there is no better example of the degree to which open source is impacting financial services (and other industries of course) than bitcoin, ethereum, and other crypto projects. FINOS Executive Director, Gabriele Columbro, described the FINOS mission as follows:
In the industries where open source has succeeded, independent entities such as foundations and trade organizations have played a critical role in fostering success. They have facilitated cooperation among players (often hard to
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The Brave Browser

A number of USV folks are using the Brave browser on their phones and thinking about using it on desktop too. We are not the average internet users at USV. We tend toward early adopter. So I polled my twitter followers (which also skews early adopter) to see how many of them are using the Brave browser: I don’t want to bias anyone who wants to complete the poll, so if you want to see the current results, pls complete it and you will see the results after you do that. It’s interesting. I will say that much.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — April 30, 2018
just_work = true

The AVC Audience

As I slowly heard toward moving the WordPress instance that hosts AVC to another provider, I was asked how large the audience was. So I went and looked for the first time in a long while and sent that info to a potential new provider. And I figured you all might be interested too. So here are some screenshots from Google Analytics: This is the total usage over the last twelve months.     This is active users (28 day, 7 day, one day) over the past year.   And here is a bit more about where you all come from and what kind of device you use to read AVC.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — April 30, 2018
just_work = true

Google Finance

Google Finance and Yahoo Finance are two web services I have used daily since the early days of the Internet. I have used Yahoo Finance since it first launched in January 1997. But after Google Finance launched in 2006, I started using Google Finance more and eventually, it became my default finance site on the web. Sometime in the last month or two, I can’t remember exactly when, Google revamped Google Finance. The UI is cleaner and the service is much simpler. But a lot of the power user features I had come to rely on in my daily work are either gone or buried so deeply that I can’t find them. I also find it hard to search for a price quote now, which is kind of the most basic feature one would want in a service like this. Anyway, I have switched a lot of my usage back
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Slideshare Of The Week: State of Tokens

AVC regular William Mougayar posted a slide deck he calls State Of Tokens this week. I like the deck a lot, particularly slide 34 (it’s a 36 slide deck), where he posits a timeline for the development of the blockchain ecosystem and where we are right now. Here it is:


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — April 30, 2018
just_work = true

Are We Decentralized Yet?

My friend Chris Burniske told me about this site last week and then tweeted about it last night: So the answer to the question posed by the name of the website is “not really.” But that doesn’t mean we won’t be someday. This chart also shows the issues with highly valued chains like Ripple, Stellar, and NEO. These chains offer some things, but certainly not decentralized consensus. It is still very early days in the development of decentralized consensus systems and there is a lot more work to do.

Time And Money

One of the least discussed aspects of investing in startups is the value of the time commitment one makes to a company they invest in. The money part is pretty simple; you invest capital into a business and get an equity participation in the upside. Both sides of that deal can analyze that transaction and understand it fairly well. Of course neither side knows what the ultimate payoff will be, but one can handicap it. The time piece of the transaction is way more complicated. Consider: 1/ The founder doesn’t know if they will actually get the investor to deliver on the promises made to add value and spend a lot of time on the investment. A founder can reference an investor and get a better sense of this but there is nothing written into an investment agreement that binds either party to make a specific time commitment to an
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AVC Downtime

For much of yesterday if you came to AVC, you were greeted with this message: Long time AVC readers have seen this before and it is a sign that something is awry on the shared server that I run WordPress on at Bluehost. A number of regular readers reached out offering to help me move to a static platform and I will likely take them up on that. Until then I can only apologize for the availability issues yesterday.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — April 13, 2018
Whither Facebook Regulation?

Dapps

A friend asked me at breakfast this week “what gets you excited in crypto these days?” I answered “Dapps.” If the second half of 2016 and all of 2017 was about raising capital to fund development efforts (and speculating on all of that), then it sure feels like 2018 is the year we start getting decentralized applications (Dapps) we can use. Our portfolio company Blockstack offers a decentralized platform that developers can build Dapps on. I have Blockstack’s web client running in Safari on my home desktop and here is a screenshot of some of the Dapps I can run in that environment: A cool thing about Blockstack is that identity is built into the platform so I am already a user and have a profile in every one of these Dapps because I have a Blockstack identity/profile. Another ecosystem that is really taking off right now are Ethereum
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Expectation and Disappointment

I woke up this morning thinking about disappointment. My daughter and I went to the final Knicks home game of the season last night, a loss to the Cavs. One of 53 we have endured this season. The season had started off with expectations of better times. Melo was gone. KP was emerging as one of the best young players in the NBA. And yet we end the season with less wins and more losses than last year. And it wasn’t because of letting Melo go. But this post is not about the Knicks. It is about disappointment. Life is full of disappointment. Many things don’t work out the way we hope or plan. Investments don’t pan out. People we are excited about don’t live up to our expectations. A film we are excited to see turns out to be awful. There are big and material disappointments that can set
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Pitch Deck Alternatives

I was going through my email this morning and opening pitch decks, skimming them, and responding to indicate if they are a fit with our thesis and of interest to me and my colleagues at USV. Everyone who works in VC or does angel investing does this daily. I probably open and skim 10-20 pitch decks a day and sometimes a lot more. So on the way to yoga, after making a dent in my inbox, I was thinking if there was an alternative to pitch decks that would be as efficient at communicating the idea (pitch decks really are great at this) that would serve the entrepreneur as well. I came up with three ideas in my seven minute walk to the gym: 1/ Record a short video (less than three minutes) in which you communicate who you are (or who the team is), what the idea is, and
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Voice Assistants Six+ Years In

We have many voice assistants in our lives. I have Google Assistant on my phone. It is great. The Gotham Gal has Siri on her phone. It is OK. We have Amazon Alexa and Google Home in our apartment. We have Siri on our AppleTV/Siri Remote. We can talk to our car. But the honest truth is we rarely use any of them. The one we use most is the Siri Remote when using AppleTV because it is by far the best way to control that device. It is not an issue of the quality of the voice recognition on these services. It is great. It is a question of the relatively weak utility of the experience relative to alternatives combined with not building the muscle memory to use voice assistants more. I was walking home from the gym this morning and was wondering if we are typical. So I
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Funding Friday: NYC Says Enough Rally

A group of high school students in NYC are doing a gun safety rally in Washington Square Park on April 20th and are funding the rally on our portfolio company, GoFundMe. The campaign is called NYC Says Enough and you can back it here. I don’t know these students, but one of them reached out to me via email and I asked him a bunch of questions which he answered to my satisfaction. So I backed the project this morning and am now sharing it with all of you. I am closing comments today because I don’t want this post to turn into an acrimonious gun safety debate.