Engaging In Cryptonetworks

Ever since the first cryptonetwork, Bitcoin, was created, investors have had the opportunity to earn returns by engaging in the network. In Bitcoin’s case, that was done by mining the network, effectively powering it. As the sector has grown, investors have largely turned their attention to buying and holding cryptoassets, and not that many of us are actively engaging in them. But that is likely going to change for several reasons. First, in proof of stake networks, asset holders will want to stake their tokens and earn the rewards of doing that, or risk being diluted/inflated. Conversely, those who do stake will earn rewards that will feel a bit like collecting interest or dividends on a bond or stock. This technique of turning an idle asset into an incoming producing asset by engaging in the network is part of the design of many cryptonetworks and investors are going to increasingly
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Jet Lag

Jet lag is such a challenge for me. We got back from Japan four days ago and I was doing great. I figured that I had it beat this time. Then last night at 2am, I woke up and I was wide awake. We’ve got a series of meetings today that I need to be coherent in. So I took a half a pill and got back to sleep by 3am and slept until almost 8am. The good news is I am rested. The bad news is I don’t have this thing beat like I thought I did. I have tried a bunch of things to manage jet lag over the years, many of them recommended by folks here at AVC in reaction to a post about this I did a few years ago. And they have all worked, to a degree. But, I think the truth is, at least
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Business Model Innovation in Healthcare

Naomi posted some thoughts on changing business models in health care on the USV blog yesterday. The one that I am personally most excited about is what Naomi calls “change of venue” and within that I like the “virtual primary care” model.
A pure virtual primary model eliminates fixed costs associated with brick and mortar expansion and is able to focus resources on reaching more patients, recruiting more doctors to their platform, and improving the experience for current patients. Payments on a subscription basis allow doctors to get paid more consistently rather than waiting for insurance companies to process claims and paying overhead costs to negotiate reimbursements with their billing offices.
We have portfolio companies executing this model like Nurx and Modern Fertility and we hope to add more. I value the doctor/patient relationship, but I think there is a lot technology can do to make that relationship less expensive,
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Navigating Blogging Across Time Zones

I like this blog to come out in the morning east coast time.  I am a big fan of a routine, a ritual, a cadence. That is partly why I blog every day, and that is why I like the blog to come out at roughly the same time every day. It is also true that I have the most free time right after I wake up and then things get busy. So if I don’t blog right away, it is possible that I won’t find time to write that day. When we go west for the winter, I do the same thing, writing as soon as I wake up, but 5am PT is 8am ET so readers will notice, and have noticed, that AVC comes out later in the winter months. Traveling poses a bigger challenge. The last two Octobers, we have spent considerable parts of the month
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Who Are My Investors?

I got an email from the CEO of one of our portfolio companies last week. It asked a very basic question, but one that I don’t recall being asked before:
I need to know if any of your LPs include  ……….  entities/interests. 
The CEO asked his VCs because questions were coming up internally and he wanted to answer honestly and accurately. I expect to get more emails like this in the coming weeks as the startup and venture community comes to grip with the flood of money from bad actors that has found its way into the startup/tech sector over the last decade. “Bad actors” doesn’t simply mean money from rulers in the gulf who turn out to be cold blooded killers. It also means money from regions where dictators rule viciously and restrict freedom. It could also mean money from business interests which profit by poisoning us
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Video Of The Week: Coinbase’s Vision

Fortune recently did a big profile on Brian Armstrong, founder and CEO of our portfolio company Coinbase and in concert with that, they made this video featuring Brian and Emilie Choi, who leads corp dev, M&A, and a few other strategic efforts at Coinbase. It’s a short video, less than five mins, and does a nice job of explaining the company’s mission and strategy.


Bethany Crystal — October 20, 2018
Meeting in the middle Bethany Crystal — October 19, 2018
That special something Bethany Crystal — October 18, 2018
Theatre talk-backs


I heard about a cool program that helps NYC tech companies build more diverse teams. It is called Winternships. The program is run by a group called WiTNY (Women in Tech and Entrepreneurship in NY) which is a three year-old collaboration between Cornell Tech and CUNY to drive more female students into tech majors or minors, and into the NYC tech ecosystem. It works like this: A Winternship is a paid, three-week internship experience during the January academic recess for freshman and sophomore women in tech. Participating companies design an ‘immersion’ experience in their business – students sit in on meetings, meet executives, go on site visits — and they work together on a challenge project that they pitch on the last day. WiTNY identifies students based on a match between your needs and their skills. Their team will even help you craft the Wintern experience if you want. Here
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Motion Photos

Motion Photos is a feature available on Google’s Pixel Phones. It captures a bit of video as you are taking a photo. I’ve always wondered how to share those photos with the motion in them, which you can’t do when you send them as jpeg files. It turns out you can export them from your phone as gif files. For some reason, the Google Photos app on the web, which does allow you to see the Motion Photos on the web, does not support the export to gif feature. So this is how you do it: To convert your motion photo into a video or GIF, follow these steps: Step 1: Open the Google Photos app on your device. Step 2: Open the motion photo that you want to share. Then tap the three-dot icon at the top-right corner. From the menu, select Export.
Google Photos Motion Pictures 4
Google Photos Motion Pictures 5
Step 3: You will get
Google Photos Motion Pictures 6
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When Software Just Gets Smarter

The last time we were in Japan, six years ago, using Google Maps was pretty frustrating. We didn’t understand the Japanese language and addresses made no sense to us. We got lost multiple times a day and often had to find a person on the street who spoke english to help us out. It is a pretty stark difference this trip. Google Maps seems to understand much of what it did not the last time around. The directions are great and we have yet to get lost. Last night, I directed a cab driver in Kyoto who did not speak english using Google Maps on my phone and pointing right or left or straight each time we got to an intersection. We got to dinner on time and everyone, including our cab driver, was relieved. I think this is a great example of the power of machine learning and other
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Kills Zones And Venture Funding

There is a debate going on about the impact of Facebook, Google, and Amazon’s growing dominance on the consumer internet on the supply of venture capital to entrepreneurs. Facebook funded this report that was published back in July and concluded that “big tech” was not impacting the supply of venture capital to entrepreneurs. Ian Hathaway, a researcher who studies venture capital formation, recently published this blog post that challenges that assertion with some data obtained from PitchBook. I have skimmed the Facebook funded report and read the Hathaway blog post and come away believing, as Hathaway himself does, that we don’t really know because the analyses done to date are not conclusive. But as a market participant, I can certainly say that we shy away from funding startups that are going up directly against the large tech incumbents. But we also are attracted to startups that are competing against
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Bluetooth Everywhere

We checked into a hotel today and next to the desk in our room was a block of USB ports to charge our phones with and a Bluetooth button. I pushed the button and my phone paired with the room. Now I can play music on the sound system in the room with my phone.  There is nothing special about that really. We all do the same thing with our cars and headphones regularly now. But when it works as seamlessly as it did for me today, that is nice. The truth is that Bluetooth is everywhere these days. And the pairing thing, which used to be such a hassle, seems to get easier and easier every day. As I’ve written before, the power of non-proprietary protocols like Bluetooth is pretty impressive to see in action. The more they get adopted, the more they get used, and the
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Audio Of The Week: Nadia Boujarwah on Positively Gotham Gal

Nadia Boujarwah is the co-founder and CEO of our portfolio company Dia & Co.  She dropped by the Gotham Gal’s offices last week and they recorded a conversation about starting an apparel business in the competitive online commerce sector. Here it is:


Bethany Crystal — October 12, 2018
Frequent flier fangirl Albert Wenger — October 12, 2018
Criticism Should be Welcome: Roubini Crypto Edition Bethany Crystal — October 11, 2018
Tech talent transfusions

TxTenna Is Live

I wrote about something called TxTenna back in May. It is a way to move Bitcoin from one wallet to another without needing to be connected to the Internet. Well TxTenna is now live and if you want to see it in action you can try it out by following the instructions here. And here is a blog post by Richard Myers, the engineer at GoTenna (a USV portfolio company) who built TxTenna in which he explains how it works and why he built it. And for good measure, here are a few more links: Play Store link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.samourai.txtenna …  Github link: https://github.com/MuleTools/txTenna … Certainly this is not a mainstream use case, but it does showcase the resiliency of decentralized systems and that is pretty neat.


Google had its big event yesterday and announced two new Pixel phones, the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3XL. I’ve been using Google phones for quite a while now, first the Nexus phones and now the Pixel phones. I love my Pixel phone but I will be upgrading shortly, probably to the larger form factor 3XL. But even more exciting to me is the Pixel Slate. I’ve been using a Pixelbook at the USV office for the last month and I like it quite a bit but it badly needs a biometric login to the device. The Slate apparently comes with a fingerprint unlock.  So I will probably swap out my Pixelbook for the Pixel Slate and see how that goes. I will let you know once I’ve got the new devices and have been using them for a bit.


Nick Grossman — October 9, 2018
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CSforAll Summit

There has been a movement growing in K12 public education around the US over the last decade to get computer science into the K12 curriculum and into all schools and in front of all students. The name this movement has taken on is CSforAll and this week in Detroit Michigan, educators from all around the country are meeting to move the CSforAll effort forward. This meeting is called the CSforAll Summit. Today is the big day and there will be a livestream of the main stage from 8:45am ET to 7pm ET. This blog post explains most of what will go on today. I am particularly excited that Luis von Ahn, founder of our portfolio company Duolingo, will speak at the Summit about human computation, invention and entrepreneurship, and why all students need to learn computing. He goes on at 1:30pm ET. When educators sign up to participate in
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Retail Space Available

A friend of mine told me last weekend that he thinks the two biggest issues in NYC right now are the rise of homelessness and the proliferation of vacant retail spaces. One is about not having a space to live and the other is about a glut of vacant space. Interesting dichotomy. I was walking home from the gym this morning and passed this sign on a vibrant shopping street in our neighborhood. It got me thinking about what this glut of vacant real estate is all about. Is it the result of so much commerce moving online that retailers can’t make a profit selling out of a store anymore? Is it the result of rents being too high and when landlords bring them down, we will see the spaces fill up again? Is it a combination of both? And can technology help address this problem? We are seeing an
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Fully Diluted Market Value

When someone asks you how much of a company you own, the answer could be two very different numbers. You might own 10,000 shares and there might be 1mm shares issued and outstanding. That would suggest you own 1% of the company. And that would be correct, as of right now. What is often not calculated in these sorts of numbers is future dilution, particularly dilution that is visible if you look closely. The most common form of future dilution that is visible are outstanding options and warrants to issue stock that have not been exercised. Let’s say this fictional company that has 1mm shares outstanding also has a 20% unissued option pool (so 200,000 options in it), and lenders have warrants to purchase 50,000 shares. That would be another 250,000 shares that are not issued, but will be at some point, making the “fully diluted shares outstanding” equal to
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Audio Of The Week: Rebecca Kaden on Twenty Minute VC

My partner Rebecca Kaden was on the Twenty Minute VC podcast last week. Once you get past the 3:20 mins of audio ad readouts (I advise to fast forward through them), she talks about areas in e-commerce that are possibly outside of the Amazon kill zone, the opportunities to build new trusted brands in healthcare, education, and financial services, and why small early-stage venture capital firms are the best firms to work at.


Bethany Crystal — October 5, 2018
What makes us similar Albert Wenger — October 5, 2018
Interoperability and Competition (for Scooters, Bikes, etc) Bethany Crystal — October 4, 2018
Religion and politics