Understanding Your Investors


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


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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.

So understanding

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Funding Friday: Return To Sender


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I love short films. I think they are a great way to tell a short story on a shoestring budget. I have seen some great ones over the years. So when I saw this Kickstarter project this morning, I backed it instantly.

The Tortoise And The Hare


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Aesop has some great fables but my favorite is The Tortoise and The Hare. I was reminded of it yesterday when I saw this chart in my colleague Nick‘s deck for a talk he is giving this week in Hong Kong:

That is the installed base of iOS phones vs Android phones globally over the last decade.

I have been a long and loud fan of Android’s open (or at least more open) model and an equally long and loud detractor of Apple’s closed model.

I’ve taken a lot of heat and ridicule for it over the years and still do.

But to me, there is no way to win long term with a closed model.

It is a lot like The Tortoise and The Hare.

Closed allows you to build a better user experience and get out of the gate quickly. Open takes longer, the user experience

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What Happened In 2018


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Continuing the year end theme, it is time for my annual recap of what happened this year, to be followed by a look forward tomorrow on the first day of the new year.

Last year I was not particularly confident in my look forward. I thought Trump would be President at the end of 2018, I thought the Republicans would lose control of the House, I thought the “techlash” would escalate, and I was worried about crypto. Those all turned out to be correct. But I had less clarity about the direction of the economy and the tech sector.

What actually happened was that 2018 was a year that we lost trust in tech, government, and a lot more.

Let’s start with tech. This chart I saw in Recode’s year end wrap-up says it well:

While much of the distrust is currently aimed at Facebook, the “I don’t trust you”

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Pocket


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I recently wrote about my new Pixel Slate. There is a lot I like about it and plenty more that I’m getting used to. I touched on most of that in my blog post.

I am writing this post on my Slate using the Slate Keyboard (you can see it in the left of the photo below.

One thing that I am totally smitten with is reading web content on it. The screen is big and crisp and it feels great in the hands. It’s like a huge phone, which is the device that I have been doing most of my reading on.

If you look at the bottom of the screen, you will see four icons; Chrome, Calendar, Gmail, and the fourth is Pocket.

I have just started using Pocket. It used to be called Read It Later and it was developed by Nate Weiner. Pocket was bought by

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Funding Friday: A Grab Bag


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I went onto Kickstarter today to find, fund, and then feature a project on my regular Funding Friday post. I found so many great projects that I backed all of them and I have listed them below. Check them out, they are all great. And back a few of them too if you are so inclined.

SoundMachine
Seadrift: Vietnamese Refugees, Texans, and the KKK
Black Flags Over Brooklyn 2019
Pizza, A Love Story – grab the final slice of the pie!
Netflix vs. the World – Feature-Length Documentary
The Making Of BEETLEJUICE
Reach for the Rooftop

The NYC Transit Mess


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




When Governor Cuomo and the state legislature passed last year’s budget, they formed a committee to address the growing crisis in the NYC metro area transportation systems. That committee was chaired by my longtime friend Kathy Wylde, who runs and has run the NYC Partnership for many years. Anyone who knows Kathy knows she is all business and does not mince words. The world could use more people like Kathy, particularly in public service.

The committee released their report this week and you can read it here. The NY Times also covered the release of the report here.

The bottom line is that the MTA which controls much of the transit and tunnel and bridge infrastructure for the NYC metro area transit system needs between $45bn and $60bn over the 2020-2024 five year capital planning window. That compares to $33bn over the prior five year period from 2015-2019.

How

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A Trip Down Memory Lane


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




With the news of Google and Amazon’s huge expansions into NYC, many people are asking “how did NYC tech get to this place?”  Well, I am going to post a 25 minute video history lesson at the end of this blog post that explains that.

But first, I’d like to talk about how I ended up doing that history lesson, which in and of itself is a history lesson.

When the Internet sector started to emerge from its nuclear winter in the late 2003/early 2004 (which is also when Brad Burnham and I went out and raised the first USV fund), those of us who were still working in the Inernet sector were looking around for a narrative and a rallying cry.

Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle came up with it. They called the re-emergence of the Internet/web sector “Web 2.0” and they launched a conference called Web

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Supersize Your DJ Set


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Our portfolio company SoundCloud just launched a pretty cool thing. If you are a DJ and use one of the popular DJ software products, you can plug SoundCloud into it and make your mixes right from the cloud.

Here’s a 15 second video advertisement for this new feature:

SoundCloud has announced that this feature is coming to all of the popular DJ software products soon. 

It is great to see SoundCloud, a company that got its start with DJs, bringing all that it has built over the years back to it early users.

Feature Friday: Plan A Trip


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I don’t really use Waze that much. My trips are typically a combo of walking, biking, subways, and driving and Google Maps does a great job of offering all of those options. Waze is made for driving. So I am more of a Google Maps user than a Waze user.

But Waze has one feature that I am increasingly addicted to: the “plan a trip” later feature.

I am going to Brooklyn this morning for a Board Meeting and then I need to be in my office later. So I pulled out my phone, launched Waze, and figured out when I need to leave by (if I am going by car). 

It looks like this:

Given that Google (which owns Waze) has this data, I would love to see Google add this feature to Maps and apply it to subway trips as well.

I would also like Google to

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Economic Development


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




On the west side of Manhattan, from the west village, where we live, to the Javits Center on 34th Street and the west side highway, runs an abandoned elevated train track called The Highline.

Eleven years ago, the Gotham Gal and I took a walk on the old Highline with Joshua David, one of the two founders of Friends Of The Highline, and I wrote this post about what was going to happen.

The Highline cost something like $400mm to renovate. Some of the funds came from the city and state, but most came from private donations, like the one the Gotham Gal and I made after taking that walk.

And then we got to watch what happened. The neighborhood exploded and is still exploding. There has to have been tens of billions of dollars of investment in real estate along The Highline over the last ten years and it

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Welcome Amazon


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The New York Times is reporting that Amazon has officially chosen NYC and DC as the locations for its big planned expansion, known as HQ2.

This is big news for NYC, as I wrote about last week.

I would like to welcome Amazon to NYC. I think this is going to work out great for Amazon and for NYC.

I know there are plenty of “not in my back yard” opponents to this idea and folks who think growth is bad and we should not grow until we fix things that are straining under the load.

I appreciate all of those concerns. They are valid at some level.

But I am a fan of grow, prosper, invest, fix, grow, prosper.

And we are doing that in NYC right now.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Bethany Crystal — November 13, 2018
The 4-Box Job Searching Grid

Bethany Crystal — November 13, 2018
Noise-cancelling headphones

Funding Friday: Women in STEM Holiday Cards


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I backed this project the minute I saw it.

Maybe you might like to back it too and get some holiday cards that might inspire the girls in your life to grow up and be like these amazing women.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Bethany Crystal — November 9, 2018
Protecting your tribe

Bethany Crystal — November 8, 2018
A big lesson from a little moment

Nick Grossman — November 7, 2018
The Dangers of Unstoppable Code

The Anchor Tenant


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Malls need anchor tenants. These are the stores that bring the folks to the mall so that they can discover all of the other amazing places to shop that sit between the big tenants.

Cities need the same. Particularly cities that are trying to develop new industries.

NYC’s tech sector has had an anchor tenant since the early 2000s in Google. I wrote a bit about this a few years ago and cited my partner Albert’s line that 111 8th Avenue (Google’s NYC HQ) is the “gift that Google gave NYC.”

Big anchor tenants to a tech ecosystem provide all sorts of benefits but the biggest impacts are that they are both talent magnets (they attract people to relocate to the region) and talent sources (you can recruit from them).

Rumor has it that NYC is going to get a second anchor tenant as Long Island City is apparently

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TYWLS Digital Dance


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I blogged about this in the spring of 2017 but I am back with more.

TYWLS stands for The Young Women’s Leadership School, which is located in Astoria Queens in NYC. A few years ago the students decided to show off their computer science coding skills by making a “digital dance.” I posted the first one they did at the link above.

I just saw a video about their most recent digital dance and I just had to post it here.

I love this digital dance thing so much. It shows that coding skills can be used creatively. It shows that young women, particularly young women of color, can be coders and be proud of it. And it shows that technology is everywhere.

I have met some of these young women and they are impressive and I can’t wait to see what they are going to do when they

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If You Do Just One Thing Today, Vote


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Today is Election Day. Polls are open in every state in the US. It is time to stop the incessant back and forth, and do the one thing that counts – voting.

There is very little on my ballot here in NYC that matters much to me. The races are not close. The ballot referendums are not on issues that matter a ton to me. 

It would be easy for me to blow off voting today.

But I am not going to do that.

I plan to go to my polling place, stand in line for however long it takes, and fill out the ballot and submit my choices and be counted.

I hope everyone who reads this blog that lives in the US and is a citizen will do that today unless they have already done it via early voting.

I feel that voting is not only our

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Pixel 3 XL


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I spent a fair bit of time this weekend moving phones from the Pixel 2, which I have loved using, to the Pixel 3 XL.

It is drop dead simple to port over all of my accounts, data, and apps from one Pixel to another. Google has made that as easy as moving from one iPhone to another. You just connect both phones with the cable that comes in the Pixel 3 box and in about ten minutes the new phone has everything that was on the old phone.

But getting all of my security set up on a new phone (2FA, passwords, etc) and then logging into all of my apps (because I don’t like to log in with Google or Facebook or anyone else) is a massive pain. 

But at least I feel more secure.

After using the Pixel 3 XL for the last couple days, I

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Funding Friday: Misen Non Stick Pan


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Earlier this week, I talked about the D2C consumer products sector and how it has exploded over the last decade. Another contributor to that explosion are crowdfunding services like our portfolio company Kickstarter that allow entrepreneurs to launch their products and quickly get feedback and funding for them.

The Gotham Gal has made a number of these D2C investments and one of my favorite of hers is Misen, a D2C manufacturer of cooking products.

They launch their products on Kickstarter and then take them to market direct to consumer over the Internet, thereby taking out the cost of the retail channel which allows them to sell high end products at mid-level prices.

They have a product launch on Kickstarter right now called the Misen Non-Stick Pan. I backed it earlier this week and the project funding ends this weekend.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — November 1, 2018
Uncertainty

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Dapper


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Back in March of this year, I wrote a post on the USV blog announcing our investment in Cryptokitties

A lot has happened since then. The company that made Cryptokitties is now called Dapper and it has raised a couple rounds of financing which will allow it to do a number of things:

  • Continue to invest in Cryptokitties, which remains a vibrant game experience and is the world’s most used consumer blockchain application outside of exchanges, with 3.2-million transactions and tens of millions of dollars transacted on the platform
  • Work with the world’s top entertainment brands to bring compelling brands, communities, and intellectual property to the blockchain. This means more game experiences, often in partnership with existing brands and game developers.
  • Build out the infrastructure to make blockchain games, including cryptogoods (ie NFTs), accessible to a mainstream audience.

It has been exciting to watch a small team that built Cryptokitties at

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D2CX


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




One of the big trends in startup land over the last decade is consumer brands getting built direct to consumer (D2C) on highly efficient advertising channels like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. In these online channels, brands can test, measure, test, measure, test, measure, and then figure out what works and scale.

But these channels are getting more challenging as they have been optimized and scaled by thousands of brands over the last decade and the marketers in D2C land are increasingly looking around to see if there is anywhere else they can go.

Enter our portfolio company Simulmedia, which we invested in almost ten years ago to bring the transparency and efficiency of online advertising to television.

Simulmedia has launched an offering for these D2C companies to help them add television to their marketing mix. Television is hard for small companies. The initial buys are large and

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