A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader. She asked if he could subscribe to this blog without the funding friday posts. He thought they were “spammy.” I replied to him “think about them as the ads” and politely told him that wasn’t possible.
I love funding things. And I love sharing the things I fund with all of you.
I saw this project this morning and backed it instantly. A musical art project. Awesome.
I was sitting in my backyard this weekend looking up at the roof on my house, which I can’t see because of a parapet, and wondering how all of the solar panels we put up there a few years ago are doing. I was also wondering how the roof itself is doing.
Then it hit me that USV has a portfolio company that can help. I went to my Dronebase account and ordered a drone mission that will do an aerial inspection of my roof and also a thermal inspection of our solar panels.
Yes, one drone pilot with an off the shelf drone can do all of that for me in less than an hour.
I scheduled the flight for next week and should have a full report with aerial imagery and video and thermal scans of the solar panels within a few days after that.
The idea behind Otis is that cultural assets like fine art, rare books and comic books, jewelry and watches, sneakers and skateboards, etc are appreciated by everyone but are only collectible/affordable by wealthy people.
Otis intends to change that by securitizing these cultural assets and selling them off in shares for as little as $25 per share. These fractionalized cultural assets will be shown publicly while they are owned collectively.
You can see how this all works by downloading the Otis mobile apps here.
I did that yesterday and I have already set myself up to try to buy a share of Kehinde Wiley’s Saint Jerome Hearing The Trumpet Of Last Judgement on August 13th.
I’ve also opted to be notified when these assets “drop” so I can purchase a share of them too.
The lawmakers in Albany have passed legislation known as the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) and it is sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature.
There is plenty of debate on whether CCPA is good policy or bad policy. All you need to do is Google “New York’s Climate and Community Protection Act” and read the NY Post (against) and the NY Daily News (for) and you will see the various sides of the debate.
What this bill does is commit New York State to some of the most agressive goals of any city, state, or region:
This is a legally binding legislative act to achieve an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a goal of net zero.
My view is that we need ambitious goals like this and penalties for not reaching them (the stick).
One of the areas of blockchain innovation I am most excited about is building open, permissionless, and decentralized technology infrastructure.
The three areas that seem most obvious to me for decentralized infrastructure are compute (code execution), storage (storing files, etc), and bandwidth (network infrastructure).
And today, we are excited to announce that USV has made an investment in a decentralized network infrastructure project called Helium.
My partner Nick, who led this investment for USV, wrote about Helium on the USV blogand explains why we made the investment (as is our practice with all new investments). I would encourage you to read that blog post as it explains a lot about how Helium works, how the token economics builds the supply side of the network infrastructure, and why it fits so neatly into our investment thesis.
I would just like to point out how cool Helium is.
Owning an EV in a dense urban city is challenging. Most people don’t have their own garages and so they park on the street or in large parking garages. We do the latter.
About five or six years ago, I walked into our parking garage and saw that the garage operator had installed a ChargePoint charging station in the garage.I literally walked back across the street to our apartment and bought our first EV. We now own three.
But charging with ChargePoint is not ideal. There are a limited number of these charging stations in our parking garage and more and more EVs. They are often filled up. And the rates that ChargePoint supplies electricity at are borderline gouging. They have a monopoly on our garage and price accordingly. I believe the rate we pay in our parking garage in NYC is literally double the rate we buy electricity
There have been many calls to break up the large Internet monopolies; Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.
Breaking up a large monopoly feels like a very 19th/20th century move to me.
I would prefer that politicians and policy makers think about opening up as the better intervention.
A good way to explain this is to go back to the architecture that Twitter used in its early days when there were many third-party Twitter clients. Imagine if Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc were protocols, not applications, and there were many high-quality clients to participate in these networks.
Then the clients could innovate on things like content filtering, promotion of high quality content, business model, etc
If we are going to “break up” these large social media platforms, I would urge elected officials and regulators to think about pushing them to move from platforms to protocols instead of just ripping them apart.
I worked for a VC named Bliss McCrum early in my career. He had been on wall street for about twenty five years before getting into VC mid/late career. He loved investing. He taught me technical analysis/charting and a lot of other things about stocks.
I used to ask him “why did that stock go down yesterday?” and he would always respond “more sellers than buyers.”
I loved that response and sometimes would ask him the question just to hear that answer.
What I really wanted to know was the underlying reason for more sellers than buyers. Did the company post weak earnings? Did a competitor enter their market? Was the CFO fired?
But Bliss would never take the bait.
Just “more sellers than buyers.”
His point, I think looking back after thirty years, was that markets are markets and you need to treat them as such
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
Yesterday morning, in raw, windy, 30 degree weather in NYC, I took a walk up the Highline to Hudson Yards. As I made the turn west at 29th street, I saw The Shed emerge through the tall buildings.
The Shed is a new arts institution created to commission works from artists, both emerging and established, across multiple genres. It is all about facilitating and celebrating artistic innovation.
I got involved with The Shed about four years ago around the time Alex Poots was selected as the Chief Executive and Artistic Director. Alex is an impresario of the modern age, comfortable working across many genres and with artists of all kinds, from Grammy-winning musicians to kids he sees dancing in the streets. It is Alex’ ability to stitch all of this together and make it coherent, entertaining, and inspiring that infected me with an interest in what The Shed can be.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.