0xB833
August 8th, 2022

Aug 8, 2022

When fundraising gets tougher for startups, the existing investors (insiders) will often provide a bridge loan to the company to extend the runway for getting another round done. There is more of this sort of thing happening in today’s fundraising market and I thought I’d share some of the things I have learned about setting up bridge loans.

First, bridge loans are a bridge to something else. Most commonly they are a bridge to a round of financing with new investors (outsiders). They can also be a bridge to the sale of the company. Occasionally, but not often, they can be a bridge to getting cash flow positive. If none of those things is going to happen in a relatively short period of time, then it is a bridge to nowhere and you really want to avoid that. A bridge to another bridge is never a good thing and should be avoided at all costs.

An alternative to a bridge is an “insider round” where the existing investors provide sufficient capital to fund the business for eighteen to twenty-four months. That is a real round of financing and it is not a bridge. While that can sometimes be the right answer for a startup, I strongly prefer bringing new investors/new capital into a company in every financing round. New investors strengthen the investor syndicate which makes the company more resilient. New investors bring new ideas, new experiences, and new sources of funding to the business. New investors in every round are a very good thing and I like to try for that whenever possible.

0xB833
August 1st, 2022

Tech:NYC is the industry association for NY’s tech sector. They play a number of important roles and one of them is to educate and inform about the impact of the tech sector in NY. To that end, they launched a valuable resource last month called Innovation Indicators.

Innovation Indicators is a dashboard that shows the latest data on the impact of the tech sector on the NY economy. Here is some of the data you will find there:

0xB833
July 25th, 2022

We have been watching our portfolio of ~130 technology companies wrestle with this decision for the last two and a half years. Brought on by the covid pandemic and the work from home moment that it created, there has been a sea change in the way that technology companies organize themselves to get work done.

Ben Horowitz observed this in a piece last week where he described A16Z’s decision to embrace a hybrid model that he called “HQ in the Cloud.”

It turns out that running a technology company remotely works pretty darned well. It’s not perfect, but mitigating the cultural issues associated with remote work turns out to be easier than mitigating the employee satisfaction issues associated with forcing everyone into the office 5 days/week. 

https://a16z.com/2022/07/21/a16z-is-moving-to-the-cloud/

Most people are happier having a lot of flexibility around where they work. We have seen that people who are raising families have benefitted from the flexibility of working closer to where their families are and the ability to be somewhere quickly. But that is only one example of why flexibility around where you work is so powerful. Many job functions require, or at least benefit from, the ability to concentrate without interruption or distraction. A quiet home office is vastly better than a busy open workspace for that kind of work.

0xB833
July 18th, 2022

Every quarter our firm goes through a process to value our entire portfolio. Those values, on a schedule of investments we publish to our investors every quarter, flow through to our financial statements and capital accounts and establish how much an interest in our partnerships are worth at that time.

We have always taken this process very seriously and approach it with a lot of rigor. Every partner is highly engaged with this process. Although we have a fantastic financial team at USV, we do not simply outsource valuing the portfolio to them because we understand that those who are closest to the portfolio companies will have the best view of what they are worth.

We have a few rules and I would like to share them:

– Be conservative. The auditors try to get us to mark our portfolio up to reflect “market prices” but we prefer to keep our portfolio marked below market prices, particularly in times of market froth. This leads to a fair bit of haggling with our auditors that is mostly a waste of everyone’s time but we feel that it is important to maintain our conservative posture.

0xB833
July 10th, 2022

I wrote the post at the bottom and linked here when Elon Musk announced his intention to buy Twitter in late April. I am relieved that Musk has decided he does not want to own Twitter. I never thought he would be a good shepherd of the Twitter network and maybe now we have the opportunity to find a better ownership/governance model for it.

I understand why the Twitter Board and management team feel they must force Musk to perform on the agreed-upon deal. They have shareholders to protect and an obligation to do what is best for them. If Musk really does not want to own Twitter and is not just trying to renegotiate the deal, then eventually both sides will come to some settlement that enriches Twitter and lets Musk out of the deal. That will likely be a lot more than the $1bn breakup fee. I hope that we don’t end up with Musk owning Twitter at a lower price. That would be a bad outcome for the shareholders and for the Twitter network.

I would like to see the Twitter Board and management team continue to press Musk to perform on the deal, and at the same time start working on a plan to decentralize Twitter and move it to the thing it has always wanted to be which is a core communications protocol for the Internet. A first step in that direction would to broadly re-open the API and allow third-party clients to be built on Twitter with a business model that covers the costs of operating the Twitter network. Longer-term, Twitter should move to a fully decentralized protocol, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, but that will take some time to do.

0xB833
July 5th, 2022

AVC has been around for nineteen years and it has evolved over the years from a place I’d post multiple times a day to once a day to now once a week. There was a time when there was a vibrant comment community at AVC with many posts getting over a hundred comments and replies. That’s long gone and now it is just me posting here with some chatter occasionally on Twitter.

As anyone who has tried knows, posting every day is a mighty big commitment. I am relieved to have given that up, gradually, a few years ago.

What is left at AVC is a place where I can write when I have something to say that I want to say out loud. That last bit is important because there are many things I will say privately these days but not publicly. At this stage of my life, AVC is for conversations that are helpful, productive, and constructive. Everything else can happen elsewhere.

The entire catalog of AVC posts remains online and can be accessed in the archives. If anyone wants to see the progression, it is right there out in the open for anyone to see. The comments are there too for the posts that have them.

0xB833
June 27th, 2022

The Gotham Gal and I own five EVs and have been driving electric-powered cars since 2014. I don’t drive gas-powered cars and haven’t for a few years now. We have purchased two Chevy Bolts, two Tesla Model Ss, and one Rivian truck.

I love the instant acceleration you get from an EV, I enjoy driving mostly with just one foot due to the fact that EVs accelerate and brake using the accelerator pedal, I like that I can charge my car every night at home (using solar panels on our roofs) and don’t have to go to the gas station anymore, and I like that the maintenance costs and hassle are much lower with an EV. There is certainly an environmental benefit from driving EVs, but in my view, EVs are also better cars (and trucks).

But EVs remain expensive and “risky” for most folks and only 9% of global car sales are electric and that percentage is smaller in the US (more like 5%).

So how do we change that?

0xB833
June 21st, 2022

The last six months have been a challenging time for tech and tech startups. Macro events have weighed on the sector, valuations have come crashing down, revenue growth has slowed (or stopped), and layoffs are happening across the sector.

Many of the folks I work with are frustrated. The things that were working in their business stopped working and they can’t get it moving again. They are struggling to project the business and plan for the year and next year. They feel terrible about letting so many great people go and blame themselves for it.

It helps to work with many companies in times like this. We see this happening almost everywhere. And so we have some perspective. Yes, it is our collective fault for getting out over our skis during the good times and not seeing tougher times ahead. Yes, we could have and should have been more conservative with our growth plans and hiring. Yes, it is our fault for putting our companies in the position where they have to let go of so many people.

But it is also the case that the number one thing in times like this is staying in the game so you can play another round. You don’t want to go bust right now. So it is time to take your lumps, learn some valuable lessons from them, and move on.

0xB833
June 12th, 2022

I have worked in three venture capital firms in the thirty-six years I have been doing venture capital investing. They have all been small partnerships, between three and seven investing partners, where there is little to no hierarchy amount the partners.

There are many models out there for building and managing investment firms. They vary from a single partner to an organization structure that looks like a Fortune 500 company. There is no best way to structure an investment firm.

But for early-stage investing, I believe that the small flat partnership is the best structure if the goal is to produce high return on capital funds. Here are some reasons why this model is superior for early-stage investing:

  • At the early stage, investors must bet on teams and ideas that have not been proven. The biggest winners almost always come from the investments that are the most controversial and “out there”. A small tight partnership where there is a lot of trust between the partners is a place where you can make a lot of these kinds of investments.
  • Being a lead investor in a company you start working with when it is very young (sub 10 employees) and remain actively involved with until exit can take a decade or more of work. Staying aligned as a partnership on the company and supportive of it is hard to do but incredibly important if you want the best outcome. That is hard, if not impossible if the investing team is large, hierarchical, bureaucratic, and largely disengaged with the company.
  • No single investor has the entire package. Not even the best investors out there. Trust me. I know this. Surrounding top investing talent with other top investors is a magical thing. Some have great deal instincts. Some have great networking skills. Some are great working with founders. Some have great financial minds. Some are great technical minds. Some see new markets before others. If you can put together a team that has all of this, they fill in each other’s gaps and everyone gets better. This describes the team we have at USV right now and it is a joy to work in a team like this.
  • It is very hard to make an investment that will produce over a billion of proceeds. You need to get and keep double digit ownership and the company needs to be worth over $10bn at exit. I’ve made less than five of these in my career, over almost forty years. So if you want to produce a high return on capital fund, you have to raise a lot less than a billion. I think a quarter billion is probably where it starts getting really hard to produce a high return on capital fund. This means you need a small partnership and a small firm.
0xB833
June 7th, 2022

New York Senator Gillibrand and Wyoming Senator Lummis have teamed up to propose a bi-partisan bill that would shift much of the regulatory oversight of crypto assets from the SEC to the CFTC, acknowledging that these tokens are much more like commodities than securities.

The details of the bill will be made public today and then there will be a lot of feedback from elected officials, regulators, and industry. It is not certain that this bill will become law and if it does, it is not certain that it will look anything like the initial bill.

But even so, I am very encouraged by this development. Crypto tokens are a foundational element of web3, a technology architecture that allows for decentralized applications which lessen the control of big tech monopolies on our lives and our data, and that allows for users to own their data and a share of the networks that the applications are built on. Constraining these user tokens as securities is not only incorrect but also would inhibit much of their utility and therefore the potential for web3 to remake the technology industry as is so desperately needed.

So I applaud the work of Senators Gillibrand and Lummis and their staffs. They are making an important statement with this bill and I believe that this is a big step in the right direction.

0xB833
May 31st, 2022

Gotham Gives is a public charity that the Gotham Gal and I started one year ago to complement the family foundation that we have been using to make philanthropic gifts for over two decades.

A public charity allows us to raise capital from others in addition to our family’s philanthropic gifts. We use this public charity to put together syndicates of donors and raise more capital for our projects than would be possible on our own. It reminds me very much of the way early-stage venture capital works.

We started raising funds in addition to making gifts over a decade ago when we started our computer science education work in New York City and Gotham Gives takes that approach to philanthropy and allows us to use it in other areas.

This page shows the projects we have supported in our first year and who we have partnered with on them.

0xB833
May 22nd, 2022

Back in February of last year, I wrote a blog post with the same title and said this about the asset price bubble we were living in and investing in over the last few years:

The big question is how does this end?

I believe it ends when the Covid 19 pandemic is over and the global economy recovers. Those two things won’t necessarily happen at the same time. There is a wide range of recovery scenarios and nobody really knows how long it will take the global economy to recover from the pandemic.

But at some point, economies will recover, central banks will tighten the money supply, and interest rates will rise. We may see price inflation of consumer goods and labor too, although that is less clear.

When economies recover and interest rates rise, the air will come out of the asset price bubbles that have built up and the go go markets will hit the brakes.

Well now the markets have hit the brakes and the new question is how that ends.

I have been using the early 80s as a bit of a mental model. The late 70s saw oil prices rise and stagflation emerge and while that is not exactly what has happened with COVID and the war in Ukraine, there are some similarities.

0xB833
May 13th, 2022

I blogged about the $1k Project For Ukraine a couple of months ago. Since then over 5,000 families in Ukraine have gotten a $1k gift, no strings attached, to help them survive during this crisis. That is $5mm of direct aid to families in Ukraine.

Yesterday, Stewart Butterfield, the founder of Slack, tweeted that he and Jen Rubio will be matching another $2.5mm of $1k donations over the next 48 hours, starting at mid-day yesterday.

"All” means no need to tweet receipts (or even read this): we’ll get the total donations worldwide & match that, up to $2.5M.

I’ve personally had a tour of the backend & seen how vetting & approvals happen. We believe this direct giving model is worthy of investment and scaling.

— Stewart Butterfield (@stewart) May 12, 2022

I just supported another five families and with this generous match, that is ten families.

0xB833
May 11th, 2022

Investing in founder-led businesses is comforting to me. They have the ability to see the forest through the trees and do what is necessary to evolve the business.

Two great examples of this are Microsoft in the mid 90s and Facebook a decade ago.

Microsoft had spent more than a decade competing and winning the desktop software market and then Netscape came along and presented an entirely new market opportunity that had both major upside and major downside for Microsoft. Microsoft reacted by moving aggressively to compete with Netscape by launching Internet Explorer and using its desktop software dominance to establish IE as the dominant browser by the end of the decade.

Facebook had spent about a decade competing and winning the social networking market and then Apple launched the iPhone and new mobile social networks like Instagram emerged that both threatened Facebook’s existing dominance and also presented new large opportunities in social networking. Facebook went on a year-long effort to become a “mobile-first” company and also acquired Instagram that year. This all happened in Facebook’s first year as a public company.

0xB833
May 11th, 2022

Tech:NYC is launching a new initiative, Tech Year NYC, which helps young people from underrepresented backgrounds get access to careers in NYC’s fast-growing tech sector.

Tech Year NYC is a rollup of several existing city programs into a single point of entry and engagement for tech companies and students. The idea is to make it easier for local tech companies to engage with this population and easier for the students to get access to these pathways to jobs.

Students are compensated for their participation by the city and industry partners and will come out of the program with professional skills essential to work in the tech sector and additional skill-building opportunities.

Tech Year NYC is an expansion of a project-based learning curriculum that Tech:NYC developed with the Mayor’s Office of Youth Employment back in the summer of 2020 called Summer Bridge. Over the last two years, over 100 tech companies and over 3,000 students have participated in this effort.

0xB833
May 1st, 2022

Last week we held USV’s annual Portfolio Summit here in NYC. Every year we invite the leaders of our portfolio companies to come to NYC and spend a couple of days with us and each other. However, we were not able to do that in 2020 and 2021 so this was our first Portfolio Summit since 2019.

In the three years that have passed since our last summit, we roughly doubled the size of our portfolio, adding 65 new investments. That is 65 founders and leaders that had not been to a USV Summit, and in some cases, we had not met them in person.

This is a photo of folks arriving on the first day and settling in:

0xB833
April 26th, 2022

When I read the news a few weeks ago that Elon Musk had offered to buy Twitter, I wrote this:

Twitter is too important to be owned and controlled by a single person. The opposite should be happening. Twitter should be decentralized as a protocol that powers an ecosystem of communication products and services.

— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) April 14, 2022

I continue to believe that decentralization is the right long-term answer for a core communications protocol of the Internet and hope that Elon will think about doing just that once he owns it and is not concerned with the stock price and meeting quarterly revenue targets.

My partner Albert wrote this yesterday:

0xB833
April 22nd, 2022

It is Earth Day, a day to celebrate our planet and rededicate ourselves to saving it. I plan to walk and ride my bike, avoid cars, and enjoy being out and about in NYC today.

But I’d also like to talk about something that is bothering me.

The New York State Assembly and Senate are working to pass a bill that would put a two-year moratorium on “proof of work” cryptocurrency mining. Here is the most important part of the bill:

1. For the period commencing on the effective date of this section and
    25  ending two years after such date,  the  department,  after  consultation
    26  with  the department of public service, shall not approve a new applica-
    27  tion for or issue a new permit pursuant  to  this  article,  or  article
    28  seventy  of  this  chapter,  for  an  electric  generating facility that
    29  utilizes a carbon-based fuel and that provides, in  whole  or  in  part,
    30  behind-the-meter  electric energy consumed or utilized by cryptocurrency
    31  mining operations that use proof-of-work authentication methods to vali-
    32  date blockchain transactions.
    33    2. For the period commencing on the effective date of  this    section
    34  and  ending  two years after such date, the department shall not approve
    35  an application to renew an existing permit or  issue  a  renewal  permit
    36  pursuant  to  this  article  for  an  electric  generating facility that
    37  utilizes a carbon-based fuel and that provides, in  whole  or  in  part,
    38  behind-the-meter electric energy consumed or utilized by a cryptocurren-
    39  cy  mining  operation  that uses proof-of-work authentication methods to
    40  validate blockchain transactions if the  renewal  application  seeks  to
    41  increase  or  will allow or result in an increase in the amount of elec-
    42  tric energy consumed or utilized by a  cryptocurrency  mining  operation
    43  that  uses  proof-of-work  authentication methods to validate blockchain
    44  transactions.
0xB833
April 18th, 2022

6529 is one of the top NFT collectors in the world and last week he launched the first destination in an Open Metaverse that he is encouraging people to develop along with him.

That destination is the 6529 Museum District and you can visit it here.

When you arrive you will see this map which gives you a sense of what is there right now.

0xB833
April 10th, 2022

Mike Masnick wrote a good piece on this topic on his Techdirt blog last week.

I particularly like this part:

First, let’s look at the world without any content moderation. A website that has no content moderation but allows anyone to post will fill up with spam. Even this tiny website gets thousands of spam comments a day. Most of them are (thankfully) caught by the layers upon layers of filtering tools we’ve set up.

Would anyone argue that it is “against the principles of free speech” to filter spam? I would hope not.

But once you’ve admitted that it’s okay to filter spam, you’ve already admitted that content moderation is okay — you’re just haggling over how much and where to draw the lines.

And, really, the spam example is instructive in many ways. People recognize that if a website is overrun with spam, it’s actually detrimental for speech overall, because how can anyone communicate when all of the communication is interrupted or hard to find due to spam?

https://www.techdirt.com/2022/03/30/why-moderating-content-actually-does-more-to-support-the-principles-of-free-speech/

I, like many in tech, would prefer a world where there is little to no moderation and where you get a lively expression of different views. I use Twitter explicitly to hear voices I don’t hear in my day-to-day routines.

0xB833
April 4th, 2022

I went to renew a .ETH domain I own this morning and the gas fees were so high that I decided to come back another time.

Ethereum is the most popular smart contract blockchain by far but it frequently gets congested and expensive. Using it to acquire and renew domains, normally a transaction that costs less than $100 USD, is challenging.

That is why there are a host of Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatible layer one blockchains (L1s) and a number of layer two networks (L2s) that run on top of the Ethereum mainnet. These networks allow decentralized apps (dapps) that use Ethereum smart contracts to operate much less expensively.

0xB833
March 28th, 2022

So I saw this tweet by Semil Shah yesterday:

So I clicked on the link to my Competing To Win Deals post, which I wrote in 2010, and read it. I often read things I wrote a decade or more ago and cringe at how out of date they have become. Not this one. It is as relevant today as when I wrote it almost twelve years ago. So I am reposting it below:

0xB833
March 21st, 2022

Investing is humbling. At 60, with 35 years of venture investing experience, I still get most things wrong.

Which is why I like to keep things simple. And when I do I am rewarded.

My friend Gordon asked me last night how I got into Bitcoin. I told him the story of how I bumped into Rikki Tahta walking through the garment district in NYC in the spring of 2011 and Rikki told me he was working on a Bitcoin startup. I replied, “a what coin startup?”. And Rikki told me to read the Bitcoin White Paper. I did and I was hooked.

I didn’t even understand parts of the white paper. But what I did get was that it described a way of making permissionless money. And it was not just an idea. It was a working system that had been operating for several years. I understand how important permissionless servers and applications (web 1.0) turned out to be and so I understood how important permissionless money was going to be.

0xB833
March 14th, 2022

There is a lot of criticism of venture capital in web3. Bitcoin did not have or need venture capital. Ethereum did not have or need venture capital. So why would any web3 project need venture capital? It is a good question. In the age of community-funded projects, why would a web3 project want to take funding from venture capitalists?

Well buried deep in a 66 page blog post on the Flow blockchain by Packy McCormick lies the answer.

In a section called Kitty Down, Packy describes the challenges that the Dapper Labs team went through between late 2017, when CryptoKitties launched, and the summer of 2020, when Top Shot launched.

What Packy lays out is a series of notes that the venture capitalists (including yours truly) provided to Dapper during the last crypto winter that kept the project alive. As Packy says:

0xB833
March 7th, 2022

Electrified cars were greater than 10% of the US market in 2021 and EVs were about 5%. EV sales are growing at nearly 100% YOY and could reach 25% of the US market in a few years. This is good news for the effort to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But there are still challenges for the EV market.

Range anxiety and charge times are among the top reasons that consumers avoid EVs.

https://electrek.co/2019/08/20/survey-consumers-avoid-evs-myths-range-price-charging/

0xB833
March 1st, 2022

My friend Alex Iskold ran the 1K project during the pandemic to help families that were struggling with lost jobs/income, etc. I blogged about it here and AVC readers were generous with their support.

Alex came to the US from Ukraine many years ago, but he has many friends and family members there. So naturally, he has relaunched the 1K project focused on the suffering that is happening in Ukraine.

I supported a family and hopefully, some of you can join me in doing that. And those of you who don’t have the resources to support a family might be able to chip something in. Every little bit helps.

0xB833
February 25th, 2022

Feb 25, 2022

I love using robotics to teach kids to code. A K12 teacher told me many years ago, “when the robot doesn’t do what you told it to do, you know your code is wrong and you need to fix it.” Robotics brings code to life for kids and that’s a great thing.

So when I saw this Kickstarter project, Codrone, I backed it immediately. So did 120 other people and so this project is going to come to life. If you want to back it too, you can do so here.

0xB833
February 20th, 2022

I wrote a fair bit last year about the disconnect between how companies were being valued and the fundamentals of those businesses. It seemed to me that many companies, from the founders, to the leadership teams, and the rank and file employees got more focused on raising capital and valuations than the basics of a business (people, product, customers, revenues, profits, etc).

That is starting to shift. I can feel it. With the public markets bringing high flyers back to reality, you can now buy the best companies out there at multiples of earnings and profits that make some sense in a historical context. And we are seeing reports that many mutual funds and hedge funds are leaving the private markets because the values in the public markets are so compelling. All of this is healthy.

Vitalik Buterin, the founder of the Ethereum project, said this at ETH Denver this past week.

The winters are the time when a lot of those applications fall away and you can see which projects are actually long-term sustainable, like both in their models and in their teams and their people

0xB833
February 18th, 2022

A friend sent me this Kickstarter project which is about a public art project highlighting three languages that are at risk of extinction.

I backed it and I think you might want to as well. You can do so here. The project ends this weekend so if you want to back it, do so now.

0xB833
February 15th, 2022

I wrote about pacing a few years ago. I am a fan of a steady pace, not too fast, not too slow. Sometimes the opportunity set forces you to go faster. As I wrote then:

I don’t think a VC firm should manage to a pacing number. It should manage to the opportunity set that it sees.

In the last two years, the VC business has been operating at a blistering pace, the fastest I’ve witnessed in my 35 years in the business (including the 99/00 era). Whether that is because of the opportunity set or the changing dynamics of fundraising (in-person to zoom, endless capital) we will only know in time.

But it is exhausting. Every day I heard some form of this from an entrepreneur, “we got a pre-emptive term sheet and will be making a decision in the next 24 hours.”

0xB833
February 7th, 2022

Early in my career, I was taught that any team member was replaceable and that as long as you had sufficient time to find a suitable replacement, you would be fine. I have operated on that basis since then, imparted that wisdom to the founders and teams that I work with, and have always advocated for that approach to management.

But I have learned that on any team there are always a few members who are extremely difficult to replace. While most team members are “fungible”, there are always a few “non-fungible people” and retaining these NFPs can be incredibly important to the long-term success of the business.

The first, and most important, NFP is the founder. The person who originally conceived of the opportunity, recruited the first few team members, scoped (and often built) the first product, brings immense value to the business, mostly around long-term vision, setting the culture and values, and knowing when something is “off.” Retaining the founder’s interest in and involvement with the business is critical. There are times when the founder is bringing more difficulty to the business than value and they should depart. But those situations are to be avoided if possible because of how important a founder is to the business.

NFPs are usually individual contributors, not managers. The management function is much easier to replace than a uniquely skilled individual. A common mistake that I and others have made is to promote an NFP into management when they are much happier not managing people. A classic role for an NFP is the CTO of the business. In this role, the person sets the overall technology direction of the business, makes the hardest technical decisions, builds technology themselves, but does not manage the engineering function. In many companies, the CTO has no direct reports.

0xB833
February 1st, 2022

Coinbase launched the first in a series of payroll offerings:

Proud of the team for continuing to roll out new product innovations at a rapid pace. Our US customers can now deposit a portion of their paycheck into @Coinbase as crypto or USD. Another great way to keep growing your participation in the cryptoeconomy. https://t.co/vy81VhxvGn

— Surojit (@surojit) January 31, 2022

If your employer offers direct deposit, you can deposit some or all of your paycheck in your Coinbase account and immediately convert it into USDC, BTC, ETH or any other asset that is available to you in your Coinbase account.

This is just a first step in a broader set of payroll products for employers and DAOs.

0xB833
January 24th, 2022

Two years ago this weekend, the Gotham Gal and I were in Park City at the annual Sundance Film Festival with another couple we have been great friends with for thirty years. On Monday morning we came down to breakfast and our friends announced they were flying back to NYC a few days early. Our friend Phil has been trading the financial markets for as long as we’ve known him and he knew, about a month before most of us, that something big was going to happen and he wanted to get prepared for it. That’s when it first hit me that we were in for something big. The financial markets tend to see things a bit ahead of us.

If you look at the financial markets now, as I wrote two weeks ago, what we see is the unwinding of the Covid trade. Companies like Zoom and Peloton have seen their stocks come way down. Fiscal and monetary policies around the world that kept people fed and housed for the last two years are being unwound. And the financial markets are reacting as one would expect. Stocks are down. All risk assets are down a lot. This is the “tell” that Covid, as we have known it, is coming to an end in many parts of the world.

There are three primary reasons why Covid, as we have known it, is coming to an end in the wealthier parts of the world. First, we have less severe variants now. Second, most people in the developed world who want to be vaccinated have been vaccinated, many multiple times. And third, we have antivirals that can protect those who get very sick.

One of the first wake-up calls I got early in the pandemic was a blog post I read called “The Hammer And The Dance” that was written by Tomas Pueyo on March 19th, 2020. In that post, he described the series of lockdowns and other drastic measures that we would all go through over the last two years in order to attempt to protect vulnerable populations and the medical system from a virus that would otherwise wreak havoc on the world. He was prescient and accurate. About a week ago Tomas wrote a Twitter thread explaining that we are now in the midst of the end of the pandemic. You can read it here. This tweet particularly rang true to me:

0xB833
January 24th, 2022

Two years ago this weekend, the Gotham Gal and I were in Park City at the annual Sundance Film Festival with another couple we have been great friends with for thirty years. On Monday morning we came down to breakfast and our friends announced they were flying back to NYC a few days early. Our friend Phil has been trading the financial markets for as long as we’ve known him and he knew, about a month before most of us, that something big was going to happen and he wanted to get prepared for it. That’s when it first hit me that we were in for something big. The financial markets tend to see things a bit ahead of us.

If you look at the financial markets now, as I wrote two weeks ago, what we see is the unwinding of the Covid trade. Companies like Zoom and Peloton have seen their stocks come way down. Fiscal and monetary policies around the world that kept people fed and housed for the last two years are being unwound. And the financial markets are reacting as one would expect. Stocks are down. All risk assets are down a lot. This is the “tell” that Covid, as we have known it, is coming to an end in many parts of the world.

There are three primary reasons why Covid, as we have known it, is coming to an end in the wealthier parts of the world. First, we have less severe variants now. Second, most people in the developed world who want to be vaccinated have been vaccinated, many multiple times. And third, we have antivirals that can protect those who get very sick.

One of the first wake-up calls I got early in the pandemic was a blog post I read called “The Hammer And The Dance” that was written by Tomas Pueyo on March 19th, 2000. In that post, he described the series of lockdowns and other drastic measures that we would all go through over the last two years in order to attempt to protect vulnerable populations and the medical system from a virus that would otherwise wreak havoc on the world. He was prescient and accurate. About a week ago Tomas wrote a Twitter thread explaining that we are now in the midst of the end of the pandemic. You can read it here. This tweet particularly rang true to me:

0xB833
January 19th, 2022

Six years ago this month Julie Samuels got together with a group of technology leaders in NYC and we decided to form an industry group for the growing tech sector in NYC. I agreed to co-chair the organization and have been in the chair role since then. We called it Tech:NYC and I first wrote about it here at AVC in March of 2016.

Last year, after more than five years at the helm, Julie decided it was time to pass the baton to a new leader and she and I and a group of board members spent the fall talking to lots of people and we found a fantastic new leader named Jason Clark. Jason starts as the Executive Director of Tech:NYC next week.

Jason takes over an organization of 800+ member companies, from the largest names in tech to the three-person startup you have yet to hear of. Tech:NYC has succeeded in getting tech “at the table” in Albany and City Hall and helping to make the tech sector more civic-minded and more integrated into the city and state. Julie and her team have done a tremendous job of taking an idea and making it a reality and I am incredibly grateful for her leadership.

The tech sector finds itself at an interesting moment in NYC. It is quickly becoming the largest employer in NYC and is bringing much-needed innovation to the city, state, and world. We have new leaders in Eric Adams and Kathy Hochul who are eager to work closely with the tech sector to do new things and move the region forward. But with great success comes great responsibility and the tech sector needs to employ a broader and more diverse group of NYers, it needs to be more civic-minded, it needs to be more philanthropic, and it needs to think beyond Manhattan out to the five boroughs and on to New York State and the NY Metropolitan region.

0xB833
January 12th, 2022

Last month our portfolio company Kickstarter announced the creation of a protocol organization that will develop a web3 protocol for the crowdfunding of creative projects.

They are now assembling a protocol team and are talking to candidates to lead that effort. The protocol lead role is an exciting one that combines product leadership, smart contract development, team management, and a lot more.

I believe Kickstarter is at the forefront of a wave of companies that have been built on web2 technologies that will be adopting web3 approaches to move their products and stakeholder networks forward. And so leading this protocol effort will be an opportunity to help shape what that looks like.

If you are interested in this role or know someone who would be great for it, please email me and I will make the connection.

0xB833
January 6th, 2022

The stock and crypto markets have started off the year in selloff mode, with the Nasdaq down almost 5% this week and the big crypto assets down almost 10% this week. But this selloff has been going on for a lot longer than one week. It has been going on since early November when the Nasdaq peaked at $16k and BTC hit $67k. Since then it’s been downhill and the biggest carnage has been in the highflying “cloud” stocks. The Gotham Gal and I own a few stocks that have been cut in half in the last two months. Yes, they lost half of their value in the last two months.

Of course, these highflying stocks have only given up some of their gains over the last two years. In the case of a few of our public stock holdings, they went up 10x in the last two years and are now “only” up 5x. Easy come, easy go.

Even at these new “discount” prices, none of these stocks look cheap to me. Most are still trading well in excess of 10x revenues which has always been my baseline for a subscription-based software business. I don’t know where they will bottom out, but it certainly could be lower. Or the sector could have already bottomed out in this first week of 2022 blowout sale. One never knows where the bottom is until you are well on your way back up.

The capital markets have been awash in money for the entire pandemic and it has resulted in some crazy prices being paid for public stocks and for growth rounds in high-performing privately held companies. The optimist in me sees this selloff as a return to normalcy, in the capital markets and in the world we live in. It’s hard to see a return to normalcy when offices remain closed, events are being postponed or moving to virtual. But markets tend to see things first and I do wonder if the capital markets are coming back to earth in anticipation of things getting better this year.

0xB833
January 1st, 2022

So last year I made a bunch of predictions that with one exception were kind of obvious. I don’t want to do that again, so I am going to list five things that I think will happen this year that most people would not likely agree with.

1/ As the pandemic evolves into an endemic in the first half of 2022, companies will reopen their offices and their employees will largely opt to go back to working together in offices.

I qualified this with “largely” because I don’t think we will go back to everyone in the office again. Companies have become much more comfortable hiring remote employees who don’t live near a company office. Employees have made it clear that they want/need the flexibility to work from home a day or two a week. Some companies have moved to an entirely remote work environment. But I think the dominant form of working will return to “in office, with others” by the end of this year.

2/ Carbon offsets, effectively a voluntary form of self carbon taxation, will take off in 2022 and by the end of the year, we will have a global market in excess of $10bn (up ~10x in 2022).

0xB833
December 31st, 2021

As is my custom here at AVC, I like to end the year looking back and start the year looking forward.

This post will be the look back and I started by revisiting my look forward into 2021 that I wrote on New Year’s Day 2021.

In my typical optimist fashion, I was dead wrong about how quickly the pandemic would fizzle out. I predicted that vaccines plus immunity from those who had been infected would end the pandemic by mid-year 2021. That was obviously totally wrong and I am sitting here isolating with my own Covid case (seven days in now). I can’t imagine a more appropriate “punishment” for getting that one wrong.

I got the rest mostly right and when I look back at 2021, what I see is a world that is changing before our very eyes; becoming more digital (leading to metaverse fever in tech), less tethered to a job and place to work (and live because of work), warmer, more prone to natural disasters, and tribalizing along different dimensions than what has divided us in the past.

0xB833
December 29th, 2021

Over the last month, there has been a ton of debate and conversation about web2 vs web3 with many leading voices raising doubts about web3. Debate and doubt are healthy. And web3 enthusiasts, particularly on Twitter, remind me of missionaries trying to recruit the unwashed to their belief system. Frankly, it is all too much for me.

However, the debate is important, the pushback is healthy, and ultimately web3 will have to deliver on its promise which means teams building things that provide new unique value to society. If that doesn’t happen, then web3 will turn out to be the snake oil that some are suggesting it is. I am confident that won’t happen, but it is important to understand that the proof is in the pudding and talk is cheap.

With that backdrop, I want to point everyone to a post my partner Albert wrote yesterday that explains why we at USV believe that web3 will allow teams to build new things that provide unique value to society.

It all comes down to the database that sits behind an application. If that database is controlled by a single entity (think company, think big tech), then enormous market power accrues to the owner/administrator of that database.

0xB833
December 20th, 2021

I saw two charts last week that showed the same thing:

This chart was in the deck I shared here last week called Consumer Trends 2022. It shows that after a big lift in 2020 and a bit of a lull in 2021, the e-commerce trendline is back to its old baseline.

0xB833
December 16th, 2021

My friends at The New Consumer and Coefficient Capital have published their annual consumer survey. There are many interesting slides in it, none more than this one.

I guess that explains this chart:

0xB833
December 14th, 2021

After skipping a year last year, USV held its annual team party last night.

It has felt great getting back to getting together with friends, family, and co-workers this holiday season. It has meant a lot of rapid testing for me, all negative thankfully, including one this morning.

We also had every single team member in the USV office yesterday, which was a first since we fully re-opened in March of this year.

0xB833
December 10th, 2021

The second week of December every year is Computer Science Education Week. It is a week to celebrate efforts to get computer science education into the K12 system around the world, and it is also a week in which schools do events, like The Hour of Code, to encourage students and teachers to get excited about learning computer science.

Most AVC readers know that my passion project for the last decade has been getting computer science education broadly available in the NYC public school system. I have also been involved in efforts to get computer science education adopted around the US and around the world. But my primary focus has been NYC.

This Computer Science Education Week, I celebrated by meeting with a very large employer in NYC and talking about getting that company’s employees deeply engaged with computer science education in the NYC schools and supporting the CS4All Capital Campaign, which I Chair. CS4All is NYC’s ten-year effort to get computer science classes into every school building in NYC by training 5,000 NYC public school teachers to deliver computer science classes. The CS4All Capital Campaign is a $40mm fundraising effort to support CS4All. We are now within spitting distance of the $40mm goal as we are in our seventh year of the campaign and program. If you know any individuals or non-profits or companies that would like to support the capital campaign, reply to this email or hit me up on Twitter and I would love to talk to them.

I also participated in an event at Hunter College last night to discuss their effort to provide computer science certification courses to NYC teachers. This is a program that has run for two years now, led by my friend Mike Zamansky, who I like to call “the godfather of CS education in NYC.” The Hunter computer science certification program is supported by our public charity Gotham Gives and Google. We provide scholarships to high-performing teachers who want to get NYS certified as computer science teachers. If you know individuals, non-profits, or companies that would like to join Gotham Gives and Google supporting this effort, reply to this email or hit me up on Twitter.

0xB833
December 6th, 2021

On Friday, the US jobs report produced a confusing result. From Bloomberg:

The jobs report is composed of two surveys — one of employers and the other of households. The employer survey, which determines the payroll and wage figures, showed hiring slowed across industries, including declines at automakers and retail outlets. The household survey, which determines the jobless and participation rates, showed employment surged by 1.14 million people and many came off the sidelines.

So employers are reporting sluggish job growth (and an inability to hire in some sectors) and households are reporting a huge surge in newly employed.

What is going on?

0xB833
December 3rd, 2021

I backed this project the minute I saw it this morning. The idea of a wall-mounted device like a Nest Thermostat that controls/dims lights and lets you turn up or down your music seems awesome to me. The Nest interface is simple, intuitive, and works wonderfully.

Also, the video is fantastic. More like a movie trailer than a promotional video. Click here and watch it.

0xB833
November 29th, 2021

Like many did, we spent much of this weekend watching Peter Jackson’s wonderful documentary of the Beatles making Let It Be, titled Get Back.

I enjoyed so much of the film, particularly the music, but the big thing I took away is the power of real partnerships. While this was the Beatles last recording session, what you see in the film are four partners working together creatively and wonderfully. I wasn’t really expecting that and I found it so enjoyable to watch.

I have worked in partnerships for most of my adult life, since I was in my mid 20s. I have spent 35 years in three partnerships, all of them “equal partnerships”, the kind where everyone brings their own ideas, they are worked on together, and there is mutual respect and admiration.

Partnerships are not easy. Everyone has to dial back their ego a bit and let others have their say on things. But what you get when you do that is an environment where everyone gets better than they would be on their own. And you can see that in the Beatles work. All of the four Beatles went on to have solo careers, but none of them produced a sustained level of work that the four of them were able to make together.

0xB833
November 25th, 2021

Like most holidays we celebrate, the essence of the Thanksgiving holiday hides underneath our celebration of it.

Ask anyone about Thanksgiving, and you will hear about turkey, stuffing, a big meal, family, and maybe football.

I’m fine with all of that, particularly the stuffing and family parts.

But the thing that I like most about Thanksgiving is the idea that this is a time of year to give thanks.

0xB833
November 24th, 2021

I remember about fifteen years ago, a well-known VC said to me “you need to sell a company within a few years of the founder leaving. Companies can’t sustain their innovation after a founder leaves.” I told that VC that my experience has been different on that measure and that I did not agree.

I have seen leadership teams take over great businesses from founders and get them to the next level. Etsy, where I am Chair of the Board and a large shareholder, is a great example of that. There are many others in my career as well.

However, there is a special something that founders provide companies. I’ve heard it called “moral leadership.” I’ve heard it called “the soul of the business.” I’ve heard it called “long-term thinking.”

This podcast with Brian Armstrong, founder and CEO of Coinbase, another public company where I am on the Board and a large shareholder, is a good example of that.

0xB833
November 22nd, 2021

We own a fair number of NFTs that I have collected since 2017 when I was buying Rare Pepes and CryptoKitties. We have accumulated a nice collection of Top Shots and a bunch of other NFTs as well.

But I don’t want to sell our NFTs. We also don’t like to sell the art we have collected over the years. We also don’t like to sell the crypto assets we hold.

But I am very interested in swapping NFTs for other ones.

Here’s how I would imagine an NFT swapping service would work.

0xB833
November 17th, 2021

Are you a New Yorker doing something amazing and could use $200,000 to support your work?

If so, you should apply for a David Prize. I have written about this program before so you might remember. But for those who haven’t heard about it, here’s the deal:

Here are the most recent cohort of David Prize winners:

0xB833
November 15th, 2021

We have been seeing quite a few seed rounds getting done in and around $100mm post-money and that concerns me for a few reasons:

  • Seed stage is when a company has a good team, a good idea, but has not yet proven product market fit and a go to market model, and has not yet demonstrated a sustainable business model.
  • These investments have a high failure rate. In my experience, roughly half of seed stage investments fail completely, wiping out everyone’s investment, including the founding team’s.
  • There is a lot of dilution from the seed round to exit, in my experience, a seed investor will be diluted by around 2/3 between seed and exit.
  • A power law distribution exists in outcomes in any early stage portfolio and a seed portfolio is no differernt.

So given that I am jet-lagged and got up at 3:30 am this morning, I modeled this out to see how this all works. Here is the google sheet in case you want to look at my model.

Given the assumptions in my model, a $100mm seed fund that makes all of its investments at $100mm post-money will barely return the fund. And that number is gross, before fees and carry.

0xB833
November 10th, 2021

A number of friends have been asking us how to buy crypto assets. This is not the first time we’ve gotten this question and it won’t be the last.

When I first started getting this question, my answer was “open a Coinbase account and buy Bitcoin.”

Then there was a period when my answer was “open a Coinbase account and buy Bitcoin and Ethereum.”

Today, my answer is “open a Coinbase account and buy a diverse set of crypto assets.”

0xB833
November 10th, 2021

We have been coming to Paris regularly for about 15 years and back in 2008, I started using the Velib bike share system and wrote about it here.

A lot has changed in a decade and a half when it comes to biking in Paris. There are more bikes, more bike lanes, and more bikers.

Velib is still a big piece of the Paris bike scene and they have a ton of pedal assist e-bikes in the system now. At most kiosks I see about half regular and half e-bikes. I wish NYC’s Citibike system had that mix in their kiosks.

But I’ve been using a service called DOTT this stay in Paris. Every morning I like to go out to a coffee shop that is a twelve minute walk but a four minute bike ride. So I launch the DOTT app and find the nearest bike which is usually less than a block away and unlock it with my app.

0xB833
November 4th, 2021

On Tuesday night the Gotham Gal and I boarded an overnight flight at JFK and arrived in Paris on Wednesday morning.

That sounds like a normal thing to do and it is something we have been doing together since we met forty years ago.

But we have not done any international travel since November of 2019 due to the Covid pandemic. So for us, it is quite a thrill to be traveling again.

I took this photo last night walking back from an evening out on the town.

0xB833
November 1st, 2021

I’ve been hearing the term Metaverse for at least twenty years and I have always struggled with it. As I told my colleagues last week “I like the real world, I don’t want to live in a video game.”

My colleagues explained to me that I am thinking about it incorrectly. They said that as digitally mediated experiences have become a more important part of our everyday lives, we are already living in the metaverse.

I’ve started thinking about it that way and it has helped me to be more enthusiastic about these digitally mediated experiences.

I read this tweet stream yesterday and I found it very helpful in this new understanding I am developing.

0xB833
October 29th, 2021

I backed this project this morning. The Tether Bike Light is “a bike safety device that projects a safe zone around your bike, responds to road users around you, identifying safe and unsafe roads in your city.”

I like the idea that “locations of overtakes are recorded to identify safe and unsafe zones in your city to help plan safer routing.” That is very cool.

Here’s the video if you want to learn more.

0xB833
October 27th, 2021

Now that we are beginning to see what consumer applications are like in the decentralized web (web3), it is interesting to compare that to what consumer applications are like in the centralized web (web2).

It became clear early in the 2000s that the big opportunity in the web would be to build large networks of engaged users. That was USV’s initial web2 thesis:

USV in 140 characters: invest in large networks of engaged users, differentiated by user experience, and defensible though network effects

— Brad Burnham (@BradUSV) June 8, 2011

And the way many/most of those networks were built was by delivering single user utility day-one and then building out network effects around that utility.

0xB833
October 25th, 2021

When you look at the recent Q3 numbers on seed and early-stage VC fundraising, you might think we are in the late stages of a VC bubble:

The words I would use to describe the current environment in early-stage VC are “fast and furious.”

0xB833
October 22nd, 2021

My friend Stephen sent me a text with a link to this Kickstarter project. I backed it immediately and went one step further than I ordinarily do, I bought a pre-order copy of the book.

The NBA is back in season, I went to the opener on Weds night here in NYC, and it was a thrill to be in the arena watching incredible athletes play my favorite game to watch.

So I am excited to get this book and put it on my coffee table. I will have endless fun rifling through the pages.

And if you are an NBA fan like me, do yourself a favor and watch this video.

0xB833
October 20th, 2021

We started looking at crypto ten years ago, starting investing nine years ago, and have had a front-row seat to its development ever since. It has been enlightening, exciting, rewarding, but definitely not mainstream.

I think that is changing quickly now and yesterday I saw this tweet:

BREAKING: The @NBA and @Coinbase have announced a multiyear partnership that makes Coinbase the exclusive cryptocurrency platform partner of the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and USA Basketball.

The deal is the first cryptocurrency platform partnership for each league. pic.twitter.com/eHgoMWlaVJ

— Boardroom (@boardroom) October 19, 2021

Though I am on the board of Coinbase, I had not been aware of this partnership until I saw the tweet. Seeing it made my day. Two of my favorite brands in the world are teaming up to educate and increase the awareness of crypto around the world.

0xB833
October 18th, 2021

Since 2016, I have been working “half time” at USV and taking half of a partner’s carry. That has allowed me to allocate more time to things like building green buildings with the Gotham Gal, building a philanthropic organization with the Gotham Gal, sitting on non-profit and civic boards, and a few other things.

The truth is I still work at least 40 hours a week at USV, probably a fair bit more some weeks, but I still have time to spend on these other things and my partners understand that I am doing that and my compensation reflects that.

The move away from commuting to the office, spending eight hours a day or more there, and the rise of working remotely has upended so much in the last 18 months and one of the things I am noticing is how many people are doing what I am doing – working multiple jobs at the same time.

I am not talking about freelancing, consulting, and the other forms of working for many clients. I am talking about holding down multiple full-time jobs at the same time. Early in the pandemic, there was a story about a software engineer that had full-time jobs at both Google and Facebook. It was somewhat amusing to read that Google and Facebook were being played like that, but the truth is this is happening all over the place.

0xB833
October 14th, 2021

For the last ten years, my tax prep on crypto was pretty easy. I have always had a buy and hold mindset and have custodied with Coinbase. So a simple report on Coinbase was all I needed to send to my tax folks. Pretty simple.

But as DeFi and NFTs have exploded on the scene, things have gotten more complicated. Swapping, bridging, staking, buying with ETH, SOL, FLOW, yield farming, liquidity mining. Across chains. On hardware wallets. On mobile wallets. It is giving me a headache just typing all of this into my browser.

So I’m on the hunt for the very best cross wallet/cross chain tax prep software for crypto. I am not seeking to invest in this sector, although I have friends who are. What I am seeking is suggestions from all of you. What do you use to deal with his headache?

If you have suggestions, please click on the link that says “Discuss on Twitter” and leave your suggestions there so everyone can see them. If you must email me, that’s fine too. I appreciate suggestions however you can send them. But I prefer Twitter because everyone will be able to see them.

0xB833
October 14th, 2021

A few weeks ago, I wrote about NYC’s Tech Resurgence. I observed that NYC continues to develop as one of the world’s leading centers of tech innovation.

And then yesterday, I saw this tweet:

NYC startups are getting funded at 2/3 the rate of Silicon Valley startups. That’s a huge change from where NYC was even two or three years ago.

0xB833
October 14th, 2021

A couple of years ago, I wrote about buying crypto in an IRA. I went and did that with an old unused IRA that was sitting in cash and I have 8x’d the value of that IRA in the last 18 months. While my family is fortunate that we don’t have to rely on our IRAs to generate wealth like this, many folks do.

Tens of millions of people in the US rely on IRAs to save money tax-free for their retirement. There is $13 Trillion invested in IRAs and only 30,000 of those accounts have more than $5mm in them. IRAs are the retirement accounts for main street, not wall street.

And yet, the House Ways and Means Committee is now suggesting eliminating the ability of these IRA holders to invest their IRAs in the highest returning assets available; VC funds, private equity, and private companies (page 689, section 138312). I am sure they are proposing this to prevent wealthy people like me from using the tax shield of the IRA to invest in private businesses. But there are better ways to do that than a blanket prohibition.

A blanket prohibition will hurt main street, not wall street. We already limit what folks who aren’t wealthy can invest in by virtue of a multitude of regulations. It upsets me to no end that this paternalistic approach keeps the wealthy making lots of money and everyone else on the sidelines. I have railed about this set of issues here at AVC since I started blogging almost twenty years ago now.

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October 14th, 2021

Our portfolio company Dapper Labs, creator of CryptoKitties, the Flow Blockchain, and the NBA Top Shot collectible game, is announcing Dapper Collectives today.

Dapper Collectives comes by way of an acquisition of Brud, a company that has been developing “community-owned media and collectively built worlds” for the last five years. Dapper Collectives will be led by Trevor McFedries, the founder and CEO of Brud and the co-founder of the FWB DAO. Trevor is also an LP at USV.

Dapper Collectives has a mission to “bring decentralized organizations (“DAOs”) to the mainstream”. The initial efforts of Dapper Collectives will include:

  • Bring community ownership and collective building to Dapper Labs products –– starting with Lil Miquela and her 10 million fans;
  • Build and release open source tools to help other mainstream communities engage in decentralized ownership and governance on Flow blockchain;
  • Help the most forward-thinking “web 2” companies decentralize their operations, engaging at the CEO and Board of Directors level to assist in tokenomics as well as technical implementation.
0xB833
September 30th, 2021

Sep 30, 2021

Early in the pandemic, we were all deluged with stories of tech workers, companies, and founders leaving Silicon Valley for Miami and Austin. And that was true. But from my personal experience, they also left for many other places too, including Los Angeles and New York City.

I met with a founder last week who has left the bay area for good and now splits his time between homes in LA and NYC. It is hard to know what cities have been the biggest beneficiaries of the great relocation but I am certain that NYC is one of them.

Here are some tweets I’ve seen in recent weeks talking about this:

0xB833
September 28th, 2021

Our portfolio company Mirror has been using a “game mechanic” called The Write Race to onboard users to the Mirror service. Mirror is something between a blogging platform, a crowdfunding platform, and a community platform, built for the crypto sector. Mirror is built on decentralized protocols and is a web3 version of all of those things and more.

Users need a $WRITE token to publish on Mirror and the best way to get $WRITE tokens is to join the Write Race that happens every Wednesday 5pm eastern. Anyone who holds a $WRITE token can vote for new users in the Write Race. The top ten vote getters are airdropped a $WRITE token and can publish on Mirror.

Yesterday, Mirror announced that they have expanded this game mechanic to any activity that requires a token. They call it Token Race.

Imagine your DAO wants to admit new members but needs a way to do that. Token Race.

0xB833
September 27th, 2021

I used to ride a Vespa around NYC. I rode it to work and back for about ten years, from roughly 2003 to 2013. I stopped riding it when Bloomberg’s Traffic Enforcement people starting towing it when it was parked between cars on the street (something I had been doing since I started riding it). A few visits to the tow pound will do that to you.

Since then, I’ve been Citibiking to and from work when it is nice out and subwaying when it is not. That has worked fine.

A few weeks ago, I had breakfast with my friend Alex Ljung, who co-founded our portfolio company SoundCloud with his friend Eric Wahlforss. Alex and Eric are back at it with a new company called Dance which makes a beautiful e-bike that is sold via a subscription service, currently only in Berlin, but coming to your city sometime in the future.

I told Alex that I was nervous about riding e-bikes. He told me to get over it and get on one. So I have been doing that, using Citibike’s e-bikes, for the last few weeks.

0xB833
September 24th, 2021

My friend Mike Masnick, founder and leader of Techdirt, is crowdfunding a new paper on NFTs.

I backed the project just now with 0.1 ETH and you can do the same here.

0xB833
September 22nd, 2021

Yesterday I wrote about NYC’s Citibike system, which I love, and said this:

There should be financial rewards for taking a bike from a kiosk that is completely full or nearly full and returning to a kiosk that is empty or nearly empty. There should also be a financial reward for docking an E-Bike in a kiosk where there are no E-Bikes or very few.

I got a ton of feedback via email and Twitter that Citibike already offers this via a program called Bike Angels that rewards riders for doing things like this. I know about that program but there are three big problems with Bike Angels that Lyft, the owner of Citibike, needs to fix.

1/ Bike Angels is not part of the core service, available to everyone by default.

0xB833
September 21st, 2021

I have written about my love for NYC’s Citibike service many times. This will be one more.

Yesterday I left the USV office at the end of the day and hopped onto a Citibike E-Bike at the brand new kiosk that has been installed in the “no cars” section of Broadway between 23rd and 21st.

I rode that E-bike all the way to Central Park West and 81st Street to get to the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. I was able to stay in a bike lane for that entire ride and it took me about twenty minutes.

0xB833
September 20th, 2021

Back in 2005 Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called Blink that was about how our subconscious allows us to make fast decisions that are often as good or better than slow considered decisions.

I was talking to someone yesterday evening about how the venture capital business has changed over the last decade and I explained that we used to have weeks, if not months, to make our investment decisions and now we have days or if we are lucky a week or two.

And I observed that the rapid pace of venture investing and decision making has not, yet, impacted the quality of our portfolio and that it may have actually improved it.

The woman I was talking to said “like Malcolm Gladwell describes in Blink.” And I nodded affirmatively.

0xB833
September 17th, 2021

I just backed this project to support a festival of street musicians in NYC in late October.

Street bands have been picking up the slack for the last year in NYC, performing for outside diners and more throughout the city. This festival celebrates them and puts them front and center.

You can see the video here.

0xB833
September 15th, 2021

I have been doing a bunch of large group in-person meetings in the last few weeks and I must say that it feels great to be doing these large group meetings in person. There is a different energy in the room than on the screen.

In order to make everyone comfortable meeting like this, the way these meetings typically happen is everyone provides a proof of vaccination and everyone gets a covid test within 24 hours of the meeting. It is best if the host of the meeting can provide rapid tests so anyone who wants to arrive in advance of the meeting can get tested right there.

It is also the case that in each of the large in-person group meetings I have done in the last few weeks, there have been a few folks on video. I think that is likely to be the new normal for large meetings and it really helps to have great audio and video in the room so the people on the screen feel as much like they are in the room as possible.

But I must say that I am very happy and very relieved to be meeting in person again in large groups. I missed it a lot and I am glad to be back doing it.

0xB833
September 13th, 2021

In her decision last week on the Epic vs Apple case, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers wrote this:

I am not a lawyer, but I read that to say that apps that use crypto rails for payments cannot be blocked by Apple anymore.

If so, that is a decision of enormous consequences for the crypto sector and yet another opening for it.

0xB833
September 9th, 2021

At USV, we have a fairly narrow thesis that sets out what we want to invest in, but all of us work across all of our thesis areas. We see ourselves as generalists not specialists.

In an environment when everything is moving so fast, that can be challenging, as I wrote about on Tuesday.

But there are also great benefits to working this way. As a team, we benefit from working together on everything versus having silos within our partnership and firm.

And as individuals, there is something quite helpful about moving back and forth between domains. It stimulates the mind in ways that going deep and staying deep on one thing cannot.

0xB833
September 7th, 2021

I wrote in my 60th birthday post that my late career mantra is less hustle more conviction. It has been working for me and has kept me in the game.

But there are times, usually after an opening emerges, when a market moves so fast it is hard to stay on top of it all.

I don’t worry about missing out. That’s part of the venture capital business. Fear of missing out is a counterproductive emotion and I refuse to engage in it.

But I do worry about not understanding what is going on. When you stop understanding things, you are done. There is no way to be a great investor if you have no clue.

0xB833
September 3rd, 2021

I backed this project to fund a creator space and coffee shop in Williamsburg Brooklyn this morning.

As many companies make the decision to move to hybrid and remote workforces, we will need more of this kind of space to work in. I am excited to see entrepreneurs stepping in and filling that role. And I like to support them when they do.

You can see the video here.

0xB833
August 31st, 2021

I am a fan of and a practioner of investing in risky assets. I believe you must take significant risk to earn significant returns.

But I also am a huge fan of diversification when holding a lot of risky assets. It has been easier for USV to get into new sectors, like crypto and climate for example, knowing that we also have large positions in other parts of the early stage tech sector.

When crypto went crazy in 2017 and then blew up, it was mostly a blip in our portfolio values. The same was true in the second quarter of this year when crypto had a big pullback.

This is not an argument against crypto only funds. USV has invested in a number of them and so have the Gotham Gal and I. But I would not be comfortable with a portfolio that was only crypto funds. I like to have a mix of assets, ideally uncorrelated, in our portfolio.

0xB833
August 30th, 2021

My partner Albert has been writing a book in public over the last decade called The World After Capital. There have been alpha and beta versions which he has put out there, gotten feedback on, and revised.

Yesterday he tweeted that he has now finished the book and will have it printed. That means I will read it again and you should too.

If you want to read it online, you can do that here.

0xB833
August 27th, 2021

This project on Kickstarter is cool. A UPS (uninterrupted power supply) for your entire home. I backed it this morning along with almost 2,400 other people who have backed it so far.

You can see the video and back it here.

0xB833
August 25th, 2021

Yesterday, USV sent 500 ETH to the Bright Moments DAO and we got back one million Bright Moments DAO (BRT) tokens into our wallet. This is the third time USV has invested in a DAO and we will blog about the other two in the coming weeks. These are token transactions denominated in ETH and ERC-20 assets with no other paperwork. All governance is done inside the DAO (decentralized autonomous organization). In the case of Bright Moments, the DAO voted on our transaction over the weekend and approved it unanimously. This is a new world of business entity, governance, and a lot more that is exciting to USV and we plan to continue investing in it.

So what is Bright Moments? Well, it is a work in progress that is exploring the intersection of NFTs, real-world spaces, entertainment, and onboarding new crypto enthusiasts. Bright Moments started as a popup gallery in Venice Beach California where NFT artists drop/show new work and collectors buy it in real-time in a physical space. Then the Bright Moments DAO created an NFT series celebrating the local Venice Beach community called CryptoVenetians and minted 1000 of them, from sunrise to sunset and nighttime. These CryptoVenetians were given away to people who came to the Bright Moments Gallery with an Ethereum wallet on their phone. For many, this was the first time they installed and used an Ethereum wallet.

Next, Bright Moments is going to take this show on the road, starting with NYC this fall and then onto eight more cities around the world to get to a full collection of 10,000 NFTs. Last week Bright Moments auctioned off 200 tickets to the NYC gallery and they will give away the other 800.

We are interested in and excited by the intersection of the real world and the virtual world and we think Bright Moments has found an interesting model to bring new people into crypto in a fun and entertaining way. We are excited to support this effort and appreciate the Bright Moments community inviting us into the Bright Moments DAO.

0xB833
August 24th, 2021

I saw a statistic from one of our larger portfolio companies yesterday. They have had their offices around the world open for some time now with office usage optional. They are seeing office utilization rates of around “20-30%.” They are also seeing “flexibility” as the number one issue in recruiting new talent.

That was interesting to me because we are seeing a much higher office utilization at USV. We kept our offices open for much of the last 18 months and encouraged a return to the office once we were all vaccinated in early April. On most days, we see about half of our team coming into the office. I think that number was higher in the spring and will be higher in the fall. We also see friends in the VC business and startup world working at our office from time to time and that has been fantastic.

We have also seen that office utilization is much higher for our team members that live in NYC vs the suburbs, which is not surprising. This chart says it all:

0xB833
August 23rd, 2021

I realized a long time ago that the VC’s customer is the founder/CEO/portfolio company and that our investors (called LPs in VC speak) are our “shareholders”. That was a very defining moment for me and has clarified what matters the most in a VC firm.

That said, we take investor relations very seriously at USV and always have.

This is our model:

1/ We are loyal to our LPs and offer them the opportunity to invest with us fund after fund after fund unless something has materially altered the relationship. That is very rare but has happened.

0xB833
August 20th, 2021

Today is my sixtieth birthday and I plan to goof off with friends and family all day and night in celebration. If I don’t respond to an email, text, or tweet, well that’s because I’m celebrating.

I’ve been told that turning 60 is a big one and to expect to feel a lot. I will make sure to do that but as many know, it is not my nature to do that. So I will have to work at it.

I have cut back on blogging a lot in the last year. Four posts a week on AVC is now a lot. Many weeks there are only three. I’m hoping that the quality has gone up as the quantity has come down. At least that is the goal.

I’ve caught a second (or maybe third or fourth) wind with my work in the last year. It is a combination of covid, climate, and crypto. The world is changing and there is so much energy being released from these changes that draws me back. At sixty, it is a different kind of work; less hustle and more conviction. I like that.

0xB833
August 18th, 2021

I wrote about NFTs last week and said this in that post:

But when a party emerges online that anyone is invited to attend and the 500 person group picks up a punk with a party hat and they all change their social network avatar to this, well that got my attention.

https://avc.com/2021/08/the-opening/

Fractional/collective ownership is something we have been interested in at USV for a while. It fits well with our thesis about expanding access. We have an investment in Otis that is providing fractional ownership for collectibles and NFTs.

But there is an important difference between fractional/collective ownership of physical and digital goods.

0xB833
August 17th, 2021

I recall when my partner Brad and I were raising our first USV fund, back in 2003, and potential investors wondered about my blogging habit. They asked if I was making a mistake telegraphing our investment thesis for everyone to see, including our “competitors.”

We strongly defended the practice and explained that the benefits of telling the world what we were looking to invest in, and why, strongly outweighed any costs. We explained that telegraphing would bring entrepreneurs to us.

And that turned out to be the case. So many of our top-performing investments over the years came to us because of our telegraphing strategy. It is hard to know who is working on a problem you are interested in. But if you put the word out far and wide, they will find you.

I was reminded of those conversations almost twenty years ago now when I read this post on USV.com by Hanel outlining our interest in measuring carbon. She explains that we have made one investment in that area already and are looking to make more. And she explains why.

0xB833
August 12th, 2021

Dune.xyz is a community of crypto enthusiasts, analysts, and investors who use the open data available to all via public blockchains to create charts and other analyses to understand what is going on in these systems.

One of the most important differences between blockchain-based systems and traditional web-based systems is that the blockchain has an open data layer. That means that we all control our data when we use a blockchain-based system. But it also means that this shared data layer is available to all to observe, measure, and analyze.

Here are some examples of community-built charts:

The P&L of the Maker lending system:

0xB833
August 11th, 2021

I like to think of investing in new things a bit like a football running play. Imagine you are the running back. You’ve been handed the football and you are looking for a hole to open up and run through. What you really want is some running room beyond the opening.

We’ve known for a while that crypto is the next big tech architecture. We’ve known that once the wave breaks on the shore, there will be enormous opportunities unleashed. Like the web. Like mobile. Like the PC.

But what has been hard to see is the opening. It wasn’t trading/speculating, although that has been huge. Coinbase announced yesterday that 68 million verified users. It wasn’t DeFi, although that has also been huge.

What we have been looking for is the consumer opportunity to emerge. Until you have billions of consumers around the world using a technology, you don’t have a new wave to ride. So like the running back, you wait and hope you don’t get hit.

0xB833
August 9th, 2021

It would be easy to get depressed reading the morning news. Climate change is happening more quickly. The Covid pandemic shows no signs of abating. And there are all sorts of other things that are challenging our way of life.

But on days like today, I find it helpful to remember that science and technology helps us address these challenges.

We understand the carbon cycle and how far it is out of equilibrium. We also have many of the technologies we need to bring it back to equilibrium. And more are being invented every day.

We also understand the Covid virus and how to create vaccines that reduce its severity. And scientists have developed and continue to develop therapies that will do even more to reduce its severity.

0xB833
August 6th, 2021

PartyBid is a fun way to collect NFTs with others.

Here are some live parties you can join and bid with others:

Funding Friday has always been about the idea that others might want to fund things that I am funding. Party Bid takes that idea a step further and makes funding things more social and fun. That’s a really neat idea.

0xB833
August 5th, 2021

Managing a business is about having a plan, sticking with it, and not panicking or looking for hail mary passes. There are no silver bullets or shortcuts to success in life. You need to have a five to ten-year plan and you need to stick with it and execute against it day after day, week after week, year after year.

I was reminded of this watching my NY Knicks navigate the off-season after making the playoffs for the first time in eight years. The Knicks front office stuck with the core of the team, kept all of their young talent, and upgraded significantly at point guard and small forward. They also do not have a guaranteed contract that extends beyond the 2022-2023 season.

I am sure it was tempting to think about accelerating the plan after a season that went better than anyone was expecting. I am sure that they thought about taking bigger risks and going for broke now. But I am glad they did not do that.

Instead, they rewarded players like Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, and Nerlens Noel who were a big part of getting them into the playoffs with multi-year contracts, they got Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier as upgrades at point guard and small forward, and kept all of their youngsters.

0xB833
August 3rd, 2021

I mentioned the infrastructure bill here last week. I continue to be impressed by the way Senators and the White House are working across the aisle to get a very big piece of legislation across the finish line. It is not done, but it sure looks like it will get done.

As I mentioned in the post last week, there is language in the initial draft of the bill requiring crypto “brokers” to report gains and losses to the IRS. The Treasury expects this provision to produce upwards of $30bn in new tax revenues over the next ten years.

I personally have no issue with crypto gains and losses being treated the same as stock gains and losses and we have been doing that at USV for quite a while now. But I do have concerns that the way “brokers” are defined in the context of crypto is very different than how it is defined in the traditional financial sector. The language in the initial draft is overly broad, infringing on privacy, and technically unworkable. Crypto industry participants like miners, wallets, smart contracts, and other kinds of hardware and software cannot carry the same obligations as “brokers” like Coinbase and Square Cash.

But here is the good news. The crypto sector has come together to get the language changed in a way that I have never seen before. Everyone in crypto is working together, staying on message, working all of the avenues, and creating the appropriate amount of pressure on the process. And while we do not yet have the language we need, we are getting there and I am hopeful that we will land in a good place.

0xB833
August 2nd, 2021

I have watched countless companies and leadership teams manage transitions over the years and I have come to believe that companies and leaders should do everything they can to promote “leaving well.”

What I mean by “leaving well” is a smooth transition of a leader out of a role/company. This typically means that a departing leader gives a company a heads up that they are planning to transition out, that news is shared broadly internally, allowing for a transparent process to find a new leader. A similar process is used to transition a leader out when a new one is needed.

For this to work, companies need to do their part to facilitate this process. This means reacting well to the news that an executive would like to move on. It can also include a financial incentive to stick around during a transition. A culture that embraces leaving well puts everyone in a better place during transitions.

There are certainly times when leaving well is not possible. If an executive is terminated for reasons that require an immediate departure, there is no way to execute a smooth transition.

0xB833
July 30th, 2021

I backed a documentary project this morning about two 80-year-olds pursuing their lifelong dreams to be stand-up comedians.

I think people of any age should chase their dreams and I can’t wait to watch this film.

0xB833
July 29th, 2021

I am heartened to see both sides of the political aisle in the US came together yesterday to agree to move forward on a $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill.

There are parts of the bill that I don’t like (asking blockchain smart contracts to send 1099s to the IRS seems nuts to me) and parts that were taken out that I think are critical (like building a nationwide EV charging network).

But perfect is the enemy of the good. We have not had a functioning legislative branch at the federal level in the US in a long time. I am hopeful that a bipartisan victory on infrastructure will pave the way towards other bipartisan efforts and the right and left will start talking to each other, respecting each other, and governing again.

I have spent my adult career making deals with people. I have learned that you can never get exactly what you want when you make deals. You must compromise so that both sides can feel that they won. And when you do that, there are many times when both sides do win. If you choose to sit on the sidelines, you almost always lose.

0xB833
July 27th, 2021

The two most used measures of a venture fund’s performance are the “cash on cash” return and the “internal rate of return” (IRR). One measures how much an investor got back divided by how much they put in (cash/cash). The other measures what the effective rate of return is on the investor’s money.

You might think these measures go hand in hand, but that is not the case.

I was reminded of that last week when I was reviewing USV’s second-quarter reports that we will send to our investors soon. Three of our most mature funds showcase how these numbers can behave differently.

Our 2008 vintage early-stage fund has generated about 5x cash on cash but only generated a 22.5% IRR.

0xB833
July 26th, 2021

Rocky Mountain Power emailed me last week and offered us a “100% Solar Match” which means that we can “match” all of our energy consumption in our home in Utah with power from their 20 megawatt solar plant in Holden Utah.

This doesn’t mean our home will be now be operating with energy from that plant but it does mean that we have opted for 100% solar. If every Rocky Mountain Power customer opted for this match, they would have to build more solar plants and decommission carbon based energy facilities.

There is the question of how Rocky Mountain Power could operate an all solar grid (they can’t as far as I know) and whether most customers care enough to specify what kind of power they want to purchase.

But I found the experience simple and easy. One phone call and I was cut over. And now I feel better about the energy we consume in Utah.

0xB833
July 23rd, 2021

I’m going with something a bit different today on Funding Friday.

Longtime AVC reader Kirsten Lambertsen has created an email newsletter featuring creators and their projects across many different creator platforms. It is called Patron Hunt.

It looks like this: