I contributed 0.1 ETH to the effort yesterday evening and she is now approaching her 25 ETH goal.
If you have an Ethereum wallet, like Coinbase Wallet or Metamask, you can participate in her crowdfunding project here. The rewards are pretty cool as is the premise of the novel. You can see all of that on her blog.
There was a day in the last week when four million americans got a Covid vaccine. That’s more than one percent of all citizens of the US. One in every hundred people in the US got vaccinated on the same day. Think about that!
Mayor de Blasio tweeted yesterday that 4.7 million doses of the Covid vaccine have been given out in NYC. Assuming that 2/3 of those have gone into new arms and 1/3 have gone into returning arms, that means almost 40% of adults in NYC have gotten introduced to the Coronavirus via a vaccine.
As an aside, another 20-30% of people in NYC got introduced to this nasty and deadly virus the old fashioned way and that means that we could have two thirds of adults in NYC with Covid antibodies in their systems.
But returning to the point of this post, we are vaccinating at scale in the US now.
Tech:NYC is the industry association for NYC’s tech sector. I am the Chair of the organization. I am excited about Tech:NYC’s work to bring the ongoing NYC Mayoral race to the tech sector.
On Thursday, April 8th (tomorrow) at 4pmET, Tech:NYC will host a webinar with the top mayoral candidates that is open to all NYC tech employees. The candidates participating are Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley, and Andrew Yang. The forum will be moderated by Josh Barro. The NYC Mayoral Forum is hosted by Tech:NYC and Warby Parker and is co-hosted by AT&T, Bowery Farming, Etsy, Harry’s, Via, WeWork, Zola, and more.
Tech:NYC did a poll of NYC tech employees earlier this year and it showed that the New Yorkers who work in tech largely care about the things that all New Yorkers care about. People are attracted to NYC because of its diversity, cultural institutions, subway, etc. – the things that make NYC NYC. And they care about their neighborhoods, schools, parks, quality of life, etc.
The poll also showed that lots of people in tech care about the mayoral race – 87% said they plan to vote in the primary.
We have a house in the northeast United States where the summers are warm and the winters are cold. We have solar on the roof and we heat and cool this house with electricity. This is the electrical generation/consumption chart for all of 2020 for that house:
We produce almost all of the heating and cooling for that house with solar power. How do we do that?
We use geothermal energy to heat and cool it. We drilled wells down into the earth and pull water up to heat the house in the winter and cool the house in the summer.
I do a lot of “bulk emailing” but I hate sending bulk emails. I prefer to personalize emails and send them one by one so that the recipient understands that the email came from me.
What that has meant is that I take google sheets full of email addresses and I cut and paste a message into my gmail for each and every email address. That is incredibly slow, dull, repetitive, and painful.
About a year ago, we started using Hubspot for our family’s philanthropic efforts and it was a revelation to me. Hubspot connects to my gmail account and the emails I send from it appear to the recipient like I sent them personally from my gmail.
But behind the scenes, I can collaborate with my colleagues on templates and lists for various bulk emails that I need to send. When it is time for me to send the emails, I simply work my way through the list, selecting a new name, adding the template, making any little changes to personalize the message, and then I hit send.
I wrote a blog post last fall asking for advice for headphones that don’t go into my ear and allow me to hear ambient noise around me. I got a ton of responses and that led me to bone-conducting headphones. I have been using AfterShokz bone conducting headphones for the last six months and they work well.
So when I came upon this Kickstarter project to make a pair of “smart” bone conducting headphones, I got interested. I backed it and went for the reward which I rarely do. I will hopefully get a pair of these Sentien headphones this fall.
If you are reading this via email, the video is here.
Most venture capital funds have a “recycling” provision that allows them to sell some percentage of their investments and reinvest those funds back into new investments instead of distributing that capital to their limited partners. There is no standard recycling percentage in the market, but I think 20-25% is fairly common.
We do this at USV very aggressively. It allows us to put the entire fund to work and recoup the management fee load. A $100mm venture capital fund will pay something like $20mm in management fees over a ten-year life. So it would only actually invest $80mm into startups. But if that fund recycled $20mm back into new investments, it could put the entire $100mm to work even after paying the $20mm in management fees.
Sometimes it is also possible to use recycling to invest more than the fund actually raised. We have done that in a number of funds. Our first fund was a $125mm fund, but we only called something like $110mm from our investors and I think we ultimately put to work something like $140mm.
These might feel like small moves, but they can be very big moves when you are trying to make 3x or more on a fund. Three times $110mm is $330mm. Three times $140mm is $420mm.
TEALS is a longstanding program supported by Microsoft where software engineers assist in computer science instruction in K12 schools. I have been blogging about and advocating TEALS for over eight years now. TEALS came to NYC in 2013 and has been helping kids learn computer science in NYC schools ever since.
For many of those years, the software engineers would have to travel to the school building to assist in classroom instruction. But that has changed and now TEALS volunteers can teach remotely. I think that is a huge unlock for everyone and I am encouraging software engineers in NYC to consider doing TEALS during the 2021/2022 school year.
You can learn more here.
If you are interested, you can apply here.
I have written about all of these things here at AVC before. But I am writing again as there is likely to be a bunch of chatter about Dapper, Flow, and NBA Top Shot as the news of a financing round comes out today.
Financings don’t really interest me but companies do. And this is a fascinating company.
Dapper Labs came out of an incubator called Axiom Zen back in 2017. The Axiom Zen team was looking at interesting things they could build using Ethereum. They contributed to the ERC 721 standard for non-fungible tokens and started building an NFT collectible game that became Cryptokitties. That got our attention and led to a financing that spun out the team and Cryptokitties into Dapper Labs. I wrote a short post on the USV blog announcing that we had invested in Cryptokitties, but in truth, we invested in much more. We are only seeing the entire vision now.
After building a few more collectible experiences on Ethereum, the Dapper Labs team concluded that the NFT experiences they wanted to create needed a different blockchain and they started building Flow. Flow is a proof of stake blockchain that was designed from the ground up for consumer experiences that require scale and performance and more.
One of the gifts that I got was the ability to stay positive. I am grateful to my parents, my wife, and my genes (and anyone else responsible too). It is such a superpower.
I don’t just mean optimism. I mean saying nice things about people. I mean keeping a smile on your face. I mean positivity in all things. I do have my moments of negativity, but they come infrequently and go away quickly.
I saw Magic Johnson say something nice about the Lakers last night and I texted my son that I appreciate how Magic is always so positive. He always has a smile on his face. He is always saying nice things. I am sure he was a vicious competitor on the court, but he did it nicely.
I recall when David Karp was building Tumblr, he refused to have comments. He refused to have downvotes. The only user engagement was a heart and a repost. He told me he wanted to emphasize positivity and de-emphasize negativity. And Tumblr was a very positive place to be during its heyday.
I have a Samsung Frame in my home office. I think I posted a photo of it here at AVC once before. But for those who did not see that post, here it is:
I’ve had it for something like three years and I change the digital art on it from time to time.
Digital Art has been tricky to purchase and own and the business models around it are a bit challenging.
A friend and I dined last night at a restaurant that opened in our neighborhood last summer, in the middle of the pandemic. For the first six months of its existence, they could not welcome diners into the space that they had spent time and money creating. They carried on, figured out how to make money serving customers outside. As the NYC economy starts to recover, they are still standing. And they are now welcoming diners into the lovely space they created for them a year ago.
Resilience is an extremely valuable trait when you are starting and running a business. In a bull market that rewards other things, it is often overlooked. But I don’t overlook it.
A reporter asked me recently about a company that I am on the board of that has become very successful. I told the reporter that for years, the founder carried on while every competitor left the market in search of a viable business. The viable business arrived eventually and the founder was rewarded for his patience.
Sticking with something, even when the chips are down, is hard. Many people (most?) can’t do it. They are impatient. They want the easy money.
I wrote about crypto and climate earlier this month and suggested that the narrative that crypto is bad for the climate is not as straightforward as many make it out to be.
Over last weekend (a beautiful one in the northeast), two of my partners wrote on this topic.
My partner Albert took a similar approach as I did in my post and outlined many reasons that crypto and climate are not at odds with each other. He went further than I did in my post and it is worth reading his, even though they are similar.
My partner Nick went out on a limb and compared Bitcoin to a battery. He used that analogy to be provocative. He took some heat for doing it, but I think it was worth it because you sometimes have to stake out a provocative position to get people’s heads to turn a bit on something.
I could not help but use the word Freemium in the headline to this post. For those that don’t know, the word Freemium was invented here at AVC, back in 2006. I am quite proud of that fact, even though I did not come up with the word myself.
With that business taken care of, let’s move on to the topic of the day.
Our portfolio company Stack Overflow, best know for its massive free knowledge sharing service for programmers, has been building a companion business over the last few years called Stack Overflow For Teams. Teams is the same knowledge-sharing software that programmers know and love but for private sharing inside of companies.
Since launching Teams, it has been free for the first thirty days. But it takes longer than that to build great knowledge sharing inside of companies. So last week, Stack launched a new version of Stack Overflow For Teams that is now free forever for teams of 50 or less.
This project was right at the front of my Kickstarter home page this morning. I clicked play and watched the video (you should too). The project creator, Daniel Wegner, says “there is power in young people, there is power in talent, there is power in art.” I agree with all of that and I backed the project.
I have written many times here that it is important to me that I control the platform that I publish on. I use the open-source WordPress software for my content management system and run that on a hosted server. I use my own domain, AVC.com, to locate my writings on the Internet. That has served me well. No matter how horrible I become, nobody is going to take me down.
But we can go even further down this path of controlling our destiny. We can decentralize the entire thing; the content management system, the storage of the content, the domain name system.
As a start, I am going to mirror this blog on Mirror and you will be able to read it at AVC.mirror.xyz. I have secured AVC.xyz and will eventually move my Mirror blog to that domain.