As I slowly heard toward moving the WordPress instance that hosts AVC to another provider, I was asked how large the audience was.
So I went and looked for the first time in a long while and sent that info to a potential new provider.
And I figured you all might be interested too.
So here are some screenshots from Google Analytics:
This is the total usage over the last twelve months.
This is active users (28 day, 7 day, one day) over the past year.
And here is a bit more about where you all come from and what kind of device you use to read AVC.
Google Finance and Yahoo Finance are two web services I have used daily since the early days of the Internet.
I have used Yahoo Finance since it first launched in January 1997.
But after Google Finance launched in 2006, I started using Google Finance more and eventually, it became my default finance site on the web.
Sometime in the last month or two, I can’t remember exactly when, Google revamped Google Finance.
The UI is cleaner and the service is much simpler.
But a lot of the power user features I had come to rely on in my daily work are either gone or buried so deeply that I can’t find them.
I also find it hard to search for a price quote now, which is kind of the most basic feature one would want in a service like this.
Anyway, I have switched a lot of my usage back to Yahoo Finance as a result.
But I am hoping that Google realizes that they messed some stuff up in the revamp and are working on fixing it.
Because I do prefer Google Finance. At least I did.USV TEAM POSTS:Albert Wenger — April 20, 2018An Alternative to Mandatory APIs: Let Me “Hack Myself”Zach Goldstein — April 20, 2018Hello!
AVC regular William Mougayar posted a slide deck he calls State Of Tokens this week.
I like the deck a lot, particularly slide 34 (it’s a 36 slide deck), where he posits a timeline for the development of the blockchain ecosystem and where we are right now.
Here it is:State of Tokens by William Mougayar – April 2018 from The Business Blockchain USV TEAM POSTS:Albert Wenger — April 20, 2018An Alternative to Mandatory APIs: Let Me “Hack Myself”Zach Goldstein — April 20, 2018Hello!
I backed this project today to bring a film about saving some of the earliest movies made to the big screen.USV TEAM POSTS:Albert Wenger — April 18, 2018Shapeways Expands Services for CreatorsAlbert Wenger — April 18, 2018Uncertainty Wednesday: The Problem with P-Values (Learning)
I wrote those words to a friend of mine yesterday. We are working on a project together.
He wrote me an email listing a whole bunch of investments to be made and where we are on them.
I read it and understood it, but it didn’t really register with me.
So we are going to make a spreadsheet with a few columns, total some stuff up, and look at it together.
The Gotham Gal calls that a “fredsheet” because I do better with numbers in a spreadsheet.
This is an example of presenting information in context.
I feel that how information is presented is often more powerful than the underlying data.
And when you want someone to understand what you are saying, it is best to put that information in the format that person is most comfortable in.
For me, that is often a sheet.USV TEAM POSTS:Albert Wenger — April 18, 2018Uncertainty Wednesday: The Problem with P-Values (Learning)
A lot of the press attention was centered around the fact that Earn’s CEO Balaji Srinivasan is becoming Coinbase’s CTO and the backstory about how Earn came out of a pivot from a failed Bitcoin mining company called 21.
But an overlooked aspect of this transaction is that Coinbase has acquired a business that is the crypto version of Mechanical Turk or, perhaps, Task Rabbit.
Earn.com allows a user to create a profile and earn Bitcoin by doing tasks. The tasks right now are centered around the crypto sector (analyze a white paper, accept an incoming email from a recruiter, etc). But if you squint, you can imagine how this mechanic could be extended to all sorts of other tasks.
Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s founder and CEO, tweeted about this yesterday:
It is not enough for all of us to be buying, selling, and holding crypto assets. Earning them is a very important function in the development of an ecosystem. So I am excited to see Coinbase supporting and investing in a business where users can earn crypto assets and my hope is that this becomes something as meaningful as what Amazon has done with Mechanical Turk over the years.USV TEAM POSTS:Bethany Marz Crystal — April 16, 2018Venture Capitalists, circa 2032Albert Wenger — April 16, 2018
In the fall of 2010, I wrote a series of nine blog posts about Employee Equity as part of MBA Mondays.
You can read all of them at the links below:
Most of what is in those posts remains valid today.
But the final post, How Much, is very much out of date as the talent market has moved in favor of employees a lot in the past eight years.
That has been particularly true of the top executives and some key talent categories.
Most of the movement has been on the equity side of the comp package.
The How Much post is one of the top posts on AVC.
Though I wrote it 7 1/2 years ago, it was the seventh most popular post on AVC (sixth if you don’t count the home page) in the last year with almost 10k page views.
So I have been...
So the answer to the question posed by the name of the website is “not really.”
But that doesn’t mean we won’t be someday.
This chart also shows the issues with highly valued chains like Ripple, Stellar, and NEO.
These chains offer some things, but certainly not decentralized consensus.
It is still very early days in the development of decentralized consensus systems and there is a lot more work to do.
One of the least discussed aspects of investing in startups is the value of the time commitment one makes to a company they invest in.
The money part is pretty simple; you invest capital into a business and get an equity participation in the upside. Both sides of that deal can analyze that transaction and understand it fairly well. Of course neither side knows what the ultimate payoff will be, but one can handicap it.
The time piece of the transaction is way more complicated.
1/ The founder doesn’t know if they will actually get the investor to deliver on the promises made to add value and spend a lot of time on the investment. A founder can reference an investor and get a better sense of this but there is nothing written into an investment agreement that binds either party to make a specific time commitment to an investment.
2/ An investor doesn’t know for how long they may need to contribute to an investment. Will it be three years, five years or fifteen years?
3/ A founder doesn’t know how much of their time they will have to spend managing their investor group. Will the group be invasive and annoying or will it be value adding and helpful, or both?
4/ An investor doesn’t know if they will have to shore up a weak team with a ton of day to day support or if the team will be largely self sufficient and only need occasional advice and counsel.
I could continue with these...
In this talk, from the Blockstack Berlin conference last month, Protocol Labs founder/CEO Juan Benet talks about Filecoin, why they are building it, and how it will work.USV TEAM POSTS:Albert Wenger — April 13, 2018Whither Facebook Regulation?Nick Grossman — April 12, 2018Focus
Jacqueline got me about five seconds into the video with this line “a lifestyle brand for nerds that is wrapped in super girly magical girl settings.”
Anything that breaks down the societal norms that girls can’t be nerds is right in my wheelhouse and I backed this project with excitement.USV TEAM POSTS:Albert Wenger — April 13, 2018Whither Facebook Regulation?Nick Grossman — April 12, 2018Focus
For much of yesterday if you came to AVC, you were greeted with this message:
Long time AVC readers have seen this before and it is a sign that something is awry on the shared server that I run WordPress on at Bluehost.
A number of regular readers reached out offering to help me move to a static platform and I will likely take them up on that.
Until then I can only apologize for the availability issues yesterday.USV TEAM POSTS:Nick Grossman — April 12, 2018FocusAlbert Wenger — April 11, 2018Uncertainty Wednesday: The Problem with P-Values (Generating Hypotheses)
A friend asked me at breakfast this week “what gets you excited in crypto these days?”
I answered “Dapps.”
If the second half of 2016 and all of 2017 was about raising capital to fund development efforts (and speculating on all of that), then it sure feels like 2018 is the year we start getting decentralized applications (Dapps) we can use.
Our portfolio company Blockstack offers a decentralized platform that developers can build Dapps on.
I have Blockstack’s web client running in Safari on my home desktop and here is a screenshot of some of the Dapps I can run in that environment:
A cool thing about Blockstack is that identity is built into the platform so I am already a user and have a profile in every one of these Dapps because I have a Blockstack identity/profile.
Another ecosystem that is really taking off right now are Ethereum based Dapps.
When you launch Toshi, you can put some ETH into it. Toshi has a user-controlled ETH wallet inside of the browser.
When I open the Toshi browser on my phone, I see a bunch of Dapps I can use:
I like the Twitter-like app called Peepeth, which looks...
I woke up this morning thinking about disappointment.
My daughter and I went to the final Knicks home game of the season last night, a loss to the Cavs. One of 53 we have endured this season.
The season had started off with expectations of better times. Melo was gone. KP was emerging as one of the best young players in the NBA.
And yet we end the season with less wins and more losses than last year. And it wasn’t because of letting Melo go.
But this post is not about the Knicks.
It is about disappointment.
Life is full of disappointment.
Many things don’t work out the way we hope or plan.
Investments don’t pan out.
People we are excited about don’t live up to our expectations.
A film we are excited to see turns out to be awful.
There are big and material disappointments that can set us back for years or longer.
And there are little ones, like the terrible Knicks, that we should be able to shake off in a good night of sleep.
I think this Knicks thing will take me a few nights to be honest.
It is often tempting to become cynical and lower our expectations to protect us from the pain of disappointment.
But I don’t think we should do that.
I think it is human to hope and expect.
And it is human to feel the pains of disappointment.
We just need to shake them off, get out of bed with a jump in our step, and move forward.
And find something new to get excited about.
I was going through my email this morning and opening pitch decks, skimming them, and responding to indicate if they are a fit with our thesis and of interest to me and my colleagues at USV.
Everyone who works in VC or does angel investing does this daily. I probably open and skim 10-20 pitch decks a day and sometimes a lot more.
So on the way to yoga, after making a dent in my inbox, I was thinking if there was an alternative to pitch decks that would be as efficient at communicating the idea (pitch decks really are great at this) that would serve the entrepreneur as well.
I came up with three ideas in my seven minute walk to the gym:
1/ Record a short video (less than three minutes) in which you communicate who you are (or who the team is), what the idea is, and why you are doing it. Post it to Vimeo behind a password and share it via email. We use a technique like this in our analyst interview process and you can convey a lot of information this way but, importantly, you can also communicate who you are and why you are doing it.
2/ Have a friend or colleague interview you in podcast format. Keep it to three to five minutes max. Then post it to a streaming platform like SoundCloud behind a password and share it via email. I like the interview format a lot. It allows you to script the Q&A but...
We have many voice assistants in our lives.
I have Google Assistant on my phone. It is great.
The Gotham Gal has Siri on her phone. It is OK.
We have Amazon Alexa and Google Home in our apartment.
We have Siri on our AppleTV/Siri Remote.
We can talk to our car.
But the honest truth is we rarely use any of them.
The one we use most is the Siri Remote when using AppleTV because it is by far the best way to control that device.
It is not an issue of the quality of the voice recognition on these services. It is great.
It is a question of the relatively weak utility of the experience relative to alternatives combined with not building the muscle memory to use voice assistants more.
I was walking home from the gym this morning and was wondering if we are typical.
So I just ran this Twitter poll:
Do you regularly use a voice assistant in your life?:
— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) April 8, 2018
Twitter polls only allow for four options so this is far from scientific and also suffers from the bias inherent in my Twitter followership.
But almost 500 replies in, over 60% replied no.
About 20% say they use a voice assistant regularly in their home.
And about 10% say they use a voice assistant on their phone.
I’m happy to learn that we are not in the luddite category when it comes to voice assistants.
More like the mainstream.
But certainly not in the early adopter cohort which is...
A group of high school students in NYC are doing a gun safety rally in Washington Square Park on April 20th and are funding the rally on our portfolio company, GoFundMe.
The campaign is called NYC Says Enough and you can back it here.
I don’t know these students, but one of them reached out to me via email and I asked him a bunch of questions which he answered to my satisfaction.
So I backed the project this morning and am now sharing it with all of you.
I am closing comments today because I don’t want this post to turn into an acrimonious gun safety debate.USV TEAM POSTS:Bethany Marz Crystal — April 5, 2018Comp Sci High Admissions DayNick Grossman — April 4, 2018Finding your discomfort zone
I was talking to a young woman this week who we are interviewing for our two-year analyst program. I asked her why she was interested in working at USV.
She told me she liked that we posted our investment memos on our blog so that everyone knows why we made the investment, how it fits with our thesis, and why we are excited about it.
That is something we have been doing since the early days and is core to how we approach investing at USV.
We don’t write investment memos for the files at USV, something I used to do at earlier VC firms I worked at. We just write them to the world. It puts our thinking out there and it stays there in perpetuity.
So yesterday Rebecca did that for our newest investment, ShopShops.
I like to think of ShopShops as what QVC would be in a global decentralized world where everything is live streamed on our phones.
This graphic from their website explains how it works:
Basically, hosts go into stores and livestream shopping experiences to viewers all over the world...
I use Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones when I’m on my desktop and laptop but I prefer the Apple AirPods when I am on my phone. They are small, light, and fit well in my ear.
But I’ve had this nagging issue with the volume on my AirPods when I stream music on my phone (SoundCloud, AppleMusic, YouTube, etc).
The volume from all of those apps is super low when you use AirPods on Android.
I wasn’t walking much in LA, mostly driving with my phone bluetooth’d to my car, and this issue didn’t affect me much.
But since I’ve been back in NYC and walking a lot again, it came back with a vengeance.
So I finally figured out how to fix it, by simply googling and finding this Reddit post.
Here is how you fix it:
1/ Go to the settings app on your Android phone, scroll down to System, scroll down to the bottom and click on “Build Number” seven times. That makes you a developer on Android, always a good thing in my book.
2/ Now when you click on the Settings app, and select System, you will see “Developer Options”
3/ Scroll down to the Networking settings in the Developer Options and turn on “Disable Absolute Volume”
Now you can listen to music and video on your Android with your AirPods at whatever volume you want.
I love the Internet and geek stuff like this.USV TEAM POSTS:Albert Wenger — April 4, 2018Uncertainty Wednesday: The Problem with P-Values (Incentives)Bethany Marz...