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What’s Teaching Done? (Notes from Feb 24 to March 1, 2020) October 16, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Acquisitions, Digital, finance, FinTech, global, gym, marketing, sports, Strategy, Uncategorized.
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It’s 2020. I plan to revisit a number of journeys and roles that have ultimately made the person that I am today and landed me in my current place. Being comfortable with where that is, but not satisfied, has enabled an uncommon, jagged path. In realizing that everyone has different paths, it’s definitely fun to be able to share and learn from others – how they’ve arrived in their current states, what they think they learned, how they’ve best come into their place and where they may want to be shortly. That reflection is something that I believe should be a rote process for people age into their late 20s and early 30s.

I really enjoy keeping myself sharp and helpful in teaching/tutoring. I’ve set aside somewhere between 5-50 hours for every week since I was finishing high school for this. It was informal at first in high school – neighborhood kids or younger siblings of family friends. Similar with college – classmates who wanted some help. Right out of school, I took a role with a tutoring company in addition to a recruiter role where I didn’t quite appreciate it as much. Different focus when I was first entering the workplace. There was a challenge of learning a bit inside of tech (IT recruiting), talking with founders and hiring managers there, across many industries. Sourcing candidates, gathering requirements and putting everything in line seemed like a role that had more pieces than the teaching side. However, I left that after almost 2 years to go full-time with the teaching company. I was going to become a head trainer of the full west region and manage/oversee the tutors in each of the 9 locations as well as expanding 5 more.

Over the course of nearly 2 years where I got to oversee much of the training and processes for the NorCal’s tutors, as well as auditing results for students, talking with parents/students/center directors at each location for action plans, it was all very process-oriented. There were people in these students where you had to match how they may learn best, or how they operated. You can have a teacher who knows their stuff but if there isn’t an adaptation, it doesn’t help always. Everyone can teach but it’s learning to adapt that really finetunes the learning process – both for the teacher and student. I’ve heard this repeatedly in talking with those still learning now – teachers that blatantly declared “online/virtual isn’t the way to teach” or that they would only do video recordings or to “just read the textbook” and they’ve given up. That’s not the norm, but it’s a bit too common. Hopefully pointing out that not everyone enjoys their job and work day in and day out – it’s something they can do. And, more importantly, it’s not something you want to eat/sleep/breathe outside of work.

I left the full-time role due to that last point. And that’s why I made it more about teaching those that I wanted to teach or saw those that were willing/able to adapt. It’s fun when I know that my students know I’m helping because I want to. And that’s allowed me to teach some fantastic people. There are connections I have from all of this that have attended some of the best institutions, gone on to do some very interesting work, traveled all over, have positions at some of the best firms. Others still have started business, data and finance clubs after some of our discussions. Siblings of others who recognize the work and time that was put on from both sides. It’s rewarding.

It’s also sometimes difficult. There are failures. And my close interaction with them puts me in the wake – deservedly so. I set extremely high expectations for most of the students and they get scared to tell me – most do still, but I’m more worried that that pressure is externalized from what they’re putting on themselves. A few that I enjoy seeing or emailing back and forth every year or semester or so – check in to see that they’re on a track that they’re comfortable with – not that we ever know what that means in the future, but one that they’re good with. Their development will always intrigue me. Then, I continue when I adapt.

All of this to say that I’m curious. Some days, talking with those that are younger teaches me about new things. Other days, it’s talking to older mentors or someone out at a coffee shop who can drop some knowledge. If you can inspire someone, they may light a fire for you. Being there by just being there is adequate – a peculiar repeated check-in does more than we believe, so reach out.

  • Who gets paid, and who doesn’t? (Build Your SaaS – bootstrap in 2020, 1/28/20)
    • Talking about not using percentages in year/life but we do in Kindle / ebooks
      • The Timeless Way of Building, Christopher Alexander
      • Working for yourself or remotely – some sense of not being grounded, lonely possibly
    • Environment contributing to an interaction – people aren’t present as often, anymore
    • Wanting to rebuild the dashboard for Transistor.fm – going from SemanticUI (all-in-one library, CSS and JS)
      • New Rails app and getting integrated with Tailwind UI
    • Not truly valuing the CMS because of WordPress/Webflow, etc
      • In podcasting, tools like Audacity and Grabband are free
  • Dave Sims, co-CEO of Floify, Flux (The Indie Hackers Podcast 11/18/19)
    • Start with naivete – starting first business in 2000, 2 initial failed and the third took hold
      • Started another 13 years later, had recruited and retained important people
    • 90% Floify and 10% Flux
    • Successful CEOs of mortgage companies with hundreds of employees, who partner with motivated entrepreneurs to help
      • Partner legally – each own shares and do it together – pumping out profits
    • Used short-term financing to get into house when moving to Boulder with his wife – did long-term refinance after 90 days
      • Talked to local credit union – worker emailed requests for the long-list of papers
        • Didn’t want to email tax returns – for security, he encrypted and sent them
      • Wanted to make the loan officer assistant’s life easier, so he figured he could solve it with 5 people
    • 400k loan officers in the US, big enough market
      • Had another idea – meeting with JPMC where you can create bank accounts with APIs
        • Excited but not sufficient enough people that were interested, and it was too slow
    • Finding a business idea – medium level of effort and insight
      • Work on what you know, but industries are so deep where you never knew much of it or tech need or business
      • He knew nothing about the mortgage industry other than as a consumer
      • Some small software companies that weren’t that big, not with much traction doing similar stuff
        • Borrower/loan officer assistant in operations don’t get the same love as officers/compliance
    • He wanted to make Floify as 1 screen that a borrower could go to where he could interact with the mortgage loan officer/co, bank/cu
      • Make it easier to do encrypted docs, w2, pay stubs and DL, such (at the start)
      • First customer – down in Austin, TX and he’d visit the office a few days a week to see how it worked
        • Built capabilities for messaging realtors
      • He thought the loan officer would be his customer – but occasionally the loan officers would be part of company to wrap up
    • What’s happening in email? Spreadsheets? – he has customers in other real estate, solar, commercial
      • Could use it as attorneys or accountants, also – but stayed niche
    • To get someone to pay – GitHub check-in from June ’13
      • He wrote a press release in August of 2013 – was doing thirty day trials, screen share and trying
      • He called and took the credit card over the phone in September
      • Backend was Java, NoSQL D/B (no longer there) and helped for speed of development – just had to work, MVP and value
    • Selling $50-100 subscriptions a month, want <2% churn
      • Went after smaller customers first – shorter sales cycles – actually doing loans compared to higher up who said they had software
    • Missing cloud with Salesforce in 1999, 2000 – had kept other people’s files on his computer in 1984 (DropBox)
  • Paul Gift, Joe Lemire (Wharton Moneyball, 2/26/20)
    • Playoff expansion discussion – what are the leagues looking to optimize
      • Find best team, more teams in, more randomness
    • Stylistic conflict for Heinke and the 76ers
    • MMA analytics – round by round currently for FightMetrics (owned by UFC owners)
      • Not many camps have this data, let alone the money to get it
        • Training has quite a bit of analytics but not necessarily fight/cage data
    • Testing fight dynamics for smaller/larger cages
    • Technology is training for Lemire at Sporttechie – clothes that add to energy/effort
      • Wearables and exertion data anecdotes – including Nate Burleson being told to leave field by Browns’ trainer
        • Was feeling good so decided to stay, despite wearable saying otherwise – tore his hamstring, retired
    • Combine differences – getting into more of the details in sports for how much analytics there really is
    • Sports apparel for positional tracking and now more information about wearables
      • Machine only to “techstile” and smart apparel – work with others
  • Rebecca Kaden, Managing Partner at USV (USV webinar for SimulMedia 2/27/20)
    • Incumbent advertising with Google and Facebook – audience has been aggregated extensively
      • Suddenly had increasing parts of the global audience in two places
      • Imperfect markets become perfect as you get closer to saturation of a market
    • Starting to lose market with younger audience as it becomes fragmented
    • Companies could before, over last 10 years, could mine for performance
      • How can cos use the channels to grab the TV mantle – creating brands to enable mental/emotional shortcuts for recognition
      • Facebook or other things try to sell that the brand awareness is in a click-through, but it’s more a longstanding form
    • Build high-quality, easy-to-use and the companies looking to scale will scale with you
      • Slack, Zoom, Expensify, Twilio, Cloudflare, Stripe, etc…
    • Split out CAC to steady and experimental – permission to experiment in different channels
      • Kill them quickly for what works or not – open to try many things
      • What’s a good influencer CAC and value (blended, potentially)
        • Modern Fertility startup – work with many influencers as authentic/emotional, telling stories
          • Influencers were buying off of other influencers – then having them talk about their story
    • Knowing your funnel and not will determine your marketing channels/spends
    • How do you build trust? (D2C question) – any beautiful design won’t build trust day one
      • Very clear on what your brand value is to give to consumer – 1 core promise
      • Nothing more valuable than loud customers willing to evangelize for you
    • Finding channels – hypothesis for success needs to be clear initially
      • Bandwidth – as you spend increasingly, you should see the same or better results
        • Scaling doesn’t work, then
      • Unit economics need to work, LTV as tough to figure out early on
  • What’s Up With All These FinTech Acquisitions, SEC Rules (a16z 16 Minutes News, 2/28/20)
    • Anish Acharya and Scott Kupor on Credit Karma’s acquisition by Intuit and VISA acquiring Plaid
    • Best companies own distributions instead of products
      • Products aren’t sophisticated, but the reach is wild – CK with 100mln members
      • eTrade in wealth management couldn’t have been easy for Morgan Stanley
    • Intuit owns the point of transaction for filing taxes but not durable with customer
      • No ongoing conversation or re-engagement of services/products – bought frequency of engagement
    • Morgan Stanley/Etrade to get access of portfolio of consumers – buying/selling stocks
      • Wealthy today on way to retirement, also Amshare Works (co’s with vested/unvested equity)
      • Pre-wealth management and exposure to next gen wealthy folks
    • Markets mature with tech innovation (engineers has leverage), product innovation (tech commoditized) and marketing then BD innovations
      • In the most mature phase now – need to reach new generation of consumers, fintech startups are at the right scale
      • No single one app to rule them all – bespoke – company can have old-world money folder (vs button)
    • Best companies own distribution and product, having one great won’t be sufficient without other
      • Competitive edge changes over time – macro and micro
      • Company builders should build best product in front of customers and make sure it’s durable
    • SEC and cryptocurrency matters – main issue is to clear the underwriter concept and when they’re deemed as such
      • Telegram sold as an investment contract to investors – “grams” as in the future and you’ll have a portion of that
      • If you buy the investment contract for “grams”, you are effectively an underwriter – cannot sell currently
        • Rule 144 (buying private securities holding them for a period of time, you can sell them currently)
      • This type of transaction occurs daily in venture – buy privately, follow rules, you have availability to sell later
      • Very important policy issue is to have a reasoned discussion with the SEC – downstream discussions

What next? (Notes from Feb. 17 – Feb 23, 2020) September 25, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Acquisitions, Automation, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, Gaming, global, Hiring, marketing, questions, Real estate, social, storytelling, Uncategorized.
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So, we are into September of the pandemic year. Fires, hurricanes off the Gulf Coast, bubbliness of tech, political turmoil, and chaos in general driving the narratives. I know that it’s been a while since we last talked. Whirlwind of finding a new place (without seeing it in person), hiring movers, figuring out the best way to move, when to pack up from my place, when to pack up everything in the girlfriend’s, moving physically, purchasing new furniture, building and organizing has swallowed almost all of the time and sapped creative energy. Pile on to that that there were fires in southern California that had reached our new paradise, enveloping the sun. Suffice to say, we finally enjoyed a weekend (still very active, though) and now room to breathe this week brought me back to WordPress.

You know how many boxes there are in moving? I can completely relate to streamers or Dave Portnoy’s adventure. It’s rough. Covid seemed to jack up prices, as well, which seemed annoying. People that had moved double the size and similar distances were 30-50% less simply due to covid risks, I suppose? The misunderstanding of how contagious or how volatile the infection is clearly resulted in a few industries that got to take advantage in the name of “safety” (moving holds the same risk as it normally would unless you weren’t being cautious/careful in who you hired and brought onto jobs employee-wise). But hey, in options, you pay for the tail risks or you implode.

I still think drones or a body camera that projects out house / apartment layouts would be fantastic for realtors, buyers, sellers, websites related to the space. However, I’m more convinced now that moving companies could do a quick consultation of job requirements with them, designers could customize spaces with accurate measurements of space (blueprints / measurements of rooms don’t do justice to the nooks and crannies, as well as the ‘efficient’ space there may be with windows, shelves, etc). I know that various websites have independently done ‘customize your room’ with their products but if there’s an easy way to copy/paste urls or route APIs with image requests to an easily-replicable copy of your room (a la body-camera / drone), you may have an easier time selling across many products/offerings/sites.

Again, the drone technology continues to improve, so it’s possible we’ll have this or something from the phone to test out as image and object recognition improve. Could likely hack together something that did this. Attach a camera to one of those Costco drones that are $15 that are supposed to stay above ground upon simply detection of walls.

Anyhow, take a look at these awesome founders and investors that I listened to on various podcasts. The mix of serial entrepreneurs, big tech aspirations and side hustles was very fun to listen to.

  • Ashton Kutcher, Founder & GP at Sound Ventures (20min VC 2/17/20)
    • Portfolio including Lambda, Calm, Gitlab, Affirm, Bird and others
      • Ashton’s wins include Spotify, Alibaba, Skype, Airbnb, Optimizely and Time’s 100 Most Influential
    • Started at Univ of Iowa studying biochem engineering – power of a computer and learning to program
      • Piqued his curiosity but he wanted to be an actor – started a production company at 25 (reality TV including Punkd, Beauty & Geek)
      • AOL Chatrooms early on – marketing Dude, Sweet in various rooms – continuation in marketing movie
      • Buffering speeds increasing – content would be digital
    • He wanted to find companies that could quantify distribution of content and accelerate distribution of content
      • Met Sarah Ross over at T/C, working for Mike Arrington – hired her to run his digital divison
        • Introduce me to everyone that matters in the Valley (T/C 50), Jason Calacanis, Mike Cuban, Kevin Rose, etc…
        • Asking all the questions – made his first investment into Optimizely (A/B testing platform)
    • Arianna Huffington as how does he introduce himself – as a father, first, apparently
      • Future of internet are perpetually young, tech capability – learning and an ambition for new/useful/different
      • Cutting edge of technology became his 3 teenage step-daughters so he mined them for ideas (as he was 35+)
    • Major VCs and partners have a technical background, as entrepreneurs formerly or study to allow understanding of tech
      • Toward companies with technical innovation and build company off of it – but isn’t their first lens
        • Cultural narrative that may be important and valuable that you can build a product from
        • Example – #metoo as here to stay or enduring – shift towards filling the void as rightful demand
          • Looking at fertility space as trend for expansion
      • Send a snapshot of the home screens for people’s phone on Twitter/Instagram and source ones he’s unaware of
    • Most brilliant people going to companies – which – did a survey with the founders
      • Distance traveled by an individual – $1k to $1mil, a dime to $100k (as incredible)
      • Growing up, he would probably say that his twin brother going through a heart transplant at age 12
      • Going through a divorce of his parents that was tough
      • Companies failed that didn’t feel good – not particularly rough since there are multiple
    • Strong intuition in products not familiar – hard to get familiar
      • Eating the dog food – before investing in Airbnb, he lived in them for 6 months
      • Apple-ification of app ecosystem for UI/UX, enterprises getting smart also
        • Consumers would use their enterprise software and to use the nomenclature would be better for their CTR
        • Understanding what people want and simplify that – 3 things on a screen, where would you put the most important
    • Spending time with founders mostly
      • Ability to increase distribution funnel (his 5-10+ million Twitter followers), Spotify gave him an affiliate site with a discount code
      • Largest music management side for partner, collective on branding and helping
      • Versed on being in PR – public mistakes, apologize or utilize to get out of jams, crisis/preventative PR
      • Product-sensibility, where you want to be – business, also – what does a company need to measure
        • Which metrics matter, industry standards on metrics, how to improve them
      • Portfolio manager from growth team on Stripe that works with them – narrative/storytelling
    • Scaling angel to much larger institutional checks – Ron Conway was one of his earlier mentors, as well as Dan Rosensweig
      • Cap table becomes your early board – value add outside of employees, low burn, grow team, disciplines
    • The Undoing Project, Scale by Jeffrey West, Trillion Dollar Coach about Bill Campbell
    • Misnomer about him – he’s cold (social animal, but super awkward)
    • True happiness is being able to take your time
    • Biggest challenge – Building a high quality team is hard with Sound Ventures
    • Celebrity investing rise – lot of people are going to lose money, Wish he’d known: kindness doesn’t always come back around
    • Recent investment with Sound Ventures that he’s excited by – Community (partner helped incubate) – luxury text messaging
  • Jude Gomila, Founder & CEO at Golden (20min VC 2/10/20)
    • Self-constructing knowledge database built by AI and human-intelligence
      • Raised from Founders Fund, a16z, SV Angel and others
    • Also a successful angel in 150 companies including Carta, Airtable, Superhuman, Gusto, Linear and others
    • Jude started Heyzap alongside the founder of Mercury, Immad
    • Passions around tech, learning, universe working – physics in tech form (hardcore engineering) or abstract theorems (randomness/computability)
      • Never wanted to work for someone – wanted to build things, but wasn’t aware of tech scene in London
      • In uni, at 18, he wanted to start a company – formed a consultancy with a few friends
        • Large Chinese manufacturer of egg packaging into Europe – wrote a plan to how they could do this
        • They wanted them to run the business – he called every farm in the UK but they didn’t want to change
      • Wanted to find something they could do themselves for a product that people would want with margin
        • Digital photo frames – own brand into higher side of market – surprising
    • April, had burnt through YC money and wanted to raise a round for Heyzap – 6 per day back to back
      • Not impressive investors, go back on their word, converged on better investors instead
        • USV pitched and they got the deal – Naval and USV for board – cool conversations on angel investing
        • Mechanics on legal terms, contracts – part of something larger
      • Put all of his money into angel investing in the next 7 years, advising as well
    • Reality is out there, fairly objective – all follows similar rules, working together
      • Ethics – both sides should have ethical framework/grounds – how to act during exit or bad situation
      • One side making money, one on future – is it to top Roth IRA or something else?
      • VC wants you to win the gold medal – that’s what is important because of model
        • A personal best for you is better risk:reward, $20mln or 50 or 100 that’s fantastic, but not for VC
    • Praying / spraying – he doesn’t like the praying part – more rational
      • Numbers do matter, so spraying doesn’t fit this
      • If there are nonlinear returns, you have to do 10-20+ investments (since network effects are nonlinear)
        • Nonlinear market caps of monopoly or something like this are higher but capped at $1tn, likely
      • Need to see different learning processes for various investments – has a lot of bullets and time
      • Red/black flags for situations that you’ll always say no – yellow flags that you may be able to fix
        • Markets and dynamics shift, but not human behavior – processes that identify these are very good
    • Ability to get in to deals – how did he convince founders to take the money ahead of market?
      • What companies need to exist? Knew that Paychex and ADP were terrible software, similar share, org charts broken
        • Put it into a blog post of ideas that he wanted to see. Simple UI and great CX around payroll.
        • Talked about culture of Gusto that wanted to exist and be unique. An hour of no business stuff, just the culture.
      • Difficult to say whether you have confirmation or not – didn’t do well for a certain reason, can go again on the hypothesis (2-4 times)
  • David Sellinger, Founder of Deep Sentinel (OkDork w/ Noah Kagan, 2/14/20)
    • Early Amazon work on ad-buying tech & first AI systems, directly with Bezos
      • Started RedFin, real estate, as a side hustle (8pm – 4am)
        • UX as the centerpiece, especially for investment deck:
          • They wanted to build quick, interactive maps, simple straightforward
          • He stumbled into Amazon after doing another ecommerce problem
            • Google AdWords in 2001 – $0.50 per click for niche products with 50% conversion and 100-300% margin
            • VP of Consumer wanted to go thru economics – $0.50 per click, $1 per conversion & repeated
      • Bezos funded Deep Sentinel
        • Provides 24/7 guards that monitor your home and best in market at a reasonable price
        • He’s not in a place to solve climate change or global politics, but can build this safety of people in their homes
    • Looks like Howie Mandel & he can pull it off fairly easily (but taller)
    • Line between crazy and brilliant is quite blurred – Shawn Parker for Kagan
      • Bigger visions? He has AppSumo where it’s like Amazon for software
      • Big problems that are chosen – in-depth interviews (Shawn’s with Fortune) realizing the craziness, intellect, drive to problem selection
      • Safety net for trying things worth trying because you get to rich, or super rich
    • Day he launched RedFin (after year of working on it), was on the front page of Seattle Times in 2004, Imran Real Estate
      • 400k visitors on first day – ISP called saying they don’t support porn sites (didn’t believe traffic numbers)
      • Left Amazon 2 weeks after launching
    • Believes that Amazon is a culture of Bezos – future holds more change than today, destroy the business today and go forward
      • Senior executives to try out and do this – categories that don’t work, Fire Phone, Amazon Music or Photos
        • David says he pays for Google Photos $150/yr – embodying the mantra
        • One day in 2003-04, advertised Madonna book “Sex” and lost $100k Google Advertising Project but they weren’t looking for it
      • Initially, Amazon didn’t run ads at first, for a while
        • If you’re looking at Samsung TV, you’ll find a cheaper or different TV for conversion
          • Had CATE algorithm (ML, Bayesian optimization) – stumbled on ad on website Code Red at Amazon credit card
            • No matter what they showed before that, the most profitable thing to show the user was this ad
          • Proved the ad was the way to do it – data backed it up (after saying it was terrible and they’d never do it as retailer)
      • Balance is always a judgment call – willingness to re-litigate with any suggestion by new data
        • Process of optimization vs innovation, Thomas S Koo by Structure of Scientific Revolutions book
          • s-curve with normal science (optimization – some paradigm to optimize with evidence), build up that the model doesn’t work
            • Early – matter was earth, water, fire and air before coming to atomic model
          • What are the things that don’t fit into the model – the exceptions to figure out a rationalization
    • Jeff giving advice to him while starting at Deep Sentinel, launching
      • Design of the product, speed at which they move, and willing to experiment with the way they interact with customers
      • Design award for being most aggressive camera – top part is LED light ring, battery-powered and was initially designed to not turn on
        • Changed it so that the AI turns on the ring and spins – accidental launch after his team came to him saying it
        • Camera will turn on red LED light on and say “we’re watching”
    • Top of funnel for Deep Sentinel – cheeky top of funnel, but tech is done very well
      • If you shoot someone, you’re the suspect, even if righteously
      • Israeli security system, and he does contracts for background checks – (In California, has to do that) – uses HireSafe once he does that
      • Mentioning that an Uber driver would be a security agent for a billionaire in the bay area – Noah asked him and it was $70k to sleep outside
    • All the pieces but what would keep you from being larger?
      • Markets can be very engrained and it’s a trick to get a customer to buy a different way
        • Enterprise – wiggle your way into customer market and then switch it
      • Nobody searching “cameras with someone that actually protects house” – should be this way, but not since people are used to others
        • Redfin as them figuring out hook – address searches, neighborhoods and data for it – found the customers
        • Have to take people buying burglar alarms and getting the market that they don’t work (99% false alarms)
          • 15% of LA County budget is spent on false alarms – once people pass yard sign, it’s ineffective
    • After his neighbor got burglarized, he went through and called all the security companies
      • ADT, Bay Alarm, Brinks, SimpliSafe, camera people, all standard questions – how does it prevent crime? How does it work? What do you do?
      • Salesman for ADT at his home, what’s the new tech that PREVENTS crime? “The sensor was wireless.”
      • Value was the slice of time in the interactions – AI changes the business process to make the human part efficient
        • Average home needs 24/7 availability for ~700 seconds of security a day – when people are entering or exiting the property
    • Intense decision for lifetime of relationships – pitched investors, got feedback
      • Bunch of his money in to build his prototype to do first tests, F&F of $1mil for in-market prototypes
        • Put together market research, addressable market, problem and pricing
      • Shasta with Series A went from $7mil to $23mil round, did it over tranches because hardware expense
      • Using other people’s cameras, 3 months, to get to own cameras and prototype about 18 months, then 6 months for market
    • Noah did his own checklist for “Operation Dragon Flame” to keep his house safe – reddit as one of the best in home security
      • CPTED – Crime Protection Through Environmental Design – active crime and other stuff
        • Front door with ivy, for instance, or a fountain with stones in it – rule #1 – answer the door
      • Ring as picking up because insurance policy and Amazon as the biggest thing for packages getting stolen
    • Peleton as interesting because of being expensive enough to only get people with the money, so they don’t even notice the subscription
      • Choosing to not give away the camera because of attracting the wrong customers
    • For Deep Sentinel in the future – looking at small business offerings and working on making AI faster, as well as faster hardware
      • New one coming out in 6 months, new stuff broadening platform
  • Emmett Shear, Twitch co-founder and CEO (20min VC 2/21/20)
    • Starting Kiko calendar, just wanting an online, collaborative calendar
      • Getting funding and going to YC with a $15k fund for the summer – felt like they were doing something
      • Eventually raised $60k, used to build it out until Google launched their calendar
        • Went to sell on ebay – had a bid for $50k – took listing down because of 2 links they had
        • Ended up getting traction and selling for approx $250k – seemed like it was worth it compared to other classmates
    • Took the money and made Justin.tv with his cofounder – other cofounder had a visa issue and had to work elsewhere
      • Turned it into Twitch, saw how they had to change around 400 to managing people, letting go of product control
  • Gabriel Weinberg, founder & CEO of DuckDuckGo (20min VC 2/14/20)
    • Physics major who didn’t want to do academia and startups seemed the thing to do in 99-00
      • Idealistic right out of college – started an educational software co that went nowhere – liked the industry, though
      • Tried to raise money but failed – started next company in the bust and didn’t think about raising
        • Sold but didn’t have investors or employees – just him and a partner
      • Didn’t take venture until series A
    • Bootstrapped DuckDuckGo until series A in 2011, 4 years in
      • Relatively risk averse, world heading toward data collection and saw privacy
      • Wrote every line of code, marketing and such
    • Some founders have lots of net worth tied up into company (uses himself as 12 years in to DDG) – take some money off the table
    • Data monopolies that underlie the data duopoly due to the network effects
      • He did a “do not track” litigation and he tried to put teeth to automatic parts for browsers
      • Scale of market and advertising auctions in place are much stronger than the previous generations of tech strength
    • One channel often drives the bulk of a winning strategy – experimentation in different channels
      • Diversification play for doubling down – ends up as creative solution
      • Andrew Chen’s “Law of Shitty Click Throughs” – over time, channels saturate and CTR go down
        • CTR used to be 30%, now 1-2% – with a new channel, can be through the roof
          • He was one of the original Reddit advertisers
      • Constant measurement to see if it’s reaching a diminishing return – trying to find next channel
      • Avoid spreading yourself too thin
    • Market is pretty big & DuckDuckGo has crossed 30% for market awareness – standard of trust online, be the consumer priv. brand
    • Traction trumps everything – metrics depend on business you’re in
      • Generally, if you have highly engaged users, you’ll attract anyone – no numbers/tractions is all narrative/storytelling
      • Numbers there – storytelling can be terrible and you’ll still be able to get funding
      • Marketing will only get you so far – PMF underneath – constantly find counter-metric of retention/inbound funnel
        • Look at both – for Gabe, his metric was # of searches (was public as DDG.com/traffic) and now they have apps/extensions for privacy
        • Tracker blocking, private search, browser extension and now look at MAU’s (and can’t track their users as policy)
    • Key is to keep business processes going – everyone on same page, develop them as 15 employees because of a distributed company
      • Scaled nicely once they figured it out but was chaotic at first – Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
      • Building a remote team – all organized and tactical – everything in one place so people can see
        • For them, it’s Asana (big view called “Our Current Objectives” – all projects and anyone can follow along, owner/responsibility)
    • Feedback mechanisms and culture of accountability – has to be built into the values of the company
      • Experimental mindset – fails are good if the hypothesis and data is there at the end, running a good post-mortem for experiments
    • Post-mortems for every single project – no stigma for them in the first place
      • Good projects have no blame – what could have been done better? What could change and nobody to blame?
      • Action items, templated and what went right/wrong/different
    • Wrote a book called Superthinking on Mental Models – what he learned is that you can skip to the strategic thinking
    • His first check into DDG was his own, but angel was Scott Banister that was a user who followed and emailed him to reach out
    • Tons of people that are great in Philly, but distributed surpasses this because being open to this creates a talent pool

Razor’s Edge (Notes from Feb. 10 – Feb 16, 2020) August 5, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Acquisitions, Automation, Blockchain, Data Science, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, Gaming, global, Healthcare, Leadership, marketing, MLB, NFL, Uncategorized.
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Razor’s Edge – Jack Welch autobiography for how many times he’s been knocked to his senses.

“Eventually I learned that I was really looking for people who were filled with passion and a desire to get things done. A resume didn’t tell me much about that inner hunger.” After learning to select for mindsets and not pedigrees.

Growth, not self-importance. Chapter in book “Too Full of Myself”. He promised to develop.

Questions for podcast: Honest feedback – ask execs what they liked/disliked and how they thought it would change.

Kidder, Peabody (WS ib firm with Enron-type culture in acquisition by Welch) – didn’t work out – cost GE hundreds of millions of dollars – self-confidence vs hubris.

Lou Gerstner after taking IBM role – asking frontline employees what could be changed. Sometimes taking a role and coming in to ask those that have been around for a long while what may work, what doesn’t work, and doing it with humility to figure out internal ideas around efficiencies is the best option. Probably more often than not, even.

  • Vlad Magdalin, Founder of Webflow (The Indie Hackers Podcast #144, 1/24/20)
    • Visual s/d platform, without writing code – web design and website builder initially
      • 155 people as of the morning of Jan 24, started 7 years ago
      • 70% remote, 20 countries, 30 states
    • 70k customers and 1.5 years ago, $10mln in revenue (with guide to double – lagging indicator, though)
      • Empower more people to build software (est. of 5% there)
    • Original idea – (search as solved problem in 90s before Google did it slightly better)
      • He was a web dev, taking photoshop files and turning them into CMS repeatedly, thought there would be a better way
      • Video he saw (Inventing on Principle talk on creating games/animation) – could marry the tools for front-end and back-end after seeing it
      • He wanted to make his and his brother’s life easier, initially (agency work working with businesses, dentists/doctors in Sac that he could help)
      • Late 2011-12 started becoming more prominent with tools like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Wibli
    • Someone encouraged him to apply to YC for a bigger opportunity – he had started Webflow in 2005 and others to get discouraged
      • Created a small prototype with a 3 month runway (savings and credit cards), Kickstarter video for ~$300k for a year or two, build product
      • Kickstarter wanted to take them down because they don’t do SaaS stuff ($20k into video already), running out of money, Sac/SD returns
      • Put together 5 week plan for shipping – read-only on HackerNews (design tool that went crazy on dev site – side-by-side for CSS changes)
        • Within a week, 25k people were on the waiting list (also had a lot of detractors), had a year to try to convert them as they built it
    • When product launched, it was so limited that only converted 100 people, needed the investment to finance further product
      • Got enough blind optimism from that list, though, to push through
    • At seed, investors not really taking board seats, but if you don’t get to profitability, control/equity seeps out in desperation in the new round
      • People believed in web tools from believing in you as a person
      • Ron from Rainfall Ventures would do breakfasts & walks in SF with Vlad – he’d tell to take 6 months off to get inspired (long-term, Patagonia)
      • Knew they wanted to climb mountains and find a sherpa for doing it faster, safer – investor true partnership (could wait since earning)
        • Found that in Accel – LPs were pension funds so they were seeking global maxima
    • Making money to break-even as “default alive” vs “default dead”
      • Not optimizing for revenue, much more long-term project for a goal to help that many people
        • Probably from his childhood in Russia, being poor, religious craziness, refugees entering America
      • Leadership model isn’t “I know everything, do it” – bringing other ideas to products/teams/processes
        • Baked it into the mission of the company – empower people to build software without code
      • Create the company where each individual can live an impactful and fulfilling life – whatever it means to them
        • Glue/foundation to doing the right thing
      • Believes that team comes 1st – wasn’t thinking about team, structure, values & core behaviors of the company as a system
        • Considered architecture, features, code base and tests – much harder to build the organism of people than this
    • Still maintaining activity with prod management and vision of the company plus features
      • Creators and developers, leadership becomes its own challenge and reward, where YOU are the code base that can be improved
    • No-code conf: knew I wanted to build, create and software and now we can see there are others like me
      • How do you market Excel, for instance? How do they look at Webflow? Find a vertical.
        • Clients expect a certain level of custom work that need to move fast for a project – Webflow persona
      • Those using Webflow get a feel for what they may be able to do next once they’re a user
  • David Sinclair, PhD (Rich Roll Podcast 2/10/20, via Kevin)
    • Professor in Genetics at Harvard Med School
    • Lifespan book, NYT bestseller now – aging is a disease that is treatable
    • Laird Hamilton morning pool workout (had done it the morning of podcast)
      • Start out at 250 degree sauna (wtf?), shower, and jump into the pool – swim until out of breath
      • Get weights and jump up and down, drinking water if you don’t get it (ScarJo talk about 5 minute holding breath)
        • He’d made mistake going too far into the deep end
      • Warmed up in sauna before jumping into an ice bath – said this wasn’t too bad
        • Got to 3 minutes, as well
    • Ray Cronise work and Metabolic winter hypothesis – bundling up at night and temperature comfort zones
      • Ray did a book, Healthspan Solution, with Julieanna Hever
    • Polyphenolic as bright colors, white/watery as less so
      • Growing oranges – harming plants, for instance, where you nail the trunk a day before picking
      • Great wine – just as they’re stressed, without rainfall, for instance
      • Organic vs real organic – sunlight, rougher conditions (“hyperorganic”, with a chuckle)
    • When you eat, hot and cold, plenty of exercises
      • Breakthrough in longevity – exercise, less food, all of these things through the same mechanisms
        • Found this in yeast cells aging – one gene, PNC-1 that makes NAD
        • Give the yeast stress, they live longer, less sugar, higher heat, otherwise
    • 2013, oleic acid is a great potent nanomolar activator, similar to resveritrol
      • Needs to be in a fatty food to get 5-10x, not a capsule
    • Hoping to breakthrough drug-wise and aging, but naysayers have delayed 10 years
      • Easier for him to not talk to media so as not to get misquoted, especially like at Harvard
      • Always being worried about jobs/too many people/issues surrounding that
    • Mobilization of research and technology
      • Old london in 1858 – cholera outbreak, had to figure it out with politicians getting in their way
      • Cholera from water well, removed handle and it went away – people didn’t want to admit this, so politicians replaced handle
    • 80% aging as lifestyle and 20% genetics, metformin trials with FDA
      • Doctors treat disease, not lifestyle – people have already gotten to the cliff – whack-a-mole medicine
    • Wealthier countries and education ends up being more sustainable on a population level – less than 2 kids per couple
    • He’d suggest restricting food (food 3 times and snacks is perma-glucose) is best for restriction
      • Polyphenols where plants are stressed out – Okinawans and South Indians
      • Carnivore diet – arguing that it doesn’t anticipate stress diet, body will age long-term still? Weird.
      • Body’s clock is screwed up by longevity cycles
    • NAD levels increase – he won’t get effects of jet lag (seen this myself with a workout after flight)
    • Not taking metformin on days he works out
      • TAME (targeting aging metformin) – susceptibility for aging and diseases, clocks slowing or not
  • Peter Diamandis, author of “Future is Faster Than You Think” (Wharton XM, 2/12/20)
    • Autonomous, hyperloop or AI taxis
  • Tim Wigmore, staff writer at The Daily Telegraph (Wharton XM Moneyball 2/12/20)
    • Checking z-scores for Total Strikeouts in MLB for talking about Astros/Red Sox variation
      • Largest in modern HISTORY for the Astros (5-6 sd’s)
      • Can measure the differences – it’s possible first and second order effects
        • Other teams realize this is happening, breaking balls not swung out outside zone, for instance
      • Good teams play generally more innings on the road than at home because if you’re winning, only play 8 at home
    • Rates could be different, regression to the mean
    • Highest point differential through this point for the Bucks – 46-7, though weird distribution of wins for league
      • u-shaped, 80% in tails and 20% in the middle .400-.600
    • Tim as Cricket writer for many other publications – speed one, as well
    • Home-field advantage in playoffs for MLB is only a few % points, much lower compared to the NBA
  • Cory Zue, Founder of Place Card Me, Pegasus (The Indie Hackers Podcast #147, 2/12/20)
    • Having fun on the path to independence, living in South Africa – Cape Town (5 years after growing up in Boston)
    • Was CTO of high-growth startup before going to a sabbatical
      • Working on breadth vs depth – across multiple projects, trying to get to not having to work by 2023 – collectively $26k profit annual
      • Seeing the adjustment of not having the cache as CTO – not all of his ideas as brilliant
    • Spending so much of lives working, so he’s really enjoyed launching and getting users
      • Joined Dimagi in 2006 as ee #1, CTO until 2017
    • He wanted to make money – needed to design his life (as time spent on his sabbatical)
      • Hasn’t been full-time on any personal projects over last 3 yrs
      • His wedding was the inspiration for Place Card Me (could do in Word with MailMerge if you know how to do that)
        • Had 2-3 days before happened that it wasn’t going to come in
      • His goal was $1 for the 6 months – took about that long but only a week or two for the website
        • Started at $10, $5 as he figured out the SEO (HackerNews/Noon,FreeCodeCamp, etc… by ending signatures/posts with it)
    • Every possible reason for why it wouldn’t work
      • Nobody would ever pay for it. Went on Etsy and they were going for $8 without automatic template and features
      • Has to be traffic, then – didn’t know if it was $5/mo, or $100/mo or something else
      • First year – $1k, 2018 – $10k, 2019 – $20k revenues and he hadn’t worked on it much, organic growth as primary
    • Seeing how the growth could be done to optimize revenue growth
      • Wedding stuff works almost entirely on affiliate advertising – Pinterest or Etsy or otherwise, he sees Google
      • Getting into the printing game ($5 digital templates) – cards are up to $1/card (200 person wedding, for instance)
    • Keeps track of hours in total for each project and his total is ~450 hours, so 12 work weeks for $30k
      • Strategic decision to decide on a business (especially since as CTO, he’d get a call for servers down if out at a bar)
        • Shouldn’t scale with people – wanted to be small or independent – no services/support team
    • Work in an industry that you want to tell people about – though he says wedding is a weird one to him
      • Project that he can tell his friends about (though he can’t even tell about his new project, either, too complicated)
      • Choose the customer that you want – he says a lot of developers would love to have developers as their customers
        • They understand them, can overcome bad UX, bugs, and certain understanding (Tuple founder as well)
    • Pegasus – code template that allows you to get up and running with a SaaS application faster
      • Web framework base language: Python, Ruby, JS – framework: Jango, Rails, Node
      • Sitting on top of Jango, including out of the box- user stuff (login/acct manager/password – multi-tenant orgs)
      • UI and Stripe integration, as well
      • Started to work when he started Place Card Me (2.5 yrs)
    • Had a more mature product development with Pegasus, so it went a bit better
      • Identity gets wrapped up with the products, though
  • Truth about 1000 True Fans, Pricing of Our Attention (a16z 1/27/20)
    • Kevin Kelly, first proposed in 2008 and updated – just need a thousand true fans
    • Attention to widget – hire ad agencies, make ads that people will see the ad and take their attention from the consumer
      • Can short circuit this by paying the audience directly for their attention – call out – $0.25 to watch ad, email
      • Why do we give this away for free? Can fight the spam problem.
        • Bad economic models break in having to pay for attention
        • In media, publications/magazine/newspapers don’t have a choice for ads they run – decided by advertiser
          • What if anyone could run an ad and you get the benefits of the ad if people clicked on it?
          • Crowd decentralized version of ad network – money flowing through system through blockchain
        • Creative people making ads that worked and sponsors have to pay when they’re watched
        • Decentralized ad system that puts power back to the audience, that requires blockchain to maintain integrity
    • Proposed ad idea in The Inevitable (his book)
      • In TikTok, people are doing ads (ideas/product/content) viral purely AI-based can do learned intent
        • Any creator can go viral despite not having a huge audience/following
      • Economic just needs to be built in to get the paid side
    • True fans that you get money directly from – number you need to get to make a living, about 1000 true fans
      • Your true fans become the marketers for the casual fans – they do the hard work, promoting, evangelizing network
      • 1 in a million of people on earth will still enable you 1000+ fans, so find that idea that can work
    • Published an idea called “I’ll Pay You to Read My Book” – people don’t care about selling books, want them to read it
      • He said he’d pay people to read the book, and make money doing it
        • Sell for $4 and pay $5 – ebook on Amazon can determine yay/nay since fewer people finish it
      • Gaming economy and gaming narratives as bigger economies than others – endless narratives
        • Optimize for the few, rare completers but making money off of the ones who dip in and out
      • The actual book is a container for the thought – most don’t make lots of money on them, it’s the speaking outside
        • On average, we surrender our attention for $3/hr for books, let’s say
  • Dickson Chu, Global Head of PortManagement at BBVA (Mastering Innovation 10/10/19)
    • Next Phase of the Fintech Phenomenon
    • 25 years in finance, before fintech was cool
    • Innovation in banking – common perception of not going together (tech + banking)
      • Citibank in 60s and 70s had quite a bit of innovation, ATM and otherwise
      • From 80s and 90s on, not so much innovating – mobile has now changed everything
      • Enabled different experiences, compute device as always connected
    • What’s old as what’s new – has been accelerated in mobile
    • Fundamental challenges in risk + security – credit card numbers leaking, retailers as ancillary players that get hacked
      • Some as consequences of the high growth freemium model – banks as spending a considerable amount of money to prevent
      • Pharma as lowering cost and better ideas for outsourcing innovation and research – high R&D industries, in particular
    • At BBVA – run a series of events around world for open call to participate culminating in November finalists to Madrid
      • They see 1000+ new ideas and companies – sometimes within the bank or regional differences
      • Much larger % of students is going into students 20-25% compared to 5-10%
    • How do we replicate NY/SV ecosystems elsewhere? Hard to get an engineering element of this.
      • Lots of graduates requirement would put many geographies in play
      • Dickson mentioned London, Berlin, and Toronto
    • Running Simple, as one of the first neobanks out in Brooklyn before going to Portland to find community skill-base
      • Tagline was to make banking simple – simplicity, transparency and great value
        • Questioning hidden and overdraft fees
  • Rina Shainski (@rinasha), Chair & Co-founder of Duality Technologies (TechRepublic with Scott Matteson, 1/29/20)
    • Trend of right to personal privacy, specifically data privacy driven by ML / AI power that needs more data
      • GDPR in 2018, CCPA in 2020 and harsher sanctions
    • Challenges and potential solutions?
      • AI/ML as the commonly blamed parties, but tech can solve it
      • Privacy enhancing tech (PETs) can be used to protect privacy while enabling the usage of data
        • Previously, de-identification and anonymization such as personally identifiable info (PII) fields from data
          • These are increasingly useless because of re-identification of anonymized data
        • PETs as secure computing – homomorphic encryption, multi-party computing (MPC), zero knowledge & diff privacy
      • Her company (Duality Tech) allows d/s computations to be performed on encrypted data
    • Privacy difference between consumers and businesses?
      • Consumers are the owners and source of private data. Enterprises as aggregators and custodians
        • Creation of data after providing services, or result of that
      • Digital footprints for benefit of better services, research, progress but if falls in the wrong hands, exploited
    • Social media isn’t the only thing – lots of apps using location that user willingly/knowingly sometimes
  • Legends Brunch for NBA All-Star Weekend (NBA TV Radio, 2/15/20)
    • Horace Grant and Frank Isola talking to Bryan Colangelo and Sheryl Swoopes
    • Colangelo on starting in Chicago as the expansion team there – going all over for scouting tournaments
      • Exploding growth of NBA, including the following year – got an offer from Seattle, originally
      • He didn’t think there was anything in Seattle, so he passed
        • Received a MIL offer – wife asked why not in PHX
        • Next day, he got a call from the owner inviting him down there
      • Picking the Olympics – anyone that wanted “in” and had been there, no 1st or 2nd year players
        • 44 down to 12 without a tryout with Popp
    • Sheryl on Kobe/Gigi’s loss – both for the past and present
      • Mentioned growing up watching Michael, since no WNBA until 1997
      • Houston squad used to support them in Houston – Cuttino, Francis, Moochie Norris
      • That’s different than Kobe wearing WNBA stuff, coming to All-Star game the prior summer with GiGi
        • Deserved to be better pay / if others see him, gives more credibility and questions can arise properly

Disorganized Trying to Organize (Notes from Feb 3 – Feb 9, 2020) August 4, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Acquisitions, Automation, Blockchain, Coronavirus, Daily fantasy football, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Healthcare, Leadership, NBA, questions, social, sports, Strategy, Streaming, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Productivity tools have been all the rage. Those familiar with adoption of new technology or tools in an office setting bigger than 20 people have likely been through what’s described as the J curve for adoption, popularized by Erik Brynjolfsson and Daniel Rock in their paper (see: https://economics.stanford.edu/sites/g/files/sbiybj9386/f/brynrocksyv_j-curve_final.pdf) of September 2018 on general purpose technologies. There is a slope downward to start for the adoption because the productivity decrease and difficulty in trying to set it up often leads to a loss. Over time and the consistent use, it can go away and lead to the productivity gains we sought in the first place.

Well, I’m in that too many tools, too many valleys section. Bundle and use a tool that tries to do it all? Or unbundle and use multiple tools. If you are trying to optimize notes for one platform and it doesn’t work for your other platforms (mobile/to-go/car), is it optimal? Is 90% great if you miss on the 10% you don’t have a good solution for? I’m not sure. I’m hopeful that audio can work easily – may even jump into Otter.ai for transcription there.

A family friend of ours was so obsessed with keeping track of all his clothes, colors and features that he took it upon himself to build a database of his closet. Upon telling someone else, I recall a similar story for someone who went further and did bar codes on their clothes. You spend so much time obsessing over something you’d love organization over until that organizing takes up the time you were hoping to save. We could take this further and draw similar analogies to corporate, big companies compared to start-ups in growth as an early employee – always something to be done, may not be optimizing the work, just attempting to get something out compared to optimization runs for something that worked until it breaks. Exciting work on either end but ultimately, there’s a line you must draw.

There are tons of benefits to organization for notes, processes, documentation in that someone could come in at any point and figure out what connects to what. There’s a context. I think YourStacks is doing something like this for personal / professional use of tools and games and everything one comes into contact. There have been corporate / enterprise stack technology sites that break down webpage technology or company technologies. Then there are transparent people / companies who document it both privately and publicly for others to see. We try what we think may improve but it’s tough to know where to start.

There’s a lesson to be learned here in starting, trying to going from there. Some of us want to try to optimize all the tools or one tool to its fullest before moving forward. How good is good? Or not good enough? At what point do you pass to the next or add another tool? How many tools are too many? And will we get a bundling or unbundling of different aspects? I’m hopeful we get voice tools that enable bundling for all sorts of this. Currently, I’ve yet to find the solution. Let me know what your set is!

  • Dr. Tara Smith, Professor of Epidemiology at Kent State University College of PH, Erik Moses (Wharton Moneyball 2/5/20)
    • Hockey – East and West split of conferences currently, top 4 teams in the East and defending champs Blues in the West are 5th
      • More or less deterministic (coin flips previously) – 50% as max from a conference if coin flips
    • Mookie Betts as trying to get 10 year, $40 mil per because he’s so young
    • Joined in August 2013 after being at Univ of Iowa in Emerging Infectious Diseases
  • Chetan Puttagunta, GP at Benchmark Capital (Invest like the Best 1/28/20)
    • Investing in early-stage, MongoDB, Elastic, Mulesoft and advice for POS in enterprise software building Canvas
    • MongoDB – 2012 and had experience building consumer apps from 2007-08 trying to build tech that was pretty limited
      • Felt like an advantage between large companies with proprietary data and tools compared to DIY
      • Met Elliott (MongoDB founder, from DoubleClick) – would ask best devs to work with Mongo and they responded “Don’t need”
      • DB expert – MySQL can work with everything but would miss the class of devs that wanted without planning for scale, app may not work
      • DB could handle scale, millions of users, transactional data by 2015-16, right place right time
      • Oracle as building a great database business and moved into application tier with their apps built on their db
        • CRM, HCM (Peoplesoft) to serve application – 1977 to true leader in databases in 80s, relational
      • Other timing – 1992, for instance, and it would not have worked. Cloud has been so open to these techs.
      • Cockroach for globally scalable, relational db – TimeScale for time-series IoT model, for instance after cloud enabled it
        • Specific use cases have more specifically-tailored results
      • Initiating and potential TAM Salesforce estimates from the start compared to now, where it’s much larger now than suspected
    • Now, enterprise software permeates into companies all over for IoT and consumer tech
      • Caterpillar, Pharma, Financial Services, Shipping companies are all buyers
      • Diva built a CRM system for healthcare vertical on general CRM, Salesforce – multibillion dollar company
      • Client facing software is very important – system that will be helpful and customers will tackle that and tell you directly
    • People come to work and complete a specific job or task – not to work or be an expert with your software
      • New tool into a workflow, only certain amount of walls to learn the software before leaving
      • Go slow to go fast – if you’re building a software solution in the start, build for 5-10 important users
        • Address the needs of those customers – generally applicable to the market (not just the single customer)
        • Won’t become an outside services or dev shop if you deliver services to the general customer
      • Workday and Viva early days – 50% of revenue were services since they entered enterprises (large installation of PeopleSoft)
        • On-prem CRM for Viva – lots of handholding, data migration and such
    • Duffel (Global Distribution System) for airlines selling to consumers
      • Convoluted system to sell and the flows is astounding – entrepreneurs in payments looking to innovate in these instances
      • Found airlines and approached them to “Shouldn’t it work like this?” to get your first partners/customers
      • Patient capital of “go slow to go fast” to super efficient business – spreadsheet vs software
        • Example at Greg Shaw – Mulesoft – burned $8mln from $100mln to 200mln in revenue and burned $4mln from 2-300mln
          • Inside Salesforce, they’ve grown top-line revenues further
    • Unlikely that someone else is building what you’re building
      • 2004 – Salesforce selling CRM, main competitor was Seibel – Salesforce had ACV of $4k and 15 licenses at a time vs Seibel $100k/1k
        • Go after the larger competitors when you have thousands of customers and users ecstatic about your product
      • Won’t run into competitors directly, just objections to your own system, since it’s incomplete
        • Valuing you against their internal/custom solution – take time to create product maturity before prematurely scaling
    • If you’re not missing as an investor, you aren’t taking enough shots
      • 1x your capital if you miss compared to if you pass, miss on 10x or 100x
      • At Benchmark, they’re making 5-10 investments per year, so it’s 1-2 per partner
    • Recruiting and sales – candidates have to feel very good as they go through the proces
      • Only way to scale the software business is to hire the best people to make the software
    • Hard to stand out in SF as an enterprise software integration problem (Mulesoft)
      • Competing with FAANG in a limited labor market, have to be able to recruit amazing talent
      • For start-ups, they have 2 advantages: really exciting for them to embrace remote talent (global market)
        • Running a remote company at scale has very little to do with the tools, and more so with the work culture that’s friendly
        • Everyone meets remotely on video, even in same room
        • Writing a lot of documentation, transparency about thinking in the wikis docs so anyone can catch up
      • Offline ad inventory is very efficient – account-based enterprise software ads at airports – targeting top of funnels
      • How do you transmit a culture that was highly efficient in 10 person to 20 or 100 or 1000 and further, if you’re doing 100% each year
        • 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 haven’t been there for more than 1 year, 2 years, 3, etc..
    • Most portable of early stage investing – Bill Gurley’s blog on CAC and LTV
      • Going down unit economic traps are widely applicable to all tech businesses, consumer, enterprise, etc
        • Can’t drive spreadsheet growth with CAC/inorganic growth for LTV numbers
      • Product engagement – customers in consumer and enterprise
    • Benchmark as 5 equal partners at the firm, no juniors or others
      • Don’t have a NEXT topic that they have to move on to because of this, so open-ended discussions can go very deep
        • Wide networks so they can get useful people to talk
      • Probably not a question that they can’t answer
  • Adam Draper, Founder & CEO of Boost VC (20min VC 2/24/16)
    • Seed stage accelerator, blockchain and VR
    • Before Boost, angel invested in 20+ co’s, including Coinbase, Plangrid, Practice Fusion
      • Geography – heart of SV and ecosystem of entrepreneurs, recently adding V/R to build
    • Founder of Xpert Financial after UCLA graduation, helping later stage companies raise capital in private markets
      • Made every mistake – funding, hiring, firing, product
      • Helped early-stage companies build product and raise capital, including for a friend – wanted to mentor in bulk
        • As a family, helping people get to where they want to go
    • Meeting a lot of people while raising money and helping – took him 12 months to raise his fund
      • $6.6mln after reaching out to 3k, 350 meetings and closed ~35 – basically rule of 10
    • Had 52 investments in blockchain accelerator (had about ~120 companies) among currency/contracts-based work
      • Been in industry for 3 years, seeing mature products and higher quality
    • Mentioned MuggleNet as his favorite blog and TechCrunch
    • JoyStream by a solo founder, trying to merge BitTorrent / BTC
  • Coronavirus (a16z 16min on the News #21, 1/29/20)
    • Judy Savitskaya – 2019-nCoV – 10-20% common cold vs epidemic ones would be severity
    • Sequencing this virus has been incredibly quick (within 2 weeks of genome) whereas it’s taken longer in past
      • If someone in SF said they had a cold at a general clinic, they could decide if it’s this or not
      • Figuring out treatments and protocols based on genome and live medicine
    • Spike proteins used to enter into lung cells didn’t look as bad as SARS, so they thought it was fine
      • Turns out that it’s actually very similar to the protein
    • Nobody really knows – animal sources of viruses (evolving away from human hosts, time in animals)
      • R0 – number of people you’d expect to get sick for every one person that has it
      • Breaking down variables in R0 – how well does virus transmit itself (easy in air, for instance)
        • Is it good at infecting cells? What’s the population like? (Chinese New Year and traveling often)
      • If virus is not that deadly, additional time in the host that can get infected (individually, if deadly and fast, population better)
    • Increase in genomic medicine – Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations gave out 3 grants to pharma co’s totaling $12.5mln
      • 12-16 weeks time to develop new drugs based on the new sequence
  • Epic Battles in Healthcare, FICO Changes (a16z 16min on the News #22, 2/6/20)
    • FinTech GP’s Angela Strange and Anish Acharya
    • Starting with what is a FICO score – 5 factors: payment history, credit utilization, length of history, new credit, credit mix
      • FICO 2, 3, and 10 now as FICO comes out with reweighting
        • 1 trillion in credit card debt now, so people refi from 25% to 12% loans, but it doesn’t change user spending habits
        • Better job of incorporating debt over a long period of time
      • Designed in 1950s to create a proxy for willingness to pay, originally – now, it’s mostly lenders that have their own algorithms
      • Good lenders will use FICO as a factor but they have their own robust models
    • Hacks such as adding kids as authorized users
    • Old time, 50-100 years credit decisions made on generations, kids play ball with bankers, etc
      • Bank of Italy (now Bank of America), would make loans to Italian immigrants that other banks wouldn’t lend to
      • 2 drivers – willingness and ability to pay
    • International vs US – in US, most decisions decided on score/report, not alternative data
      • In international countries, great way to bootstrap a lending business as a proxy for consumer
      • Difficult to introduce alternative data in the US , cash flow streams for instance
    • Epic’s CEO (EHR information on data) letter sent – with Julie Yoo bio GP
      • Rule that’s been around for 1 year in context of a longer standing law
        • Opening healthcare records from ONC (Office of National Coordinator for CMS), gov agencies overseeing healthcare spend
      • 21st Century CURES Act – Upton and Waldon – means by which we implement the act (healthcare costs will rise, care will suffer)
        • Contending with nonprofit orgs with slim margins
      • Uniquely stored in healthcare data is the doctors’ context (and dialogue) – for what reason would you need the context vs “code”
      • Connecting data between APIs and interoperability – major concept
    • Clause in rule about screenshot sharing – contractual obligations not to share screenshots
      • In trying to see a workflow in a system to connect yours efficiently – one of Julie’s customers at EHR company got hand-slapped for sharing
    • Annual meeting with OMB and ONC for driving sharing and interoperability – Epic wasn’t there – everyone else, systems, plans, incumbents, big tech, EHRc
      • HHS secretary was saying that scare tactics won’t affect what they’re looking for
  • Introduction to ARK’s Big Ideas 2020 (FYI 1/13/20)
    • James Wang interviewing Cathie Wood, CEO/CIO at ARK Invest
      • Building on other years – DL, EV, 3D printing, autonomous ride hailing, automation, genome sequencing, digital wallets and Bitcoin
    • New ones – streaming media, aerial drones and biotech R&D efficiency
    • Streaming media – changing behavior patterns should catapult the industry, roughly $80-90bn, projecting $400bn+ in next 4 years
      • Most people couldn’t understand why she was buying Amazon at $5bn cap at her old firm (when no profits)
        • Believed about their revenues would increase CAGR at 25% for 20 years, deep value play (exp growth wasn’t understood)
      • Terrible sales out of box retailers – want to survive and go to online
      • Gaming could consume media, so is value in content or platforms (say, Tencent showing the way, maybe) – larger than box office now
        • Every time music has come out, it has cannibalized the other, older parts as replacement
        • Gaming was different – expansive, explosive market as stacking (mobile only added to consoles and others)
    • Aerial drones – early side of S curve still – released a paper in 2014 suggesting that if FAA would allow Amazon to deliver parcels over 10 mi
      • Amazon, at that time, could have done it profitably for just $1 per parcel for 5 lb package, for instance
      • Food delivery now, air taxis / passenger drones and given battery tech, could save 20k lives associated with heart attacks – drone faster than ambulance
        • Projecting $275bn food delivery (3mi Delivery for cars is about $4.85 – $5) – drones could do it for $.20, profitably
    • Biotech R&D Efficiency as converging Nextgen sequencing, AI, CRISPR editing
      • Impact on pharma and biotech sector
      • Fewer trial failures with DNA sequencing and companion diagnostics for trials, time to market decrease
        • Human trials, CRISPR is curing things such as Beta-_ and sickle cell (2 people)
      • Value-based pricing could be installment payments, for every year you live – reduction of trials and drugs to market, higher pricing utility
        • Margin structure could follow more of 1980s and 90s (mid20-30s) – innovations were exhausted from there, but now should be innovative
      • CRISPR and gene therapies are delivering great results, cures and evidence of these
        • AI and software side with mundane, life science has supported SaaS company in Viva – extremely motivated for productivity structure
        • Most AI companies doing R&D drug discovery are early, M&A ripe – tech in Alpha Go search problems, for instance
      • Analysts can’t just be healthcare, have to be technology as well – permeating every sector
    • Over past year, innovation has been highly valued in private space – too few opportunities with too much capital
      • Private is valued much higher – seeing some disappointments, public markets should be ripe (P/E ratio is not ideal)
      • 5 year opportunities, not 1-2 timeline and finding out how much growth they’re going to deliver

How to Motivate Yourself to Build (Notes from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, 2020) July 22, 2020

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Nope, I’m asking. Not telling. It’s constantly a challenge.

Let’s see. A will to win. Certain things provide you a much clearer picture of an end goal. In life or careers, there is often always a next step for those that are driven. I know many people that have said it’s not a linear path, and therefore you see steps/ladders that may be uneven. It’s hard to take that into consideration to pursue action, then, especially if you’re back at square one. It must be some secondary motivator that keeps us looking forward.

I have an idea page of things I want to pursue. Talking about potential pursuits may be a first step. Talking with others, another. Writing them down allows a concrete step toward accountability. Then, what’s next? Talk to potential customers, people in the space, people that could be of interest. Design something, wireframe or code out a rough sketch. Maybe it’s something to see how much of a concrete idea it is. Ideas sometimes just need another opinion to spur passion – whatever can provide the spark to go further.

With a next step in a career, an idea written out for the next step can be a good thing. Approaching mentors or potential mentors or bosses (strategically) may be that step of accountability. The more people involved, the more likely that path could be disrupted as incentives to provide clear steps wane. The earlier you find that out, the better. It’s unfortunate but situations and circumstances can change on a whim for anyone, so it compounds with involvement of others. I’ve seen that time and time again with friends.

Now, I hope I didn’t discourage with that last paragraph. That wasn’t my intention. So, here’s some good news – work has become increasingly global with the progression of the internet / web, more so this year. There are more people online sharing, collaborating, open to discussion with minimal work except seeking the communities out. Tools are better organized and more broadly applied to help, and more people are generally sharing their experience for us to pattern match or adjust. Action is the step. Or asking what the action may be. Take it together.

  • Coach Paul Alexander, Josh Hermsmeyer (Wharton Moneyball 1/22/20)
    • If you pit OL vs DL – OL is more reliable, similar to pitcher vs batter and pitcher wins
    • Beane in Moneyball – didn’t have money to spend so he wanted to get shots at college players since they were less random
      • PFF using survival curves (as time) for measuring lines (from PFF data scientist Timo Riske)
    • 16 of 17 INTs for Mahomes has been < 5 rushers
    • Coach – more hand-oriented now in passing game than leg-driving or shoulders for the evolution of run blocking
    • Josh – turned his attention to music and predicting the first song for halftime show
      • Prop from last year – how long will the national anthem last?
        • Over time, singer spent on song increased (ARIMA model) and he looked at male and female but female was longer at end
        • Gladys ended up going over
      • Billboard is predicting JLo’s most popular song – 20% as Let’s Get Loud or On The Floor (books, too)
        • Acts don’t often start with the most popular song, they end it
        • Setlist.fm as going through common starts
      • Game plan to push as many in the box with the numbers advantage, force Jimmy G to beat them
    • Some quantitative coaching models at PFF and other places
      • Mostert as the 2nd fastest athlete in NFL at the line, behind only Lamar Jackson, by mph
    • Helpful to sit behind someone as QB? (Jimmy, Rodgers, Mahomes) but counters as Peyton (thrown in), Steve Young
      • Qb as living embodiment of the system, not necessarily ‘system qb’
      • When do we get a handle on a QB?
    • Owners as billionaires that earned money in a different industry and hope to be able to transition to teams
      • Experience may or may not come – putting right people in there, getting lucky with all of the processes
      • Little edges, enough chances and them adding up together to finally have success while living through the ups and downs
  • Ian Levy, Michael Hill (Wharton Moneyball 1/29/20)
    • Super Bowl week, Kobe Bryant death – Shaq statement and Kendrick Perkins clamoring for hatchet to be buried with Kdurant
    • MJ’s 3 and 2 years off and then another 3 – only had Scottie as the overlap of players
      • Kobe – 2 rings but 3 straight finals with Pau, sans Shaq, Lebron – taking some poor players and winning rings
      • Teams and styles that have changed to give credit to the great ones
    • Sac down 17 points with 2min 49 sec – broke a streak of 8,378 straight games of losses
  • Dr. Shaili Jain, Prof of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, PTSD Treatment, author of “Unspeakable Mind” (Wharton XM, Future of Everything)
    • Father was a war vet & born in India, Shaili grew up in England and what she ever knew
    • Muted emotions, insidious infiltration of how people work, play and create beyond mind and brain
      • Infiltrates organs, independent risk factors for heart disease, cancer
    • Too many factors, 1/3 genetic (not on marker-level, though) to determine PTSD levels or exposure
      • Dose matters – more deployments = more likely, and cumulative effects
    • Average clinicians outside of VA have a tough time to diagnose & treat whereas vets and exposed know where they can see it
      • Adherence is much lower in people with PTSD and this is massively under-recognized
    • Last thing people want to do is talk to therapists – avoided trauma or be cut off, isolated
      • Health problems often make them lose control
    • Hippocampus is smaller in those with PTSD (not sure if it’s cause or effect), amygdala (part of brain that controls danger)
      • Lot of work done in epigenetics, learned behaviors and environment (followed moms that were pregnant during 9/11, escaped)
        • Work done by Rachel at Mt Sinai to follow their children based on biomarkers – PTSD in them/child
    • Her take – future is in prevention on three levels – primary, secondary and tertiary
      • Primary: prevent the traumas and crimes
        • Lots of people were starting programs that FELT like it worked w/o evidence or metrics for them
          • How do you train women to defend themselves effectively? If you have it, you can scale and replicate. Still need $
      • Secondary: before and after trauma – “Golden Hours” – can you intervene to prevent onset of PTSD?
        • Showing up in ER, instead of waiting for weeks/months/years when they show up to a therapist
        • Group out of Atlanta’s Emory University in the ER that did RCTs to show those that got prolonged exposure medicine improved
          • Cortisol recipients had less PTSD compared to those that didn’t – brain can heal quickly, comparatively
      • Tertiary: integrated care – 10 years prior, she ditched her other-campus psychiatry office to primary care
        • People show up in primary care, not often in specialty offices, attack head on
    • Treatment – first line, standard therapy would be talk therapy (prolonged exposure, EMDR – eye movement desensitization & reprocessing)
      • Focus on dismantling trauma, discussing the event
      • Biggest body of evidence for this being successful as first-line treatment, discussion capability without emotional/physical stress
        • Exposure exercises – measurable body response
      • Meds as second-line treatment (prozac and friends)

Power of Consistency (Notes from Jan. 20 to Jan 26, 2020) July 8, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Acquisitions, Automation, Blockchain, Data Science, Digital, experience, finance, Gaming, global, Leadership, marketing, RPA, Strategy, Time, TV.
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It’s impressive for how much consistency matters, as long as you’re open.

Sometimes, it’s every week. Maybe it’s daily. Maybe more than that? Is it a post? Is it a photo? Tweeting 10x a day? There is probably some magic number for each frequency, based on platform and content that, over time, eventually takes off. I don’t think it’s spelled out because there are likely ranges for each. That’s the beauty of the internet, now. Niches are actually very large – and if you’re consistent in posting about something you enjoy – eventually, if you landed in a sweet spot, you may be rewarded for it. The opportunity arises where you land on an audience of a community you enjoy being a part of – and now you can share at will. It becomes easier to be public.

Maybe the ease by which any of us continue down this path is rooted in the writing or habit itself. Maybe it’s your work. Maybe how you spend your money. A tool you use? Something you picked up knowledge from friends or a trend you happened to stumble on in a podcast that piqued your interest. Any way you draw it up, if you can repeatedly talk about it and enjoy it, it stays the course. If you’re public in a manner that others can find you, you can reach that audience.

It feels like we have plenty of solutions to get this out – it takes the effort of an individual or group of individuals to be motivated enough to repeatedly produce that content. Thankfully, I write a bit here and on Twitter, mostly. Should be more consistent myself. Used to be a part of a weekly podcast. Now I feel like I have ideas to push others – without accountability, it falls off. Groups and communities like Indie Hackers, No-code and Makerpad or other niches on Facebook/LinkedIn/Slack/Discord, Substack or even WordPress here provide that. Seek your people out!

  • CES 2020 – Screens, 8K, 5G, Cars, Micromobility, Smart Home (16 Minutes News by a16z 1/18/20)
    • Flexible screens in phones (Samsung), folding – around a business as billboard
      • Fold and unfold – suboptimal experience for usage of the phone outside of big screens
      • Phones as biggest volume driver in displays – grow market
      • Should make folding PC was next step – Dell, Lenovo, Intel (B5 is half A4 – tablet-sized to 11 or 12″ notebook)
        • Mainstream high-performance folding screens and touch surfaces – everywhere you go
    • Screens and production process now on Moore’s Law, as well
      • Production too fragmented, software in tv slows down innovation
      • 8K will happen but it will cost more
    • WiFi 6, 5G at current and new mm
      • 20 carriers are spending $100bn extra a year to roll this out
      • Last mile is the battle – IEEE for WiFi – commodity access points, sim cards
    • Cars stealing show – Sony, this year
    • Power battery – USB-C is now the AC input of the home
      • Batteries and storage for energy will be everything very shortly
  • Rob Salvagno, VP of Corp Dev at Cisco Investments (20min VC 12/30/19)
    • M&A efforts, investment capital, lead Meraki ($1.2bn acquisition) and AppDynamics ($3.7bn), along with recent Duo ($2.3bn)
      • Prior investment banker at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette
    • Went to Stanford thinking he wanted to be a doctor, Netscape went public in early days there and wanted a way into tech
      • Wanted to go into investment banking or consulting – entry into tech was IB, first in SF then in Sand Hill – analyst at DLJ (president at Oracle’s first analyst)
      • Very transactional without any role or ownership – sent resume into resume @ Cisco . Com and got his role
    • Investments or M&A, bringing perspective – boom over past decade but we lived through 2000-01 and 07-08
      • How’s this business model stand up without capital flowing? How’s the CEO going to perform in challenging times? Growth multiple of 20-30x
      • Capital efficiency: attractive of business model – will look at valuations
        • Cisco wants to know if they create value in business, what are the levers for that – distribution channel, product within their architecture
        • Can improve operating model in a few ways – accelerate profitability with Cisco (growing at 30%, but maybe 60%)
    • Cisco starts with their measure of CorpDev – can they get company to do something that they wouldn’t be able to do with them
      • Companies think they can often do things on their own – Cisco recognizes the broader source of innovation within VC and outside capital
      • Strategy first and deal second – work hand-in-hand with biz unit to collaborate with teams inside to shift pov for where to go
        • Acquisitions can get them there – magic happens with the business units inside Cisco
    • Motivation for investment wants to make portfolio companies successful to help Cisco
      • Believe opp to invest in best-in-class company in market that is interesting – tight partnership over 2 quarters or 3 years, shared expectations
      • High multiple transaction to be avoided isn’t necessarily true
    • If you’re GM of Cisco Security Business – outside innovation as strategy is fundamental for the business
      • If you decided acquisition makes sense, have to position it for success inside Cisco from financial, opex, funding position
      • Levels of approval to CFO, CEO compared to billion-dollar acq with board (mentions AppDynamics acquisition within 3 days of their IPO)
      • More PE firms getting involved into tech companies is better for the business and more innovation
        • Multiples that are unprecedented for PE firms
    • SDRAM, iRAM – 10-12 startups for big market and seemingly new oppy
      • Cisco had an internal company and went out to talk to startup called MetaCloud
        • Market started to take off and they looked at M&A – scan of industry, acquired
    • Cisco has done 200+ acquisitions, knows their mistakes
      • Platform to accelerate founder visions, they’re also enabled – David Yooliwitch (Founder of OpenDNS, former Cisco investment)
        • Acquired, 100mln company but David became head GM of Security of Cisco – multibillion
    • Difficult with Cisco – going from hardware to cloud – belief in a successful transition
    • Changing about tech industry – entrepreneurs not getting best advice when they need it (first time vs multiple, etc..)
    • CloudCherry – acq in collab – customer journey and future of work – predictive analytics on contact center (how to deal with customers)
      • 2nd acq – Voicea – AI and ML on top of Cisco portfolio (ex WebEx – transcribe, meeting notes, flag action items agreed and integrate into workflow)

Best Ways to Push People to Create (Notes from Jan 13 to Jan 19, 2020) June 30, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Data Science, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, Gaming, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, NBA, social, sports, storytelling, Strategy, Time, TV, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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So, my title is a bit misleading because I don’t have the answer. It’s a bit annoying. I have many friends and family members that will cite an interest in making something, or even more generally, wanting something to be made. I try to encourage if there’s even an interest of a consistency in what they’re looking to do. It’s worth sharing if they enjoy it. Encouragement isn’t the part that’s lacking. There’s an accountability or fear of not having the time be worth it.

To me, that’s a bit of a weakness. Sure, you can be scared that it won’t be monetarily advantageous to do it – but that’s the part where your own curious/enjoyment makes up for it. If you’re interested, you may be more likely to generally share and stay consistent than if you’re not. Immediate gratification doesn’t go hand-in-hand with consistency, though. And then the starting point usually has a bit of work. All of this adds up to psyching oneself out before ever starting. All the while, we continue scrolling to the next thing, wondering aloud how nice it seems to be sharing something that we’re moderately interested in.

  • Peter Guber, Dodgers/Warriors co-owner (KindredCast – WhartonXM)
    • Lion Tree CEO Aria Borkhov with Chairman/CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, 4 sports teams
    • Hollywood productions for 5 Best Picture nominations (Rain Man winner), Midnight Express, Flash Dance, Batman, Soulsurfer
      • “Tell to Win” best-selling author
    • Also owner of Team Liquid and LA FC, professor at UCLA Anderson, Media
    • Recorded at the end of WS 2018 – never before having World Series Game 7 at Dodgers stadium
    • Can’t just make hits – ups-and-downs are part of the journey, can’t fail will make it so you don’t have success
    • Missed out on Dodgers originally when McCourt was buying from FOX, but asked to put up money at last hour, so he backed out
      • Magic brought him in 9 years later and he was more familiar since he owned the AAA team in Oklahoma City
      • Culture providing leadership and top-down, being managing partner
      • Bring best talent, resourcefulness, undervalued performance from someone as surprises, having a long and short-game
        • If short-term doesn’t work, the long-term rarely is cared for
    • Caring fully for his team – listen to the audience and imagine their experience is theirs and creating relationships
      • Crucial since you can’t get another audience every time – music, movies, sports
      • Brand affinity as breeding success – crucial that word-of-mouth is more powerful than a 30second clip anywhere
        • Looks at it like bond / what the product means for people
      • Audiences expect experiences (how do they feel, what’s the benefit, life) – customers/consumers are looking to spend only / wallets
    • Media – Game 6 had 2nd best since 2009 for viewership
      • How do you get technology into media? Twitter paid $10mln with football, Amazon paid $50mln, Facebook with MLB
      • Linear broadcasting – audience getting every media at once, same way – can’t act on it (analog to digital)
        • Know the individual audience, can talk to friends/you directly – interface with social group, react and a participant
        • Cultivate participation – don’t know about all people generally but now, know the particulars
      • Digital natives – always growing, never had cords – companies need both linear and digital sense
      • Dancing with the enemy – like to kill the other, one is an ally/adversary at different times
      • Can’t take an analog advertisement and plunk it on to digital – won’t be the same
      • When he was in China doing business, he had to go through an interpreter – didn’t have the same feeling/attitude
      • Each sport has unique challenges (and movies) – movie-going has turned into “going to a movie”
        • Driving away from habituation (movie on Fridays) vs (“Let’s go to A movie”)
    • Narrative of baseball – can look at different things, fantasy, play-by-play and story
      • Basketball is rapid so you have to address down-time in a different format – paces are more important (digital can help)
      • Gambling will introduce a new evolution – betting on emotions, last-pitch, blowouts will be important still
    • Esports – Team Liquid in SC2, LoL, HotS, Overwatch, Halo, CoD, DotA
      • True digital native and a culture change – lifestyle connection is different
      • Became invested in technology after joining Sony and his unique way – his life is connection of artists and audiences
        • How do you create value and multiply value?
        • Consumption with esports as 3 things – expansion, underserving market, global, participatory (could play along)
        • Esports as the music for 18-25 now, lights up their heart (“shut off that music”), engagement attraction
      • Have to understand the language, special – challenge to make money
    • Escape velocity for colleges and training, scholarships – getting older
      • Only got into esports Mark Merrill (Riot Games) came to leadership course and was talking about League of Legends, lit him up
    • Advertising planning, consumer information, still very early
      • 1 to 1 engagement is the biggest difference – 1 to many probably outdated or less effective
    • Made a long bet on VR – 5 years ago – they’re the director – mediators give you the meaning
      • Technology as existing for PoC for phone call where you could turn the fight or a game on
    • Fav movie: Godfather 2, Witness — Fav person: Fidel Castro when Peter was doing a show on diving
      • Unbelievably interesting (Castro)
    • Reading: Sapiens (rec for Undoing Project), Thinking Fast & Slow
  • Amy Abernethy (@DrAbernethyFDA), Principal Commissioner of FDA, Vijay Pande, GP on Bio Fund at a16z (a16z Podcast 1/14/20)
    • Food, Drugs, and Tech – 100 Years of Public Health
    • 113 years ago formed out of 100 laws – hygiene issues as science-based agency
      • Safe and effective medical products to be used with your patients
    • Have to come up with flexible mechanisms to avoid and take risks when appropriate
      • Risk-based scientific decision-making, review and expectation of certain risk in products
      • Hepatic failure, may take a person’s life, urgency of problem with number of people of impact, public perception/expectation
      • De-risk: try to ensure pre-conditions are met, toxicity, consistent expectations around clinical effectiveness
    • How does FDA (mentions possible show for crises a la CSI: FDA) deal and think of crises?
      • Medical products could have any crises issues (animals, vapes, food, drugs, biologics, devices, cosmetics)
        • Distribution of potential crises are very real – opioid crisis as slowly creeping up – as information accumulates, problem ID
      • Agency – action plan for several parts on what FDA responsible for
        • What can they do to reduce problem? Reduce patient tablets accessible to, for instance.
          • Can increase methods for access for patient-informed labeling.
        • New treatments for pain and solving problem otherwise
    • 20% of international GDP regulation under FDA and 15% of food imported so needs to be safely labeled, available in country
      • Investigate trucks across border that aren’t available over borders
      • PREDICT program – 10 years old rules engine where they are most likely to have unsafe food
    • Drug shortages – have intervened ahead of 160 drugs for shortages there along with the opposite – what happens if there is one
      • Food-borne illnesses to avert problems and they have these discussions in the morning
    • Kits off Amazon for CRISPR – dog glow in the dark, for instance
      • CAR-T as T-cells to re-engineer to supercharge and put back into patient
    • Improving software products that help the world of controls
      • How does FDA think about data privacy and ownership?
        • Practically, proprietary information and confidential. Drug surveillance that might be more publicly available.
      • In CIO role, she wants a Chief Privacy Role – when brought up, data even in HIPAA may be re-identifiable
    • Platform trials – enabling features within 21st century cures
    • Some company/investigators not wanting to subject only product into clinical evidence framework to figure out – especially only shot on goal
      • Taking a while to determine this
      • Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 – contemplation of new payment delivery models, Institute of Medicine research for digital infra in 2007
      • 2008 – GFCrisis for stimulus bill to get the High Tech Act for full-scale distribution of Elec Health Records in 2009
      • Nov 2016 – 21st Century Cures got pulled from shelf as they tried to figure out which was bipartisan opinions
    • Food – FDA part, genetic engineer and synthetic biology – talking with USDA to draw the lines here
      • With new innovations, do we need to change regulatory paradigm?
      • How do we ensure consumers know what’s going on? Labels / consistent language (ex: almond milk)
    • Smarter Food Safety – possibility for each food to have a full supply chain that we can check on (whether app-enabled, blockchain)
    • For future of FDA – far more processes automated using the glut of more data
  • Seth Walder (@sethwalder), ESPN Sports Analytics Writer; Alexandra Mandrycky, Dir of Hockey Admin for Seattle (Wharton Moneyball, 1/15/20)
    • Plus minus for receivers, how the NFL will do statistics
      • Different than hockey +/- but far more team-involved
    • Talking an Analytics Coverage for the CFP Championship – what is advantageous, expected, etc
      • Good sports information – bettors can make it as they will – actionable or not
    • Daily Wager show – betting and sports and new statistics
      • “Sacks created”, for instance – Zendarius Smith, lead league with 20+ and we’re double-teamed the most often
    • Sherman as only targeted 14%, very low for outside corner (one side only – right side)
    • Quantitative Analyst, Danny Chu for second person on the hockey side
  • Cynthia Medina, Founder & CEO of WAGER (Women at Work, WhartonXM)
    • Pay equity discussion – safe space for transparent talks
    • 15 years as exec recruiter, talent consultant, leadership coach and technical recruiting
      • International relations and policy expert for DoHS, Treasury, JPM
      • Served in Peace Corps as well, and founded Cheeky Monkey (women who don’t want to network)
    • Thinking in 3-5 year intervals for Jones C Mitchell – personal level for Cynthia, though
      • Short windows of time, managed by feel – not vision
      • She has 29 aunts/uncles (parents of 15, 14) – curiosity for her but not overall something she was chasing
      • 0 had gone to college, first in family to graduate, get a passport, live abroad
    • Lots of layaway for Kmart (waiting 6-9 months), also used to visit Puerto Rico every summer with family – layaway, also
      • Friend group established college as a norm – chose Georgetown since her uncle liked the basketball team
      • She had no sense of the power structure in the US – information and what she was learning
        • Pushes people to apply to hard universities – to be able to make change
    • After college – didn’t have a job – got an internship, needed to know she could do it without help
      • Finance area for GAP HQ, could do it (had stayed on a couch initially when she went to SF)
      • Then, decided what she wanted – went to Peace Corp and was the “chicken girl” in Nicaragua
        • Taught how to make a business with microlending loans ($100)
    • After Peace Corps – big picture idea for what’s next? Same person – senior year teacher who told her to apply for GU
      • Applies to Harvard – needed a big push – elevating yourself on your own, focus on international affairs
      • Friend at the time was in the area for 9/11 – saw / felt things on 9/11, so 9/12 she went to NY and been with her husband since
      • Felt like she’d done enough for herself, now wanted to serve again – worked for NYPD CT unit, Treasury – anti-terrorist financing
        • Latin American policy expert for the anti-terrorist work
      • She was in DC, husband in NY at the time
    • Started a family – husband had to go to SF for his job, 1 child (3-6months but turns out to be 2 years)
      • Everyone else was happy, now time to do what she wanted
      • Wanted flexibility, good at basics, people – razor-like skills on interview process (first for free, then charge)
      • Told what she was doing, advertised it, did her LinkedIn
    • Driven by wanting other people to feel content. Having lots of conversations with people who aren’t doing it correctly
      • Asking for right amount, not asking for what they should get
      • Let’s keep good people by being radically transparent – telling husband that she wished all salaries for two days were public
        • Husband, a manager, gave reasons against it (creates more work for managers) – jealousy and infrastructure
      • She BCCed 500 friends – sent email to pair people for salary conversations (1:1) in industry
        • Send LinkedIn and tell her how much everyone made – nothing happened for 12 hours
          • Men, often, would say it’s too personal / we’re good / exec-level where info would be adversely used
          • “My wife doesn’t even know how much I make”
      • Example for 2 people who are now friends of hers – exec woman, exec man – he was making $100/hr more
        • She didn’t want to know how much he was making (he offered)
        • Big data problem – once you know, you have to do something and that’s often where people will fall off
        • Creating database, sheets and sharing this – nothing to do with action / companies doing different things
    • With more data, what did she discover and finding the needs?
      • Certain industries, large pay gaps – media, marketing, certain places
        • conversation / article at Google – same levels, women > men but because they were staying longer at levels
      • Making the same in cases but women felt like they didn’t have the same respect / something they weren’t getting
        • Baggage conversations still – persistent imposter syndrome, even when paid well, still work to be done
          • Ability to self-advocate is always around – empowerment to demand space
      • Does workshops out/in companies – compensation with employees in large companies (inc. tech)
      • Example: new shift to tech company – not CEO but 2nd in command or “I’m young”
        • Often hear “well my husband makes more than enough so I don’t need to push”
        • “Money is not as important to me” – don’t see it as failing, afraid, embarrassed to say they want more, know I’m great
      • People will justify when CEOs or execs leave, company wants to bring in diversity hire and pay 60% – women go in to find
    • Have to ask what you want? If you want to be a manager but haven’t managed anyone.
      • Is there an ability or opportunity for you where you want to be?
      • If you don’t know what you want – someone will put you where they need you.
        • Haven’t made a decision. If it matters for $125k to do these 4 things, need to make actions to get there.
      • She likes helping people negotiate when they don’t have to – “have to” in short timeframe – next job is when you get promoted
      • Networking as you build relationships before you need them – started Cheeky Monkey because of motivation and clients
  • Elroy Dimson, Emeritus Professor at London Business School, chairman at Centre for Endowment Asset Management at Cambridge (Meb Faber #100, 3/19/18)
    • Author of Triumph of the Optimists – producing the indexes, small cap 100 in London
    • 10 countries, a century of data, including the UK for returns
      • Found lots of researchers had general interest in more financial returns historically and added them to the book #2 (2000 years Millennium Book #2)
      • Optimists were those that invested in common shares over bonds/T-bills in companies, which is why they named it thus
    • Found out that about 80% of industries that existed at start of century disappeared, and 2/3 of those that exist today didn’t exist then
    • Bond market in 1900 existed of some bonds with short maturity like 6-8 years, or in London, had perpetual bonds
      • Composition of mutual fund then vs now – always changing, industries decline and come up
      • Very few survive over the long term – perfectly viable investment strategy as changing
    • Countries that were utterly important – assets survived but ownership changed completely (1917 – Russia and 1940s – China)
      • Making the World Index, history for each country, assets going to zero and Index as the same
    • Idea that economic growth, GDP growth and stock market returns – discovered a negative relationship between them
    • Thinking about valuations – market caps (Japan in 1980s as biggest, US as 50% now)
      • Market cap-weighting as only consistent one
      • Interest rates in 21st century have been way down, real interest rates TIPS / inflation-linked bond of 4%
        • Average now is negative .5 %, promising $1 now, < $1 back later. Gordon model – value of a financial security = D / (r – g)
      • Focus is on real interest rates, nominal is adjusted by inflations in each country (which can be different)
        • Real interest rates were lower in 1970s (minus 10% when inflation was 25%+ and yields were 10-15%)
        • Negative real interest rates are about 1/3 of their 2000+ country years (118+ years, 20+ countries)
          • What’s different/rare now – low real interest rates with low inflation and low nominal interest rates
    • Want to bring currency back – most is driven by relative inflation compared to the US – long term it protects you, short term, hurts
    • Tilting away from market cap-weighting, seeing other factors that may or may not make sense
      • Factors measure exposure to attributes of companies (relative size, growth, otherwise)
      • Some factors have a reward – growth companies do well (no premium), value companies instead that show reward
        • Rewards for exposure to particular factors (in hindsight, clear) may not sustain into the future
        • Smart beta, Five Factor model, liquid common stock vs illiquid maybe (mutual fund wanting liquidity may take lower return)
    • For his book’s update, added a new chapter for Global Investment Returns Yearbook
      • Looking at durable, tangible assets – real estate is smaller (domestic aggregate real estate is smaller)
        • Expected return on housing – between financial return for long-term bonds and equities
          • Expected volatility is also in between those
    • His grandmother had a wine shop, he’s done studies on investment returns for 1900 on, postage stamps, wine, etc
      • Best wine as Claret, First Growth Bordeaux, Premier Cru
    • Best investment – his education, PhD at LBS and then Cambridge

What Do You Want to Happen (Notes Jan 6 – Jan 12, 2020) June 22, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Data Science, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, Politics, storytelling, Strategy, Time, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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It’s amazing how quickly the weeks go by in this pandemic time. Wherever you’re reading, I hope the lack of patience of the general public to rush outside was limited because in the bay area over the last 2 weekends, it’s the opposite. A rush of public places opening up brought all of the public in droves. Streets are crowded again and the freeways were packed through the weekend.

I posted earlier today about continuing to see webinars/conferences that are occurring remotely. This does increase access. But as far as engagement, I’m afraid for many, the reason for past attendance of the big conferences was the networking / interacting face-to-face. Also, there’s a staying power of people being in person. In reflecting on many of my own conferences, there’s the coffee chats each morning, the lunches of discussions, happy hours or dinners thereafter. These cannot be replicated in the virtual world to the same effect for many. It’s likely split – the increase of attendance by anyone anywhere is certainly a boon to the industry – wider spread of important and fundamental ideas/people is probably worth the loss. However, it’s a bit unfortunate in the spirit of the big conferences.

I’d be fascinated to see sponsorship groups, facility and hospitality adjustments to the different trend. DataScience Go was this weekend, which has had both remote events and annual treks to San Diego over the past ~5 years with excellent people. I’ve made quite a bit of virtual and real friendships from these events, and hope to be able to in the future. They had a solid platform with an Expo virtual room, “main stage”, as well as sponsored chats and hackathons. I do think that this was a good step in providing the opportunity to do many of the things we look for in reality – better could be the illusion of a real-world conference, maybe in augmented / virtual reality where you’re controlling an avatar and attending in a piece – 5 years maybe? Likely 10 for the areas that would need to catch up tech-wise. I’m hopeful.

Hope you enjoy the following notes – Naveed has progressed many companies forward that inspire future technology or movements into new spaces, Pauline Brown discussed LVMH and luxury retails control over items of want instead of need, as well as Cesar Kuriyama’s obsession with TED talks, building and design of 1 Second Everyday.

  • Naveen Jain, entrepreneur of 7 co’s  (Launch Pad, Wharton XM)
    • Founder of Moon Express, Viome, InfoSpace
    • As we get older, part of aging to be human and why we should be sick
      • Yes – lifestyle diseases compared to being healthy (being sick as a choice, as well)
    • What is gut bacteria? Wrong – humans have more foreign cells than human cells from parents
      • Genes from parents are 22k protein-producing genes vs 40 tn microbes in the gut (viruses, bacteria, etc)
      • Those 40tn microbes/organisms produce 2 to 20 million genes (at best, 1% human)
    • Tuning your body and food testing repeatedly – can change every 3 months
    • Parkinson’s and microbiome, obesity, autoimmune, etc
    • Why is healthcare making money when there is a disease?
      • Nobody is making money – incentives don’t agree. Same with educatio.
    • Moon Express – high degradation, low gravity, and figuring out an interplanetary society
      • Wrong question – “How to grow food on planet?” to “What do we need to keep people alive on the moon?”
        • Energy may come from radiation, photosynthesis, nitrogen/hydrogen or something else
      • Too many people look at the symptoms of the problem compared to the root
      • Based out of Cape Canaveral, FL and has around ~35 people, Viome is 150 (Seattle)
      • Only company allowed to leave Earth orbit
    • Entrepreneurs will be the next super powers – first time in history where individuals are capable
    • Starting as passing the test in programming without knowing or having seen a computer
      • Phone interview and apparently aced it (byte vs bit – big and small) – before being sent from India to New Jersey
      • Never seen a non-white person there and he was an alien
      • Working on MS DOS 1.0 – wanted to get back to India and go back
    • Moved to SV after applying for an interview with Convergent Technologies
      • Faxed his resume – half a dozen companies
      • After a few years, he decided he wouldn’t be the best programmer – first microprocessors at Intel
      • Moved up to Microsoft in Seattle after a few startups, then OS 2 (“half the operating system”) as a program manager
    • Wanted to start InfoSpace because he saw that there would be a paradigm shift
      • Good at understanding what is coming up next – fundamental for companies doing business
      • Couldn’t see how MS could grasp how to see it in the construct of the company – too much to lose if it succeeds
      • Friday evening he decided he was done, resigned Microsoft – went home to his wife and she chewed him out [pregnant]
    • As an entrepreneur, most people want to focus on where tech is vs where it will be
      • 2.5 years he took the company public, in 1999 – bigger than Boeing and others
      • Best you can do as you become an expert – can improve product by 10-15% but can’t do 10-100x better
        • Must fundamentally challenge the foundation of the question
    • For Moon Express – asked “why do people eat food?”, for healthcare not “What organisms in your gut?” but instead “what do the organisms produce?”
      • Come up with most disruptive idea that can help a billion people and multi-100 billion company
      • Ex: lack of fresh water, can solve it – help 1 billion – if you come up with filter and desalination, can feel really good
        • Why do we have shortage of fresh water? Agriculture – solve the root cause. Aquaponic, hydroponic, aeroponic to get more water.
        • Ask next: Where does agriculture water get used for? Majority is used to feed the cattle. Can do plenty of fresh water.
          • Take stem cell from cow – just grow muscle tissues, not eyes and otherwise.
    • If you’re successful with what you’re doing – is it going to actually help millions live their life?
      • Am I passionate or truly obsessed about it? “Passion is for losers” – if you don’t jump out of bed, you’re doing something wrong.
      • What are you willing to die for? And live for it.
      • If I had everything in my life, what would I do? And you can go get it.
  • Domains 1: The .com King with Rick Schwartz (StartUp Podcast 8/31/17)
    • May 1993 could call up ATT and get (800) numbers as ‘vanity’ numbers
    • 1-800-makeout as a recording call chatline – owns the number and rents it out
      • He had $1/mo for 150 of the phone numbers, got a nice check for $7700
    • Domain name .coms after the phone numbers – December 26, 1995 – lipservice.com first
      • Used it to advertise his numbers after he pestered his brother for registering the domain names
    • Friend called him saying dick.com was available – got $200 in the first night
      • Domain collectors started secondary market – he bought porno.com for $42k
      • He offered $10k, 15k, up to 42k after kid had done $5k originally
    • Sold porno . Com for $9mil after collecting around $20 mil on the site with only “Enter Here” and selling it temporarily
    • Seat at tables of all kinds of domains – path dependency for .com (different is a bigger deal)
      • He has hotproduct, candy, ass, shoes
    • Tried to buy Gimlet.com originally – $43k at start, then $76k (or $5k down and $1k for 48 mos)
      • Owner of the registry was called and he knew the value
      • Since, they still own Gimlet.fm, .audio, .media
  • Domains 2: Sex dot com with Gary Kremen (StartUp Podcast 9/7/17)
    • 1994 Stanford MBA and undergrad in engineer, internet seemed a good place for classified ads
      • Registered domains for all the places – housing, match, sex, jobs (.com)
      • Gets investors for Match.com and brings all domains to the company except for the primary one
      • Had a falling out with the investors and he left the company, plus the domains
    • Got a call from a friend in the industry who said he didn’t own the site – Stephen Cohen
      • Cohen had claimed he had received the domain via a letter from Kremen’s old address
        • Lots of issues with letter from typos and idea that a letter saying Online Classifieds (Kremen’s company) didn’t have internet
      • Legal defamation and suit back and forth
    • Cohen would make up stuff to tie up proceedings of dropping the case while legal fees signed up
      • Friends got tired of hearing it from Gary, except Cohen who would call him (Cohen believed that Gary had stolen it from him)
      • Gary was broke – lawsuits cost him a ton and started drug spiraling out of his mind
      • In 2001, won the suit as federal judge ruled in his favor – $40mn made and $25mn to damages for Gary
      • Dozens of companies offshore and money in his wife’s name – fled to Mexico before ruling and stayed
        • Gary went after Network Solutions (one who accepted forged letter) in 2002 and ruled in his favor in 2003
        • Digital property as domain and traced from this single lawsuit
    • He was owed a ton of money – 20% was his offer for information on his reward
    • Gary was able to collect Steve’s house (used to drive him crazy) in Rancho Sante Fe on 9k sq ft
      • Had ripped out all the wires, drawers, and it was a dump – Steve’s mansion cost a fortune with maintenance
      • Tries to reinvent himself as a porn entrepreneur – trying to play the part
      • Gets an offer to sell sex.com and he closes it – can’t let go though without getting the $65mn
    • Gary invited Tim, lawyer, over in 2005 – brought on as tracking down what Steve had
      • 3 primary attorneys, 1 in Mexico, private investigator – 5 months and $200k in legal time
        • Look for assets in other parts of the world, Estonia, Norway, Bahamas, Caymans, etc
      • In 2005, Steve is arrested in Mexico and given to Border Patrol and sent to jail in San Diego
        • Pony up or don’t leave – refused to reveal money for more than a year, also deposed by Gary’s lawyers
    • Steve is released and sent back to Mexico – they have tabs on him for new businesses
    • Gary collected $14mn for the domain, house for $4mn and settlement from Network Solutions (~$12mn)
      • Steve lives on the beach and never paid a penny, while also living comfortably
  • Pauline Brown, former Chairman of North America for LVMH (Wharton XM, Marketing Matters)
    • Recent author of Aesthetic Intelligence: How to Boost It and Use It in Biz and Beyond
    • Steve Jobs had the clarity of a vision for the design
      • Aesthetic empathy as the emotional effect on people in design – not just judged by strength of processor
      • Have to start at the organizational level, not individual – if it’s not prioritized and embraced, it won’t continue
      • Low on EQ, his genius extended to the silhouettes, textures, materials – generally lifting the senses
    • Radio show called Taste Makers on Starz channel, English undergrad at Dartmouth before Wharton MBA
      • First job after Wharton – consulting in 1995 to Leveraged buyouts and private equity, at Bain
      • Moved to Estee Lauder shortly after they had gone public – Head of Strategy (one of two)
        • Strategy to move from home-grown brand with same models (US dept store-driven)
          • Move to different distributions, geographic roots and strategically acquire – M&A movement
      • 1999 splash for Sephora (from France) – had mass vs class – clear differences between the two
    • LVMH has roughly 70 individual brands – almost all stems from Europe but US is largest market
      • Her role was the regional leader in a large market – take what could’ve been complex business to insight in others
        • Mobility of talent and other areas of underleveraged points
    • Between the 2 companies, $15bn (EL) and $40 bn (LVMH) produce 0 products that people actually NEED
      • If people were asked what they expected to see on the Paris Fashion Runway, it’d look nothing like what shows up
    • If you ask what a favorite restaurant is – you expect that the food is good
      • Won’t tell you that the lighting is so good, or the acoustics are so great, or utensils
        • She used the different glasses for wine as an example of what may draw the experience
      • With Apple Store – lighting of stores, choice of textiles/absence, windows as all glass
      • Navigation to the restaurant itself – CX
    • Awareness / Taste – differences for music, taste, style and career aspects
      • We numb our senses to get through the day – she does workshops to get back into senses
      • Chairs that force poor posture, fluorescent lighting (toxicity), buzzing or background sounds and awareness of others
    • Second step – interpretation, after awareness
      • How do you feel about the senses? Why do you feel that way? Some things are good, some things are unpleasant.
        • Rock music can be energizing to one, others may react negatively
    • Third Step – articulation (Steve Jobs)
      • Masterful at articulating with precision and command what felt good to him so thousands could execute on it
      • Hiring on a designer for their home, most people are too vague, imprecise or sloppy in communicating
    • Fourth – curation
      • Presenting at a store, menu coming together – CEO, presenting a story and visual accompaniment
      • Editorial command
        • Hosting a dinner and you want to make a great meal with 10 favorite ingredients, may not go together
      • Coco Chanel – elegance is refusal
    • Course of creativity at Wharton – some best results on creativity to inspire is with constraints
    • Rarely do the most successful people have the best style – once you have the means, you don’t really care
      • Easier to make decisions on constraints occasionally – cited some students that perform better there
  • Bruce Mehlman, founder at Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas (Behind the Markets 1/10/20)
    • One of biggest things – Chinese media co can come to US but not the reverse
      • Fundamental for way China governs, see very little chance for a resolution
    • Taiwan elections coming up – current president get re-elected (pro-independence camp)
      • Market in Taiwan was higher than S&P over the past year, will get elected priced in
      • Running against her – from Traditional Taiwan Party (original that left China in 1949) – considered non-establishment
        • Lost steam as we near elections – China would prefer him as pro-China, one-China/two-systems
    • Bruce’s opinion: size of China’s market and economic power is worrisome
      • Believed greater engagement of rest of world would lead to liberalizing and reform in China
        • Have seen rise of Western-type companies, technologically
      • We don’t see greater political freedom or cooperative economics by companies
        • National champions groomed to dominate across the world, rise of new power integrating without others
      • Graham Allison, prof of Harvard went back through history back to Sparta and Athens where rising power confronted existing power
        • 12 of 16 were war, 4 of 16 peacefully
    • 1 child policy result of demographic challenges – lead to massive aging workforce to retiree where they don’t have a safety net
      • Decelerating growth and pressure on Communist party – 2 choices: fault others abroad or become an integrated, trusted global partner
    • Perceiving an era of heightened disruption, financial collapse and angry at income equality
      • Couple that with technology, historic immigration and country changing faster than expected – then throw in politics
      • Gilded Age description of 1880-1900 parallels the current (income inequality, immigration with electricity, auto, railroad)
    • When system was built, it was 15 workers to 1 retiree, 5-10 years of retirement
      • Now, 2.5 workers to 1 retiree and 1/3+ of your life in retirement, along with not having full career path
      • More businesses started in the Carter administration weekly than now in the Trump admin
      • May need to reimagine policies and regulation for innovating
      • Rising prices may not be the only measure
        • How do we expand the winner circle? Superstar Economy by McKinsey
          • Right skills, edu, sector, city – never had more opportunity to be successful and command share of spoils
          • If most people don’t have this opportunity, they’ll vote for change/populace
    • Splinter-net – Bruce thinks we’re there and it gets worse
      • Core: goals of 3 regions are radically different – regionalized internet with these rules
      • Europe: protect people and very regulatory toward tech platforms (leaders in privacy, AI regulations)
      • US: empowering people, free speech (platforms with protection for users’ saying), tons of startups but maybe not protective
      • China: control, social credit scores, access to information and anonymity – successful in AI, TenCent, Alipay, Alibaba
      • Privacy of EU regulation – allowed Google and Facebook to grow market share because others can’t comply or afford
  • Danielle Cohn, VP of Entrepreneurial Engagement and head of LIFT Labs at Comcast (Wharton XM)
    • Further research
  • Cesar Kuriyama, creator of 1SE (Indie Hackers #141, 1/2/20)
    • Bootstrapping an app to millions through persistence
    • He’s been doing it for 8.5 years, each day
    • Background in visual effects and animation, agencies/advertising at the start of his career post-art school
      • Lots of media, thought he was CS – wanted to be an animator
      • Took some time in advertising to realize that he was executing others’ ideas, not his own, so became disenfranchised
    • Saw TED Talk of Stefan Sagmeister, also an alum of Pratt school in Brooklyn – Power of Time Off
      • Every 7 years, closes down his studio and does a retirement for a year – can do different things when young than old
      • Cesar would do 100 hour weeks on deadlines
      • Memory trigger as 1 second – not quite a photograph, still bonus of sound and wanted easy to rewatch
      • Can ALWAYS relive 6 minutes (1 year)
    • Day to day life was “being creative” in lieu of a brand or project
      • 1 second everyday was to keep a journal where he wouldn’t stop after 3 days – video
      • Courtland did 6 months to take to himself – drained half his bank account and had to figure it out
    • Cesar came up with the idea – didn’t intend to squander a year off – how does he make a living on something he’s passionate toward?
      • First 6 months – not sure what he wanted to do, directed a music video in the past and in spare time
      • Techie, but wasn’t sure how to build the app – asked everyone for questions / programs / dev shops
        • This was 2012 – $100k dev shops where they said it was difficult
      • iOS dev meetups and blend in – make friends that way
        • He went to agency party that friend had invited him to – sat next to a developer at a shop
          • Was at their office (had just started after they quit their finance jobs – wanted to get biz) and met up
          • Wanted to make sure they could do it – he brought credibility, TED talk and their video – they could do $20k
          • He didn’t have $20k, he’ll launch the KickStarter to get the funding BUT he didn’t want to do it without a prototype
          • They agreed – launched in months and it worked – most backers ever, lot of press, 11k backers
        • January 2013 launch and 2 weeks after the ending of the KickStarter
    • He would watch the TED Talk of the Day everyday – Facebook posted about the first TED auditions
      • He needed to do it so he wouldn’t regret it later – counselor when he was in high school said to “Live to regret things you do, not didn’t”
      • 1 minute – 60 sec video, included 30 seconds of his 1second everyday – they chose him and 17 others to speak at an event in NYC
      • Broadcasting his idea to everyone – not caring about those that steal or hack together a clone / idea
    • Execution is what matters and he paid enough attention and love into it
    • Built app, wanted it to exist and be on the app store – make enough money passively that he can use it to supplement other work
      • Terrible business decision – app was $1, 8k pledges were $1 – rest weren’t
      • $5 would have KickStarter backer section of 3-4k names in the credits of the app
        • Tried to create higher pledges for not a lot of work
      • At time, limited to 100 beta testers and he filled them quickly (or unlimited now)
      • 50k downloads first day – support ticket per second – it was him full-time and dev shop part-time
    • First 2 years – “would finish the app” – don’t finish tech, always an update or feature
    • Liked comics growing up; interned at Marvel in college
      • Tweeted, was eventually in movie Chef because Jon Favreau enjoyed the app
      • He tweeted it off in the morning and Jon looked at his profile with the app, TED talk
        • All from because Jon said something nice about showing up to Iron Man 3 (after producing/directing IM1+2)
    • Immediate awareness of business – can’t do it himself, first couple of years – endless emails
      • Couldn’t answer support tickets because of time it took to fix the things they were about
      • Coming from art and different space, without business – not tech or Silicon Valley
    • Going to Tim Ferriss book signing at an Apple store – waited it out until 10 people were left
      • Don’t raise money, figure out a way to build without investors, a prototype (how he landed on KickStarter)
      • First year of tech ecosystem – privy to VC-land
        • Charging was weird, no tech developer/CTO was red flag, video wasn’t native yet
    • Not everyone meant to start a company, be an entrepreneur – scratch the itch, though
      • Consumes a lot, now very little excuses to start (30% of ideas estimate as without coding)
      • Moving from #17 in app store, #3, #1 in 2018 (then first week) – paid app – New Year’s was always big time
        • Made it free at start of that year with subscription tier
        • Revenue 2x (2018 – $2mn, 2017 – $1mn, etc)
    • Decided to raise without venture – Bryce Roberts, Indie.vc, Earnest Capital after recognizing need for more devs
      • 13 in September and hired 7 more alone there – company retreat
      • Joel from Buffer also invested – wanted to emulate
    • If role of social media is to incentivize more scrolling so that they can show you more ads (engagement as metric)
      • He wants to bring max value for least amount of time – exactly what you wanted to consume in 5 minutes (vs 45)
      • Being acquired isn’t particularly a goal – private life for 7+ years for some
        • Notifications to turn them on – don’t need to know these instantly (1se does 1 a day / batch)
      • Created a habit for 1 second video – fix for friends/family and that’s it – Instagram as highlights
        • He has his 1SE video – would look to be meaningless if you watch others’, potentially
        • Ex: Apple email from “Best of 2019” that he posted a video recording
      • Social media as this generation’s fast food – probably worse for us than we believe
        • Maybe his will be 50 million people and not multiple billion
    • Who does he need to pay to not get targeted by ads? – Hopes for a better decade ahead
    • Find Venn diagram of what you’re capable of doing – if anything lingering in your head, have to start it
      • No limit to resources online – how to eat an elephant “one bite at a time” 2 years after he did the first TED talk
      • “Divide divide divide” – he grew up ashamed he couldn’t ride a bike because he was embarrassed
        • Ate at him all the time and jealous of bikers in NY – how does he start?
        • Needed a bike – (got a foldable one), could do a straight line, then went to just do that and brakes in bike lane
        • Would make a turn, another turn and within a year – he was that prick going between cars, as fast, thru red

Failures as Public (Notes from December 30, 2019 to Jan 5, 2020) June 9, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Data Science, Digital, education, experience, finance, global, marketing, medicine, questions, RPA, Strategy, Time, training, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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In the book “The Rise and Fall of Nations”, Ruchir Sharma goes through the emerging and developing countries that have shown patterns in growth or stagnation. How do we see that they failed? How did they succeed? Was it spending as a percentage of GDP? Is it the change in political party? Infrastructure? Social services? So many factors are at play for a nation. And any that have risen have also seen falls. It’s the natural business cycle that we see happen in macro all the way to micro. Why do I bring this up?

Because it happens to the smallest business units like startups, as well as individuals. We can’t help it. Some of us hide the falls, others wear it on our sleeves, open. I think there’s a combination of good for both. I will say that more reviews such as Top 10 Startup Failures of 2019 can be interesting case studies.

Maybe it’s not the companies themselves doing the reflection, but instead outsiders. This is a review exercise that can be useful for any individual to provide thoughtful reasoning. Granted, there were likely other, unseen circumstances that created a downfall but the exercise still works to recognize a large event like that. If more people see that through a lens, we would expect some growth overall. That content creation drives more people to start their own things. And that can only be good.

On to the notes!

  • Seth Juarez (@sethjuarez), Microsoft cloud advocate (Data Skeptic 12/15/19)
    microsoft_empower_business_web4

    • ML: don’t want to write an algorithm because it’s too messy but use data to extract knowledge, use ML
    • “I don’t know how to do ML, so call an API” vs “I know how to do TF, PyTorch, Deep Learning-custom stuff”
      • Build in control things
    • Unstructured data into folder, word doc, picture, extract knowledge into an intelligent way (any set of files)
      • Making more intelligent Indexing with Skills
      • When a doc is indexed, an Indexer cracks open doc (text, images, metadata)
        • Skillset aggregates series of skills in step order to go through them (ex: sentiment of text, added to tree)
      • Very similar to an ETL but customized
    • Predictions inside PowerBI, for instance – ML on rows of data to show this
      • Azure ML ModelInsights – vary features and see how it affects the predictions
      • Hoping bad ML models don’t affect or bias other models
    • Video Indexer – upload video, take text out, show when different people start talking (pictures in a row, for instance)
      • Sequence of audio and pictures – can get sentiment with text
      • When you create an indexer, you marry it together with data storage (where files are) and the SkillSet
    • Skill-builders as Excel-jockeys – his interview with a Rotterdam woman Faelina and getting innovation there
    • His question: Ethics in AI – models building and make sure there is fairness in their generation
    • Azure Cognitive Search links
  • Greg Zuckerman (@gzuckerman), WSJ writer, author of The Man Who Solved the Market (Resolve’s Gestalt University 12/23/19)
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    • How asset management has changed after Renaissance book, how relationships have evolved since releasing
    • Was fascinated by buy-side investors, bewildered by trade ideas but over time, become cynical
      • 2 and 20 aren’t providing unique, much value
    • When you don’t have outside LP’s, you can do other things that you can’t otherwise
    • Trend following in clusters of stocks, not necessarily a single stock – baskets against each other
      • Unique methodology into one equities model
    • When you talk to Simons and others in the firm early, you’d think they’d be quants but not the case
      • Still human – family office still will look at the office anyhow
    • 30 pages of NDA, had issues when he was starting the book
    • Everything they have is pattern investing and trading, so this is a problem eventually changing
      • Sophisticated or others that have money in market, but happening gradually
  • Dr. Rhonda Patrick (@foundmyfitness), scientist (Kevin Rose Show, 1/1/20)
    fmf-og-image

    • Discussing Omega3, metformin, sulforaphane research
    • Published paper on phospholipid form of omega3 supplementation, DHA – found in marine sources
      • Interest in getting it to the brain – DHA that is bound to albumane
        • DHA-free fatty acid transported blood-brain by passive transfusion
        • Blood-brain barrier erodes as you age
    • Brain glucose levels as important for Alzheimer’s disease
    • Fish contain 1 – 1.5% of DHA in phospholipid form, whereas fish roe contain 70-75% (including flying fish)
    • More from a gram of fish oil (she takes 3g) and eating fish/salmon roe – Nordic Pure3 for Rhonda Patrick
      • High dose EPA can have issues with blood thin
    • Epithelia cancers vs blood cancers (in mice)
      • Much of metformin studies are based on Type 2 diabetics – lived longer after metformin with age controls
      • Physical exercise and metformin were not synergistic
    • Activation of pulsing metformin – half-life
      • Exercise activates and lasts 48 hours, metformin does 36 hours after last dose
    • During fasting, NAD levels increase
    • 36 hour monk fast
  • Roy Bahat (@roybahat), Head of Bloomberg Beta (20min VC 10/18/19)
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      • NYC / Valley with portfolio companies in Kobalt, Textio, Rigetti Computing, Flexport
      • Former co-founder at Ouya, new kind of games console raising over $33mn
    • “Messy career” where he ran a nonprofit in government in nyc, fortune 500 media company, started the company and now investor

    • This day – October 18 – started a third fund, same build as the prior 2 – $75mn, same thing and sticking to strategy
      • Fund size is fund strategy
        • In terms of valuations – company valuation as marker of VCs rating company, but that’s a mistake
        • Want to own as much of the few winners
        • Competitive lanes issue – every time you write a check, you lose out on other companies in the space in a category
    • Egg toss of trust – model to be careful, customer calls at the end
      • VCs that ask to talk to customers immediately – slow them down, could be out of order
      • When he met Ryan Peterson at Flexport, he was still a board member at his hardware company and could try it out
        • Flexport reached out easily and offered to help him with his freight of hardware and team member made connection to CEO
    • As companies become successful and grow quickly, expectations keep raising
    • Fear from 6 years ago was if the VC was founder-friendly – not going to screw you
      • Greylock led a Series A for a friend’s company because Reid Hoffman had said Greylock wouldn’t screw you
      • Most people now are behaving to nudge the company’s upward – at Bloomberg Beta, company is the customer
    • Investment decision making – speed of investment decision
      • They try to avoid asking about other VC’s in the process (but want to know if there are timing issues)
      • Their offers are encouraged to be shopped – lots of funds moving down to write checks
      • Concerned about Seqoia, NEA, other funds? Frustrated because they’ve lost a few but have won a few.
        • Had a founder called them after 2 years prior – shouldn’t have taken that money to convince you – nothing
        • Founder mentioned he could do the raise and turn to others and they’d know who it was
    • Dependent variable – valuation (not the independent variable as most think)
      • Fund has strategy, do you want to invest? Check size – determined by fund size.
      • Strategy is to know the ownership target. 10-25% (Valuation as a function of fund size and check sizes with the ownership target)
    • Ownership to build over time – bigger check – they own what they want to own the day they invest
      • He wants to be on the team the day they want to be on the team
      • Generally, if new investors are there, pro rata and investment is hot
      • First check – anyone can say yes – good accountability, avoid groupthink
      • Following checks – unanimous to follow on
    • Greater fool dynamic – if actions reveal that you prey on greater fools at later times
      • Viable strategy in the current market, but maybe not going forward
    • Boards at the earliest stages – pretty useless but has sit in Series B’s
    • Favorite book: Waters Shut Down, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennit, Ain’t No Making It – how to develop empathy
    • Founder secondaries – fan of this, most personal and important underdiscussed aspects of a company
      • Will drive the decisions of a company because the founder is distracted – many valuable reasons
    • Thinks the heroes that are set up in the technology industry now have too much power – mainly as a result of money success
    • Mistakenly believed that starting a company and investing in a company are similar
      • Completely different roles – wanted to focus on one of these
    • Scout programs – Bloomberg Beta has Open Angels – giving money to individual investors is awesome
      • Angels, dollar for dollar, are more valuable in the ecosystem – issues can be lack of transparency (money comes from X)
    • Most recent investment – founder named Max Sinkhov – business help close businesses on home purchases
      • Title insurance States Title – validation that the owner in fact owns the home – super big before a website
  • Arvid Kahl (@arvidkahl), founders of Feedback Panda (The Indie Hackers Podcast, #140 12/16/19)
    announcementpanda-400x400-1

    • Him and girlfriend are founders of Feedback Panda, 2 years to $55k MRR and sold it
    • Commuted from Hamburg and Berlin 3 times a week – 2.5 hours each way, 15+ a week
      • Connection was poor so he read and listened to podcasts – automating and taking yourself out of the business
      • Built to Sell book and podcasts – SaaS as online teacher feedback
    • An agency keeps you as a freelancer, essentially – so try to make it so that it doesn’t have to be you
    • All advice being anecdotal – truth can be applicable to every business, just a matter of you selecting it
    • Started with the docparser and mailparser founder podcast with Indie Hackers (sold to Fortress Capital, also)
      • Found it interesting that there would be people to acquire the type of company
      • Received an email from them
    • Documentation of prcoesses, business processes and building – make it easy to transition into them
      • Connection from beginning and met Kevin recently
    • He started a blog after vacation, thebootstrappedfounder.com
      • Started out Feedback Panda – he was a software developer part-time, she was an opera singer & teaching English to Chinese
        • Feedback writing process took forever – 20 students ~5 min for next lesson and what was taught
        • Built her own system and templates to reduce the extra 2+ hours automatically
      • Knew what the market was because it was her exact same issue. If they could fix the problem, it’d be all over.
    • $10/mo would save hours and made one Facebook post as advertising, then word-of-mouth
      • Allowed them to communicate and have discussions – teaching online blog posts
      • VIPanda – interesting person from user base and interview them
      • Engaging enough, relatable content for their strategy – she’d already been in her groups before she got to the part
    • Teachers as very underpaid and overworked – good spot for business opportunity but not great for employment
    • How to run – he said he probably should have hired for customer service – always did it from the beginning
      • Live chat and messages, would build up an article if others saw the issue again
      • Time when volume happens will be interrupting because there’s new stuff going on while features were coding
      • Forced him to do as much automation as he could build from the software stack
        • Deployment, failure errors, alerting and restarting system
        • Elixir Phoenix, Docker containers and on Kubernetes with ViewJS and other API / browser extension
      • If something broke, it’d come back up – errors automatically reported, etc
    • He didn’t know how to hire, so he didn’t do it
      • Did an 11 hour video series for his next developer so he could send the link and felt great for it
    • Adding a yearly plan near the start was productive – $110 where people would commit to something for a year
      • After a year, noticed they added a lot of features – had a cloud template sharing system
      • Machine learning for pronoun translation, snippets with text extender and manipulation
      • Product was much better – charge more – grandfathered all existing customers to $10 before $15/mo
    • Hooked by Nir Eyal – instrumental – trigger, action, reward, investment – putting own template to share
  • Keith Devlin (@profkeithdevlin), “Math Guy” at NPR Weekend Edition, Stanford Mathematician (School’s In on Wharton XM, 9/1/18)
    • Math throughout the week and your life day-to-day
    • Using Tupperware dish – missing the size repeatedly, for instance
    • In Alaska, teaching algebra to students – remembers having to teach the quadratic equation repeatedly and lengthily
      • Math as a discipline, potentially
    • Math Guy license plate – content of math has changed throughout history, but not necessarily how we’ve done it
      • Save for 2 exceptions that are the printing press and then computing
      • Changes throughout history as connection with ancient Greeks, geometry, and in response to how society grows
        • 18-19th century – chemistry and physics drives, 20th and 21st century – biology and math through commerce, society
    • Cell phones as answering 95% of undergraduate exam questions in fractions of a second, execution of procedure that can be coded
      • Faster, better, quicker for as many variables as you want, just from your phone
      • Shouldn’t test these things anymore but how to do them and when to use them
    • People should have a general sense of numbers sense – different people have levels of it
      • Tips, for instance – example of doubling tax and then taxi cabs or restaurants starting at 20/25/30% since min ppl will enter own
      • Don’t need to learn to execute – won’t get the right degree of understanding without doing it
        • Teach not for execution, but for understanding now – bunch of high school students reverse engineering UPS/FedEx algorithms
        • Had to understand little things to figure out what would go on – Nueva school
    • If you start with technology to interest them, they’re already engaged – good teacher can ask interesting questions given the motivation
      • We shouldn’t have to ask Why’s and How’s and What’s
    • Research in 1990s watching adults after buying things and seeing things
      • If they have to do it mathematically, can get to near 98% quickly
        • if you take it out of the context but the same types of problems, it goes to 37%
        • Children doing licorice (to count 10s) won’t work once you remove it from the context
      • Embodiment of math in video games (Kevin’s been working on it) – reward in it to achieve the reward which pulls away from content
        • Small number that do it right – find a way to represent it that’s natural (in process, for instance – thinking process is math)
        • Slides he shows audiences with the same problem and same situation – one side is math symbols, other is game designed
    • He got a grant for games where the problem adjusts for the game and shows the manipulation of the symbolic representations
      • Intuitive quantitative symbols – working on online course for teachers/parents
      • Introduce problems (from movies, for instance) where you have to begin with writing a paper

Prioritizing Personal Projects (Notes from December 23 – 29, 2019) June 1, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Digital, experience, finance, Founders, Gaming, global, Leadership, marketing, social, sports, storytelling, Strategy, Time, TV, Uncategorized.
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We overestimate what we can do in a short time but underestimate what we can do in a longer period. This has been reiterated by Jamie Siminoff, Bill Gates, many others. It’s telling but a great mantra if you can zoom out and high level back off. Scheduling makes this so much better.

I have wanted for the longest time to get Spotify or another podcast to listen to me in the car and allow me to say something basic like “Make a note 30 seconds ago” and let me review the notes later. This could work for audiobooks or podcasts. Even allowing ebooks and articles to bookmark this type of stuff for where the page is would be useful. But maybe that’s through an API in the podcast or Kindle? I’ll have to see and report back.

In light of planning further career-wise, I have taken it upon myself to take on projects that I plan on making public for analysis sake. As an external consultant, much of my work has been NDA / kept private in general for good reasons (VC firms and start-ups are likely some of the more controlled privacy-wise). Some aren’t, and those are typically the ones that I’ve noticed have a much better, transparent brand or have less questions around their business models. A few things have stood out to me about predictions/forecasting, especially in annual or quarterly time frames that publications will release. I have focused on ML/Fintech/Edtech/Data companies over the last 5 years more heavily, so looking through the Fintech 50, Next Billion Dollar (Unicorn) Startups and Hottest 50 LA Startups. Outside the bay area / silicon valley, scanning through the different ecosystems can be an interesting landscape for focused, scaling and growing startups. LA because it’s still in California, somewhat close proximity but ultimately an alternative driving force than typical elsewhere (namely the bay).

So, I’ll have a chance to update my preliminary thoughts on the year-to-year changes – how many startups dropped off, which proceeded to move up the list, any funding raises, product progress or expansion. Hope you enjoy the notes!

  • Decade in Tech (Wharton XM)
    • 4G entering 2011 compared to 5G now
    • iPad introduction – better than netbook
      • Tablet rampup – Microsoft following with the Slate
    • Social media launching
      • Instagram launch in September 2010 – 2 guys at Stanford
      • Taking photo class from a plastic camera that a professor had given him – best, soft focus and filtered photography
      • Offering to buy Instagram in April 2012 for $1bn
    • Tesla as “gift of light” Model S – first time supercharging across the country
      • Musk took CEO role in 2008 (Model S 2012)
    • WeWork – likeminded individuals wanting to work with others outside of making money
      • Sharing space to be something bigger
      • $16bn in 2016 to pulling IPO in 2019
      • Strength as marketing capability, not necessarily management
    • Controversial events
      • Kendall Jenner at BLM Pepsi commercial
      • United – offering money for ‘volunteers’ until 4 people get off flight
        • $400 voucher and up to $800 – escalation, dragging the Chicago doctor kicking and screaming
        • Many other airlines improving overbookings
    • Ice bucket challenge for ALS – 70k tweets per day at peak
    • A/R rise as it started with Pokemon Go
    • Cutting the chord – rise of unbundling
  • Brant Pinvidic, author of 3-Minute Rule: Say Less to Get More (Wharton XM, Career Talk)
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    • Mostly reminding people of what they’re doing badly / guilty – awareness but wanted to change it to make it productive
    • Help you get as much info in 3 minutes as possible since “elevator pitch” doesn’t really work anymore
      • Meaningful engagement or not now
    • Small ideas not actually small ideas – respect the knowledge of your audience
      • Your excitement is a long history of building information – feed them piece by piece
        • Ex – AirBnb for horses: people that travel with horses need to stick them where they’re going
      • Clarity as super compelling – complications are messed up
    • Don’t open with the hook – audience needs to build into the potential
      • Katy Perry example: more Guinness book of World Record accomplishments, for instance
    • Selling a show in 12 minutes in Hollywood as junior producer between Simon Cowell and Mark Burnett – had gotten down on himself
    • People looking for hook – less dynamic personalities (biotech, oil & gas) that pulls the nervous energy out for why it will be great
    • Bringing an idea to life on post-it with just a few words – see the value come together
      • 25 bullet points to pitch his show as well as he did (core piece of information)
    • Halfway to understanding what the hook is when you can place the hook
  • Jonathan Lai (@tocelot), cnsmr team; Joel De La Garza, CIO at Box (16min on  News #17, 12/20/19)
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    • Star Wars trailer premier in Fortnite – JJ Abrams coming out of Millennium Falcon and asked to choose which trailer
      • Interactive and persistent collaboration with Avengers and now Star Wars (lightsaber)
      • 12 million people showed up for Marshmello’s in-game concert (of 250 million users)
    • Scarcity in a world of abundance – getting people there
    • Brand advertisers have a limited set of options to reach Gen Z – no display ads, billboards, maybe Snapchat or TikTok
      • Hundred hours of watching YouTube or Twitch or in-game events that eventually go out after to share
    • Fortnite’s Chapter 2 server downtime of 3 days as “Black Hole” that went viral and video
    • Security and backdoor encryption – creating escrow keys to get backdoors
      • Can’t create backdoors undermines the trust in general, even if good guys
    • Any discussion around weakening crypto doesn’t make sense
      • Conflation between a few things: we have systems that are built and they should provide backdoors/access to law enforcement
        • Backdoor to phones, for instance
      • Phone uses strong cryptography and backdoor there – focus on cryptography
      • Phone and put in safe – nobody talks about the steel of the safe – access
    • End-to-end encryption vs getting phone stolen, for instance
      • Roger Stone investigation: WhatsApp and Signal to communicate but iCloud turned on which saved all messages anyhow unencrypted
      • Metadata and other encryption can tell you far more than even the messages themselves
    • If you build devices, how much gov access do you want to provide?
      • Joel (grad student, involved in CDN – bad actors, like pedos, would use and work with Interpol to find them)
  • What to Know about CFIUS (a16z 12/23/19)
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    • Committee on Foreign Investment in US on Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018, updated in September ’19
    • Katie Haun interviewing Michael Leiter (law firm Skadden Arps) about function to review any foreign investment in US business with natsec concerns
      • 13 agencies ran by Dept of Treasury split between 2 camps: want foreign investment and concerned about security (intelligence, NSA, FBI)
      • Semiconductor moving from US to Japan, for instance, that would limit Japanese investments
    • CFIUS limiting in 2006 for Saudi Arabia and Emirates and now is Chinese investment in the US
      • Changes in technology, expansion of data and things that weren’t present even 10 years ago
      • Tech, data touch, real estate, work with US gov or anything else (dog food sold to SEALs)
    • Everyone working in fintech, credit reports, broad financial data will have more than a 16-digit credit card number and will be subject
      • 1 million people for arbitrary amount of data
    • Prior to CFIUS reform, if Alibaba acquired someone, it was up to both parties to submit to CFIUS – vast txns were never seen, no req
      • Both parties come together, transaction description, foreign acquirer, motivation, business reason
        • Good, very bad (president can veto using Article 2), can impose mitigation for sec risk (board of US citizens, data controls, etc)
      • Pieces of reform that are not voluntary – fines and compliance possible
      • Mandatory if company operates in sensitive sector listed, or produce/design export control tech
        • Includes encryption, investment over some size – mandatory filing
        • High-end types of LIDAR – controlled vs standard for automobile, not controlled
      • Could range from (ER99 not, or export-controlled) – computing power, battery storage, sensors
      • Software tends not to fall under CFIUS unless encryption
    • WSJ civil military cooperation – some stuff is mandatory and more stuff will be
    • US business – interstate commerce, could be French office with US office in US – CFIUS gets to look at US element of transaction if French company is picked
      • Green-field investments – foreign investments can be made and won’t be looked at, really
      • Ultimate parent and ultimate ownership of acquirer or investment (private equity, capital)
    • More than 9.9% equity or some other controlling interest – board seat, for instance
  • Josh Sapan, CEO AMC Network (Wharton XM)
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    • Challenging to get through people’s gateways to get to audiences
    • Base incumbent business for United States – affiliates, selling ads and that represents their financial fundamental part of company
      • Video prices coming down in different options
      • Spending less money on AMC Networks in the skinny bundles
    • Toughest marketplace for Netflix to deal with – Indonesia, as CEO said
      • Vertical scaling vs horizontal
  • Adam D’Augelli (@adaugelli), Partner at True Ventures (20min VC 12/16/19)
    true-ventures-logo

    • Investments in Fitbit, Peloton, Hashicorp, Splice, Ring, Automattic, Tray.io
    • Instructor at Uflorida in Business Finance, founder of Perfect Wave Records (donations)
    • Full-time in June 2010, 10 people total about to invest in second fund
      • Met them through vstocksolutions portfolio company (had worked there internship)
      • Reached out potentially – didn’t know where to start at intersection business/finance/tech – UF not as well-known
      • Phil had offered a role – we like you but haven’t hired someone as junior so come and we’ll see
    • Joining as a young one – new firm where you have a ton to do and roles not really defined, structured
    • Thinking about portfolio construction and business models (under-represented in vc discussions)
      • Fund-level returns for partners – funds at True are around $300mln with specific institutional capital at pre-seed, seed
      • Investments $500k-$3.5mln targeting 20-25% ownership, $2mln for 22.5%
      • Self-selection bias for why they have a better way for them
    • They back founders early, invest $1-3mln and try to own 20-25% where the downside is 1% and it will be a maximize risk for timing
    • 28 people twice, 8 people three times for the founders they’re backing now
    • Amy Errett – starting Madison Reed, wanted $2mln to get off ground for equity
    • In ’06, convincing founders to try not to raise as much
    • Lead investment amount – meaningful bias for single lead with deep pockets
      • New group of firms that will work with emerging founders where they can bring others in, potentially
    • Ring or Splice are interesting businesses now, but in earliest stages, True able to support them through risks at start
    • In each fund, make 45-50 initial investments and reserve heavily
      • 1 or 2 founders, investment in company, will generate the whole fund and 6-8 will be fund-level return (25%+)
      • Inputs to each investment: founder taking tons of product, market size market-risk at their price and raising their type of money
    • Culture at True: decisions done by protagonist with support of 1 or 2 others in nonconsensus way
      • Support for whole team and company – investment loss as part of process for repeatable out-performance
      • 1 of 10 says the company fits the model, bring on team and then get excited
    • Investing at seed stage – 65% near or at company inception, 1 to 3 founders super early
      • Board is access to True, investment team and founder network – monthly call for an hour or so, call me when you learn
      • Board coffees – 15min conversations on this – enable for speed
      • Take board seat at series A – 90 minutes every 8 weeks, roughly, when they have multiple investors, etc…
    • Select funds – pitch to founders: be here day 1, continue to invest as you go further, what’s best for company
      • He was on board at Ring during acquisition – partner John still on at Peloton
    • Learned a ton from Jamie Siminoff – how fast you can grow is much faster than you think
      • Taking asymmetric risk early on within business is valuable – ex. DoorBot – Jamie rebranded
        • Ring.com domain found, was going to raise $3.5 mln – ultimate cost was $1mln ($200k on that day)
    • Favorite book: Doing Capitalism in Innovation Economy by Bill Janeway and Carlota Perez Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital
    • Biggest challenge in role: Doing more doesn’t correlate with improved performance – Mitchell and Hashicorp had left a portco and later invested in him
      • Steve and Splice – met in Bogota at a conference and happened to meet him in NYC for breakfast after
      • Don’t know which activities are the right ones
    • Knowing more about a market – false sense of security to catch up with knowledge
      • Investing in the Unknown and Unknowable – academic paper – markets in many unknowns where knowing more leads to worse decisions
    • David Scott at Matrix – software metrics and repeatable business growth
    • Randy Glide at DFJ Growth – embraces risk and has a human approach
    • Andy Wiseman at USV – small significant syndicate being a great co-investor
    • Pat at Sequoia – depth of knowledge on being a great board member and partner to CEOs
    • Recent investment: MemBio – mission-driven bio and positive impact creating red blood cells outside the body

Listening and Encouraging (Notes from December 16 to Dec 22, 2019) May 21, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Data Science, DFS, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, Gaming, global, Hiring, Leadership, NFL, NLP, RPA, social, sports, Strategy, Uncategorized.
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Sometimes it doesn’t work. Asking the right questions to people in conversations to get a sense of what they’re truly passionate about gives me hope for those that may eventually try something different, new. However, unless I followed up repeatedly, most people let their passion slowly pass, or just remain in thought.

This is a big part of how I learn, engage and stay passionate for the things I’m curious about. Other than being scared of stagnation, hearing people come up with ideas, test them, build and hopefully succeed repeatedly gives me an energy to try to convince others to do the same. I understand the difference between being told of something that has been mulling around in someone’s head or even light discussion among friends compared to prototyping or validating with potential customers or asking people in the field if something’s viable.

A few examples of ideas people have told me they wanted to start and hadn’t (yet some that I believe have done well, just have room in the market) include an HR in Tech stories podcast, traveling medicine / tourism aggregator, and a d2c ecommerce diamond shop (which I’ll go into more detail), more social podcast sharing among friends, and still a market-taking happy hour app (yes, I had to insert my own – I’m leaning toward Glide.app through Google Sheets).

For diamond shop – this was by someone who graduated with entrepreneurship degree, had a validation for the idea and then was told by others it wasn’t worth doing because it’d be high cost. Granted, that was a few years ago, but it would’ve been hackable then. It’s certainly easier now with ecommerce shops via Facebook/Etsy/Shopify and other support, not to mention the audience you’d be in front of. The premise is that a diamond historically took the role of what a pearl represented because of the hardness – you could pass this on as an heirloom to further generations, and you know it won’t be breaking. It’s yours. There’s a legitimate attachment there that defines a core part of the worth/value. For the idea – it’s increasingly cheaper to 3D print a model you can build/customize on CAD (or related tools). This would be printed in plastic that can be melted to be replaced by silver – these rings would be sent to customers that are ordering (possibly with a small down payment / shipping covered, ie $5-20). It’s a model of what the ring would look like, just without the diamond part – but as far as sizing/size/bulk and the other key parts of the ring, customers can try them on and feel it. There’s an emotional attachment here that should occur. If they’re loving it, or have requests for changes, they can do that. Possibly a back and forth could take place, but once it’s settled, the wax/plastic mold can be printed as they would normally do a custom ring and use the materials that have been requested. We’ve removed the in-shop aspect and made it personal, simply by removing much of the fixed costs and labor costs that would go in to this. She was an expert in jewelry and had years of experience. Someone just told her no. 3D printing is now a hobby and can be done there. Many jewelers have other shops do the molding. I’ve been thinking of helping her start by just simply creating a mockup of the site. Can certainly figure out the rest.

Anyhow, let’s see the notes.

Week of December 16, 2019

  • Tyler Willis (@tylerwillis), angel investor (20min VC 2/16/16)
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    • Raised with seed companies at Index Ventures, Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures
    • Port co’s include Lyft, Patreon, Change.org
    • First co that he was on founding team on was acquired by Oracle, then had a friend raising a seed round for concept in CV
      • Preproduct, premarket where he did a small investment (decided it was bad to keep all eggs in one basket)
      • Decided to invest in Patreon, Loungebuddy (Airport lounges) and ShopApp inside of Shopify
    • Rocketship – valuation doesn’t play a role but ID opps for big (10x path, seed > 10k)
    • Customer acq and growth as a lightweight process to get a core part of the company
      • Optimizing for experiments – 1 week to test compared to 8 week deployment
    • Founder type – uniquely insightful to the place they’re in
      • Bias for people when he can sit down and get a high-octane thinking / smarts – hard to hang out to the rocketship
      • False dichotomy of domain expertise – could have learned wrong lessons or may not know anything in enterprise, for instance
    • East of Eden, Innovator’s Dilemma as great books
    • Favorite investors – Naval, Sam Altman, Gus Tai at Trinity Ventures
    • Favorite app – Omni (stuff storage), Delectable (learning about wine)
  • Ash Fontana (@ashfontana)- GP Zetta, Leo Pelovets – GP Susa Ventures (Venture Stories 12/17/19)
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    • Getting pricing power – need to find balance between incentivizing founders and price, but not a big deal
      • If they get 80% of company, 20% for founders – may not keep them looking ahead
    • Company and VC differences – companies have different roles but VC has very similar, solitary roles
    • On non-investing side, COO or Head of Ops to run operations but not particularly CEO or investing side needed
    • Working with best founders, LPs aren’t as important (but they are the primary VC customers)
      • None matters unless you have results for LPs and providing value – founders need the platform or help
    • If you were an LP, what would you want to be in: YC, First Round or Benchmark?
      • YC for Ash – lots of opportunity for capital deployment at many different levels
      • Benchmark for Leo – very large differentiated returns, ~30x according to Leo (YC may be 5x-7x possibly)
        • More variance because of smaller portfolios in Benchmark
      • YC may be beatable but it would be in losing their way as a general accelerator
        • Ash brought up operational risk for LPs – more points of failure because of all the touchpoints
    • AngelList as trading to be profitable and dynamic system for new things
    • LinkedIn as insurmountable lead in enterprise/business space of social network (as opposed to consumers)
      • Hard to disrupt with multiple verticals
    • Requests for startups: data generation/building data (synthetically) – ex w/ params
      • 10k examples of chairs that are brown that have 4 legs, in low light, at this angle
      • Weather climate, also
      • AutoML – making it easy for non-specialist engineers to experiment with ML
    • Leo Requests: ISA with bundling with coaching, training, VISAs – realigning incentives
  • Ben Tossell, founder Makerpad, Sahil Lavingia (@shl), founder GumRoad (Indie Hackers 11/11/19)
    5db04ceea0aa2b500db953c9_makerpad-sharing-image

    • No-code vs code – building a solution to a problem without being technical
    • First web-sites like Dreamweaver and tables for no-code – like WYSIWYG
      • Halfway things like WordPress where you can customize or use framework
      • Building a newsletter, can use Substack, for instance – Marc Andreesen
    • Sahil’s opinion that we’re unlikely to see a billion dollar start-up without a code base
      • But likely to see many creatives build on their own, have the options
    • Choice of no-code compared to code – using Circle as their integration testing methods
    • Nontechnical founders that had cofounders for developers or finding for cheap
    • Ben as bringing up Lambda School (Airtable, Slack, Zoom, Notion) and Makerpad member who was just starting to say it’s breaking
      • $150mn in Series A to get to worry about things breaking first
      • “What’s my Airbnb version look like?” but should focus on the first $10, 100 before there
      • gumroad-logo-retina
    • GumRoad as being built in a weekend – not competent enough for him to do no-code
      • Ben argued it was easy to do in no-code but they’re each discussing the same thing from different experiences
    • Queries on data for code – tools like Clay/Retool where you can work together – can run queries easily
      • No-coder does query and can recognize it to manipulate
    • Powerful for on-code is git and version controls – clear log of security, feedback, quality of code
      • Apply it to other things – pull requests/merge (conflicts)/conflicts in document setting on Notion, for instance
      • 100+ tutorials in MakerPad now – what’s interesting or grab attention
    • No-code as Patreon/Cameo/Airbnb/Uber where the overhead for coding sucks so much value from (Patreon at $30-40mln burn)
      • Creator would be interesting with price-motivating factors because you could have a more affordable option
      • “What’s the point of trying if I can’t even get to the ceiling?”
      • Meetup clone – need the “this is how you build it” – go look at the tutorials
    • Not enough answers for “Where can it go?” because they haven’t seen enough
  • Niccolo De Masi (@niccolodemasi), CEO and Chairman at Glu Mobile (20min VC 2/18/16)
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    • Kendall and Kylie game (#1 at app store at time), Kim K game, Deer Hunter and others
    • Was CEO at Hands on Mobile as well as CEO at Monstermob Group Plc
    • No money to be made in games in 2003 because they were for feature films, polyphonic, true tracks and he ran a public co before selling in 2007
      • Raised money to get bid for Glu from Hands on Mobile but got a call from Egahn Zander to transition to paid from f2p as CEO
      • Original IP value with games specifically for mobile on hardware
    • How will you make money in late-stage startup for future? Next year or two vs past.
      • Forward looking and professional managers – no founders anymore. Built from 350-850 people.
    • Moore’s Law as quite predictable but believes there are different models, utilities, and price models
      • Last gen console power in pockets now
    • Barometer of quarterly calls driving placements and interim 6 week calls for how they’re doing
      • If transparent in bad times, you may have quick punishment vs window-dressing
      • Rewarded more quickly in the upside, as well – private markets vs public markets
    • New startups as worth more than incumbents – bay as more regular here
      • Well ahead in private markets compared to public markets (his counter – at least they have earnings)
    • No BD or CorpDev – scour market and wait for inbounds of compellingly priced assets (often distressed), significant private markets
      • When Glu is $6-7, they can pick up companies easily but not so much at $2-4
      • Savings to be had for core customers when they have scale within Glu (mentioned PlayFirst)
      • “retirement community for young people” – startups subsidized, food, clothing and sharing app
    • By 2020 – more discipline in different sectors potentially – overvalued will have to come in line
      • King that was acquired by Activision Blizzard – consolidation forced by VC funding and people flow
    • Better to be #1 in smaller market than #10 in a larger one – be great w/ you’re good at
  • Tim Draper (@timdraper), founding partner at Draper Associates and DFJ (20min VC 2/22/16)
    logo-color

    • Original suggestion for viral marketing in web-based email to geometrically spread an Internet product to its market
      • Standard marketing technique now
    • EE at Stanford before going to Apollo Computer as assistant to President before HBS
      • Came out and wanted to be a VC (grandpa/father both were VCs and didn’t want to do it) – wanted to be a consultant / cheerleader
      • Helped him having an entrepreneurial base but some can certainly do it if it’s your goal
    • Borrowed money from gov to get started – knocked on doors with software on them
      • Most VCs needed others to help fund a company so they worked together – moreso now for angels, but not necessarily VC because of money
      • VC has gone global and has enjoyed that expansion – affecting the whole industry
    • His son’s accelerator, Boost, focusing so they can accelerate any business – he enjoys investing in 2-3 people with a good mission
      • Get people set up in the right way – medical, eshares, network accounting, and other operational methods
    • Favorite pitch – Nicholas Zenstrom at Skyper – most smooth, effective way and he’d agreed before calling and changing business model
      • Enthusiastic, quiet confidence for the enormous successes – Robin Lee (Baidu), Hotmail’s founder, Martin Everhart (Tesla)
    • Draper Uni of Heroes (entrepreneurs/founders) creating school during crash for better people
      • Give these people the confidence + tools while ridding them of shielding
      • DraperUniversity and StartupU – great marketing for school
    • Bitcoin interesting for a year ahead of the time, and then post-Mt Gox hack it went down only 20% so he jumped in
      • Micropayments, fees in journalism and podcasting as well as ending credits and cross-country
    • Enjoys hearing Andreesen, Moritz, McClure at 500 Startups, Plug-n-Play as first incubator, Ron Conway
    • Reflects on The Startup Game (his father’s) and Rothschild’s Bionomics and concept of evolution of econ and bio
    • Recent investment Laurel & Wolfe (interior decorating as best furniture for crowdsourcing) – closed update Dec ’19
    • Also invested in Favor, marketplace food delivery – acquired by HE Butt Grocery
  • Brandon Deer (@bdeer26), VP of Ops & Strategy at UIPath (20min VC 12/20/19)
    og-image-orange

    • Using RPA combined with business processes for automation
    • Using Gary Kasparov’s loss to IBM in chess before saying it’s no longer a chess or human – combination where average + average is optimum
    • Having growth and breaking things
  • Wharton Moneyball, Ken Pomeroy and Brian Burke (@bburkeespn) (Wharton XM)
    • Discussing the biggest predictors, NCAA basketball or in football
    • Pomeroy and how he’s adjusted his football predictions

Organizing the Mind, Studying (Notes from Dec 9 to Dec 15, 2019) May 6, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Data Science, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, medicine, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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As I try to stay organized overall, and especially in our current environment, it does seem that I have hit a snag in where/how to curate all information. I’ve attempted to settle on Roam to do notes since it keeps bi-directional links and essentially enables a personal wiki. However, this is awesome once we get to enough notes/details/lists. It’s a pain in the ass until then because it’s just not set up.

Until I get to the point where I can export all of what I want and stylistically group it, it will be a very large work-in-progress. Why? Well, I started to list a few things of what I like to keep track of. Here’s a few off the top of my head:

  • Notes from Podcasts/Webinars that I usually keep in OneNote (top include 20min VC, FinTech Insider, a16z, Wharton Moneyball, The Indie Hackers podcast, among others)
  • Book notes that are either in OneNote if they’re older or, if in my Kindle, potentially on Readwise/Overdrive
  • Daily/weekly updates including investment research via Crunchbase, lay of the land from a16z, Futurism interesting stories, StockTwits Daily Rip, Makerpad/Product Hunt updates, as well as Beta List products
  • Newsletters and Trends – Morgan’s Blogging, Nat Eliason’s Medley and other notes, Justin Gage’s Technicality, Trends report from The Hustle, Polina Marinova’s The Profile
  • Then there are the finance and investment articles that go to my RSS feed (OfDollarsandData, Ritholz, Datanami, Tomas Tungaz updates, plenty of others
  • Last but not least – bookmarked websites, Twitter likes/bookmarks that I just don’t get a chance to go back to, GitHub starred pages, anything shared in Slack or LinkedIn groups

How the hell do I organize all of that? Well, we’re trying and I’ll update you on where we land. All I know is that I should curate it down to my favorites or just try to learn less. Who wants to do that, though?

Week of December 9, 2019

  • Yaron Kniajer, Jared Kash, Cofounders of Sababa Ventures (Wharton XM)
    e5dc4c91-dbf9-4506-887e-d4b757be70bc

    • Discussing how safe and nice Tel-Aviv is
      • Rising of AI and tech in Israel ecosystem
    • Bridging the gap between entrepreneurs and investors
    • Talkspace – mental health app from Israeli creator
    • 18 million in revenue to New York, knowing the market and opening doors
    • Host, Randi, is a GP
  • David Sinclair (@davidasinclair), Prof in Genetics and Aging at HMS (Kevin Rose Show, 10/30/19)
    • Cofounder of 7 biotech co’s, co-editor of Aging journal, boardmember and 25+ patents
    • Book – Lifespan most recently Book link
    • Genes in yeast cells for aging while 29 entering Harvard finding red wine part
      • Media swinging from “wow we’ll live forever” to the opposite
      • Mice had a healthy longevity even if obese on wine part (caloric restriction without)
    • Sirtris Pharma – 2004 started and focusing on activators of Sirtuins – GSK purchased in 2008 for $720mln
      • 2010 people at Pfizer and Amgen published saying their research was wrong
      • 1 amino acid and 1 protein in living mouse as not living longer for resveratrol
      • Scientific debate limiting patients, potentially (needs to be taken with fat / drug-like molecules at GSK)
        • Patent life is 20 years and he doesn’t have the extra $20mln to get the clinical trials going again
    • For his book, we age similarly to yeast cells aging – loss of information (1 is genetic and other is, fragile, analog)
      • Backup copy of information for aging / cells came in 2018
    • Claude Shannon as one of his heroes – backup copy, need an observer and the rest of backup (when he did computer science/internet)
      • Remembering in 1999 that he woke up in middle of night to write out the theory of aging
      • Gene therapy doesn’t work in the eye – compared to a clock for memory of time, cog, removing hands or resetting
    • Nanoworld and subatomic in DNA – if secret is there, Methane compared to subatomic
    • Going as fast and safely to get it to humans – eye regeneration for a few cases
      • Nerve crush (spinal damage), glycoma in mice and restore vision, 1 year old blind mice with gene therapy can see
    • NAD and InsideTracker for genetic results and following the mixture / output
    • Nuances to how CGM and monitors react to individual foods (brown rice vs others, for instance)
    • NR, NMN and NAD checking for longevity and how to raise NAD
      • All cells need NAD to grow – if you put them up to levels of younger, you likely won’t cause cancer
      • Guesses for couple hundred thousand people on NMN supplements and nobody has died, to date
    • Pulsing and hormesis – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
      • Information on trees where older ones will send a notice to younger ones that a danger is coming
    • His father as 80 and healthiest in a while – post-stroke, heart attack and had heart disease
      • Taking metformin, NMN, resveratrol for a bit now
      • 500mg metformin with resveratrol and yogurt (stomach gets upset a bit) in morning – may have some in evening
      • 1g a day of resveratrol – 150mg typical (he mentioned knowing 14 years of research on animals, toxicity and human trials)
        • Min dose from animals at 250mg typically – liver enzymes are fine
  • Ryan Caldbeck (@ryan_caldbeck), founder & CEO of CircleUp (20min VC 2/11/16)
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    • Online investing platform that allows to invest in consumer companies
    • Previously, worked in consumer product and retail-focused p/e at TSG Consumer Partners and Encore Consumer Capital
      • Hundreds of investment firms that love consumer retail and its returns, love cash-flow characteristics, only after $10-15mln revenue
      • 3.5x average in ~4 years for younger companies – not enough money in that space
    • Crowdfunding as group of people coming together to fund something (debt, equity, product, donations)
      • Separate as an investing platform so the investors should thrive
    • Title 3 of JOBS Act – if company raises capital there from non-accredited investors, the hoops you have to go through aren’t worth it
      • Less cost to going with accredited investors without benefit – Title 3 will require the yearly book opening
        • Majority of companies don’t need the significant amount of users 100-200 to make a dent in what they’re looking for
      • Would have to prove to a company before taking on the cost – more likely that companies will fail at accredited investors and go to unaccredited
        • Maybe a tech raises up for the inefficiencies to solve this, but not so far
    • Lack of institutional capital in the sector of crowdfunding – for Ryan, explosion of institutional on the platform
      • Average in 2012 was $12k individual accredited to 2015 where the check was $100k into one deal and half is institutional
        • Similar to LendingClub growth as individuals to ind, then family offices, small funds and larger funds
    • Seed round was with Maveron and Clayton Christenson after ~60 some investors that passed (hard to get them excited)
      • Union Square had said they would never invest in online equity investing platform and changed view for Series A – marketplaces solve need
      • Series B was 30 days from start to invest and series C was easier
    • When someone else doesn’t believe in him, he further believes in himself – energizes him (when teammates believe in him and opponents don’t – at his best)
      • Very small details for most meetings that are still vivid for him – uses as fuel
  • Arielle Zuckerberg (@ariellezuck), Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers (20min VC 2/14/16)
    kpcb

    • Joined in 2015 and focuses on early stage investment in digital practice
    • Started as PM after CS and Philosophy at Claremont McKenna
      • Wildfire Interactive acquired by Google in 2012 where she then worked on social ads
      • then went to small startup called Humin for 2 years and started angel investing
    • A lot of investments since you chase after 1 company that likely returns the portfolio
      • How to evaluate the team, market, differentiated product, terms of valuation
    • Being a great listener – give them feedback and they would come back every time with a better pitch
      • First few months of venture – personal challenge for thinking of people based on their intellectual capital
        • How can they be helpful? Will this person be helpful toward portfolio? Will this person be a potential founder?
        • Struggles with this as she’s becoming more transactional. Didn’t experience it as an angel investor.
    • While interviewing for firms, many people offered to give her introductions (warm, mostly)
      • Small handful of interviews – conversational in nature, questions on background – what motivates her and how she’d fit
      • Taking Tyler’s class gave her energy for VC
    • Google, AI and CV – AI as a service – ubiquitous as in the cloud
      • Many industries being productized for first time – likes blockchain and smart contracts
    • Goals: Source a deal for Kleiner within a year that will have invested where world is better place/impactful
      • Inspire more women to be in VC and female founders – although talked about finding and talking with many women in VC
    • NYE: blog more for 2016, had concrete resolutions for doing a pull-up and moonwalk – did at firm holiday event
    • Favorite book: The Symposium by Plato
    • Respecting founders who have a belief that others don’t really have – ex: Evan Spiegel as phones being more a camera than anything else
      • John Doerr and Mary Meeker
    • Best part of VC – talking to amazing people and hearing other opinions (as youngest of 4 siblings)
      • Introduction of creative conflict, vision for where future is going
    • Firm’s recent investment – team execution is crazy, tons of time with customers, great listeners, improved deck 20% each time
  • Barry McCarthy, CFO of Spotify (former CFO of Netflix), Stacey Cunningham, Pres of NYSE (a16z 12/10/19)
    netflix-300x170-1

    • Direct Listings, Myths and Facts – architecting the direct listing as it currently stands and how they talked to the SEC
    • The Street interpreting compared to guidance and what to expect – analysts wanted to BEAT guidance instead of get something close
    • Pricing inequities – price discovery in direct listings compared to offerings
      • Large portfolio (AUM) has IPO immaterial – first day pop is meaningless and they have limited ownership in IPO but not direct listing
      • Institutional investors can dump the truck for direct listings for how they want
    • Lock-ups are artificial constraints
    • DMMs and financial advisors exist anyhow – still need s1 and filing/investor days involve same people
  • Michael Salfino, Ben Baldwin (Wharton Moneyball 12/11/19)

The Parallel for Company Building (Notes from Dec. 2 – Dec 8, 2019) April 13, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Data Science, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, medicine, NLP, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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Keeping this short because I’m working at putting the idea together. Love the parallel for a gym atmosphere and company building.

I bet it’s already forming in your head. Imagine the big class at a big box gym, the personal ones, classes, aggressive combat, cycling, different personalities in weight lifting, cardio spending and all the pairs of trainer + clients you can imagine. It’s in the works!

I do hope you enjoy the deep dive and notes I took in hearing Buck Woody’s AI podcast. You should also review Louis’s app for Total Brain. Wrap that up with Dustin Dolginow’s review on how to utilize the power of the internet to own the VC and investing interest.

Week of December 2, 2019

  • Louis Gagnon, CEO, Cofounder of TotalBrain (Work and Life, WhartonXM)
    BRAND •    Medium size • No tagline • v2 copy

    • Talking about each person having different brains, therefore different treatments
    • Making sure that the brain is merely a part of you, not all of you – racing
      • In these years, it’s a large amount of stress – good or bad
  • Buck Woody (@buckwoodymsft), Applied D/S at Microsoft (Data Skeptic 12/3/19)
    acastro_180507_1777_microsoft_0001.5

    • Lots of intricacies in bonsai trees
      • Last thing you get to learn is the watering can – easily under/over-water trees
      • Scissors as the primary tool
    • ML/AI/BI and advanced data analysis – rigor of right spread, amount, representation, statistics things are the watering can
      • If base data is wrong, the model is pointless
    • He works in the industries teaching classes on MS platform for SQL Server (which contains Spark and many other things), data science
      • Simply looking at the data – where did I get this? Say, financial projections: financial data (how do you know it’s here)
      • Predictions as pedantic/boring: preventative/maintenance predictions – wanted to ensure units wouldn’t fail
        • Half the time, predictions worked well, half the time, worked awful
          • How did the data report from the machines? Had to go to manual of machine (there was older, newer) to see data
          • Anomaly was that the older machine was reporting every 60 minutes, not minutes (which the newer was doing)
    • Works with many users – fraud and anomaly detection
      • Use case example of gaming company with cheating and making sure the data was good
    • Regionalized languages – programming as how you think of your solutions
      • Big things to do: Kubernetes and Containers – be very familiar with environments to make sure infrastructure is done well
    • Looking through data science process – who wears what hats, data engineers and DBA having overlapping roles
      • Many he comes across that don’t know that database guys can do much of what they’re looking for
      • Often the requirement, if given to data scientists late, will be multiple projects
    • Containers run-time – (docker) vs Docker
      • Text file (yaml) with Python 3.5, MySQL and code as file – compose into an image (gathered up version of those runtimes)
        • Tell Docker to run it – container – description to image to container – not representing memory and disc, just using that on station
        • Docker smart enough to recognize that it will run similar versions
    • Kubernetes – KAS
      • Another yaml file and engine, on a node (physical or virtual) with docker runtime, couple of services (networking, part of cluster) with

Master node that makes sure everything is happening – wrangles everything for you in a persistent volume for the pod since storage was an issue

  • Thinking of SQL as declarative language – select * from mytable isn’t what we do
    • Containers are declarative language for computers, essentially
    • Kubernetes is the platform or network for a full declarative network
  • Business intelligence in 90s – specialized people as parts of it with only some people knowing how to use, prechew for users and it took months
    • 5-6 years ago, this still remained – data scientist would spend 99% of time in economic data or weather data or whatever model, version or experiment
      • Walk out with tablets, thus save the data – maybe another she was working with, maybe not
    • Data engineer is most sought after job title – “everything but the algorithm” at Microsoft (LinkedIn)
      • Link – aka.ms\tdsp, defines out team structure for data science team with guides – devops, mlops, aiops, mlops
      • People are used to BI projects – one cube, answer lots of questions but with a data scientist, if you question “this and this and this..” – separate
        • 2 or 3 different data sets, can’t answer clustering question with regression algo, how many of these vs which things do they belong to
  • For large orgs: Do you know if you have a DB team? All data in its forms.
    • Showed someone SSIS done after a minute after they started pulling up R and his algorithms – “wizardry”
      • Used to work at NASA, talked of a friend scientist who landed a round camera on the moon ahead – had to turn it away from sun because it’d melt film
      • Some of cast of Star Trek would show up all the time at NASA, large glass rooms (lab coat, tie, white shirt)
        • James Doohan, Scotty was gonna show up. Scientists would go to break room and watch Star Trek in 60s (debate whether or not stuff was possible)
          • Mentions automatic door as someone being off camera in the 60s, possible or not on physics
        • Taking notes and turns camera back on – “Fascinating” from Leonard Nimoy on the outside of glass
    • He wants to make people know that they have people that can fold into data science team
      • Cultural that DBAs think they’ll need to be data scientists and data scientists that are territorial (don’t want people messing around)
  • Young: computational basics, logics, data processing
    • High level math – stats/linear algebra
    • Domain expert: particular vertical like healthcare, finance or patterns available for a width of an application of a tech
    • Learning to learn: how to pick up and put down knowledge – pace of learning something (can’t be an expert in the timeframe)
      • Pick language you like and then figure out how you’re learning it – then, do it again for others
    • Hours of studying that can be pre-chewed – lack of focused time, spend too much time on all of it
      • Confs where people get away to focus on a topic (until they get on their phone and blow it)
  • Where’s AI going? He says – going away. “Nobody says they have computers at the company anymore”
    • “I” or “e” in front of company and get funding anymore, same with cloud – just ubiquitous, computing/drive
    • Predictive/prebuilt AI now – text analysis, image processing, predictions
    • Need to know how to trust it or trusting it too much – aka.ms\ai-ethics
    • Flash fill, for instance, in Excel – Microsoft Research done in PROSE AI in the cell, disappears into product
  • Ex: PowerPoint presentation coach with mic on and it will critique you
  • Dustin Dolginow (@dolginow), GP at Maiden Lane (20min VC 2/10/16)
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    • Online venture fund using AngelList as its o/s, capital partner to best angels in the world, investments in Getable, PipeDrive, Beepi
      • Also venture partner with Accomplice, was previous operator at Social Swipe allowing merchants to gain value from txn data
    • Went to college in East Coast, Wall Street at Lehman Brothers during crash and decided to do a product idea in payments for 1.5 years
      • Product dev, front-end and shifting from finance world – introduced to partner Jeff (running Atlas Ventures, renamed to Accomplice)
    • Started taking introductions to companies as Nidhi, Naval and AngelList would be giving them – since 2010 and normal user
      • Atlas lead the AngelList series A and every round since – 2012 moved to SF and make VC legal – 2013 for syndicates start
        • Lead a syndicates fund only in 2013 with Jeff – learn by doing and figure out what it meant – $25mln named for Maiden Lane in SF
          • Irony was AngelList HQ was on it, one of bailout funds for Goldman Sachs real estate was Maiden Lane
      • Figured Syndicates could be impactful for institutional investors, also
    • Moved to SF in 2014 to close the fund, April started investing in the fund
      • Native app on AngelList – (like saying Uber is Apple because on Apple) – put in their docs 50% off-A/L, 50% on but realized it was moving quickly
      • AngelList as unbundling the activities of VC – funds are containers for capital / infrastructure
        • AngelList has more flexibility but it’s a small container – box – they’re doing product first with data that it creates
    • Working with set of angel investors that take their money and invest on their behalf – share carried interest within GP’s (30% carry, no mgmt fee)
      • 15-20% of carried interest goes to syndicate leads – driving brand, operating within company, adding value, interacting
      • His goal is to shepherd to create resources for community (most syndicate leads have other jobs) – live work loft, for instance
    • Community and flexibility is a big part of it – consensus-based decisions, non-consensus (conviction for solo), LPs as direct investments for bigger broader
    • Entrepreneurs as understanding users’ needs – great community done by Ryan Hoover at Product Hunt
    • Most overhyped – prescription delivery, underhyped – Canada as country, developer tax credits
    • Goal for Maiden Lane – kickass set of syndicate leads that get called upon by lane
    • Last impression from a book: Development is Freedom by Amartya Sen
    • AtVenu – as most recent investment

If You’re Not Sure, Ask (Notes from Nov 25 – Dec 1, 2019) March 26, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, social, sports, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Hopefully everyone is staying safe in this current environment of CoVid19. A wild start to the year and March, especially. Seems prescient to identify those of this week of notes, especially with Domm at Fast trying to make things easier/painless in checkouts for ecommerce, Iman at Incredible Health trying to gain power for nurses and the healthcare workers on the front lines, as well as the investment questions we should be asking with Rob Carver and Meb Faber.

Before jumping in, though, I just wanted to reiterate something I’d heard in a few times across forums/channels and communities I participate in – just ask if you have a question or hesitating! It’ll be worth it – or you’ll be in the same position you’re in now. Social interaction and discussion will be key in how we come out better than where we started. I implore you – ASK. Anyone. Hope you enjoy!

  • Domm (@domm) Holland, founder and CEO of Fast (20min VC 11/15/19)
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    • Raised seed round from Jan Hammer at Index, Susa, Kleiner Perkins, Global Founders and angels (Inc Harry)
    • Director at Tap Tins and CEO/Founder at Tows
    • Introduced at 15, started programming and in Australia when it wasn’t cool, building was what he enjoyed
      • Had a large startup in Australia for a bit
      • Wife/him were in the hospital looking after son/daughter and he was home with the wife’s grandmother when she couldn’t order
        • Forgot her password and wouldn’t take credit card because of arbitrary string – pw-less solution, auth as simple solution
        • Put it on ProductHunt and it was #2 for the day
      • Doesn’t make sense that customers can’t move between businesses with their authentication
    • Ran out of money in a legal battle with Tows – $17mln that government decided to not pay
    • Many people don’t want to solve the problem – they do band-aid fixes, complex solutions
      • Build network of independent contractors of tow trucks
    • He just looks at what he’s doing as solving problems, solutions – Stripe gave businesses the infrastructure to process credit card payments
      • Built critical infrastructure that others didn’t have – similar to authentication, Shopify, etc
    • Everyone has been building payment, authentication, registration forms all first-party and customer tokens
      • Alternative business models and sharing data conflicts with their independence
    • Deciding to be SF-based – he only has certain hours in a day, but limited output and larger market and tech companies
      • People in SF value equity far more since Australia has issues with company stock and issuing options
      • 50, 100, 150 bp in SF to make it worthwhile
    • Had done an angel round of $600k Australian, ~$400k to continue product development and areas he didn’t have expertise in
      • Put out job ad for remote role thinking they’d get 1 or 2, had a fantastic applicant from Nigeria for talent
      • Money was so much less than what was budgeted – average earnings, paying 50% above market and fantastic employee
        • So much so, they have 10 employees there – Nigeria with 190 million people, remote and solid advocates
      • Managing engineers in person/remote are similar anyhow – adjusts his time zone to them, checks in to each daily
      • Structured time for functional areas and 15min calls to go over work regularly
    • His differentiator is speed, time – act promptly, efficiently and doing things early by operating in that manner
      • Walks 3-4 miles through Tenderloin in SF to make sure he sees inaction as a reminder
    • Thirst for knowledge – difficult to not come across new things (Twitter as a tool for exposure to people, tools)
  • Frank Fiume (@frankfiume), Founder and CEO of i9 Sports (Wharton XM)
    • Talking about burnout – body’s anticipation of requiring a form of change
      • Entrepreneur burnout – results not meeting expectations for an extended period of time
    • Using behavior tests to filter out the people who may be too similar once you’re looking to hire for expansion
      • He made mistake of hiring people he liked and matched with, as opposed to those that he needed
  • Meb Faber (@mebfaber), founder of Cambria Investments on The Road Less Traveled (Resolve’s Gestalt University, ep.05 6/27/19)
    image1

    • Discussing with Adam about his bs meter – how crazy it is to be overweight US equities
    • Canada is worse – 86% of advisors
    • Global allocation and strategy – always keeping files on board for ETF, not sure when they are needed or will be used
    • Launching 2006 with trend following paper and opening ETFs as broadly better managed strategy/fee structure
      • Agnostic – just wants to offer best client experience, strategy
      • Holding for long periods as how the strategy should be assessed, not weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly
        • Managers tough to judge on this long time frame
    • Being on call with asset managers where they ask what the best funds are – why? So to avoid them?
    • Currently, tax efficient in emerging small/medium cap for long-term 15+ years
    • Market cap as terrible way to weight portfolio – as you select highest cap-weighted company, they don’t often stay there
  • Jon & Justin, cofounders of Transistor.fm (Build Your SaaS – bootstrapping in 2019, 11/26/19)
    transistor_social

    • Building and looking at Transistor.fm and other podcasts
    • Dropping the revenue numbers on Baremetrics – not just competitors, but eventually there won’t be 50% mom growth
  • Mythology Manager (Marketing Matters)
    • Marvel and having a different marketing aspect for big films and otherwise
    • Different projects and input for actors/characters
  • Rob Carver (@investingidiocy), Systematic Money, author (ReSolve’s Gestalt U ep. 03, 5/9/19)
    • Discussing different risk metrics – hard to predict or calculate Sharpe ratios so he assumes they’re the same, often
      • Sharpe as primary vs secondary metric – meta-factor
    • Construction of portfolio as time frame and strategy – used to start with $100k (first book), most recent book with $500 capital
    • Performing out of sample vs in sample – binary strategy vs weighting
    • If you don’t select a strategy, you’re biased against it – “Three Judases”
      • Properly keeping strategies in the files/repo to backcheck (if you get rid of some that you’ve used and got out of, others can’t replicate)
      • Proper weighting would be signals that activate / de-activate strategies, maybe keeping the ones above a threshold
    • Private equity and private assets discussions – what’s optimum? 1, 2, 10, 50, 100? Take on risks for this, should be rewarded appropriately.
      • Is it 5, 10% of portfolio? Size matters and type of assets. Mentions GE as having a bunch of minor bets on the private side with more liquidity.’
  • Beth Hendler-Grunt, President and Founder at Next Great Step (Career Change, Wharton XM)
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    • College attendees going after internships early – not just through career fairs
      • Not everything career-wise is linear, can be creative
    • Portfolio & value add – “What happens if you didn’t return tomorrow, next week, etc…?”
  • Iman Abuzeid (@imanabuzeid), CEO and founder Incredible Health (a16z 11/28/19)
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    • Nursing Today, From the Bedside and Beyond
    • 2018 Biggest industry in terms of number of workers – clinical workers are 60% nurses – 3million of them
      • Regulated in California where the ratio is 5 patients to 1 nurse
      • Beyond 12 hour shift, 2.5x more likely to make medication errors – documentation as well
    • Shortage of faculty, nurses and all cities – also pays well, compensation-wise (California $100k, SF $140k, LA $120k)
      • Magnate certified is hospitals with majority of nurses bachelors recipients
      • When overstaffed, higher cost of overtime to contractors and less patients (in a thin margin business of hospitals, ~3%)
    • Talent / HR teams as inefficiency across the board – haven’t changed since ’90s
      • Tech tools don’t work for specialization/unique cases – job platforms are just ziprecruiter, indeed, LinkedIn but not matching certs/degrees
      • If you’re trying to fill oncology nurse, CEO and sales – one horizontal platform vs vertical platform
    • Most healthcare workers aren’t on LI, search and discovery is hard and fields aren’t specific enough, InMail response is < 10%
      • Narrow vertical, one job description and complexity is enormous – takes level of focus and optimization to add value to healthcare system/nurses
      • Incredible Health: Employers apply to talent, automated screening of certs/licenses/experience/skills with tech, custom matching
    • Hospital/health systems are able to fill positions in < 30 days when average is 90+ days – topline benefit
      • Churning nurses costs more on patients, complex environments for matching, high-stakes in retention (moreso than others)
      • 20% turnover with tight labor market – overworked, burnt out, better staffed, commute times, 90% women, higher pay
      • Hired in 11 days – have their act together and higher employee engagement
    • Hospital recruiters have a 7 day countdown for interview requests, scarcity for competitive nurses
      • Only platform that nurses get to make their profile and sit back after for interviews

When Innovating Away Staleness (Notes from Nov 18 – Nov 24, 2019) February 25, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Blockchain, Digital, finance, Founders, global, medicine, Politics, Strategy, training, Uncategorized.
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Entrenched. The longtime incumbents. When industry becomes too single-minded, others may start to notice. Each of these individuals from the podcast episodes are in very different industries – media/news, investing/venture, monetary policy system, and regulatory updating of provider-side healthcare. All very large, important systems that beget those that have lived the longest.

Each of the guests, however, saw opportunities in how stale an industry had/has become and attempted to take advantage. Whether that’s building something on their own directly (Jon Steinberg with Cheddar News Network) or indirectly (Gil Penchina with Flights.vc), they have a penchant for seeing innovation through. I loved hearing a few of them mention that it’s nuts to have the incumbents stagnate over some of the most advanced couple of decades we’ve ever seen.

I hope you enjoy the notes for how they structured the framework for the innovation, what opportunities they tried or came to realize, and which crazy people do you back.

  • Jon Steinberg (@jonsteinberg), COO of Cheddar News Network (Launch Pad, Wharton XM)
    cheddar-logo-16x9-1

    • Large appetite for live news and sports, very few people had done any in 20-30 years
    • Younger, faster, better as a business network
      • Younger, diverse anchors & audience in their 20s, 30s, 40s vs 60s and older
    • First round raised was $3mln, no big iron of typical broadcaster – different look and feel, same structural format for guest formats
    • Former president of Buzzfeed (2010-2014), DailyMail after – CNBC and live production as the best production
    • Lightspeed Capital friend who wanted to give him a first check – being part of a startup management team that’s successful to go from there
      • His first success was with Buzzfeed – played a role with many others, but combined his luck and effort to get the check
      • Gave up 20% for the $3mil
    • Showed up at the WeWork with Peter Gornstein, first partner and Chief Content Officer – looked at each other and “What now?”
      • Bought computers, then what now? Looked for vendors for equipment and build set.
      • Shot a 3min sizzle reel – shot sample video packages.
      • Next, go live from 9-10am one hour a day, basically – then how to ramp it up to 3 hours and more
    • Facebook Live launched, then they enabled the API so they could connect professional network equipment to it
    • Carriage fees – ESPN gets several dollars for every cable subscriber
      • Cheddar does advertisers and partnerships for their money and business
    • Purchasing Ratemyprofessor, MTVU – college market and network
    • Competitors are part of the network and counterparties still
    • Runs all news and advertising for Altice (after being bought by Viacom)
  • Gil Penchina (@gilpenchina), Founder at Flight.vc (20min VC 2/7/16)
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    • Note that this was the first day Harry had been to SF (meeting Jason Lemkin)
    • Network of AngelList syndicates that covers a wide range of sectors, SaaS, security, geographies
      • Biggest raise for syndicates to date – PayPal, LinkedIn, AngelList, Indiegogo – nominated for Angel of Year at Crunchys
    • One of early engineers at eBay (100 employees to 15000, 8 years)
      • Ran a spin-off of Wikipedia called Wikia – consumer content site, went to Fastly and angel investing
      • Wanted to work with entrepreneurs to fund small checks to other entrepreneurs as a community of helping
        • Didn’t want to do the full-time thing and thought he didn’t want to focus on terms all the time
    • At Flight, at time, they have 25 syndicate managers, 100+ volunteers to join the list – 2 groups – 1 analysis/learning companies, other sales/scouts
      • 3000 backers and they ask them to help their companies, small tasks (AngelMob) to improve or give introductions and recruiting
    • 5 years time – become a place for consumers to invest and save
      • Expansion fund and new projects – Eric working on traditional venture fund for follow-on in angel investments
    • 15 years ago, cost $10-15mln to get a website now and now it’s $10 or free for URLs (Reed’s blitz-scaling)
    • Next sector to be disrupted – education (investment seed and B into Allschool)
    • Start a syndicate – come up with thesis, going out and finding the deals (1 click to start), getting traction is hard
    • Investment ethos – people that are actually crazy
    • User of Nuzzel – best content for all of his friends
    • Similarity of Happn to “Chance Encounters” from newspaper – hoping someone sees it and reacts
  • Patrick Harker, President of Philadelphia Fed (Behind the Markets, Wharton XM)
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    • About 1/5 of jobs are at risk of being automated out – minorities and women in his district
      • Creating and destroying jobs with automation – not necessarily ridding them, but training will be important
      • Philadelphia Works – job training model for America, partnering with Comcast
        • Typically, it’s been “train and pray” – training and upskill, Comcast will reimburse out of the HR budget if successful
    • Biggest surprise – outside the lens of monetary policy – breadth of what they do is stunning
      • Largest collection of economic talent for all sorts of issues that aren’t celebrated
  • Pharma Drones, Veteran Health (16min on the News #14, 11/15/19)
    • Venkat Mocherla – market dev on bio team, GP Julie Yoo, Joel de la Garza security operating partner a16z
    • Pharmacy-patient relationship is highest volume/frequency interactions with healthcare system, owning node is good
      • Lots of startups on logistics on pharm, last mile and full-stack delivery/pharm, nontraditional care centers
      • Medicines/therapeutics work for patients, compliance is one of the biggest pains
    • MediPlus, Whatsapp your prescription and you can get delivery within 24 hours
      • Fastest regulatory arbitrage – where are opportunities – Zipline in Rwanda, for instance
      • Antiquated for brick-and-mortar to innovate, but instead mobile-first and digital distribution
      • Pills, small molecule drugs that are cheaper, chronic that can be easier
    • Last mile delivery solution is cost – one-off deliveries to patients to homes has cost issues – more expensive
      • All come to hub because of delivery efficiency
    • Apple opened up health records service to vets with iPhones – give them access to their medical information regardless of provider
      • VA is mired in healthcare challenges (came up with EHR)
      • Knock on digital health industry – great for pilots but unable to scale so far, VA and NHS populations are one-go scale
        • Not bastions of innovation but more captive population (1mil to 10-20mil)
      • Last decade, provider-side heads down for data that’s digitized but not interoperability
        • Get at the data is not a given, Apple unleashing data to consumers is great but is there utility in it? (no imaging data, limited)
      • Match data to patient, or doctors, scheduling appointments – technology for technology’s sake isn’t usually great
    • Voice commands as being sent by light – specific microphone design that’s vulnerable to the attack
      • Area of research to use frequencies of energy to affect systems – light to mimic sound, for instance
      • Advent of radio has been different research – cathode ray tubes, radio surveillance
    • Enabling hardware manufacturers to guard against this – microfilms or filtering fraud and security

Back from Vacation (Notes from Nov 11 to 17, 2019) February 11, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, cannabis, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, gym, Leadership, marketing, NFL, NLP, questions, social, Strategy, training, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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It had been a long while – 9? months since taking more than 1 day off extra and closer to 20 months since I’d had a week off in a row. I visited the Big Island in Hawaii and stayed primarily on the west side of the island. Gorgeous weather and awesome beaches will bring me back, hopefully shortly.

I want to write a bit further about the escape, but I also want to get these notes out, so I’ll write further in later this week – Thursday.

Enjoy these notes on some of the fascinating people of Eniac Ventures, other investors, founder of EasyPoint, ReSolve quant, research professors, former professional football player and a Nascar driver.

  • Hadley Harris (@Hadley), Founding GP at Eniac Ventures (20min VC 2/3/16)
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    • First mobile venture, Soundcloud, Airbnb, Vungel
    • 2x entrepreneur in mobile – Vlingo (acq by Nuance for $225mln) and Thumb (acq by Wipulse)
      • Was one of first employees and execs running marketing and bd while working with product
    • Worked at Samsung and Charles Rivers Ventures
    • Studied engi & math as undergrad @ Penn, joined MSFT & Samsung
      • His 2 really good friends at Penn and him came together for Eniac in 2009
      • Mobile – next place for computing – cleantech was hot at that time, as well
    • SF was 50%, NY as 25% and the rest was elsewhere – won’t lead but will do a pro rata and be key in fundraising for next
    • Living & breathing the co – coming to right valuation, inevitable for down or flat rounds
    • 18-24 months from seed to series A or pre-seed to seed – funds becoming more institutionalized
      • Leading rounds for Eniac at $1.2 – $2mln
    • Favorite book: Freakanomics, read it in one sitting
    • Tools: gmail, relayedIQ for deal tracking, as todo list, also
    • Don Valentine – godfather of VC, great investors but great entrepreneurs and fund raisers
    • Favorite blog: Nuzzel – curation of reposts
    • Underhyped: mobile enterprise; Overhyped industry: big fan and he does work in social, but lot to weed through
    • Most recent investment: Phhhoto – knew the founders, they’d known each other for a while, great design and numbers – self-funded
  • Zach Resnick (@trumpetisawesom), founding EasyPoint (IndieHackers #130, 10/28/19)
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    • Iterating your way to founder-product fit, currently at 10 people, 5 full-time, $600k ytd with 15% yoy organic growth
    • Traveled, worked and lived abroad in Jerusalem before school, infected with wanderlust
      • CC churning and manufactured spending while he was learning at school in Ohio – VISA gift cards to $1k
    • Banking often makes more money on the chance that you’ll become a customer for other areas of business (mortgage, checking account, brokerage, etc)
    • Started when he was 19 – would give advice to parents/family/friends on the year before getting an hourly rate for paying customer as consultant
      • Enjoyed his help, he liked helping others – he was getting $1k/mo from hourly before going up
      • Consulting clients – he was helping optimize for business or vacation trip for the points
    • Started Land Happier to solve a problem of having everything in one place
      • Cultural norms, transportation, 6 other things for information in a fun and compelling app product (MVP on app store)
      • Wasn’t solving a problem that nobody has, but nobody would pay for – product/founder fit wasn’t there, either
    • What he wants – enjoys negotiating, strategic thinking, interesting conversations and sales moreso than product focused than customer focused
    • While working on Land, he productized his consulting – generally was helping family friends that were parents’ age
      • Amount of effort he was putting in compared to the value wasn’t the same – not high enough
      • Started to focus on small business or medium enterprise owners to put spending on the right cards and get 6 figures on spend return
      • Focused on people he knew through referrals, points optimization plans for small owners – acquisition and spending for more value
    • Early stage owners – hey, this isn’t free
    • Playing poker for relatively high stakes – teaching important principles, statistics, risk management and psychology
    • Consulting to productized consulting service – had a family friend with small business who would see a $50k in increased return on spend
      • He could do a quick analysis and understand business more, try to get a customized points optimization plan for points
      • Small business owners are leaving 1.5%, maybe 2.5% on the table – using points better for things you already want to do
    • Providing value but people didn’t know what it is or weren’t hurting – show them math for 5 figures within a year saving
      • Guarantee: if you sign up points optimization plan, if he doesn’t get you double what his fee is within first year, he gives money back and $10k
      • Making people aware of the problem was going to be a lot of work – never really got off the ground for outbound
        • Was just a way to make money, not necessarily grow it really fast – customers’ needs
    • Concierge service now (v3 EasyPoint) focusing on business and first-class international long-haul service
      • Over whatsapp and telegram groups – makes a flight request and they get back to them 24/7
      • They use miles and points that they buy from clients and then use those to book for others
      • Brokers buying all kinds of points and miles – so the arbitrage there contained issues with ToS and such
        • They’re buying transferable points like Chase / AMEX directly to frequent flier accounts
    • Working for someone else – interned with The Points Guy and when he was looking at doing it, he posted on the Facebook group
      • Cameron, now their COO, was very good – would he want to have his hires over for dinner?
      • Team of 10 now: Cameron manages concierge, growth marketing (5 on team, looking for Asia now)
        • Part-time business development consultants, full-time that have been searching
      • Revenues and loans for growth/cash flow, venture debt and possibly equity raise
    • Concierge service with product-market fit and being focused – enterprise value of $100mln probably but not billions
      • Not much needs to be tweaked for core product – fund raise would be for a different product
        • Help consumers decide on if they want to use their points or cash when booking – trying to automate this for concierge/back-end
        • Chrome extension and booking engine to use or not – this may be billion dollar opportunity
  • Andrew Butler, ReSolve’s Head of Quant Research (Gestalt University, 10/2/19)
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    • Machine learning in markets: Silver bullet or Pandora’s box
      • Unsupervised, supervised and reinforcement learning differences in application or finance
    • Student of mathematics, physics in undergrad, keen on not memorizing a lot of stuff – enjoyed the applied side
      • Oil reservoir simulators that modeled tidal flow in Bay of Fundy, wind turbines in giant field for optimization
      • Next step was working on a sub problem of simulators – complex, computationally expensive and trying to optimize NPV in 60d oil field
        • Navigating the nonlinear, nonconvex solutions – how to make a reasonable model approximation by sampling sparse reps of simulator
    • How would simulator/emulator apply to financial world in momentum and moving averages
      • Sample distribution would fit well to out-of-sample distributions in physical world but finance wouldn’t – nonstationary
      • Caused him to use simpler models, momentum models (and transformations) and ensembles of simple factor models
        • Mean-variance optimization, error maximizing, in-sample won’t perform well out of sample
    • Wanted formal training in financial engineering, so went and got a MFE
    • Practitioner compared to theorist – after a conference talk, his construct was mean-variance was same as regression
      • Subspace reduction and regularization as identical terms for mean-variance
    • Machine Learning as 3 subspaces
      • Unsupervised learning -> clustering and dimensionality reduction
        • Targeted marketing, customer segmentation and in finance: signal processing, optimization or portfolio construction
        • Trying to uncover relationships/groupings/clusters contained within a dataset
      • If total error is dominated by bias, it’s likely overly simplistic – X as model complexity and Y as Total Error (Bias / Variance)
        • Increase complexity, bias term can decrease, increasing the variance (instability/overfitting)
  • Kelly Peeler (@kellypeeler), founder / CEO NextGenVest (20min VC FF#034, 2/5/16)
    nextgenvest_ai_serieslogo_blue

    • College Money mentor, empowering students to live full lives, history of financial crisis for motivation to start
      • Went over to Iraq, started and enabled some companies to build there in 2012
    • Went to JPMC after graduating to make some money before starting NGV for students
    • Financial organization to financial efficiency – going from Mint (organizing money for a user’s financial lives)
      • Now people need efficiency – time priority, optimizing time through automation and personalization
        • Leverage trust to improve time in the background (automation and not wanting to have to look)
    • High school trust and students have nobody they can trust for guidance – 8% trust banks and financial institutions
      • If you can build a product/service, on your way to building trust
        • Save users time, money, customized experience
    • Serving their customers with SMS and Snapchat – smarter push notifications for the right service in the right way
      • Couldn’t customize communication inside an app, so they did channels that they chose
    • NGV clubs at high schools across country – new high schools brought in, engagement and grassroots
    • First product that they brought on was for the financial literacy test that 17 states need
    • Favorite book: The Thank You Economy – best people outhustle to get more customers
    • As visual person, can focus on 1-3 things at a time – preps in the evening, large index cards
    • Adam Nash at Wealthfront – build trust with dynamics of product and the culture of company
    • Spent too much time at focusing her weaknesses but has tried to get better on that side
  • Sam Yagan (@samyagan), Starting OkCupid, Sparknotes (Wharton XM, Marketing Matters)
    • Turning down consulting job for OkCupid start – told he was crazy but wanted to take the chance
      • Free model and how do you value customers but competitors were Match and eHarmony
      • Had to get enough people on all sides of the market and then could use the data to help
    • Internet wasn’t designed to take an expert’s ideas and just use those – bigger than that
      • “You know what you want.” We’ll pull it out and figure it out.
      • Google comparison – index all the pages and figure those out to place on first page
      • Creating a platform to ask all the questions and focus on them
    • Sold Sparknotes in 11 months, took OKCupid 8 years (sold to Match, was there for a year)
      • Got the job running the company for another 3.5 years as Match CEO and created Tinder
  • Rob Gronkowski (@robgronkowski), All-Pro tight end (The Corp, 10/1/19)
    • A-Rod investing into Rob’s brother’s, Chris, company Ice Shaker
      • Were able to put money in, along with Mark Cuban, when they were on Shark Tank (all brothers)
      • Rob, upon retiring, bought Arod out of his shares in the business with Chris
    • Fitplan – Arod gave Rob a discount on the shares in Ice Shaker and he just wanted Rob to look through his company
      • Rob invested with Arod – parents were in business (gym equipment for retail/commercial for 28+ years)
    • Kraft being an owner for the team and being around the game – interested in everything
      • Rare to see owners in the locker room and talking with players – many players say they’ve never seen others
      • Brady, Kraft and Belichick as being the greatest people and diagnosing problems/plays and adjusting
    • Rob wants to travel – done a lot in the US
      • Traveling a week from that day to Israel with CEO Barry of CBDMedic there
    • Being reckless as single Gronk in the NFL (loves Camille now, though)
  • Horst Simon (@hdsimon), Chief Research Officer at LBNL (Curious Investor 9/3/19)
    4vfj55gu

    • Difference between ML and programming – validity of an email, for instance
      • Computer looks for “@” and domain name, iterative of if-then’s, marking valid or invalid
      • ML – give details of valid and invalid email addresses and have the computer figure it out with a statistical model for rules
        • Relationship between information
      • ML more as being able to see if something is a cat in a picture – hard to program that
    • Helped establish the Berkeley supercomputing center – big role all across the world now to complement theory by simulations
    • More data than ever before, 90% of digital data created in last 2 years – more in 2018 than all of human history
      • Finance can’t generate more data like autonomous cars, for instance (100 cars means 100 more data points)
      • Markets/economics are dynamic – return predictions of signal:noise approaches zero
        • Driven by economic features of markets – competitive, profit-seeking traders that act on it
      • HFT as real barriers to entry so they’re less efficient and more predictable, potentially
      • Quantitative traders don’t use raw data – they use transformations such as log of equity, cross-sectional rank of book to market ratio
        • Neural network tries to find what the best transformations are (X -> Y and explore all the connections)
    • Bonds example: predict if issuer will default or not with firm information using random forest
  • Rajiv Shah (@rajcs4), Data Scientist @ Data Robot, Adjunct Prof UChicago (DataSkeptic, 10/22/19)
    1024x528

    • Started engineering, studied philosophy and law, PhD in Comms before doing research as academic
      • Worked at State Farm and Caterpillar before going to Data Robot
    • Deep learning applications in motion data like NBA player data, motion tracking arms and legs (PoseNET, for instance)
      • Nature paper published that used deep learning to study after-shock patterns for earthquakes
    • Going through paper – simple starting point or baseline model was skipped – how much value is really added, then?
      • Looking at the 6-layer problem – approach wasn’t unexpected when using keras to add layers
      • Results generated: AUC of 0.85 compared to naïve benchmark of simple, physical model – AUC of 0.58
      • When he reproduced it, test set results were higher than training set – yellow or red flag for model
    • Group partitioning – 130 earthquakes happening right after each other, near each other and related
      • Make sure the information for an earthquake/customer doesn’t get split between training / test sites to avoid leakage
      • Basic grounding of fundamentals for setting up initial training data, partition based on time to avoid that, as well
    • As community, ensure that there are best practices and guidelines – reproducibility as a large problem lately
      • How to police boundaries for the general field – influence of institutions in publishing (for this, Harvard/Google/Nature mag researchers)
      • Good from them: the data and model for the code was freely available and he could do it on his laptop / notebooks
      • Academics from the earthquake field reached out to him with some qualms and he’s partnered with them for a blog on efforts
    • Interpretability focus trade-off with accuracy – that he’ll speak on at Open DS Conf
      • Lots of tools for explaining models with transparency now, though
  • Julia Landauer (@julialandauer), NASCAR driver (Stanford Pathfinders, Wharton XM)
    • Being on Survivor (suggested by a friend while Soph in college), racecar driver
      • Picking Stanford because of so many people that were awesome / ambitious
      • Mentioning Andrew Luck saying that this was why he chose it – people wouldn’t particularly care
    • Driving at such a young age and in Manhattan – not getting a license there until 18 on campus
    • Having to pitch and learn how to pitch at a young age for sponsorships, running a team and the cost, even at minors – $500k+
    • Some 12 female drivers and being competitive

Find Your Own Value (Notes from Nov 4 to Nov 10, 2019) January 21, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Blockchain, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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One of my favorite pieces and follows on Twitter of the last 3 months has been Tyler Tringas, founder of Earnest Capital. He came to realize that there existed a massive opportunity to fund companies that may not require or need the VC model of capital infusion – just a starter amount to do testing, easiest when people look to make sales and revenues early (maybe not the model for certain industries – marketplaces/user-dependent network effects not-withstanding).

Wild for micro and seed funding, when companies have yet to establish a true product-market fit or business model each time, typically stick with one financing style. I wonder how much innovation has been restricted by the funding style. There are advantages and disadvantages for each of those. But I’ve yet to come across more than 2-3 VC’s (out of 1000s) that do multiple and have a separation / adjustment. Makes sense from the LPs sense, but not necessarily if you want the companies to be SOMEHOW getting to a growth/scale that fits.

Less Annoying CRM Tyler King was cognizant about the capital and efficiency standpoint in business – everyone that doesn’t create value seemed expendable. Those that did will make it. I find that an important takeaway and general attitude toward either doing your own thing or being a part of a bigger company.

Hopefully each of these excite everyone enough to check the fantastic people/content out further!

  • Tyler Tringas (@tylertringas), founder of Earnest Capital (Indiehackers #131, 11/1/19)image02

    • Funding for entrepreneurs, founders, outside of the ecosystem – profitable and sustainable
      • Not competing with other options – just found a large group of bootstrappers that aligns with the goals
      • RBF doesn’t work for some
    • Green field space in the past – no competitors and could gobble the market – big risk early but if it’s worked, it can be massive
      • Launching and building became cheaper and more niche for diversifying the opportunities – limiting VC scale
      • When he sold his first business, he handed over his Stripe account, Github and Roku
    • Software companies – no retail shop meant your option was “raise money” = “raise venture capital”
      • If you were doing a bakery or something, you had a plethora of options
    • 5 years ago, he was one of the loudest critics and blogger
      • If he was bootstrapping, can you work backwards and what would you have wanted to work with
        • Is it actually a fit for you
      • No board seat, mentors for long-term
    • Raise money when you believe the money will unlock value in the business
    • Had Storemapper – where he figured out what he wanted to do next
      • Derek Sivers – Tarzan move – need the second vine before letting go of the first vine
      • Pivoted to finance to do finance models behind wind/solar farms
      • Then to micro SaaS Indiehacker before noticing people struggled to get businesses off the ground early (his $50k cc debt)
    • His basic bet is that it’s not an iron law of physics that 90% will fail
      • His fund will fail if it is an iron law – and his investors are aware of this
      • He believes the VC model is circular in that if you require growth is 11% a month for 12+ months, more likely to become unicorn
        • But if they don’t hit that, then they’re failing
    • Really interested in niche markets for a piece of software that serves a market – eg Hostify, Endcrawl post-production credits, etc
  • Tyler King (@lessannoyingcrm), cofounder of Less Annoying CRM (Indie Hackers #128, 10/21/19)
    5bac7c2c446aa-resize-710x380-1

    • Bouncing between companies after college, had joined a startup that grew after Series A, only to be acquired
      • Everyone was fired except for 5 cheapest employees (including him)
    • Marketing channels not working – word of mouth, sometimes paid ads, Google AdWords or Facebook
    • Customer support – competitive advantage as going slow, not being held to revenue standards
      • Can focus on customer service and product features
  • Maren Bannon (@maren_bannon), cofounder & Partner at Jane VC (50inTech Podcast #11)
    https3a2f2fblogs-images.forbes.com2fcarisommer2ffiles2f20182f102fjane-vc-logo-text

    • Cold-pitching VC – for cold emails, take time to research the investor and explain why they’d be interested
      • Adjacent industries, past role in competitive area, resonating project
    • Nailing the one-liner / 10 second offering in a sentence
    • Bullet points, succinct including certain things
      • Traction for user/revenue/notable customers
      • Advocates, angels with industry expertise
    • Why you? Brief description for the ideal team.
    • Include an ask – why are you contacting? Advice, seed round, etc…
    • Include right materials (letter can be brief, but more info attached or deck or 1-pager)
  • Ok Boomer, Microtransactions (16min on the News by a16z #13, 11/3/19)
    • NYT Taylor Lorenz – (perennially behind others but gets credit for the writing of it)
    • Taking on a meme, protest for what’s rigged – Gen Z affected by Boomers “hurting us”
      • How memes can turn into clothing, sales for songs, be further monetized
      • Social media generating social phenomenon and transactions and merchandise
        • V1 was ad-based, then quasi-based for sponsored ads (protein powers and such), direct transactions for monetizations
        • Can get demand and feedback for multiple types of merchandise before launching and sending out efficiently
    • In China, commerce is already in the app – button after 2nd loop you can complete purchase inside the app
      • Close the loop on-platform in China
    • Marketplace on games for platform – supporting size/scales that fraudsters can open up accounts and quickly find monetization structure
      • Build false economy and cash out quickly – advanced fraudsters for automation, maybe with virtual trades and purchases
      • If it’s $10k, they’re wrong – probably multiple millions, if not more
  • AI in B2B (a16z 10/23/19)
    189-1892846_people-ai-logo-png

    • Oleg Rogynskyy from People.AI, for sales and marketing
    • Very few users that give you private, anonymized data is much harder to make them comfortable with this data
      • How valuable is the promise you’re making to customers vs the cost to achieve it
    • For entrepreneurs: if there is human activity that generates data for how they do it that isn’t being captured, there’s a ripe opportunity
      • Shipping containers, wind farm, location of Uber driver – reliable data, aggregate and figure out what may be the next best action would be
        • Significant growth and acceleration for these actions once network effects apply
      • More sensors, edge computing, salespeople, drivers in network – more data collected and more patterns you can see
        • Smarter the graph becomes, better the predictions may be allowed to become – then, more money and lures in other network participants
      • Wind farm operators: know it will break after it breaks but someone in comes in that was there collecting data ahead of you, they are up still
        • Competitor automates process, you can go to same vendor and catch up but if you miss AI, you can’t catch up
      • Oleg mentions that he thinks AI is zero-sum and that the Fortune 500 will look very different in 10 years
    • All customers benefit from generalized data – first customers have to do a lot more than others
      • People writing contracts: only sell to me, but customers would be relics
    • When the data model changes, systems of records die – Andreesen
      • Hierarchical first, then on SQL, then cloud SQL and Salesforce
        • Next gen data model should be graph – federated shared graph model – instead of you pulling data and searching, it will push to you
        • Personalized actionable insights – pushed through the channel you’re most likely to engage with – maximum focus
      • Level of intent for the user should be known – don’t have to expose the complexity but you can be shown and execute that
    • Difference between autopilot and co-pilot
      • As human, something mundane or repetitive – automating the functions to make it more efficient use of your neurons
      • Augmenting ability to make decisions – racecar that may know what’s around the curve, making us super-productive – more human
    • Needs to be 10x on the platform vs off the platform if you’re afraid of the set-up
    • Sales & Marketers specifically
      • Shifting how they work – day-to-day: 1/3 of time on manual data entry, 1/3 on prospecting (classic problem), 1/3 on face-to-face doing selling
        • First should be gone, 2nd should be done with help on ML and AI for value-add prospecting and automate outreach
        • Face-to-face: Machines can’t replace this but may be able to help out
      • Training on the end point – best way to sell, unbundling learning management system
    • Wants to do bottoms-up but currently top-down – through standard procurement channels
      • Users will demand data-hungry approaches and solutions – apps that built AI on user data but not merging with enterprise data
        • Have easier time for value adding in these cases because you just want data to increase (single player can do single player)
    • Biggest surprises: inside sales for Oleg starting in 2006 pounding phones, went out and did a software change before downturn
      • Learned timing matters at that time.
      • Then started Symantria – sentiment analysis API in 2011, size of market matters – 20-30 companies needed it (80% of market)
      • Remembered that he was put into a conference room with COO (head of sales), cleaned Salesforce and within a month it was in ruin again
      • Couldn’t understand sales team when he took over, why it wasn’t ramping up quickly, losing deals, hiring more people but productivity was fine
        • Supposed to have data in CRM but never had it
  • Martin Mignot, Investor at Index Ventures (20min VC 2/1/16)index-ventures-768x469-1

    • Investments including Deliveroo, Blablahcar, Algolia, SwiftKey, others
    • Worked on 50 transactions like CodeAcademy, FlipBoard, Soundcloud
    • UBS Investment Bank on TMT team and co-founded beauty subscription company called Boudoir Prive (acquired by BirchBox)
      • Comes from entrepreneur family and action/doer and the creative
      • VC seemed to be between acting and thinking part of the job as he’s followed it for 10-12 years
    • Split on idea of career VC without operating experience
    • 3 ways to look and slice companies: at Index, they have thematic and geographical approach since they need to have ppl on ground in Europe
      • Stage-focused: seed / growth
      • Thematic: fintech, adtech
      • Geographical: Germany, France, London, Amsterdam and building the network there with angels, seed funds
    • 6 hour drive test or drunk test with founders – no formal founder test to determine invest-ability
      • Are they able to attract and hire the people they need
      • Trying to decide if the risk is worth reward – not beholding themselves to a valuation cap if they believe
    • Favorite book: I have America Surrounded by Tim Leary
    • Investor who has shaped his theses is Fred Wilson – being right, companies and sharing insight, communicating as USV and himself
  • Elaine Beak, consulting and HBS (Career Talk, Wharton XM)

    • She wasn’t too scared but whenever she had problems, the solutions would arise
      • For others, the security blanket is the scariest for most people when she tries to help them on decisions or convincing them
    • Writes her books in 2 weeks each – written and published 80+
    • Word of mouth, should have 6 months saved up, and have 50 people that you can contact for saying you’re going out on your own
    • Following own rules:
      • Billing clients the same day that you finish a project.
      • Clients may have 30 day billing window, so if you waited 2 weeks, they’ll forget or not be as appreciative.
    • Don’t discount, add to the service instead – charge more
      • Bad reputation for discounting.
    • Go for the big fish – large companies but the time to get smaller companies is the same for larger. Repeat business is there
      • Repeat business and more of a budget to continue work.
    • Learn to say no. Non-paid speaking engagements should be limited.
    • Manage your time well – make sure it pays off.
      • Find ways to automate things – invoices, payroll, accounting, responses to common questions
        • Make a standard paragraph or find an app/template once you have these
    • Project will end but not relationship – stay until the end and do a good job for the client.
    • Incorporating, LLC for sure

Reflect After, Not Before (Notes from Oct 28 – Nov 3, 2019) January 14, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized.
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I was a madman and finished through StartUp Podcast and their Gimlet story during the week of these notes. Pretty cool to hear a play-by-play for what was going through their thoughts, especially when they’re simple questions but hold such a vital block until the next challenge. It’s comforting, as well, that many people go through this. It truly doesn’t matter the size of a company or the hoopla associated at the start, there is a huge weight on the shoulders of first-time entrepreneurs coming from full-time employment. Even with the best managers or people in their roles, there are so many things that go into building – and it’s always changing.

Thankfully, there is an increasing amount of resources now to help you. A large number of people who have scratched the entrepreneur itch have produced reflections, notes and strategies to succeed/fail/avoid mistakes – all through the eyes of those who have succeeded marvelously, exited, failed spectacularly or even quietly. We’re lucky that we’re in this time, now, simply for the reason that all it takes to DO is just that – ACTION, DO. No longer is there a lack of playbook for the particular road to the madness. More tools, more options and it’s whatever you decide to go with. So, the biggest problem is probably now analysis paralysis. Want to make an educated guess as to what may work BEST, but it’s hard to know that. Experiment where you can and take leaps everywhere else.

I should take more of my own advice, and I’m glad I heard a few podcasts that push me further into this train of thought. The ideas will eat at you until you do it. Don’t want to regret inaction – hard to regret action since it’ll be what you did and how you took that path. Hope you all enjoy the notes / podcast in each of these paths.

  • Jeff Seibert (@jeffseibert), Sr Director of Product at Twitter (20min VC FF032)
    crashlytics-logo

    • Former founder of Crashlytics, 2011 with Wayne Chang for 300mil users worldwide
      • Acquired by Twitter in 2013 for $259mn
    • Cofounded Increo in 2007 and served as COO and lead architect until acquisition by Box in 2009
      • Build, share and innovate on their ideas – idea-sharing (doc-sharing, feedback, collaboration)
      • Had raised seed $500k in early 2008 – thought it would last about 18 months – for 2009 start, had 6 months to raise
        • Investors were pulling back, taking meetings but not investing – met with 34 / 36 firms on Sand Hill (says it was too much)
    • Grew up in Maryland, got Mac for Dummies and had visual application where he changed “Hello, World” to orange color
      • Went to Stanford for college, wanted to think about startups so started group
    • Transparency – full may be healthiest culture but it’s crazy high, crazy low (so CEOs should moderate) – entire team through cycle is actual stress
      • Productivity can dip if whole team feels this – at Increo it was very transparent
        • Acquisition discussions meant they had 2 months of not being productive – founder has to swallow the ups and downs
          • Box – still was furthering the mission for the acquisition – they had tons of documents and could provide lots of value
    • For Twitter acquisition – their executive team had a deeply nuanced view of the mobile ecosystem
      • With one of largest apps, had tons of connections, users, and feedback – lead them to have a good scale and vision for the next few years
        • Mobile developers and could succeed in that environment – could provide Crashlytics to grow team and build out products
      • Twitter was acquiring 2 companies a month – total transparency of motivations for acquisition and why they were in plans
        • Why was it being considered by company – couldn’t guarantee technology, headcount but they were open
          • He moved out to SF because they wanted rep for the company
    • For Crashlytics – he took both coast moneys – Flybridge (Jeff Musbridge who suggested a question for how he met cofounder)
      • Wayne Chang – few big startup events that people go to – friend had invited Jeff, was talking about side projects – agreed to meet later
        • He had a very deep understanding of the technology and intuition for mobile developers
          • Gave him a list 3 weeks later out of the blue with mobile apps, their lead, interview notes for feedback and commitment to use beta
          • Executes like crazy – fantastic relationship
      • Thought they were set up for success when they were acquired and reporting to VP of Eng – didn’t anticipate that they had a re-org
        • May put you on other location, lose some activity – should have been a “we want 6-9 months to report / integrate”
      • Goal for Crashlytics was to solve mobile bugs/crashes – 100s of millions of devices, 10s of k’s of customers
        • Could leverage Twitter name and offer the product for free – so instead of doing freemium and enterprise, they could do free everyone
        • Total distribution – it was the perfect opportunity – now have 1billion devices
      • Have entire team (save for 1) and it has tripled
      • He spent 2 years after deal leading developer’s platform (all over world on Twitter’s services) before moving to consumer product (BlueBird, Twitter app)
    • Daring Fireball (Apple fanatic) for favorite blog, career highlight was speaking at Stanford (one of student coordinators originally for Entrepreneurship)
    • Acquihires – not a fan for startup perspective, but understands from other side
  • Gimlet 8: Our New Show (StartUp Podcast 11/22/14)gimlet-and-spotify

    • Hiring new people that could be superstars – TLDR hosts WNYC
      • Offering lower salary than before but a revenue sharing – “incapable of feeling joy, has had an anxiety stomach ache for the past 5 days”
      • They had a bunch of questions: Editorial/managerial relationship (bosses), ad spots for numbers, CPM rate, $ for ongoing web support, logo
        • Had gone through budget stuff initially – PJ & Alex had been part of a union, stability – 6 months later – can they get a commitment?
      • Tough to give security if they don’t have the security – 4 year vesting plan
  • Gimlet 9: We Made a Mistake (StartUp Podcast 12/6/14)
    • Uploading first episode of Reply All – new podcast show
    • Making a terrible mistake of not clarifying an ad intention for “This American Life” for a son’s Minecraft website for Squarespace
      • Having a discussion with Ryan’s (son) of Laura, who eventually came on to talk with Alex about how she’d felt and interpreted
      • Establishing processes and policies for the advertisements
  • Gimlet 10: Mixing Art and Business (StartUp podcast 12/22/14)
    • Not wanting to add to spending part of business (75% pay cut for Alex)
    • 3 months of initial episode of StartUp, 1 month for ReplyAll, and 8 employees in an office with salaries/benefits and advertisements
      • Brought in old spreadsheet for month to month project
      • Miscalculated the audience numbers – said they’d have 20k listeners after 4 months and they’re at 10x that
        • Plan was to have 3 shows and then spend a year to build audience
        • That plan is gone for audience numbers-wise, but to do another show would cost more money
    • Ramping up spending is scary if the audience didn’t continue to grow
    • Talked to their first hire, Caitlin, producer and her knowing and shouldering a lot of the anxiety
  • Nick Craig (@nickcraig1), author of Leading From Purpose (Wharton XM)
    covermsall

    • Love as part of purpose statement when he was with West Point staff
      • Love of family, country, service
      • Where service meets purpose
    • Purpose is what everyone can take between business and personal
      • Most people are smart but asked, as fish, to climb a tree (Einstein)
    • Ben & Jerry’s turnaround – schweaty balls flavor – M&A / movement guy that stayed at B&J’s
      • Doubled revenue to $1 bn from 2011-2019
    • Level of uncertainty has risen for almost every company
      • Used automotive example – what are we going to be selling, buying
      • Banks
      • Timelines are shrinking
    • Talking to Bryn Abraham – love to figure out her purpose
      • Figured it out, then she says she wants to write the foreword for your book (what book – his response)
        • Set him up with her agent (Ariana Huffington and Peter Schultz’s), who had taken his Wharton class
        • The agent told him she’d represent him for his book

Wrapping Up the Year (Notes from Oct 21 – 27, 2019) January 6, 2020

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, marketing, questions, social, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Happy New Year’s, everyone! Hopefully the holidays treated everyone well. Mine were fairly quiet, filled with quite a bit of driving back and forth with family, though. Good mix and even the added bonus of getting in extended reading time, which I loved – and a good plug for the last podcast episode I had listened to in this set since Ellie Wheeler’s most recent investment at the time was Blinkist – an app summarizing nonfiction books.

Somewhat quick since the majority of the week was spent listening to Alex & Gimlet’s story continue on the StartUp podcast and how he thought about (and questioned others about starting) his podcasting company. From partnership splitting, to fundraising, to naming and branching out. Fascinating early, early stage process and how each day is a struggle of what to do. I saw someone (yes, I forget who) mentioned recently that startup founders/CEOs basically have an infinite to-do list and what makes or breaks the company is determining the order that will most benefit the development forward. Yes. And yes, it’s hard.

Recording that and releasing it was quite the project that probably helped launch the company in general as he promised to get there. Even more fun now that it’s been 5 years since the release and they’ve (check the logo) sold to Spotify. Podcasting still has a ways to go, I feel. In my opinion, audio and the video/reality experience will continue to merge as we go through the next 5-10 years. Few weeks ago, a friend helped try to hack together a form of visual note-taking app (say, pictures every 30 seconds turned to searchable text) – results weren’t great but next iteration would be possible with Snaptacles? Keep you posted. Having to organize everything using Notes / OneNote / Evernote / Notion / Docs / Apple Memo and bookmarks in your favorite browser – chaotic as hell. Shouldn’t be this hard to share relevant and recent readings/listenings. I bring it up because Alex in StartUp podcast discussed in that first episode the vision of how information can be shared. Those that learn and share can greatly accelerate action/excitement and get the flywheel moving if there was a tool (maybe 2) to facilitate this. I’m hopeful for this future – 5G and improvements there could enable the computing power for constant snippets?

The future holds the answers. Happy New Year!

  • Gimlet 2: Is Podcasting the Future or the Past? (StartUp Podcast 9/5/14)
    gimlet-and-spotify

    • Working on his pitching before headed back to California to pitch Chris’ partner
    • Matt had worked at CAA before joining Chris, he’d ran an in-house venture fund to team up with Hollywood talent, get other investors
      • Website FunnyOrDie with Ferrell and McKay to launch it
    • Launching 3 new shows, 100k per episodes
      • Asks “Are you in or out?” – but he says that he wants to spend more time
      • Normally, would give him 3 reasons why he wasn’t interested, but he’s interested in the pedigree to launch into the space
        • Access to build brands and content (really, really hard) – is this entrepreneur the best at what they’re going to build?
      • Question about audience numbers – thinks he can build a larger audience (Landlord was 80mln for FunnyOrDie), even though podcasts aren’t
      • Not a lot of innovation here – is this really the best platform (podcasting) for the shows? App-based ecosystem instead?
        • Aggregator site or podcast – can’t tweet out a moment (clip), can’t figure out which friends are/have listened (can’t)
        • pictures on phone while on podcast, celebrities what they’re listening to – Instagram of audio
    • Audio shows or vs podcasting – name sucks, new way – wife mentions pitching tech guys and getting feedback on tech platform for bigger
      • Scale for him is the largest he can’t envision, and that all seems to be small for Chris and Matt
  • Crypto Regulations, ATM fees (a16z 16 Minutes on the News #12, 10/20/19)
    ah-logo-sm

    • Managing Partner, Scott Cooper, author of Secrets of Sand Hill Road
    • ICOs as regulation, thing may not even exist – SEC fined the company with the ICO – if building blockchain and raise money from public before
      • Can’t sell security unless registered with SEC
      • Howie – did someone give you money? Did someone expect a profit/return? Did the profit come from the efforts of others?
    • When we invest in start-up companies, exemption by accredited investors or register by SEC because no exemption
    • Bill Hineman at SEC talked about mutability for security turning into non-security
      • ERC-20 token was frozen/suspended for Block 1 – eventually received EOS tokens, that persists today
      • Settlement with SEC didn’t impact EOS tokens to trade on the market – in theory, EOS wasn’t a security at the time – efforts for others
    • First time Cooper had seen settlement that SEC distinguished a security in the initial part ERC before turning not a security by EOS
      • No bright-line for what the line is that draws centralization/decentralization
    • ATM fees being the highest they’ve ever been $4.95 – growth of median income up 20% since 1995, healthcare 40%, education 80%, housing 50%
      • Overdraft fees as highest as well – $35bn lost there
      • Legacy banks as tons of fixed costs and infrastructure and people vs startups that can go to market and get the building blocks necessary
        • Anti-money laundering and KYC attention, also
  • Gimlet 3: How to Divide an Imaginary Pie (StartUp Podcast 9/17/14)
    a44614ef903df9d1c336bdc0438fac78

    • Needing a business partner, potentially – wife helping him get to that point
    • Micah Rosenbloom pitching – thing 1 – liked the idea, thing 2 – bet on 2 or 3 people, Finding a business partner – MBA grads, founder dating type and website
      • Settled on his partner Matt Leber, MIT Sloan grad, BCG consultant due for a soon promotion – sneaked around, knew the business side
    • Agreeing on the clarity of the business partnership – going through legal/lawyers to agree on principle for the split of equity
      • People who he talked to mentioned 90-10 split, no more than 15%
      • Matt had mentioned 47% initially, gave an input to ask what he thought was important
        • Matt asks “What is important to you?” – some examples: important to be in charge, be CEO, his company, own 80%+
      • He’s worried about being a sucker, a rube, he got ripped off – though he thought 47% was too high “He’s key to success of company”
        • Wants that to be reflected in the cap table – “Matt is not”, Matt can’t imagine doing it for 10% – he’d treat it as a job
        • Didn’t come to terms with each other, had to go back to their wives
        • Extremely surprised at the number, adding – maybe he was seen as a consultant initially and it persisted – maybe anchored
        • Positional bargaining vs average of 15 and 45%
      • Everyone could come up with their answer – as long as it was fair to each
        • Thought the split should be 60/40 – founder’s agreement at the restaurant – needed to make it worth something, together
  • Gimlet 4: Startups are a Risky Business (StartUp Podcast 9/23/14)
    • Discussing podcast with Matt Mazio – should be able to message back and forth, create new connections / friends, microtransactions, crowdfunding
    • Going back to Micah for a second meeting – brought Alex Davidoff
      • Questioned the number of people (millions vs tens or hundreds – 40mln current was the answer)
      • Hard to be a hotel and Kayak – hard for whatever you do – content vs tech
      • Questioning the CAC and LTV for customers – wanted more than theories but answers for acquisition model
        • Venture scale is $100mln+ scale, opportunity
        • Costs X to produce a show, Y% are hits, Z amount of value to listeners, listeners pay and blended AC is W
        • How to scale because he knows what it looks like – wanted to de-risk the investment – credible theory of venture size
    • Micah had been encouraging and excited to give him intros to other venture capitalists
    • Chicago Board of Trade from school, some colleagues started an investment firm – Mike
      • Podcast newbies – never – bonded over one venture because he’d listened to Howard Stern – great interviewer / new content
      • Definitely different than what they’d focused on
    • Investing partners on one – focused on numbers, other on user growth, different reasons
      • Former financial guy who’d explained to him a toxic asset – $50k was a fan, solid enough business
      • Media innovation fund – perhaps a revenue model for other journalism forms
      • Andrew Mason, Founder/CEO of Groupon ($100mln from there) – started a new company called Detour – guided audio tours
        • Needed content for the tours but had the tech side to build it – had his own project (podcast network)
        • Agreed to invest $100k – exploitative, can learn things, investment in himself to keep close, good at what he does, ppl
        • Hadn’t thought about monetary reason, higher likelihood for profitable business but lower likelihood for 100x
          • If not successful, because he didn’t want it enough – “Have a kid now, it’s an insane amount of work”
    • Went to bank together and had $385k in the checking account – wanted $1.5mln for runway
      • Planning to still launch 3 shows, office space, 18 months runway
    • The name: APC – no, unilaterally – including wife and partner
  • Gimlet 5: How to Name Your Company (StartUp Podcast 10/13/14)
    • Transparency and the name: APC – no, including wife and partner
    • Tried a ton of different options before going to Lexicon naming help
      • We can’t pay but we’ll have it on the air for the podcast
    • Major Gimlet, gimlet eye, gimlet drinks – Matt bought the domain
  • Matt Charney (@mattcharney), Editor at RecruitingDaily (In the Workplace, Wharton XM)
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    • Went over digital numbers for the workplace – IoT as different than Digital Transformation
      • Digital transformation is a $60bn annual cost to consultants – max cash, short on ROIC
    • Mentioning that the top ATS in hiring is still top now – since 1996
  • Gimlet 6: How to Value Your Startup (StartUp Podcast 10/25/14)
    • Valuing your company as a starter for valuation cap, how much of the company
    • Valuation cap set at $10mn with his lawyer – completely arbitrary
      • AngelList had average valuations for a startup in NY at the time between $3-5mn, other media companies had been $10mn
    • Talking to Matt Mazio to check in – had a cofounder now, lots of meetings and having discussions with people
      • Price for pre-launch, content and no real tech – at least 2x what it was
      • Mazio in $100k with Chris Sacca, wasn’t worth arguing the price for $100k
        • $10mn cap would’ve needed a 10x to go to $100mn
  • Gimlet 7: How Listeners Become Owners (StartUp Podcast 11/8/14)
    • Fully funded after going $200k in crowdfunding, getting the Tumblr founder Marco to put in $50k and additional $150k
    • Building the sound booth studio randomly
    • JOBS Act allowing the larger pool of American people to invest in startups, talking to AlphaWorks CEO Erin (had been there 4 days in NYC)
      • AlphaWorks – actual ownership stake, investor
        • Relationship with listeners was the biggest thing for the company – $5k
      • Wire from Sacca was late because original amount went to the wrong account, business in Gardenia somewhere
        • Local police weren’t convinced that receiving someone else’s money was a crime ($33k lost)
    • Having worked for 6 months, quite early and then leaving at 6pm each night
      • Parenting strain now – can’t help even though he did pull more than his weight before
    • Consumer Federation of America – actually, sort of, trying to protect the people
      • Regular people will get hosed is what they said – is it the business of government to look out for what’s best?
  • Ellie Wheeler (@ellie), Partner at Greycroft Partners (20min VC 1/27/16)
    greycroft-logo1

    • Next-gen commerce, consumer mobile, SaaS solutions and investments in BaubleBar, Flashpoint Intel, Eloquii, Plain Vanilla Games

      • Was in a similar position at Lowercase Capital with Chris Sacca
    • No “if you do this, you’ll get into venture” – hers was pre-med, medical school and dropped out before end of first semester
      • Started at Summit Partner – Growth Capital P/E in Boston w/o Excel skills
      • Wanted to understand more in context so she went to Cisco, moved to SF – C/D, M&A, Strategy on Enterprise Software
        • webEx and video conferencing, unified comms
      • Crash happened – $30bn on balance sheet and seeing everything for stunting M&A and tech
    • Business school after Cisco
    • Mobile commerce as off by consultants/analysts by orders of magnitude – conversion rates were still very low
      • Email to mobile as conversion driver – d2c, into funnel and into terrible experience
      • Web or app experiences
    • Wearables – more integrated, into the fabric, athletic gear
    • The Power of One as favorite book, Alan Patricof as the founder of Greycroft
      • Outlook app, Twitter (as blog), Todo list (Evernote, but she uses note cards)
    • Recent investment is Blinkist, mobile summary for key nonfiction books

Love Hearing Some Aspirations (Notes from Oct 14 – Oct 20, 2019) December 19, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, NLP, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Happy holidays, everyone! Hopefully you’re staying warm/dry – whether that’s inside or just generally in a better location. I’ll say I already wish that I purchased into that ski cabin for the holiday since we’ve had a bunch of rain over the last few weeks in the bay area and now fresh powder in the Sierras. But alas, I did not. Next time, next time.

I’m going to keep this brief, but primarily because I have fallen behind in writing and it pains me weekly. Habits break and that may need to be bumped up in the new year – try out substack or something similar. But, I think I’m finally going to launch something that I’ve been meaning to build. CV / Image recognition sourcing into a database to keep track of something that plays a prominent role for many. We’ll see if I can get the prototype usable and I’ll update here.

Aspirations – I love talking and listening to people who have big dreams. I think there are many who hold themselves back for all kinds of reasons. If I catch wind or hear it, I will push you to start – something, anything – for your sake. It’s rewarding to have to dive in and try it out. Maybe it falls off after 6 months. Maybe you run out of money that you allotted to the side. Maybe, you succeed. Or learn  enough to accidentally fail upwards into a better / concrete idea. I hope for it all when people have these ideas. It’s inspiring – helps me go through my own models for how I interpret my world if I have to wrap my head around how friends/colleagues/Tweeps view their own. And how things can become better. Ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to do with many ideas. Is it a cool new thing? Is it something you wish you had? Is it an observation that you want to test? Build. You won’t regret it if you don’t in the grand scheme, but if it’s a big enough itch, it’s worth the learning experience in a world where not enough of us do (but it’s not for a lack of time).

Hope you enjoy the notes.

  • Patrick / Raamayan, Cofounder of Unify (Wharton XM)
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    • Global meditation, achieving state of flow
      • Could be gym, yoga, prayer, running
    • If you have an hour, you have 15 minutes
  • Brianne Kimmel (@briannekimmel), Worklife Ventures (20min VC 10/14/19)
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    • Backed by Andreesen, Chris Dixon, Zoom’s Eric Yuan, and friends Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan, Matt Mazzeo
    • Teaching General Assembly while operating in performance/growth marketing role at Expedia before Head of Social Media
      • Go-to marketing bootcamp (SaaS school now)
      • SaaS school taught my brand name heads at SaaS top places
    • Started with $25-50k angel checks in Webflow, Voiceflow, Airgarage and built a track record
      • Wanted to build a SaaS-fund to focus on go-to-market from bottoms-up
      • Enjoys building and structuring companies to get into the Venture-sized outcomes
      • Having a fund that’s open enough to maybe do private equity after stuck between $3-5mn ARR
    • Optionality for early stage, inflection points, maybe getting growth PM to scale into CEO
      • $150k checks incrementally grown from $25k
    • Proliferation of funds and capital – investing from own, micro-VC and angels platforms
      • Scouting for VC fund – operators at hot tech company
      • AngelList and Carta as platforms for own angel funds or boutique arrangements (flexibility with checks, numbers, still operate)
    • Celebrities/athletes using investments in startups to match their brand or expand it
      • Intersection of work and life – seeing Faire and Shopify give access to a huge new audience
    • Angels with leverage in cap table – “perfect one” and she grooms founders for this
    • Worklife – services and programs to unlock human potential at scale
      • Hypevsaas – traditional language for b2b is dead, according to her
      • Great saas being built by operators spinning out of consumer tech (Airbnb, Coinbase, Uber)
        • Scaling too quickly where they end up building their own tools before open sourcing or monetizing
      • With self-serve SaaS companies, many APIs and workflow tools, are easy to build – what’s the competitive advantage
        • Your access to tech, building closed products (specific users in line with product vision)
      • Opposite of Hypevsaas as “Scrappy SaaS” – going away slowly, race similar to consumer product for paid marketing
        • Freemium to quickly launch/build but products too easy – race for free users and attempt to monetize later
        • Mirrors side hustle or application as experiment with a possible traction
    • Consumer-grade experiments where users pay from day one – mentioned Superhuman and Rahul’s talk
      • SaaS school discussion about video game design and hook
    • Pace as most recent investment – accessing software with lower monthly rate because they access the contracts
  • Justin Kan (@justinkan), Founder / CEO of Atrium (20min VC 6/21/19)
    atriumlts

    • Full-service corporate law firm for startups
    • Started in 2004 with online calendar a la Gcalendar called Keeko, got into YC
      • Failed and sold it on ebay eventually
    • Then started Justin.tv – terrible idea that mostly failed and eventually made it into a streaming site to do Twitch
      • Sold in 2014 to Amazon, started another company called Exec in 2015 – errand service
      • Became a partner at YC but realized after a few years that an investor full-time wasn’t for him
      • Forced, as a startup founder, to learn things (hadn’t been learning as an investor)
    • 2017 – remembered how painful it was learning things – thinking of ideas
      • Conversation with a partner at a law firm in the city – asked her why they didn’t use any tech themselves
      • Full-stack corporate law firm in US – high growth companies that they’re building for last 2 years
    • Had used legal services no matter what they had – big transactions pay attorneys regardless, stable market
      • Will exist in a downturn because things don’t just stop
    • Remembered that every summer at the start of his startups, he would want to quit – think of new ideas or new things
      • Once out, he’d think he didn’t want to do it again, until it brought him back
      • First 3 months – thought he was great, figured it out due to 10 years’ experience, until stress came back
        • 6 months of stressful period – figured it out that he was still fine, reputation/old job
        • Self-improvement and growth had to come from culture
    • Hard to detach yourself from company as entrepreneur
      • Has attachments and notifications to make sure that he’s being present
      • Having goals in life, company, entrepreneur – board game metaphor – friends play and being engaged
      • Put away a game – do you remember or care what happened?
    • Started seeing a therapist 7 years prior – coach for dealing and discovering about what you’re going through
      • Cathartic, in his opinion – not alone and can talk to people
      • 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, Steve from Reddit
        • Radical responsibility – nobody else will come to save you, nobody to blame
        • Radical curiosity – whenever a new situation comes up, you approach it with what you’re supposed to learn
    • Don’t have to suffer for doing a start-up – not saying “Don’t work hard”
      • Building up skills, expectation for suffering isn’t the case
      • Atomic Habits by James Clear for him following working out each day
    • Zone of Genius – cares and loves to focus on, delegate rest
      • At Atrium, focus on business strategy, selling, culture
      • Build the team for the rest of it
    • Much better at recognizing patterns after investing 100 companies
      • Implementing in company, business models and market dynamics
      • Bad – investor attitude (approached Atrium like this)
    • Atrium – up to 150 employees in SF now – happy and proud for the culture and growth
  • Eric Kinariwala (@ekinariwala), founder / CEO at Capsule (DealMakers 10/15/19)
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    • Rebuilding pharmacy from inside out – raised $270mn from TCV, Thrive Capital, Sound Ventures, Virgin Group, M13
    • Wharton undergrad, network from there as financial services, banking and decided to go to west coast – Stanford
      • Started at Bain Capital in Boston after graduating – worked in a hedge fund group investing
        • Retail, healthcare, tech – blending framework around business strategy, what makes it a good business
        • Judging management and the synergies – learning how to invest, as well
      • Making right judgment calls – tight feedback loops
    • For Capsule, had moved back to NY, got a headache – called doctor and had a prescription ordered
      • Pharmacy is $350bn – most frequent interaction in healthcare
      • 2nd largest category of retail – 70k stores
      • Got headache and went to go pick up his meds but couldn’t find it, then they were out of stock and it was awful
    • Hard to get advice from the pharmacy, don’t know the price until they go to pay
    • Everybody touching the pharmacy has a headache, typically
    • 3 pillars of Capsule: modern technology platform, emotionally resonant brand, pharmacy how your mom would treat you
      • Prototypical pharmacist as founder, 2nd was highly experienced technologist, 3rd woman that spent building consumer brands
    • Business model – “10x better” than current existing – technologically enabled pharmacy – app with 5 pieces of information
      • 2 hour delivery windows, know price of medication, doctors know what you’re doing
      • Why are there so many pharmacies? Put money spent on rent back into beautiful design and technology to be seamless
    • Launched in 2016, first customer in May – first challenges in early days
      • Strong word-of-mouth from friends, doctors who had learned about Capsule – telling patients and vice versa
      • Early pharmacist was well-versed in regulatory environment for anything that could’ve been broken
    • He had raised in May ’15 to get started – raised $70 million to start
      • Ideal profile / entire business model needs to be aligned with values: objectives, values, strategy and metric
      • Asking to join and leaders need to have alignment in the same way – even the board – share vision and how / why you operate
    • Team is bigger than 250 full-time, all in NYC now – encouraging people to read ahead of joining, also
      • Checklist Manifesto, On Wings of Eagles, Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table, and Who by Dan [Geoff?] Smartt
    • For the future of Capsule – most important thing in your family’s life as healthcare (although I’d argue bank or something)
      • 5x more pharmacy visits than doctor (sheesh) – wants to make it mobile-first and on the home page of phone
    • Piece of advice for his first day: be more confident earlier
  • Gimlet 1: How to Not Pitch a Billionaire (Startup Podcast 4/5/14)
    gimlet-and-spotify

    • Pitching Chris Sacca – meeting at a hole-in-the-wall sushi place for lunch in LA
      • Deck as a crutch and did it outside the lunch – no slides
      • Most people consume audio in radio and are leaving to digital – audio dashboard, podcasts music all there
      • Wants to start company for the content for moving into the digital future
      • One question he asked: what’s the unfair advantage? Explained how to make money (ads, listeners)
        • Freemium – offer an extra for the listeners who want to pay.
        • He answered: making freemium model work – had to tighten it up
      • Chris Sacca – took 2 minutes and did the pitch
        • People willing to pay for this stuff – Planet Money where they gave $600k to buy tshirt with our logo
          • Integrated directly that we can replicate
        • $1.5mn to buy 3-4 guys for podcasts in next 12 months, can get to 300-400k net subscribers
          • Can get to breakeven on ads alone, CPMs where they are – more integration and episodes will be ultimately scale
          • 12-15 podcasts and we can do it
      • Then countered with the audio is a niche market – nonprofit and audio moving toward shorter content
    • Met him on a Planet Money story when he was going over patent system and how it was slowing innovation
    • Strategy/ideas at Google, writing seed investment check in PhotoBucket – didn’t have it, though
      • Just $50k and wrote 2 credit card checks – enjoyed the feeling so much he left Google
      • First investment was in a colleague, Evan Williams, for Twitter as a full-time angel
        • Wrote the check for $25k – was a lot of cash to him, needed it to work – wanted to help out, evangelist
        • Started buying more shares and doubling – believed in the company
    • Kickstarter, Uber, Instagram, etc… looks hard at the conviction of the success
      • Missed on DropBox (Gdrive was going to crush them), Airbnb (someone will get raped or murdered, can’t work)
    • Told him to come back, tighten the pitch and then do it for Chris’ partner Matt who was from the media world
  • Pankaj Risbood (@risbood), founder at Zendrive
    logo_vertical-drkgry2x

    • Discussing leveraging data and making it a platform instead of an app
      • Dealing with partners to ensure they can improve value
    • Mission Street project – 6 months driver flow before and then after shutting down
      • Reducing poor driving / improve driver safety and it was fairly obvious
    • Can deploy this in the form for insurances, as well
  • Jacqueline Courtney (@jac_courtney), Founder of Nearly Newlywed (Wharton XM)
    47315_0

    • Pitching on Shark Tank to grab attention
    • Starting as seeing option in fashion tech for underserved market
    • Tough for Amazon to compete because of the marketplace factor and users are only in for 1 sale, 1 wedding
      • Taking 40% of the sale but trying to maximize the amount of cost for many
      • Realized photos that were posed / models with dresses didn’t sell as well as real wedding photos
        • Started asking customers for them this way
  • Noah Auerbahn (@noahauerbahn), co-founder and CEO of Robin Healthcare (Lindzanity 10/2/19)
    5d00b6c5f8049e595a67e73d_logo-robin

    • Robin as virtual scribe that sits on doctors desks and records video/audio from room – sits in exam room
      • Started with orthopedic physicians – 6 sub-specialties and they cover all of them so far
    • Met Gary, Howard’s partner, when Noah was 21 and starting first company – ExtraBucks (cash back coupons)
      • Came up with at dorms in USC, raised enough money to move to SD with his cofounders
      • Were cash flow positive and had Gary and Alex as advisors – realized he didn’t want to be in ecommerce forever
        • Decided to sell and exit once they questioned it – had raised around $1million, no venture
    • Believed college as what you make of it – did entrepreneurship / business in undergrad but taking it and questioning how to apply it
    • Education, energy, and health were the lists of what he thought may have the most impact – health was the biggest for him
      • He would hire MIT PhD and UCLA MD to come to his office and tutor him – “pretty affordable, like $70/hr” to teach at pace you want
      • He wanted massive optionality within healthcare – not just ecommerce, if he wanted to do pharma, biotech, find the right entry point
      • 100s of research posts, 100s of conversations, started going to conferences (where he met his cofounder)
    • Entire system – center of the system is the exam room – decisions get made there, so he wanted to build something interesting inside of that room
      • Patient, doctor, and EMR (not interested in sharing data)
        • Found out that there was a scribe in 5% of rooms and he asked why they aren’t remote or something
        • Lower burnout rates, better throughput and service, notes/quality control could have issues
        • Decided to tool in a good UX, ML additionally
    • Wanted to do something big, had to raise money eventually but “How many assumptions could he kill or the idea before saving time?”
      • First paying customer, had $40k, webcams, notes (his cofounder doing them), device streaming and did it at his mom’s vet clinic (non-HIPAA)
        • Built own tech, had some handful of paying customers – had taken some friends/family $ that missed on his first company and then real
      • Didn’t anticipate hardware but couldn’t find something that could be used for solving this
        • Security cams aren’t great because of acoustic but could stream all the time
        • Conference ones which aren’t designed to run all the time – ran own software on it, but lot of work to keep it working all the time
        • Sonos speaker guys were helpful in producing what they ended up building (optional video)
    • Device has about 2% of people where they don’t consent – video/audio and can be more in tune with the patient
    • Having offices in SD, Berkeley (his reverse commute from SF) and Austin – where most pre-med scribes are for them
      • Mentioned 30% Stanford Med graduates don’t end up as doctors – go into tech
  • Morgan Housel, co-founder of Collaborative Fund (Lindzanity, 10/9/19)
    deuobz-u8aarwgs

    • Howard’s favorite thinker/writer/storyteller and his interesting career arch – key to writing is writing
    • Effective long-form is rough but when it’s good, it’s bar-belled (10 seconds is better than longer reading)
      • Only books he got through were Shoe Dogs and Agassi’s book – Munger’s “Don’t be burdened by bad books”
    • Cramer’s “Confessions of a Street Addict” as good, as well
      • Coming from nowhere, knew how to write briefly, Howard as superfan – first modern financial professional that had personality
      • Howard feels like it’s an underachievement – Morgan said he’s not a great investor – so much trust built up that he should be running a massive firm
      • Access to people, financial celebrity
    • Fascinated by Motley Fool – when Morgan had hedge fund, had CNBC but Dave and Tom Gardner – hats on, promotional and StockTwit before
      • Went for mom and pops – tremendous marketers, but made mistakes
    • 2007 – dawn of financial disaster, studying econ at USC (his plan was p/e and ib) but finance was terrible
      • Didn’t think highly of Motley Fool – had gone through Yahoo finance boards and saw his friend, Sham Gad, at USC was writing for them
      • Thought he’d do Motley Fool shortly as contract, couple months, and was writing an article a day – (plan was initially p/e but they couldn’t bring him on)
      • For him, he was supposed to be banking industry, and writing other stuff as well – economy and macro issues (unemployment, fed reserve, budgets)
      • No explanation for decisions being rational – before, during, after no good explanations – psychology of investing
    • Psychology of investing will always be there – different layers of edge and vs technical side – can be base of pyramid
      • Smartest analyst or data miner but without greed/fear, nothing would matter (Howard moving to angel – forced to go with it, prices were his weakness)
    • Time split for Howard – 50/50 between public/priv (prices keep him up to date on news)
      • Selling at Uber at $10bn because he wasn’t allowed to sell at $1bn – he was in with David Cohen’s $4mn fund, $50k at $4mn valuation, so he had $2k
      • Sold a lot early and then sold at $40bn and that’s where it is now – public would’ve been very different
    • New banks may be what Andreesen is doing – start as VC & get larger, for next 20 years
      • Citadel starting as hedge fund from dorm and now top-tier investment bank, doing everything – exchange, conglomerate
      • Partnership that can have trading stocks, wealth management, lean beast with trust/access – 2.5% fund without GS
      • Private becoming so large because of the liquidity area there
    • Josh as being equally funny and smart, not caring about markets – gave a sponsor to Morgan and Jesse Livermore (pseudo) and Twitter explodes
      • Motley Fool for 10 years, contractor for 7 years – LA first and then Seattle, then Alexandria for 3 years – only time he’s had a desk and office
      • Wife went to grad school in Baltimore to move them out that way
      • Motley Fool as bigger than you think – P/E mistake, big tool and screwups to learn a lot about mistakes
        • Joining Collaborative Funds (Craig Shapiro splitting time between NYC and SF) was easiest decision, but leaving MF was hardest of his life
    • What really can set you apart is not writing a check anymore – everyone has a checkbook
      • What do people know about you? What do you stand for? What is your vision?
      • If he could write what they wanted to read, it would draw back some attention to what they’re doing and standing behind.
    • Went to plenty of conferences, 4-5 a year and learned to speak – had a CFA Institute where he was the interviewer
      • Did keynotes for Motley Fool, video made it to Washington Speakers Bureau and started to do that
      • Several dozen talks a year now – wasn’t the plan original (2016 as first year)
        • Doesn’t sketch out an idea, write out an outline – just knows that he enjoys some part and how to contextualize it
    • Spends majority of his time going on walks to “write” – tough for him to grind the gears
      • 95% of his investing is house, checking acct and 3 Vanguards funds – saving dollar-cost-averaging there, since he isn’t really writing checks
      • Thinking about “enough” – 8% is fine, 10% would be nice but not worth stressing (says opposite of type A)
        • Odds are low to beat market, same with running – 3 miles is enough for him, doesn’t need to do half marathon
        • Biking for 1 – 2 hours, knows the burn, won’t need to do more
      • Why Howard says Andreesen’s model likely to make a difference
        • For Howard – indexing, 90% there and 10% to try to beat
      • If it bothers you, why are you torturing yourself? If you need to scratch the itch, take a small enough.
      • Hates idea that Vanguard gets to pick the 500 companies for him, not a fan of $5mln raise if you can do on $1mln
        • Similar to Risk gm – don’t start Europe, east Aus is better
    • Indexing as Robinhood vs Vanguard – somewhere in between (not robo), but just de-selecting the companies you may not want to invest in
      • Feel better, maybe hold on more during drawdowns – incentivize riding the wave
      • Example from Morgan about mom hating Monsanto (then he pointed out she owned some – she wanted to sell)

Paralysis of Planning (Notes from Oct 7 – Oct 13, 2019) December 12, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Leadership, marketing, medicine, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Hello everyone! It’s been forever – a few weeks. That wasn’t my intention and my head’s been spinning around topics. However, nothing was clearing up idea-wise, at least enough to fit something in. As writing is an intentional habit of mine to try to memory-dump and stay organized, the slowdown has been a poor fall off from my routine. We’ll get it back.

I forget where I’d read it first, but there are some long-form bloggers who said just writing to write daily has helped them get to coherent, well-written posts about once a week. I may try a medium there and plan to write 3-4 days, even if it’s brief. Let’s see what comes of that (on initial thinking, I’d like to get 1 or 2 of those data-focused).

Last week, I attended #HustleCon in Oakland, which is focused on entrepreneurs (mostly non-technical) and the strength of pattern recognition and actions on ideas. A few of my prior posts have mentioned the flood of information available, so long as you have a plan to go through it. It’s likely why I found it funny to hear various founders with their “definitive” takes on fundraising, hiring and culture building processes. It’s possible the thing they all agreed on was just to focus on the product/customer feedback. The rest was completely in the air – some swore on fundraising and it was easy, others thought it was only necessary to scale to size they wanted later, some wanted to just get large customer traction, etc…. There’s no single track except your own past experiences. That’s the one track for ‘worked’ vs ‘doesn’t work’. Everything else has examples on both sides.

The commonality aside from product/customer-focus was in reflecting on actions – can you test an idea? Can it sell? Will there be a proper response? Is the response as you expected? Iterate from the basic idea that you had to begin with and see if you can’t improve it further. I am starting to agree that there are many ideas that fix many things we each interact with – our experience (usually bad) influence our ideas to improve them once you have that “I wonder why it can’t be easier – or why can’t it be done like X”. Acting on that idea to see if you can fix it is at least better for you and a handful of likeminded people – “2x improvements”. The iteration to move from that to providing an easier/painless/smooth/updated experience is the rest. And that determines success/fail of the business (if there was one). That’s a large jump but one that I may unpack in the future.

I think the notes below contain a solid mixture of hope for the future, business building, medicine and exploration.

  • Trae Vassallo (@trae), founder at Defy.vc (Wharton XM)
    favicon_200px

    • Looking at focusing in early-stage connected software companies
    • Avoiding stigma of young and white and male – although that’s lore/myth, despite what we see in SF
      • Founders as average age of 40
      • Very diverse, including in their portfolio co’s
    • They lean on founders who they may have backed before
    • Attending Stanford for Bach, Masters and MBA
      • After undergrad, interned at Boeing for summer before realizing corporate wasn’t really for her, true engineering
      • Had more of a design mind – Ideo (design firm) kept intriguing her in SF
    • Niche for funding between big moves and some that don’t want massive venture deals – thought it was common enough to fit
  • Seyward Darby (@seywarddarby), Editor-in-Chief at The Atavist (Wharton XM)
    atavist_logo_2015

    • Discussing paper
  • Amazon to Deliver Healthcare, Google Quantum & VR/AR (16 Minutes on the News #10: 9/29/19)
    • Cost of employer-based healthcare just passed $20k annually for the first time
    • Often hear about “At least Amazon doesn’t deliver healthcare” – their position in the market is the source of fear
      • Haven’t hired nurses or physicians, partnered with Oasis
    • What would counterpart for realities of healthcare working
      • How do you integrate into supply chain of broader healthcare landscape (Amazon as just inserting into primary care, not others)
        • Primary care is a minor part of total spend
      • Game for startups is to get distribution before incumbent gets innovation
    • Oculus – advancing AR/VR very quickly – selling as fast as they can make them with Quest
      • Hand-tracking is working much better, technological advances
      • Verifocal lenses – different ways for seeing 3D
        • Big Screen as watching 3D films – true eye separation, although in VR, you don’t see great depth
    • Eyes trade off high resolution (central) compared to the outside which would be low res
      • Mobile GPU for glasses as less powerful but improving compared to ones that are plugged into the pc
      • Enough users where developers can be incentivized
    • Quantum computing as here – yes, but not broken for cryptography
      • You can run a computation / calculation on quantum computer
  • James Beshara (@jamesbeshara), cofounder at Tilt (20min VC FF#031, 1/22/16)
    crowdtilt-to-tilt-image_28305

    • Micro-crowdfunding platform, founded dvelo.org for crowdfunding loans and donations to poverty-alleviation
      • Then moved to friends funding
    • Khaled as co-founder – said “he’s the luckiest thing that happened to company”, introduced by a friend
      • 26 yr old running strategy at Rackspace – needed someone to develop because he didn’t have the development skills
    • College kids as the largest demographic here – wanted to make crowdfunding very easy
    • Fundraising process for the two of them, trying to get investments from real estate, oil & gas, hardware – didn’t understand
      • Were in ATX and had to do value prop for 90 seconds – duh?
      • Got into YC and grinded until that point, even for raising $500k
      • Helpful for Series A – growth graph that they didn’t have for seed
    • Destination in mind for investors – standalone, durable company (likely public)
    • 5 years away – building crowdfunding platform and taking it mainstream
      • Update: Didn’t make it.
  • Bryan Johnson (@bryan_johnson), founder of OS Fund and Braintree (20min VC 1/25/16)
    braintree_logo

    • Bought by ebay in 2013 for $800mil, and launched OS Fund with $100mil in personal capital to benefit humanity
    • Extend human life, replicate visual cortex, reinvent transportation and food
    • Key question of building technology and the world we want – governmental systems improvement
      • Balancing returns – money is a tool of power and influence
      • Can be decades and he’d be fine with it
    • Interested in materials science and rearrangement of atoms – raw source inputs, business services and how to consume them
      • His portfolio is mostly genomics and synthetic biology
      • Has a sizable chunk of experts that they get advised by on specialties
    • Blockchain technology – thinks of the start to the printing press
      • Tools of creation and platforms of creation are hard to predict what would be next
    • Fav book: Shackleton’s Endurance Voyage, favorite person: Craig Ventur
    • Most exciting recent investment: Ginkgo Bioworks
  • Kamran Fallahpour (Director at Brain Resource Center in NYC) and Geoffrey Woo (CEO, Founder at HVMN) Brain Hacking (Wharton XM, Dot Complicated)b593e157-b9cc-4762-b437-ff43ca3f731e-1498462151992

    • Bryan Johnson on Brain Hacking and founder/CEO of Kernel, not a matter of if / when
    • Coming to Brain Resource Center: both children and adults, ADD, ADHD, brain injury, migraines, anxiety
      • Families with kids with attention issues or doing fine but want an advantage
    • First do a brain mapping using EEG – over- or underactivation
    • For Geoffrey, he had friends after Stanford trying to make machines or robots smarter, better and more efficient
      • He wanted to wonder how he could get humans to perform better – tinker with the body
      • Cognitive functions as being why we’re above the animals – n=1 experimental starts
    • Pubmed research articles on nootropics, reports on Reddit for chemical stacks, substances that were supplements or foods
      • Prescription or off-label, scheduled drugs legal or illegal
    • Improved sleep as best biohack, exercise for cardiac health and now regular exercise/weightlifting as brain cognition
      • Neuroplasticity growth and improving brain functions – any way to stimulate the brain, puzzles/language/out of comfort zone
      • Plateaus when looking at neural feedback
  • Andres Barriga (@andresbarriga), cofounder of Portola Growth Partners (Wharton XM)
    • Chilean venture capital after business school in the states
    • Growth in LATAM – primarily western countries and then up to Mexico for growth
    • Talent is starting to be attracted to possibilities
    • They got 3 US funds to invest
  • CRISPR! Policy, Platform, Trials (16 Minutes News by a16z #11)
    • CCR5 gene as preventing HIV
    • Alliance of 13 companies in the space to not do germline editing, but would still do therapeutic somatic cell genetics
      • Genome that runs the body and the one you pass on to generations – germline
      • Somatic cells will not be passed down to future generations (eyes, liver, etc…) and germline would
    • 1970s had discovery of recombinant DNA – tech to cut/paste genes
      • 1980s had genetic applications outside of the body – initial cut healthy copy of gene and put into virus and stick into humans
      • Late 90s – patient Jessica Zellwinger – can’t randomly do gene splicing
      • Talons – gobbler proteins – zinc fingers took forever to remove mutated genes but would take PhD students months and $10ks
    • Emergence of CRISPR as way to treat disease, in short order
      • Gene therapy, CRISPR, engineered cells to treat cancer, for instance
    • Legislation in California – preemptive for what could go wrong and how to be productive
      • What if the kit is used improperly
    • Applications – ex-vivo vs in-vivo (outside of bodies compared to in)
      • Vehicle/delivery compared to the load – which is ex-vivo and can be Quality Controlled
      • Eye as initial in-vivo CRISPR use since eye is immune-privileged (bacterial components of delivery)
      • CAR-T therapy for cancer patients – usually send cells to get edited and then put back in
  • Sarah Hum (@sarahhum), founder of Canny (Indiehackers #124 10/7/19)
    logo

    • User feedback tool, feeling the pain of the data and trying to combine customer data
    • Just crosses $50k MRR – team of 5, transparent and paying team with money they make
    • Digital nomad – she was in the same place in SF with her cofounder – quit her full-time job but wasn’t making much
      • Team of 2 was easy as she traveled initially, couple

      • Indiehackers Courtland with his brother – know how to argue and disagree
    • Had done quite a bit of hackathons – worked at Facebook for 1.5 yrs before starting
      • Worked on Messenger as product designer – felt limited by what she wanted to do
      • PD is ~20%, she’s learned about marketing and pricing and sales otherwise
    • Started Product Pains as a community for people giving feedback over things – didn’t monetize initially
      • Had a community of 5000 people that primarily did consumer products
      • Rebranded to turn it into b2b and monetize – could change products with Product Pains (give them feedback, for instance)
      • Andrew had worked on team working with React – teammate had asked him after he left about what he was doing
        • Started using Product Pains to get information about developer pains – still a big mechanic
    • Eventually they had companies join Product Pains who asked if they had a widget
      • Didn’t have widget initially, but they asked if they built it, would they pay for it? Basically said yes – $19/mo
      • Had been 3 months after she quit to rebrand and launch as Canny
        • Had to get a pricing page going for payments
    • Get Satisfaction around 2008-2009 as Yelp for customer service / user feedback that got a ton of investor money
      • Raised $10-20mln and cratered in a short amount of time
    • Launched Canny on Product Hunt as a good initial feedback and went to Oct ’17 for profitability (hit Hacker News)
      • May / June talked about digital nomads – week or so before leaving and took off – first little tour of US and then went to London
      • 26 cities in 2 years, Seoul as reliable cafés and wi-fi – Nomadlist and about a month in each place
    • Writing 200 words a day – blogs every week then are almost 1400 words
      • Levers to grow a business (via Patrick Cambell, CEO of ProfitWell)
        • User acquisition – blogging, product via word of month
        • Monetization – pricing, how often to charge, how to upgrade, paid plan, etc
        • Retention – how long do people stick around
    • Pricing strategies: haven’t tried freemium
      • SaaS, thought about – started initially at $2/mo (cheapium)
        • They’d have to chase people for this
      • May be a good time to try again – never set it and forget it – should be able to charge more for it
      • Tried to charge based on people as what they thought it was the business / how much willing to pay / user base
        • As they figured out the market niche, they landed on the best to target
    • Having monthly goals and try to develop features or business things to help achieve those
    • Hiring – her never being a manager
      • Helping people do what they’re supposed to be doing and supporting their jobs
      • Openness as key – working together much of the day and being on the same page, feeling good
      • They do 3-4 meetings a year
    • For 1-2 years, they have quite a bit they want to build, features to grow bigger
      • Can see Canny working for larger businesses that have reached out – catered to small/medium-sized so far
      • Giant impact with very small teams
  • Amir Haleem (@amirhaleem), founder / CEO of Helium (talk on AVC / USV port co)
    5xvzlvyv_400x400

    • Former esports champ in 90s, during dial-up days
    • Dial-up days – most competitive time for internet access, separation of those that provided services
      • US Robotics for modems, ISP like Speakeasy, telephone co like Verizon
      • Once internet got adopted and page loads enlarged, they merged
    • No option to use dial-up, cable appeared – “Internet got terrible”
      • Cable provider merged with ISP – physical lines vs provider
      • Comcast in SF as his example – local loop – LLUs – similar to telephone providers originally
    • Google Fiber – became extremely challenging for them to dig – cities wouldn’t let them dig, so they converted to wireless
      • 75-85% of customers use whatever the cable company gives them
      • Hardware in home – LoRa network or “sharing” hotspots to clog networks
    • Cellular market as too expensive soon, maybe contraction
    • Net neutrality – internet access as common carriers (2015)
      • FTC won’t mandate to cover common carriers
      • Net neutrality was only rules that were in place to rule against – until it died and how we govern ISPs
    • Cool companies in the decentralization of the internet
      • Orchid: tor-like system and rewarding nodes
      • FileCoin: store files anonymously, encrypted and hashed out
      • Brave: forced https and ads blocked, Tor as tab version
      • Helium: how to decentralize wireless links to base, especially with 5G and unlicensed spectrum
        • Blueprint of mesh of open technologies owned and operated by those that own and use the internet
    • Helium: IoT of low power sensors, tracking devices, network devices for access by others
      • Fundamentally do it and reward people with coins for holding it and for others to use it
      • Talking about using applications for the IoT world
        • mentioned the fires in NorCal in ’18 and not being able to tell the air quality within 20 mi radius
        • IoT seems to be ripe for improvement but hasn’t seen the network yet
  • Dennis McNannay, CEO & founder for Curadite, Inc (Wharton XM)736x196xcuradite-logo_long_gry.png.pagespeed.ic_.gqdo0yxdcw

    • Bioscience focus on medicine adherance

Push back from a Raise (Notes from Sep 30 – Oct 6, 2019) November 27, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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In the Bay Area, it’s inevitable to see and come across people celebrating rounds of fundraising, especially via the internet/news/Twitter/tech scenes. Primarily this is the case if you’re involved in start-ups, VC, finance and related meet-ups or online communities. Those are often great results for the investors (probably not celebrating, otherwise), but not exclusively great for the team of the company. Hopefully the raise or exit is by choice, part of the strategy in the short and long-term that the founders/team had in mind to either grow or expand or keep doing what they’d envisioned. Execution of the strategy and for it to go as planned is celebratory, don’t me wrong – but it’s a means to an end, not the end.

I don’t want to complain, but I think, along with many others, that the celebration of these types of wins give the wrong feedback for what constitutes celebration / achievement. This is simply a byproduct of this being the most visible / public part of a company’s journey, and certainly an investor wants to share what they can (especially seeing as they have plenty of updates that they’re often not allowed to disclose). Funding raise and new rounds, once public, allow them the chance to congratulate and feel accomplished on the journey. Though, really, capital is merely providing readiness to the next step.

The opposite side of this would be in sharing numbers, customers and wins outside of funding, a company/founder leaves themselves open to competitors or unfavorable partnerships/cycles/etc. There ends up being an information asymmetry that could be detrimental to the business. Or, worse, put it out altogether. Somehow, I find that even if you’re sharing in an effort to be transparent, at this current business climate and consumption of business/funding, there would be those that may complain even about a seemingly arbitrary high-margin or poke holes in pricing, despite offering a seamless customer experience, high value to a business or create ample time value for the enterprise. I’ve seen a few bootstrapping/side-project companies go from transparent early and once they hit traction, the growth and curve stage will prioritize the privacy of the business going forward. Who can blame them once there is the semblance of confirmation of a growing business potential?

I wanted to bring this up and I hope in the future there’s a designed method to somehow make more company information public/transparent (Baremetrics is one such company trying to make it more accessible). Maybe it will be an aggregation system that anonymizes data but has enough companies in certain spaces that you can compare (sorry consultants, that probably gets rid of quite a few of you). I think that would be a new frontier and create excitement that would get people other than investors and exit/money-focused-seekers on board with the true fun/value of creating something.

Hope you enjoy the rest of my notes!

  • Thirteen Minutes to the Moon
    268x0w

    • Ep. 8: We’re Go for Powered Descent
      • Final 13 min begin in this episode
      • The team, on this day, will either land, abort or crash. 102 hours and 12 minutes into mission, 2 minutes 53 seconds to the acquisition
      • 1 million miles away at 1mi/sec moving toward the moon
      • Program 63 to determine when and where to fire off the engine – how to point for the proper trajectory
      • Radio link was lacking once they were in view, again – needed this to get telemetry data, for instance
        • Go or no-go for descent based on stale data and then had to make it through Michael Collins to relay to team
      • Lunar module was going 20 ft/s faster than it needed to be – if it went to 35+, they’d have to abort
        • Radar pointed at surface and ready to lock on – said that it’s going too fast
        • Episode 2 on Steve’s point of view on how the overloading machine – Eagle’s altitude vs estimates sense
      • High stress at that point, 150+ for Armstrong at 12:02, even though they weren’t doing anything at that point
        • Had to prioritize the mission critical tasks and lose some of the computer functions
        • Computer was diagnosed – delta h coming up was problem for P1668 – lot of alarms and wouldn’t have to do operation cognitive load
    • Ep. 9: Tranquility Base
      • Halfway down, about 16000 feet above surface
      • Fuel as critical, but said as Fuel 2 gauge – needed a bit of gas when they land
      • P1202 Eagle computer coding too hard, overloading – repeatedly as they get to 2000 feet and 50 ft/s
        • All flying done by Eagle – thrust, rate of descent and flying (no video displays)
        • LPD (Landing Point Designator) – where to look for landing zone on degrees
      • Gas for hover level and below hover level – timing from controller within 10 seconds
      • 10 years and 400 engineers finally landing on the moon as they hit contact light – fall and shut off with 18 sec of abort time
      • Had dust kick up as falling – caused jerky movement and couldn’t see surface
        • Had to go through stay/no-stay calls to be ready to leave within 40sec of landing
      • Watch used for the timing had changed times because his daughter kept on timing herself as a twirler – he sent it to Smithsonian
  • Reshma Saujani (@reshmasaujani), CEO of Girls Who Code (Wharton XM)
    eb61dc56f4b5cc4002b007e255d8bb00

    • Author of Women Who Don’t Wait in Line
    • Discussing how her failures running for public office as motivation to continue working
    • Wanting to work at things you’re bad at (compared to an
    • athlete repeatedly being told to perfect)

      • Guys will naturally have these things that they are poor at but continue with them, either out of enjoyment or otherwise
      • Girls often only want to do things they’re good at
    • Not quitting a job, potentially, because of the comfort and not wanting to be bad at something
  • Barry Zekelman, Exec Chairman and CEO of Zekelman Industries (Wharton XM)
    0718zekelmanindustries-logo

    • Discussing being nearly broke in 1990s and then again in early 2000s
      • Getting lean, working on the business and margins
      • Got a $bn offer from Russia steel conglomerate in headed into 2008 – fell through with crash
        • Said this was one of best things that had happened to him
    • Having the right people
  • CEO of Mirror.co
  • Patrick Conway, CEO of BCBS-NC, How to Pay for Healthcare based on Health (a16z 9/6/19)
    (@patrickconwayMD)

    • Started as state resource – TX – teacher unions, PNW – timber, NC, and 2 Blues brands (cross / shield)
    • Need a willing payer to drive change, virtually integrated system at a state level (doesn’t think you can do it with single provider)
    • All drivers of health and healthcare – biggest driver of readmission to hospital, couldn’t get transportation home
      • If you had to give a bus token and they had congenital heart failure – chance of seeing primary doctor – some will pick people up
      • Hospitalization and drugs for biggest costs for health care
    • Food insecurity – failure to thrive
      • Hospitalized kid for lack of food cost $40k (could have fed kid for years)
      • Had a for-profit payer that was confused on why they were doing it – huge, positive outcomes for child obese
        • 10-15% of population, churn for term (vs near-term) – insure people often for decades, right thing to do
    • Insure 60-70% of population so they can look at long-term view
      • Some countries will measure outcomes (churns may pay toll, or collect toll) – Medicare Advantage for 3-5 year cycle
        • MA instead of paying for service, you pay for health plan for year and they get better plans for controlled care ($0 premium)
      • Broadening investment window so they’ll take care of you
    • What rarely happens (but more effective) to think about what makes the system better – policy proposals
      • Autism arena: here’s what you need to do in benefits, coverage and here’s a child/mother that brings personal side – data for effect
      • Drugs: pharma says PBM and middleman (senator called him Chair of the Death Panels) – wanted to pay for value for drugs
        • Everyone was against it (pharma lobby and doctors vested in drug prices going up)
    • Interesting areas for real progress
      • CMMI Innovation Center for delivery system reform – bipartisan and paying for value
        • Social determinants – opportunities/drivers for health polls better with Democrat and Republicans (will pay taxes, uncommonly)
      • Effectively coordinating care across silos (especially with food, housing)
        • Ear infection – can click a button and it’s instant but for a kid that’s hungry, it takes forever – needs to be the same
    • One of the board level metrics in company is food insecurity for the state – think they can bring it down 20% (state is 20% – some counties have 9 of 10)
      • Looking at partners for data analytics for screening, identifying and getting the next step – close the gap
        • Any state in America: who in the state is food insecure, needs housing and transportation
          • CDC data measures on an annual basis compared to real-time – needs to be at-scale through technology
          • Build the connectivity – scripts are now all electronic, for instance – clicks button to cosign
      • Benefits for scale across multiple states – investing in same things, data analytics, CX, seamless platforms, tech – accelerate pace of change
    • Second day at BCBS was retirement party for Brad Wilson, former CEO after 20+ years – governors, CEOs, 1000s of people, donations
      • Fundamentally different than a national payer – not the same connective tissue than them for NC and Oregon
      • Partners across state (like theirs with Cambia) does drive value, lower cost and improve value and care
      • If you dominate a market and price set, it has negative effects (can’t recall any 2 hospital systems that merged where costs came down)
        • BCBS reduced individual costs by 5% driven by value-based arrangements with providers – UNC said they were willing, Duke said no
    • Building the link between tech and total cost of care – new shiny thing “AI” and data and ML – what does it do?
      • Connective tissue has to go to outcomes and costs of outcomes – his hypothesis is for the companies to focus on the actual problem to solve
    • Value-based care – independent physician groups (larger, organized) are the best
      • Hospitals are least successful
      • Advanced primary care models – compensation for primary care goes up, including down to provider level – most payers pay 6% (8% at BCBS – 10%+)
        • If you spend 10%, you get better health outcomes at a lower cost – become front door and invest in care management
      • How do you integrate and treat mental health conditions
    • EY’s concentrate on administrative fees – he’ll guarantee savings of $15-30mln “Don’t know”
      • Guarantee he’ll beat them on price, then get them to join – done it multiple times, making it simple
      • “Don’t believe our simple math? Fine, we’ll guarantee it.” Every business is a healthcare business.
  • James Cameron (@jamesdcameron), investor at Accel (20min VC 1/20/16)
    logos_master_accel

    • Focuses on marketplaces, enterprise software, security and fintech
    • Founded BipSync, SaaS-based research platform for investment management and was on tech banking team at Morgan Stanley
    • Corp lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London, Hong Kong, and Shanghai
    • Aussie originally, wanted to get out and went to London and worked with M&A and IP law in UK
      • Law wasn’t for him, tried some other things like Morgan Stanley – went to SV and Stanford after a few years
    • Pitched at Accel for BipSync and was turned down initially before getting the role he has now
    • Ton of time on planes covering massive geography – methodical, premeditated approach with a prepared mind with ideas/areas
      • Helps identify what they want to find in great companies – prior year, looked at API companies, web hits
      • Uber, HotelTonight, InstaCart all connected and built on other people’s services and API – Apx conference
        • Algolia and Jason Lemkin, French company – CartaDB mapping company by API
    • Opportunistic approach for being at right place right time – relationship driven and warm intros, relationships with VCs or angels, meeting early co’s
      • Approachable, open with events
    • Exciting among B2B and enterprise, IT Infrastructure, security space (from UK to Israel)
      • Docker and container ecosystems – shift from VM to lightweight containers
      • CrowdStrike, Israeli one (country with 8mil ppl with more NASDAQ-listed companies than all of Europe, Japan and China combined)
    • Expanding industries – Ireland, Spain along with typical start-up ecosystems in Europe
    • Reads a lot of history books, Peter Akroyd, classics for Crossing the Chasm – scaling enterprise software companies
    • Favorite blog – lots of Medium articles, but “The Morning Paper” for science explained simply
    • Favorite founder for Will at Deliveroo – sheer willpower
  • Farbood Nivi, CEO cofounder of Coinmine (Lindzanity 9/25/19)
    blockfipluscoinmine-768x512

    • First time on show was in April with BTC at $5k
    • Randomly taking an Ambien or Adderall
    • Coinmine – automating financial world, interoperable mining whatever exchanges to BTC at best rate
      • Handshake mining parallel DNS
      • Facebook and Shopify as the 2 main consumer markets – Shopify makes it so easy, Facebook – he said he’d give $1mil / month
        • Instagram is too good as a physical product and sharing
    • OpenSource wins because of practical revolution – F500 can use them for better software for 200 less engineers
      • All big tech contributes to open source community
    • Original Linux administration / system admin predicting 8th and 9th layers of internet
      • First 4 layers (OSI model) – data and physical layers, wiring, packets, buildings
        • Customers were academics, companies were Cisco, IBM, Deck winners
      • Internet portion – apps, websites are layers 5 through 7
        • Users, session, front end application layers
        • Businesses and eventually went personal
          • IBM, Apple as winners of business chunk (hardware, software, services)
      • 8th layer is finance, 9th layer is governance
        • First protocol was Bitcoin for finance – first solution for this layer
        • Discussion of governance – open protocol (vs closed protocol of army owning / developing it in the first place)
      • Tezos – really defined governance model, for instance
    • Citizen tech for 8th and 9th layers – replacing a functional piece of society with Bitcoin participation
    • What could go wrong? Gutenberg press as example – people sharing nasty things vs lead to Renaissance, Enlightenment
    • Framework that captures societal level – sovereign individual (too big a word, book was good) – citizen / societal
    • Problem with money being pushed in, formal understanding (YC as a factory, don’t leave the machine)
    • Act like the CEO – service worker, just managing people above and below, provide services to entrepreneurs
      • Need to get out and have epiphanies by traveling or face-to-face with people

What’s Important for the Business (Notes from Sep. 16 – 22, 2019) November 5, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, questions, social, training, Uncategorized.
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Ah, the art of learning. What can you absorb in the time that you allotted? Hopefully it was the good stuff, the one you can apply and remember. We’re not going to retain it all – far from it. Different surveys and studies will say between 10-30%, depending if you’re reading, listening, seeing things. Repetition, talking about details or applying what you’re picking up can improve those numbers – and it’s why there is still a ton of money being raised/made on improving it (Blinkist, Anki, Quizlet, rise of audio books and podcasts). This is all without bringing in the idea that the internet has allowed such a flood of ideas that opposing ones can exist simultaneously, persisting through its strong supporters. So, if you’re not doing research and coming to your own conclusion, it’s likely to be lead to whichever way you resonate with someone/something most (or first).

In reading through Constellation Software President’s letters to shareholders, you see a valiant attempt at conveying how he, executives and board members looked at the business health for the year – and refreshingly so, not explicitly through rose-tinted glasses. He critiques and suggests an option that reversion to the mean is possible based on a lower adjusted net income and cash flow from operating activities per share. Then he went through the shareholders returns on invested capital, average invested capital, and questioned the organic net revenue growth’s performance (as he notes that this is a primary core to the main metric for their performance: ROIC+OGr). Once he goes through the metric and it’s cash flow, he mentions that they’re looking to increase acquisitions, but the environment isn’t conducive to great values, so FCF may not be fully invested at attractive levels for the future. Then, he suggests a metric to cover this with a reasonable pattern, one less subject to shareholder alterations. Open to suggestions while he develops the reasoning for what another member has suggested for a good metric, he settles on FCF increase per share compared to average net income per share.

I loved his breakdown for the shareholders – mentioning half the shares trade for the year. He breaks it down simply as short-term, indexers, enterprising investors (including institutional, but also generally long-term, long-haul holders). He openly asks them to help find directors and members of the board and the difficulty that they saw initially after their IPO. The next paragraph was a big one, so I’ll include it:

Qualified and competent Directors are very rare, and not surprisingly, the track record of most boards is awful. According to the 2017 Hendrik Bessembinder study of approximately 26,000 stocks in the CRSP database, only 4% of the stocks generated all of the stock market’s return in excess of one-month T-Bills during the last 90 years. The other 96% of the stocks generated, in aggregate, the T-bill rate over that period. This means that 4% of boards oversaw all the long-term wealth creation by markets during that period. Even more disturbing, the boards for over 50% of public companies saw their businesses generate negative returns during their entire existence as public companies.

Wow. A) The recognition of wanting to be the best and provide a great board of directors for a long-time and B) genuine concern for the long-term view and suspicion of complacency arising. Both, I’d imagine, lead him to mention that vision / strategy are not necessarily courses of action – instead, perpetual objectives as the guiding point. Whether that’s seeking them out or maintaining what they had, he made sure it was top of mind. He sees that profitable VMS businesses may no longer come to be acquirable, and that he’s on the lookout for other opportunities – without them being attractive, though, he’d responsibly return FCF to investors.

Interestingly, he looked for Constellation to be devoid of “sycophants, mercenaries and spin-doctors” and wanted it to be a place where meritocratic results bring in “entrepreneurs and corporate refugees to invest their lives and and their capital and thrive”. Quite the statement for a business of such magnitude, when, especially from the outside, many succumb to the former (hell, take a look at Tech Twitter these days and a complaint I’ve had is that people seem to be comfortable bouncing between 2-3 companies a year for 5, 8. 10+ years). I’d love to build something that sustained a drive through many levels of employees.

“I find there is no magic to managing and leading. If you are smart, work harder… treat people fairly, do not ask them to do anything would not or have not done, share the credit, keep learning and keep teaching, then pretty soon you have followers. If you make sure that the team members are energetic, intelligent, and ethical people….”

Yup. That’s the way to build a company. Find that and hold on. And then he finalizes with the board requirements (which I’ll include at the bottom).

Hope you enjoy the notes this week.

  • Mike Strasser (@mstrasser), Motiv ring founder (Wharton XM)
    • Talking about the ring and how he knew the wearable would work
  • Lee Thompson (@flashpacklee), Flashpack founder, Marketing on a Budget (Wharton XM)
    flash_pack_logo_block-1

    • Photo journalist for 15 years
    • Talking about creating a brand through pictures, story-boarding, ethos of brand
    • If you can’t tell what your hook / pitch is, probably won’t sell
    • Went on first date with his now-wife from Match, wouldn’t tell him a great business idea
      • Post-wine glasses, she had a business idea for 30+ year olds wanting to travel – friends having too much of a family/kids
      • Adventure travel company for solo travelers in 30s and 40s, not tours via bus and such
      • Next few dates were researching travel industry, setting up a business
    • Book trip as solo traveler, then have others that you are meeting everyone else
      • Boutique hotels, price points established and like-minded – typically well off in careers, cash-rich
    • Launched with $15k each, savings and jumped in
      • Nobody would spend $1k+ on trips for a company that had no reviews
      • Generated a lot of PR, did a lot of viral videos by responding to twitter hashtags
      • Spent on Google ads and lost lots of money – built the website
    • Took a trip to Egypt on a budget, “come to Jesus moment”
      • If I can get on top of that and take a picture (Christ the Redeemer picture of a workman doing damage repair)
      • Wanted to take a picture on top and took a selfie
  • Mehrdad Baghai, Alchemy Growth cofounder & CEO (Mastering Innovation)
    the-alchemy-of-growth-full-1-638

    • Boutique strategy advisory firm advising large companies on innovation strategies
    • Designing organization architecture for growth, 5-10 years
    • Active investor in tech and p/e spaces with Macquarie Group
    • Former partner at McKinsey leading Growth Practice and then 3 years as Exec Dir at CSIR, Australia’s national science agency
      • Dozens of new tech companies
    • Also launched High Resolves with his wife, Roya, in 2005
  • Fred Destin (@fdestin), GP at Accel (20min VC 1/18/16)
    logos_master_accel

    • Former partner at Atlas Venture working with Zoopla (public), Secret Escapes, Integral Ad Science, Dailymotion (acq by Orange), PriceMinister (acq by Rakuten)
    • Studied life as derivatives at Goldman Sachs, first team on credit derivatives
      • Securitization of movie rights, derivatives in Pacific region for about 7 years
      • Opted out when it went from risk hedging to arbitrages
    • Moved to Speed Ventures for investing at really early seed
    • Spending a lot of time hiring the best 1-10 executives because you can’t spend time getting this wrong
      • Take a model that worked in 1 city (like Deliveroo), scaling it to 30+ and got there in under 3 years old
        • Fit consumer model and offering for the ones – brought new kinds of service to non-delivery food
      • Seed companies failing because you hire something you don’t understand – wrong team kills the team
        • Second mistake – overestimating the things you can do in the time – reality doesn’t match
    • Setting arbitrary goals for not being worthy of being funded – most companies run out of money or come close, being patient and empathetic with founders
    • Investors need mental plasticity for adjusting expectations on what to best deliver
    • Founders feeling screwed over because it was never possible for them to communicate the right decisions being made
      • Mix of market difficulty or overambitious of timing – how to improve intimacy and mutual trust
    • He likes to spend 3-6 months knowing founders – wants to do strategic sessions, whiteboard issues how you would solve it – discovery and disagree
      • Can work through disagreements, see how people work collaboratively
      • Engineer a situation of tension – hiring / decision made, create it to see pushback
      • Could we do an 8 hour wine test / road test – can we banter and have a pleasant time being together (Boston to Montreal, London to South of France)
    • Needs to ensure performance and milestones, sounding board, interest of company / employees / customers and investor with fiduciary standards
      • Had to tell guys at Real3D and say that they couldn’t invest – told them early, though
      • Mentioned Boston VC that said he’s said “No” so often that he just fizzles out – Fred said he tries to give constructive feedback but not always
        • He used to send very detailed No emails but would receive replies about not understanding opportunity and pushback – called stupid or not getting it
        • Now he responds with “Busy with other opportunities”, but sometimes he has things fall through the cracks
    • Favorite book: Mastering Margarita, missing and saying No to successful opportunities – doesn’t rue or look back like that because portfolio co’s do well enough
      • Success measure – how long it takes for knowing (16 years for him), took 10-12 for success as investor
    • Wasn’t super excited about returning to London but was pleasantly surprised about how vibrant it was – still US is more tolerant about money and quicker pace
      • Competitors share, acquisitions are faster – Accel moves fast so it’s advantageous but not overall
      • Boston wants to import the well of technical talent and ML – hubs working together in Europe will improve it
  • Thirteen Minutes to the Moon
    • Episode 7: Michael Collins: Third Man
      • Command module pilot for the mission
      • Test pilot before being selected as an astronaut – 90% luck he landed in that role
      • Someone wrote to Eisenhower that the best option for selection for astronauts would be experimental test pilots because apt to new scenarios and flight
        • Compared to deep sea divers or others
      • Collins had been turned down the first time to supplement that first 7 – after a year of more experience, selected in class of 1963 with Aldrin
        • First flight was 1966 on Gemini X, rendezvous and docking maneuvers
        • Once LEO Gemini flights were successful, Apollo XI was announced in January 1969
        • July 16, 1969 – launch sequence day – was responsible for launching lunar module to turn it around from Saturn V rocket
      • Was an English major and just did guidance verbs/nouns memorization to control it
      • As they neared moon, they were on far side and lost contact with Houston
        • Takes back everything bad he ever said about MIT – accuracy of system was ridiculous, 3000 ft/s and only had 0.1 ft/s in any one direction error
        • If something went wrong for landing lunar module, Michael couldn’t change his speed but it’d be up to him to figure out what to do
        • Mathematicians were responsible for coming up with a list of 18 variations for problems and what to do – some they hadn’t trained for
      • He felt alone, awareness of being on the other side of the moon, solo after Aldrin and Armstrong picked up speed on their way down

 

CSI Board Role Search Criteria
THE ROLE
Thought Partner – Thought partner for senior leadership.
Long-term Orientation – Unfazed by short term pressure. Focused on CSI’s long-term issues.
Timeframe – Able to serve on the board for 20+ years.
Investment in CSI – Willing to make a significant equity investment in CSI, above and beyond board comp.
THE CANDIDATE
High Quality Business – Understands what constitutes a high quality business.
Autonomy -Appreciates the motivational power of autonomy, decentralisation.
Cultural Fit – Respects and gets along with the current senior CSI management as well as the board.
Ownership – Believes in the motivational power of equity ownership.
High Impact / Low Ego – Will intervene when necessary, contribute meaningfully, but not dominate discourse.
Out of Kitchen – Can resist the urge to get into the kitchen when there’s a chef already in there.
EXPERIENCE
Builder – Helped build or maintain (as a director, manager or major shareholder) a large
organisation (>1000 employees) over an extended period, while providing a superior
return to owners (ideally including employee owners).
Decentralized – Experience with a decentralised company (nice, not necessary).
Capital Allocation – Experience in a capital allocation role (nice, not necessary).
LIKELY BACKGROUND
Family owned business operator or director.
CEO / #2 for exceptional business.
Entrepreneur
SEARCH PATHS
Multi-generational family owned businesses with high ROIC within reach of our
network and ideally local to CSI (increases involvement, eases reference checks, more
likely to know CSI, decreases absenteeism).
High quality businesses with strong shareholder alignment.
Great capital allocators in the corporate world.
CEOs with great shareholder letters and high quality businesses.

Unapologetic You (Notes from Sep 9 – 15, 2019) October 25, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Every Sunday morning comes in The Profile newsletter to my inbox. It’s a great collection of what drew her eye on the week that focuses on profiles for individuals, good, bad, successful, unsuccessful, notorious, secretive, dangerous and generally people of all ilk. They’re almost all interesting, some more so than others. But yesterday, it caught my eye when Polina introduced the newsletter about her personal experience growing up and the first convention of being different. In reading it, I could see a bit of the problems and commonalities in many students I have seen over the years. And more than that – the ones who I’ve had the most enjoyment in teaching – were those that were unapologetic about who they are.

Many, as kids, were still working through it, but they were questioning the very thing Polina had described. And that’s of increasing importance as we get larger and larger webs of interconnected communities. The aggregate and the averages tell us how we should be or what you’re expected to score and how you fit relative to the rest. Rarely, if ever, does the crowd define any/every individual, though. The sooner we can all wrestle with that concept, the more comfortable we should be. Starting and doing a newsletter, for instance, should be as simple as writing what interests you. Yes, as it resonates and draws others in, there may be some curation to optimize what you decide to make it. And further, it’s probably good form to have some consistency in producing it (frequency/length/formatting) but that’s up to you, the individual.

I’d like to think that people want real, genuine thoughts, and less gimmicky writing. As an aside, that doesn’t mean people don’t consume if it’s not genuine – I just would venture that as soon as you break the mold on what APPEARS real (if actually not) would cause an uproar – as we see via YouTubers/Twitch streamers and even in some blog/vlog stuff. An act that is an act has an end, but an audience doesn’t then know what it’s getting. People don’t typically like change if it’s different, even if it may be “better”.

The best part of all of this? You get to choose what you want to do. Make the decision that makes you happiest and assess the aspects of your life that don’t. From there, create and prioritize how you may make the changes that lead you in that direction.

There are many people that I listened to over the course of this week.

  • Jen Stirrup (@jenstirrup), Data Whisperer  & created consulting Data Relish (Data Skeptic 9/6/19)
    ggkl0ilv_400x400

    • Deploying data science and impacting businesses
    • Last mile of analytics problem – interesting work and how to finalize to take to production
    • Cleaning data properly, putting data into dashboards for proper business intelligence – how long does it take to get to reports?
      • When you get reports, how long is your time to question (vs time to answer)?
    • She takes them a health check and tries to check out where they are vs where they should be
      • How clean is data, what are the real problems
    • Microsoft doing ML Ops and how it can fit into support, how to look after something when it’s gone live
      • Humans don’t want to appear stupid, so they want to be correct before starting
      • Start with end in mine: what are you trying to do?
      • Think about quality of data: still sees bad, missing data, incomplete data and things that they don’t use
    • ML Ops examples of solutions – email management, how do you manage it
      • Program can reach the end bound email, what it can do with the email (cs dept with automated service and pass hard emails to people)
    • Good customer success can be a chat bot – limited and what it can do but proper
      • Easing productivity issues – maybe tell me your phone number or putting in information to the chatbot to the crm
      • More and more requests for serverless technologies – spoke to university about container technology
        • Research can give the container with the paper and give to someone else to validate it
        • REST APIs or serverless or others can glaze over eyes if talking to business but others, early adopters, jump on it
  • Natalie Hampton, Founder/CEO of Sit With Us, Inc (Wharton XM)
    57d6e66a1300002a0039b71a

    • Talking about not having any background in coding, her art teacher pushed her to pursue it
      • Wanted to build the app and just found people/classes
      • Bullied and her art teacher was the one who would keep her door open for her
    • Pledge to use the app – figure out that adults were using the app, as well
      • Good for conferences, schools, colleges, workplaces

 

 

  • Henry Ward (@henrysward), founder & CEO of Carta (20min VC 4/12/19)
    carta

    • Carta helping private, public cos and investors manage cap tables, investments, and equity plans
      • $147mln in funding from K9, USV, Spark and Meritech
    • Originally tried a version of Wealthfront and Betterment called SecondSite – never got off the ground
      • Met Manu, who introduced problem for financing infrastructure easily in private companies, providing liquidity and power
      • Noticing executive half-life of about 18 months (say, $20mln – $70mln – then again from $70-200)
        • Companies scaling from 150 to 500 and then after that
      • People scaling linearly but companies scale exponentially
        • If an exec isn’t scaling, they don’t say “Let’s hire a VP of FP&A to support execs weaknesses” but instead “Let’s replace CFO”
        • Why is it true? – Any particular problem in scaling a company, can find someone that’s done it before.
          • Founder is keeper of the mission – can’t replace that but job changes a lot more
            • Smaller, personal relationships and people understood him for best intentions (but he’s a gunslinger and off-the-cuff)
            • Less mulligans for him as they’re larger now – Jeff Lawson at Twilio had ran into someone for printed t-shirts and Jeff said “not a fan of color”
          • His job becomes very specialized – story for employees, candidates, investors and press; 2 – right execs in right place
    • Was sole decision maker in early stage and he still is but he said it was a liability
      • Fewer day-to-day decisions to make but it matters more that they get it right and understand the context
    • Investors thinking of markets in terms of size / how big could it be / what’s competitive advantage
      • Happy going after conventionally small sizes but he looks for 1 of n – microstructure economics / territory will support multiple competitors
        • If you win market, creates a defensive ability and that’s n of 1 – 1 platform (as ‘small’ cap tables)
        • By owning a market of 1, you have the platform to dominate others
          • Markets were too small – any market would run out of oxygen, so you need an org that can go further in places
        • Data network effects could block all other entrants
      1. Have to be n of 1 market
      2. Have to have a business model that creates n of 1
      3. Needs innovation on customer acquisition model to quickly take over market share
    • In b2b – do you have a product that gives entry to commercial businesses?
      • Product and technology advantage are short-lived – best companies own lines of distribution, not great products repeatedly
      • Can go acquire great products and push them through distribution – both through M&A and through manufacturing
    • Their biggest issue – tying all pieces of network together – 10k companies, 400 a month acquired, distribution to vc – managing electronic stock
      • Law firms are power users of product but don’t have product that tie them all together – linearly
    • They love services markets adjacent to what they do – commodity product differentiated by brand – funded administration, for instance – 4-9a analysts
      • Paired a product team behind services group so the 4-9a runs at 70% margins – automate them to software
    • Goal of R&D is how much value can you provide – go build it, otherwise they won’t
      • Of value created, how much can be extracted – like keeping them as independent variables (when to extract)
        • Early stage, add ton of value and then deliberately say they don’t want to extract much – leave a lot of consumer surplus
        • Investor products: want to extract a lot of value but provide a lot of value and change these decisions (as markets mature, get larger)
    • Favorite book: Essays of Warren Buffett
    • Economic discrepancy is enormous and how to bring wealth to more people – Carta mission for more owners
    • Keeping investors up to date monthly and they love getting board members involved in the company (especially when they have 100 investors)
      • Meeting with VPs or execs to do weekly meetings of sorts
  • Joe Banner, President & CEO for Browns, Eagles (Wharton Moneyball)
    • Discussing needing to find udfa at a time when it wasn’t sexy – needed talent, and cheap
      • Only had 5 draft picks, late rounds mostly but had to fill a roster of 22 more
      • Brought in all of the undrafted free agents and eventually had 20% playing, few starting also
    • Making sure to prioritize talent over anything, not overvaluing high draft picks
    • Culture of change with placing a system around high valued guys who others thought were low value
  • Alina Trigubenko, Founder & CEO of Awarenow (Wharton XM)
    awarenow

    • Holistic and integrative nutrition
    • Corporate and enterprise customers – consumers within those that will do it
    • Calm / Headspace – next level and how
  • Shawn Burcham (@PFSbrands1), PFS founder, Open Book Management (Wharton XM)
    pfsbrandsonlylogo_hompage_2018

    • Being from the midwest and going to Tanzania for farmers
    • Keeps open books, shares with employees, prices with farmers
      • Has 60% more return for farmers and will even return cash (after being above fair price and world commodity)
    • Daughters played on same soccer team as John Sacks – read the book and was interested in changing to open book
  • Tim Chen (@timchen82), CEO of NerdWallet (Leadership in Action – Wharton XM)
    nw-default_og-image

    • Going through board – including AMEX former CEO, Jim (both from Series A investors)
      • Board as governance body, weakness on exec team, okay with level of risk
    • Initially believed he had to be smartest in the room but quickly realized the organization had to be working together
      • Have to switch mindset from point guard to coach – from Dalio
      • Investment committee – reasoning behind requests and resources, exec team reads through it and approves or not
      • Executive team depends and changes over time, common for product dev
        • Marketing, Product, Design, Legal, Eng, People, Content Heads
        • Monitoring (leading exec team similar to parenting) – irrelevant for what you say, but seeing what you do is the arbiter of what’s going on
          • Rewarding and punishing as consistent or constructive
        • Culture for what is okay and what is not, role of hiring and inspiring an adequate team to grow company
          • Maybe they don’t have right network for company, maybe can’t inspire
        • Have to be technically proficient in their space
    • Went from very niche product to being widely known once they started covering nearly all financial products consumers cared
    • Seeing around corners to bring himself and the org up the hill and grow
      • Surrounding himself with execs and others, getting named one of Top Workplaces in 2019
  • Adam Davis, CRO at Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment (Wharton XM)
    unknown-4

    • Discussing on-ice and on-court revenue for Devils and Prudential Center
    • Coming and expanding Prudential Center into what it is now – leading entertainment center
    • Up to 49 concerts recently, more than Devils games
      • Data driving who wants to go to games, concerts and how that can be used to improve experience
  • Rare as One Project, CDCN, Dr. David Fajgenbaum (Wharton XM)
    logo-1

    • Partnering with Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
    • Collective network and how do you widely adopt principles for other diseases
    • Partnerships with hospitals / care providers
    • Having a different background between Penn and medicine, MBA – not great for those that don’t have 5+ years
  • Nick Johnson (@NLJ1), Principal at Applico (Wharton XM)
    applico_company_logo

    • Author of Modern Monopolies
    • Discussion of platform businesses and linear – trying to combine
    • Encouraging linear businesses to, where applicable, try to get into platform business – didn’t provide any concrete details how
    • 3-5 strategies compared to 5-7, where hard for CEO and board to stay the course without “being 1% of 1% of CEOs”
    • Seemed to only mention Amazon, Airbnb, Walmart, Alibaba, ebay
  • Kulveer Taggar, founder & CEO of Zeus Living (20min VC 5/31/19)
    volcp38g_400x400

    • Raised $14mn from Initialized, NFX, Floodgate, YC, GV and Naval Ravikant
    • Co-founded Auctomatic with Stripe’s Patrick Collison and sold for $5mn
    • Angel investments include Boom, Airhelp, Meetings.io
    • Went to work at Deustche Bank and had a friend who had started a company at 15 selling computers, went to uni and offered a PR role
      • Eyes open to entrepreneurship and SV tech start-ups, just before finals got to come to Bay Area and Google office
      • Cofounder Joe was moving from SF to Palo Alto because his wife got residency – took weeks to try to get home rented out
      • What would be the UX quantum leap for your problem? Joe’s problem sparked the idea
    • Go to website, type address for your home and it gives you a price – you hit rent
      • Inspired by Opendoor, Stripe’s 7 lines taking payments, lot more rental data
        • Offer to sign lease with homeowner, gain data and solve the problem on demand side
    • All being impatient and learned that long-term horizons could’ve been better after hearing Zuckerberg/Bezos
      • Being intentional with culture – lot of fun – 5 guys in 2 br apartment where things may have gotten too far
      • Create collaborative environment
    • When you rewrite code, have to redo processes as well in tech-enabled
      • Acquiring and creating physical things – David Han at Instacart said thinking about output
        • Surface area of inputs: Zeus has to be good at many things
          • ID R/E, Pricing, Assessing, Designing, Furnishing, Marketing, Awesome CX, Marketplace matching
        • Then, you can get the output
    • Garry as having a conviction quickly – sees something that can change and invests quickly
      • CoinBase – liquidity crunch and he wired money instantly and is supportive
    • YC had an experiment funding teams w/o ideas – did it with Srinivas who’d done it
      • Got a check w/o any idea (had done YC in 2007) and YC had scaled a lot
      • NFC technology – was too early for scaling pmf and got into NFX with status app – status on your phone
      • Felt like he’d spent 3-4 years of working on stuff and hadn’t gotten anywhere – taking market risk with what you’re building
        • Instead, create a list of top 20 things by $ amount spent
        • List of top 20 things by $ amount frequency
      • If you have to ask whether you have PMF, you don’t – yanking your head forward with your nose, for instance
    • Did 6 weeks of data experiments, conversions tests, 6 weeks of qualitative research talking to users, investors and r/e
      • After 2 months of diligence and testing, partner at NFX sent him a test: In 6 weeks, get 10 homes on your market.
        • What’s margin structure, is there a market? Strangers controlling home.
      • Took about 4-5 months
    • Vulnerability strengthened his leadership, can’t be perfect CEO with all answers – motivated to go for culture
      • Once a quarter off-sites, “if you really knew me…” building stronger connections, team bonding
      • Work is where you have your professional self and you bring your whole self, manifests in itself
    • Fav book: Midnight’s Children – historical fiction with India told; How The Mind Works by Pinker
    • Change the bragging culture in tech – raised this much, vanity metrics and being counterproductive – not open or genuine
    • Running into a bottleneck will use software to break through – automate something that may have been manual processes
  • Michele Romanow, Founder & CEO at Clearbanc (20min VC 5/10/19)
    • Wants to spend $1bn in 2000 companies for access to capital
    • Founded SnapSaves, mobile savings platform acquired by Groupon and before that, Buytopia, one of Canada’s top ecommerce sites with 2.5mn
    • Engineering, started a coffee shop on campus
      • Figured out worldwide supply sturgeon caviar was down by 95% due to overfishing Caspian Sea – built to east coast for fishery
      • Chefs couldn’t get product, so they had a ton of buyers – giant recession in 08 as 21 yr old in luxury good space
        • Went to ecommerce space, didn’t raise funding, bought 10 competitors – controlled CAC and low
    • Canada’s Shark Tank – Dragon’s Den – do 17 days of filming back-to-back, see 200 startups
      • Had a father and son who wanted $100k for 25% equity – really needed $100k but realized she could do different deal
        • Wanted to see Facebook ad account to make sure ROAS was what it was
        • Companies spending a ton on early CAC
      • Estimate that 40% of VC dollars go to Facebook and Google ad spend and marketing
    • Works for positive unit economics and spending a lot of CAC – any ecommerce company, 70-90% spend cash
      • Subscription boxes, consumer apps/subs, b2b box even – can fund it for way less
    • Data science time has to be very good – not lottery tickets, 6% is ideal for them
    • VC as true risk capital – 0 to 1 risk, crazy piece of AI, solving disease, then it makes sense
      • If you know channels are working and repeatable, should be able to get capital
      • Comparison of Gates at Microsoft IPO or Lyft (50% ownership vs 3%)
      • Just celebrating when founders give up control / piece of company
        • Milestones for products, hitting 1mln users, etc…
        • Funding
  • Antonio Garcia Martinez, author of Chaos Monkeys (Launch Pad, Wharton XM)
    • Comparison of Seattle and SF and NY
      • SF being loud, Seattle being quiet but not necessarily huge, NY has less loud but big
    • Good mixture of deciding where to be

Inference Isn’t Just the Data (Notes from Sep 2 to Sep 8, 2019) October 14, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Leadership, marketing, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized.
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Internet has enabled more data, but that’s not necessarily a good thing for most. I’ve seen this for all ages – somehow, this deluge of information provides a glut where, instead of doing more research (because more is available), we seem to do less. There’s a laziness that has arisen, where the least amount of work is done because the sources are abundant. And this is problematic. And emblematic for what has transpired over the last decade with the web 2.0.

I say that it is problematic, but I do suspect it’s actually created a ton of wealth. The opportunity of doing a small amount of extra effort to sift through or provide a more nuanced/researched view in order to extract a ton more value from a wider audience is awesome. That’s never before been more evident or available to a wider group