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Innovative Investing (Notes from June 3 – June 9, 2019) June 25, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, cannabis, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Leadership, medicine, NFL, questions, social, Strategy, training, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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The primary theme of the week seemed to be how data can get pooled together to determine a signal and how to learn to seek the best way we, as individuals or teams, can discern valuable content to motivate actions on that information. Data is plenty – it’s a matter of gathering, curation, analysis and testing before putting it into action. This is done by any number and types of companies nowadays – this is a source of advantage seeking that forward-thinking ones make, in my opinion.

Since my notes were more detailed, I’ll try to keep this brief. The wonder people below hailed from banks (First Republic Bank), funds like Emerson Collective and Womens VCFund, marketing company like BEN or LikeFolio and then David Epstein’s Range, Sinead O’Sullivan’s work on space or the data Rohan Kumar collects with Azure Data.

Create a hypothesis. Test the hypothesis. Put into action, or iterate. Rinse, repeat. Good luck!

  • Samir Kaji, (@samirkaji) MD @ First Republic Bank (20min VC 093)
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    • Leading private bank and wealth management, before at SVB
    • 1999 – “anyone with a pulse could get a job” but he was working selling vacuum cleaners at dept store
      • Was told by family to get a real job – applied to first business SVB, got resume in and interview immediately before starting
      • First couple years were tough – learned a lot, but was 2004 until companies had scaled and were getting bigger
    • First 10 years were tech companies, series A and B and venture debt – post 2009 Lehman / Bear, went to venture group at SVB for 4 years
      • Made the move with a few others from SVB to First Republic, now leading team in micro-VC and early-stage tech co’s
    • Says the micro-VC is more entrepreneurial & collegial compared to extended stage VC’s
      • First fund is that you can get traction for a second or third one, fees as pressure – most likely why many people come from some wealth
        • Writing large checks as GP, as well
      • 2-2.5% management fees initially vs 1 / 25 or 1/30 model
      • 1999 – 2002 distribution was 0.9x and you’d get 10x return (whoops) – very difficult for funds to get 2-3x for LPs
    • Barriers to entry much smaller for $20-25million as compared to $500mln – institutional, etc — he can go to family friends and high net worth
    • Seed over next 5 years: contraction in space (wrong), but said there isn’t enough returns for funds to max it
      • 1100 in the 2000 year and burst
      • Continued prominence of Angelist platforms, maybe an integral part of the ecosystem
      • Starting to see use of data (Mattermark, CBInsights, SignalFire) to more efficiently identify and action at this level
    • Favorite book is Phil Jackson’s – behavioral psychology, Give and Take is another one
    • Really respects the pioneers of the industry and first-time fund-raisers
      • Mike Maples, Michael Deering, Steve Anderson, Jeff Clavier when it wasn’t a thought
    • Habit – reading book or blog post for 20min in the morning before email
      • Disconnect from audio / video devices and reflect for an hour
      • 2 hours a day for family/friends and disconnecting, as well
    • Thomas Redpoint, Mark Suster, Brad Feld, Strictly VC, Ezra at Chicago Ventures
    • Knows awesome fundraisers but terrible at returning capital – didn’t mention any
  • Collectively Driving Change, Laurene Powell Jobs and Ben Horowitz (a16z 5/27/2019)
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    • LPJ – founder, president of Emerson Collective
    • Grew up in NJ – father passed away in a plane accident when she was 3 – 3 children.
      • Mom remarried so there were 6 of them. Wooded area of NJ.
      • Core values and dedication to education to get out of the area.
      • She went to Upenn – first student from her high school that went to Ivy League – ~20% went on to more schools
    • Addressing East Palo Alto school as a volunteer to help – 1st talk, 0 had taken SATs
      • What happens when you’re first to graduate high school? What’s it mean to the information from family?
      • What happens to be first to want to go to college, thrive&complete it?
        • To have the aspiration, can be a leader in the family – translator, get sucked into all problems
      • Started with 25 freshmen – would have to come with friends for responsibility mechanisms – for College Track
        • 3000 high school students, 1000 college, 550 grads
    • Collective of leaders, innovators – education inequities, access and need for enhanced/robust curriculum
    • 10 year time horizons – getting them together is scheduled with Monday all-staff meetings (3×3 matrix of videos)
      • 5 cities, sometimes philanthropic speakers or reports
      • Discussion of reading as you fall behind through third grade before switching to reading to learn – already behind
    • XQ as SuperSchool dream – 17 of 19 will open in August
    • Caring about impact and solving problems, not wealth increasing – wants access to policy or money and not taxes
      • Judged Giving Pledge for not wanting to be more philanthropic
      • Environmental, edtech portfolio, cancer / oncology investments, immigration incubator, new thinking to old problems
    • How do you know when you’re succeeding? Collecting data on everything they do.
      • Example: XQ – schools and districts, state of RI as switching to statewide competition
      • Chicago has good data for fatal/nonfatal deaths (I disagree)
    • Imperiled or important institutions like journalism and media need to be sustained, how many join?
      • Concentrating and following where IQ is migrating (hahaha – what a joke)
  • Data Infrastructure in the Cloud, Rohan Kumar at BUILD conference (Data Skeptic, 5/18/19)
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    • Corp VP of Eng of Azure Data Team at Microsoft – SQL and data services, open source, analytics, etc
    • Trends in data engineering in the cloud, serverless and hyperscale
      • ML and AI and enabling applications – shifting to edge vs cloud – analysts predict 70% will be on edge devices
      • Solutions and private edges – training in the cloud and deploy them on the edge applications
        • Data platform needs to be the right foundation
    • Highlight for him from conference: work they’ve done on relational databases in the cloud – as volumes grow, scalability challenges
      • Hyperscale for Azure and PostgreSQL, as well as MS SQL soon enough – system scales with needs (they’ve tested <= 100TB)
    • Acquired Citus Data, support scaling out the compute layer – strong team, great product, matches in Azure and open-source
    • Releasing serverless option for Azure database – costs designed to stay low and optimized
    • Analytics side: customers wanted to do real-time operational analytics – didn’t want to move them outside of their core product
      • How is data distributed and having compute be co-located with the data to gain Spark efficiency being nearest to node
      • Support Jupyter notebooks across all APIs to modernize to do more predictive analytics
      • Attempting to build out pipelines requires too much scripts, instead have Data Flows in Azure Data Factory – no-code and UI
      • Wrangling data visually and seeing if something can be recognized or learned to repeat across other columns/tables
    • Latency won’t be ideal if compute nodes occur nonlocal to the data changes – can’t do 50,000 nodes all at once
    • Excited for the future: Horizon 1 (next 8-12 months), Horizon 2 (~3 years), Horizon 3 (moonshots)
      • H2: Hardware trends, what do customers want? Pushing boundaries of AI and ML, healthcare, gaming, financial services, retail
  • Wide or Deep? David Epstein, author of Range (Invest like the Best, 5/28/19, ep. 133)
    • First book’s research lead him to get into specialization and finding kernel for next
      • Some countries: turning around national sports teams – why don’t we try other sports? Contrary to 10,000 hour rule.
      • SSAC – debating Gladwell – athletes have a sampling period instead of first gene – delay specialization
        • Used Tiger vs Roger – Roger had tried a ton of sports vs Tiger who was born and was playing golf
    • He was not good at predicting what people/public would attach themselves on to – 10,000 hour rule – race/gender as most talked (but weren’t)
      • 10,000 hour rule were based on 30 violinists in world famous music academy (restriction of range)
      • Height in American population vs points scored in NBA (positive correlation) but if you restrict height to NBA players, negative
    • Finnish cross country skier who has genetic mutation similar to Lance’s boosted
      • Sensitivity to pain and modification to your environment – also sudden cardiac arrest in athletes (what pushed his interests)
      • Book as opposition to Outliers and Talent Code – interpreted a lack of evidence as evidence of absence (genetics matter)
        • First year he read 10 journal articles a day and not writing – they were making conclusions they could not make based on their data
      • Differential responses to training – best talent were missed because we don’t know about training responses
    • Collection and exploration phase – competitive advantage for expansive search function to connect sources or topics
      • Has a statistician on retainer, essentially, to check models or surveys
      • Wanted to know what he was missing – “how come I broke the 800m women’s world record after 2 years of practice? – genetic difference”
        • Racing whippets – 40% had a genetic defect that gave them more muscle and oxygen
    • All of sports as a limited analogy (problem after Sports Gene; now, more tempered)
      • Robin Hogarth addressed “When do people get better with experience?” Don’t know rules, can try to deduce them but can’t know for sure.
      • Kind learning environment: feedback immediate, steps clear, information, goal ahead
      • Wicked learning environment: can’t see all information, don’t wait for others, feedback delayed/inaccurate
    • Study at Air Force on “Impact of Teacher Quality on Cadets”
      • Have to take 3 maths – calc I, II, III (20 kids randomized) – professors best at causing kids to do well (overperforming) systematically undermined their performance thereafter
        • 6th in performance and 7th in student evaluations was dead last in deep learning
        • Narrow curricula were better at the test that they had at the end would be negatively correlated with going forward in performance
      • Teachers that ignored what was on the test taught a broader curriculum (making connections vs procedures)
    • Learning hacks: Testing (wonderful – primed to test ahead of learning), Spacing (deliberate not-practicing, Spanish ex spread 4 hour twice, 8 hours), Mixed practice
      • Ease is bad – known time horizon for when you have forgotten again – interleaving and spacing mixed
    • Passion vs Grit (“Trouble with Too Much Grit” – Angela Duckworth’s research)
      • Duckworth did a study at West Point for East Barracks cadets – candidates score (test + leadership + athletic) was not good prediction of doing this (overall it was good)
        • Grit was a better predictor for making it through East Barracks – she questioned whether it had an independent aspect
        • Variance for grit was probably 1-6%, especially after “flattening” groups – looking at people that had a narrowly defined goal for short periods (cadets or spellers)
      • Cadets were scoring lower on grit at late 20s vs earlier – tried some things, learned others about what they want – grit is poorly constructed
        • Look holistically – if, then signatures (giant rave – introvert, small team – extroverts) right fit looks like grit – developmental trajectory as explosion matching spot
    • Choosing a match for a future them who they don’t know in a world they can’t comprehend – people that find good fits (in practice, not theory)
      • Paul Graham’s “Commencement Speech” that he wrote “Most will tell you to predict what you want in 20 years and march toward it.” (premature optimization)
        • Everything you know is constrained by our previous experiences – limited as a teenager – just expanding and learning as you go forward
    • Gameboy example – with so much specialized information that can be disseminated easier – can take from all types of domains and recombine them
      • System of parallel trenches – can be broader much easier now – hired people for Japanese and German translations
      • Japanese man profiled in his book – technology was changing faster than sun melts ice – didn’t get Tokyo interviews
        • When he got to Kyoto company making playing cards, he was a tinkerer who was maintaining machines – started to mess with them (arms)
        • Turned them into a toy, and it was Nintendo – cartoon-branded noodles (failed), and had toy development
          • Lateral thinking with withered technology – stuff that’s cheap, easily available – takes into other areas
            • Remote control, more features – wanted to democratize this and strips it down – LeftyRX only left-turns
        • Sees calculator from Sharp and Casio and thinks he can do a screen and handheld game – small games
          • Had issues with Newton’s rings so he found other small tech (credit cards embossed) to fix small pieces
      • What it lacked in color, graphics and durability (could dry it out, batteries would be fine, split it up, “app” developers because it was super easy to understand)
      • In areas that next steps were clear, specialists were much better – less clear, generalists were more impactful – depends on the specificity of the problem
        • 3M had a lot of areas for this, “Periodic Table of Technology” – post-it note came from reusable adhesive that had no use for
        • Only Chinese national woman to win Nobel – “Three No’s” (No post-grad, foreign research, membership in academy)
          • Interest in science, history – Chinese medicine for treatments of malaria – world’s most effective treatment from ancient text
  • Greg Isaacs, BEN (Branded Entertainment Network) (Wharton XM, Marketing)
    Print

    • Discussion of getting data from Netflix / Amazon / Hulu / tv to better match brands and advertising
      • Dirty data via a wharton grad who set up a survey style
      • Cohorts and demographics, along with psychographics
    • After getting data, attempting to approach Youtubers / social media influencers, tv spots and channels or shows to get their brands in front of the right people
      • More pointed, depending on what interests are for their cohorts
      • Creative storytelling as the change of cultural mind shift has increased
  • Understanding the Space Economy, Sinead O’Sullivan (@sineados1), entrepreneur fellow at HBS (HBR IdeaCast #684, 5/28/19)
    • Facebook, Amazon (3000), SpaceX (12,000) and other funding like Blue Origin / SpaceX / asteroid mining or travel
    • Global space economy as $1tn by 20 years – currently $325bn so it would need to 3x
      • Breaking apart space resources and otherwise – earth-focused (delivering or existing in space that helps earth)
        • Exploration or creating interplanetary existence
    • Running out of space in space for satellites – comparing to airplane docking / loading
      • $2500 per kg now to launch, used to be $50k / kg
    • Reliance had been on unilateral agreement for space policy – one tech startup launched a satellite that didn’t have permission (but no fall-out)
      • Food / grocery stores, wifi, phone, insurance pricing due to satellite data – reliance on services are increasing as the market increases
      • Thinks that we’re close to seeing the cheapest cost of launching – cites SpaceX, but won’t allow everyone to participate
    • Ultrahigh accuracy will require higher powered satellites – GPS, nonmilitary grade is ~0.5 m – thinks it will prevent autonomous vehicles solution
    • Ton of money going into asteroid mining but thinks it’s better for testing missions to Mars and figuring out the problems for future
      • Looking at Uber at start and say “people won’t get into a stranger’s car” or other cases as how we see the future – going to Mars, etc
    • Earth-focused space technology – 100+ launched satellite start-ups, micronano satellites, relay companies, downstream analytics
      • More touchpoints for everything in this manner
      • SpaceX will increase public and government intervention and within 50 years, maybe see a human launched there
  • Investing w Twitter Sentiment, Andy Swan (@andyswan), LikeFolio (Standard Deviations, 4/25/19)
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    • 1700+ tweets examined per minute in LikeFolio – discovering consumer behavior shifts before news
      • Direct partnership with Twitter to create massive database and how they’re talked about to look for mentions
      • Purchase intent, sentiment mentions – trends across product categories or brands
    • Example – Delta (as host is a loyalist) – making adjustments
      • Expectations are the relative part – comparison to the baselines (metrics compared to itself as baseline)
    • Put out a comprehensive report on Apple day after keynote event – September 14, 2018
      • Consumers were unimpressed with iPhone lineup – more price sensitive than maybe they’d considered
      • Apple Watch was the silver lining – stock / sales may struggle over 3-9 months (upgrade cycles)
    • WTW version of keynotes – NYE resolutions – subscribing early to drive revenues the rest of the way
      • Purchasing mentions were only up 30-40% compared to 5 or 7x weekly mentions (big difference)
    • Shelf-life and how to consider the sentiment data – lead time may be binary corp event (same store sales or year)
      • Couple months with Apple, for instance, but with Crocs – resurgence that persisted to current time
    • Set up keyword structure and brand database – “I’m eating an apple” as opposed to an Apple mention – human eyes to ‘label’
      • “Closed my 3 rings” – apple watch but sarcasm / spam that wasn’t caught (estimates at 2-3% of data)
      • If spam / sarcasm are consistent portions of the data, doesn’t really have an effect
    • Twitter Mood Predicts Stock Market – Bollen, Mao, Zeng (88% and 5-6% predictions) – fund closed up shortly
    • Advantage being better than analysts or pricing and codifying sentiment behavior compared to past quarters, data
      • Some consumer trends analyzed as true tipping point or actual movements
      • Public prediction before productizing their modeling – made 40 and were 38-2 (confidence as highest)
      • Investing as very specific, concentrated and holding ammo compared to trading with option spreads and has risk profile built
    • https://arxiv.org/pdf/1010.3003.pdf
    • Diversification as 20-25 stocks, doing it over time and with conviction can be done
    • Starting in Louisville for his fintech company, host in Alabama, for instance
      • Talent can be more difficult to seek out but the world is globally flattening via the internet
      • 70% lower overhead cost than being in SF, for instance – developers would anyhow be in Slack channels / not a big deal
      • Reduction in cost maintains greater control of company since they don’t have to take reduction of equity to gather more
    • Network effects don’t matter if you don’t have a great product or product-market-fit
    • Free association game
      • grapenuts: best cereal (Co’s been around for 100+ years, branding and $ spent and they can’t figure it out)
      • Fintech Future: individualization and customization
      • Victory: most important thing in life, achieved what you set out to do – setting goals and achieving these
      • Bourbon: pappie von winkle – collecting for dust on shelf 10 years ago and now going for $3000
  • Jonathan Abrams, co-founder Nuzzel news (Launch Pad)
    nuzzel

    • Landing hedgehog as the mascot – animal as cute, 99designs and surveying 50 friends – 25 men/women
    • Discussing how VC’s don’t have great advice, especially when general – too hard to be an expert in such a wide range
      • Finds it easier to be very context-driven and providing solutions or action-oriented questions to founders
      • Investing now easier with YC and Angelist, etc…
    • Timing and other mistakes he made – out of control, losing equity part early (but depends on where you are / what you need)
  • Etan Green, professor at Wharton (Wharton Moneyball)
    • Discussion on paper of how sharp money comes in at horse racing tracks
      • Difference between sites – fairground action compared to tracks, and specific to region (New Orleans, Minnesota, for instance)
      • Big sharp money comes in very late, pushing the underdog prices to higher values
        • More expensive to bet while at the track than the APIs enabling higher volume bets
        • Books at the track are incentivized to bring in as much $ as possible, so $0.20 on $1 vs $0.15 rebate on $0.20 for volume
    • Value and differences in how people will bet
  • Edith Dorsen, Women’s VCFund founder, MD (Wharton XM)
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    • Talking about their focus on first fund, approach
    • Opportunity for finding diverse founders, 25% of their fund had a woman founder
    • Starting a second fund
    • Had consumer tech, enterprise and not so much b2b, but trying to increase
      • Hard to say or give advice if one of their partners don’t have expertise in the domain
  • Sophie Lanfear, Silverback Films producer on Netflix “Our Planet” (Wharton XM)
    • Species that are dying, going extinct
    • What we can do about it
  • Aliza Sherman, Ellementa co-founder, CEO (Wharton XM)
    logo

    • Discussion of client talks when she made them aware of her cannabis endeavors
    • How friendly the community is
      • Then knocked the idea that ~30% was female to start before diving off a cliff
    • CBD to mask opioids – does it really do anything from a pain/treatment perspective, though?
      • Anti-chemo because of CBD – really?
    • Sounded too rehearsed – made it sound fake, not genuine
      • Passion/motivation/mission and kept repeating as the best advice she could give – painful
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Matching Environment to People (Notes from May 27 – June 2, 2019) June 20, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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In this particularly busy week, I found the theme of the week to be particularly amusing, but coincidentally or not, the dominoes fell that way. Normally, a theme arises like that because everyone is in finance or the same segment or conference is aligning. I just happened to catch a week where the insight that I drew from each person reflected similarly.

Meredith Golden, a dating consultant of sorts, discussed how she assesses all levels of dating profiles for her clients. She goes through a process that she’s dialed in to obtain her optimum level of clients as well as the right approaches to proceed. Asking herself what she wanted was key in determining how she’s grown her business, especially as an entrepreneur and CEO.

Chief Instigator Matt Charney. Now that’s a fun title. And I won’t ruin it. He goes through his past with Disney and Warner Bros and why/how he moved into the HR tech doing marketing – what he saw and how it’s different now. Fascinating and fun segment.

Part of the fun of being an entrepreneur is deciding who you want to do business with. But when it’s difficult, especially at the start, you’re most excited to get ANYONE to work with (unless you luck into that massive customer to start – rare rare rare). This is Kyle Jones of iCRYO found out. Then he gained traction, quickly, and realized he needed to be a bit more diligent in who he wanted to work with – what was ideal for the business, as well as the brand moving forward.

David Epstein likes throwing wrenches, I imagine. He authored the book Range, testing the generalist vs specialist question. As a generalist masquerading currently as a specialist, I appreciated what he was talking about the strength of generalists. But I do understand the place that specialists have in our society, especially deep tech, research and other exceptional areas.

Deb DeHaas grew up under the tutelage of her mother who fought the idea of being an accountant growing up to learn and adapt to the idea of being told what she could/couldn’t do wasn’t ACTUALLY an assessment of her ability to do those things. Such a simple, fascinating concept. She could totally be an accountant, engineer, as she pleased. Took a lot of perseverance but she had a manager at Andersen (before folding) who was a woman and told her to always chase what she wanted – now she’s leading the Inclusion and Diversity team with Deloitte’s Corp Governance Arm. Quite the story of growing up and what she learned.

Not to be outdone, Kim Wilford, who acted as General Counsel for GoFundMe, discussed how she came into her role in charge of the nonprofit arm, and what they’ve done in growing the company and its donations. How to connect marketing, wearing multiple hats and helping people help others. Inspirational while metric-driven, not just dream-built.

I hope you enjoy the notes – a few I didn’t write extra here but had fascinating insights into Happiness Hacking, investing in founders and how they grew companies such as Vroom and GoodEggs. Let me know what you think!

  • Meredith Golden (@mergoldenSMS), CEO of Spoon Meets Spoon (Wharton XM)
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    • Talking about having 6-7 clients
    • Ghostwriting messages
    • Client work depends – assessing / diagnosing the problem
      • Not matching (pictures), profile, messaging, getting them to meet, etc…
    • Metrics based on what the initial diagnosis was
  • Matt Charney, Executive Editor – Chief instigator at RecruitingDaily (Wharton XM)
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    • Talking about workplace and conspiracies

 

 

  • Kyle Jones, iCRYO Franchises (Wharton XM)
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    • Franchising initially – would’ve been a bit pickier when starting but too excited to land first deals
    • Out of 100 franchises, they’ll go with ~5 or so
    • 10 franchises, working on doing a big deal to launch 100+

 

  • David Epstein (@davidepstein), author of Range (Wharton XM)
    43260847

    • Discussed how Nobel laureates and creative types are often generalists that spend a lot of time learning / making
      • Stumble on new ideas or concepts in their work
    • Generalists aren’t bad – allow to see a different perspective and combine ideas
      • Think “The Quants” – relationship between corn prices compared to research on _

 

 

 

  • Deb DeHaas (@deborahdehaas), Chief Inclusion Officer, C4Corp Gov Deloitte (Women at Work)
    gx-global-center-for-corporate-governance-new-promo

    • Discussed her mother, who had passed away at the age of 90 recently, who was told she couldn’t be an accountant
      • Wasn’t her role – she pursued it anyhow and ended up being an engineer before quitting and being a community leader
    • Worked in Gulf Oil’s accounting dept and helped her husband through med school
      • First councilwoman in her town, elder at the church
    • Deb started at Andersen until it folded, worked for only one woman but she was taught there were no barriers
  • Bentley Hall (@bhallca), CEO of Good Eggs (Wharton xm)
  • Mitch Berg, CTO of Vroom (Wharton XM)
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  • Alex Salkever (@alexsalkever), Vivek Wadhwa, authors “Your Happiness… Hacked” (Wharton XM)
    • With Stew Friedman, finding the middle ground of tech with children / teenagers and the happy medium
    • How is it that we find some things appealing but others are a burden
    • Facebook being a publishing agency – aren’t they responsible for what the product? “Newsfeed” example.
    • Google Maps or Waze as a hindrance at the local level – dangerous, maybe?
      • Extremely valuable, still, in new places / out of the country, especially
        • Different, maybe, for walking if alternative is talking and communicating with others
    • Problem with Facebook / Whatsapp – Whatsapp unmoderated group chats and only requiring a phone number
      • Encrypted, but what cost? Facebook – for Vivek, just limits to 1-way action
    • Social media as killing people – think India’s problems
  • Ed Sim (@edsim), FP @ Boldstart Ventures (20min VC 092)
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    • LivePerson, GoToMeeting are 2 of his biggest investments as lead, exited / public
    • Started a fund in 1998, DonTreader Ventures – left in 2010
      • Idea was to bring SV style to NY – VCs would look at financials / models, but they looked at people and product – focus on markets
      • Most investors were corporate but cratered after 2008
    • Started a new seed fund for sticking with what he knew as well as recognizing a shift in 2007 for open source and cloud – consumer-based
    • SaaSify vertical markets with GoToMeeting founders who wanted to do new things – $1mln, $1.5mln
      • Enterprise people were looking to get a market for small ~$1mln investments
    • Hated starting a fund – “Fundraising sucks.” – Could find a great enterprise and tech entrepreneurs at seed stage – got $1mln and made 10 inv
      • First 5-6 investments were less than $5million pre-$, sold 4 by 2012 – had option values for series A or being sold to strategic companies
        • Entrepreneurs wanted to sell in those cases, but with cloud, definitely found that it was reasonable and cheaper to do SaaS
    • First / second generation founders or single vs others – “No single founders”
      • As the first institutional round, they’re first big money in. Last few investments were second or more founders – little bigger rounds
      • If first-gen founders, funding rounds are smaller – deep expertise in their field (and have to be engineers building product)
    • “Enterprise can be fucking hard” – have to know the industry – he has 20 years, partner has 10 and new partner as building 5 companies
      • Why he went this route? Started at JP Morgan as building quant trading models as liaison Business QA between engineers and portfolio managers
        • Derivatives models to real-time pricing models – feeds from Reuters or others, risk metrics and crank out the other side
      • Enterprise was exciting to him
    • Could take enterprise founders and redo or build a new company by changing the pain point – customers can be repeat because new pain point
      • Harder to do that in consumer
    • Leads come from founders – roughly 75% as recommendations from portfolio companies (wants to be first thought or call)
      • Helps founders get their pick and decide where to go – if you have an analyst report, may not be a great market opportunity initially
    • Environment of seed funding: Jeff Clovier of SoftTech as one of few microVC’s and now it’s 400+
      • Just want to be hyper-focused and being nimble – main value add as understanding the cadence (2 founders coding together to selling)
      • Stratification of VC – best ones have gotten so large that they can’t write small checks efficiently
        • Entrepreneurs don’t want $5-10mil immediately out of the gate – mismatch, looking for less for less dilution
      • Deal flow of crowdfunding: says sometimes they will leave $250k after leading for AngelList or building new relationships
    • Jason Calcanis blog Launch Ticker, trend as rise of the developer (multiple people in company using same thing – buying licensing)
      • Messaging as another interesting trend in the enterprise space – his most used app – Slack (SlackLine – private, external channels)
    • Most recent investment – stealth investment in a repeat founder (founded and sold before) – security focused on developer
  • Kim Wilford, General Counsel at GoFundMe (Wharton XM)
    go_fund_me_logo_courtesy_web_t670

    • Talking about joining, hadn’t considered nonprofit space
      • For profit arm and the nonprofit
    • Mentioning pushing marketing and following metrics for raising vs donations
    • Can influence news stations and push for higher engagement
    • Done almost $5bn in funding across 50 million donations

How to Humanize Data for Enhancement (Notes from May 20 – 26, 2019) June 12, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, NFL, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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I’m going to keep this brief this week, as I’m trying out an added format of posting. I believe I’m going to test Nuzzel news to connect and share the links of articles I’ve read through the week (maybe once or twice – weekend one out on Monday, and another for the week through Thursday?). This post, concentrating on my week’s podcast or segment listens, will still go out. That’s my goal, though.

The week I listened to these, I was actually on my way to Monterrey with my family, though, so I had a solid 90 minutes each way to go through some longer episodes – thankfully, I found Doug’s take on culture and leading a community with Eat Club very insightful, as well as a blockchain discussion by the a16z squad particularly fun.

With the news and media focused on AI, Bias, Diversity and Ethics of ML and scariness of algorithms, it’s good to hear opinions that are focused, but thoughtful on the premise of what is being proposed. In a vacuum, yes, these can be dangerous. However, that’s not often the case when models are being deployed into production. Some are unintentional or started with a simple question of relationships (think Cambridge Analytica and how it started via Likes research on music at Facebook). That’s not necessarily justification for something that clearly had a large impact, but we’d like to know that teams are improving and have that awareness now more than ever before. That’s a positive.

I believe that these episodes, though, take a bit more of a nuanced approach of mathematics and numbers and attributes a human eye that has acquired the necessary expertise to design better models or come up with a better framework for action. We hear that with Dan Waterhouse of Balderton Capital (of a delightful Applied Math degree), who had to learn to apply more of an operational and human/market behavior investor since he had the metrics focus while learning. Then, a fascinating segment with Laura Edell, a sports fan, who struggled to believe that the metrics that were widely accepted as ‘most accurate’ (re: not necessarily max accuracy) included all components of what could be measurable – made some assumptions to test based on twitter/media analysis and coupled it with the data that was widely acceptable to come up with an excellent Final 4 Model.

To continue the theme, not to be outdone, Geoffrey Batt and Nikos Moraitakis each spoke of differing aspects of metrics that they honed in on and ignored the common threads of why those weren’t valid, despite what they saw as opportunities. Geoffrey as it pertained to Iraq investing and Nikos in the form of starting and building a company in Greece, not exactly the traditional hotbed. However, each persisted and are successful today – so there’s a lesson in doing the things that we want to do.

Remember, ultimately, numbers and averages usually take the aggregate, collection of those that may not have had the timing, willingness or ability to push but with enough persistence and support, some will certainly persevere.

Hope you enjoy!

  • Doug Leeds (@leedsdoug), CEO at Eat Club (Dot Complicated, Wharton XM)
    cropped-logo-highres1

    • Talking about going from Ask.com to Eat Club – other companies, as well
    • Quiz leading in was on different likes/dislikes
      • Harry Potter-themed eating pop-ups
      • Anti-spoiler pin (digital, season and episode to avoid conflict)
        • Anything was good that brings community together
        • Said that there were employees at work that took off Monday after GoT finale since they hadn’t watched
    • Delivery people are employees, not contractors – become regulars at corporate events and a part of the culture
      • Help build the culture of the locations – food and how they match
      • Building culture of Eat Club with improv – ability to improve skills there, as well
    • Eat Club numbers – 1000+ companies served, about 25k lunches provided
      • Regional difference of Indian focus in NorCal, Mexican focus in SoCal
        • Acquired an Indian food provider for new techniques – Intero?
        • Acquired another, as well
  • Five Open Problems Toward Building Blockchain Computer (a16z 5/16/19)
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    • Ali Yahya (@ali01), Frank Chen and looking at crypto
    • New paradigm has to improve upon one or two particular ways for new applications, but likely sucks in most others
      • Mobile phone as enabling behaviors for instagram/uber and such with camera and gps in the phones
      • Have to trust the company currently to do what they claim to be doing – trust Google with so much to have the interactions
      • Now, have a computational fabric that separates the control of human power, self-policing and security bottom-up
    • Difference in communication cost – bounded on the end by speed of light
    • Trying to make networking efficient – miners propogating to other miners – blockchain distribution network
      • 1 MB vs 2 MB blocks but can kill some small miners
      • Agreeing on blocks or updates are final
    • Non-probabilistic vs fast – need to be faster than 60 minutes, for instance
      • Improvements on networking layer with Ethereum 2.0, Cosmo and cost or Proof of Stake (vs Of Work)
        • Who gets to participate? PoW requires everyone to compute an expensive proof of work.
        • PoS – intrinsic token that you have to own in order to buy participation, 2% ownership says 2% of the say to say yay or nay
        • Cost of participating is less expensive because it’s intrinsic
      • Practical for everyday use, small interactions between people and machines or people
      • Trust as the bottleneck to scale
    • 3 Pillars of Computation/Scalability: Throughput, latency, cost per instruction
  • Daniel Waterhouse (@wanderingvc), GP at Balderton Capital (20min VC 091)
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    • Sits on boards of Top10, ROLI, Lovecrafts, TrademarkNow etc
    • Was 5 year partner at Wellington Partners and invested in EyeEm, Hailo, Yplan, Bookatable, SumAll, Readmill (sold to DropBox), Qype (sold to Yelp)
    • Break in 1999 by getting to work at Yahoo for about 10 years before getting to venture in 2009
    • Applied Math background, tend to understand complexity and appreciate solutions in technology – different experience for entrepreneurs
      • Learned to be less metric-driven – less obsessed on numbers and data, more human and market dynamics
    • Operators vs career VCs – successful firms take different skills at different times
      • Exit, raising money, portfolio management, scaling, growing
      • Important to watch how a business is grown, whether it’s yourself or by being a long-term investor or close in other ways
    • Entrepreneurship as a career path and as a global one, investors in similar mindset and ambition – can take it anywhere
    • More seed capital and smaller checks than later in Europe at this time – maybe more competition higher stages
    • Thinks that consumerizing SMB software has a lot of room to grow, as well as enterprise software – easier UI-driven tools
      • Developments in AI – mentioned real-time trademark analysis (TradeMarkNow, for instance)
      • How to give great recommendations after gathering consumer tastes and insights
    • Book: The Brain That Teaches Itself – neuroplasticity of the brain
    • The first $10mln you invest, you’ll lose – advice
    • Overhyped sector: food delivery; Neglected: apply behavioral science to tech problems
    • Favorite blog/sector: longs for better content – thought TC was great when it was started, but now it’s Medium individual articles
    • Most recent investment Curious.ai – made it in 40 minutes & ambition was compelling
  • Geoffrey Batt (@geoffreysbatt), Nature of Transformational Returns (Invest Like the Best, 4/9/19)
    • Iraqi equities – history of asset classes
      • Time and patience is a big factor for how you look for results
      • Japan, for instance, 1950 – 1989 100,000% return but now is still below the peak from 1980
    • May have a decade of not working out return-wise
      • Nothing to show for investments, incredibly challenging, especially now – hedge funds or LPs
        • Reporting weekly or daily basis, long-term investment could be 6 months or 1 year – pulling money after first issue
      • Hard to ride out periods of long-term returns (think: re-rating countries)
    • LPs as agreeing to the time horizon – maybe investment committees that are making decisions on career-risk for institutions
      • Iraq to one of those – not likely to get paid off if it works, but if it doesn’t, get demoted or fired
      • Had to approach HNW and family funds – adjacency risk for people next to seed investors (if one is weighted on fund)
    • As student, he majored in psychology – said there was a guy in the seminar class that was a unique thinker
      • Daniel Cloud had co-founded a fund that invested in post-Soviet Russia before doing his PhD
      • Asked Geoffrey to come work for him and learn investment markets
    • Wanted to find next big thing – first, find a place that everyone thinks is awful (in 2007, this was Iraq)
      • Does perception meet reality? How many people dying in the war every month?
      • Country portrayed as “failed state” but oil production was increasing, CPI was 75% yoy but now 5-10%
        • Currency appreciating against the dollar, now civilian casualties in a month were down to 200 from thousands
      • Normal visit to Baghdad – mundane here, out-of-place was that 2 guys in middle of afternoon were playing tennis, kicking soccer
        • Visit companies, stock exchange, meet executives, go to a restaurant, how easy is it to hail a cab, get around
        • Critical process of infrastructure – are people paying in dollars (bad sign), local currency?
    • News media is just not set up to convey complexity to the audience – alienate, progressivism as a service, readers change
      • Experts don’t have skin in the game so they don’t face career risk – betrayal if you suggest otherwise, likely (even if true)
    • On his first trip, mentions Berkshire – early 1990s where they first invest in Wells Fargo
      • Managerial skill in banking is paramount if levered 20:1 (make 5% mistake and you’re done)
        • Don’t want average banks at great prices – want great banks at slightly unreasonable prices (thought about this in Iraq)
      • CEO of first Iraqi bank – unsecured loans to taxi drivers – less likely to take out the loan “between you and I, I’m a cowboy”
      • Entrepreneurs in these areas have to be better than others because of the instability vs the stable environments
    • Stock and capital guys – stock may trade at 3x earnings or 4-5x FCF, top and bottom lines growing at 20% per year
      • Usually just put there as knowing someone powerful but they can be bigger as allocators
      • 2008-09: Size at the time of the stock market – traded 3 days a week, 10am – 12pm on a white board
        • 60-70 companies, maybe 20 suspended from trading because 0 annual report – $1.8bn, smaller than Palestinian market
      • High growth company that is super opaque – can’t meet or won’t meet with CEO, maybe some others that state-owned enterprises that just want to keep paying salaries; maybe 5-10 companies that are investable
        • Equally weighted these companies initially and was still learning – now, he developed relationships and is on the board for companies
      • Does he want to put more $ and concentrate on the companies that he trusts and follows the guide
    • Largest holding for them – Baghdad Soft Drinks (Pepsi bottling and distribution for Iraq) – mixed-owned enterprise in the 90s
      • Local businessman (Pepsi is the dominating market share – ~70-80% vs elsewhere where it’s split) saw it was mismanaged
      • By 2008-09, were going to default on the loan they were floated – businessman bought the loan, fired management & 2000 ee’s, switched equity
        • Within a year, it was fully certified, tripled production, profitable business
    • Now, 5 days a week but still 2 days a week – had foreign investor interest, $5-6bn, couple IPOs successful
      • One telecom has about $1bn market cap, 14.5% dividend yield, 33%+ FCF yield
      • Foreign money came in 2013 but ISIS scared them off – coming back and interest from banks – arranging trips and momentum
      • Key problem – no 3rd party custodians (compared to Jamaica or even in Africa, HSBC or anything) – working on getting one
        • Makes it difficult to bring in foreign money – exchange is the custodian (which is actually safe)
        • No margins, cash-based market and settlements of t+0, no short selling (can’t sell unless have stock)
      • Oil collapse depressed prices and ISIS issue but has been up over last 2-3+ years, cheaper today than when he invested 11 years ago
    • Multiple expansion is the question for returns – 1x to 25x or 4x to 15x – depends on what they are as compounding
    • Kobe Bryant complimented him after a junior year game in high school – already looked at as a superstar – saw Geoffrey was dejected
  • Nikos Moraitakis (@moraitakis), Founder, CEO Workable (20min VC FF024)
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    • VP of BD at Upstream, enterprise sales in 40 countries in 4 continents
    • Wanted to start a company with type of what they wanted – centered around product, engineering company, starting in Greece
    • SMB over Fortune 500 because of product-focused and not corporation or enterprise-based
    • Applicant-tracking systems (ATS) – keep track of arcane process, don’t want to touch things – collaborative processes
      • Simple interface to solve problem of recruiting model (which is still 50+ years old)
    • Problems aren’t location-based – they’re conceptual – designing product, PMF
      • Opening with $500k or 50-200k if needing to get started, not necessarily $5-10mln like other markets or tech hubs, industry
      • Hiring engineers that are good in Greece isn’t so much a problem if you have a good company and network to attract talent
      • Moved to US not for VCs (doing good business, VCs pay attention) but they had 50% of customers without having anyone in US
        • Wanted to start customer support infrastructure, services and otherwise
        • Talked about marketing or accounting businesses on tech that taught companies that it may be worth it to update
    • Metrics that he pays attention to: month-to-month above $2mln annual revenue, ratio of new biz and lost biz
      • Not celebrating fundraising – few drinks but says it’s like having new shoes at the start of a marathon
      • Talking about investors and the relationships built to work together
  • Jaz Banga (@jsbanga), cofounder, CEO of Airspace Systems (Wharton XM)
    airspace-metal-crest2x

    • Meeting Earl, cofounder and maker, at Burning Man – drone being annoying above him while he did tai-chi
    • Prototyping the interceptor drones after seeing military request proposals – had an issue with drone over nuclear subs
    • Can place thermal scans and other security or rescue methods
  • The Transformer (Data Skeptic 5/3/19)
    • Encoder/decoder architecture of vector embeddings word2vec into a more contextual use case
    • Keyword lookup may not work (using ex of bank – river bank vs financial)
      • Humans at 95%+ accuracy, computer maybe around 50%
      • Encoding as correct interpretations and weights for context – emulating process
  • Laura Edell (@laura_e_edell) from MS Build 2019, NCAA predictions on Spark (Data Skeptic 5/9/19)
    build-2019-intro

    • Been at Microsoft for 3 years, supporting Azure for all their customers – quantum physics and statistics background from school
    • ML in cloud for customers – don’t know why they want it, just think it will be useful
      • Ex: image recognition (on techs with bodycams), HVAC documentation and augmentation or signal processing in anomalies of wave patterns
        • holoLENS use case
      • Played 2 sounds for Build presentation – her son blowing on her arm vs HVAC system custom sound – training sets and transfer learning
    • Can take a few real image and do a bunch for training: rotating, zoom, Gaussian blur, cut out background
      • Sound – same: take out environment, pauses and silence
      • Can turn 10 images / sounds into 30-50 per class
    • Active learning: model over time that can train itself and then retrain itself
    • Business domain expertise – her Final 4 model
      • #1 feature was wins, 2nd SoS, 3rd home court advantage / location – let machine validate the expertise
      • Validation of revenue drivers from machine – more importantly, if the opposite occurs – revenue doesn’t agree with data features
        • Used statistics to train data from the start in football, sports data – ncaa – teams, tourneys, prior history
          • Brought in her assumption of player-social index where they scraped sentiment and video analysis for team effects
        • Chose to use Azure Databricks (Spark background), store it in Blob and only retraining on Just-in-time in a Docker image
      • ML Flow, set of score for model – training set and .py and score.py or source data gets grouped together in Azure
        • Docker pulls them together easily and image is built, Azure DevOps can do VC

Thinking Through Data (Notes from May 13 – 19, 2019) June 5, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Blockchain, Digital, education, experience, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, medicine, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized.
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This week we had a hefty dose of medicine, biotech and data discussions. However, it isn’t just focused on the technology and innovation for these incredible people, but rather the frameworks of the thought process that goes in to their decision-making. We can ask “Where did we go wrong?” or “What assumption do we make that should/would be challenged?”

Annie Duke is excellent in assessing this on the spot, but she sheds light on the steps she takes to get to that level. Much of what we believe / view tends to be outcome-based, which is fine because that’s easiest to see. However, it’s rarely consistent in the path to get to that success point once we change the problem. That’s what we should focus on – consistent thought processes to make strategic decisions. Outcomes are one metric of measuring the decisions, but not an end-all, be-all.

AI mixes with a few of our guests, including Mir Imran and Eric Topol. How does it play a part in how we will progress? What may AI teach us about our historical research? Are there more optimal methods of delivery?

Emily Oster and Hanne Tidnam discussed societal effects of technology and decision-making. With technology becoming more and more ingrained as a part of everyday life, is there a point-of-no-return or is it okay generally? Or, is there a limit? Time will certainly tell – studies / surveys don’t have the information available to give us any insight since the time-scale is so recently biased. Technology has outpaced the level at which we can make data-driven decisions in this manner.

Bruno Goncalves discussed text mapping and language processing for how different dialects of the same language can indicate demographic patterns in various locations (focused initially in Brazil). He mentioned it was interesting to track words / phrases and how they changed throughout history for English, primarily – harder to track Spanish. If there’s more data available (say, mobile text / audio or email?), may be easier to break down by parts of towns/cities, but currently, it was limited to general, larger blocks based on Twitter text (which is sparse, generally, anyway).

Suranga of Balderton Capital discussed his movement from London to San Francisco and what he’d observed as a tech employee, then executive and founder and the difference between the environments. His excitement for the future comes from the societal change that infrastructure of technology may enable. Then there was a darker side when we heard the author of Ghost Work – Mary Gray – as she said there is a larger split of work designed for specificity as we improve the AI / ML models that have been deployed. What is needed work-wise or what can be automated? Are those good? Biased? We’ll see.

I hope you enjoy my notes and hopefully you’ll check out a few that sound interesting! Thanks again to the people that continue to keep me up to date with what I love to learn.

  • Eric Topol (@EricTopol), author of Deep Medicine, cardiologist (Wharton XM)
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  • Deep AI and medicine – asking how to properly apply deep learning or AI to medicine
  • Yet to have a drug made by AI
  • Bayesian principles failing in medicine community
    • 12% of women get breast cancer, yet we ask them to do 1-2 years mammograms
      • 10 year span, 60% will get a false positive (yikes!)
    • Adopters of Apple Watch and its cardiogram / heart information are treated unilaterally
      • Young, healthy and curious people may not have any arrythmia so any abnormality (totally normal) may be misdiagnosed
        • Signal from heart rhythm from one person may be different from another
    • Says it’s a sign of being behind (3rd industrial vs 4th for the rest) when Stethoscope (invented 200+ years ago) is still sign of industry
      • Analog, no option of recording and is still very subjective to the doctor listening
      • This, despite advances in imaging and scans otherwise
  • Mir Imran, Chairman & CEO of Rani Therapeutics (Bay Area Ventures)
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    • Talked about the big equity stake his fund took in the company, wanting it to be a big hit
    • Drug development, say, an insulin pill compared to injections (spent 150+ years on solving this)
      • Stomach / pill form in past is only 0.5% or < 1 % efficacy – can’t intake that many pills or cost-effective
    • Designing pill that is pH-shell-dependent to identify intestine pain receptors are limited (can inject no problem)
      • Pill recognizes pH change by dissolving outer shell (to pass thru stomach), then sugar-needle injects
      • 1000s of animal trials and just passing pills
      • Started trials ~18 months ago in Australia for pill traveling (using x-rays every 30 min to track)
        • Then progressed into drug for giantism, along with looking at other biologic diseases / solutions
    • Don’t want to limit biologics to a single buyer (Novartis, Genentech, etc…) – keep it open
      • Investments from Novartis and Google initially ~$150mln worth now
  • Mapping Dialects with Twitter Data (Data Skeptic 4/26/2019)
    • With Bruno Goncalves about work studying language – now @ Morgan Stanley
    • Started with research in CS and Physics, moved eventually to Apache weblogs, email, big router logs, Twitter conversations to study human behavior
      • Turned into looking at Twitter check-ins with the log using longitude and latitude
      • Language used: order maps, areas dominated by specific language (drawing boundary between French and Belgian in Belgium, for instance)
        • Intermingling cities that attract many languages
    • Spanish changing from one areas to another – everyday words, phrases
      • Can use the location data to determine the area of dialects – splitting Brazil, for instance (South, North and then central American)
      • Dividing grid cells into km x km – maybe not determinate of gradients of English vs Spanish since they were testing dialects of Spanish
    • Each row corresponds to each cell and words, but the matrix essentially loses the meaning
      • Ran PCA analysis and K-means on the clustering
    • He’s gathered 10 tb of data from Twitter, corpora and looking at millions of tweets – too few data to look over time
      • Measuring language changes over time was difficult for Spanish, but easier with English
      • Used Google books, for each language and counting bi-grams in how many books – popularity of words
        • Corpus of books published in UK vs US for Google books (1800 – 2010) for reliable data, but further back was less popular
        • Could normalize for words on how American vs British words were (and the mixture)
    • Recently, looking at demographic splits of language now with more digital / online presence
    • Training spellcheck based on dialect or demographic splits
    • Doing this stuff part-time now – how to train a model to detect use of language in this sense
      • Using word embeddings to detect automatic meanings of slang to determine the different meanings
  • Matt Turck with Plaid co-founder, Podcast
  • CSR in Gaming Industry,  (Wharton XM)
    • Discussing how it can be weird to gain competitive advantage and share
    • CSR as large subjective to the person looking in
    • Gaming companies chip in to gambling addiction hotlines / help / etc
    • Particularly in Las Vegas / NV, CSR survey determined that direct opportunities in water conservation, energy and green energy
      • How can they more efficiently run such large operations
    • Survey had about 80% of the gaming industry represented, from servicers to manufacturers to casinos themselves
  • Suranga Chandratillake, GP at Balderton Capital (20min VC 090)
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    • Founded blinkx, intelligent search engine for video/audio content in Cambridge in 2004
      • Lead company for 8 years as CEO through journey to SF, building a profitable biz and going public in London
    • Early ee at Autonomy Corp, engineer in R&D and then CTO when he went to SF
    • Belief in technical person shouldn’t be CEO – idea has been replaced in US (probably split)
      • Jack Dorsey, Zuckerberg (went into Dorsey and the idea 2 companies that aren’t really overlapping)
    • Been impressed by both Gates and Zuckerberg
      • Knowing the code and going through to understand everything
      • Zuckerberg’s acquisition of Instagram (ridiculed for $12bn and how right he was – surpassed Twitter’s users)
    • 2 Things for Tech going forward – changing infrastructure
      • VR and including drones or autonomous vehicles – hardware progression and mobile phones for what CAN be done
      • Societal difference – how we change to gig economy or how we work and spend time each day
    • Changing investments – just announced investment in Curious.ai
      • Shorter term where society is changing (eg: Nutmeg for planning pension plans, cheaper and available)
    • Structure for Balderton as equal partner VC – not sure it’s the most efficient model, but thinks it’s the best
      • Equal partnership where the partners have all the same number of votes, compensation and identical split
        • Removes the politics and impacts the partners and the stakeholders (founders that may be affected)
      • No single group that can carry the vote – hiring becomes very difficult because you need an equal
    • Knowing when to stick and when to switch
      • Deciding when to say “We don’t do that” and pivoting and being right
    • Exciting company for investment that he’s done recently – Cloud9
      • All development being done in the cloud now
  • Nick Leschly, CEO Bluebird Bio (Wharton XM)
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    • Purpose Built, 5/14/19

 

 

  • A Guide to Making Decisions (a16z 5/12/19)
    • Emily Oster, Hanne Tidnam discussion
    • Health and personal spaces – “right” thing isn’t a difference for some
      • Cocoa crispies, eggs and the preference for why you eat them, not just health-related
    • Impact of breast feeding vs not and looking against obesity
      • Less likely to be obese if breast feeding
      • Random trial for this is from Belarus in the 1990s where they requested parents to some breast fed
      • Siblings in choice to breast feed – almost no correlation if they did or did not
    • Constrained optimization – money or time
      • As parent, making choices based on preferences but have constraints
      • Recency bias for current literature – only data will be problematic and that it can only support a relation
    • Regression discontinuity as drawing a line and then seeing interventions and how they may change or affect outcomes
    • Screen time as having evidence that’s just very poor
      • Not easy to run randomized trial on – iPad or lifestyle would have to change for trial
      • Apps in short term doesn’t have the info available for results / outcomes
      • Studies currently don’t have any conclusions on phones/tablets – little
      • Bayesian updating on uncertainty – if 2 year old spends 50% of waking hours, that’s bad. Where’s the limit?
    • Last time went to doctor – very concretely made a recommendation of “2 hours max in a day”
      • How does the information get to that level of the system?
      • Conversations occur with doctors where they essentially make the lines that stick, pass on
    • Recommendations go out as arbitrary but now are made as truth – terrible without the decision
      • People that take the recommendations are likely more different or health-conscious
        • Added another layer (vitamin E, for instance) – those that adopted did many other things
    • Just be wrong with confidence – can be right, lots of good options
  • Innovating in Bets (a16z 5/8/19)
    • Annie Duke (@AnnieDuke), Pmarca, smc90
      annie-duke-thinking-in-bets-199x300
    • Every organization and individual makes countless decisions every day, under conditions of uncertainty.
    • Thought experiment: posing Seahawks run the ball and are stopped vs passing and throwing pick
      • Once there’s a result, it’s very difficult to work backwards to assess the decision quality was.
        • Outcome was so bad – it was in the skill bucket. Or – oh, there was uncertainty.
      • Very slow in NFL, for instance, to adopt analytics according to the numbers
      • 4th and 1 – should unanimously go for it since numbers say the other team will get 3, expected
    • As a decision maker, we likely choose the route that keeps us from getting yelled at
      • We allow uncertainty to bubble to surface – conflicted interest – long run vs short term
      • 2×2 matrix of consensus vs nonconsensus and right vs wrong
        • CR fine, NC-R genius, CW – fine (all agreed), NC – W really bad
        • Outcomes are right and wrong – hard to swipe the outcomes away
      • Thinking or allowing uncertainty in human driving and killing a human vs autonomous vehicle
        • Black box not understanding autonomous vs THINKING understanding another human (“Didn’t MEAN to do it”)
    • Anybody in business – process, process, process
      • R/E business – everybody in room after appraisal is 10% lower vs 10% higher (similar analysis)
      • Outcomes come from good process – try to align that an individual’s risk matches with corporation’s
        • Rightest risk – model could be correct (tail result) or risk decision (and deploying resources)
    • Most companies don’t have SITG – how to drive accountability in a process-driven environment so results matter?
      • How do you create balance so outcome caring about is the quality of forecast?
        • State the model of the world, places and what you think. How close are you to the forecast?
      • When you have a bad outcome and you’re in the room?
        • How many times do people say “Should we have lost more? Should we have lost less?”
      • Learning loss – negative direction on how to figure out? Poker example of betting X, X-C or X+C
        • Bet X and get a quick call. Should’ve done X+C (learn, regardless of opposite getting a card)
    • How much can you move an individual to train thinking? Naturally, thinking in forecasts more. Will have reaction and lessons quicker.
      • Getting through facts quickly and having the negative feedback – not robots
      • Improved 2% which is amazing – what are YOU doing to not make it worse?
      • “Results-oriented” as one of worst for intellectual work – need a process.
    • Story of “something is happening” is not a good story. Hard to read journalism now for him because they’re both “non-consensus”.
      • She’s optimistic that people can be equipped to parse narrative to be more rational. Pessimistic of framing and storytelling currently.
      • “Not making a decision” is making a decision but we don’t think of it that way.
        • Really unhappy in a position. Did the time frame thing “Will you be annoyed in 1 year?” – Yes. Nondecision didn’t feel like decision.
      • Mentions not having kids – time, energy, heart and decisions associated with indecision.
    • On individual decision, you have: clear misses, near-misses, clear hits
      • Bias toward missing – don’t want to stick neck out. Have to see it in aggregate. Forecasts.
        • Anti-portfolio / shadow book is really about when you include clear misses vs near-misses.
        • Fear is that the ones that hit are less volatile or less risky will be returning less than shadow portfolio.
      • Says it’s difficult to do with 99:1 turndown vs investments. Sampling.
        • Time traveling with portfolio – bounce out and see if “if this is 1 of 20 in portfolio” vs “invest vs not”
    • Conveying confidence vs certainty
      • I’ve done my analysis. This is my forecast. Is there some piece of information I can find out that would change my forecast?
        • Bake it into the decision. Not modulating the forecast – 60% to 57%. Costs and time differences.
      • Putting confidence interval on earliest dates and another probability, inclusive, on latest day
        • “I can have it to you on Friday 67% of time and by Monday 95% of time.”
        • Terrible to ask “Am I sure?” or others “Are you sure” compared to “How sure are you?”
    • Pre-mortems in decision analysis
      • Positive fantasizing vs negative fantasizing (30% closer to success by thinking of hurdles in front of you)
      • What happens if you ask out crush and they say yes? What happens if you ask out crush and they say no? – No’s more likely.
      • Teams get seen as naysayers – individually write a narrative on pre-mortem – good team-player is how do you fail?
      • After outcome, we overweight regret – don’t need to improve this much. Look out a year and see if it affects you.
  • Mary Gray, author of Ghost Work: How to Stop SV from Building a New Global Underclass (Wharton XM)
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    • Research with coauthor at Microsoft Institute
    • Discussion of the b2b services that run in the background – used Uber’s partner as example for driver verification ID
      • Beard vs no beard on default, for instance – need close to 100% accuracy and algorithms/vision can’t pick that up just yet
    • Humans that run mechanical turk or various tasks on classifications
    • Technology used to be cat vs dog and now it’s species of dog – likely tech will enable more specific classifications but not remove intervention
      • Running with surveys, captioning, translations, transcription, verifying location, beta testing are all tasks
    • Used another example for “chick flick” meaning or 2012 debate with Romney’s “binder full of women” comment
      • Needed humans to assign relevance and to provide or connect proper context (Twitter, for instance)
    • Facebook and its content moderators, most social media companies do this
  • Trends in Blockchain Computing, (A16z, 5/18/19)
    • Get paid for AI data or encrypted data – can still train a model on it but nobody would know exactly what the data is
      • Long term accrual – depends, also, on if it’s on AWS vs open-source
    • Gold farming and ex-protocol websites in WoW, for instance – virtual worlds

Leadership: Data and Strategy (Notes from Week of May 6 – 12, 2019) May 30, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, experience, finance, global, Leadership, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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This was a very fun week for listening. I caught a ton of material and insights from very creative leaders on how they’ve looked at strategy and building great teams, align companies and progress in a successful manner. Their methodologies or frameworks didn’t always align, which was also refreshing to hear. We often get stuck on the same methods if we hear them repeatedly – I’m under the impression that this becomes dangerous if held as a truism when others may question this way or go away from it – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all to building businesses! Especially when information is plentiful, and people / ideas are a few clicks away.

Zeke Zelker is a super-creator who has pushed the envelope of creating and producing engaging videos, whether it’s marketing material or tv or films. Definitely worth checking out, especially as media content in video / audio has increasingly been the mode of consumption.
Benito Cachinero of the Egon Zehnder Leadership program talked about 4 things he looks for and teaches in leadership. Also, he covered the importance of how to strategically allocate resources when looking for growth or expansion, both in economic and human capital.
A CES overview of consumer tech trends by the a16z squad was intriguing! Alarms, smart home and other products that caught their eye as options to drive the future of homes and how we’ll interact on an everyday basis.

Caryn Seidman-Becker  discussed privacy of data and personal biometrics as the CEO of CLEAR – trying to improve the ease of security while fighting the image that people think of when hearing what it is they do to enable this. Brett Hurt was fascinating – building multiple companies early in life and calling up his friends to start a new one. Deciding the name? Hilarious. All of this before getting into Clarabridge’s sentiment analysis with Ellen Loeshelle. She realized how much different types and ways to look at data / text could help in analyzing a plurality of business cases, across many industries – not just customer data for their clients. Last but certainly not least, Stephanie Cohen needs no introduction – but she discussed how she perceives data for company progress and leading the groups needed to achieve her goals.

I hope you all enjoy!

  • Zeke Zelker, Creative Transmedia Branding (Wharton XM)
    • Talks about his films being cine-experiences, and as a DIY videographer how he can control all aspects
      • Considers business along with creative direction – makes sure to align them
    • 4 phases of content: ignite, sharing short form content, main event, reward
    • iDreamMachine – his prod co. & producing Billboard about 4 people living on a billboard
    • Has 7th most viewed drama on Hulu (InSearchOf) – engaging audiences to become a part of the story
    • Encourages people in the environment to create content, whether it’s a blog or short snippets – become part of the overall story
  • Chris Carosa, author of From Cradle to Retirement: Child IRA (Wharton XM)
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  • Making money as child, pre-teen and then teen
    • Child: golf balls selling – golf course, lemonade stands, etc
    • Preteen: babysitting, lawn mowing, card collecting
    • Teen: W2 eventually, card collecting, babysitting and other types – photography, writing
    • Parents can save $ for child by investing in child IRA ~$1k or up to gift amounts of $6k now as long as W2 income

 

 

  • Benito Cachinero, Egon Zehnder Leadership Solutions (Wharton XM)
    • Previous President HR at DuPont HR
    • Discussing potential ~4 factors for leadership (direct contradiction to measurements in being accurate)
    • Aligning resources for growth strategy in new markets – China vs Midwest, for instance
  • Pulse Check on Consumer Tech Trends (a16z 1/17/2019)
    ah-logo-sm

    • With Benedict Evans, Steven Sinofsky
    • Trends at CES – no consumer product themselves, just a lot of all parts of supply chains / manufacturing
      • Batteries in 10k – 100k, so know what you want
    • TVs were not curved (nobody bought curved) – had 3 ft bar and tv came out above it in 10-15sec
      • Or edgeless Samsung blocks “The Wall” where you could make them as large as you wanted – LCD in any shape/size
      • Sizes could be anything now, amortized supply chain and manufacturing plants vs idling
    • Media content providers and apps
      • Pausing / syncing and Samsung apps with Apple video – clunky or AirPlay hardware
      • NorCal vs SoCal or California vs other states (think Apple phone vs the rest)
    • Easiest product to get alarm from 12+ companies for an hour to plug stuff in and it’s done
      • Proprietary electrical wires until they got low energy Bluetooth and now it’s everywhere
      • Lock or other nuts and bolts having SKU proliferation or new homes
        • Have to know gen contractors, Home Depot, developers and fragmented
    • FirstAlert smoke alarms – mesh wifi since they’re hardwired or battery
      • Put wifi in the alarm (to go to phone, etc…) – lots to do it with insurance or risks
    • Alexa chip supplier to connect everything
      • Apple tried to do Home Kit but eliminated everyone because almost nothing was implemented – wasn’t easy
      • Amazon has leverage for hardware but it has to benefit them for Alexa and being useful
      • If all makers saw HomeKit, could join war for Alexa vs Assistant (now that everything has their discovery appliances / connect)
      • Compare electric toaster to holding bread in front of fire and similar progressions
    • Show about running experiments is CES vs show about finding business value
    • Cultural part of CES – Japanese hand clapper
      • The founder of Ukrainian and employee and others that were hustling
  • Caryn Seidman-Becker, CEO of Clear (Wharton XM)
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    • Biometrics and buying Clear
    • Talking about the reactions for people getting to skip lines – make it more efficient
    • Allow TSA agents to work on what is actually important
    • Trying to describe to change customer behavior in the privacy aspect of what they keep
    • Biometric data but encrypted and secure

 

  • Brett Hurt (@databrett), co-founder and CEO of data.world (Wharton XM)
    logo594x144

    • Discussion of Edgecase (Compare Metrics), BazaarVoice (running backend for a lot of ads)
    • How they stumbled onto the data.world site – calling his co-founders of next big idea
  • Rod Hochman, MD and President, CEO of Providence St Joseph Health Leadership (Leadership in Action, WhartonXM)
    • Talking about being a junior member of the board of physicians when he started out
    • Leadership and how he went into the administration side as a young physician
    • Administration for many physicians is beyond the time / scope of many – hard to think of it without doing MBA or taking time
      • Important to combine the two for the expertise and management
    • With this business, how much is going on between clinics or hospitals and the network
  • Sentiment Analysis, Ellen Loeshelle, Dir. of Prod Management at Clarabridge (Data Skeptic 4/20/19)
    clarabridge-analytics

    • How positive or negative a customer may be expressing a review or otherwise, polarity
    • Academically, may have entire text as positive vs negative
    • Clarabridge – helping their clients understand their own customers
      • With hotel experience: could be multiple levels – service, cleanliness, check-in, overall
      • Using a clause, individual tokens, lemmas, parts of speech and how they’re related
    • Dealing with 21 languages natively, and having computational linguists on staff to understand the grammatical syntax or individual contractors
      • Vocabulary can change, but not necessarily syntax (think: sick)
    • Sentiment is rules-based engine as BI tool for her end users – full control / transparency for analysis
      • ML in place with w2vec for tuning rules in the engine since those change based on context/industry
    • Flipping sentiment or negating and modifiers as using the extreme ends of sentiment analysis (-5 to 5 scale)
      • Structured stays similar, but lexicon changes contextually and sarcasm / transcriptions as more difficult unless obvious or explicit
    • Sentiment goes along with their emotion or effort analysis for customers
      • Enterprise tool and APIs for engine on enriching internal systems
      • Considering sentiment analysis as table stakes now – different than when they first started when they were ahead
    • Client in small kitchen appliances used Clarabridge to treat sentiment on competitors, specifically for pressure cookers
      • Eventually saw that the sentiment split for pressure cookers and that pushed them into doing Instapot
  • Stephanie Cohen, Evolution of M&A and Corporate Strategy (a16z 5/7/2019)
    A Goldman Sachs sign is displayed inside the company's post on the floor of the NYSE in New York

    • Stephanie – CSO for Goldman, member of management committee, Was in M&A and investment banking for Goldman
    • M&A is experience-based business, M&A with same people – rarely would be one-and-done – just a method of executing strategy
    • Bad examples of M&A – likely hard to keep up with growth or expectation of growth but tries to buy the growth
    • Her worst example: Fiat Chrysler with government owing, Canada + US and pension
    • Trends: velocity of M&A is greater (cited $1tn of M&A last quarter), amount of private equity has about $1.5tn for buyers (divest vs sell)
      • When she started, needed a strategic buyer – now, just need to provide an answer to how the business is a good alone activity
      • China / Asia as higher volume in general
    • “Anti-trends”: still very analog as M&A, person-to-person; continued evolution may come with digital capabilities
    • Preparing or thinking of selling:
      • Don’t wait too long to sell (assets no longer strategic, more the business will atrophy) – be proactive of business portfolio
      • Build relationships early on with financial or strategic buyers
    • Best M&A banker he’s seen: Tim Ingrassia (analyst originally) – corporations, legal, bankers
      • Friendly, relationships and doing business without ‘playbook’
    • Figuring out strategy, which companies you want to buy and the alternatives (top targets, organic version, next a, b, c plan)
      • What to pay, rumors of what others would pay – what’s it cost to you?
      • Thinking creatively about deal? How to design the right compensation packages? What’s the integration strategy?
      • Clients are thinking of deal with integration people and how to get synergies to work the best
      • “Charm offensive” – ultimately, most sellers make decision on valuation – if you’ve developed best relationships, you get other information
      • Walk-away price
    • Top down vs bottom up strategy – mentions $CAT as shifting toward RR vs sales, and not unique to just financial services
      • Not one instead of the other (fee-based vs recurring) – good deposits bring in other clients
        • Creating and building business with the right economy within various parts of the business
      • Going forward, people running businesses everyday have the best idea of how to exploit markets
        • If client-focused and outwardly-focused, should come up with great ideas together and to push forward
      • Exploration is hard or unnatural – high-energy, client-driven and solving in a creative way
        • Creative and quiet thoughts – leaders need time away, but people have to be exploratory to consider new plans
        • Example for tech and how to have the right conversations based on seeing what other companies are doing
        • She says that with how fast tech is growing, they need to work together and partner
    • Accelerate as trying to push new ideas
      • Committal vs part-time – allowed them to fund and go with their idea, or keep them head of board
    • Belief in fintech for a huge opportunity – have tended to build things on their own, but have pivoted to not do everything
      • What should we buy? What should we build? Want fintech to come and partner with Goldman.
      • Most of life is on phone and it’s almost seamless – but not financial life for mobile
  • Ruth Zukerman, Co-founder of FlyWheel Sports and SoulCycle (Wharton XM)
    • Creative director

Dissecting the B2B and B2C Models(Notes from April 29 to May 5) May 23, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, Hiring, questions, social, Strategy, training, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Here we see a few longer episodes to discuss investing into different biz models. I listened to a collection of founders that started funds, did a bunch of investing, bet on themselves, worked hard and ultimately caught a few breaks in spaces that were extremely unconventional and some that weren’t.

Keith Rabois – if you don’t know who he is, I’d strongly suggest looking up some of his work – went over the differences he sees as an operator compared to being an investor. What do you want to focus on in each position and what competitors to focus on.
David Frankel is another current MP who started by building and exiting his own companies. His discussion focused on how he tries to align founders and investors at the early stages of start-ups – how he frames this to be most productive. His secret though: following the founders, themselves, and trusting they have ideas that can carry ideas.
Another MP at Founder Collective is Eric Paley – though he came from the biotech space before joining.

Amy Frederickson was a fantastic listen on the Business Radio channel. Taking second hand, vintage items and giving access to others who see beauty in them. She connects contractors in upholstery and sourcing furniture that may not be seen for what it could be and connects them with those that may have great use. I’ve heard similar stories to this being done in the second-hand space like boutiques or even goodwill – connecting foot-traffic-primary stores to the internet and allowing everyone a chance at these creative, hand-picked items.

Angela Bassa was on DataFramed talking about her managerial experience in the exploding data science field (and before). How she’s had to adapt, how she treats peers and effectively communicates – all very useful in discussion of solving the right problems in an organization.
This was a great segue for me into another a16z episode on decision-making. How to ask the right questions and ensure you get a sufficient answer. Mining the proper data for it and turn those into insights.

To finish up and not make the intro super long – I kept notes on a few other investment managers and the differences in strategies for different clients, investors and the framework for posing performance in the right light.

I hope you enjoy the notes and please check out everyone’s episodes!

  • Keith Rabois (@rabois), Inv Partner at Khosla Ventures – If You Can’t Sell Them, Compete With Them (Invest Like The Best – 12/18/18)
    investors-khosla

    • Investor, entrepreneur at Paypal, Square – investments in AirBnB & Palantir, Opendoor
    • Paul Graham’s “Clients too stuck in their ways, compete with them” – when a person doesn’t want to take advantage of tech
      • Creating money, vertically-integrated business – build the platform (adoption risk, sales cycles, economic issues for being reliable on others)
        • Provide end product to customers
      • Quintessential example as Apple – control component to create user experience – derivative product doesn’t control own fate
    • 7 Powers – book for strategic leverage
    • Irrational for the 2 guys in the garage – has to be unexpected reaction to market, team, etc — but can’t take over from scratch by following ‘playbook’
      • He’s in the business for investing in a top 100 company
      • Strategic leverage should be that the accumulated advantage should be easier – skill / talent ability normally degrades
      • Anomalies give you insight into a paradigm shift (can’t get 10x growth from UI, etc…) – end of why questions should be incrementalism
    • Secret is a belief system about the world that others don’t appreciate it – time determines if it’s true or false
    • Home as primary home as more a commodity than an art – touch/feel. Not works of art.
      • Focuses on digital health, where data is abundant. Network effect there.
      • References – take Opendoor – could make an offer for house that’s fair but you’d be uncertain with money or closing on time
        • Knowing people will make the credibility factor easier – trust matters by vertical/industry
    • Paypal had a $100k guarantee for the $ – partnered with Traveler’s Insurance as trusted brand, and used FDIC for insurance up to $100k
    • Healthcare costs ex-LASIK seem to be going up – mediated through payers (ins co’s)
      • Can improve UX, reduce cost and improve quality at same time with technology enabled – Guardant Health with liquid biopsy
        • Made it significantly cheaper to get biopsy results
    • Giving founders feedback on what they’re doing – how are they liking what they’re doing
      • As an operator, needs to make a 70% conviction and decision (as an investor, he needs to be in the 10-50% suggestions)
      • Assessment of talent is similar and understanding tradeoffs may be both of operator/investor
      • Risk profiles are different – understanding as operator where the strategy changes over time for the company (investor may be 0x to 10x)
      • Investor gets paid to learn new things, try new things – much more like baseball
        • Operator, conversely, may be like football where you should try things but need buy-in from others with your team
    • Lean start-up as stupid idea – cohesive strong strategy that can be done with less capital
      • Product-market fit isn’t required for validating fixing an idea / postulation (fat start-up – $10mil to fix real estate, for instance)
    • Steve Jobs mentioning saying No to good ideas (10% ideas) vs the 10x ideas – need experiment to get to that capability
      • Bad ideas in venture: lots of failures – 30% in baseball is good
      • Why does nobody emulate Apple or other successful companies do? Avoid the failure mentality.
        • Obsession about design and practical thinking – not empirical thinking. Book: Creative Selection
    • Interview question:
      • If you are a product, how would you describe your value proposition? – initially had product instincts – wasn’t world class, but knew business
    • Founders want to affect the real world – computer was escapist initially, but now it’s a controller for the real world
      • New capabilities / opportunities, lots of people leverage that for positive behavior, so now he says there are more ‘hard science’ innovation
        • Healthcare, biotech, autonomous, etc…
      • Early stage, pricing matters less because you just need to be correct directionally for the company, not so much off
        • How much, though, is risked by industries or risk/reward – what’s on table?
        • Later stage matters more for balancing portfolio.
    • Learning through osmosis with someone that’s very smart
      • Calling people to get feedback on certain ventures based on other talented people’s responses
    • Is there high-growth startup ex that hit escape velocity that a large competitor has beat?
      • Being paranoid is smart, but focused and talented team will out-execute a large entity
    • Narrative violations – common being fake news – average American is more informed than any other American in history
      • Average American is more informed than any other person in history, by orders of magnitude
      • Interesting question: given the resources, is the person smarter or dumber than what they used to be? Voter more/less informed?
        • Accessibility to products is so abundant now – anyone can Google or find other information
          • Definitely true in the US, maybe harder for other areas in world
      • Platforms are now more democratic versions of printing presses
    • Different components to acquiring and learning skills (athletes as needing to do, guitar probably playing songs, surgeon both reading/dexterity)
    • Most investors forget the lessons of strategy, he thinks – differentiation is your friend (mentions YC as having different mentality, economics)
      • Not much pioneering at VC level – Horowitz (and his autobio) initially, but not much innovation since – Khosla, Lux as vertical integration, maybe
      • Midlevel manager of engineering can be efficient from recruiting standpoint – what level you’re at, where you can pick from 350 companies (to 10)
    • Upside of Stress – book that’s very important, he believes — more stress and tolerating it is how you can be more successful
    • Things that stick with him – how they remember how others impacted him or vice versa, little things
      • Cascading of good/inspiration & how it changed trajectory – rewarding
  • David Frankel (@dafrankel), MP at Founder Collective (20min VC 088)
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    • Founder, CEO of Internet Solutions (ISP provider in Africa) then became a super angel
    • Founded FC with his partners for seed stage investing
    • Graduated 1992 in Elec Eng undergrad – IS acquired eventually for $3bn in mid-90s
      • Was doing ventures with FCF, made many huge mistakes, he said and remained on Board for acquiring co
      • Went to HBS – hated first 3 months but then graduated in 1993 – b2banking, b2consulting (jokingly) – but met a ton of great people
      • With capital, could back almost all of his classmates starting (first or entire checks) – had 27 companies after graduating
    • Challenge for FC was to ask how to institutionalize seed stage investing?
      • Not a lifecycle fund, just seed stage – may follow in Series A (not as lead), but hadn’t through the first stage
      • Wanted to create most aligned fund with founders – not net buyer when company is net seller
      • Believe they can make the most difference up front but not as they go forward
        • Who can be first hires? Management team gelling?
        • 2 years in, he says, they become much less useful – happy to be on board or pull off
    • Working with Chris (over at a16z) – says it’s a waste of time to look at incremental
      • Chris pitched 2 ideas before Site Advisor
    • For people not in the network – David loves hanging out with people and is very curious
      • People default to what we love doing – have to enjoy hanging out with them
    • Invested in Uber but he didn’t know in a million years how that would have been predicted on what they did
      • In the moment – Groupon just completed $5bn round and they were invested
        • Was excited about a competitor in Korea as he liked the founder, even though he believed it was “house of cards” industry
    • Comparing engineering student to business school – eng 1 in 1000 idea is Facebook, but volatility very high – business school lower volatility
    • Term Sheet as read blog, uses Twitter / TweetDeck to curate lists
    • Typically anti-sector because he follows founders moreso than industry specifically
    • East Coast vs West Coast (center of universe) – output of talent from Boston and east coast is different
      • Depends on types of company (consumer / mobile is Bay Area-centric) – Boston good for tech/biotech
    • One of favorite portfolio companies-PillPack in disrupting pharmacy & something simple
  • Amy Frederickson, Founder of Revitaliste (Wharton XM)
    revitaliste_3

    • Vintage furniture in interior design space – making it very simple to reupholster or otherwise refinish furniture
    • Discussion of her partners on the furniture side – volume doesn’t necessarily make it better if they can’t do more work / spend more hours
      • Limitations that she’s had to be careful – try to change mindset and buoy them
  • Eric Paley (@epaley), MP at Founder Collective (20min VC 089)
    • CEO, co-founder at Brontes Tech before acquisition by 3M for $95mil
    • Started a web developer company with brother and cousin in 1990s, had a bunch of startup clients and others that weren’t
      • Abstract Edge – still run by brother/cousin, but when the dotcom bust happened, sees overconfidence
      • Bad times – may learn better – he wanted to go to biz school & learned a ton
      • Looked at 3D imagery while in business school thru MIT partnership – interesting and looked at the space – had to ask “What to do with it?”
        • Facial recognition, industrial inspection, endoscopy, video games, etc…
        • Late in game, struggled with money raising and decided to look at dentistry (mass customization – every orthodontic device as singular/unique manufacturing, dental impression but if you could change this, you could have a lot)
    • First investor was David Frankel (from before – $500k into Brontes)
      • David calling and say “Thought the founder liked me but would you mind doing reference call with them?”
      • “Can you sit down with the entrepreneur and let me know what you think? – I’m out of town for 2 months in South Africa, so I trust you.”
      • Started to look for deal flow for David while he was out – with the other guys
    • As he was looking at leaving 3M, he was talking to venture companies and saw that top quartile VC’s didn’t feel like they were doing as well as they had
      • Came together with the 4 partners and should start a fund – underlying premise with better alignment at seed stage
      • Pro rata doesn’t align founder to venture – founders don’t get the option if they’re not doing well
        • Dollar average up cost-basis vs down. $8, 10, 15 million valuation vs $30, 50 or 100 million – but it’s more along the average dollar
          • Weighted later with pro rata investing
    • Believes there are plenty of seed funds that are doing well, but he’s surprised by the limited amount of funds that stick to seed stage
      • Conventional wisdom / FOMO for lifecycle / follow-ons
      • They have 3 unicorns at that time as well as a lot of good returns outside of that
    • Fooled By Randomness – NNT book as his favorite applicable to VC, frameworks for tilting the probability
    • Founder role model for him – said he was lucky to have Kelsey Worth, founder of Invisalign ($1bn company in 5 years)
      • She was on the board, would come out a day a month and help him out – dive deep and give an opinion without being dogmatic
    • Mentioned a recent investment as Cuvee – attempting to increase wine storage / pourability to 30 days
  • Angela Bassa, Director of D/S at iRobot (DataFramed #48 11/12/2018)
    irobot_green_logo

    • Managing D/S Teams and how to organize development of algorithms and the processes
    • Corporate business organization of data science teams vs packaging and product building or open source work – known for more of that
    • Undergrad in Math, went to Wall Street after – got a lot of data analysis in the market, wasn’t a match for her ~15 years ago
      • Then went to strategy consulting – focused on pharmaceutical strategy, testing and experiment analysis
      • Went to marketing services industry – finally saw big data – (no longer any single machine work)
    • Talked about excelling as an individual contributor and moving to management as a different discipline in itself
      • First person she managed: quit the first day, had been a PhD graduate and assumed he was working with her, not for? (What a prick?)
    • Worked with teams in ops, finance, IT, engineering, R&D, etc…
      • Re-orgs for data science portion – always changing branches
      • If data science isn’t the product, within legacy/corporation, the team needs time to figure out the objective of the organization
        • Get past exploration and become experts
        • Her take on managers would be that they create space (o-line) for individual contributors to do their work as quarterbacks
    • As teams grow in size over time (using her experience as Manager and Director from ground up), potential vs low-hanging fruit
      • High visibility and high sophistication to give a leg up on what could be possible for the organization – low-hanging fruit is easy
      • Starting data science team have generalists but very good to mature into a better team, specialization
    • Humility for data scientists – avoiding the correlation factors that you build from gathering and going through data initially
      • What kind of questions should be answered?
    • Parts of data science that you can’t teach – how vs wanting to answer questions
      • Certain bootcamps are worthy of what they teach, organize – mentioned universities as not having programs until recently
        • Mentioned a team member trained initially as marine biologist – traveled and researched pods of dolphins
          • Modeling expertise for a fleet of robots as operating independently and together
    • Harder for C-suite to not be able to talk data in the strategy sessions for decision making
      • Common pitfalls of manager:
        • Data team doesn’t know how the data is gathered or where all it’s coming from
          • Have a data party or something to organize the data creation, designed, labeled, and stored
        • Not overpromising or underpromising
          • Lend credibility to actual outcome – being honest, transparent with other disciplines to interrogate situations
    • Her paper for HBR – Managing Data Science for AI
  • The Future of Decision-Making (a16z May 1, 2019)
    • Frank Chen and Jad Naous (via YT initially) of Enterprise Investing team
    • Digital transformation where industries are shifting to this design
      • Changing from manual to automated, digital processes and more agile
      • People’s roles will start to shift around – demand for new tools and dynamics for who wins in spaces
    • Product management – features or bugs would have been surveys manually or collecting data to figure out problem and sort them all
      • Now, the tools automate these from the product itself, often – now they can look at the dashboard of numbers
    • Marketing side: Growth hacking and market engineering – low cost to increase growth in certain parts of customer segments
      • Decision-making and creative work is the human part that can’t get automated
      • More people in the middle of the enterprise are becoming analysts – BI tools aren’t going to be enough
    • Types of tools should be operational tools that give answers to questions that they need immediately
      • Where is the bottleneck in the funnel? How to eliminate?
      • Competitor is having a flash sale – how much revenue is impacted or what segment should I target?
      • Generally, analysts would have to spend time and $ to get an answer (“$10mil to get a report that you didn’t need in the first place.”)
      • A/B test has to be continually monitored
    • Jad worked at AppDynamics – one of easiest things to sell is Performance Monitoring Tools – prevent systems from going down
      • Harder to prove ROI to other orgs – sales, marketing if they need continual results / ongoing
      • Want to have self-service tools vs full-service from someone else
      • Not analysts but instead the functional operational people – marketer, growth hacker, product manager, business people
    • AirBnB already open sourced SuperSet – ad-hoc access to data for results, used by 100s co’s – presentation layer product toward technical
      • Imply (one of his investments) for analytics and processing layer – store streaming data into database and do the analytics / presentations
      • DataBricks – processing layer
      • ETL layer is the one that has not gotten traction – domain specificity (healthcare vs ride-sharing or finance)
        • Currently too much integration issues and organizing
    • 3 categories – operational intelligence – sell tools for incumbents to enable intelligence
      • Target csm or sales or product manager (crowded currently, hardest to win)
      • Segment-focused vendors – sensors and analytics to oil & gas companies, for instance
        • Vertical solutions for industry
      • Vertically-integrated, operational intelligent company that competes against incumbents – Lyft / Uber, AirBnb, etc…
        • Biggest value but hardest
    • Non-IT buyers: Grocery, Construction, Oil & Gas – operationally efficient and commoditized as long-standing business
      • Minimal change in efficiency can be a huge value (Costco at $12.5bn ’17 on 11% margin)
      • Capital deploy for Exxon Mobile ($230bn capital invested, ROIC 9.5%)
    • Particularly excited by SuperSet, Imply – infrastructure tools – people seeing analytics and tools as necessary for business
      • Software vendors into large, existing industries – hardest would be economic profiles will be very different
      • Selling into stagnant markets (minimal margin) and not used to new tech – cycles will be long
        • Huge businesses to get in
      • Need to educate/prep investors – really bright light at end of tunnel
      • Need to become experts and trusted advisors in the domain
      • Help with software and services in the industries
  • Josh Wolfe (@joshwolfe), founder/MP at Lux Capital – Tech Imperative (Invest Like Best, 4/23/2019)
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    • Tackling massive scale problems – China as infrastructure power vs the states
      • State or story-sponsored role becomes more powerful with internet-enabling
    • Checklist of 5 main things (Xander of GoPro, now SurveyMonkey)
      1. Nail down the strategy of company – what are you going to do?
      2. Deliver capital to pursue strategy – clear, cohesive and sell
      3. Brilliant team to execute, drop others to start mission.
      4. Communicate the hell out of it – partners, competitors, media, press – keep consistent answer.
      5. Hold people accountable – if people aren’t and the goals aren’t clear, not effective organization.
    • Story – memorable, easy to repeat, conveys meaning in a clever way
      • Want to elicit an emotional reaction – putting meaning in a story for an individual
      • Portable ideas as superpowers – leaders being able to harness this, or the audience (maybe of the shared values)
        • How to aggregate the ideas
    • Abundance of liquidity to illiquidity or leverage (eg $200mln check in growth-equity round at $1bn (from $100mln) but if down-round, then the check has a big stake in it as creditors)
      • LPs and endowments are overextended – he’s telling people to look at secondaries, not venture
      • Sequoia was appealing to greed – sop it up and have to write bigger and bigger checks (get a big fund and put to work)
        • SoftBank as big problem pricing up rounds – either visionaries or producing paper assets as collateral against debt
        • Tesla as horrible balance sheet and illiquidity
    • Zoom doesn’t need to need a big business, but Uber/Lyft depends on strangers and investors to buy in to future
    • TurboChef (fast like a microwave but toasty like toaster) – Subway vs Quizno for $4k ovens
      • Sell to Subway – 20k places for purchase orders – but they got Coca Cola to buy the contracts for Subway in exchange for them to be in the stores
      • LatchAccess (one of his co’s) – remote by cloud from phone to consumer
        • New build and buildings (now 1 in 10) – did contract with WalMart / Jet
    • Some firms get lucky and parlay it into success – maybe wrong in process
      • What was process? Where did you get lucky? Where were you smart? How did you structure deal?
        • Benefit you, founders, investors
      • Price vs intrinsic value – public doesn’t do this, but path-dependent in portfolio (repeat entrepreneurs)
        • Team vs sole GPs – total equal partnerships and all mixes
        • Portfolio mix, super early stage, low probability of high financing risk
        • Others who are good at metrics / business, growth metrics
        • Subsector – fintech, crypto, etc… as experts
    • Tribes with a mantra
      • “Life sucks” – gangs, people homeless
      • “My life sucks” – 9-5 and get home and just crack a beer and grow for that
      • Like what they do – “I’m great, you’re not” – silo information, zero-sum and leave as free agents
      • Lux as “We’re great, they’re not” – robbers cave – how to get people to bond vs competitor / enemy
        • Sometimes it’s an entity – exogenous threat, devil – big oil, martians
      • Ultimate “Life is great” – mission driven, maybe Google / Facebook initially – cause/effect of money
        • Still climbing mountain, goal to reach – complacency maybe
    • Judgment: should we be disciplined about price?
      • Andreesen said only 10 good companies but you want to be in each one – but there are 1000s of decisions to be made
        • Pay any price for the ‘best’ or be discriminated – lead to FOMO and price action
        • Mentioned Cruz and setting up GM deal ($20mil at $60post vs $20mil at $80post, but GM came in and paid 11x)
      • In private markets, if you rejected them, you don’t get another chance.
    • Values: observable around morality (tech around morality and morality around tech)
      • Existence of an option is a good thing – military as a hot topic, tech as both sides affected
        • Had invested in Palantir offshoot for virtual wall for Homeland – has lots of immigrants who were deeply affected
      • Drone options or even autonomous driving (say, those who die as organ donors for the donor list)
      • Compares China’s pipeline from government to technology – decisive advantage will let them be ascendant
        • Moral discussions slow this down – barriers to experimentation
      • Real value of CRISPR isn’t the feature, but what it leads to in the platforms (ex: X-Men / Cerebro – Variant for rare populations)
        • 23andMe and Ancestry as targeting the ‘boring populations’ vs what they’re doing
          • 1000 individuals for rare conditions that have a metabolic rate that raises in the evening – what if this was monogenic / targetable?
    • Sci-fi vs Sci-fact as narrowing — ‘it will rot your brain’ as doing the next $10bn+ industry
      • Mentions engineers and Fred Moul (founder of Intuitive Surgical) starting Orace – just betting on him to recruit the right people
        • $8mn at $20mln valuation – for 5 years $90mln forecast and $450mln – then got a bunch of investment)
          • Exit for 63x for $6bn to J&J – completely flawed process on an order of magnitude
    • Directional arrows of progress if spotted increases probability of success on subsector
      • Lighting: burning flame -> bulb -> led; memory, energy density
      • Talked about Calliopa – he wanted to focus on gut-brain access – taste / sugar receptors (Charles as Chilean professor at Columbia)
        • Half-life of tech: 50 years ago, 25 years ago personal computer, 12.5 years ago laptop, 6.25 years phone, 3.5 iwatch, 1.5 airpods
          • More intimate over half-life and improved
        • Had to meet “Rearden” – “I can get rid of that” – Bill Gates’ right hand guy, polymath, PhD neuroscience after undergrad as Classics/Latin
          • Put on wrist strap that could detect 15k neurons that innervate the 15 muscles in your hand – perfectly model this
            • Can control it just by thinking of turning on whatever you’re speaking of
          • We don’t have input problem – we have output problem — too linear
            • Series A and Google/Amazon invested $30mln – want to sell after maximum value
      • Do you find companies that touch near the directional arrows?
        • Don’t need to implant in brain, can read the neurons – 5 years ago you didn’t have everything that was required – power, IoT
    • Moral imperative to invent technology, instruments to invent genius – encounter the technology that eventually inspires others
      • Losing touch with humanity – where is the song after sung? Find way to reduce human suffering.
    • Are there enough entrepreneurs in real technology frontiers? Is vs ought (jokes about competition)?
    • If you can spot “What sucks?” – can you discover something “Wait, what?”
      • 100mln mice – can’t you put sensors/automation for this?
      • Document storage (Mushroom vs atomic storage, not REIT for storing docs) – banker data, scan them – IronMountain can’t do it
      • Entropy information – he gets more optionality by giving information, but death of privacy is coming with convenience
        • Mentioned graphic novelist “Why the Last Man?”, side one called “The Private Eye” about everyone being surveilled – wearing masks
        • Socially and personal privacy is a losing battle but industrial side makes sense
        • Mentions blockchain for voracity – Banksy for private store (analog), authenticity
    • Special operations spending time for 2 weeks – Asia: Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan
      • Coalitions forces, training, sniper, subsea, Seals, cutting edge tech – able to look at things for laser targeting
        • He was there for “What sucks?” – humbled by voracity, proud by the intelligence and what he could do and who he was with
      • Optical signals for those that get through program are the opposite of the big guys – stunning, talented, quietness “stoic intensity”
  • Ayan Mitra, Founder, CEO at CODE Investing (formerly Crowdbnk) (20min VC 089)
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    • Enterprise architect and tech mgr, worked with M&S, Orange, and First Direct
    • Software eng by trade, started in mid 1990s and built internet framing for Bank Offers Direct
    • Was in NY when Kickstarter kicked off in 2010, and saw the regulation was ready for this type of investing
      • Made the concept popular, regulated funding, or Kiva-type – early stage investing is a lot more popular in Europe/UK
      • JOBS Act as regulation freedom for positive step for alternative financing
    • Wave of changes where technology is being brought on the systems and the benefit goes to the investors and markets
      • Quick and transparent – believes it would’ve happened regardless
    • Crowdbnk – reactively do due diligence, price and valuations – invest alongside with investors on their platform
      • Look to raise growth capital for equity and debt – not a pure platform/marketplace
      • Minimum / maximum – equity looking for $500k – 2mln pounds, debt – secured/asset-backed $1ml – $5mil
        • Investors – $10k pounds a year to be diversified and properly investing
    • Valuation class by Ashwin (NYC) – intrinsic valuation (creating, discounted by time and risk) or momentum valuations (price willing to pay)
      • VC could benefit from diversifying investment base – early round by Index recently
    • In crowdfunding, consumer brands may have an easier time going down crowdfunding pick
      • Harder for others to understand some of other sectors / SaaS, for instance
    • Debt funding is #168bn and growing, but small compared to financial services
    • Drawing attention as a focus over time, consumer behavior changes
      • By being more efficient, they can return value to investors and people on the platform
    • Book mentioned: Intelligent Investor – Ben Graham
      • Seth Godin’s blog
    • War chest vs planned capital injections – not a binary answer (eg: compete against Uber – good luck without war chest; tech-enabled services)
    • Funded a company called Breezy – simplifies user interface for older generation, potentially – team/value and invested by US VC’s
  • Andrew Hohns, President, CEO of Mariner Infrastructure Investment Management (Wharton XM)
    • Conceptualized and founded IIFC Strategy as part of his dissertation at Penn
      • Funding gap in project finance to address world’s infrastructure needs
        • Talked about growing projects in Africa, India and others
    • Started a fund as he finished school – raised $500mln for capital projects
      • Including a $1bn transaction with African Development Bank completed with multilateral bank and private investors
        • Provided approx $650mln in additional lending capacity
      • Credit Agricole in 2017 that was “biggest impact investing deal yet” by Financial Times to allow an extra $2bn of funding toward green projects
    • Managing the originations networks for funds with relationships with many global financial institutions

Data Science in Your Business (Notes from Week of April 15 – 21, 2019) May 8, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, experience, finance, Founders, Hiring, questions, Stacks, Strategy, training, Uncategorized.
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It feels appropriate to have the week of Google I/O’s conference to be the one that aligned with my notes where data was the primary focus, especially when Google was pushing ease of technology (centered around giving them access to more data). There were some excellent memes/pictures around for the differences of Facebook asking (hah) for data compared to Google (where they have a ton of it already but they mention the stuff coming).

Kaggle, a research data competition site, held a conference centered around hiring and careers in data with guest speakers from some of the most interesting companies working with data, including Google. Listening to career-based or hiring podcasts related to the field gives insights to how corporations or orgs focus on the spectrum of people vs skills. The other side of this would be a discussion on how data science teams can impact the business at value. What can be done with the data? Is it helpful? Which metrics are measurable and important?

A few episodes went into the business and general application of research in the data. Research on how personality and music are interrelated or satellite imagery from NASA to provide various live solutions – and to what extent they can be designed to be used. A few non-data science-specific podcasts dealt with FinTech, HealthTech and marketplace tuning. How do startups fight against incumbents in various marketplaces? Are their offerings sustainable or do they break the model of what we have seen?

Hopefully my notes provide some incentive to go back and listen to one or each of the podcasts. Or connect via Twitter to talk more!

  • Validating D/S with QuantHub, Matt Cowell CEO (BDB 4/2/19)
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    • Also with Nathan Black, Chief Data Scientist at QuantHub
    • Talking data science – math with business and IT skillsets
    • Companies are manually doing tech assessments with candidates / roles – programmer-based primarily
      • QuantHub looks at a comprehensive, scientific approach to assessment of the stack of what may be necessary
    • NLP of resume, and then Bayes’ updating for input and results from that
      • Assessment platform at the core and using it for hiring (natural use-case) but then benchmarking organizational skills
      • Aggregators of content and matchmaking (say, data analyst up to data engineer – wrangling, SQL improvement)
    • Assessments done and individuals won’t be charged – overall value in helping talent
      • Building the training side in the next quarter
    • How do companies engage QuantHub? 5min to get running – align the incentives for using it / relationship.
      • What are the challenges? What are the skillsets? What do you mean that you want them to do?
      • Requirements changing by different statistical methods (along with computing power, designing algorithms vs latest research)
      • Knowing/vetting data scientists as having to do the role / job – can you mirror the actual job requirements? (try vs buy, potentially)
    • Cloud computing or hardware innovation as ‘cool’ in a world of software – highly critical, depending on certain organizations
      • Some orgs NEED the data improvement there (Kubernetes, Docker, Cloud, Spark vs Power Excel user)
    • Matt as a product strategy guy – book “Monetizing Innovation”
      • How do you determine what the market and customers want
    • Nathan’s book – “Make It Stick” on how you can improve learning methods
  • James Martin (Staffing Lead, D/S at Google) – Getting Noticed in D/S (Kaggle CareerCon 4/17/2019)
    google-cloud-platform-for-data-science-teams-4-638

    • Looking at field – ML Engineer to Quant/Statistician to Product Analyst to Data Analyst
    • Research tips: Open source projects (understanding current trends, gain experience, make connections)
      • Job descriptions (take time to research the differences, tailor approach)
      • Market research (professional networking, connect dots between companies you’d consider)
    • Resume tips: Concise (focus on telling a story on the experiences to highlight outcomes)
      • Factual (if listing skills or strengths, use examples to support them)
      • Related experience (highlight specific projects related to area you’re applying)
    • Networking tips: Professional profile (be detailed but concise about the skills you use and experiences)
      • Targeted outreach (connect after a conference, target approach for conversation)
      • Conferences (meet/greet if possible, follow up via email, LinkedIn, twitter)
  • Gidi (Gideon) Nave (@gidin), Assistant Professor of Marketing (Marketing Matters)
    • Cambridge Analytica before Cambridge – music research and how it relates to certain traits
      • Extroversion and openness were 2 big ones that they could pull from 5 traits (MUSIC)
      • MUSIC: Unpretentious, Sophistication were 2 of them
    • Could pull personality cues from 20 second, unreleased clips based on scores of 1 to 7, also
      • More agreeable people had higher scores in general
    • Personality on 5 (OCEAN – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroverted, Agreeable, Neuroticism)
      • Questioned whether they could use music to test for the personality (as opposed to the other direction)
      • Personality is established at a young age, so can music likes on Facebook give you a personality side – as mentioned, it did ~2 better than others
  • Fintech for Startups and Incumbents (a16z 4/7/2019)
    • With GP Alex Rampell (@arampell) of CEO/cofounder of TrialPay and partner Frank Chen
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    • Assembling a risk pool (good and okay drivers subsidizing the bad drivers, or healthcare – same)
      • No economic model for skipping a segment – psychology for half price insurance (say, going to gym)
      • Half the number of customers – taking the ‘good’ ones, profitable ones
      • Insurance has mandatory loss ratios for different industries
    • HealthIQ – mechanism for exploitation on ‘health’ – in FinTech, it was SoFi on HENRYs
      • Positive vs adverse selection – debt settlement company ads, for instance – negotiate on your behalf to settle
      • Healthier people as living longer than non-healthy people – left them more profitable for proving being better
        • Gives them good customers (adverse selection for ‘quick, no blood test, 1 min’)
    • SoFi as stealing customers from the normal distribution – better marketing message “you’re getting ripped off, come to us”
    • Branch as investment – collect as much data as possible and look for correlations – small, mini-loans
      • Induction as pattern is a willingness to pay (credit is remembered) – went and got data from your phone
      • How many apps did you have? Did you look like you went to work? Are you gambling?
        • Counterintuitive potentially: battery goes dead leaned default, gambling app meant more likely to pay, etc…
    • Earnin – phone in pocket for 8 hours, last paycheck and RTS data confirming – will give money that you have earned but don’t have yet
      • Can tip interest or not – can you encourage people for positive community and people driving safely
      • Nurture better behavior – helping to turn customers into correctly priced customer (vs bank that doesn’t want them)
    • Vouch as company that failed but your social network had to vouch for you – Person X is okay, so you can even put up $
    • Tiffany & Co for a long time was owned by Avon lady – but its brand was massive and one of most renown jewelers
      • Could make sense for acquiring more customers, though
    • Killing Geico – take 20% of customers but only take the good ones
      • Selling negative gross widgets, for instance – probabilistic ones (and the bad ones aren’t needed)
    • Turndown traffic strategy – Chase turns down a lot of people for problems (can’t profitably do $400 loan, for instance)
      • Here’s a friend after they rejected them (but see traffic) – Chase will tell you to go to a startup for better underwriting
      • Amazon got right – HP book, for instance – had ad for B&N right next to Amazon (bought) – would make $1 on the ad click at 100% profit
        • Used this to reduce the price on their site and wasn’t sharing it
    • Rapid fire: “Always invest super early” – 9 weeks to decision vs 1 day – can’t get good deals at length
      • Best things aren’t cheap – they’re often expensive – better strategy can be plowing in late (“Can’t believe we’re putting this much $”)
      • Gating item for entrance into a space or into different models – cost of capital and distribution as often the unique thing
        • Geico could easily add additional traffic to start-ups
      • M&A strategy early? Encouraged and used Facebook – buy existential threat (surrender 1% of market cap to buy Instagram)
        • Facebook spent 7% of market cap for WhatsApp, Oculus, etc…
        • Buy the guys that failed trying – courage to build something new -> take them and put him in charge for person that was successful (at big co)
          • Trying to build this thing for ~10 years vs start-up that built something in 1 year (put this one in charge)
          • Ex: AmTrak buys Tesla – worse thing “You work for us” but you want products to push distribution and talent for understanding
        • Only difference was distribution and the possibility to do that
  • Jennifer Dulski, author of Purposeful, Head of Groups & Community at Facebook (Wharton XM)
    • Talked about their group initiatives at Facebook – communities policing themselves as well as methods to flag content
    • Mentioned example of having an employee that came up to her and asked if she had done a good job, she just wanted a bonus or something $
      • Taught her about incentives and why people do what they do / good to know the motivators
      • What drives people?
  • Anth Georgiades, CEO of Zumper (Bay Area Ventures, Wharton XM)
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    • Purchase / hire of Padmapper in 2016 that added quite a bit of Canada business (size of California, real estate-wise)
    • How to match both sides for a marketplace – suppliers vs customers
      • Chicken and egg – focus on one, improve other and repeat
  • Word2vec (Data Skeptic 2/1/2019)
    • Produces word embeddings – autoencoders as NN for something like compression to retrieve output successfully
      • m down to n via mathematical representation (m < n)
      • Language compression for vector rep
    • Running the algorithm training on Google’s full internet, Facebook’s news article, Wikipedia, etc… to achieve similar words/spaces
      • Not super adaptive – nonsense place for words it hasn’t seen
    • Real world application – king for word2vec and subtract male – then add in female and you get queen
      • 300 dimensional space, semantics of that example
      • Bad example: training on entirety of internet results in something like doctor – male + female = nurse (gender neutral data)
    • Feature engineering for bag of words, good example for transfer learning, also (train model on text and then use parts of it on smaller area)
      • Very large corpora for NLP but can use pre-trained models of word2vec and use it in other models
  • Sean Law (@seanmylaw), D/S Research and Dev at TD Ameritrade (DataFramed #59 4/1/2019)
    sean_law_quote_card_3

    • Colleagues thinking he tends to ask lots of interesting, hard ?s – hopefully with answers
    • If he’s a hard worker, then he’ll do great – being in industry for 3 months time – has to juggle effective time spend
    • Molecular dynamics is short time scale and lots of computing power – parallel computing before and now the growth / usage of GPUs within days
    • Hypothetical example for alternative data solutions – driving to work and listening to NPR where NASA had a new dataset that was sat imagery
      • Pollution ORA dataset for air quality – area of high commodity necessity with pollution joining
    • If building ML as a binary classifier – but don’t know where the data is (do we have to collect? 3rd party API? Internal?)
      • How much effort to get it usable in the pipeline? Then, what’s the reasonable accuracy level – better than 50-50?
      • Some signal in the noise
    • Exploring chat/voice – query account balance, stock price, news articles via Alexa/Echo
      • Headless / device-agnostic option – audio to parsing of text, understanding what customer wants (NLP) and then what it means
      • Following PoC and into production
      • PoCs can miss: scalability (unless claim is to get scalability), model accuracy (not best model immediately), real-world applications (use case in mind)
    • Interpretability standpoint – regularization, L1 and linear – constraining coefficient can be very useful (background noise from video, for instance)
      • Time-series pattern-matching as non-traditional
    • Calls to action – data failures of things that didn’t work or negative results

Shifting Mindsets (Notes from Feb 11 – Feb 17, 2019) March 7, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, education, experience, Founders, global, medicine, questions, Uncategorized.
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I think many [most] of us fall prey to the day-to-day grind of life, work and whatever we have going on. We lose out on collection and reflection, maybe some have the time to gather their thoughts. Rarely, unless asked, do we get the chance to work through introspection. The luckiest may then analyze this and work to change their mental processes. If I had to guess, I’d imagine people work through this in conversations or in reading (or both).

What do my thought processes look like? Are they consistent? Do I work through problems in the same manner, or are they dependent on material or background? Have I worked to improve?

What did I hear/read about that may influence these? How does what I worked on or read about influence my opinion/knowledge of other situations/circumstances? Is there a fundamental shift that’s occurred over time? Should there be? Can I anticipate that? Can I preempt the movement?

As the week’s theme, each of the partners or founders on the episodes assessed the known framework for which they were improving upon or changing. At Brightseed, they’re focused on asking questions on how we can transition from infectious diseases to chronic disease prevention, all in a system that has been built and established on the former (big pharma). The diagnoses, the business model, research and development and actions thereafter all influenced by how it has always been done.

  • Sofia Elizondo, co-founder and COO at Brightseed (Bay Area Ventures, WhartonXM)
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    • Talked about how 150 years ago, as pharma started to ramp up, system developed to treat infectious diseases
      • Now, infectious diseases are not the primary, and chronic diseases have taken over
      • Not prepared industry-wide to deal with this (pharma designed for diagnosis and then action)
    • Food industry is health and wellness, some biotech companies trying to make names
    • Mentioned performance of big package food companies – lack of growth, especially only 2% for the biggest names
  • Joel Marcus, Exec Chairman of Alexandria Real Estate (Wharton XM)
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    • Talked about only wanting to buy real estate, commercial lab buildings in bunches and lease or sell to biotechs
      • Have dealt with commercial labs
    • Google had approached and they didn’t like it initially but agreed on the premise of what they’d do
      • Uber is another, soon to be 1million acre real estate for them
  • Patricia Nakache (@pnakache), GP at Trinity Ventures (20min VC 080)
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    • Father was one of first engineers at Computer Sciences Corporation, spent summers in labs and telecom intern
      • Physics and chemistry major in college – went to McKinsey after graduating
      • In 1999 went to a start-up but was also a freelance writer, later had Forbes articles, etc…
    • Interviewed Trinity Ventures in 1999 and they continuously said they were very busy
      • Joined as a contractor, then 3 months later converted 3 months later
    • 2 P’s related to gender difference in venture:
      • Pipeline: nurtured through apprenticeship model, or brought on as a senior role initially
      • Pattern recognition: notion that decisions are based on what attributes have contributed to past successes
    • Care.com has vetted profiles of caregivers for hiring – more concerning for Patricia, so she is attracted by that pain point solution
      • Ruby Ribbon partnership and learning
    • Pedal to the metal for spending and burn rate – product-market fit with a broadly-defined market
      • E-club, meal services to companies (eg 100 ee’s, goes on the app and pick what you want – variety and meals delivered at once)
    • Measuring success – returns to LPs and helping founders
      • Jim Collins “From Good to Great” – ew, but makes sense if she grew up with initial tech boom
    • Fan of on-demand economy / services, but believes there will be a shakeout of it, as well
      • Scheduled cleaning, for instance (not on a whim)
        • Cites Homejoy – wasn’t sure what the app strategy was solving, immediacy
  • Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism book (Wharton XM)
    • Talking about reducing technology overall
    • Habit forming – diets, if you’re not committed to making a lifestyle change, can’t gain the benefits
  • Yogov founder, Ryder Pearce (Wharton XM)
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    • Mission-driven looking for making gov administrative jobs easier, less painful
      • Hard to fix this as there are so many different 3rd party / privatization attempts
    • Spent 3 months in 2016 dealing with California DMV for what he felt should’ve been minutes

  • Phil Libin (@plibin), co-founder CEO of All-Turtles (Launch Pad, Wharton XM)
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    • Attempting to cover real-world problems with AI
    • Focused on Evernote until starting this – have grown broadly to eventually include biotech
    • Talked about doing 72 hour fasts after being very skeptical (as a fad, etc….)

Betaworks, Kamal Pt 2 and Automation Innovation (Notes Jan 28 – Feb 3, ’19) February 19, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Altucher, Automation, education, experience, Founders, global, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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After the short post and notes from the prior week, this one was chock full of Strictly VC episodes. I also caught a bunch of Wharton XM on innovation in automation and various questions as to its applications in novel ways (and old industries).

The first up was a fascinating innovation in agriculture discussion with a professor working at UC Davis. Oenology has so many levels to it, from climatology, viticulture to how and when to harvest along with the chemistry. Innovation using automation and AI should be able to capture a lot of value in the whole chain, all the way to the distribution and end consumers. Reduction of variability was the big takeaway here. I do wish there were more weekend days to explore wine to fully immerse, but alas, we have 2 or 3.

Kamal finished his talk with Harry Stebbings on 20min VC to discuss the future of VC and how he sees the best business done. Hands-on, smaller funds believed to be better and to work on solving the problems that keep founders up at night. Those are most exciting.

James Bell, Kia Motors’ Director of Corp. Communication and Social Media, discussed his takes on autonomous vehicles over the next 5+ years and how they’re likely to be constrained to cities. Probably reduced speeds ~25-40mph and that even if they show up, it’ll be a challenge to get adaptation on the vehicle side as well as humans adjusting. Complete network of autonomous would be easy – humans add the variability that throws wrenches into the equation.

Then, we had Chad Fowler and Matt Hartman (Director of Betaworks). Peruse the notes below to see how those went

  • Innovation in Agriculture (UC Davis professor) – Work of Tomorrow
    20121005_wine_crush_2548-300x199

    • Talked about automation on acreage for vineyards
    • 33% variability in vines across many acres, AI can reduce variability which allows for better management
      • Migrant patterns changed of laborers, pricing for pickers up to $42+/hr avg
      • Tough to get teams of 32+1 team lead consistently
    • Automation / machine pickers are ~5 year break-even, $18k in cost initially per acre and can drop after
  • Kamal Ravikant Part 2 (20min VC 078)
    • Future of VC
      • Competing for talent, entrepreneurs – AngelList, etc
      • Value add more in the recent time – they didn’t do anything before
      • Give the entrepreneur the power – not just another company of the portfolio
      • Smaller funds that will do better: Vast VC in NY, Kent Goldman (board observer at his old co), Syndicates, Ferriss, Jason Calacanis, one-off funds over bigger VC’s, Rick Morini
    • Shares deals with many of his friends that he’s talked to and approached (entrepreneurship)
      • Questions include understanding the product, team, burn rate, distribution
    • Fundamentally solving a problem (keeps you up at night)
    • Book of the biggest influence – The Alchemist, The Little Prince, Hemingway, Great Work of Your Life – Cope
    • He’d play more because he spends too much time writing / working
      • Altucher as the Oprah of the internet – (Told Stebbings to avoid college and build one in Guam)
    • Inspiring leader – Elon Musk (putting his own money on the line), Naval (his brother) and putting steps to build it – power, AngelList
    • Most recent investment – Bolt – uncapped, Dan Sharp founder, payments (something he wanted to solve)
      • Interviewing each other – did it to guarantee value add
      • Can’t invest into social good or impact because it doesn’t return all the time (to pitch to his LPs)
    • Lost a lot of his money in the old company after he burned it all
      • Level of responsibility for his LPs – not wasting, has a fiduciary responsibility for building the company
  • Chad Fowler, CTO at Wunderlist (20min VC FF016)
    246x0w

    • App of the year, writer
      • From the founder – ‘simplicity, design’
      • Removed everything that they could, what else could they take out
      • Why business software is broken? – self-defeating, fear-based negotiation tactics that they need it
        • Ask for everything you could possibly ever want (and if the vendor can’t say yes, then you drive down price)
    • Tech (into video games) from music (forming and writing – ‘on hold’ for 20 yrs)
      • Same mindset for tech as music – we don’t enter music for a job – you do it because you want to bring something special
    • At LivingSocial in DC, InfoEther (his co) was a talent acquisition, became a VP of Eng and took over role of CTO
      • Approached by friends in Berlin shortly after that
    • Living in Berlin / Europe – completely disconnected in the 90s but no longer in 2010s
      • Still cultural issues that may be disadvantaged – bit more behind, conservative
      • He mentions he loves the cultural and international aspect of Berlin (US, as well) but cheaper
    • He believed that the piece of software is done – the client product is done – simplicity guardians
      • Wonderlist should be the glue that recognizes or allows input for everything across your life
    • Most requested features: folders
    • Same general operations once acquired by Microsoft – operating in Berlin still, staying with the teams, etc…
    • Fav book: E-myth Revisited – why small businesses fail, strategic/systems from own career thru running company
    • At GE, started a development center in Bengalore – new, cultural uncomfortable place taught him a ton
  • James Bell, Director, Corp Comm & Social Media at Kia Motors America (Launch Pad, WhartonXM)
    • If he had to put a number on autonomous – caveat: cities or districts, maybe 5-6 years
      • Slower, 25-40 mph congestion reduced but autonomous allowed – no humans
    • Humans add the element of randomness & variability that change autonomous cars 
      • How’s a car going to treat the randomness of a human in the road or other humans
      • How will people react to cars without drivers (videos of seat-outfitted drivers at crosswalks)
    • Talked about buying the first hybrid early on and how many questions he got in general
      • Likened that feeling to what it may have been like after cars showed up post-horse/buggy
      • Inflection points of becoming ubiquitous
  • Matt Hartman, Betaworks Weeks, Director of Seed Investments (20min VC 078)
    betaworks_01

    • Prior to Betaworks, he was co-founder of ReferBoost
    • Went to b-school, worked at Hot Potato, consumer social network acquired by Facebook
      • Went back to school and started a real estate platform
    • Betaworks – consumer internet companies with Bitly, Dots, giphy
      • 100+ people on 10 different companies, outside financing and get a bigger space if they’re building
      • Employee is under Betaworks until companies – can do seed stage, as well
    • Why seed investment side? Building, shaping and figuring out the network approach
      • Loves working on different things for different companies in the day-to-day
      • Twitter becomes much more about news vs Facebook for friends – iterations and bilateral
      • Snapchat is 1:1 but 1:many, lower friction vs Instagram that keeps it there (not 1 hour or 24 hours)
      • Habit forming activity
    • Conversations on ProductHunt were normal conversations among product designers – network structure enabled community growth
    • Meercat – one of the best product launches he’d seen (though they didn’t invest)
      • Product was well done and more tightly integrated than Periscope, really good time
      • Meercat is not great in real-time – comments / questions won’t work great for video compared to others
    • Instapaper – Betaworks co – was going through articles in audio form
      • Was consuming 6 hours of reading just in his day-to-day with lunch, walks, commute
        • Found time in listening channel
      • Native audio ads already has straightforward monetization structure
      • Multitasking can be pretty useful for being conversions in listening
    • For deal-sourcing, he gets them through coworkers’ network (people at Betaworks)
      • ProductHunt has been one that initiates deals
    • Productivity tool Drafts? – input box for notes (opens API to do add anything macro-related)
    • DigDeeper (Instapaper) – notes from twitter compiled
    • Ryan Leslie’s Disruptive Multimedia (always available via twitter/phone)

Acting on Ideas + Kamal Part 1 (Notes from Jan 21 – 27, 2019) February 12, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, experience, Founders, global, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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Changing the world (re: starting a company you believe solves a fundamental problem) requires, at the minimum, action. Nobody has an idea and can sleep through the execution of those ideas. You must act. This is what separates the ‘risk-takers’ from the ‘risk-averse’. Action.

Kamal mentioned that he came to Silicon Valley in the mid-1990s and promptly ran with a start-up, only to barely break even. Hadn’t gotten ahead right away. Took work, lots of it. Fundamentally, providing value to your customers will give you insight as to how to sell to your customers and gain more traction. Zohar at Wibbitz did this as well – knowing the journalism side and being a habitual creator since middle school, he was able to adapt new technology to advance articles into video content – a must for the most recent trends in media consumption.

Jason at Marqeta looked to ease the convoluted payments space between many of the big name card companies and the vendors that want to connect to give access to as many customers as possible. I know these are short but I hope it provides reasons to download or listen to the podcast episodes! Let me know in the comments below.
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  • Zohar Dayan, Wibbitz founder (Wharton XM)
    wibbitz

    • Video creation using automation – storytellers and changing the way we make video
      • Making it easier for articles to have videos – sports, journalism, etc
    • Personal opinion of mine – video content is a huge boon for ads (and we’ve seen a portion of this in audio ads – i.e. podcasts)
  • Marqeta CEO, Jason Gardner (@jmgards) (Bay Area Ventures, WhartonXM)
    • Developer API that’s friendly for commerce innovation
      • What, where and how purchases are authorized for companies
  • Kamal Ravikant (@kamalravikant) Part 1 (20min VC 077)
    • Author of Love Yourself as if Your Life Depends on It
    • Moved to SV in mid-90s, joined Healthy-on and could just run with it at the time
      • Said he broke even, essentially
    • Did start-ups, went to angel fund, and went back to start-ups
    • Product and traction: need customers / users and to build these numbers
      • Approached customer acquisition and online marketing guys – Facebook/online, etc…
      • Cheap, self-built fund (wanted to bring on guys that would help the companies invested into)
      • Had no track record on his own leading into his initial fund
    • Some investors are best done when they are ‘dumb’ money (give and let build)
      • Open entrepreneurs to actually build what they’re trying to build and be there for help / need something
    • Talked about friend who runs largest pole dancing studio in country who said she has a husband that’s a physician who wants to start
      • Does a bunch of conferences and work that keeps him busy – doesn’t jump
        • Kamal just said he needs to start and make the mistakes
      • Don’t do something that you think market is hot – better be doing something you care about
      • Best ones are ideas + action – have to make it real, get customers or mock ups
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