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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Bioscience focus on medicine adherance

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you enjoy the rest of my notes!

  • Thirteen Minutes to the Moon
    268x0w

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformation of Innovation (Notes from Aug 12 to Aug 18, 2019) September 4, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Blockchain, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, NLP, Politics, questions, Real estate, social, Uncategorized.
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Hello! Hope Labor Day treated everyone properly, whether you snuck in some time-and-a-half pay for work, avoided it altogether or vacationed. I am going to keep the brief at the start short today because there’s a common theme. And I have been considering longer form writing without the notes on other topics maybe once or twice a week.

From last week – I still am working on the 13 Minutes to the Moon podcast – excellent. And it’s engaging as they went through the building and prep work that went in to getting there before decade-end.

The new segment that a16z has produced with the 16 minutes on the news has been fun, especially if you like an audio version of what’s been popular in tech/news. Sonal has done a great job leading most of them. I found the two that I listened it related to the title – transforming innovation. Software as eating the world (any company/product/service that can be digital will force the company to become software company), along with digitizing many of the slowest movers because the pressure has become high enough (re: Fed with ACH Now). At some point, in order to command more control or to make sure you aren’t disrupted out of the market, companies have to compete and give the customers or users what they want – faster, easier transactions in Fed Now’s initiative.

There were also some fantastic investors / founders that are included. How they developed and framed their careers to step from one thing to the next. If you noticed, many of the 20min VC episodes I listen to are in order from 2015 to now 2016. Fascinating to hear the comments made at that time to update to 2019 (as many of the same bullish comments are made with caveats that have yet to come to fruition – and valuations increased accordingly).

Hope you enjoy the listens!

  • 13 Minutes to the Moon
    268x0w

    • Ep 05 – “The fourth astronaut”
      • Intertial navigation – if you have your speed and know where you are, can control where you’re going
      • Self-guiding ballistic missiles that couldn’t get thrown off course via radio or otherwise – knew where it was
        • GPS, primitive computer received navigations and could adjust course if necessary
        • Charles Stark Draper who founded MIT’s guidance instrumentation lab
      • Had been a grad of Stanford and went to MIT and became leading expert in aircraft instrumentation / guidance
        • Dedicated to the astronaut program, so much so that he applied – was turned down
          • Practical application with such sensors to be useful was his expertise – size / practicality in flight control systems
      • Had to convince everyone that the computers would work and be trusted
      • Apollo bought 60% of the chips that were out and being manufactured – huge boost for computer industry
        • Good hardware required good software (an afterthought)
      • Called on programmers for building the software Margaret Ate Hamilton (started as programmer, then was in charge as program manager)
        • Developed a system to write software so that it would be reliable and she sought out the bugs/errors – no way to do it otherwise
          • Right times vs wrong time, wrong data, wrong priorities (interface errors) – we take for granted everything we have now
        • No rules or field at the time (akin to “Do you know these English words?” – yes, you’re qualified)
        • Don Isles – math graduate looking for something to do next who joined in 1966, software had been written initially – app code to fly was starting
          • Lunar landing phase commanding – in retrospect, huge – but it was a job at the time
      • Apollo Guidance Computer – 70 lbs in 1 cu ft, 55 W with 76kb, 16-bit words, 4 kb were RAM R/W memory, rest was hardwired
        • Got to the moon on punch cards – 100 people working on it at the end – submit in one run overnight and run simulations
        • 2 women that worked to keypunch before working as full-time – printed lines of code to turn into punch codes
      • Noun-verb inputs for flying – lunar landing, for instance
        • Built the computer interface with idea of “Go to moon” and “Take me home” but it instead had 500 buttons and was much more interactive
          • First system where people’s lives were at stake with it – fly by wire system. Astronauts didn’t control it, they controlled the joystick, etc…
    • Ep 06 – “Saving 1968”
      • Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin
  • Fed reaction (a16z, 16min on the News, 8/12/19)
    ah-logo-sm

    • FedNow – 24/7 open service for access to checks faster to launch in a few years
      • Half the population lives paycheck to paycheck and should care for the $30 overdraft fees that a ton of people do
      • Massive amount of losses to banks here in the US
    • ACH batches all payments in a day or maybe twice vs instant
      • Realtime payment network – 26 banks but need all banks to be a part of this network
    • Against Fed would say to just run the regulatory part vs the operational side
      • Obligate banks to join ACH, etc…
      • Infrastructure for checks has not updated to the tech advantages that we’ve gotten to now
      • Catching up to rest of world, which is 10 years ahead
    • Death of retail – Barney’s filing for bankruptcy, closing 15 of 22 stores
      • Been around since Great Depression
      • Ecommerce coming and direct to consumer is going toward market share
      • Highly leveraged fixed costs, inventory but can go sales to hemorrhaging money and become unviable
    • Grocery is largest single category of US retail, more than apparel and personal – completely immune to digitization historically
      • Inventory is better served close to consumer, physical grocery as distributed warehouse
  • Philipp Moehring, Head of Angelist EU (20min VC 1/6/16)
    1_n4gganmndofil1udzwkgca-300x225

    • First European hire for Angelist since Jan 14, venture partner at 500 Partners and Principal at SeedCamp
    • Angelist Syndicate for his
    • Worked for a bunch of startups during his studies, but realized he didn’t want to work for a large company or consultancy like when he started
      • Worked for a professor that was doing research on VC – did his thesis on same topic, asked for data
      • Fulltime job came from a guy who went off on his own to start firm and he was asked to join
    • MBA in Tech Management and Tech Entrepreneurship, where management is very different there
      • Analyst and associate work can be a great job but it’s not a quick way to partner or anything
      • Seeing founders doing a second business after 7-8 years, even after do great and get raises
        • People don’t usually stay at their first job for 8 years but starting at VC, people will jump to a startup second
    • EU vs US scene – SV where VC started and is much more advanced, simply due to a lack of epicenter
      • Angelist looking to get into Series A (not necessarily leading, though) – movement
    • Certainly London for VC – number one ecosystem in Europe, as the largest metro area, tech and VC and money
      • Hard to copy for other places – culture, politics and what makes the city to be interesting
      • Berlin has the momentum as the number two, as well as Stockholm or in Finland, maybe Paris (inward), Lisbon and distribution of eastern Europe
    • $400mln funding for Angelist from CSC Upshot into syndicates – GPs investing directly
      • Does his 500 Partners role on the side – usually someone with investing on the side and has more firepower
      • Wants the deal flow or coverage in the areas they won’t have
      • Knows an entrepreneur and can get in the chance on seed or small amounts to invest in
    • Known the partners at 500 Startups for a bunch of years and could invest similarly to his Angelist style
      • Could be flexible and born out of the way the fund is positioned and investing
    • Most exciting for him is having people that he’s invested in hitting their stride and succeeding
    • William Gibson as a writer who influences his thinking, Snowcrash as a book that depicts the future
      • Looks more at science fiction for tech advances now
    • Most read blog – too many to count, Brad Feld – has a tool called SelfControl against social media
  • Phil Libin (@plibin), co-founder and CEO All-Turtles (Mastering Innovation, 8/8/19)
    220px-at-logo-red-label-stacked-opaque-2048

    • Discussing real problems with AI

 

 

 

  • Andrew Chung, Founder and CEO Innovo Property Group (Marketing Matters, 8/7/19)
    • Partner at The Carlyle Group, US real estate
    • Started IPG in 2015
  • Stefan Thomke, professor at HBS (Wharton Knows, 8/13/19)
    31ii5kqtk5l._sx330_bo1204203200_

    • Discussing his paper on magic stick of customers
    • Online experiments – running them quickly and decisively

 

 

 

 

 

  • Ivan Mazour, (@ivanmazour) founder and CEO of Ometria (20min VC FF 029)
    ometria_owler_20160227_081547_original

    • Serial entrepreneur, author, investor – Ometria: predictive/marketing analytics platform
    • Born in Moscow, parents PhDs – mom brought him to UK to study math @ Cambridge
    • Started his first thing in property since that was biggest, public industry to get involved
      • Around 26, didn’t utilize any of his studies and data-focused nature, so he leveraged proceeds with his cofounder to make angel investments
    • Wanted to become relevant and learn about tech industry – made 30 investments in 4 years, stopped prop dev, did a Masters in App Prob
      • Refreshed knowledge to build a data company
      • Founding after investing – wrote a blog post as his approach to investment and his dream
        • Build a truly world-leading tech company but accepts lack of experience
    • Thought about how much capital to allocate to invest and how much to invest to be taken seriously – needs to be able to learn from it
      • Angel investor as $20-30k pounds
      • Received a second seed or extension round with Ometria – significantly bigger than seed, but reality is not enough for Series A
        • Hire more engineers, increase team from 20-30. But Series A would be to set up internationally and expand S&M
    • One-sided barbell – huge amount of funding on early, early stage investing
      • Anyone can work to get funding at early, small stage – lots of companies are vying for more eyeballs from bigger ones they need
      • At late stage, if you have the metrics, you’ll have the funding – growing 300%, hit $1m ARR and no question you’d get round, SaaS-wise
    • Launched as an ecommerce analytics company, wanted massive market for data – $3tn ecommerce and retail
      • Launching 2013, analytics was hottest thing (KPMG raised $100mln fund for this only) – by 2015 for big round Ometria, analytics wasn’t relevant/interesting
      • Fascinating to experience – marketing was far more important – actions engaging revenue and data, leveraged
    • First ones to come in were validating – people who he worked/invested with previously
      • Angels that were amazing, AngelLab’s Rachel that was meeting best founders and seeing best companies
      • Had tried to sell Phil as a customer on Ometria and he ended up investing – Alex is on board as 2nd largest institutional investor
    • Pitching angels vs other investors
      • With angels, he had engagement metrics, not revenues – introduced team and had beta user metrics (logging in 7x a day and loving it)
      • Four founders and engagement of platform that allowed closing of round
      • For VCs, chart of MRR that was up and right – increasing growth
    • Several funds liked the company and wanted to consider investing – said he should’ve held off, probably – got excited and continued conversation
      • Waste of time for both sides – hadn’t moved far enough on VC metrics to get a big enough investing for what you’re raising
    • Offline retail – stores won’t go away – thinks there will be an entire platform that will be an ecommerce platform that is based on personalization
      • Product recs, change website and order them – complicated and difficult – best platforms aren’t designed to do that – $1bn company
    • His highlight: sitting in his boardroom after increasing it, Elizabeth Ying (PayPal, head of D/S), Mike Baxter, Allie Mitchel (Huddle founder)
      Looking around that they were talking about his company and making a few investments that he was CEO of and they had 10-20 years experience
    • Favorite productivity tools: ToDoIst, Google Keep for managing main reports, HangOuts
    • Favorite books: Rich Dad, Poor Dad as formulating a way of thinking, and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • David Tisch (@davetisch), MP at BoxGroup, Inc (20min VC 1/11/16)
    site-logo-home

    • Also, cofounded Spring – brands to consumers via mobile with his brother, Allen
    • Coded as a kid, kept using the internet, entryway into internet and software – didn’t think of it as investor
      • Went to college and law school, became a lawyer and joined real estate finance in m&a but he did that for a year and wasn’t into it
      • Started a company, experimented and sucked – sold to a larger company and was there for 2 years at KGB
      • Went to TechStars – launched and run the NY program after he had made 3-4 investments
    • Cementing of the NY scene would be a magnet company like Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google – huge magnet for talent
    • The Box in NY as a cool club that he hadn’t been to and his first investment was in a company called Boxy
    • A 20th employee is exponentially more valuable than a seed stage investor – tries to be an valuable investor, though
    • Magical utility or happiness for user or incredibly polished path to where you’re going – different from early days of mobile
      • Should happen soon – hasn’t happened since Snapchat/Tinder as consumer
    • Spring for him – exact opposite of sitting above the clouds as VC and strategy – incredible other side with his brother
      • Mall on your phone – 1200 brands directly (Etsy as maker’s story) – single mobile experience to make it better
      • Free shipping and free returns in 2015 for marketplace and working with their partners
      • VIP, customer service, making a single experience
      • Apparent that the opportunity was sitting there – he had told his brother “Don’t start a company”
    • Doesn’t read much – watches a lot of tv and consumes that as a way to learn
    • Finding his partner Adam at Techstars is probably the highlight
    • Reads online a lot – design blogs/architecture/city – Fred Wilson as successful VC in NY
    • Invested in SmartThings – sold to Samsung a couple years prior and built into products
      • Deep affinity for space, so he invested into Nucleus – video intercom in houses but it allows outbound, also
      • Uncomplicates the phone – primary thing on cell (voice, messenger and text bringing into house)
  • John Wirtz, CPO at Hudl (Wharton XM)
    hudl-logo.1de182540fb461fded02ad2cb75963d4945c560d

    • Coaching and products innovation – getting cameras at 50 yd line or in arenas
      • Not so much looking at point-to-point tracking or high speed for baseball, softball
    • More on tracking all high school players and colleges – uploading of highlights and working with coaches
    • 95% coverage now
  • Software has eaten the world (a16z 8/18/19)
    • Marc and Jorge Condo discussing computer science and its eating healthcare
    • Term from his essay in 2011 after starting firm, tech industry is 70+ years old after WWII, packing $500 that used to be $10-15mln
      • Pessimism after recession – Marc held opposite opinion as just starting (platform built)
      • 3 claims: any product/service that can be software product will be software (boomboxes, cameras, newspapers, etc…)
        every company in the world in those products will become a software co
        as a consequence of 1 and 2, long run the best software company will win
    • Incumbents in auto industry – cars are very dangerous, very hard and software companies think otherwise – value of car is in software (500 in 50 mi radius)
      • Surprising innovation fields: legal, insurance, real estate, education, health care
    • Never imagined investing in new car companies – new industry in 1890, 1920s Henry Ford
      • One new major car company attempt by Preston Tucker (Automotive – Tucker movie, catastrophe)
      • Went from hundreds in 1910s to 3 in 1920s and after
    • Profound technological revolutions as ML/DL/AI as incredibly innovative and cryptocurrency
      • Software founders for how to use and those that haven’t – can be quite transformative
    • Fundamental transformation with internet was music industry – triple whammy – people loved music (? Often dogs eat dog food? – not case in music)
      • Isn’t it great customers love music so much? They want the thing – showing consumption. Music executives said no. Suppliers refusing the demand increase.
      • Pricing issue – want 1 song vs 12 songs on label. Price-fixing collusion by the 4-5 labels. Could overcharge by factor of 10.
      • Consumers were breaking law but the correct reasons. Was immoral, illegal by price collusion.
      • Went from Napster, Kazaa, Limewire, Frostwire, BitTorrent (all investor catastrophes as too early since they couldn’t get pricing from labels)
        • Spotify as 15 years later where investors were scarred but time had come
    • When layer commoditizes, the next layer can become massively valuable – focus is on commoditized layer (contraction for recorded music purchases)
      • US market for live concerts grew 4x in aggregate demand – unlimited access to music, so fun is concert and experiences
    • Marc as serving on board of hospital – mission in terms of health care and medical research and school – nonprofit with highly motivated people
      • Design and build a new hospital – finally opening in 2019 (2005 green light)
      • Well-functioning boards that he sees as 7 people vs 25 or so in hospital
      • Quality problems in auto industry in 1950s / 1960s initially, unsafe at any speed – 70s/80s/90s was TQM – debug quality manufacturing
      • Medical compliance issues – 1/3 not filling prescriptions, 1/3 just take cocktails of them
        • Organ transplants are only 60% compliance
        • Assembly line requirements to motion – decode for running properly, maybe do that for hospitals and doctors – Purell, even
      • EMR at Stanford – $400mil one bid, $100mil to Epic and $300mil for implementation system Perot Systems
        • Interoperability and open source, building on everyone’s creativity (except Epic) and APIs
    • Eroom’s Law – price of bringing new device or drug to market doubles every 10 years – VCs in both decided the economic cycles were too different
      • Names now for VC are ones that aren’t the same big firms
      • Founders are different, as well – PhD in bio but programming since 10 or hybrid tech to pitch
      • Missing middle as converging of scientific domains and getting a16z’s new partner, former Stanford professor in the middle who helped spin it up
    • Digital therapeutics, cloud biology, IT applied to Healthcare
    • Defend market or advance innovate market but SV is starting from scratch – experiments in tech, or business (famous train wrecks)
      • Portfolio approach to experiments – 10 experiments in 10 different parts of biotech / industry – look at successes and asymmetric returns
      • If there are big companies that can do obvious things, they’ll be good at increment – industry does different ones
    • Need evangelical marketer or sales – Jobs’ saying how to envision the picture because consumers have no ability to project this
      • Elon’s Model S – no superchargers or charging at home – had to paint a picture to demonstrate it, get enough sales to build the chargers
  • Dan Granger, CEO founder of Oxford Road (Wharton XM)
    oxford-road-agents-of-influence-logo

    • Advertising in LA helping acquire new customers and branding

Big Goals: Being the First (Notes from Aug 5 – Aug 11, 2019) August 27, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Blockchain, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, NLP, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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A friend recommended the 13 Minutes to the Moon podcast. I wish I could shout out that friend, but I currently have no recollection for who it was. Sorry! I’ve been recommending it to anyone that wants an intriguing documentation and story for the decade sprint to putting a human on the moon – and everyone that contributed to that goal. If you need more convincing, Hans Zimmer did the music production, as well. So, it has to be epic, right?

So, that’s what I would strongly suggest everyone listen to. The rest were incredibly interesting, as well.

The co-founders of Original Grain discussed watch making, selling out of backpacks and getting the approval of their military brothers before finally catching on and building the business. Setting out their approach and moving back to the PNW. Co-founders of Lovevery talked about mixing the product, box subscription service with educational, proven research and why Jessica chose this model and building their own over the licensing / branding other toys/puzzles.

Nick Maggiuli, of Ritholtz and Of Dollars and Data discussed why he’ll follow / listen to others that he may disagree with in case something clicks that makes him update his information to change his mind. Then, discussing that the market isn’t zero-share after Ken Fisher mentioned that his firm ($30bn plus) could be wiped from the face of the planet and nobody would ultimately notice when the market handles $50tn overall. 30bps – can aim high and ultimately it comes down to your execution, rarely others.

Then, Morten Lund talked of the EU investing scene, his success early, bankruptcy soon thereafter and deciding what he wanted to see and do. Sometimes you have to toil in decisions before landing what you seek.

Hope everyone enjoys the notes and checks the episodes out!

  • 13 Minutes to the Moon (BBC Worldservice)
    • First episode – ‘We choose to go’
      • Lousy communication as they dropped thrusters to 10%
      • Something happening in computer that caused issues – Armstrong was nervous (rarely)
      • Worry when Sputnik was placed up and a dog in the next month before putting a person there (BBC / Moscow reported)
      • Not having hopeless odds – could do a crash program to get men on moon by 1967, 68
        • German (vonBrown) who set up the rec for the course to get on the moon – recognized Russians needed 10x improvement
      • V2 rocket program – never having wide support but post-demonstration, went to mass production
        • Nordhausen – very aware of concentration camp workers, mistreatment and threat of sabotage
        • Surrendered and Americans were all-too-happy to accept them for rocket program (and space)
    • Second episode – ‘Kids in Control’
      • Steve Bales as the 26 yr old kid who could shut off the mission
        • Guidance officer in mission control team – lunar modules onboard computer by MIT design – controlled flight to moon’s surface
      • Junior technical in backrooms to Gemini flight controller for Apollo by age 23
      • Rapid recruitment style in technical and sciences – just threw them in for trainings and went from there
        • Hiring on rapid basis – bring on board, operations, engineering, training
      • John Aram – math and physics in North Texas to mission control – recalled so many acronyms (never been to a big city)
        • Moved to murder capital of the world, 6 weeks later and told his wife – maybe we need to load up and go back
          • We ain’t going back, she said.
        • Looked over electrical systems and the spacecraft’s electronics.
      • Average age of operators was probably 27 years old, grads of 1964 or so (older didn’t work out as well)
      • Simulations would run 20 different scenarios to demand engaging reminiscent of a fighter squadron
        • Had to trust each other well, kids and wives knew each other – risky things
        • Apollo I that killed the crew in 1967
      • Not enough time at home – many divorces from not being at home and holidays missing
      • In the trench – Gene Crantz: room bathed in blue light by the screens, smell of the room, people in for long time
        • Stale sandwiches, old pizza, full wastebaskets, coffee burnt into the hotplate, but you get feeling something will happen
        • System needed Gene’s toughness, former Marine, constant chain-smoking and needed that guidance from the flight director
      • Calling program error 1210 – never seen it in simulation and Steve had called abort – in actual mission, they got 1202 from Buzz
        • Setting a set of rules for program alarms – Steve got help from a 23 year old in the back – Jack Garmin
        • No call to abort if everything else is good – took 15seconds to push
    • Episode 3 – ‘Long Island Eagle’
      • Slowing descent was the plan, but they ended up going faster
        • Surface wasn’t what they had anticipated
      • Why is the lunar module the way that it is – way it looks? Form follows function.
        • Landing and flying in space – very different than aerodynamics for earth atmosphere
        • LTA1 – cleaner than a surgical room, higher pressure (dust and contamination avoidance)
        • Puncture a hole in skin with a pen – needed lightness and fuel efficiency
        • All engines in lunar modules had to be without electrical failure, so they were just latches with combustible gases
      • Lunar module designed by aeronautical engineers – aerodynamic and smooth, glass but had to evolve
        • Glass was too heavy and crew survival was supercritical
      • December 1968 was supposed to be lunar module flight but they flew around the moon instead
        • Would make it, but it would be close to the decade
    • Episode 4 – ‘Fire to the Phoenix’
      • Fire in the spacecraft – BBC report of Apollo I explosion, January 27 1967
        • Lost 3 heroes – Roger Jaffe, Ed White (first to walk in space in Gemini program), Gus Grissom (piloted Gemini flights)
        • Mercury and Gemini – everyone working there, 350-400 working on Apollo but at the height, it was 400k
        • Management challenge to build the program
      • Here to find out about Mr. Johnson for Block 2 design (Houston didn’t know who was in charge by 1964)
      • First space module in August 1966 delivered for flight testing, behind schedule
        • Jan 26, 1967 with service module perched on top of an Apollo rocket
        • Sitting in pure oxygen for the flight vs testing scenarios (t-shirts, atmosphere at sea level)
        • 30th of January, killed in the first / explosion of the Apollo I rocket
      • Accident had been an awful wake-up call but no national clamor for stopping the program
      • Hatch needed to be redesigned, reduce oxygen while on launchpad, new fire resistant found, electrical circuitry adjusted
        • Heat shields and modules to be tested, Apollo II to be canceled, 21 months to Apollo VII
          • Backup crew for Apollo I was the crew for VII – phoenix patches and honor the first
        • Spent 11 days in space and go around the moon – testing all systems that it could, from engine to navigation
  • Matt Britton, CEO of MRY, Suzy (Wharton XM)
    • Media entrepreneur and consumer trends expert
    • Suzy is ‘Siri for brands’
  • Ryan and Andrew Beltran, co-founders of Original Grain (Wharton XM)
    425133_t810

    • Watch category, growing up in the PacNW and serving in the military (Marines)
    • Trying to find a product that he wanted to start a brand of
    • Going to China to see manufacturing and get ideas
    • Selling the first out of his backpack, initially, to military guys
      • Got buy-in on quality that they stood up but not a ton of traction
  • LovEvery – Love Every – Jessica and Rod, founding partners (Wharton XM)
    loveveryforweb

    • Jessica worrying about giving her babies the best nutrition, and curious about what the brains craved
    • Approaching research and deciding on toys

 

 

 

  • BERT (Bidirectional Encoding Reps from Transformers) (Data Skeptic 7/29/19)
    • Neural network with input arbitrary length of text – minimal form and characters
      • Output is a fixed length vector, numeric rep of the text – can do automated feature engineering for ML
      • Translation step for encoding for the machine using masking
    • Chatbot for question answering – wouldn’t do specialized tools for observe
    • BERT develops a general option (vs ML where there isn’t enough training data)
      • Trained on general knowledge, wikipedia corpus or reddit, etc… and apply transfer learning
  • Nick Maggiuli, Of Dollars and Data (Standard Dev 5/30/19)
    • Head of Data Analytics at Ritholz Wealth – data and interesting
    • Behavioral investor line test – being the 8th person in line and hearing others in Ash experiment
      • People purposefully tell you the wrong matched line and 76% of time, switches idea – changes vision in this case
      • Connecting to fake news in the realm of bias – pie chart that showed top 5 S&P 500 on right side, bottom 282 on left
        • Data just tells you the biggest 5 companies – may be just the 5 largest that represent a total share (consistent)
      • Crowd makes the narrative, often and then people agree and it becomes an echo chamber
    • Following crypto people despite not believing in it because they may know something that he hasn’t seen or know
      • Change minds based on some information. Trend following, for instance (price signal, 200ma – will stop working at times – Corey Hoffstein)
      • Doesn’t believe in technical analysis but has to be convinced by some information to make the jump
    • Blog post: Most Important Asset (host ran the survey) – bet that none of you offered every $ of Buffett wouldn’t want to be him
      • 5%, so maybe 3% are trolls. But he wants to live his life. Human capital and time is the optionality.
    • Best book he’d read about retirement “Retire Happy, Wild and Free” and doesn’t discuss money
      • Financial crisis isn’t the priority – it’s existential – what’s your time that you want to worry about
      • Some people could go to the beach every day and not care, others do differently
    • Trading his time for tasks and outsourcing things – working otherwise and doing it via his hourly wage
      • Anything you’d regret on your deathbed for missing things that you’d want to do – ends meeting, one thing but otherwise, go for it
    • Ken Fisher at Investment Conference (EBI with Barry and Ken talking)
      • “We have no market share” – 30bps as money to be managed out of $50tn when they’re $30bn
        • Could disappear and nobody would notice (except their clients)
      • Enough pie overall where they’re not competing against each other
      • Not interested in the discipline, so any general discussion is improved and bringing people in
        • Rise of politics and twitter probably keeps some viewers away but looking at competition and peers for learning
        • Brian Portnoy writing at the same time, sharing information and going back and forth with same publisher
    • Funniest fintwit: Ramp and Josh Brown, smartest Jim O’Shaunnessey and Jesse Livermore, MMT – “Trusts Cullen Roche”
    • Book that he read early in his career when he was bored – What It Takes by Ellis – best firms in handful of industries
      • If they ‘reject us, we made the wrong choice on the person so it’s good anyway’ – Korbath in legal
  • Morten Lund, seed investor in Skype (20min VC, 1/4/16)
    • Investor, co-founder including Airhelp, 100 other startups
    • Visiting university before getting kicked out – used computer to get premade direct marketing which wasn’t possible prior
      • Turned it into a digital ad agency and made it the largest in Scandinavia and sold to Leo Burnett (ad agency) as digital acquisition
      • Could build company by then
    • Made a small incubator by then with the money he had
    • Called for investments in Kazaa initially – wasn’t comfortable with that because biz model was for iTunes but no power to negotiate with labels
      • Was helping business development at the time
    • Guys had idea of doing Skypr – wifi sharing network – shut down by 10-15 investors who didn’t want to go further
      • Calls couldn’t be afforded so why not do a digital phone with the sound cards – helped fundraise and paid founders’ apartments
        • 300-400k users after 20 days launch – roughly $50k brought back $50mln
        • When it took off and worked, it was exciting – Estonia guys being crucial and understanding p2p from Kazaa, as well
      • Very involved in the brand – ICQ (impossible to understand)
    • Bankruptcy 7+ years prior had to refocus him and figure out what he wanted to do – nothing wasn’t working
      • Co-founding, starting and investing all kinds of 70-80 startups
    • Learning that things will take 3-4x longer and 3-4x costly
      • Founder in mind for admiring – David Hilge (Unity), Reid Hoffman, demonstrating stamina
    • Spending time at TradeShift – empty on cash and barely surviving holding onto his house – internet as media business that was fairly large
      • Every bank has a budget of $1bn in tech spend – immense amount of people running around doing nothing
      • Partners came to him to do digital invoicing structure for English structure and wanted to do consulting (agreed on cloud-based platform infrastructure)
      • Every company has different file formats and being consistent (Christian becoming a rock star) – ability to close huge clients
    • EU fintech community – browser era in 94-95 and nobody knowing how to handle it – legislation is getting easier to deal with
      • Web bank is a media but can do all kinds of interesting things with accounting – unwind IBM and legacy providers from cloud
      • If you want to sell big, have to go to US but if you want to do early or continue building, can be in the EU
      • Becomes obsession for $1bn level – consequence shouldn’t be this, though – not justified without revenue
    • Favorite book: Shantaram, fun with Richard Branson (knowledge exchange), The Economist as blog, Hippocorn – placeholder or executor affiliate

Fun Founder Stories (Notes from July 29 – Aug 4, 2019) August 21, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, questions, social, Strategy, TV, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Starting with a discussion of Neuralink (Musk’s… brain-child of a company for neural lace) and how it reminds the a16z crew of invasive compared to non-invasive surgeries / medical tech. How did TikTok vary itself in the social space and explode in popularity? Harry Stebbings of 20min VC had been going on and on about HiringScreen and finally had the founder on which was fun to hear. Richard’s origination story for the company and his path that he took was fascinating.

Then I happened to listen to a few different shoe companies with founders on serendipitous and creative stories. One traveling to a new and different country and absorbing the culture to his story. The others, seeing a problem that seemed to arise and noticing there should / could be a solution. Then catching breaks for each of the 2 companies – including the bootstrapping and doing it on their own as something that was fun enough helping people solve those problems / be happy with their footwear. I strongly suggest looking at Sabah shoes for men’s drivers-ish and Birdies for women who go to parties where they may need slippers or comfortable everyday ones.

E-sports and digital discussion for a16z was fun in how society is adapting to digital experiences or how they meld entertainment. For those that don’t think esports may be viable, it’s easy to argue in the cases where they watch reality tv or even game shows (which have been around since tv). It’s just changed how we consume and perceive it as interactive live games vs recordings. Also, malls that are less successful or in areas have been able to take advantage of the space available.

Vivino’s CEO joined and talked about how he is trying to socialize and give people options in the wine space – which, let’s be honest, is always a good thing. Goldie Chan discussed filling the gap in an employment by consulting, by accident, nearly. She turned it into a full pivot consulting and has taken advantage of her great skills at marketing. Hope there’s something for everyone!

  • Neuralink & Brain Interface (a16z 7/21/19, 16min on the News)
    1200px-neuralink_logo.svg_

    • With Vijay, Connie Chan, JPM
    • Announcement of neural lace – culture sci-fi by Ian Banks – processor & sewing machine
    • Non-invasive vs invasive (femoral artery all the way up to the brain)
      • LASIK as invasive / dangerous (still even, but now much better, accepted)
    • Announcing in rats and in monkeys now (surprising his president)
    • TikTok as 3rd most dl app behind WhatsApp and FB Messenger, 1.2bln MAUs – having huge influence at VidCon
      • Sponsored by YouTube but TikTok had a large presence, the ban in India
      • Short, 15sec videos – 1 hit piece can trigger enough people
    • How would they make money? – ecommerce, restaurants, retail – short videos for ads/commercials
    • FaceApp – probably nothing to worry about – unless high profiled public official, NatSec Space, leverage
      • Someone getting negative information or leakage – accusations of the country in general is silly
      • Countries consider privacy differently – in the US, convenience / UX will trump privacy for 15min of joy
        • Europeans, Germans, Italians for instance are more private
    • iHeartRadio announcing direct listing – before, emerging from bankruptcy or spinning off
      • Repurposed after Spotify / Pandora
  • Mobile malware and Bipartisan drug pricing (a16z 7/28/19, 16min on the News)
    • With Martin Casado, Jorge Conde, Jay Rughani
    • Monacle as mobile malware – March 2016 Android-based application
      • In security, netsec and endpoints – protecting desktops, for instance
      • Attacks phone with 2FA, even, and less secure
      • Can take calendar event, account info and app messages, reset PINs
    • Drug pricing – Medicare Modernization Act – why can’t Medicare use its purchasing power to negotiate medicine prices?
      • Part D – Medicare covering prescription prices, prevents HFS from negotiating any part of the value chain
      • Price of insulin where they get price hikes – new therapy gets $2mln for cures (R&D) differences, conflation
      • Price of successful drugs have to make money for drug and all of the failures
        • Counterargument – US subsidizes R&D for the world
        • Complex industry structure: manufacturers, distributors paid to move drugs through channel
          • Pharmacy benefit manager – who is eligible, who’s not – what are drugs for conditions and prescriptions
            • Helps insurers who gets the drugs – takes an economics layer
          • Insurers reduction drug spends, for $1 spent, manufacturer gets a small %
      • Dropping from $8k to $3100 out of pocket
        • Cap by tying to inflation (for growth) or annual price increases
        • May start higher prices because you can’t increase it much
    • Chain is not transparent, but also complex – tech can have an impact but needs help from policy to drive out some inefficiencies
      • Free market works if there’s transparency – what is a medicine and can you make it fair enough for everyone
      • Current system is not set up for the new medicines (extending life from 10 years to a cure)
  • Richard Hanson, CEO & cofounder of HiringScreen (20min VC FF028)
    psrzsqo86j9gj71wrqli

    • Founded in Hong Kong in 2015
    • Studied law in Cambridge, did 11 years recruitment consultancy in London before moving to Hong Kong
      • Then created his own recruitment firm – had his own looking at 196 cv’s for an EA for someone
      • Score, sort and select candidates
    • Tech advances in recruiting industry – job boards and sourcing is at all-time highs
      • Barrier to application is all-time low but have too many to look for (especially manually)
      • Psychometric and phone facility stuff to find relevant candidates – get on with themselves
        • Go through rest of funnel to invest in the process in more efficient manner
    • Had always wanted to live in Asia – pretty exciting, bullish for Asia in general
      • Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan as hubs
    • If you have an idea, try to find someone or go ahead and do a view of what it may be executed on
      • He had the idea, went to his cofounder Luke (better at project management side)
      • Prototyping mockups and getting through the first steps efficiently – may hit a dead-end a few weeks in
        • Validating idea as soon as possible – customer or problems for people (heads of recruitment firms for his problem)
    • Making an effort to code or understand a bit of the UX (in his case, CSS and HTML to understand a bit)
      • Compared to languages in a foreign country
      • When his CTO introduces people, he wants to be confident about what the developer has been doing and understanding their past
      • His responsibility to show an effort/commitment in the job role
    • Looking to raise a round – HiringScreen did it in 8 weeks
      • Competitive slides, why you want to raise, how to convey mission statement, skill and productivity gaps
      • Understanding his potential investors, as well
    • Accelerators – choosing the right ones? He’s with the Blueprint Accelerator by Swire properties
      • B2B focus, no equity in startups – working space and Swire network of companies (conglomerate of different co’s in verticals)
      • Sponsored him and tried to help advance the company by talking to other HR talks
      • Mentions Brinc as hardware accelerator near the top
    • Idea of equity early on would depend on your assessment of what the startup needs?
      • Super low cost – accelerator with working space?
      • Product but proven use case – Blueprint to trial product and test it
      • Balance the need with the equity they’re taking
    • The Alliance book by Reid Hoffman for looking at employee and employer workplace, tour of duty principle
    • Brad Feld and Jason Calacanis’s blogs, Reid Hoffman as the most admirable founder – better people to take LinkedIn on
  • Jennifer Golbeck, College of Information Studies and Affiliate Professor at UMD
    • Talking about social media research, truth and justice
  • Carl Ericson, CEO & cofounder of Atomic Object (Wharton XM, Mind Your Business)
    atomic-object-wordmark-500x265

    • Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor software product development company and why he chose there
    • Sails at Grand Rapids Yacht Club
  • Bianca Gates, Marisa Sharkey, Birdies co-founders (Wharton XM)
    m_5a61f34b331627f3f88fe26b

    • Discussing how they started them and Feb 14 – when she landed an article with a SF Chronicle fashion correspondent at a dinner party
    • Driving up to the other in order to get all 2000 orders packaged and sent out

 

 

 

  • Mickey Ashmore, founder of Sabah Shoes (Wharton XM)
    sabahtwotone

    • Doing a 6 month project after Seattle in Turkey – turned into 2 years as the only non-Turk
      • Grew an affinity for the people, culture, food and trends – girlfriend’s grandma at the time gifted him a pair of handmade shoes
    • Returned to NY and beat the crap out of the shoes – wanted another
      • Reached out to the maker (current partner) and bought another pair
      • Ended up getting 5-6 in different colors, customized without the flip – people said they were awesome
      • Ordered 300 – could get 150+ and did a party to showcase them with cocktails, enjoyed hosting
        • Got 30-40 orders on the first night, decided to do it for the rest of the summer “Sabah Saturday/Sundays”
    • Realized it could be a business after in the summer he was making more from shoe sales than his NY P/E job
    • Expanding from 3-4 employees to 40 and expanding from a home to a warehouse – border of Syria/Turkey
      • Has a few key employees that are Syrian refugees – part of the brand and they showcase it on the site
        • Not branding directly, but definitely part of the story
  • Goldie Chan (@goldiechan), digital marketing expert of LinkedIn and actor (Wharton XM)
    • Discussing quitting her job and making a fake company while unemployed
      • Turned into a marketing consulting gig – had a few clients, had to create a company
    • Now doing talks and discussions
  • Kurt Seidensticker, CEO of Vital Protein (Wharton XM)
    ca400555-4bb7-4c66-a217-b5ac910cba73._cr5101107332_pt0_sx600__

    • Collagen and explaining to people how it was – getting some in to Whole Foods through them asking
    • Didn’t hit him until he was in Italy and 2 random women at a café pulled their Vital out
    • Did about 10 companies, 2 succeeded enough to pay for kids college and allow him the freedom
      • Was doing Vital during another company until it surpassed the other
  • Fortnite, esports, Gaming (a16z, 16min on the News)
    • 2 million concurrent livestreaming – not as big as GoT, for instance
    • With Andrew Chen, Darcy Cooligan (investing team on consumer)
    • Bigger prize pool for Dota 2, $3mil for Bugha’s win was larger than Tiger’s Masters victory
    • 10 years for Riot and League – still grossing billion, WoW / Runescape
    • Billions of video consumption between Twitch, YT (and now Microsoft Mixer)
    • iPad can play Fortnite pretty well, for instance – massive multiplayer opportunities
      • Instagram and this generation for coming together as people – Minecraft/Fortnite
      • Gaming and cultural zeitgeist to hang out with friends
    • Sonal did a fight with editorial desk and had seen it for a profiling in 2013 – argued it was similar to sports
      • Big business and much of the same thing – management company, played 2+ years for 6-8 hours, sponsors, fans
      • Performance entertainment and personality-based
        • Comparative for game shows – other people answering trivia, reality tv
    • Strong incentives to keep games going – user-generated content
      • Established player leading way to user-generated thereafter
      • For Fortnite, building levels (similar to mods and mod community in Minecraft and Roblox)
    • Games stadia for esports and digital dualism (in real life compared to virtual – game is the bridge)
      • Malls building areas for this part
  • Chris Tsakalakis, CEO of Vivino (Bay Area Ventures, Wharton XM)
    aws_vivino_logo_600x400.cb594b3d79815eece9e8c685a7b8d043b7910b95

    • Having users and getting customers – at least 1 employee in each region where they sell
    • Mostly in US, Europe – hq in Dublin
    • Bunch of users in Asia / South America (Brazil, specifically), but don’t sell there yet
    • Not taking VC until more recently

Universal Laws: Parkinson’s Law (Notes from July 15 – 21, 2019) August 6, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, Leadership, marketing, medicine, questions, Real estate, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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I included in my thrice-weekly newsletter the blog post by Morgan Housel espousing some of the most common universal laws of our world today. Once you know of them, it’s tough to not consider them in your everyday life. I’ll be honest and say that I hadn’t heard / didn’t know the name or origination of a few, including Parkinson’s. However, I wanted to comment on it because of its commonplace position on my timeline (and in the way I generally price much of my consulting work).

Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

ML and apps – attention. Phones and apps have stolen hours of attention over the last 3-4 years (Wharton XM blog) — 3 hours to 4+ hours for the average, now

How do they squeeze in more DAILY? Work efficiency, likely. Most probably don’t have 8 hours of real work – ask anyone. What do we think the % is? I understand there are roles that probably see a full day a few times a week or in certain weeks (looking at you, auditors/accountants/finance/strategy/consultants) where projects line up or during busy times. Even retail / seasonal / cyclical has busy seasons – boosts that require full focus. But generally, not.

Work time vs value – if you can finish a project in 24 hours, charge more because the allowable time outside of that is higher or do you take the full time or project out for time in case of a problem / feedback / there? See: consultants working with a client, maybe a new client? Value = price but want to keep them. Can’t do too low. Can’t go outside of the range. Sweet spot of pricing and expand the time. Expensing to look like the time is filling. I can’t knock any firms taking advantage of this, especially when most have derived the business model from value creation, but it does seem that as time goes on, keeping that price premium and time valued becomes less of an advantage used for good and merely an indicator of what they should bring.

Time will tell for those that hang on the longest. Hope you enjoy the notes.

  • Cynthia Muller, Dir. of Mission Investment at WK Kellogg Fdn (Wharton XM, Dollars & Change)
    • Discussing consulting and the people or culture parts (@cynmull)
      • Merger where everything, paper and number-wise, looked like a perfect match
      • Failed miserably – many of the top producers were unhappy and the merger allowed them to leave easily
    • Satya Nadella at Microsoft reimagining the purpose – got to everyone PC-front but had to overhaul
    • Measuring people – upper quintile in survey of 500k employees (~500 companies) – middle management ratings of purpose
      • 7% YoY performance over others – not lower or upper – middle management was determining factor
  • Scott Kupor (@skupor), MP at Andreesen Horowitz (Wharton XM)
    • Discussion of becoming full-shop, including investments and RIA
    • Value add other than capital is very important to him
    • Tries to make decisions and No comes with why?
      • Sometimes they are wrong, see founders again and some have come back with addressing the reasons “no”
    • IPO extensions to 10+ years vs 6-8 – private and liquidity-driven
      • Discussed employee needs as a big reason for why it will stay 10-12 and not increase
      • Can’t compete with Google or others if you aren’t liquid
      • Early on, private companies aren’t worried about that with the people that can take the risks
    • Secrets of Sand Hill Road book, going through that
  • Brian Kelly, co-founder of The Points Guy (Wharton XM)
    tpg-primarylogo-color-28129

    • Selling to Red Ventures – taken private recently, also
    • Partnering with hotels and airlines to build an app in Austin – connect accounts, personalized, direct to airlines/hotels
      • Make it easier and hopefully change it for the better consumer experience
      • Turning it into a tech company moreso than a media one
    • Blogging initially, leaving Morgan Stanley – consumer-focused and not driven by partnerships
    • Only takes credit card partnerships instead of airlines or others
  • Benito Cachinero, Senior Advisor at Egon Zehnder (Wharton XM)
    egonzehnder_logo

    • Former CHRO at DuPont, ADP and leading succession processes
      • VP of HR for JnJ Medical, Corporate HR VP for MA Divestitures at Lucent Tech
    • Born in Spain, knew he wanted out at an early age
  • Eric Hippeau (@erichippeau), MP at Lerer Hippeau Ventures (20min VC 12/21/15)
    lerer_hippeau_ventures_logo

    • Chairman of RebelMouse, co-founder of NowThis Media
    • CEO in 90s of Ziff Davis initially as media company, the publisher of PC mags as well as conferences
      • Being in tech business moreso than media – sold to p/e firm before they sold to SoftBank
      • Before selling, they were about to be 2nd institutional investor in Yahoo but SoftBank made bid for 1/3 of Yahoo before IPO
      • He went to Yahoo Japan which allowed them to get a lot of source just due to the company
    • Sold business in late 90s, joined SoftBank as investor and opened firm in NY with them before his own
    • Backing company or business requires some business experience and growth/hiring and strategizing are all important
      • All partners at LHV have operating background – biggest difference is probably the time horizon (need really long view as VC)
      • Had just closed 5th fund, very satisfied with the work life instead of operating – running as a startup
      • $8.5 mln initially – no full-time employees initially, until the 2nd fund
    • First investments are at seed level, have always kept money in reserve for follow-on
      • 70% of co’s are in NY
    • Value add for LHV, generally – 2 levels of support
      • Product that is a technology platform that they plug everyone into
        • Recruiting and marketing database, best practices, current series A/B investors and what they’re seeking, Comms layer
      • Each company assigned to one partner and associate – bespoke plan and a to/do list for each company
        • Intros, branding, pricing, organizational structure and growth
    • Biggest problems for portfolio co’s – dependent on sector
      • Ex: SaaS: correctly size marketing opportunity for going after the right, big companies – largest/most important get a premium on the valuation
    • First check is typically $750k – $1mln – characterize this as collaboration between other funds
      • As long as terms are acceptable, let others lead or whatever is best when the companies are the best
    • Best pitch: what they’re looking for is the Big Idea – original, large market, tech-enabled, timing
    • Drone Racing League as public, recent investment: fantastic idea as drones are becoming more popular, variety of them, popularity of video games
  • Sumeet Shah (@PE_Feeds), Investor at Brand Foundry Ventures (20min VC 12/23/15)
    • Investments include Warby Parker, Birchbox, Contently
    • Grad from Columbia in 2008, biomedical and went to p/e through Gotham Consulting Partners (engineers at firm, diff industries)
      • P/E as two party system – deal team of firm and the client portfolio company
      • Lots of outside the box thinking, project work for 2 and B/D for 3 years
      • Met Andrew Mitchell who is the boss at Brand Foundry
    • July 2013 moved into start-up with friends with Gist Digital – help with bizdev
      • 6 months in, help with capital – Andrew reconnected – was offered a full-time job into vc
      • March 2014 was when he went full-time and after the first year is active – seed rounds, pre-seed occasionally
    • Paul and Sarah Lacey – series A crunch with tech/software/app-focused
      • Invested into Cotopaxi for $3mln seed round
      • Working alongside Indiegogo and Kickstarter and have invested in crowdfunding
    • Marketer, operator and technician and his due diligence takes between 2-4 weeks, typically
      • Take on doubles/triples compared to unicorn returns that are worth it – Eilene’s opinion to do unicorns
    • Believes over time that building reputation with doubles and triples, will stumble on a unicorn – those are the ones that can make the fund
    • Most value from investors – sign of weakness is not reaching out to investors
    • Different mindsets of East vs West coast
      • NY looks at building sustainable businesses, SV/SF is a $1 to a dream mentality (need this, still)
        • Want to look at revenue streams, traction, etc… but loonshots are ‘safer’ in SV
      • Founders as female-led – 7 of 13 of their investments have female founders and 3 of them are 2 co-founders female-led
    • No general people in the startups that may catastrophically fail in SV, so it’s okay for the funding to be gone
      • Bullish on TechStars Boulder, looking at ventures or accelerators that are growing in that region
    • Things A Little Bird Told Me as favorite book and most recent investment with LOLA – women’s biodegradable tampons
  • Carolyn Witte (@carolynwitte), co-founder & CEO of Tia Clinic (Wharton XM)
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    • Going from a tech AI program / chat – making women be comfortable with talking to a message
    • Before doctor appointments to after, and then having them bring her in with the doctors
    • How to interact – realized that they needed to complete the offering with their own clinic

 

  • Jessica Bennett, gender editor at NYT, “In Her Words” (Wharton XM)
    • Sympathetic attitudes and gender
  • Boris Wertz (@bwertz), founding partner of Version One (20min VC 12/28/15)
    4z_wfx6c_200x200

    • Top early-stage tech investor, board partner at Andreesen Horowitz, COO of Abebooks.com that sold to Amazon in ’08
    • 2005 named Pacific EY Entrepreneur of the Year
    • Internet 1.0 in 1999 – wanted to be apart of it – started JustBooks with some friends
      • Built it to Europe’s market leader and then sold to competitor AbeBooks before Amazon
    • Took proceeds and put into 35 internet and mobile companies – early wins, early exits and decided to do it professionally
      • First fund was $18mln
    • Power of bringing together customers across the world and finding the book – buyers/sellers in small marketplace with hard-to-find
      • Years and years of book fairs or local inventories that they were limited to
      • Passionate customer stories and being part of the company – personal way to see how marketplaces are important
    • Transportation vertical with Uber as unlocked in marketplaces
      • Mobile first, others – and their investments
      • “A Guide to Marketplaces” book by VersionOne
        • Precision for a thought that may have been in your head when you write – clarity
        • As supportive as possible to the startup ecosystem and how to impact entrepreneurs in portfolio or outside
        • What does VersionOne get excited about and how do they contribute or help?
        • 50 page guide put together for a framework and concise – depth but not overly so
    • Attractiveness of marketplaces
      • Fragmentation of supply/demand – more people on either side of marketplace, buyers/sellers
        • Buyers/suppliers sometimes want a monogamous relationship – doctors, cleaning personnel – don’t want to get someone new
        • Cab driver / uber – doesn’t matter who drives A to B as long as it’s safe
        • Transactional relationships vs monogamous
      • Size of underlying market, ebay grew from collectibles to all sort of products
      • Specific niche market – what is the kind of market you can address – specially-crafted goods
        • When he looks – lens of VC that needs a return, so needs to see a return on capital in 5-7 years
        • Operators can be great in this case because it can be very profitable, bootstrapped or friends/family money to get and grow
    • Demand or supply first? Any marketplace chicken and egg.
      • Depends on marketplace but once you have network effects, it takes off
      • Uber paying drivers to be idle just to have people in the area and have the supply
      • Addressing supply – how much to have? Hotspots.
        • Which transactions work really well?
        • Price point? Vertical? Certain buyer/supplier? AirBnb doubled down in NYC higher value rentals. Just needed that initially.
    • Trust and safety becomes more important after some attention – supply side with hobby sellers with a little bit of their inventory
      • Power starters are the ones that are stronger. Professional sellers.
    • Mobile first marketplaces and on-demand marketplaces excite VersionOne the most.
      • Services / products as on-demand (Fueling of cars, for instance)
      • Fascinated by decentralized marketplaces built by blockchain – will they ever make money but can’t generate money on own?
    • Measuring as VC: how happy are entrepreneurs, were ones that they met with taking away stuff, serving/help them and get feedback
    • Favorite book: Hard Things, Blog/newsletter – Fred Wilson’s
    • Overhyped: on-demand, Uber for X thing – underlying drivers for Uber’s success, for instance
    • Underhyped: quicker hype cycles – blockchain, VR/AR, drones and anything new is all over it in few months
    • Marketplace Key Metrics: gross merchandise sales and take rate (revenues compared to the gross sales)
    • Recent investment: HeadOut mobile first marketplace for travel experiences (NY, LA, Chi, SF, LA, Vegas)
      • Upcoming experiences in next 24 hours in that city

Connecting the Generations (Notes from July 1 to 6, 2019) July 23, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Digital, experience, finance, Founders, marketing, questions, social, Strategy, Uncategorized.
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So, we’re going to connect one of the authors’ titles of the books they wrote for our theme today. Connecting the Generations from Marc Freedman’s “How to Live Forever”. Granted, he was discussing the generational split between boomers, millennials, Gen Z and the workplace surrounding them. How do mentorships work in reality, if at all? How to find a bidirectional, productive mentorship? These are questions Freedman discusses in that book.

Another section that I want to focus on is the boom in gaming, specifically esports. Computers and games arose in in the late 1950s but became more of a thing to get probably by the 70s. As consoles came about, they became even more prevalent for those growing up in the 1980s as something we were used to seeing. My father, for instance, bought a Nintendo 64 on the opening weekend, and we would play together a few nights a week before bed – Mario Kart or Goldeneye. Though there were multiplayer games, these were mostly co-op and local, outside of tournament style, 1 on 1 games such as Mortal Kombat or MVC. Surely there were Super Smash tournaments among others but it took until the first decade of the 2000s to take off, if I were to guess. Now, gaming’s turned into a whole other animal – the ease with which you can get a console / pc that can run the top performing games and connect with friends makes the whole thing a new experience, and one nearly everyone can get on board with. YouTube / Twitch came about after streaming platforms like justin.tv and others came about, and many people like background noise or enjoy the commentary/gameplay aspect of watching compared to playing. I saw the other day that the top 5 individual gamers are above $1mil in prize money for playing – without any sponsorships included (that brings Ninja to above $5mil).
Kyle Bautista, COO of Complexity Gaming, discusses how they brand and seek opportunities for the competitors that are on the team, and where he sees the industry going. By comparing it to other sports, he tries to see value in working with younger players but because it doesn’t necessarily require the same separation of skills that athletes do, it’s a challenge to find out what age group or what type of player may be of most value or have the most potential to help get to a professional status. It’s a different world than the 90s, and I find the gaming one fascinating growth-wise.

Then we had a pair of Forward Partners discuss the ideology behind their firm. Focusing on very early startups – sometimes even the founders and building out the product or idea. Dharmesh Raithatha, product partner at FP, talked about the process for how they build the idea with a discussion of many people in the space, prospective customers, different markets on their frustrations or problems, if they have any solutions and where they go for help. Do the founders have the ability to inspire people with them as well as the customers who may be along for the ride?
Matthew Bradley discussed value that Forward brings outside of the checks, which tend to be a bit larger for the first money of those they have chosen to invest with. What does the 1 year timeline look like? Who are the first 100 or 1000 customers? And are there questions that should be asked that haven’t been covered? For the next thing, he was suggesting healthcare or something in medtech field instead of fintech or consumer, which could be more saturated.

As the next generation of branding and marketing, post-internet and more mobile-first, Peter Adams, of Marketing Dive, discussed the options for established brands to make plays that come off genuine and impressionable. For instance, the Taco Bell hotel. There are brand advocates who will love it, according to him. I’m a fan of Taco Bell, but I’m not sure that would be me. Definitely a creative way to drive some awareness, and if the opportunity is pulled off, it can work! Interestingly enough, he discussed the partnership of Nike / AirJordan and Fortnite – where players and sneakerheads don’t get physical shoes or items, but actually just the digital versions as skins. With the player base of a game such as Fortnite, it was a huge opportunity to get more people aware of the brand of Nike and hoping to allow a connection between the game and physical world that may drive sales. Brands have to be careful with how they approach this, though, in order to attract the right market as well as execute it in a way that is plausible.

I hope you enjoy the other notes I included here. If you have questions, you can reach me on Twitter or leave a comment. Have a great week!

  • Kyle Bautista (@coL_beef), COO GM Complexity Gaming (Wharton XM)
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    • Discussing esports and the partnering brands
    • Meeting with Jerry Jones, who’d purchased a team
    • Sees all types of similarity between esports and other athletes
      • 10,000 hours + rule
    • Talent evaluation at an early age – working on that and trying to improve 
  • Dharmesh Raithatha (@dhrmshr), Product Partner at Forward Partners (20min VC 096)
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    • Idea stage investments – great products in AI, former employee at Mind Candy, BBC
      • Founded 2 startups, sold one
    • Background working in startups as software developer and then product management before leaving
      • Met Nick Brisborn, MP, said to meet for and work for 6 months
        • Strategy and multiple companies – said yes to all firms with product people
    • Want synergies in sector expertise – early stage funds can be helped by these people, CEO may be process-based
    • Difference between Nick – who has done it extensively and him – learning
    • Open hours monthly – spend 15 min to pitch or getting advice – sees certain commonalities / niches
      • Ones that seem exciting pop out because they’re different or unique, and they understand that
    • Investment themes for what they’ve invested in or problems that you haven’t found
      • Brainstorm lots of ideas, talk to people, observe & understand the problem
      • Tend to take people who are solo founders that are non-technical – not sure how to build the idea, maybe
        • Hard to evaluate or understand who is good – but he’s anti-outsourcing
        • If you can, cultivate relationships
    • Founders that do well – very good understanding of their uses & seeking the right people
      • Ability to inspire, big vision wrapped up – 10x better aim
    • New founders come in – can see the problem. Have the investment.
      • First month will be to talk to people – speak to 40+ to seek customer segments and market.
        • What problems? What solutions do they have? How do they feel? Where do they go?
        • Watch people solve the problem themselves, immerse themselves in the problem?
      • Ex of Lex – Founder’s Friday legal market – launched w/ forum/landing page
        • Tried to match lawyers with the clients. Understood the software he needed to build and the product.
    • SV Product by Marty Cagan
    • Massive interest in health tech – MindSpace, GP fixes, access to data earlier
    • Most recent investment: The Gifting Company
  • Marc Freedman (@marc_freedman), author of How to Live Forever (Wharton XM)
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    • Discussion of the split generationally in the workplace
    • More people living at home longer – even after the crash, still increasing
    • People are used to being with others, but sometimes the mentorship game doesn’t work bidirectionally

 

 

 

 

  • Peter Adams (@patchadams), Reporter at Marketing Dive (Wharton XM, Marketing Matters)
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    • Target, Amazon, Walmart jumping into content space
    • Discussion of Nike and Foot Locker branding – popups that are genuine
      • Digital footprint for awareness – Air Jordan with Fortnite
        • Did they need revenue split?
        • Taco Bell as a leader in the experiential branding space – launching hotel soon
        • Had a few popups – “Cantina” in Vegas – wedding venues, renting out restaurants
  • Matthew Bradley (@mattyjam), Investor at Forward Partners (20min VC 097)
    • Super-early stage London VC and Betting Big on Consumer Fintech
    • Father had done investment banking, so he went there first – ‘legit’ career in 2006
      • Structuring a derivative for midmarket pension fund in UK – packed up immediately after
        • Did an MBA, few start-ups that failed and invested in others
          (1 doing Series B)
      • Finance stuff, investing in small businesses and looked at venture capital – took unpaid internship at Forward and is there now
    • Idea stage funding because they have a team of product people, full stack developers, designers, recruiters to give success
      • Offering $250k at this stage which is significantly larger than others
      • Path Forward as operator framework for proven need for prototype/product for first 100 or 1000 customers
    • As an ecommerce fund, can test cheaply/quickly – why they look for the early adopters
    • More $ in series A than ever before – round sizes are getting larger, so more startups are staying in seed earlier
      • Late vs early, crowdfunding and angel rounds
    • Google Ventures took on LostMyName, a portfolio company, and wanted a TransAtlantic investor
    • Asking questions to entrepreneurs 3 or 4 times, varies for team – teasing out assumptions and questions
      • Go-to market size, 1 year timeline, initial target customer
        • He’s a big fan of open-ended questions: Is there anything that he hasn’t asked that he should ask?
    • With new YC’s announced, he says there are a repeat of clones that show up in the UK – not necessarily a bad thing
      • Startups have to often think of different problems, say payer difference in healthcare
      • Consumer credit bigger in the US than UK, probably
    • Accelerator route – gold standard for incubator can almost always been great choice – but launching and consider market
    • 50 next unicorns report: overweight in consumer tech and on-demand services and underweight in healthcare
      • Believes in consumer financial services and healthcare
    • The Master and Margarita as favorite book
    • Funding landscape in London: yes, more chickens – more eggs – more $
    • Most read blog / newsletter (he said he reads 1.5 – 2 hours a day): Mattermark Daily, Term Sheet, Nick’s (boss), Tunguz, Mahesh
      • First round review weekly is a great one for early stage startup
      • Thiel as investor – lean methodology being bashed, crowdfunding not necessarily as replacing VC
    • LiveBetterWith – aggregator for nonmedical products that help people live with chronic diseases – super early stage
  • Jose Benitez Cong, co-founder and CEO of Plause (Wharton XM)
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    • Growing up both Mexican and Chinese – couldn’t speak English, couldn’t speak Chinese
      • Was dropped off as a kid to his grandparents’, who spoke Chinese – school started Monday and he needed to figure out English
    • Hustling to do window washing and scaling it while he couldn’t drive (saved money – until he started spending it on girls later)
      • Scaling of window washing broke after doing orders and calendars because money wasn’t as easily split for not equal shifts
  • Bill Glaser, Bacon Chips – co-founder of JUST (Wharton XM)
    • Bacon chips – PIG OUT brand, all vegetarian
      • Formulated by David Anderson, former chef at Beyond Meat
      • Mushrooms that are flavored to taste like bacon with a tech patent-pending
    • Mushrooms as umami and making sure the consistency worked to be crunchy
    • Getting investment capital – some $1.5 million
  • Catapult Ventures Darren & Rouz Jazayeri (Wharton XM)
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    • Technologists, looking for solutions
    • How they came to the name
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