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

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

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

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

On to the notes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week of December 9, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Hadley Harris (@Hadley), Founding GP at Eniac Ventures (20min VC 2/3/16)
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    • First mobile venture, Soundcloud, Airbnb, Vungel
    • 2x entrepreneur in mobile – Vlingo (acq by Nuance for $225mln) and Thumb (acq by Wipulse)
      • Was one of first employees and execs running marketing and bd while working with product
    • Worked at Samsung and Charles Rivers Ventures
    • Studied engi & math as undergrad @ Penn, joined MSFT & Samsung
      • His 2 really good friends at Penn and him came together for Eniac in 2009
      • Mobile – next place for computing – cleantech was hot at that time, as well
    • SF was 50%, NY as 25% and the rest was elsewhere – won’t lead but will do a pro rata and be key in fundraising for next
    • Living & breathing the co – coming to right valuation, inevitable for down or flat rounds
    • 18-24 months from seed to series A or pre-seed to seed – funds becoming more institutionalized
      • Leading rounds for Eniac at $1.2 – $2mln
    • Favorite book: Freakanomics, read it in one sitting
    • Tools: gmail, relayedIQ for deal tracking, as todo list, also
    • Don Valentine – godfather of VC, great investors but great entrepreneurs and fund raisers
    • Favorite blog: Nuzzel – curation of reposts
    • Underhyped: mobile enterprise; Overhyped industry: big fan and he does work in social, but lot to weed through
    • Most recent investment: Phhhoto – knew the founders, they’d known each other for a while, great design and numbers – self-funded
  • Zach Resnick (@trumpetisawesom), founding EasyPoint (IndieHackers #130, 10/28/19)
    easypoint2

    • Iterating your way to founder-product fit, currently at 10 people, 5 full-time, $600k ytd with 15% yoy organic growth
    • Traveled, worked and lived abroad in Jerusalem before school, infected with wanderlust
      • CC churning and manufactured spending while he was learning at school in Ohio – VISA gift cards to $1k
    • Banking often makes more money on the chance that you’ll become a customer for other areas of business (mortgage, checking account, brokerage, etc)
    • Started when he was 19 – would give advice to parents/family/friends on the year before getting an hourly rate for paying customer as consultant
      • Enjoyed his help, he liked helping others – he was getting $1k/mo from hourly before going up
      • Consulting clients – he was helping optimize for business or vacation trip for the points
    • Started Land Happier to solve a problem of having everything in one place
      • Cultural norms, transportation, 6 other things for information in a fun and compelling app product (MVP on app store)
      • Wasn’t solving a problem that nobody has, but nobody would pay for – product/founder fit wasn’t there, either
    • What he wants – enjoys negotiating, strategic thinking, interesting conversations and sales moreso than product focused than customer focused
    • While working on Land, he productized his consulting – generally was helping family friends that were parents’ age
      • Amount of effort he was putting in compared to the value wasn’t the same – not high enough
      • Started to focus on small business or medium enterprise owners to put spending on the right cards and get 6 figures on spend return
      • Focused on people he knew through referrals, points optimization plans for small owners – acquisition and spending for more value
    • Early stage owners – hey, this isn’t free
    • Playing poker for relatively high stakes – teaching important principles, statistics, risk management and psychology
    • Consulting to productized consulting service – had a family friend with small business who would see a $50k in increased return on spend
      • He could do a quick analysis and understand business more, try to get a customized points optimization plan for points
      • Small business owners are leaving 1.5%, maybe 2.5% on the table – using points better for things you already want to do
    • Providing value but people didn’t know what it is or weren’t hurting – show them math for 5 figures within a year saving
      • Guarantee: if you sign up points optimization plan, if he doesn’t get you double what his fee is within first year, he gives money back and $10k
      • Making people aware of the problem was going to be a lot of work – never really got off the ground for outbound
        • Was just a way to make money, not necessarily grow it really fast – customers’ needs
    • Concierge service now (v3 EasyPoint) focusing on business and first-class international long-haul service
      • Over whatsapp and telegram groups – makes a flight request and they get back to them 24/7
      • They use miles and points that they buy from clients and then use those to book for others
      • Brokers buying all kinds of points and miles – so the arbitrage there contained issues with ToS and such
        • They’re buying transferable points like Chase / AMEX directly to frequent flier accounts
    • Working for someone else – interned with The Points Guy and when he was looking at doing it, he posted on the Facebook group
      • Cameron, now their COO, was very good – would he want to have his hires over for dinner?
      • Team of 10 now: Cameron manages concierge, growth marketing (5 on team, looking for Asia now)
        • Part-time business development consultants, full-time that have been searching
      • Revenues and loans for growth/cash flow, venture debt and possibly equity raise
    • Concierge service with product-market fit and being focused – enterprise value of $100mln probably but not billions
      • Not much needs to be tweaked for core product – fund raise would be for a different product
        • Help consumers decide on if they want to use their points or cash when booking – trying to automate this for concierge/back-end
        • Chrome extension and booking engine to use or not – this may be billion dollar opportunity
  • Andrew Butler, ReSolve’s Head of Quant Research (Gestalt University, 10/2/19)
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    • Machine learning in markets: Silver bullet or Pandora’s box
      • Unsupervised, supervised and reinforcement learning differences in application or finance
    • Student of mathematics, physics in undergrad, keen on not memorizing a lot of stuff – enjoyed the applied side
      • Oil reservoir simulators that modeled tidal flow in Bay of Fundy, wind turbines in giant field for optimization
      • Next step was working on a sub problem of simulators – complex, computationally expensive and trying to optimize NPV in 60d oil field
        • Navigating the nonlinear, nonconvex solutions – how to make a reasonable model approximation by sampling sparse reps of simulator
    • How would simulator/emulator apply to financial world in momentum and moving averages
      • Sample distribution would fit well to out-of-sample distributions in physical world but finance wouldn’t – nonstationary
      • Caused him to use simpler models, momentum models (and transformations) and ensembles of simple factor models
        • Mean-variance optimization, error maximizing, in-sample won’t perform well out of sample
    • Wanted formal training in financial engineering, so went and got a MFE
    • Practitioner compared to theorist – after a conference talk, his construct was mean-variance was same as regression
      • Subspace reduction and regularization as identical terms for mean-variance
    • Machine Learning as 3 subspaces
      • Unsupervised learning -> clustering and dimensionality reduction
        • Targeted marketing, customer segmentation and in finance: signal processing, optimization or portfolio construction
        • Trying to uncover relationships/groupings/clusters contained within a dataset
      • If total error is dominated by bias, it’s likely overly simplistic – X as model complexity and Y as Total Error (Bias / Variance)
        • Increase complexity, bias term can decrease, increasing the variance (instability/overfitting)
  • Kelly Peeler (@kellypeeler), founder / CEO NextGenVest (20min VC FF#034, 2/5/16)
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    • College Money mentor, empowering students to live full lives, history of financial crisis for motivation to start
      • Went over to Iraq, started and enabled some companies to build there in 2012
    • Went to JPMC after graduating to make some money before starting NGV for students
    • Financial organization to financial efficiency – going from Mint (organizing money for a user’s financial lives)
      • Now people need efficiency – time priority, optimizing time through automation and personalization
        • Leverage trust to improve time in the background (automation and not wanting to have to look)
    • High school trust and students have nobody they can trust for guidance – 8% trust banks and financial institutions
      • If you can build a product/service, on your way to building trust
        • Save users time, money, customized experience
    • Serving their customers with SMS and Snapchat – smarter push notifications for the right service in the right way
      • Couldn’t customize communication inside an app, so they did channels that they chose
    • NGV clubs at high schools across country – new high schools brought in, engagement and grassroots
    • First product that they brought on was for the financial literacy test that 17 states need
    • Favorite book: The Thank You Economy – best people outhustle to get more customers
    • As visual person, can focus on 1-3 things at a time – preps in the evening, large index cards
    • Adam Nash at Wealthfront – build trust with dynamics of product and the culture of company
    • Spent too much time at focusing her weaknesses but has tried to get better on that side
  • Sam Yagan (@samyagan), Starting OkCupid, Sparknotes (Wharton XM, Marketing Matters)
    • Turning down consulting job for OkCupid start – told he was crazy but wanted to take the chance
      • Free model and how do you value customers but competitors were Match and eHarmony
      • Had to get enough people on all sides of the market and then could use the data to help
    • Internet wasn’t designed to take an expert’s ideas and just use those – bigger than that
      • “You know what you want.” We’ll pull it out and figure it out.
      • Google comparison – index all the pages and figure those out to place on first page
      • Creating a platform to ask all the questions and focus on them
    • Sold Sparknotes in 11 months, took OKCupid 8 years (sold to Match, was there for a year)
      • Got the job running the company for another 3.5 years as Match CEO and created Tinder
  • Rob Gronkowski (@robgronkowski), All-Pro tight end (The Corp, 10/1/19)
    • A-Rod investing into Rob’s brother’s, Chris, company Ice Shaker
      • Were able to put money in, along with Mark Cuban, when they were on Shark Tank (all brothers)
      • Rob, upon retiring, bought Arod out of his shares in the business with Chris
    • Fitplan – Arod gave Rob a discount on the shares in Ice Shaker and he just wanted Rob to look through his company
      • Rob invested with Arod – parents were in business (gym equipment for retail/commercial for 28+ years)
    • Kraft being an owner for the team and being around the game – interested in everything
      • Rare to see owners in the locker room and talking with players – many players say they’ve never seen others
      • Brady, Kraft and Belichick as being the greatest people and diagnosing problems/plays and adjusting
    • Rob wants to travel – done a lot in the US
      • Traveling a week from that day to Israel with CEO Barry of CBDMedic there
    • Being reckless as single Gronk in the NFL (loves Camille now, though)
  • Horst Simon (@hdsimon), Chief Research Officer at LBNL (Curious Investor 9/3/19)
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    • Difference between ML and programming – validity of an email, for instance
      • Computer looks for “@” and domain name, iterative of if-then’s, marking valid or invalid
      • ML – give details of valid and invalid email addresses and have the computer figure it out with a statistical model for rules
        • Relationship between information
      • ML more as being able to see if something is a cat in a picture – hard to program that
    • Helped establish the Berkeley supercomputing center – big role all across the world now to complement theory by simulations
    • More data than ever before, 90% of digital data created in last 2 years – more in 2018 than all of human history
      • Finance can’t generate more data like autonomous cars, for instance (100 cars means 100 more data points)
      • Markets/economics are dynamic – return predictions of signal:noise approaches zero
        • Driven by economic features of markets – competitive, profit-seeking traders that act on it
      • HFT as real barriers to entry so they’re less efficient and more predictable, potentially
      • Quantitative traders don’t use raw data – they use transformations such as log of equity, cross-sectional rank of book to market ratio
        • Neural network tries to find what the best transformations are (X -> Y and explore all the connections)
    • Bonds example: predict if issuer will default or not with firm information using random forest
  • Rajiv Shah (@rajcs4), Data Scientist @ Data Robot, Adjunct Prof UChicago (DataSkeptic, 10/22/19)
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    • Started engineering, studied philosophy and law, PhD in Comms before doing research as academic
      • Worked at State Farm and Caterpillar before going to Data Robot
    • Deep learning applications in motion data like NBA player data, motion tracking arms and legs (PoseNET, for instance)
      • Nature paper published that used deep learning to study after-shock patterns for earthquakes
    • Going through paper – simple starting point or baseline model was skipped – how much value is really added, then?
      • Looking at the 6-layer problem – approach wasn’t unexpected when using keras to add layers
      • Results generated: AUC of 0.85 compared to naïve benchmark of simple, physical model – AUC of 0.58
      • When he reproduced it, test set results were higher than training set – yellow or red flag for model
    • Group partitioning – 130 earthquakes happening right after each other, near each other and related
      • Make sure the information for an earthquake/customer doesn’t get split between training / test sites to avoid leakage
      • Basic grounding of fundamentals for setting up initial training data, partition based on time to avoid that, as well
    • As community, ensure that there are best practices and guidelines – reproducibility as a large problem lately
      • How to police boundaries for the general field – influence of institutions in publishing (for this, Harvard/Google/Nature mag researchers)
      • Good from them: the data and model for the code was freely available and he could do it on his laptop / notebooks
      • Academics from the earthquake field reached out to him with some qualms and he’s partnered with them for a blog on efforts
    • Interpretability focus trade-off with accuracy – that he’ll speak on at Open DS Conf
      • Lots of tools for explaining models with transparency now, though
  • Julia Landauer (@julialandauer), NASCAR driver (Stanford Pathfinders, Wharton XM)
    • Being on Survivor (suggested by a friend while Soph in college), racecar driver
      • Picking Stanford because of so many people that were awesome / ambitious
      • Mentioning Andrew Luck saying that this was why he chose it – people wouldn’t particularly care
    • Driving at such a young age and in Manhattan – not getting a license there until 18 on campus
    • Having to pitch and learn how to pitch at a young age for sponsorships, running a team and the cost, even at minors – $500k+
    • Some 12 female drivers and being competitive

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Funding for entrepreneurs, founders, outside of the ecosystem – profitable and sustainable
      • Not competing with other options – just found a large group of bootstrappers that aligns with the goals
      • RBF doesn’t work for some
    • Green field space in the past – no competitors and could gobble the market – big risk early but if it’s worked, it can be massive
      • Launching and building became cheaper and more niche for diversifying the opportunities – limiting VC scale
      • When he sold his first business, he handed over his Stripe account, Github and Roku
    • Software companies – no retail shop meant your option was “raise money” = “raise venture capital”
      • If you were doing a bakery or something, you had a plethora of options
    • 5 years ago, he was one of the loudest critics and blogger
      • If he was bootstrapping, can you work backwards and what would you have wanted to work with
        • Is it actually a fit for you
      • No board seat, mentors for long-term
    • Raise money when you believe the money will unlock value in the business
    • Had Storemapper – where he figured out what he wanted to do next
      • Derek Sivers – Tarzan move – need the second vine before letting go of the first vine
      • Pivoted to finance to do finance models behind wind/solar farms
      • Then to micro SaaS Indiehacker before noticing people struggled to get businesses off the ground early (his $50k cc debt)
    • His basic bet is that it’s not an iron law of physics that 90% will fail
      • His fund will fail if it is an iron law – and his investors are aware of this
      • He believes the VC model is circular in that if you require growth is 11% a month for 12+ months, more likely to become unicorn
        • But if they don’t hit that, then they’re failing
    • Really interested in niche markets for a piece of software that serves a market – eg Hostify, Endcrawl post-production credits, etc
  • Tyler King (@lessannoyingcrm), cofounder of Less Annoying CRM (Indie Hackers #128, 10/21/19)
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    • 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)
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    • Oleg Rogynskyy from People.AI, for sales and marketing
    • Very few users that give you private, anonymized data is much harder to make them comfortable with this data
      • How valuable is the promise you’re making to customers vs the cost to achieve it
    • For entrepreneurs: if there is human activity that generates data for how they do it that isn’t being captured, there’s a ripe opportunity
      • Shipping containers, wind farm, location of Uber driver – reliable data, aggregate and figure out what may be the next best action would be
        • Significant growth and acceleration for these actions once network effects apply
      • More sensors, edge computing, salespeople, drivers in network – more data collected and more patterns you can see
        • Smarter the graph becomes, better the predictions may be allowed to become – then, more money and lures in other network participants
      • Wind farm operators: know it will break after it breaks but someone in comes in that was there collecting data ahead of you, they are up still
        • Competitor automates process, you can go to same vendor and catch up but if you miss AI, you can’t catch up
      • Oleg mentions that he thinks AI is zero-sum and that the Fortune 500 will look very different in 10 years
    • All customers benefit from generalized data – first customers have to do a lot more than others
      • People writing contracts: only sell to me, but customers would be relics
    • When the data model changes, systems of records die – Andreesen
      • Hierarchical first, then on SQL, then cloud SQL and Salesforce
        • Next gen data model should be graph – federated shared graph model – instead of you pulling data and searching, it will push to you
        • Personalized actionable insights – pushed through the channel you’re most likely to engage with – maximum focus
      • Level of intent for the user should be known – don’t have to expose the complexity but you can be shown and execute that
    • Difference between autopilot and co-pilot
      • As human, something mundane or repetitive – automating the functions to make it more efficient use of your neurons
      • Augmenting ability to make decisions – racecar that may know what’s around the curve, making us super-productive – more human
    • Needs to be 10x on the platform vs off the platform if you’re afraid of the set-up
    • Sales & Marketers specifically
      • Shifting how they work – day-to-day: 1/3 of time on manual data entry, 1/3 on prospecting (classic problem), 1/3 on face-to-face doing selling
        • First should be gone, 2nd should be done with help on ML and AI for value-add prospecting and automate outreach
        • Face-to-face: Machines can’t replace this but may be able to help out
      • Training on the end point – best way to sell, unbundling learning management system
    • Wants to do bottoms-up but currently top-down – through standard procurement channels
      • Users will demand data-hungry approaches and solutions – apps that built AI on user data but not merging with enterprise data
        • Have easier time for value adding in these cases because you just want data to increase (single player can do single player)
    • Biggest surprises: inside sales for Oleg starting in 2006 pounding phones, went out and did a software change before downturn
      • Learned timing matters at that time.
      • Then started Symantria – sentiment analysis API in 2011, size of market matters – 20-30 companies needed it (80% of market)
      • Remembered that he was put into a conference room with COO (head of sales), cleaned Salesforce and within a month it was in ruin again
      • Couldn’t understand sales team when he took over, why it wasn’t ramping up quickly, losing deals, hiring more people but productivity was fine
        • Supposed to have data in CRM but never had it
  • Martin Mignot, Investor at Index Ventures (20min VC 2/1/16)index-ventures-768x469-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The future holds the answers. Happy New Year!

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

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

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

    • Needing a business partner, potentially – wife helping him get to that point
    • Micah Rosenbloom pitching – thing 1 – liked the idea, thing 2 – bet on 2 or 3 people, Finding a business partner – MBA grads, founder dating type and website
      • Settled on his partner Matt Leber, MIT Sloan grad, BCG consultant due for a soon promotion – sneaked around, knew the business side
    • Agreeing on the clarity of the business partnership – going through legal/lawyers to agree on principle for the split of equity
      • People who he talked to mentioned 90-10 split, no more than 15%
      • Matt had mentioned 47% initially, gave an input to ask what he thought was important
        • Matt asks “What is important to you?” – some examples: important to be in charge, be CEO, his company, own 80%+
      • He’s worried about being a sucker, a rube, he got ripped off – though he thought 47% was too high “He’s key to success of company”
        • Wants that to be reflected in the cap table – “Matt is not”, Matt can’t imagine doing it for 10% – he’d treat it as a job
        • Didn’t come to terms with each other, had to go back to their wives
        • Extremely surprised at the number, adding – maybe he was seen as a consultant initially and it persisted – maybe anchored
        • Positional bargaining vs average of 15 and 45%
      • Everyone could come up with their answer – as long as it was fair to each
        • Thought the split should be 60/40 – founder’s agreement at the restaurant – needed to make it worth something, together
  • Gimlet 4: Startups are a Risky Business (StartUp Podcast 9/23/14)
    • Discussing podcast with Matt Mazio – should be able to message back and forth, create new connections / friends, microtransactions, crowdfunding
    • Going back to Micah for a second meeting – brought Alex Davidoff
      • Questioned the number of people (millions vs tens or hundreds – 40mln current was the answer)
      • Hard to be a hotel and Kayak – hard for whatever you do – content vs tech
      • Questioning the CAC and LTV for customers – wanted more than theories but answers for acquisition model
        • Venture scale is $100mln+ scale, opportunity
        • Costs X to produce a show, Y% are hits, Z amount of value to listeners, listeners pay and blended AC is W
        • How to scale because he knows what it looks like – wanted to de-risk the investment – credible theory of venture size
    • Micah had been encouraging and excited to give him intros to other venture capitalists
    • Chicago Board of Trade from school, some colleagues started an investment firm – Mike
      • Podcast newbies – never – bonded over one venture because he’d listened to Howard Stern – great interviewer / new content
      • Definitely different than what they’d focused on
    • Investing partners on one – focused on numbers, other on user growth, different reasons
      • Former financial guy who’d explained to him a toxic asset – $50k was a fan, solid enough business
      • Media innovation fund – perhaps a revenue model for other journalism forms
      • Andrew Mason, Founder/CEO of Groupon ($100mln from there) – started a new company called Detour – guided audio tours
        • Needed content for the tours but had the tech side to build it – had his own project (podcast network)
        • Agreed to invest $100k – exploitative, can learn things, investment in himself to keep close, good at what he does, ppl
        • Hadn’t thought about monetary reason, higher likelihood for profitable business but lower likelihood for 100x
          • If not successful, because he didn’t want it enough – “Have a kid now, it’s an insane amount of work”
    • Went to bank together and had $385k in the checking account – wanted $1.5mln for runway
      • Planning to still launch 3 shows, office space, 18 months runway
    • The name: APC – no, unilaterally – including wife and partner
  • Gimlet 5: How to Name Your Company (StartUp Podcast 10/13/14)
    • Transparency and the name: APC – no, including wife and partner
    • Tried a ton of different options before going to Lexicon naming help
      • We can’t pay but we’ll have it on the air for the podcast
    • Major Gimlet, gimlet eye, gimlet drinks – Matt bought the domain
  • Matt Charney (@mattcharney), Editor at RecruitingDaily (In the Workplace, Wharton XM)
    screen-shot-2014-06-22-at-2.46.49-pm

    • Went over digital numbers for the workplace – IoT as different than Digital Transformation
      • Digital transformation is a $60bn annual cost to consultants – max cash, short on ROIC
    • Mentioning that the top ATS in hiring is still top now – since 1996
  • Gimlet 6: How to Value Your Startup (StartUp Podcast 10/25/14)
    • Valuing your company as a starter for valuation cap, how much of the company
    • Valuation cap set at $10mn with his lawyer – completely arbitrary
      • AngelList had average valuations for a startup in NY at the time between $3-5mn, other media companies had been $10mn
    • Talking to Matt Mazio to check in – had a cofounder now, lots of meetings and having discussions with people
      • Price for pre-launch, content and no real tech – at least 2x what it was
      • Mazio in $100k with Chris Sacca, wasn’t worth arguing the price for $100k
        • $10mn cap would’ve needed a 10x to go to $100mn
  • Gimlet 7: How Listeners Become Owners (StartUp Podcast 11/8/14)
    • Fully funded after going $200k in crowdfunding, getting the Tumblr founder Marco to put in $50k and additional $150k
    • Building the sound booth studio randomly
    • JOBS Act allowing the larger pool of American people to invest in startups, talking to AlphaWorks CEO Erin (had been there 4 days in NYC)
      • AlphaWorks – actual ownership stake, investor
        • Relationship with listeners was the biggest thing for the company – $5k
      • Wire from Sacca was late because original amount went to the wrong account, business in Gardenia somewhere
        • Local police weren’t convinced that receiving someone else’s money was a crime ($33k lost)
    • Having worked for 6 months, quite early and then leaving at 6pm each night
      • Parenting strain now – can’t help even though he did pull more than his weight before
    • Consumer Federation of America – actually, sort of, trying to protect the people
      • Regular people will get hosed is what they said – is it the business of government to look out for what’s best?
  • Ellie Wheeler (@ellie), Partner at Greycroft Partners (20min VC 1/27/16)
    greycroft-logo1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you enjoy the notes.

  • Patrick / Raamayan, Cofounder of Unify (Wharton XM)
    bgtitle

    • Global meditation, achieving state of flow
      • Could be gym, yoga, prayer, running
    • If you have an hour, you have 15 minutes
  • Brianne Kimmel (@briannekimmel), Worklife Ventures (20min VC 10/14/19)
    nxwkfnsj_400x400

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

    • Full-service corporate law firm for startups
    • Started in 2004 with online calendar a la Gcalendar called Keeko, got into YC
      • Failed and sold it on ebay eventually
    • Then started Justin.tv – terrible idea that mostly failed and eventually made it into a streaming site to do Twitch
      • Sold in 2014 to Amazon, started another company called Exec in 2015 – errand service
      • Became a partner at YC but realized after a few years that an investor full-time wasn’t for him
      • Forced, as a startup founder, to learn things (hadn’t been learning as an investor)
    • 2017 – remembered how painful it was learning things – thinking of ideas
      • Conversation with a partner at a law firm in the city – asked her why they didn’t use any tech themselves
      • Full-stack corporate law firm in US – high growth companies that they’re building for last 2 years
    • Had used legal services no matter what they had – big transactions pay attorneys regardless, stable market
      • Will exist in a downturn because things don’t just stop
    • Remembered that every summer at the start of his startups, he would want to quit – think of new ideas or new things
      • Once out, he’d think he didn’t want to do it again, until it brought him back
      • First 3 months – thought he was great, figured it out due to 10 years’ experience, until stress came back
        • 6 months of stressful period – figured it out that he was still fine, reputation/old job
        • Self-improvement and growth had to come from culture
    • Hard to detach yourself from company as entrepreneur
      • Has attachments and notifications to make sure that he’s being present
      • Having goals in life, company, entrepreneur – board game metaphor – friends play and being engaged
      • Put away a game – do you remember or care what happened?
    • Started seeing a therapist 7 years prior – coach for dealing and discovering about what you’re going through
      • Cathartic, in his opinion – not alone and can talk to people
      • 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, Steve from Reddit
        • Radical responsibility – nobody else will come to save you, nobody to blame
        • Radical curiosity – whenever a new situation comes up, you approach it with what you’re supposed to learn
    • Don’t have to suffer for doing a start-up – not saying “Don’t work hard”
      • Building up skills, expectation for suffering isn’t the case
      • Atomic Habits by James Clear for him following working out each day
    • Zone of Genius – cares and loves to focus on, delegate rest
      • At Atrium, focus on business strategy, selling, culture
      • Build the team for the rest of it
    • Much better at recognizing patterns after investing 100 companies
      • Implementing in company, business models and market dynamics
      • Bad – investor attitude (approached Atrium like this)
    • Atrium – up to 150 employees in SF now – happy and proud for the culture and growth
  • Eric Kinariwala (@ekinariwala), founder / CEO at Capsule (DealMakers 10/15/19)
    referral_image

    • Rebuilding pharmacy from inside out – raised $270mn from TCV, Thrive Capital, Sound Ventures, Virgin Group, M13
    • Wharton undergrad, network from there as financial services, banking and decided to go to west coast – Stanford
      • Started at Bain Capital in Boston after graduating – worked in a hedge fund group investing
        • Retail, healthcare, tech – blending framework around business strategy, what makes it a good business
        • Judging management and the synergies – learning how to invest, as well
      • Making right judgment calls – tight feedback loops
    • For Capsule, had moved back to NY, got a headache – called doctor and had a prescription ordered
      • Pharmacy is $350bn – most frequent interaction in healthcare
      • 2nd largest category of retail – 70k stores
      • Got headache and went to go pick up his meds but couldn’t find it, then they were out of stock and it was awful
    • Hard to get advice from the pharmacy, don’t know the price until they go to pay
    • Everybody touching the pharmacy has a headache, typically
    • 3 pillars of Capsule: modern technology platform, emotionally resonant brand, pharmacy how your mom would treat you
      • Prototypical pharmacist as founder, 2nd was highly experienced technologist, 3rd woman that spent building consumer brands
    • Business model – “10x better” than current existing – technologically enabled pharmacy – app with 5 pieces of information
      • 2 hour delivery windows, know price of medication, doctors know what you’re doing
      • Why are there so many pharmacies? Put money spent on rent back into beautiful design and technology to be seamless
    • Launched in 2016, first customer in May – first challenges in early days
      • Strong word-of-mouth from friends, doctors who had learned about Capsule – telling patients and vice versa
      • Early pharmacist was well-versed in regulatory environment for anything that could’ve been broken
    • He had raised in May ’15 to get started – raised $70 million to start
      • Ideal profile / entire business model needs to be aligned with values: objectives, values, strategy and metric
      • Asking to join and leaders need to have alignment in the same way – even the board – share vision and how / why you operate
    • Team is bigger than 250 full-time, all in NYC now – encouraging people to read ahead of joining, also
      • Checklist Manifesto, On Wings of Eagles, Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table, and Who by Dan [Geoff?] Smartt
    • For the future of Capsule – most important thing in your family’s life as healthcare (although I’d argue bank or something)
      • 5x more pharmacy visits than doctor (sheesh) – wants to make it mobile-first and on the home page of phone
    • Piece of advice for his first day: be more confident earlier
  • Gimlet 1: How to Not Pitch a Billionaire (Startup Podcast 4/5/14)
    gimlet-and-spotify

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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