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Experimentation & Testing (Notes from March 25 – March 31, 2019) April 17, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Digital, experience, finance, global, Hiring, questions, social, training, TV, Uncategorized.
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I know, I know. It’s a bit of a cop out to use a Game of Thrones image on the back of the Season 8 premiere from Sunday. Sue me [please don’t]. And I’ll give credit to the image creator: Instagram @chartrdaily for the fun visualization. However, after listening to Pinnacle Sports’ Marco Blume, I couldn’t help after hearing deployment strategies for their prop bets on popular TV shows, such as who will be left on the Iron Throne or the ever popular “Who dies first?” props. They experiment, hypothesize, post a line with a limit (hedge risk) and let the market decide from there. And boom – we have the theme of the week!

Antoine Nussenbaum, of Felix Capital at the time, mentioned going from private equity to start-ups and venture funding where they had to decide between backing people or belief in the company. He got first-hand experience by starting a company with his wife, successfully gaining funding, and then exiting – only to fail with a different company that wasn’t scaling. How did he go through frameworks to decide on startups to fund or help?

Mark Suster gave his take on how he comes to investment funding – sales, technical skills and being aware of each. How did his entrepreneurship experience influence his framework for funding new start ups? Why is it that there is a sweet spot for amounts based on run rate? Experimenting, failing and adjusting.

Then I had listened to 2 data scientist / researchers in their discussions of NLP parts – what to test, what they assumed to be true, how to approach new methodology and testing this methodology. Is there a limit to the progression that can be made with NLP? Why might it be relevant to decide on testing state-of-the-art further? Then, ultimately, what’s the applications for how we can use that optimization to improve the current status quo?

I hope everyone checks out what may interest them – this was a fascinating and fun week. So much so, that I suggested to a few different students for them to check out different parts (granted, I do this often, but I was quite excited to share these ones).

Cheers!

  • Antoine Nussenbaum (@Nussenbaum), Principal and cofounder of Felix Capital (20min VC 084)
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    • Partner at Atlas Global prior, p/e fund that was part of GLG Partners
      • Working on digital early-stage, venture fund and helped startups bootstrap after missing the tech side
      • Miraki, Jellynote, Pave, Reedsy, and 31Dover as some of his best investments
      • Helped start Huckletree with his wife
        • Looked for investment of $80mln but got $120mln
    • Backing someone vs backing the company initially in early stage funds
    • Raised in Paris in international environment, lived in UK as well
    • Launched 2004 software-on-demand business with 2 friends “that was not scalable at all”
    • Did M&A in the UK after leaving software
    • Felix Capital at intersection of creativity + technology, lifestyle brands: ecommerce and media, enabling tech
      • Stages – flexible capital, but have made investments from $200k – $6mln, focus on Series A + B
      • Geographic – agnostic, as long as backing entrepreneurs
      • Advisory services and focused on helping their investment companies
    • More entrepreneurs that know the playbook and how they can build, grow and scale
      • Looking for more companies that can scale globally or expanding outside with proper funding
    • Using Triangle as an example – bathing suits on Instagram strategy and launching millions of product via digital
    • ProductHunt as a blog he gets lost in – 15 min of destruction
    • Lifestyle-related excitement: food side, better life, marketplaces
    • Hard Thing about Hard Things and Capital in the 21st Century – relationship of wealth and economic wealth
  • Mark Suster (@msuster), MP @ Upfront Ventures (20min VC 085)
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    • Was VP of PM at Salesforce.com before Upfront
    • Late 80s – had an interest in development as a student in college in the UK
      • Worked initially as a programmer at Anderson (Accenture) for 8 years
      • Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone – better to start earlier, need to have a fundamental understanding of systems (coding)
        • Python, PHP, Ruby, JavaScript – not trying to become best developer – just knowing the systems
        • Sales experience would be second – telesales or customer support – ask CEO to do an hour a week of calls
    • Started 2 software companies – one in England and then Silicon Valley, selling both – backer brought him in to VC
      • Fred Wilson wasn’t an entrepreneur, but does give you the insight
    • Don’t get the sense of urgency with too long a time – 3 months vs 12 months
      • Too much capital creates laziness and shortcuts that lead to mistakes
      • 18 month run rate for capital – takes 3-4 months to raise (start with 6 months plus)
    • Wants to see early stage companies once a month, roughly.
    • $240mln fund – invest half into companies and reserve the other half for follow-ons
      • 3 year timeframe, $40mln with 5 partners – $8mln per partner
        • Series A, B rounds where each partner is doing 2-3 deals per year when avg is $3-5mln investment
    • On his blog, has the “11 Attributes of Entrepreneurs”
      • Best known post would be “Invest in Lines, not Dots” – x-axis as time, y-axis is performance (any given day, your dot)
        • Interactions create a line that matches a pattern and he can decide if he wants to do business
      • Not a big fan of deal days or investor days where you hype up a company because of this
    • 50 coffee meetings a year – once a week, if you meet 50 entrepreneurs a year, maybe you’ll become close with 5-10 of them
      • Single best introduction is from a portfolio company CEO for an investor
    • He knows and built software company – SaaS-space since he knows how to be helpful
      • Data and video tech industry (has 11 personal investments and 5 are video)
      • AgTech as an underappreciated industry so far – stays quiet until a few investments before hyping
    • Too much company, too much money and entrepreneurs clouding the market for everyone else
    • Book “Accidental Superpower”, how demographics and topology will drive the future and how areas grow
  • Marco Blume, Trading Director at Pinnacle Sports (DataFramed #54 2/18/19)
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    • Got into data science by “sheer force”, building quant team out from Excel going to R
      • Efficiency was by orders of magnitude since R was better than Excel
      • Could do anything with risk management, trading, sports
    • Pricing GoT, hot dog eating contest, pope election and making the lines
      • Use pricing and market analytics to let the people set prices
    • Risk management in general – maximize probability and hedging risk
      • Does the bottom line change? Does it affect anything? Regulations.
    • NBA where all teams have played each other – have a good idea of strength of teams
      • Soccer or world cup – not as much certainty with teams not always playing each other
      • Start of season has a lot more volatility and responsiveness to bets because of uncertainty
        • By end of season, bookmarkers have the price and knowledge, so they’re likely to increase risk
      • Bayesian updating
    • Goals to improve models, open new betting options to clients
      • Low margin, high volume bookmaker – little bit with a lot of options
      • Book of Superforecasting – group of people who are better at forecasting
        • Pays them already at Pinnacle – consultants, betting and paying the price
    • Much bigger R shop than Python at Pinnacle, active in the R community
      • R becoming more of an interfacing language and production language (vs C# or other), can use R-keras or plumbr
      • Teaching dplyr, rmarkdown and ggplot cover 95% of their work outside of specialists
    • GoT as one of his favorite bets
  • Matthew Peters (@mattthemathman), Research Scientist at AI2 – ElMo (Data Skeptic 3/29/2019)
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    • Research for the common good, Seattle, WA research
    • Language understanding tasks – ELMo (embeddings from Language Models)
    • PhD in Applied Math at UW, climate modeling and large scale data analysis
      • Went to mortgage modeling, tech industry with ML and Prod dev in Seattle
    • Trying to solve with very little human-annotated data, technical articles or peer-reviewed
      • Very difficult, very expensive to annotate – can you do NLP to help?
    • Word2vec as method for text to run ML on text, context meanings of say, bank
    • ELMo as training on lots of unlabeled data
      • Given a partial language fragment, language modeling predicts what can come next
      • Forward direction or backward direction (end of context), neural network architecture
    • Research community may want to use ELMo, commercial use to improve models already in prod
      • Pre-trained models available and open source
    • In the paper, evaluated NLP models on 6 tasks – sentiment, Q&A, info extraction, co-reference resolution, NL inference
      • Got significant improvements on results from the prior state-of-the-art models
      • Character-based vs word approach
        • Single system should process as much text as possible (morphology of the word, for instance)
    • Paper over a year old now but Bert was put up on ArXiv to improve upon ELMo (transformer architecture for efficiency)
      • Scaled the model that could be trained by many X’s, quality is tied to the size / capacity
      • Language modeling loss changed, as well (word removed from middle of sentence and predict before/after)
      • Large Bert models have computational restrictions – how far can you get by scaling the model
  • Kyle and early Data Science Hiring Processes (Data Skeptic 12/28/18)
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    • Success isn’t correlated with ability to give good advice
    • Conversion funnel for businesses: website that sells t-shirts, for instance
      • Tons of ways to bring people into the door / website (ads, social media campaign, ad clicks)
      • Register an account or put into cart (what %, track it, a/b test and improve)
      • Cart to checkout process (how many ppl? Credit card entered, goes through, etc…)
    • Do any sites convert faster than others? Keep track, find out why / focus on continuing it
    • Steps for job hire: video chat / task / phone screens / on-site next / offer
    • Resume should be pdf (doc may not open nicely on Mac or otherwise) – include GitHub
    • SVM – should have margins or kernel trick on resume (otherwise, don’t include it)
      •  Ex: ARIMA (auto-regressive integrated moving average) – time series data
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Across the Board! Digitization, Health, Systems, and Strategy (Notes from Dec. 10 to 16) January 3, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, experience, finance, global, medicine, Politics, questions, social, WomenInWork.
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Happy New Year’s, everyone! Hope people had a safe, relaxing and fun holiday. I also hope it provided some time to pause, reflect and wondering for what has happened and what may come in the next year.

I’ll preface my notes by informing you that they are short snippets, as you’ll observe. This was not necessarily by design, but necessity. I listened to a higher number than I should have in this week, as I needed to procrastinate – for what, you may ask? – for my MBA Final exam. Knowing how much drop-off in any online programs there is, I was hesitant in sharing this with others. Hate to tell someone you started something and then pause it, right? I sit here, now after receiving my Smartly Institute email saying I’ve completed the program and should receive the MBA Degree shortly!

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For those curious about the online program, reach out! Or maybe I’ll sure the exit survey that I am supposed to complete here.

Getting to my notes / snippets of what I listened to during that week, check below! I do think I’ll go back and listen to a couple of the segments fully because I found them very interesting. Whether it was strategy for Hasbro and eSports’ future or the author of Loneliest Generation or the Brightseed founder – some very interesting research and data being collected and reported on for whatever tickles your fancy. Whatever you may in interested in, there are plenty of overlaps. Know this.

  • Hasbro/Wizards strategy for esports, how DnD came about, Magic, (Work of Tomorrow, Wharton XM)
    • Magic was a request on finding a game between DnD games – revolutionized with trading card game
  • HBR article – business models for healthcare: https://hbr.org/2018/11/3-business-models-that-could-bring-million-dollar-cures-to-everyone
    • Business model needs to be reinvented if we’re to have million dollar treatments/cures
      • Ensure that insurance co’s are willing to cover expensive therapy – provide outcome-based results
      • Economics tend to be difficult if consumers are switching every 2 – 3 years with employer switches
    • HealthCoin securitizing improvements in health that can be passed from one stakeholder to another
      • Generates credit like a bond, can sell later to recoup cost
    • Annuity-based model for diseases/costly procedures, collect dividends after monthly premium investments
  • Million Dollar Women, Julia Pimsleur, (Women @ Work, WhartonXM)
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    • Changing mindset, upping skillset, expanding network
      • Trying to get them to think bigger and get rid of imposter syndrome
      • Develop their 8 pillars
      • Network by talking 1 on 1 with established mentors in the program
  • Mene founder (Wharton XM)
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    • Talking about the gold standard – Reagan’s temporary mission, haven’t come off
      • Inflation has been resigned to just sticking with the faux environment we’re in now – printing money
      • If gold wasn’t a store of value, it wouldn’t have risen from $30 – $1200+
  • Cotopaxi Founder, Davis Smith (Wharton XM)
    • Why SLC? He and his wife were deciding between Seattle and Salt Lake City – she chose SLC (having grown up in Seattle)
    • Created tribe / community of supporters
      • In Korea, someone shouted across the way Cotopaxi – to which he informed them he was the founder
      • Validation for what he had been working to create (although network effect bigger than anticipated)
    • Owning the omni-channels and why he chose D2C (virtual presence a la Warby Parker, Away, etc…)
      • Online and then a retail presence to own their own brand, before moving out to partner with places that help them reach others
      • Had to sell via Amazon as well to own that channel (otherwise someone would definitely be selling on that channel)
      • Partner with REI and other retailers in order to gain visible traction with places that had strong digital presence
        • Not the full catalog, but a few of the higher margin SKUs
      • Talked about how Vans originally rolled out to skaters/surf shops – top of pyramid before moving down to Zumies (frequented by those)
        • After a long while, they’re finally selling in JC Penny’s and others like it (well-established brand first)
    • Vertical digitalization above and then has a very lean business on the other side (outsources much of the fillers, suppliers, distribution)
      • He knows what he knows and then learns from those he works for – lets them do their thing
  • Author of Future Politics, Jamie Susskind (Wharton XM)
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    • Why do we insist on allowing politicians to not be knowledgeable in digital age
    • Odd that these are legislators attempting to update the digital companies
    • Should be obvious that we ask the people creating regulation should be involved in the technology that they’re attempting to design around (apparently our votes say otherwise)

 

 

 

  • Loneliest Generation author (not wsj one)
    • Costs an estimate $7bn, more than arthritis or high blood pressure combined
  • Brightseed founder, (Wharton XM, Thurs Dec 13)
    • Search engine with thousands of plants to identify empirical evidence of eastern medicine
      • Which plant consumption triggers improved physical / health properties?
      • Headed to market with one that improves liver toxin fat breakdown
    • Cheaper aspect because they’re plants compared to new drugs which can take hundreds of millions of 7+ years
    • Features of plants aligning with human function

Life is Global October 23, 2017

Posted by Anthony in education, experience, finance, global, Politics, questions, social.
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In just returning from Chile and having my 29th birthday, I did a ton of reflection over the last 2 weeks. Long flights, new places, peaceful heights & coming of age will force you to do this, if you don’t pause on your own to do it anyhow.

A word:
metacognition – dictionary.com has this as “higher-order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control of one’s cognitive processes, especially when engaged in learning.” I prefer a simpler “thinking about one’s own mental processes” .

Why do we do what we do? Some just act instinctively. Others act and then question why they acted. Yet there are some who will think, then act. There is a process by which everyone goes about their actions and thoughts – very few reflect on this process. Even fewer that look to change it for the better. Learning to think, approaching problems, coming up with solutions. Producing insights that can push forward or analyze why processes should be different.

In visiting with neighbors on my flights, shoulder-to-shoulder in immigration lines, Chilean natives, South American transplants from neighboring countries and visitors from across the world, there was a different consensus among the lot of them. Everyone had someplace else to be. Each person as different as the next. It was peaceful to not catch a news segment, comedy remark, or overhear a conversation about the active politics of the day. It’s overwhelming in the states, needlessly – and more importantly, rampant with misinformation which makes the deluge of politics ripe with uninformed, unintelligent thoughts. 7 days away – I believe I caught a single newspaper that had Trump on the cover and CNN one morning at the hotel mentioning a brief, 2 minute segment. Granted, I wasn’t looking for the conversations or seeking newspapers/tv’s, but still – there was some peace. Friends who have traveled abundantly over the past year to Europe/Canada/others have anecdotally mentioned that as one of the first things that arise in taxis/Ubers/people that become aware of a US citizen in their presence. No such bad luck in Mexico (my layover) or in Chile once I was there. There were more entertaining or productive discussions to be had. I’m sure this is a part of where one can direct a conversation, as well. People should be more cognizant of this, though I’m afraid politics have now dropped into the pantheon of ‘effortless’ conversation along with “how’s the weather?”, “did you see X” and a general “how’s work”?

Hopefully, as people grow and become more successful and comfortable in their lives, they would want to contribute something back – knowledge, money, mentorships and more. Often, there’s a line drawn between impact and how large of one can be made. This is less important, however, than making an impact regardless. We can make an impact in your core community – neighborhood, town or city, business community. Expand that out to affect multiple cities or a region – think Elon with LA’s tunnels, subway/metro/public transportation, bag ordinances or green movements – smart cities will eventually become a larger look as we go forward, as well. Outside of bigger projects like mentioned above, we can start a group or meet-up that gains members from the community in question – contribution of ideas that can go beyond infrastructural concepts.

Thinking larger (but not in the sense that it has to be bigger impact-wise), connection across counties, states, or the nation is important but more difficult to scale. Industries or sectors can be defined and aided by any one group or person that makes an impact beyond the immediate cases and permeates the outreaches from there. Then we have global scales – whether it’s advancing some technology or standard and bringing it to areas that may be impacted greatly with progression. There are tons of examples of all of these scales. People have different passions and shouldn’t be restricted or forced into doing something that doesn’t spark a fire in them to improve their lives (and hopefully, helping some others that they have a connection to in the process).

We live in a world where information is at our fingertips, a swipe and drag away on our phones. Barriers to entry continue to fall across all spectra. Get excited, people! Help yourself to help others.

Some things that I am jumping into and ones that I would love to hear ideas/talk to others about:
– mentorship with high school / college-level students with finding a passion or question ideas for how to progress forward
– a fun application to make it easier to connect local restaurants/bars with customers about their happy hours using OCR / Image-to-text from menu photos to populate database
– starting an investment fund that focuses on avoiding the nearly unavoidable ‘home bias’ as well as matching risk tolerance with proper returns – focusing on international availability and risk profile of uncorrelated assets
– new thought: possible website/application that will take multiple starting points (friends that live apart from each other) meeting at some location / flight destination in between for reasonable prices — multi-optimized Skyscanner/Hopper
– Payments/Vendors/AP/AR organizing software that will reduce burden and difficulty for companies with nontechnical backgrounds / capacity for process to be so intuitive that it won’t require more personnel or capital invested

 

Notes from Hirschhorn & Cuban March 27, 2017

Posted by Anthony in experience, finance, Politics, questions, social.
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Listening to the Jason Hirschhorn interview with Mark Cuban  from the end of February (just pre-$SNAP IPO) —

Many great resources in all the current tech-hubs: SF & Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Austin, and expanding those. Cuban makes a good point that people and ideas are easily created now in almost every area. There are places in the country that have MORE resources — events, companies, VC’s, funds, but building can be done everywhere (Cuban mentioned when he visits IU, he can stay in contact with them).

With less and less companies going public (mentioned ~9000 publicly listed in 2008, but < 4000 now), people are either scared of going public, or are getting their payouts directly from bigger companies (Cisco, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, etc…).

Digital ad revenue for FB and Google – 85%+ market share. NFLX and AMZN are 2 biggest shares – hasn’t sold yet. Content providers – Disney, Netflix, and Amazon…. not many others. CONTENT is very difficult (Cuban mentioned Enron doc and winning awards, along with Good Night and Good Luck — hasn’t done any successful since). Content is the most difficult to maintain – very difficult to get past that giant hurdle, and these companies have the money to get above it.

Eventually got into a political discussion – using news / reactions / tweets to respond. HOW do we respond? Communicate and be patient – tough to change minds or reason – noted 52% of eligible voters didn’t vote. Trolls and dealing with internet comments – control public/private responses on twitter? Twitter must be hard-coded otherwise. Cuban mentioned an app that he’s going with – soon, machine-learning or machines will deal with the curation of information and conversation in digital platforms.

Talking about video – 7 year old son wanting to play flag football / baseball and how different it is now. Esports / watching vs watching tv (sports). His son didn’t want to watch sports / baseball / football, but wanted to play. There’s no indoctrination or religion for it anymore as we grew up on (and Cuban’s era earlier). Gaming as a big advantage in expanding NBA reach – NBA 2k and professional aspect of them since players have a deeper involvement / knowledge of the league with gaming.

The overall theme for today (not just this interview) – how can we get more young people interested in building out great ideas? The future of technology is rapidly accelerating but ideas will still be needed from the smartest people. Education seems to nerf expansive ideas – boxes people in that may be more capable, restricting opportunities. In my opinion, this is a huge flaw in the system overall.

Who Cares for Lip Service? May 23, 2016

Posted by Anthony in experience, Politics, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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There are hundreds of thousands of people that have good & great ideas.  Many of them work for someone else and don’t take action on those ideas. Some of the ones who have good ideas take them and try to build something. Not all succeed. The ones that do often had plans or people they could reach out to help them with a plan. Then they attempted/carried it out.  The ones that succeed often add value many times over.

Why is it different for elected office? Running for office should not simply be based on the platform of ideas you wish to change / better / create, but HOW candidates plan to put that in action. Actual plans. Business plan. Who is needed to help enact them / what is done / how to put it plan in motion / stakeholders / pros / cons. Sure, this would take time up front, but I believe that it could reduce the time to impact once someone was elected.

 
Let’s take an example. “Infrastructure must be improved” is a general positive thought and I don’t believe any candidates are against that. However, the latest research I’ve read said that of the funds designated as infrastructure-related, only 5% actually are used for ACTION in that frame. The rest is spent on funding boosters / change orders / unions (not exclusively).

Now, do I believe that a majority of voters would read through these plans? No, but of anyone that does, they would be better well-informed. And, debates or interviews could bring up the questions from people that did read through them and see holes or improvements or issues, to hopefully allow for a publicized process into the plans presented.

 
Until I see a candidate for ANY office lay something out like this, I’ll refrain from giving any vote of confidence or otherwise. Oh, and for any Bernie supporters that believe his site lays this out – it’s a step in the right direction, but not to the detail that elicits true action.

What do you think? Or is all of this just lip service?

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