What to read this weekend

The sheer volume of articles I consume every day should make it easy for me to find gems to share with you. Unfortunately, not many pass the must-read-share test and thus get sent to the bin of forgotten. But the ones that do make it to the top are worth sharing and most importantly reading. Here are my recent picks.

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Slideshow Of The Week: Why Tokens Are Fundamental

This weekend I am going with a slideshow instead of a video or audio embed.

Some of my colleagues at USV have been spending a lot of time with regulators, elected officials, and lawyers helping all of these people understand cryptonetworks and why they are super important and need to be regulated with extra care.

One of the issues that many folks get wrong is the role of tokens in these cryptonetworks. For many reasons, not the least of which being the speculative frenzy surrounding cryptotokens, regulators and others simply see tokens as financial instruments and want to regulate them as such.

So my colleague Nick put together this deck to explain the “centrality” of cryptotokens to the operation of cryptonetworks. He published it on his blog earlier this week. I am republishing it here.

I would encourage everyone to hit the [ ] icon and read this in full

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Flushing Money Down the Toilet

It’s St. Patrick’s Day.  May the luck of the Irish be with you.  Many people think that startup investing is pure luck.  It’s not.  Some people like to say before you startup invest you should take a bunch of $100 bills and flush them down the toilet.  Or, burn them in a grocery bag.  That’s not it either.

It’s funny because there is risk in startup investing but while I understand where the shorthand came from I don’t necessarily think it’s a good correlation.

One time I gave a piece of advice to a person that wanted to be a VC after a successful career.  I asked, “Have you ever given someone $50k where you had no control and they lost it?”  This person had not.  I said, “I suggest you do that a couple of times before you become a VC because not only does it make you Continue reading "Flushing Money Down the Toilet"

a16z Podcast: How to Live Longer and Better

Even without a mythical fountain of youth, scientific advances have already dramatically increased how long humans live. But those advances to date have also largely been due to lower mortality rates, less infectious disease, and better nutrition. So when will …

True & the VC Firm of the year

National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) named our partnership, True Ventures, as the venture capital firm of the year. It is always an honor to be recognized by our peers, but in the end, the award is a reflection of the people who we serve — the founders, their teams and their families. 10,000 of them. It has taken over a decade to get here — one startup at a time. Some of them are big (Automattic), some define the zeitgeist (Blue Bottle, Peloton, and Ring) and others are writing the script of tomorrow today, companies like Veniam and Zymergen.

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Its all about the relationships…..

Howard Morgan (co-founder of First Round Capital and currently chairman of B Capital) spoke at Cornell this past Wednesday.  Howard received his PhD from Cornell in operations research in 1968 (I was 3 years old!).  He has a wonderful experience set (see this Cornell article).

I have seen Howard speak a bunch of times, and I enjoyed this recent one the best.  He gave some really interesting data driven insights on VC and startups, like that timing is the #1 factor in startup company success, with team being the #2 factor.  So…..the element of luck is huge as timing is often a factor of luck.  I have seen many companies that have almost failed, then struggled to survive for a few years and then hit it out of the park as the market ultimately caught up to the company’s product offering. Continue reading "Its all about the relationships….."

6 Ways to Counteract Your Smartphone Addiction

John Holcroft/Getty Images

We are living in an era of technology obsession and smartphone addiction. I hear it all the time: “I  can’t go anywhere without my phone” or “I feel anxious when I’m not able to check email” or “If I’m not on my social feeds, I feel like I’m missing out.”

Not surprisingly, research shows that too much technology use diminishes our mental and physical health, our relationships and more.

Short of going off the grid, how can we build better habits around technology—preserving its benefits while minimizing the negative effects?  Here are a few research-backed strategies I recommend you implement at work and at home.

Use “cc” and “reply all” judiciously. Group emails, while helpful for team collaboration, are an increasingly problematic workplace distraction. After the second or third “reply all”—when most messages could be directed to just one or two people, rather than everyone—these chains

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Socially Responsible Business Can Only Succeed If It Becomes a Movement

Tim Ellis/Getty Images

What does it take to cause something big about a community to change — something that no one individually has much power over, even something as big as a prevailing mindset? We know what it takes: a social movement. And social movements aren’t only the domain of community organizers and college students. Business people can set them in motion, too, as we are seeing right now.

Currently gaining force is a movement to focus for-profit enterprises more on the essential work of enriching societies — that is, benefiting not only those humans who are their owners as publicly traded companies but also those who work in them and who stand to benefit from more purpose-driven innovation. Like any social movement, this one has started with many people starting small fires. Look around and you will see them:

How to Prepare for a Crisis You Couldn’t Possibly Predict

Phil Ashley/Getty Images

On the morning of May 18, 2012, at precisely 11:05, Nasdaq planned to execute the first trade in in Facebook’s hotly anticipated initial public offering. The opening trade was an auction of sorts—buyers and sellers entered orders, and Nasdaq calculated a price that would cause as many shares as possible to change hands. As the start of trading approached, hundreds of thousands of orders poured in. But when 11:05 arrived, nothing happened.

With billions of dollars poised to change hands and the spotlight on, Nasdaq managers scrambled to diagnose the problem, dialing into an emergency conference call to troubleshoot. After a few minutes, a group of programmers narrowed the problem down to something called the validation check, a safety feature they built into the computer program years earlier. Despite the check’s warning that something was amiss, managers decided to push forward anyway.

When the validation check was

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Book: Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley

I read Emily Chang’s book Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley the day it came out. Yes – I stayed up until after midnight (way past my bedtime) reading it.

It’s powerful. I bought a bunch of copies for different people and I recommend every investor and entrepreneur in the US read it. While there are a handful of salacious stories (some of which were covered in excerpts that were pre-released), the overall arc of the book is extremely strong, well written, and deeply researched. Given Emily’s experience as a journalist, it’s no surprise, but she did a great job of knitting together a number of different themes, in depth, to make her points. She also uses the book to make clear suggestions about what to do to improve things, although she holds off from being preachy, which is also nice.

Interestingly, I’ve heard criticism, including some

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Finding New Ideas When You Don’t Have a Broad Network

juan díaz-faes for hbr

People who study creativity and innovation talk a lot about the value of “recombination” — bringing existing ideas, practices, processes, or technologies together in new ways or applying them in fresh contexts or markets. It’s a model that has led to many popular consumer products, such as leak-proof water bottles that borrow nozzles from shampoo dispensers, and home cholesterol testers that incorporate the inject/eject mechanism from CD players.

Over the last three decades, research has shown that the people most likely to innovate via recombination talk with groups of people that don’t talk to each other. In the language of social networks, these people span diverse clusters, which gives them a “vision advantage,” as the sociologist Ronald Burt is fond of putting it. Their position as “network brokers” allows them to see things that others can’t.

So, if you want to innovate, you should become

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Why You Need an Untouchable Day Every Week

Hayon Thapaliya/DUCEPT Pascal/ hemis.fr/Getty Images

I hate meetings. They sit subconsciously in my brain, taking up space. I prepare for them in my notebooks. I travel to them, and then back again, in the middle of my work days. And what do most meetings usually result in? You guessed it — more meetings.

When I worked as Director of Leadership Development at Walmart, my days were full of meetings. Everybody’s were! And when I quit two years ago to strike out on my own as an author and keynote speaker, I thought my days full of meetings were behind me.

But I was wrong.

I now have research calls and phone interviews; lunches with literary agents and web developers; conference calls about book titles and publishing schedules; and radio interviews and media prep calls. And before every speech I give, there’s always a meeting with the client and meeting

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20VC: Why Virtually All Companies Hire The Wrong Way, Why EdTech Is The Most Brutal Market & How To Scale Your Sales Team for Engineering Founders with Mike Sliagadze, Founder & CEO @ Top Hat

Mike Silagadze is the Founder & CEO @ Top Hat, the market leader in student engagement software, and is used by millions of students at three-quarters of the top 1,000 colleges and universities in North America. To date, they have raised over $47m in VC funding from many friends and former guests on the show including Albert Wenger @ USV, Boris Wertz @ Version One, Uncork Capital, Felicis and Emergence just to name a few. As for Mike, prior to TopHat, he was a developer at MioVision Technologies.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Mike made his way into the world of startups and came to realise the current method of learning was so broken?

2.) Why does Mike believe that investors have an automatic dislike to edtech? Why does he believe it is the most difficult to market to enter? Why is go to Continue reading "20VC: Why Virtually All Companies Hire The Wrong Way, Why EdTech Is The Most Brutal Market & How To Scale Your Sales Team for Engineering Founders with Mike Sliagadze, Founder & CEO @ Top Hat"

City Mouse, Country Mouse

Read William Galston’s column in the WSJ.  He was describing the growth of cities in America.  In his analysis, he compared the vote in the cities to the candidate running.  I don’t think this is a good correlation at all. For example, in Chicago which has been run by a strong handed Democratic Machine for 100 years, having the city vote overwhelmingly for a Democrat and trying to make a statistical inference from it is pretty useless.  Other cities in America are the same.

The broader point that he is making is 100% correct.

Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti’s “The New Geography of Jobs,” is a book you should read to get a sense of the difference between the city and the country.

He writes,

Mr. Moretti’s book offers a compelling and simple explanation of the most fundamental economic trend of our time—the widening split between dynamic urban areas on the Continue reading "City Mouse, Country Mouse"

Giving Visionary Women Their Due

Even though I finished reading Emily Chang’s Brotopia last month, it’s lingered. One passage in particular — Jennifer Hyman, CEO of Rent the Runway, talking about how we call many men in tech “visionary” but fail to apply this characteristic as often (or at all) to women.

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 4.24.25 PM

Reflecting on Jennifer’s assertion, I thought of our experience with theSkimm, one of the most dynamic audience companies out there today and a startup we were fortunate to first back in 2013. While reading Brotopia, we were also helping theSkimm finish up their new financing, with Google Ventures and Spanx founder Sara Blakely joining the cap table. Over the past five years, I’ve witnessed theSkimm be underestimated by the venture capital industry, by pundits and press. During that time I’ve heard many male media founders lauded as “visionary” – Jonah Peretti, Shane Smith, Bill Simmons. They certainly deserve it. I’ve rarely Continue reading "Giving Visionary Women Their Due"