The Players’ Tribune:  Why Authenticity Matters in Media

Today we are excited to announce a $40 M financing for The Players’ Tribune, a sports media company founded by Derek Jeter in 2014.
Derek’s vision was to create a media company that focused uniquely on the needs of athletes and fans, and he recruited an amazing group of athletes and entrepreneurs to his All-Star team.  It has been an amazing experience watching our company grow from a small blog to THE trusted media platform for the athlete community, and we are thrilled to have IVP and Google as investors in our latest round. In a world that is flooded with clickbait and fake news, The Players’ Tribune has differentiated itself by focusing on original, high quality, highly engaging content.  We break critical news and celebrate human achievement through sports, but more importantly we tell the stories that are left untold by traditional media outlets.  I am perhaps most proud
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How Do We Rise Above The Violence?

Yesterday while the voters who were upset with the Trump election marched I was at the Memorial Service for Professor Paul Magelli.  It was live streamed to places as far away as China.  When the video gets produced I will post it here because I think the concepts that Paul embodied came through and are important takeaways for anyone. People in the US are upset on both sides of the divide.  I have seen people post about “fight”, or “service” or other things.  Those actions don’t have a point or purpose long term. Paul was a lot different than that.  Paul was Mr. Give Before You Get long before anyone articulated it.  He was more than an old white guy professor that did research.  He knew that his customers were students and he was there to service them.  Yesterday at his service there were women, men, gay people, white, Continue reading "How Do We Rise Above The Violence?"

Consumer Centric Healthcare

As we think about how to modify the ACA (aka Obamacare) into something different (aka Trumpcare) I would encourage everyone involved to think about one central tenet – put the person/consumer/patient at the center of the system, not the employer, not the insurer, and not the doctor. I have written a few times about consumer centric healthcare here at AVC. I believe that patients should and will increasingly take control of their health care and that will be a good thing for costs and outcomes. Our healthcare investment strategy at USV is largely based on this premise. My partner Andy who has done a lot of the critical thinking that has informed our investments in this sector, wrote this post on his personal blog six months ago explaining how we think about this sector. Technology will have a lot to do with this. If the regulators will allow it. There are
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Talking Tech, Politics, Policy, and More with Keith Rabois (Transcript 1/18/17)

As we have done in the past before, Keith Rabois made time to share his thoughts on how tech and society at large may be altered with the new Administration which assumed office this week. While I don’t always agree with Keith, having read his perspectives for years now, he is more often right about things and quite frequently. We also share a personal interest in observing politics (from different sides of the spectrum), so we got together a day before the inauguration and recorded a conversation on a range of topics. Below is an edited, partial transcript of our discussion. The opinions expressed here belong to each individual only.

Introduction and Personal Biases

@semil: Keith has always been great at making time. So, let’s see January 18th, two days before the inauguration.
@rabois: It’s crazy. Isn’t it?
@semil: It’s crazy. I wanted to dive into a lot Continue reading "Talking Tech, Politics, Policy, and More with Keith Rabois (Transcript 1/18/17)"

Dealing With The Pessimist In the Room. My wife Amy sent this HBR article – How to Handle the Pessimist on Your Team – to me. It’s almost a decade old but seems timeless. I’m an optimist. With rare exceptions (usually when I’m depressed), I can carry an optimistic view point about things (business, projects, humans, life, existence on this planet, my ability to some day go to a parallel universe) around in most of my interactions. I very much respect and value different opinions as I learn from them and from being challenged. I’m not “right” and don’t view my approach to discussions as “telling the truth”, but rather “providing data”, “telling stories”, and “helping a person / team get to a decision.” Pessimists are useful to counter balance my optimistic view point. But endless pessimism does tire me, especially when it is only used to put up objections. When the objections are
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Future of Fin Tech

I am always interested in what others see as the future of fin tech. Here is a short video on what some think. It’s tough to figure out the future. In this video, they talk about things that are unregulated. No idea what happens to fin tech revolution under Trump. If he enacts a lot of things that John Allison wrote about in his book, they will be on the right track. Dodd-Frank has been a very bad law. I’d like to see financial regulation get smart. The SEC is way overbearing as Mark Cuban found out. The CFTC has moved strongly in that direction over the past 8 years under Gary Gensler and Bart Chilton. They both need to be reigned in. More obtrusive regulation results in less competition. We need lots and lots and lots of competition. Coinbase is finding out that the lash of the government regulator Continue reading "Future of Fin Tech"

a16z Podcast: Of Presidents, Policies, and Tech

How to think about tech policy and top-of-mind issues for the tech industry, given a new president? From what agencies matter for different tech domains — e.g., autonomous cars, drones, fintech, healthcare — to recent staffing moves, the a16z Policy …

FLYR raised $8 million to change the way we buy plane tickets

Photo: Getty Images/ipopba/iStock Travel tech startup FLYR raised $8 million in Series A funding for technology that predicts the price of airfares by applying artificial intelligence to a database of both open industry data and a proprietary collection of year’s of past prices and fluctuations. The funding round was led by a Peter Thiel fund, and according to an SEC filing, Thiel Capital Principal Phin Upham was involved… Read More

When Giving Critical Feedback, Focus on Your Nonverbal Cues

Giving feedback may be one of the most difficult challenges a manager faces. On the one hand, you have to be honest; on the other hand, you don’t want to alienate your employee. You tread a fine line between maintaining cordiality and successfully getting your point across. A positive workplace culture is essential for employee engagement and productivity. Empathy at work creates psychological safety, which research by Amy Edmondson of Harvard demonstrates is created when managers are inclusive and humble and encourage their staff to speak up or ask for help. Psychological safety improves learning and performance outcomes. More important, feeling safe in the workplace helps encourage the spirit of experimentation that’s so critical for innovation. By using this kind of positive, open, and supportive feedback style, you end up establishing trust. Employees are especially sensitive to signs of trust in their managers. Our brains respond more positively to empathic bosses,
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How to Speak Up If You See Bias at Work

Many people can recall a time when they were exposed to workplace behavior that made them or others uncomfortable. Can you think of a time someone in a meeting joked about another group of people, evoking laughter from everyone else in the room? Or have you worked on a team in which the men seemed to get better projects even though female colleagues were equally or better suited for the work? And the big question: Did you speak up? There is no question that objecting to such situations is difficult. The person who decides to raise the issue could damage their relationship with the person making the comments or assigning the work, which could adversely impact the objector’s career opportunities. This is especially true when the comments or behavior aren’t technically illegal. It takes courage to be the one, perhaps the only one, who calls out the behavior as unhelpful to a
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What Trump Inherits

Today America will do something that’s always been pretty rare in human history, the peaceful transition of power. Back when Washington transitioned to Adams, it was unheard of. Today, a lot more common thankfully. I saw the above tweet and thought about other transitions of power. For example, Obama inherited quite a mess when he took over. Presidents can only control so much. The second President Bush certainly didn’t anticipate wackos flying planes into buildings which caused his whole administration to switch focus. In the book Freedom From Fear, Roosevelt and Hoover didn’t get along. Hoover wanted to enact somethings to help the country during the transition period but Roosevelt and the Democrats wouldn’t play ball Continue reading "What Trump Inherits"

Fintech Companies Could Give Billions of People More Banking Options

Much has been made of the fact that a new breed of financial technology (or fintech) companies is unbundling banks in the developed world. Startups are attacking all of the components of the traditional bank value proposition (e.g., accounts, portfolio management, mortgages, car loans, person-to-person payments). Over the past five to six years there has been a rush of capital and talent into startups; investment in them has grown nearly eightfold since 2011. While their innovative products have been a boon to consumers in mature economies, the resulting efficiency and security benefits have largely bypassed the 2 billion consumers in the developing world who lack formal banking services altogether. However, there are signs that this is changing. Encouraged by the dramatic increase in the number of people with mobile phones in the developing world, new fintech players are attempting to disrupt the existing financial order in these markets:
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Inauguration Thoughts

There is a good thing about today’s inauguration. Despite having the lowest approval rating of an incoming president in a long time, it appears that we will have a peaceful transfer of power. That is what democracy is designed to do. Now we  will also need the other parts of democracy to work, namely the institutions that have been put in place to help safeguard from abuses of power by the executive branch of government. This will be a difficult challenge with the current distribution of power across the three branches of government. It is encouraging to see at least some members of Congress start to put the importance of democracy above their party’s / their own political agenda. There are additional institutions also which come into play in protecting democracy. The most important of those are freedom of speech and the right to assembly. This allows the direct expression Continue reading "Inauguration Thoughts"

How Rudeness Stops People from Working Together

Incivility can fracture a team, destroying collaboration, splintering members’ sense of psychological safety, and hampering team effectiveness. Belittling and demeaning comments, insults, backbiting, and other rude behavior can deflate confidence, sink trust, and erode helpfulness — even for those who aren’t the target of these behaviors. A recent study documented how incivility diminishes collaboration and performance in medical settings. Twenty-four medical teams from four neonatal intensive care units in Israel were invited to a training workshop designed to improve quality of care. As part of the training, the teams needed to treat a premature infant whose condition suddenly deteriorated due to a serious intestinal illness (it was only a simulation; no infant’s health was endangered). Staff had to identify and diagnose the condition and administer proper treatment, including CPR. Teams were told that an expert from the United States would be watching them remotely (with video) and would occasionally comment and advise
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Announcing Techstars AngelList Funds for Mentors and Alumni

A key ingredient of Techstars accelerator programs is our experienced and engaged mentor community. Mentors embrace the Techstars “Give First” philosophy by offering founders their time, advice, and connections. We treat mentorship seriously – you can read about it in our Mentor Manifesto and my blog series on the mentor manifesto. And, my book Give First, coming out at the end of 2017, will cover mentorship in depth. Our global network now consists of over 5,000 mentors, including many successful Techstars alumni. As Techstars continues to selectively expand into new geographies and industry verticals, our mentors are important as ever. Serving as a mentor is intrinsically rewarding on multiple levels. Guiding founders through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship creates a deep sense of contribution. It provides an outlet for mentors to engage in their local startup communities and keep a pulse on emerging technologies. It’s a chance to learn
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Rocket Internet closes $1B fund, the largest to date out of Europe

money cash If you thought that all the problems that Rocket Internet has had bringing its portfolio of startups and its business overall into the black would have spelled setbacks for future investing, think again. This week, the firm — based out of Berlin — reported that it had raised a new $1 billion fund, the biggest tech fund of any VC firm to date in Europe, it claims. The Rocket… Read More

Feature Friday: Foursquare List Search

If you are looking for a restaurant, a bar, a cafe, a museum, or whatever, there are plenty of ways you can do that on your phone. You can use Foursquare (a USV portfolio company), you can use Yelp, you can use Google or Apple maps, you can do a Google search, or you can stop someone on the street and ask them. I prefer to use Foursquare because its recommendations are personalized for me based on all of my history with Foursquare over the past eight years. Many others tell me they get the best recommendations from Foursquare too, even if they haven’t been using the app for the past eight years. But last week, Foursquare launched something that makes searching with their app even better. They now let you search their lists and get user and brand created lists by topic. These searches are geolocated so you always
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20VC: Biggest Takeaways From Working With Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston, Why You Should Put Off Hiring For As Long As Possible & Why Seed Stage Investing Is All About Optimising The Top Of The Funnel with Harj Taggar, Founder & CEO @ Triplebyte

Harj Taggar is the Founder & CEO @ Triplebyte, the startup that is changing the world of engineering recruitment by building a new kind of interview that evaluates tech skills, not credentials. They have raised from some of our favourite seed investors and all past guests on the show including Felicis Ventures, SV Angel and Initialized Capital. As for Harj, prior to Triplebyte, he was the first partner brought in at Y Combinator since its founding, where he remained as a Partner for 4 years. Before that he was a YC founder, co-founding Auctomatic which was acquired by Livecurrent Media.


In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Harj made his way from the UK to YC's first Partner to now founding Triplebyte? 2.) Question from Garry Tan: What was the most surprising thing when Harj first became a Partner @ YC? What were Harj's biggest learnings from Continue reading "20VC: Biggest Takeaways From Working With Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston, Why You Should Put Off Hiring For As Long As Possible & Why Seed Stage Investing Is All About Optimising The Top Of The Funnel with Harj Taggar, Founder & CEO @ Triplebyte"