The bigger story behind big valuations

The New York Times notes that big-money rounds are becoming all too routine in Techlandia, which has led some to wonder: what is the cause of this seemingly irrational exuberance? Valuation, in the end, is determined by an investor’s willingness to suspend belief — or rather how much they want to suspend that belief. There are others who are jumping in after seeing others make a killing. There is a herd-like behavior, and when that happens valuations take a leap.

But focusing on the shifting valuation and check sizes, we are missing the point: the planet as we know it is going through some seismic changes, and such changes mean opportunity — to create, disrupt and re-invent. So let’s talk about the shift. Continue reading "The bigger story behind big valuations"

Quitting Facebook and B2B Marketing

Brad Feld has an excellent post up about why he is deleting his Facebook account.  Based on his logic, he’s right.  There is no reason for him to have a Facebook account.  He used it for “broadcast only” purposes.  If it’s a one way platform it’s not very useful for you and actually is a pain in the ass.

I am not going to define Brad’s target market for him but I suspect he blogs for a few reasons.  First, for himself.  Second to engage with potential target companies, target LPs, target partners, target customers for the companies they invest in.  Third, he is very active in educating the community on topics related to startups and he has done a very good job of doing it.  Does he need Facebook for that with the plethora of social media outlets? No.  The opportunity cost for him given the demands on his Continue reading "Quitting Facebook and B2B Marketing"

Worker Representation on Boards Won’t Work Without Trust

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U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed a novel way to reform corporate governance. It would require companies with more than $1 billion in revenue to get a corporate charter from the federal government (rather than from an individual state), which in turn would require a commitment to a broad range of stakeholders, including not just shareholders but also employees and the communities in which the businesses operate. In addition, federally chartered companies would be required to let workers elect 40% of board members. There are other aspects of the proposal, including an aim to limit stock buybacks and stock-based compensation — you can read more about it here or here.

Warren’s vision is to ensure that the success of U.S. companies is shared more broadly, rather than largely benefiting shareholders. But would it have that effect?

The idea seems to be that having a more

Continue reading "Worker Representation on Boards Won’t Work Without Trust"

Feature Friday: Now Playing

I’ve written about this Android feature before. I am a bit obsessed about it.

When you are in a place where music is playing, the Android operating system notifies you what is “now playing.”

I have two things I would love to know how to do with this information.

1/ Access it via an API so I can favorite it my preferred streaming service (which is SoundCloud but Spotify and Apple Music would be great too).

2/ See the history someplace on the web so I can search it by time, place, artist, song, etc.

This is an example of where taking an app like Shazam or Soundhound and turning it into a feature in the operating system can open up a lot of potential additional functionality.


Nick Grossman — August 15, 2018
A little, and then a little more

How to Email Someone You Haven’t Talked to in Forever

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At some point in our careers, we find ourselves in need of help from others — whether it’s to make a direct connection to a hiring manager, to gather information on a prospective client company, or to get help in learning about a new industry quickly. However, over the years, we often lose touch with people in our network as work, family, and other demands fill our limited time. As if reaching out to ask for help wasn’t hard enough, what do you do when the person whose help you need is someone you haven’t spoken to in over a decade?

As an executive coach, I have seen clients in this situation many times. Building and nurturing our personal and professional networks is essential for career success, with research showing that robust networks lead to better opportunities, faster advancement, and greater status, among other benefits. When it would

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How Women Can Get What They Want in a Negotiation

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Tara, an MD/PhD who works for a large public university, contacted one of us (Suzanne) a few weeks after participating in a negotiation workshop she ran, wanting to share some positive news about successfully negotiating an 11% pay increase. A faculty member for six years, she had come to learn that she was not only underpaid but also had a higher teaching and clinic load than others in her group. She, like many women, accepted her job offer without negotiating.

How common is Tara’s situation? Research suggests that 20% of women never negotiate at all. A woman who opts not to negotiate her starting salary upon graduation will forgo an average of $7,000 the first year, and will lose between $650,000 and $1 million over the course of a 45-year career. Why would women leave money on the table? There are several factors. When selecting metaphors for

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20VC: Why Founders Must Use VCs as a Barometer, How to Make Distributed Teams Work Successfully & The Biggest Mistake People Make Early In Their Career with Dylan Serota, Founder @ Terminal

Dylan Serota is the Founder & Chief Strategy Officer @ Terminal, the startup that helps you create world-class technical teams through remote operations as a service. They recently raised a phenomenal $13m Series A with some of the world's most renowned names including Lightspeed, KPCB, Craft, Thiel, Atomic and Jerry Yang just to name a few. As for Dylan, he is also a Founder-in-Residence @ Atomic, one of the valley's most exciting new institutions which both founds and funds companies and includes the likes of Hims, TalkIQ (acq by Dialpad) and more. Prior to Atomic and Terminal, Dylan was Head of Platform @ Eventbrite where he led platform product org, built third-party developer ecosystem and platform partnerships.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Dylan made his way into the world of startups with Eventbrite and how that led to his realisation on the future of development Continue reading "20VC: Why Founders Must Use VCs as a Barometer, How to Make Distributed Teams Work Successfully & The Biggest Mistake People Make Early In Their Career with Dylan Serota, Founder @ Terminal"

Investor Stories 94: The Strange & Unusual (Ramanujam, Turner, Leitersdorf)

  On this special segment of The Full Ratchet, the following investors are featured: Madhavan Ramanujam Guy Turner Yoav Leitersdorf   Each investor describes the most unusual situation or pitch that they’ve encountered as an investor.

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Serendipity & Summer Doldrums

Did you notice that I had gone missing for a few days? Exactly 10 days to be specific! In case you were wondering, I decided to take some downtime to work on a specific problem — a continuous sleep disorder related problems that were making me get up at ungodly hours and leaving me exhausted for much of the day. As a result, I was unable to think and walked through the day like a zombie.  Continue reading "Serendipity & Summer Doldrums"

Deleting Facebook

Yup. I’m done with Facebook. However, it’s tough to delete your account. Read the message above. I exited out of this screen, suspended my account instead, but then went back 15 minutes later and actually deleted it. Well – I started the deletion process. I don’t know what day I’m on, but I think I’m close to 14 days. So, I’m still “deleting” apparently.

The only inconvenience I’ve noticed so far are all the sites where I used Facebook as the sign-on authenticator (rather than setting up a separate email/password combo.) I think I’m through most of that – at least the sites I use on a regular basis. For the first few days, I accidentally ended up on the Facebook login screen which was pleasantly filled out with my login beckoning me to log back in. I resisted the siren song of restarting my Facebook account before the 14

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When Is Teamwork Really Necessary?

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Most leaders assume that they need to foster teamwork among the people whom directly and indirectly report to them. Teaming is now seen as the workplace equivalent of motherhood and apple pie — invariably good. The problem is when leaders try to drive the wrong kind of collaboration on their particular teams. The result: wasted time and unnecessary frustration.

Consider the example of Nicolas, a regional sales vice president at a medical devices company. When promoted to his new role, he inherited a group of district sales managers responsible for selling to hospital systems in their respective geographies. Although his one-on-one meetings with these reports, which involved progress reviews, motivation, and coaching, were highly productive, his monthly team meetings weren’t. While the group liked getting together and engaging in some joint activities — such as goal setting, best-practice sharing, and talent development — people often wondered why they

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Boost Your Emotional Intelligence with These 3 Questions

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As the concept of emotional intelligence has gone global, we’ve watched professionals founder as they try to improve their emotional intelligence (or EI) because they either don’t know where to focus their efforts or they haven’t understood how to improve these skills on a practical level.

In our work consulting with companies and coaching leaders, we have found that if you’re looking to develop particular EI strengths, it helps to consider areas for improvement others have identified along with the goals you want to achieve — and then to actively build habits in those areas rather than simply relying on understanding them conceptually.

To that end, start by asking yourself three questions:

What are the differences between how you see yourself and how others see you?

The first step, as with all learning, is to get a sense of how your self-perception (how you see yourself)

Continue reading "Boost Your Emotional Intelligence with These 3 Questions"

A Nice Fire

Living in the city, I miss having a fireplace.  We never had one when I was growing up.  In our first house we bought, we had one.  When we built a house we had two and I wanted to figure out how to do more.  Something about humans and fire. Mesmerizing.

In our Geneva house, I would roast ducks occasionally over the fire. I imagine the copper tubing I put to hang the ducks over the fire is still there. You could smell the duck fat coming up the chimney.  It was heavenly.

Canadian air started to creep into our cabin this morning so I made a fire to take the chill off.


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The disclosure police have been making noises in the comments here at AVC and on Twitter that suggest I do not disclose conflicts and other important information when I write about things I am close to here at AVC.

I thought I would take a moment to describe how I think about this issue:

1/ I want AVC to have a casual informal feel, like a conversation between colleagues in the office or friends over a drink at the bar. I work hard to write in a conversational tone. I like to tell stories and use my own voice.

2/ I do want to disclose when I am writing about something where I or USV has a financial interest. But I don’t want it to feel like a lawyer wrote it. So I typically will say something like “our portfolio company Coinbase” or “LittleBits, a company that the Gotham Gal

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RSS: The Persistent Protocol

One of our themes is Protocol. We’ve been investing in companies built around technology protocols since 1994. One of my first investments, when I moved to Boulder in 1995, was in a company called Email Publishing, which was the very first email service provider. SMTP has been very good to me.

We made some of the early investments in companies built around RSS, including FeedBurner and NewsGator. RSS is a brilliant, and very durable, protocol. The original creators of the protocol had great vision, but the history and evolution of RSS were filled with challenges and controversy. Like religious conflict, the emotion ran higher than it needed to and the ad-hominem attacks drove some great people away from engaging with the community around the protocol.

And then Facebook and Twitter took over. RSS Feed Readers mostly vanished, and the feed became the “Twitter feed.” After a while, Facebook realized this

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