Yep, more later-stage companies are taking on venture debt

 Venture debt has been much in the news lately. Are desperate times beginning to call for desperate measures? That might be an overstatement. At the same time, the venture debt firm Western Technology Investment has seen plenty of cycles and amassed plenty of data over its 37 years in the business, and CEO Maurice Werdegar says the firm just finished its busiest quarter ever. Read More

What to Do If You Catch Your Boss in a Lie

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Six months ago, at your request, your boss agreed to put your name forward for a new position that works directly with the CEO. Weeks went by, and you heard nothing. Then someone else got the job. When you asked your boss about it, he gave a long, confusing explanation for why the CEO considered you a strong candidate but “had to go another way.”

Last week, you bumped into the CEO in the hall. She pulled you aside and asked why you never raised your hand for the new job, confessing that she wasn’t very happy with the person in the role. As she was talking, you knew one thing for certain: Your boss lied to you. What now?

There are two ways to handle deceit from above: reactively or proactively. If you are in reactive mode, stay calm and be constructive. Breaks in trust are infuriating and hurtful,

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The Trade-Off Every AI Company Will Face

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It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of training to begin a job as a cashier at McDonald’s. Even on their first day, most new cashiers are good enough. And they improve as they serve more customers. Although a new cashier may be slower and make more mistakes than their experienced peers, society generally accepts that they will learn from experience.

We don’t often think of it, but the same is true of commercial airline pilots. We take comfort that airline transport pilot certification is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration and requires minimum experience of 1,500 hours of flight time, 500 hours of cross-country flight time, 100 hours of night flight time, and 75 hours of instrument operations time. But we also know that pilots continue to improve from on-the-job experience.

On January 15, 2009, when US Airways Flight 1549 was struck by a flock of Canada

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Assessment: Are You at Risk of Generosity Burnout?

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Does Doing the Same Work Over and Over Again Make You Less Ethical?

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One of the many things managers worry about is employees breaking the rules. Evidence suggests that such behavior is widespread, and it can have devastating consequences. Companies have tried many different ways to limit unethical behavior, from creating codes of conduct to implementing ethical training. But these interventions are often criticized for being ineffective. This may be because they’re too direct.

We tend to think of unethical behavior as intentional, in that employees consciously choose to break rules. Sometimes this is true, but sometimes it is not. Research has shown that unethical behavior frequently arises unconsciously, from workers’ unchecked, automatic inclinations.

There are two ways we process information and make decisions: Type 1, our quick and automatic responses to a situation, and Type 2, our deliberative and reflective reasoning. Type 1 processes do not require much effort or working memory, which is why they are our “default” system for making decisions — unless

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How Organizations Can Thrive in the Digital Economy – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM KORN FERRY

Image courtesy of Korn Ferry.

We live in a digital economy: a virtual environment that has changed the rules of doing business and made disruption the norm. It has put customers, not companies, in charge. And it has transformed workforce dynamics as the “born digital” millennials come to prominence in the workplace.

This age is ripe with opportunity. Organizations can now engage with customers and employees like never before, and the virtual environment holds the potential to drive operational efficiencies, save time and money, and open the exploration of new commercial avenues. When it’s far cheaper to build an app than a manufacturing plant, there are greater returns to be gained for significantly lower investment.

Gartner predicts 41 percent of enterprise revenue will come from digital business by 2020—almost double what the percentage was in 2015 (Gartner, 2016). For the Googles, Ubers, and Facebooks of the world, facing these challenges

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Wrench raises $4 million to bring auto repairs to your door

 A Seattle startup called Wrench has raised $4 million in Series A funding for an app that sends certified auto mechanics to the customer’s door. The round was led by Madrona Venture Group, according to Wrench CEO and co-founder Ed Petersen. In general, people dread cars repairs. According to a AAA survey, 2 out of 3 people in the U.S. don’t trust auto repair shops and more… Read More

You Cannot Chase A Trade

One of the things common in trading and investing in companies is emotion.  There is the thrill of the chase.  It can consume you.  Sometimes, you get so involved, you ignore common sense and toss it to the wind.   Discipline is a skill that great investors learn. Often it’s learned the hard way.

When you invest in companies, you do get consumed.  Great investors will tell you they “fall in love” with a company.  No matter how much data you look at, if they don’t feel that emotional pull to a company they won’t invest.  Want to see how strong that emotion is?  Get a startup investor to talk about a failure and get them to talk about how they felt about the company before they invested.  That’s why startup investing can be so painful.  You not only lose money, but something you fell in love with dies.  By

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Brain Computer Interface

The WSJ reported yesterday that Elon Musk is developing yet another company, this one based on neural lace technology, to create a brain computer interface.

Neural lace technology, as I understand it, involves implanting electrodes into the brain so that the brain can control machines directly without the need for an IO device like a mouse, keyboard, or voice interface.

I have no idea how advanced this technology is and whether it is ready for commercialization or if this is basically a research project masquerading as a startup.

But in some ways that doesn’t matter if you believe that at some point someone or some group of scientists and medical professionals will figure out how to directly connect our brain to machines without the need of an IO device.

There are so many times that I have thoughts that I don’t do anything with. They sit idle and maybe go

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A Question About Risk That Founders Forget to Ask VCs

Here’s a question I recommend founders ask Seed or Series A VCs during their fundraising: “What’s a risk you’re more comfortable with than the average VC?” In four years and hundreds (1,000?) of pitch meetings, I’m not sure it’s been asked of me. But I think it’s a good question  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Why? At the early stages, EVERY company still has significant risks associated with it. A seed or Series A investor should be able to articulate the risks they perceive with a particular investment and why that risk is one they’re willing to take. Potentially the best founder <> fund matches come when both parties are clear about what needs to still be proven out -and- the venture investor has some ability to assist the founder in de-risking. If the investor is taking on a risk that fundamentally makes them uncomfortable, they’re going to pressure the founder

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A Return To Eastern Time

For the past few months, I’ve been living and posting from the west coast, as has become our routine during the winter months. Regular readers have likely noticed that new posts show up around 9am/10am ET instead of 6am/7am ET. This will be the last post from the west coast this winter as we are returning home to NYC this afternoon.

I am not entirely sure how I’m going to get a blog post in tomorrow morning as we arrive late and I’ve got an early breakfast, but I always seem to find a way. It certainly will have to be posted by 7:30am ET before I start my day. Maybe I will write it on the plane home this evening.

The winter out west routine works really well for me. It gets me away from the hustle and bustle of NYC and in a bit more reflective and relaxed

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London’s social impact accelerator BGV plans seed fund

 London-based ‘social impact’ accelerator, Bethnal Green Ventures, which backs pre-seed startups with ideas for using tech to tackle social and/or environmental problems, has taken £1.3 million in funding from three social tech and innovation funders: Big Society Capital, Nominet Trust and Nesta. Read More

Collaboration Overload Is a Symptom of a Deeper Organizational Problem

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Many leaders are now aware of the dangers of collaboration overload and collaboration-tool overload in the workplace. The evidence continues to mount that, for many organizations, the costs associated with meetings, emails, IMs and other forms of workforce collaboration now exceed the benefits.

But what can get lost in the eye-popping statistics around excess email and meetings is this: Collaboration overload is almost always a symptom of some deeper organizational pathology and rarely an ailment that can be treated effectively on its own. Attempts to liberate unproductive time by employing new tools (for example, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Box) or imposing new guidelines and meeting disciplines will prove fruitless unless steps are taken to deal with the underlying organizational illness. Companies that have successfully combatted the excesses of overload have done so by focusing on the root causes of unproductive collaboration—and not merely the symptoms—in devising the cure.

Meetings, emails, IMs and

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Some Things I Have Learned About Email

A non trivial part of my time is spent reading and writing a lot of email. Here are some things that I have learned and that work for me.

There are only two legitimate uses for bcc. First, explicitly moving someone to bcc who no longer needs to be part of the ongoing exchange. Second, to send email to a large group of people by putting all of them on bcc. I strongly recommend never using bcc any other way. If you want someone to know about an email you sent, send it and then forward it …

Avoid attachments when you can. For instance if you want someone to look at one or two charts, just paste them right into the email. Use text to summarize the key point of the charts in addition to that. So much email is read on mobile devices today and opening up an Continue reading "Some Things I Have Learned About Email"

How the Water Industry Learned to Embrace Data

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The water industry is using digital technologies and analytics to derive more value from its physical assets. The need for this sector to change and evolve could not be greater: The organizations that manage water supplies around the world are facing critical issues, and water scarcity is chief among them.

Because of changes in our lifestyles, including increased consumption of grain, meat, and cotton clothes, growth in water consumption per capita has doubled over the last century. And demand is increasing. According to a 2016 report from the UNEP-hosted International Resource Panel, water demand will outstrip supply by 40% by 2030. During the same period, according to the World Economic Forum, water infrastructure faces a huge $26 trillion funding shortfall. If not addressed, water scarcity will squeeze food and energy supply chains, and stall economic growth.

To help solve this problem, organizations are using digital technologies and data analytics to improve

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Arable raises $4.25 million to demystify farming with sensors and data

 Arable has raised $4.25 million for solar-powered sensors and software to help farmers produce more food with fewer resources, and more accurately predict their yields. Middleland Capital and S2G Ventures led the Series A investment in Arable joined by Chasefield, Spark Labs and Cantos VC. Believe it or not, farmers in the US have faced a labor shortage for years. US citizens aren’t drawn… Read More