Rebecca Kaden: New Partner at USV

Last week was a big week for us at Union Square Ventures. We had the MongoDB IPO on Thursday and on Friday Rebecca Kaden announced that she has joined USV as a partner. Rebecca is a New Yorker and after nearly a decade on the West Coast, she is looking forward to coming back here. You can read more about it in Rebecca’s own words over on the USV blog. I am super excited for today’s Monday meeting because it will be the first one with Rebecca!

MongoDB IPO and New York Tech

I spent much of yesterday morning at the NASDAQ for the IPO of our portfolio company MongoDB (now trading as MDB). This is a big milestone for technology companies in New York. We have had New York IPOs before, including Etsy in our portfolio, but MongoDB is the first core technology (as opposed to applied technology) company that’s based in New York city to reach this milestone. As someone who came to New York in 1999 at the height of the dotcom bubble, when it first felt like the city could be a force in tech, and then lived through the tech winter that followed in the early 2000s this moment feels particularly sweet.

Why does this matter? Because it is one more step along the way of demonstrating that geography is no longer destiny. You do not have to move to San Francisco / Silicon Valley to start Continue reading "MongoDB IPO and New York Tech"

Uncertainty Wednesday: A Random Variable without Expected Value

I ended the previous Uncertainty Wednesday post asking whether an expected value always exists. Going back to the definition, the expected value is the “probability weighted average of a random variable.” So let’s construct an example of a random variable which does not have an expected value. We will consider a probability distribution with infinitely many discrete outcomes, in which the first outcome has probability ½, the second ¼, the third 1/8 and so on. This is a valid probability distribution because all the probabilities sum up to 1:

½ + ¼ + 1/8 + 1/16 + …. = 1

Whether or not an expected value exists depends on what the numeric values of the outcomes are. Consider for instance the random variable where the first outcome is 1, the second is 2, the third is 3 and so on. For this random variable we have an expected value, because

Continue reading "Uncertainty Wednesday: A Random Variable without Expected Value"

Blog Panic (Backing Up Cloud Services)

I woke up this past Friday (the 13th) to a DM on Twitter saying that Continuations was down. I immediately tried to open the site on my phone and was greeted by an ominous:

At first I figured that maybe Tumblr was down. A quick check of other Tumblrs revealed that not to be the case. At this point a somewhat queasy feeling started to set in. After a quick shower I went to my laptop and tried to log into my account only to see a terrifying sight:

At this point I was in a full blown state of panic. I have been writing here for a long time and my last full backup of Continuations was several years old!

Thankfully I know several people connected to Tumblr and they kindly offered to help. Continuations was fully restored within a couple of hours, but those were some scary hours Continue reading "Blog Panic (Backing Up Cloud Services)"

Blog Panic (Backing Up Cloud Services)

I woke up this past Friday (the 13th) to a DM on Twitter saying that Continuations was down. I immediately tried to open the site on my phone and was greeted by an ominous:

At first I figured that maybe Tumblr was down. A quick check of other Tumblrs revealed that not to be the case. At this point a somewhat queasy feeling started to set in. After a quick shower I went to my laptop and tried to log into my account only to see a terrifying sight:

At this point I was in a full blown state of panic. I have been writing here for a long time and my last full backup of Continuations was several years old!

Thankfully I know several people connected to Tumblr and they kindly offered to help. Continuations was fully restored within a couple of hours, but those were some scary hours Continue reading "Blog Panic (Backing Up Cloud Services)"

Last Uncertainty Wednesday we dug deeper into understanding the distribution of sample means. I…

Last Uncertainty Wednesday we dug deeper into understanding the distribution of sample means. I ended with asking why the chart for 100,000 samples of size 10 looked smoother than then one for samples of size 100 (just as a refresher, these are all rolls of a fair die). Well, for a sample of size 10, there are 51 possible values of the mean: 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 … 5.8, 5.9, 6.0. But with a sample size of 100 there are 501 possible values for the mean. So with the same number of samples (100,000) the distribution will not be approximated as closely. We can fix this by upping the number of samples to say 1 million. Thanks to the amazing speed of a modern laptop even 100 million rolls of a die just take a couple of minutes (this still blows my

Continue reading "Last Uncertainty Wednesday we dug deeper into understanding the distribution of sample means. I…"

Support idyll – Interactive Narratives

I am excited about a new open source project called idyll. Here is how Matthew Conlen, the lead author, describes idyll

Idyll is a tool that makes it easier to author interactive narratives for the web. The goal of the project is to provide a friendly markup language — and an associated toolchain — that can be used to create dynamic, text-driven web pages.

Idyll helps you create documents that use common narrative techniques such as embedding interactive charts and graphs, responding to scroll events, and explorable explanations. Additionally, its readable syntax facilitates collaboration between writers, editors, designers, and programmers on complex projects.

The project seems like an important step in the direction of an interactive learning environment that seamlessly combines text, mathematical formulas, code, graphics. Creating such an environment and then using it to share knowledge about the consilience of math, physics, computation and more is one of Continue reading "Support idyll – Interactive Narratives"