Uncertainty Wednesday: The Problem with P-Values (Incentives)

Last Uncertainty Wednesday, I introduced the concept of p-values. We looked at the example of a null hypothesis (explanation) that a coin is fair, observing heads (H) or tails (T) six times in a row and rejecting that the coin is fair because the probability of that happening with a fair coin is only 0.03125 which is less than 0.05 (a commonly used cutoff). I ended the post by asking readers to consider the following scenario:

You are a researcher who gets paid only if you reject the explanation of equal probability with a p-value cutoff of 0.05. How much work do you have to do to come up with a sequence of observations that gets you the desired result?

As a naive first reaction we might be tempted to say that this looks like a lot of work. After all, if there is only a 0.

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Grey Hair In the C-Suite: Experience, Age, And IPOs In Biotech

Biotech venture investors often prefer to back executives and entrepreneurs with a bit of grey hair. Seasoned industry veterans that possess leadership charisma along with years of experience, and the oft-accompanying learned judgement, are highly sought-after in biopharma’s seemingly endless war for talent.

Earlier this month, I tweeted about how talent was the biggest constraint in biotech. I highlighted that the number of VC-backed startups in biotech remained constrained (relatively flat for years) despite huge increases in aggregate funding flows, and that this was caused by talent bottlenecks rather than limits on ideas or capital. The pool of executives/entrepreneurs with both demonstrated leadership skills and bona fide R&D/BD expertise is very limited.

This observation unleashed a storm on Twitter: I was apparently exhibiting rampant age-ism and ignoring the return-generating exuberance of youth; it was evidence that a biotech VC cartel actively keeps young people out; hedge funds apparently try to

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Ledger and the Fundamental Need for a Security Infrastructure in Crypto

  2017 was an extraordinary and crazy year in the world of cryptocurrencies. Prices skyrocketed (Bitcoin: +1,400%; Litecoin: +5,400%, Ethereum: +8,700%; Ripple +35,000%).  ICOs raised over $3 billion.  Crypto hedge funds emerged all over the map and a handful of blockchain startups reached unicorn-level valuations. Almost inevitably, the price of individual cryptocurrencies will experience substantial … Continue reading Ledger and the Fundamental Need for a Security Infrastructure in Crypto

How to Fire an Employee the Right Way

The beginning of the year is the traditional time for annual performance reviews at most startups (if you don’t do them, check out Homebrew’s guide to Performance Management at Startups). And sometimes, the outcome of that review process is the decision to fire someone who hasn’t been performing or doesn’t work well with others on your team. While there’s no shortage of advice on hiring at startups, including my own, there doesn’t seem to be as much attention paid to how to fire someone correctly. Doing this well is critical because you’re dealing with a human being, someone who is likely to experience pain and disappointment when fired. And handling firing people well is also important for the remaining team’s morale and sentiments about the company. Here are some tips for making an already difficult conversation a bit more tolerable.

Own it: Sure the person you’re firing isn’t Continue reading "How to Fire an Employee the Right Way"

An investor’s view of AI in 2018


GUEST: Artificial Intelligence has become a buzzword for investors of late, many of whom recognize its enormous potential to become the most game-changing technology since the industrial revolution. Indeed, the projected impact of AI is likely to be greater than all prior tech trends combined, and savvy investors would be wise not to miss out. From…Read More

How Office Politics Corrupt the Search for High-Potential Employees

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Garry Gay/Getty Images

Few topics have captivated talent management discussions more intensely than potential. The obsession with predicting who may be a future star or the next top leader has influenced academic research and human resources practices alike. But how good are we at evaluating human potential? The answer is, it’s mixed. On the one hand, science has given us robust tools and powerful theories to quantify the key indicators of future career success, job performance, and leadership effectiveness. On the other hand, in the real world of work, organizational practices lag behind, with 40% of designated “HiPos” — high-potential employees — not doing well in the future and at least one in two leaders disappointing, derailing, or failing to drive high levels of engagement and team performance.

The main reason underlying this bleak state of affairs is that HiPo nominations are contaminated by organizational politics. To be more precise,

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Marathon #25: Run Crazy Horse in South Dakota

I finished marathon #25 today and checked South Dakota off the list. I ran it with ten friends (nine of us did the marathon, two did the half) who were all part of my Chorus team that I started in June.

While this was one of the most enjoyable marathon weekends that I’ve had, it was a rough marathon for me. I finished it in a personal worst of 5:58:26 (gun time right at 6:00:00 – the clock said 5:59:59, but the website says 6:00:00.)

Things went wrong almost from the beginning. The weather was in the low 30s so I couldn’t decide whether to wear pants or just run in shorts. I was hot in the first mile and my stomach was rumbling. At mile three, we looped back around to the start so I went into the Crazy Horse Visitor Center, took my pants off, and took

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The Feature -> Product -> Company Continuum

I’ve been thinking about the continuum between a feature, product and company a lot recently. Specifically the challenge that companies have as they move across this continuum, how rare that last category really is, and the combination of product idea and market potential that is required for companies to actually make it to Company status.

Most companies begin life somewhere between a feature and a product. They’re started by an entrepreneur trying to solve some problem that s/he finds compelling and generally that problem is a feature of some larger set of problems. At this stage most entrepreneurs are given the advice to “focus”. It’s good advice (and advice I give all the time) but does sometimes perpetuate the feature-ness of the business – you spend your time and effort narrowly on a small number of related features and while you may have some inclination for how these stitch together

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The Unknown Path to a Decentralized Future

Today’s post is over at USV.com on “The Unknown Path to a Decentralized Future.” Here is the opening:

Some companies with currently centralized services have been criticized for issuing tokens and raising money in ICOs. There are even allegations that venture investors are pushing companies to do so as a ploy for liquidity. I suspect that some situations like that do actually exist, but I know from first hand conversations that many of the entrepreneurs pursuing this route are doing so out of a genuine conviction that it is the right path to a decentralized future.

Timber! Out of the Woods: Why We Invested in a Startup With a New Approach to Logging

For me, the most exciting time to become involved in a startup is the very earliest of stages, when there is a vision and promise of what could be. Pre-product-market fit. Pre-product, even. That’s exactly when I met Zach Sherman and Ben Johnson of what would become Timber.

When we first talked, they didn’t have a prototype developed yet. They didn’t have an official name. They hadn’t even incorporated the company. In fact, they hadn’t even quit their previous jobs.

However, the two of them shared a vision of a cloud-based logging platform designed to help software developers get more done. One that offered developers context to their logs, centralizing and intelligently parsing to offer them the ability to click, filter, and search in real time. This system, enabled by the new capabilities of tools like Amazon Kinesis and Athena, would empower developers to quickly find whatever they needed, address Continue reading "Timber! Out of the Woods: Why We Invested in a Startup With a New Approach to Logging"

Female founders in Chicago still struggle to secure funding


GUEST: The well-documented gap in venture capital funding also exists in Chicago. In the last five full years, Chicago startups with at least one woman founder never received more than 20 percent of the venture capital funding or deal flow in the Chicagoland area, according to data provided to Chicago Inno by data firm Pitchbook. In that time, star…Read More

a16z Video: What is the S-curve?

In this animated short video, a16z Partner Benedict Evans describes “the s-curve” in the life cycle of technology innovation, and why it’s important. Technologies like the PC, internet, and mobile phone emerge, grow, and mature in waves — from “a …

20VC: What Metrics LPs Really Use To Measure Manager Success, Why 10 Year Fund Structures Really Do Not Work & Why Venture Is So Similar To The Movie Business with Will Porteous, General Partner @ RRE Ventures

Will Porteous is the General Partner & COO @ RRE Ventures, one of New York's leading venture funds with investments in the likes of Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, Giphy and Paperless Post just to name a few. As for Will, he works primarily with media and hardware companies, where he is a Director of BuzzFeed, Paperless Post, Spaceflight, and Spire. Prior to VC, Will held senior management positions with SupplyWorks and NetMarket, the e-commerce pioneer now owned by Cendant Corp.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Will made his entry into VC and came to be the hardware and media specialist as General Partner and COO @ RRE Ventures?

2.) Why does WIll believe VC is like the movie industry? How can VCs be prepared to movie producers? How does the talent required to make a great movie resemble that of making a great startup?

3.) Continue reading "20VC: What Metrics LPs Really Use To Measure Manager Success, Why 10 Year Fund Structures Really Do Not Work & Why Venture Is So Similar To The Movie Business with Will Porteous, General Partner @ RRE Ventures"