ubiquity6 and returning to angel investing

i launched Ascolta Ventures, prior to KP,  to invest in various *very* early stage companies (people) that i had been involved with in some capacity. From Cloudera to Hearsay Labs, each investment was driven by having deep conviction in the founder – and often independent of their vision/product. i had faith in the grit of the individual to deal with challenges of being a founder – and as an investor/advisor I wanted to be available to listen.  the Italian word ‘ascolta’ translates to ‘listen’ and I am assembling a set of advisors that founders can leverage to listen and provide counsel as various inflection points are reached. as i return to working directly on technology/ products, i am excited to again be doing angel investing on the side to support the courageous folks starting companies. and as first investment in a number of years, i am thrilled to announce

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Personal Update

514032a-i1 Some news to share… Over the next couple of months, I will be stepping away from VC investing and from the daily work with friends, colleagues, founders, and executives who make up Kleiner Perkins.  I am grateful for the opportunities, the friendships, and the journey to help the next generation of entrepreneurs. Why leave one of the greatest jobs on earth? Ultimately, my desire to discover and invest in the next new thing became eclipsed by my desire to get my hands dirty again and build the next new thing. I have to come understand that my real passion lies in the grappling to understand, develop and build new technologies. Like you, perhaps, I am captivated by what AR could enable, and fascinated by ‘real’ applications of AI/ML, or how security techniques from the world of geopolitics are influencing enterprise technologies. I was born and raised here in Silicon
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Personal Update

514032a-i1

Some news to share…

Over the next couple of months, I will be stepping away from VC investing and from the daily work with friends, colleagues, founders, and executives who make up Kleiner Perkins.  I am grateful for the opportunities, the friendships, and the journey to help the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Why leave one of the greatest jobs on earth?

Ultimately, my desire to discover and invest in the next new thing became eclipsed by my desire to get my hands dirty again and build the next new thing. I have come to understand that my real passion lies in the grappling to understand, develop and build new technologies. Like you, perhaps, I am captivated by what AR could enable, and fascinated by ‘real’ applications of AI/ML, or how security techniques from the world of geopolitics are influencing enterprise technologies.

I was born and raised here in Silicon

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the next generation of enterprise applications will look very different than today

 

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for years, we’ve heard CIOs grouse about the fact that at least 80% of their IT budgets are locked up just “keeping the lights on.” this means that money dedicated to delivering real business innovation is limited to somewhere between 5% and 20% of their resources – simply not enough to compete in hyperactive competitive markets.
and what does “keeping the lights on” really mean, anyway? companies have spent years investing in enterprise applications like Oracle, Siebel, and Peoplesoft that yes, really do run the business. the problem is that these applications were designed and built long before clouds, containers and the concept of microservices were available. these applications were built in monolithic blocks that are nearly impossible to move to new infrastructure or storage options without lots of time and effort. and the applications are hard to upgrade since updating even one small portion means rebuilding and

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the next generation of enterprise applications will look very different than today

  logo for years, we’ve heard CIOs grouse about the fact that at least 80% of their IT budgets are locked up just “keeping the lights on.” this means that money dedicated to delivering real business innovation is limited to somewhere between 5% and 20% of their resources – simply not enough to compete in hyperactive competitive markets.
and what does “keeping the lights on” really mean, anyway? companies have spent years investing in enterprise applications like Oracle, Siebel, and Peoplesoft that yes, really do run the business. the problem is that these applications were designed and built long before clouds, containers and the concept of microservices were available. these applications were built in monolithic blocks that are nearly impossible to move to new infrastructure or storage options without lots of time and effort. and the applications are hard to upgrade since updating even one small portion means rebuilding and
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document storage – welcome to the 21st century

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what’s your best estimate of how much space it takes to store paper records and documents in the US today?

  • 5 acres
  • 20 acres
  • 100 acres

while all of these options represent a lot of real estate, in fact the storage of paper records utilizes 8000 acres of land — the equivalent of 6000 football fields, #small cities or the state of Delaware. now that’s a massive amount of space that could be more productively used than for storing paper. not to mention that warehousing records this way is very expensive, makes them difficult to retrieve and search, and poses a security risk.

yet the scale of the problem also reveals the need. every year, U.S. companies have to archive millions of records for up to 7-15 years to meet legal, compliance, tax and other business requirements. extrapolate demand for document storage over the next decade and you can see that

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buddying up to another series a

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for the past year, many of the smartest investors and pundits i follow have claimed some variant of the following: the mobile market for apps is maturing. they’re probably mostly right, as it’s hard to drive distribution on either platform (for different reasons), the venture appetite to take on such risk has been satiated,  so much of the echo chamber has moved on to new exciting platforms like virtual reality, automobiles, space, and beyond.

 

don’t get me wrong, vr, cars, and space are all fascinating areas — but, as a long-time software engineer dating back to palm all the way to twitter, to me mobile hasn’t yet matured. it may never mature, what with billions of people worldwide who will come online over the next decade, new features (as recent as google instant apps), and interesting overseas forks of android, especially in asia. put another way, one investor’s maturing market
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buddying up to another series a

attachment-1
for the past year, many of the smartest investors and pundits i follow have claimed some variant of the following: the mobile market for apps is maturing. they’re probably mostly right, as it’s hard to drive distribution on either platform (for different reasons), the venture appetite to take on such risk has been satiated,  so much of the echo chamber has moved on to new exciting platforms like virtual reality, automobiles, space, and beyond.
 
don’t get me wrong, vr, cars, and space are all fascinating areas — but, as a long-time software engineer dating back to palm all the way to twitter, to me mobile hasn’t yet matured. it may never mature, what with billions of people worldwide who will come online over the next decade, new features (as recent as google instant apps), and interesting overseas forks of android, especially in asia. put another way, one investor’s maturing market
Continue reading "buddying up to another series a"

let connect the world’s billion+ mobile gamers!

mobcrush-logo-black-yellow video games have always captured the minds and imaginations of multiple generations. i remember my first time playing (then cracking) castle wolfenstein, alpine encounter and aztec – all a huge step up from the original game i played – oregon trail! these days I’ll find myself playing minecraft pocket edition with my daughter and xbox one games which are amazing. what has been so intriguing about all of this is the way in which we learn and improve our game play is no different than it was years ago – we learn by watching others in the community. (then side-by-side but now online!) the mobile game sector has been growing globally at a fast clip. various industry reports cite more than one billion mobile gamers worldwide. and this year alone more than half the us population is expected to join the fold. if that were not enough, these numbers
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reimagining marketing in a mobile world

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mobile devices have eclipsed desktops, laptops and other devices, becoming our primary method for engaging with the digital world. for the first time, smartphones in 2015 accounted for over half of all hours US adults spent viewing digital media. not only have smartphones become central to our daily lives, they are our most intimate devices. recent surveys show that for the vast majority of millennials their smartphone never leaves their side, day or night; and it’s the first thing they reach for in the morning (87% and 80% respectively). it’s no surprise then that businesses need to reach their customers on mobile, where they’re spending most of their time. and with smartphone users spending 4-8x more time in mobile apps than mobile web, their preference for apps is clear.

 
while being at the center of our digital lives presents unmatched opportunities for businesses – and the customers that patronize

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reimagining marketing in a mobile world

lean mobile devices have eclipsed desktops, laptops and other devices, becoming our primary method for engaging with the digital world. for the first time, smartphones in 2015 accounted for over half of all hours US adults spent viewing digital media. not only have smartphones become central to our daily lives, they are our most intimate devices. recent surveys show that for the vast majority of millennials their smartphone never leaves their side, day or night; and it’s the first thing they reach for in the morning (87% and 80% respectively). it’s no surprise then that businesses need to reach their customers on mobile, where they’re spending most of their time. and with smartphone users spending 4-8x more time in mobile apps than mobile web, their preference for apps is clear.

 
while being at the center of our digital lives presents unmatched opportunities for businesses – and the customers that patronize
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meet KPCB Edge – seed VC for builders, by builders

kpcbedge-logotype-lg i’m excited to announce Edge, a new seed stage initiative backed by KPCB that is launching today. at its core, Edge is attempting to redefine seed investing through software, where product, engineering and design have the same status as investing.  it’s the way i wish my early investors had approached venture capital when I founded Composite and Passenger, and i can’t think of a team better suited to tackling this problem. each of them has built, backed or managed products used by thousands of people, while remaining grounded to the core mission of helping founders working on the earliest stages of company building. Anjney, who is leading Edge, joined kpcb as our youngest partner in late 2013, working closely on our investments in RelateIQ, Ayasdi, Magic Leap, Enjoy and TrueCaller, where he’s a board observer. before that, he led the Dorm Room Fund at stanford, backing seed stage founders in the bay area,
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2015 commencement speech @USCViterbi – USC engineering

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recently i had the honor of delivering the commencement speech to the students graduating from the usc viterbi school of engineering in 2015. this was a momentous day for the students – and the fact that it rained in southern california during their comments only made it that much more novel :) tl;dr
  • complacency is the enemy of achievement – so get comfortable being uncomfortable
  • seek mentors to help you navigate through uncomfortable situations
  • spend time with and talk with non-engineers. build understanding and empathy of others that are not like you
  • seek diverse perspectives – unlearn what you have learned
  • keep building regardless of your age or experience – once a builder – always a builder
  • your biggest risk is pursuing a journey whereby you are too comfortable
and if you want the talk in full text – shoot me a note also, very awesome and proud that USC’s undergraduate engineering graduating class is 30% women!
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kpcb fellows 2015 – learn by doing

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i loved my time in school but it wasn’t until i left graduate school at the university of washington that my real education began (beyond having learned how to learn). looking back at it, i’ve had a great career founding and then selling my own company, working on microsoft’s early cloud-computing efforts, leading software development of webOS at Palm, then engineering at Twitter, and now, investing and advising young start-ups. in each and every experience, i made mistakes, fixed them, and made some more. i may have even notched a few wins along the way.

in school, we are often taught how to find solutions to problems. but in the “real world,” no one’s there to walk you through a problem step by step. my experiences allowed me to carve my own path and figure out solutions on my own. the best education that I ever received was outside of

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kpcb fellows 2015 – learn by doing

IMG_0739

i loved my time in school but it wasn’t until i left graduate school at the university of washington that my real education began (beyond having learned how to learn). looking back at it, i’ve had a great career founding and then selling my own company, working on microsoft’s early cloud-computing efforts, leading software development of webOS at Palm, then engineering at Twitter, and now, investing and advising young start-ups. in each and every experience, i made mistakes, fixed them, and made some more. i may have even notched a few wins along the way.

in school, we are often taught how to find solutions to problems. but in the “real world,” no one’s there to walk you through a problem step by step. my experiences allowed me to carve my own path and figure out solutions on my own. the best education that I ever received was outside of

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hacking for social impact

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last november, i served as a judge for the bayes impact hackathon. like other hackathons, this 24-hour event tested the technical skill and creativity of the participants. but unlike other hackathons, this event embraced an additional dimension: social impact.

in the last few years, people have noticed how data science can drive critical insights in the business world. now, people are turning their attention to the social importance of data science. and they are seeing that the programming skills that are in such demand in silicon valley can also help solve some of our biggest public problems.  

i’ve seen this in my own work, including helping to fix healthcare.gov last year and serving as an adviser to the u.s. digital service. today, with the rise of public data sets and new ways of combining the data, there are great openings for skilled engineers who want to make a

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spruce, and the future of healthcare

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from my early work in bioinformatics as a phd student to my involvement in rock health to helping fix healthcare.gov, the opportunity for software to reshape the healthcare industry has been a longstanding area of interest. ‘digital health’ is now hotter than ever, and for good reasons:

1/ consumerization of healthcare.  we as consumers bear more of the cost of our healthcare than ever before (the avg deductible is now $1200, up 2x from 5 yrs ago). as we navigate the healthcare system on our own paying out of pocket, we will vote with our $ for good experiences at affordable prices. this creates an enormous opportunity for innovation.

2/ software finally making inroads in healthcare. nowhere is this more obvious than with the ubiquity of mobile for both patients and doctors. mobile sw stands to improve access to care and improve inefficient workflows.

3/ opportunity for impact. healthcare is one of the largest sectors of our economy ($2.7 trillion!), and yet one of the most inefficient. great entrepreneurs and software teams are increasingly attracted to the opportunity to do things better/faster/cheaper in healthcare and have a real impact on human lives.

it’s against that backdrop that i’m excited to share kpcb’s series a investment in spruce health, where i’ll be taking a board seat. spruce is re-inventing healthcare delivery in a mobile world.

‘telemedicine’ (connecting patients with care providers for remote diagnosis and treatment) is finally taking off, but is still in its infancy relative to the opportunity. spruce’s approach is distinctive, and i think it’s reflective of where the industry will go — moving beyond access to focus on quality and innovation.  not content to be simply a communication channel paired with a md network, spruce wants to be a better way to see the doctor. they work with top medical advisors to build out — one medical condition at a time — comprehensive care experiences that use software to innovate upon everything from how you visit with the doctor, to how you get your rx, to how you follow your treatment regimen, to how

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your media on every screen

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we live in a world awash in media, from music to photos to home videos to tv to movies. we may download the media, or stream it, or create it ourselves. it’s a world of unparalleled choice, in our living room and on the go. but accessing and enjoying all of this media is not always easy. the amount of content keeps growing, stored in different formats and across devices. it’s difficult to remember where we’ve stored our media – and even if we do remember, often we have to take the time to move content from one device to another, especially when we share it with family and friends. we all want to access our content in a beautiful, elegant, intuitive way, at any time and on any screen.

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last year, kpcb invested in Plex, which developed a software-based home media server platform for consumers to manage their personal media. when we invested, the company was already profitable, seeking venture funding to accelerate growth and introduce Plex into even more households. since then, Plex has continued to take off. millions of users joined the service last year, as Plex more than doubled its revenue. much of the growth, like many of its employees, are from around the world. and Plex keeps adding features and partnerships, from its new apps for xbox and playStation to its integration with vevo to its state-of-the-art recognition software to help users organize their music files. and it has done so while seamlessly syncing thousands of terabytes of consumer media to mobile devices.

Plex may transform the media landscape because it is developing a novel solution just as the problem is exploding. according to cisco, there will be more than 11 billion mobile-connected devices within the next five years – more devices than people. youtube users upload more than 300 hours of video every minute, three times the level two years ago. digital video sales are projected to exceed physical video sales next year. even mainstays of entertainment like espn and cbs are unbundling video. so it’s more important than ever that we develop technology enabling us to combine our files into our own personal media hub that we can explore and manage with the touch of a finger. with new funding, a first-rate team, and hundreds of thousands of new customers per month, Plex is taking the lead.


launching your data-oriented (big data) startup

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it always pains me to say ‘big data’ – especially as someone who started companies in the space before the label and worked with companies who have long dealt with massive amounts of data  – but i also know that i am not a marketer :)

big data keeps getting bigger. last year, VC firms invested $3.6B – 75 percent of what they invested in the previous five years combined. the pace has continued this year, with several firms announcing new funding rounds in the tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars.

for aspiring big data entrepreneurs, it’s exciting – and intimidating. i meet a lot of smart, talented engineers who want to work in big data but don’t know where to start.

i tell them to focus on an area where you can have a big impact, including feature engineering, mining email for B2B, applications for CRM, data governance, vertical integration, health care solutions – big data can drive health care savings of $300B according to a recent study – and tying into existing consumer properties such as facebook or linkedin to drive sales leads.

other areas, like data visualization or databases, are important but saturated, though there may be an opportunity to build next-generation databases using time series data. still others, like personalization technology, are better for established companies like google and facebook that have the data to train their image and voice recognition models.

once you focus and develop your big data idea, how do you turn that idea into a company?

turning your big data idea into a company

my advice in brief: be a painkiller rather than a vitamin, build and sell for enterprise customers, and remember that even with big data, less can be more.

be a painkiller, not a vitamin

like so many entrepreneurs, i love the technical challenge of programming. i started coding in fourth grade and have never stopped. so i understand how founders can be enchanted by the technical wizardry behind their products, especially in fields like data and machine learning.

but the corporate customers who are deciding whether to buy the product will be asking a set of questions with a very different focus. questions like: what’s the ROI here? will your proposed solution integrate well with our business culture? will it help move my production workloads?

one way to stay focused is to remind yourself to be a painkiller, not a vitamin. vitamins are great, but painkillers are vital. use technology to build a product that customers need – now.

i always ask founders in our first meeting why they made certain technical decisions. if you don’t know why you selected a particular technology and how your decision

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calling all aspiring engineers: ready to make an impact this summer?

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when students visit me in office hours at stanford, they often ask me what i think they should do over the summer. take an internship at a big company to learn how google or facebook gets things done? or join a startup and learn how to scale the next big thing? or take the ultimate plunge and start my own company?

i’m always happy when students pause and take a look at all of the options that they have, since the first key question in making a good decision is to be thoughtful about what you want to do in the future. when i was vp of engineering at twitter, i would often ask engineering recruits: “what do you want to do after twitter?” the response was always: “huh?” few people are used to talking about leaving a job they haven’t even started yet. but it’s the right question because you want to think about how to prepare yourself to succeed not just in the next job but in the jobs after that.

of course, none of this is completely predictable: the world will change, the valley will change, and you will change. in less than twenty years, i’ve started a ph.d. program in computer science, worked on microsoft’s early cloud-computing efforts, founded and sold my own company, led software development of webOS at palm, led the engineering team at twitter as it quadrupled in size, became a venture investor, and even helped fix healthcare.gov.

but while i couldn’t have imagined all of this, i always considered where i wanted to go and then contemplated, job by job, the starting places that would give me the best experience to get to that point. i think this is even more important today, when there are more opportunities than ever for talented engineers. and it’s especially important for students looking at internships, where the pace of learning is so much faster and the new opportunities will present themselves in weeks and months rather than years.

there are some rules of thumb: if you want to start a company one day, joining a startup of 10-20 people and seeing what does and doesn’t work will help you understand what it takes to be a ceo and get a company off the ground. if you are thinking of graduate school in computer science or engineering, a big company will often give you the best technical problems to work on.

but if there is one rule of thumb that i emphasize to students, it’s to focus less on company size or stage, or even the product or service, and instead to think more about the people you’ll work with and what

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