Pitchers and Catchers Report

Pitchers and catchers reported this week. Spring is almost here.  I am excited for the Cubs season.  In Silicon Valley, I notice that there are only San Francisco Giants stickers and hats.  I was kind of surprised not to see A’s stuff.  You will find White Sox stuff all over Chicago.

I am in the wine country today. Love it up here.

Do Your Homework

If you want to be successful, you have to put in the time.  Nothing worthwhile comes easy.   This is the same across all occupations and endeavors.  When I talk to millennials a lot of the time I hear, “That’s hard.”

Yes, it is.

Too often we get exposed to people that completed their journey.  We don’t get get a look at them before they were on it, or while they were on it.  While stories are powerful, it’s hard to imagine what it was like for yourself.  That law partner making the big bucks?  They were in law school once and they were low on the totem pole in a law firm once too.

The same is true with traders.  Before they became great traders, they had to learn the mechanics.  They had to ingrain the fundamentals into their workflow and brain.  Before I traded, I worked from Continue reading "Do Your Homework"

Getting Out of Bubbles

One good thing about getting out of Chicago once in awhile is I get out of routine and the bubble.  I grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago.  I worked and lived downtown.  I am a Chicagoan (minus the graft and corruption) through and through and have the accent to prove it.  I am sad about the end of the Blackhawks run and surprised whenever the Bulls win.

My wife and I “missed” the snow yesterday that fell on Chicago.  It was fun to look at photos on social media of it.  Our routine of leaving in February isn’t about just missing some bad winter weather.

It’s good to get out and see how other people experience their world.

For example, driving through California, I cannot get my radio to hold a radio station for long.  You can see why someone would

Continue reading "Getting Out of Bubbles"

YCharts Partners With Dynasty

If you read my post about the stock market NOT melting down yesterday, you saw a lot of charts incorporated into the post. I get those from Ycharts.  Today, Ycharts announced a partnership with Dynasty Financial Partners.  They have more than 450 advisors and support staff that will be utilizing the fantastic analytical tools of Ycharts to do research on stocks, ETFs, and other financial instruments.

This is a nice deal for Chicago based Ycharts.  I invested in the company way back in 2008-09 at the height of the financial crisis.  They continue to add features and provide them at an affordable price so that advisors, family offices, and firms that manage money for people can have quick access to information that is actionable.  I find that when I am putting on an option trade, Ycharts really helps me select the duration and the Continue reading "YCharts Partners With Dynasty"

The Privilege Tax

The socialists in Illinois have resurrected the Privilege Tax Bill.  It is a creation of the increasingly larger and dominant socialistic wing of the Democratic Party but let us be honest.  Most if not all of them agree with it.

California Democrats are trying to figure out how to continue to tax their constituents in spite of the new tax decreases that were in the Trump tax plan.  In New York, Governor Cuomo proposed the same sort of tax.  Hedge fund manager and University of Chicago PhD Cliff Asness correctly remarked that if Cuomo’s plan goes through” they aren’t running a government they are running a gulag.”  It’s tongue and cheek but the sentiment is accurate.  I find that people in our business across the spectrum have a tremendous sense of humor.

HB 4293 would impose a 20% tax, in addition to all other Continue reading "The Privilege Tax"

Truss Launches in Washington DC

A company I angel invested in Truss.co has expanded to Washington DC.  Truss started in Chicago.  It uses artificial intelligence to find office space for clients. They developed a chatbot, Vera, that clients can interact with to find the best space for their needs.  Commercial Real Estate Brokers actually make more commissions by utilizing Truss.

CRE Brokers spend a lot of time and resources no matter what the space size.  Truss allows them to make money on small space, build a relationship with clients, and still concentrate on leasing out the big spaces where their bread and butter are.

If you are a startup or a small business, finding office space is super painful.  Truss makes it simple, quick, and efficient.

Truss is also in Dallas and Houston.  They have more square feet listed on their platform targeting SMB’s than anyone else in Continue reading "Truss Launches in Washington DC"

America is Different


We are driving from Chicago to California. Our first stop is in LA. Our daughter lives there. Then we head up to northern California for a month. The American West occupies a unique niche in the culture of America. It almost seems as if we are born with the “Go West young man” ethos. It’s one of the things that make America such an entrepreneurial juggernaut.

It is different here. There is a reason people left and continue to leave Europe, the Southern Hemisphere, Africa and Asia to come here.

I really believe strongly that America should stay different. That means often we will be out of step with seeing things the way the rest of the world sees things. I think you see that at the United Nations consistently. The rest of the world would like America to be in a box. America will never be in a box. Continue reading "America is Different"

It’s The First Five Months of the Year So It Must Be Time for Entrepreneurial Competition

Last weekend I was part of a team that judged the GNVC at Chicago Booth and this evening I am helping with the Numo Fin Tech event at Chicago Booth.  Northwestern has events all spring and so does UIC, UIllinois, DePaul and a lot of other universities in the area.   The New Venture Challenge at Chicago Booth heats up soon.  This might be commonplace in Northern California.  It’s still relatively new in Chicago and I like it.  It’s good for the ecosystem.  It’s good for the universities.  It’s tough on the entrepreneurs but ultimately good for them.  It’s good for me too.

On a more grand scale, big pitch competitions like Launch take place in the Spring.  I had never really heard of Launch until a company I was invested in, Brilliant, participated and did very very well.  Continue reading "It’s The First Five Months of the Year So It Must Be Time for Entrepreneurial Competition"

Driving West on Friday

My wife and I generally get out of Chicago for a month now that the children are moved out and on their own.  When we go, we usually drive.  We own a diesel and bought it in 2009.  It has 155,000 on it and I hope to keep it another five to ten years.  Of course, in the course of the last year we had to replace a lot of stuff on it and this week it’s no different.  New turbocharger.

I didn’t feel confident driving from Chicago out west with a leaky turbo even though people said I could drive it.

My wife and I have driven all over the country.  We have driven from Chicago to NYC and back.  Our kids went to school in the south and we drove all over.  We drove to Austin, TX in 2016.  Continue reading "Driving West on Friday"

Some Good News For Chicago Tech

Yesterday Chicago tech got some good news.  Foursquare is going to build out their engineering team here.  It’s good they are recognizing that there is talent here.  They didn’t mention it in their Medium post, but the University of Illinois in Champaign graduates more computer science people than anyone else in the country.  A lot of the class is from the Midwest, so Chicago is a natural draw for them.

The community in Chicago continues to build.  We did get a black eye from Outcome Health.  We will see how that situation develops.  I don’t really know anything more than what I read in the newspapers so I can’t comment.  However, it’s not good.  Despite the House and Senate in Springfield’s attempts to torpedo the ecosystem, and the city council’s war on tech, Chicago is still a front-runner for Amazon’s second headquarters.

Continue reading "Some Good News For Chicago Tech"

Didn’t Realize Governor Cuomo Was This Unintelligent

The state of New York’s Governor Cuomo is upset at the tax bill.  All of a sudden, New York citizens of are going to realize the high taxes they pay aren’t subsidized anymore by the rest of the United States.  In what can only be compared to something out of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Cuomo has proposed a “fairness tax” to tax carried interest on private equity funds at ordinary income rates.  Yesterday, I blogged about how we don’t teach finance to our children in school.  Clearly, Governor Cuomo didn’t learn anything about finance in school or at home either.

Cliff Asness tweeted about the hypocrisy of Cuomo’s potential policy.

1-12-2010

Ha, I just noticed I have been blogging for 8 years.  I started on Jan 12, 2010 and my first post was about the ineptitude of Tim Geithner at the US Treasury.  I had written a couple of articles for sites like American Thinker and Pajamas Media.  Those were on the after-effects of the financial crisis.  I was against the bailout of the big banks, and against the ensuing wave of regulation that washed ashore.  Dodd-Frank remains one of the worst things ever passed in the history of the United States.  If you think populism started with Trump, you have to do a little research.  Any politician that voted against the bailout, like Rep Peter Roskam, took a lot of heat.  Any politician that voted against the regulatory state which was created to “make sure it never happens again” took even Continue reading "1-12-2010"

Get Rid of The Fed

I know what you are thinking.  I am a crackpot.  I have joined the Ron Paul cadre that wants to end the Fed and go back to gold.  I deliberately put up a click-bait headline because the way we regulate institutions in our financial ecosystem is totally wrong.  I started blogging when Dodd-Frank was being debated.  It was an absolutely horrible bill and has turned out to be an absolutely horrible law for America.  But, Dodd-Frank has been good for gigantic institutions.

However, entrepreneurship and competition will find a way to circumnavigate bad public policy.  I am reminded of the guy in Venezuela who used the free subsidized electricity to mine bitcoin and buy food on Amazon Prime for his family so they don’t starve.

In America, the government policy has killed community and small banks.  The bureaucrats are hungry so they Continue reading "Get Rid of The Fed"

Hey, Want A Job Starting and Growing a Hedge Fund?

Recently, WLV closed on our second deal, CFX.  CFX is a two sided marketplace that trades illiquid assets. If there is anything that me, my partner Kenny and the majority of our LPs know is where to identify a trading opportunity.  We found one at CFX.

We are in the process of setting up a Chicago based hedge fund and hiring a COO.  It’s a startup.  We see a lot of edge trading in this market.  We think it’s a good opportunity for someone who is not a “trader type” to enter the hedge fund world and make some money for themselves.  You are going to have to be patient and take some time building it.  This is not like hedge funds that go into stock or futures markets.

If you successfully grow it, it can become quite large.

You may not live in Continue reading "Hey, Want A Job Starting and Growing a Hedge Fund?"

Female founders in Chicago still struggle to secure funding


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, startups led only by women have never received more than 9 percent of venture funding or deal flow in the Chicagoland area.

Even as resources for women-founded ventures has grown in Chicago (and despite increased scrutiny of the gender gap in startup funding in recent years) it doesn’t appear that deal flow to women founders in the city is trending upward just yet. In 2016, just 15 percent of deals and just 10 percent of venture capital dollars went to Chicago-area companies founded by at least one woman (comparatively, 16.9

Continue reading "Female founders in Chicago still struggle to secure funding"

Schlep.it A Pretty Cool App

I have a lot of spinning plates in my life right now.  I am rehabbing a place 10 hours away.  I bought a small place in Lincoln Park and I am moving.  All at the same time.  Over the past several years, I have acquired a bunch of storage lockers.  The goal for this summer was to go down to 1. Yesterday was crazy.  My new Lincoln Park place had a cruddy stove in it. I found a beautiful used Dacor but it was up in Milwaukie.  I rented a trailer in Milwaukie and drove it down to Chicago.  While I was driving, I got an email telling me a person wanted to meet me in Winfield, IL to buy an antique shuffleboard I had been storing.  There is also a lot of outdoor furniture in that locker that is going up north. This shuffleboard had been in my wife’s Continue reading "Schlep.it A Pretty Cool App"

Career Risk

My friend Sean penned this piece for Medium. If you are interested in becoming a trader, you might want to read it.  Back in 1986, when I decided to quit my job at 3M and go to the trading floor, I checked out some books from the library that were sort of “anti-trading”.  I did it to get some perspective.  I don’t recall the names of the books. If you are a computer guy, and can code it’s different.  Those guys can find other gigs if they get sick of trading because they can code. We were automated out of jobs.  I hear a lot of people worrying about taxi cab medallions losing value.  No one is shedding any tears for traders who owned trading rights valued at $1M which fell as low as $300k.  Someone told me, “You still had $300k” but in the same breath said Uber shouldn’t Continue reading "Career Risk"

A Summit

Yesterday I went to a summit on early stage tech in the state of Illinois.  The first answer is that the tech ecosystem in Illinois is in pretty good shape.  The fervor around entrepreneurship is high. The consensus is some pretty great break out companies are being built here right now.  They aren’t “unicorns” like the valley but the potential for them to get there is there if they stay on the trajectory they are on. There are some other good signs as I peruse my notes.  Some exits, particularly Cleversafe’s, created 80 millionaires.  Many of those people are doing new things or reinvesting into the local ecosystem. It was late July and virtually all the VCs from Chicago were in one room.  We were working.  The downside is you can fit all the VCs from Chicago into one room. One panel featured limited partners.  These are people that help Continue reading "A Summit"

Downsizing

My wife and I have had an interesting trajectory in our lives. When we got married, we had a townhouse in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago. My wife bought it with an inheritance from one of her aunts. Our next house was a big rehab project in a great Elmhurst, IL neighborhood.  We did a lot of the rehab ourselves.  We were in our 20s and didn’t know better.  The house turned out great.  As far as I know, the house still has survived the teardown craze that went on in our old neighborhood. When I looked at the most recent listing, a lot of the stuff we put in it was still there. My wife and a neighbor took a trip to Geneva, IL.  We were considering an addition to our Elmhurst house.  She wanted a new house.  We built one. I really loved this place. When Continue reading "Downsizing"

Does Cheap Office Space Matter?

Our mayor in Chicago is starting a program to offer cheap office space to startups in order to entice them to locate here.   The co-work spaces participating are great spaces. If you are a startup, you’d like working there. I remember an interview I saw with Social+Capital VC Chamath Palihapitiya about the rising fixed costs of startups in Silicon Valley. Chamath said, “I don’t want to invest a bunch of money just so real estate brokers get rich.”  Funny, but there is some truth behind that statement.  Real estate costs in the Bay area are painfully high. In Chicago, the cost of real estate is pretty reasonable compared to both coasts. I am always encouraged when local politicians lend their vocal support to the startup community.  They can be the best salespeople sometimes.  Mayor Emanuel has been a big backer of the local tech community.  Mayor Emanuel’s retiring
Continue reading "Does Cheap Office Space Matter?"