Distributed Ledger Technology and the Future of Life As We Know It

From time to time, some of my good friends whom I have known for a while guest post on my blog.   I am en route to Italy and Trace Schmeltz gave me something interesting to post.  He is an attorney with Barnes and Thornburg.

If you don’t know Trace, he helped out James Koutoulas tremendously when Jon Corzine stole money from his clients at MF Global.  Trace is an expert on financial regulatory law.  He has practiced in Chicago for a long time.  He’s working with the state of Illinois to make sure crypto regulation is correct.

Here is his post.  Given all the hype on crypto currency and blockchain, I thought it was timely.  Especially because I ripped into ICO’s yesterday.

Take it away Trace:


Distributed ledger technology or, as it is commonly called, the “blockchain,” is essentially an account Continue reading "Distributed Ledger Technology and the Future of Life As We Know It"

The G7/I7 In Torino, Italy

This weekend I will be going to Torino, Italy.  Torino is the sight of the information part of the G7 conferences that take place throughout the year.  You can see a link to the entirety of the G7 here.  I was invited by the US government to attend.  I will be advising the I-7, which is the G-7’s strategic advisory board on innovation.

For my part, I am going to be discussing the future of work.  That made the Economic Club of Chicago’s discussion on Karl Marx even more interesting.  It’s also why I have been listening to a lot of podcasts from different points of view on how autonomous vehicles will affect us or if we should have a basic income guarantee.  What happens when technology crosses borders and makes them irrelevant when it comes to “work”?  Can you have a Continue reading "The G7/I7 In Torino, Italy"

Are Ideas Linear in Finance?

Listening to Ben Horowitz speak at the Chicago Venture Summit, he made a point which he’s made before.  Venture capitalists invest in really bad ideas.  But, if those ideas work it would be pretty cool.  He used AirBnb as an example.  You are going to rent out a room in your home to someone using a blowup mattress.

That is a bad idea.

In finance, we are a lot more pragmatic.  We are solving actual problems when we invest in a startup.  Usually a person has experience with it.  They have felt the pain.  They build software to solve it.

Are there bad ideas in finance?

There certainly are.  I suspect as we start to see a lot more innovation on the back office/process side of the business where 67% of the costs are we will see a lot of bad Continue reading "Are Ideas Linear in Finance?"

When Does An Investor Intervene?

A lot of investors say they are “active investors”.  It’s almost in every pitch deck you see.  The definition of an active investor is fuzzy.  What’s it really mean?

Does it mean you simply lead deals and take board seats?

To me, that’s not super active.  Doing that stuff is the easy part.  Lots of investors like to sit on boards and just be a judge.  Quarterly, they get the numbers and then opine.

To me, active means interaction with the CEO.  If the CEO is okay with me talking to someone else on the team, then it happens.  You never go around the CEO.

The other hard thing for investors is to know when the right time to become active is.  Do you do it immediately when you spot something you think is out of whack?  Do you wait-or go?

I find in situations like that the best thing Continue reading "When Does An Investor Intervene?"

Should Google Be Broken Up?

There is a nascent movement afoot to have big companies broken up similar to what Teddy Roosevelt did back at the turn of the last century. If you went to public school, you were educated that the “robber barons” were bad people. The evidence is contrary and the only thing they did was amass fortunes.

Flash forward to the present. Look at the FANG companies. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google. There are some conservative leaning people that want them broken up because it’s tough to be a conservative in Silicon Valley. It is tough to be a conservative in startup circles for sure.  On the left, I have seen the same sentiment. They worry that too much of their data and privacy is being accumulated in one place by one firm and that Dr. Evil could do something bad to them.  Certainly, these people are correct.  Facebook et al have a Continue reading "Should Google Be Broken Up?"

Driverless Will Affect Everything

A while ago, Benedict Evans had a really great blogpost about driverless cars and their effects on different things that you might not think about.  He is a VC for a16z and a great follow on Twitter.  For example, a lot of snack purchases are impulse purchases at a gas station.  What happens to Frito Lay when there aren’t any gas stations?  On our way home from Grand Marais yesterday, we listened to Russ Roberts interview Benedict Evans about his blogpost.  It’s really great.  The discussion went a lot deeper than the blogpost.

There are a lot of things that they didn’t cover-but I am sure each of them has thought about it.  My mind is attuned to both the urban existence and interaction with cars, and the rural existence and interaction with cars.  For example, I think it would be pretty simple to live with an electric car that Continue reading "Driverless Will Affect Everything"

Why Can’t A Country Do an ICO?

Yesterday I saw where Burger King issued it’s own cryptocurrency in Russia, WhopperCoin.  It didn’t surprise me.  When I first started thinking about cryptocurrency, I hypothesized that big companies would use it for their supply chain management and to lock in customer loyalty.

It got me thinking about other processes where you’d want to keep track but pay for things.

One thing that clearly is broken in America is immigration policy.  It’s been broken for a long time. It’s highly politicized.  The way to fix it is a marketplace that can keep track.  That’s why a blockchain solution might be a pretty elegant way to fix it.

Professor Gary Becker correctly said, “There is demand for immigration by both citizens of other countries and by employers.  There is certainly a supply of immigrants that would like to come here.  Where you have supply and demand, you can draw Continue reading "Why Can’t A Country Do an ICO?"