The Net Neut

This week, the FCC rolled back the Obama regulations on “net neutrality”.  The deeper we get into the 21st Century, the more different pieces of legislation proposed by both parties start to resemble Ayn Rand’s descriptions in Atlas Shrugged.

Net Neutrality is a convenient way of saying “one price fits all”.  Whether you agree or disagree, I’d encourage you to open your mind up to both arguments.

One thing that nobody really knows is if and when a new technological solution will be on the horizon that will leap over existing infrastructure and deliver the internet to us in a whole new way that is more efficient, faster and cheaper than it is done today.  HFT traders used to use broadband pipes but now use microwave technology now because it is faster.

What I find with public policy and politics from both sides of the aisle is Continue reading "The Net Neut"

Did Tech Companies Ever Have Our Best Interests At Heart?

An adapted essay from Noam Cohen new book The Know-It-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball showed up several weeks in the New York Times in the article Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend. It’s an important one to read slowly and carefully as there are several key points in it.

In the last week, two early Facebook execs made remarkably critical statements about what they were involved in helping create. It started when Sean Parker talked with Axios about how Facebook exploits human psychology.

“I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because [of] the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people and … it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other … It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing

Continue reading "Did Tech Companies Ever Have Our Best Interests At Heart?"

Doug Jones Victory: Trump is Vulnerable

At our house we were all refreshing our computers furiously starting at 8pm with ever increasing excitement as the evening progressed. We were absolutely thrilled when Doug Jones victory was certain. If Doug Jones can win in Alabama, the state where Trump had his biggest victory, after Trump endorsed his opponent, well then Trump too can be defeated.

I have come to think of Trump’s candidacy and presidency as the last hurrah of a past that we need to leave behind for good. Trump, and the money behind him, waged a symbolic campaign of divisiveness that has continued with him in in office. It has been a mistake so far to try and defeat him with logical arguments. A while back I suggested that Take The Knee might be the right symbolic counter, but I was wrong about that, despite racism being one of the divisions Trump has exploited. 

Continue reading "Doug Jones Victory: Trump is Vulnerable"

The Foibles of Tax Bills

As the details of the tax overhaul come dribbling out, I noticed one yesterday that seemed odd.  There is a backdoor capital gains tax hike in the bill.  Predictably, there was some outrage since there seems to be something to rage about every day these days.  Cliff Asness wrote about how parts of the bill pick winners and losers instead of doing big-time tax reform.  Personally, I think capital gains taxes are basically a disincentive to invest and a tax on risk capital.  They are generally unproductive.  Here is the crux of the capital gains tax hike.

If you buy stock and accumulate a position, the old tax law let you sell the most recent stock you bought and pay the least gain.  In accounting terms, this is known as LIFO, last in first out.  It might even be the case that you Continue reading "The Foibles of Tax Bills"

Break The Internet Tomorrow

Tomorrow, I am going to take AVC offline to show the FCC what the Internet will look like if they repeal the Net Neutrality rules.

It is part of a collective action called Break The Internet.

If you want to join me in this protest, you can get what you need here.

Hopefully, the Verizon shill who runs the FCC will get the message.

Early Stage Financings Drop

When I read the Techcrunch article on the early stage finance drop it resonated with me. It is where we invest in as a fund, and it’s what HPA did when I co-founded it way back in 2007.  Virtually all of my investments since 2007 that haven’t failed are still in process.  Most are doing quite well, but you don’t ring the cash register until they actually exit.  Fred Wilson blogged about it and his points also hit home with me.  Especially this,

When I talk to my friends who do a lot of angel investing, I hear that they are being more selective, licking some wounds, and waiting for liquidity on their better investments.

When I talk to my friends who started seed funds in the past decade, I hear them thinking about moving up market into larger funds and Series A rounds.

He also said,

SPY Chart
Continue reading "Early Stage Financings Drop"

Should Platforms Like Google And Facebook Be Regulated?

If you don’t know who economist George Stigler is, you should. He received a Nobel Prize for proving the concept of “regulatory capture”. We see it again and again and again in all industries. Finance is where some of the most regulatory capture is practiced. Dodd-Frank is a textbook example as it made regulations so expensive only the big banks could afford to compete. The George Stigler Center at Chicago Booth discusses economy and state. How does economic and public policy intersect and what should we be doing? What are mistakes to avoid?

When I was in Torino, Italy at the i7, we talked about a lot of different issues. At one session a very well respected computer science professor from an Italian university asked, “Should Google and Facebook face some sort of regulation that limits their ability to compete?” It’s a compelling question.

One answer is that Continue reading "Should Platforms Like Google And Facebook Be Regulated?"

The End Of Net Neutrality As We Know It

I have written about net neutrality frequently here at AVC. I believe that for as long as we have local monopolies and duopolies for last mile broadband internet in most parts of the US, we need our federal government to actively reign in the broadband providers from doing things that are anti-innovation, anti-consumer, and pro-big business. For much of the last decade, the internet crowd has been a force to be reckoned with on this issue and we fought for and won good net neutrality rules that were put in place and defended in court. If you are a long time reader of AVC, you heard me advocating for and celebrating these wins.

The times have changed. We have a pro-big business team in the White House and at the FCC who are hell-bent to overturn those hard fought for net neutrality rules. We should fight them in these efforts, just like

Continue reading "The End Of Net Neutrality As We Know It"

Avoid The Perception, or Temptation of Any Impropriety. Get Deskpass!

The tally of sexual harassment offenders that have been outed in the past few months is too long to name.  High profile journalists, venture capitalists, businessmen, and politicians all have been implicated.  I am sort of surprised we haven’t seen anything in reverse where a powerful woman does something to a man.  When I was in college I had it happen to me once.  I put an end to it.  Had a male teacher in high school do the same thing.  Not cool.

I don’t want to go into the tawdry details.  As a father of daughters, I am shocked it still goes on.  A friend of mine was at a business conference last week and a potential customer shook her hand with a room key in it.  When it dropped to the floor he said, “Just joking.”  Screw him.  Continue reading "Avoid The Perception, or Temptation of Any Impropriety. Get Deskpass!"

Update On Stock Options/RSUs Issue

I just saw this on my twitter:

This means that the Senate has now made the tax reform bill a win for those who work in startups instead of a loss.

I’m thrilled and I want to thank all of you who called your elected officials and those in the Senate Finance Committee who clearly understand the importance of equity compensation to the startup model.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — November 13, 2017
Call Your Senators to Preserve Equity Compensation for Startups

Don’t Tax Options And RSUs Upon Vesting!

The current draft of the Senate Tax Reform Bill would tax stock options and RSUs upon vesting.

Currently, stock options are taxed upon exercise and RSUs are taxed upon release of the underlying shares.

This is a HUGE deal to everyone who works in companies that partially compensate their employees with these two equity instruments.

What this would mean is every month, when your equity compensation vests a little bit, you will owe taxes on it even though you can’t do anything with that equity compensation.

You can’t spend it, you can’t save it, you can’t invest it. Because you don’t have it yet.

Taxing equity compensation upon vesting makes no sense.

I have seen many employees leave companies and not exercise their vested stock options. It happens all of the time.

That should be a clear enough example to the lawmakers that vesting should not be a taxable event.

Continue reading "Don’t Tax Options And RSUs Upon Vesting!"

Election Day

It’s election day and I’m going to stop by the polls this morning and vote.

It would be easy for me to skip the polls as there is not much at stake in NYC this year.

Mayor de Blasio is going to get re-elected fairly easily as he has no strong challengers.

The same is true of the other citywide officials and most city council members, including mine.

But I am going to vote in spite of all of that.

I think one of our biggest problems in our country is voter apathy.

So I am going to demonstrate against that by showing up and voting in an election with little to nothing at stake.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — November 6, 2017
Forking vs. Voting in Blockchains

#TakeAKnee: Symbolic Protest Meme is Antifragile

Having been outspoken against Trump since before the election, I am encouraged to see that we may have found a particularly effective form of protest in #TakeAKnee (or #TakeTheKnee). We have the initiative of Colin Kaepernick and those who followed his lead to thank for that. I realize that this started out as a protest against police violence as part of the Black Lives Matter movement during the Obama administration. I believe it has the potential though to morph into a broad and effective protest against Trump without losing its important origin.

One of the particularly frustrating aspects of watching the ascendancy of Trump was how impervious he was to any rational critique. In fact, his campaign was designed to obliterate such an approach by embracing outright lying and outrageous statements from the get go. Trump was extremely effective at labeling individual opponents in ways that made them seem

Continue reading "#TakeAKnee: Symbolic Protest Meme is Antifragile"

#TakeAKnee: Symbolic Protest Meme is Antifragile

Having been outspoken against Trump since before the election, I am encouraged to see that we may have found a particularly effective form of protest in #TakeAKnee (or #TakeTheKnee). We have the initiative of Colin Kaepernick and those who followed his lead to thank for that. I realize that this started out as a protest against police violence as part of the Black Lives Matter movement during the Obama administration. I believe it has the potential though to morph into a broad and effective protest against Trump without losing its important origin.

One of the particularly frustrating aspects of watching the ascendancy of Trump was how impervious he was to any rational critique. In fact, his campaign was designed to obliterate such an approach by embracing outright lying and outrageous statements from the get go. Trump was extremely effective at labeling individual opponents in ways that made them seem

Continue reading "#TakeAKnee: Symbolic Protest Meme is Antifragile"

Finding My Tribe — The Upside of the Downcast Year

It’s been a tough year globally. Many feel the division in our families and societies. It has been heart-breaking to see progress reversed and social & racial tensions exacerbated unnecessarily.

Much of the focus on the public discourse has been how social media and the polarization of information sources has worsened the problem. We seem to be stuck on the narrative that our angst is tied to the arguments we’re having on Facebook, Twitter or the Thanksgiving dinner table.

I feel the weight of these differences, too. There was a period of time where we were encouraged to open up our horizons and make sure we were listening to the viewpoints of others. I did much reflecting and listening and reading.

I wanted to better understand the African American journey and anxiety better so I read “Between the World and Me” which was important to me even if its conclusions were sometimes hard to read. I watched 13th and cried.

I was touched by the messages of J.D. Vance and his poignant comment that white liberals go so far to try and remove any racial & religious prejudices from their minds & hearts yet still condescend and show prejudice against poor, white, working class populations of what we call “fly over states” or areas like Appalachia. It was hard for me to disagree with this view when I heard it so I read his biography “Hillbilly Elegy” and recommend it highly. The first step of understanding is reading an informed narrative of lives lived differently than yours.

I read books like where a professor in moral philosophy — Jonathan Haidt — discusses how humans make decisions in daily life and how they rationalize the choices they make. His book “The Righteous Mind — Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” literally changed my views about how human decision-making and gave me a framework for understanding why some people may be wired to view the world differently than I do. He made me realize that people in industrial areas weren’t necessarily irrational people stupidly voting against their own economic interests but rather were making choices that supported different moral foundations than those that I thought were important to them. He made me think hard and realize that of course I personally vote against my own economic interest by supporting higher taxes and spending on programs to create equality and fairness so it might be understandable that others vote against their perceived economic interests on the other side, too.

I continue to go on a path of self discovery. But in the past year I’ve also realized something very important that I think gets missed in our anger about the blatant racism and anti-semitism and muslim

Continue reading "Finding My Tribe — The Upside of the Downcast Year"

Net Neutrality Day Of Action

Today, July 12th, is the Net Neutrality Day Of Action. More than 70,000 websites, online services, and Internet users are participating including Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, Kickstarter, Etsy, Reddit, OK Cupid, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Spotify, Soundcloud, Mozilla and AVC. The grassroots power of the Internet is how we won the strong net neutrality rules that are now in place and are threatened by the new leadership at the FCC. The big telcos have their people in power now. But we can keep fighting with our grassroots efforts. They have worked in the past and I hope they will continue to work to keep the Internet an open and level playing field for everyone. If you want to participate with your website, blog, or social media profile, go here and join this online protest.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — July 10, 2017
Assessment of Trump Presidency?