It’s Not Just Paying Rent, It’s Forced Confiscation

Yesterday was chatting with a friend who lives in Lakeview.  It’s a neighborhood north of the Loop in Chicago.  Wrigley Field is in Lakeview.  They just got their new property tax bill.  

They bought the place four years ago.  The tax bill was $11,000, which isn’t cheap.  It’s a condominium.  It was just re-assessed and the new tax bill is $33,000.  

Table shows CPS’ property tax revenues from FY1991 through FY2019:— The Civic Federation (@CivicFederation) August 13, 2018

Uh, no one’s income went up by that and the rate of inflation was pretty tame during that time.  

My friend Mark Glennon at Wirepoints has been all over this for a while.  I think most Chicagoans are okay paying a bit more in tax than most people.  We live in a city.  Cities have more needs than rural areas.  The tax bite Continue reading "It’s Not Just Paying Rent, It’s Forced Confiscation"

Winning Founders & Influencing Everyone

watch time: 24 min

Andreessen Horowitz operating partner Margit Wennmachers shares the founding story of OutCast, the PR agency she co-founded (acquired in 2005); her history as one of its first operating partners at a16z (and what makes it different); …

Best Advice You Ever Got

The other day on Twitter, Gies College of Business Dean Jeff Brown asked “What is the best piece of advice you ever been given?” Here is his tweet.

I’m in the mood for some positivity on Twitter. So, what is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Mine: “presume good intentions.”— Jeffrey Brown (@IlliniBizDean) August 12, 2018

I like that Dean Brown presumes good intentions.  I do that too when I first meet someone.  It makes life a lot nicer when you don’t walk around with a cynical or defeatist attitude all the time about other people.  That makes you surly. Presuming good intentions keeps you positive.

My best piece of advice came from my father and other coaches I interacted with throughout my life.   My father was a coach.  It’s three simple words.

“Never give up.”

It came at me in many many ways and Continue reading "Best Advice You Ever Got"

Routers and Modems

We have fiber internet at our place in Minnesota.  It’s super fast.  We use an Eero modem for wifi.  We have had some crashes recently and we think it’s the router.  They gave us a router when they set it up.  It’s not one we bought.

This is not my forte.  

What’s the best fiber router out there for the best price?  Hard to know from searches.  

The Revenue Problem

Seed stage investing is so hard.  Needle in a haystack hard.  I was thinking about what floats a person’s boat when it comes to the first round of investing.  In the Midwest, it’s all about revenue.  It might be the first question an entrepreneur gets.  

In the Bay Area, sometimes it’s not a question.

Who’s right?  Not an easy answer.  With what we invest in revenue is a proof point.  Usually an entrepreneur is solving a pain point.  People are willing to pay to solve it.  I was involved with one business and we asked the entrepreneur if they were getting price as an objection to making a sale.  The company wasn’t so the advice was to raise their price.  With other businesses it is not that simple.

I do think that when you get older, you tend to look at businesses a lot differently than when you were Continue reading "The Revenue Problem"

More Kitty Kitty

This whole mountain lion thing creeps me out a bit though it probably shouldn’t. I guess it’s because we have a new puppy who is having a great time bounding around up there. He doesn’t stray right now but you never know.

To tell you the truth, a bear could simply just show up at any time so it pays to be wary. Yes, I do have a weapon with me and my wife just ordered pepper spray.

Yesterday my wife made this video. This is not Ted Nugent Cat Scratch Fever. Those scratches are pretty deep into the tree. If you have ever tried to scratch a tree, you would understand that cat is pretty powerful and it’s claws are sharp. It’s at a place about 100 yards from our place. The lady that owns this cabin puts out a lot of corn everyday. That corn attracts ducks.

She Continue reading "More Kitty Kitty"


While important debates about the long-term impact of new technologies on jobs play out, I’ve had a front row seat to a set of companies where new technologies have immediately created new streams of income for millions of people. These …


I like to think of the investing discipline as composed of three key modes of operation.

Buying – Figuring out what you should buy and what you should not buy. There are many strategies that work here but my favorite is buying things that others are not buying. And my preferred reason for “others not buying” is that they don’t know about it yet.

Managing – This is the work an investor does to manage the investment. It includes decisions around whether to buy more of an investment that is working, which is incredibly important and can massively impact returns. But I believe that the most powerful thing an investor can do to impact their investment is to work with the management of the investment to make sure that the team is making the right strategic and operational decisions.

Selling – This is all about when to exit an investment

Continue reading "Selling"

Speaking at the Aspen Entrepreneur Showcase on August 13th

On August 13th, I’m giving a talk as part of the Aspen Entrepreneur Showcase. I’m doing an AMA moderated by Chris Klug on:

  • Entrepreneurship & Innovation in Rural Communities
  • Angel & Venture Capital Investing
  • The GiveFirst Ethos and its Impact on Startups
  • Forming Great Boards of Directors
  • Techstars Accelerator Going International
  • Mental Health and Depression
  • Philanthropic Giving
  • Trends for 2019

And, since it’s an AMA, that means people who show up can ask me whatever they want.

If you are near Aspen on 8/13, it’s from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm at the Rocky Mountain Institute in Basalt, CO.

The post Speaking at the Aspen Entrepreneur Showcase on August 13th appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

The Decentralized Exchange

The crypto world sometimes takes things to extremes and pushes the envelope. I think this is okay. After all, when you take a serious study of economics you always look at extreme cases and what happens at the margin. How much does it cost to make one more? How much revenue can I generate by selling one more?

I am appreciative of the framing and view that people advocating for decentralized exchanges are taking. There is a lot of power concentrated inside an exchange. It’s more than just the data. On the SEC side, there is listing requirements. There are transparency requirements. There are plenty of other rules and regulations that turn over power to centralized exchanges. On the CFTC side, it’s about clearing. Because exchanges own their own clearinghouses, they have an incentive to innovate and respond to customers. But, at the same time they have a lot of Continue reading "The Decentralized Exchange"

Art of Healthcare in Basel…

What a remarkable time to have traveled to Switzerland and the United Kingdom. After a series of meetings with healthcare industry leaders in Switzerland and England last week, the trip put some of the raging healthcare policy debates into better context. Unfortunately, the current U.S. political situation was at times quite distracting with revelation upon revelation unfolding throughout the trip; but no less so than the debates raging around Brexit, bickering over tariffs, Europe’s own version of Russian meddling, and the “baby Trump balloon.” What a surprise to learn that the State Department had issued a travel advisory warning for Americans traveling in London of all places.

Mini Trump.jpeg

Often U.S. politicians opposed to the Affordable Care Act point to the “single payor system” in Europe which unfortunately ignores the fact that there is not one system in Europe and that while countries like Switzerland achieve universal coverage, they Continue reading "Art of Healthcare in Basel…"

This is your Captain speaking, I’m turning on the fasten seat belt sign


This past weekend, I sent the email below to the 250+ founders I’ve invested in. The goal of this email was to prepare my founders for what happens to startups when a market corrects and then collapses.

I’m not calling a top to the market, or a crash, but rather giving my founders  a blueprint of how to survive and thrive in a down market.

I hope this is helpful to you as well. Feel free to forward it to a founder you know, as they might not be thinking about these issues.



Launch Portfolio Founders,

We are in year 10 of the current bull market.

Chaos reigns from Washington to Moscow and all of you are all competing for attention for customers and talent with an unprecedented number of highly-skilled founders running impressive businesses.

Having seen this movie up close three times in my Continue reading "This is your Captain speaking, I’m turning on the fasten seat belt sign"

Old Man Yells At Clouds (and Aspiring VCs As To What This Industry Really Is About)

I get a lot of inbound from friends, acquaintances and Twitter followers about making the transition from Operator to VC. Here are the top three reasons – lightly paraphrased – for why venture interests them:

  1. “I love working on products and it seems awesome to be able to work on 10 at one time instead of just one”
  2. “It seems intellectually stimulating, spending your days talking with the smartest people and investigating new technologies”
  3. “I enjoy helping entrepreneurs and could see myself doing that as a career”

I have never heard someone say “I want to be an investment manager and a salesperson” despite this being THE fundamental job responsibility of a venture capitalist. And I think that’s one reason why we’re seeing more boomerangs from Operating to Venture and then back to Operating (or changing VC firms). People didn’t actually realize what the job was going to be and

Continue reading "Old Man Yells At Clouds (and Aspiring VCs As To What This Industry Really Is About)"

Boobs, Muscles & Fairy Wings: Everything I Know About How Humans Design Their Avatar Selves

It was a combination of early career anxiety and actual startup struggles which combined to make my years working on Second Life personally stressful. I remember my parents visiting our office and casting a sideways glance at the bottles of Mylanta and hard alcohol sitting side by side on my desk, like the cartoon angel and devil characters sitting on the shoulders of an 80s movie character wrestling with his conscience. With some hindsight perspective though, the tremendous benefits of the experience became clear – I had the opportunity to work on a thoughtful, innovative product with an amazing technical team and together we produced what is ultimately an ongoing, profitable company (even if it failed to achieve its full potential).

Besides the meta-learnings about how startups function, there were a [NeesonVoice] very particular set of skills [/NeesonVoice] that I took away from my years at Linden Lab. The other

Continue reading "Boobs, Muscles & Fairy Wings: Everything I Know About How Humans Design Their Avatar Selves"