Motion Photos

Motion Photos is a feature available on Google’s Pixel Phones. It captures a bit of video as you are taking a photo.

I’ve always wondered how to share those photos with the motion in them, which you can’t do when you send them as jpeg files.

It turns out you can export them from your phone as gif files. For some reason, the Google Photos app on the web, which does allow you to see the Motion Photos on the web, does not support the export to gif feature.

So this is how you do it:

To convert your motion photo into a video or GIF, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the Google Photos app on your device.

Step 2: Open the motion photo that you want to share. Then tap the three-dot icon at the top-right corner. From the menu, select Export.

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Step 3: You will get

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When Software Just Gets Smarter

The last time we were in Japan, six years ago, using Google Maps was pretty frustrating. We didn’t understand the Japanese language and addresses made no sense to us. We got lost multiple times a day and often had to find a person on the street who spoke english to help us out.

It is a pretty stark difference this trip. Google Maps seems to understand much of what it did not the last time around. The directions are great and we have yet to get lost.

Last night, I directed a cab driver in Kyoto who did not speak english using Google Maps on my phone and pointing right or left or straight each time we got to an intersection. We got to dinner on time and everyone, including our cab driver, was relieved.

I think this is a great example of the power of machine learning and other

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Bluetooth Everywhere

We checked into a hotel today and next to the desk in our room was a block of USB ports to charge our phones with and a Bluetooth button. I pushed the button and my phone paired with the room. Now I can play music on the sound system in the room with my phone. 

There is nothing special about that really. We all do the same thing with our cars and headphones regularly now. But when it works as seamlessly as it did for me today, that is nice.

The truth is that Bluetooth is everywhere these days. And the pairing thing, which used to be such a hassle, seems to get easier and easier every day.

As I’ve written before, the power of non-proprietary protocols like Bluetooth is pretty impressive to see in action. The more they get adopted, the more they get used, and the

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Dear Future Team Member, I Originally Didn’t Want You But I’m Glad You’re Here (aka Homebrew is Hiring)

Dear [NAME] – Welcome to Homebrew! I’m so glad you decided to join our team. I’ve done a ton of hiring and truly believe People Choose Companies, not the other way around. You left an awesome gig and passed up lots of other options to bet on us, and I’ll work really hard to repay that 10x to you. But because you now have access to Homebrew’s Slack and are reading messages about this role, I wanted to admit something before you come across it on your own: I was originally pretty dead-set against bringing you on board. Not “you” in particular of course, but more so the idea of growing at all. I was worried it would impact our culture, increase complexity.

What changed my mind? A few things. As we begin investing out of our third fund, Satya and I believe there are now enough portfolio companies Continue reading "Dear Future Team Member, I Originally Didn’t Want You But I’m Glad You’re Here (aka Homebrew is Hiring)"

Collison Course: Observations from Shanghai…

Jet lag is a strange and mysterious thing. In the middle of the night a few weeks ago I found myself on a treadmill in my Shanghai hotel gym riveted to the Poland vs Iran men’s volleyball match on Chinese State Television. It was a welcome respite from CNN International and the battering ram of worsening news on U.S. – China relations. As many of you know, Twitter, Google, Facebook, etc are blocked in country and even certain CNN segments are blacked-out when covering awkward China-related stories. Whenever the recurring piece on the disappearance of Fan Bingbing played, my tv went dark as if someone pulled the plug from the wall.

The headlines in the U.S. are often at risk of masking some of the extraordinary advancements in the Chinese capital markets as well as the dramatic success stories in their innovation economy. While there certainly does appear

China Starbucks
China Collide
China Weather
China Plan
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Retail Space Available

A friend of mine told me last weekend that he thinks the two biggest issues in NYC right now are the rise of homelessness and the proliferation of vacant retail spaces. One is about not having a space to live and the other is about a glut of vacant space. Interesting dichotomy.

I was walking home from the gym this morning and passed this sign on a vibrant shopping street in our neighborhood.

It got me thinking about what this glut of vacant real estate is all about. Is it the result of so much commerce moving online that retailers can’t make a profit selling out of a store anymore? Is it the result of rents being too high and when landlords bring them down, we will see the spaces fill up again? Is it a combination of both? And can technology help address this problem?

We are seeing an

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Chicago Entrepreneurs Lead Again

Pitchbook recently released their latest data on returns from investing in various startup communities.  Chicago led the way last time and it’s still on top.

Nearly half of Chicago investments (45%) have provided a 10x ROI, compared to 25% of investments in the Bay.  If I was going to poke holes in that I’d suggest that the sample sizes are a lot different. However, the numbers are the numbers and value is in Chicago.  This was the fifth straight year of record-setting investment in Chicago.  There was $3.8 billion invested across 623 deals

Again, small by Bay Area standards but super positive direction.  Especially given returns.

One of the biggest differences between Chicago and other ecosystems is access to capital.  There is far less capital in Chicago, so investors here don’t traditionally invest pre-product or pre-revenue. That means companies that get investment here are generally further along when it Continue reading "Chicago Entrepreneurs Lead Again"

Audio Of The Week: Rebecca Kaden on Twenty Minute VC

My partner Rebecca Kaden was on the Twenty Minute VC podcast last week.

Once you get past the 3:20 mins of audio ad readouts (I advise to fast forward through them), she talks about areas in e-commerce that are possibly outside of the Amazon kill zone, the opportunities to build new trusted brands in healthcare, education, and financial services, and why small early-stage venture capital firms are the best firms to work at.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Bethany Crystal — October 5, 2018
What makes us similar

Albert Wenger — October 5, 2018
Interoperability and Competition (for Scooters, Bikes, etc)

Bethany Crystal — October 4, 2018
Religion and politics

A Strong Cold Email Always Beats A Weak Warm One

The “always find a warm intro to a VC” axiom is misunderstood. Its intent was to suggest that a mutual connection who can vouch for an entrepreneur’s abilities, experience and perseverance would be of value to the process. This is still true. It did not mean “find someone who happens to have the VC’s contact info and get them to forward an email without much context or relevance.” At least one third, and maybe as much as 50%, of the “warm introductions” I receive fall into this category.

What happens in this case? Something like the following…

Me: Hey thanks for the forward. Are you vouching for this person or just passing along? Are you investing as an angel, or would you if you could?

“Warm” Intro: Met him at an event somewhere but don’t really know him… Worked with her but she’s actually not that good… [or variation

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Easy Rider: Circulation Case Study

The sale of Circulation, which was a Flare Capital portfolio company, closed two weeks ago. The company successfully deployed a leading patient-centric transportation exchange for non-emergency medical rides (“NEMT”), leveraging a virtual national transportation provider network anchored by Lyft and Uber. This announcement was concurrent with CareMore Health’s announcement of the results from its two-month Lyft pilot, which were nothing less than startlingly positive. CareMore is an integrated health plan with over 100,000 members; the cost savings were so significant that they were able to offer 28,000 rides at no additional cost to the plan. Rides were 39% less expensive with meaningfully shorter wait times and much greater member satisfaction.

NEMT

It was a terrific outcome for the team and investors. Flare Capital was the largest investor, having seeded the company less than two years ago. Upon reflection, there were a handful of critical elements to the Circulation story which

Uber Cool
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The Complected Bird

I saw Bill Janeway speak at Columbia the other night. One of the things he said was “pessimists don’t make good VCs.” A truism.

This Summer, talking to a younger colleague about the pace and direction of technological innovation I said there was less potentially society-changing technology today than at any other point in the last fifty years. And that this drought was likely to last a while. That we are stuck in an era of small changes, of gradual improvement, of fine-tuning processes, of reacting to change, of head-to-head competition. He replied, tartly, “maybe you’re in the wrong business.”

This week, I was having coffee with a European investor I see once a year or so. He asked what I was looking for. I don’t know, I replied. “Haven’t you been investing?” he asked.

I’ve made five new investments in the last twelve months. I am Continue reading "The Complected Bird"

Consumer Learning

I listened to this IBM podcast with Matt Glotzbach, CEO of our portfolio company Quizlet, this morning.

Matt explains that edtech, a long-standing term for the market for software and technology sold to the education market, is fundamentally different from the newer and exciting market for consumer learning.

We agree with Matt and our approach to investing in education, a core part of our thesis 3.0, is about delivering learning tools directly to the student and bypassing the traditional education system.

That does not mean that consumer learning is in opposition to the traditional education system, though.

We see students and teachers adopting tools like Quizlet, Duolingo, Codecademy and many others to improve learning outcomes in the classroom and at home.

But consumer learning starts with the learner and is focused on serving them as the customer, not institutions, districts, schools or other “enterprises.”

I think

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David Ulevitch

Building a big business is a long journey, and inevitably there are some serious low periods mixed in with the highs. When Marc and Ben first met David Ulevitch in 2009, his company OpenDNS was in one of those low …

You Cannot Mislead Markets

Yesterday Elon Musk settled with the SEC.  He’s lucky.  He got off cheap.  A $20MM fine is peanuts.  Relinquishing his chairman role hurts his ego, but he remains CEO.  He is lucky he wasn’t forced to leave entirely.

If you read Craig Pirrong‘s posts about Tesla over the years, you’d have had an alternative opinion in your hands instead of the fan boy coverage that a lot of tech companies get from the press.  Tesla doesn’t make money.  It’s cool technology and a cool car.  It only exists because of government subsidies.  Take that away and the entire business crumbles.

His merger last year with Solar City wasn’t a good business idea either.  Tesla is hemorrhaging cash.  It’s not like they could be cash flow positive if they stopped investing in x or y.  It’s just red ink everywhere.

Markets tell people information.  All you have to do is Continue reading "You Cannot Mislead Markets"

a16z Podcast: How to Manage a PR Agency

One of the company building topics that’s surprisingly mystifying is PR — and only surprising since so much of the strategy and tactics behind public relations are actually hidden from public view. We’ve tried demystifying the topic in an ongoing …

Gee, Male: Using My Inbox As a Window To Gender Bias

If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. That’s why role models and representation is so important in changing the ratios of tech as we seek to build a more inclusive community that resembles society, and not our industry stereotypes. Last night I attended an AllRaise event where table discussion included male and female venture capitalists noting the differences in gender breakdown of their inbound dealflow. You can guess how it skews, no surprises here. We track our own gender stats at Homebrew and while we invest in female founders 3-5x more than the industry average, we know that as a two man fund, we don’t fully represent the transformation that we hope to help assist.

If you don’t know her, you can’t fund her. A few years back Google Ventures’ partner Rick Klau ran an experiment on his Twitter follow list and noticed he underfollowed women because his phone

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a16z Podcast: How to Manage a PR Agency

One of the company building topics that’s surprisingly mystifying is PR — and only surprising since so much of the strategy and tactics behind public relations are actually hidden from public view. We’ve tried demystifying the topic in an ongoing …

Second Seeds: The New Normal But Know This…

I delete my tweets periodically, so wanted to capture some good discussions regarding seed bridges and founder/investor expectations.

These two previous blog posts provide context

The Three Types of “Second Seed” Rounds: Too Cold, Too Hot and Just Right

For Fundraising, Seed is No Longer a Round, It’s a Phase

So what can mess up a seed extension process? Expectations gap!

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Then folks like Science’s Peter Pham and Breather’s CEO noted this maddening point about data

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As a seed investor, I find myself both as “existing investor” and “potential investor” depending on the situation!

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And as Agrilyst’s CEO points out, early stage pricing is almost always a “who knows?!?”

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Whatever your situation, just hope to play on and stay in the game!