Day: May 18, 2021

Game On

This post is by Reid Hoffman from Reid Hoffman

In discussions with founders and investors, as well as interviews, I describe the role that games have played in my career. It’s become a somewhat quirky facet of my public persona: Reid Hoffman, game geek. I love games, and I love talking about them. But none of these profiles has ever focused on the games themselves. They might (at best) mention one or two games and muse.

So, for the latest episode of Greymatter, I sat down with my friend, Blitzscaling co-author, and fellow game geek Chris Yeh to take a deep dive into the details of how games have shaped my personality and career. Not only do we discuss why I think games are so valuable for entrepreneurs, we take an in-depth, geeky look at the specific games that impacted my life.

You can listen to our discussion on the Greymatter podcast here.


In my experience, games are one of the best ways to understand the important field of strategy. Strategy arose from the life-and-death stakes of warfare. Choose a good strategy, and your tribe or nation would win the battle or the war. Choose poorly, and you might be driven out of existence. To help develop winning strategies, militaries developed wargames as a way to explore various strategies and analyze specific scenarios. And while most of the important games in my life are not wargames, they share with wargames the ability to ask and answer key questions:

Dabbel gets $4.4M to cut CO2 by automating HVAC for commercial buildings

Düsseldorf-based proptech startup Dabbel is using AI to drive energy efficiency savings in commercial buildings.

It’s developed cloud-based self-learning building management software that plugs into the existing building management systems (BMS) — taking over control of heating and cooling systems in a way that’s more dynamic than legacy systems based on fixed set-point resets.

Dabbel says its AI considers factors such as building orientation and thermal insulation, and reviews calibration decisions every five minutes — meaning it can respond dynamically to changes in outdoor and indoor conditions.

The 2018-founded startup claims this approach of layering AI-powered predictive modelling atop legacy BMS to power next-gen building automation is able to generate substantial energy savings — touting reductions in energy consumption of up to 40%.

“Every five minutes Dabbel reviews its decisions based on all available data,” explains CEO and co-founder, Abel Samaniego. “With each iteration, Dabbel improves or adapts and changes its decisions based on the current circumstances inside and outside the building. It does this by using cognitive artificial intelligence to drive a Model-Based Predictive Control (MPC) System… which can dynamically adjust all HVAC setpoints based on current/future conditions.”

In essence, the self-learning system predicts ahead of time the tweaks that are needed to adapt for future conditions — saving energy vs a pre-set BMS that would keep firing the boilers for longer.

The added carrot for commercial building owners (or tenants) is that Dabbel squeezes these energy savings without the need to rip and replace legacy systems — nor, (Read more...)

Which U.S. Generation Wields the Most Economic Power?

This post is by Iman Ghosh from Visual Capitalist

The Generational Power Index
The Generational Power Index
Introducing our new index, which ranks U.S. generations on their economic, political, and cultural influence.

>> Download the Report (.pdf)

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Which U.S. Generation Wields the Most Economic Power?

In our inaugural Generational Power Index (GPI) 2021, we’ve ranked generations on how much power and influence they hold in American society.

And when it comes to money and economic power, our research has concluded that Baby Boomers, those between the ages of 57-75, have more influence than Millennials, Gen X, and Gen Z combined.

GenerationEconomic Power Share
Baby Boomers43.4%
Gen X26.1%
Gen Z3.3%

These findings may seem intuitive, but what exactly contributes to economic power? To find out, let’s take a closer look at the GPI’s underlying variables.

The Building Blocks of Economic Power

Our starting point was to define the age ranges of each generation:

GenerationAge range (years)Birth year range
The Silent Generation76 and over1928-1945
Baby Boomers57-751946-1964
Gen X41-561965-1980
(Read more...)

Finary wants to create the wealth management dashboard for the next generation

Meet Finary, a new French startup that wants to change how you manage your savings, investments, mortgage, real estate assets and cryptocurrencies. The company lets you aggregate all your accounts across various banks and financial institutions so that you can track your wealth comprehensively over time.

After attending Y Combinator, the startup has just closed a $2.7 million (€2.2 million) seed round led by Speedinvest with Kima Ventures and angel investors, such as Raphaël Vullierme also participating.

If you know people who have a ton of money, chances are they tend to be at least 40 or 50 years old — you don’t become rich overnight after all. And they tend to manage their investment portfolio through a wealth management service with tailor-made services.

“There’s very little tech in wealth management. Advisors are also incentivized to sell you some financial products in particular,” co-founder and CEO Mounir Laggoune told me. In that situation, the company in charge of the financial product is generating revenue for the advisor — not the client.

At the same time, a new generation of investors is starting to accumulate a lot of wealth. And yet, they don’t have the right tools to allocate it properly. Younger people want to see information directly. They want a way to track information in real-time, or near real-time. And they want to be able to take some actions based on that data.

Finary wants to build that service based on those principles. It starts with an API-based aggregator. (Read more...)

Reid Hoffman | Game On

This post is by Greylock Partners from Greymatter

When people ask Greylock general partner Reid Hoffman how he learned strategy, his answer is not that he studied in business school and earned an MBA, or that he read (and re-read) Machiavelli and Sun Tzu. His answer is this: “I played a lot of games.” The best games, Hoffman says, not only require skill and tactics, but they also incorporate uncertainty and randomness, which teaches you to be strategic in ways that match the way the world works. In conversation with Blitzscaling co-author Chris Yeh, Hoffman describes how games have been so integral to his development as a business strategist, and to the theories he's developed and deployed.

Father and son duo take on global logistics with Optimal Dynamics’ sequential decision AI platform

Like “innovation,” machine learning and artificial intelligence are commonplace terms that provide very little context for what they actually signify. AI/ML spans dozens of different fields of research, covering all kinds of different problems and alternative and often incompatible ways to solve them.

One robust area of research here that has antecedents going back to the mid-20th century is what is known as stochastic optimization — decision-making under uncertainty where an entity wants to optimize for a particular objective. A classic problem is how to optimize an airline’s schedule to maximize profit. Airlines need to commit to schedules months in advance without knowing what the weather will be like or what the specific demand for a route will be (or, whether a pandemic will wipe out travel demand entirely). It’s a vibrant field, and these days, basically runs most of modern life.

Warren B. Powell has been exploring this problem for decades as a researcher at Princeton, where he has operated the Castle Lab. He has researched how to bring disparate areas of stochastic optimization together under one framework that he has dubbed “sequential decision analytics” to optimize problems where each decision in a series places constraints on future decisions. Such problems are common in areas like logistics, scheduling and other key areas of business.

The Castle Lab has long had industry partners, and it has raised tens of millions of dollars in grants from industry over its history. But after decades of research, Powell teamed up (Read more...)

Settle raises $15M from Kleiner Perkins to give e-commerce companies more working capital

Alek Koenig spent four years at Affirm, where he was head of Credit.

There he saw firsthand just how powerful the alternative lending model could be. Koenig realized that it wasn’t just consumers who could benefit from the model, but businesses too.

So in November 2019, he founded Settle as a way to give e-commerce and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies access to non-dilutive capital. (Not every company wants to raise venture money). By June 2020, the startup had launched its platform, which is designed to help these businesses manage their cash flow. Over time, he recruited a previous co-worker, Shane Moriah, to serve as Settle’s CTO.

And today, the company is announcing that it has raised $15 million in a Series A funding round led by Kleiner Perkins. This follows a previously unannounced $6 million seed raise led by Founders Fund in November 2020. Other investors in the company include SciFi (Affirm founder Max Levchin’s VC firm), Caffeinated Capital, WorkLife Ventures, Background Capital and AngelList Venture CEO Avlok Kohli.

With the pandemic leading to a massive shift toward digital and online shopping, e-commerce and CPG businesses found themselves with the challenge of keeping up with demand while trying to manage their cash flow. The main problem was the lag between accounts receivables and accounts payables.

“These companies suffer from the problem where there are these huge cash flow gaps from buying inventory, waiting to receive it and then turning it into revenue,” Koenig explains. “It takes quite a bit (Read more...)