The David Prize


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

The David Prize is a philanthropic effort to find NYers who are doing amazing things and support them financially.

They recently announced five winners, you can see them here.

They have an open call for new applicants and you can apply here. The deadline is December 4th.

They are eager to support entrepreneurs of all kinds who are working to make a better NYC. If that sounds like you, then you should apply for a David Prize.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Gillian Munson — Oct 20, 2020
Our Investment in Possible

Nick Grossman — Oct 20, 2020
Making Butter with Jam

Albert Wenger — Oct 18, 2020
How Much Clothing is Enough? A Personal Experiment

Removing The CEO


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

In almost thirty five years of working on boards, the hardest decisions I have had to make involve removing the CEO. It is an important decision and one that must be made from time to time. I am not a fan of removing the CEO until and unless it is abundantly clear that it must be done.

But when the CEO has failed to manage numerous important challenges, when the senior leadership team has been a revolving door, when the CEO has messed up important relationships with customers, employees, and other important stakeholders, when the organization has become toxic as a result of the CEO’s abrasive personality, then the choice is abundantly clear and must be made.

It is an even harder decision to make when you don’t have an obvious replacement, or when you are not 100% confident that the obvious replacement will be an improvement over the current CEO.

But those are not reasons to wait. You must act and replace the failed CEO with whomever is the best option in that moment and work with the new CEO to address the challenges facing the company, many a result of the failed CEO’s poor leadership.

Waiting is never the right answer. Failing to act is never the right answer. You must remove a failing CEO.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Gillian Munson — Oct 20, 2020
Our Investment in Possible

Nick Grossman — Oct 20, 2020
Making Butter with Jam

Albert Wenger — Oct 18, 2020
How Much Clothing is Enough? A Personal Experiment

Funding Friday: Hidemi Takagi: Stories


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

I like how Hidemi Takagi set up a free photo studio in her front yard in Bed-Stuy and took photos of her neighbors.

For those on email, you can see the video here.

I backed this creative project and a bunch of others this morning on Kickstarter.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Gillian Munson — Oct 20, 2020
Our Investment in Possible

Nick Grossman — Oct 20, 2020
Making Butter with Jam

Albert Wenger — Oct 18, 2020
How Much Clothing is Enough? A Personal Experiment

Extending And Improving Bluetooth On A Mac Mini


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

As I have written here a few times, I prefer to do video meetings from a couch (vs a desk). I find it allows me to stay present in the meeting and not get distracted by everything on my desk. I call these couch setups “Zoom Rooms” and I have been doing this long before the pandemic but this approach has been incredibly helpful to me during the pandemic.

I use a Mac Mini powering two screens and a lot of bluetooth devices; a keyboard, a trackpad, a Jabra speakerphone, gamer style headphones, and a Smart Mic. The multiple audio devices are for different situations. If the Gotham Gal and I are doing a call together, we use the Jabra speakerphone. If I am doing a meeting solo, I tend to use the Smart Mic. If I am doing a presentation, I use gamer style headphones with a great mic on them.

Here’s the issue. The bluetooth that comes standard in a Mac Mini doesn’t like multiple bluetooth devices and the range is just so so. The farther you are from the Mac Mini, the worse this situation gets.

I’ve struggled with this issue quite a bit and I think I have finally found the fix. I got a USB extension cable and this Bluetooth dongle. This approach both extends the Bluetooth into the room better and the third party Bluetooth dongle supports multiple devices better than what comes native on the Mac Mini.

It is not drop dead simple to make this fix. You have to muck around with the bluetooth settings on the Mac to make the dongle work. The best approach is to get into Terminal and type in some instructions which is absolutely not user friendly.

But it does make Bluetooth work a lot better for me. If you are having similar issues, you might want to try it too.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Gillian Munson — Oct 20, 2020
Our Investment in Possible

Nick Grossman — Oct 20, 2020
Making Butter with Jam

Albert Wenger — Oct 18, 2020
How Much Clothing is Enough? A Personal Experiment

Offsetting Your Flights


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

I realize that most of us are not flying much these days, but I am confident that we will return to flying when the pandemic is over and when we do, we should offset the carbon footprints of our flights. The Gotham Gal and I have been doing this for the last five years.

Here are two good ways to do that:

Project Wren – this is a USV portfolio company and with their Flight Logger you can log all of your flights and offset them with afforestation programs.

Delta Offsets – Delta Airlines offers a service where you can calculate the carbon footprint of your flight and offset it with a number of projects.

It is not particularly expensive to offset your flights. A round trip flight from JFK to LAX and back is 0.7 tons of carbon per passenger and you can generally offset for around $10 a ton. So using that math, it would be $7 to offset the carbon for your round trip from NYC to LA and back.

The harder part is making this a regular occurrence. Some airlines and travel agents will automatically offset if you ask them to. I hope that becomes more common and available as it is the easiest way to do this.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Gillian Munson — Oct 20, 2020
Our Investment in Possible

Nick Grossman — Oct 20, 2020
Making Butter with Jam

Albert Wenger — Oct 18, 2020
How Much Clothing is Enough? A Personal Experiment

Spreading Jam


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

If your job requires you to design, build, and ship software applications and you want a better way to get feedback on the application, the design, etc, then I have a suggestion for you. Try Jam. Or Jam.dev to be specific.

Jam allows you to turn your web application into something akin to Google Docs, where your colleagues, customers, beta testers, QA team, etc can comment directly on the application. Jam integrates with existing tools like Jira, GitHub, Slack, Figma, Loom, and others to make the feedback collected on Jam as actionable as possible.

Jam was built by Dani Grant and Mohd Irtefa, who met as product managers at our portfolio company Cloudflare. Dani then spent two years at USV helping us spot interesting investments before starting Jam. USV is a seed investor in Jam along with our friends at Version One, Box Group, and Village Global.

So if you want a better way to collect feedback on your application, spread some jam on it.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Gillian Munson — Oct 20, 2020
Our Investment in Possible

Nick Grossman — Oct 20, 2020
Making Butter with Jam

Albert Wenger — Oct 18, 2020
How Much Clothing is Enough? A Personal Experiment

Setting Off On Your Own


This post is by Fred Wilson from VC & Technology – AVC

I read Alex Konrad’s profile of Fred Ehrsam and Matt Huang of Paradigm yesterday and was reminded of my own career.

In 1996, after almost a decade at Euclid Partners, I left to start Flatiron Partners with Jerry Colonna. I was 35. Jerry was 33. We had a lot to learn but we did know one thing. We knew that the Internet was upon us and it was going to be big.

We had absolutely no clue how big it was going to be. But that did not matter. We got to work investing in Internet companies and we did very well until the bubble and crash.

If you read Alex’s profile of Fred and Matt, you will learn that they are 32 and 31, and that they believe that crypto will be big.

The Gotham Gal and I are investors in Paradigm, so I am biased, but I believe that Fred and Matt are right and that, like Jerry and me, they have no idea how big it will be.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Oct 18, 2020
How Much Clothing is Enough? A Personal Experiment

Funding Friday: Westbeth


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

The Gotham Gal and I have lived a block away from Westbeth for almost fifteen years. Westbeth is a treasure. It was Bell Labs for most of the first half of the twentieth century and became an artist community in 1970 about twenty years after Bell Labs left for New Jersey.

Earlier this week, I backed a photobook project on Kickstarter to document many of the artists who live there. That project was funded and is over now.

The video does a great job of showcasing what Westbeth is and so I am embedding it here on the blog. If you are reading this in email you can go here and watch the video.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Oct 10, 2020
Innovation Upends Extrapolation: Urbanization

A Failing Grade


This post is by Fred Wilson from VC & Technology – AVC

I wrote yesterday, about the quarterly numbers for VC investing activity:

If this was a student coming home with a report card, it would be straight As.

Well, I missed something in the data that was subsequently reported on by PitchBook, one of the authors of the report:

Venture funding for female founders has hit its lowest quarterly total in three years.

Firms invested a total of $434 million in Q3—the lowest figure since the second quarter of 2017, according to PitchBook data. The third quarter total also amounts to a 48% drop in funding from Q2, when female founders received $841 million across 132 deals.

https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/vc-funding-female-founders-drops-low

I hope Q3 is an anomaly and not the reversal of a trend that has mostly been “up and to the right” in recent years.

We continue to see, and fund, great woman founders so I am hoping that there is not some fundamental change to the market that is hurting women founders. But it is possible that there is and I missed that in my blog yesterday. I will give myself an F for that.

I’ve seen a few replies on Twitter that suggest the same is true for underrepresented minorities. I have not seen the data to back that up but if it is true, that is also a failing grade for the VC sector.

I have been encouraged by what I have seen in the VC/startup sector regarding opening up access to women founders and founders of color. It feels like positive change is happening. But we have to see that in the numbers or it is just talk.

And apparently we did not see it in the numbers last quarter.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Oct 10, 2020
Innovation Upends Extrapolation: Urbanization

Venture Funding Trends Intact


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

The NVCA and Pitch Book are out with their Q3 report on the VC industry and what they report is that the VC industry continues to be very active throughout the pandemic. Deal counts and deal values are stable to up over last year. The massive expansion of later-stage private capital continues unabated. Valuations continue to rise. And exits have been very robust.

If this was a student coming home with a report card, it would be straight As. The startup economy is alive and well during the pandemic.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Oct 10, 2020
Innovation Upends Extrapolation: Urbanization

Numerai Signals


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

Our portfolio company Numerai, which operates the crowdsourced Numerai Hedge Fund and is the creator of the Numeraire crypto token introduced their latest effort, Numerai Signals, with this video yesterday:


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Oct 10, 2020
Innovation Upends Extrapolation: Urbanization

The De-Carbonization Of The Economy


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

Over the last decade, the Gotham Gal and I have moved away from oil and gas in our homes and have installed solar panels for electricity and heat pumps for heating and cooling. It has gotten less expensive to do this swap out as solar and heat pump costs have come down. My partner Albert told me that when you factor in the financing costs of this swap, the average home in the Northeast United States could save $1000 to $2000 a year by doing this swap.

What this means is that homeowners can and should go to the bank and borrow the money to remove oil and gas powered boilers and replace them with energy efficient heat pumps and put solar on their roofs to power them. They should do this not just because it is good for the climate, but because it is good for the bank account. That’s a big deal.

I saw this chart in Azeem Azhar’s excellent Exponential View newsletter this week:

Electricity generation and consumption in the US has stabilized over the last twenty years and the use of coal to generate electricity is plummeting. In another twenty years this chart will have a huge amount of green and almost no red in it.

The de-carbonization of the economy is a megatrend that is already underway and is highly investable because the unit economics of renewables and energy efficient electrical equipment is now superior to the unit economics of carbon and mechanical equipment. We can see this in cars (EVs>Gas) and heating/cooling systems and many other aspects of our economy.

The narrative somehow has been that addressing the climate crisis is going to hurt our economy. I believe that is plain wrong. I believe it will power a huge economic boom that will look much like the boom that powered the carbon/mechanical/industrial economy from the late 19th century to the late 20th century.

So let’s get on with it.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Oct 10, 2020
Innovation Upends Extrapolation: Urbanization

Nick Grossman — Oct 2, 2020
USV Algorand Transparency Statement, Q3 2020

The De-Carbonization Of The Economy


This post is by Fred Wilson from VC & Technology – AVC

Over the last decade, the Gotham Gal and I have moved away from oil and gas in our homes and have installed solar panels for electricity and heat pumps for heating and cooling. It has gotten less expensive to do this swap out as solar and heat pump costs have come down. My partner Albert told me that when you factor in the financing costs of this swap, the average home in the Northeast United States could save $1000 to $2000 a year by doing this swap.

What this means is that homeowners can and should go to the bank and borrow the money to remove oil and gas powered boilers and replace them with energy efficient heat pumps and put solar on their roofs to power them. They should do this not just because it is good for the climate, but because it is good for the bank account. That’s a big deal.

I saw this chart in Azeem Azhar’s excellent Exponential View newsletter this week:

Electricity generation and consumption in the US has stabilized over the last twenty years and the use of coal to generate electricity is plummeting. In another twenty years this chart will have a huge amount of green and almost no red in it.

The de-carbonization of the economy is a megatrend that is already underway and is highly investable because the unit economics of renewables and energy efficient electrical equipment is now superior to the unit economics of carbon and mechanical equipment. We can see this in cars (EVs>Gas) and heating/cooling systems and many other aspects of our economy.

The narrative somehow has been that addressing the climate crisis is going to hurt our economy. I believe that is plain wrong. I believe it will power a huge economic boom that will look much like the boom that powered the carbon/mechanical/industrial economy from the late 19th century to the late 20th century.

So let’s get on with it.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — Oct 10, 2020
Innovation Upends Extrapolation: Urbanization

Funding Friday: Getting Through The Winter


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

I backed Basilica Hudson earlier this week when I saw a friend had backed it in my notifications. Helping a leading upstate arts organization keep going during this pandemic felt like a good thing to do.

This morning, I backed a few other similar projects:

Dirty Precious: Off Premises

Museum Of The Moving Image

As it starts getting colder here in NYC, I have a sense that if we can help these institutions get through this winter into the spring, they can make it through the pandemic and be around when we all will desperately want to be packed in a room with other people again.

Kickstarter’s Lights On category is all about these sorts of projects and I stop by and visit them regularly and back them.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Oct 2, 2020
USV Algorand Transparency Statement, Q3 2020

Rebecca Kaden — Oct 1, 2020
Sora

E-Commerce and Retail


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

Most of us have seen some version of this chart that shows how the Covid pandemic has accelerated e-commerce adoption:

What is interesting to me is that it has also impacted in person retail experiences.

Most restaurants in NYC are not passing out menus anymore. They just have a QR code at the table that you aim your phone camera at and are taken to the menu.

At my regular coffee shop in NYC, they now encourage ordering in advance versus standing in line to order your coffee. I took this photo while waiting for my coffee to come out yesterday:

The initial download and setup of the Toast Takeout app takes a few minutes. It is not something I would have done in the past. But now that ordering online vs lining up to order is the way that this coffee shop mostly works, I was happy to make that investment of time. And now, that’s the way I get my coffee every morning. I don’t think I or any other regulars will go back to lining up when the pandemic is over.

My point is this. Retail will come back after the pandemic. There are many reasons why we like to go into places and shop and drink and eat with others. I think we will enjoy that experience more than ever once we can do it again. But we will do it differently and more efficiently than we used to do it because we all learned some new tricks during the pandemic. And that is a good thing.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Oct 2, 2020
USV Algorand Transparency Statement, Q3 2020

Rebecca Kaden — Oct 1, 2020
Sora

Business Books and Podcasts


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

I’m not a fan of business books. I find that you get most of the value from them in the opening chapter and then it is a lot of repetition from then on.

But there are some great concepts that one can glean from business books and I’ve often wanted to find an efficient way to do that without buying the book and reading one chapter.

Podcasts to the rescue. Most business book writers go on a podcast tour in order to promote their book. All you need to do is find your favorite interviewer on the podcast tour and listen to that one. That’s generally thirty to forty-five minutes and you will get everything you need from the book and maybe more.

As an aside, this is a classic example of the promotional effort cannabalizing the product itself.

Fortunately great writers don’t need to worry about this. I will always choose to read the words of a great writer over listening to them on a podcast. But there aren’t many great writers putting out business books. They write novels or big ambitious works of non-fiction. Which I prefer to read on a Kindle or in print.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Oct 2, 2020
USV Algorand Transparency Statement, Q3 2020

Rebecca Kaden — Oct 1, 2020
Sora

AirPod Alternatives?


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

We have been back in NYC for the last month and enjoying the city very much. One of the many things we love about NYC is that we walk everywhere (or most everywhere). I enjoy walking around NYC by myself and listening to music, podcasts, or talking to friends or colleagues on the phone.

But earlier this year, I developed a bad case of Tinnitus. I stopped using the in-ear Airpods and the Tinnitus went away quickly. I am not saying that the Airpods caused the Tinnitus, but they certainly seem to make it worse and so I stopped using them about six months ago. I did not miss them much when I was in my car a lot, but I sure do miss them walking around NYC.

So I am in the market for bluetooth headphones that fit over the ear, not in the ear, that are small, light, and good for walking around with. I just can’t wear my Bose Quiet Comfort headphones (which I love for the office) out on the streets.

So if you have any suggestions for me, I would love to hear them. Please click on the button that says “Discuss On Twitter” and leave them there for me. Or reply to the email if you get this blog post that way. I am all ears 🙂


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Oct 2, 2020
USV Algorand Transparency Statement, Q3 2020

Rebecca Kaden — Oct 1, 2020
Sora

Negative Social Proof


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

I explained this last week on a call with some of our investors and I thought it might be useful to explain it more broadly.

Most of USV’s big wins have been in companies where we were the first institutional VC to talk to the company or where we had way more conviction about the opportunity than other investors at the time of our investment.

There was no social proof on these investments other than the fact that nobody else wanted to make the investment as much as we did. You can call it negative social proof.

I like to tell the story of when I met Brian Armstrong, the founder of our portfolio company Coinbase in the summer of 2012. Paul Graham had asked me to do office hours at Y Combinator and so I came to their offices and spent four hours meeting sixteen companies in back to back 15 minute pitches. At the end of the four hours, I walked out of the conference room and Paul was waiting for me. He asked “which ones did you like best?” and I replied “I like Coinbase. I think Brian Armstrong is on to something big.” He was surprised and said “You are the first VC to say that.” And I said “Then its going to be huge. Please make sure we get the call when they want to raise.”

That’s negative social proof. When nobody else likes the deal but you. That’s how you win big.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Oct 2, 2020
USV Algorand Transparency Statement, Q3 2020

Rebecca Kaden — Oct 1, 2020
Sora

NBA Top Shot Public Launch


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

Our portfolio company Dapper took the ropes off NBA Top Shot this past week and it is now open to anyone who wants to play this super fun NBA collectibles game.

I wrote about NBA Top Shot in early August and provided access codes to AVC readers who wanted to get in on the beta. So some of you are already playing the game. But now all of you can do so.

I just bought a couple of packs this morning in the new and improved UI and scored a Nikola Jokic jumper (over AD) from the western conference finals.

I love the Joker so I am going to hold onto this one.

This is my pack opening experience from this morning:

I will put some of those cards into the marketplace and sell them. But I am holding onto Jayson Tatum and Joker. I already have a few Kyle Lowry cards so I am probably going to put that one into the marketplace.

I have a few cards that I am not ever letting go of. This Kawhi #1 (out of 1256) is my prized possession:

The #2 of that card is listed for $10k in the marketplace so I think mine is worth even more:

I do have some choice cards listed in the marketplace for sale:

So get into the game and pick them up from me 🙂

Anyway, you all get the idea. NBA Top Shot is a ton of fun and will be a great way for us fans to stay connected to the game during the offseason that seems like it is coming quickly. LeBron and this guy are quite the combination:


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Oct 2, 2020
USV Algorand Transparency Statement, Q3 2020

Rebecca Kaden — Oct 1, 2020
Sora

Albert Wenger — Sep 24, 2020
Fear is the Mind-Killer

Covid Alert NY


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

I’ve written a bunch about Exposure Alerting and its potential to limit the spread of Covid by alerting people when they have come in contact with someone contagious.

Back in April, Google and Apple came together to create GAEN, a framework for secure and private proximity data sharing on mobile phones.

In July, the Linux Foundation open-sourced two code bases that operate on top of GAEN for public health authorities around the world to build mobile apps with.

And yesterday, NY State launched Covid Alert NY that was built on those open source code bases. Covid Alert NY was built by the NYS Dept. of Health and Tech:NYC (where I am Chairman), along with Google, Apple, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Goldman Sachs, and a coalition of technology and research partners.

Here’s how Covid NY works:

  • Phones that have downloaded the app are assigned a random ID that can be exchanged with other phones via Bluetooth technology.
  • Devices that are within six feet of each other for 10 minutes or longer exchange those random IDs.
  • If a person tests positive and reports it on the app, an alert goes out to those with whom they had close contact alerting them of potential exposure.
  • The app also serves as a resource hub of daily case count numbers and informs users of the steps they can take to prevent further virus spread.

And it’s designed to work by placing privacy first:

  • It uses secure Bluetooth technology, not GPS, that can only detect when two devices are in proximity to each other, not geographic location. It doesn’t collect users’ data on their location or movement.
  • The random ID assigned to your device changes every 15 minutes, and users are not identified to other users, nor is their personal identifiable information shared — not with other users, Google, Apple, or the NYS Department of Health.

I hope that all NYers download Covid Alert NY to their phones and participate in a voluntary network of exposure alerting. This alone will not end the pandemic, but it can slow the spread of the virus by letting people know when they might be contagious and encouraging them to isolate and get tested. Imagine if we had this technology widely deployed back in January and February?

I downloaded Covid Alert NY to my phone this morning and am now participating in this voluntary exposure alerting network. You can join me by downloading Covid Alert NY to your phone:

App Store (for iPhone)

Google Play (for Android)


USV TEAM POSTS:

Rebecca Kaden — Oct 1, 2020
Sora

Albert Wenger — Sep 24, 2020
Fear is the Mind-Killer

Nick Grossman — Sep 23, 2020
No Wasted Footsteps