The Right Way To Mentor


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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I don’t know if you know Paul Martino from Bullpen Capital or not.  He and I are friends.  They recently launched a podcast and have been blogging about the late Bill Campbell.  He is a Silicon Valley icon.  Interesting guy.   Football coach at Columbia University which obviously has never been a threat to win a lot of games.  Left Columbia and didn’t have a traditional road to the tech business.  He was an ad guy, then worked at Kodak, and took a job at Apple after they ousted Steve Jobs.  Kodak once was one of the most innovative companies in the world.

One thing about coaches is they understand how to mentor.  There are many different styles of mentorship. Many different paths.  Some people like being coached by Bobby Knight and some people don’t.  There isn’t a “right” Continue reading “The Right Way To Mentor”

Happy Father’s Day


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Hope you have a great Father’s Day.  If you are close to your Dad, hope you see him.  If not, hope you get a chance to chat on the phone.  If your Dad is gone, he won’t be if you remember him.  Tell a story about him to someone today.

The Government Budgets


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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This morning when I woke up I saw this tweet by The Gotham Gal.

My friend Mark Glennon of Wirepoints wrote his monthly column on what just happened in Illinois. Illinois politicians are lying to the public again, and most of the media is enabling them. The media went to journalism school and not business school. There also aren’t a lot of math majors among journalists. They are bereft of principles. Springfield Republicans are enablers.  They just go along and get along.  They don’t provide a lot of leadership.

Newly elected mayor Lori Lightfoot said she is looking at raising all kinds of taxes to fill the budget hole left by almost a century of governing from corrupt Democratic Machine politicians.  People are already fleeing Chicago.  What’s going to happen Continue reading “The Government Budgets”

The Dead at Wrigley


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Never been to see the Dead before.  We are going to see them tonight at Wrigley.  I don’t own any tie-dye.  I never have had the chance to see them.  In high school and college I never had the money to go to concerts.  I can count on one hand how many I went to.  Once I got out of college, we’d go see a couple but neither of us were active concert goers.  If the Grateful Dead was in town, I usually didn’t have the time.  This will be the first major concert in Chicago since the legislature legalized pot.  I am sure there will be a lot of people heading into Lakeview with medical conditions.

The weather in Chicago has been perfectly dreadful since October 1.  Looks like it will be a nice day today.  Might even Continue reading “The Dead at Wrigley”

Climate Change and What We Do About It (If Anything)


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Listen to this podcast.   It’s super interesting.  The Climate Change debate has devolved into two factions.   Part of it is the “believers” have denounced the “deniers” as anti-science and Luddites.  The Climate Change people I hear in the media, and run into in my personal circles have a fanatical religious belief about it.  The only path is to use wind or solar energy and end fossil fuels, full stop.

The politicians traipsing through Iowa right now are trying to scare everyone.  As if the reason farmers can’t get their crop in this year is climate change.  It’s been extremely rainy and cold.  They forget that years like this happen from time to time and have all through history.

Lomborg deconstructs the issue through the use of really good data.  He’s not “for or against” climate change.  For example, we know Continue reading “Climate Change and What We Do About It (If Anything)”

An Unintentional Part of Tech


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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The big tech companies are being looked at closely for antitrust.  The Stigler Center at Chicago Booth had a two-day event I was at a month ago that was enlightening.  I blogged about it and the ideas, themes, and thoughts that spewed forth from that conference are finding their way into the editorial pages of major publications and on leading blogs all over the spectrum.

One thing I heard that was interesting when it came to newspapers was that while most newspapers were dying, papers like the Wall Street Journal had “figured it out” and were profitable and better than ever before.  Hiring not firing staff.

Pivot to universities.  My alma mater, Illinois, just dumped its in-person MBA program in favor of an online program that it initiated a couple of years ago.  Makes total sense.  There was no demand for the in-person program. Continue reading “An Unintentional Part of Tech”

MLB.Com Is Stupid


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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I have been a Cubs fan my whole life.  I was given the disease by a neighbor when I was a little kid. He was a WW2 veteran named Bill Schultz.  Bill and his wife Dorothy didn’t have any kids.  I used to go over and they had candy all over the place so I would eat it and watch the Cubs with Bill.  Of course, in 1969 the Cubs broke our hearts.  Little did I know then that in 1986 I’d be working for Rich Nye who pitched for them.  Back in the day, everyone had an AM transistor radio and when you were doing stuff you’d have Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau on.  Introducing someone to become a Cubs fan was a special form of child abuse up until 2016.

An aside, my grandfather was a huge Minnesota Twins fan. 

Continue reading “MLB.Com Is Stupid”

If You Immigrate, You Can’t Bank


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Immigration is top of mind for people all over the world.  In America, it’s our Southern border.  In Europe, it’s immigration from India, Africa and the Middle East. As countries around the world fail their people, they risk it all to go somewhere else.

When you immigrate legally to somewhere else, you run into a policy thicket that has been set up to trap the bad guys.  Bad guys meaning terrorists, drug cartels, weapon cartels and ne’er do wells who aren’t interested in participating in a civil society.  That’s too bad but every financial institution has strict rules and government mandated regulations on anti-money laundering and know your customer laws.  In the business the shorthand is AMLKYC.

One of our portfolio companies, Pipit, solves big problems for creditworthy hard-working immigrants that cannot open up a bank account due to AMLKYC rules.

Recently Ollie Walsh Continue reading “If You Immigrate, You Can’t Bank”

Coase And The Wall


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Yesterday I was at a Chicago Booth event and I just happened to sit down next to Sam Peltzman.  We didn’t talk politics.  I asked a lot of questions about economics.  We talked about Ronald Coase.  He knew Coase very well, and he edits the journal Coase used to edit until he passed away at 102.

Sam mentioned that even to this day, most people don’t really believe in or understand Coase.  It’s true.

It’s a very tricky theorem because it goes against a lot of internal confirmation biases in people.  It makes them feel uncomfortable.  It also often is applied to issues that are deeply emotional since it is alternatively known as a theory that solves problems in social costs.

A lot of people want the government or some authority to solve a problem when effective bargaining can do it for us. Continue reading “Coase And The Wall”

Network Effects and Venture Capital


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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In the last several years there has been a lot of fund formation in venture capital.  New funds have started.  Existing funds have raised much larger funds.  There is a lot more money being put into innovation today than there was ten years ago.  However, the amount of money in geographical areas has remained uneven.  Sort of like income inequality, where the rich get richer while the poor stay about the same.  For example, there are 12 VC funds in Michigan.  There are 12 in one building in Palo Alto.

The Brookings Institute just released a study on venture capital by geography.  It’s an interesting read.  Brookings also did an analysis with some Michigan MBA students.  Several years ago, Stephen Spreiser and graduate students at the University of Illinois did a similar analysis.

Access to capital was one of the Continue reading “Network Effects and Venture Capital”

SEC and Kik


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I was sort of surprised by the SEC’s move to go after Kik.  But, Kik decided to poke the bear so I guess they knew it was coming.  I will leave it to the legals to figure it all out.  Kik Chief Executive Ted Livingston welcomes the chance to have a court decide whether its cryptocurrency functions like a share of stock, which the SEC alleges. “This is not about kin; this is about crypto broadly,” he said. “What’s exciting to me is that this industry is finally going to get the clarity it so desperately needs.”

He might not get the win he wants.  The SEC could act decisively and put the entire crypto sector out of business in the US with a ruling.  Or, they could act narrowly and focus just on the Kik question and make sure it doesn’t apply across Continue reading “SEC and Kik”

Should The Poor Save For Retirement?


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Every day in my inbox, I get the American Enterprise Institute daily email.  Sometimes there is some interesting stuff in it.  Today, an article caught my eye.  Should the poor save for retirement?

If you read the book Nudge by Richard Thaler, he talks about ways to “nudge” people to save.  Opt-in versus opt out.  There are companies cropping up that help the poor, or anyone takes spare change and put them in interest-bearing or stock accounts to grow.  There is no doubt that people misunderstand how compound interest and compounding works.  But, the real question is if I can use the money today to make myself better off should I do that versus saving it for tomorrow?

Remember, we are talking about people that don’t have much to start with.

Economist Andrew Biggs ran a study.  He found that “for very Continue reading “Should The Poor Save For Retirement?”

D-Day; H-Hour


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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If you went to school in America, you should know what those abbreviations mean.  If you didn’t, you might still have heard of them. People that taught me in middle school and high school were WW2 vets at the end of their teaching careers.  One was wounded on Iwo Jima.  One was a medic at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.  One fought with the Marines on Okinawa.  Parents of my friends fought.  One was in D-Day.  One liberated concentration camps.  A person in my family Hamp Harmon was there.  Wounded.  Later in the war he was at the Battle of the Bulge.  They wouldn’t let us forget but unfortunately, it’s different now.  The fuzzy lens of time combined with the spin of the present filter things differently.

Many don’t feel like remembrance is important.  It

Continue reading “D-Day; H-Hour”

Bank On It with John Siracusa


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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When I was in NYC a few weeks ago I was lucky to go on John Siracusa‘s podcast, Bank On It.  John has been doing the podcast for a while now.  I met John in February when I was in NYC for an event.  We chatted and thought doing his podcast would be a great idea.

If you are in fintech and don’t know John, he’s someone you should know.  He’s a sales and marketing professional and a financial services industry enthusiast and connector. He loves fintech because it is constantly innovating.

“Bank On It” is a weekly podcast recorded onsite from the CG offices on Wall Street. The day we recorded our interview, Uber went public.  Post interview I walked right by the NYSE and saw all the hoopla.  John also speaks at and covers industry events such as In|Vest, Lendit Fintech Continue reading “Bank On It with John Siracusa”

The Blues


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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This time of year, Chicago doesn’t have a dog in any championship fight.  Hopefully, we will in October.  The Bears might be there next February.

I know I am not supposed to root for any team out of St. Louis.  However, I am empathetic to teams that haven’t won world championships.  I am a Cubs fan after all.  I won’t buy any apparel, but I sure hope the St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup.  It’s an even series right now. They won their first Stanley Cup game on home ice.

I was driving through Chicago the other night and a bunch of St. Louis people were crammed into a bar with their “sweaters” on watching the game.  Chicago is like that. We have bars for every team, especially Midwestern teams since so many people from all over the Midwest move here.  Continue reading “The Blues”

The Two Tribes


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Was talking to someone the other day that was part of a different tribe.  They heard about a billionaire moving out of state and couldn’t understand why that billionaire would make a charitable contribution to a local charity in their new locale and not to something on the west side of Chicago.

This is a tangible difference between the two tribes.  One sees it as a duty and responsibility to give money to the government for redistribution-or to participate in a public/private partnership the government controls for redistribution.  The other sees it as their money they earned and they are free to choose to do with it what they wish.

I was appealing my property taxes and a clerk briefly lectured me on how I drive on government roads…..

In Illinois, 99 cents of every dollar of any tax increase go to pay public pensions, not roads. Continue reading “The Two Tribes”

Corporate Fascism


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Salesforce told anyone that uses its product that they cannot use it for sales of firearms. That’s corporate fascism. If I were any gun retailer or wholesaler that used Salesforce I would sue them for antitrust, and sue them civilly for damages.  The way I’d drop the suit is if Salesforce made my data portable in an easy format so I could hop on a competitive system.

YouTube, a property of Google, is investigating a conservative journalist. Again, corporate fascism.  They never seem to investigate the other side.  It sure seems like YouTube attacks conservatives and limits their reach on their platform a lot more than liberals.  If you wonder why people might have this perception, think back to the day after Trump was elected President.  Google top management, including the founders, held a meeting about it.  A lot of folks are upset about Continue reading “Corporate Fascism”

How Do You Know?


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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I listened to a podcast by Russ Roberts on the drive home.  (Link to come later) It was about uncertainty.  It was also about certainty.

Life sometimes has Aha moments when everything comes together and you see everything. The veil lifts.

Everyone has them.  If you live your life with uncertainty then you don’t do anything.

Sometimes  certainty happens in the moment. I had it happen several times to me in the trading pit.  Things just came together and you acted.  Others around you thought you were nuts.

The danger is you read or see things through your confirmation biases.  You need to drive yourself to uncertainty to make sure your filters are right.

Uncertainty is okay.  You have to be comfortable with it.  It’s a part of life.  If you use it right it’s a good part of life.

Uncertainty causes learning

Drones


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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I don’t know much about drones.  I have tried to fly them on a couple of occasions and never got the knack.  They are intriguing to me though.  I see a tremendous amount of use for them.

I am up in the Northwoods for one more day.  I am not hanging around up here because the black flies came out and they are infernally frustrating little buggers.  We put permethrin on a lot of our clothes and they still bug you.   Took this photo with my iPhone of a little male hummingbird that has staked out some territory on our deck.  He fights like heck for it and battles other hummingbirds to defend his turf.  The way hummingbirds move reminds me of a lot of drones.

When we had a house in Geneva, IL in the pre-drone era, there was a kid

Continue reading “Drones”

Skimping on Legal


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Startups try to do a lot of things while spending no money.  “Sweat equity” is not a strange thing.  I am empathetic to founders that want to keep burn rates down.  Sometimes I see founders take very low salaries compared to the rest of their team in order to lower burn rates.  After all, they are working for equity.  The big payoff.

Fred Wilson has a great post up today about why founders shouldn’t use SAFEs or Convertible Debt notes for initial financing rounds.  I don’t have anything to add to it but it made me think of this point on legal costs.

A lot of founders use notes/SAFEs to save on legal costs.  It’s cheaper to do a debt instrument and scrounge a funding round together rather than pricing it.  Personally, I’d rather see founders set a realistic valuation and then

Continue reading “Skimping on Legal”