Joining the Libra Association


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Today we announced that we have joined the Libra Association, the governance for a global stable coin. Nick has written a post on the USV blog explaining our decision. I have argued before that we don’t really know what path will take us to a decentralized future and therefore have to try many things. Some of these paths involve centralized corporations exposing their endusers to crypto. Nobody has more users than Facebook!

There is a historic analogy here to when Microsoft released Internet Explorer. That was a crucial step for the mass adoption of the Web. Yes, it was a reactive move and designed, infamously, to “cut off the air supply” for Netscape. And yet all the sudden millions of people had access who previously did not. That was in 1995. The following chart from Our World in Data shows what happened next:

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It is useful to remember that Microsoft Continue reading “Joining the Libra Association”

Timing of World After Capital: An Echo of Keynes?


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After a vacation, I am resuming work on World After Capital. I have been struck by the possibility that my book may suffer a fate similar to Keynes’s essay titled “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren.” Written in 1930, during the early time of the Great Depression, the essay speculated on a wildly optimistic development that would see us working only 15 hours per week by now. Similar to language that I have used in World After Capital, the essay starts by noting that

We are suffering, not from the rheumatics of old age, but from the
growing-pains of over-rapid changes, from the painfulness of readjustment
between one economic period and another. 

Yes, the world still had one foot in the Agrarian Age while having the other in the Industrial Age. But what Keynes didn’t see coming was that the way the transition would be completed was Continue reading “Timing of World After Capital: An Echo of Keynes?”

Vacation Insights


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I just spent nearly two weeks in Israel and Jordan on a family vacation. We saw amazing sights and met fascinating people. More than with other travel, and maybe due to some recent reading, the trip crystallized three insights for me 

1. Humanity is capable of pulling off incredible projects

2. Humanity’s progress is fragile and large scale reversions happen

3. Religion is a terrible affliction for humanity

I plan to write more about each of these in the coming weeks. 

Blogging Break


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I have been on a bit of a blogging break which is likely to go on for a few more weeks. The break has been the result of a confluence of several factors, starting with a lot of work. Historically, I would have reacted by cutting back on sleep and workouts but now I know better than to do that. I need 8 hours of sleep and when I don’t get those I can’t think well and, more importantly for the people around me, become irritable. Since I am on the topic of health, I am happy to report that my shoulder is fully restored. That’s due to having found an amazing physical therapist and a wonderful personal trainer (I feel incredibly fortunate that I can afford this level of personal attention).

I have also been on a bit of a reading bender. Some time ago I realized that I Continue reading “Blogging Break”

Uncertainty Wednesday: Valuations and Inflation Risk


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Today’s Uncertainty Wednesday is about the risk of inflation. I spend much of my time thinking about company valuations, both as we make new investments and also as we try to mark valuations in existing companies. Of course valuations for private companies are influenced by available public comps and those have been trading at high multiples, including the current crop of IPOs. Now there are two countervailing views in the market. One view is that valuations will return to lower historical multiples and the other view is that current multiples are the new normal.

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Why could multiples have expanded permanently? Well there are two possible explanations (which are not mutually exclusive). First, that due to pervasive network effects successful companies can grow faster and have stronger ultimate positions in their respective markets. This is to say the higher multiples are justified on fundamental grounds. Second, that there is so much

image
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Continue reading “Uncertainty Wednesday: Valuations and Inflation Risk”

World After Capital: Plan for Part Four


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NOTE: I have been posting excerpts from World After Capital on Mondays. But because I am doing a more substantial rewrite of Part Four, today’s post describes what I am planning to cover.

I want Part Four to be more practical by pointing out ways we can take responsibility today for making the transition to the Knowledge Age. Here are areas I am planning to cover. I am curious if anyone has additional suggestions. First there are direct contributions to the three freedoms.

1. Mindfulness research and applications (Psychological Freedom)

There have been recent breakthroughs in understanding the physiological and neurological underpinnings of mindfulness practices. More work here is needed including ranging from foundational (such as mathematical models of the neural networks) to practical (such as treatment with Psilocybin and other psychedelic drugs). There are also great opportunities to contribute to mindfulness through computer applications, from practice apps such as Continue reading “World After Capital: Plan for Part Four”

A Brief Note on Email Introductions


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I wrote a post a few years ago titled “Some Things I Have Learned About Email” which among other things advocates for double opt-in introductions. These have by now thankfully become fairly standard and when people don’t follow the protocol it now stands out. There is one more thing though that is worth emphasizing even though it should be obvious (but apparently is not): if you asked for an introduction and now someone makes that introduction for you over email, it is your job to send the next email!

At a rate of roughly one out of ten the following happens. Somebody writes me that an entrepreneur is looking for an introduction. I write back to go ahead (note: I don’t always say go ahead, it depends of course on if I actually want the introduction). The introduction email is sent. And then crickets. The entrepreneur does not actually Continue reading “A Brief Note on Email Introductions”

Current IPO Crop


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It is the season of mega tech IPOs including the recent offerings by Pinterest and the upcoming one by Uber. A key question to be answered is how well will these companies perform in the public markets over time? So far Pinterest has traded up nicely in the first few days, but I am asking about long term performance. We are in new territory here because of how much money these companies have been able to raise previously in private markets.

To unpack the question and its implications further: will most of the gains in these investments be among the private investors who invested early or will there still be meaningful returns in the public markets? We will only know the answer to this in a year or so from now (and possibly not even then), but it will matter a lot for both future IPOs and for late stage Continue reading “Current IPO Crop”

Current IPO Crop


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It is the season of mega tech IPOs including the recent offerings by Pinterest and the upcoming one by Uber. A key question to be answered is how well will these companies perform in the public markets over time? So far Pinterest has traded up nicely in the first few days, but I am asking about long term performance. We are in new territory here because of how much money these companies have been able to raise previously in private markets.

To unpack the question and its implications further: will most of the gains in these investments be among the private investors who invested early or will there still be meaningful returns in the public markets? We will only know the answer to this in a year or so from now (and possibly not even then), but it will matter a lot for both future IPOs and for late stage Continue reading “Current IPO Crop”

Uncertainty Wednesday: Pascal’s Wager and Impeachment


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I have been enjoying writing about current events as part of Uncertainty Wednesdays, such as the Notre Dame fire and the Boeing crashes. Today’s edition is about impeachment following the Mueller report. One of the great early thinkers about uncertainty was Blaise Pascal who made many important contributions to mathematics (among them Pascal’s triangle which is a staple of learning math).

In a posthumously published work Pascal sets out a simple argument for believing in God which has become known as Pascal’s wager: a belief in God imposes a finite cost during one’s lifetime but with some small probability offers an infinite benefit of an eternal heavenly afterlife (he was thinking of a Christian God but the argument applies to many other religions that have a similar concept). Conversely if you do not belief in God you have a finite gain versus a small probability of an infinite Continue reading “Uncertainty Wednesday: Pascal’s Wager and Impeachment”

Uncertainty Wednesday: Pascal’s Wager and Impeachment


This post is by Continuations by Albert Wenger from Continuations by Albert Wenger


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I have been enjoying writing about current events as part of Uncertainty Wednesdays, such as the Notre Dame fire and the Boeing crashes. Today’s edition is about impeachment following the Mueller report. One of the great early thinkers about uncertainty was Blaise Pascal who made many important contributions to mathematics (among them Pascal’s triangle which is a staple of learning math).

In a posthumously published work Pascal sets out a simple argument for believing in God which has become known as Pascal’s wager: a belief in God imposes a finite cost during one’s lifetime but with some small probability offers an infinite benefit of an eternal heavenly afterlife (he was thinking of a Christian God but the argument applies to many other religions that have a similar concept). Conversely if you do not belief in God you have a finite gain versus a small probability of an infinite Continue reading “Uncertainty Wednesday: Pascal’s Wager and Impeachment”

World After Capital: Taking Responsibility (Intro)


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NOTE: Today’s excerpt from my book World After Capital starts the fourth and final section. I am embarking on a significant rewrite of that section to make it more action oriented, so expect some rough reading ahead.

Suppose that I have convinced you of the importance of the Knowledge Loop and of the scarcity of attention in the digital age. Suppose further that you find my suggestions for increasing economic, informational and psychological freedom interesting. That still leaves a huge question: Can it be done?

Throughout the prior sections you may have occasionally thought that I am mad for proposing so many fundamental changes, ranging from how money is created in the economy to who controls computation. One reaction is to dismiss the ideas as utopian. To argue that we simply cannot change everything about how we live. Yet that ignores the historical fact that we have changed nearly everything Continue reading “World After Capital: Taking Responsibility (Intro)”

World After Capital: Taking Responsibility (Intro)


This post is by Continuations by Albert Wenger from Continuations by Albert Wenger


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




NOTE: Today’s excerpt from my book World After Capital starts the fourth and final section. I am embarking on a significant rewrite of that section to make it more action oriented, so expect some rough reading ahead.

Suppose that I have convinced you of the importance of the Knowledge Loop and of the scarcity of attention in the digital age. Suppose further that you find my suggestions for increasing economic, informational and psychological freedom interesting. That still leaves a huge question: Can it be done?

Throughout the prior sections you may have occasionally thought that I am mad for proposing so many fundamental changes, ranging from how money is created in the economy to who controls computation. One reaction is to dismiss the ideas as utopian. To argue that we simply cannot change everything about how we live. Yet that ignores the historical fact that we have changed nearly everything Continue reading “World After Capital: Taking Responsibility (Intro)”

Learning about Leaders … from the Organizations they BuildOne thing I have learned in over 2…


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Learning about Leaders … from the Organizations they Build

One thing I have learned in over 2 decades of working with startups is that you can learn the most about a leader from the organization that they build. Over time, especially if not checked by a capable board, the organization will come to reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the leader(s). There is a great German saying “Der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf” – “The fish stinks from the head.” The origin of this saying is that a fish’s brain is the most fragile part of the body and when a fish has been dead for a bit the head starts to smell first. Today this expression is used in Germany to mean that the problems of an organization reflect the mistakes of the leadership.

So especially when evaluating whether to back a repeat founder, I look at what kind of people Continue reading “Learning about Leaders … from the Organizations they BuildOne thing I have learned in over 2…”

Learning about Leaders … from the Organizations they BuildOne thing I have learned in over 2…


This post is by Continuations by Albert Wenger from Continuations by Albert Wenger


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Learning about Leaders … from the Organizations they Build

One thing I have learned in over 2 decades of working with startups is that you can learn the most about a leader from the organization that they build. Over time, especially if not checked by a capable board, the organization will come to reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the leader(s). There is a great German saying “Der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf” – “The fish stinks from the head.” The origin of this saying is that a fish’s brain is the most fragile part of the body and when a fish has been dead for a bit the head starts to smell first. Today this expression is used in Germany to mean that the problems of an organization reflect the mistakes of the leadership.

So especially when evaluating whether to back a repeat founder, I look at what kind of people Continue reading “Learning about Leaders … from the Organizations they BuildOne thing I have learned in over 2…”

Uncertainty Wednesday: Learning from Notre Dame


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It was upsetting to see Notre Dame burn on Monday, as the building is a beloved landmark to the many millions who have visited Paris and enjoyed a stroll near its majestic presence. In addition it is also a major symbol for many French and an ongoing place of religious worship. It now appears that reconstruction is not only possible but will also be well funded (prompting some interesting debates about fairness).

In today’s Uncertainty Wednesday, I want to focus on an important lesson from the disaster. The apparent cause for the fire was an ongoing renovation project. Notre Dame was in pretty good shape for a building of such an advanced age. That means interventions have limited upside (marginal improvement) but, as we have seen, dramatic downside. Whenever the payoff structure of any activity has this asymmetry of limited upside, unlimited downside it is advisable considering not engaging Continue reading “Uncertainty Wednesday: Learning from Notre Dame”

Uncertainty Wednesday: Learning from Notre Dame


This post is by Continuations by Albert Wenger from Continuations by Albert Wenger


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




It was upsetting to see Notre Dame burn on Monday, as the building is a beloved landmark to the many millions who have visited Paris and enjoyed a stroll near its majestic presence. In addition it is also a major symbol for many French and an ongoing place of religious worship. It now appears that reconstruction is not only possible but will also be well funded (prompting some interesting debates about fairness).

In today’s Uncertainty Wednesday, I want to focus on an important lesson from the disaster. The apparent cause for the fire was an ongoing renovation project. Notre Dame was in pretty good shape for a building of such an advanced age. That means interventions have limited upside (marginal improvement) but, as we have seen, dramatic downside. Whenever the payoff structure of any activity has this asymmetry of limited upside, unlimited downside it is advisable considering not engaging Continue reading “Uncertainty Wednesday: Learning from Notre Dame”

Watch Andrew Yang


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Normally I would post a revised excerpt from World After Capital, but last week involved a lot of travel so I didn’t make enough progress. Instead, if you have not seen it already, I recommend watching Andrew Yang’s CNN Town Hall.

Andrew is to-date the only presidential candidate to support a Universal Basic Income, which is one of the key policies I recommend in World After Capital in the chapter on Economic Freedom.

Watch Andrew Yang


This post is by Continuations by Albert Wenger from Continuations by Albert Wenger


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Normally I would post a revised excerpt from World After Capital, but last week involved a lot of travel so I didn’t make enough progress. Instead, if you have not seen it already, I recommend watching Andrew Yang’s CNN Town Hall.

Andrew is to-date the only presidential candidate to support a Universal Basic Income, which is one of the key policies I recommend in World After Capital in the chapter on Economic Freedom.

Uncertainty Wednesday: Are Our Phones Listening To Us?


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From time to time, I see people online posting how they simply talked about something only to be presented an ad about that very thing soon thereafter. This quickly leads into speculation that some software on the phone was using the microphone to listen in on conversations and used that information for ad targeting. There has been extensive discussion online of the technical feasibility and the likely legal consequences. The rough consensus appears to be that it is theoretically possible, has not actually been observed using tools that listen in on traffic and would be a huge legal risk for whoever does it.

In today’s Uncertainty Wednesday I want to take a different approach though. And that’s asking if we should necessarily be surprised by such seemingly eerie ad targeting. Consider a similar coincidence: you meet a stranger, say on an airplane flight (writing this in the air) and you Continue reading “Uncertainty Wednesday: Are Our Phones Listening To Us?”