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”

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”

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”

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”

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?”

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 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”

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”

50 Years Till Blowup


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Was chatting with a friend about the federal deficit.  Seems everyone that has been elected talks a good game about the federal deficit but does nothing about it.  The thought going around Washington DC today is that America has about 50 years until the deficit becomes a problem we cannot handle.

No one wants to default on debt.  However, no one seems to have the political will to deal with the main drivers of the deficit.  The biggie is entitlement spending.  For example, when Social Security was instituted, people lived far shorter lives.  When Federal government retirement ages were established, people rarely lived a few years beyond retirement.  Try to monkey with changing those ages when benefits are received and all of a sudden you are Satan.

Layer on the crappy policies that are deeply entrenched in the federal budget like subsidies, grants, Continue reading “50 Years Till Blowup”

The SEC and Crypto


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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I thought this tweetstorm from Fred was pretty good. You ought to read and contemplate the whole thing.

First, you need to understand SEC agency culture. They are very concerned with protecting retail investors.  It is job #1 to make sure they don’t get hurt.  The other thing you need to understand is, in this case, it doesn’t matter who the President is.  Agencies like the SEC are always 3-2 when it comes to political parties.  The party in power names the chairperson.  I don’t think the conservative nature of the SEC as an agency would change if a Democrat were President or even if Democrats ran the Senate.  The decision the agency made transcends Continue reading “The SEC and Crypto”

Certent Summit


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Tomorrow morning I will be at the Certent Summit in New Orleans.  Here is a link to the agenda.  I was planning on being in New Orleans anyway because the National World War Two Museum American Spirit Awards are this evening.  I am looking forward to both events.

I will be a judge in the pitch competition that happens between 10-12:05. I plan on arriving at the summit earlier than that so if you want to meet up contact Jessica Powell.  This is the very first time Certent is hosting an entrepreneurial summit in New Orleans.

New Orleans has a small startup community.  It’s a small city, or as the guys on ESPN’s PTI call it, a “second-tier city”.  Now that they have the number one pick in the draft maybe Anthony Thomas will stay and they will become a first-tier city in NBA Continue reading “Certent Summit”

Certent Summit


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Tomorrow morning I will be at the Certent Summit in New Orleans.  Here is a link to the agenda.  I was planning on being in New Orleans anyway because the National World War Two Museum American Spirit Awards are this evening.  I am looking forward to both events.

I will be a judge in the pitch competition that happens between 10-12:05. I plan on arriving at the summit earlier than that so if you want to meet up contact Jessica Powell.  This is the very first time Certent is hosting an entrepreneurial summit in New Orleans.

New Orleans has a small startup community.  It’s a small city, or as the guys on ESPN’s PTI call it, a “second-tier city”.  Now that they have the number one pick in the draft maybe Anthony Thomas will stay and they will become a first-tier city in NBA Continue reading “Certent Summit”

Banking With Pipit Global


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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One of our portfolio companies Pipit has launched a new product.  It’s designed to work with banks.  The website is here.

It’s pretty slick.  If you are a banker, you ought to book a meeting with them quickly.  Pipit has set up a worldwide payment network.

The Problem:

If you are an immigrant, it can be very difficult to set up a bank account.  It’s not that you are unqualified.  It’s just because of anti-money laundering and know your customer (AMLKYC) regulation that came about because of terrorism, illicit activities, and fraud.  If I moved to London today and wanted to open a bank account, I couldn’t.  Yet, many of these immigrants are creditworthy.  They have steady jobs.  They want to send money home and they have to go to someone like Western Union to do it.  Guess how Continue reading “Banking With Pipit Global”

Dark Patterns Are Insidious Or Are They Harmless?


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Do you know what a data pattern is?  Digital companies use them all the time.  I didn’t know what they were called until I went to the Stigler Center Conference.  Dark patterns are powerful.  They combine what we know about behavioral economics and put it into a digital format with instantaneous clicks and responses.

Should we regulate their use?  If so, how?

However, there are two schools of thought on them.  In my discussion below, I will highlight what digital companies are doing but also mention ways physical experiences mimic things that are happening on the web.  If we regulate the web, should we also regulate the physical experiences?  You will notice that the academics that are offering conflicting views teach at the same university.  They aren’t living in a bubble.

University of Chicago Professor of Law Lior Strahilevitz made the Continue reading “Dark Patterns Are Insidious Or Are They Harmless?”

Do We Need Privacy And Data Protection?


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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This is a big issue in tech today.  When you hear a pitch, there might be a data piece to it.  Startups will tell investors that data is valuable.  They are right, but it’s usually only at scale.  That means data is more valuable for Big Tech than it is for startups.  At the Stigler Center conference, the last day was devoted to data. Unfortunately, I had to miss large swaths of the conference that day due to commitments.  I was there for the opening session and took some notes.  It will give you a flavor of the debate.

Clearly, we have had major privacy scandals and data breaches in Big Tech.  No one has been immune.  Target had credit card databases invaded.  Target isn’t seen as a tech company.  Every industry that has a presence on the internet Continue reading “Do We Need Privacy And Data Protection?”

Is There A Tragedy of The Commons In Big Tech?


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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The tragedy of the commons is a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action.

We have seen “winner take all” in a lot of big tech.  The companies most often cited when we think about “winner take all” are Google, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook.  Apple to a certain extent though they have plenty of competition from both Google and others.  Both political tribes in the country are talking about regulation and antitrust to reign them in.  From the right side of the aisle, it is mainly because the Big Tech companies internal corporate culture is so discriminatory which has given rise to groups like The Lincoln Network.  On the left, they are so ticked off that Trump utilized

Continue reading “Is There A Tragedy of The Commons In Big Tech?”

Should We Establish A Digital Authority?


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Spent much of the last two days at the Stigler CenterProfessor Luigi Gonzales organized a pretty powerful conference.  It was a lot to take in, and in the University of Chicago tradition, it wasn’t just one opinion being spouted.  People had to defend their ideas, and there was consistent debate.  As a passive audience member, some of my assumptions were challenged.  It was a lot to take in and frankly, I am still taking a lot of it in.

One of the ideas that came out of the conference was that some sort of digital authority should be established to police digital companies.

I don’t think I agree with this conclusion, but I certainly understand where it comes from.  Digital companies can do a lot to put chokepoints in distribution.  Once they attain market power, they are hard to dislodge.  The Continue reading “Should We Establish A Digital Authority?”

My Friend Howard Goes Off-I Am Glad He Did


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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My friend Howard Tullman wrote an article in Inc.  It’s worth reading.  It’s entitled Young, Stupid and Overconfident.  The subtitle is “We have raised a generation of entrepreneurs and workers who are remarkably out of touch with what’s required to start and run a business. Here’s a hint, snowflakes: It doesn’t involve kombucha on tap.”

In some cases, I don’t disagree even though my wife and I make kombucha at home. It’s best to remain calm as long as you can.  However, there are times to lose your cool.

If you don’t know Howard, he’s been an entrepreneur almost his whole life.  He graduated from Northwestern Law. He won cases.  He built many successful businesses.  He collects art.  He wears funny shirts.  He thinks different.  There was something in the water in his home because his brother has been Continue reading “My Friend Howard Goes Off-I Am Glad He Did”