Sometimes It Doesn’t Work Out, Then It Does

This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures

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Resilience and Grit are words that are popular in entrepreneurship circles.  How do you know when someone has it?  It’s not readily apparent.  People can talk good games about it but you really have to see it to know if they have it or not.  You can ask them about their past to see if there is evidence of grit or resilience.  Sometimes you get a scent of it there.

I think the hardest is when you climbed a mountain only to see it shift under your feet and fall.

That happened to me.  It’s brutal. It works on your mental health.  You had it, then gone.   In an instant.

That’s where grit kicks in.  How you respond shows how tough you are.  If you haven’t tasted failure before in your life, it can really really sting.  Fortunately for Continue reading “Sometimes It Doesn’t Work Out, Then It Does”

The Libra Rationale

This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures

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One assertion that I’d like to make is that finance is one of the most innovative sectors of the economy.  It’s more innovative than almost any other industrial sector.  People like to poke fun at accountants, bankers, and economists but the financial services industry is the fastest moving industry in the world.  This is the hopeful part of cryptocurrency.  Digital currency married with software ought to speed financial innovation that will benefit more people and lift their lives up.

Read this white paper put out on the Libra coin by Facebook.  As a guy that participated in futures markets for 30 years, I had a little trouble with some of the framing behind the Libra idea. The paper leads off with a “Problem Statement”.

All over the world, people with less money pay more for financial services. Hard-earned income is eroded by fees, from remittances Continue reading “The Libra Rationale”

Facebook’s New Crypto

This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures

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Facebook made the announcement that they were launching their new cryptocurrency.  They also let it slip who was backing it and it’s a blue ribbon cadre of backers.  Having an independent corporation launch its own crypto doesn’t surprise me.  It’s only a question of time before someone like Amazon follows suit.

What is more interesting to me is the antitrust issues.  In their announcement, Facebook took pains to say that they have established a “regulator” that will ensure that data stays private and doesn’t cross the bridge into Facebook which heavily mines personal data.  Let’s just say that Facebook hasn’t engendered a lot of trust when it comes to how it uses data.

The other day, I came across this from the Department of Justice on antitrust. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim at a recent conference on antitrust in Tel Aviv, Israel said,

First, Continue reading “Facebook’s New Crypto”

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”

Deeply Vulnerable Writing on Startup Failure

This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts

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Jasper Nathaniel recently wrote a long, detailed post titled When Your Startup Fails. It may be the most vulnerable and honest post I’ve read on failure, certainly in a while.

I spent the day yesterday in Grand Junction at Techstars Startup Week West Slope. After a full day of meetings, events, and talks, I ended up at dinner with a half-dozen CEOs of startups in the area (Grand Junction, Carbondale, Eagle, and Telluride.) I was pretty wiped out from the day and general bail out of dinners between 7:30pm and 8:00pm but we ended up going extremely deep on a bunch of personal and emotional stuff so when I got back to my hotel around 10:00pm I was pleasantly surprised with the tenor of the evening.

While there is endless writing about what to do to build your business, how awesome things are going, and why startups are so

Continue reading “Deeply Vulnerable Writing on Startup Failure”

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?”

Which type of funding is actually best for your business?

This post is by Arman Tabatabai from Venture Capital – TechCrunch

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When starting a tech company, there seems to be a playbook that most entrepreneurs follow. While some may start with a bit of bootstrapping, most will dive straight into raising seed money through investors. In many cases, this is a great path. It’s a path I’ve taken twice myself, first with GroupMe, and then again with Fundera.

Ironically, though, my second venture-backed company is a business focused on helping entrepreneurs find debt financing—a process I’ve gone through only once myself. But after five years of building and scaling this business, it’s made me take a step back and consider the question of when and where debt financing might be a better option for a business than equity financing, and vice versa.

I view these financing vehicles differently now than I did half a decade ago, and think it’s time we start to think a bit wider and diversely about

Continue reading “Which type of funding is actually best for your business?”

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”

Advice for Entrepreneurs from a Leading Venture Capitalist

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Scott Kupor, managing partner at Andreessen Horowitz, says there’s a lot about navigating the venture capital world that entrepreneurs don’t understand. Some can’t figure out how to get in the door. Others fail to deliver persuasive pitches. Many don’t know how the deals and relationships really work. Kupor outlines what he and his partners look for in founding teams and business ideas and explains how start-ups work with VCs to become successful companies. He also discusses how Silicon Valley can do a better job of finding more diverse talent and funding new types of ventures. Kupor is the author of the book “Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It.”

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”

Startups Weekly: Will the real unicorns please stand up?

This post is by Kate Clark from Venture Capital – TechCrunch

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Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a newsletter published every Saturday that dives into the week’s noteworthy venture capital deals, funds and trends. Before I dive into this week’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the sudden uptick in beverage startup rounds. Before that, I noted an alternative to venture capital fundraising called revenue-based financing. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about this week: Unicorn scarcity, or lack thereof. I’ve written about this concept before, as has my Equity co-host, Crunchbase News editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm. I apologize if the two of us are broken records, but I think we’re equally perplexed by the pace at which companies are garnering $1 billion valuations.

Here’s the latest data, according to Crunchbase: “2018 outstripped all previous years in terms of


Continue reading “Startups Weekly: Will the real unicorns please stand up?”

Diving deep into Africa’s blossoming tech scene

This post is by Jake Bright from Venture Capital – TechCrunch

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Jumia may be the first startup you’ve heard of from Africa. But the e-commerce venture that recently listed on the NYSE is definitely not the first or last word in African tech.

The continent has an expansive digital innovation scene, the components of which are intersecting rapidly across Africa’s 54 countries and 1.2 billion people.

When measured by monetary values, Africa’s tech ecosystem is tiny by Shenzen or Silicon Valley standards.

But when you look at volumes and year over year expansion in VC, startup formation, and tech hubs, it’s one of the fastest growing tech markets in the world. In 2017, the continent also saw the largest global increase in internet users—20 percent.

If you’re a VC or founder in London, Bangalore, or San Francisco, you’ll likely interact with some part of Africa’s tech landscape for the first time—or more—in the near future.

That’s why TechCrunch put

Continue reading “Diving deep into Africa’s blossoming tech scene”