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”

The Two Tribes


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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


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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”

50 Years Till Blowup


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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”

Dark Patterns Are Insidious Or Are They Harmless?


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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?”

Is There A Tragedy of The Commons In Big Tech?


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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?”

Don’t Miss This Conference


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Yesterday I went to the Chicago Booth Management Conference.  You can generally walk away with something to use in your life if you listen, and go to panels that are pertinent to what you are doing.  Yesterday, I went to one that asked the question “Is it Culture or Strategy the drives successful businesses?”  The other one I went to was on the role of a corporate board.  Will blog about that in the future but I wanted to make you aware of this conference.

2019 ANTITRUST- DIGITAL PLATFORMS, MARKETS, AND DEMOCRACY: A PATH FORWARD

Don’t miss it if it is interesting or pertains to your job.  They have lined up an excellent list of speakers and I am sure the attendees will be good to network with as well.  The one thing about doing a conference that is hosted by Chicago Booth is Continue reading “Don’t Miss This Conference”

The Warrior


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“It’s about being a warrior. It doesn’t matter the about cause necessarily. This is your path and you will pursue it with excellence. You face your fear because your goal demands it. That is the warrior spirit.”-Alex Honnold

Watched the movie, Free Solo, twice.  On the surface, it turns your stomach.  Death-defying, of course.  The camera angles and musical score heighten the drama.  The most enjoyable part of the movie for me was watching him enjoy the battle, the journey.  He smiled at the top but it looked more like a sense of relief rather than the elation he felt after a finishing a couple of tough parts of the climb. When you look deeper into the mentality and soul of the climber, Alex Honnold, you see something else.  Zen.

They showed a scene where he was doing a pretty intense

Continue reading “The Warrior”

Ending Remittances Is Not A Good or Sustainable Idea


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Chris Kobach the former Secretary of State in Kansas wants to end remittances from the US to Mexico to stop the crisis on the border. I get where he is coming from, but ending remittances is not a good idea. It is guaranteed to fail.  It is pure desperation.

It reminds me of what Senator Barney Frank said about the oil market.  Oil prices were high and he wanted to rig the market to have low oil prices.  He wanted to regulate the heck out of futures, cash, and over the counter trading.  The problem with that idea is all oil trading would go underground and no one would have a clue on what was going on.  The lack of price transparency would cause more dislocation in the market, making the commodity even more expensive.  Barney was desperate and didn’t believe in supply and Continue reading “Ending Remittances Is Not A Good or Sustainable Idea”

Tech Is Separating Us; Tech Is Leaving Communities Behind; Capitalism Can Save Us


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There is a lot of volatility in the news from day to day on tech. It’s interesting to me that Senator Elizabeth Warren is beating the drum on regulating companies like Facebook ($FB), Google ($GOOG) and other Silicon Valley titans. The right wing is echoing her sentiments but for different reasons. They see those companies as oppressive and against free speech along with the way they discriminate against right wing websites, employees who are conservative, causes that are conservative, and conservative speech.

When I was at the i7 in Torino, Italy a well respected Italian computer scientist offered up the idea of regulating the big tech giants. That was September of 2018. Ted Ullyot correctly asked, “How do regulate an opt-in service?” It’s a great question.

Personally, I am a huge fan of free markets, capitalism, and creative destruction.  Why can’t a company come and knock Google off its Continue reading “Tech Is Separating Us; Tech Is Leaving Communities Behind; Capitalism Can Save Us”

The Luddite’s


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I read the budget address by Illinois new governor yesterday.  Basically, there was nothing new in it.  They are going to legalize pot, legalize sports betting and estimate they will get some tax revenue from it.  The Democratic Machine is going to push for a progressive income tax that will hurt middle class families and families that can’t move out of state badly.  No reforms.  No pension reform.  No corruption reform.  It’s pretty disappointing.

Sort of reminds me of the movie It’s A Wonderful Life and the difference between Bedford Falls and Pottersville.

Something else occurred to me though.

In the early 1990’s, the membership at the Chicago exchanges split into two factions.  On the floor of both the CBOT and CME there were groups of members that wanted to invest heavily into technology.  They didn’t have the power in the board rooms of the exchanges.  They also weren’t the Continue reading “The Luddite’s”

Competition+Capitalism


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The other day I wrote that America needs to rediscover its love for competition.  I think we need to do that more now than ever.   Ken Langione wrote a book, I Love Capitalism! and everyone should read it.  Mr. Langione was part of the startup of Home Depot.  He had a blue collar upbringing.  He is one of the more generous people you’d want to meet and his actions fly in the face of the statements the young socialists make.

Here is the problem that most people have with capitalism.  True capitalism brings responsibility for actions.

No one wants to be held accountable.  No one wants to be responsible anymore. Capitalism forces people to examine themselves.  Sometimes they don’t like what they see.

Capitalism also has failure associated with it.  But, things that are great often have their exact opposite associated with it.  Want to be fierce?  Understand Continue reading “Competition+Capitalism”

Want Help With an MBA? Do You Want To Marry Purpose and Profit?


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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Two of the top MBA programs in the world are in Chicago.  Chicago Booth, and Kellogg are consistently ranked in the top ten of all MBA programs.  I am a graduate of Booth, and I work with both Booth and Kellogg students and they are tremendous.

Other schools have MBA programs as well and attract top talent.  DePaul’s Kellstadt School has an MBA school.  When Raman Chadha of the Junto Institute was running the entrepreneurship program they were an early supporter of Hyde Park Angels.  Back then, not a lot of people reached out to help but Raman did.  My undergrad alma mater Illinois Gies College has an MBA program and so does Mendoza at Notre Dame.

Loyola of Final Four fame has one as well.  Loyola is a great school the far north side of Chicago next to the lake.  I love their rivalry with DePaul.  One of my Continue reading “Want Help With an MBA? Do You Want To Marry Purpose and Profit?”

Can You Trust Existing Crypto Exchanges?


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There are 2000 Cryptocurrencies being traded at 14000 exchanges worldwide.  In the first nine months of this year, there has been $1B in theft at those exchanges already.  Here is what Reuters said,

Theft of cryptocurrencies through hacking of exchanges and trading platforms soared to $927 million in the first nine months of 2018, up nearly 250% from the level seen in 2017, according to a report from cyber security firm CipherTrace released on Wednesday.

On another note, some exchanges with very weak anti-money laundering processes have allowed $2.5B to be laundered through the crypto exchanges since 2009.

It is super easy to put together a platform to match trades.  It’s hard to actually do the business of being an “exchange” or even an auto trade platform.

There is a lot of talk about “institutional capital” coming into the crypto space.  It’s talk.  Institutional capital isn’t going to Continue reading “Can You Trust Existing Crypto Exchanges?”

Helping People $1 At A Time in A $1B Market


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Great news for people that live in Zimbabwe and work out of the country.  WLV portfolio company PipIT has partnered with ZymPay to provide effortless and seamless money transfer.

If you know anything about Zimbabwe, you know the government there has totally devalued their local currency.  It’s pointless to use it and even more pointless to expend effort to work to earn it.  That’s fueled a large Zimbabwe diaspora.

The amount of money being sent into Zimbabwe from nationals working outside the country is $1B per year and it’s a giant part of their local economy.  Without it, the country would be in worse shape than it already is.  Three to four million citizens are living outside their home country.

PipIT and ZymPay allow people to make cross border payments and pay for goods and services directly in real time.  Payment is received and confirmed simultaneously and recorded in Continue reading “Helping People $1 At A Time in A $1B Market”

The Final Close for WLV Fund 1-The Opportunity Costs of Fundraising


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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The other day, I saw a tweet from my friend Samir Kaji on how much VC’s are paid.  I laughed because it is heavily skewed toward industrial venture capitalists with a series of funds, not micro VCs.  Micro VCs are not in the game for the management fee. We are in it because we are passionate about founders, ideas, and long term returns.

A lot, if not most of the industrial venture capitalists can snap their fingers and generate a new fund full of cash from existing LP’s on their wait list.  It’s not tough. They are going to make a lot of money even if they don’t return their fund.   Micro VC doesn’t have a staff.  You are the bottle washer, the rainmaker, etc.

We aren’t a lot different than the founders we invest in.  They only make money on exits, same with us.

At West Loop Ventures Continue reading “The Final Close for WLV Fund 1-The Opportunity Costs of Fundraising”

The Judge Kavanaugh Hearing and Tech Policy


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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The circus that is going on in Washington isn’t too much of an actual hearing.  It’s a circus.  The votes are already counted and none of the Senators are going in with an open mind.   Senators are going in to advocate for or against entrenched positions or they are trying to feather their own political ambitions which is exactly what Cory Booker and Kamela Harris did Thursday.  They are both running for President in case you didn’t realize it.  By the way, Booker had his fundraising website go live prior to the hearing.  Cynical I know but you can’t be too cynical these days.

An aside, I disliked the stupid protestors during the hearings for justices nominated by President Obama and I dislike them now.  I am of the opinion that the room ought to be sealed against anyone from the public and the hearing simply televised.  A court Continue reading “The Judge Kavanaugh Hearing and Tech Policy”

The SEC Takes A Step In The Right Direction


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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The other day SEC chairperson Jay Clayton said he’d like to find a way for more private investors to gain access to private deals.  This is a good idea and it’s the first time the SEC has recognized that there is a disconnect between private and public markets which has occurred over the last ten to twenty years.  That disconnect has made it harder for average individuals to take risk and build wealth.

If we look at a lot of the money that is raised in crypto markets, I think some of it can be traced back to bad public policy.  When investors who want to invest are shut out of all opportunities, they manufacture their own. A friend told me some stories about crypto and how people who probably shouldn’t be trading it are trading it on their phones.  They work as laborers at a car wash.

On Continue reading “The SEC Takes A Step In The Right Direction”

Our Investment in PipIT Global


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This week, West Loop Ventures closed it’s fifth investment.  We led the seed round for PiPiT Global.  PiPiT means, “Pay in Person Information Technology”.  PiPiT is based in Galway, Ireland.  Enterprise Ireland is co-investing with us in the round along with some other investors.  WLV has led 4/5 of the deals we have invested in.  My partner Kenny Estes will take a seat on the board of PiPiT.  Aditi helped us analyze the space and company.  It’s been a busy summer for us as we just completed a round with Holberg Financial.  This is a quicker cadence than we are used to, but when you see a great team and a great opportunity you have to strike.

This investment is a rare one for a fund like ours.  It’s not in US jurisdiction.  Most microfunds invest a day’s drive or bike ride from their headquarters.  When we Continue reading “Our Investment in PipIT Global”

Hunting Nazi Treasure


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My friend Robert Edsel has done a lot for the art world.  He brought a lot of transparency where there was none.  When the Nazi’s took over Germany and Europe, they looted a lot of art.  They didn’t steal only art that belonged to Jewish citizens.  They also looted timeless cultural treasures from Christian churches all across Europe.

In the ensuing mess, it was sometimes impossible to track that art down.

Robert wrote two books about how the US tried to help rectify the problem.  One became a movie, Monuments Men.  The other, Saving Italy is not a movie yet but it should be.  As I get older, I have a new respect for Eisenhower as a classically educated man.  He is the one that installed the Monuments Men into the ranks.  He put the orders out to recruit art curators, historians and then put them in the field.  It Continue reading “Hunting Nazi Treasure”