How To Watch Tonight’s Debate On Twitter

I wrote about this on Friday. I think Twitter is going to be a great way to watch the debate tonight.

Here’s how you can get Twitter on your big screen and watch the debate on Twitter:

  1. if you have a “fourth generation” AppleTV, you can add the Twitter app to it using the AppleTV app store
  2. if you have an older AppleTV, you can mirror your phone to your TV and watch the debate on your phone’s Twitter app
  3. if you have an Xbox One, you can add the Twitter app to it
  4. if you have an Amazon Fire, you can add the Twitter app to it
  5. if you have an iPad, you can watch on the Twitter app on your iPad

The debate video will be front and center in the Twitter TV apps.

On the Twitter smartphone app, you can go to the Moments tab and the live video of the debate will be there.

For an event as important as this one is, I think having Twitter side by side with the live video is the way to go.

Blockchain Nation States

I went on a walk through the Chelsea Art Gallery district yesterday afternoon. One of the galleries I visited was the Petzel Gallery and they have a show up by the New Zealand artist Simon Denny. The show is called Blockchain Future States and it compares Blockchain efforts like Ethereum and Digital Asset Holdings to the board game Risk.

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Given the comparison to Risk, I thought the name Blockchain Nation States would be more appropriate for the show.

As I was walking out of the gallery, I saw a tweetstorm come through on my phone from Naval Ravikant. It’s a good one, talking about how open protocols are going to change a lot of things.

But given the context of what I had just seen, this one particularly got my attention and I replied to it.

I agree with Naval that open protocols and the blockchains that underly them will be the driver of the next big wave of technology and that they will force big changes that will ultimately impact the global economy. That’s a big statement and I don’t make it casually. I do believe this.

The questions in my mind about this are when it will happen, which blockchains and protocols will emerge as the most important and valuable, and which nation states will embrace this and which nation states will not.

Sitting here in the US, I think the US is not likely to be one of the winners in this next big technological wave because our government and institutions are captured by the incumbent economic system and companies that define it. So many of the blockchain companies we invest in are forced to seriously consider leaving the US or get bypassed by companies and technologies that are being developed more freely outside of the US.

So what nation states are playing this game (of Risk?) better? That was the question I asked in my tweet reply and I got a lot of replies. Here are some of the top suggestions:

  • China (2)
  • Hong Kong (2)
  • Canada (2)
  • UK
  • Japan (2)
  • Estonia
  • Georgia
  • Singapore
  • Switzerland
  • Rwanda
  • Zimbabwe
  • Barbados

It is revealing that the big conferences where entrepreneurs, developers, and computer scientists gather to discuss the latest in blockchain technology are not often in the US. Last week, many in the blockchain world, including two people on our team, were in Shanghai to discuss the latest developments around the Ethereum blockchain. It does seem like China and its environs are emerging as an important center of gravity for blockchain technology.

It is not too late for the regulators in the US to change their tune and become more open to these new technologies and the capabilities of them. But, like the game of Risk, large pools of talent are being built on other continents and countries now and eventually they will be unbeatable.

Audio Of The Week: Kara Swisher Talks To Bill Gurley

Regular readers know that I am a big fan of Bill Gurley. He and I are in the same generation of VCs. We started our careers in the PC era and learned VC in the first generation of the Internet era. Bill and I also bring a “fundamental investor mindset” to our work which is not the only mindset in the VC business. We’ve never worked together on an investment, which is too bad, but I have tremendous respect for Bill and all of the partners at Benchmark.

Kara Swisher got Bill to do her Recode Decode podcast recently and they cover a lot of super interesting territory on it. Here it is:

Fun Friday: How Will You Watch Monday’s Presidential Debate

I am super excited to watch the Presidential Debates on Twitter. I wrote this yesterday afternoon:

I know the Bloomberg Politics team. John Heilemann is a good friend of mine. They have two excellent TV shows, With All Due Respect which runs on Bloomberg TV every day after the market closes, and The Circus on Showtime on Sunday Nights. They understand this presidential race as well as anyone, they know the candidates, the issues, the campaigns, the pundits, and the people as well as anyone. I am really looking forward to how they do “Twitter play by play” during the debate.

So I tweeted out this poll today.

How do you plan to watch the debate?

Team and Strategy

I’ve been in board meeting blitz since the summer ended. Many of the companies I work with are well past the startup phase and are well into or even past the growth/scaling phase. And the thought that keeps occurring to me as I go from board meeting to board meeting is the key to success when you are past the startup/product market fit stage comes down to two things, team and strategy.

You have to get the strategy right and you have to have a team that can execute it without your day to day involvement. The CEOs that I work with that are struggling are usually running into issues with their team and/or their strategy. And the CEOs that I work with that are doing great generally have gotten the strategy set and have built a strong executive team underneath them.

This sounds so simple. But it is not.

Most of the companies I work with didn’t really start out with a strategy. They started out with an idea that turned into a great product that found a fit with a market. And they jumped on that and used it to build a company. Most of them wake up at some point and realize that a single product in a single market is not a strategy and they need to come up with a plan to get a lot bigger and build a sustainable and defensible business. I like to think that this is one place where a good investor group can help. If we are doing our job, we push our portfolio companies to work on their long term strategy and refine it to the point where it makes sense and is executable. But an investor group cannot give a company a strategy. It has to come from the founder/CEO and a small group of senior leaders. The smaller the group that is working on strategy, the better. Strategy is not something that can be done by committee.

The second thing, building an executive team that can execute the plan without day to day involvement of the CEO, is even harder. Most of the companies I work with go through a lot of hiring mistakes on the way to building this team. Some hire too junior. Some hire too senior. Some hire bad cultural fits. Some hire people that are nothing but cultural fit. And an investor or investor group can help with this but I believe that founders/CEOs need to learn how to do this themselves and make these mistakes. The best thing an investor group can do is to help a founder/CEO to understand when they have the wrong person in the job. Or help them understand that more quickly.

These are both areas where experience is huge. The CEOs I work with who have done the job multiple times get these two things right much more quickly. But even they can take a year or two to get these right. First time CEOs often take three or four years to get these things right. But sticking with founders who are first time CEOs through this process is usually worth it because they have a connection to the initial vision and mission that a hired CEO has a hard time replicating. There is not a good rule of thumb on this issue (who should run the company). Facts and circumstances on the ground will generally determine how that should go.

My final point on this is that once you have the strategy and team locked down, you should step back and let the machine do its thing. I like to say that CEOs should do only three things; recruit and retain the team, build and evolve the long term strategy and communicate it effectively and broadly in the organization and externally, and make sure the company doesn’t run out of money. When those are the only things you are doing, you are doing the job right. Very few CEOs get to focus on only these three things all of the time. Things break and you have to fix them. But when the machine is working and you can step back and watch it hum, it is a thing of beauty.

Feeding The Trolls

Danah Boyd has a nice post up about what it was like to live on the block that the second bomb was placed this past weekend in NYC. But the post is really about something way more important. It is about the fact that we are increasingly letting the trolls drive us nuts. The trolls are the people who do these acts of terrorism intended to turn us into a scared and terrified society. And she is right, they are succeeding in that effort, aided by the media making a bigger deal out of these things than they should.

I heard about the bombing on saturday night at a party in Brooklyn. It was upsetting but it did not impact us much that evening. We continued to celebrate our friends birthday and anniversary. We took an Uber back to Manhattan. We went out for a late dinner and then went to bed. The next day was more of the same. We did not let this nutjob impact how we live and what we do. My friend Jerry asked me on Monday how I was doing. I said fine. He brought up the bombing. And I had already forgotten it. I said “nobody died Jerry, a few people got hurt. It sucks.”

I am more upset by the massive increase in homelessness on the streets of NYC, I am more upset by the fact that the Hudson river comes close to coming over its banks every time there is a big storm, I am more upset by the fact that young black men get killed by the police for no good reason.

I am with Danah. Fuck the trolls. The police and the other security apparatus can and will deal with them. I am going to go about living my life and not thinking about them.

Visualizing Kickstarter

A visual data company company called Polygraph looked at over 100,000 Kickstarter projects in the US and wrote a really cool blog post about them.

This table shows the different character of the biggest cities on Kickstarter:

table

  • NYC over indexes for film, theater, and dance.
  • LA over indexes for film in a big way.
  • SF over indexes for art, design, and tech.
  • Chicago over indexes for publishing and theater.
  • Seattle over indexes for music, publishing, design, and theater.

Even more fun are the bubble charts that they created for all of the major locations on Kickstarter:

bubble_charts

Nashville is almost all red because its a music city. Atlanta produces some huge game projects.

You can learn some interesting things.

Here are the places that over index for table top games:

table-top-games

And here are the places that over index for comics:

comics

The Polygraph blog post is super interactive (unlike this post) and if you want to dig into the data, you can do it there.

Creativity is alive and well all over the world and you can learn a lot about it by studying what goes on on Kickstarter.

Host a ScriptEd Advanced Class This School Year

Here’s something great your company can do to help inner city kids, engage your employees in rewarding volunteer work, and do all of this inside the four walls of your office.

ScriptEd is a non-profit working to help youth from low-income high schools access careers in the tech industry. They recruit developers to volunteer to teach a foundational course in front-end web development in high schools around the city. After completing this course, students move on to the Advanced Class, a project-based course that focuses on advanced JavaScript skills.

These classes are held once a week throughout the school year in the offices of ScriptEd’s company partners. Classes typically last for 2 hours and are held in the late afternoon (usually 4-6pm). Volunteers teach in teams of four, supported by a ScriptEd Program Manager. Training and curriculum is also provided.

This year, classes will take place at Etsy, Salesforce, and HBC Digital, amongst others. ScriptEd is still looking for a couple more companies to host classes. This is a great opportunity to do skills-based volunteering without having to leave the office. It’s also a way for your company to create opportunity for a group of students, and to make a meaningful contribution to diversity in tech.

If you think your company might be a good fit for a ScriptEd Advanced Class, please contact Corporate Partnerships Manager Kate Holzman at [email protected].

AVC Down Time?

Yet another post about something I supposedly don’t actually care about 🙂

I am pursuing a theory that the cause of the AVC down time that I posted about last week has to do with a burst of traffic from social media (mostly Twitter) that happens right after I publish a post on AVC.

I almost always experience this downtime in the 5-10 minute period right after I post. That is also frankly the time when I pay most attention to AVC each day. After that I tend to move on to other things.

So I am curious. For those of you who have experienced this downtime (I realize many of you have not), do you recall when it typically happens to you?

Video Of The Week: Citibike Rage

AVC regular Rob Underwood sent me this video a couple days ago:

This happened at a Community Board 6 (Cobble Hill Brooklyn) meeting this week. Here’s a news report that explains the context of what happened here.

I am posting this for several reasons.

I am a huge Citibike fan and user. I’ve already used it three times today and its only 8:30am

citibike

Citibike has made living in the city so much better for me in so many ways. So I am thrilled that Citibike is expanding in NYC and becoming available to new neighborhoods and providing Citibike access to new neighborhoods.

But I realize that not everyone is a fan of bikes, bike lanes, and bike stations. This man certainly is not.

The anger and resentment this man is feeling is an example of how many are feeling in the US (and the world) right now. Things are changing around him and not for the better, at least for him. It’s worth mentioning that he was initially set off because there were no american flags on display at the community board meeting. If you want to understand the appeal of Donald Trump, this man might help you do that.

Finally, a suggestion. Why doesn’t Citibike offer free monthly passes for all residents of homes and buildings that are next to a Citibike station? And why doesn’t Citibike allow these homes and buildings request a Citibike station next to their building so that they can obtain this benefit?

Rob has a Citibike station in front of his house and he is mostly happy about it. I would love a Citibike station in front of my house. I realize not everyone feels this way. But if you provide some incentives for having one, the folks that are open to it would compete for it and the folks that are not open would likely not have to have one. It would be worth trying this in a new neighborhood and seeing if it works.

Local government and politics is not easy. But finding ways to move forward in ways that people can accept and get behind is the work that must be done. Staying put is certainly not the answer, as much as some would like to do that.