Posts from May 2013

Fun Friday: Favorite Sport

I was at my friend Vanessa’s birthday party last night and another friend Cliff was saying to me that baseball is falling fast in popularity amoung the younger people in america. So we asked all the kids who were in attendance and sure enough baseball was considered “boring” and was not interesting to them. Soccer (football) on the other hand was rising fast. Among the kids in attendance last night, basketball was first, football and soccer were in a close second, with hockey and baseball in the rear view mirror.

So for fun friday today, I thought I would poll the AVC readers on our favorite sport:


Please participate in the poll and in the comments. After all, this is fun friday.

Citibike

I walked out of a meeting at 33rd and Park yesterday at 5:05pm. I had to be on a call in my home office at 5:30pm. Getting a cab is a bitch that time of day. The subway required a switch from the Lex to the L at Union Square and that can be tricky if you don't time it right. So I took out my phone, fired up the Citibike app, and saw that there was a Citibike station right across the street. Of course, if I didn't have my nose in my phone I could have figured that out by looking up.

I tweeted this out and hopped on the bike:

I headed south on Park and then west on the bike lane on 29th Street all the way to 9th Avenue, and then down the bike lane on 9th Avenue. At some point on 9th Avenue, a biker pulled up next to me and started asking me about Citibike. We had that conversation down 9th until he peeled off around 14th Street and I continued down to the bike station at Bank and Washington.

Sixteen minutes later, I was home, and I tweeeted this:

This New Yorker cover says it all for me. Why do we get on the bike at the gym and then take a cab to work?

New yorker cover

Sure there are some safety concerns. Helmets are a problem. I need an inflatable helmet in my pocket solution. I'll be looking for that. And cars and cabs and trucks can be dangerous company on the roads in NYC. But the bike lanes are huge in that regard. To me the bike lanes are the thing that makes Citibike work in NYC.

A few weeks ago, we bought our whole family annual Citibike passes. Eight dollars a month for unlimited rides per month. That's better transportation value than anything else in NYC and better for you too. Now I am off for my morning bike ride up the west side highway.

I love my city, my bike, and Citibike.

DuoLingo For Android

Our portfolio company DuoLingo has had one of the top free education apps in the iPhone app store for the past year. If you want to learn a language for free on the iPhone, you can get it here. DuoLingo currently offers courses in the following languages:

Duolingo

The big news is that DuoLingo for Android launches today. Android is much larger outside of the US and this will significantly increase the number of users who can take advantage of free language learning on your phone. If you use Android and want to give DuoLingo a try, go here.

Running The Table

I hate it when companies try to run the table on a market.

Like Microsoft tried with desktop computing.

Like Apple tried with mobile computing.

Like Facebook tried with social networking.

And like Google is trying with the entire fucking Internet.

The good news that the market stops them. Apple and the Internet stopped Microsoft. Google stopped Apple. Twitter stopped Facebook.

Who will stop Google?

Remembering

While it is true that Memorial Day serves as the unofficial start of summer, we should note that it is actually a day to remember our fallen service men and women.

As we wrap up wars half way around the world and bring our soldiers home, we should take a second and remember all of our soldiers who did not return from Iraq and Afghanistan. We should also remember those who did not come home from Vietnam, Korea, WWII, WWI, and countless other wars our country has fought in its short histroy.

Regardless of what you think of war, we can honor these men and women. If you can get to a military cemetery, put a flower or a flag on a soldier's grave. If you cannot, please take some time out of your day to think about them and remember them.

I woke up this morning thinking about the military cemetery in Normandy where 10,000 of our fallen soldiers are buried. I took this picture when our family visited Normandy almost three years ago. You can't see something like that without feeling the loss. Please take some time to feel that today.

Normandy cemetery

Finishing

Today, our eldest child graduates from college.

Last night, as we were leaving a house party with all of her friends and their parents and family members, Jess said "thanks for sending me to college dad". I replied "thanks for graduating Jess". Everyone got a chuckle. But I was dead serious.

Dropping out of college is all the rage today in startup land (even dropping out of high school). And when it comes to our business, we really do not care if someone went to or graduated from college. We have funded many college dropouts and will continue to.

But there is also something to finishing something you started.

Yesterday afternoon, all thirtyish art students who had completed a year long senior thesis project did a group show at the Zlikha Gallery at Wesleyan. These young adults had each worked all year long on their projects and the works are impressive. The Gotham Gal negotiated a sale with one of the young artists. The first the young woman had ever made. But the most impressive thing to me was the sense of accomplishment these young artists felt. They all started with a big idea, then had to struggle with the work, the doubts, the mistakes, and in the end they all delivered big time. More than the diploma and the cap and gown they will wear today, that year long struggle and delivery is what they will take into the world as they leave college today. They finished something hard.

Finishing is about discipline, committment, getting up and getting at it. I am a big fan of finishing. And I am so proud that Jessica has finished college today. Congrats Jess.

Feature Friday: Save To Foursquare

I am a big fan of bookmarking. I mean that in the largest sense. When I find something I want to read, watch, do, etc, I like to save it somewhere that I can find it when I need it.

When it comes to restaurants I want to go to, I like to use Foursquare's Save button. Here's how it works:

Let's say you are reading that Montmartre’s French Fries Are New York’s Best and you think "I have to try them".

You click the save to Foursquare button in your browser and this happens:

Save to foursquare #1

The default is that you will save that place to your "to do list"

But if you happen to have a list called "best french fries in NYC" like I do, then you can change the drop down and save it there

French fries in NYC

If you like reading about places to go out but don't have a good way to save them (to your phone and web), give the Save To Foursquare button a try.

Full disclosure: USV has an investment in Foursquare, The Gotham Gal and I have an investment in Montmartre, and I love french fries.

#iMarch

Yesterday and today we are conducting a virtual march on Washington to let our elected officials know that the time has come for comprehensive immigration reform.

If you are of the opinion that we ought to keep things as they are now, stop right now. This post and this march is not for you.

But if you are open minded about your fellow man, if you want the US to remain a nation of immigrants where we open our arms and borders to good people who want to come here, build a family, build a life, build a company, pay taxes, defend our country, etc, etc, then please join this march.

Last night I attended a #iMarch event at Appnexus and talked with Brian O'Kelly about immigration reform and why it is important. After I left I saw a number of tweets from that event that I thought I'd share with all of you this morning.


The IPA

No, I am not blogging about India Pale Ale, although I must say that I am a big fan of it.

I am writing about one of the best patent hacks I have seen in the decade that I have been working to find relief from the ridiculous patent system in our country.

Twitter came up with a concept last year called the Innovator's Patent Agreement (IPA) and put a draft IPA up on GitHub. They have gotten a ton of feedback and have iterated and improved the concept since then.

The basic idea of the IPA is that it is a contract between Twitter and the engineer(s) and designer(s) who developed the IP. The contract says that Twitter will not use the patent offensively nor will anyone who acquires the patent from Twitter. It goes on to say that Twitter or a subsquent owner could use the patent offensively with the engineers' and/or designers' approval.

Twitter announced yesterday that it had entered into an agreement with Loren Brichter, the author of the pull to refresh patent that will subject that patent to an IPA. They also announced that they will subject all of their patents to the IPA. They went on to say that Jelly, Lift, StackExchange, and Tell Apart have agreed to adopt the IPA for all of their patents.

USV has been talking to our portfolio companies about the IPA since Twitter posted it last year. They all know we are big fans of it and we hope they will choose to adopt it for all of their patents. We will not do more than that however. Our portfolio companies are independent of USV and can make up their own minds about their IP strategies.

That said, I would expect to see other USV portfolio companies join StackExchange on this IPA parade.

Twitter is an amazing company and I am very proud to be associated with it. The fact that they would take this extraordinary step and then show leadership in the industry to get others to join them is a testament to that. It's a proud day for Twitter and for me.