Posts from April 2017

AVC – Issues With The Site

As many of you know, AVC was down for most of yesterday. We were experiencing what WordPress folks call the “white screen of death” issue. This issue emerged just after I posted the video of the week around 6:45am ET.

I was in Philly goofing off all day with some friends and couldn’t work on it until I got back early evening. Bill Soistmann was very helpful and we got the site back up by making some changes to the header code.

But as of now, the main page header is missing, and there are no comments.

I plan to work on this some more today with Bill and I expect we will get everything working before the end of the weekend. I appreciate everyone’s patience while we work through this today.

Video Of The Week: Why Toddlers Are Smarter Than Computers

I saw Gary Marcus give a talk at the NYU AI Event I blogged about this past week. In that

In that talk, he suggested that Deep Learning wasn’t going to get us all the way to where we want to get in AI.

I thought it was an interesting take on AI, particularly right now when the buzz and hype is so high.

This TedX talk makes the same argument and so I am sharing it with you.

The AI NexusLab

NYC is an emerging hub for AI and AI startups. That is because of the large number of mathematicians, scientists, and programmers trained in AI who work on wall street, because of leading institutes like NYU’s Courant School that work on cutting-edge science in the field, and because of a number of programs aimed at AI startups here in NYC.

A few weeks ago I was at the Future Labs AI Summit to hear about AI from Yann LeCun, Gary Marcus, and many others. Below is a short highlight video of the summit.

Here is a short highlight video of the summit.

The Future Labs at NYU Tandon are now accepting applications for the second cohort or the AI NexusLab to find AI companies to support.

Applications for the next AI NexusLab cohort close Wednesday, May 3rd and conclude with the next Future Labs AI Summit in November.
If you are and AI startup or you are familiar with any early stage artificial intelligence startups who you think could benefit from our program, please have them apply at
Accepted companies receive
• $100K in funding
• An NYU student fellow for the duration of the program
• mentorship from leading AI faculty and industry experts
• Access to papers and academic research
• Access to data sets
• Partner opportunity to pilot partners (the last cohort included Daimler, Tough Mudder, Quontopian, and others)
• More than 400K worth of support and services.
• Present at the next Future Labs AI Summit (last speakers included Yann LeCun, Gary Marcus, and others)

The Future Labs are also hosting office hours this Friday, April 28th from 1:00pm-5:30pm for teams who have questions about the program at the Data Future Lab – 137 Varick Street, 2nd Floor.

Etsy Studio

Yesterday was a big day for Etsy, a company that I have been invested in for eleven years and on the board of for ten of them.

The company launched Etsy Studio, an entirely new marketplace dedicated to craft supplies.

Craft supplies have always been available on Etsy and still are. But they are a category and, while they make up a material amount of the total volume sold on Etsy every year, they are not front and center in the buyer experience. Etsy thought they could do better for buyers of craft supplies and so, about a year ago, they went about making an entirely new marketplace dedicated to craft supplies.

Etsy Studio leverages all of the considerable investments Etsy has made in its technology stack over the years; search, discovery, checkout, promoted listings, machine learning, and more.

Etsy Studio launches with over 8 million items, compared to something like 200,000 to 300,000 at a typical craft store.

In addition, Etsy Studio features project-based shopping.

You find a project you want to do, like this paper flower spring wreath, and Etsy Studio will allow you to fill a shopping cart with everything you need to make it.

If you are a crafter and are looking for a better way to buy craft supplies and find new projects to do, check out Etsy Studio. I think you will find it to be a delightful experience.

My Talk At MIT

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going to give the first annual Georges Doriot Lecture at MIT.

I traveled up to MIT on April 13th and gave this talk. I really enjoyed doing it and I want to thank MIT for doing it.

Starting Is Easy, Finishing Is Hard

Starting a company has gotten much easier over the past decade.

The capital requirements to get started have come way down in both software and hardware businesses.

The supply of seed and venture capital has increased dramatically as well.

And there are all sorts of programs aimed at helping entrepreneurs get started.

All of this has caused a rapid expansion of entrepreneurship, startups, and innovation.

This is all great.

The one thing that has not gotten appreciably easier in the last decade is finishing.

Finishing can be anything that ends a startup project.

It can be an M&A exit, becoming a sustainable business, becoming a public company, or it could also be failing and shutting down.

None of those have gotten easier in the last decade.

There was a period where the “acquihire” was a thing and many companies that could not figure out how to become a business got bought for their talent.

But it feels like that wave has come and gone.

And so entrepreneurs and the investors who support them are back to grinding it out, trying to get to the finish line.

And, for many, that finish line feels like it is moving farther and farther away every step you take.

Startups are not for the faint of heart, both on the founder and investor side.

It takes great tenacity to see things through. And I think that may be truer today than ever.

What Facebook Can Tell Us About Us

Stephen Wolfram wrote an interesting post back in 2013. I just stumbled upon it today (via Twitter).

I like this chart a lot:

The blue line is men, the red line is women.

A few of these results surprised me.

I would have thought women are more interested in books than men. At least that is how it is in our family.

I would have thought interest in travel would increase significantly in late middle age.

I would have thought interest in music would tail off more steeply with age.

Fascinating stuff.