Posts from May 2017

A Man For All Markets

I have had this book, A Man For All Markets, on my kindle for the past year. I can’t recall who recommended it, possibly my friend Jeremy, but I can’t be sure.

A couple weeks ago, I had lunch with my friend Harry and he again suggested it to me. I decided to put it at the top of my to read pile (a virtual pile) and have been reading it for the past week.

It’s a terrific book, nominally the life story of Edward Thorpe, the math professor, blackjack card counter, and hedge fund manager.

The book is a reminder that math, particularly the highly agile mathematical mind, is a very powerful thing. But it is also full of amazing insights on risk and return, from gambling to investing.

I particularly liked this observation that Edward makes after testing his “ten count” system with the the backing of some less than reputable characters:

For the second time, the Ten-Count System had shown moderately heavy losses mixed with “lucky” streaks of the most dazzling brilliance.

My person experience with investing includes plenty of moderately heavy losses and the occasional “dazzling brilliance.

I am pleased to know that pairing is common in all sorts of risk taking ventures.

If you like math, cards, and/or investing, I am sure you will enjoy this book as much as I am.

Tokens

Our friends Balaji and Naval penned a really nice primer on crypto-tokens. 

AVC readers have been hearing me talk about this new form of business model and fund raising mechanism for a while now and so it won’t be new to all of you. But even so, I think the way they lay it all out is really well done and I’ve sent it around to a bunch of people I know who are still trying to make sense of tokens.

If you want to give it a read, click here and check it out. 

Central European Summer Time (CEST)

The Gotham Gal and I have been married for thirty years this June and we are spending the next month in Europe celebrating that and all that has come from it.

Blog posts will be arriving central european summer time (CEST) until the end of June. 

And they will be about all sorts of things that may or may not have anything to do with technology and startups.

Now off to breakfast

Video Of The Week: What Is Kin?

Our portfolio Kik announced last week that they plan to decentralize their messenger app and monetize via a cryptocurrency called Kin. Here’s a video they put together explaining how it will work and why it is important:

Fun Friday: Cavs Warriors

Well we finally got to the matchup that it seems like we have been waiting all season to get to. It really wasn’t even close. These are the best two teams in the NBA by a lot and have been for three years now.

So, who is going to win, in how many games, and why?

I will go out on a limb, like I enjoy doing, and say Cavs in seven because LeBron’s will to win is simply greater than any other person playing basketball right now.

Kin

Our portfolio company Kik announced some big news today.

They are going to decentralize Kik and use a new cryptocurrency called Kin to build a business model around a decentralized Kik and, hopefully, attract other developers to build decentralized communities using Kin as well.

All of this is outlined in the Kin Whitepaper that was published this morning.

Here are the main parts of this plan:

Kin is a cryptocurrency designed to bring people together in a new shared economy.
Envisioned as a general purpose cryptocurrency for use in everyday digital services, Kin will be used for all transactions within the Kin Ecosystem. Implemented on the public Ethereum blockchain as an ERC20 token, Kin will serve as the basis of interoperability with other digital services in the Kin Ecosystem.

Kik will be the first digital service to join the Kin Ecosystem.
Kin will power a digital economy inside of the Kik app. With millions of users, Kik will drive mainstream consumer adoption of Kin, establishing fundamental value for the cryptocurrency. By natively integrating the Kin wallet into the app, it will instantly become one of the most adopted and used cryptocurrency wallets in the world.

The Kin Rewards Engine is an innovative cryptoeconomic structure intended to promote the use of Kin as a common currency.
Through the Kin Rewards Engine, Kin will be introduced into circulation as a daily reward, to be distributed among stakeholders by an algorithm that reflects each community’s contribution to the overall ecosystem. This economic structure will create a natural incentive for owners of other digital services to adopt Kin and become partners in the Kin Ecosystem.

The Kin Foundation will act as the non-profit governance body for the Kin Ecosystem. to build, enhance and monetize those services.
Over time, the Kin Foundation will ensure the delicate transition of the Kin Ecosystem into a fully decentralized and autonomous network.

As I said in the release that went out this morning, we believe cryptocurrency is the next important business model innovation in tech and Kik will be the first mainstream application to integrate a cryptocurrency. This could be a watershed moment for the blockchain sector.

I Paid $22.38 For This

This is a virtual good, called a Rare Pepe. I blogged about it a few weeks ago.

Hawkeye tweeted this at me a couple days ago:

And I liked it so I went into the Rare Pepe directory, found the card, and offered 1000 Pepe Cash for it.

1000 Pepe Cash goes for $22.38 right now in the cryptomarkets.

So I paid $22.38 for a virtual card that has no utility other than I can collect it (on my computer or phone), I can send it to someone else, I can sell it, and I can blog about it.

But the one thing I do know is that these are “rare”. There are only 391 issued right now. And that is verified on the blockchain.

Something to think about as it relates to digital media/digital art/digital music/etc which has been suffering from no scarcity value since the invention of the Internet.

Blockstack – A New Internet

The founders of our portfolio company Blockstack are ambitious.

What they have built and are announcing today is effectively a new Internet, powered by the blockchain.

This is what the Blockstack team is after:

A new internet needs to have security and safety as a core of its DNA. Applications and services cannot be owned and controlled by remote third-parties. We can build a digital world of truly peer-to-peer internet utilities not maintained by corporations, but collectively, by the people. We can build a digital world that encodes property rights, where we can own our data, and where the people are powerful.

Here is their blog post announcing the Blockstack Browser.

And here is my partner Albert’s blog post on the USV blog explaining why this is important.

Writing and Speaking

I got a lot of comments about the two videos I posted last week suggesting that I have nailed the art of public speaking.

I don’t know about that, I am my harshest critic.

But I do believe that writing regularly makes it so much easier to speak publicly in unscripted situations.

Writing forces you to work out your views and articulate them clearly and concisely.

Then when you are asked a question related to those views, you have already worked out the answer.

It is in the brain, waiting there to come out crisply and concisely.

I’ve been writing daily for going on fourteen years so that is a huge body of work, opinion, thought, and insight to be able to pull from.

My views have evolved over the years and so not all of that content is relevant at this point, but most of it is.

So if you have to speak publicly a lot, particularly in unscripted situations, I would suggest you write publicly regularly as well.

They work incredibly well together.