Posts from July 2017

Video Of The Week: Mesh Networking For Wireless Connectivity

Daniela Perdomo, founder and CEO of our portfolio company goTenna recently gave a talk at the New York Times about how mesh networking can improve wireless connectivity in urban environments.

It’s a short talk (~7 mins) and explains how mesh networking technologies can (and will) solve urban wireless connectivity issues in the coming years.

Also, goTenna launched a map of its mesh network yesterday. Here is what it looks like as of today:

Funding Friday: Token Filings

Public market investors who like to buy into IPOs have Edgar, a database of SEC filings that they can browse through to learn important information on upcoming IPOs.

Investors in token offerings have not had the same thing. Until yesterday.

AVC regular William Mougayar has launched TokenFilings.com which is essentially Edgar for Tokens.

Yesterday we got Coindexter. Today we get TokenFilings.

The crypto community is building stuff that makes this sector more interesting every day.

Reminds me of what the Internet used to be before the big guys took over.

Coindexter

Our former USV colleague Jonathan Libov finally took the covers off a side project he’s been working on since he was at USV.

It is called Coindexter and it’s “a collaborative library for long-term investors in decentralized, blockchain networks.”

You can contribute to Coindexter, like a wiki, or dive into research areasthat interest you. Feel free to ask a question if there’s something you’re looking to learn.

Check it out if you are into token/crypto investing.

USV Team Posts

If you are reading this blog via email, you are missing out on a great new feature.

At the end of the first post on AVC, there is a widget that shows other blog posts by USV team members.

This is what it looks like today, featuring three posts by my colleague Bethany. I suspect she added her blog’s RSS feed to the widget yesterday.

This is a classic old school link sharing network. A number of my USV colleagues, including Nick, Albert, and Jacqueline also participate in this.

So we’ve added a little bit more USV to AVC. And that’s a good thing. And long overdue.

Succession Planning In Partnerships

I read today that the founders of KKR have named Joseph Bae and Scott Nuttall as co-Presidents and heir apparents. I’ve written before about succession planning in investment firms. Getting this right is challenging. There are a lot of stakeholders; the investors, the partners, the employees, the portfolio companies. Everyone worries about what might change under new leadership.

I am a fan of gradual but clear and transparent transition, which is what KKR is doing and what we have done at USV.

Our partners Albert and Andy have been running USV for the last eighteen months as Brad, John, and I have focused our time on our portfolio companies and new investment opportunities (which Albert and Andy also do).

Giving everyone clarity about what is going to happen but allowing the transition to play out over time seems to work best in investment partnerhsips, which contrasts with the quick handovers which seem to work best in operating businesses.

Partnerships are complex and powerful operating models. When they work well they are a beautiful thing. But they are easy to mess up and so transitions need to be handled with a lot of care.

SegWit2x vs UASF

Bloomberg has a good piece on the struggle between the Bitcoin core developers and the leading miners on how to best scale Bitcoin.

I am for the SegWit2x proposal and hope that we see it broadly adopted later this month.

There is a chance that doesn’t happen and a user activated soft fork (UASF) could be used to force SegWit into the market.

I personally hope that a user activated soft fork doesn’t happen as it would create a lot of turbulence. The Ethereum fork last year (almost exactly a year ago) that created Ethereum Classic is a good case study to look at if you want to see how that might play out.

Ultimately I do believe the best ideas will win out and that Bitcoin can survive any of these scenarios. But it would be good to see the Bitcoin community agree on something and implement it. That would build confidence that the governance model, which has been a bit shaky, is maturing.

Easy Come, Easy Go

I saw a friend last night who has been trading fiat currencies for thirty years. He looked at the Bitcoin chart and said “I would be worried about Bitcoin if I were you.”

He knows that we own a fair bit of Bitcoin (and Ethereum).

My take on the selloff that continues in the leading cryptocurrencies is “easy come, easy go.”

Anything that goes up 38x in six months can easily go down by just as much.

I am not saying that ETH is going back to $10 or that BTC is going back to $1000. That of course could happen. I am just not predicting it.

It has been too easy to make money in crypto this year. It has been too easy to raise money in token offerings this year.

Tapping people who have made 50x their money on ETH to invest in your whitepaper is a great way to raise money until those people start to lose money on their ETH and fear starts overtaking greed as the dominant emotion in crypto land.

But crypto has not been an easy business to be in over the last eight years. It has just been an easy business to be in over the last seven months.

I remember the two bubbles we experienced in BTC back in 2013:

In April 2013, BTC peaked at just over $200 and then quickly retreated back to below $100.

In November 2013, BTC traded briefly above $1000 and then faded, and did not see that level again until January of this year.

I remember back in the late 90s, a reporter asked my partner at the time Jerry Colonna what he looked for in entrepreneurs.

Jerry said “I want to back people who are doing a startup because of the mission rather than the money, because someday the market will crash and the money will be gone and I want to be with an entrepreneur who will still be around then.”

Bubbles always attract people who are chasing the easy money. And those people come and go.

But crypto is about a lot more than making money.

And the people who are into crypto because of the mission, a global decentralized platform for innovation, are going to be around after this bubble bursts, and the next one bursts, and the next one bursts. They have been around since before the April 2013 bubble and the November 2013 bubble, building this important technology. And so have I and I’m not going anywhere either.

Clarifai Mobile SDK – Machine Learning On The Phone

Our portfolio company Clarifai introduced something exciting yesterday.

It is a mobile SDK that any developer can put into their mobile app and it will allow for machine learning on the device:

Machine learning (the process by which computers can get smarter through data examples instead of explicit programming) requires massive computational power, the kind usually found in clusters of computer servers in massive datacenters (ooooh, the cloud). This means that machine learning technology is usually only available to those who can connect to the cloud.

Not anymore! Clarifai’s Mobile SDK gives users the power to train and use AI in the palms of their hands by installing machine learning capability directly on their devices, bypassing the traditional requirement of internet connectivity and massive computing power. After all, these days we have tiny supercomputers in our pockets – our mobile phones. Starting with an iOS SDK, Clarifai is on a mission to make user experiences uniquely personalized on any device from your cellphone to your toaster, anywhere in the world.

Here’s a slideshow that explains how this works: