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.

Token

Our portfolio company Coinbase opened the doors yesterday to a project they have been working on for a long time.

It is called Token and its a mobile browser for Ethereum apps. But it is also a messenger (based on the Signal Protocol from Whisper Systems) and an Ethereum wallet.

The plan is to set Token up as a separate business:

“In the same way a web browser allows you to access web pages, Token allows you to access third party Ethereum applications.”

The Ethereum ecosystem is emerging quickly and there are a lot of interesting things going on in it.

Token is about giving developers a canvas to showcase their Ethereum apps, with a wallet and a messenger connected to it.

The goals of the Token project are to:

  1. Provide financial services to the ~2B people in the developing world who have a cell phone, but don’t have access to a bank account.
  2. Make it dramatically easier for people to build and use Ethereum applications.
  3. Shift digital currency from being just a speculative investment to being a payment network for useful goods and services.

Token is in a public developer beta. It is operating on a testnet so no real money is in use yet:

We’re releasing the developer preview of Token today. It is still early days, and you can expect some bugs (so please be kind in your reviews). For today’s launch, we are using testnet Ethereum, so there is no real money to lose if you encounter an issue. We plan to continue shipping updates approximately every week, and move to mainnet in the coming months for a wider release.

You can install the Token app on Android and iOS today.

If you’re a developer you can read through our developer documentation.

I’m fredwilson on Token in case you want to message me there:

I expect this general idea (a developer platform, combined with a mobile messenger, combined with cryptocurrency for payment) is going to be a powerful combination. The blockchain sector has been waiting for its “Netscape moment.” The web browser made the world wide web understandable and accessible by mainstream users. I think something like Token can do the same for blockchain applications and I expect we will see a number of different approaches to this general idea.

Kickstarter’s Request For Projects

Our portfolio company Kickstarter published a blog post yesterday requesting certain kinds of projects in the Design and Technology category:

as part of our endless quest for projects, we’ve decided to try something new. Inspired in part by Y Combinator’s requests for startups, we’re going public with a list of the things we’d love to see more of on Kickstarter. We hope this inspires creators who are working in these areas to get in touch. If your project fits the bill, we can help make it shine and spotlight it for our community of 13 million backers.

The three areas they are most interested in are:

  1. Tools For Creating Things
  2. Boundary Pushers
  3. Delightful Design

If you are a creator who works in the Design and Technology category, please read this post and if you have a project in these areas, please consider doing a Kickstarter for it.

Change Creates Information

My partner Albert likes to say that “change creates information.”

I have seen this a lot recently in our portfolio.

A change in leadership, a change in strategy, a change in cost structure.

Doesn’t really matter what it is, it can tell you a lot about what is going on in your company.

Making changes is painful and so it’s understandable that we all avoid change.

But if you can’t understand what is going on and you want some more visibility, make some changes.

You will learn a lot.

Machine Learning For Beginners

So you are hearing a lot about machine learning these days.

You are hearing words like models, training, forks, splits, branches, leafs, recursion, test data, and overfitting, and you don’t know what any of them mean.

Well I have some help, courtesy of my colleague Jacqueline who shared this scrolling lesson in machine learning with her colleagues at USV (me included) this weekend.

This scrolling machine learning lesson was made by Stephanie and Tony. It is great work. Thanks!

Hyphenation

I have been hearing complaints/suggestions that I turn off hyphenation on AVC.

This twitter conversation is an example:

I am curious to hear more from readers on this topic.

  1. do you notice the hyphenation?
  2. do you think it is off putting?
  3. would you encourage me to remove it?

To be honest, I can’t figure out how to find the CSS code in my WordPress setup to do this, but if I get a resounding “please turn it off” I will do the work to find the code and remove it.

Video Of The Week: The MIT Bitcoin Experiment

Two and a half years ago, MIT gave every undergraduate enrolled at the school $100 of Bitcoin. I helped to fund this experiment at that time. I thought it was a great way to “infect” young engineers with blockchain enthusiasm.

MIT Sloan Professor Christian Catalini has studied the ~3,500 MIT students who took the $100 Bitcoin offer and looked at what they ended up doing with it.

Here is a talk he gave last fall in which he discussed the results of his research.

Feature Friday: Twitter DM

I was with a friend this week and was DM’ing with someone on my phone.

He said “do you DM on Twitter frequently?” I said “yes, I use it all the time.”

Twitter DM is like any other messenger, particularly on the phone. It has the advantage of not needing to know the person’s phone number or handle on a messenger service. If you follow them and they follow you, you can DM them and chat like any other messenger.

It has the advantage of not needing to know the person’s phone number or handle on a messenger service. 

I like it a lot for that one feature – not needing to know the person’s contact info beyond their Twitter handle.

If you use Twitter a lot but don’t use DM, you should give it a try.

It’s super useful in a pinch when you need to reach someone and don’t know how.