Satisficing

We had one of our many (non-stop) email conversations among the USV crew last week about a situation in our portfolio where nobody could agree on something. I lamented that “VCs are such optimizers.” It takes one to know one you see.

Nick Grossman replied that he prefers satisficing to optimizing. I had never heard that term. So Nick sent me to Wikipedia which says:

Satisficing is a decision-making strategy or cognitive heuristic that entails searching through the available alternatives until an acceptability threshold is met.[1] This is contrasted with optimal decision making, an approach that specifically attempts to find the best alternative available. The term satisficing, a portmanteau of satisfy and suffice,[2] was introduced by Herbert A. Simon in 1956,[3] although the concept “was first posited in Administrative Behavior, published in 1947.

I love the concept of satificing instead of optimizing. It is something I have been trying to adopt (changing behavior is hard) for close to twenty years now with a good measure of success. But I never had a word for it. I do now. Thanks Nick!

Switching Things Up

The thing I most want to avoid is to come back from a long break and get right back into my habits and routines. There are exceptions, of course. I can’t wait to get back to my bike rides and my yoga practice. But in other areas, I want to switch things up.

I’m still working through what these new things will be. I have some ideas about the flow of my work week that I want to change.

But the first change I am going to make is to swap my Nexus5 for an iPhone6. I’ll use the iPhone6 until at least the new Nexus6 comes out sometime this fall.

I have an iPhone that I use to try out iOS only apps. But I have not used an iPhone as my every day phone since 2008. I’ve been carrying an Android as my primary phone for at six years.

I figure it’s time to change that, at least for a bit. So I’m going to walk into the T-Mobile store near my office today and buy an iPhone6. I am not really looking forward to learning a new OS and setting the phone up. But no pain, no gain.

I will let you all know how it goes.

It’s A Wrap

The six week break I took from work is ending. The trip through Europe is over. We landed back in the US on friday night and drove up to our kids’ college yesterday for homecoming/parents weekend. It was great to see our kids (two of them) and we’ll see our oldest this afternoon. I’ve missed them terribly and I’ve missed NYC, our dog Ollie, and our bed, shower, kitchen, local coffee shop, etc, etc, etc.

Many people have asked me what the highlight of the trip was. I always give the same answer – spending every waking (and sleeping) hour with Joanne for an entire month. It’s been a long time since we did that. I think the last time was the summer after we graduated from college thirty one years ago. We are the same people who made that trip around the country, just a bit older, wiser, wealthier, and with three wonderful young adults to show for it. It’s good to know that, even if you already knew it.

The trip through Europe was fantastic. We started in Rome and finished in Paris and stopped in a bunch of places along the way. This Foursquare map/list shows the itinerary:

fall trip map

The list has 131 places on it. We visited many more than that, but I only listed the places in Foursquare that I want to remember and let others know about. I wrote a tip on every single one of them.

As you can see our major stops were Lake Como, Cote D’Azur, Provence, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Bordeaux, and Paris. Of those, I would say Provence and San Sebastian were probably my favorites. I also loved the Piedmont wine region in Italy (Alba) and the city of Bordeaux and the wine region surrounding it. The best food was in Provence and in the tapas bars in Barcelona and San Sebastian.

The most beautiful place we found ourselves in was on a boat in the middle of Lake Como and staring out into the mediterranean sea from the tip of Cap Ferrat. We mangled three languages along the way and found that english is spoken almost everywhere, particularly if you are nice about it. If you want to learn more about the trip and the places we stayed along the way, the past thirty days of blog posts on GothamGal.com will deliver all of that to you.

I turned off my out of office responder yesterday. It gave me great trepidation to do that. If you ever want to give me a gift, the thing I would most appreciate is a filter from incoming email. I was able to manage all of my email in less than 15-20 minutes a day on this entire trip. I just archived everything that came in that wasn’t from someone that I knew I needed to respond to. The out of office responder sets up that expectation and so I feel absolutely fine doing that. Now that the responder if off, I am back to drinking from a firehose and I am terrified of how that is going to feel.

I’ve never taken an extended vacation or sabbatical from my work before. So all of this is new territory for me. I believe you should take the time away from work to get some distance from it, read, learn, relax. I did all of that and feel like I got what I was looking for from the time off. But it won’t be until I’m back at work that the new perspectives will totally reveal themselves to me. I’m looking forward to that too. Then I will know for sure what this time off taught me and I am eager to find that out.

And, as always, when I figure something out, I will share it with all of you here at AVC.

Video Of The Week: Fred Ehrsam’s Bitcoin Presentation

Someone posted this video in the comments a week or two ago. I watched it and liked it a lot. Fred Ehrsam, the co-founder of our portfolio company Coinbase, does a good job explaining what Bitcoin is and why it is important in ten minutes, no small feat.

In other Bitcoin news, the results of the AVC poll on Bitcoin ownership are in. 40% of AVC readers own Bitcoin, 60% do not.

bitcoin poll results

I purposely did not tweet out this pool as I only wanted regular readers of AVC to participate. I think if I had tweeted out a link with the headline “Do You Own Bitcoin?”, that would have skewed the results as Bitcoin fans would have poured in to vote.

The Bitcoin Hype Cycle

Most people are familiar with the Gartner Hype Cycle. It is a great framework for looking at the development of important technological innovations:

Hype-cycle

It is interesting to look at the price chart of Bitcoin in this context:

btc prices since jan 2012

It sure feels like we’ve been through the technology trigger phase, the inflated expectations phase, and are now well into the trough of disillusionment phase.

What’s more interesting is the question of what will lead us onto the slope of enlightenment? I am thinking that we will start to see native applications of Bitcoin. These would be things that simply could not exist without this technology. Donating money to charity with Bitcoin is awesome, and I do it regularly, but it is not a native application of Bitcoin.

I plan to write more about these native applications because I think they are the key to getting to the next phase in the Bitcoin adoption cycle.

Photoblogging: Tour Eiffel

As my extended vacation comes to an end, the question of how I was going to blog during it also comes to an end. For the most part it was the same as usual. There were a few reblogs on the days I didn’t want to blog. And some vacation oriented posts. The photoblogging experiment was largely a failure but I am going to give it one more shot before the vacation is over.

I saw this painting today at the Paris Museum Of Modern Art. It was painted by Robert Delaunay in 1926. It is called Tour Eiffel. I really like it and thought I would share it with all of you. I hope you like it as much as I do.

tour eiffel

Reblog: Minimum Viable Personality

There are two guest posts that are essentially tied for the most popular guest post ever on AVC. They are both in the top ten of all posts on AVC since I put Google Analytics on this blog at the start of 2007. They each have seen about 125,000 page views since they were published.

The first is Joel Spolsky‘s guest post on The Management Team.

The second is this post below from Fake Grimlock.

Both are great, but I felt like putting some dino magic on the blog today.

—————————————-

MINIMUM VIABLE PERSONALITY

MOST IMPORTANT STEP FOR BUILD PRODUCT IS BUILD PRODUCT.

SECOND MOST IMPORTANT IS BUILD PERSONALITY FOR PRODUCT.

NO HAVE PERSONALITY? PRODUCT BORING, NO ONE WANT.

BREADORBACON

 

PERSONALITY BETTER THAN MARKETING

WHEN CHOOSE PRODUCT, HUMANS ONLY CARE ABOUT DOES WORK, AND IS INTERESTING.

WORLD ALREADY FULL OF THINGS DO WORK. MOST BORING.

PERSONALITY = INTERESTING. INTERESTING = CARE. CARE = TALK. 

EVERYONE CARE AND TALK ABOUT PRODUCT? YOU WIN.

CAREPLUSTALKISWIN

SELL TO FRIENDS, NOT STRANGERS

PERSONALITY MAKE PRODUCT FRIEND. YOU HELP FRIEND. YOU FORGIVE WHEN FRIEND NOT PERFECT. YOU WANT FRIEND WIN.

BORING STRANGER?… YOU NOT.

PERSONALITY IS API FOR LOYALTY. NO ONE CARE WHICH BORING STRANGER IS NEXT. BUT ALWAYS WANT FRIEND NEXT. 

LOYALTYPORT

PERSONALITY MAKE MEANING

CAN PET ROCK. PET DOG BETTER. PET DOG HAVE MEANING.

BORING PRODUCT IS ROCK. NO HAVE MEANING. INTERACT WITH PERSONALITY DIFFERENT. HAVE MEANING.

INTERESTING PRODUCT THAT GIVE FRIENDS MEANING = MOST WIN OF ALL.

NOTAROCK

HOW NOT BE BORING

HAVE PERSONALITY EASY. ANSWER THREE QUESTIONS:

1. HOW YOU CHANGE CUSTOMER’S LIFE? 

2. WHAT YOU STAND FOR?

3. WHO OR WHAT YOU HATE?

NOW HAVE MISSION, VALUES, ENEMY. THAT ENOUGH FOR MINIMUM VIABLE PERSONALITY.

KEEP IN BRAIN WHEN WRITE, TALK, BLOG, TWEET. ITERATE. IMPROVE WHAT WORK. DELETE WHAT NOT. PERSONALITY GROW.

NO BE CHICKEN

CHICKEN LIVE IN CAGE. NO CAN HAVE PERSONALITY INSIDE CAGE. 

LAST STEP IS SMASH CAGE, LIGHT BARN ON FIRE.

DO THAT, YOU WIN.

CHICKENWIN

My Current Home Screen

Screenshot_2014-09-21-18-03-25

here’s the current state of my phone’s home screen.

adds:

– snapchat – which along with Kik is how i stay in touch with my son Josh at college

– audible – which we are using to listen to audiobooks on our trip. i think we will continue to use audible on our drives back and forth to our house in long island so it’s now on the home screen

– wordpress – because i’ve been blogging on my phone a lot on this trip. i think i will continue to do that when we get back. it’s awesome.

to make room for all of these adds I took off the search bar. i find myself just going to Chrome to search anyway and i wasn’t using it

Audio Books – Late To The Party

We were driving up the coast of Italy from Rome to Genoa listening to music being bluetoothed from my phone to the car’s audio system and the Gotham Gal said, “let’s listen to some audio books on this trip.” I was dubious but she was adamant. “I tried it on a drive from NYC to Long Island this summer and it is really great”, she said. So I replied “sure.” Later that night in our hotel, using their wifi, I downloaded the Audible app and a few books onto my phone.

We started with Peter Mayle’s A Year In Provence. That was awesome. Listening to a book about a place like Provence while driving around Provence is a fantastic experience. That sold me hook line and sinker on this audio book in the car thing.

Then we went for Daniel James Brown’s The Boys In The Boat. We failed to check how long the audio book was before selecting it. This particular audio book is 14 hours 25 minutes. Good thing we were taken with the story. We stuck it out and finished it yesterday. We cheered as the author ended the story. That was a marathon. All that said, it is a great story about the boys from the University of Washington who won the Olympic Gold Medal in the Berlin Olympics of 1936 in the eight category.

The strange thing about audio books is the play time of the book and the page length of the book are not directly correlated. Boys In The Boat took 14 hours 25 minutes to listen to and it is 416 pages. A Year In Provence took 2 hours and 52 minutes to listen to and the book is 224 pages. I think it may have to do with the fact that the audio book version of A Year In Provence we listened to is abridged.

In any case, we found that three hours is a great length for an audio book. Fourteen and a half hours felt a bit long, maybe even more than a bit long.

We are now listening to Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Given that we are now in Paris having recently been in Barcelona, Pamplona, and San Sebastian, it seemed like the right time to revisit that novel.

The Gotham Gal’s pitch on audio books is that it makes long drives fly by. I am not sure they “fly by”, but I would agree that listening to a great narrator read an interesting story does make long drives a lot more enjoyable.

It looks like we’ve got a new pastime. And I’m happy about that.