Posts from Sports

When Teams Get Hot

Right now the OKC Thunder look unbeatable. They made the Spurs look old and they are now making the Warriors look slow. That’s quite something to accomplish. Let’s see if they can keep this up. It isn’t easy.

I am reminded of the Mets last fall. They went on a hot streak that quickly took out the Dodgers and the Cubs. Then they came back to earth for the series and got beat soundly by the Royals.

How does a team get hot? And how do they stay hot? And is there anything to learn from this phenomenon for teams that operate in the real world?

For the Mets, I think it went all the way back to the walkoff home that Wilmer Flores hit on the last night of July. That combined with the arrival of Cespedes lit that team up and they stayed lit for three solid months.

For the Thunder, something has changed in the playoffs. I’m not entirely sure what changed but I watched a lot of Thunder games this regular season and they were not the same team. Something has changed and very much for the better if you are a Thunder fan like me.

But one thing is for sure. When teams get hot, when they have confidence running through their veins, when they trust each other and know where the other person is going to be great things happen. It’s something to behold.

Video Of The Week: Kobe’s Last Game

Steph Curry is the future of the NBA, but Kobe Bryant was the best player in the league for most of the past twenty years and the way he went out this past Wednesday was pretty special.

If you are an NBA fan and haven’t seen it, take five minutes out of your weekend and watch this highlight reel.

The most amazing part is he had to hit two free throws at the end to make 60 and I am sure he was feeling the pressure of needing to make them. He did.

Enjoy.

Bring Back Pat

I read the other day that Patrick Ewing would like to be considered for the currently vacant NY Knick head coach role.

I think that’s a terrific idea. Companies like Apple and Twitter have gone back to their early leaders to rejuvenate the company.

The Knicks have started down that path by bringing Phil Jackson back as GM. They should complete the effort by bringing back Patrick Ewing as head coach.

I arrived in NYC a couple years before Patrick showed up in 1985. And for the next fifteen years there was an energy and a winning attitude at the Garden that honestly hasn’t existed since then.

While Patrick doesn’t have a ring, he has about almost everything else on his resume that a basketball player can accomplish. And he has been one of the most respected assistant coaches in the league for years.

Patrick has the heart of a lion. The Knicks need that, badly.

I’m going to the Garden tonight to close out the season, yet another losing one. I am thinking about bringing a Bring Back Pat sign with me.

Feature Friday: The NBA Dashboard

This evening, twenty four of the thirty NBA teams will be in action. If you are an NBA fan, keeping track of all that action is not easy. My colleague Jonathan Libov wanted a quick mobile dashboard to keep track of NBA action and so he and some friends built it.

The app is called Twenty Four and has been in the app store for a few days now.

Last night was fairly light but here’s what it looked like on Twenty Four:

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If you click on the Thunder Cavs card in that feed you get this:

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So Twenty Four makes a nice Twitter client for watching live NBA basketball.

You also get notifications when a game is close in the fourth quarter.

This is tonight’s lineup:

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I’m going to a holiday party but will pull out my phone and check out the action quickly. You might want to try that too. You can get Twenty Four here.

That Time Of The Year

Last night I got home to watch the World Series and turned on the TV and fired up Twitter. In addition to the Mets Royals, you had the GOP Debate, and fourteen NBA basketball games. Twitter was on fire. I didn’t change the channel once on the TV, choosing to continue my pain from the night before and watch the Mets lose back to back games to the ferocious Kansas City Royals. But my Twitter feed kept me apprised of everything else going on. The Knicks beat the Bucks, the Bulls beat the Nets, KD is back and the Thunder beat the Spurs, and, apparently, Rubio had his coming out party last night in the GOP debate. I’ve always thought the GOP race was eventually going to come Rubio’s way. He’s the best of the bunch even though I prefer Kasich.

This weekend will have the World Series at Citifield, NBA games galore, and the NFL in mid-season form. It’s that time of year when all the major sports are in action. It’s a wonderful time for sports fans and a wonderful time for Twitter too.

I will leave you with this. Twitter does SportsCenter.


Fun Friday: Mets vs Cubs

So I woke up in Paris at 8am this morning and checked my phone. The Mets beat the Dodgers last night in Los Angeles and now go to the National League Championship Series to play the Chicago Cubs.

I know there are a few Cubs fans who are AVC regulars.

So fun friday is going to be about the wager I will make with the AVC Cubs fans.

Jeff Carter suggested that if the Cubs win, I need to buy a Cubs jersey and post a picture here of me wearing it. If we go in this direction and the Cubs win, I will buy some Cubs gear on Etsy and post a photo of me wearing it on AVC. If the Mets win, the AVC folks from Chicago will buy Mets gear on Etsy and send me selfies which I will post on AVC.

And, of course, we know that William is salivating over the potential fun we can have if the Mets and the Blue Jays get to the World Series.

So, let’s discuss. Do we like the wager Jeff suggested and I modified? And who would like to get in on this bet?

Steph

A few years ago, my friend Jonathan Klein asked me to come speak to a strategy offsite for his company Getty Images. A few days later, I got a thank you note and he asked me to pick any image from their website for a thank you gift.

I picked this one and he was shocked. He asked me, “of all the famous and important images on our website, why would you pick that one?” I told him this story.

On March 23, 2008, our beloved Georgetown was playing in the NCAA regional finals against Davidson. My son Josh and I were certain this was going to be Georgetown’s year. We had big Roy Hibbert in the paint and a bunch of scoring guards and a tenacious defense. We sat down for the big game expecting a win and a trip to the final four.

Instead we got our first glimpse of Steph Curry. He pretty much singlehandedly beat Georgetown that game and by the second half Josh and I were rooting for him. He was that good and that fun to watch. We knew then that he was going to be something special.

Then in 2009, we watched with horror as the Warriors picked Steph with the 7th pick when we were sure our Knicks were going to get him with the 8th pick. MSG would be a different place with Steph on the floor every night in a Knicks uniform.

I missed last night’s game. We are in Berlin and I had to be up early for a board meeting. So when I got up and checked my phone and saw that Steph and his Warriors teammates had won game six and the NBA title, I was pleased.

LeBron may be the best player in the game right now, and he showed why in this series, but Steph and KD are my favorites. They play the game with an elegance and beauty that I appreciate.

I am really happy that Steph got his ring last night. Josh and I saw it coming 7 years ago when we first saw him in action.

Averaging In And Averaging Out

One of my favorite techniques to buying and selling transactional assets (stocks being the prime example) is to dollar cost average on the way in and the way out.

I am doing this right now with Bitcoin. I want to buy enough bitcoin so I can make charitable gifts and political donations with it and generally transact in it as much as possible. I’m buying 1.5 bitcoin every week in my Coinbase account. I have a reminder in my calendar and I buy some every week at the same time (I bought some this morning). I’ll keep doing this until I feel like stopping. A lot depends on how much I spend I guess. But the point is I would not be comfortable going out and buying a bunch of bitcoin in one transaction. There’s too much market risk in doing that. By purchasing an asset in small amounts over a long period of time you average into your price and I like doing that.

When a stock is distributed to me from USV, I generally sell a little bit and then put some away permanently. And then I slowly sell the remaining amount over a long period of time, generally three to five years. I generally like to sell once a quarter at the same time. I like the week after the earnings reports, when all the information is in the market and the market has digested it. But that’s not the important thing. The important thing is to sell roughly the same amount in a regular rhythm.

The point of averaging in and averaging out is you never get the top or the bottom, but you get the average. And the average is just fine with me.

In some ways, building a position in an early stage venture fund is the same thing. We buy a bit at the seed stage, a bit more at the Srs A stage, a bit more at the Srs B stage, and so on and so forth. In some of our best companies, we have bought stock in five to ten rounds. Some of those rounds will turn out to have been bargains. Some will turn out to have been overpriced. But on average, if you get to invest in ten rounds, you will build a very good position at a very good price.

It goes back to optimizing versus satisficing. If you want to find the optimal entry price or the optimal exit price, you will drive yourself crazy. I prefer to find an acceptable price. And I think that averaging in and averaging out does that for you.

Fun Friday: What Sports Team Would You Buy If You Could?

With the news that Steve Ballmer now gets to do to the Clips what he did to Microsoft, I thought we could talk about buying/owning sports teams.

My son Josh and I like to dream about owning the Knicks. That’s not likely to happen unless someone can get Jimmy Dolan on tape saying stupid shit. One can dream.

So if you could buy a sports team, what team would you buy?

Sticking With The Struggling Investments

My friend Bijan tweeted this last week:

He's right, but I would go further. One of the hardest things to do in the venture business is to stick with a struggling investment.

I woke up thinking about this as I spent yesterday with Josh watching the hapless Jets lose badly to the Dolphins and then heading up to MSG to watch the equally hapless Knicks lose to the Pelicans. It is tempting to stop watching both teams and sell off our seats at MSG for the rest of the year. But we aren't going to do that and we will sit loyally and watch loss after loss at the Garden if that's what comes for the rest of the year. We are fans, even if our team sucks. And they sure do right now.

It is equally tempting to write off a failing investment and stop showing up at board meetings, stop responding to the emails from the founder, and stop thinking about the company. At some point, the company will run out of money, there won't be a reason to put more money into the company, and the investment will fail. Until that happens, as long as the founder is willing to listen to you, I think you have to give your struggling investments your all.

The truth is the investments that are working often don't need that much from an investor. They need more capital, they need recruiting help, and sometimes they need strategy and advice. But the reason they are having success is they are doing the right thing and doing things right. On the other hand, the struggling investment needs a lot of help. And I think the lead investor board member has an obligation to provide that help.

One of the characteristics of USV that I am most proud of is that we stick with our struggling investments. And we have made a lot of them. We have way more of them than our successful ones that are always cited when we are talked about publicly. I think how you treat your struggling investments says more about you than how many billion dollar exits you have had. You need both to be successful in the VC business, of course. The latter metric defines your selection acumen. The former defines your empathy acumen. And when I pick people to work with, I look for the latter. I suspect most people do that.

This is not a new theme. I've written about this here before. But it is an important theme for me and for entrepreneurs and investors. As we headed out last night to MSG Josh said to me, "I am not feeling good about this game". I told him I wasn't either, but all we could do was root them on as hard as we could. We did that. And we will do that again on Thursday when they head out to Brooklyn to play the Nets. We will be there too. That's what fans do and what investors should do too.