Video Of The Week: Getting Water Out Of A Flooded Jeep Wrangler

We had torrential rains last night and around 3am, I woke up and realized that I had left the soft top open on our Jeep Wrangler.

The lighting was coming down hot and heavy so I waited it out and eventually went outside and put the soft top up.

But the damage was done.

When I went out for coffee and bagels this morning, I was driving a lake.

I was texting with my friend Kirk and he told me that the Jeep has plugs to get the water out of the car.

So when I got home I googled “Getting Water Out Of A Flooded Jeep” and found a video that shows how to do it.

I then recorded this video and posted it to YouTube. I am a believer in paying the favor forward.

Feature Friday: Now Playing

I’ve written about this Android feature before. I am a bit obsessed about it.

When you are in a place where music is playing, the Android operating system notifies you what is “now playing.”

I have two things I would love to know how to do with this information.

1/ Access it via an API so I can favorite it in my preferred streaming service (which is SoundCloud but Spotify and Apple Music would be great too).

2/ See the history someplace on the web so I can search it by time, place, artist, song, etc.

This is an example of where taking an app like Shazam or Soundhound and turning it into a feature in the operating system can open up a lot of potential additional functionality.

Disclosure

The disclosure police have been making noises in the comments here at AVC and on Twitter that suggest I do not disclose conflicts and other important information when I write about things I am close to here at AVC.

I thought I would take a moment to describe how I think about this issue:

1/ I want AVC to have a casual informal feel, like a conversation between colleagues in the office or friends over a drink at the bar. I work hard to write in a conversational tone. I like to tell stories and use my own voice.

2/ I do want to disclose when I am writing about something where I or USV has a financial interest. But I don’t want it to feel like a lawyer wrote it. So I typically will say something like “our portfolio company Coinbase” or “LittleBits, a company that the Gotham Gal and I are investors in.”

3/ My goal is not to soft pedal the disclosure. I want to do it in a way that doesn’t ruin the flow and readability of this blog.

4/ I am not going to go overboard and negatively disclose things. It was suggested yesterday on Twitter that I should have disclosed that I do not have a financial interest in AirBnb. If I don’t disclose a conflict, you should assume I don’t have one.

5/ I miss things every now and then. I write a post every morning. I am writing this one on my phone on the park bench outside my favorite coffee shop. I don’t have an editor or any review process. I will hit publish in a minute and the post will go live. As hard as I try to be diligent about disclosure, I don’t get it right 100% of the time. But I am certain I do better than 90% and likely higher than that.

6/ When people alert me to mistakes (typos, no disclosure, misspellings, etc), I will go and edit the post and address it. But many of you read this blog via email and once those go out, I cannot edit them.

7/ Check the comments if you have questions about anything in the post. The comments are a daily conversation about things I wrote in the post and I often clarify things there.

In summary, I am trying to do the right thing. I realize that I have influence via this blog and Twitter and that I could use it in ways that benefit me financially. I realize that this blog does benefit me financially. For example, I understand that my seven years of bullishness on crypto here at AVC has benefitted our personal crypto portfolio and USV’s crytpo portfolio.

But I am not blogging for those reasons. I am blogging to share my views with all of you so that I can have a dialog with the world at large about them. I am thinking out loud and learning immensely from it. That is my agenda and those of you who have been reading and hanging out here over the years understand that. My hope is that the disclosure police will too.

A Fair Share From Airbnb

I will be attending a press event today in NYC where Airbnb is announcing a $10mm program to support local efforts that improve the lives of New York State residents.

Airbnb calls this program A Fair Share and it estimates that the $10mm is just 10% of what a home sharing tax in New York State would produce for the city and state governments.

The $10mm in financial support is going to seven organizations. They are:

  • The New York Immigration Coalition

  • New York Mortgage Coalition

  • New York State Rural Housing Coalition, Inc.

  • Win

  • GMHC

  • CSNYC

  • Abyssinian Development Corporation

These are all organizations that benefit from city and state tax dollars but need to tap into the generosity of others to deliver their services.

Take CSNYC, where I am leading the $40mm CS4All private sector capital campaign to bring computer science education to every public school building in NYC. CS4All is a ten-year $80mm effort develop over 5,000 public school computer science teachers. Half of that $80mm is coming from the NYC taxpayers. The other half is being raised from private donors. Airbnb’s generous support helps us meet our budget this year and beyond and we are very grateful for it.

But there is a larger point being made here and one that I want to highlight. Airbnb wants to operate legitimately in New York City and New York State. It wants to collect taxes on behalf of hosts of non-hotel accommodations in New York. And it wants to be a positive force for the economy in New York. But its opponents, largely the hotel industry and its employees, are standing in the way of that. This is politics getting in the way of good sense. And that is irritating to me as a citizen of New York City and New York State.

I am thrilled to accept the generosity of Airbnb on behalf of CSNYC and I am also happy to be a participant in helping Airbnb make a larger point about what is right and what should happen here. I hope that A Fair Share helps them do that.

Investor Friendly Terms

At USV, we have always had simple and investor-friendly terms with the institutions and individuals that provide the capital we invest.

I got thinking about that this morning in reading Brad Feld’s post about recycling management fees, something we do aggressively at USV (we have recycled between 20 and 25% of our mature VC funds).

We have never charged a premium carry or off-market management fee, we return all capital before taking carry distributions, and we recycle aggressively.

Certainly, we could charge more, but we have never wanted to do that.

When people ask me why not, I like to tell a story.

When Brad Burnham and I were raising the first USV fund, into the teeth of the VC and Internet meltdown of the early 2000s, we visited one of the top VC LPs in the world and he told us the story of a VC firm that they had been investing with for more than twenty years.

As the Internet bubble neared its pinnacle in late 1999, that firm came to the LP and told them that they were raising the carry from 20% to 30%. The LP, who had been supporting this firm for twenty years, was not comfortable with this hike in carry, but held their nose and went along with it.

Three years later, the firm came back for another fund, this time with a 1999 vintage fund in shambles.

They started out the pitch like this “we have had a wonderful and profitable relationship with you for twenty-three years.”

To which the LP retorted “Not really. We had a wonderful relationship with you for twenty years, then you reset the relationship and it has sucked ever since.”

That was the end of that LP/VC relationship.

That story has really stuck with me. Every time I think “we are well below market” I then think “but this is no time to upset the apple cart.” And I get back to work.

The same is true of entrepreneurs and VCs. You can push things too far and if you then stumble, it will come back to haunt you.

But if you are fair and reasonable, it will get paid back over time, particularly in times when you are struggling and need more capital.

That is how the world works. What goes around comes around. Best to be in good standing with your investors when it does.

Strike When The Iron Is Hot

I introduced a young friend of one of my children to a colleague in the tech business last month. The young friend took a day to reply to the email introduction and by then the introduction had gone cold.

Happily the introduction resurfaced this week and something may still come of it.

That story reminds me of another.

It was 1996 and Flatiron Partners had just relocated to the Flatiron district of NYC (we really had no choice but to locate there). A friend invited me to lunch at Gramercy Tavern which had opened a couple years previously and was one of the most happening restaurants in NYC.

We sat down to lunch and Danny Meyer, the owner of Gramercy Tavern, comes into the restaurant and starts working the lunch time crowd.

When he gets to our table my friend says to Danny “please meet Fred Wilson, founder of Flatiron Partners who has just relocated his business to the neighborhood.” Danny reached into his pocket, took out his business card, and said to me “Welcome to the neighborhood. If you ever need a table please give me a call and we will take care of you.”

That night when I got home I told the Gotham Gal “I met Danny Meyer today and he gave me his card and said I could call him whenever I need a table.” To which she replied “go there for lunch tomorrow.” And I told her “I don’t have a lunch tomorrow.” She said “Get one. He will remember who you are tomorrow but won’t next month.”

So I got a lunch, called Danny, got a table, and he again said hello when he worked the lunch crowd (something he used to do whenever he was in town). I became friends with Danny and still call him when I need a table at one of his restaurants and can’t get one on Resy.

Striking while the iron is hot is so important. I often thing of the Gotham Gal saying “get one.” It was absolutely the right thing to do and always is.

Capitulation?

One of the things I have disliked the most about the crypto sector is the idea that people should “hodl” or “hold on for dear life.”

I have written many times here at AVC that one should take profits when they are available and diversify an investment portfolio.

The idea that an investor should hold on no matter what has always seemed ridiculous to me.

Now, the crypto markets are in the eighth month of a long and painful bear market and we are starting to see some signs of capitulation, particularly in the assets that went up the most last year.

Whether this is the long-awaited capitulation of the HODL crowd or not, I can’t say.

But capitulation would be a good thing for the crypto markets, releasing assets into the market that until now have been locked up by long-term holders.

Until then it is hard to get excited about buying anything in crypto.

Funding Friday: This Place Will Be Water

The neighborhood where we live in NYC will be underwater with a 2-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures.

This Kickstarter project will create stickers that all of us can place on places like ours and remind everyone that climate change is a big deal.

I backed this project today and you can too right here.

Regulating and Legislating Tech and Tech Companies

More and more of the news around tech these days is about the relationship between technology companies and government. That was not the case a decade ago when regulators and elected officials took a largely hands off approach to technology, particularly the Internet, web, and mobile.

While I am not a fan of many of the moves that regulators and elected officials have made over the last few years, including the NYC City Council’s recent bills to clamp down on home-sharing and ride-sharing in NYC, I do believe that the tech sector and tech companies must engage with the public sector and they must do it earlier in their development.

It is hard to be an advocate for the tech sector and tech companies with the public sector, a role I play fairly regularly, when the companies in question have not been the best actors themselves.

The good news is that the tech sector no longer naively believes that it can opt out of the public discourse and political engagement.

The bad news is it is playing catch-up and is on it’s heels. That is going to take time and money to fix.

Emerging sectors like crypto and machine learning should pay heed to what has happened here and not make the same mistakes as their predecessors.