Hyperactive?

When the pandemic started, the conventional wisdom was that the capital markets would take a beating, including the venture capital market for startup capital.

The second quarter of 2020 is now behind us and we will see the data on it soon. I suspect what we will see is a very active venture capital market, quite the opposite of what was initially expected.

There are a number of reasons that I think we will see that.

First, venture capital firms raise funds and it is our job to put them to work. If we see interesting opportunities, it is our job to invest in them. We are not paid to hoard the cash.

Second, the stock market for tech companies has been on a tear in the last three months and that weighs on the minds of investors. A bullish stock market leads to a bullish venture capital market.

Third, the pandemic showed that software based businesses, e-commerce, software infrastructure, and other sectors popular in startups and venture capital are resilient and attractive right now.

Fourth, sitting at home all day, not being able to travel, not being able to socialize, creates an efficient work environment for many (but certainly not all).

And finally, there are so many great founders out there coming up with excellent business ideas. The pandemic has not slowed that down. If anything, it has sped it up.

It is possible that some sectors of the venture capital market have slowed. Some areas which have attracted big growth investments over the last few years were quite negatively impacted by the pandemic and I would imagine we will see parts of the growth market negatively impacted as a result.

But looking back on the second quarter of 2020, what I see is a hyperactive venture capital market firing on all cylinders. And that is good news for founders and innovation.

#VC & Technology

Doubling Up

Regular AVC readers may have noticed that after blogging about my once a day routine, I posted twice yesterday.

What happened is that I had been planning on blogging about Summer Bridge, a project we’ve been working on for the last few months, first thing Monday morning after the July 4th holiday.

But when I woke up, I had a DM from my friend Jonathan with some data about the content on AVC over the years and got excited to share it and did.

A colleague reminded me about doing the Summer Bridge post and so I published as planned mid-morning.

For those that may have missed my post about Summer Bridge, it is a new youth summer employment program for the neediest kids in NYC. It is a virtual/remote internship program that runs most of the month of August. The City and State are providing the stipends and companies provide remote “workplace challenges” for the kids.

USV is planning a workplace challenge around finding interesting startups working to address the climate crisis. I am excited to work with our teenage interns on that project next month.

If your company wants to work on an interesting problem with inner-city youth this summer, please consider participating in Summer Bridge. You can sign up here.

#Current Affairs#NYC

NYC Tech Companies: Please Consider Participating in Summer Bridge

NYC’s Summer Youth Employment Program is the nation’s largest youth employment program, historically connecting NYC’s neediest young adults (between the ages of 14 and 24) with a paid work experience every summer. The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into it this summer and it was canceled. In response, the City and State and over 50 nonprofits have come together to design the Summer Bridge program for summer 2020. Summer Bridge will provide low-income NYC students with City and State-funded professional workplace experiences in the tech industry and beyond.  

Summer Bridge will provide summer internships to 35,000 young adults this summer.  Student interns will participate in workplace challenge projects for 10-20 total hours (2-4 hours per week for 4 weeks.) The program begins on August 3rd and finishes on August 28th.  Summer Bridge and its non-profit partners will match student interns with companies, compensate students with a stipend ($700-1000 for the summer), and manage day-to-day-student relationships.

We want the NYC tech sector to be a big part of Summer Bridge this summer. Please consider having your company involved. Here is our ask of your company:

  • Design a “workplace challenge” for students based on a real business need or problem in one of four areas: product, engineering, marketing, or design.  Tech: NYC is providing templates for these challenges.
  • Recruit employee volunteers to meet weekly with small groups (15-20 students) for hour-long virtual interactions. Ideally, each volunteer would see 2-3 groups a week.
  • Offer feedback to students at a virtual final workplace challenge presentation.

We hope your company will participate in Summer Bridge this summer. If you would like to participate, go here and sign up.

#Current Affairs#employment#NYC

Short and Sweet

My friend Jonathan sent me a couple graphs he made of the content on AVC over the years.

Here is how word count has evolved over the years. I started out with short posts, got longer for a while, and am now back to the short post.

Here is how post count has evolved over the years. In the early days of AVC, I would post multiple times a day (like many people use Twitter today). I moved to the once a day post around the time Twitter came along, although I don’t think they are related, and have been doing that ever since.

So that’s how the short daily post format evolved here at AVC. It is neat to see it visualized like this.

#Weblogs

Crawl, Walk, Run

I am a fan of the slow and steady approach to building a business. I call it “crawl, walk, run.”

I have seen many founders try the “run right away” approach and it is super hard to make that work.

An example of “run right away” would be to raise a $30mm seed round, hire a couple of hundred employees, and go for broke. That mostly results in being broke.

Of course, there are examples of founders who did that and succeeded. But they would be the exceptions that prove the rule.

Crawl, walk, run generally means start small, do one thing really well, then get a little bigger, do a few things really well, then get a little bigger and do a few more things really well.

Crawl, walk, run is more resilient. It allows for mistakes that aren’t fatal. It takes a bit longer to get to the finish line this way, but the probability of success is way higher with crawl, walk, run.

Crawl, walk, run is a mantra for doing a startup and I recommend it to everyone.

#entrepreneurship

Masks

I’m sitting outside of my favorite coffee shop sipping on a coffee and writing. I do this many mornings.

When I walked into the coffee shop this morning I was wearing a mask:

I counted all of the people in the shop waiting in line (six feet apart) and waiting for their coffees. There were twelve people in total, including two people behind the counter making coffee and taking payment.

Everyone in the store had a mask on and was wearing it properly.

That’s how it is and how is has been in that coffee shop since May 1st when we arrived here.

Wearing a mask is easy. I keep a bunch in my car and one in the pouch on my bike. It’s no big deal to put it on every time I go indoors anywhere other than our home.

I can’t think of anything simpler and more powerful that we can all do other than wearing a mask. I wear one proudly and I hope everyone else does to as long as the pandemic continues.

#Current Affairs

Mail Hosts

I got a question this past weekend that kind of stumped me. The question is – are there any really good mail hosts other than Gmail and Outlook?

I realize that Yahoo still operates a mail host as does AOL. And that many of the ISPs offer mail hosting. But all of those feel like 20 year old technology. Of course I could be wrong about that.

I am not talking about mail clients like Superhuman and Hey and others (including Apple and Microsoft’s mail clients). I feel like there has been a lot of innovation in that area over the years.

I am talking about the hosting platform that receives the email, filters out spam, and provides the connectivity to the mail client.

If you know of a modern and reliable mail host that supports the various third party mail clients, I would love to know about it.

If you are reading this on the web, please click on the button that says “Discuss On Twitter” and share your suggestion with me and everyone else who is interested.

If you are reading via email, please reply to this email or go to the web and share it with everyone via “Discuss On Twitter.”

I appreciate the replies!!

#Web/Tech

Working Virtually

Many of us have been working from home or some other remote location for over three months now. We have learned a fair bit about this approach to work and we have more to learn in the coming months. I don’t think we will be done with remote work until the pandemic is over.

It has taught me three conflicting things:

1/ I can be a lot more productive working remotely than many of us believed before the pandemic

2/ Those with kids at home don’t experience the same productivity boost

3/ I can’t wait to be back working together in person

On the first point, I am able to get a lot more done in a day working remotely than I am able to do in the office. I now regularly do days with ten to twelve meetings/calls/videos. I don’t think I was able to do that in the office.

I have also found it easier to find time for work that requires a lot of focus (writing/modeling/analyzing/etc).

And I’ve been much better at keeping my inbox and other communications up to date and current.

And I can do all of that while making time to go biking, do yoga, meditate, etc.

It is a revelation to me how productive I can be working remotely, particularly when our entire team is doing the same.

All of that said, my friends and colleagues with kids at home have not experienced the same productivity boost. They get some of the benefits of working from home, but they also face distractions, double duty, and more. If we cannot reopen schools in the fall, it is going to be a very challenging time for parents.

It is also the case that I miss the feeling of being together with my colleagues. Today we will spend four to five hours on Zoom in our weekly team meeting. It is way more enjoyable doing it in person around our conference table.

Reconciling these conflicting realizations will be the key to what happens when the pandemic ends. I am certain that we will all want to retain some of the convenience and productivity that comes with working remotely. But I am equally certain that we will want to work together again.

#Current Affairs#management

Funding Friday: Checking In On The $1k Project

I wrote about this project to financially support people who were laid off because of the Covid pandemic back in early April. We also participated in the project and supported a family in the NY metro area back then.

I saw this tweet yesterday:

$1mm in funding, almost 350 families supported, in ten weeks. That’s terrific.

If you want to participate, you do so here.

#crowdfunding#Current Affairs