Video Of The Week: What Is Kin?

Our portfolio Kik announced last week that they plan to decentralize their messenger app and monetize via a cryptocurrency called Kin. Here’s a video they put together explaining how it will work and why it is important:

Fun Friday: Cavs Warriors

Well we finally got to the matchup that it seems like we have been waiting all season to get to. It really wasn’t even close. These are the best two teams in the NBA by a lot and have been for three years now.

So, who is going to win, in how many games, and why?

I will go out on a limb, like I enjoy doing, and say Cavs in seven because LeBron’s will to win is simply greater than any other person playing basketball right now.

Kin

Our portfolio company Kik announced some big news today.

They are going to decentralize Kik and use a new cryptocurrency called Kin to build a business model around a decentralized Kik and, hopefully, attract other developers to build decentralized communities using Kin as well.

All of this is outlined in the Kin Whitepaper that was published this morning.

Here are the main parts of this plan:

Kin is a cryptocurrency designed to bring people together in a new shared economy.
Envisioned as a general purpose cryptocurrency for use in everyday digital services, Kin will be used for all transactions within the Kin Ecosystem. Implemented on the public Ethereum blockchain as an ERC20 token, Kin will serve as the basis of interoperability with other digital services in the Kin Ecosystem.

Kik will be the first digital service to join the Kin Ecosystem.
Kin will power a digital economy inside of the Kik app. With millions of users, Kik will drive mainstream consumer adoption of Kin, establishing fundamental value for the cryptocurrency. By natively integrating the Kin wallet into the app, it will instantly become one of the most adopted and used cryptocurrency wallets in the world.

The Kin Rewards Engine is an innovative cryptoeconomic structure intended to promote the use of Kin as a common currency.
Through the Kin Rewards Engine, Kin will be introduced into circulation as a daily reward, to be distributed among stakeholders by an algorithm that reflects each community’s contribution to the overall ecosystem. This economic structure will create a natural incentive for owners of other digital services to adopt Kin and become partners in the Kin Ecosystem.

The Kin Foundation will act as the non-profit governance body for the Kin Ecosystem. to build, enhance and monetize those services.
Over time, the Kin Foundation will ensure the delicate transition of the Kin Ecosystem into a fully decentralized and autonomous network.

As I said in the release that went out this morning, we believe cryptocurrency is the next important business model innovation in tech and Kik will be the first mainstream application to integrate a cryptocurrency. This could be a watershed moment for the blockchain sector.

I Paid $22.38 For This

This is a virtual good, called a Rare Pepe. I blogged about it a few weeks ago.

Hawkeye tweeted this at me a couple days ago:

And I liked it so I went into the Rare Pepe directory, found the card, and offered 1000 Pepe Cash for it.

1000 Pepe Cash goes for $22.38 right now in the cryptomarkets.

So I paid $22.38 for a virtual card that has no utility other than I can collect it (on my computer or phone), I can send it to someone else, I can sell it, and I can blog about it.

But the one thing I do know is that these are “rare”. There are only 391 issued right now. And that is verified on the blockchain.

Something to think about as it relates to digital media/digital art/digital music/etc which has been suffering from no scarcity value since the invention of the Internet.

Blockstack – A New Internet

The founders of our portfolio company Blockstack are ambitious.

What they have built and are announcing today is effectively a new Internet, powered by the blockchain.

This is what the Blockstack team is after:

A new internet needs to have security and safety as a core of its DNA. Applications and services cannot be owned and controlled by remote third-parties. We can build a digital world of truly peer-to-peer internet utilities not maintained by corporations, but collectively, by the people. We can build a digital world that encodes property rights, where we can own our data, and where the people are powerful.

Here is their blog post announcing the Blockstack Browser.

And here is my partner Albert’s blog post on the USV blog explaining why this is important.

Writing and Speaking

I got a lot of comments about the two videos I posted last week suggesting that I have nailed the art of public speaking.

I don’t know about that, I am my harshest critic.

But I do believe that writing regularly makes it so much easier to speak publicly in unscripted situations.

Writing forces you to work out your views and articulate them clearly and concisely.

Then when you are asked a question related to those views, you have already worked out the answer.

It is in the brain, waiting there to come out crisply and concisely.

I’ve been writing daily for going on fourteen years so that is a huge body of work, opinion, thought, and insight to be able to pull from.

My views have evolved over the years and so not all of that content is relevant at this point, but most of it is.

So if you have to speak publicly a lot, particularly in unscripted situations, I would suggest you write publicly regularly as well.

They work incredibly well together.

Can Do Vs Must Do

Over the past few months, I’ve been reminded about the difference between “can do” and “must do” and how companies often confuse the two.

With the abundance of capital sloshing around the tech sector, our portfolio companies often have the resources to do more than they can and should do. They greenlight a bunch of projects that are “can do” projects but not “must do” projects. And a number of not so great things happen when they do this, including but not limited to:

  • Core resources (like infrastructure, security, payments, design, product management) get stretched supporting so many efforts.
  • The team loses sight of the mission and strategy as so many projects are being tackled at the same time
  • Senior leadership gets pulled in many directions and loses alignment as a result
  • Projects slip or don’t ship at all, leading to malaise and morale issues
  • Headcount grows quickly to support all of these efforts, creating more management issues

I saw a presentation recently with a “plan” that had ten “near term focus items” on it. I told the person presenting the plan to me that I don’t think a plan should have more than three things on it. I am a big fan of the rule of three. I am not sure where I heard it but it says that you should not tackle more than three big things at one time, no matter how large your organization is.

But regardless of whether you have two, three, or four big efforts this year, you should test all of your initiatives agains the “must do” vs “can do” test. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

I’ve written about the importance of strategy and saying no. Strategy isn’t saying no. It is figuring out what is the most important thing for your company and deciding to focus on it and say no to everything else.

In order to figure out what the most important thing is, you need to understand your products, your customers, your market position, where things are going, and where you want to be in three to five years. Once you have figured all of that out, you can figure out what are the most important things you need to do in order to get there.

It is also true that the “most important thing” changes. My partner Albert told me that he thinks doing a startup is like playing a video game. Each level requires you to master one thing and once you do that, you level up and then there is a new thing to master.

I like that metaphor a lot even though it trivializes the company building process a bit. It is a very clarifying view on how you must think about things and prioritize things.

So if you are frustrated by the pace of development (and not just engineering development) at your company, I would suggest you think about how many things you are trying to do at the same time. If it is a lot, then run them by the “can do” vs “must do” test and kill all the things that are not “must dos”. That might even mean parting ways with people you don’t need, which is painful but often helpful.

Executing well on all of the “must do” things is the hallmark of a well run company. And that usually means that there aren’t many “can do” things on the roadmap at the same time.

Video Of The Week: My Talk With David Kirkpatrick at Techonomy

Last wednesday morning, I went to Techonomy NYC and talked with my friend David Kirkpatrick for about 30mins.

That conversation is below.

There is one gross misrepresentation in the talk. David and I were talking about my efforts to ignore Trump and I said that the Gotham Gal spends “two to three hours a day on that stuff” which is not anywhere close to accurate. She reads the NY Times religiously in paper form every day and does pay a lot more attention to Trump than I do, but it’s not anywhere near two to three hours. I apologize to her for suggesting such nonsense.

Funding Friday: Coinlist

Some interesting developments that we have been working on came public yesterday.

  1. Protocol Labs, a company that builds blockchain-based protocols laid out its ambitious roadmap and finally got around to announcing the seed investment USV and others made in it last year. My partner Brad Burnham wrote a blog post on USV.com explaining why we are so excited about Protocol Labs.
  2. Protocol Labs will be launching a token offering soon for Filecoin which powers a blockchain based storage network on top of its IPFS protocol.
  3. The Filecoin offering will be managed on a new platform called Coinlist which was built by Protocol Labs and AngelList.
  4. Coinlist will utilize a new kind of security called a SAFT (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens) that has been constructed to comply with existing securities regulations.

While all of these are interesting developments, particularly the architecture and roadmap that Protocol Labs laid out, I thought I would talk a bit about Coinlist given that it is “Funding Friday.”

Token Offerings have been going on for quite a while now. There are over 800 tokens listed on Coin Market Cap.

But US domiciled companies have not had a good way to raise money in token pre-sales and comply with existing securities laws. This forced a number of promising blockchain projects to domicile outside of the US, often in Switzerland, and organize as Foundations for tax reasons. A US domiciled company can wait until the token is live and functioning and sell it then, because at that point it is not a security, it is a token. But if you want to raise funds in a pre-sale for a US domiciled company, there has not been a good way to do that.

Enter Juan Benet, founder of Protocol Labs, and Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList. They collaborated on CoinList and, with the help of a number of venture law firms and their investors, including USV, came up with the SAFT structure.

Naval put it like this in a Forbes piece yesterday on all of this:

ICOs are obviously a new and interesting form of funding for blockchain-based protocols. But it’s not clear that all of them comply with U.S. securities laws or that all of them are companies that have good native use cases for new coins. So, we wanted to use a high-quality coin and team to trailblaze a legal and compliant ICO.

If you are an accredited investor and want to participate in token pre-sales, check out Coinlist.