Just Do It

We have a two year rotation program at USV for most of our non partner positions. We hire incredibly talented people, suck them into everything we are doing for two years, and then ask them to leave. The USV alumni group is becoming quite a collection of talent.

For much of last year Christina debated what she was going to do at the end of her stint. We made it even harder on her because we flirted with extending her stay. But at the end of year, she packed up her desk and headed out.

And today she explains all of that and what she's been doing since on her blog. I particularly like this part:

Why did I want to do something different? In part, because I wanted something that felt more tangible. But mostly because the story of the internet continues to be the story of our time. I’m pretty sure that if you truly want to follow — or, better still, bend — that story’s arc, you should know how to write code.

I admire Christina's willingness to leave a cushy job and take up the difficult task of teaching herself to code and building something publicly. I am sure it will turn out to have been a brilliant career move in time.

Marc Andreessen says you either will be the person who tells the computer what to do or the person that the computer tells what to do. I see more and more young folks internalizing that dichotomy and deciding to "get technical." And that makes me very happy, and I am particularly happy about and proud of the choice that Christina made.

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Matt A. Myers

    Allowing everyone the opportunity, who may not have an option of a cushy job, by supporting them properly, to be healthy physically, mentally and emotionally enough to learn – and become a doer and not purely follower is the most important skill you can teach and foster – thinking for yourself and being able to add to impact.The doing something tangible part is relating to our creative side. If we’re in a creative position then we’re allowed, enabled, to use all our of brain’s facilities – this by default will mean more neurons firing, more reward capacity.Here’s a great TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson I would highly recommend watching – http://www.youtube.com/watc… – entitled “Do schools kill creativity?” It’s brilliant, very hilarious, and a very important realization he’s sharing. Worth the ~18 minutes; There’s a few minutes of ads included in the video at the end.Regarding programming, I’d say it’s equally important to understand design and the psychology of design. There are very few people who understand good design on a holistic level. There are many startups I see that will not succeed, or at least not as quickly, because of not understanding why they are designing what they are designing. Sure, many can get lucky because they have time to experiment with design – though if you need proof of concept through an MVP, and that MVP isn’t well designed then you’re not going to get the results you might otherwise be able to get. Many people equate beautiful design to good design, which is flawed thinking. Anyway, I have lots of thoughts on design. Hopefully I can get around to compiling the draft posts I have into something longer to share.

  2. John Best

    That’s a great quote from Marc Andreessen. Coincidentally, I’ve queued up some objective C tutorials, although if anyone has any pointers on how/where to start with that language I’d be very pleased to receive them.

  3. jason wright

    why two years?

    1. AndrewsProject

      I would think it is because, 2 years is what it takes to become comfortable in a job. You are learning for the first year, executing for the second. Rather than execute again, USV pushes you out to recommence the learning part. But, I may be wrong. Fred?

      1. jason wright

        two years seems a long time to me if at the end of it people are shown the door.perhaps short rotating secondments from USV startups would be more dynamic and fruitful. it becomes a virtuous circle of knowledge flowing through the investment ecosystem. good things must come from that.

        1. JamesHRH

          Needs to be long enough to prove your worth and earn a slot in the lifetime rolodex of the partners.

          1. Ricardo Diz

            I guess, long enough to go from learning a lot to contribute a lot, short enough so ambitious people continue motivated throughout their time at the company (if no promotions).

    2. fredwilson

      long enough to figure out our business, short enough that they aren’t ruined for life

      1. jason wright

        legal liability insurance?

  4. AndrewsProject

    Good luck Christina. I look forward to trying out your first product.

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      thanks andrew!

  5. LIAD

    I’ve hired/fired and worked very closely with developers for over a decade.I’ve learnt through osmosis and can definitely hold my own talking shop with engineers. As a tech entrepreneur, there is no other way to be. To do your job properly you need to have a clear understanding of how things work and be able to make cost/benefit tradeoffs of different languages/frameworks vis-a-vis developer supply/costs/scalability/architecture etc.I’ve always had html/css skills but being able to make things look pretty is very different from being able to make things work.Out of frustration for not being able to actualise my ideas alone in realtime, I got down and dirty with code. I am by no means a natural but sweated blood to get my head round things. I now commit to Shoply.com’s code base and can just about rustle up ideas and MVP’s singlehandedly. I’m never going to have the coding skills of even a talented 16 year old but hey, I get by.The first time I ran a programme I wrote myself that automated a mundane task which used to take hours of my time was incredible.Being able to harness computer power for your own needs is a superpower.The feeling of exhilaration and freedom when you can get computers to work for you is unbelievable.

    1. JamesHRH

      I don’t code, but I can tell when a technical person is:a) flat out lyingb) very unsure of themselvesc) bluffingd) not buying inI think you need to understand tech these days. I don’t know that you need to be able to code. I have coded, a long time ago ( i have about half the courses for a Comp Sci degree).What? How? Why? are the questions. You do not HAVE to have any one of the three in your bag of tricks, but you better have the other two.

    2. fredwilson

      so important

    3. robertdesideri

      yes. and we can show something cool to our youngest before they learn it elsewhere, we might even convince them geek creed is cool. as soon as a kid learns to multiply…present the three ping pong balls, each a different color. ask your grasshopper to show you how many permutations?then on a piece of paper present grasshopper a 2 column example, only filling in the left column, with 1, 2, 3.instruct grasshopper how to do the multiplying, without of course getting into the details of factorials.next ask grasshopper to do 7 balls colors. manually on paper. if grasshopper expresses fatigue, then open up spreadsheet. teach n!. else, add more balls, lather…now think back about your first job. stocking supermarket shelves in middle school? lawns? babysitting. second job. university. sports. travel. vc experience. etc. list these in your own spreadsheet. then do the math. are you a 7! ? a 12! ah, metrics :)life is a factorial of experience. you might have a distinct object called coding (disclosure, my first time was APL). Add an n2 called math and you have near super powers. add n3, perhaps that’s finance or reading fred’s blog frequently, and so on. build that grey matter network.they call it ‘bang’ for a reason 🙂 “if we all get out there and bang more the world would be a better place.” heh, not quite as media-friendly as andreessen’s line but you get the idea. teach the grasshoppers to invest time wisely. the secret of living factorially shouldn’t be a secret. writing computer code needs to be in context of other objects we experience.

  6. John Revay

    MBA by USV

    1. JamesHRH

      That’s a tough program to get into.

      1. fredwilson

        it is, which is why we blog so much and try to share what we can with everyone. usv.com is taking a long time to get out but when it does, it will make all of that easier

      2. John Revay

        I hear they only take a few people a year or so….:)

  7. William Mougayar

    There’s nothing more exciting than launching yourself into the unknown, whether it’s a new venture, a new job, something new you learn, or something you just make and create.It seems that Christina is well on her way, not just learning, but doing “It’s got a database though – which none of my side projects had – and it’s got caching, OAuth integration, a few queues for jobs that can be made asynchronous, and other things I’d never explored before.” That’s cool. I want to be her alpha tester.

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      my only requirement is that you send me notes when you come across something that doesn’t make sense. there are still many of those points, and i’m not very good at find them. “more eyes makes products better in addition to bugs more shallow,” or something like that.

      1. William Mougayar

        Sure. I’m game. wmougayar AT gmail

  8. Jan Schultink

    1) Short online courses at premium brand universities and 2) short stints with high profile mentors (profit, not-for-profit) will be the higher education paradigm of this century.Not sure whether anyone is trying to build a market place for 2), looks like a business opportunity.

    1. JLM

      .One can get podcast course on just about anything from places like MIT. Free too.I never could figure out the US Federal Reserve system. I got a podcast on it from MIT and couple of other schools.The gold vein I mined was the bibliographies — tons of books on the subject.I called the MIT Prof and asked him — “I am only going to read 4 books on the subject, which 4?”He answered me. I read the books.I can now bore the crap out of anyone about the Fed Reserve at any cocktail party.But I now know something that I really was totally mystified about once upon a time..

      1. falicon

        Call people. Ask questions…still the *real* secret weapon. Well played. 🙂

        1. JLM

          .I continue to be amazed what people will do to assist.The entire world has become so damn accessible.I once called the foremost experts in the entire US (Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins) about hepatitis after age 45, a sometimes fatal disease and got both of them on the phone and then conferenced them together.Bad news — no real treatment. Rest. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Lean meats. Pray.Chatted for 15 minutes and never saw a bill..

      2. Jan Schultink

        🙂

  9. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    I once saw Christina take some incoming fire on a blog (re the USV open research on education I think). So I made a comment – simply called the comment what it was – BS.Christina could have simply commented in a reply ( a TY; would have been fine ) – but no she tracked me down to send an email of thanks. This is a young lady with that extra bit of class.I wonder that the USV job was cushy (no job is cushy if you give your all).I for one will try to keep an eye on what she is doing and wish her well – she will make a difference somewhere !

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      halfway feel i should send this in an email, rather than a reply, but at the risk of over-doing it: thanks, again, for the kind note, james!

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Epic fail – Totally overdone 😉

  10. Dave Pinsen

    I thought she had a degree in comp sci or something similar from Stanford. I had assumed she already knew how to code.Will be interesting to see what she does. Seems very smart and talented.BTW, before you hired her you solicited applications for the position on this blog. Did you decide against doing that again?

  11. Alex Bangash

    Congrats @christinacaci. Stop by the Trusted Insight reception tonight if you are around.

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      thanks alex!

  12. Cam MacRae

    Andreessen is pretty well right, and everyone who desires so should learn to code and be supported in their efforts. Most of the objections to Code Year etc. seem to conflate learning to code with becoming a professional programmer, which of course is utter garbage. Computers are ubiquitous today, and won’t be disappearing tomorrow; it simply makes sense to know a little about how to tell them what to do [as a means to maximising efficiency].Christina has made a great (and a little bit brave) decision.

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      thanks cam.

  13. Dave Pinsen

    “Marc Andreessen says you either will be the person who tells the computer what to do or the person that the computer tells what to do.”Unless you can be the guy who tells tells the person what to do who tells the computer what to do.

    1. William Mougayar

      yup. that’s always another option 🙂

    2. awaldstein

      .

    3. Carl Rahn Griffith

      This is leading to infinite regression, lol…

    4. Aaron Klein

      Now…when the computer tells the guy who tells the person who tells the computer what to do…we’ll finally arrive. #CodeCeption

      1. Dave Pinsen

        That was basically the plot of a 1950s sci-fi movie, if memory serves: the computer handling US nukes joined forces with the computer handling Soviet nukes and man mankind subordinate to them.

    5. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Such a scenario extends far beyond mere computers/software – the relationship with society/government/banks is what really matters and is one where we need to be more in control and proactive, else we will increasingly simply be passive victims of increasingly inept processes that we are not involved in.

    6. LE

      “”Marc Andreessen says you either will be the person who tells the computer what to do or the person that the computer tells what to do.””A great sound bite but Marc’s view of the world has been totally colored by having the super successful experience he has had in the tech world while in college. So of course he is going to place a high emphasis on this as the meaning of life. Same as people who have found Jesus at an early age will do the same. Unfortunately not all problems or people should be following Jesus or any god.

  14. Ela Madej

    Such a nice note @Fred… I just wrote a post about fear (“Entrepreneurs Fear More”) and I so very much believe that making difficult life decisions and looking you fears in the eyes is what defines us. Good luck Cristina! Read this if you ever think of looking back: http://blog.elamadej.com/fe

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      thanks ela!

  15. Brandon Burns

    The emphasis on everyone learning how to code is bananas. There are many other aspects that go into creating things on the web, and the longer people refuse to see that coding is only one of them, one that’s no more or less important than the others, we will never evolve.Could we ever build great buildings if we only had construction workers to lay down the beams? No. We need architects to dream up and design ideas. We need scientists to test new materials and ways of building things. We need urban planners to collect data about what we’ve done and spit it back to us so we can do better.In the same vein, we need more than just people who know how to lay down the beams of the internet. And the failure to see past that only halts innovation.I’m sure I sound like an agitated broken record here, but this has got to be my biggest net-related grip of all time. But, thankfully, some people are slowly getting it. I’m happy to see more people/companies put more emphasis on design, data, and other functions… and in the end, those are the people who will win. Actually, they’re already winning.

    1. kidmercury

      #upvoted. the idea that everyone needs to learn engineering is ridiculous and delusional. if anything the trend is towards MORE specialization — which means we need more people of all sorts of disciplines (architects, mechanical engineers, physicists, historians, actors, mathematicians, etc). people who think the ongoing growth of the internet means that everyone should run out and learn engineering are sadly mistaken.what i think is also worth noting is that people are going to have a better intuitive understanding of how networking technology works just by using it. we already see this with how younger people are usually better at computer technology than older people who didn’t grow up with it. kids who grow up hooking up their smartphone to their roku to laptop to their tablet and sharing it all with their friends are just going to learn a bunch of stuff intuitively by doing it.of course, if someone wants to learn how to write software, go for it!

      1. Brandon Burns

        yes, i hear you. not knocking learning how to code. but i am knocking the belief that everyone must.

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Absolutely. It’s like reading/writing – only a tiny percentage of what is written is relevant and/or interesting – but it’s jolly useful if everyone can read and write, even in a basic form – not everyone needs to become Shakespeare…

          1. JLM

            .Brilliant comment.Well played..

          2. Brandon Burns

            yessir.

          3. ShanaC

            shakespeare would be less interesting if everyone was shakespeare. We’re the sum of many different skills and experiences

          4. Thomas Stone

            To code, or not to code…I feel like literacy (reading/writing) is the right analogy over the others mentioned (builder/architect, steel/subway, cooking, running marathons, etc).Computers are only going to become more and more pervasive in the future.Therefore coding (i.e, human-to-computer) could be seen as an analogous to basic literacy (i.e., human-to-human), essentially a form of communication.

          5. ShanaC

            there are different levels of literacy. At what level is “enough”

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK

          NO ONE SAY EVERYONE SHOULD RUN MARATHON.EVERYONE AGREE WORLD HEALTHIER IF THEM DID.

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Man cannot live by software alone…

      3. Cam MacRae

        I haven’t heard the call to learn engineering, but I’ve severely cut back on my web time — agreed, that’s stupid.Learning to code, on the other hand… 4 of the 6 disciplines you’ve listed typically write some code in the process of getting shit done.

        1. JamesHRH

          Which 4?BTW – my wife is MechEng and she can’t code a lick. I have an old friend who is an architect – same.They all use computers, obviously.

          1. ShanaC

            Yes, but your wife probably can use AutoCAD. She’s technical for her field.

          2. Cam MacRae

            Disqus email fail. Apologies if this dups.If your mate uses AutoCAD etc. he/she is likely scripting quite often. Your wife might be lucky. On the other hand, if she solves her differential equations in matlab or runs Euler integration in excel etc., etc. she’s coding.

          3. Guest

            If your mate uses AutoCAD etc. he/she is likely scripting quite often. Your wife might be lucky. On the other hand, if she solves her differential equations in matlab or runs Euler integration in excel etc., etc. she’s coding.

          4. JamesHRH

            She runs a petrochemical refinery.

        2. kidmercury

          there are countless number of disciplines in the world and only more on the way. that 4 of the 6 i listed involving coding reflects a personal bias indicative of my background, not a universal trend.

          1. Cam MacRae

            Disqus email fail. Apologies if this dups.On the other hand, if you take the list of white collar jobs that aren’t going away combined with those jobs being created I think you’ll come up with a similar ratio. In that sense it is universal. The problem seems to be that “learn to code” gets translated into “clone twitter” and not “make B25 red if it contains a negative dollar amount”.

          2. Guest

            On the other hand, if you take the list of at white collar jobs that aren’t going away combined with those jobs being created I think you’ll come up with a similar ratio. In that sense it is universal. The problem seems to be that “learn to code” gets translated into “clone twitter” and not “make B25 red if it contains a negative dollar amount”.

      4. Richard

        The real creative contributions will come from those with vision, as mastering technology is a necessary but insufficient on its own. You can teach a man to sing, but a great singer she may not be. Vision and hunger and talent are needed to create the songs that people sing.

        1. JamesHRH

          Singing is a great example.There are legions of solid young female choristers out there.Adele was never one of them.

      5. falicon

        I’m of the camp that if you rely on a tool, you are better off having a working knowledge of how it works and how to at least make simple fixes/adjustments on your own…coding/engineering (at least at a basic level) *really* helps give you power/freedom in the digital age…

        1. JamesHRH

          Can you repair every part of your car or the subway train you ride?

          1. falicon

            No but I have enough of a working knowledge of both to deal with an emergency if it came up…and that’s my point…you don’t have to know it all, but knowing the basics of how things you really rely on just seems like good common sense to me.

          2. JamesHRH

            You are telling me you understand how a subway car works and you could MacGyver it back into working order?Or that you have a working knowledge of the SW that manages the timing of a modern piston engine?I hope you know that i think very highly of your abilities, but technical people tend to carry a serious conceit – they think they have a working knowledge of all the tools that we take for granted every day.They don’t.As an example, let’s say I am James Carville. I understand US politics, at a very high level of capability. That doesn’t mean I know why Evo Morales is President of Bolivia.

          3. Aaron Klein

            Well that’s easy, James. It’s called drug money.

          4. JamesHRH

            Not following…..

          5. falicon

            I think you are confusing what I’m saying…I can certainly McGuyver my own car (the one I rely on)…I have a basic understanding of how the subway I ride works (and more important, I know what not to touch in case of emergency; and how to get out of it).I’m not saying you have to be an expert on all things…I’m just saying, if something is important to your life, you are better off and more empowered the more you know/understand about how it works.You can certainly live your life without really knowing how anything works…but I believe it will cost you more money/time/energy long term. At the same time, it’s smart to know your limits and knowledge level (for example – I understand plumbing, but I always just pay someone to deal with it for me because I’m not going to do as quick/good/cost-efficient a job as them).Learning to code doesn’t mean you have to code…but the exposure and basic understanding of coding will give you incredible power and freedom in the digital world…

          6. JamesHRH

            Really?Isn’t that comparable to saying that the exposure and basic understanding of making steel will give me incredible power and freedom in the world of rail & cars?

          7. falicon

            No it’s more equiv. to having exposure and understanding of scheduling, transportation, and ticketing would give you a leg up on others in the rail & car business…Having exposure and understanding of Steel would give you a leg up in the railroad track building business…in fact, this is just the type of secret/approach that made Carnegie and JP Morgan insanely powerful and rich 😉

          8. JamesHRH

            Well, at least we have found the disconnect.Not a single thing in your list (schedule, transporting, ticketing) relied on SW when it was first implemented.Understanding technical systems is vital for today’s world.Coding is merely one way to gain that understanding. And its not the only way.

          9. JamesHRH

            isn’t steel still pretty integral to subway cars & auto parts?

          10. FlavioGomes

            The problem with the railroad industry is they forget they were in the transportation business.

          11. ShanaC

            yeah. if they remembered that, maybe amtrak would become awesome again

          12. LE

            I’m just saying, if something is important to your life, you are better off and more empowered the more you know/understand about how it works.Agree. It’s great to not have to rely on anyone (or to worry about being taken advantage of) which is why it’s great to be a “full stack” person if you want to call it that. Doesn’t mean you are an attorney but you know enough to get by. Doesn’t mean you are a programmer but you have a clue. You know enough mechanics that when the HVAC stops mysteriously you understand there is a relay switch inside the cabinet so you check that relay (ajar cover perhaps?) and at least try to isolate the problem. You know there is a compressor and an air handler. When the repairman comes you watch what he does (they like that I’ve found). You know that there is a time delay so sometimes the unit won’t kick on if it’s cycled to quickly (age dependent of course). Back in the day of large expensive CRT’s I was in a friends office and their monitor was all weirdly colored. Degauss I thought. Hit the button and poof magnetic pulse and everything looked fine to the amazement of my friend. How did I know to do that?The downside (as there always is) is that you get sucked into so many situations because you know what to do so you have a problem delegating to others.I was in the doctors office a few months ago and the office girls were all in a tizzy because the copier didn’t work right and it was backing up their flow of paperwork. When I mentioned it to the doctor he said “not my issue I’m not getting involved in that”. I would have an impossible time not getting involved and getting it to work.

          13. LE

            “You are telling me you understand how a subway car works and you could MacGyver it back into working order?”I have a pretty good understanding of mechanics and have been able to apply that knowledge in other areas where (mechanics) are involved. But your point is 100% correct with regards to things that are “under the hood” which you can’t see. I can blow things apart in my brain and figure out immediately what is going on. I hate assembly instructions I would tend to have an easier time looking at the parts and mapping it myself. (Because you can see things).That’s the great thing about mechanics. You can learn a little bit and things just make sense to you and you can apply that knowledge to fix problems in any device or at least know what is going on.With computers though not the same thing.

          14. Aaron Klein

            +1

          15. PhilipSugar

            It is when you are managing anybody including your car mechanic it is important.

          16. PhilipSugar

            Don’t know if you own a car? If you do and you know how to fix it but get somebody else do the difference in that and saying….I don’t know it’s broke! Is infinitely different.

        2. ShanaC

          to what extent is that code versus understanding settings in the digital age?

          1. falicon

            I think we are still in an age where coding offers up more freedom than settings…often times settings are enough for people, but true freedom/options comes from coding…In NYC public transportation is generally good enough for the masses…if you plan to basically live in NYC your whole life, learning to drive is prob. not *that* useful…but if you plan to travel and/or live in other parts of the world, it’s a *really* helpful skill to know…

        3. PhilipSugar

          I return your +100

      6. LE

        “kids who grow up hooking up their smartphone to their roku to laptop to their tablet and sharing it all with their friends are just going to learn a bunch of stuff intuitively by doing it.”There is this theory that I have which is that people become incredibly smart atypically when there is some outside big motivation for doing so. And they remain dumb in other areas relative to their age or capabilities. Kinda savant like actually.Anyone who has had children will note how quickly they figure out at a very young age how to control the television by the remote control will understand this phenomena. If the payoff is big enough, people get incredibly smart in order to solve the need that they have or what they want. Their mind manages to work, learn and get the job done.

        1. kidmercury

          i agree with your thesis here. motivation is a huge factor, perhaps the biggest.

        2. falicon

          +100

        3. ShanaC

          Sort of. One of the big issues of my generation and younger is we are less able to take care of ourselves in other ways. Like “sew on a button” sort of ways. We’ve outsourced those skillsets

          1. LE

            My mom can do a complete pattern and make a dress and all of that. She has everything she needs in the basement and has done that since growing up. She started one of my daughters down that path and for a while we thought it might be a career path. Then “poof” daughter lost interest and I haven’t heard anything about this in quite some time.Going by my above theory I would speculate that my daughter is to spoiled and gets all the clothes she wants so she has no pleasure or need to sew them at all.That said buttons and cooking holiday turkeys were much much more important as survival skills in years past. I know Fred has mentioned that Gotham Gal makes a kick ass holiday dinner (as my mom and some aunts do as well along with brisket). But what I’m seeing is that to many people attending, well, they don’t really care or notice that the woman makes that meal vs. buys it at whole foods or the deli. (Which is what my wife does mostly). There is no reinforcement and accolades so it’s probably a dying art.That said if you enjoy something you will still do it even w/o being praised just because it makes you feel good.

          2. ShanaC

            I still think this is somewhat problematic. I can repair a basic seam by myself (but oddly can’t sew on a button well, though I could figure it out. I still would rather go to the tailor. And I can cook (and well), but often eat out

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Or because it serves a larger purpose.I’m a decent cook but I’ve spent little time in the kitchen in recent years other than basic preparation and the occasional special or holiday meal — there are so many options near us for healthy food that is semi- or fully prepared and I am crazy busy. But, for a number of reasons, I’ve spent more time in the kitchen lately — not a lot but enough to notice the significant increase in interaction with my kids that occurs when I’m there. This is enough incentive. I’ve committed to cooking more — even if a couple of times a week.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            This might be an idea for a Skillshare course — basic mending and hemming. I think given the economics and ages of most startup founders, this is not in the skill set and outsourcing is not in the budget.

      7. robertdesideri

        wax on. wax off.creating value is a process.the internets still in early days.like labor, division of intellect evolving.

        1. JLM

          .Having been in business before cell phones, personal computers and the Internet — I think you are perfectly correct.The Internet is still in its early days.Well played..

        2. Donna Brewington White

          The internet is still in early days. What a thought.It feels like space exploration. The possibilities are endless.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            NO, THAT PART ALREADY HAPPEN 30 YEARS AGO.EVERYTHING SINCE MOSTLY COASTING. ‘<

          2. Donna Brewington White

            The possibilities are as endless as space itself, but not necessarily the effort.The internet, though, is a whole different frontier. And accessible to all. Need to keep it that way.

      8. Donna Brewington White

        A couple of years ago when USV was hiring and wanted net natives, I balked at that just a little. But then I watch my kids doing what you describe and now even “getting” the core of what social media is about and I understand.But I also see that the increased specialization creates a greater need for people who can see the big picture of how it all fits together and where it leads, i.e., visionaries, leaders, even managers. The rabbit trails that come with specialization can lead to exploration, discovery, innovation, but can also be counterproductive.

      9. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        “better intuitive understanding of how networking technology works just by using it” this is very true and I see examples of it everyday!

    2. Brandon Burns

      Also, good luck Christina! No knock on you at all. We need all the skill sets, including coding. I wish you well in your next chapter.

      1. Christina Cacioppo

        thanks very much brandon!

    3. Aaron Klein

      I’ll take the other side of that trade.I am not nearly as good as the rest of my team at code. My skill set is a little old and I don’t have time to keep up with the latest and greatest stuff while doing a good job of playing my position.That being said…I am 100x better at my job because I understand software theory, keep small stuff off the plates of my engineers, and regularly commit and push code.Otherwise, it’s like having architects with no concept of how buildings are actually put together.

      1. awaldstein

        yup…My code and sometime expertise is consumer behavior but when the team needs to talk down to me to collaborate on what needs to be built, we all loose.

        1. JamesHRH

          I know some teams that don’t talk up from the code. They build nearly useless stuff.Someone has to Cross the Chasm. That person needs to understand code, not write it.

          1. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Good point. I’ve encountered plenty of great coders who have spawned bloody useless programs/apps. The analyst-programmer seems a thing from the past but it served a useful purpose – may be time to reassess such a role in the contemporary environment. I was a so-so programmer but had to do it as an analyst – which at least meant my code always worked and was fit for purpose.My hands-on coding stopped at Cobol and Unix shell-scripting, thankfully 😉

          2. kidmercury

            #upvoted

          3. Matt A. Myers

            This is referencing the book Crossing the Chasm I imagine? Haven’t read it, but was recommended to me today.

          4. JamesHRH

            Primarily a B2B book, but very good.

        2. Aaron Klein

          Well said.(Disqus is not posting my email replies, so apologies if a dupe shows up later.)

          1. ShanaC

            no worries. send a message to [email protected] if this continues, and tell them I sent you

          2. Donna Brewington White

            When are they going to hire you already?

          3. Matt A. Myers

            Has Disqus hired any females yet? I think I remember reading somewhere once they had 40 employees, all male?

          4. ShanaC

            don’t look at me!

        3. Aaron Klein

          Well said.

      2. JamesHRH

        That is uber specific to your current job.

        1. Aaron Klein

          Über specific to any management job where the output is software…which I’ve heard is a piece of the economy that is growing a tad.(Disqus is not posting my email replies, so apologies if a dupe shows up later.)

          1. JamesHRH

            Even though she is a techie, this is still a great example of why you are wrong on just how specific the need to code is: http://www.ibm.com/ibm/ginni/Right now, an internet startup CEO with your skillset is very valuable. A frozen yogurt startup CEO…… not so much.

          2. awaldstein

            Any startup with a store on Shopify selling anything that can do some basic stuff in Liquid is way better off.

          3. JamesHRH

            I will take your word on it.

        2. Aaron Klein

          Über specific to any management job where the output is software…which I’ve heard is a piece of the economy that is growing a tad.

      3. Brandon Burns

        There’s a difference between having base knowledge of code and being a developer.Anyone who’s ever going to be good at their job needs to understand the other functions that are related to it. Investors need to know what accountants do. Doctors need to know what pharmacists do. Designers need to know what developers do. These are givens.This doesn’t mean that Investors need to learn how to be practicing accountants, or doctors need to be practicing pharmacists, or designers need to be practicing coders.Understanding the functions of the other people who help make the whole machine work is a given. Doing everyone else’s job is not.

        1. Aaron Klein

          Software is a slightly different animal. I’m certainly not arguing that everyone needs to become a master engineer…but there is something about the canvas of software that requires the architect to do some of it to really appreciate and understand how it works and the realm of what is possible.

          1. JamesHRH

            Gag.Sorry Aaron, that’s ridiculous.Did Steve Jobs code?

          2. Pete

            Steve Jobs initially worked on electronic hardware and circuit boards – hard tech at even much lower level than code, and most likely he coded as well, it seems impossible to do that job without a decent understanding of coding.

          3. JamesHRH

            I have read a profile of John Lassiter where he states that Jobs contributed almost nothing to Pixar BoD meetings – he listened and learned. And then had people put that into his OS.There are 0 stories of Steve pulling all nighters b/c he got in the flow & was coding up a storm.Bill Gates talks about working on the mainframe in high school & how exhilarating it was.Famous creators (actors, musicians, athletes, chefs, artists, woodworkers, writers) all talk about those experiences.Not Steve – because he understood the tech and was driven to create elegant product experiences – he talked about that a lot.

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            HIM KNOW ENOUGH TO NOT MAKE BAD DECISION.FOR WEB JOB, THAT BAR SOMEWHERE ABOVE “CAN WRITE CODE.”

          5. Dave Pinsen

            Unless maybe you’re friends with Steve Wozniak and he helps you out.

          6. JamesHRH

            EXACTLY.

          7. Donna Brewington White

            There is a moral to that story.

          8. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            YES, HIM DID.NEXT QUESTION?

        2. kidmercury

          agree 100%…..regardless of what discipline you are in, great managers and visionaries are great because they know how to tie all aspects together……often this just requires working with other professionals — not necessarily learning how to do their job — as well as having a deep understanding of the end user/customer. software is not different and is not special.

          1. Brandon Burns

            yep!

          2. ShanaC

            also they are interested in understanding how others work. There is a difference between knowing and understanding and doing.

        3. FAKE GRIMLOCK

          DOCTOR WITHOUT BASE KNOWLEDGE OF PHARMACY NOT GET LICENSE.INVESTOR WITHOUT BASE KNOWLEDGE OF ACCOUNTING BE BROKE SOON.WEB TECH PERSON WITHOUT BASE KNOWLEDGE OF CODE…

          1. Brandon Burns

            yep. i won’t debate that at all.

          2. JamesHRH

            understanding does not require doing.

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            IF NO CAN DO, NO CAN UNDERSTAND.

        4. Abdallah Al-Hakim

          I completely agree. Getting to know the basics is valuable but is a different story than trying to become an expert.

        5. Josh Lin

          I agree with Brandon – as an IT consultant with a business degree, I see the value in understanding coding and web development foundations so that we can better ‘design’ against constraints and communicate a vision to be translated into a product. But I certainly don’t think it’s worth dedicating the amount of time required to truly execute all the facets of web and app development.

      4. Nick Grossman

        Agree — my view on what Christina is doing is not that she “wants to be a developer — forever” but that she feels like she needs a deeper understanding of what it feels like to live inside of software for a while, and build applications.I’m in a similar position, as a self-taught programmer working within the industry, but not as a developer, and I feel like my experience hacking has definitely improved other aspects of my work.

        1. Christina Cacioppo

          yep, that’s the idea. i think i’d have a hard time taking myself seriously if i worked in tech without understanding technology, and so i’m working to change *that.*

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            THIS CORE OF ISSUE.LOTS OF PEOPLE REALIZING NO ONE TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY, INCLUDING SELVES.CORRECT SOLUTION IS FIX LIKE YOU, INSTEAD OF DENY AND HIDE.

          2. anne weiler

            If you love coding and want to become a developer great, but with your background you might be even more valuable on the business side understanding what is and isn’t possible. Product management is a great bridging of the two sides.

        2. Tyson Kubota

          Yes, me too. I primarily work on product strategy and user experience.It’s clear that the most important contributions to the internet in years to come will be made by those with a versatile understanding of technology. I believe that understanding needs to occur at a fundamental level, not just a top-down perspective, to be truly helpful.Lots of other media industries—film, music, newspapers—have been transformed by the plummeting costs of entry enabled by technological advances. I hope [open, online] software will be the same!

      5. ShanaC

        Also true. But this also means you have a foundation of “classic liberal education” You know the difference.We’re veering into overspecialization. “learning to code” after a certain point is “overspecialization” if that is not what you want to be doing

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

          JUST LIKE THAT DUMB “LEARN TO READ” STUFF NO ONE USE.

          1. ShanaC

            I was having a discussion with someone yesterday about why learning to draw nudes was among the most useful skill I learned in college.At what point is knowing more that a for loop beyond the modern sense of a liberal education?

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            IF UNDERSTAND X DIFFERENCE = MAKE BETTER DECISIONS, THEN IT MATTER.ESPECIALLY WHEN MAKE BETTER DECISIONS THAN COMPETITION.

    4. falicon

      I liken it more to the written word…at first it was only a small collection of people who could read and write (and they basically held all the power)…it wasn’t until (basically) everyone could read/write that society became truly open, global, and (fairly) equal opportunity…so my thesis is until everyone knows how to code at least a little, the digital world will not truly be open, global, and (fairly) equal opportunity…Side note – I owe you an email…will get it out today (sorry for the delay).

      1. JamesHRH

        The theme is bang on, the level of application is not.If I could read & write Python but not English or any other human language, how would that work for me?People did not need to know how to run printing presses & book binders to benefit from the written word.

        1. falicon

          I think a human language is a base requirement to learning to code…but picking your given base human language (ie. French, English, Spanish, etc.) is a personal/situational choice…as is picking your religion or your programming language…I think understanding the basic grammer and the general concepts of communication though is pretty important.

          1. JamesHRH

            You are running the total tech personal trinity:spoken language, coding language, coping language.

          2. falicon

            One of those days I guess…got me in my ‘coders rule’ modes I guess 😉 Seriously though – you mentioned you don’t code, but the reality is that you do *understand* a lot about coding and the internet…and that is why you are effective/good at what you do…getting your level of understanding is all I’m saying people should be striving for (going beyond is just bonus points in my book)…

          3. ObjectMethodology.com

            “…general concepts of communication …”.That’s what it’s about. Communicating with the computer. Coding is only one (and a poor one at that) way to communicate with a computer. I generate code all the time from drawings (diagrams)..The important point for people to realize is coding is the labor of the computer industry. Just like someone who uses a hammer is the labor of the consturction industry. But the person who designs is an architect the “executive” of the construction industry..The architect gets his/her name in the paper and they get awards and big bonuses. The person who uses a hammer gets a broken back and is forgotten..There are always people who can use a hammer and a t-square. But, when the customer writes the check who’s name is on it?

      2. Brandon Burns

        fair.and, yes, email. 🙂

    5. bernardlunn

      I agree. Steve Jobs was not a coder. His first love was calligraphy. Understanding how code is written is essential. But that does not mean you need to code

    6. ShanaC

      actually, no you don’t. I think we need to do some rethinking about “what is technical” and “what do I need to know”I’m starting to feel old on the web – and the way I know is when I see engineers build not useful things because they are missing out on a “need to know”

    7. FAKE GRIMLOCK

      “LEARN HOW TO CODE” DIFFERENT FROM “BECOME GREAT AT CODE”.FIRST GOOD IDEA FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED IN ANY WAY WITH WEB TECHNOLOGY.SECOND NOT GOING TO HAPPEN FOR MOST OF THEM.

    8. William Mougayar

      You are wrong.What Christina is doing is almost like a “rite of passage” into the tech startup world.When I was at HP in the field organization, being in sales was the rite of passage. If you weren’t in sales or done sales, you didn’t have as much credibility. So I got in sales after 4 years of pre-sales.

    9. wiwa

      An architect who has never laid a brick will design a pretty shitty building… Actually most of those architects will only produce vaporware buildings…

    10. Elie Seidman

      Borrowing from your physical building analogy, in today’s buildings, the mechanical and structural engineers, while important, are deeply secondary to the interior designers and architects who decide how the place looks and feels. Once you get past the challenge of keeping the building up, the human interaction aspects become the dominant aspect of developing a good product. I’ve met great engineers who are great at product design and great engineers who are not. Similarly, I know people who are great at product design who can’t code worth a damn.

  16. Tom Labus

    Has anybody comeback for a second go round after a hiatus?

    1. fredwilson

      not yet

  17. Richard

    Technology is a for a Sliperly slope for a newby. Coding is just the first step (its just a language), the philology is comp  sci,  the logic is statistics, the strategy is machine learning and the true intellect is the mathematics. 

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      yeah. there’s so much there, but i think that’s what makes it so exciting, especially to a newbie!

      1. Richard

        Yes, it is amazing an amazing climb. The tug of war between $ and knowledge makes it that much tougher.

      2. jason wright

        so after you’v departed will you be coming here more often?

    2. falicon

      Like anything though – with dedication, practice, and time…it will come.

      1. LE

        ” with dedication, practice, and time…it will come.”Not sure I agree with you on that! Some people don’t have the memory and aptitude for certain professions no matter the drive ambition or wanting to succeed. Think of a similar things in sports where it would become apparent that you need certain physical attributes to be good. Or in music or other creative pursuits.I run into (as I’m sure you do) people who are highly intelligent in other areas, really smart, degrees, innate intelligence, memory, flotsam and jetsam etc. And they just simply don’t get computers it doesn’t click with them.That said probably almost anyone can learn to play in the band at the Bar Mitzvah (so if you are saying that I agree). But even you would agree that not everyone can sing in the band.

        1. falicon

          Your last paragraph is what I’m saying…anyone can do it, not everyone will be (or needs to be) great at it.It’s a personal challenge and personal development and that’s always a good thing in my book…

    3. fredwilson

      yessssssss

    4. ShanaC

      I would say the philosophy is mathematics.

  18. Denim

    ‘The Story of the internet is the story of our time’ Love that line!

  19. Chris O'Donnell

    //Marc Andreessen says you either will be the person who tells the computer what to do or the person that the computer tells what to do//That is such an important point. My son is a history major at a Liberal Arts school, yet he is taking a Python class this semester. His sister is learning python on her own, even though she plans to study Equine Science. Being able to tell the computer what to do is going to make you more productive no matter what your actual job is.

    1. JamesHRH

      What’s more important, knowing the potential impacts & treatments of & for the heat in a horse’s foreleg, or knowing how to code the tech that can pinpoint where the heat is coming from?Not buying Chris.Coding is what everyone says to do, but you don’t have to. Being aware of the tech that is out there, how it works and what it can do for you is what you really need.

      1. Chris O'Donnell

        She may never write a line of code in her professional life, or she may write the code for the world’s first equine tricorder. She is 17, there is no telling where she may go in life. I’d be failing as a parent if I encouraged her to essentially eliminate a whole bunch of possibilities in life because of the misguided perception that understanding programming won’t be important to her career field.

        1. JamesHRH

          Totally agree with all of that (10 yo daughter myself).But if she is taking the course because she thinks she has to, I just don’t think that is true.Dying to try the equine tricorder. Does she have plans for a canine version (no horses in our lives right now)?;-)

        2. ShanaC

          is it programming or being technical?

          1. Chris O'Donnell

            Both? I think if our lives are going to revolve around software, and more and more it does, then we should all have some idea of what software actually is under the covers.

          2. ShanaC

            learning basic programming != knowing how illustrator makes bezier curves appear on screen(for those curious: http://en.wikipedia.org/wik… which is how vector images do curves)

      2. kidmercury

        enjoying your comments in this thread james. i agree 100%. i would even go so far as to say from a purely income standpoint, coding is overvalued. ironically a lot of that stuff is increasingly automated…..

        1. JamesHRH

          Thanks kid. Raining in ChicagoLand today?

          1. kidmercury

            yesterday and today! beats the 0 degree weather we had earlier in the week though…..

      3. LE

        I’m always amazed at the amount of people who have no inherent basis for wanting to learn something and then do it because of something they read or they are told.People who like something inherently gravitate toward it automatically w/o regards to popularity. I don’t consider myself a programmer (although I can do many things and I did setup and network a complete multi user unix system back in the early 80’s from only the manual that came with it and one book – “no internet” as Albert Wenger would say) but I don’t consider myself a “computer guy”. I can do just about anything with a computer, and I immediately liked programming and the challenge of figuring things out back when it was ascii terminal and teletype. Learning something is effortless when you like it. Doesn’t mean you will be good of course.In other words to me there is a difference to someone who ends up as a Vet because they have always loved animals and someone who decides to become a vet because it is a well paying career or a doctor, lawyer or whatever. Or someone who plays guitar because they like to make music vs. want to get girls (I always wish I could have learned but didn’t have the aptitude for that. I could have been the manager though. I could have gotten Charlie Chrystle his record deal.).What you find is that people who inherently like something are always into and involved in learning more of it. The others tend to do the minimal amount of work to just get by. [1] Doesn’t mean they won’t be successful (and sometimes they can be more “successful” then the people who are more purists ironically, a separate point of discussion sometimes that relates to how they are willing to accept lesser quality because they don’t know any better.).[1] You can always tell these people when you ask them questions. I had a handyman come to my house and asked him a question about something and he had a full compete answer on how he would approach the repair even though he had never done the particular fix before. He’s into what he does. On the other hand I can visit my doctor and ask a question and he will scratch his head and have no curiosity as to something that he is not currently considering or wasn’t taught. He probably does the minimal amount of work required in CME’s and journal reading to keep up his license. He’s not hanging out at AVC or Hackernews equivalents in the medical community constantly amazed and learning all he can, guaranteed. [2][2] I once dated a woman who had a son who had some really weird psychological problems. The local PHd.’s (several) were clueless on things. I finally got her to bring him to Univ. of Penn. and located some academic psychologist there to handle treatment and I also attended the meetings (I’m always curious about this stuff I’m not normally so generous with my time like that). It was very clear from the first meeting that this researcher was totally into solving hard problems and found this kid’s problems interesting and fun to take on. It was a big leap forward in treatment. A world above the local “phone it in” therapists.

  20. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I think if a person has any inkling at all to learn to code, she should do it. For the foreseeable future, coding is the key to kingdom (be it front end or back end coding).PS – RIP Jody Sherman.

    1. ShanaC

      who is Jody Sherman?

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Long-time west coast entrepreneur and all around amazing generous guy. Founder of ecomom. Investor in my first company back in 2000. I think his picture is in the dictionary under “hustle.” Thank you for asking 🙂

  21. JamesHRH

    Christina is crackerjack smart. More importantly, she appears to have the wisdom (early in life) to know that she should follow her instincts on these choices, especially as a 20-something.Nice.You can also be the person who tells someone else what the computer should do.

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      thanks james

  22. MartinEdic

    I’m a non-coder by choice. But after dealing with inept web developers over and over (mostly incompetent personalities, not their skills) I taught myself to hack WordPress every which way and find I can do nearly everything I need to web-wise. I think the advent of this kind of thing for the app world is on the horizon and I welcome it. I am a writer and professional communicator and I’d strongly argue that coders need these skills more than their coding skills- all UI and functionality comes down to communication first.

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      i’ve more opinions about “learning to code”, but a main one is that the tools feel rudimentary and obtuse,* often, and i think that keeps people away. i hope someone works on this problem. (installing any sort of software is still one of my least favorite things, even though i’m slightly better at it now.)* and then, as i complained about this to albert wenger, one of USV’s partners, he mentioned how much harder it was trying to learn any of this before the internet, or before google, and i was pretty humbled.

  23. reece

    psyched for you, Christina!as an aside, i don’t think one must write code to “be the person who tells the computer what to do”

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      thanks reece!

      1. John Revay

        Great luck to you – it sounds like you had a wonderful run at USV.

        1. Christina Cacioppo

          thanks john!

    2. falicon

      It’s getting to be less so…but it also depends on what you want to tell the computer to do…if it’s something new and unique, code is still the only way to really get it done.A.I. will eventually get to a level that completely changes the concept of ‘computer programming’…but it’s still a long way off IMHO…

    3. John Revay

      i don’t think one must write code to “be the person who tells the computer what to do”Very much agree – I am more productive and more suited to be the product/mgr/person.

  24. benortega

    Coding is so brutally important these days. I encourage my kids (boy & 2 girls) to learn coding. We’ve done this with the Lego NXT, Scratch, and even Android AppInventor (scratch derivative). They don’t use any of them actively anymore but exposure to the backend systems of our soon to be world is being exposed to them, and as they move through life, some level of coding appreciation has been injected into them.That’s the Fatherly thing to do.

    1. fredwilson

      you are a smart parent

  25. markslater

    I am interested to know from folks what the simpliest most effective way to learn to code is?I know there have been a flurry of startups attacking this but i have not kept track of them.

    1. falicon

      In my opinion…the easiest way is to pick a real project…and then pick a language/technology you want to learn…having a real project, with real problems that you need solutions to tends to help keep your motivation up and builds your working experience (so retention from actually feeling the pain of your mistakes also tends to be higher)…there’s also a big confidence boost in getting something real to actually work and have people start to use it (and that helps with the long term retention too)…

      1. FlavioGomes

        Great advice

  26. Guest

    I think its a natural evolution. Our parent’s couldn’t operate computers but we grew up operating them. Now we are in a phase shift were telling them what to do is no longer what the elites(nerds) do but eventually everyone should be able to do it.It correlates with the larger economic shift were we went from agriculture to manufacturing and now to high-tech. We can’t complain about slow-skilled manufacturing moving to developing countries anymore than we can complain about the lack of farm jobs. I guess this is the 21st century economy Obama talks about.

  27. Maui Nokaoi

    Nike+ is looking for 3rd party talent, interested? DM @extremezealand

  28. Dasher

    Congrats Christina! Wish you all the best. It is great to see someone pushing themselves out of the comfort zone.

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      thank you!

  29. kirklove

    Congrats Christina. I remember Fred telling me about this a while back and reaching out to you to say congrats. Not sure if I had the right email and it ever got to you. So congrats again, it’s a badass move. You’ve always impressed me and continue to do so. You’re going to kill it. Dig the idea as well. Buena suerte!

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      oh no – i’m sorry i missed that! just sent over an email (to your ex.fm address) but really: thank you, very much, for the kind words! it’s been really, really fun so far. 🙂

      1. kirklove

        Double miss! I’m not at exfm any more (fyi that email is dead). Decided to pursue my own thing like yourself. Just starting as well. Would love to grab coffee again some time if you’re up for it.

        1. falicon

          dealing with dead email addresses and disconnects…that can be the next startup you both collaborate on (after your current new ones have wildly successful exits of course) 🙂

          1. kirklove

            Got to be a service for that already, no? Frankly though I’m fine with emails I don’t use dying. RIP.

          2. fredwilson

            that was the initial business plan of Return Path. i funded it in 2000. they couldn’t make business out of it. they pivoted and have built a great business. but it is not the one they started with.

  30. leigh

    What an amazing reason to leave her job. I”m sure we’ll see whatever she builds on this blog one day soon 🙂

    1. Christina Cacioppo

      thanks leigh!

  31. FlavioGomes

    I like telling coders what to do 😉

  32. JLM

    .I have two theories of life that I have developed.One is the “D Theory of Life” — which stands for the proposition that when your ass is really in a crack, the first person you contact for help will have made a “D” in that subject. Get a second opinion. Get an expert.Find someone who made an “A” in that course — better yet, find the guy teaching the course.The other is the “360 Degree Businessman” — which stands for the proposition that to be really successful in business, one has to become quite expert on a number of different things.This discussion as to the efficacy of knowing how to do a bit of code like the secret handshake for Skull & Bones (don’t even ask me about the secrets of the Society of Cincinnatus) is one part of that theory.I subscribe to it completely — and why the Hell not, I invented it.To be successful in business today one is going to have to be able to speak like a native in the following languages — leadership, management, organizational theory, technology, law, litigation (different from general business law), legislation, lobbying, finance, marketing, customer awareness, regulation, human relations, team building and on and on and on.I wanted to make a change to the laws of a particular highly regulated industry in a particular state. I was told I was nuts as I could see folks peering under my hair line looking for the lobotome scars.I engaged. I learned the legislative process. I hired an attorney to write the law. I rewrote some portions of it myself. I formed an industry group. I hired lobbyists. I lobbied personally. I found a sponsor.I got the law changed.But only after understanding the process and getting personally involved and calling directly on legislators to see what I was up against.This is the real lesson of this discussion. Master stuff that will allow you to influence big outcomes in meaningful ways.Engage, God damn it, Maverick.Be. Afraid. Of. Nothing.JLM.

    1. falicon

      Love it and also am trying to live it.As a tangent, anyone that is a fan of MMA and has watched the sport and the athletes evolve can see this approach in action…everyone that is *great* now is a true hybrid of styles and skills…they all have a ‘core’, but they also all have a deep understanding and appreciation for many other approaches, ideas, and concepts…and they are always learning and evolving (or else they are always getting knocked/tapped out)…

    2. ShanaC

      engage sounds like “always be learning” If you aren’t learning, what then?

      1. FlavioGomes

        I suppose applying….

    3. William Mougayar

      It doesn’t take much to get your writing juices going3 words Just Do It 🙂

    4. fredwilson

      classic

  33. meredith collins

    I am new to the tech start-up world, but I love discovering that I’ve been saying the same thing as Marc Andreessen for many years!

  34. anne weiler

    What concerns me about all of this “write code” is that we’re going to get a whole lot more people who write bad code. Learning to write code so you have some idea of how “it just works” is great, but recognize that building good software is an art, and coding is one part of that. My background is product management. I’ve learned enough basic coding to know I would be a lousy programmer. The skills are invaluable for teamwork in a tech company though.

    1. fredwilson

      there are a lot of people who speak french badly. i am one of them. i don’t think that is a bad thing. at least i can figure out where i am when i am lost in Paris.

      1. anne weiler

        Right, and you’re not going to become a french teacher.

  35. LE

    By the way a really good skill to have, if you use a Mac (I will assume if you use linux you have this skill) is to learn some basic shell scripting. Not that difficult and with a little knowledge you can automate things and will have a very useful tool. In fact if you are only able to devote a nominal amount of time to learning, this is what you should do in my opinion (as always).There are many pages and tutorials on this, here is one of them from Apple:https://developer.apple.com…Here’s an example of a short script (for illustration purposes) that if run at the Mac command line (open terminal) it will tell you any domain that starts with the letters a-d, has the middle letters “avc” and ends in letters a-d and whether it is registered or available.for i in {a..d}do for y in {a..d} do DOMAIN=${i}avc${y}.com whois ${DOMAIN} | egrep “No match for|Domain Name: ” donedone

    1. ShanaC

      but this is basically coding.

      1. LE

        I guess I differentiate what Fred referred to as “leave a cushy job and take up the difficult task of teaching herself to code and building something publicly” particularly “building something” (even if not public) and doing short scripts that do stuff (not that they can’t be assembled into something useful I built an entire estimating system many years ago with v1 of a unix shell, awk and sed.)

      2. Cam MacRae

        no basically about it — it is coding.

  36. LaVonne Reimer

    Those of us on the west coast are finally awake! I read all through the comments and thought all in all a fantastic discussion. I don’t code but I get systems. I supplement that by being an eager student of my developers and only launch companies where I totally get the transactions or processes being served by the code. That’s an imperfect approach because I really wish I had spent some of my ES writing time learning to code instead but recently I was asked to mentor a CEO of a software company in my spare time. His attitude was just know how to manage temperamental programmers. 2.5 years in and he still couldn’t talk the basics of software architecture. It’s a disaster. His CTO won’t talk product with him and he thinks the CTO is at fault. So I have a hard and fast rule now. You may not be able to write a line of code but you damned well better get software. Truly there is no excuse.

  37. BillMcNeely

    The talent that keeps coming into USV is remarkable. USV’s newest GM Brittany Laughlin is accomplished. She is a Co-Founder of Gtrot and more recently the Founder of Incline ( http://inclinehq.com ) a firm that trains military veterans in the art of coding jujitsu.Here is Brittany’s blog http://www.brittanymlaughli…and here is a talk Ms. Laughlin gave http://www.youtube.com/watc

  38. ShanaC

    You know, I learned the elements of coding. I suppose I should build out a simple web server based thing.I found it helpful for aspects about the things I do for pay. That being said, I’m not sure if it was “resolving curiosity” or “technical base” that made it easier.I think there is something more to becoming more technical. But I am not sure if it is “learn to code” or something else about the process

    1. Cam MacRae

      Somewhat unfortunate that this has been a very net-centric discussion, at least in part because we’re having it here. If building a simple web server based thing is of interest, go for it. But you might get more value and enjoyment from using ggplot2 to communicate something about one of your interesting datasets, or automating some bit-swizzling, data-munging task you find yourself repeating etc., etc.

      1. ShanaC

        Actually, I’m slowly plodding my way through Udacity’s course on statistics (which includes sections on NumPY/SciPY) I prefer Processing for complicated visualizations.And probably in another year or two I’ll learn R. I have other worries first 🙂

        1. Cam MacRae

          Perfect. As you were.

  39. IdeaBling

    this is a great comment trail…. i applaud the code vs not pov’s. from my experience leading teams, rather than hand them the tool for the job (in this case learn to code), i prefer to tell them the “what” that’s needed & let their creativity figure out the “how”. for the sake of this dialog, that means i wouldn’t necessarily think the first choice should be coding. it could be. yet maybe not. and what is the next “code”? or better yet, what are the next complementing aspects that together deliver the tangible?

  40. LE

    “We have a two year rotation program at USV for most of our non partner positions.”I think this is so great but not in the way others will see it.I translate this to “deliver more than you promise, and set expectations upfront”.So when you hire people they are expected to leave (“DOR (drop on request)). [1] But hey, if they are special you work something out. That is so much different then “umm you’re deadwood get the f*** out”. This falls into the category of “things out of my control” a cousin of “I’m not the only decision maker”. Person leaves with their pride intact. They can tell their peer group “it was only meant to be two years it was planned” (This is really important btw.)And since there is a constant flow, and most people don’t make the cut, nobody figures it out or has their feelings hurted (sic).[1] DOR from “Office and a Gentleman”:http://www.youtube.com/watc

  41. Luke Chamberlin

    Ah the old learn to code vs. not learn to code debate. I’m going to stick with Fred’s title: Just Do It.

  42. Alex Bea

    How do I apply for the rotation program?

    1. fredwilson

      we open it up every two years and announce it on our blog. we will open it up again in 18 months. follow usv.com and you will see the notice next time.

  43. FlavioGomes

    Side note…Andreessen’s view of the future seems pretty narrow.Some great comments on the subject. From my view, knowing how to code gives you street cred. As a product manager, visionary c suite, whatever…having the coding background enables you to better assess economic elements of the build process. I think the biggest asset to knowing how to code is it trains your brain to think logically. However, having to know how to code in order to have a successful and rewarding job in the software tech industry is nonsense. The syntax is irrelevant for most, increasingly becoming a commoditized skill and various developer frameworks and tools change all the time. Still nothing wrong with adding another skill to your list….just make sure that your learning priorities are aligned with your weaknesses.I wish great coders would take elements of the Just do it advice and learn how to communicate better.

  44. 4thaugust1932

    “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” –Oscar

  45. Guest

    Congrats Christina! I applaud anyone who is willing to leave a position at a top VC firm to pursue their dreams/passion.I would be willing to bet that 98% of the folks on the buy side or on Wall Street wouldn’t have the guts to do what you’re doing. Good luck on your new journey!For the folks criticizing, “Can She Live?” http://grooveshark.com/s/Ca

  46. evanmrose

    This is great. This is the exact reason I taught myself to code during nights while I was working at a hedge fund right out of college. I just felt that I wanted to do something tangible that others would be able to interact with, get use out of and hopefully, enjoy.It’s important to note that the way I learned to code wasn’t “I have to build a masterpiece of code that rivals the best developers of our time.” It was more “Throw some duct tape on there and pray this $*)# works.” Each small project built on the last and with time I got better and my knowledge of common structures grew.The reality is that coding is only one possible solution to the problem you’re trying to solve with your business/project. “Everyone Should Code” should really be “Everyone Find and Solve Problems and If Code Solves It Then…cool.” Often it’s the most scalable solution and offers you the ability to mass distribute, quickly.That said, I know for me that coding was an incredibly successful investment of my time. It changed my life. Coming off of a Social Anthropology degree, coding brought a degree of analytical rigor into my thinking and a completely different ‘lens’ to view the world with. No matter that my first venture didn’t turn out to be the success that I had hoped. It put me in a better position to identify opportunities and most importantly capitalize because I can actually build products myself without having to “find technical help” to take the early steps to validate an idea. I was lucky enough to be featured in a recent NY Times article which shares a bit of my story (http://dealbook.nytimes.com….I don’t think there should be a blanket suggestion for everyone to learn to code. But for the tinkerers, the people who look at the world and see not problems and annoyances but opportunities for something better to be built…learn to code. It is the best way to make an outsize impact on the world without having massive resources at your disposal.Good Luck Christina!If Disqus eats this comment again, I’m going to go ballistic

  47. derekchen14

    I recently left my job to learn to code as well, which I wrote on my blog (http://productivityanywhere…. The unknown future truly has the feeling of a double edged sword.