Some New Features on

I am taking a break from video of the week this weekend to talk about the work of Kevin Marshall and Nick Grossman on After the USV team built and launched, Nick and Kevin did a rewrite of the core web app and then open sourced it. Since then, they and others have been iterating on the open source code base and they have implemented a bunch of new features which launched yesterday. Many of these features are ones that I have been begging for and ones that members of the AVC community have been asking for. Kevin lays out a list of the big ones in a blog post he wrote this morning.

First of all, we believe we have gotten integration between's profiles (based on Twitter auth) and Disqus working. If that turns out to be true, then I owe Kevin and Nick a dinner at any restaurant of their choice in NYC. And I will be glad to pay that debt because this has been a nagging issue for the new since we launched it.

Beyond that, here are a few features I am excited about. Tag cloud

Usv tag cloud

This shows the topics that the USV community is talking about most. Since #startups and #startup are the same thing, that would jump to #2, and since #vc and #venturecapital are the same thing, that would jump to #3. A feature request would be to map some frequently used tags together that mean the same thing so that this tag cloud could become even more valuable.

User Profiles:

Fred's profile on usv

This shows the tag cloud of what I have been posting about, my posts, and there are tabs to see the posts I have bumped, and some other things. This is the beginning of a reputation system at You can see yours by clicking on your twitter handle when you are logged in at the upper right of the main page.

Showing Bumpers:

I can't figure out how to screencapture this feature, but when you hover over the votes link on a post, you can see everyone who has bumped it. This works pretty much like the same feature on Disqus.

There are a bunch more features that I am happy to have and Kevin outlines all of them in his post. I would like to thank Kevin and Nick for all the work they have been doing on It has been getting better and better and this recent push takes it to a new level. If you haven't been there lately, I would suggest you go check it out.

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech#Weblogs

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Integration with Disqus seems to be working. Big thank you!

    1. fredwilson

      it was killing me more than you Arnold!

      1. LE

        It’s great that they added the ability to use disqus comments but still need a way to post stories w/o twitter or upvote w/o twitter.

        1. fredwilson

          That is a feature not a bug. We own a lot of shares of twitter 🙂

          1. LE

            But “ye” also owns part of disqus.And dammit the red headed step child needs more attention than the older more advanced and successful sibling.

  2. LE

    then I owe Kevin and Nick a dinner at any restaurant of their choice in NYC.Kevin and Nick make sure it’s a restaurant located in an area where your conversations won’t be interrupted by people who know Fred. Or the wait staff wanting to know how the food is or whether you want ground pepper. Nothing more annoying that wanting to discuss business or anything and being interrupted.

    1. Nick Grossman

      I’m open to recommendations….(Between us and the internet, the Disqus issues are not 100% solved but we are close….)

      1. awaldstein

        Depends whether you choose food to go with the wine or the other way around.I’m in the first camp all the way and always chose the wine list and sommelier first.

        1. LE

          For my first date with my new wife I asked someone for suggestions on where to dine since I didn’t know the area. The suggestions were dead on and the rest is history. We’re married now. Only problem was the lighting (which I thought was to bright) and since I was much older I was concerned that the shadows would make me look to old (I worry about details like that).So I vote for you to create an “Arnolds Guide” to basically feature restaurants by “wine list and sommelier first”. That meet with your approval. Think of it as Tim and Nina meet Gary. Or something like that.

        2. Nick Grossman

          I like that line of thinking

      2. kenberger

        give Fred a break and don’t say “Per Se”.(inside joke that Fred will get)

        1. LE

          While I’m on this topic the other factor would be time it takes for a meal. You want something that allows for a long leisurely meal with little visual distractions.

        2. fredwilson

          I am game. That’s how happy I am

          1. ShanaC

            I’d bet kevin would want the best burger in the world….but ask him first 🙂

  3. JimHirshfield

    Exciting developments. Great to see the Disqus API leveraged. And I’m finding so many gems among the postings at Love it.

    1. Nick Grossman

      Thanks.there’s is a lot more we can and will do with the Disqus api

      1. JimHirshfield

        Can’t wait to see.

  4. LE

    Issue is that not everyone wants to tie their possibly more public twitter handle (with short posts which say very little) to something which involves longer form commenting that they might not want to be as public. The ability to be semi anonymous is important. You know privacy. Of course you can setup another twitter handle but why should you have to?

    1. Dale Allyn

      I don’t use any service, community or commenting system that requires login via another service such as Twitter, Google, FB. An exception, of course, is a service which specifically curates content at my choosing, e.g. from my Twitter feed.IMHO there should always be an option for direct/dedicated registration on any service.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Why is this, Dale? Personally I will rarely sign into anything that requires using FB as the source.

        1. Dale Allyn

          Hi Donna. I’m passionate about security and separation of credentials. I also feel strongly about privacy as a personal choice and don’t wish to mix credentials across services. I know many people who feel the same way and do not participate where such “co-mingling” of services and login credentials is required.It’s important to provide the options so that potential participants are not excluded without our (service provider’s) understanding. Why exclude if there is not a need by virtue of the service provided to combine?

          1. LE

            Why exclude if there is not a need by virtue of the service provided to combine?To which I would add that Fred’s reason for wanting twitter (per his comment elsewhere “we own it”) is totally not more important than the success of a nascent community which needs adoption by as many people as possible to gain lift as quickly as possible.

          2. falicon

            If it were being approached as a business I would agree. However, this entire project is more akin to a non-profit where the intent is around the ‘good of the internet’ more so than becoming a top internet destination.Piggybacking off of Twitter and Disqus also made the initial codebase much smaller, easier to manage, and lowered the barrier to gaining adoption from the general public…it may not be the long term/final solution, but I think it makes sense to help get out of the gates (besides being USV portfolio companies I think about it much like how StockTwits got started).

          3. LE

            and lowered the barrier to gaining adoption from the general publicAh the MVP.this entire project is more akin to a non-profit where the intent is around the ‘good of the internet’ more so than becoming a top internet destination.I was under the impression, for no other reason than it’s the way I think (don’t know if Fred said this or not or even agrees), that the idea is to increase deal flow and influence much in the same way HN does for YC or AVC does for Fred.As such while it is definitely not the idea to create a destination (which would retard deal flow in practice – to much noise..) it still needs to be viable enough to achieve that goal.In any case I would be really surprised if the number one goal (as opposed to just “a goal”) was ‘the good of the internet'”I mean I like to help people but it’s not my number one goal. My number one goal is to make money.

          4. Dave Pinsen

            When I saw Fred mention the free dinner in your future, I was about to post that it looked like you were heading for two free dinners (albeit, one a lot fancier than the other), given the Giants’ record this year. But then I checked the Falcons’ record for the first time this season, so I guess the buyer of our next dinner is still up in the air.

          5. falicon

            When we fail – we fail in spectacular fashion 😉

          6. Donna Brewington White

            Thanks, Dale. Makes sense.There are things I have not signed up for based on login requirements. Sometmes I like having a third party option, other times I don’t. I wonder if other users are this fickle.What I DON’T like is when I sign in with a third-party app and then the site still requires me to provide my email address. Why not just start there!

        2. Matt A. Myers

          I don’t trust FB with what they’d potentially do with or without asking me first – so that’s why I don’t sign into anything with it.

          1. laurie kalmanson

            keyword: trust

        3. laurie kalmanson

          related: looking forward to the next platform for promo/invites/events that replaces fb for signing upeventbrite is great/smooth for tickets/dates; looking for something that also hosts contenti really really don’t like having to go to a fb page for an event

      2. Nick Grossman

        Yeah I understand that. I appreciate the value of anonymity and pseudonymity In online discourse. We also wanted to ground the discussion in twitter identity because many folks in this community have a lot invested in their twitter identities and we want to build on that. And twitter itself supports anonymity and pseudonymity. All that said im still not 100%tied to the decision.

        1. Dale Allyn

          I’m just a fan of options at login/registration (within reason). I’m not against providing Twitter login as an option, just don’t care for it as the only approach. You can’t please everyone, but a couple manageable options is considerate of user preferences.

        2. Dave Pinsen

          Grounding discussion in Twitter IDs makes a lot of sense. When Fred first started linking individual’s names to their Twitter IDs in his blog posts it seemed sort of forced to me, but now it seems more appropriate than linking to their blogs because there’s generally a larger volume of commentary coming from their Twitter accounts. And, presumably, the greater volume of content you have to work with, the more accurate your algos can be.

        3. awaldstein

          “…you can never please all of the people all of the time”Twitter handles are a smart choice for the world I live in.Simply a matter of who you want your community to be. It can never be everyone.

        4. Donna Brewington White

          I think that Twitter is an excellent choice, for the reasons you stated. For some of us, Twitter is where the different aspects of our online persona all come together. But more importantly, the USV site is consistent with the use of Twitter by most people. It really should not be an issue.I get what Dale is saying but I am not sure this applies as much to something that is really a public platform in every sense.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      I don’t understand why someone’s USV posts and recommendations would need to be be separated from a Twitter identity.

      1. LE

        Kind of falls into the same category of why politicians can’t really say what they really think. They have to be careful of not stepping on any toes. Offending people.Truth is if someone makes a post about something (or even mentions something that someone says) people tend to infer the worst bias and tar and feather them. Just for pointing something out.So for example if I posted an anti Mandela story (not that it is appropriate for but I’m trying to make a point) people might infer that I agree with it (which I might) and then think I have a axe to grind. And if I do it repeatedly they will almost certainly think that is the case. Further by just posting a link you can’t even clarify about it (w/o commenting) but who needs all that work? Maybe just better to avoid hate and controversy.You are very open because you post both your picture and your name. Others are not. I mean if you want you can find out who many of us are quite easily but that “lock” on the door is enough to stop 98% of the people.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          What are your thoughts on being accountable for your actions? Which includes messaging and words you put out into the world, or a story you share – regardless if there’s a context against, for, or none.Is it better to allow everyone to be secretive or better for everyone to be transparent?

          1. LE

            In what context exactly?Making comments is optional. It’s not anyone’s job.I’d rather hear what someone has to say than have them restrict what they say for fear of losing their job, business or creating other problems for themselves. As long that is, as they take the time to say it in an intelligent way. And are willing to answer any questions or clarify. (That’s less important and optional but nice.)One of the things that I always wonder about is the fact that we are supposed to have freedom of speech but we don’t have freedom of speech. People will jump all over you and make assumptions about what they say w/o knowing why you said it or even if it’s what you really mean. Maybe they have poor comprehension or just like to act impulsively.I hate having to walk on eggshells. Not that I don’t do it if I need to.

        2. Dave Pinsen

          I think most people understand that RTs aren’t necessarily endorsements. But I think that the more you use Twitter, the more your tweets, collectively, say about your views, so it makes sense for Nick and Kevin to ground things in Twitter IDs. For example, consider the variety of my tweets related to Mandela:Responding to someone using Mandela’s death to slam Reagan for opposing sanctions:…RTing a humorous (yet inoffensive, IMO) tweet:…RTing a metacomment about people tweeting Mandela encomiums:…MTing a post that balanced a sober assessment of post-Mandela SA with an appreciation of Mandela’s achievements:…MTing a post about Mandela’s views on immigration:…RTing a pithy summary of Mandela’s achievements as an African George Washington:…Individually, it wouldn’t be fair to judge my views based on one of those tweets, but collectively, they probably give a fair sense of where I’m coming from.

          1. LE

            Ok so in one paragraph if you care to take the time can you summarize your views on Mandela?My view is that I don’t know enough about this to form a good opinion. But it always annoys me when people are put on a pedestal and lionized. And when we are told by the media that we should care about something or someone.Noting one thing that I saw the other night on Nightly News. If correct, that country, post Mandela, still has huge issues to overcome.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            It will take a generation (or generations) to overcome South Africa’s deepest issues. But you have to start somewhere.My sister, Alex, once wrote a poem about apartheid in college ending with “Apartheid. A part died.” I think a part of that nation’s soul (and heart) died during apartheid.Yeah, huge issues to overcome.My circle of friends interestingly includes a significant number of South Africans, including a married couple who are among my closest friends — met the guy half during a trip to South Africa in 1995 on the heels of apartheid. One of the most touching things I experienced on Thursday was when this friend, who writes songs for a living, wordlessly changed his FB photo to Mandela’s.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Sure. I’ll take more than a paragraph, but here are my views:On Mandela: – Mandela’s role in midwifing a post-Apartheid South Africa post-1990 was a rare and admirable act of statesmanship. Fareed Zakaria nailed this in his tweet. – Earlier Mandela is more complex. He obviously had a legitimate grievance against apartheid and did what he thought best to fight it, but he advocated violence, and had ties to a number of unsavory characters, groups, and nations (communists, terrorists, Arafat, Castro, his second wife, etc.). – South Africa today has a lot of problems, as you note, including horrific levels of violent crime and a lot of economic inequality. I don’t fault Mandela for that though. I don’t know that he could have done much to materially change that.On the reactions to his death in the US: – There are three meta-narratives here. Mandela fits the mainstream media black-white narrative in the US which emphasizes historical examples of oppression of blacks by whites (such as slavery, Jim Crow, and Apartheid), and any current examples of bias by whites against blacks (including ones that turn out to be apocryphal, such as the alleged rape of a black stripper by white lacrosse players at Duke, racist incidents reported at Oberlin college, etc.), while downplaying other issues that may put individual blacks in a negative light (e.g., crimes in which the perpetrators are black, including apparent bias crimes such as “knockout game” or “polar bear hunting” incidents; examples of oppression of blacks by blacks or other nonwhites internationally.). Within the last year or so, there have been at least two movies about slavery in the US, and now a new biopic about Mandela. I merely note this; I don’t have an issue with laudatory news coverage of Mandela, who, in the end, set a great example of reconciliation. – The second meta-narrative here is general moral posturing, which one of the tweets I included above captures: “I’m a good person because I like Mandela”. I don’t have a huge problem with this, and you could argue I engaged in a bit of this myself by retweeting the Zakaria tweet. – The third meta-narrative here is invidious moral posturing: “I am better than you because you think Reagan was a good president and I don’t, and Reagan was against sanctions on Apartheid South Africa”. One of the tweets I responded to above was an example of this, but there are other examples. This is both obnoxious and implicitly dishonest because it ignores the historical context, including the Cold War, and the complexity of earlier Mandela I referred to above.

          4. ShanaC

            I’m actually very curious as how he became the statesman from earlier Mandela.

          5. Dave Pinsen

            This doesn’t quite answer your question, but it’s an excellent piece regardless, which fleshes out some of the complexity and historical context I alluded to above:

          6. Dave W Baldwin

            Thanks fop sharing a well written concise reminder of where the world was.

          7. Donna Brewington White

            Thanks, Dave, a gem.

          8. Donna Brewington White

            One of your greatest qualities is your curiosity, Shana.

          9. LE

            Thanks for the detailed reply. (I will read – it’s always nice to have a long opinion backing up thoughts.)

          10. Ciaran

            Hope you don’t mind me jumping in late but I have a coupleof thoughts about your summary (which is great by the way):Earlier Mandela was complex, but are you suggesting hisadvocating violence was wrong? Surely sometimes violence is justified, and I’d suggest that being part of a majority population kept from having a vote by amorally bankrupt minority would be the perfect example. Isn’t that what really makes him the African George Washington (an early example of one man’s terrorist etc…)Also, it would be just as easy to lay out the names of ‘unsavory characters, groups and nations’ in connection with the US & UK of that era: apartheid South Africa for a start, Shah of Iran, Pinochet, Noriega, Argentina,Batista (let’s remember where Castro came from), etc… In a dirty war, no-one comes up smelling of roses and if your oppressor is supported by one side, you’re obviously going to look to the other for support.Regarding Regan, you’re right that arguments like these are simplistic, but I’d suggest that they’re not obnoxious because the same sort of white-washing has been carried out on Regan’s legacy (or at least that is whatit looks like from outside the US): he is now only remembered as the man who ended the Cold War (a statement which itself demands more analysis) with thosecalling for his sainthood wishing to ignore his less admirable views or actions, whatever the context.Finally, I think you’re right that Mandela can’t be heldaccountable for the problems South Africa has today. The only thing I think he could have done is stand for another term which would have perhaps sped up thewar on HIV, which was delayed due to the ridiculous views of Mandela’s successor Mbeki.I’ll leave you with this fascinating article by the guy whowrote the book that became the Matt Damon movie Invictus: it helps to explainhow he became reconciliation Mandela

          11. Donna Brewington White

            You raise some good points, Ciaran. Thanks for the article. Just saved to read later but did jump ahead to the end — that was a great word that Tutu used to describe Mandela’s “greatest quality”: magnanimity. Not enough of that going around these days. if you ask me. The stuff of nobility.

          12. Donna Brewington White

            This is good, Dave, and helpful.You could do something like write biographies, perhaps.

          13. Donna Brewington White

            That’s some assortment. The breadth of ideas you can entertain is telling in itself.

          14. Dave Pinsen

            To paraphrase Whitman, I retweet multitudes.

      2. ShanaC

        i’m still confused as to how identity actually works on the web (vs real life)

        1. Donna Brewington White

          What about in your case — do you think there is a distinction?

  5. Anne Libby

    It’s great! Thank you all so much.It’s going to be so interesting to see what this becomes.

  6. jason wright

    super stuffi have to get a new mobilei have to get a new mobilei have to get a new mobileit’s my new mantra, inspired by Jeff Goldblum.

  7. William Mougayar

    Great iterations. I like the Tag cloud a lot as well. An Admin feature that allows you to merge similar tags would be an awesome addition.

    1. falicon

      Another good suggestion – I need this for my own tags as sometimes I put in ‘question’ and other times ‘questions’…will add it to my ‘eventual to-do’ list 🙂

  8. Dale Allyn is looking great. Congrats to all!

    1. Nick Grossman

      Thanks dale

  9. Donna Brewington White

    These are great additions. Grateful to Kevin and Nick for continuing to iterate. Tech is a great home for perfectionists.I wonder if it is possible to do a hover for comments to see who is engaging?The other day I clicked on a short and sweet post but wished there was more, only to discover that there was a longer post by the author and that the USV post was an intro with a link to the full post. Wonder if only I’ve done this?And while you are at it… if you could add the sun and the moon…

    1. falicon

      I like the thinking…I’ll see if I can’t figure out and work something fun and useful around this idea into the project down the road 🙂

  10. Donna Brewington White

    Something I’ve noticed … if I click over from the email link to AVC then commenting is arduous. The comment box keeps moving out of sight as I am typing. But if I come in through my browser this problem does not exist.

  11. falicon

    This is awesome and once again thanks for the mention (I was out most of the morning with the family, so just getting back to notice all this action!).Of course I feel I am given too much credit throughout – Nick is really the driving force behind all that you see in the app and he really should be getting all the attention for the good work.Also as Nick mentioned, there are still a number of outstanding bugs and issues for us all to address…so this is really just the start…and everything is only going to get better from here! 😉

  12. LE

    Cannibalization sighting.Was wondering what happened to Kid Mercury. Checking disqus it seems that he has taken his commenting to

    1. ShanaC

      he pops back and forth

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I wish he wouldn’t. I like to keep tabs on him.

  13. ShanaC

    I am super happy for kevin getting this post (as well as Nick). He’s a super mensch, and deserves it. 🙂

  14. Guest

    Wow! Curious how many man hours it took to implement all of these awesome changes.

  15. Isla Edouard

    Issue is that not everyone wants to tie their probably more community tweets manage (with brief content which say very little) to something which includes more time type leaving comments that they might not want to be as community. The capability to be partial unknown is essential. You know comfort. Of course you can installation another tweets manage but why should you have to?Spybubble gratis

  16. laurie kalmanson

    great tools, people, content.

  17. LE

    It’s not HN. HN is a place where you can get banned, hellbanned and not speak anything ill about the leader(s). Where the leaders thoughts and sayings float magically to the top.Like comparing the beach in a war torn third world country with a beach in St. John USVI. Both have blue water, sand and nice temperature and breezes. But nothing nice about a relaxing place if you have to fear for your life.

  18. Nick Grossman

    Fair enough. I think it will get more and more different over time.

  19. falicon

    There’s nothing really new or interesting about the software or features (we aren’t trying to invent the wheel at all)…it’s all about the unique community (we are just trying to carve out a safe and interesting place for [non-techie] people to talk about internet, startups, business, and emerging trends among other things).That being said, it’s open source so it can be whatever you really want it to be…just gotta jump in and get your hands a little dirty to make it happen (and we’ll be here to help too).

  20. ShanaC

    Hey There! Welcome backI’m not sold on it being hackernews, any more than I am sold that hacker news is reddit. There is overlap, but in time each develop their own flavors. The USV site might.

  21. LE

    Here is a feature you can add at some point that will differentiate and provide great value.One of the things that is always helpful and interesting on HN is when people post their “look what I’ve built” and the feeding frenzy begins. Or they post a link to their new idea.What I suggest is a variation of that where people can post their idea for apps, websites etc and get:a) commentary on the idea and suggestionsb) a general discussion, dialog, encouragement [1] and advice orc) connect with people who might want to be involved in the project either to help or to invest on an angel level.Was thinking it could easily be a completely separate site for that matter. Really it’s just brainstorming.Of course it’s all about execution and not ideas. But it’s very possible that someone with an idea might hook up and/or just encourage someone who is looking for an idea to execute and can do so.As reference there is this recent thread with Tim Meade:…[1] And of course discouragement if that is someone’s opinion..

  22. Donna Brewington White

    LE I had to do a double-take. First of all because this comment is so brief. 😉 Then because it is such a piece of poetic profundity.