- areas of interest

I spent some time analyzing the top tags used to post stories on Here is the tag cloud:


There are some redundant terms in the tag cloud (ie startups/startup), so I put the tags into a spreadsheet and cleaned it up a bit.

startups 172 interest areas: companies:
bitcoin 166 bitcoin google
mobile 117 mobile apple
vc/venture capital 92 privacy/surveillance twitter
privacy/surveillance/nsa 90 education facebook
marketing/growth 65 cloud amazon
google 49 health
funding/pitch 47 security
education 46 crowfunding
technology 45
entrepreneurship 36
android 34
apple 34
twitter 34
facebook 29
cloud 27
health 27
design 26
amazon 25
media 25
security 24
crowdfunding 22

This data is not what is most interesting and relevant to USV, although it includes USV as a subset. This is what is most interesting and relevant to the community of people who are using I suppose our areas of interest and focus impact that quite a bit, but it’s worth noting that this is a larger sample size than just the USV team.

Clearly, things like startups, venture capital, growth, and funding are going to be at the top of the list. That is our business and the business of the entrepreneurs who largely make up the USV community.

But what is more interesting is what interest areas are top of mind. Those are bitcoin, mobile, privacy/surveillance, education, cloud, health, security, and crowdfunding. We think of mobile and cloud as the important enabling technologies of the moment we are in. The rest are markets that we are talking about and thinking a lot about right now.

So is a good mirror reflection of what is interesting and relevent to USV right now. That’s a good thing.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Also, what’s interesting is how some of these areas will intersect. I think that’s where the enabling power happens, e.g.:Bitcoin + MobileHealth + CrowdsourcingVC + CrowdfundingCloud + SecurityEducation + Cloudetc.

    1. fredwilson


    2. jason wright

      cloud and crowd will be components of everything.bitcoin is a mask for the protocol, which may also be a component of everything.

    3. JamesHRH

      A long time ago a smart person told me that bridges create the most value. As an example, she said ‘If you can connect users to code, you are a very valuable bridge.’It works in a variety of scenarios. I am trying to see Bitcoin as a bridge, but still failing.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Early days, and remember, any medium of exchange has a lot of emotion wound up into it. Think of it as a platform-an internet protocol and connecting you to the cloud. Or, think of it as an online ledger that’s transparent. Think of all the interactions with other entities where some sort of proof is required for the transaction to move forward or be consummated. Then Bitcoin becomes a bridge.

        1. JamesHRH

          I have had that suggested to me. Here is my issue:in financial transactions, the bridge adds a ton of value that is not merely mechanical.For example, the USD has the ‘full faith & credit of the US Gov’t’ (such as that is ;-).VISA has all kinds of assurance value.Bitcoin has the full faith assurance of an anonymous coder and the integrity of the internet. I am not saying no, I am saying that’s a long row to hoe.

          1. pointsnfigures

            Why couldn’t General Electric issue it’s own cryptocurrency based off of Bitcoin? With the full faith and credit of GE? Certain national governments have abused their currency (Argentina, Venezuala, etc) Why is the faith in govt more than a large stable corporation?

          2. JamesHRH

            Totally agree, except for the part where GE gets value from Bitcoin (SW has value, origin story devalues it).

          3. jason wright

            it has the multiple ledger verification structure at its heart, which is very new visa credit card was being presented in a shop in Egypt before i had even received it through the mail.

          4. JamesHRH

            CC fraud is a system risk, for sure.What did it cost you?Can I build a multiple ledger transaction platform without all the Bitcoin mining?

          5. jason wright

            it cost me no money, but i wouldn’t be surprised if my account now has an asterisk marking me down as a potential fraudster. the cheek of it. let me think.

          6. JamesHRH

            Read a great Bus 2.0 article on creation of VISA (article at least 10 years old).Talked about the power of a network & the struggle to get financial institutions to engage in co-opetition.The irony….

          7. jason wright

            yes, i think you can build one without the competitive mining inherent to bitcoin.

          8. robertdesideri

            Development isn’t specifically about writing code, it’s about utilizing materials and tools to improve quality of life, which generally means creating value for society. The Bitcoin math is a v cool tool, folks generally don’t know what QoL improvements can be developed utilizing it and what materials could be combined and honed -though some appear to have strong opinions.

          9. JamesHRH

            I am TLA ignorant.You will have to expand BSP & QoL. OTOH I get.

          10. robertdesideri

            Tried to edit, lost edits…Bitcoin Service ProviderQuality of LifeIt’s about what happens in the deployment phase that matters, Bitcoin’s a tool. Someone just might find a valuable use for that tool farther up the stack.

          11. JamesHRH

            Tools with highly suspect origin stories almost never gain widespread acceptance.I am a user of the Enneagram (highly suspect origin story). It has never caught on like Meyers-Briggs, despite being easier to use.Still on the sidelines here….

          12. robertdesideri

            Completely agree.Which is why folks who mine, buy and or sell the coin itself appear to me to be doing nothing more that participating in a art experiment. Or unwittingly participating in a purpose they know little about, being duped.The Bitcoin method and system appears to be a good invention. Derivative inventions are the opportunity, tailored for a specific uses that DO NOT touch the coin that was utilized for either art / demonstration or an undiscovered purpose.Too much focus on the coin and not enough on the tool. A problem perpetuated by the BSPs. I don’t believe the BSPs will be the winners, nor will be day traders.The coin itself is the bathwater.

      2. William Mougayar

        Well, Bitcoin could be that bridge that empowers citizens in less developed countries. Just cost of sending/receiving remittances alone is a big deal. I tweeted yesterday that a 5% decrease in remittances prices equates to a saving of $16 Billion. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

        1. pointsnfigures

          A cryptocurrency alters the producer/consumer surplus function in the supply/demand relationship.

          1. JamesHRH

            You are saying that a single crypto currency protocol will emerge and dominate as the sole financial platform?That equates bullshitting with friends &/or strangers to gold bars.That is a really long row to hoe.Lots of back end systems use the internet protocol at their foundation. I cannot think of a dominant, MS Windows style player in that space (not my area admittedly).

      3. sigmaalgebra

        Field crossing. Bringing pepper from Indiato England. See my response to Phil Sugarabove.Internet? Hmm …. Bring some work for robustbattlefield communications, thank you ARPA,to revolutionize media, communications, andmuch more for the world.

    4. Mac


    5. Cezary Pietrzak

      Bitcoin + wearables = accessThat’s the one I’m most interested in at the moment.

      1. William Mougayar

        check out Bionym or OMSignal

        1. Cezary Pietrzak

          Yes, I’ve heard about these – cool technology. Question is, could Bitcoin’s block chain be layered into the authentication, whether it’s biometric or something else?

  2. Emmanuel Bellity

    I saw this too but I was very surprised by how much bitcoin was discussed relative to others. On second thought, I realized that when you post something about bitcoin, it’s very clear that you have to add the tag “bitcoin”. If you post something about startup/growth/funding/general story etc you’re generally not sure which tag you should add and it ends up distributed across many different tags, or none at all!

    1. Nick Grossman

      yes that is a good point — it’s a particularly easy one to tag consistently

  3. Geoffrey Weg

    Does anyone find tags like “startups,” “technology” and “funding” to be helpful? They feel too broad and the posts tagged with them are across the map.Fred, can you share any click-through rates on the tags? Do people use them?

    1. awaldstein

      Any time I see a tag for ‘startup marketing’ or ‘growth hacking’ it is invariably a dive into generalities or another list of to dos. Not useful.

      1. Mac


  4. Pete Griffiths

    I’m kind of shocked that ‘bitcoin’ is as high on the list. Don’t get me wrong, it is a big deal, but I guess I didn’t see it as being quite so ‘mainstream.’

    1. William Mougayar

      It’s a leading indicator of big things to come. As tectonic as the Internet’s advent in 1994. This is the Internet of money. Big one.

      1. awaldstein

        I find it the most interesting topic there is right now.As a web thinker, it constantly stimulates.As a practitioner of building markets though, a top like peer-to-peer economies gets way more practical cycles of my day.

    2. Elia Freedman

      It’s definitely mainstream. Opinion writers at the Time and Washington Post are writing negative articles about it.

    3. LIAD audience and participants majorly skewed towards innovators and early adopters.

    4. fredwilson

      we are decidedly not mainstream 🙂

      1. Richard

        But are we upstream?

  5. pointsnfigures

    The list has no surprised for me given the community and recent topics in the industry. Surprised that the tag “New York” isn’t in there.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, we will have to fix that.

  6. Twain Twain

    The other day, someone asked why there is a limit of 21 million Bitcoins.Part of it is to do with the assumptions of a maximum of 37-bits relating to the Hopfield theory.Recently, Max Tegmark, a Professor of Physics at MIT released a paper with a theoretical framework for “Computronium” and “Perceptronium”*…The number of bits possible and, ergo, the number of Bitcoins possible, will be vastly more as soon as some bright spark solves the paradoxes in Quantum Theory and translates it into technology and computer code.Now, THAT, is not mainstream thinking but “jumping the curve” as Steve Jobs would call it.

    1. ShanaC

      Sounds like gold to me

      1. Twain Twain

        #Hi ho, hi ho,It’s off to work we go,With a string of code,And a cluster node,Hi ho…Hi gold!#

  7. Twain Twain

    More interesting are the words which don’t appear on the list and don’t seem to be permeating in popularity across USV’s community:* democratization* innovation* distribution* marketplace* monetisation

    1. Richard

      Or biotechnology and nanotechnology

      1. Twain Twain

        It’s just that democratization etc are the VALUES the tech sector and investors are espousing. Yet the word cloud only captures the products and processes?

  8. Brandon Burns

    I posted something to USV a couple weeks ago about design that my Facebook feed totally ate up, but got nary a response on USV. I learned something about the community that day: clearly not enough designers. :-)I want a / HN style site for design-minded entrepreneurs and tech folks. Actually, I want a platform where anyone can easily make their own link sharing community. It almost feels like a vintage idea, like 90s message boards, but maybe its time for that to come back around?Maybe USV should make that product itself?

    1. Nick Grossman

      I suspect part of the issue there is that a good number of posts on have been getting lost on the “new” page, which sees far fewer views than the front page. That is something we are working on with some design fixes at the moment.Here’s a link to the relevant discussion, including a deployed preview:

        1. Brandon Burns

          It *looks* different, but it’s not immediately apparent to me what exactly was changed, aside from cosmetics / changes in copy. Clarify?

          1. Nick Grossman

            The major difference is the removal of the “new” page altogetherSo now, every post shows up on the front page, but with the addition of a visual hierarchy.That is our first attempt to solve for the 90/10 situation — making it possible to curate without explicitly visiting the /new page.My guess is that will make a difference, especially while traffic is relatively low.

          2. Geoffrey Weg

            This new design is really interesting. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a daily leaderboard approach before for news. It’s similar to what Product Hunt is doing for products. http://ProductHunt.coI think it’s a great way to make sure that consumers are seeing all of the latest submissions.One minor suggestion: the font and spacing is a bit too big. Perhaps make it smaller so can see a lot more content when quickly browsing.

          3. awaldstein

            Still interested sometime in a post on what you’ve learned so far.With all the intent in the world, community building sometimes feels like a game of pick up sticks.

          4. Nick Grossman

            Yeah. I will do that this week, for sure

          5. Brandon Burns

            Ah, cool. I’d maybe think about some labels / titles / headers to break up the feed a bit and let people know what’s what. Or not. But something to test!

      1. Brandon Burns

        I’m looking forward to seeing the changes!However, the numbers are actually already on target. Based on the 90/9/1 rule — 90% consume, 9% curate, and 1% create — with visits to the “new” page being 10% of visits to the homepage, you’re square in that paradigm. You can always try to change those dynamics, though, so it’ll be interesting to see what you guys do and if it works or not.

    2. JamesHRH

      No where near the daily traffic on USV v AVC.Niche sites are here to stay – market maturity principle.

      1. fredwilson

        correct. but at four months old, avc maybe had 200 uvs a day

    3. Richard


      1. Brandon Burns

        I’m not a fan of Dribbble (which is more about sharing work instead of links). On Dribbble you share snippets of work, like logo or button or whatever, which I find to devalue good design and all the thinking and process that goes into it.

        1. Richard

          There is the comment section. What do you mean by devalue?

          1. Brandon Burns

            Dribbble is the digital equivalent of showing off a button, or a sleeve, or a collar of an article of clothing. Just because I made a pretty pocket doesn’t mean I make the best shirts. Dribbble values the pocket, and devalues the shirt.That’s my best attempt at an analogy.

        2. LE

          Dribbble total failure as a web name. About as bad as svtble.

          1. awaldstein

            A good name certainly helps, but names are mostly what you make them.

          2. LE

            Some things you are born with (like your height or whether you have hair) and you can’t do that much about (or to do something (say a hair transplant) is not practical).Naming on the other hand is something that you can and should do right from the beginning. It just takes time. In some cases it takes money but not in all cases.Of course it can be overcome but why should an entrepreneur have to do that?Why tie a hand behind your back?Why call your fish patagonia toothfish when the name “chilean sea bass” is more appealing?The name “Chilean sea bass” was invented by a fish wholesaler named Lee Lantz in 1977. He was looking for a name that would make it attractive to the American market.

          3. awaldstein

            Everyone thinks of this differently.My opinion–there is no objective right or not on names.Was Google right from the beginning? Apple?Was so bad and impossible that they couldn’t succeed?Marketing isn’t math. There is no objective scale of what’s great. There’s cute that flops. There’s stupid that works. And every single one need reinventing overt time.Add to that that most every company is named before they have more than an inkling of who they will become.Some names are simply just better from birth certainly. But it’s more than half, no more that 90% what you make it.Or so I think.Wrote this ages ago–>Naming your company…self discovery as word play

          4. sigmaalgebra

            Thoughtful essay.

    4. Geoffrey Weg

      Check out DesignerNews…. Not a copy of the USV/HN style, but similar and focused on design news/analysis.Definitely agree that a platform like what you described would be good. DesignerNews, and the similar GrowthHackers, are both projects by companies to help ignite community around their customer base. Really smart move for them. And there are so many more industries and functional areas where such initiatives would work well.

    5. panterosa,


    6. fredwilson

      i think its the product ( that is failing you and us. we are working on a new version

  9. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I imagine that what’s posted is influenced a fair amount by what people think will catch the eye of the staff at USV. Anyone who’s paying attention knows you’re really interested in Bitcoin and that Albert is interested in education, for example.

    1. LE

      fair amount by what people think will catch the eye of the staff at USVI don’t think that is the case. I think people will post things that attract the interest of the community. There really isn’t a way to know if something in particular posted is interesting to “the staff of USV” or the staff of Moses for that matter (a joke).Albert is “c” level of course and not staff (joke number two..)

  10. PhilipSugar

    What’s interesting to me is not how things are the same but how things are different.I really like this person’s take on networks:…Basically his premise is that your network is a set of clusters not just one big network. The number of people that you know is a vanity number, it doesn’t matter how many you know in each cluster, what matters is how many clusters you connect.That in a nutshell is why I like being here..

    1. falicon

      +100 – This was a great article! Thanks for sharing it.

    2. panterosa,

      @wmoug:disqus tweeted that story link and I begged for the visual mapping component for it. The author wrote me back that LinkedIn has a similar thing.I agree – one big network is not as fun as clusters, nor as effective as spreading ideas. Agree that’s what makes AVC fun too.

    3. sigmaalgebra

      He’s talking about “field crossing”, long recognizedas a key to innovation.E.g., bring black pepper corns from India where theyare cheap to England where they are expensive.E.g., bring steam engines from powering pumps to getwater out of mines to railroads to poweringfactories.The analysis as far as it goes is okay, but it issuperficial in that it is merely ’empirical’ and notreally ‘causal’. Also the recommendations to’broker’ are not so good: Such ‘brokering’ can tooeasily be, usually will be, transporting junk.Instead we need good means of separating the babiesfrom the oceans of bathwater with or withoutbrokering.Now, let’s see about that: I can easily believethat at one time some people got totally fed up withclaims of the miracle healing powers of boiled tailof rat and eye of bat, specially blessed waters,powdered horn of rhino, etc. So, there was aneffort to get at the real causes of how thingsreally worked. We now call that effort ‘science’,and often it can tell us just what can’t work andwhat will work and how to make it work, whatever theheck ‘network brokering’ does or does not say.It wasn’t just network brokering that put the USfirst on the moon. Instead crucial were Newton’ssecond law of motion and law of gravity, whateverthe heck some ‘network’ believed.Early in school, I got tired of being dumped on bythe teachers. So, to me math was a life saver: Iturned in my math, and all the ditzy bimbo mathteachers in the world who hated my poor handwritingand social awkwardness could work and slave to findsomething wrong with the math with no luck at all.None. Zip, zilch, zero. Sorry Sweetie; better lucknext time. You are welcome to follow me in schooland find something wrong with my proof that thereare no countably infinite sigma algebras. You arewelcome to try. I worked out that proof with myfeet up for a long evening alone in a very quietroom. And there is a way to get the proof acceptedas rock solid quite generally and well beyond anynetwork ‘brokering’ or consensus of a ‘networkcluster’ — from people I never heard of. Tough tosay that I’m in their ‘cluster’.The article seems correct as far as it goes, but thearticle doesn’t give even a weak little hollow hintof a tiny clue how the heck to know, really know,what is solid and what is junk, and we do have verypowerful such means.

    4. ShanaC

      It takes a very special person to manage clusters

    5. fredwilson

      that’s why i like that your are here

    6. pointsnfigures

      I had Burt in my MBA program at Chicago. It was pretty fascinating shit. Still really good friends with him. Combine his research with Mike Gibbs research on personnel and you have a powerful set of tools to set yourself up for success.

    7. Guest

      Reed’s law.I think people tend to overestimate their ability to use networks

  11. Jim Canto

    I would be very curious to see the subordinate tag clouds to each of the resulting interest areas above. I believe, given the decidedly “not mainstream” nature of this community…drilling down another layer would be very interesting.

  12. jason wright

    tag clouds are dull and not so informative.something like a hack pad, but called a hack cloud, would be so much more informative…and playful. looking a bit like the disqus home page, with each tag in a circle and at a size relative to its number, and then hackable so that we can each place circles where we thing they overlap. the software will need to be able to come up with a finished consensus of all of our individual overlaps. lots of color, jack the dripperish, and a signature. art.

    1. ShanaC

      Doable with a csv. I could make you one

      1. jason wright

        a csv list, or the whole thing?i’m not sure what i would do with the whole thing.

    2. fredwilson

      build it

  13. jason wright

    is this the new wordpress version of avc yet, the promised mobile friendly iteration?

    1. fredwilson

      not done yet

  14. Eddie Wharton

    do you think is a leading or trailing indicator of thoughts at USV?

    1. falicon

      yes. =)

    2. fredwilson

      probably trailing at this point, but if we could ever get it to leading, that would be a dream come true

  15. Ana Milicevic

    Will be interesting to see how this evolves over time — top topics for 2014, for 2015, etc. –> USV Trends

  16. falicon

    You have to be careful on these sorts of analysis though – most of the community that’s there right now *knows* what most of the things USV partners, and USV community, are currently interested in…and so you get more shares around that.For example, I don’t really care that much about bitcoin (if anything, I’m most interested in the fact that so many people are interested in it)…but if/when I find a bitcoin article with something interesting or useful in it, you can bet I’m going to share it to USV (because I believe the crowd there will appreciate/want it).

    1. Brandon Burns

      I’m also a bit tired of all the bitcoin talk.**awaits backlash**

      1. ShanaC

        I’m in your camp. That and politics

      2. fredwilson

        It’s not you it’s them that are wrong Tell ’em to take out their tongues Tell ’em to take out their tongues And bring on the backlash!

        1. Brandon Burns

          ha! I’ll pop that into today’s playlist

    2. fredwilson

      thanks for doing that

  17. Sebastian Wain

    I would like to know what is the most valuable information to post in USV. I mean, what kind of difficult to find or discover (but publicly available) information do you want to see in the first page?

  18. Twain Twain

    BREAKING NEWS: Benedict Evans joins Andreessen Horowitz.

  19. Guy Lepage

    Very interesting data.. @fredwilson:disqus If your findings are based upon what is “…most interesting and relevant to the community of people who are using” And not, “…not what is most interesting and relevant to USV…” Does that mean there needs to be a more targeted approach in how the USV community is put together in order to get a stronger, more relevant community for USV?

  20. Roger Dickey

    You might be interested to know (I was) the difference between i.e. & e.g. – http://www.grammar-monster….