Holiday Giving

Every year at this time of the year, my office piles up with gifts that people send me. I don’t drive back and forth to work so it’s not easy for me to bring them home. So a big pile builds up and sometime in January or February, I get a big bag, come in on the weekend, and pick everything up and bring it home. As you can imagine reading this, I get annoyed by this. I know the gifts are sent with the best intentions. But sadly they are not received that way.

What I would massively prefer is a donation be made instead.

– Back a Kickstarter.

– Or participate in the Crowdrise Holiday Challenge (which The Gotham Gal and I helped make happen).

– Or help a teacher on DonorsChoose.

If you are in the giving mood, I have a specific suggestion. CSNYC, our non-profit that funds computer science classes in the NYC public schools, has a holiday wish list up on Crowdrise.

If you want to see a map of what CSNCY is funding, you can see that here.

Our wishlist was built with our existing donor pool in mind and AVC readers might find the specific asks a bit steep. So if you don’t find any of our wishes to your liking you can make a donation of any size here:

Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise

#hacking education#hacking philanthropy

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    I won’t send you a gift Fred but I will say, Thank You, for leading this community.If means a lot and has been an integral part of the pace of my life for a number of years.Most appreciated and happy holidays to you!

    1. fredwilson

      it’s mutual Arnold. every day, i see you pipe in on something i throw out there. that’s a big deal to me.

      1. Ben

        How about simply accepting the gift(s) as sent and intended (whatever the motivation) and don’t shame people into conforming to what makes you comfortable?

        1. fredwilson

          How about bring honest about how you feel instead of secretly beng annoyed at someone

          1. jason wright

            you see these gifts as faux behaviour?

          2. Emil Sotirov

            May be just misdirected…

          3. LE

            It definitely makes a lot of sense to tell people what you want no question about that. (Big problem in marriages).However it’s a fine line that you walk. That is not making someone feel bad about what they did (for right or wrong reasons). Proper presentation.So the question really is how do you convey you don’t like something without making someone feel stupid in the process?I feel that they way you conveyed this is not the best way and choice of words in order to “(be ) honest about how you feel”. Why? Because anyone who has sent you a gift that reads it will now feel like a schmuck for doing so. That includes people who sent a gift for the right reasons. And maybe even sent nice gifts.I think what you said is great with the exception of the use of the word “annoy” and this sentence “But sadly they are not received that way.”That said that’s one of the good things about this blog. You are real and say real things and make mistakes sometimes. [1] You aren’t like that guy we know that has 4 or 5 people review what he writes before he publishes it.[1] Not saying this was a mistake but I always learn from the way things are presented by my reaction to how writing makes me feel. Here the use of some words jumped out at me immediately.

          4. Mario Cantin

            Well said, bravo.

        2. ShanaC

          So he is accepting the gifts – he’s not naming the names of the people. he’s just asking people to stop and donate money if they haven’t bought yet. Which is actually helpful, because now they don’t need to think about it.

        3. Matt Zagaja

          Giving gifts is actually tough work. The best gifts to give are meaningful or helpful to the recipient. While chocolates, coffee, trinkets, etc. are great, Fred is just helping people who want to go the extra mile what is important to him.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      You are an integral fixture here, Arnold. When I see your first comment, I picture you with your espresso from your old-school machine and Sam sitting next to you as you type.

      1. awaldstein

        As true as can be re: Sam and the La Pavoni.Have a great holiday my friend.

    3. pointsnfigures

      amen-good to interact with all the people on this blog.

      1. awaldstein

        Yup–made some very close friends from here.The best is the connections driven off line.Have a terrific holiday.

    4. Paul Sanwald

      Agreed, the awareness that Fred and the larger AVC community have raised towards donorschoose and similar have been great.I wonder if anyone knows if there are volunteering opportunities available? It’s not clear from the site. I did TEALs this past year and would like to do some more volunteering.

  2. LIAD

    I hear you and concur.Curious for your reasons…1/ Because they are sent to suck-up2/ Because you don’t like being fussed over3/ Because material possessions clutter space and mind4/ Because there are far worthier ways to ‘give’ to you5/ Because you reject the consumeristic hijacking of the holiday season

    1. fredwilson

      #5 mostly but all of them ring true to methat looks like a tweetstorm LIAD 🙂

      1. LE

        #5 mostly but all of them ring true to me But in your earlier testimony you did say this:I get a big bag, come in on the weekend, and pick everything up and bring it home. As you can imagine reading this, I get annoyed by this.Seems that the annoyance comes from getting things that you don’t need of little value which you then have to do something with. Dr. LE says that therefore this is cognitive dissonance caused in the same way when you have to throw out anything of even nominal value. It’s a negative in your brain. Add to that the “schlep” as well. [1] And the fact that in NYC space is at a premium. You don’t have a basement (like I do) that is huge and can store 1/2 of what is in Walmart. <— Greatly exaggerated to make a point.The rest of the points are just rationalizations to add to the main reasons.If you got gifts that were of value and for the right reasons none of the tweetstorm points would matter.That said the “suck up” point probably creates a fair amount of problems that makes sense – it creates a sense of obligation in your head I can see that.[1] Bike, and scooter not good for carrying stuff. Otherwise you’d take it home a little at a time. Plus you have to take it to your car. My car is within a few feet of my office door and my car gets parked in a garage at my house. So I’d be “less annoyed” just on those points.

        1. Dale Allyn

          I can see both sides of this (as I’m sure you do as well).I can’t imaging being annoyed by a gift of a bottle of 1982 Chateau Margaux (assuming one enjoys wines) from a person with sincere sharing intentions. But receiving “obligatory” or suck-up gifts is surely as annoying as feeling obliged to give them. I feel the same way about greeting cards which are sent out of obligation rather than sincere interest in contact.I think Fred asking that meaningful donation be made in lieu of suck-up or obligatory business gifting is great. I would hope that friends who wish to share something sincerely would still be welcomed. ;)I know that some with great financial means can have the attitude of “If I’d wanted that I would have already purchased it myself”. I wasn’t getting that vibe from Fred.

          1. LE

            I know that some with great financial means can have the attitude of “If I’d wanted that I would have already purchased it myself”.Otoh how many times on this blog has someone suggested a product or website and Fred has said “I’ll check that out thanks”. So just because someone can afford something doesn’t mean they will know about it and buy it for themselves.Not all gifts are lame and don’t require thought. Like the sweaters I got from my aunt as a kid. Gee thanks I wanted a toy not a piece of clothing.I think Fred asking that meaningful donation be made in lieu of suck-up or obligatory business gifting is great.Also unclear if someone does this how they indicate that they have done that. Sending an email then creates the same sense of obligation on Fred’s part to acknowledge it in some way.

          2. Dale Allyn

            We don’t disagree on much of this, LE. I’m picturing an office full of seasonal gift baskets and such, which I know from experience can be umm… less appreciated as they pile up. One knows that it wasn’t a gift with great thought and targeting. Of course, I have no idea what gets sent to Fred, so only imagine such things.

    2. ShanaC

      people have been complaining about 5 since the holiday was pagan. The gift giving thing actually is quite important, and is linked to the presence of light and the coming back of more dawn.(also, lest anyone think Jewish people are exceptions – nope, the candlelighting thing and the presents are from the pagan parts of jewish past which were wedged onto a maccabee victory. With that kind of miracle – book of maccabees 1 would actually have been a cannon megillah and would be read during channukah. It isn’t. And it doesn’t have the oil thing mentioned in it, though it does mention the rededication of the temple. it is talmudic justification for an already existing Jewish custom lashed onto something else.)

      1. laurie kalmanson

        hanukkah: cold, dark; eat fried things, light candles — what’s not to like?evergreens, miraculously retaining their green leaves in the cold winter: bring them inside and decorate them and light candles!when it’s cold and dark, eat! party time! excellent! in the spring, when it’s warm again, have more parties!growing up in bklyn — real bklyn, not hipster bklyn™ — the eggs hidden in bread loaves in the bakeries and the boiled eggs on the seder plate were only the current manifestations of symbols of rebirth going back way far in human time, around the world

        1. ShanaC

          do you miss real brooklyn

          1. laurie kalmanson

            sometimes. i miss real nyc all the time.

  3. laurie kalmanson

    nicely donerelated: “world’s best teacher” mugsi gave my office copies of seth’s “all marketers are liars / storytellers” last year; still thinking about this year.

    1. ShanaC

      I’m in favor of giving experiences. How much would it cost to give everyone in your office a lesson in basic knife skills (if you all went as a group) or a private tour in a cool gallery with an artist lecture (again as a group).I also don’t know how large/small your office is- if it is small, you don’t have to give them the same thing

      1. laurie kalmanson

        great suggestion; it’s inbetween … so, books; i might regift the pile of business books i got 1 or 2 chapters into — the steve jobs bio, the idea factory, some startup books, etc.the team outing thing is cool but difficult; weeknights are school nights in my house; it’s all i can do to keep up with the industry / meetup things i run / go to

        1. ShanaC

          I know, I saw, Middle school, right? I hated being in middle school, I had a giant poof for hair. (which seems to suddenly be straight)Just, try to remember the person you give to 🙂

          1. laurie kalmanson

            lol yes

      2. Chimpwithcans

        Knife skills sounds intense! Is this a NRA thing?

        1. ShanaC

          No, how to cut stuff up in a kitchen correctly so you don’t hurt yourself

          1. Chimpwithcans

            Nice. I’d be keen on that present.

          2. ShanaC

            many people would. For some people it would be something they would give themselves, but not all. It would be a good teambuilding exercise, but beyond that, it is just a chance to learn something you think you know, but may not as well as you could, or do something unusual…

      3. Matt Zagaja

        Agree with experiences. Doesn’t even have to be that fancy. If I like you as a person then the gift of having a drink/coffee/dinner is really I want. Otherwise I think museum tickets, movie theater tickets, concert/sport tickets, gift certificates to a local rock climbing gym or high speed cart racing place have all worked well.

  4. Dave Pinsen

    If, by some chance, you already bought Fred a gift but haven’t sent it, you are welcome to send it to me. I am okay with consumerism.

    1. David Semeria

      If it has a plug or takes batteries, I’m happy to receive it too.

      1. ShanaC

        I just want to know what the oddest gift is, and if I can have a cookie.

        1. laurie kalmanson

          mini cooper, ever on brand, has been showing me an ugly xmas sweater of a car with an xmas tree strapped to the roof in my facebook feed

          1. ShanaC


          2. LE

            Well it worked you are talking about it here. Great brand I owned a Cooper S. convertible it was more fun to drive than a 911 at less than 1/3 the price.

          3. laurie kalmanson

            EXACTLY. I have a clubman; the mom’s stealth vroom vroom beep beep sports car

          4. LE

            Automatic or 6 speed?

          5. laurie kalmanson

            first automatic i’ve ever bought; too hard to use a stick and text while driving — seriously, i believe that phones have killed stick shifts (it would be fun to see data that proves or disproves)

          6. LE

            first automatic i’ve ever boughtOh no a “slush”.Laurie you’ve fallen 17 notches in my ranking system!!!!!

          7. laurie kalmanson

            i don’t feel good about it either, but the car i had before was a golf stick, and driving and shifting and holding the phone — no va

  5. Mario Cantin

    You are an interesting character Fred. You make approaching you counter-intuitive in many ways.But it seems the way you’re hardwired, and it is your prerogative.And people sucking up to you must be annoying to no end, I get it, but it feels I almost have to challenge you or insult you in some way in order to interact.Personally, I ultimately don’t give a f**k what people think of me, I’m not raising money and there’s no favor I need or seek from you; I come here because I’m in sync with several of your views and I’m interested in trying to determine what the future will be like — and you have skills in this regard.But many people need a person in a position of power to grant them a little access and importance as it makes them feel recognized, even if it’s a little uncomfortable for you. It comes with the territory whether you embrace it or not.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      I don’t really get the point of sucking up in this context. I just can’t imagine USV investing in a company because someone sent Fred a bottle of scotch.

      1. Mario Cantin

        I’m referring to Fred’s disposition in general as reflected in earlier posts, one of which being about needing / wanting authentic feedback and having no patience for suckups.Some people just want to suck up, but others may be trying to interact genuinely and be nice, and both groups get bunched together in the offstandishness.

      2. LE

        I don’t really get the point of sucking up in this context. I just can’t imagine USV investing in a company because someone sent Fred a bottle of scotch.I don’t think that it has to do with that overall although there are probably cases like that. Need Fred’s facts and figures, would be interesting.In college and some of high school I worked for an attorney. At Chrismas time he would send the clients gifts and I would have to deliver them. I remember how he sat there and decided who would get a Microwave and who would get a Color TV. (This was late 70’s early 80’s). The gifts were very nice and not a bribe just a way of saying “thank you” I appreciate the business that you send me. In most cases the clients were entrepreneurs although some might have been company men. You don’t send a gift to a builder who owns his own company to bribe him. It’s his money. He doesn’t work for the building department.Years later, in the Internet business I dealt with (and still do) a company called which was started by an attorney. I remember the first year he sent me a gift and one year he sent me an IP phone which might have been worth at the time over $100. I actually remember that to this day I thought it was a nice touch.

  6. William Mougayar

    Curious, how about greeting cards? Do you feel OK receiving them?

    1. jason wright

      the planet needs its trees

      1. pointsnfigures

        Which generation will break that custom and do it electronically instead? I actually like receiving cards with photos in them.

        1. Dale Allyn

          I hate electronic greeting cards. The planet needs its bandwidth. ;)Many card stocks are partially or totally of recycled materials, and most paper products come from renewable timber resources, so I say: send a nice card with photos… or even photo cards (where the card is the photo).Cheers!

      2. William Mougayar

        true….and that volume has gone down drastically…but some of these cards benefit causes too, like UNICEF, etc…

    2. fredwilson

      that’s a nice thing to send

  7. JimHirshfield

    Happy Holidays Fred!Community at; Priceless.p.s. All I got you for xmas is this lousy comment.

    1. ShanaC

      i’m fine with that. Though one day I will try to figure out how to host an avc party and make a vegan gingerbread cake. I make a kickass regular gingerbread cake in general as isOr maybe I should do a brandied fruitcake next year, but I would need time to prep this year because I would need to know what citrus to buy this year to preserve for next year….

      1. JimHirshfield

        “vegan gingerbread cake” <–sounds yummy.

        1. ShanaC

          Gingerbread can refer to either a cake or cookie, but to get cake to rise, it usually needs eggs, and needs fat to hold it together. I’m not an expert on the vegan part.I should really at some point get a good camera and start a general all around blog like the gotham gal, overing tech, marketing, lifestyle, food, people, ect. Maybe then I can figure out vegan cake

          1. JimHirshfield

            We make vegan cake all the time…coffee cake, chocolate cake, pumpkin cake/muffins. It’s really _not_ magic.

          2. ShanaC


          3. JimHirshfield

            All over the internets. Google. ;-)Many recipes swap out eggs for either apple sauce, blended flaxseeds, bananas…”Buttery Spread” instead of butter (it’s vegan, but not unhealthy margarine).Soy milk instead of cow’s milk.

          4. Anne Libby

            You can substitute silken tofu for eggs.

    2. Emil Sotirov

      Jim – a Disqus question – when I delete my own comment, it still shows as posted by a Guest… why… is that how it’s supposed to work?

      1. JimHirshfield

        This is by design so as not to lose pieces of a conversation. IOW, the context.If that does not meet the needs of the commenter, the situation, the moderator, or the site guidelines, then the site moderator can delete the comment altogether.

        1. Emil Sotirov

          You should probably allow the deleting (by comment poster) of comments which have no replies (as was mine).Once there is a reply (context that needs the original comment), you may give only the options of “edit” and “anonymize”. For “anonymize” you may have a hint (or warning) saying “Once you anonymize your comment, you’ll not be able to edit it.”Now, my comment looks like real spam… with the unpleasant implication that some people here may, in fact, guess that I posted it… 🙂 And now I can’t do anything about it. Turning me into an anonymous poster without warning is not a good idea.

          1. Guest

        2. LE

          then the site moderator can delete the comment altogether.1) People don’t know how to get in touch with “the site moderator”.2) Most people wouldn’t even tend to know who “the site moderator” is either.3) It’s entirely possible that something posted needs to be withdrawn because it contains information that shouldn’t have been disclosed.With #3 you could always delete that info and then “delete” the comment but how many people are going to know to do that?

          1. JimHirshfield


          2. LE

            You are saying that this is up to the site moderator. I’m saying it’s not the right “behavior” to allow only the site moderator to make that decision. Particularly for reason #3 in my reply.If you meant something else by giving a link to what I already read (and was what I was replying to) then let me know.

          3. JimHirshfield

            My reply to @ccrystle:disqus covers the product thinking as far as I know. (not sure you saw that).Completely expunging an entry is a moderation feature. I get, and respect, that you disagree.

  8. Twain Twain

    Thanks, great reminder for everyone!

  9. William Mougayar

    Isn’t Crowdrise looking like Donnors Choose for everything?

    1. ShanaC

      that may not be a bad thing. Not everyone is a teacher, and many people/orgs need to fundraise to cover org costs

  10. ShanaC

    a) this should be mentioned right before thanksgiving (when people are planning their corporate gift lists) You’re still going to get the gifts now 😛 . Maybe next yearB) this is why I’m a grinch and don’t gove gfts (actually more like I am poor/don’t know holiday customs and I am afraid of insulting everyone, so the best answer is giving to no one except family, and no holiday cards)Seriously though, in my parents community, they actually ran into a similar problem on Purim, and basically decided to band together to organize a big gift to every family, and the rest of the money was pooled for charity, so that no one felt bad. Maybe you could try that? (though if this is a corporate gift, this might not work well.)

  11. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Why not just call Goodwill or someone to come get all that stuff and deliver it to families less fortunate? That way, more presents will give you a *good* feeling and something good will come of it.Then if someone asks, “Did you get my gift?” You can say, “Probably. I give them all to charity without opening them. So your gift brightened someone’s holidays.”

    1. ShanaC

      My guess is a lot of this is ridiculous baskets.Also, Housing Works

      1. LE

        this is ridiculous basketsThose baskets, back in the day, were bespoke and quite nice. The ones that are out there now are totally different and pretty lame.That said nothing says “no thought” more than sending a gift basket unless it’s from a place like

    2. fredwilson

      you can’t give wine bottles to goodwill

      1. laurie kalmanson

        auction them off on charity buzzglad to do an intro…

      2. FlavioGomes

        You’re refusing the wine, cause its hard to carry?!?! Man…First world problems i’ll say 😉

      3. Kirsten Lambertsen

        oh, ha. don’t know why I wasn’t picturing wine bottles 🙂

    3. LE

      Why not just call Goodwill or someone to come get all that stuff and deliver it to families less fortunate?Under the “how to spend Fred’s time” heading my suggestion would be to sell or auction everything that is not needed (hard to believe that none of the gifts are of any interest) and then take the money and make a contribution with that.

  12. trackvikings

    I’m always surprised by the Donor’s choose recommendation. I’ve used them before, but honestly I think many of the projects disguised as “giving computer access to classroom” are really “new laptop for teacher”. This is completely unverified and just a guess, but it seems like a desktop is perfectly appropriate for a classroom and potentially much cheaper (also more modular so can be upgraded over time).

    1. laurie kalmanson

      the handwritten notes from the children in the classes i’ve supported through avc challenges would disabuse you of that notion

    2. ShanaC

      i think the laptop choice has to do with the fact that it is the teacher’s, not the classrooms

    3. Leapy

      In my children’s schools. The laptops are stored on trolleys and swapped between classes. This is more flexible, efficient and space-saving.

    4. Matt Zagaja

      Whether it’s used by the teacher to create lesson plans, store gradebooks, etc. and the other unsexy backend work or used by students to Google for research papers or interface with science equipment, I think the classroom benefits.

  13. pointsnfigures

    Had a lot of events in my life happen where I do realize that the material parts of holidays, and the material parts of life are pretty meaningless. Apologize for pimping, but I am making an investment in Will blog more about it, and why when the deal closes, but check them out.

    1. LE

      What is the reason to keep the name “software”?Separately the website (homepage) doesn’t clearly (in a quick take) convey exactly what they are doing and exactly what business they are in. To quick of a jump to “sign up”. Sign up for what? That’s a quick take not a study which is what people who come to the site will think and decide if they want to go further or not.The causes also need more info and a summary as well. Not just a posting with a “go to our website to find out more” link.…”STREETWISE is a corporation based in CHICAGO, IL. Contributions to STREETWISE are tax-deductible.” <— Not enough to get someone interested.

      1. pointsnfigures

        You’ll have to wait for the blogpost.

      2. pointsnfigures

        you will have to wait for the blogpost, but in the meantime, sign up and create your own private dashboard.

    2. leapy

      Great idea aggregating all the non-profits in one place.. Worth noting that the mobile site is significantly better than the desktop site for some reason I can’t fathom. Also (cf. LE below) the url you supplied loses the ‘…software’ from the address when clicked.

  14. Richard

    I for one cant imagine why anyone, who reads this blog, would think that their gift sent to Fred’s office would be well received vs a donation. Sorry, I have to give these gift givers a #clueless hashtag.

    1. LE

      I disagree. 100% actually.First Fred said “gifts that people send me” he didn’t say “gifts that people send me who read this blog”.And we don’t know who is sending the gifts and for what reason. We aren’t talking about Funeral flowers here either. “In lieu of Flowers the family requests that donations be made to…” and so on.Why in the world would anyone (even someone who reads this blog) also think that it’s going to annoy Fred to send him a gift and that he would rather have the money spent donated to charity or some kickstarter project?”Annoy” isn’t a word typically associated with gift giving.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        It really would depend on the intent the gift giver has.There’s one rule of generosity though – if you don’t accept it, you’re preventing someone from giving it.If the intent is assumed to be self-promotion of some sort, then sure, maybe annoyance is foreseen.Many people show love by giving material things – other people need love not via material goods.It just seems like there may be a disconnect here, but you can’t fault or blame people. Perhaps the best case for Fred would be to send out thank yous and mention his preference directly to them, perhaps he’ll reduce the number of gifts each year.

        1. LE

          If the intent is assumed to be self-promotion of some sort, then sure, maybe annoyance is foreseen.I guess Fred would need to be more explicit then. And why assume that the reason for a gift is “self promotion”. Last year I gave a gift to the receptionist in the management office for things she had done for me. Had nothing to do with “self promotion” was merely a “thank you” to show appreciation. And it wasn’t a “give the postman” gift or a “give the UPS guy” a gift which are more “expected” than something that is not a typical gift situation.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Assumption was just me projecting the only reason I might be annoyed by gifts, if it was clear it was for self-promotion purposes – though if I won’t find a gift useful then I generally give it away fairly quickly – I don’t like clutter. Totally get the gift to show appreciation.

  15. andyswan

    Obviously next year we should have a “who can get Fred the most obnoxious gift” contest.

    1. David Semeria

      An elephant?

    2. JimHirshfield

      This year is not yet over. Why wait?

  16. LIAD

    Dear Fred,We know they’re your style.Hope they fit.Seasons greetings.

    1. fredwilson


  17. vankula

    Curious as to what the gifts generally are and what you do with them once you get them home?

  18. RichardF

    damn…when the new nexus 6 arrives that I sent you, if you could just send it back to me that would be great….

  19. PhilipSugar

    I am surprised you didn’t say get a bag and take them to Goodwill.One of Paul Graham’s great essays was about “stuff”…It really, really resonated with me.

    1. LE

      I’m going to read that essay I might have read it in the past.Stuff isn’t entirely or even close to being bad though and many people get pleasure from buying and collecting stuff. Nothing wrong with that. Pleasure from buying if you have the money is actually good. Bad is not enjoying spending money that you have.Here’s an example.I don’t own any watches at all. Many men buy expensive watches for various reasons. That’s good for them. They get pleasure from shopping for watches and some kind of party in the brain from owning those watches.Or Arnold buys wine and enjoys doing so and thinking about it. What’s bad about that? (If you have the money).You got pleasure from restoring an old house. You didn’t buy a Toll Brothers and pick form a list of options. Different people spend money different ways. I like to buy computers and I like to buy cars. I also like to shop for computers and cars and have fun doing so. My current car only has 3000 miles and I’m already thinking about the next one. I think that enhances my life. Key is “I think”. Not “someone else thinks”. I wish I liked watches I would buy them and get pleasure from that. And guess what not everyone who buys material goods is doing so because there is something missing from their life. I know that’s an easy crutch for some people though.

  20. mikenolan99

    Good to know – I keep wanting to send you and Gotham Gal some selections from the Minnesota artisan cheese company my wife and I invested in. I won’t drop the name (unless you ask) but they now have great distribution in NYC – including Murray’s and being featured at Jean Georges, a Michelin 3 star restaurant…Our founder is fantastically passionate – and it has only taken him 7 years to become an overnight success!

    1. fredwilson

      she loves giftsi don’t

      1. mikenolan99

        Will keep trying to pay it forward… I value this community so much – and visit most everyday. Thanks for everything, and happy holidays…

  21. LE

    Hey no gift for you this year just had 7 containers of these shipped in from China.

  22. Rick

    Another great idea is to find a start up that hasn’t been able to land funding and help them with a donation or investment of some kind. There are idea stage start ups out there working hard to bring their idea to market but don’t have the funding..I think given the recent changes to investing laws you might be able to take some preferred ownership! <- Can anyone shed more light on that?

  23. leapy

    May I humbly suggest you review the Desolenator – the means to disrupt the global water crisis at the point of need – with a view to adding it to your list?The indigogo fundraising page:…The 2 minute intro video: feel free to moderate this comment into oblivion if you feel it inappropriate or dilutes your message. This isn’t the intention.L

  24. mikenolan99

    Took me back to my first sales manager back when I sold radio time in Northern Wisconsin. He hosted a party at his house, and each sales person brought ingredients for 12+ dozen cookies. We had a great time baking the cookies and consuming large quantities of cheer, and packed the cookies in tins with cards signed by all of us.We then spent the next few days hand delivering homemade cookies to our clients. We built a sense of team, and the gifts meant more because we were proud of them…Hadn’t thought about that in years….

  25. nvb

    Now that you’ve expressed your desire for donations over gifts, there is simple solution to having the annoyance of having to bring the gifts home. Perhaps you can introduce yourself to the cleaning person or porter in your office building (whom you may already know) and ask them if they would like all of these burdensome gifts. My guess is that they would be ecstatic to have this problem. An even greater gift to them would be to call them a taxi to take all of these items home.

  26. JimHirshfield

    Can you delete that comment you made at the cocktail party the other night? Can you delete that text, IM, or email you recently sent? I’m not trying to be flippant, dismissive, or insensitive to feedback.Just sharing what I (personally) think the thinking is as regards “deleting” comments. You may not agree with it, but that’s the philosophy as far as I know.Additionally, limited demand exists for a more conspicuous method. Of course that’s not a reason to not make it better. And so, the Product has been clued into this thread.

  27. Emil Sotirov

    Yeah… I would have edited my comment to “…” if I knew that “delete” does, in fact “anonymize”.

  28. mikenolan99

    Thanks for asking!Alemar Cheese company – – was started by my good friend Keith Adams with 6 investors.He’s won several awards now, and has quite the reputation growing – all of it well deserved.Single source from organic milk, we have a French Styled Camembert called Bent River, A washed rind Reblochon inspired stinky wonderful cheese named Good Thunder, and new large wheel Brie called Blue Earth.Our Fromage Blanc is almost always used up by area chef’s, and has limited retail exposure.All the NYC locations are on the website, and we have great distribution in San Francisco as well.

  29. Guest

    Oh and ….

  30. LE

    Can you delete that comment you made at the cocktail party the other night? Can you delete that text, IM, or email you recently sent?That’s because the design of those can’t be changed.In this case it can be changed. That’s a major difference.If someone says something here and decides that they want to withdraw what they said then they should be allowed to do so.

  31. Emil Sotirov

    Jim… Disqus comments are permanent. Comments on parties are like Snapchat posts… or was it the other way around… :)I tried to give constructive feedback. Changing a label from”delete” to “anonymize” and adding a hint does not change your function. It can stay the same – but be more transparent. Links (as they say) are promises. Mislabeling is not a good product design.

  32. Guest

  33. awaldstein

    Well done my friend.What’s not to like honestly. Been watching the Maple Water market and it is exploding–basically raw sap. Followed in the heals of the Cocoanut water craze.

  34. JimHirshfield

    I agree with you. It should be corrected.

  35. LE

    Comments on parties are like Snapchat postsThe other thing is that comments at parties are hearsay unless you are the person who has heard the comment. Someone can say something screwed up and the only evidence is the testimony of the person who has heard the comment to others. Which can always be denied giving the person who said it at least a leg to stand on.Something in writing goes by the rule of “are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?”. Near impossible with that type of proof.

  36. LE

    What’s interesting is that this “no do overs” actually would in theory restrict what people say for fear that they can’t delete a comment. Of course as I mentioned they can “hack” delete a comment but guess what not everyone will figure out how to game that. As simple as it is.I have to tell you that I never knew that “delete” meant “live as a guest comment”. I will have to give that a try.

  37. JimHirshfield

    No one is denying your continued ability to do you #1, #2, #3, or #4.Pedantic might be the right word for it. Not going for the other words tho.

  38. JimHirshfield

    “If someone says something here and decides that they want to withdraw what they said then they should be allowed to do so.”And they can. But like you point out, it’s not obvious or done with the best UX. But it can be done here, whereas in most other forms of communication you can’t remove what you said.

  39. Emil Sotirov

    I’m happy now… but consider also what I said about comments without replies.

  40. JimHirshfield

    I know

  41. Guest

    just edit it down to a few characters, then delete.

  42. Emil Sotirov

    Plausible deniability is a core value prop element of my latest product – Keeam (

  43. JimHirshfield

    I understand

  44. LE

    An interesting idea. A suggestion would be to give examples complete with pictures right no the home page as opposed to the words. So create faux users and kees.(Separately I’m not loving the name..)

  45. Guest

    Guest my ass.Hmm. Not seeing where the delete button is actually.

  46. Emil Sotirov

    There are (a few) real users already. See the link “Best of Keeam…” on homepage (don’t want to add more links here). From that page, click on anything that looks like a link (red).People generally like the name and the branding… had no negative feedback about it… until yours.Do you want an invite?

  47. Emil Sotirov

    I did not get initially your suggestion – to create those faux users and kees for the purpose of an illustration on the homepage – that makes sense! Thank you.

  48. LE

    That’s because I’m an expert and the others are not. If I may say so myself. And I will.

  49. Emil Sotirov

    You also happen to sell names (domains)… 🙂 Seriously, thanks for the feedback!

  50. Dale Allyn

    Glad you posted it, Mike. Thanks!

  51. karen_e


  52. jason wright

    What’s the certification regime in the US like? Today I bought pasta with USDA Organic on the packaging. Authentically organic?In Europe Demeter is the gold standard.

  53. awaldstein

    Loaded question.All certs exist somewhere between compromise and bullshit.Some are more transparent than others–non gmo vs organic for example.And the biggest pieces are what are just downright misleading like the categories of free range.Fascinating and important topic. Large companies like Whole Foods are creating new levels that they can impose on the market and for them most part this is a very good thing.( I know Demeter mostly from its bio d cert for wine.)

  54. fredwilson

    yeah, i feel badly that people think i’m scrooge

  55. LE

    When you make that change post it back here so we can all take a look.

  56. Emil Sotirov

    Will do.

  57. Emil Sotirov

    For the time being, we’ve put an “artsy” illustration – – more like a placeholder – until we come up with something better. BTW – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a truly good illustration on a homepage of an online service – good enough to explain it without text.

  58. jason wright

    Well Arnold, i’m hoping for a culinary revolution with the Ara phone.Someone will come out with a module that analyses food and drink in the kitchen for levels of chemicals and pesticide residues, and then we will be able to call “bullshit” on certain producers and their certifiers.You could sample your organic wines in this way. I think Demeter is just about as good as it gets in the hierarchy of certifiers. Of course local sourcing is the novel alternative.GMOs are the devils work.

  59. awaldstein

    I can’t even pretend to have any answers for this Jason.I believe strongly that the most interesting problems to solve will be around the largest question of ‘how do we feed the world without killing the planet’?How does technology assist not exacerbate this solution?It is happening already through artisanal supply chains on a small level and information on a larger ones.It shocks and delights me the level of awareness of people around nutrition and the sources of their foods.Great topic.I would give up my independent lifestyle and jump feet first to create projects around this or even join a company who was working smartly to solve these issues.They really talk to me and I know could plumb my best skills.Thanks.