Posts from March 2015

Video Of The Week: "This is where culture is moving"

At roughly 10mins in, Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler, starts a short one minute comment that ends with the statement that “this is where culture is moving”. If you don’t have 50 mins to watch the whole interview with Jason, click on this link and watch for one minute.

But if you do have 50mins this weekend, I strongly encourage you to watch this great interview from Jason’s Launch Festival.

#crowdfunding

Feature Friday: Swiping Through Music

One of my favorite user experiences is the SoundCloud mobile music player.  I’ve been driving a lot this winter in LA and when I get into my car, I bluetooth my phone to it and put my phone next to my seat. I can go forward and back from song to song with the buttons on the steering wheel but I find myself swiping the phone instead because the experience is so delightful.

Here’s a video I took just now of the experience of swiping through music;

 It’s also super easy to move through the song by pressing and swiping:

 Thanks go out to The Isley Brothers and The Beastie Boys for the audio portion of this blog post. If you want to hear the whole thing, it’s my song of the day.
#mobile#Music

Same Day/Same Hour Delivery

At the Morgan Stanley Internet Conference a few weeks ago in SF, I was asked to sit on stage with Bill Gurley and Alfred Lin and take questions from the moderator and audience. It was fun. Bill and Alfred are two of the best VCs in the business and it was a treat to be on stage with them.

One question we got from the audience was what company was going to get most disrupted by the Internet. Bill answered Hertz and Avis, for obvious reasons. I think he’s got a great point. I answered Walmart. Here’s why.

Until now, if you want something right away, you have to go a store. If you are willing to wait, you can order it online. But it sure feels like same day/same hour delivery is coming and coming fast now. And when you can order something from Amazon, or Instacart, or Starbucks and get it right away, there are going to be a lot less reasons to go to a store.

We’ve got a horse in this race with Sidecar and I am seeing it happening right in front of my face. These real time driver networks that Sidecar, Postmates, Lyft, Uber and a handful of other companies have built can do a lot more than move people around. They can and are moving packages around. And more and more ecommerce companies (including bricks and mortar retailers!) are doing deals with these driver networks to get their stuff to their customers on the same day and even in the same hour.

This is going to put even more pressure on companies with lots of stores, lots of in store inventory and labor, and processes, systems, and procedures optimized for the in-store experience. That’s why I answered Walmart.

All that said, I am not advising you short Walmart. Please don’t take public stock market investing advice from me. I don’t know anything about that. I’m a VC.

#mobile

NYC Computer Science Opportunity Fair

This past Monday, over 1200 NYC public school students went up to Columbia University for the second annual NYC Computer Science Opportunity Fair.

In 2014, at the first event of this kind, we had about 300 students attend. The fact that the number of students who take CS classes in a NYC public school and want to attend an event like this has gone up 4x in a year is testament to the great work that a handful of non-profits in partnership with the NYC Department of Education are doing to dramatically change the availability of CS classes in middle school and high school in NYC public schools.

This school year, 2014-2015, CS classes are being taught in over 100 NYC public schools to over 10,000 students. Given that there are over 1700 schools and 1.1 million students in NYC’s school system, there is a lot more work to be done. But considering that three years ago, only a few of the elite “test” schools, were offering such programs, I think there is a lot to be excited and encouraged about.

The financial sponsors who made this event possible were Microsoft (who hosted it last year), AOL, Facebook, Two Sigma, the NYC DOE and EDC, and CSNYC.

The following companies had booths where the students could learn about technical job opportunities in NYC that will be available to them if they continue their technical education through high school and college: 

  • AOL
  • Codesters, Inc.
  • Etsy
  • Facebook
  • Floored Inc
  • Google
  • IBM
  • J.P. Morgan
  • Jozii LLC
  • Kickstarter
  • Microsoft
  • NYTimes
  • onTarget Technologies Inc
  • PhotoShelter
  • Stack AI
  • TreSensa
  • Two Sigma
  • Vidcode
  • Viridis Learning
  • Yext

The following higher education institutions had booths where the students could learn about where they can continue their technical education in college:

  • Columbia University Office of Undergraduate Admissions
  • Columbia University, Computer Science
  • CUNY- City University of New York
  • CUNY – Graduate Center
  • ITP/NYU
  • NYU Courant
  • NYU Game Center
  • NYU Poly
  • Pace University

And the following after school/weekend/summer programs had booths where the students could learn about where else they can continue their technical education: 

  • All Star Code
  • CSTUY
  • Dream it. Code it. Win it.
  • FIRST Robotics
  • Flatiron School
  • Girls Who Code
  • Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
  • NYC Department of Youth and Community Development
  • NYC Parks and Recreation – Computer Resource Centers
  • The Flatiron School
  • The Knowledge House
  • The Makery
  • MakerState

Here are a couple of my favorite tweets I saw on Monday, from NYC’s CTO and Cornell/Technion’s Director of K-12 Education. In them you can see both their excitement for what this means for the future of NYC and the kids themselves.

and

#Uncategorized

Battery Sharing

We were at a family event last night and all three of my kids had the battery die on their phone before the event ended. I had over 80% battery on my phone. What I wished I could do was easily give them some of my battery to get them through the night.

I had this image in my mind of holding the backs of two iPhones together and hitting a button and having the one with lots of battery give some of it to the one that was running out.

Even if such a thing required connecting the two phones with a cord, it would be pretty great.

I’m wondering why this isn’t possible, particularly the connecting two phones with a cord and having one give some of its battery power to the other. I’m sure there is someone out there much smarter than I am about battery technology who can answer this question.

Of all the great things that Apple and the Android phone companies have brought to the market over the years, the one thing that still sucks about smartphones is battery life. And with billions of people walking around with these devices in their pockets, it seems that tapping into all of that excess battery power to give a dying phone some extra life would be an incredible feature. It can’t be that they haven’t considered it. It has to be that its not easy to do. But I’m not sure why.

#mobile

Video Of The Week: My Chat With Jason

I’ve known Jason Calacanis for twenty years. We met when he was in his early 20s and I was in my early 30s. A lot has happened in those twenty years and Jason and I sat down to talk about that at his Launch Festival last week in San Francisco. It’s a long talk, almost 60mins, with no Q&A from the audience. We cover a lot of territory and I was as candid as can be with Jason. I think this chat reveals a lot about where my head is at right now, which is a credit to Jason and our long friendship.

#VC & Technology

Fun Friday: Favorite Travel Resources

Brittany has a great post on the travel category and why it’s hard to build a business in it. It made me think that this would be a great topic for fun friday, which we haven’t done in over a month.

So here goes. What travel resources do you use when planning a trip? It can be a business or personal trip. But obviously vacation travel planning will be more fun to talk about.

For me, it’s Foursquare and Indagare. Foursquare gives me the “peer to peer” information I like to have on places. And Indagare gives me the expert advice I like to supplement that with. I’m a triangulator. I like to hear about things, then check them out in a few trusted places. When it all lines up for me, it’s a go.

How about you?

#Travel

Get Fit Or Be Hacking

Technology often involves a lot of intense brain work behind a desk or computer. I’ve learned over the years how important it is to move your body to relieve it from all that stress and strain. And so it was interesting to me when my friend Rob said he wanted to do a fundraiser for CSNYC at a CrossFit gym.

The event Rob envisioned is now happening. It’s called “Get Fit or Be Hacking” and is taking place on May 2nd from 2pm – 8pm at CrossFit South Brooklyn in Gowanus. Participants will compete in teams of four to complete various coding and fitness challenges. Each four person team will also raise money for CSNYC via CrowdRise in the weeks leading up to the event. Awards will be given out for the most creative fundraising approach and most money raised as well as in the fitness, coding, and overall categories based on team performance May 2nd.

One of the coding challenges will be in JavaScript. Another challenge will be in a “pick ‘em” scripting language (e.g., Python, Ruby). Rob assures me that there will be no “barbell stuff” during the fitness portion. The workouts will be accessible to any developer who works out regularly. Perhaps best of all there’s an after-party planned at Three’s Brewing. They serve tasty beer and the Gotham Gal and I are investors in it.

If you’re a software developer who also likes to work out, this event is for you. More info can be found on the CrowdRise page here; if you’d like to donate to CSNYC by supporting one of the competing teams, that’s also where to go. More information on the event overall is available from CrossFit South Brooklyn.

This should be a great event.

#hacking philanthropy