Disrupt NYC 2016 Interview

This is the 20min chat I did yesterday with Jordan Crook at Disrupt NYC.

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Did she say “Thank you Dude” at the end?

    1. JimHirshfield

      She did. Abide.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        I thought Fred really tied the room together.

    2. fredwilson

      Yeah. My daughter liked that. She said “she seems chill”

    3. sigmaalgebra

      I thought that at the end she said “Thank you dear” then hugged him for a case of sexual harassment? Gads, women engaged in the ugly, misogynist, contemptible, disgusting, offensive, [more pejorative synonyms] sexual harassment?Good news: Finally we are driving a big, rough wooden stake through the heart of the monster of big hysteria, political correctness! “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, I’m free at last!”.Now, what are the new monsters for tomorrow? I mean, don’t we always need monsters to scream about? Well, at least the newsies do.

  2. JimHirshfield

    The Donald comes up in the context of virtual reality. Go figure.

    1. jason wright

      “creepy and weird” – he pays the game very well.

  3. jason wright

    deja vu.i get it. busy day today. meeting the family.

    1. fredwilson

      Not everyone saw it

      1. jason wright

        maybe.i prefer this one-to-one interview. too many voices can be diluting.

  4. jason wright

    have you ever worked with a woman as a partner in your career?

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. Nancy Casey. At Euclid Partners from 1988 (ish) to 1992 (ish)

  5. pointsnfigures

    “Instinct says the company”-but if we go back to the earlier point about human survival, the car companies have to fight for survival. If Google’s bet, or Apple’s bet on cars doesn’t work out they lose money. If the car companies bet fails, they die. Dying sharpens the focus a lot and this time around I think the car companies have finally incorporated it. In the 70s they ignored it. But now they see the wave, and they understand they have to change to compete with it. The car companies will buy technology to survive. The question becomes, how efficient will they be at integrating it.

    1. LE

      Apple/Google true with respect to cars. But then again if they don’t find the next thing that they need to make profit they will fail. So maybe they won’t fail if the car play doesn’t work but they will fail if they can’t discover the next cash cow or hit. Google knows this (and with Apple it’s obvious) otherwise they wouldn’t be screwing around with so many moonshots.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      The more stuff they add to cars, the more I have to pay for, the more stuff that breaks, and the more I have to pay to maintain that stuff. And who the heck can fix that new stuff?E.g., the radio antenna in my car has a bad connection, and I asked a mechanic if he knew where the bad connection was and how to fix it. He seemed afraid that with anything electronic like a radio antenna, he might get electrocuted! So, my car has an AM/FM radio, actually a terrific radio, that, however, doesn’t work due to a bad antenna connection. When I get a free afternoon, I’ll fix it.E.g., some lights in my dashboard burned out, and my mechanic said that to replace the lights he would have to remove and replace the whole dashboard for $1000. No thanks.So, if mechanics now can’t work with radio antennas and the industry struggles with designs for light bulb maintenance, then just the simple, practical aspects of the electronics for self driving cars will be far beyond the current industry.I just hope that the industry can catch up with electronically controlled direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, ignition systems without breaker points, electronically controlled transmissions, carbon fiber in the body work, the electrical connections for remote adjustable rear view mirrors, corrosion in the exhaust system, electronic keyless entry, and a glue for the center rear view mirror that won’t fail.Heck, for the NY winters, I like part time four wheel drive, but I want the control to be 100% mechanical since for the first few years the electrical controls from Chevy failed. That is, it takes Chevy a few years to get something like a new electrical control to work well! For a lower volume producer like Buick that keeps wanting changes for fashion and style, they never get their stuff right. E.g., design problems include the waste gate on the turbocharger, the transmission shifting control, a crucial connection in the exhaust (I fabricated a plate brass fix up), weak front end control arm bushings, power steering way too stiff, an ignition coil pack that shorts out, the filter in the gas tank that plugs up and takes $1000 to fix, and much more.That other computer and electronic stuff for self-driving? I’d rather dial back to the cars I had in high school and grad school.Gee, self driving means servos on the steering, throttle, brakes, and gear shift — NO THANKS, or “Get that junk OUT’A my car.Gotta say: Self-driving is going to flop. It’s a fad. When people see the problems and costs clearly, they will reject it.Car companies that install that stuff will get undersold by companies that don’t.Google, Apple in the car business? F’get about it. Tesla? When Trump ends the massive subsidies, f’get about it.I’ve already rejected all ordinary passenger cars. Instead, I want an SUV based on a light truck, a real TRUCK able to carry lumber, hogs, cement, bricks, etc. off-road, through mud and snow. I want the thing to be tough, and I don’t give even a hoot about luxury or style. I want it to be rugged, and I don’t give even a hoot about luxury or style. I want it to be easy to maintain, and I don’t give even a hoot about luxury or style.I don’t want stuff I don’t need and would have to pay for and maintain, and I don’t give even a hoot about luxury or style.And if the car had some self-driving stuff, then I’d get the maintenance manual and pull enough plugs and cut enough wires permanently to kill the darned self-driving stuff.Self-driving might seem nice to the SF and Manhattan sets, but out in the burbs or the country that stuff will be less welcome than a triple Dutch process mocha, double rich, fat free, gluten free, sugar free, organic milk, lactose free, CO2 free, minimal carbon footprint, hand grown, selected, roasted, and ground by virgins from 15,000+ feet, coffee.

      1. Lawrence Brass

        This is what you want:

        1. sigmaalgebra

          About right!”Ah, it warms an author’s heart to be read and even understood!”Paul Halmos, at one time, assistant to von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study, in a letter to me about the Hamelton-Cayley theorem.

  6. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I liked your “creepy and weird” answer a lot, for many reasons.It just seems so obvious to me that new tech always brings out the dooms-dayers. Why do journalists waste cycles talking about it? It would have been so much more interesting to dive deep into what you’ve seen and know and what you envision that makes you so bullish on AR.These folks probably don’t get a lot of time to prep though, so I should probably give ’em a break.

  7. awaldstein

    Most interesting topic to me was about how you can create massive horizontal change incrementally without disrupting in their face an industry.Like drones making so many things so more efficient that eventually from the ground up it will transform a bunch of industries.CRM did this. Hubspot did this. Slack did this. Drones and I think some horizontal pieces of what is happening with rules engines in the enterprise and location data is doing this.This is an interesting meme to me.

    1. JamesHRH

      Absolutely the hardest innovation to drive though. Fraught with risk.

  8. LE

    Hologram of a person sitting at the table in a restaurant joining in. I can see that being something that people would accept. We already do that now with having our kids facetime in to various family dinners (Passover being the last). Restaurants wouldn’t want to give up the table spaces for non-diners but it’s not a non-starter.

  9. LE

    Oh man. Did she hit the nail on the head with the hunter gatherer “to busy to create problems” analogy. And you just didn’t get that by your answer. That is 100% true as far as human nature goes. People need to be able to have negative times (like hard work or even a less than ideal job) in order to have good times. You yourself know that even though your financial needs are met it’s not like you wakeup and every day is a wonderful day. You just focus on other problems. People need a forced mission to keep them occupied and for many people work and “the struggle” is that forced mission. Arts and music? Something that is optional. Simply not the same thing.I will repeat what she said below for context:my concern is if you think about early early human history there is no proof or evidence that any of those people were depressed because they were surviving they were hunting and gathering there was no time to have spats with your husband or wife you were dealing with survival and the more we continue to solve problems the more time we have on our hands to create problems emotionally and mentally so with AI are we stripping a bit of our humanity by having something else solve problems for us.

    1. cavepainting

      Yep. It was a very insightful question. Problems that force people to live in the present can actually make them happy as the mind is not distracted thinking about the past or speculating the future. When people have too much time on their hands, some will use it for creating higher order things — like music, writing, movies etc.– and making new objects. But there will be many more who create new problems for themselves that may actually decrease the over-all quality of their lives and make them unhappy.The nature of the human mind is to undervalue what you have and overvalue what you do not. Some of the newer inventions have a dark underbelly that accentuate this.

    2. Gustavo Melo

      Sure, I think it’s a valid question: will automating jobs and tasks somehow drain us of purpose? And yes, we will undoubtedly create new problems as we automate the solutions to our old problems. But isn’t this the very definition of progress? Isn’t this how we dream up new ways to get to the stars? Are we so jaded as to believe that once we solve our *current* problems we will somehow be unable, as a species, to come up with even more ambitious goals and challenges, and people will sit around moping instead?https://www.youtube.com/wat

  10. LE

    I think a good parry (deflection) for the “women partner” ambush question [1] is to simply talk about what it is that both USV and yourself personally (through Joanne’s investments and wefestival.com) does for women. Jobs created and opportunities created for women elsewhere. The answer you gave wasn’t particularly strong (hence the “C+” recognizing you dodged it like a trained politician). That said I don’t think you need to be pc apologizing in anyway for what amounts to a small private company decision to act in your own self interests (hence the A). Besides, why didn’t she ask “when will you hire a black transgender handicapped women?” Why stop at simply “woman”?[1] I would give you a A+ for your position but a C+ for the way you stated them.

  11. LE

    The develop more “brand name investors” is a really important point. All to often a company puts all their eggs into the uber guy basket, instead of displaying multiple members of the team as being important and building their brand. I mean other than 92 yo Munger fossil who else do most of us know at Berkshire Hathaway? Or who did we know at Apple when Jobs was there. [2] Main stream publicity very important (smart money might know who they are but we don’t). Of course some of what you say contradicts the “no room for women” answer a bit. [1][1] Marissa will probably end up at a VC firm I am sure.[2] By this I mean the all important guiding force. Hence the fear that when Jobs left Apple would go downhill (same for Berkshire). Bottom line: If you are going to have a star you might as well have multiple stars to offer redundancy.

  12. TeddyBeingTeddy

    Fred my only comment/recommendation, you should roll with a V-neck undershirt instead of the crew neck. Will transform you from a CPA to a 007.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      A fine checkered shirt and dark jeans is engineer chic, Fred is an engineer then VC, in his own words. Don’t know about the undershirt, I use black… slow day.

      1. TeddyBeingTeddy

        Black is a solid choice. It says, “i’m responsible… and stylish”. My deodorant turns the pits of my white shirt yellow and eventually green. Which means I should probably go with black sweat catchers too.

    2. Vasudev Ram

      Ha ha. Double Agent Wilson. Stirred, but not shaken.

  13. george

    Like your take on the tech bubble question: “things go up, things go down, that’s how life is!” Be realistic and level headed about market valuations…solid!

  14. fredwilson


  15. Girish Mehta

    Not in the talk. Think Charlie is referring to mailing it in today.I could be wrong.

  16. jason wright

    as we say in England… yesterday’s news is today’s fish’n’chip paper.

  17. jason wright

    ask for a refund.

  18. Girish Mehta

    Throw the man a bone. He said something about a crazy week and having no time to breathe a couple of days back..

  19. jason wright

    he’s set the bar high.

  20. JLM

    .No stamp on this one. Dialed it in. Feeling cheated but then I’ve become extraordinarily sensitive these days. Needy, too.Going to retreat to my safe place and contemplate it.Have to go, the tears are welling up.Dialing. It. In. Fred? How could you?Junkie. Me.Tough crowd.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  21. Jess Bachman

    Best way to phone it in is do an open topic… as long as it isn’t bitcoin.

  22. fredwilson

    yeah, super tough. good thing i am used to it 🙂

  23. JLM

    .Bitcoin? What is that?I’ll check back in a week or two.All well?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  24. jason wright

    open source topic?

  25. Girish Mehta

    No Hurry. Bitcoin will still be the Next Big Thing three years from now.

  26. Jess Bachman

    Bitcoin is a crypto-career vessel for @wmoug:disqus. I hear it’s very effective.

  27. pointsnfigures

    Gonna take longer than that but I will laugh pretty hard the day JLM pays me in bitcoin for the money I will take from him when the Illini beat UNC for the national championship in 2025.

  28. pointsnfigures

    Generally, existing networks get blown up, then put back together again. Dominant players emerge and if the original dominant players are nimble they can dominate again. I think when it becomes a 100% driverless car world, car “coolness” will matter again. At the same time with advances in 3D printing and customization, manufacturers will have the ability to really customize cars within reason to individual peculiarities and specs.Cars look alike these days and that’s why there is nothing like the American metal they turned out in the 60s. Give me a 66 Vette and I will turn more heads than anyone in a 2016 Porsche

  29. LE

    I don’t think JLM watched this there was plenty in it to talk about.By the way for new partners (if and when you add them) one of the strong suits has to be media appeal. While your partners are great investment and intelligence wise they simply don’t come across as well marketing wise as you do. You outlined some of this in your internship post where it’s not even as important.

  30. JLM

    .When you become the drug lord, your homies become addicted and bad stuff happens. Your own fault, dude.Trump in a landslide. Reality, not virtual.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  31. JLM

    .Why are you doubting JLM?He watched every single second of it.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  32. LE

    Haha yeah the 66 Corvette guy is always hands down a much better person than a 2016 Porsche guy.Where are you getting this shit from? New Porsches are works of art and party in brain. Old Corvettes are only party in the brain for a super small part of the market. The type of guy that appears in a viagra ad.

  33. LE

    Slush? Haha. Which one? SUV only comes in PDK. But the other I got with stick. The past two both had 7 speed manuals. The turbo only comes with PDK otherwise I would get that.

  34. Lawrence Brass

    Reality… show.