Ayah Bdeir is one of the most impressive entrepreneurs I have come across in the last ten years. The Gotham Gal invested in the Little Bits seed round in 2011 and we have watched her build that company over the past six years. In this podcast Joanne and Ayah talk about the early days of Little Bits and the power of people believing in the vision early on.
Posts from July 2017
I blogged about Crypto Valley yesterday (aka Zug Switzerland).
Well it turns out that a couple of AVC community members (Ken Berger and Jeremy Epstein) have put together a three day trip to Zug on August 14-16. Details are here.
Ken Berger wrote this in his post yesterday:
Our target attendee participants are enthusiasts already well-versed in decentralizing internet technologies, including blockchain, crypto-currencies and beyond. We’ve already confirmed some VC’s and hackers, but other deep thinkers and some simply curious will likely make the list too; will be a great group. The event is free of charge. And hey, it’s gorgeous Switzerland in summer.
I will not be making this pilgrimage but I suspect some of you may be interested in doing so.
The economist Paul Romer introduced me to the idea of jurisdictional competition about ten years ago and I’ve been fascinated with it since. His TED Talk about charter cities from 2009 is a good primer on the concept.
The basic idea of jurisdictional competition is countries, cities, and regions can compete economically with each other by adopting more favorable laws and social norms.
We are actually seeing this play out right now in the crypto sector with the Swiss Canton of Zug becoming the preferred location to domicile a crypto-currency business.
Zug has even taken to calling itself Crypto Valley.
We have watched the blockchain companies in our portfolio struggle to adapt their business models, financing approaches, and more to US laws. We have been working with them to come up with creative ways that they can continue to operate in the US while executing the crypto playbook. It has been quite challenging. Many have advocated just moving the businesses to Zug, like so many others have done. And that may happen. We are for whatever is best for the founder and the business they create and have no preference for US domiciled companies. We have invested in Canadian companies, Estonian companies, French companies, Dutch companies, German companies, and likely a lot more. Investing in a Swiss domiciled company or foundation would not be a big deal for us.
The crypto playbook is a disruptive one. It is not a new way to raise money. It is a new way to architect a business. The profit motive is flipped upside down. You extract profits with your currency, not your business model. They are so many institutions, laws, even governments that look at that playbook and freak out. There has been pressure for years to rein the crypto sector in. And many rules and laws have been passed. And yet the crypto sector continues to flourish. Some of that is because it is, like the Internet, a global technology that knows no borders. Some of that is because lawmakers and regulators have been wise to tread carefully. And some of that is because nobody wants to drive this sector out of their city or country.
And yet that might happen anyway. It is already happening. And the US, and Silicon Valley in particular, have the most to lose if it does.
Juan Benet, the founder of Protocol Labs, explains all of that in this Y Combinator video.
This is super long, but the first part (30-40 mins) explains most of what they are up to.
Twitter Moments initially launched as a consume only service. But at some point, I’m not sure exactly when, Moments was opened up and anyone can create one now.
I created my first Moment just now.
You go to your Twitter profile, click Moments, and then click “Create New Moments.”
Then you can curate the Tweets you have liked, you have sent, and from accounts you like, into a single stream.
I decided to curate some of the music tweets that have hit my timeline this week.
Here’s my first Moment (click here to see it on Twitter):
one of the truths of successful startups. the thing you set out to make is not usually what you end up making.
— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) July 6, 2017
I was in Europe for most of June and working on a lot of things with people in the bay area. The nine hours of time zone difference was challenging. I was doing a lot of calls in the evenings with people who were just waking up.
There were many times when I woke up in Europe to a brief window where I could talk to people in the bay area who were still working and had not wrapped things up for the day before.
Our portfolio at USV spans ten hours (Estonia to San Francisco/Los Angeles).
Being based in NYC helps a bit as we have longer overlaps between Europe and the Bay Area than those two locations have with each other.
But I continue to find working across many time zones challenging.
Yesterday I had a conference call between people in five time zones. Getting everyone to agree to the correct time was almost laughable.
I’ve learned to use the time zone feature in Google Calendar to make sure I’ve got the time right. That helps me a lot.
As the world becomes more globalized, we find that we can do business more easily across time zones. And so we do more business across time zones.
That in turn leads to longer days.
When I am in LA, I often wake at 5am to an inbox that is full and active.
When I am in Europe, I am often on conference calls on the way to dinner.
I suspect there is someone working at a USV portfolio company at every hour of every day.
And new technologies is pushing this trend even farther.
Traditional capital markets open and close. The NYSE will open for trading today at 9:30amET after being closed all day yesterday for the July 4th holiday.
But crypto traders can trade on GDAX 24/7 and do.
So the tech and startup business is quickly becoming a 24/7 affair.
It wasn’t that way at all when I got into the business in my mid 20s.
But thirty years later the pace and rhythm is very different.
Keeping up with that pace and rhythm can be exhausting if you let it be.
For many Americans, this one included, the last eight months have been hard. We are not showing the world the side of our country that we love and are proud of. We are showing the world the side of our country that embarrasses us.
But even with the recognition that America has an ugly side, I still am incredibly proud to be a citizen of this great country. Warts and all, the United States of America is a land of opportunity, hope, and freedom. You can be who you want to be and what you want to be here. I am proof of that.
So Happy Birthday America. Let’s wave our flags and be proud today.
I’ve written about Rare Pepe a bit here at AVC. I am fascinated by the combination of trading cards, internet memes, and crypto assets that Rare Pepe represents.
This morning I woke up to this news on Twitter:
— (╯°□°）╯ ︵ ┻━┻ (@wasthatawolf) July 2, 2017
Of course I went to my Rare Pepe Wallet and offered 400 Rare Pepes for it. I hope that trade clears and I become the owner of one of the 100 that will exist.
It is Series 21, Card 14 in case others want to collect this gem.
Last month my colleague Nick Grossman gave a really great talk at The Next Web in Amsterdam. In it, he talks about the importance of purpose, mission, and strategy and how to connect them in your company. And he shares a lot of great examples from our portfolio in his talk.