USV Thesis 3.0
At USV, we are thesis-driven investors. We state clearly and concisely what we want to invest in and, implicitly, decide not to invest in anything else. That is a good thing because, as our partner Rebecca wrote in this post:
The commitment to a thesis is part of the fiber of USV–a shared set of ideas creates a framework that allows us to operate with focus and work on what matters most
Today we are publishing, and committing ourselves to, version 3.0 of our thesis:
USV backs trusted brands that broaden access to knowledge, capital, and well-being by leveraging networks, platforms, and protocols.
But this is actually the fourth USV thesis.
When we started USV, Brad and I committed this to our investors (before this was tweetable):
At USV, we will invest in the applications layer of the Internet.
That was an acknowledgment that, in 2003, we had moved beyond what Carlota Perez calls the installation phase and had reached the deployment phase.
But we quickly realized that the applications layer thesis was too big and we needed to narrow our focus. So in 2006/2007, we started focusing exclusively on networks that were quickly amassing large users bases on the web. That was eventually articulated by our partner Brad in this tweet:
USV in 140 characters: invest in large networks of engaged users, differentiated by user experience, and defensible though network effects
— Brad Burnham (@BradUSV) June 8, 2011
By 2013, we knew that the network thesis was long in the tooth and had started adjusting to that fact. We had gotten interested in the blockchain sector in 2011 and had also started building large portfolios in fintech, education, and health care. Our partner Andy finally forced the issue and we went public with what he called “Thesis 2.0” but was actually the third revision.
As the market matures, we look for less obvious network effects,
infrastructure for the new economy, and enablers of open decentralized
— Andy Weissman (@aweissman) December 15, 2015
And now we find ourselves again iterating slightly on what we are focused on. And so we turned to the newest member of our partnership, Rebecca, to explain it to the world.
The @usv thesis in its new 3.0 version (but still less than 140 characters) to reflect our current focus: USV backs trusted brands that broaden access to knowledge, capital, and well-being by leveraging networks, platforms, and protocols. More on why here: https://t.co/ogKFH4DUNZ
— Rebecca Kaden (@rebeccak46) April 3, 2018
One of the things I like most about Thesis 3.0 is that is a modest adjustment to where we have been with our prior efforts, but we have tightened things up and added a few nuances. Like the prior iterations of our thesis, we have already been investing behind this thesis and you can see elements of it here and elsewhere in our recent investing activity. Notably, the words blockchain and crypto are nowhere to be found in thesis 3.0 but it leads us inexorably there.