Rapid Experimentation

It can be exhausting to try and stay caught up on every new tech company being started. The Gotham Gal said me to yesterday, “everyone is an entrepreneur these days.” She’s right about that directionally although most companies have employees who are not founders so it is not exactly correct.

The rapid expansion of tech startups and the entrepreneurs who create them has been building for fifteen years, or possibly twenty-five years if you include the early Internet exuberance and the period of disillusionment that followed.

But over the last ten years, in particular, we have seen a number of factors come together to make for an environment where “everyone” can do a tech startup.

We have more and more software engineers and related skillsets around the world as education systems are starting to respond to the market demand for this talent. This is particularly true in Asia and other parts of the rapidly developing world. But it is also increasingly true in the developed world. Our portfolio company Stack Overflow, which serves software engineers almost exclusively, sees 31 million people a month now, up from 22 million five years ago. That likely overestimates the number of globally employed software engineers but it is indicative of the vast number of people solving problems in software right now.

The explosion of open source software, transparent code repositories, and open source tools and languages like MongoDB (we own Mongo stock), React, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, Go, TensorFlow, and so many more, has made it easier to build things in software than ever before. And popular services delivered via APIs (like Twilio and Stripe, both USV portfolio companies) make building software applications even easier.

We also have more support systems for entrepreneurs than we did ten years ago. Paul Graham and Y Combinator were the innovators and first mover in the market for entrepreneurship support systems that are market-based and for profit. That model has been copied and evolved on all around the world and it is powerful, important, and its impacts are far-reaching. We have learned how to best support entrepreneurs early on in the life of a company which leads more people to try it and also leads to more projects graduating from these programs and getting seed funding.

Which takes me to capital. We now have more angel and seed and venture capital being invested in startups every year than ever before. It took a long time, almost twenty years, to pass the go-go years of 1999 and 2000, but pass it we have and even though many see that as a sign that we are in bubble territory again, I am not one of them. Technology innovation is happening in all sectors of our economy and all parts of the world. I think the expansion of capital being deployed into startups can continue for some time to come.

So there are more skilled people to help an entrepreneur build the thing they want to build, more support systems to help them avoid the big mistakes, and more capital to allow them to invest in the business ahead of revenues and profits.

And so, we are in a golden era of tech entrepreneurship where anyone with an idea can make a go of it.

That does not mean that all of these efforts will succeed. They won’t. Think of this golden age as a time of rapid experimentation in which every problem will be attempted to be solved in many ways. Most will fail. Some will succeed. And we will see multiple successful approaches to solving the same challenges.

The good news is that all of the systems that feed these startup efforts, the talent market, the accelerator programs, the capital markets, and the entrepreneurs themselves, understand that these are experiments and that most will not succeed. For the most part, the market has evolved to a point where the economics of each input system has built the loss ratios and likely payouts when you win into their pricing structures. It is not perfect by any means. We may, for example, need to do more for the very early employees. And the rapid inflation in financing valuations may need a pullback if those new economics don’t work long-term for the capital markets.

But if we are thinking about society, and I mean our global society, not just the US, the result of this era of rapid experimentation is likely to be progress on important, and also mundane, human needs.

None of this makes it any easier to try and stay on top of all of this. It seems to me that the only way to do that is to pick a subset of the tech sector and focus just on that and let others take on the challenge of doing the same on another sector. It has gotten way too big for anyone to be able to stay on top of it all.

But when you feel overwhelmed and wonder what will come of all of this entrepreneurship mania, I would urge you to think of all the good that will come of it. Lord knows we need it.

#entrepreneurship#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    I too am optimistic – but should we discount the other side of the coin? – specifically the relative ease of starting/getting initial funding may spread the talent base too thin and will ultimately result in less innovation and value creation as fewer companies will achieve takeoff velocity and hit significant scale.

    1. LE

      may spread the talent base too thinAlso that it pulls people from doing other things in society that are needed. Brains chasing dreams with little chance of success has an impact. [1]This can always be rationalized when you don’t acknowledge the downside which is essentially the opportunity cost of smart people doing things that honestly really aren’t adding as much to society as they think they are.[1] Back in the day smart kids went into medicine because it was A) Prestigious and admired and B) You could earn a good living. And that was a solid career that was guaranteed that most people would not dispute the benefit.

    2. JamesHRH

      I will skip the boring details of the 2001 era story I have that ends with:’ I see as many good startup opportunities today as I did when I started helping entrepreneurs in 1996 or in 1999 for that matter – which is to say, not many. I just don’t see any where near as much of the ridiculously stupid ones getting funded.’Now its a permanent part of the landscape.This is actually good news for experienced providers of capital such as USV. To their credit, they have a great reputation and capital to invest…….once the early early questions have been answered.

  2. JoeK

    “… we are in a golden era of tech entrepreneurship where anyone with an idea can make a go of it.”I’d say we are on the way there. Your industry still (unintentionally) makes it harder for some – the focus on repeat business and warm introductions just makes it that much harder for people who don’t look like the faces on the typical VC ‘About’ page to be heard and get better. You’re busy, and so can only make so many investments, but the herd mentality of the industry means that without top tier VCs getting better at it, the cycle will continue on. How about some USV open hours?

    1. LE

      Your industry still (unintentionally) makes it harder for some – the focus on repeat business and warm introductions just makes it that much harder for people who don’t look like the faces on the typical VCI take issue with this. If you are not creative enough to get by that, umm ‘barrier’ and get an appointment or have someone listen to you you are not going to do well in business most likely.There are any number of creative ways to get the attention of a VC or investor. And there is not only one VC or angel. There are a boat load of them. You only need one. Customers you need a bunch of. It’s like dating. The answer is not “Fred make it easier for me to pitch you”. The answer is you figuring out how to get in front of Fred to get your message across.This is one of the issues I have with traditional education. They don’t teach actual creativity they teach fake creativity and critical thinking where it doesn’t matter.The fact that there is a barrier is good not bad. I’d rather not be evaluated dating style in an open forum I’d rather be evaluated with little or no competition.Will note that this is what I have actually done in the past so I am not talking theoretical. Beauty contests are a sure loser for all but a few.

      1. JoeK

        You’d be correct if everyone had to be creative to get in front of a critical mass of VCs. My point is that not everyone has to. You talk about the barrier being good – do you think it is the same height for everyone? I’m glad that you succeeded in the past – maybe that’s my point?

        1. LE

          My point is that not everyone has to.Wait a minute. Now not having a person that can connect you and/or have some other advantage (look the part and/or attend a top school) that can make it easier for you makes you handicapped? And you deserve some special treatment to put you on an even level? This is where we have gotten to?This is private business. That is the way it works. It’s not fiduciary for society and the benefit or the greater good. A VC/angel might decide to do this (office hours) for marketing purposes but not only are they not under any obligation to do so but they are not wrong either. Or they might think it is a way to get undiscovered and virgin talent.Go try and get an appointment with a major corporation or even a small business and try to sell them goods or services or get an appointment. How do you think they operate? (Not referrals but there is a barrier to entry for sure). Simply wanting it to be easier for you (and for others) is simply not the right way to think about this.In real life not everyone gets equal treatment or a trophy to put it harshly.Separately Fred has detailed how many pitches he gets per day from potential entrepreneurs wanting investments simply throwing it at the fan. How many hours and what kind of system would he need to even do (fairly) what you are suggesting?

          1. JoeK

            Of course it is private business. I don’t think that making it easier for more diverse founders to reach you is that big a deal. VCs do more than provide cash. I’ll give you a simple example. This is quoted off Albert Wenger’s blog. … I often spend time with first time entrepreneurs helping them craft such an email. It is not something that can just be dashed off … I am looking forward to receiving better cold emails in the future. I do read them and will reply to any that are well written, even if it is just to say that it is an area that we don’t invest in.He could have argued that requiring help writing a cold email is a sign of being ‘handicapped’ (your words). And he’d have the right to that opinion. But he didn’t. Which is fine too.How much time should Fred spend? I honestly don’t know. It will take some experimentation to figure out the right balance for each individual VC, which conveniently, is the topic of this post!

      2. CJ

        I take issue with this. If you are not creative enough to get by that, umm ‘barrier’ and get an appointment or have someone listen to you you are not going to do well in business most likely.I take issue with this. Most of my network has no idea about Silicon Valley, coding, app creation, or what in the hell a VC even is or does. There’s not nearly enough awareness put on this, the current and next phase of the US economy, in the underprivileged areas of the US. And even once they find out, there is still a culture barrier. There is a diversity/inclusion barrier. There is a risk barrier. But guess what, these are some of the most creative, talented, smart, and ingenious people I know. You have to be to survive where they live. And the world is missing out on their brilliance because of ignorance. Imagine the Renaissance going on just down the street from an entire neighborhood trapped in the Dark Ages.Does that mean that it’s impossible? No. But this bootstrap BS needs to stop. A lot of this country has it harder than others. A lot of what Fred does wrt pushing coding down the education stack is helping but it’s a seriously uphill battle. What Jason Calacanis is doing to encourage diversity and inclusion in his incubators, his podcast, and his meetings helps too. But there are not enough Fred’s and Jason’s.I mentor at high schools on this topic, just seeking to disseminate knowledge. But there are not enough me’s.What looks to you like a relatively small barrier where a little creativity and dedication will help you surmount it, is one of MANY barriers that a lot of this country has already had to jump, side-step, tunnel under, cheat, etc to make it. Sometimes that last barrier is the last straw.It’s not meant to be easy, but it’s not to be this hard for a lot of us.

        1. LE

          I agree actually with what you are saying here:Most of my network has no idea about Silicon Valley, coding, app creation, or what in the hell a VC even is or does.But neither do my daughters. And when I told them to look at the site of someone that I have done work for (an investment group) to see if anything was interesting business wise that they’d like to work for what did they say to me? Well one said: “They are all doing weird things”. They found none of the things interesting or appealing. Yet they both were able to get jobs on their own (in NYC) and without my help (in getting the job). I do help them with rent and did pay for college of course. So what? That is the benefit they have with me as their father. I heard that Fred’s son might become a chef. That is a benefit of being Fred’s son with Fred’s resources and the way that Fred raised Josh. Fred has contact with most likely a great deal of existing connected chefs. Marc Vetri (who I helped way back) became a famous chef. His father definitely did not help him. However his father did support him and had money. That made it easier for Marc to become a chef. So he had an advantage as well.Why do the people in your network have to go into tech anyway? What makes that so special other than the ‘big win’? Why can’t they (and other high school graduates) go into the trades and work their way up? Why can’t they pursue a host of other careers where there is a way to get in and it’s more fair (physician, nurse, pharmacist etc.)

          1. CJ

            Why do the people in your network have to go into tech anyway? What makes that so special other than the ‘big win’? Why can’t they (and other high school graduates) go into the trades and work their way up? Why can’t they pursue a host of other careers where there is a way to get in and it’s more fair (physician, nurse, pharmacist etc.)They don’t have to but their ignorance of it precludes their ability to do so. They shouldn’t be precluded by ignorance but by option.Second, wealth creation. Entrepreneurship is a huge driver of new wealth creation, they shouldn’t be left out and they are being left out which just further marginalizes an already marginalized group of people.Finally, barring knowledge, entrepreneurship is fair. I run my own consultancy, when I show up, I’m an expert. I get paid via invoice. I don’t worry about prejudice or anything else because I’m a business that’s contracted to do a job and not an employee that has to fit. Completely different scenarios.Nothing wrong with trades and traditional employment, I recommend them all the time. But we shouldn’t preclude an entire group of people from entrepreneurship due to ignorance which is largely due to inherited life circumstances rather than anything they’ve intentionally done.

          2. LE

            But we shouldn’t preclude an entire group of people from entrepreneurship due to ignoranceIt seems that you are confusing or conflating perhaps entrepreneurship with ‘startups’ in the current day and age. That is something that a VC would fund or an incubator like YC would fund.There is a whole world of small business out there that does not require someone to get that money. People can focus on going that route rather than just going after the big win. Despite having a really good degree (from Wharton as ‘bragged’ many times here on AVC) when graduating college many years ago (before all of ‘this’) that is exactly what I did. I earned the money to do what I did by working in high school and college all the time. Waxing cars and doing photography two things at the time that anyone could do (also some other things honestly anything to make a buck). You know what I did when cold calling for waxing cars (in ‘rich’ neighborhoods’)? I took along my girlfriend so that people would be more likely to talk to me and not be scared when opening the door (many wives open the doors). That is something that I figured out on my own btw. I didn’t learn it from a web video or by reading a blog (which of course didn’t exist). That is the way it used to be. You thought about things and through trial and error figured out the best way to go. And then you perfected it. And you learned along the way. And I could tell 1000 stories just like that. Here is another one. Some rich guy is showing me his (new at the time) VCR. I realized he is bragging so I stroke his ego. And then he recommends me to all of his card playing buddies because he is a) A connector (which I recognized) b) Likes me c) I fed his ego. d) I did really good work (I would pick up crumbs on the floor by hand). e) I gave him all the time to brag and acted interested (and actually I was so that part was easy but otherwise I would have faked it because it was all about him).Summary: Stop swinging for the fences as if it’s the only way to go. There are many ways to be an entrepreneur if you are willing to put in the time and effort towards something that doesn’t require anyone to fund you and your idea. And also there are many people out there just like me that you have never heard of that make a decent enough living by being in business and have done so without taking on VC money or even friends and family. (That said for sure they are not the type of people you are going to worship but they do own vacation homes, drive nice cars, are able to pay for healthcare and send their kids to college. And they own 100% and don’t have to answer to anyone (not even their wife)). One last thing. I took a long time. However fast enough that I could buy a nice car when I was 25 or 26 years old and make money every single year since.

        2. Twain Twain

          On the investment side, it will help to check out Backstage Capital:* https://www.recode.net/2018…Cross-culture VC:* https://www.youtube.com/wat…Troy Carter and black founders and investors:* https://www.forbes.com/site…* https://pitchbook.com/news/…* https://moguldom.com/6158/9…On the coding side:* http://www.code.org* http://www.blackgirlscode.com* https://www.code2040.orgIt's tough for everyone. The media covers the 0.00001% of founders who manage to raise.I know white, Ivy League-educated male founders who have successfully exited previous startups who have been passed by the top tier VCs.Brian Chesky of AirBnB wrote about being rejected:* https://medium.com/@bchesky

          1. CJ

            I’m a fan of Arlan and Troy. They prove exactly what I’m saying, the fact that they exist and the fact that there aren’t more of them.I appreciate the links as well, haven’t seen some so will check them out later.

        3. JamesHRH

          Sat next to a high potential young guy @ an event thrown by my wife’s Fortune 50 company.- IB HS in his less than well heeled part of N Houston- crushed that to get into Rice- Rice Engineering he starts & then stops , ‘ to be honest, any degree from Rice can get you whatever job you want.’Creativity, raw brain power, those are nice to haves.Every VC everywhere wants people of unshakable confidence and drive.And yes, after an enjoyable 8 min chat w me, Corproate Spouse, he moved on to impress some people who could help him get where he wants to go.

      3. cavepainting

        His point is that we can do more to ensure equal opportunity. By no means is the existing system ideal and there is more that can be done to expand access to those who do not have the education or the networks.Truth is it will never be equal because there is a “hustle” element to entrepreneurship that does not come easy to many. But beyond that there are other in-built prejudices & inequalities that can and should be addressed or at the least we can become more aware of them.

      4. sigmaalgebra

        I find this advice very misleading: It’s plenty easy to get an elevator pitch in front of a leading VC. E.g., once I got a nice note back from Michael Moritz at Sequoia. It was easy to do.Your remark suggests to entrepreneurs who do not get responses back from VCs need to try better means of contact. That’s nonsense and an invitation to huge waste.IMHO, here’s the truth: The VCs will be nicely responsive IF and ONLY IF (or the Halmos abbreviation, iff) the entrepreneur clearly has what the VC wants. Indeed, for such an entrepreneur, commonly some VCs will discover the entrepreneur and contact them.So, what do VCs want? Well, information technology (IT) VCs and bio-medical VCs want different things.For the IT VCs, here’s, first, what they want — a promising way to invest $1 million or so early on, total less than $50 million, own about 1/3rd of the company, control the BoD, and within five years, although ten years is tolerable and more likely, sell the company, privately or as an IPO, for $1+ billion.For this, the VCs want to see (1) a product or service based on IT and in the market with traction significant and growing rapidly, (2) the market plenty big enough to have a company worth $1+ billion, hopefully $10+ billion, actually wanted, $100+ billion, and by now hoping for $1+ trillion, (3) a team of several so that the company is not dependent on just a sole, solo founder, (4) technology only routine so that can readily hire people to work with it, (5) a Buffett moat based on marketing, network effects, lock in, fads, social status, etc. but not really unique technology.If you have what they want, then they’ll call you.

        1. LE

          Your remark suggests to entrepreneurs who do not get responses back from VCs need to try better means of contact. That’s nonsense and an invitation to huge waste.This is not entirely correct. The reason is if you look at the core of what an intro buys you. It buys you ‘attention’. If I know Jake and I send Marcy (that I know) to Jake (I make the intro) what does that buy Marcy? It buys her the fact that Jake will at least listen to what she has to say. Before rejecting her.Half of sales is getting your message across.An intro takes care of that (arbitrary to prove a point) 1/2. The other 1/2 is that the person wants what you are selling.So if you don’t have someone to intro you (or some other advantage) you do the next best thing. You create a situation whereby someone will at least listen to what you are saying. And you don’t get someone to listen to you by just presenting your idea. You put the time in being creative so they say ‘wow this is important I will listen to you’. Once again doesn’t mean they will ‘buy’.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            What you are saying about selling, here and often before at AVC, I’m sure, as sure as I can be given that such selling, although I’ve had some successes, has not been a big part of my career, is correct, good stuff, etc.No parent is perfect: Dad had a good career, but it was based on being a professional employee based on some educational qualifications. So, as an employee, he was not close to, hands on, finger tip feel, bread on the table depending on success in selling, close to selling.As a teenager, I had some opportunities: So, Dad taught me some basic yard work, enough for our yard to make Mom proud. So, I could, sure, mow grass but also cut a grove between the lawn and a concrete walk or driveway, and could make a nice rectangular parallelepiped out of the hedge variety common there.A guy down the street with a big corner lot was confined to a wheelchair, had a good job, maybe as a CPA, had a good wife, and had a lawn mower. So, he contacted my older brother to mow the grass. When my brother got too busy with academics, I inherited the business.Once, we’re talking Memphis in the summer, it was 103F or 105 F or some such when I did the work; it did seem warm, but I didn’t suffer. The wife always put out a two quart jar full of ice water, which I drank quickly then refilled from a house hose connection and drank again quickly.Next door to that customer the family had a flower bed with some half dead roses, some nearly rock hard clay for dirt, and more weeds than rose bushes. So, I got the job of breaking up the clay, picking out the weeds, and cutting a nice boundary. There are more efficient and less tedious techniques, but I didn’t know that, and Dad didn’t lead in having me find out.A neighbor two doors away had a nice hedge, about 3′ high, 18″ wide, maybe 40′ long, and had me cut it to a perfect rectangular parallelepiped: Part of this is to get some stakes and chalk line for guidance and always have the plane of the hedge shears either vertical or horizontal. And, don’t cut to constant hedge density but cut to the intended geometry. At times I would stop, stand back, sight, and start again — so I looked like a professional! When I got done, it looked good, was very visible from the street, and was no doubt a point of pride for the home owner, actually the wife. So, I was on the way to being the neighborhood, prestige, professional hedge cutter!I had one heck of a pair of heroic hedge shears — sadly they got lost when my parents moved to DC.So, as I look back, clearly I had a start on a business. Bluntly, with some growth, a truck, a dozen employees, it could have been a better business and career than some I’ve had.E.g., on “introductions”, the family with the rose bushes, it turned out, knew a relatively well off family I met because they had a son my age and we were both car nuts. The boy’s mother looked at me with respect and said “That boy WORKS for his money!”.We were Members at Second Presbyterian Church, large, with a lot of new money, paid off the 20 year loan for the new sanctuary building in 12 months, had a very active youth group.Mom was Parish Secretary at the Episcopalian Church of the Holy Communion, relatively small but much of the creme de la creme of Memphis. And Mom was a talented and determined social climber.So, I’m sure you are seeing the opportunity I had, that I didn’t see, Dad didn’t help me see or see, and that Mom didn’t really see: That is, I was awash in connections with people with plenty of money for yard work, and, sure, in time, more. I could have had a heck of a yard work business going, could have hired some kids, etc.Could have, should have, been selective about what work and for what customers. E.g., don’t want business from the couple with the wife with the loose short shorts with all her panties in the wash who was paying too much attention me. And don’t want business from the family with the daughter a year older than me who wanted us to walk, on a weekend, to house construction site and use the tool shed for an anatomy lesson. I should stay away from the single mother, alcholic down the street. And there would be other customer selection criteria my parents could have helped me with.I could have found out what the going rates were; with good rates I could have taken the plunge for some capex; when I was 16 and able to drive the old car my brother and I shared I could have served customers too far to walk to.Dad could have helped me figure out what jobs to attempt and which ones to pass on. And a few afternoons in a library reading about practical horticulture could have let me do more important and better paying work.E.g., each spring Dad put 100 pounds or so of ammonium nitrate fertilizer on the lawn; then, sure, with Memphis sun, high humidity, afternoon thunderstorms, the grass turned dark green and had explosive growth! I could have offered soil tests, grass seed, fertilizer, weed killer, etc. services!I could have branched into commercial accounts; actually I did do some work for The Church of the Holy Communion.I needed Dad to help me, to look at my work (he didn’t) and make suggestions. E.g., I needed a good solution to what to do with the clippings from the hedge cutting. I also needed, from Dad, the judgment to know that I did need a good solution.Then, with the creme de la creme customer list, a prestige, professional image, and a specialized line of work, I could have done well with recommendations, word of mouth advertising, marketing, new business acquisition, etc.What you say is true.But from all I can tell, the IT VCs are not free to respond to such selling pitches and, instead, as I I wrote:… It’s plenty easy to get an elevator pitch in front of a leading VC. E.g., once I got a nice note back from Michael Moritz at Sequoia. It was easy to do….The VCs will be nicely responsive IF and ONLY IF (or the Halmos abbreviation, iff) the entrepreneur clearly has what the VC wants.From all I can see, (A) the LPs have their VCs highly constrained in what projects can be funded; (B) the VCs have a tough time finding good projects within the constraints; (C) the VCs DO read elevator pitches, and are plenty eager to respond to entrepreneurs who have what the VCs want and will meet the constraints.Sure, lots of VC Web sites emphasize introductions. So, I’ve sent lots of VCs elevator pitches with offers of introductions if we could find some people we know in common. I offered the founder of FedEx, an AI guy from IBM’s Watson lab, a former President of CMU, etc. I never got taken up on any of the offers.I mentioned that among people I know and respect one of the best forms of introduction is a good paper of published, peer reviewed original research and offered papers in applied math, mathematical statistics, and AI. Didn’t help — no interest.Why? See again my iff statement and my list of what VCs want.Net, from all I’ve been able to see, an introduction, a “warm” introduction, a creative, impressive, sales effort, a “seven touch” sales process, etc. and a dime still won’t cover a 10 cent cup of coffee or help get a VC check. On what will help, I explained that.What you said about selling is fine, but I have to conclude that IT VCs are not free to respond to such sales techniques.

          2. LE

            I think this is an interesting story to tell. I think you should actually (and I am serious) contact the WSJ so they can do a little feature on your experience. And I think it should be exactly what we are discussing here (including Fred and his retorts to you). You can use this thread as bait for maybe more detail. The Fedex angle and connection is what will hook them. “Trusted by Fred Smith but not by VC’s who would rather hire kids with no experience”. I’ve done this before (and got WSJ front page mention back in the 80’s btw.)

          3. sigmaalgebra

            That I was trusted by FedEx founder Fred Smith and the President of CMU, one of my Ph.D. dissertation advisors, will likely be irrelevant to the criteria of the LPs of the VCs and, thus, irrelevant to the VCs, not just USV but to essentially all the IT VCs. But after my beta test, what you say might be a good source of publicity for my startup!!!

    2. jason wright

      915 Broadway, 19th FloorNew York, NY 10010Tel (212) 994-7880Fax (212) 994-7399i do agree that the US seems from afar to have become a society operating antithetically to its founding principles of opportunity for all. it’s an inevitable development, from revolution to stagnation and social immobility, taking 250 years. there’s definitely an elite class.

      1. JLM

        .Who do you think the Founding Fathers were? They were the most elite of the Colonies.The idea that America has a “flat” society is not true. We don’t have much respect for “blue bloods” but we are certainly not flat.For a long time, social distinction has ridden hand in glove with wealth. There has always been an elite class in American. The American Dream is that anybody can join it.It is not forbidden in the US to be ambitious and to be successful. Well, until Pres Obama and the Dems tried to make it a sin to become wealthy.Think of the irony that the spokesman for the ignored is a New York billionaire.Is this a great country or what?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. JamesHRH

          This is the truest of the universal truths about America – $ $ bills is the original identity politics.Here in gorgeous West Houston, $ $ bills drive down the street – in a rainbow of expensive automobiles – in every hue imaginable.The local constabulary is ever vigilant – not for PoC, but for people who obviously don’t fit the economic bracket of the neighbourhood.It’s as American as apple pie and probably one of the most egalitarian ways to group people.I notice that in the last 3 decades, nobody accuses artists or athletes of humble origin of ‘ selling out ‘. That’s not betrayal of your audience, that’s being Beyoncé to your audience.Also, the decline of every major civilization starts with a rapid decline in the performance of the elite class.

        2. jason wright

          on form, as usual :)do you ever have an off game?

  3. William Mougayar

    Yet, if you want to experiment and still be rewarded and happy if you fail, the best place to do it in, is still the US.Many other ecosystems (especially China) are fast followers, or more risk averse, although blockchain startups are defying the traditional hot spot paradigm, and bursting at the seams, globally.

    1. creative group

      William Mougayar:Should seasoned investors not read the tea leafs of market corrections? What was neglected during the dotcom andfinancial crisis. Which actually opens real value and buying opportunities.BTC at $20K was never a buying opportunity on unrealistic expectations in a non intrinsic value speculation.What does your experience tell you?Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

    2. JLM

      .China is a fast tech THIEF. Stealing tech is a government sponsored and supported program from Xi down.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Vendita Auto

        China plc

        1. JLM

          .China PLC = plunder, loot, cheatThere is no seam between military espionage and industrial/tech espionage in China. It is a national skill.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Vendita Auto

            Mel said “Its good to be the King”

      2. LE

        I call this ‘looking at what the stick is’. That is how I was raised by an immigrant. I don’t mean I was taught that in any formal way. But essentially you look at the downside to bending or breaking the rules in terms of evaluating whether to bend or break the rules. Plus for added points you rationalize the behavior as appropriate by juxtaposing to some other wrong in the past.China (as well as other asian countries before who copied from us) are simply being practical and doing what is best for their country.

      3. Richard

        Ill remind you that as a startup America did its share of stealing intellectual property.

        1. JLM

          .Haha. Nobody had any intellectual property in those days. We stole the fucking country, from both the Native Americans and the Brits.Think if the Brits had ever held their Commonwealth together? Wow!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      4. Twain Twain

        WeChat innovated and Facebook was the thief. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…The monetization models of Chinese social networks and messaging apps from 2009 onwards got copied by Facebook and other Valley apps.In AI, neuroscience and quantum computing research, the Chinese are originating in ways the US aren’t.Last Thu I saw a presentation by a Professor of AI who’s collaborating with China’s largest eCommerce platforms and their approach doesn’t copy what eBay and Amazon do. The consumer behavior and market conditions are so different Chinese techcos have to originate because US frameworks and tools simply aren’t appropriate.

        1. JLM

          .I think you’re blowing smoke into the wind.The Chinese gov’t requires tech companies to disgorge their innermost tech secrets as a condition of doing business in China.The Chinese gov’t requires foreign companies to take on a Chinese partner in everything they do in China. I have personal knowledge of their doing this with things as pedestrian as Domino’s franchises.The Chinese have a seamless cooperation between their intel espionage operations and industrial espionage. This is revealed in such widespread documents as the CIA’s national threat assessment.The Chinese pretended to develop a stealth fighter which is a poor man’s version of our own stealthiest fighters. Components were mimicked from both military and industrial espionage.This has been going on for years.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Twain Twain

            The reason they ask for a local partner is mostly because of the language differences and navigating laws+contracts which are in Chinese. It’s not like Domino’s going to the UK, Australia, Canada or even France where there’s been 150+ years of business relationships and cultural exchanges and English is a common language.

          2. PhilipSugar

            We usually agree. Sorry, no that is b.s.They don’t ask. They require. Think if the U.S. did that.Sure you can import goods but the company has to be owned by a 51% U.S. entity, and you have to share your IP.Oh the tears!!

          3. Twain Twain

            Maybe if the West hadn’t tried to colonize / annex China in late C19th-early C20th, Chinese corporate structures and laws wouldn’t be what they are today:* https://www.youtube.com/wat…Americans didn’t take to English colonialism => American Revolutionary war.So China was within its sensibilities not to take to foreign colonialism in C19th.It’s a question of trust and being sensible. The Chinese let Westerners into the country in C19th and the Westerners tried to steal the country from them.A hundred years later, the Chinese put in measures to make sure Westerners can’t try to steal the country a second time.

          4. JLM

            .The Chinese got screwed as bad as the Native Americans except for one thing – they managed to keep the country.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. Twain Twain

            So if the Native Americans got screwed, Americans did the plundering, looting and cheating.

          6. sigmaalgebra

            I’ve wondered about that. I don’t have very good information.For “The Trail of Tears”, maybe that was bad stuff.One of my concerns is that apparently too often the immigrants would be traveling through the forests or across the prairies, setting up a farm or small village, and then get attacked by the local native Americans.That was in a patch of land with no government, laws, etc. So, there were natives and immigrants. There were fights with winners and losers. We would expect something else?Why do we have to conclude that the winners were less ethical than the losers?

          7. Twain Twain

            Let’s park the Americans vs other nationalities for a sec. There are Americans who screw other Americans:(1.) Robber barons —http://markets.businessinsi…(2.) Long before Russian interference in US elections, there was FB’s experiments messing with US electorate’s minds:* https://www.theatlantic.com…(3.) Wall Street on US households, 2008 financial collapse => affects $22 TRILLION:* https://www.huffingtonpost….Depending which side of the political divide folks are on, either Obama or Trump is screwing the US (@JLM:disqus ).Fred talks about experimentation. Americans have experimented on Americans in ways that may be considered to be inconsiderate at best and immoral at worst.The Chinese may have put in limits to foreign ownership because of that combination of remembering how Westerners burned them the last time they did business with the outside world, the language barrier, lack of legal infrastructure that they’ve had to build as business expansion has happened and the need to make sure that whatever business experiments are done are within some type of safety conditions.This is all very sensible, practical stuff. @le_on_avc:disqus is right that the Chinese tend towards doing what’s practical.@philipsugar:disqus — It took a couple of centuries and several wars for the US to have a laissez-faire form of democracy and capitalism. China is transitioning from a total command economy to its own form of capitalism in a very compressed time frame.If the US was forced to do the same, it would probably put in self-protection measures too.No one wants to end up like the Native Americans.In time, foreign ownership may well be 100%. All I’m saying is that it’s important to see it within context and from the side of the Chinese too.Maybe the way to think of it is that the Chinese partner owning the majority PUTS THE ONUS ON THEM TO DELIVER PROFITS — otherwise, they lose their government license.Success in China is with THEIR neck on the line, not the foreign CEO’s.

          8. LE

            For sure I am surprised Twain said that. She is making it out like it’s in boating where you get some local pilot who knows the waters (good example?) so you don’t hit the sand bar. (I wonder how much those guys make?)Business in China or the chinese market? What large company couldn’t simply hire talent that ‘knew the waters’ of China? On the face it makes no sense.This happens for the same reason (sorry ladies) that a dog licks his balls. Because he can. <— With this anyone reading will remember the point.

          9. Twain Twain

            Context is important. We’re talking about a country that only opened up to the rest of the world 20-ish years ago. It didn’t experience Bretton Woods or the Marshall Plan or the whole reconstruction of Europe situation in the same way as the US and Europe. It didn’t have the volumes of civil law the US has built up since its Constitution. It didn’t have the common laws of the UK which have been built up since 1066.China throughout its history has mostly “kept itself to itself.”So it’s had to build up its legal system on private property from scratch in the last 20-ish years.It may well be that, in the next decade, a China-based partner who owns 51% won’t be needed. I think it was 70:30 until a few years ago. Now there’s discussion of foreign automakers being able to own 100%.India only allowed 100% foreign ownership of aviation companies in 2016 and it’s been trading with the US and Europe a lot longer.

          10. jason wright

            The Marshall Plan – that was a racket.

          11. LE

            It didn’t experience Bretton Woods or the Marshall Plan or the whole reconstruction of Europe situation in the same way as the US and Europe.I am not the history guy like JLM but the US paid for that. It cost us money.And your reply contradicts your original point. Your first point was ‘difficult environment and you need us to help you!!’.Your follow up thought appears to be ‘we are handicapped and when we learn to walk we will no longer need the wheelchair!’.I think the bottom line is once again ‘why does a dog lick his balls’. Why? Because it can. In the case of China China says ‘if you want to operate here you do the following’:a) You cut us into the action. We want a ‘taste’ (mafia parlance). Otherwise we don’t let you in.b) You train our people and give us knowledge that is our upside. If we work along side of you we get that knowledge.Now I have to say that there is nothing wrong at all with exploiting an advantage like that. So I don’t hold that against China at all for doing what they can do to help their country. No need for them to be a nice guy. I don’t help my ‘competitors’. I know many others like to pretend they help the competition but really don’t. A ‘win win’ is simply the point where two parties fold their hands or give up in frustration.The reason things are bad for us is that the academics and think tank people (who advised the government) and/or the government people cut bad deals. That is the reason it is the way it is now. Can’t blame them they thought they were doing the right thing but they weren’t knowledgeable enough to negotiate the best deal for the US. (Also they didn’t properly evaluate the downside just the upside is my guess of what they were agreeing to).

          12. Twain Twain

            Those are not my points at all. The point on Bretton Woods & the Marshall Plan is that they were opportunities for the US and Europe to work closely together, establish trust, discover and build some common values re. democracy & capitalism etc and to arrive at some type of understanding — helped by a common language in the case of US and UK.There weren’t the opportunities to build mutual trust and understanding between the US and China because it was on the other side of the world, rebuilding what happened after the Japanese invasion.China is not handicapped. It’s a relatively young economy in terms of external modern trade and putting infrastructure in place. That’s why it’s got training wheels on.It’s funny because Ray Dalio wrote this on LinkedIn: “A wise Chinese leader who I will keep unnamed told me that it pays to negotiate by finding out what the other party wants most and try to give it to them and to have them reciprocate rather than to find out what will hurt the other party and give that to them because little wars have a tendency to quickly get out of control to become big wars and anyone who has ever gotten into a big war wishes that they hadn’t because they are so horrible.”* https://www.linkedin.com/pu…This difference between American individualism and Chinese collectivism is starting to be examined in psychology research:http://www.bbc.com/future/s…It’s interesting for me because I’m building an East+West system and, recently, I saw a presentation that demonstrated exactly how the difference in individualism and collectivism affects the types of tech innovation that happens.

          13. JamesHRH

            Totally back Phil here.Politically connected Chinese Emgineer visiting our high bandwidth wifi startup in 1997 – ‘no one from outside China is making any money inside China unless someone from inside China is making a lot of money.’

          14. JamesHRH

            I take no issue with your links but stand behind my anecdote.Trump is basically saying to everyone that the Toyota / BMW way – buildYOur products here in USA – is the only way.Which is how it is in lots of places.

          15. jason wright

            it’s the cost of doing business. nothing compels US companies to accept those terms, but it’s a head count calculation. US corporations need the Chinese middle class consumer.

  4. LE

    The Gotham Gal said me to yesterday, “everyone is an entrepreneur these days.”Back in the days when a stove was a stove (not a work of art or a status symbol) and a kitchen was a place where mom cooked dinner and not a chef’s kitchen:When I graduated from Wharton years ago (from the entrepreneurial program back when nobody could even spell that word) I remember very distinctly my girlfriend at the time mother’s facial expression when I told her that I was going to start a business right out of school. (Not to mention even when I told her what the business would be doing). It was a look of bewilderment, surprise, disappointment and confusion. Certainly not respect, admiration or anything close. I am good at reading faces.That said it’s more than just that it’s easier and that their is money available. It is also that young people are much more highly regarded and accepted than when I was growing up. [1] as well as the fact that there is overwhelming social proof of it being a positive thing to do. This can’t be overlooked as it takes many things coming together synergistically to create a shift in attitude.All of this make no doubt is being driven by big wins at the top the ‘pyramid of success’ which is driven by press coverage and the media and bloggers. When I graduated and was growing up the only press coverage of business was in print newspapers and business magazines. INC magazine started to popularize small business to the general public. [2][1] Back then it was ‘wait your turn and do your time first’ young whipper snapper what do you know???[2] Even air travel could be a contributing factor to increase in interest in starting a business.. Not in the way that you think either. How many business travelers got spurred to start businesses when reading magazines they bought off the rack while waiting for a flight to leave. (INC in particular I am thinking about here not Fortune or Forbes). Social proof and acceptability.

    1. JLM

      .Very strong comment. Well played.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  5. LE

    Meanwhile (and I am sure Phil Sugar will join me on this point) the trades are suffering greatly. This didn’t start with tech either it’s essentially the school system thinking that everyone needs a college degree and should read and understand literature and needs skills particular to operating in an office or being ‘well rounded’. And coding is not the career for everyone or even close. (Despite my Gulfstream comment further down).Where I am located and I am sure where most people are there simply aren’t enough trades people to go around. I am talking the entire gamut from someone that can do repairs, plumbing, electrical and construction at your house to someone who can do maintenance on the Rolls Royce engines on a Gulfstream G650. (What do they make btw? Let’s say probably way better than the idiot who went to college managing a bank branch or a small store in a pad site near a mall.)My god it’s a work of art:http://www.gulfstream.com/a…Meanwhile I needed a minor legal contract done. I got two call backs from attorneys who were willing to do the work all fighting for the same jobs and operating out of shared offices. One even quoted $1500 flat rate rather than hourly. [1] The painter that came to the house wanted $2600 for some minor carpentry repairs for 1/2 day’s work. He quoted high because he has more work than he can handle.[1] Magic words were as easy as “I am calling two people that were recommended to me”.

    1. PhilipSugar

      Could not agree more with your comments. See Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) http://mikerowe.com/tag/ski… and his work ethic scholarships. Money quote is learning a trade in Germany is as prestigious as going to college. Not UBI or other things. Like how he gave a slap to NPR on that site as well for blatantly ripping him off with no credit.And in deference to Girish I will quote Robert Frost:Robert Frost is splitting wood in his own backyard, ruminating on work and life. The end of it goes like this:My object in living is to uniteMy avocation and my vocationAs my two eyes make one in sight.For only when love and need are oneAnd work is play for mortal stakesIs the deed ever really doneFor Heaven and for future’s sake.

      1. LE

        What is interesting behaviorally with why the trades aren’t viewed positively dovetails with my other comments about lack of social proof and lack of pyramid (winners taking all like in sports – also drives sports and people wanting to play that and be rock stars).The reason people flock to startups is for the big win. The reason they know of the big win is because the press and bloggers talk about it. So it’s banged into everyone it seems all the time. When I was growing up there was only Howard Hughes ‘the billionaire’ literally and a few guys in your neighborhood who drove nice cars and had the nicest house. They were ‘rich’.There are other things that the press and media talks about that tends to be low paid generally but those careers appear very prestigious and good in some way. So people flock to those. My brother in law singing opera as one example thinking somehow it ranks above singing at weddings even though he’d earn more and be more secure doing that. Opera is high class and fancy. Wedding singer is parodied by Adam Sandler (never saw that move but know of it).Think life is fair for opera singers? Nope. You are at the whim of the creative director. And if the creative director is gay and you are straight from what I hear that makes it even harder. (His wife is a singer as well and was not surprised at all what happened to the guy at the Met who took advantage of people).

        1. PhilipSugar

          BTW: Mike Rowe? Opera Singer. Went into a bar for a beer between shows and the bartender was watching QVC. He said turn this shit off. Bartender said I’m auditioning tomorrow in West Chester, PA. Mike said I bet I could do that. Drove from Baltimore won the job.Hardest part? Getting some people that just have regular business to be on show. You know body shop guy? He might be worth tens of millions.I know who owns the go-fast really expensive boats in my harbor. Cement guy, and my favorite: “Pump Daddy” I asked is that because it takes so much fuel? Nope I own the septic clean-out business.

          1. JamesHRH

            Millionaire Next Door.

        2. Adam Sher

          Here is an anecdote that elucidates why trades are looked down upon. My high school had a vocational center, which was segregated from the main building. Most of the people who participated in vocational classes (welding, shop, cooking, network programming, etc…) were guided their after struggling with or failing out of the regular curriculum. In other words, you didn’t want to go there because it meant you were going to be a townie (two strikes; Columbia, MO). Now, the bar of “failing” was set very low because even the honors classes lacked academic rigor so you saw people with unplanned pregnancies, troubled home life, smoking and drinking issues, etc…I don’t remember why or how, but I needed an elective and read that the vocational center offered a course in computer networking that culminated in obtaining a Cisco Networking certification. My AP classmates asked why I would ever take a class in that building. At the time, I was really into a text-based MMORPG and learned scripting to game more efficiently and this course seemed like a practical application of that (take that, parents). It was! We learned to program routers, strip Ethernet cable, and we created a LAN. This was the most fun and most useful class I took in HS along with AP Psych.

          1. Pointsandfigures

            I took auto shop in high school. Just because I was interested and my high school had the one of the best programs in the country. Used to win the Chrysler challenge every year. When I graduated from college, my first job was selling stuff to service managers and parts managers for 3M. It was a good thing I took the auto shop course since I could speak their language.You can make a lot of money in the trades if you know how to run a business. Fortunately, software makes that a lot easier than it used to be. Unfortunately, there are often a lot of roadblocks to building that business with licensing etc. It takes more training hours to be a barber than it does to be an EMT in Illinois….

          2. LE

            What’s interesting is that you could probably have had a successful career in automotive no doubt as a result of what you learned in that class. I think that is one thing that people don’t fully realize that there is business to be made in all areas.To your point one of the best salesmen I ever dealt with was a guy who used to fix one of the machines that I bought early in business (was an Itek phototypesetter). He went on to bigger and better things. I remember how great it was to deal with someone who knew the equipment so well. He sold me and I remember him to this day. With what I did in my business I also learned how to operate all of the machines (as I started with no employees) and that definitely helped with street cred when I hired people and even dealing with salesmen. Guy who was a manager didn’t have that skill and ruffled feathers because he didn’t have a seat of the pants feel for what the guy on the floor was doing.It takes more training hours to be a barber than it does to be an EMT in Illinois….Not that you are saying this but I think the opportunity is in areas where you can make money not in something where essentially the income will be fixed based on competition. So if you do HVAC or Plumbing or Electrical etc you end up with a loyal customer base in theory and people who don’t want to price shop and that is where you make your money. This is quite different than being fixed at what a barber or hairdresser can earn with no way to make that much more by leveraging those relationships and your skill.Of course running your own hair salon and employing others (where you get a cut) then that is great as well if you have the right business skills.

          3. Adam Sher

            The key clause in your comment is, “… if you know how to run a business.” Everyone has more stories than not of exasperated efforts trying to get a contractor to do something in a timely and budget conscious way.

          4. LE

            Exactly true. It’s really a version of ‘looks like a duck and quacks like a duck is a duck’. Reason that people ended up in shitty office jobs. That way they are more likely to be accepted because they look like a duck in their mind and aren’t in the trades. Wow they look important (wearing that shitty suit).Funny thing is if you are actually someone who is a duck and you get into an elevator with someone who is wearing a cheap suit and trying to look like a duck (but they only manage a bank branch or sell office supplies) then you know they are not a duck. But the fact they think they are (and can hold their head high) is reason for them to do that. And make less money.Phil Sugar tells stories here about how he does not look like a duck (but is a duck) and how well that works for him. Like me (who dresses in dungarees and a tshirt) I like it when people think they are dealing with a nobody and truth is I’ve made money looking like a nobody.

          5. Adam Sher

            My favorite “looks like a duck” are residential real estate brokers: expensive looking watch (Tag, Cartier, Michelle with diamonds, etc..), expensive looking car (often a Merc C class). These accouterments don’t cover up their lack of product knowledge or that they often provide advise that’s sub-optimal to their clients.

          6. LE

            If I was selling to the public (real estate, insurance and similar) I would buy the most expensive car that I could. It would be advertising. I own a really nice sports car now. Guys will come up and say ‘nice car’. If I sold insurance I would give them my business card and say ‘hey call me if you need anything!’. Or even if I was a contractor. Nice cars get attention. It’s advertising. It is a conversation starter.I am not into watches at all but I do hear that some people respond very positively to them. Not going to work like a nice car though I am pretty sure of that.A C class won’t get you much attention. Neither will a S Class. It has to be the type of car that is iconic or a super car. You get a great deal with the right brand.I bought a Porsche once from a salesman who was black. On the test ride he told me that when he gets to take cars home all the women are all over him. And they even know it’s not his car. He said it’s like magic. And no he wasn’t ‘selling’ me. I already owned them and he knew that it was just small talk.Spending to much can also work against you. It all depends on the circumstances and situation like with anything. It’s not one size fits all.

          7. Adam Sher

            Your point emphasizes my point – a Merc isn’t a Porsche, a Boxster isn’t a Turbo S, and a C Class isn’t an AMG GT. Re watches: you’d impress with a Patek or a JL (as opposed to a Tag or Carter).

        3. Vasudev Ram

          >What is interesting behaviorally with why the trades aren’t viewed positively dovetails with my other comments about lack of social proof and lack of pyramid (winners taking all like in sports – also drives sports and people wanting to play that and be rock stars).That last part – “people wanting to play that and be rock stars” – was probably initially driven by the media (who else?) and then later picked up on by the people themselves, who started having dreams of glory and dreaming of being seen as that by others. Speaking with reference to the programmer field, but probably applies in a lot of other fields too. Job ads for “rock star developers” were and still are common nowadays, and kids get taken in by them, hoping to be seen as one. [Eye roll]A lot of B.S. Not only is it (programming) not a rock star job, but it is hard, demanding work (although it has its rewards, both financial and intellectual). And the same is true of the real (music) rock stars.How many of these rock star wannabes can hold a heavy guitar and jump around vigorously on the stage and play music strongly – for hours … ??? (and some of them even sing at the same time.)Most of the wannabes would drop out immediately.

          1. LE

            Yep. Also it’s ironic to even use the word rock star to begin with in a positive way like that. Rock stars are, by and large, lazy weak people who succumb to addictions [1] and spend their time playing the same thing over and over again. How mind numbing is that? How exciting can that be? Other than [1]. If you are someone who needs adulation in order to support what you do, programming is probably not the thing to be in. You have to be the type (I feel) that just loves it for the buzz it gives you to solve problems or get a small amount of adulation from a client or just in your own head for pulling something off.[1] Drugs as well as the crowd and audience.

      2. Vasudev Ram

        Nice poem by Frost.I used to have an image as the wallpaper on my PC earlier at a company where I worked; the image was like this picture and had as caption, the words in quotes in this post (on my blog):Alley in park, Bucharest, Romania:https://jugad2.blogspot.com…I remember a few colleagues liking it and asking me for a copy of it.Later I searched for the quote and found it may have been by Robert Frost:https://www.google.co.in/sehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wi…See poem on right of above page.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Disqus sucks when it comes to posting photos. I was going to post.Two more for you. I went to a mulch place that was closing this Father’s day. The owner said, I know you are busting hump working today, I’ll open the gates, this yard on me. I said, I’ll pay. He said, on me today brother, I am going to a dockside bar (next to my house) I said you can park on my clamshells. “You live there?”I was lifting a really heavy crate I get for free from the pipe fitting company they put outside the gate, for a friend. A brown guy in an Emmerites jersey slammed on the brakes and said brother let me give you a hand.It works the same for my wife an NP when somebody has an issue, like our neighbor with breast cancer.Not race, not sex. That is what the elite who don’t even know their neighbors much less help a stranger don’t understand.

          1. Vasudev Ram

            Didn’t quite get the first anecdote. What are “yard” and “clamshells” in this context? (I know what they mean generally.) American or your-area-specific slang? And what’s a mulch place? A place that sells mulch?(I’m not well-versed with all American idioms, only some:)

          2. PhilipSugar

            A yard is a 3x3x3 unit of volume. 27 square feet. Close to a cubic meter.I have 120,000 lbs clamshel

          3. Vasudev Ram

            Okay, I knew about yard as a unit of measure, but thought the word was being used as slang to mean something else.

          4. PhilipSugar

            Sorry, a really nice way of making parking that is not impervious is with clamshells. People know my house for it because getting two tractor trailers with 120,000 pounds of white clamshells was impressive. Remember my house is called Red, White, and Blue.

          5. Vasudev Ram

            Got it now, thanks.I guess clamshells would look good, apart from being not impervious as you say (to rain or melted snow, I guess you mean).Interesting use of the shells, something like gravel, I guess. I’ve always thought that paths in grassy areas or lawns outside houses should be made of gravel (and I’ve seen some like that) instead of mud or cement. If you have coarse gravel below and finer stuff above (or clamshells), it will neither get muddy nor collect rainwater.I did a fair amount of organic gardening as a teenager (and was good at it), and had read many books about organic gardening and farming, including a good book or magazine from Rodale Press of the US. Good fun and good book. I was into the Whole Earth Catalog and stuff like that. For a while we had a biogas plant in the yard outside our house too. Generated gas from cowdung and used it for cooking.Thanks for all the answers. The photos on the mulch site are good. Will check it out more later.

          6. PhilipSugar

            No in most parts of the U.S. and especially where I live on the Chesapeake Bay there are very strict rules about rain water runoff. It causes erosion, and puts sediment and chemicals into the watershed (Bay and Creeks) So if you did something like cement or asphalt when it rains no water can permeate and it runs off. We get three day stretches like last week where we get 7 inches of rain. 4 in one night. Clam Shells are even better than soil. They don’t erode but water goes right through them. They are unique though especially where I live. To get a tractor trailer load much less two is tough to physically get in an old town. (and yes JLM, they were overloaded)

          7. Vasudev Ram

            Clear now. Interesting. That’s a good rule about the runoff. I wish such things were more there (some rules are there, but less enforced) in India. We have floods and droughts every year in which thousands die and property loss in millions.

    2. JamesHRH

      No empathy for those folks.It’s staggeringly hypocritical.

  6. JLM

    .In much the same way that European coffee shops kept the flame of learning alive during the Dark Ages and spawned the Renaissance, Starbucks (hate them) and coffee shops are a harbinger of entrepreneurial effort.Tech will prosper as long as there are coffee shops with free plugs to power up entrepreneurs.On a slightly more serious note, vocational training in the US is in a desperate situation. Small businesses which can create training programs to develop their own technicians will make a ton of money.There is literally no limit to the good and mischief which can be driven by tech entrepreneurs.Is this a great time to be alive or what? America.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. LE

      vocational training in the US is in a desperate situation.This was exactly my point in my comment. The other day I got a mailer for some do good academy in Camden NJ trying to raise funds. What they talked about was english skills to help kids get into college and get college degrees. As if that is going to be the thing that will pull people out of poverty. Meanwhile you can make a much better living and lead a better life in a ton of trades or being a trade entrepreneur and fixing things at my home or business.

      1. JLM

        .Check the want ads and see if there are any listings for “poets.”Then check for A/C techs.We have diminished the nobility of physical work — well, until your A/C craps out on a Saturday night when it’s 104F and 75% humitity.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. JamesHRH

          Fave university burn ever – if every Eng Lit grad died tomorrow, does anyone notice?

          1. sigmaalgebra

            I tend to agree ….BUT, here is a little “reality check”. (A) You ever watch a movie? (B) Ever watch a TV show? (C) Ever pay attention to MSM news? (D) Ever listen to pop music?In all those, (A)-(D), know it or not, like it or not, it all is essentially “formula fiction”, e.g., straight from English literature. So, introduce a character. Make them sympathetic. Have them face a terrible problem. Have them struggle, …, maybe with transgression, retribution, and redemption, and finally be successful. In the last scenes, have them, uh, the protagonist, get the admiration of everyone else and also win the girl.I have long bitterly resented formula fiction, with irony, while liking lots of movies, because I wanted solid information instead. I still want the solid information, but I accept that a good movie is a darned nice thing and, at times, can even suggest some possibly good information about people and life.So, no more English literature majors? Then, really, maybe no more movies, pop music lyrics, TV shows, ….

          2. JamesHRH

            No, Eng Lit types don’t write TV & movies.

    2. Adam Sher

      Programming will (is?) become a vocation. What is a coding boot camp if not a vocational training ground? Who will program the robots that fix the robots that fix your plumbing?

      1. JLM

        .I think you may have to break a sweat or have a chance to strain a muscle, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. JLM

      .Haha, the topic of my chat this morning at breakfast. Notice there is only one slice of that poll in which there is NO increase in consumer confidence. What is it?This is really quite extraordinary information and it is totally pervasive. Every slice, save one, is way more confident the economy is headed in the right direction.Why? Trump.That last sentence is all you have to know to know the political leaning of Gallup. It is the mythical thumb on the scale of bias.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Richard

      At some point Fred might have to change the blog from AVC to NVC, N as in narcissistic. When did VCs become the self proclaimed “forces for good” against all that is wrong?

      1. CJ

        At what point did he drop his voice and just become a reporter on what others want to hear? A blog is a place for you to tell YOUR story, not everyone has to agree with YOUR story. I’m sure he doesn’t agree with every commenter here just like you probably don’t agree with this comment. The fact that Fred allows those disagreements, even as they sometimes border on inflammatory, is a testament to his ability to see multiple sides of an issue. But it doesn’t rob him of his ability to express his own.*fixed grammar/homonym.

        1. Richard

          i agree. But, I don’t for a minute believe that Fred is moved by either my input which is at times in agreement and at other times in disagreement with his take on things. It’s easy to be bold when you swing above a net.

          1. CJ

            Or below it. It’s only those of us in the middle that have to pay the care tax.

        2. JamesHRH

          Well, mostly, because very few people have profited more from the forces of globalization: education, technology & financial mobility.The people satisfied with the direction of the country are the people those forces left behind & that Trump spoke up for.People are so pissed about what a graceless / shameless repugnant human the President is…….that they forget the millions of people he is actually helping.So, when you are sitting on half a Bill & you can’t find any empathy for starving blue collar workers in rural counties across America because you hate the person they elected to stop being starving First World refugees in their own country…..it’s ultra petty.Especially when you present yourself as someone with great empathy for the down trodden.

          1. CJ

            So, when you are sitting on half a Bill & you can’t find any empathy for starving blue collar workers in rural counties across America because you hate the person they elected to stop being starving First World refugees in their own country…..it’s ultra petty.Let’s be real, Trump isn’t helping them. He’s attempting to create an artificial bubble of the past for them to live in until they die. Coal is over. Factory jobs in America that require huge workforces? Over. Towns that exist where one industry or plant can support the entire thing? Done. It sucks, but those are the breaks. Trump is attempting to convince them that he can reverse it – he can’t. And no one can in the way that they want.Even if every plant opened its doors tomorrow the staff would largely consist of robots rather than people. The old days are not coming back. They are better served with leadership that will actually hear them and help them rather than attempting to placate them. But they do NOT want that. They want to go back to an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay jobs that require very little in the way of training and sustain you for life. Sorry – technology for good or for ill – has ruined that for society.It’s funny you bring up empathy when almost every plan I’ve seen come from our President is completely devoid of empathy. The party he leads is almost completely devoid of empathy. Unless you’re rich that is. Then you can get as much empathy as money can buy.I don’t know if this discussion is worth having to be fair. I’m anti-Trump, as much as they come. He won an election appealing to racists who are too self-centered and ignorant to realize that the rich kept the money and the jobs and the immigrants aren’t the cause of their catastrophe. Or maybe they know and don’t care because only the rich can bring them back in their worldview.Either way, they aren’t people that I feel sympathy for because those people have never had sympathy for people of color in their exact same situation but for much longer. When it happened to us we were lazy, when it happened to them then it was someone else’s fault. Whatever.America’s issue is divisiveness. There is no America to be truthful. We all look out for our own – or not but the thing that brings us together in everyday life isn’t America, our culture or the flag. It’s shared experiences with people like ourselves who you would hardly ever identify as American first. More like Irish/Black/Italian DASH American.So let’s not pretend like Trump is the paragon of empathy and looking out for his supporters. He’s looking out for his old-money backers who stand to make much more when a coal plant stays online for a year or two longer thanks to his protectionist policies. Those blue-collar workers just might benefit…a little. But I doubt it, remember the Carrier plant in Indiana? I do.https://www.marketwatch.com

          2. JLM

            .Let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good meme?The “Carrier deal” required Carrier to maintain 1,070 jobs in Indianapolis for 10 years. The state gave them a tax break of $7MM in return.Today, Carrier maintains 1,100 jobs – in exact compliance with the agreement.The jobs you are discussing were consolidated within the United States and did not have anything to do with the “Carrier deal.”Why did those jobs move?Steel Workers Union tried to get a richer deal before the end of their normal contract period.Could we get a little bet on this?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. CJ

            Care to link me on that JLM? Everything I’ve read shows how the Carrier deal ended up a farce.About those 1100 jobs:What about the meeting with Trump later that year? Were you offered any role in that? James shakes his head. “There was a lot of misunderstanding that went on about the day when the president-elect announced that 1,100 jobs had been saved,” he says. “Every worker in the plant went in there knowing there were 1,100 union jobs at the plant. Total. So they hear him say ‘1,100 jobs,’ every one of them thinks: My job is safe. And we heard it with them. But soon we knew that was wrong.” Trump had included the salaried employees of the Carrier office—400 jobs not in the previous count, positions never planned to be cut—as well as another 67 employees who would leave by attrition, in the number he mentioned on the podium.https://www.popularmechanichttps://www.vox.com/first-phttps://www.forbes.com/site

          4. JLM

            .”But the company said in a statement: “More than 1,100 jobs remain at the Indianapolis facility in keeping with our 2016 commitment.””[The “deal” was for 1,070 jobs to be retained.]Read the attached until the last paragraph. Blow through the invective and then close with the fact that Carrier promised to retain 1,070 jobs and has kept 1,100 jobs.http://www.foxnews.com/poli…Be well, friend.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. JamesHRH

            You’re wrong all over the place.Most repugnantly, you accuse rural white labour of not caring about people of colour. And then you use that as justification to not care about those rural white people.‘ Them’s the breaks. ‘ I believe is how you feel about them.Would it be fair to say that those ‘racists’ use that rationale about people claiming asylum when they actually just have the bad luck to be born in Honduras?Probably not – they are likely not that arrogant or callous.The gross thing about people like you is that you think you are better than people you vilify, when you act exactly like how you accuse them of behaving ( which is a smear on 96% of them ).You are a complete hypocrite.And, yes, some small fraction of Trump voters are actual racists, not just ignorant & prejudiced ( big difference ). About .01%. He went after every vote in those key counties, gambling the country’s future and possibly its soul on his life motto ‘You Will Forgive Me When I Am Successful.’As for empathy, I never said Trump had any, I said Fred has selective empathy.But you are not reading to listen and learn, you are reading to cycle up your outrage machine.

          6. CJ

            you accuse rural white labour of not caring about people of colour.You’re damned right I do. I’ve been black in this country for 40 years. I lived in the inner cities. I’ve witnessed the same things that have happened to rural white labor happen to black inner city labor. The jobs evaporating, the rampant drug use, the outside blame. You think these guys are special? You think this is the first time this country has experienced this shit?That’s my point. You do. You actually do think that all of this is unique to them. You don’t think that there were warnings over decades as this happened to black people in the inner cities. But when it happened to us we were called lazy. When our family units deteriorated, we were called absent. When drug use proliferated, we were jailed and called ‘super-predators’. The War on Drugs, you remember that? Where is the war on Opiods? No, it’s all about treatment because those affected look like you.And not all of that was by conservatives so don’t think this has anything at all to do with politics. This is AMERICA. So no, I don’t have sympathy for them, where was the sympathy when it happened to people who looked like me? Oh, but it’s happening to white people now, I guess we should think it’s unique. We’re supposed to care?And repugnant? You want to know what’s repugnant? Sacrificing others to save yourself. That’s repugnant. Voting for a racist to save yourself, that’s repugnant. Turning a blind eye to kids in cages because your politics won’t let you be outraged. That’s repugnant. Abdicating your duty to all Americans because the President is blindly signing your policy bills. That’s repugnant.I can give you a tour of the part of America that you seem to have missed over the last 4+ decades if you want? I can show you factories that have been shuttered for decades that once employed what are now the ghettos – those same factories having been shuttered and not replaced – contributed to making those ghettos.I can show you housing projects where poor, unemployed people were stacked on top of each other and forced to fend for themselves because the system never gave them any sympathy.I can show you the ground littered with crack vials, coke bags, and used needles. I can walk you through thousands of prisoners who got 8 – 1 sentences, crack to coke, because crack dealers were black and coke dealers were white – who were absent from their families because the system locked them up unjustly. I can walk you through even more prisoners who’s only crime is being strung out. But for black people, JAIL is the treatment, not rehab.You want to make judgements about morals, sympathy and empathy? Know your facts because those people hurting in rural Arkansas right now didn’t give a damn when my people were hurting on the West and South sides of Chicago. I don’t recall any outreach to urban cities to get our unemployed down in the coal mines or lumber mills. I don’t recall any outcry on our behalf.Quite the contrary. As this was happening, white people were running from the cities in droves, taking their money and their influence with them. They left us to starve in the desert and then blamed the desert on us.So no, when they turn towards racism because all else has failed them, I do not feel any sympathy for them. Black people, brown people, did not do this to them. We don’t own the factories. We don’t control the wage setting. This is the chickens coming home to roost, and while it doesn’t make me glad as Malcolm said, I do see the irony.But all of that said, I’ve drawn this comparison before. I’ve said how the poor, white, laborers who don’t feel like they have a voice, need to band with the poor black laborer who never had a voice. Their struggle is the same. Their place in life is the same…except for one thing. And Trump used that one thing to get elected. You want me to have sympathy? Tell them to stop hating people who look like me because of that one thing. Tell them to start caring about everyone, not just the people who look like them.So to be clear, my lack of sympathy is for the racists and racist enablers in America who chose themselves over America. Rural, urban, employed, unemployed. Whatever. That’s where my disdain is aimed. That’s where my empathy is not. I’m not Jesus, I don’t love my enemy and I’m not praying for those who persecute me. They can fuck right off. And if that’s repugnant, I’m OK with that. I save my sympathy for those who aren’t actively trying to wrong an entire segment of people.

          7. JamesHRH

            You equate people trying to take care of themselves with being racist, its not the same thing. Very few Trump voters are racist; many are conservative and a lot are rural.I am not defending Trump’s choices, I am saying that his personality and ethics completely explain the racial tone of his campaigning – ‘do what ever it takes’ to turn those key counties.And I have said it is a huge gamble.I agree with you that the past is littered with race being played in order to keep poor whites docile. Egregious.More importantly, we seem to agree that economics is the real issue.When the topic is empathy, you can’t ask for it and then say “fuck them because they look like people who screwed over people who look like me.”In Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India/Pakistan & other places, that kind of historical grudge holding leads to ethnic cleansing.The past has to be the past.

          8. CJ

            You equate people trying to take care of themselves with being racist, its not the same thing. Very few Trump voters are racist; many are conservative and a lot are rural.I am not defending Trump’s choices, I am saying that his personality and ethics completely explain the racial tone of his campaigning – ‘do what ever it takes’ to turn those key counties.I disagree. This is cognitive dissonance speaking. If you vote for a racist, it makes you racist. As a person who has been the victim of racism, this issue is very cut and dry for the minority. As the majority you get the luxury of trying to define racism how you like but it doesn’t make it right.Trump’s discriminatory message was clear and has been made even more clear since his election. There is no excusing this one. There are lines that you don’t cross as a moral human being. Racism is one. He crossed it. Obviously. He blew every dog whistle available. He surrounded himself with every white power, white supremacist, white advocate he could find. There is nothing unambiguous about his message and hence his supporters. There were other Republicans to vote for, they chose the worst.More importantly, we seem to agree that economics is the real issue. One of the issues, race is the other one. It’s a huge one, bigger than economics even because it keeps the country divided which makes it weak and subject to the likes of Trump. A divided America is a weak America which is why a message of making it great again was able to resonate anyway – aside from the dog whistle aspects of it.In Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India/Pakistan & other places, that kind of historical grudge holding leads to ethnic cleansing. In South Africa it lead to revolution and takeover. There are options – just sayin.The past has to be the past.The past will never be the past until those who benefit from it, atone for it. Racial discrimination is an ongoing construct in this country. It’s institutionalized. As a country we deny it. We understate it. We dismiss it. Never have we admitted it, apologized for it, and made a real go at eliminating it. Until that happens, the past will always be the present and the future because racism and discrimination in this country aren’t the past, they are the present and the future if things continue as they have.The odd thing is that poor blacks have a brighter future here than poor rural whites as things progress now. Poor blacks are at the bottom of the funnel, emerging and learning from their experiences and ready to hustle their way into this new economy.Poor whites are at the top. Still blaming the ‘browns’ for their lot in life. They have decades to go before they get to the acceptance and rebuilding stage which will, ironically, reinforce their racism as they see brown people overtake them.

          9. JamesHRH

            This post sounds like the expository soliloquy from a Marvel bad guy.Everybody has reasons to be pissed. Some are more valid than others.As a for instance, how would you like to be a legal Mexican immigrant and have to listen to these DACA kids whine and moan? No one ever says ‘ Have you ever asked your parents why they took such a vile risk with your life?’In the end, what you do with the world’s inequities is who you are.You see the world superficially, which surprises me. I think the world re-orders into personality based value driven groups: outrage is one, fear is another, reason is a third.It’s tough to read your posts.PS – Take the cognitive dissonance slight and stuff it. It’s the height of arrogance to accuse someone of not being able to reckon with a new truth. Especially someone with a track record.

          10. CJ

            It’s tough to read your posts. Good. I didn’t write them to be easy to read but truthful and from a perspective you’re unlikely to have considered.I get that the people who voted for Trump don’t think themselves racist. I just also don’t think that makes it true. Just like people who can be against universal healthcare can consider themselves empathetic – doesn’t make it the truth.As a for instance, how would you like to be a legal Mexican immigrant and have to listen to these DACA kids whine and moan? No one ever says ‘ Have you ever asked your parents why they took such a vile risk with your life?’Have you ever wondered what could be so bad as to make them take these risks? And have you wondered how it makes us look to deny them in that situation and to persecute them further, even so egregiously as to separate parents from children and house those children in cages? What kind of country is this? Oh, I remember, it’s the kind where slavery was legal. The kind where hoses and dogs were set loose on protesters. The kind where athletes who protest Police Brutality by taking a knee get called sonuvabitches by the President of the United States. You know, after I consider it further, I’m only surprised that this made the news, not that it occurs.In the end, what you do with the world’s inequities is who you are. Spoken from the point of view of a person with the privilege of hindsight. The privilege of privilege. The luxury of being in the majority. “Hey down there, inequity is just a challenge to overcome!” Society has the responsibility to provide equity to its constituents. And when it doesn’t, those constituents have the responsibility to speak out and to agitate for change.You have the luxury, further up Maslow’s pyramid to divide the world up while others at the base struggle to survive an unjust, illogical, and unreasonable society. You don’t get to tell someone to just pull up their bootstraps when they have no education and no realistic chance for new employment. In fact, the bootstrap narrative, which is so prevalent when speaking to minorities about overcoming life’s challenges is surprising absent when speaking to all of these rural white people out of work. Why isn’t anyone telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? Instead, we’re bending over backwards to make blaming illegals for their lack of work seem logical. Sorry – it’s BS.You think it’s tough to read my posts? I read so many posts here and elsewhere that drip with privilege I’ve never known and will never know. You have no idea how tough it is just to sit and read the pontifications of people so elitist and so ideology bankrupt that they can’t comprehend that this society is fundamentally and institutionally unjust and unfair to a huge group of people. To ‘listen’ to people speak of human life in ways that are morally repugnant because those people are different from them racially or socio-economically.What surprises me is that you think my posts superficial but then it shouldn’t surprise me that people who don’t have to deal with the burden of race often think it skin deep and just a slight obstacle, when in reality is an all-encompassing ordeal. There is never a situation where I’m not acutely aware that I’m a ‘black’ man and everything that comes along with that. It’s not something that I can turn off, it’s something that I have to overcome, as much as I loathe to say those words.And yes, I think it cognitive dissonance to think that you can vote for a racist without being a racist. That’s how race affects non-white people in this country. It’s not everything but it’s the base of the pyramid. Everything else builds from there. So to me, and millions like me, supporting a racist is declaring oneself racist. You don’t have to like or agree with that but that’s the perception to a lot of people and the world so you do have to deal with it.

          11. JamesHRH

            It’s tough to read your posts because you are smart and articulate but generalizing about me in a way that undermines any of your valid points.

          12. CJ

            I’m not generalizing about you, I apologize if you felt any of this was personally directed at you other than where my group generalizations happen to include you. But where they do hit you, maybe it’s a wake up call.I don’t mean race, you can’t change/control your race – and I wouldn’t lump you in with institutionalized society unless you gave me reason to, and you haven’t.But choices – you absolutely can control those. Those who voted for Trump, that was a choice.(I don’t know if you did or didn’t) But I absolutely stand by my generalized views on them, they made a choice. They have to live with the consequences.Some of this stuff is despicable. We can argue all day about tariffs and summits, that’s politics. That’s debatable and while I also don’t agree with him there, my knickers aren’t in a bunch over it. I expect to have differences of opinion with candidates that I didn’t support over issues such as that.Where we can’t morally equivocate is on racism, discrimination, separating children from parents, and becoming the monsters that we’re supposed to oppose. I draw a hard line there and blame all of his supporters for enabling him.I expect every American president to have a certain level of baseline human decency. And even if not, to hide it from the country and the world. That office is bigger than the person. If the person occupying it expects the respect given to it, then he/she has to respect it. He hasn’t. And America has suffered for it.I apologize if you felt personally attacked, my words weren’t intended as such. I’ll chose more carefully in the future to avoid that situation.

          13. JamesHRH

            I am not offended, just,’I don’t know, chagrined. It’s like watching Fred virtue signal or reading JLM’s ‘Trump, all the right moves nonsense.’You’re smart and the tribalism has got you too. That’s what is tough to read.FYI – I am the spouse of a guest worker ( Texas, energy executive) in the US ( L-2 Visa ). I am CDN. I don’t tell people how I vote there, so wouldn’t do it here even. If I could tell you. . I will tell you that Justin Trudeau is a disaster in the exact opposite way that Trump is a disasster ( economically ) and that was easily foreseeable. In the end, economics Trumps optics for me, sorry for the horrible pun.Trump is not a racist. He is too success / achievement oriented to be an ideologue. He’s willing to signal to get elected / re-elected. It’s brutal. But Trudeau flaunts his feminism, which is just a way of saying he doesn’t care about men ( or women, actually, he’s just using them to advance his political ambitions ).Trulpnhas authoritarian tendencies because he respects power and, more so, respects people who can break or buck the status quo ( Putin, Kim, Xi ).He is doing exactly what his two camps of supporters expected – get aggressive on pro-business policies & break every globalist thing he can. He’s killing it on fixing long standing foreign policy issues, although it’s early days ( a surprise, but he’s a deal savant when you think about it).The border issue is a joke in every direction – Obama unable to fund proper facilities, people fleeing shitty circumstances by throwing themselves at the mercy of America only to overwhelm its capability to process their influx, government being the least human & efficient structure anywhere, liberals hatred of elected officials ( DHS Sec being hounded as a major victory, please ).People need to do things other than be outraged……because that’s easy and selfish.Fred’s last line is still an embarrassment – the world has never been much better, it always has problems.

          14. JLM

            .I could give the old boy a couple of tips on manners – don’t be carrying on with porn stars when your wife has had a son – but the truth is that he is quite admired except by the full time, hate-is-my-passion HATERS.When somebody throws you a life line, you don’t ask where they went to school or what they think about saving the whales.Every one of those statistics on the unemployment line who now has a job is looking at the world through a rosier lens than this crowd.If you’ve never broken a sweat, your opinion on effective deodorants isn’t so insightful.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          15. LE

            Re: Porn star not what I would do and not what you would do.But tears do not need to be shed for the wife in this case. And further no need to assume that she is not perfectly glad for the life she was getting and what she had to give up. And perhaps overlooking things. This is not a women living in Staten Island hoping to be taken out to dinner one time per week. My guess is that there are a fair amount of both men and women that would find discrete on the side romances acceptable in exchange for a nice life style. [1]That said like Nixon he got caught. Being such a public person is a huge risk way riskier than being with a prostitute. Not condoning the behavior to me it’s gross. But it’s actually more understandable that it seems on the surface.[1] For example hopefully my wife doesn’t cheat on me. However if she is I fucking hope I never find out about it. She’s nice to me and meets all of my needs. No benefit for that to get all screwed up with the truth.

          16. sigmaalgebra

            I doubt that there is any solid or even credible evidence that Trump did anything with Steamy, Smoky, Sparky, Sexy, Slutty, Stormy except stand for a picture.And why should he? E.g., what JFK did in the White House with Mimi Alford, while dumber than paint, is MUCH better than messing around with a shameless, litigious, gold digging, Vegas porn star. Besides, Trump has MUCH better taste in women than Steamy, Smoky, Sparky, Sexy, Slutty, Stormy. E.g., Melania, while drop dead gorgeous, is bright, strong, determined, and a total sweetheart.IIRC, once Mayor Bloomberg said that living in NYC as a single, straight billionaire was a “wet dream”. Okay. He can also worry about salt in restaurant food, sugar in soda pop, and try to put wind turbines on the tops of the buildings of Manhattan.Trump, however, takes family very seriously. Messing around with Steamy, Smoky, Sparky, Sexy, Slutty, Stormy would be dumber than the dumber than paint that JFK did.

          17. JamesHRH

            He’s a pig, a sociopathic narcissist, petty, thin skinned and can be the most graceless / shameless person imaginable.More worrisome, his personal emotional shortcomings could imperil the benefits of some of his more ambitious initiatives.And, he shows no sign of being fiscally responsible…..yet.

          18. sigmaalgebra

            On yourHe’s a pig, a sociopathic narcissist, petty, thin skinned and can be the most graceless / shameless person imaginable.I can’t find any clear criteria or objective evidence to support any of that.E.g., in what sense is Trump a “pig”? He could lose a few pounds? But so could a large fraction of the population.”Petty”? He’s trying to get us back to international balance of trade instead of running a deficit of about $800 billion a year, and that’s not small potatoes or “petty”.” … can be the most graceless / shameless person imaginable.”Really? You mean worse than Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Kockamamie and his “Death to the Great Satan. Death to America. Death to Israel”, Muammar Gaddafi, Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi, Pol Pot, anyone in MS-13, grooming gangs in Europe, Harvey Weinstein with women, Bill Clinton with women, Hillary and her international pay to play deals, Obama and his desire to have the US military pay for sex change surgery and lifetime hormone treatments, Pelosi and her “You have to pass it to know what is in it”, Senator Gillibrand’s remark on Trump, “F… no!”, Obama returning the bust of Churchill to England, Madonna’s “Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House,”, Kathy Griffin calling Melania “feckless complicit piece of s—t”, Samantha Bee’s “You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say one mother to another, do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless c—. He listens to you.”? I can “think” of a lot more.On Trump, to me, at his rallies, visiting disaster areas, comforting the hurt, etc., he looks highly perceptive, sensitive, compassionate, empathetic, effective, etc.I’ve seen some people who were really, Really, REALLY astoundingly uptight socially, who devoted brain power — they were really bright — enough to rederive general relativity on just nearly invisible social trivialities. Maybe such intense social proper behavior was important in Victorian garden parties in the US or with the royals in England, but here in practical America we have set aside that stuff.Uh, you had left MSNBC on too long and got a big dose of Mika then went all imprudent, right??? Or you are just trying to fit in with some NYC-SF tribe that demands total loyalty??

          19. JamesHRH

            Pig – restrains himself in few ways.Shameless / Graceless – if your sfamdrad is world leaders of highly repressive regimes, your standard is wrong.Being righ tmatters.Doing right matters.Acting right matters.Your brain is big enough to know that pointing a finger at others leaves 3 pointing back at you.The President is what he is. His life motto – You Will Forgive Me When I Am Successful – is deeply cynical.He’s not a good dude and a relativity test doesn’t hold any water Siggy.

          20. sigmaalgebra

            > Pig – restrains himself in few ways.I’m seeing nothing wrong.Uh, there is a tradition of “populism”; Part of that is to speak to people in their own vocabulary, colloquialisms, mannerisms, to act like just one of the guys, e.g., walk slowly onto the stage, each step making eye contact with audience members, young, old, however they are dressed, shaking hands similarly, …, and Trump does that. E.g., he doesn’t button his suit coat. Populism.> your sfamdrad is world leaders of highly repressive regimesYou were the one that said> most graceless / shameless person imaginable.so I responded with Saddam, etc. That was sufficient to show the literal absurdity of your claim and does not suggest that Saddam is in any way a “standard” of mine. He’s just a counterexample. But I also mentioned Senator Gillibrand, Griffin, Bill Clinton, etc.For being comparative, your> most graceless / shameless person imaginable.was already being comparative.> His life motto – You Will Forgive Me When I Am Successful – is deeply cynical.Cute. Never heard that. Whatever he did in private business, we have to accept the context of such business. Typically with big time dirty stuff, there are lawsuits.For Trump’s campaign and time in office, I see nothing he need apologize for. Looks to me like what he did was (A) get a good list of issues, especially having to do with peace and prosperity, (B) early on, to get a lot of free publicity, play the MSM like Heifetz played a violin, (C) have an e-mail effort that could announce a rally and 72 hours later fill the largest arena available with some thousands outside watching on CCTV, (D) make really good use of his 757.

          21. JLM

            .We will have to depart on this matter, Jimmy. You are overstating the negatives like an excitable prom queen.The world is divided between 0.3% doers and 99.7% bullshitters.Pres T is a doer.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  7. Vendita Auto

    I know i’m off subject and outside the ballpark but the past and the future are often one in the same be it small pony’s that conquered an empire or glass ceilings and great mentors today is about tech but more about “scale” Hope you can see this out side the UK :https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplay

  8. Girish Mehta

    This is a “golden era of tech enterpreneurship” when you consider ease of starting a business due to the (1) – Availability of tech tools, (2) – Presence of support systems, and (3) – Availability of capital. All this is true.But, consider this. As I think of companies started in a 16-year period between 1968 and 1984, of the top of my head, these come to mind -Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, Compaq, Dell, SAP, Adobe, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Lotus, Intuit, 3Com, Novell, EMC/Data General. (this is of top of my head, probably have missed somebody material. You could maybe add Silicon Graphics).Now compare that list to the list companies formed in the last 16-year period (post the dotcom bust).Something seems different.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      During 1968-1984, there were some important applications of computers to business, national security, and much more, but new uses of computers that directly affected millions of people were mostly just to replace the typewriters, paper spreadsheets, and graph paper.In the last 16 years, the new uses of computers have been mostly to replace books, TV, record players, retail stores, paper mail, telephones, paper street maps, and various games.There have been a lot of business applications, e.g., for the routine data processing of banks, insurance companies, but I suspect that the associated computing has become quite routine.So, we need some powerful, valuable solutions for some important new problems.No doubt there are niche applications in business, e.g., ad targeting, technology, medical care, national security, etc. but for fairly directly impacting many millions of people, instead of sitting here trying to think of “a faster horse”, we need to think of something as much different and better as cars.

    2. Michael Elling

      Yes. The former cycle was about an individual or company owning and processing data. The current cycle is about sharing data. The only problem is that the sharing mechanisms are imperfect; hence the view that decentralization is the solution. It is not. We need a new form of settlement systems (algorithms) to provide incentives and disincentives, while at the same time solving the value/cost imbalance inherent in all networks (since the dawn of mankind and just as we see everywhere in the universe). Equilibrism: http://bit.ly/2iLAHlG

      1. jason wright

        a decentralised solution defaults to personal ownership of personal data, and the critical difference from the former model being that the individual may choose to cede packets of their data to a central node when it is thought to be in their best interest to do so, an example being personal medical data for better health research for potential therapies and cures to illnesses and conditions. how the economics of that might work needs further work

        1. Michael Elling

          “a central node when it is thought to be in their best interest to do so”. Really? Do you think that even the majority are capable of that; let alone a healthy minority? I’m not arguing against the intellectual nobility and purity of your statement, merely questioning the practicality of it. Networks are complex systems filled with hierarchical structures. There are good reasons for centralization. But there are also good reasons for decentralization. The point is that in nature no (eco)system is purely one or the other.

        2. JLM

          .I fear we have totally lost control of all personal data. I go to a fabulously organized and tech savvy clinic. The admin is just exquisite. Perfect.All my medical records, data, former tests are all in a cloud accessible file which I can get into from anywhere.Apparently, so can someone else. The clinic notified me of a data breach. Shortly thereafter, I received an email solicitation for a medicine I take for a particular malady. Coincidental?The clinic thinks they were the victim of a “targeted” hack.If so, the bad guys knew where the data was located and went and got it.So, I’m not complaining and I’m not assessing blame. It just happened.Privacy is dead. Long live privacy.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  9. jason wright

    so fail fast like never before?

    1. JamesHRH

      Good God no.Experiment cheaply and frequently and ride the winners harder.

      1. jason wright

        is cheap long?long is not cheap.

  10. Salt Shaker

    I wonder if the startup world increasingly is emulating the music biz. Low cost of entry (not VC reliant) and avail of tech tools leads to mass influx of product w/ out proper due diligence, vetting and market fit. Curation and discovery becoming increasingly more challenging, just like w/ the music biz. Diminished number of artist hits, let alone artist longevity.

    1. CJ

      Google/FaceBook/etc are the real winners in all of this. In a world with increasing supply, it takes more marketing – however you go about it – to be seen/heard/etc. Most of that money will get eaten by companies like Google, Facebook, etc…If I were building a startup and had the ability, I would focus on curation and discovery now that content is once again kind and abundant.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        > “curation and discovery”Hmm …. Who’d uh thunk that???> “It has gotten way too big for anyone to be able to stay on top of it all.”Hmm, …, sounds really bad. Like a guy saying he needs a faster horse but there’s no hope for that so will just have to suffer.Uh, how to DO that? Hmm ….What data is or might become available? What the heck to do with that data?Let’s see, drawing from the usual approach on Hacker News, the issue is what programming language to use, and the candidates are C++, C#, JavaScript, Python, LISP, GO, Erlang, ….And the winner is, and may I have the envelope, please [drum roll], “RIP”.[Looking into the envelope, seeing nothing, shaking the envelope upside down, great confusion, embarrassment in front of the world wide audience.]Then, to save the situation, the show continues, and the question is what data processing to use, and the candidates are data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence. May I have the envelope, please [drum roll]. “RIP”.Folks, something’s wrong. This envelope is also empty ….> “And so, we are in a golden era of tech entrepreneurship where anyone with an idea can make a go of it.That does not mean that all of these efforts will succeed. They won’t.”For anything of any interest to “capital”, the situation is much, much worse than that: Here’s the likely truth:(A) Maybe in some second or third world countries, some guy playing with computers and the Internet can do relatively well in their own country.(B) For the more developed countries, especially in the US, for success big enough for capital, the average situation is from irrelevant down to just a money sink.The real successes will be highly exceptional in outcome. For causes, we’re looking at (i) a LOT of luck, (ii) being the right guy at the right place at some fleeting moment in time, or (iii) some crucial, real progress, powerful and valuable, the average guy, on Hacker News, Stack Overflow, GitHub, Stanford, CMU, or MIT computer science, doesn’t have a clue about.For the exceptional outcomes, practical computing and academic computer science are out of gas, out of bullets, out of ideas, out of their depth, out of good problems they can solve, out of luck, essentially trivial, and not very important for the future exploitation of computing.Long ago, the NSF had a policy: They would not fund software development. They were right then and have been right or close to it to the present. Now often some significant progress in science, etc. also needs some, maybe a lot, of software development, but that development is not the key to the progress.

    2. Adam Sher

      But in this era artists don’t need to go Platinum in order to be successful. A global marketplace means there’s enough consumer density for niche (i.e. low audience) products to thrive. You can reach a profitable, core audience with less capital. A natural consequence is that there is more shit to wade through, and can, unfortunately, create a paradox of choice. Two books that I love that discuss these issues are Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail and Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice.

  11. Adam Sher

    Entrepreneruship is up but not at an all time high (https://www.bls.gov/bdm/ent… and new companies are creating less jobs compared to the last 30 years. It may seem like there is start-up fever based on the circles you and AVC readers run in. It is a great time to start a company but I’d say not as many people are doing so as could or should! Needing less people is a double-edged sword. I appreciate and benefit from the fact that I can leverage new technology, which is far less expensive than people, and create something with less capital. The capital gains therefore accrue to me (e.g. a smaller group of people). That leads to wealth concentration, which is not inherently bad but in aggregate creates a national issue.

  12. Pointsandfigures

    one of the hardest things to do when you invest is figure out if you have a potential big company, or just a nice size company that will sell for a nice price giving an investor a single or double. The golden era of tech entrepreneurship is going to create a lot of wealth, and raise standards of living worldwide.At our fund, we concentrate on B2B Fin Tech. That’s it. It’s where we have asymmetric information and can take advantage of it.

    1. JamesHRH

      Houston billionaire John Arnold is widely considered the greatest commodities trader ( and possibly trader of anything ) in the history of the financial markets.When everyone else got internet access to all the data he had – about 2007 – he closed up shop.Asymmetrical data is the key to being a great investor and the more early early stage investing that occurs, the less likely any of those investors has it.Putting USV’s experience at an all time high.

  13. sigmaalgebra

    “Rapid Experimentation”With that, gotta be quite careful and be clear about much more or will end up with enormous waste and essentially nothing, not even one significant example, of anything good. Without a lot more, we’re talking 10,000 guys in about 1918 up all night in their basement, with “rapid experimentation”, trying to get rich from building a better mousetrap. The situation was no threat to the mice and no hope for the guy up all night, some hardware store owner looking for something to sell, or an investor in “innovation”.Setting aside luck, etc. the good projects have high promise from some really good work well before the first wood or metal is cut, the first nail or screw is inserted, the first wire is soldered, the first line of code is written.Again, once again, over again, yet again, one more time, for the good projects, we knew very early on — GPS, SR-71, F-117, SOSUS, penicillin, the P&W J58 that was a turbo jet but became a ram jet at about Mach 2.5, high bypass turbojet engines, etc. For such projects, there was little or no usual “experimentation”, “rapid” or otherwise.Our society is awash in means to do terrific projects and to get accurate evaluations of those projects just on paper; we see these things in projects in science, engineering, construction, etc. Evaluations are from peer review, in research universities, the NSF and NIH, engineering firms, etc. We don’t dig deep tunnels, build new $150 million airplanes, erect 100 story buildings, build long bridges, put up a new space telescope, build a new particle accelerator with much or any “rapid experimentation”. E.g., physics knew in fairly good detail just what they would discover with the LHC well before the first shovel full of Swiss-French dirt was lifted. Lockheed and the CIA knew in quite good terms just what the SR-71 would do just from some engineering drawings of Kelly Johnson. And Kelly Johnson knew the same for the U-2, the P-38, etc.To be more clear, teaching computer science to five million middle school students and encouraging them to devote their evenings and weekends to “rapid experimentation” in hopes of building a business, even one good enough to buy a house, is encouraging naive, gullible people to waste time on fool’s errands.Computing and the Internet are enabling the greatest steps up in all of civilization, but “rapid experimentation” looks to me like a huge waste of time, money, and effort and nothing like the available progress.What to do instead?Well, computers use the Internet to send and receive data. Then software receives the data, processes it, and sends the results.The processing is necessarily mathematically something, understood or not, powerful or not. For more powerful processing, well understood, proceed mathematically, that is, building on the enormous pure/applied math literature on the shelves of the research libraries, with theorems and proofs. To do this, start with a good ugrad major in pure math; then there is much more to do. Then start to think about a problem that can be solved with good, new, valuable data, what input data is available, and what processing might be done. Easy path to success? Maybe not. Easier than “rapid experimentation”? IMHO, very, very much so.To me, this advice for the role for math makes good sense, as I have outlined; I believe in this advice and am following it; but I recognize that the math and its applications are usually very challenging; so before taking this advice, (A) understand it on your own and (B) get a lot of similar advice from others.

  14. An internet cowboy in denial

    Fred is an internet cowboy who is refusing to believe that the startup frontier has nearly closed. It’s the Gilded Age all over again: Social Darwinism if you will. The big are crushing the small.Union Square Ventures is nearly an anachronism much like a merchant on Main Street USA around, say, 1975. But Fred refuses to believe that.Mega venture funds, such as Sequoia Capital, will gradually use their economic and political advantages to crush small VCs like Union Square Ventures.For example, how much money can Union Square Ventures afford to spend on lobbying and political contributions? Sequoia Capital can probably easily afford to spend 5 million to 10 million dollars per year on lobbyists. Small changes to, say, the tax code could save them hundreds of millions of dollars per year. But, unsurprisingly, such changes might not help small venture capitalists much at all. Who woulda thunk it?Venture capital is fundamentally an ordinary business. Fred does not have any magical pixie dust he can sprinkle that will solve this problem.But he can choose to live in denial while he leads his minions, a potential LPs, astray.Hundreds of automobile manufacturers existed at the turn of the 20th century in the USA. Like electricity, automobile technology was cutting-edge, high technology.Within a few decades almost all of those automakers had disappeared. Precisely the same sort of thing has been happening for the last several decades in virtually every sector of the economy in the USA.Fred, naturally, focuses on the rapid proliferation because it is in his interest to do so. But it is more appropriate to focus on the rapid consolidation that has been occurring as a new generation of robber barons come to the fore.It is as Fred is saying, “Hey, why let pesky things like important trends get in the way of my fantasies? Park your cash with me! I’m AVC!”

    1. JamesHRH

      USV still has asymmetrical information. As compared to the rest of the market.They are good for as long as they keep the deal flow & syndication flow rolling.

  15. Twain Twain

    Trump seems intent on starting trade wars with Canada, NATO allies, EU. Why does a country want to make enemies with its closest partners?

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Because that echoes with our inner monkey which in turn affects our outer voter.Cheap short term politics. America first. Trump second term. He gives a shit for the rest of the world which can’t vote for him.

  16. ErikSchwartz

    We also have a much broader definition of “tech startup” than we once did.Are the plethora of subscription box companies really tech companies? Is a company that uses tech a tech company? Are any of these scooter companies tech companies?

  17. guest

    Hi I have read your postings very well as a future entrepreneur

  18. Yb927

    Great post, Fred! I agree very strongly with the humanistic tone in your post. Very optimistic and encouraging in these troubled time. We need to a resurgence of HUMANISM…not anything else. And we will be fine.

  19. jdelvat

    Reminds me of Ratatouille: “In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. “