Video Of The Week: Our Partner Rebecca Kaden

Rebecca Kaden, who joined USV in late 2017, was on Bloomberg last May. Somehow, I had never seen this. So I am running it today. If you don’t know Rebecca, you should meet her. She’s leading our efforts in a bunch of areas that she talks about in this interview.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Thanks.I don’t know her at all. I do a bit now.I liked the discussion about inclusive/exclusive as pertains to her work to promote female entrepreneurs.

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      I want to know more about her trajectory from English grad to Journalism to VC. When I worked in tech my best hires were liberal arts majors who we then invested in to learn tech.

      1. LE

        I think a large part is how much of your brain is focused on tech (or numbers or math) vs. more analog things. I think one of the reasons that I am good at what I do is that I am good enough with tech to be good at it but not so good that I can make a living 100% from it. My brain is more analog and creative vs. structured math wise and precise. I think this is similar for many people. You know if you are the math whiz in high school you are going to get pushed in a particular direction and reinforced in a certain way that will foster that behavior even further.A good example is my stepson vs. step daughter. Both smart in every way (school wise) but the stepson is off the charts math brain (near perfect math SAT in 8th grade w/o studying..). The step daughter who is really good has more creative and analog thinking. As such she is curious and will listen to my ‘stories’ and learn from them. The stepson doesn’t have the same curiosity. I think it’s he super duper math brain that is preventing that from happening. He is to concentrated in one area the way his brain works. I am sure there are studies on this that have been done. (You know like someone with aspergers or autistic etc.)I know this is the case also partly for how I am downvoted for some of my comments on HN. You get these really smart computer or math guys who simply don’t understand the nuance of what I am saying. So they react viscerally w/o seeing any subtlety. I am talking about things that I know I am right about (because the event has played out) not theoretical maybes. And they just don’t get it. The work on facts, figures and absolutes not nuance.Fred is a bit like that as well (god bless him). An example is how he looked at the survey today. It’s numbers so it’s all good. Doesn’t look much behind how accurate the numbers are or how they were arrived at.

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Interesting that you call it analog mind. I just call it “left-brain, right-brain.” In my experience, people who are left-brain, right brain are more capable of understanding holistic systems.

      2. awaldstein

        I’ve blogged on my journey over the years from an english/philosophy major to my career in tech a bunch.Perfect way in for me.I like her though honestly care more about her thesis for investing than how she got here.We are what we are today is how I view life.

  2. Richard

    There is a game called Rich Man / Poor Man. It is things that only the rich and poor do, but not the middle income (having your laundry done outside of your home).Bitcoin has introduced another, spending your time in a trailer by the river.

    1. Richard

      By the riverhttps://uploads.disquscdn.c…

      1. Richard

        As many of you know, John Bogle aka jack passed away this week. Spend 10 minutes with a legend, a true rebel.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          He took seriously the CAPM, capital asset pricing model from H. Markowitz and especially W. Sharpe. D. Luenberger has a book with some details. As I recall, some of the people working with such things believed that needed, and had, a Gaussian assumption; IMHO for all or nearly all the subject, don’t need that assumption.

    1. LE

      Obviously there are ways around that (proxy or vpn) but amazing that Bloomberg is not setup to monetize videos outside of the US.

      1. William Mougayar

        of course, but it requires a bit of set-up. i’m doing it today.

    2. Lawrence Brass

      Same here, watched it in youtube

      1. William Mougayar

        Thanks Lawrence.

    3. Susan Rubinsky

      It’s unavailable here in the USA too. Looks like Bloomberg blocked the link/code. But I just clicked on “Watch on You Tube” and it came up easily.

      1. William Mougayar

        Thanks . I just realized that too . Will watch it soon.

  3. LE

    This is fascinating. There is a distinct difference in how Rebecca comes across in the first roughly 4 minutes and the balance of the interview. It’s like Emily hits some nerve and Rebecca then becomes all animated and excited. [1] The exact point is at 3:25 when Emily discusses STEM and traditional VC firms saying that it is needed to be a partner and that women aren’t well represented in STEM. Rebecca lights up and the change in topic shows her excitement about the subject but then stays for the rest of the interview.[1 The way she should be in the entire interview no matter what the question. I think USV has to be less laissez-faire with their approach to media and publicty. Rather than just being hands off anyone who is representing the firm should get specific help so they come across as good as they can. This is one of the advantages of having a notable firm with money and resources in NYC isn’t it? [2][2] This is where a diverse group of partners comes into play exactly (Rebecca has an english background?). People like Fred and Albert most likely aren’t going to understand or care even about what I am saying. Because by their interests and training it’s not baked into the way that they think. But if you have your people spending time it’s important to have it have the greatest impact.

    1. Rick Mason

      I think that she began the interview nervous and measured in her answers. Almost thinking too much about what she was saying. Then she got asked about something she was passionate about and she relaxed, that’s all.

      1. LE

        I think it was anger that overcame the anxiety. But it was more than nervousness that she exhibited the way I read her face (something I am actually good at). She seemed a bit depressed and not happy.I’ve seen her in one other video which I believe came well after this one. She was entirely different in that video iirc. (very upbeat the entire video and positive).

    2. PhilipSugar

      The “flip” comes when she goes from talking about USV to talking about her personally.You can see it in her eye movements.Now this isn’t bad. As the newest partner when you are speaking for everyone, you really have to think and parse what you are saying. But when you get asked for your thoughts on something and they are yours then you don’t have to do that as much.

  4. sigmaalgebra

    She seems to have a heck of a lot of facile, fast, with face validity, ah, awful alliteration, guesses and insights about people and organizations. When I was dragged kicking, and screaming about the wild guessing, ambiguous, like trying to nail Jello to a wall, from the heart, gut, and below the belt, of belle lettre literature, I nearly never found anything with any reasonably well supported, rational, credible content, but maybe an English major could accept and seem to work with that stuff.On “distributed”, I have yet to see from USV, AVC, etc. any arguments to take the value at all seriously. Instead I see more centralization, (1) only a few sources of processor cycles, (2) only a few sources of computer operating systems, (3) only one collection of IP addresses, (4) only one really important collection of Internet protocols, i.e., those from the IETF and the RFCs, (5) only a few sources of high end IP and BGP routers, (6) only a few, major cloud server farm operators, (7) only a few important Web browsers, (8) only one important client side Web means of programming, i.e., JavaScript, (9) only one important floating point arithmetic standard, (10) only a few character encodings, 7 bit ASCII, two versions of 8 bit ASCII, and Unicode, (11) only one important encryption approach, i.e., RSA, (12) only one important authentication approach, essentially old Kerberos, (13) only one important company for making microelectronic fabrication facilities, i.e., Applied Materials, (14) only a few important microelectronic fabrication facilities, (15) only a few important protocols such Ethernet and USB, (16) only a few important protocols for mobile communications, (17) only a few important funding sources for more important innovation, i.e.. US NSF and DoD, (18) so far no real competition for the USAF GPS, (18) only one big issue about computer speed, that is, computational time complexity, the question of P versus NP, (19) only one important approach to database, i.e., RDBS and SQL, (20) only a few major fundamental issues in encryption, especially the challenge of the fundamental theorem of arithmetic that each positive whole number has a unique factorization as a product of primes, and then the challenge of getting those factors quickly.So, with (1)-(20), so far I’m seeing a lot of centralization and little role or solid arguments for distributed.For everything that ever happened since the big bang, at some point it happened for the first time. So, we DO look for things that have not happened yet and will happen for the first time. A big role for distributed may yet happen for the first time, but I’m still waiting for solid reasons why. By now, having heard so many millions of poor proposals for new things, we do ask for solid reasons why.For the roles of women in the world of work, okay: Let them do the same as men do, try and rarely be really successful. But if such things are to continue, then Darwin will have to agree.For the roles of college majors in English and the humanities instead of the STEM fields for partners for venture capital investing, okay, as long as VC firms won’t invest based on due diligence from expert peer reviews of advanced, original STEM field work and consider mostly just traction and various personality issues, okay.But without a STEM field major, some parts of investing, e.g., evaluating exotic options from the Brownian motion approach to the Dirichlet problem, i.e., from Google,In mathematics, a Dirichlet problem is the problem of finding a function which solves a specified partial differential equation (PDE) in the interior of a given region that takes prescribed values on the boundary of the region.with stochastic differential equations or what James Simons did at Renaissance Technologies will not be available.Broadly, there really was a good writer in England in the 1600s, I. Newton. For Shakespeare, (A) it was never very clear what he meant, (B) even if guess, then it rarely was very important, and (C) there was never any good evidence. Shakespeare was just an exploitation of the audience via vicarious, escapist, fantasy, emotional experience entertainment (VEFEEE). In about the strongest contrast we know of in the universe, Newton got the STEM fields creating the main pillars of Western Civilization all the way to considering if God had any other choices in the rules of the universe and letting us get our hands directly on the fundamentals of how the universe works. Meanwhile, Belle Lettre has yet to make significant progress since the story telling of the ancient Greeks.For anything really important, say, curing a disease in your sick child, doing US national economic analysis, providing for US national security, making progress in economic productivity, do we want English major, Belle Lettre story telling or the best from the STEM fields?I remain incensed, outraged, and infuriated at how I was dragged kicking and screaming through four years of Belle Lettre in high school and two more in college while in high school I was able to get only one course, simplistic, in physics and nothing in calculus. I did learn a lesson: Without good use of rationality, life can head with high speed and no detours into some flaming, fuming, bubbling, sticky, toxic hell.E.g., when I was about 10, suddenly I had a tummy ache. Fast exploratory surgery showed ileitis, that is, two feet of infected intestine, the illium. English literature could communicate, interpret associated human experience, emotion as I died a painful death. In astoundingly strong contrast, medicine gave me terramycin, streptomycin, and penicillin and in two weeks sent me home well with no additional problems.As a field of study, English literature is irrational, irresponsible, and self-destructive.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        I just read your essay at your link. Net, I don’t think we differ much.In short, I’ve been exposed to plenty of the humanities and art, like them, for entertainment, especially some of art, but have wanted much more solid information, especially about people.You mentioned college: Okay I graduated from one of those, Rhodes College in Memphis. It was partially supported by the Presbyterian Church, was deep into liberal arts, with a big side helping of Christian religion. E.g., there was weekly Chapel with lectures on liberal education, lots of philosophical and moral dilemmas — they were big on dilemmas. They had a freshman course in Bible or, as an alternative, a course they were proud of, “Man in the Light of History and Religion”. And they had a course, Senior Bible, with Paul Tillich, Martin Buber, Søren Kierkegaard, Albert Camus, etc.Students were encouraged to think deeply about the issues of life … Could major in music with help of a music school in town. They had an art department with a guy who did sculptures with a welding torch.But they also had an ambitious and energetic Chair of the physics department and for an ugrad school, especially a liberal arts school, a surprisingly good math department. So I was graduated with a BS “With Honors in Mathematics”. Since on the Math knowledge GRE I got 800, I got a good ugrad math education. My honors paper was on group representations. The calculus book was the same Harvard used. The advanced calculus book was Rudin, Principles of Mathematical Analysis, highly respected, that Harvard used in their famous Math 55. As a senior, I got Kelley, General Topology and gave a lecture a week to a prof. So, I covered the separation axioms, nets, filters, and Moore-Smith convergence. And I did some reading on my own, e.g., from the Princeton Advanced Calculus by Nickerson, Spencer, and Steenrod — famous guys.I was into music: They had a good music library with lots of recordings, and I did a lot of listening.For the dilemmas, my view was that their questions were ill-posed, without enough given to make a supportable, rational decision.For their liberal arts courses, it wasn’t clear what they were claiming was true, and the evidence they had was weak.Net, I don’t believe that they understood humans very well. And I don’t believe that Shakespeare, Dickens, etc. did either. To me, the best I know on humans is from E. Fromm I’ve often referenced here. The subjects of psychology and sociology occasionally have some results that are likely well supported, true, and significant about people.So, I objected to the Rhodes material on the liberal arts, especially literature, and people because I wanted material that could be well supported, true, and significant.I can take their material on art two ways:(1) The material provides some examples and conjectures that people can ponder and consider. The results might be some insights. Yes, I object because the material is not well supported and solid, i.e., reliable, e.g., if looked at carefully would do poorly on reliability (essentially statistical bias) and validity (essentially statistical variance).There is the nagging point that too commonly even the best in the social sciences has little or no predictive value which, of course, means that it fails the most crucial test of science. For literature I have to suspect it is even worse on predictive value.But some insights might usually be better than nothing, and some people appear to be much better at working with such things than others. In particular at Rhodes, outside of the STEM material, the females were MUCH brighter, more expert, better students than the males and REALLY good with that stuff. They seemed to understand people. Ms. Kagan looks similarly good. My late wife was fantastic at that stuff. As a freshman, a girl paid some attention to me; we had a lot of lunches together and dated some: At literature she was fantastic.(2) The arts material can be entertaining. So, sure, I like some movies! And maybe I get some insights about people — maybe.So, e.g., the arts are the “communication, interpretation of human experience, emotion.” In particular, via stories, can see some characters, try to understand them, via the story content, see their experience, emotions, and, then, compare with own. In this way, maybe don’t regard self as the Lone Ranger but having the same reactions as the story character. Alas, this is entertainment and likely not very solid information about people or anything else.Maybe one reason I like music, say, the Bach Chaconne, is because there are no words to have literal meaning to object to. Still, as my late wife, quite good with music — voice, piano, clarinet — concluded “Music doesn’t mean anything.”.So, what is in the Chaconne? Maybe its something of a story about the intensity some guy felt as he started challenged, went through various struggles, got a victory, and reached a resolution. Some of the music is like an abstraction of speech.The piece starts and ends in D minor, but there is a central section in D major. The victory is at the end of the D major section. The resolution is clear enough at the end as the violin plays D on both the open D string and on the G string. So, the two strings playing D tend to drone some and kill off the intensity of the music and, thus, sound like a resolution.But, still, as much fun as it is to hear and play that music, it doesn’t “mean” anything in the usual senses of meaning (for the artistic meaning, the math in my startup handles that).At this point, I’ve seen a lot about people not described or explained hardly at all in literature. I had to learn the hard way and pay “full tuition”. A lot that I learned COULD be presented in a course: As a first cut for the course content, could say “Here are some human characters, patterns of thinking and behavior, you might encounter,”, So, just list some of the more important possibilities.Some of the most important things about people I’ve seen are far beyond anything I saw or even heard of indirectly in literature; there are often connections with some of what is in Fromm. Real experience and Fromm? Yes, Literature? Heck no.IMHO literature as part of manipulating the audiences present people in ways easy to understand. So, learn about essentially just common personalities. Well, necessarily that’s at best only a superficial way to learn about people. To me, the common claim that literature and the rest of the humanities are good for learning about people is, in a word, a scam.My guess is that any common clinical psychologist with only a few years of varied experience knows much more about people than all of literature from the ancient Greeks to the present — literally. What the clinical psychologists know about people is tough to formulate and present and is not very precise but, still, is WAY ahead of literature. Again, that literature knows much about people is a scam.I’m not big on psychology, but my brother was, and explained some to me, before he got his Ph.D. in political science instead.In summary, the story telling of literature might be entertaining, I do find some of it entertaining, but it’s a poor source of information or education.In particular, there is MUCH more that is credible and important about people in the thin E. Fromm, The Art of Loving than all of the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare, Dickens, F. Scott, etc.

  5. William Mougayar

    What Rebecca said about the crypto market was prescient, given it the comment was made a few months ago. Really good interview.