Posts from October 2019

Heading East

The Gotham Gal and I are heading to Europe for a couple of weeks of vacation.

I will not be working the next two weeks but do plan to blog about whatever is on my mind.

The Gotham Gal, as is her custom, will blog about the various fun things we are going to do on this trip.

I am looking forward to some down time, some good books, and seeing the sights and sounds of different places.

I am a big believer in vacations. We all work hard, get ground down, and taking some time with friends and family to unwind, clear the head, and refresh is always a wonderful thing. I am excited to do that myself.

#life lessons

Principles Over Profit

I was pleased to see NBA Commissioner Adam Silver say this with respect to the controversy over Houston Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of the protest movement in Hong Kong:

The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say. We simply could not operate that way.

The NBA faces the potential of a backlash in China that could impact the league’s business interests there.

That could reduce the profits of the league and players and owners.

But the NBA is putting principles over profits here and that is a good thing.

We have faced this issue a number of times over the years at USV and we have tried to do the same.

We have also been on boards of companies that have faced this issue over the years and we have advocated for this approach.

It is not an easy choice. Companies have employees to pay, families to feed, and customers to serve. And principles are not always shared by everyone and the lines are not always clear

But one thing is for sure. The search for profits can lead a founder, a CEO, a team, a Board, and a Company to forget their principles and that is never a good thing.

#entrepreneurship#life lessons#management

Cards

I played cards all through college and on and off since then. I don’t have a regular card game right now and I miss playing cards.

I was talking to a friend of mine recently and she complained that her son was more interested in playing poker than going to college. I told her that I thought he could learn more from poker than some schools and many majors.

I don’t think playing cards is a replacement for reading the great novels and I don’t think cards can replace the fundamentals of writing, math, and science.

But I do think that cards are a great compliment to all of that and I think there are things you can learn from playing cards that are hard to learn elsewhere.

Here are a few of the things I have learned from playing cards:

  • How to evaluate risk and return quickly
  • How to trust your instincts and comfortably act on them
  • How to read a room and size people up
  • How to bluff (a better word than lie which I used in a recent post)
  • How to keep large sets of numbers in your mind and available to you
  • The joys of a group of friends getting together frequently and regularly

There are many more but those are some of the ones that come to mind at this moment.

I think playing cards is a great way to learn many important life skills and I have found it to be very helpful in the venture capital business. So if your child seems obsessed with cards, I wouldn’t lose a lot of sleep over it. It might be a great learning experience for them.

#life lessons

Cross Laminated Timber

Cross Laminated Timber (or CLT for short) is a structural building material that can replace concrete and steel in new building construction.

I wrote about CLT back in April and mentioned that the Gotham Gal and I are in the process of making two CLT buildings right now.

The paper version of the New York Times has an excellent op-ed today that explains why making buildings out of wood is much better for our climate than making them out of concrete and steel. What CLT does is make it possible to make tall and strong buildings out of wood.

This explanation from that NYT op-ed is particularly good:

Trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their wood. … This will allow us to pump carbon from the atmosphere and store it both in forests and in cities.

There are challenges to making buildings out of CLT. For example, CLT is not yet an approved building material in the five boroughs of NYC. That is changing however. It looks like the city will add CLT to the NYC building code soon.

I strongly encourage the NYC City Council to act quickly and approve the addition of CLT to the NYC building code.

#climate crisis#NYC#policy

Unclogging Manhattan

A big thing happened this past week in my part of lower Manhattan where I live and work.

Fourteenth Street was closed to cars between 6am and 10pm except for “local traffic.” Basically if you are in a car during those hours, you can go for up to a block, but no more than that.

It is remarkable to see the transformation of Fourteenth Street, a street I walk down multiple times a day going to and from work.

I took that photo around 11am today. The street is empty. The only thing you notice is the buses going from the East River to the Hudson in something like ten minutes, a trip that used to take more than thirty minutes.

This only happened because the L train subway line, which goes under Fourteenth Street, was supposed to close for 18 months for tunnel repairs. They figured out how to keep the L train running but on a reduced schedule. But they went ahead with the Fourteenth Street closure anyway.

It is my hope that this will turn out to be a massive success and will lead to closure of other cross streets like 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 79th, 86th, and 96th.

It could be transformative for the cross town buses and a lot more too.

We need to find ways of getting around our city that don’t require cars. The closure of Fourteenth Street is a big step in that direction.

#NYC

Audio Of The Week: Crypto In China

A bunch of friends and colleagues were in China a few weeks ago for a big crypto conference and since then, I’ve had a number of fascinating conversations about the crypto sector in China.

Over the last few years, it has become apparent to me and others that China is innovating in the crypto sector in ways that the US and other western countries are not. This is happening for many reasons, including stronger user value propositions for crypto in China, a different regulatory environment, and a vibrant crypto trading sector.

This podcast explores many of these issues and is a good listen if you want to understand what is going on in the Chinese crypto sector better.

#blockchain#crypto

Smart Home Data Aggregator?

The devices in our homes are getting smart. That is awesome. We can manage our energy consumption and much more with a lot more precision and intelligence now.

But I find myself logging into one app to get data on my thermostats, another to get data on my security system, another to get data on my solar panels, and another to get data on my electric vehicles. And then there is all of the billing data from the various utilities and other providers we have.

It’s a bit of a production each month when I want to see how we are doing. And I use a spreadsheet to collect and analyze all of this data.

It makes me wonder if there is a Yodlee or Plaid for smart home data and if there is a Mint-like application that pulls it all together for you.

Of course I could go do the homework to figure that on my own, but I assume I’m not the only person in the AVC community who has this need. So it’s better for me to blog this question here and we can all find the answer in the comments.

And if there is no good answer, well then that is a good startup opportunity.

#climate crisis#hacking energy

That's Not Fair

I saw some news this morning and immediately thought “that is not fair.”

And then I reminded myself that life is not fair.

Of course we all wish that life would be fair. It should be fair.

But it just isn’t and if you go through life wanting it to be fair, you are just setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment.

All of that said, I have found life to be more fair over the long run. Things tend to even out over longer time frames.

But in the short run, we have to be prepared to get the short end of the stick and then figure out how to make that a winning hand anyway.

#entrepreneurship