Posts from October 2020

When are we going to know who won the election?

Our portfolio company Recount put out this two minute video primer on the question of “when will we know.” I like getting the information I want in a very short period of time. This does that so well.

#Current Affairs

The NYC Fintech Innovation Lab

The NYC Fintech Innovation Lab is a program which accepts fintech entrepreneurs to develop their businesses with the assistance of senior execs at the leading NYC banks and insurance companies.

The key priorities of the CTOs and CIOs of the Lab’s partner organizations include:   cloud, cyber-tech, data, digital engagement, enterprise IT and sustainability.

If you are building a fintech company and are focused on one or more of these areas, you should consider applying.

Applications are due on December 1st. You can apply here.

The Lab will be hosting a virtual info session for interested applicants on November 10, featuring a panel discussion with alumni and financial institution partners.


The David Prize

The David Prize is a philanthropic effort to find NYers who are doing amazing things and support them financially.

They recently announced five winners, you can see them here.

They have an open call for new applicants and you can apply here. The deadline is December 4th.

They are eager to support entrepreneurs of all kinds who are working to make a better NYC. If that sounds like you, then you should apply for a David Prize.


Removing The CEO

In almost thirty five years of working on boards, the hardest decisions I have had to make involve removing the CEO. It is an important decision and one that must be made from time to time. I am not a fan of removing the CEO until and unless it is abundantly clear that it must be done.

But when the CEO has failed to manage numerous important challenges, when the senior leadership team has been a revolving door, when the CEO has messed up important relationships with customers, employees, and other important stakeholders, when the organization has become toxic as a result of the CEO’s abrasive personality, then the choice is abundantly clear and must be made.

It is an even harder decision to make when you don’t have an obvious replacement, or when you are not 100% confident that the obvious replacement will be an improvement over the current CEO.

But those are not reasons to wait. You must act and replace the failed CEO with whomever is the best option in that moment and work with the new CEO to address the challenges facing the company, many a result of the failed CEO’s poor leadership.

Waiting is never the right answer. Failing to act is never the right answer. You must remove a failing CEO.

#life lessons

Extending And Improving Bluetooth On A Mac Mini

As I have written here a few times, I prefer to do video meetings from a couch (vs a desk). I find it allows me to stay present in the meeting and not get distracted by everything on my desk. I call these couch setups “Zoom Rooms” and I have been doing this long before the pandemic but this approach has been incredibly helpful to me during the pandemic.

I use a Mac Mini powering two screens and a lot of bluetooth devices; a keyboard, a trackpad, a Jabra speakerphone, gamer style headphones, and a Smart Mic. The multiple audio devices are for different situations. If the Gotham Gal and I are doing a call together, we use the Jabra speakerphone. If I am doing a meeting solo, I tend to use the Smart Mic. If I am doing a presentation, I use gamer style headphones with a great mic on them.

Here’s the issue. The bluetooth that comes standard in a Mac Mini doesn’t like multiple bluetooth devices and the range is just so so. The farther you are from the Mac Mini, the worse this situation gets.

I’ve struggled with this issue quite a bit and I think I have finally found the fix. I got a USB extension cable and this Bluetooth dongle. This approach both extends the Bluetooth into the room better and the third party Bluetooth dongle supports multiple devices better than what comes native on the Mac Mini.

It is not drop dead simple to make this fix. You have to muck around with the bluetooth settings on the Mac to make the dongle work. The best approach is to get into Terminal and type in some instructions which is absolutely not user friendly.

But it does make Bluetooth work a lot better for me. If you are having similar issues, you might want to try it too.

#life lessons

Offsetting Your Flights

I realize that most of us are not flying much these days, but I am confident that we will return to flying when the pandemic is over and when we do, we should offset the carbon footprints of our flights. The Gotham Gal and I have been doing this for the last five years.

Here are two good ways to do that:

Project Wren – this is a USV portfolio company and with their Flight Logger you can log all of your flights and offset them with afforestation programs.

Delta Offsets – Delta Airlines offers a service where you can calculate the carbon footprint of your flight and offset it with a number of projects.

It is not particularly expensive to offset your flights. A round trip flight from JFK to LAX and back is 0.7 tons of carbon per passenger and you can generally offset for around $10 a ton. So using that math, it would be $7 to offset the carbon for your round trip from NYC to LA and back.

The harder part is making this a regular occurrence. Some airlines and travel agents will automatically offset if you ask them to. I hope that becomes more common and available as it is the easiest way to do this.

#climate crisis

Spreading Jam

If your job requires you to design, build, and ship software applications and you want a better way to get feedback on the application, the design, etc, then I have a suggestion for you. Try Jam. Or to be specific.

Jam allows you to turn your web application into something akin to Google Docs, where your colleagues, customers, beta testers, QA team, etc can comment directly on the application. Jam integrates with existing tools like Jira, GitHub, Slack, Figma, Loom, and others to make the feedback collected on Jam as actionable as possible.

Jam was built by Dani Grant and Mohd Irtefa, who met as product managers at our portfolio company Cloudflare. Dani then spent two years at USV helping us spot interesting investments before starting Jam. USV is a seed investor in Jam along with our friends at Version One, Box Group, and Village Global.

So if you want a better way to collect feedback on your application, spread some jam on it.


Setting Off On Your Own

I read Alex Konrad’s profile of Fred Ehrsam and Matt Huang of Paradigm yesterday and was reminded of my own career.

In 1996, after almost a decade at Euclid Partners, I left to start Flatiron Partners with Jerry Colonna. I was 35. Jerry was 33. We had a lot to learn but we did know one thing. We knew that the Internet was upon us and it was going to be big.

We had absolutely no clue how big it was going to be. But that did not matter. We got to work investing in Internet companies and we did very well until the bubble and crash.

If you read Alex’s profile of Fred and Matt, you will learn that they are 32 and 31, and that they believe that crypto will be big.

The Gotham Gal and I are investors in Paradigm, so I am biased, but I believe that Fred and Matt are right and that, like Jerry and me, they have no idea how big it will be.

#crypto#VC & Technology