Posts from 2021

The Globalization Of Venture Capital Investing

I’ve written a bunch about the globalization of the startup economy. You can start and build a tech company almost anywhere these days. That has been true for at least the last decade. But until very recently, raising capital for your startup was significantly easier if it was located in the major startup hubs, most notably Silicon Valley.

I believe the pandemic changed that equation dramatically and USV’s “deal log” is a great example of that. When I look at all of the opportunities we are currently considering plus all of the investments we have made this year to date, what stands out most to me is the location of the founders and teams. It seems to me that about half of our “new deal activity” right now is happening outside of the US. And very little of it is in western Europe where most of our non-US investing has been for the last decade.

This is a big change from where it was just last year and the year before. The emergence of raising money and supporting investments on Zoom has made it possible to have a much broader reach than was possible a few years ago.

What makes it easier for USV is our thesis-driven model of investing. We know exactly what we are looking for in new opportunities in wellness, education, financial services, climate, and crypto and so we can react to opportunities that fit into our thesis pretty much anywhere in the world. And we are doing exactly that.

It takes a long time, at least five years and more likely a decade, to know how changes in the startup economy and venture capital will play out. We won’t know how this move to invest globally will impact returns and founder success. I am optimistic that it will be a positive change for both but only time will tell.

#VC & Technology

Funding Friday: The Dirt Newsletter

So this is pretty cool. Dirt is a daily newsletter about the entertainment industry. The folks behind Dirt are funding it with a crowdfunding campaign on Mirror using NFTs.

There are three Dirt NFTs you can buy, a single edition called Rainbow Wave, an edition of 30 called Pearl Pink, and an edition of 100 called Pea Green.

I bought a Pea Green just now for .05 ETH:

If you want to join this crowdfunding campaign, make sure you have the Coinbase browser extension or the Metamask browser extension and go here and have fun and support some journalists too.

#crowdfunding

Grit, Resilience and Determination

I am returning to a topic that I have talked a lot about on this blog.

A number of years ago at our annual CEO Summit, we had Angela Duckworth speak to our portfolio about Grit, the topic of her excellent book on the subject. In Angela’s research, she determined that the single greatest determinant of success was not talent. It was grit.

I was reminded of that last night as I watched Derrick Rose lead the New York Knicks to a must-win in game two of their series against the Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks were a mess for the first half of the game and Derrick Rose singlehandedly kept them in the game.

Derrick Rose was the first pick in the 2008 draft and by 2011 he became the youngest NBA player to win the Most Valuable Player award, something he accomplished at age 23. A year later he tore his ACL and he has struggled with injuries ever since.

In the middle of this season, the Knicks acquired Derrick Rose from the Detroit Pistons and soon thereafter he came down with Covid and missed several weeks.

But after Derrick Rose came back from Covid in the last seventeen games of the season, the Knicks won thirteen of those games and landed in fourth place in the East.

And last night, he was the heart and soul of the Knicks. He kept them in the game until his teammates woke up, and he led the team in scoring in a must-win.

Derrick Rose will never be the player he was at 23 when he could beat anyone off the dribble and score at will. He could have called it quits many times in the last nine years since he won his MVP. But he hasn’t quit, he’s worked his way back and he is leading an NBA team in the playoffs. It is really something to behold.

Not everything goes the way we are expecting it to go. We get dealt bad hands and have to play them. That is way things are in life. There are people out there, like Derrick Rose, who show that you can make the best of a tough situation, keep going, and win anyway. That’s grit.

#life lessons

Changing Things Up

I am working on a new weekday routine the goal of which is to give me more time to read, think, and meet in person and less zoom meetings and phone calls. I am also mixing up my morning routine and attempting to sleep and work out longer.

The net of all that is I am seeking a new time of day to write and I have not yet found it. I may need to go back to writing first thing in the morning but I am not yet sold on that.

I missed my daily blog post yesterday and finally found some time to write today mid-afternoon.

I really value finding time to write each day so I will figure out how to fit it in, but things might be a bit bumpy over the next few weeks while I sort all of this out.

#Random Posts

Winning at Fifty

I was rooting for Phil Mickelson all weekend to win the PGA at age 50. I’ve watched Phil for thirty years and I’ve seen all of the highs and lows and there have been many. He plays the game of golf with a level of creativity that can often lead to problems. He is a risk-taker which isn’t always the best way to approach a golf course.

But this weekend at the PGA, he was simply better than anyone else. He hit the ball as far as players thirty years younger than he is. And he showed off his incredible short game.

We have now seen this a few times, where athletes who are “past their prime” continue to be better than anyone else, at least for a game or a long weekend.

Some of this is due to the better conditioning that today’s athletes are in. Some of it is that they are older and wiser and have been there before and understand how to handle the moment. And some of it is that they are the best of their generation and that level of talent goes a long way.

I think us “old timers” can take some lessons from Phil and other athletes who are outperforming well beyond their prime. We can stay in the game to start. We can figure out what our version of learning how to hit the ball as far as the youngsters is. And we can take comfort in the fact that we have been in this moment before and know how to take a breath, calm down, and make the right decision. And win again!

#life lessons

Decentralized Media

Back in the early 2000s, it was exciting to blog and use social networks to create our own media and move away from the traditional media outlets. That was the pull that got me into blogging and got me investing in Twitter. It was a powerful feeling.

But a decade and a half later, it is obvious that we just replaced one type of media company for another and that we don’t really control our own media yet. I have a bit more control over this blog because I run it on my own domain using open source WordPress software, but most people are blogging on Medium or Substack or some other centralized service these days. And the social media platforms, well we know all about them in the wake of recent takedowns. You don’t control your own media platform if you run it on a centralized service.

So a few months ago, I mirrored this blog on Mirror, a decentralized blogging platform. You can view it here.

And yesterday, I claimed @fredwilson on Bitclout with this tweet:

Around that same time, I saw this post on Bitclout:

Here is the thing about blockchains and crypto – the data is public on the blockchain. Nobody controls it other than you with your private keys. And when you put open source software together with that, you get decentralized applications that nobody can mess with, not even the creators of those applications.

I don’t know if Mirror is the new WordPress or if Bitclout is the new Twitter. We will see. But it sure feels like we are back in the early 2000s again, experimenting with decentralizing media. I have the same feeling of excitement I had back then.

#blockchain#crypto#Weblogs

Putting Carbon Back In The Ground

As USV is now about six months into investing our first climate fund, I am starting to see more clearly what climate investing is all about and my partner Albert said something in a team meeting earlier this week that really stuck with me.

I did not write it down but it was something like, “we’ve spent two hundred years taking carbon out of the ground, burning it, and putting it into the atmosphere and what we now need to do is get it from the atmosphere and put it back into the ground.”

That is a simplification of the many technologies and projects that are underway to capture carbon and sequester it, but I am a fan of simple. In investing, the simpler the better for me.

#climate crisis

The Coinbase Wallet Browser Extension

Coinbase shipped an important piece of its wallet product portfolio yesterday, the Coinbase Wallet Browser Extension.

You can download the chrome extension here.

If you want to use DeFi apps, buy and collect NFTs, or do anything that requires a crypto wallet in your browser, then the Coinbase Wallet Extension is the best way to do all of those things.

Coinbase Wallet, the mobile app, allows you to sync with your main Coinbase account so that you can hold your crypto at Coinbase and move it to Wallet when you want to transact. I like to think of this like a savings account and a checking account.

And now all of this is available in the browser.

Wallets and storing crypto have been too hard for too long. I am excited for Coinbase to make all of this easier and mainstream.

Disclosure: I am on the board of Coinbase and am a large shareholder.

#crypto

Optimizing Health Care

Last week, I had to clear my calendar for two days and spend them in doctors’ offices and radiology labs. I developed a kidney stone last week and my doctors and I wanted to understand how large and where it was. The answer is 4mm and it was somewhere between my kidney and bladder as of last Thursday. That may be more information than you need to know.

Over four appointments, I experienced how much progress we have made during the pandemic and how much more we have to go before we have a high functioning software powered health care system in the US.

The good news is that for all four of my appointments, I was able to check into them via an app on my phone and in most cases, leverage stored information in apps on my phone to complete most of the forms. The stack of forms that we all usually complete when arriving at a new doctor has been reduced significantly during the pandemic, but it is not yet zero. I still had to complete at least one paper form at three of my four appointments.

The pandemic has forced health care providers to use mobile apps and software to automate much of the check-in functionality and that is great news. The fact that they only went 90% of the way there is a bit depressing though.

I also got most of my test results delivered into an app on my phone. But not the ultrasound and CT scans. I realize that I probably can’t read those scans, but I feel like I paid for them so I should have them. If I had them, I could post them here 🙂

But seriously, I feel like the last fifteen months have brought much needed and long overdue changes to the information collection and management practices of the US healthcare system. I can see the system changing in front of my eyes. And that is very exciting.

But I don’t feel like we are anywhere near where we can go and should go to leverage the power of information and software to optimize the experience for patients and providers. I hope the last fifteen months is the proof point that change is possible and that we can keep innovating and improving the experience without a crisis forcing it on us.

#hacking healthcare