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 Jam.dev 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.

#entrepreneurship

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

Funding Friday: Westbeth

The Gotham Gal and I have lived a block away from Westbeth for almost fifteen years. Westbeth is a treasure. It was Bell Labs for most of the first half of the twentieth century and became an artist community in 1970 about twenty years after Bell Labs left for New Jersey.

Earlier this week, I backed a photobook project on Kickstarter to document many of the artists who live there. That project was funded and is over now.

The video does a great job of showcasing what Westbeth is and so I am embedding it here on the blog. If you are reading this in email you can go here and watch the video.

#NYC

A Failing Grade

I wrote yesterday, about the quarterly numbers for VC investing activity:

If this was a student coming home with a report card, it would be straight As.

Well, I missed something in the data that was subsequently reported on by PitchBook, one of the authors of the report:

Venture funding for female founders has hit its lowest quarterly total in three years.

Firms invested a total of $434 million in Q3—the lowest figure since the second quarter of 2017, according to PitchBook data. The third quarter total also amounts to a 48% drop in funding from Q2, when female founders received $841 million across 132 deals.

https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/vc-funding-female-founders-drops-low

I hope Q3 is an anomaly and not the reversal of a trend that has mostly been “up and to the right” in recent years.

We continue to see, and fund, great woman founders so I am hoping that there is not some fundamental change to the market that is hurting women founders. But it is possible that there is and I missed that in my blog yesterday. I will give myself an F for that.

I’ve seen a few replies on Twitter that suggest the same is true for underrepresented minorities. I have not seen the data to back that up but if it is true, that is also a failing grade for the VC sector.

I have been encouraged by what I have seen in the VC/startup sector regarding opening up access to women founders and founders of color. It feels like positive change is happening. But we have to see that in the numbers or it is just talk.

And apparently we did not see it in the numbers last quarter.

#VC & Technology

Venture Funding Trends Intact

The NVCA and Pitch Book are out with their Q3 report on the VC industry and what they report is that the VC industry continues to be very active throughout the pandemic. Deal counts and deal values are stable to up over last year. The massive expansion of later-stage private capital continues unabated. Valuations continue to rise. And exits have been very robust.

If this was a student coming home with a report card, it would be straight As. The startup economy is alive and well during the pandemic.

#VC & Technology

The De-Carbonization Of The Economy

Over the last decade, the Gotham Gal and I have moved away from oil and gas in our homes and have installed solar panels for electricity and heat pumps for heating and cooling. It has gotten less expensive to do this swap out as solar and heat pump costs have come down. My partner Albert told me that when you factor in the financing costs of this swap, the average home in the Northeast United States could save $1000 to $2000 a year by doing this swap.

What this means is that homeowners can and should go to the bank and borrow the money to remove oil and gas powered boilers and replace them with energy efficient heat pumps and put solar on their roofs to power them. They should do this not just because it is good for the climate, but because it is good for the bank account. That’s a big deal.

I saw this chart in Azeem Azhar’s excellent Exponential View newsletter this week:

Electricity generation and consumption in the US has stabilized over the last twenty years and the use of coal to generate electricity is plummeting. In another twenty years this chart will have a huge amount of green and almost no red in it.

The de-carbonization of the economy is a megatrend that is already underway and is highly investable because the unit economics of renewables and energy efficient electrical equipment is now superior to the unit economics of carbon and mechanical equipment. We can see this in cars (EVs>Gas) and heating/cooling systems and many other aspects of our economy.

The narrative somehow has been that addressing the climate crisis is going to hurt our economy. I believe that is plain wrong. I believe it will power a huge economic boom that will look much like the boom that powered the carbon/mechanical/industrial economy from the late 19th century to the late 20th century.

So let’s get on with it.

#climate crisis#VC & Technology