Posts from Fred Wilson

Pier 76

For as long as I can remember, Pier 76 on the west side of Manhattan has been home to the west side tow pound. Some of my worst moments as a NYC resident have been there retrieving a car or a scooter, something I’ve done more than I want to remember. It was pure misery to have to go there and I think that was intentional.

So over the last four months on my morning bike rides up the west side bike path, I have been watching the city tear down the west side tow pound and replace it with an urban park.

I believe Pier 76 opened last week and is hosting one of the outdoor locations for the Tribeca Film Festival which is going on in NYC right now.

So today on my morning ride, I took a slight detour and visited the new Pier 76.

It is so great to see the city making itself nicer. The entire west side park along the Hudson in Manhattan has been a slow but steady version of that and it just got a little bit nicer. Well done NYC.

#NYC

ENS

ENS stands for Ethereum Name Service and it is a decentralized domain name system built on the Ethereum blockchain. You can get domains with the .eth extension by going here, connecting a wallet, and searching and purchasing a domain.

I have purchased fredwilson.eth and avc.eth and a bunch of other .eth domains for my family. It does not cost a lot of ETH to register a domain, but you need to remember to go back and renew it as there is no company/registrar operating a business to do that for you.

An interesting angle on ENS is that the .xyz extensions are interoperable with ENS and that is explained here.

So if you own .xyz domains, you can participate in the ENS system. I also bought fredwilson.xyz and avc.xyz and a bunch of other .xyz domains for my family.

It is interesting to me to see blockchains and smart contracts being used to replicate many of the things we use to build applications on the Internet. Slowly but surely a decentralized infrastructure that mirrors the centralized infrastructure is getting built out.

While there aren’t a lot of things you can do with a ENS domain today, I expect that there will be a lot of things you can do with one in the future. And that is why I think it is a good idea to purchase ENS domains for the ones you own in the .com world.

#blockchain#crypto

Early Voting

NYC has a primary next week (June 22nd) in which parties will pick their nominees for Mayor, City Council races, Borough President races, and Manhattan will pick candidates for Attorney General. Because NYC is overwhelmingly Democratic, the primary is the main event. Most of the time, Democratic candidates prevail in the General Election in November.

So this is a big election for NYC and everyone who cares about the future of NYC should make it a point to vote in this primary.

Early voting started last Saturday and I made my way to my early voting location (which is different from the regular voting location) yesterday morning and was in and out in two minutes. It was the smoothest voting experience I have had in NYC since we moved here almost 40 years ago.

If you live in NYC want to do early voting this week, go here and enter in some address info and you will be shown your early voting location.

Early voting is such an awesome addition to the election process. It makes it way easier for many people to get out and vote. And I hope you all do.

And make sure to vote for five people, not just one, as NYC is doing rank choice voting this year. Pick a slate of your favorite candidates from one to five and fill in all of the columns. Hopefully one of your top five will win.

#NYC

Meme Investing

I remember when a friend of mine told me five or six years ago that he had bought some Dogecoin. I thought “what is he doing?” and dismissed it as something silly and or crazy.

Dogecoin was initially introduced in late 2013 and 7 1/2 years later it has amassed a market cap of $43bn and is one of the most popular crypto assets in the world. It may be silly and crazy, but it has also been a good investment for my friend and anyone who bought it in the early years.

For those that don’t know, Doge is an internet meme that became popular around that same time. The combination of memes and investing is a powerful cocktail that I have been ignoring for a long time, probably incorrectly.

More recently we have seen meme investing move into public market stocks like Gamestop, AMC Theaters, Wendy’s, and more. The community that drives these “meme stocks” is based in Reddit and the combined purchasing power of this community is substantial, particularly in illquid stocks (and crypto assets).

It is easy to dismiss meme investing. The market capitalizations that these meme assets trade at make no sense on any fundamental analysis. But, as I’ve come to understand, that is not the point.

Memes are fun and memes are also something to come together around. Speculating on the popularity of memes and their staying power is no different than any other form of speculation.

But more than that, and this is where my head has been going on this topic, the market caps of these memes are also economically powerful. If the board and management teams of the companies with meme stocks choose to issue more shares at these prices, they can raise a lot of capital to transform these companies. Similar opportunities could exist with meme tokens. AMC recently did this with their “meme stock.”

I’ve decided that I am going to stop ignoring and dismissing meme investing and start trying to understand it better. I think it is not something that is going away anytime soon and may turn into something even more interesting.

That said, I am not suggesting that anyone invest their retirement money or their savings for their kids’ eduction into memes. I believe it is more appropriate for speculating right now. That may change. Or it may not. That is yet to be determined.

#crypto#stocks

Funding Friday: The Wireframe Deck

I just backed this project. I love the idea of a simple deck of cards that can let anyone or any group design a website without any software or device.

So many times, I have known pretty much what I want for a website for a project, an event, a new business, or whatever, but I am a terrible sketcher and I don’t know how to use the software tools that web designers use. A deck of cards would be ideal for me and probably a lot of other people too.

Email readers can watch the video here.

#crowdfunding

Startup CXO

On Monday, a copy of Startup CXO, my friend Matt Blumberg’s new book, arrived at the USV office. I picked it up to take a quick look and thought “this a heavy book!”

So I texted Matt, congratulated him on getting the book out, and then asked why it was so heavy. He replied “because it is 640 pages, there is a section on every C-level function in that book.”

That’s when I realized that Startup CXO is not really a book. It’s a “field manual” to scaling a leadership team and company. It is the kind of book you will keep by your desk and pull out from time to time to figure out how to approach an issue or to help one of your senior leaders figure out how to do that.

And in that context, it’s a very valuable resource for CEOs and leadership teams as they scale a company and find new challenges around every corner.

The book is now out in Kindle and Hardcover. I recommend the Hardcover so you can keep it handy and pull it out from time to time when you need a quick primer on something.

#Books#entrepreneurship#management

Digital Asset Mining In New York State

Digital Asset Mining is shorthand for “proof of work consensus validation of public blockchain infrastructure”. Thankfully we have the shorthand. But it is important to understand what digital asset mining is.

Public blockchains, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, store data securely but publicly in a cooperative ecosystem that is not controlled by any company or government. When you store data on a public blockchain, it is your data, secured by your keys, and nobody can do anything to it without your approval.

That is a big deal and it is the future of all internet data. In time, all software systems will operate on top of secure public blockchains.

The consensus mechanism in public blockchains is the method that they use to cooperatively validate transactions without a controlling party.

Proof of work consensus is when computers all over the world run software (called nodes) and validate transactions and are rewarded with digital assets (tokens).

So proof of work mining and its cousins like proof of stake validating is the foundational infrastructure for the coming architecture for internet data.

Think of Bitcoin mining operations as the next Amazon, Google, and Microsoft Cloud offerings except that they are owned by everyone.

That’s a huge deal. As big of a deal as anything in tech and tech policy right now.

Ok. Now that we’ve had that discussion, let’s talk about a bill under consideration by the New York State Legislature that would put a three-year moratorium on proof of work mining in New York State. I had thought that this bill was going nowhere as of last weekend, but it seems to be back on the table now.

I am a fan of regulation on the emerging blockchain and crypto sectors. Anything as important as the next generation of internet data architecture needs regulation.

But this New York State bill is like using a sledgehammer when what is needed is a scalpel.

Three years is a long time in a fast growing emerging tech sector. The foundational infrastructure for public blockchains is being built now and regions that get going now will have long lasting businesses that provide good jobs and lots of growth. Who wouldn’t want Google, Amazon, and Microsoft operating their data centers in their state? This is the next generation of that.

The issue that has everyone up in arms is the carbon footprint of proof of work mining and that is something that is important to discuss and using regulation to address it makes sense. It may well be that proof of work consensus has no larger carbon footprint than the data centers of the cloud era, but that’s not really the point. We can and should do better. We can have a climate-neutral data architecture when we build the next-generation tech stack.

So here is what I think would be better policy for New York State:

1/ Apply a tax surcharge to digital mining operations in New York State that use fossil fuels to power them.

2/ Use those tax revenues to subsidize digital mining operations in New York State that use clean (renewable, nuclear, etc) energy to power them.

3/ Encourage digital asset mining in New York State with other policies that will bring the data centers here vs elsewhere.

4/ Become the home to the cleanest and largest digital asset mining operations in the world.

We can do that New York State. We just need to want to.

#blockchain#crypto

Community Solar

We had a situation recently where a rooftop solar project on a building we own became too expensive (because of NYC Fire Department requirements) and it no longer made economic sense to do the installation. And yet we want to avail ourselves of solar energy to benefit from the economics of solar, to reduce our carbon footprint, and to increase the resiliency of our property.

So we are reaching out to some community solar developers in NYC who have built out solar infrastructure that the community can participate in.

I’ve been interested in community solar for a while now. It makes sense to me that a group of people can build and participate in a solar installation where it most makes sense and then share in the energy that installation generates.

Community solar works best when a consumer can receive a credit on their electrical bill for their community solar output. This is possible in the states that have deregulated their electrical systems.

At USV we think community solar represents an interesting way to participate in the renewable energy business and we are looking at a few opportunities now and would like to look at more.

#climate crisis

Scaling Ethereum

One of the biggest challenges for developers building on Ethereum’s market leading smart contract platform/blockchain are the high fees and slow transactions. These issues arise from the fact that the Ethereum blockchain’s current architecture is not particularly scalable.

The Ethereum core developers have been working on these issues for years and there are changes coming in the core Ethereum protocol that will help with scalability. But the broader Ethereum community is not relying entirely on the core developers to address these issues. There are a number of “layer two” solutions that have emerged that will bring very significant increases in speed and lower fees.

One of these layer two solutions, called Zero Knowledge Rollups, is particularly exciting to us at USV and earlier this year we invested in a project called Matter Labs (also known as ZKSync) that has built what we think is the best approach to Rollups on top of Ethereum.

My partner Nick posted today about ZKSync and outlined why we are so excited about this approach. If you are a developer building on Ethereum and are looking for a good layer two solution, you should absolutely read Nick’s post. I would also recommend it for anyone who is invested in or interested in Ethereum as layer two scaling solutions will likely unlock a lot of value in the Ethereum community over the coming years.

#blockchain#crypto