Posts from Fred Wilson

Video Of The Week: Mike Bloomberg Talks Climate Crisis At MIT

This spring, Mike Bloomberg gave the commencement speech at my alma mater MIT. He talks about moonshots, engineers, and the looming climate crisis. It is a great talk and one that shows what kind of leader I would like to see in this country.

I start the video below at 3:24 in so you don’t have to watch the traditional commencement platitudes. If you want to watch the entire thing you can do that here. The video below is about 18mins in total and I strongly recommend everyone find the time to watch it this weekend.

Funding Friday: Mochi Robot

I’m a huge fan of toys and other things that can get young kids engaging in instructing machines what to do. I think that in the world these children are going to grow up into, that is going to be super important to them as adults.

And so toys like Mochi Robot are great for parents, teachers, and caregivers who want to provide that to their children.

How To Beat A Patent Troll

Our portfolio company Cloudflare posted yesterday about the two and a half year war it waged against a patent troll called Blackbird.

This was the battle plan that Cloudflare came up with:

After we were sued by Blackbird, we decided that we wouldn’t roll over. We decided we would do our best to turn the incentive structure on its head and make patent trolls think twice before attempting to take advantage of the system. We created Project Jengo in an effort to remove this economic asymmetry from the litigation. In our initial blog post we suggested we could level the playing field by: (i) defending ourselves vigorously against the patent lawsuit instead of rolling over and paying a licensing fee or settling, (ii) funding awards for crowdsourced prior art that could be used to invalidate any of Blackbird’s patents, not just the one asserted against Cloudflare, and (iii) asking the relevant bar associations to investigate what we considered to be Blackbird’s violations of the rules of professional conduct for attorneys.

I will give away the story in case you don’t want to go read the post. Cloudflare’s plan worked in all three ways.

It is tempting to settle with patent trolls if you can settle for less than litigation costs. Our portfolio companies do it all the time and it is rational behavior.

But patent trolls are a tax on innovation and I love it when some of our portfolio companies decide to stand up to them and fight them. Like Cloudflare did.

A Decentralized Archive

The Internet Archive and Wayback Machine are awesome.

You can see that in 1998, AVC.com was pointing to something called Fishnet that looked like this. And you can see what AVC looked like in September 2008.

There are many archives, some of them quite specialized, in the physical and digital world. But they all suffer from the same problem, which my colleague Dani explained yesterday:

Archives are extremely important: the survival and ongoing availability of knowledge helps with the continuation of human progress. While there are existing digital archival projects out there, they are mostly donation-based and face the risk that their funding could run out, their hosting provider could one day go out of business or a government could force them to remove files.

Dani wrote that yesterday in our blog post welcoming Arweave to the USV portfolio. Arweave is a decentralized protocol that enables archiving and the funding to support it at web scale.

The key innovation is a sustainable funding model for archives which Dani explained in her post:

Arweave had to invent a new method of paying for storage, one where you can pay once, and store forever. While that sounds almost too good to be true and took us a long time to wrap our heads around, it will be true provided the cost of storage continues to decline at a predictable rate. Machines that provide storage to the network get paid out in small increments over time as they continue to prove that they have held onto archived files. 

Decentralized infrastructure is one of our favorite investment themes in crypto (Filecoin, Helium, Arweave, and at least one unannounced investment) because of the resiliency and sustainability of decentralized infrastructure (just look at bitcoin mining for an example of that).

We think infrastructure will tend to move to decentralized models over time and archives are a great example of that.

The DuckDuckGo Browser

I just started using our portfolio company DuckDuckGo’s mobile browser.

Honestly I didn’t even realize they had one until last week.

It looks like this on my phone:

And AVC looks like this in it:

I guess AVC is only a B+ when it comes to privacy. I hope to fix that and get to an A when I push the new design, hopefully next month.

If you want to start using the Duck Duck Go mobile browser, you can get it here.

Calling All Founders

NYC’s Partnership runs some outstanding accelerator programs.

There is the flagship Fintech Accelerator which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. In this program, founders are connected to the CIOs of the top banks, brokerages, and insurance companies in NYC as they work on their products and pitches. Over the past decade, 69 graduates of the Fintech Accelerator have raised over $1bn. I have written about this program frequently. It is an example of something that you could not do anywhere other than NYC.

And then there is the newest one, the Transit Tech Accelerator, where founders who are building transit companies are connected to the leading transit systems in the NY Metro area while they work on their products and pitches. The MTA is piloting four technologies they found in last year’s program and there are six more transit systems involved this year.

If you want to apply to the Fintech Accelerator, do so here.

If you want to apply to the Transit Tech Accelerator, do so here.

Upgrading To A New Phone

I got the new Pixel 4 XL and am in the process of copying over all of my data and apps and other stuff.

Apple and Google make it so easy these days to sync a new phone with an old phone that it is easy to think you are done once the sync is over.

But that is unfortunately not the case.

The biggest “gotcha” that I worry about is moving all of my two-factor codes over from my old phone to my new phone. For that reason, I keep my old phone around for a few weeks just to make sure I’ve got it all moved over to my new phone.

And then there is the hassle of logging into all of my apps and signing into them all over again. I have and use a lot of apps on my phone so that takes me several hours over the course of a few days to do that. And that is another reason to keep my old phone around for a while to make sure I’ve got everything.

Increasingly Apple and Google and other providers want you to trade in your older phone for a discount on a new one. While that is an attractive offer, it encourages wiping and sending the old phone back.

And I don’t think that’s a smart thing to do until you are sure you’ve got everything you need off of your older phone.

Video Of The Week: Filecoin and Web3

In this video, Juan Benet, founder of our portfolio company Protocol Labs, talks about how Web3 is coming together and what Filecoin and IPFS’s role in it will be.

Funding Friday: The Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF.org) has been fighting for and helping to protect our online rights for twenty-eight years. Their primary focus areas are online privacy and free speech.

They spend about $12mm a year on legal interventions and policy work. Most of their funding comes from small donations from people like us who value the work they do on our behalf.

I signed up for an annual membership this morning and will be contributing $2500 a year to this amazing organization. I also got this awesome EFF ski hat.

I would like to encourage all of you get to read what I think free of censorship to support their work as well. You can make a one-time payment of as little as $25 or as much as I did and you can also make that a recurring payment, as I did.

You can do all of that here.

The World Is Messy And There Are Ambiguities

I’ve been wanting to say something like this here at AVC for several years and have held back for a host of reasons, mostly because it’s a sensitive topic and it would be misunderstood.

But after watching Obama say this, I had to repost it. I could not agree more.