Posts from crypto

The Metaverse

I’ve been hearing the term Metaverse for at least twenty years and I have always struggled with it. As I told my colleagues last week “I like the real world, I don’t want to live in a video game.”

My colleagues explained to me that I am thinking about it incorrectly. They said that as digitally mediated experiences have become a more important part of our everyday lives, we are already living in the metaverse.

I’ve started thinking about it that way and it has helped me to be more enthusiastic about these digitally mediated experiences.

I read this tweet stream yesterday and I found it very helpful in this new understanding I am developing.

But then I was passing by the Bright Moments NFT Gallery in Soho yesterday and there was literally a line around the block to get into the Bored Apes Yacht Club event. It seemed like there were thousands of Bored Apes NFT owners standing in line for hours to be able to hang out together in person. I texted my colleagues “I guess this metaverse thing is overrated”.

That’s mostly me amusing myself.

But it does suggest to me that hanging out together online is still not quite as much fun as hanging out together in person.

#AR/VR#crypto#NYC

Web3 vs Web2

Now that we are beginning to see what consumer applications are like in the decentralized web (web3), it is interesting to compare that to what consumer applications are like in the centralized web (web2).

It became clear early in the 2000s that the big opportunity in the web would be to build large networks of engaged users. That was USV’s initial web2 thesis:

And the way many/most of those networks were built was by delivering single user utility day-one and then building out network effects around that utility.

Chris Dixon called that “come for the tools, stay for the network” in this blog post.

We are seeing a different go-to-market action in web3.

Most consumers start with the token/asset and go from there. Initially, it was Bitcoin and you’d store it at Coinbase. Then it was Ethereum and you’d stake it. Then it was a Cryptokitty and you’d sire it. Then it was a TopShot and you’d collect it and trade it. Then it was a CryptoPunk and you’d make it your Twitter avatar. Then it was an Axie token and you’d use it to play Axie Infinity. I could go on and on but you get the idea.

And what is most interesting to me is that these assets that you start with don’t need to stay in the networks you first use them in. You can move your Bitcoin to your ledger wallet. You can pool your Ethereum on Uniswap. You can list your CryptoPunk on OpenSea. You can use your Axie token to buy a car.

Which leads me to believe that the go-to-market action in web3 is:

Come for the assets, stay for the experience.

I shared that on twitter yesterday and putting it here today.

#crypto

The Mainstreaming Of Crypto

We started looking at crypto ten years ago, starting investing nine years ago, and have had a front-row seat to its development ever since. It has been enlightening, exciting, rewarding, but definitely not mainstream.

I think that is changing quickly now and yesterday I saw this tweet:

Though I am on the board of Coinbase, I had not been aware of this partnership until I saw the tweet. Seeing it made my day. Two of my favorite brands in the world are teaming up to educate and increase the awareness of crypto around the world.

That’s going mainstream right there.

#crypto

Working Multiple Jobs

Since 2016, I have been working “half time” at USV and taking half of a partner’s carry. That has allowed me to allocate more time to things like building green buildings with the Gotham Gal, building a philanthropic organization with the Gotham Gal, sitting on non-profit and civic boards, and a few other things.

The truth is I still work at least 40 hours a week at USV, probably a fair bit more some weeks, but I still have time to spend on these other things and my partners understand that I am doing that and my compensation reflects that.

The move away from commuting to the office, spending eight hours a day or more there, and the rise of working remotely has upended so much in the last 18 months and one of the things I am noticing is how many people are doing what I am doing – working multiple jobs at the same time.

I am not talking about freelancing, consulting, and the other forms of working for many clients. I am talking about holding down multiple full-time jobs at the same time. Early in the pandemic, there was a story about a software engineer that had full-time jobs at both Google and Facebook. It was somewhat amusing to read that Google and Facebook were being played like that, but the truth is this is happening all over the place.

In some cases, like mine, the employer(s) know about the arrangement and the compensation reflects it. In most cases, the situation is not transparent for everyone. And that is a problem because eventually, most things become public.

Employers are going to need to wrap their heads around this situation and create plans that allow this. I suspect the reason many employees are not transparent about what they are doing is that their employers won’t allow it. So they do it anyway and keep it under wraps.

Employers are probably reading this and saying “But I need 100% of their time. I can’t allow them to give me only half of their time.” But here is the thing. They are already only giving you half of their time.

I can tell you that being able to work on many different things at the same time makes me better at every one of those things. I have always had that situation in the VC business. I get to work with dozens of companies at the same time. But now I get to work on all of them and also different problems in different industries. It keeps me energized, motivated, curious, and excited. And productive as hell.

I think it is high time for employers to understand that some of their employees, often their best employees, need to work this way and will be happier working this way. The employers that lead on this issue will become the places the best people want to work. And they will be more productive and more successful.

We already have a model emerging where this happens. The most common form of organization in crypto is the DAO and most DAOs have this model of part-time work and compensation that reflects the contribution. I know of many people who work for multiple DAOs, get paid by multiple DAOs, and where all of this is out in the open and transparent to everyone.

I am certain that the model of employees working for multiple companies at the same time is here to stay and will grow over time. The only question for employers is whether they will lead or follow in this new model of work.

#crypto#employment#enterprise

Tracking Crypto For Taxes

For the last ten years, my tax prep on crypto was pretty easy. I have always had a buy and hold mindset and have custodied with Coinbase. So a simple report on Coinbase was all I needed to send to my tax folks. Pretty simple.

But as DeFi and NFTs have exploded on the scene, things have gotten more complicated. Swapping, bridging, staking, buying with ETH, SOL, FLOW, yield farming, liquidity mining. Across chains. On hardware wallets. On mobile wallets. It is giving me a headache just typing all of this into my browser.

So I’m on the hunt for the very best cross wallet/cross chain tax prep software for crypto. I am not seeking to invest in this sector, although I have friends who are. What I am seeking is suggestions from all of you. What do you use to deal with his headache?

If you have suggestions, please click on the link that says “Discuss on Twitter” and leave your suggestions there so everyone can see them. If you must email me, that’s fine too. I appreciate suggestions however you can send them. But I prefer Twitter because everyone will be able to see them.

#crypto

Dapper Collectives

Our portfolio company Dapper Labs, creator of CryptoKitties, the Flow Blockchain, and the NBA Top Shot collectible game, is announcing Dapper Collectives today.

Dapper Collectives comes by way of an acquisition of Brud, a company that has been developing “community-owned media and collectively built worlds” for the last five years. Dapper Collectives will be led by Trevor McFedries, the founder and CEO of Brud and the co-founder of the FWB DAO. Trevor is also an LP at USV.

Dapper Collectives has a mission to “bring decentralized organizations (“DAOs”) to the mainstream”. The initial efforts of Dapper Collectives will include:

  • Bring community ownership and collective building to Dapper Labs products –– starting with Lil Miquela and her 10 million fans;
  • Build and release open source tools to help other mainstream communities engage in decentralized ownership and governance on Flow blockchain;
  • Help the most forward-thinking “web 2” companies decentralize their operations, engaging at the CEO and Board of Directors level to assist in tokenomics as well as technical implementation.

DAOs are quickly becoming the preferred organizing model for crypto projects, community efforts, and investing activities in Web3 and Dapper Collectives will energize these activities on the Flow blockchain.

#crypto#Web3

NYC's Tech Resurgence

Early in the pandemic, we were all deluged with stories of tech workers, companies, and founders leaving Silicon Valley for Miami and Austin. And that was true. But from my personal experience, they also left for many other places too, including Los Angeles and New York City.

I met with a founder last week who has left the bay area for good and now splits his time between homes in LA and NYC. It is hard to know what cities have been the biggest beneficiaries of the great relocation but I am certain that NYC is one of them.

Here are some tweets I’ve seen in recent weeks talking about this:

I am not proclaiming the death of Silicon Valley. It is alive and well and will continue to be the epicenter of tech in the US for as far as I can see. What it has lost is the power to hold onto people who don’t really want to be there. One of the most important things the covid pandemic has done to work in the US, particularly tech work, is to make it so that people can work for great companies wherever they want to live. That’s a huge shift and I believe it is permanent.

But that’s not the only thing that’s driving NYC’s tech resurgence. As yesterday’s IPO of Warby Parker reminds us, NYC is now home to a growing number of large entrepreneurial companies that are now public and will remain independent and growing in NYC. They may employ people all around the world, but they are HQ’d in NYC and will continue to be.

And Jordan is correct in the tweet above that NYC is particularly strong in Web3 because of its roots in trading, speculating, DeFi, etc and because of large Web3 software players like Consensys that have been operating here for many years now. And as Web3 is now exploding into the creative class via things like NFTs, DAOs, gaming and more, we will only see NYC’s strengths come to the front and center in the most important new sector in tech.

It’s a great time to be working in tech in NYC. You get all of the benefits of living in this amazing city without the hassles of the commute every day.

I’ll end with a plug for a startup competition that Google, Tech:NYC, and Cornell Tech are putting on called the “NYC Recovery Challenge”.

The challenge will bring together startup entrepreneurs from across the five boroughs to pitch tech solutions for New York’s recovery to a panel of business, economic, and policy experts with the chance of winning cash prizes, technical mentorship, and more.

The top three founders and their teams will be recognized as “NYC RecoveryFellows” and will receive cash awards from a prize fund totaling $150,000. The first-place founder and their team will receive a non-dilutive cash award of $100,000, and two runners-up will each receive non-dilutive cash awards of $25,000. Seven other entrants will be recognized as “Founders to Watch” and will participate, along with the three cash award recipients, in a month-long, equity-free mentorship program — dubbed the “NYC Accelerator” — led by Cornell Tech, Google for Startups, and Tech:NYC advisers. 

If you and your startup want to apply, you can do so here.

#crypto#entrepreneurship#NYC

The Token Race

Our portfolio company Mirror has been using a “game mechanic” called The Write Race to onboard users to the Mirror service. Mirror is something between a blogging platform, a crowdfunding platform, and a community platform, built for the crypto sector. Mirror is built on decentralized protocols and is a web3 version of all of those things and more.

Users need a $WRITE token to publish on Mirror and the best way to get $WRITE tokens is to join the Write Race that happens every Wednesday 5pm eastern. Anyone who holds a $WRITE token can vote for new users in the Write Race. The top ten vote getters are airdropped a $WRITE token and can publish on Mirror. I earned a $WRITE token a while ago and now publish a mirror image of this blog on Mirror.

Yesterday, Mirror announced that they have expanded this game mechanic to any activity that requires a token. They call it Token Race.

Imagine your DAO wants to admit new members but needs a way to do that. Token Race.

Imagine your DAO wants to distribute funds to worthy crypto projects. Token Race.

You get the idea.

Here is how Token Race works:

To create a token race, a user specifies the address of the ERC20 token contract to use, uploads a list of proposals that they’d like their community to vote on, and specifies the minimum number of tokens members need to hold to be eligible to vote. We take a snapshot of balances, and once the voting opens members get to vote on the various proposals proportional to their wallet balance at the block height of the snapshot. Once the voting period ends, winners are selected based on the highest number of votes. All data is backed up on the Filecoin network and accessible via IPFS (h/t estuary.tech) so even if Mirror goes under, your token races are preserved in the annals of the metaverse.

https://dev.mirror.xyz/dLLIq4Iebg5DLWJbOWa3sU6oQuwbogkmqPnz-ZbzPUg

So if you’ve been looking for a tool to do your own version of the Write Race, look no further. Token Race is here.

#crypto

Staying Plugged In

I wrote in my 60th birthday post that my late career mantra is less hustle more conviction. It has been working for me and has kept me in the game.

But there are times, usually after an opening emerges, when a market moves so fast it is hard to stay on top of it all.

I don’t worry about missing out. That’s part of the venture capital business. Fear of missing out is a counterproductive emotion and I refuse to engage in it.

But I do worry about not understanding what is going on. When you stop understanding things, you are done. There is no way to be a great investor if you have no clue.

It is possible to surround yourself with others who can help you understand what is going on. I do that and I have terrific colleagues who keep me engaged in what’s happening. These colleagues are inside USV and also spread around many other firms too.

But at some level, you have to understand things yourself. Osmosis only works to a point. I find that you have to get your hands on the technology, use it, and feel it to understand it.

And that is the hard part when things go bananas as a market opens up. Less hustle works against you. And you have to find a way to engage in it all. That’s where I am right now.

#crypto#VC & Technology