Posts from Food and Drink

Funding Friday: The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation Relief Fund

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that when this is all over, I can’t wait to go to my favorite restaurants and enjoy their hospitality and food. If they are able to re-open.

While many industries are facing difficult times in this crisis, the restaurant and hospitality industry is particularly hard hit.

So for today’s funding friday, I am encouraging everyone to do what I did this morning – make a donation to the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation Relief Fund.

So far, the RWCF has raised close to $100,000 for this relief fund. I hope they can raise a lot more. The funds will go to these three areas:

50% FOR IMMEDIATE, DIRECT CRISIS RELIEF ASSISTANCE TO INDIVIDUAL RESTAURANT WORKERS

25% FOR NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS SERVING RESTAURANT WORKERS IN CRISIS.

25% FOR ZERO-INTEREST LOANS FOR RESTAURANTS TO GET BACK UP AND RUNNING.

There are more details on the RWCF relief fund here.

Again, if you’d like to make a donation, go here.

Also, if this is a sector you care about, you might want to subscribe to Some Meals Considered, a newsletter written by our daughter. She has been covering the challenges facing the restaurant industry almost daily this week and is surfacing a lot of useful and helpful information.

#Food and Drink

What Will Happen In The 2020s

It’s 2020. Time to look forward to the decade that is upon us.

One of my favorite quotes, attributed to Bill Gates, is that people overestimate what will happen in a year and underestimate what will happen in a decade.

This is an important decade for mankind. It is a decade in which we will need to find answers to questions that hang over us like last night’s celebrations.

I am an optimist and believe in society’s ability to find the will to face our challenges and the intelligence to find solutions to them.

So, I am starting out 2020 in an optimistic mood and here are some predictions for the decade that we are now in.

1/ The looming climate crisis will be to this century what the two world wars were to the previous one. It will require countries and institutions to re-allocate capital from other endeavors to fight against a warming planet. This is the decade we will begin to see this re-allocation of capital. We will see carbon taxed like the vice that it is in most countries around the world this decade, including in the US. We will see real estate values collapse in some of the most affected regions and we will see real estate values increase in regions that benefit from the warming climate. We will see massive capital investments made in protecting critical regions and infrastructure. We will see nuclear power make a resurgence around the world, particularly smaller reactors that are easier to build and safer to operate. We will see installed solar power worldwide go from ~650GW currently to over 20,000GW by the end of this decade. All of these things and many more will cause the capital markets to focus on and fund the climate issue to the detriment of many other sectors.

2/ Automation will continue to take costs out of operating many of the services and systems that we rely on to live and be productive. The fight for who should have access to this massive consumer surplus will define the politics of the 2020s. We will see capitalism come under increasing scrutiny and experiments to reallocate wealth and income more equitably will produce a new generation of world leaders who ride this wave to popularity.

3/ China will emerge as the world’s dominant global superpower leveraging its technical prowess and ability to adapt quickly to changing priorities (see #1). Conversely the US becomes increasingly internally focused and isolationist in its world view.

4/ Countries will create and promote digital/crypto versions of their fiat currencies, led by China who moves first and benefits the most from this move. The US will be hamstrung by regulatory restraints and will be slow to move, allowing other countries and regions to lead the crypto sector. Asian crypto exchanges, unchecked by cumbersome regulatory restraints in Europe and the US and leveraging decentralized finance technologies, will become the dominant capital markets for all types of financial instruments.

5/ A decentralized internet will emerge, led initially by decentralized infrastructure services like storage, bandwidth, compute, etc. The emergence of decentralized consumer applications will be slow to take hold and a killer decentralized consumer app will not emerge until the latter part of the decade.

6/ Plant based diets will dominate the world by the end of the decade. Eating meat will become a delicacy, much like eating caviar is today. Much of the world’s food production will move from farms to laboratories.

7/ The exploration and commercialization of space will be dominated by private companies as governments increasingly step back from these investments. The early years of this decade will produce a wave of hype and investment in the space business but returns will be slow to come and we will be in a trough of disillusionment on the space business as the decade comes to an end.

8/ Mass surveillance by governments and corporations will become normal and expected this decade and people will increasingly turn to new products and services to protect themselves from surveillance. The biggest consumer technology successes of this decade will be in the area of privacy.

9/ We will finally move on from the Baby Boomers dominating the conversation in the US and around the world and Millennials and Gen-Z will be running many institutions by the end of the decade. Age and experience will be less valued by shareholders, voters, and other stakeholders and vision and courage will be valued more.

10/ Continued advancements in genetics will produce massive wins this decade as cancer and other terminal illnesses become well understood and treatable. Fertility and reproduction will be profoundly changed. Genetics will also create new diseases and moral/ethical issues that will confound and confuse society. Balancing the gains and losses that come from genetics will be our greatest challenge in this decade.

That’s ten predictions, enough for now and enough for me. I hope I made you think as much as I made myself think writing this. That’s the goal. It is impossible to be right about all of this. But it is important to be thinking about it.

I know that comments here at AVC are broken at the moment and so I look forward to the conversation on email and Twitter and elsewhere.

#climate crisis#crypto#economics#employment#entrepreneurship#Food and Drink#hacking energy#hacking finance#policy#Politics#Science#VC & Technology

Video Of The Week: The Game Changers

Our daughter suggested that The Gotham Gal and I watch this documentary on Netflix. We did that this week.

My New Year’s Resolution this time last year was to reduce the number of meals where I ate meat to less than half. It turns out that was not a particularly hard resolution to meet as I quickly realized I was already mostly there. But I did reduce my meat consumption in 2019.

After watching this film, I am going to keep on that trajectory. Hard lines don’t work well for me so I am not adopting a vegan, vegetarian, or any other diet. But I believe that I can reduce my meat consumption significantly without impacting my quality of life and I am on my way to doing so.

There are plenty of good reasons to reduce my consumption of meat but for me the environmental footprint of the meat production industry is the one that really moves to me to make this change.

#climate crisis#Food and Drink

Audio Of The Week: Amanda Kludt and Eater

The Gotham Gal‘s first angel investment, back in 2007, was Curbed, a network of three lifestyle blogs; Curbed, Eater, and Racked, all of which have become “must reads” in their categories (respectively real estate, food/dining, and shopping/commerce). Of the three, the Gotham Gal has always had a sweet spot for Eater and in this podcast, she talks to Amanda Kludt who has been at Eater from the very early days and now is the managing editor of the entire site. It’s a great conversation about what is happening in online media, the food business, and more.

#Food and Drink

Funding Friday: Wine and Cheese

It’s that time of the week for some fun around here. This week in the spirit of a holiday weekend, I am going to point everyone to some crowdfunding campaigns around the wine and cheese theme.

Here’s a wine glass that supposedly is impossible to spill:

And here’s a family farm that wants to bring goat’s cheese from its farm to your table:

Here’s an equity crowdfunding project for a company called Splash Wines that’s a modern day wine club

And if you just want to purchase some wine and cheese for your holiday weekend, I recommend this cheese plate and wine sampler from Mouth.com (The Gotham Gal is an investor).

Have a great holiday weekend everyone.

#Food and Drink

Foursquare Trip Tips

One of the things I love about Foursquare is the focus on tips. Not ratings, not reviews, but tips. It’s the power of the positive over the negative. Tips from friends are even better.

So this week, Foursquare (which is a USV portfolio company) rolled out something called Trip Tips. You go to Trip Tips, you say where you are going, and you tweet it out to your followers on Twitter or your friends on Facebook.

I am at LAX, headed to SF today. So I entered San Francisco into Trip Tips, like this:

sf trip tips

And I got these share options:

trip tips URL

I decided to tweet the trip tip out like this:

My SF list is already filling up and the best part is its immediately available on my mobile phone in the Foursquare app lists tab (bottom left):

foursquare trip tips in my list tab

And here is the list as it stands (less than ten mins after my tweet!):

my sf trip tips

Give it a try with a trip you are planning to take soon. It’s a lot of fun.

#Food and Drink#mobile

La Ruche qui dit Oui!

La Ruche qui dit Oui! (the hive that says yes) is a marketplace that connects farmers to people who want farm fresh food in their kitchens and on their tables. We got to know the company last winter when my friends Simon and Toby from Mosaic introduced me to Marc-David Choukroun, one of the two founders of La Ruche. The Gotham Gal and I were in Paris and we met up with Marc-David at a Ruche on a saturday morning. We sipped coffee and talked to the farmers and customers who were stopping by to pick up their weekly supply of meat, cheese, milk, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and bread. We were smitten.

For years, USV has been on the hunt for a way to invest in the “farm to table” market sector. As you all know very well, we believe in the power of networks to solve the challenging problems of our time. And making high quality farm fresh quality food available at a reasonable price to everyone is certainly one of those challenging problems. The most affordable food is also the most mass produced and, generally, the most unhealthy food. How can we get back to a time when the food we eat is produced nearby, is high quality, and is healthy?

One way is to use the power of the network to connect farmers and consumers. And many entrepreneurs have been working on this problem over the past twenty years. We have met with most of them. Unfortunately, not many of them, until recently, met our test of a lightweight, peer to peer, capital efficient, people powered network. We call these “thin networks” and we are drawn to them as investors and as consumers.

La Ruche has been operating in France and Belgium for the past four years. Their marketplace connects farmers, consumers, and, most importantly, hosts together to form communities (Ruches or Assemblies) that come together once a week to exchange products, feedback, and friendships. These are communities in the truest sense of the word. My colleague Nick went to a Ruche in Paris last month and there was live music playing and people were hanging out enjoying the lovely spring day. A community is the thing that La Ruche’s marketplace software helps people create.

The business model is simple. Consumers order the food they want to pick up in advance and pay for it. The farmer comes to the community at the designated time, sets up next to the other farmers, and delivers his or her products in person. The farmer keeps most of the money, but the host and La Ruche split a small take rate for facilitating the transaction. It is a win/win/win. Farmers make more money selling directly, consumers get high quality products at reasonable prices, and the hosts make money for their effort to create the community, recruit the consumers, and curate the farmers. For many hosts, the income they get from creating and running these communities helps pay the bills, in the same way that selling on Etsy can help a family make a little extra money each month to make ends meet.

La Ruche has expanded to the UK, Germany, Spain, and Italy recently. The communities are known as La Ruche qui dit Oui! in France and Belgium; The Food Assembly in the UK and Germany, ¡La Colmena que dice Si! in Spain, L’alveare che dice Si! in Italy and Boeren & Buren in flemish Belgium. With its recent expansion in Europe, the network now has 100,000 active customers, 4,500 local producers, 700 communities. The company has 70 employees operating in six countries.

Over the past six months, USV has worked with Marc-David and his partner Guilhem Cheron to put together the right investor group to help La Ruche with their european expansion. La Ruche is a socially conscious mission driven organization that values farmers and communities and the needs of both as much as (or more than) the pure profit motive. In the US, they would be a B Corporation. And so they needed an investor group that was aligned on that. I am pleased and proud to say that they have succeeded in finding that investor group and USV is part of it. Our partners in this adventure are Frederic Court of Felix Capital, existing investor Rodolphe Menegaux and Xange, Eric Archambeau and Aymeric Jung of the social venture capital fund Quadia, and a few angel investors who are aligned with the company and its mission.

If you find yourself in France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy, or the UK in the coming months, go to La Ruche and find a Ruche or Assembly and stop by and check it out. It’s something to see. Here’s a map that will help you find one near you.

#Food and Drink#marketplaces

The Eater 38

My wife and I were investors in the blog network Curbed until it was sold last last year to Vox. Curbed has three primary brands, Curbed (local real estate), Eater (local food & restaurants), and Racked (local shopping). The network operates across something like 25 cities in the US. Curbed is a classic example of a blog network, with a unique voice, attitude, and angle. They built a very nice and highly profitable business over six years and sold to a larger blog network Vox. Most of the team has stayed at Vox and are in key management roles there. Vox is a pretty interesting business too and the Gotham Gal and I are small investors in that company by virtue of our Curbed investment. This is all a bit of backdrop and disclosure for the thing I want to talk about which is the Eater 38.

The Eater 38 is one of my favorite things on the Internet. It is a map/list of the 38 “essential” restaurants right now in about 27 cities in North America. The fact that there are 38 restaurants on the list, not 10, not 25, not 50, but 38 is classic Curbed. They do things their own way and they do it right and they do it well.

But the thing about the 38 that I like most is the concept of “essential.” These are not the finest restaurants. This is not where you will find the very best food right now. These are not the trendiest restaurants right now either. These are the places that you should go to tonight, tomorrow, and again and again, right now. The 38 is updated twice a year (I think) so its always up to date and it changes a fair bit. The 38 recognizes that restaurants ebb and flow. Today’s essential restaurant is not always tomorrow’s.

When I go to a new city and am looking for a place to eat, I will always check the 38 in that city (if there is one). Earlier this week a good friend emailed the Gotham Gal looking for a large table or private room to take a bunch of people to dinner this weekend. I pulled up the NYC 38 on my phone and we went down the list and we found exactly the right place for them.

In the wake of the sale to Vox, Eater has been moved over to Vox’s modern CMS and the Eater 38 has been jazzed up with a nice map/list interface on the web and mobile web. Here are a few of them for all of you to check out (somewhat based on the AVC readership):

New York City 38

San Francisco 38

Los Angeles 38

Philadelphia 38 (for Kirk and LE)

Austin 38 (for JLM)

Toronto 38 (for William)

San Diego 38 (for Howard)

#Food and Drink