Posts from Sports

Disappointment

Being a Knicks fan teaches you a lot about disappointment. At one point this spring, we thought we were going to get a couple top free agents and the first pick in the draft. We ended up with a lot less.

Fortunately, I have learned a lot about disappointment in three decades of backing early-stage startups. Our business is one where a third of things we do don’t work out at all and another third deliver a lot less than we had hoped when we pulled the trigger. Only a third of our investments deliver on what we expected when we made them.

Fortunately about ten percent of the investments we make so vastly outperform our expectations, that they make up for everything else we do.

So we live with a lot of disappointment. And one of the questions I struggle with is how much of that disappointment do we share with the founders and teams we work with.

Certainly feedback helps founders. But if the feedback is too negative and too downbeat, it is not helpful and can also lead to tune-out.

So I have found that many times I need to bite my tongue and take the disappointment in stride and chalk it up to the cost of doing business in early-stage investing. You have to be an optimist to make early-stage investments and you can’t let the disappointments take that optimism out of you.

Which takes me back to the Knicks. It has been twenty years since the Knicks had a winning culture. That is a lot of losing to endure. But I keep buying the seasons tickets in hopes that things will change. I am going to stay positive and hope for the best.

Converting ICS files to Google Sheets

It’s that time of year for NBA season ticket holders.

Preseason is upon us and the regular season is around the corner.

For me, that means splitting up our games between our various family members.

The way we do this requires a bit of a hack that I thought I would post about this morning in hopes that any of you out there know a better way.

Step 1 – Go to your team’s website, find the schedule, and select “add to calendar” or something like that. This is the page on the Knicks website.

Step 2 – Choose “other” or “download” to get an .ics file downloaded to your computer.

Step 3 – Use this free web app to convert the .ics file you downloaded to a .csv file.

Step 4 – Import that .csv file into Excel or Google Sheets.

The thing I always get stuck on is the Knicks schedule is published in GMT time and so the dates and times for the games always come in incorrectly. Which requires me to either write a script to convert them or just fix them manually. I have not found a way to download the .ics file in EST, which would be a huge benefit.

In any case, I am excited for the NBA season to begin. I am not expecting much from the Knicks this year as they are in full rebuild mode (including the knee of our franchise player).

But there is nothing like a close game in the fourth quarter at MSG and I’m hoping we get some of those this year.

Paying Your Dues

I was watching last night’s game between the Celtics and the Cavs and I was thinking about the fantastic young players the Celtics have on that team, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier. As good as those players are, it felt like the enormity of what they have accomplished this year and the stage they are now on caught up to them a bit in Cleveland.

I’m rooting for the Celtics in this series so I hope they turn it around in the next three games and earn their way to the finals.

But it would not surprise me if they don’t.

As their coach Brad Stevens said last night after the game:

“I mean, everything is tough. In this deal, it’s a blast to have to grit your teeth, get up off the mat and go after it again. That’s part of it.”

What Coach Stevens understands is that you have to pay your dues in life. It takes time to learn to win at that level.

I watched LeBron James’ interview after the game and his experience playing on the big stage was just oozing out of him.

But LeBron had to go through the trial by fire too.

I’m thinking about the last two years in his first stay in Cleveland. Those were bitter pills for him to swallow.

But swallow he did, and learn he did, and now he is arguably the greatest player to play the game

The other greatest player to play the game, Michael Jordan, also had some tough losses in his rise, notably to the three consecutive losses to the Pistons in 87-90.

Michael also learned from those bitter pills and went on to be the greatest clutch player in the game.

Of course, what is true in the NBA is also true in startup land.

There are no shortage of ridiculously talented young founders out there. We have a number of them in our portfolio.

But they too will find it challenging to step onto the big stage and deliver in crunch time. And their missteps will hurt too.

But as Brad Stevens said last night “everything is tough” and you can grit your way through it and come out the other side, battle-tested, and with rings on your fingers.

But there are no shortcuts in life for most of us.

What’s Going On?

A lot, to be honest. It’s Crypto Week in NYC this week.

The last two weeks have been a blur, with so many things happening that I can’t keep up or write about all of them.

But, here are a few

1/ The Rockets ended the sweep nonsense talk going on in the bay area with a trompsing of the Ws last night in Houston. Thank God.

2/ The Celtics are showing how great a job Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens are doing running that team.

3/ Our portfolio company Blockstack launched a Dapp Store yesterday, featuring Dapps across all of the competing chains. When I saw that on Twitter, I said this:

4/ I will spend the day at William and Nick’s Token Summit and will chat on stage with the CriptoKitties folks at 3pm today.

5/ My friend Steven Johnson, who wrote the seminal mainstream piece on blockchain for the NY Times last year, and I are going to talk crypto tonight at the NY Hall Of Science. Talking with Steven is one of my favorite things to do.

6/ We have completed our Employee Equity Project and are now vetting the data with the USV portfolio companies before publishing it more widely. But I can tell you that the salary multiples that I shared in 2010 in the original Employee Equity – How Much? blog post have risen at least 3x since over the last eight years. I have added a note to that original blog post alerting readers that the multiple table in that post is not accurate anymore.

7/ The Gotham Gal pointed out on her blog yesterday that buying convertible notes in angel rounds delays the start of the clock ticking on the QSBS capital gains exclusion. A great point and one that I have not seen made in the ongoing argument to “convert those notes!”.

8/ Paul Vigna of the WSJ and co-author of a great book on crypto interviewed me and Balaji Srinivasan, CTO of Coinbase, on stage at Consensus yesterday. It was a fun talk, featuring a high five between us at one point. The video will be online at some point soon and I will blog it. But until then, here’s a fun drawing of the talk.

Losing In Double Overtime

Longtime readers know that I am a Knicks fan. Or as the Signal group I have with a couple of my kids is called, a “Frustrated Knicks Fan.”

Last night we lost at home in double overtime to the Bulls. That is the third time this season we have lost to the Bulls. Twenty percent of the Bulls wins this year have been against the Knicks.

Last night’s loss was a microcosm of the season and this team for me.

We played hard, we made a couple big buckets to take the game to OT and double OT.

But in the end, a boneheaded play by the player who was keeping us in the game lost it for us.

Fandom is such an interesting emotion.

It is self-torture and yet we enjoy it.

Ugh.

Pay Per View Poll

I stayed up until 1am ET last night to watch the Mayweather McGregor fight.

We used the Showtime Pay Per View app on AppleTV to watch the fight.

We paid $99 to watch the four fights, including the main event.

I heard that many were able to watch the fight for free using Twitter’s Periscope feature.

So I ran this Twitter poll this morning. If you haven’t voted, you can here.

It seems like paying $99 to watch at home, as we did, was not the dominant way that folks watched the fight.

“Some Other Way” includes going to a bar to watch it, which may have been the most popular way of all.

Fun Friday: Let’s Play GM

So you are Phil Jackson and you’ve got the eighth pick in yesterday’s NBA Draft. 

You want a guard who can be a franchise player for the Knicks.

You can take Malik Monk, Dennis Smith Jr, or Frank Ntilikina.

Who do you pick?

I don’t know much about Frank Ntilikina. I sure hope he lives up to whatever Phil Jackson saw in him. 

But I fell in love with Malik Monk’s game in the NCAA tournament. He’d have been my pick.

Warriors, Come Out And Play

That’s a line from one of my favorite films, The Warriors.

But this post is not about those Warriors.

It is about the Golden State Warriors.

Who are now the world champions for the second time in three years and did it impressively in five games.

Like most of this NBA season, it wasn’t even close.

The Warriors, with the addition of KD, have assembled a dynasty, if they can stay healthy and keep the core together. Steph, KD, Draymond, and Klay are four of the best twenty players in the league and they are all on the same team.

This dynasty could go on for a while unless some other team can match it. Maybe the Spurs if they get CP3? Or maybe the Celtics or the Sixers if they can assemble some terrific young talent?

But those are big maybes.

We may have to get used to seeing these players with the trophy in their hands for a while.

Fun Friday: More Cavs Warriors

Last week on fun friday we discussed the NBA Finals. I went out on a limb and predicted Cavs in seven. The comments were full of predictions, with a slight preference for the Warriors but not a landslide by any measure.

Last night the series kicked off with a drubbing as the Warriors won by 22 points and took every quarter and blew the game open in the third quarter.

It sure makes it clear how good this Warriors team is. My prediction of a Cavs victory looks worse today than yesterday for sure.

Does last night’s drubbing change anyone’s view of how this series will go?

Fun Friday: Cavs Warriors

Well we finally got to the matchup that it seems like we have been waiting all season to get to. It really wasn’t even close. These are the best two teams in the NBA by a lot and have been for three years now.

So, who is going to win, in how many games, and why?

I will go out on a limb, like I enjoy doing, and say Cavs in seven because LeBron’s will to win is simply greater than any other person playing basketball right now.