Posts from Sports

My 1985 Nike Air Jordan Investment

Earlier this week I purchased 1% of a collection of five 1985 Nike Air Jordan sneakers using our portfolio company Otis’ mobile app.

I paid $330 for ten shares (out of a total of 1000 shares) implying a value of $33,000 for the five pairs, or roughly $6600 each.

This page shows the highlights of this sale, including a video, a link to the investment deck, and a link to the offering circular.

The Air Jordans offering sold out quickly but luckily I got a push notification on my phone alerting me to the “drop” and I was able to secure an interest in the collection in less than a minute. It was a lot of fun to do. I have bought interests in nine collectibles via the Otis app over the last few months.

The idea of breaking up collectibles into small interests and creating/making a market in them is a very interesting idea. It allows people who appreciate these items and understand their value to participate in the appreciation without having to be super wealthy. I like that very much.

I also like that Otis is a “crypto adjacent” business. Our friend Jesse Walden coined that term and I really love it. It suggests that there are non-crypto based applications, like Otis, that will deliver on some of the promises of crypto and prime the pump for what a fully crypto-based application can do for us. Otis could have been built on a blockchain and these security interests in Air Jordans could trade on a blockchain, but that is not how it works today. It may go there in the future. But regardless, we are starting to see how technologies like crypto can open up a market to everyone, or at least a lot more people, and that is very exciting to me.

#crypto#digital collectibles#entrepreneurship#Sports

You Can't Fire Your Investor

I saw this tweet coming out of the Upfront Summit yesterday (where I will be today):

It is great that the capital markets serving founders have become hyperefficient. Being able to get a round done in a week vs a quarter is huge for founders who have better things to do than run around the country talking to VCs.

However, there is a dark side to this trend and that is the reality that shotgun marriages don’t often work out so well. You might be able to get a VC into your cap table in a week but try getting them out. That’s almost impossible.

Which reminds me of this tweet exchange with some friends about the Knicks ownership situation:

#Sports#VC & Technology

Practicing Patience

We went to the Knicks Celtics game last night.

For three and a half quarters the Knicks and Celtics played a tight game and the game was tied at 95 with six minutes left when Coach Fizdale called a time out.

The Knicks came out of that time out befuddled and turned the ball over on three straight possessions which ultimately led to 12-0 run by the Celtics and the game was over.

As we walked out of MSG, I was depressed. More losing.

But my son Josh had a different take. Dennis Smith Jr is finally coming out of his early-season slump. Kevin Knox had a good game after taking a beating in the press recently.

Losing is hard. The Knicks are 4-16 so far this season. There is not much joy in the Garden right now.

But I appreciate Josh’s optimism. By the time we had gotten to dinner, some of it had rubbed off on me.

Patience is hard. Being a Knick fan is great practice.

#life lessons#Sports

NBA Top Shot

I’ve written on this blog about extensible blockchain games, the ability to own the virtual goods you earn or buy in your games, and the idea that these virtual goods can move from game to game. I think this is a big deal and possibly the thing that brings blockchains and crypto tokens to the mainstream user.

So, here’s an awesome example of that. Our portfolio company Dapper announced today that it is building a blockchain game with the NBA called Top Shot.

Here is the idea behind the game:

NBA Top Shot will feature a social experience built around digital collectibles as well as a complementary head-to-head game designed to create a fun, authentic and accessible fan engagement on blockchain. Like other sports games or fantasy brackets, fans who play the game are tasked with creating their ideal squad, but in this game, their rosters are built by acquiring live in-game moments from the NBA season. These moments, such as a Kevin Durant 3-point shot, or Joel Embiid dunk, which are acquired as digital collectibles or tokens, can then be either owned forever or used to compete against other players in online tournaments and leagues.

NBA Top Shot will start offering crypto-collectibles in the fall, with the game to follow in early 2020. You can get early access by leaving your email address here nbatopshot.com

#blockchain#crypto#Games#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.

#Sports#VC & Technology

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.

#Sports

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.

#entrepreneurship#Sports

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.

#blockchain#crypto#Sports#VC & Technology

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.

#Sports

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.

#Sports#Television