Posts from fred-wilson

At the top of this blog, in the nav header, you will see "TV". This is new. When you click on it, you will go to This is also new. is a linear feed of videos that are pulled from AVC,, and my twitter feed and shown in reverse chronological order (from when I posted them). You can click on the play button and start watching/listening. They will keep playing until you've had enough. You can click on the arrows on the far left and far right to fast forward or rewind. If you move the mouse, the controls will come up from the bottom and you will get info on what is playing, where it came from, and what is next. is powered by At the bottom of the shelby homepage, it says "create your own TV network". If you want something like this for your .tv page, shelby can power yours too.

I would like to thank Reece, Dan, and the entire shelby team for building this. I've been mentoring the shelby team since they landed in techstars a couple years ago. I've hung out with them, the Gotham Gal and I have had dinner with them, and in general I've tried to help them when and how I can. They are an awesome group of people and I am proud to be hosting on their platform.

In a lot of ways, is continuing the tradition of (you get to that from the Radio link on the nav bar). was launched four or five years ago on the streampad technology built by Dan Kantor and sold to AOL. Sadly is borked and has been for the past week. I am trying to find a good replacement for streampad which seems broken and I can't get any response from AOL when I email them for help. If anyone has any good ideas for, I am all ears.


ad:tech chat with Dave Morgan

Dave Morgan is one of my favorite entrepreneurs. We've backed him twice at USV and he is also a very good friend to me and my partners. Dave has been building businesses at the intersection of madison avenue and the internet since the mid 90s. So when he asked me to do a fireside chat at ad:tech with him, I said yes in a nanosecond.

We did that chat yesterday and I thought it was a great wide ranging conversation that started with the mid 90s and ended with where we are headed in the coming years. It's long, but if you have an hour to watch/listen, I highly recommend it, particularly the Q&A at the end.

Please note that this embed only goes for 10mins. But once the pre-roll is finished, there is a spot on the lower right of the player that says "watch full program" that you can click to go to the full 58 minute video.

Fred Wilson and Dave Morgan: Tomorrow's Digital Landscape from ad:tech on

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Fun Friday: Fred Wilson (artist)

The idea for this post came in the comments at some point in the past week. I can't actually recall how we got to talking about the artist named Fred Wilson, but we did. And I said I was going to tell the story of how I met Fred. So I will do that. It's a fun story. And then I will post some of my favorites of his work. And then we can talk about Fred. Because he's a great artist and a super nice person too.

When Google came along I, like many peoople, started googling my own name. Slowly but surely the links on that result jelled along the lines of two primary people – me and the artist named Fred Wilson. Around that time, about ten years ago, Fred was selected to represent the US at the 50th Venice Biennale. That was a big moment for Fred and his name started appearing all over the palce. And that is when I became familiar with the memorable look of Fred.

Fred wilson artist

So fast forward to a few years ago. I was walking down Broadway near the USV offices and I see Fred walking up Broadway on the same side of the street as I'm on. So I stopped and waited for Fred to reach me. When he did, I reached out and said "are you Fred Wilson?", he said "yes, I am", and then I said "I am the other Fred Wilson". He looked at me and smiled. We had a short conversation and that was that. Since then I've met Fred a few times at art events and such and most recently the Gotham Gal, our son, and I met him at his recent show at the Pace Gallery.

Fred is an installation artist who focuses on the issues of social justice, cultural norms, and racism. He uses objects found in museums as the basis for his artistic exploration. Here are some of my favorites of his work:

Guarded view
This work is called Guarded View and has been on display at the Whitney in NYC recently. It hits you as you walk out of the elevator on the fourth or fifth floor. It was inspired by Fred's time as a museum guard. It speaks to how security guards become part of the scenery in museums and other parts of our world.


Speak of me as i am
Speak of Me as I Am is a work from Fred's exhibition a the Venice Biennale. This work was inspired by Shakespeare's Othello and Fred's time in Venice working with glassblowers. Fred's chandeliers, and he has made many varieties, are incredible.


Fred wilson mark

Fred does these amazing black venetian glass mirrors. I have seen a number of varieties of them. This one is called Mark and was made in 2009. The Gotham Gal and I own one.

So that's a quick overview of Fred Wilson, how I met him, and a sampling of his work. If you want to see more, Fred is represented by The Pace Gallery in NYC, Rena Bransten in San Francisco. I have also seen his work at mitterand + sanz in Zurich and JGM. Galerie in Paris. And of course, his work is in many of the modern art museums around the world.


MBA Mondays Live: Employee Equity - Archive and Feedback

The first MBA Mondays Live class was last monday night.

I had an incredible time and I can't wait to do it again. There isn't much better in life than standing up in front a bunch of eager learners teaching something you know well.

The archive and photos from the event is permantly hosted on this link.

Here's the video of the entire class.

I'd like to get feedback on the class so I can improve it. So I've created a google form with a few questions on it. If you attended or watched the class and have five minutes to give me feedback please click here and fill out the form. I appreciate it.

I have watched the first fifteen minutes of the class and I've got some work to do on my delivery, speed (I was rushing), and crispness. And there are two math mistakes on the whiteboard. That really bugs me. The final dilution number for the founders in the dilution table should be 58.5% not 64.5%. And the number of shares to issue the CFO should be 75k shares not 46k shares. This first class feels a lot like the beta that it was.

My plan is to teach this same material live again, probably a couple more times. If I don't sell out, that will tell me that everyone who didn't get into the first class watched the livestream or the archive and that I should move on to a new topic. But I'm not sure that is the case so I will test that out. I don't plan to livestream this class again since we already have a video version it.

As I develop additional classes, I will livestream and archive the final class on the topic when I've got the material and pacing nailed down. That was a big takeaway from this experience.

All in all, this went extremely well. The basic setup of an in person class with a livestream and an archive is a format that works. I plan to use it to teach as much of the MBA Mondays material as I can in the coming years. That's exciting to me.

#MBA Mondays


Our very own Kid Mercury has built a learning community (and game) called Fredsquare. The following is a guest post he has written to introduce all of you to it. I hope you’ll visit Fredsquare, play the game, and learn a bit about startups too.

I am sure the Kid will love to get your feedback on Fredsquare in the comments too.


FredSquare is an application I’ve hacked together for the AVC community. Its mission statement is to help startups learn. Here’s how it works:

  • Articles and videos from around the web that help startups learn are imported the site.
  • Comments on AVC tagged #fs are also imported. If you’re leaving a comment that you think helps advance the FredSquare mission – help startups learn – please feel free to tag it #fs.
  • Imported content, #fs tagged comments, and original content contributed by FredSquare members is curated and organized to create FredSquare University. I like to think of it as “Wikipedia for startups”: an encyclopedia-style reference source that we can use to continue learning, so that we can build the best startups possible.
  • Those with the Bouncer Badge are responsible for curating content and building FredSquare University. (Currently this is just me, though hopefully we can grow to more Bouncers in time when it is warranted). The more content of yours that Bouncers add to our University, the more Badges you’ll earn. Each Badge is assigned a numerical value, and the sum of your Badges is your FredScore. Boosting your FredScore will unlock privileges as our game develops (right to launch your own storefront and accept FredBucks, discounts on other stores, etc – but all that comes later, once the community has some more engagement).
  • While building an educational resource is the paramount goal, effectively serving our mission goes beyond creating an encyclopedia – for learning is an interactive endeavor, and we humans tend to learn most by doing. And so, the game mechanics of FredSquare also reward founders for building their startup. Here are some Badges founders can earn for engaging in activities that most startups need to do to as part of their path towards sustainable success:

  • Slide Deck (for publishing a slide deck)
  • Video Pitch (for creating a video pitch)
  • Engaged Users (for reaching 10,000+ authentic registered members)
  • Disruptive Strategy (for having a strategy that fits the framework of disruptive theory
  • Click here for a full list of badges.

    Remember that earning Badges boosts one’s FredScore. As our game develops, I’d like for FredScore to serve as a reputation metric of sorts. I hope that it can be used to identify startups getting traction that may be worthy of investment – either via crowdsourcing, should the legislative environment allow that, or by bringing qualified startups to the attention of accredited investors – like Fred. I believe that FredScore, in conjunction with private groups and discussion forums on FredSquare, will provide us with a richer environment for startups to network with each other — and thus to learn how to build great startups by doing the work involved.   

    Money, Governance, and Copyright

    The creation and management of FredSquare is part of my larger objective of building learning-centric communities with game mechanics for blog stars that will include a P2P economy (i.e. users buy and sell with each other using Fredbucks – sellers must have a high enough FredScore). InformedTrades is a more developed prototype if you are looking for another example. Anyway, as game operator, I will impose a tax on all transactions once our economy develops, and will retain a portion of revenue via virtual goods and affiliate marketing. The goal is to share the majority of revenue with the community via FredBucks (which, in time, will be able to redeemed for a variety services that help startups grow – i.e. hosting, video production, web design, outsourced software development, etc), as well as with Fred’s favorite charity, Donor’s Choose. At present there are just banners on FredSquare, and 100% of all banner revenue is being donated to Donor’s Choose. A large percentage of virtual gift revenue will be donated to Donor’s Choose as well.

    Fred appears to be down with giving me leeway to run this. But while I’m running things, if Fred tells me to do or not do something, I will obey, so long as the order does not violate any law imposed by the US Federal government or the state of Florida, USA. The goal is certainly to channel the brand of Fred and the spirit he has engendered here. I find it extremely unlikely this will be a cause for concern but I do find it worthwhile to clarify as much as possible at the outset.  

    All original content published on FredSquare is CC-BY licensed. Consistent with the spirit of Fred, FredSquare operates on that side of the business model debate pertaining to copyright, under the belief that such a policy will generate the most opportunity for all. If you do not find this agreeable, publishing original content on FredSquare or tagging your comments on AVC with #fs may not be for you.  

    Anyway, the first step is to build the community and get an economy going, then we can all argue about sharing money later. 🙂

    By now the time has come for me to end this introduction to FredSquare, and for you to make a choice: you can ignore this blog post and tell yourself that there is no hope for society; government sucks, corporations suck, the economy sucks, most startups fail, your mom doesn’t love you, etc. Or you can enlist as a citizen of FredSquare, share your knowledge and build your startup, and be a part of creating the startup utopia that sets us free.      

    #Games#hacking education#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

    Feature Friday: Embed This Tweet

    Yesterday Twitter rolled out a feature that I have been requesting for what seems like four or five years now. I am so happy to be able to embed tweets in my blog posts. So I'm celebrating by making "embed this tweet" the featured feature this friday.

    When you open a tweet onto its permalink page in the new version of Twitter that rolled out yesterday it looks like this:

    Embed this tweet

    If you look right above the "reply, delete, favorite" links, you'll see a link that says "Embed This Tweet". If you click that, you'll get something that looks a lot like the embed option in YouTube (the all-time king of "embed this media").

    I did that on my twitter love tweet from yesterday morning and when I embed it in this blog post, I get the following:



    I love it! The real live tweet with all the important tweet actions right in the post.

    Thank you Twitter. You made my week. And I dig the new UI/UX too. So simple. Less is more.

    Just In Case You Didn't Know: USV is an investor in Twitter. I was on the board for four years. I love Twitter.


    This Week In Startups

    A few weeks ago Jason Calacanis stopped by our new offices and recorded an episode of This Week In Startups. It was a fun chat, almost an hour long. My audio is not as good as the audio on Jason so it's a bit hard to hear me unless you want to hear Jason shouting.

    If you want to fast forward through the sponsorship message, go to 6:30 and start there.

    If you want to fast forward through parts of the discussion, here is the breakdown:

    0:00-1:00 Welcome to TWiST from NYC in the Union Square Ventures' offices.
    1:00-2:00 Thank you to iStockphoto for sponsoring the show.
    2:00-6:30 Demonstration of how easy it is to purchase high-quality photos within iStockphoto.
    6:30-8:00 Welcome to Fred Wilson, principal at Union Square Ventures.
    8:00-8:30 Jason: The biggest mistake of my career was not listening to [Fred’s] wife when she advised me to go national with Silicon Alley Reporter.
    8:30-9:30 How much of being a VC is being a therapist to the entrepreneurs?
    9:30-10:30 You’ve worked with Mark Pincus, what was that like?
    10:30-11:45 You invested in all four of Mark’s companies, yes?
    11:45-14:00 When Mark came to you for the fourth time with Zynga, what did you say?
    14:00-15:15 The same sort of situation happened with Twitter, didn’t it?
    15:15-16:30 If a VC flies out to see you–the entrepreneur–you know there’s serious intent.
    17:45-19:15 So speed is the big difference between web 1.0 and now?
    19:15-20:15 Have you ever spoken for your companies too much on your blog?
    20:15-20:45 Your blog has really made you into one of the most well-known east coast VCs around today.
    20:45-22:30 How much of your success this time around has been because of the blog?
    22:30-23:30 Did you enable too much transparency and lose some of your power?
    23:30-24:30 If money’s not an issue, why go to a VC?
    24:30-25:00 Are there funds that are now following Union Square Ventures?
    25:00-26:00 Thank you to MailChimp for sponsoring the show.
    26:00-29:30 Demonstration of how you can segment your lists to target your emails using MailChimp.
    29:30-30:00 Fred explains why he would like to see entrepreneurs work backwards and think about who they would like to invest in them.
    30:00-32:15 How do you reconcile this, the new golden era of Internet companies, with the scars you have from past fund failures?
    32:15-33:00 When do founders start thinking, “I should start a new company?”
    33:00-35:15 Let’s talk about entrepreneurs. What are you looking to see in the eyes of an entrepreneur?
    35:15-37:00 So you’re looking for a persuasiveness that is so strong, people can’t help but follow that person?
    37:00-38:15 Do you find that this new generation of founders has an entitlement issue, thinking that they’re owed success?
    38:15-39:15 Does that make that person impossible to manage?
    39:15-42:15 Are you on the secondary markets? What’s your take on that?
    42:15-43:45 Fred: Are Mahalo shares being traded?
    43:45-45:30 Are limited partners stoked about the secondary market?
    45:30-46:15 Why does a venture firm put money into a single established company and not into several startups?
    46:15-48:30 What does an opportunity fund mean?
    48:30-49:00 Fred: In the private equity business, you buy one and you’re done. In the venture business, you make multiple investments and the risks are mitigated.
    49:00-50:40 What’s your advice for a young entrepreneur who wants your money?
    50:40-51:15 Fred, it’s been great to watch you rise over the years. Thank you so much.
    51:15-51:45 Thank you again to our sponsors. We appreciate all of your support!

    #VC & Technology

    The Fat Vs Lean Debate

    Ben Horowitz and I debated Fat Vs Lean on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt yesterday morning. At the end, Erick Schonfeld asked for a show of hands and there was overwhelming support for my argument in favor of lean.

    But to be honest, I had the easy task. Arguing for lean startups in front of a web crowd is like arguing for smaller government in front of a bunch of republicans. Not much argument there.

    I think Ben did a great job making the contrarian argument in front of a dubious crowd. And he got in the best one liner for sure when he accused my math heavy argument of taking “all the joy out of being an entrepreneur.”

    I know the Kid likes to see blog beefs, but there really isn’t one between me and Ben. He’s such a smart person and very easy to get along with. No wonder he was a great CEO before becoming a VC. I am sure he’ll be a great one.

    So, all that said, here is the debate.

    disrupt on Broadcast Live Free
    #VC & Technology