Posts from USV


It's no secret that USV invested in Hailo at the end of last year.

What is less well known is why we would do that.

Hailo announced the financing today and also a bunch of impressive hires for their US and Asia operations and they also disclosed a bunch of numbers for the first time.

Hailo is as big in their home city (London) as Uber is in SF and across the ten markets they are in, Hailo has similar scale as Uber in total transactions per day, week, month, and year. Hailo is different than Uber though. They focus exclusively on the regulated part of the market and as a result they can offer lower prices and a higher liquidity of cars to their riders. The power of this model becomes clear if you travel to London and compare the Uber experience to the Hailo experience.

Another big factor in our investment process was the "I told you so". In late 2011 as Hailo was just launching in London, the team came to see us and told us everything they planned to do in 2012. We were impressed by the team, their backgrounds, and their attitude and energy. But we had big concerns about everything they said they were going to do in 2012. A year later, they came back to see us and not only had they done everything they said they were going to do, they actually did a few things more than that. I referenced this story in a post I wrote at the end of last year. Now the company in the story has been named. They will be added to the investments page on today.

 And maybe most importantly, we believe in large networks of users that have the power to transform big markets. We've long thought that the ubiquity of the smartphone will enable transactional networks between buyers and sellers and it turns out the urban transportation market is one of the first big markets that is rapidly being transformed by large smartphone networks. We are excited to be able to invest in one of them.

#mobile#NYC#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

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

USV Identity Talent Audition

As we have blogged about, we are working internally to update our web presence. We've hired a part time software engineer who is helping us build something that we hope will better leverage the network that exists inside and outside of our firm, portfolio, and relationships.

As part of that work, we have decided that our identity could use a refresh too. So we've partnered with our portfolio company Behance and are conducting an online talent audition to design our new identity.

Here's how this design competition works:

To participate, simply submit your best brand/identity design work from your portfolio for consideration by our panel of judges (Note: this is NOT a “spec contest,” just submit a past project that best exemplifies your brand/identity work). The top 5 projects will be deemed “winners,” and their owners will be invited to take on USV as a client, proposing a new identity for USV, with a $1,500 guaranteed payment for responding to the brief. If your initial proposal is selected, USV will provide an additional payment of $12,500 for the completed work.

If you are interested, please visit the Behance page and click on the big green "submit your project" button. If you know someone who might be interested, please send them the link and ask them to submit their project for consideration.

My partner Albert, who is on the Behance board, has a longer post on the USV blog explaining why we are doing this and why we partnered with Behance to run this competition.

#VC & Technology

MBA Mondays Live: Employee Equity

Tomorrow night at 6pm eastern time I am going to teach the first MBA Mondays Live class. I announced it a month ago and the class quickly sold out. Part of the deal with these classes is that we are going to livestream them and also make them available via an archive.

The livestream will be available here. You can click the green follow button on that page to be notified when the livestream is about to start. The archive video of the class will be available here.

This will be the first time we've ever livestreamed an event in the USV event space, something we intend to do more of. I want to downplay everyone's expectations on how good this livestream will be. We need to upgrade our internet connection. It turns out our Time Warner Cable "wideband" service is actually "narrowband". We measured it last week and we are only getting 3MB upstream. So we will not be livestreaming this class in HD and it may be tough to see what I am writing on the whiteboard.

We are in the process of getting a much better internet connection into the USV event space and we hope to be able to livestream in HD in the near future. But for tomorrow's class, I am warning everyone that the stream may be flaky and the quality may be poor.

The outline for tomorrow night's class is here. The class will have three parts; issuing employee equity, structuring employee equity, and how much equity to give out. There are links for suggested reading (archived MBA Mondays posts) for each section. If you are attending the class, I strongly suggest you review the outline and check out the required reading. If you plan on watching the livestream, you might want to check out the outline and suggested reading as well.

I am super excited to do this class. I'm a big fan of teching in front of a live classroom, and I am also a fan of allowing a much broader audience to take the class live or via the archive using the power of internet video. This should be fun. 

#MBA Mondays

Passing It On

Yesterday evening as I was leaving the office, I stopped in our conference room where Andrew was walking Christina though a liquidation model. Andrew was drawing a graph of proceeds by class of stock on the whiteboard. I wish I had pulled out my phone and snapped a photo.

Andrew has been with us for almost four years and this is his last week. I wrote about his departure on the USV blog back in March. I remember teaching him about liquidation models and how to construct them early on in his tenure with us.

Now Andrew is the teacher and Christina is the pupil. A few years from now Christina will be the teacher and someone else (maybe you) will be the pupil.

Venture capital is best learned in an apprenticeship model. That's how I learned it and I am eternally grateful to Milton and Bliss who taught me well.

We have a two year and out model for junior investment professionals at USV. Charlie, Andrew, Eric, and now Christina have gone through it. Charlie and Andrew are active in the venture business with firms we admire and work with regularly. And Eric is now with Foursquare, helping them work with partners who want to be on the foursquare platform. We are incredibly proud of the people who have come through our firm and moved on to bigger and better things.

Christina will be the first person many of you meet when you contact USV for the next couple years. She introduced herself on the USV blog yesterday. Give it a read and you'll see why we hired her.

It's not easy going through an exhaustive hiring process every couple years. We considered about 350 people for Christina's position, interviewed over 50 and met with close to 20. Many think our hiring process is unduly taxing on us and wonder why we would choose to do it every two years when we have hired so many amazing people. To me the answer is easy, it turns our firm into a school of sorts. A place where talented young people can come and learn the venture business for a couple years and then go off and be an entrepreneur or VC or something else. We are slowly but surely sowing the seeds of the next generation of leaders of the startup ecosystem.

That's what I saw in our conference room yesterday evening and it was a proud moment for me.

#VC & Technology