Memory as a Service

Part of the USV investment thesis is “Access to Knowledge”.  To date, most of our investing in this area has primarily been around consumer learning platforms, like Duolingo, Quizlet, Codecademy, Outschool, Brilliant and others.  These platforms are generally focused on acquiring and internalizing new knowledge. There is another pillar of the Access to Knowledge thesis… Continue reading

Verified Personal Content

For the last 15 or so years, I’ve been blogging occasionally on this website. Unfortunately, towards the end of last year, I lost control of my long-term domain name, nickgrossman-dot-is (intentionally not linking to it here). This was a dumb mistake; I just missed the renewal notice and someone else claimed it. Painful lesson learned.… Continue reading

Bitcoin as Battery

One of my favorite things about crypto is that, every so often, your conception of what it is changes. Bitcoin at first was “weird internet money” and then it was “a protocol” and then it was “digital gold”. Ethereum is “ICOs”, or maybe “DeFi”, or maybe “Web3”, or maybe all three, or maybe something else.… Continue reading

Two Screens for Teachers

Sometimes, an answer to a hard problem is so simple and elegant that you’re surprised it wasn’t obvious earlier. Two Screens for Teachers is one of those answers. Even though vaccines are on the way, many students and teachers will be interacting remotely at least through the rest of this school year. Adding a second… Continue reading

No Wasted Footsteps

This summer, we moved into a new house. Moving is a lot of work. As part of moving out of our old house, we got rid of a lot of junk that we had accumulated over the years. We ended up working with the amazing Dave O’Rourke of Spaceback. As Dave and I were loading… Continue reading

Hardware-based Identity

I’ve written before about how re-structuring identity is one of the most interesting opportunities on the web today. Today’s identity ecosystem is account-based (accounts with Google, Facebook, Apple, etc), which perpetuates data silos and prevents interoperability & innovation. As web3 and crypto become more widespread, there’s an opportunity to shift to an identity model that’s… Continue reading

The Beauty of Focus

It has been a stressful year, in so many ways. This morning, I opened up my Calm app to attempt to resurrect my meditation habit. I have had an intermittent meditation practice for years, and despite the fact that it really seems to work for me, I have never developed a rock steady daily habit.… Continue reading

Second Chance Studios

Several years ago, I started volunteering at Defy Ventures, a program that helps formerly incarcerated individuals start their own businesses. Through Defy, I met an entrepreneur named Coss Marte, who beginning to build a personal fitness business called Coss Athletics. At first, it consisted of 1:1 and group sessions with Coss in parks, and has… Continue reading

The Slow Hunch

One of my favorite ideas from the last 10 years is “The Slow Hunch” which my friend Steven Johnson popularized in his book Where Good Ideas Come From. Here is a good summary of the book, and the idea of The Slow Hunch is this: “World-changing ideas generally evolve over time as slow hunches rather… Continue reading

The 1k Project

It has been a long few months, and many people’s lives have been turned upside down in untold ways. One way to help is through the 1k Project. The 1k Project matches sponsors with individuals & families in need, using a $1k / month for 3 months model. Recipients are sourced through the Project’s trusted… Continue reading

Listening

In the wake of the events of the past few weeks, I am trying to focus my efforts on listening. Here are some things I’m listening to: One place I feel comfortable speaking on this is putting my money where my mouth is, and in that spirit, here is a list of where to donate… Continue reading

Quarantine Creativity

Continuing to look for glimmers of hope and positivity in the middle of this crisis, one area that is for sure glimmering is at-home creativity. I know from seeing the numbers from some of USV’s portfolio companies in the “creator” space that creative activity is way up. People are stuck at home, and they are… Continue reading

Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?

It’s an overwhelming time right now. Everyone in the world is focused on COVID-19, and to varying degrees, is changing the way they live. From an economic perspective — beyond the obvious massive damage due to a halting of large swaths of the economy, which will need to be addressed with some form of government… Continue reading

The Great Shift to Video

It has been astonishing (and largely encouraging) to see nearly every activity that can be shifted to video begin to go there. Over the past few days, in our house, we’ve seen the following: Piano lesson over FaceTime Band practice over Zoom Many business calls over Zoom Scavenger hunt over FaceTime Academic and fun classes… Continue reading

Simple Systems

I think a lot about systems — for personal organization, for business automation, for urban information, for financial infrastructure, for the internet, etc. On a big macro level, I have always been fascinated by the way that many forces, people and ideas come together to make things. And on a micro level, what it takes… Continue reading

Forcing Change

I’m supposed to be in Europe this week to speak at a conference and attend another one, but I decided to stay home, to be safe. I am hearing all sorts of stories of events being called off and flights being canceled. It’s estimated that the airline industry’s 2020 revenues could go down by 40%,… Continue reading

Bird by Bird

Sometimes things can get overwhelming. Tasks can seem too big to even begin. This, of course, is not true. Every journey begins with a single step, etc. My wife recently pointed me to this great passage by Anne Lamott which puts it yet another way: “Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years… Continue reading

Cryptographic Identity

Last week I wrote about the inherent tension between data portability and privacy, and suggested that one solution would be an exportable “privacy context” that could travel with ported data. Such an approach, however, would require a notion of identity that is broader than a single account at a single company. Rather, it would require… Continue reading

Data Portability and Privacy

Earlier this week, I spoke at a Justice Department / Stanford conference about antitrust issues in the tech sector. Our panel included Patricia Nakache from Trinity Ventures, Ben Thompson from Stratechery and Mark Lemley from Stanford. If you are interested you can watch the whole thing here: The main point I tried to make was… Continue reading

Proof of Transfer (PoX)

Last week, the Blockstack team formally rolled out their proposal for a new mining mechanism for the Stacks blockchain called Proof of Transfer (PoX). In addition to the blog post, you can read the full PoX white paper and the Stacks Improvement Proposal (SIP-007) that details the idea. PoX is a way of building new… Continue reading