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

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

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

Regulation and the Tech Industry

Azeem Azhar has a great post up about the brewing conversation about regulation and the tech industry. There are two main points that stand out to me: 1) In digital systems, ML/AI and data network effects create feedback loops that enable the biggest companies to keep getting better, faster: and, 2) Regulation favors large incumbents… Continue reading

Digital Bearer Assets

I spent time over the past few days with several entrepreneurs who are building crypto or “web 3” applications well outside of the financial space. One of the takeaways for me was of the important role that digital “bearer” assets will play in creating new experiences in web 3. By bearer assets, I mean that… Continue reading

Broadening Access

I spent the morning today at MTA headquarters, judging the “Accessibility” category of the NYC Transit Tech Lab competition, organized by the Partnership for NYC. Here is the view from the 20th floor of MTA HQ at Bowling Green: Ostensibly, the theme of the day was accessibility in the sense of things that could improve… Continue reading

Adversarial Interoperability

As I make my way through the various predictions & reflections that accompany the new year, one stands out: the EFF’s 2019 Year In Review, entitled “Dodging Bullets on the Path to a Decentralized Future“. I have long been disappointed that there have seemed to be two separate and parallel conversations going on: the “traditional”… Continue reading

Form factor

Over the past few weeks, I have varied up my computing habits a bit.  For a laptop, I have been using a Pixelbook, and I have also been spending more timing using an iPad Pro for work (vs my default of using a Mac laptop for everything). What I have discovered is that the form… Continue reading

The weakest link

We have spent a fair bit of time over the past year working on security at USV and across the USV portfolio.  Anyone who has spent time working on personal or corporate security — and in particular information security, knows that there are a million ways in, and you’re never “finished”. Fred wrote a bit… Continue reading

For web platforms considering a token strategy: cryptocurrency vs. dollars?

A lot of founders / teams have been asking if they should be adopting a cryptocurrency strategy.  This is understandable given the frenzy of fundraising recently and the ongoing dialogue about the potential for cryptocurrencies as an alternative business model for web platforms. As “traditional” web & mobile platforms explore this option, there are a… Continue reading

The Next Web Amsterdam: Purpose, Mission & Strategy

Last month, I went to the (most beautiful city in the world) Amsterdam, to speak at The Next Web Conference.  I did two talks, one at a sub-event focused on tech & social issues, on the topic of Data & Power, which I will post when it comes online, and a main stage talk on… Continue reading

Open source leadership vs. corporate leadership

As cryptocurrencies and blockchains have continued to gain steam (and attract capital), a common question in the air is, what type of leader does it take to be successful in this space? A common variant on that question is: “will [leader] need a grownup in the room once they get ahold of all that money from… Continue reading

Regulating source code

As more areas of our economy become computerized and move online, more and more of what regulators need to understand will be in the source code. For example, take the VW emissions scandal: These days, cars are an order of magnitude more complex, making it easier for manufacturers to hide cheats among the 100 million… Continue reading

Aligning purpose and strategy: Cloudflare goes nuclear on patent troll

Last week, I was in Amsterdam at the Next Web conference, giving a talk about “Purpose, Mission and Strategy” — how companies can strengthen the connection between these to align efforts and make tough calls more easily (will post video when it comes online).  From that talk: The idea here being that there are tough, tough… Continue reading

Cycles

It’s clear that right now we are in a moment of upheaval and turbulence, that seems to have come upon us very quickly.  Pretty much everyone I know has been wrestling to unpack this for the past several months. I’ve been trying my best to understand the worldview of Steve Bannon, who is clearly an… Continue reading

Experience ↔ Design ↔ Policy

People often ask me how I ended up working in venture capital, and more specifically in a role that deals with policy issues (“policy” broadly speaking, including public policy, legal, “trust & safety”, content & community policy, etc.).  Coming from a background as a hacker / entrepreneur with an urban planning degree, how I ended… Continue reading

Beam should have a hardware API

We’ve got a few Beam telepresence robots at USV, and use them all the time.  Fred has written about them here.  We had a team meeting today, and we had two beams going at once — Fred and I were the first to arrive, and we were chatting beam-to-beam — he in LAUtah, me in Boston,… Continue reading

The Blockchain as verified public timestamps

Two weeks ago at USV’s annual CEO Summit, Muneeb Ali from OneName explained the blockchain in a way I hadn’t heard before, and which I thought was really helpful: the blockchain is time. That’s a somewhat abstract way of saying it, so more concretely we could say that: The blockchain is database of verified public timestamps. Every… Continue reading