A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Subscription Agreements

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I just finished completing a thirty page form for an investment my wife and I are making in a limited partnership. This form is called a subscription agreement. I wrote about the frustration of having to complete this identical form again and again six and a half years ago here on AVC. One great thing has happened on this issue in those six and a half years. Many/most subscription agreements are now sent digitally via Docusign or Adobe. That’s great.

My 1985 Nike Air Jordan Investment

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

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.

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Financing Document Forms

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Many founders want to do SAFE note financings for their early rounds to save time and money. My response to that is “let’s do a priced round, we can use a standard financing form we both like, we won’t use a lawyer on our side, and we can close in a week.” ” The key to being able to do that is the availability of standard financing forms. Many venture law firms and also the NVCA have published standard forms on the web. Here are Cooley’s forms.

Correlation and Market Meltdowns

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

On the first episode of Howard’s new podcast , his guest said, “in panics, all assets are correlated.” ” I suspect that is true to some extent.

The Best Sales Forecasting Models for Weathering Your Goals

Every sales forecasting model has a different strength and predictability method. It’s recommended to test out which one is best for your team. This way, you’ll be able to further enhance – and optimize – your newly-developed pipeline. Your future sales forecast? Sunny skies (and success) are just ahead!

Nurx: Reimagining Healthcare

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I’ve written a bit about our portfolio company Nurx since we made the investment back in 2016. Nurx is a great example of how technology is helping to reshape how healthcare is delivered. With the Nurx mobile app, women (and men too) can find the prescription or home diagnostic test they need, connect to a doctor who can review the request and write the prescription, and get the medication or test shipped to them at home. No stigma, no wait, no travel.

Masks4All

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

A couple of weeks ago, I saw this tweet by my partner Albert: Must read thread on #Masks4All #covid19 [link] — Albert Wenger ????? albertwenger) March 28, 2020.

Not All Gross Margin Is The Same

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I wrote a blog post in September of last year arguing that gross margins and operating margins really matter when valuing companies.

Crawl, Walk, Run

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I am a fan of the slow and steady approach to building a business. I call it “crawl, walk, run.” ” I have seen many founders try the “run right away” approach and it is super hard to make that work. An example of “run right away” would be to raise a $30mm seed round, hire a couple of hundred employees, and go for broke. That mostly results in being broke. Of course, there are examples of founders who did that and succeeded.

Board Diversity

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

This is a topic of great importance and one that we in the tech/startup sector have not done a good job with. We wait until a company is ready to go public and then address it. While that is better than nothing, it is not good enough. The board diversity problem is a symptom of a much broader problem around lack of diversity in founders that get funded and lack of diversity in VC firms. Most startup boards are made up of a few founders and a few VCs. No wonder you have no diversity on the board.

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B2B Pocket Playbook: End-to-End Guide to Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is the strategic process of providing sales teams with the content, guidance, and mentorship needed to engage targeted buyers. It’s all about equipping sales professionals with the tools they need to put their best-selling foot forward. And if sales teams want to continuously sell better -- and faster -- their sales enablement process must have a game-winning strategy. It's time for you to start selling smarter - and hitting your sales number - with the best B2B database in the market. Get started today.

Why USV is Joining the Libra Association

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

A new blockchain & cryptocurrency project, Libra , was announced today. Libra has been incubated by Facebook. USV will be one of the founding members of the governing body, the Libra Association.

Hyperactive?

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

When the pandemic started, the conventional wisdom was that the capital markets would take a beating, including the venture capital market for startup capital. The second quarter of 2020 is now behind us and we will see the data on it soon. I suspect what we will see is a very active venture capital market, quite the opposite of what was initially expected. There are a number of reasons that I think we will see that. First, venture capital firms raise funds and it is our job to put them to work.

Learn To Code If You’ve Lost Your Job

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Learning to code was the thing that unlocked it all for me. I learned to hack in Basic during high school. I parlayed that into a programming job in college, which led to my first job out of college, which then led to a job that helped me pay for graduate school, which led to a job in venture capital. That is why I have made getting computer science broadly deployed in the K-12 system in NYC and around the US the philanthropic effort that I put most of my charitable time into.

Growth

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

One of the great joys of the work I do is I get to watch the leaders of our portfolio companies grow over time. I’ve had a number of moments over the last few months where I got off a call or a meeting and thought to myself “wow, she’s a new person.” ” Growing as a leader takes time, mistakes, failure, feedback, and a lot of work. You don’t magically show up as the CEO and you are good to go. It’s not like that at all.

Pressure Points: How to Ensure Your B2B Pipeline Passes Inspection

This eBook highlights best practices for developing a pipeline management process that helps sales leaders and their team C.L.O.S.E (you’ll see what we mean in this eBook) more revenue through data-driven prospecting, stage analysis, and subsequent sales enablement.

Kickstarter Lights On

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

So many of our favorite community anchors have shuttered in the wake of the pandemic. And reopening them won’t be easy.

Some Thoughts On Crypto

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

The crypto sector is in an interesting phase right now. The market has rallied from its lows this past winter and is up a lot in 2019: But Bitcoin now makes up almost 70% of that aggregate market cap. In some ways, Bitcoin is the one protocol that has found lasting product-market fit.

No Shenanigans

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I was talking to a friend today about company values and how important they are but also how lame so many of them are. I told him that some of my favorite company values come from our former portfolio company Twilio (which in the spirit of full disclosure I am still a large shareholder of).

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Mail Hosts

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I got a question this past weekend that kind of stumped me. The question is – are there any really good mail hosts other than Gmail and Outlook? I realize that Yahoo still operates a mail host as does AOL. And that many of the ISPs offer mail hosting. But all of those feel like 20 year old technology. Of course I could be wrong about that. I am not talking about mail clients like Superhuman and Hey and others (including Apple and Microsoft’s mail clients).

Marketing-Led Post-COVID-19 Growth Strategies

Businesses are laying off workers, shutting their doors (some permanently), and struggling to react to the radical destruction that coronavirus (COVID-19) is doing to our society and communities. Most have already sustained massive damage, and we still have yet to see the scope of impact of the global pandemic that has upended the globe. Any return to normalcy may seem far-off, but sales and marketing are on the front lines of restarting the economy. When the dust settles, we have a responsibility to turn our shock and grief into fierce determination, and lead the charge of responsible, strategic, sustainable future growth. However, there’s no team better suited to lead that charge than the marketing department. Marketers are uniquely positioned to provide creative solutions to aid their organization in times of change and chart a course for navigating success.

The Internet

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I linked to a post by Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince the other day. In it , he wrote: The super heroes of this crisis are clearly the medical professionals at the front lines saving people’s lives and the scientists searching for a cure. But the faithful sidekick that’s helping us get through this crisis — still connected to our friends, loved ones, and, for those of us fortunate enough to be able to continue work from home, our jobs — is the Internet. The data is kind of incredible.

Slowing Down

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

One of the silver linings to this awful pandemic is that things have slowed down a lot. Not just work. Everything really. I find myself taking more time to do the dishes, work out, meditate, etc. There is less “racing through the day” and more time to do things right and carefully. We clean the house on Sundays and it takes the two of us almost three hours and while I can’t call it enjoyable, there is a certain satisfaction from doing it well and doing it right.

Accelerating Working Capital

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

As policy makers around the world seek to mitigate the economic shock from this pandemic, one less obvious but powerful place to look are working capital flows. Yes we do need direct relief for small businesses like the forgivable PPP loans. We also need things like payroll tax deferrals and other relief from the CARES Act. We also need our capital markets to work so actions like the Fed is taking are necessary and important.

Headgum and Gumball

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Podcasts have emerged as a major new category in media/entertainment/news/education etc. We have seen huge deals for big podcast hosts like Bill Simmons and Joe Rogan, both of whom did transactions with Spotify for nine-figure amounts. But as Spotify (and surely others to follow) lock-up top podcast content to strengthen their subscription offerings, we stand to lose something awesome about podcasts which is the ability to listen to them for free on any platform we choose.

How ZoomInfo Helps Overcome the Top Pain Points of Inside Sales

Recent digital transformation has shifted the B2B landscape by ushering in the era of buyer empowerment. With more access to user reviews, analyst opinion, and industry research, decision-makers are more informed than ever while navigating what is now known as the “buyer’s journey.”

Funding Friday: The Steamchasers

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I am a big believer in the saying “you can’t be what you can’t see.” ” And I have spent a lot of time and energy finding ways for young people to see careers in science, technology, and innovation so that they can put themselves on a course to have one themselves. I came across a series of books for kids called The Steamchasers on Kickstarter today.

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Still Open For Business

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I wrote a blog post on March 12th called Open For Business and thought I would return to the topic. If you search for “vc open for business” on Twitter , you will see almost universal scorn for the idea that VCs are open for business right now.

Investing In Learning

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

USV has invested in the education sector for a bit more than ten years. We kicked things off with an event we called Hacking Education back in March 2009. We have focused on “direct to learner” businesses and have mostly avoided investing in companies that sell to the established education system. This has been a good strategy and we have assembled a fantastic direct to learner portfolio that includes companies like Duolingo , Quizlet , Skillshare , Codecademy , and Outschool.

The Duolingo English Test

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I wrote about our portfolio company Duolingo’s English Proficiency Test back in August of last year. I have always loved the idea that a company that helps people learn a language can also help people prove their fluency in a language. It is two sides of the same coin. But the road to success with the English Proficiency Test has been hard.

Marketing Ops: The New Revenue Hero

As data continues to play a starring role in today’s B2B organizations, both marketing and sales operations professionals are poised to solidify their place as critical revenue drivers. In particular, the evolution of the Marketing Operations (Ops) role has created a new standard in marketing and has become a vital component of an organization’s success.

Computer Science For All NYC

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

About ten years ago, I started asking why were weren’t teaching computer science to every student in the NYC public school system.

Event Driven Growth

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I realize that most businesses are suffering greatly in this pandemic. Many have been shut completely. But there are some that are experiencing the opposite situation. They have a growth spurt as a result of this moment. Businesses in food delivery, e-commerce, online education, telehealth, remote work, and cloud infrastructure are examples of such situations. I’ve seen event driven growth spurts over the years. A plane lands in the Hudson and everyone heads to Twitter to see it.

American Kingpin

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I read my friend Nick Bilton ‘s book American Kingpin over the last few weeks. It is the story of Ross Ulbricht (aka Dread Pirate Roberts), the founder and owner of The Silk Road.

What Happened In The 2010s

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

My friend Steve Kane suggested I take a longer view in my pair of year end posts this year: What, no decade end/decade ahead posts? — Steven Kane (@stevenkane) December 26, 2019. And so I will. Here are the big things that happened in tech, startups, business, and more in the decade that is ending today, in no particular order of importance. 1/ The emergence of the big four web/mobile monopolies; Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

What We Learned From Our Own Data-Driven ABM Strategy

ZoomInfo has created the following eBook to help other B2B organizations gain insights on how to launch their own data-driven ABM strategy. In this eBook, we will reveal the good and the bad from our own campaign and highlight some key takeaways on how to improve your ABM strategies moving forward.

Funding Friday: The $1k project

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

This is the fourth funding friday blog post in which I’ve suggested good causes to contribute to during this pandemic. March 20th – restaurant workers. March 27th – health care protective gear. April 3rd – feeding people in need. Today, I would like to highlight The 1k project. The 1K project was built by Alex from NYC, Minda from Seattle, and a group of over 20 volunteers consisting mostly of tech founders.