A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Educating Electeds

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

A number of members of Congress sent a letter to the Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) on Tuesday. I have embedded it below but readers via email may need to click here to read it. Letter to the OCC on Fintec… by CoinDesk. These elected officials are correct that way too many people in the US are unbanked or underbanked.

The De-Carbonization Of The Economy

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Over the last decade, the Gotham Gal and I have moved away from oil and gas in our homes and have installed solar panels for electricity and heat pumps for heating and cooling. It has gotten less expensive to do this swap out as solar and heat pump costs have come down.

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Venture Funding Trends Intact

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

The NVCA and Pitch Book are out with their Q3 report on the VC industry and what they report is that the VC industry continues to be very active throughout the pandemic. Deal counts and deal values are stable to up over last year.

E-Commerce and Retail

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Most of us have seen some version of this chart that shows how the Covid pandemic has accelerated e-commerce adoption: What is interesting to me is that it has also impacted in person retail experiences. Most restaurants in NYC are not passing out menus anymore.

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!

Removing The CEO

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

In almost thirty five years of working on boards, the hardest decisions I have had to make involve removing the CEO. It is an important decision and one that must be made from time to time. I am not a fan of removing the CEO until and unless it is abundantly clear that it must be done.

Going Direct To Learners With Software

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I was talking to a group of education entrepreneurs (on Zoom naturally) last week and was advocating for the “direct to learner” approach that defines our eduction investing strategy at USV.

The NYC Fintech Innovation Lab

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

The NYC Fintech Innovation Lab is a program which accepts fintech entrepreneurs to develop their businesses with the assistance of senior execs at the leading NYC banks and insurance companies. The key priorities of the CTOs and CIOs of the Lab’s partner organizations include: cloud, cyber-tech, data, digital engagement, enterprise IT and sustainability. If you are building a fintech company and are focused on one or more of these areas, you should consider applying.

Investments That Don’t Work

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I woke up to a dream this morning where I was playing a game that was very similar to Turntable.fm , a failed effort to create a social music experience that had a moment back in 2011 and that I had invested in via USV. In the dream, someone had created a new version of the game that was basically identical to the original version. It was as fun to play it as it was to play Turntable back in the day.

Circulate Networking Events

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

My friend and former colleague Charlie O’Donnell created a new kind of networking event for the moment we are in. These are virtual networking events designed to “include diverse perspectives in the innovation community.” ” They are called Circulate.

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.

Negative Social Proof

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I explained this last week on a call with some of our investors and I thought it might be useful to explain it more broadly. Most of USV’s big wins have been in companies where we were the first institutional VC to talk to the company or where we had way more conviction about the opportunity than other investors at the time of our investment. There was no social proof on these investments other than the fact that nobody else wanted to make the investment as much as we did.

Sora

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

My partner Rebecca wrote about our most recent education investment, Sora , on the USV blog today. We have been investing in learning for over a decade at USV and have built a terrific learning portfolio focusing on companies that are providing services direct to the learner (as opposed to selling “ed tech” to institutions). What we had not done, until now, is backed a company providing an alternative learning “institution.” ” Sora does that.

Quizlet’s State of Remote Learning Report 2020

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Our portfolio company Quizlet put out a “ State of Remote Learning Report ” this week based on what they are seeing across their global learning platform during the pandemic. Quizlet wrote a blog post about it as well.

The David Prize

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

The David Prize is a philanthropic effort to find NYers who are doing amazing things and support them financially. They recently announced five winners, you can see them here. They have an open call for new applicants and you can apply here. The deadline is December 4th.

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.

The Star Pupils

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I was looking at the numbers on an early-stage VC fund that the Gotham Gal and I are invested in. I am not very familiar with the portfolio but this fund was formed in 2012. There are 24 names (investments) in the portfolio and 3 of them have produced 92% of the value in the fund. This is more or less the pattern of every early-stage venture capital fund I have helped to manage and every early-stage venture capital fund I have invested in over the last thirty years.

When are we going to know who won the election?

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Our portfolio company Recount put out this two minute video primer on the question of “when will we know.” ” I like getting the information I want in a very short period of time. This does that so well. If you’re like us, you’ve had one question on your mind lately: “When are we going to know who won the election?” As usual, @Griffin ’s got your answer. pic.twitter.com/BdpiGj4TcV — The Recount (@therecount) October 27, 2020.

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. This page shows the highlights of this sale, including a video, a link to the investment deck, and a link to the offering circular.

Numerai Signals

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Our portfolio company Numerai , which operates the crowdsourced Numerai Hedge Fund and is the creator of the Numeraire crypto token introduced their latest effort, Numerai Signals , with this video yesterday: USV TEAM POSTS: Albert Wenger — Oct 10, 2020 Innovation Upends Extrapolation: Urbanization. crypto hacking finance

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.

Some Thoughts On SPACs

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

As many of you know, Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) are all the rage on wall street right now. SPACs are publicly traded “shell companies” that raise capital in an IPO process and then use that capital to merge with a privately held business. SPACs have been around for at least thirty years and I have always thought of them as a “liquidity path of last resort” for our portfolio companies.

Knowing What You Are Looking For

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

There are many ways to invest successfully. Public stocks, bonds, private equity, real estate, venture capital, etc. And within each category, there are so many different investment opportunities. In public stocks, there are something like 5,000 listed stocks in the US. In venture capital, there were something like 30,000 companies that raised venture capital in 2019. How do you make sense out of all of that opportunity?

Funding Friday: Hidemi Takagi: Stories

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I like how Hidemi Takagi set up a free photo studio in her front yard in Bed-Stuy and took photos of her neighbors. For those on email, you can see the video here. I backed this creative project and a bunch of others this morning on Kickstarter. USV TEAM POSTS: Gillian Munson — Oct 20, 2020 Our Investment in Possible Nick Grossman — Oct 20, 2020 Making Butter with Jam Albert Wenger — Oct 18, 2020 How Much Clothing is Enough? A Personal Experiment. crowdfunding

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.

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.”

Bolster Your Management Team And Board

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

I have had the great pleasure of working with Matt Blumberg and the senior leadership team of USV’s former portfolio company Return Path (which was sold in 2019) for much of the last twenty years. Matt and many members of his leadership team got the band back together early this year and started a new company called Bolster in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank and the early-stage VC firm High Alpha. A few months later, USV joined that investor group along with our friends at Costanoa.

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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. When bad news hits, I have seen traders sell quickly, get to cash, and then take some time to evaluate the situation before acting on the news. That is true of a company missing its quarter, a sudden management change, and many other forms of bad news. It is also the case when macro events hit the market.

Mental Healthcare 3.0

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

My colleague Hanel wrote an important post on USV.com yesterday. It looks at mental healthcare solutions and compares them to what has happened in online learning in the last decade.

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The Startup Community Way

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

My friend Brad Feld has updated his excellent book on startup ecosystems called Startup Communities. The updated and expanded book is called The Startup Community Way and it is available for pre-order on Amazon. The book comes out tomorrow so you won’t have to wait long for it. The timing of this book is excellent. The pandemic has shown that you don’t have to live and work in any particular place to be productive and innovative.

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.

Some Thoughts On New Tax Revenues

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Federal, State, and Local governments are facing massive budget gaps and will need to close them with a mix of cost reductions and new revenues. While this is always hard and has a real toll on people who might lose their jobs or have to pay more in taxes, it is also an opportunity to do things that have been hard to do until now. Here are some ideas on the revenue side: 1/ Legalize the cannabis industry and tax it. This has already been done successfully in some states.

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.

Home Sweet Home

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

We have been back in NYC for about a week after being away for the entire pandemic. We were in LA when the pandemic hit and then spent the summer on the east end of Long Island. Like everyone, we have read the horror stories of NYC being a wasteland of homelessness, crime, shuttered storefronts, filthy streets, and more. These stories occupy the front page of the NY Post every day and cannot be avoided.

Universal Access and Choice

A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC

Our current investing thesis at USV is about expanding access to knowledge, wellness, and capital. We believe that these are core human needs and that opening up access to them is both good for society and also good business. Our approach to these challenges is centered on lowering the costs of these services and increasing competition to provide them. Often society’s answer to providing universal access is to grant a monopoly. Look at cable services in the US.

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.

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.