Author: Kanyi

Advice for incoming college students interested in building products/companies

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Essays

I was asked “what advice would you have for incoming college students genuinely interested in building products/companies?” on Twitter this summer, and stalled in my response, because I wanted to tell them “any advice I give you is, at least subconsciously, my way of either validating or repudiating my own random choices. My advice is take lots of advice, listen to none of it.” But I couldn’t resist answering eventually. And here’s what I said. 1.  Read […]

The Founder’s Reality Distortion Field

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Essays

We have lionized Steve Jobs, and the set of characteristics that he brought to bear over his extraordinary tenure at Apple. I might go so far as to say we have internalized them as the archetype of success for a founder. Fittingly, one description of him, coined by his colleague Bud Tribble in 1981, is his ability to create a “reality distortion field”. Described simply, it’s the way that really dynamic individuals can make listeners believe […]

A Few Observations About Consumer Hardware

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Everybody says hardware is hard. But here is why. If you can spend a bit of time getting ahead of these challenges ahead of time, maybe your road will be a little less hard. If you have experienced other similar hardware challenges, please share them in the comments! – There is an unhappy tension between demand and defensibility. If you build something for which there is either proven demand, or for which the demand is demonstrated […]

Patents and Purchasing Power

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How many of these have you heard of: Express Scripts (by Medco), CVS Health, Prime Therapeutics (by Blue Shield), United Health, Catamaran Corporation?  These are the top five pharmacy benefit managers in the United States. PBM’s are demand aggregators for insurers, creating local monopsonies for drug manufacturers. They do this so that the insurance payers can have uniformity among their patients about which medications they cover, and so that they can negotiate discounts by playing […]

Double-sided Service Business

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Essays

Venture capital occupies a strange space in finance, where *real* financial services people don’t consider it finance, largely because a lot of the diligence, assessment, and dealmaking is substantively less quantitative than you might see in middle markets private equity, or mezzanine debt. And that is right, but I don’t think that’s why venture capital is so different. After all, there are plenty of venture capitalists who bring substantive quantitative assessment to their work, even […]

Wait, Does the “Influencer Strategy” Ever Work?

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I posed this question on Twitter this week: Has a consumer software or internet startup that launched with an “influencers strategy” ever ended up successful? — Kanyi Maqubela (@km) August 18, 2015 To be honest, it was a slightly cheeky post, as I expected the answers to look like “Of course there aren’t any. All successful consumer internet communities launch with a small, mostly-fringe set of early adopters that start solving their own narrow, niche […]

Why has SEO/SEM persisted?

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I’ve been surprised to learn how many companies today are still using SEO/SEM as a primary acquisition tactic, in fields as varied as local services like HVAC repair and plumbing to party supply rental and finding a medical specialist. This surprised me because of three trends I have been following. – As our collective internet time moved further and further to mobile, there was once a question as to whether mobile web would be an effective […]

Investing In Bubbles, Pt. II

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Essays

Two years ago I read a great book describing the creation of the computer. The period between 1930 and 1960 was one of war, paranoia, and frenzied product development. At all costs, the government would spend on the necessary resources to win. It reminded me of Bill Janeway’s description of bubbles, which I want to spend a few minutes on again this morning.  By my understanding of Janeway’s framework in “Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy”, downstream […]

Our Diversity Numbers —

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After seeing StartupLJackson’s tweet today, I was inspired to look inward and take stock of how we are performing today at Collaborative Fund on diversity. By virtue of being a vocal and relatively politically active young black man, I spend a lot of my time and energy thinking about diversity, social justice, and racial equality; when it comes to my day-by-day, it is constantly humming in the back of my mind, but I shy away […]

Why the Collaborative Economy is an Impact Economy

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Reflecting on the passing of R.H. Coase a few years ago, I noted that his theorem was being undermined from all sides. For the uninitiated, “The Nature of The Firm” was published as an essay in 1937 by Coase, then a young British student of business who wanted to understand why the American companies were producing so efficiently and profitably. He concluded that it was because they were developing mass production, consolidating resources for distribution […]