All posts filed under: Essays

Things We Make, Things We Grow

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Essays

A few months ago i was having breakfast with a mentor and investor of ours, who said something very interesting to me: “When I was young, I used to think there was a distinction between ‘things that are made’ and ‘things that are grown’. I no longer believe in that distinction, which is a profound change.” As I thought about it, I realized I was the same way, but hadn’t realized it: on my old view, some things […]

An Open Letter On Donald Trump’s Candidacy.

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Essays

Along with 150 of my peers in the technology industry, I signed an open letter organized by Alec Ross regarding the upcoming election. Reprinted in full below, shareable link here. — We are inventors, entrepreneurs, engineers, investors, researchers, and business leaders working in the technology sector. We are proud that American innovation is the envy of the world, a source of widely-shared prosperity, and a hallmark of our global leadership. We believe in an inclusive […]

On Failure

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Essays

Financial economist and famed venture capitalist Bill Janeway says, of the conditions for innovation: “economic growth has been driven by successive processes of trial and error and error and error.” Failure is core to the innovation economy. It is taken as an article of faith in Silicon Valley vocabulary to “fail fast, fail often”.  A successful brainstorming exercise can be described as a process of throwing many ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks; […]

Our Culture Is Evolving Us

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Essays

Woe be to this phrase: “We need to catch up soon!” Found in a beautiful, if tragic, essay in the Atlantic from last fall. It talks about how adult friendships are hard! It struck a personal note to me, on a few levels: the first, because my wife and I are entering that phase of life where we’re trying to decide if we’re going to end up in a suburb or in a city, or something […]

On Demography and Economy

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Essays

Lately, the hottest topics in the technology community have been focused on municipal regulation of drones and cars, federal regulation of labor markets and health insurance, the IPO window, and the scary dominance of FANGAM. And always, it seems, there’s the topic of China and India, and their growing influence in the global technology market. In a conversation with Morgan Housel week before last, however, we ended up taking a very different tack to our […]

Wait, what is “Technology”?

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Essays

Oxford English says:  The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry Merriam Webster: The use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems As I’ve been working on describing what it means to be a technology investor, this question has plagued me. I’ve been surprised by this, as a shallow consideration of that question lands me on “software and hardware companies”. But General Motors has 100 million […]

Grow to Grow

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Essays

While in San Francisco last week, I heard a very interesting comment a few times from YCombinator founders: “our advisors set ridiculous – even unreasonable – growth targets for us, which forced us to think more creatively about how to acquire customers and solve problems.” In each of those particular cases, the founders ended up not only finding, but dramatically exceeding those growth targets, and realizing something very new about the potential of their business […]

Momentum-hunting

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Essays

Venture capitalists look for momentum. It’s sometimes fickle, like an imperceptible breeze, or a fresh wind. And sometimes it’s bigger and feels more like a gust of inevitability. I would bet many investors in other asset classes look for momentum, but we particularly do. ‘Value investing’ doesn’t work in our asset class; as Om eloquently expressed, our winners are often winner take all. Our distributions follow a power law, so once a company breaks away, it’s […]

Conviction In The Winter

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Essays

About 2 years ago I was asked by a founder during a pitch meeting, “how long do you think you’ll be in this job?” It was the first (and only!) time I’d heard that question during a pitch and it caught me totally off guard. It was easy enough to answer (“as long as it’ll have me!”) but when I asked him why, and he nonchalantly replied: “you seem fairly young, so I just wanted to make […]

Authenticity in Business

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Essays

Twin brothers Sean and Kenneth Salas’ mother, an immigrant from Mexico, started a small Mexican restaurant, and over 25 years, grew it into a chain across Southern California. Over the course of this experience, she navigated the company cashflows, hiring and building a team, operational and logistics scale, and creating a brand. She ended up having to close her business and move back to Mexico, from where the brothers were accepted to University of Berkeley. […]