LAUNCH Scale Day 1

Jason Lemkin- How to Get to $1M-$10M in ARR

  • people have bought shit they didn’t need
  • try to get to $10M ASAP (<4 years after getting to $1M)
    • even $1M is a huge accomplishment
    • many stall out at $4-5M ARR w/o right VPs
      • recruit sequentially
        • VP of sales all about recruiting
        • VP Marketing = lead boost
          • most with this title do corporate marketing (pretty slides, etc.) not lead gen
        • VP Product needs to manage 10x-100x roadmap
          • great product heads usually come only from Salesforce, Facebook, Google, etc.
  • no one feels like growing too slowly in SaaS
    • don’t enter segment where you have no customers (will be tempted to)
    • head of customer success team drives up NPS
      • guard your mini brand (if you’re doing it right, people will know you in your niche)
        • need to be more professional with 100+ customers

Cyan Bannister- Founders Fund

  • personality of company takes shape with or without you
  • company’s mission can be constantly re-evaluated
  • don’t fire someone on the fly
    • get ahead of employees’ needs, surprise and delight
  • metric driven milestone/roadmap
  • Simon Fuller: Valley doesn’t understand psychology and human motivation
    • what does the data actually mean?
  • too many reports = death
  • can’t copy paste one company’s template, pick and choose instead
    • Salesforce has excellent culture
    • with 1099 based business, need to be more company centric (where we’re all headed)
      • 6 year option grants keep people locked in

David Sacks- Zenefits

  • Thiel made ultimate contrarian move with Trump endorsement
    • contrarians may not be right even half the time, but when they are makes up for all the misses
  • hard to bring polarization into company
  • Facebook first to use .edu growth hack
    • consumerization of the enterprise
  • open sources licenses fix response to compliance
    • proactive with engaging in regulators
      • don’t defy, deny, and double down, produce of PR industry that benefits from damage control
        • acknowledge, fix, and repeat, as all about transparency
  • PayPal first in viral products (give and get, need email, etc.)
  • new product is app store for HR
  • reupped past investors at lower (!) valuations
    • employee ownersho[ doubled since Sacks took over
    • sales cannot be in charge of own analytics

Technology of Tomorrow

31 October 2016

Intro

  • how to find a technical cofounder: go to a nerd meetup, Galvanize is a good one
  • what is the next wave: AI, robots, and data science were this wave, have to anticipate what’s next
    • first movers in industry get the biggest exists (Nest in IoT, Oculus in VR)

VR

  • high switching costs between processes (gaming v. watching movies v. something else)
    • takes time to get into experience (10 min, so experience needs to be at least 2o min.)
      • biggest opportunities in BLM for AR
    • airlines will be severely affected, why fly when you can feel like you’re there?
  • social aspect of women shopping exists w/ Taobao
  • AR for communication (tutoring)/dating needs to be presented in right way

AI

  • most AI just saves stuff in database and refers back to it (>50% of apps)
  • investors have herd mentality
  • journalism analyzes public companies, human in the loop needed in most advanced AI
    • Facebook fucked up by allowing shitty sources

Cleantech

  • impossible to get cleantech funding now
    • Chinese markets sometimes flip side of US, funding cleantech/media like crazy, while SaaS still emerging

Lasers

  • Form Labs makes materials based on lasers rather than extrusions, better resolution and still high end
  • print out batches of specialized cells
  • healing circuits: self repairing, check out DARPA

Biotech

  • industry makes things that are otherwise not possible

Nanotech

  • used to not be able to power them inside body, now they create electric field around body, can steer nanofish
    • nanobot engineer skeptical about circulating potential, body very good at detecting foreign objects (liver, etc. are all elaborate filters)
      • more excited about semiautonomous bots with sensors
  • smart dust interest from big semiconductor space (Texas, ADI) who want to get out of sensor business due to margins constantly being pushed down
    • $870k prototype not including materials, with materials multimillion dollar endeavor
      • very hard to have proprietary tech.
    • can we afford to have everyone making massive margins?
    • governments and big corporations can afford to make long term investments, startups can take advatnage of off the shelf technology
      • paradigm has shifted to some extent at the moment
  • hard for consumers to handle ingestible robots, depends on how big of a pain point health problem is
    • technology not enough for those on middle of adoption bell curve
      • #1 reason to do stuff: our peers (pre-suasion)
  • 5D nanostorage holds enough data for 14B years

Brain chips

  • help with neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, help people like Stephen Hawking
  • eventually will be able to record dreams
    • expose brain to image, see which parts light up, ask person to think of image, same parts should light up
      • problem: infinite combinations possible, a car to one person might be a Honda v. a Ferrari to other
        • neural cartography
          • still don’t understand how unconscious mind works

DNA editing

  • Intelligenomics using it to create new drugs
  • Venter growing human organs inside of a pig
  • China creating designer babies on the low to send to Mars (ultimate A/B testing)

 

 

 

Stocktoberfest 2016 Part 2

Passive v. Active (Cullen Roche, Tadas Viskanta, Daniel Aferiat)

  • everyone is some measure of active, impossible to be passive as individual cannot access entire market
    • never been better time to be active

Jack Mohr

  • practice self awareness, set aside rules of investing, do your own homework, no need to be perfect, discipline and patience wins out
  • spent 750 dissecting NXPI
  • need to lock in profits at some point
  • Autonomous Driving Index: MBLY 20%, HAR 10%, WBC 10%, DLPH 15%, ALV 5%, IFNNY 5%, NVDA, 5%, ON 5%, BMW 10%, BIDU/GOOG 10%autonomous-driving-index
  • COST excellent investment when it comes down
  • CSCO in IT, GE in industrial, PNRA in consumer space

Naval Ravikant

  • bad news comes suddenly, good news takes time
  • nothing democratic about process
  • Chinese mandate to invest in innovation
    • $60M invested of $450M raised in blue chip seed deals
    • impressed by companies doing a lot with a little (WhatsApp)
  • Valley fetishizes leanness, corresponds to less employment
  • Lee Jones: have to invest in top set of deals, most invests need pro rata rights

Herb Greenberg and Josh Brown

  • BABA proved everyone wrong
    • sticky money can short all the way to the top
    • can’t rely on regulatory intervention alone
    • mother of all uncorrelated S&P trades
      • nothing with massive size, liquidity, and not part of index

Russel Rhoads

  • VIX is not an absolute market indicator, it is a relative measure
    • cannot replicate it in portfolio
    • VXX not VIX, just a short term trading vehicle
    • negatively correlated to S&P only 20% of time
    • long term average is 20, frequent price is 11-14
  • IV doesn’t have inverse relationship with underlying market, only with broad based markets (r=.8)
  • anticipatory for individual stocks

Rachel Fox

  • some companies naturally engage millennials like AAPL/NFLX
  • now know companies from startup stage, intangible brand values

Anton Zajac

  • pointless to cold pitch VCs
  • Sling has 800k subscribers
  • Snapchat might follow TWTR’s path
  • invest in VC funds as philanthropy
    • go big or go home
  • much easier to find product market fit in smaller country and be ready before launch
  • 300k new viruses (cybersecurity) created/day
    • machine learning absolutely necessary
      • be aware of evil AI taking over
    • “We’re facing problems that we thought only 3rd world countries faced…”

Social Signal (Pierce Crosby, Rikesh Desai, James Wise)

  • people now volunteer info, huge sample size
  • started with CPG companies like P&G
    • seek validation just like in personal life
  • BUZZ: everything else is crowdsourced so why not in investing
    • long/short strategies to be built (ZUBB-short social sentiment)
    • larger hurdle: dealing with bad actors
      • need confidence akin to our spam filters

Banks in 2020 with Joe Sandberg and Dan Kinnerling

  • switching costs biggest barriers to growth
  • Aspiration: have to get customers to get people to trust
    • lots of 1st timers (CAC incredibly high)
    • chose not to pursue banking because fuck compliance, can only make $$ lending
      • easier to get a license in UK/Singapore (1 page rules, release it in form of API??)

Matt Murphy

  • RenRen has 300M MAU in China, didn’t want to fight TCEHY/WeChat
    • deployed $1B in 60 investments in 4 years
    • invested in SoFi ($1B/mo in lending  volume), no one is disrupting them
      • real estate tech can be, $80B in commissions/yr
    • SFTBF pushed them to think 30 years ahead

Alex Tarhini

  • oversees fintech investments for Point72
    • first to map DC venture scene (no one goes deep and adds value anymore
      • CRMs, social graphs underutilized
      • stalked VCs, found portfolio companies, added value

 

Stocktoberfest 2016 Part 1

Howard Lindzon

  • careful w/ fintech because Goldman’s involvement could lead to overpaying

Ian Rosen

  • 200 posts/min on Stocktwits across 3500 different tickers

Josh Brown

  • advisors who stand for something, why you do what you do
  • own setting on many wealth managers/brands
  • at a baseline, do you believe in capitalism?
  • industry doesn’t understand fiduciary rule
  • spectrum risk when everybody in same 10 ETFs

Michael Batnick

  • spent $9k on comissions, got Dom Perignon
  • do not short (hard to compound)

Jeff Mackejeff-macke-retail

  • e-commerce 10% of brick/mortar, growing at 15% CAGR grows regardless of economy
  • gives retailers a chance to grow in markets they understands (i.e. traditional expansion like Target in Canada can fail miserably)
  • retail only about satisfying consumer (distribution)
  • 0% margin + 20% growth > 5% margin + 5% growth
  • Amazon has compounded 38% annual in 20 years
  • Sears was Amazon 200 years ago (mail order only)
    • Kmart like used car dealers, 100 year old malls
  • millenial most liquid generation, largest group of workers
    • 25-34 year old highest YoY growth in employment
    • every penny should be devoted to demographic
  • buybacks, other traditional quarterly actions indicate idiots
    • maintaining stable EPS, capital expenditure cuts
  • people think Internet retail is done, extend time frame
    • Walmart does 2% of business online
      • prefers WMT to WFM, CNK to NFLX, first fashion to malls, JWN to M

Morgan Housel

  • used to be able sit down w/ 4000 w0rd article in NYT because there was nothing else to read
    • now has to broken up into bullet points
  • need to know how much you’re paying in financial fees
  • everybody runs gamut from day trading, trend following, deep value, and eventually move to DCA
  • ideas to invest for next 25 years: Vanguard, Betterment, low half of wage earners
    • advisors have earned distrust of millenials
  • VCs don’t care about macro, much more granular
    • Trump v. Clinton analysis can get you in trouble
      • most investors try to run a marathon in a hour
        • be more concerned w/ behaviors that will prevent you from earning that return

Chart Art

  • price can tell you everything
  • crude oil one of world’s most important commodities
  • no reason to be bearish at ATH
  • tech best performing sector in any time frame
  • don’t fight $120 level for AAPL, cover shorts @ $95
  • own INTC from $38 to $50, MSFT till $75
  • TWTR above $17.50
  • smartest gold and silver traders are short, crash in these markets in next few months
  • many bear markets have not turned into recessions
  • need to know why rates are rising or falling

Bill Gurtin

  • tightening credit spreads between AAA/BBB, herd like mentality w/ retail w/o insitutions
  • price of credit cut in half from 150 basis points to 75
    • expected returns not good
  • many instituions stopped offering prime and market funds
  • short term commercial paper replaced w/ Treasuries

Villi Itchev and Michael Poret

  • larger the company, more transactional the acquisition
  • pressure to do more and more in corp. development [Benioff]
  • next big thing always looks like something never seen before
    • fewer buckets in the security few years ago, now 100 different buckets that all make money (PANW, SEO)
    • ripe for mass consolidation because chief security officers cannot buy from so many companies
      • 1-3 dominant players (CSCO, PANW)

Vinny Lingham

  • ideas have to be constantly fleshed out, original idea was voting on the blockchain
    • if Civic can protect identity today it can vote tomorrow
    • what happened at WFC happens everywhere, just smaller scale
  • gold differs from bitcoin as supply not fixed (mines become more profitable, Diwali comes around, etc.)

Art of Worrying (Mark Dow, Urban Carmel, Jack Little)

  • Fed raises rates the 2nd time, stocks will increase
  • capitalist markets by nature have busts
  • only lack in confidence of dollars can end Fed
    • dollar doomsayers don’t understand balance sheet
  • US economy best positioned in world
  • China has wealth management products that are basically subprime
    • richest man in China has said biggest bubble ever
  • Fed historically only concerned with US economy, potential for strengthening dollar divergent interest rate policies squeeze rest of the world
  • short Russia and Saudi Arabia
  • potentially longer than usual credit cycle
    • China has been on verge of blowing up for past 25 years
      • consumer confidence @ All time highs
    • corporate defaults not a strategy, just a slowdown
      • $9.5T borrowed by emerging markets since 2008, $12T in NIRP bonds in world
        • doesn’t need China/Brazil to collapse, just US to be TINA, dollar strengthens (half of S&P revenues outside of US
      • central bankers will be providers, illusion of control
      • Fed is just a player, not top of food chain
      • non farm payrolls numbers useless

Consulting Freedom

While people like to focus on the downsides of being a consultant, which there are many of, the upsides are far too high to really complain about anything else. First, the freedom to have maximum control over your level of income is huge, as you are directly incentivized to work harder and deliver more value for your clients. The importance of this cannot be emphasized enough, as with a salary there is no upside to working harder than usual, just some arbitrary bonus.

The second benefit is the flexibility to ratchet hours up and down. At times one feels stretched or overworked, causing them to burn out and stop taking new clients, or find a graceful exit from their current crop. Other times one wants to do but work, so they find as much of it as they can. If you’re planning a trip in six months you can have a target income in mind and work accordingly.

The third benefit is reducing the chance that you are underpaid, since the market is valuing you every time you win a new client. With a salary you are only valued once a year, if that. In the meantime that can mean a lot of foregone income. Plus, you always have the option to increase rates and see whether the market absorbs this increase or not. If not, you simply reduce them.

Independence from the multitude of rules and bureaucracy found in the workplace is another benefit. While these have become a fact of life for many, this normalization of wasting time cannot be good for productivity. One can adhere to the methods that make them most productive, not, on whole, the average. Only certain types of work are enjoyable, but consultants are able to pick and choose what to take on and what to outsource.

Yet another benefit is the nature of accountability. You, and only you, can be held accountable for potential failures, instead of some faceless corporation or the evil bossman. The lack of routine and structure is yet another advantage posing as a disadvantage, allowing you to be extremely flexible on a day to day basis.

There are a few, real drawbacks, including the lack of marketing and administration, inadequate technical support, and isolation from colleagues. However these are small details when compared to the big picture wins that independence allows. As always, trade offs need to be made, and they are more than worth it in this case.

You Either Get it or You Don’t

There are those who are enlightened, and those who are not.

There are those who think the accumulation of stuff provides happiness, and then are those who believe that happiness stems from personal achievement and ambition.

There are those that tie their self worth to the approval of strangers, and there are those that believe the opinions of others are irrelevant.

There are those who think in only the short term, unable to forego the dopamine hit, and there are those that have the ability to say no.

There are those that surround themselves with people that they loathe, and there are those who don’t.

There are those who strive to be the best employee that they can be, and there are those who strive to be the best employee there can be.

There are those who understand compound interest, and there are those who don’t.

There are those that slave away to fill up a house that they barely live in, and there are those who figure out how to do what they love and get compensated for it.

There are those who believe that learning stops when they graduate, and there are those that understanding the learning is just beginning.

Unfortunately, the world only has two types of people.

Which one are you?

Learn Everyday

To see people bitter, unhappy, displeased, etc., is not surprising, but still disheartening to see. Every single day, when we get up from bed, we are presented with the infinite possibilities of accomplishing whatever we want. Of course, in the grand scheme of the daily grind, there’s no way to accomplish significant (defined as: creating the iPhone, ceasing the inexorable march of global warming, etc.) things every single day.

But that doesn’t mean that we are wasting days. Odds are, in all the literal failures that occurred were opportunities to learn. This could be in the smallest interactions with housemates, larger exchanges at work (asking for a raise, closing a sale) or simply understanding how predictable, or unpredictable human behavior is.

So how can any day be a bad day?

Do some people forget the lessons that have been learned in a day?

Of course not.

They subconsciously remember them. But they don’t reap the secondary benefits.

The pride.

The joy in knowing you’re getting a little bit smarter—every single day.

And it is difficult to quantify all the setbacks and euphoric peaks that we experience, but wouldn’t be human without them.

Aziz Ansari on Technology

download

Freakonomics Radio recently rebroadcast a year old episode with Aziz Ansari. I’ve always been a fan of Aziz as a role model and generally all around decent human being. His Master of None show on Netflix is also excellent. I’m copy pasting my favorite part of exchange between him and Stephen Dubner, but check out the episode in it’s entirety.

DUBNER: I’ve just asked Aziz Ansari one of our FREAK-Quently Asked Questions. It goes like this: What’s something that you own that you should probably throw out but never will? Considering that his new book, Modern Romance, is about finding love in the digital age, his answer might surprise you …

ANSARI: I’ve been trying to throw out my email address, in a way.

DUBNER: Are you like Hotmail or something?

ANSARI: No I had, like, an email address, like a work email address, and I would just get so many emails. And then when I started filming my TV show I just set up a thing that said, this email is dead. I’m not checking email. If the world’s gonna end you can call me. And I had an assistant on my show and I was like, you can call her. She’ll tell me what’s up and we’ll figure it out. And you know what you realize is, all that shit people email you about all the time, all day, none of it is important. None of it is pressing. And if you just focus on the work you’re doing instead of focusing on it for like two minutes and then getting distracted to answer some question that isn’t pressing at all, you do a worse job. So I found that I’m much more focused when I don’t have those little questions. And then at the end of the day I just have someone fill me in on everything or I call someone on the phone. Or I call someone in the morning. And then I can focus on what I’m doing throughout the day, and my head is much clearer when I do that. So I’d love to just throw out, if I could throw out the Internet as well, that’d be great. I never read anything. I’ve never read all these novels that are like these beautiful stories that have continued to have a resonance with people for so many generations, like beautiful works of art that I could read at any point. But instead, I choose not to read them. And I just read the Internet. Constantly. And hear about who said a racial slur or look at a photo of what Ludacris did last weekend. You know, just useless stuff. It’s like, I read the Internet so much I feel like I’m on page a million of the worst book ever. And I just won’t stop reading it. For some reason it’s so addictive.

DUBNER: So that’s interesting because…you’re a pretty disciplined person overall. It sounds, like you do a lot of work…Do you think that you really wish that you didn’t read the Internet all the time and would read books instead? Or do you think that, you know what, you just like it and you kind of feel guilty about it and so you say that because it sounds like the thing that you want to be true, maybe?

ANSARI: Well I’ve thought about this stuff a lot. Here’s what I’ll say. I’ll say, the times where I haven’t read that stuff, the stuff that I normally read on the Internet, just nonsense blogs or whatever, the next day I’ve felt like I’ve missed nothing. You know? I deleted Twitter and Instagram off my phone. I mean I use them to like post stuff but I don’t have them on my phone. I don’t have, like, a feed. I don’t follow anyone. And I used to read that stuff a lot. And now I don’t read it. I don’t see those pictures. And I don’t miss it. And I feel like a lot of people do a lot of this stuff. And if they cut it out I don’t think they’d miss it that much. I really don’t. I mean when I don’t check in on those blogs and stuff, if I miss it I don’t go back and, like, if you don’t read your blog for a week, right, do you go back and like, not your blog in particular, I’m saying like a blog that you check, right? If you don’t read it for a week, right, and you come back, you don’t go back and read Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Cause you’re not reading it for the information. What you’re reading it for, and this is just my personal theories about this stuff, what you’re reading it for is a hit of this drug called the Internet. The phone world. You just want a hit of it. Like when you scroll down and you see a new blog post you’re like oooh! That gets your brain excited. It’s like, oooh! There’s something new! And you click it and you read it and you’re like, oooh, but it’s garbage… Somebody dropped an N-bomb. Great. Alright. I mean that is kind of a cool story, but, but you’re just searching for this new thing. When you look on your Facebook feed and you see these pictures it’s like, none of that shit really matters. You just want to see a new thing on there and it just gives you something to do. I’ve sat at my computer. I still do it. And I go on like Facebook or whatever and I’m like, what am I doing? I’m going on a loop with these same four sites for no reason. I’m not genuinely interested.

And, now, the BEST part:

Like, here’s a test, OK. Take, like, your nightly or morning browse of the Internet, right? Your Facebook feed, Instagram feed, Twitter, whatever. OK if someone every morning was like, I’m gonna print this and give you a bound copy of all this stuff you read so you don’t have to use the Internet. You can just get a bound copy of it. Would you read that book? No! You’d be like, this book sucks. 

Takeaways:

Email sucks. Check it twice a day. The Internet is the worst book ever. Put it down and cut your losses. When we browse, we’re looking for a hit of dopamine. As we keep browsing, it takes more and more to give us the same rush, so we keep chasing it, but it’s vicious cycle, as it will never be as good as the first peek.

The Internet is a drug. Use it wisely.

Paychecks are Comfortable

Most people like to feel comfortable. Feel safe. Like they have nothing to worry about, because they have so many other worries that they cannot afford to have a paycheck to worry about.

Fair enough.

That’s why most people have jobs. That’s also why most of them miserable. That’s why most do not have as much money as they would like, and why they spend their best hours making a corporation, not owned by them, rich.

In exchange for golden handcuffs and the illusion of accomplishment, we instead have a subservient population that chooses to express its freedom in other, less beneficial ways (cycling the same morons in and out of Washington every few years, renting space just to store their crap, etc.).

A paycheck is less than ideal not just because it makes you feel safe, but because it makes you complacent. Complacency is the enemy of success, and should be everyone’s biggest fear. Complacency is something you occasionally snap out of an annual basis when you’re up for a raise.

Think about this: what if you could give yourself a raise every single day? And none of the 3% bullshit cost of living raise. Legit, 10, 50, 100% raises, based purely on merit and market demand (how hard you work, how smart you work, and the market that exists for your work).

You’re never complacent, ever, because someone is trying to eat your lunch all the time.

And isn’t that sense of accomplishment the ultimate reason for living? You don’t need reality TV, or social media, or any other bullshit. Your life is reality, and you’re the lead actor!

Khizr Khan Says What’s on the Mind of 100 Million Americans

The Muslim father of a soldier killed in Afghanistan absolutely laid into Donald Trump on the last day of the Democratic convention. The DNC encouraged him to give a different speech than the one he did, so while the teleprompter ran a speech, he spoke from the heart. After recalling the sacrifice of his son, Khan spoke the most memorable lines of the year, decade, and maybe century. Even in our jaded, hot take environment, his words will be remembered a la “I have a dream” and “Tear down that wall, Mr. Gorbachev.”

He asked Trump if he had ever read the Constitution, offering him his own personal copy, straight from his breast pocket (This was an important reminder that immigrants actually value the Constitution because that’s the very reason that they came here. The document symbolizes everything that is great about the US, and allows them to prosper every single day.)

Then, he made a very definitive statement: “You’ve sacrificed NOTHING.”

He didn’t yell, but the emphasis was clear. Trump was handed north of $100 million, and wriggled his way out of bankruptcy multiple times. A strong business record would be a qualifier for becoming president; unfortunately, his record is terrible. Sacrifice is something that most Americans can relate to on some degree, but it is clear that Trump does not know the definition of it.

The speech was a good reminder that maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss American exceptionalism. We can be exceptional AND not interfere with other nations. The two are not mutually exclusive. Khan’s speech was so powerful because he had the courage to speak what at least  100 million people were thinking, if not more. But it is important to note that these words of common sense can not be spoken via the filter for bullshit only that the media has. Fox, MSNBC, and CNN should be held responsible for Trump’s potential victory, not deluded voters.

Clearly, speaking completely from the heart is rare, but its impact is unmistakable. Khan followed up with making a direct appeal to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, two “patriotic, decent men.” He pointed out that every so often, situations arise where politics is transcended by decency—this is one of them.

Finally, Khan made sure to point out that Republicans, along with Democrats, help make this country what it is. While we laugh constantly at our political gridlock, others would literally kill for it.

RIP Humayun Khan, your parents may have just saved our country.