Why your startup idea isn’t big enough for some VCs

Venture Capital functions with a power law where the majority of a fund’s returns come from a small percentage of investments. Because of this, VCs need to know if a single investment can return the entire fund. As Bill Gurley famously said “Venture capital is not even a home run business. It’s a grand slam business.” This is where the Return The Fund (RTF) analysis comes into play.

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If You’re Not Too Early, You’re Too Late

“Being too early is indistinguishable from being wrong.” — Tim O’Reilly The earliest I could find this quote by Tim O’Reilly was in 2011, however I would wager that this was muttered years before that and has since been said at least once by every VC, startup founder, and even on HBO’s Silicon Valley. The only problem is, […]

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The Next Seat Belt

Seat belts (paired with airbags) fundamentally changed the safety dynamic of driving for consumers to a point where they became required in all vehicles. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) will have a similar trajectory. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are systems developed to automate/adapt/enhance vehicle systems for safety and better driving. Safety features are designed […]

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What Everyone in Autonomous Vehicles is (and will be) Talking About

As with any new industry that catches the interest of the general public, there are often a lot of repetitive questions and topics that come up in the news, on panels, and in conversation. Having spent a fair amount of time reading, learning, and writing, and a little bit of time investing in the autonomous […]

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Satellite Launchers: The most overcrowded pickaxe in space?

In 2011, Chris Dixon wrote a post titled Selling pickaxes during a gold rush. He explained the dynamics of pickaxes as follows: When a major new technology trend emerges — say, the rise of online video or social media — entrepreneurs can try to capitalize on the trend by creating a consumer product (mining for gold), or by creating […]

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Robotics Exits & A PE Fund

As I’ve been diving deeper into developing our investment thesis for Robotics I’ve started to look at a lot of the data surrounding exits in the space. The largest non-public-to-public exit in robotics in the past 7 years was Kiva Systems (now Amazon Robotics) for $775M. In fact, there have been less than 15 robotics exits […]

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Breaking Down The Drone Stack

I’ve been studying the drone ecosystem in-depth for more than a year, initially resulting in the Future of Frontier Tech report I wrote at CB Insights. Today, as an investor at Rothenberg Ventures, I’ve continued to dig deeper in an effort to identify the key opportunities emerging within each part of the drone stack. As a […]

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(H)edge Cases in Autonomous Vehicles

In programming, an edge case typically involves input values that require special handling in an algorithm behind a computer program. As a measure for validating the behavior of computer programs in such cases, unit tests are usually created; they are testing boundary conditions of an algorithm, function or method. Source: Wikipedia The thought process I’m […]

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Aging Populations and Personal Robotics

I was reading about the rise of social robots and what some of the leading researchers are working on in the space and was confronted by this quote: As countries worldwide face challenges of an aging population, social robots can be one solution to address the shrinking workforce, become personal companions for children and the […]

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How I Hacked Together An SMS Concierge Service In 1 Hour

Earlier this year I ran experiment where I created an SMS-based food/drink recommendation service called The Key. The Key was a simple idea — text a phone number with certain parameters (neighborhood, price point, atmosphere) and get back 1–3 recommendations on where to go for a meal or a drink. Why did I do this? I’ve lived […]

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The Next-Gen Meal Stack

I’ve written a fair amount about the broad “food tech” space looking at financing trends, overcrowding, city expansion, as well as the consumer behavior attached to the different spaces within the food consumption industry. As I continue to think about the space, I wanted to get a few thoughts down on what I call the Next-Gen […]

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Commoditization & Differentiation of Drones Services

Drones are a key component to my Data 2.0 thesis. Not only do drones allow us to do things that previously weren’t possible at a commercially viable price point, but they are already proving able to replace other segments of the aerospace market like some forms of satellite imagery gathering or aerial monitoring via traditional […]

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The Importance of Smart Drone Infrastructure and Technology

TL;DR – Drones are getting smarter, and this “smart” drone tech should be the basis for any future drone infrastructure development. Drones are a key component to my Data 2.0 thesis for their ability to do things that previously weren’t possible at a commercially viable price point, as well as their value-prop that allows them […]

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Building Out a Thesis on Data 2.0 – Satellites, Drones, & Data Analytics

I firmly believe that we are on the brink of reaching escape velocity in the way we gather, categorize, and analyze both proprietary and existing data sets. Over the course of my professional life, I’ve developed a few key theses that have driven both my career and personal interests strongly. One of my first theses […]

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Liquidation Preferences, a Waterfall Analysis, and Educating Startup Employees

TL;DR I’ve uploaded an easily-manipulated liquidation model to better educate employees, founders, and anyone else interested in how liquidation preferences affect financial distributions across a variety of exit scenarios. Just make a copy on Google Docs and edit away. Last weekend Heidi Roizen wrote a great post titled How to Build a Unicorn From Scratch […]

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Does History Repeat Itself? Unpacking Venture Capital in the 80s vs. 2015

Jerry Neumann wrote a piece called Heat Death: Venture Capital in the 1980s that details the VC industry’s changes from 1970 to now. As I read it, I found that there were tidbits from the 80s that related to today’s VC ecosystem that I wanted to unpack further. My thoughts (and the accompanying passages) below. […]

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Are Next Generation Lending Companies Correctly Evaluating Risk?

Thoughts from this post originally appeared in the TLW Newsletter. Sign up here. When I’ve talked to a few “industry veterans” within the small business lending space, they all have been very dismissive of some of these “next-gen” lending companies. They mostly have said that while the algorithms and machine learning used to crawl a […]

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Do Seed Valuations Matter?

Last week I posed a question on twitter that I have been asked many times before looking for a rationale on why pre-seed and seed investors should not care about valuation. I didn’t get any responses, because half of my twitter followers are due to Justin Bieber randomly following me, so I did some research […]

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Automated Wealth Management & A Gateway Drug

There has been a lot of funding to and so-called ‘innovation’ within the tech-driven wealth management space lately. Most notably, Wealthfront and Betterment are competing to effectively manage people’s money through relatively standard practices that have existed for years (basic asset allocation via ETFs, indexes, etc.). As this wealth management tech space moves forward, I believe the focus should […]

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