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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 is one I’ve called the Niche Consumer. You can read more about it here, but the...

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 – and Walk Away with Nothing. The...

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. Click an accompanying headline to skip to its section or scroll down: Early 1980s...

A Few Things I’ve Learned From Writing 200 Briefs on VC & Tech in 1 Year

Early April marked the end of my first full year at CB Insights. While I’ve learned about many different aspects of scaling a startup, I wanted to focus on a few writing-related things, as a large portion of my time at CBI comes in the form of data analysis, and subsequently writing research reports/briefs. In fact, in 1 year I’ve published just south of 200 research briefs on our company blog...

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 variety of social/digital metrics are great, they don’t replace...

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 to try to understand some of the stances on this often-discussed topic. To me, valuation...

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...

Pitch + Demo + Culture

We had our first ever pitch + demo event at CB Insights a few weeks ago. The goal was to allow any CBI team member to pitch an idea, attempt to recruit who they needed to execute their idea, and then do so in 3 days, culminating in a demo of their completed project to the team. Projects ranged from TV interfaces of the product all the way to cohort analysis of user behavior. I pitched and...

Techstars & Franchises

Last week Techstars announced their new “Equity Back Guarantee” that essentially allows founders in the program to choose whether or not they get their equity back at the end of each program. We discussed this on the CB Insights newsletter a bit, but I wanted to focus on the section about the franchise model and profitability. Techstars is the #2 accelerator in the world in terms of brand...

The Credential Problem

Matthew Goldman, the CEO of Wallaby, wrote an interesting blog post the other day about how his team does not look great on paper. In general the post discusses credentials. I understand the importance of credentials moving forward, but it speaks to a larger point about what the ultimate credential-creator, college, has become (a lackluster predictor of ability). I don’t want to delve into a half...

Small Business Loans & Merchant Cash Advances – How PayPal’s move could signal an industry coming full circle

Paypal recently announced that it is expanding its Working Capital service to the UK, but the interesting tidbit is that they switched from loans to cash advances due to their possession of a banking license in Luxembourg. I’ve gotten moderately intimate with the Merchant Cash Advance and small business loan space, and this is an interesting zig from a large company when the rest of the market...

Startups Helping Small Businesses

The New York Times published an article about startups helping small businesses last week. It was something that I’ve thought about a lot over the past 2+ years. When we originally began investing in startups at Crane, we wanted to divise a seed-stage investment strategy that fit within the scope of a hedge fund that invested across multiple industries and stages, but mainly within private equity...

What Excites Me in Tech Today

I had a conversation recently about what excites me in the general tech space these days. While companies with a mission to eliminate inefficiencies always intrigue me independent of industry, I thought I’d add a few, more specific thoughts. Programmatic Advertising Programmatic advertising means many things, but in general its about some form of automation within the ad process. Whether that is...