Untethered

January 21, 2021
I recently came across this post on HackerNews and got a bit of deja vu. In short, it argues that the recent appreciation in Bitcoin is built on top of a fraud being perpetrated by Tether Ltd. I was immediately reminded of the last boom/bust Bitcoin cycle, when others were making the same argument. When I passed this article along to a crypto asset manager I know, he replied (I’m paraphrasing here), “There’s no evidence...
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Data Moats

January 12, 2021
Over the past decade, AI and Machine Learning have become the buzzwords du jour, with virtually every new startup and most incumbents claiming to employ AI in novel and exciting ways to create economic value. These claims often implicitly or explicitly cite data scale as their key source of competitive advantage. The argument is simple: as we amass more data, our models will get more accurate and will therefore be more valuable to our customers....
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Three Powers

January 11, 2021
In his excellent book 7 Powers, Hamilton Helmers lays out a strategic framework for thinking about long-term defensibility in business. He describes seven “powers,” each combining a benefit and a barrier, that enable companies to create excess returns over the long run. For seed investors, I believe only three of these powers are investable: Network Effects, Scale Economies, and Switching Costs. Our asset class is predicated on home runs, and we are driven to invest...
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The Banality of Bullet Points

January 5, 2021
I have recently noticed, much to my dismay, that my attention span has declined radically. This has been most noticeable when doing unstructured work like research and writing. I frequently find my mind wandering after 20-30 minutes, and have to force myself to re-engage with the work. Many of the usual suspects are undoubtedly implicated here. My mobile phone, everyone’s favorite whipping boy, has done a remarkable job of conditioning me to punctuate my day...
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Take a Look Outside

May 20, 2020
I drove downtown today for the first time since our office closed over two months ago. I had a short errand to run, and the whole thing was a bizarre mix of mild nerves and banality. I wore a mask, avoided other humans, and bathed in hand sanitizer afterward. I think we’re all still figuring out the new social norms and appropriate levels of caution that our post-lockdown world will require. Afterward, I detoured through...
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Pitfalls of a Remote Future

April 13, 2020
As coronavirus has run rampant through our society, a consensus has emerged that many companies will never return to their offices. Having discovered that their businesses can operate effectively and efficiently a remote setting, they will decide to forego the substantial costs of office space once the pandemic has subsided. What this might mean for the workers at such firms is far from clear. At best they will be freed from the constraints of geography...
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Hardware

May 20, 2019
"Hardware is hard.” -Ancient VC Proverb --- “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard” -John F Kennedy Hardware is hard, but doing hard things well is the only way to build a long term competitive advantage and generate excess returns. Software is a tremendous opportunity, but the IMF suggests that digital activity represents less than 10% of...
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On Crypto

August 5, 2018
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that “bitcoin is a bubble, but blockchain is interesting” over the last few months. With everybody from Kodak to Long Island Iced Tea cashing in on the hype, it’s hard not to be cynical about blockchain as a technology. Resisting that urge, I’ve spent some time over the past few months thinking about when, if ever, blockchain might make sense. It’s true that blockchain has some...
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Some introductions are in order

January 10, 2018
I’ve always thought that you can learn a lot about somebody from what they’re willing to recommend. What content we consume is one matter, but making a recommendation carries a reputational risk. So what better way to kick this site off than a few solid recommendations? Fiction I cannot possibly recommend The Kingkiller Chronicle highly enough. Patrick Rothfuss is a true master of prose, and he spins a story as beautiful and intricate as any...
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