E889: USV Brad Burnham: market forces, dominant players limiting innovation, conviction for crypto – YouTube

Watching and learning.

E889: USV Brad Burnham: market forces, dominant players limiting innovation, conviction for crypto – YouTube


As a follow up to Rework – the Basecamp boys have released :: It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work.

Like all the books from these guys they are very small chapters with a concept laid out in each chapter so that makes it a quick read. Also you mileage may vary as to how possible it is to implement all the stuff they lay out since the vision they have is always slightly extreme.

My view is I take a few concepts and try to see if I can change my habits or shape my team some.

This book lays out the base premise that work should stay at work during the normal hours and that folks should not work over the weekends, should take holidays and learn to approach everything more calmly. Agree however an individual may not be able to pull much of this off if their bosses don’t buy into any of it.

I think a lot of what they say is true about cutting corners, not sleeping enough, and just trying to do too much.

As a product guy I used to implement some of this – no shipping on Fridays, keep releases simpler, and just try to ship good work even if you didn’t get as much in as you wanted. I have always thought this was my pillar to product management but it amazes me how many CEOs just don’t get it. As a CTO many times I was just trying to protect my team from management and their dumb ideas for how to manage product. So product people can find some nuggets around how to do this a better way but management has to buy in.

I love their concept of office hours – where management is available at certain times each week and available for any sort of AMA. Versus constantly booking meetings and having check ins. I like this one. Might try to implement this.

I love disagree and commit. So many times there is the notion of moving forward with someone else’s idea and getting behind it but you may not agree with it. Versus continually arguing about it and wasting more time than moving on and learning.

There is a bunch of others. I may go back through and note the ones to try and build on since the book is full of them but not easy to put all in motion.

I figure the middle ground around their core concepts is where I fit in for the most part.


My thoughts on the Ellen Pao book – reset

Pick up your copy here – https://amzn.to/2CB0Nls

Wow. I wonder if some of what transpired in this book lead to the whole breakup of Kleiner in any way. I have lost a lot of respect for them as a firm but I also wonder how many firms also act or operate like this. My bet is many more than people think.

Although Ellen may have lost her case I would argue that this whole movement was partially kicked off by her case and the work she is doing with Project Include will ensure that real change will happen.

I loved the book and was great to get her account of what she experienced since none of that really came out during the trial – it shows you how a trial is all about the legality of stuff and the truth is elusive. It is such a disappointment to know how some of these high power people operate and how even the women will turn when money is involved. Sad.

With the book behind me, I am back to trying to see what I can do personally to make a difference. It isn’t easy – on one hand people could just start being decent and guys could start by being normal and inclusive. So in some sense back to just being fair and equal but part of me thinks that it is too late for that. If you look around you will generally see that things are not equal – the business world is heavily slanted to men in many respects.

Given this my view is that I cannot just strive for equality, I need to try and compensate to make a difference. I have to be conscious of my own bias and do what I can to make a better environment for all the females around me in my life and work. Why – because for too long there has not been enough fairness or equality so now we are coming from behind. Only way to fix it is make up for lost time and the fact that most environments whether intentional or not are normally not equal footing for females.

I see this everyday with my girls – the bias that boys have for what a girl can do and what a girl cannot do. My son does it all the time without thinking much about it and I constantly have to remind him that apart from basic anatomy – girls can do what boys can do. Stop putting them in a box. One can easily see that is starts with young boys and if you don’t correct them it won’t change. Back to my premise – we as adults need to over emphasize in all situations to make sure the world is better for everyone. My belief is that the world is largely messed up because men have been dominating it for far too long.

Now let me leave you with my own story about one of the people in the book.

Back when I worked at Weblogic there was period of time that we were trying to raise some money. That period happened to coincide with KPCB launching their storied Java Fund – https://www.cnet.com/news/java-fund-looks-to-long-term/.

WebLogic had practically invented the enterprise Java market for Java on the server so of course KPCB called us and we had numerous meetings. The gist of it ended with a certain partner, the fund manager, telling us that Java was not meant for the server and that the enterprise market would never give up their old school C to play with Java. Okay. Now Sun was partially to blame for this since they were involved with the fund, had their own competing technology but they also showed off Java initially as a GUI while shipping stuff that was slow on the server. This is stuff WebLogic had fixed but it took some time for the enterprise to get the drift.

Anyways – WebLogic ended up raising money and went on to sell to BEA and later BEA sold to Oracle for close to 10B. I think the WebLogic exit made more money than the entire Java Fund did but who is counting.

Post the BEA acquisition during one of the Java World conferences, I happened to be manning the booth since we were expecting Bill Janeway to stop by. Let me quote something from his wiki page:

In 1992, the firm funded the launch of OpenVision Technologies, which subsequently merged with VERITAS Software in 1996. In 1999, Warburg Pincus also was the founder and sole investor in BEA Systems. Warburg Pincus eventually distributed its positions in both companies to its limited partners, realizing total returns of $750 million in VERITAS shares and $6.5 billion in BEA shares on investments in each of approximately $50 million.

50m to 6.5B.

Bill made a lot of cash from BEA which was partially because of the WebLogic product line.

Bill did cruise by and we had met many times before so we instantly started chatting but I was actually more interested in who was tagging a long with him – none other than Ted Schlein. Bill introduced us and asked if the Java Fund happened to look at WebLogic. Ted said he didn’t recall digging into it but of course I had to interject to say that yes we had met since I was the one doing the demos and that Ted had passed declaring Java dead on the server. I also went on to say that the one WebLogic deal probably would have done better than the entirety of the Java Fund portfolio. Bill had a good laugh about it but Ted didn’t look too amused.

That was my first taste of VC.

Unpacking Alpha in Venture Capital —  Chapter 2: A Brief History & Some LP Myths

Wrote about Chapter 1 here.

Now to chapter 2.

Unpacking Alpha in Venture Capital —  Chapter 2: A Brief History & Some LP Myths:

Whilst certainly indicative of a broader interest in technology, the growth has been driven by a systemic search for yield via alternative assets in the face of depressed returns in traditional risk assets. With rates still expected to remain low and macroeconomic indicators (inflation & labour markets) still (somewhat surprisingly) depressed, my expectations are that capital will still be keen to search for risk assets and venture is at the top of this spectrum. Even if you argue we are at the brink of regime shift, this is still a good time to invest into VC as the vintages from 2010 onwards show how performance improved in the post-recession climate by virtue of adverse selection of only the best entrepreneurs.

That said, the result of these increases are that arguments have pervaded in recent years about another tech bubble. I am in the camp that we are not in such a bubble. Whilst certainly valid questions can be asked about the fundamental valuations of some of the current cohort of “unicorns”, I consider there has been a structural shift in the capital allocations between private and public markets in favour of private companies which now represent a meaningful asset class that investors should consider. And in the public markets, the position today is fundamentally different to the Dot.com bubbles largely as a result of better understanding of technology business models.

Another long read but I think for me these 2 paragraphs are interesting. Of course with the public markets in a current downturn, I am sure there are people thinking the whole bubble theory is validated. My view is this is just a big correction and will come back but of course not forever.

I do think VC will continue to grow though since I agree with the notion that private asset allocations are growing and tech will continue to permeate every nook and cranny of all economies.

Pomelo Fashion launches menswear range in Thailand – Inside Retail Asia

This is cool and hope it comes to Singapore. I feel like in the world of affordable but modern men’s fashion is just vacant – let alone something that approaches the market with tech.


JD-backed fashion brand Pomelo Fashion is debuting a menswear label called Pomelo Man (PM) in Thailand this month.
— Read on insideretail.asia/2018/12/21/pomelo-fashion-launches-menswear-range-in-thailand/

Unpacking Alpha in Venture Capital — Chapter 1: Setting the Context

Unpacking Alpha in Venture Capital — Chapter 1: Setting the Context

Pretty interesting deep dive into thoughts around VC.

Tend to agree heavily with 2, 4, 6, 7, & 8.

Here is the top 10:

  1. VC is a cottage industry but done scrupulously and systematically it can deliver strong, uncorrelated returns. Alpha generation is very poorly attributed.
  2. Dollars should be focused into capacity constrained strategies that are attacking the early stages. VC does not scale.
  3. I see no obvious warning signs that this is a poor time to enter the asset class. Technology-led innovation is pervasive and cumulative.
  4. Whilst Silicon Valley has undoubtedly been the epicentre of technology innovation, other hubs of ideation, innovation and global problem solving are developing fast.
  5. VC is a human capital business, driven by prescient GPs and outlier founders. There is limited evidence to support long-term consistent firm-level performance, in fact persistence of performance is declining.
  6. Investing with more metrics = less alpha. The best investors are comfortable investing at the edges but do so on the basis of a scientific and rigorous process that appreciate the risk. A quick summary of a rigorous methodology is inspired by a recent book from P. Tetlock (Superforecasting).
  7. The best early stage investors are foxes — they are curious polymaths, with broad peripheral vision. LPs should test for and allocate to investors with the optimal attributes versus making their own editorial about where the tech next wave will come from.
  8. Technology KPIs have evolved but I believe most public market investors still don’t understand the pervasiveness of technology. Every listed asset is potentially impaired.
  9. LPs have not challenged their GPs to innovate nor gone deeper on GP level data. I consider the industry must mature faster and both sides must do better.
  10. Most early stage investors waste the informational alpha generated by VC — it provides a lens into what will work in the future but in nearly every scenario tells you what is not working within the incumbents. Cross-pollinate this information to unlock more alpha in you public portfolios.