The Future of VC and Lessons from Village Global

I was delighted to chat with Samir Kaji on his podcast Venture Unlocked about the history and strategy of Village Global, and a range of other inside baseball VC topics like portfolio construction. We launched the firm a few years ago; it’s been an amazing journey. Here’s the Spotify link or in Apple Podcasts. And embedded below.

By the way, if you’re starting a company this summer, apply to our Accelerator for a personalized, white glove experience alongside our investment. And also: A few months ago, we announced a $125 million Fund II.

Disclaimer: This presentation does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any security. No representation is being made that any investor or portfolio will, or is likely to, achieve profits or losses similar to those discussed. Targets discussed have been established based on several assumptions that may vary depending on the type of investment.  There is no guarantee that the conditions on which such assumptions are based will materialize as anticipated and will be applicable to Village Global’s portfolio investments.

Brad Feld on Nietzsche and Entrepreneurship

I spoke to Brad Feld for an hour about Nietzsche and his new book (co-authored with Dave Jilk) of The Entrepreneur’s Weekly Nietzsche.

The audio version is on the Village Global podcast here or YouTube version here.

My favorite part of the conversation was about how difficult it is to “see the world clearly.” We covered a bunch of interesting entrepreneurial topics.

The Code Breakers

I read and enjoyed Walter Isaacson’s new book The Code Breaker, about Jennifer Daudna, mRNA, and gene editing. Here’s Isaacson’s claim about the importance of this topic:

The invention of CRISPR and the plague of COVID will hasten our transition to the third great revolution of modern times. These revolutions arose from the discovery, beginning just over a century ago, of the three fundamental kernels of our existence: the atom, the bit, and the gene. The first half of the twentieth century, beginning with Albert Einstein’s 1905 papers on relativity and quantum theory, featured a revolution driven by physics. In the five decades following his miracle year, his theories led to atom bombs and nuclear power, transistors and spaceships, lasers and radar.

The second half of the twentieth century was an information-technology era, based on the idea that all information could be encoded by binary digits—known as bits—and all logical processes could be performed by circuits with on-off switches. In the 1950s, this led to the development of the microchip, the computer, and the internet. When these three innovations were combined, the digital revolution was born.

Now we have entered a third and even more momentous era, a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.

Since reading the book, I’ve been thinking about whether I should invest more time and energy to understand biology (and related life sciences trends) more thoroughly.

Isaacson does a fine job explaining the basics of mRNA in this book, but there’s at least another 30-40 hours of reading/studying that I could do would likely be both accessible to a novice and beneficial. And if this is truly a third and “even more momentous” era as the physics and computer revolutions, then it may well be worth it.

So many topics, so little time…

Planet of Cops

Freddie deBoer’s short essay Planet of Cops, from 2017, I hadn’t read until now, but it perfectly captures an element of our culture today. It’s also an example of a well written polemical style.

The irony of our vibrant and necessary police reform movement is that it’s happening simultaneously to everyone becoming a cop. I mean everyone — liberal, conservative, radical and reactionary. Blogger, activist, pundit, and writer, obviously, but also teacher, tailor, and candlestick maker. Cops, all of them. Cops everywhere. Everybody a cop.

And then:

The woke world is a world of snitches, informants, rats. Go to any space concerned with social justice and what will you find? Endless surveillance. Everybody is to be judged. Everyone is under suspicion. Everything you say is to be scoured, picked over, analyzed for any possible offense. Everyone’s a detective in the Division of Problematics, and they walk the beat 24/7. You search and search for someone Bad doing Bad Things, finding ways to indict writers and artists and ordinary people for something, anything. That movie that got popular? Give me a few hours and 800 words. I’ll get you your indictments. That’s what liberalism is, now — the search for baddies doing bad things, like little offense archaeologists, digging deeper and deeper to find out who’s Good and who’s Bad. I wonder why people run away from establishment progressivism in droves.

And the end:

See, the panopticon says we all get watched all the time, but there’s still a division between the guards and the prisoners. There’s still people who do the watching separate from the watched. And that’s not real life. No, in real life we’re all guards and prisoners at the same time. We are all informants on each other. Contemporary political culture is an autoimmune disorder. Do you enjoy living like this? Are you not exhausted? Don’t you want to break out? Or are you happy here, content to judge and judge and judge and never stop judging? Then congrats. Welcome to the nation of finks, planet of cops. Enjoy. Enjoy.

Enjoy. Enjoy.

Two Podcast Interviews: Michael Balaoing (Public Speaking Coach) and Elliot Shmukler (Legendary PM)

I recently interviewed two interesting people on the Village Global podcast (you can find it in any podcast player).

Michael Balaoing, founder of Candlelion, is an A+ public speaking and oral communications coach who’s helped me a great deal. Few people have been as instrumental to my ability to deliver speeches or presentations at a high level. In the conversation we discuss:

– The importance of the acronym WTF (what’s the feeling?) when you’re giving a presentation.
– The four roles that you take on as a speaker: captain, pilot, guide, and game show host.
– The five questions to ask when seeking feedback on a presentation.
– How to keep the audience engaged throughout a talk, not just during the Q&A at the end.
– How to bake stories into your presentations and remix your talks for different audiences.
– The keys to virtual communication in the COVID era.

I also led a conversation with Elliot Shmukler, a legendary product management exec in Silicon Valley who’s helped build LinkedIn, Instacart, and Wealthfront. When I was working at LinkedIn, I recall noticing that Elliot was frequently the smartest person in the room (or so it seemed to me). We’re thrilled to be investors in his new company, Anomalo, and in the conversation we discuss:

– How growth marketing has evolved over the last decade or so since he was an early pioneer of the field at LinkedIn in 2008.
– What people misunderstand about A/B testing, and the right way to go about it.
– Why he doesn’t like the term “growth hacking.”
– Why people should both be more humble and more ambitious with their growth marketing program.
– Lessons from his time at LinkedIn, eBay, Wealthfront, and Instacart.
– Finding a co-founder before finding the idea that became Anomalo.
– The perils of bad data and how Anomalo is helping to fix that problem.