Archive

That Was Easy: Amazon Dash Button In An On-Demand World

The On-Demand Stack gets even more interesting every week. The latest installment, courtesy of Amazon, involves little WiFi-connected dongles with buttons for Amazon customers to summon — with the ease of a finger push — more of the item which corresponds with each dongle. Running low on toilet […]

The Story Behind My Investment In HourlyNerd

Toward the end of college, and again toward the end of graduate school, there was a predictable recruiting campaign from all sorts of consulting agencies looking to scoop up and hire labor. In exchange for brand, a high salary, and a bit of prestige, graduates would sign up […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Gyroscope

In the middle of 2014, one of my friends on Twitter (@Stammy) kept retweeting an account into my feed, usually with a screenshot. Turns out, it was his friend and roommate, and that friend and roommate had created software which just looked different than other products. I conducted […]

The Story Behind My Investment In VSporto

Back in 2014, Pascal, another early-stage SF investor who invests in companies at the intersection of local and mobile, introduced me to a kid from Mississippi who is now in the Bay Area starting his company. I searched my email and it turned out Jacob from Exitround (a portfolio […]

Meerkasting In A Brave New World

Meerkat has the makings of not only becoming a big, important platform, but you can already start to see how disruptive it may be given all the reactions it generates (“get off my lawn!”) and serious questions it raises about other media networks and platforms. Observing the way […]

The Rigidity Of Investment Slide Decks

It’s common practice among investors (and LPs) to “share decks.” In a world where all the action is in the private markets and where deal flow is never ending, scanning a deck shared and received via email is the quickest way to make a first impression and make […]

Five Years Into “SoLoMo”

In 2010, John Doerr coined the term “SoLoMo,” the combination of social , local, and mobile. Doerr, who correctly called and invested in technology’s two previous waves (personal computing and networking, and Internet 1.o like Amazon and Google), now believed SoLoMo was the next wave. And, now in […]

My Six Takeaways From Apple’s Watch Keynote

Yesterday, Apple unveiled Apple Watch. I followed along via Twitter, read some blogs, and also had a bit of an idea of what was going to be released. But then, late last night, when everyone had gone to bed, I watched the Watch portion of the keynote address by […]

Apple Watch, Voice Control, and On-Demand Services

When it comes to “The On-Demand Economy,” this blog has been a broken record. But, with today’s news about Apple Watch, one of the first thoughts that came to mind is — the new watch could actually increase the frequency of on-demand service orders made by customers — over […]

Women On Stage In Venture Capital

In this post, I will talk about the presence of women on stage at venture capital (VC) events or as part of digital media. In the past, I created and produced about 75 short TV interviews on TechCrunch TV from about 2012-13, and after that show was cancelled, […]

Dinner with Ben Thompson and GGV Capital

Last night, we hosted a small dinner @ Hakkasan to welcome Ben Thompson of Stratechery to town. In my work with GGV Capital, which for many years has been investing cross-border between Asia and the U.S., listening to Thompson speak over dinner was both expansive and current — […]

Market Resiliency and the Spector of Exogenous Shocks

There’a a lot of bubble talk again. I’m so confused now I don’t know what to make of it. Here’s what I do know: This is a big up market. There’s a lot of money in the angel and seed and crowdfunding markets. Depending on what stats you […]

The SaaSification Of Consumer

The phrase “consumerization of the enterprise” feels a bit tired, but certainly has merit as it applies to consumer design and strategies to infiltrate larger organizations. Lately, I’ve noticed something taking afoot with entrepreneurs, especially those who are building local, mobile service offerings — they’re offering their customers […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Getable

“Consumerization of the Enterprise” is one of those phrases that now feels old, in part because it was used so much without real examples. That was then, and this is now — we are now starting to see enterprises adopt design-oriented products like Slack and Zenefits, to name […]

Catching U.S. Enterprise & B2B Unicorns

Disclaimer: This list is not likely complete nor precise. Please read on: A few weeks ago, I looked at U.S. consumer unicorns and scraped public databases (imperfect sources) to find which institutional investors got into companies that would eventually turn out to be worth over $1 billion. Specifically, […]

Keepsakes, Nostalgia, and Apple

When I think back in time, to my youth, I have very strong memories of those days, but not many physical reminders or keepsakes from that era. In my parents’ house, I have some boxes stored here and there, and as I’ve moved around from NYC to SF […]

Investing Pre-YC

Being a new, inexperienced, and small investor, I really have to “take what the defense gives me.” Put another way, I am often forced to look in areas and stages where more professional investors wouldn’t go. Sometimes I ride along and go late, but lately, I’ve also been […]

Hacking Mobile Distribution and Deployment via SMS

As someone who worked on consumer mobile products for a good number of years (and who carries the scars of the endless search for mobile distribution), the chatter about new mobile services using text messaging as the interaction layer has been fascinating to watch. Kent Goldman from Upside […]

Which Funds Catch American Unicorns Early?

Like everyone else blabbering on about unicorns, I catch myself reading the posts, too — and many LPs I talk to often just want to know, “How many unicorns do you have?” I’m partially joking, but it’s directionally true. These are the companies which drive the outsized returns. […]

The On-Demand Stack

This is an unprecedented time in technology platforms and deployment. One of the biggest consumer trends (among others) to emerge from the SF Bay Area is the idea of “The On-Demand Economy.” Lately, the space has gotten so hot (and some may label it frothy, even), that the […]

Kicking Off The StrictlyVC Insider Series

Late last year, in one of my many chats w/ Connie (who created StrictlyVC), we came upon the topic of “Hey, how could StrictlyVC be something more than it is today?” Big question. We batted around a ton of ideas. I was willing to help on whatever made […]

LA Confidential

In late January, I headed down to LA to attend the Upfront Summit, which was organized by Upfront Ventures. I had a bit of time before and after the two-day event, so I filled it up with some meetings and talks. I haven’t been writing much over the […]

Transforming Dropbox, Airbnb, and Uber Into Global Juggernauts

Juggernaut: “a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution.” There are three private tech companies — Airbnb, Uber, and Dropbox — which are on a path to go public. In this environment, they also benefit by staying private longer, and that extra time can help each company fortify […]

Brief Field Notes From The Seed World

Below are some topics that have come up often lately in conversation with early-stage founders, so I wanted to write them down. Most of them are not related to each other, so I just smashed them into one post for brevity’s sake. I hope some of this resonates […]

Rolling Closes And A Twist On Exploding Offers

By now, we all know seed stage fundraising doesn’t happen in rounds — seed funding is a process — and it’s dragged out for many weeks, many months, and sometimes years. Founders and companies issue notes for debt which converts to equity when a round is priced by a bigger […]

Deal Sharing Dynamics Among Early Stage Investors

A friend on Twitter recently requested a blog post, and I thought it was a good idea. He wrote: “would love nuanced seed stage view on dealflow and the sharing dynamics amongst early stage firms/super angels.” Well, here you go, with the caveat I can only (1) explain […]

Apple, Marketing, and Black Culture

I watched a few videos of MLK yesterday before going to bed yesterday, on MLK day. They were queued up in my email and social feeds. This year on MLK Day, I noticed more people sharing videos and images of MLK, much more than in the past. Maybe […]

Running A Fundraising Process

A concept that’s come up often lately in conversation revolves around “running a process” in fundraising. Even though I’m a small number on the cap table for any company I work with, my #1 goal is to help the team evaluate existential risk, which usually comes down to […]

How I Use Twitter Lists

I’ve been talking a bit more recently in private conversations and a few tweets about Twitter lists, and I was surprised that people would ask me “How do you use them?:” or more interestingly, “What are they?: Ugh, Twitter UI regression. There’s a long history around “Lists” that […]

The Many Challenges Facing The MicroVC Model

Lately, I’ve been thinking there are some real threats to the microVC model (say, sub $50M funds). This isn’t to say some won’t do very well — and especially the recent news from Dan Primack in FORTUNE about the first Lowercase fund, which will soon be the stuff of […]

The Story Behind My Investment In eShares

For most of the second half of 2014, I tried to find early-stage companies doing interesting things with smart contracts. I was lucky to find one (still very early), and I’ll write about that more later in the year. Then, another thought occurred to me — this is […]

Post-Seed Conference Wrap-Up (and Videos)

About a month ago (thought it feels ages ago!), as part of my work as a venture partner with Bullpen Capital, we helped organize the inaugural “Post-Seed Conference” in San Francisco (Vator and Venture51 were co-sponsors). It was a blast, and despite the rainy weather and non-SOMA location, […]

Common FAQs

In conversations with friends in the community over the last 4-6 weeks, the same questions seem to come up, so I thought maybe I should just blog a quick “FAQ” in case many more people are also interested in the same topics — alert, this is all highly […]

Beginning New Conversations On Twitter

Over the last week, I’ve been posting about minorities in tech, startups, and investing. The core issue here is while most investment capital for startups resides in the Valley and SF and while most deals originate through referral networks, using curated lists on Twitter could (theoretically) help foster […]

Instacart On Bloomberg West TV

I made my live TV debut yesterday on Bloomberg TV. I’m hoping I’ll do more video moving forward. As someone who has done lots of video (but not live), I’m looking forward to it. I’d love any feedback you have. Clearly, I need a wardrobe refresh and dammit […]

An Important Twitter List

It’s been an interesting couple of days. On Friday, I posted about women and minorities in startups and investing, and yesterday, I followed-up with a more targeted post focused on underrepresented minorities (URM) in startups and investing. I’m trying to listen and focus on small things I can […]

Underrepresented Minorities In Startups And Investing

Yesterday, I wrote a post about “women, minorities, startups, and investing.” I expected it to drum up some discussion, and though it took some time, it did today. I’m using these blogs and conversations on Twitter as a chance to learn. It’s not easy. What I’m learning so […]

Thoughts On Women, Minorities, Startups, and Investing

I’m partly afraid to write this for fear of being misinterpreted, but it’s been on my mind and come up in conversation more lately, oftentimes uncomfortably. To share my point of view, I can only share what I’ve observed first-hand, and I realize the role investors play here […]

Addressing Some Personal Misconceptions

One of the few things I’ve learned with a bit of age is to identify friends/colleagues who don’t mind giving tough feedback. I ask them for feedback quite often, and at the end of the year, I share my goals for the next year with them and encourage […]

Table Of Contents For “The Uber Effect”

One of my goals before the year ends tonight (and surge pricing kicks in) was to (mostly) complete the Table Of Contents for my upcoming book on Uber, The Uber Effect. Well, here it is, see below. I’m sure it will change a bit, but this finally gives […]

Competitiveness With Class

This will initially appear like a random post, but (1) I went to college at the University of Michigan and (2) I used to be a fan of the athletics programs, but felt recently they were corrupted and mishandled over the past decade. While it will take a […]

Unpacking Four Seed Investments Via AngelList Syndicates

As you may guess, I am a huge AngelList fan. While I was excited about the platform opening last year (in 2013) and the creation of Syndicates, I knew I wanted to experiment with the platform and Syndicates specifically, but also I wasn’t sure how things would shake […]

Quick Lessons From @PMarca’s 2014 On Twitter

As someone who uses Twitter a lot (yep, over 70,000 tweets) over the years, it’s been fun to watch Marc Andreessen take Twitter by storm in 2014. In the last year, he’s turned up the volume to build his Twitter network and promote his firm’s investments, curate ideas and articles, […]

Mike Moritz In Foreign Affairs

Bilal shared a Q&A with Mike Moritz today in Foreign Affairs. I was a politics and international relations junkie growing up, but haven’t read Foreign Affairs in over a decade, so was surprised to see the link. You can read the piece here (registration required). When you’re Moritz, […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Chariot

When I first heard about Chariot on a niche city blog, I thought it was a joke. A founder launches a vanpool to commute Marina residents to and from Downtown and SOMA each day — that can’t be real, right? To actually verify, I sent a friend out […]

The 12th and Final Sunday Conversation

This is the 12th and Final Sunday Conversation — again, posted on a Monday. In about 18 months, we’ve done 12 of these video interviews. First, it was made possible because the video teams at Scaffold Labs and Sunol Group Media were kind enough to donate the cameras, […]

You Should Meet Hector Monsegur, Formerly @ Anonymous

My dad loves Charlie Rose, and he sent me this video of a recent episode which features Rosario Dawson (wow – she is incredible) and Hector Monsegur, a former hacker with Anonymous. If you work in tech as a founder or investor, I would really encourage you to […]

The Bottom Of The Org Chart

John shared this video of Steve Wozniak last night, describing it as “wonderful” 3x. Really? Well, yes it is. Rather than retweeting it or just sharing the link, I wanted to post it here and say a few words, to save the clip. The video is short, so […]

Seeking Your Help To Crowdsource

Hello. This is a request for help to all the readers of Haywire. Last week, I shared the Preface and Table of Contents (draft) to my book on Uber. The embeds didn’t work well on this WordPress theme, unfortunately, so I wanted to specifically write to you all […]

“The Uber Effect” – Preface And Table Of Contents

A few months ago, I announced that I’ll be writing a book on Uber. I didn’t realize that, shortly thereafter, the company would generate drama within insider circles and the mainstream media, but I guess it proves that Uber is a big, powerful, and interesting company — interesting […]

Haystack is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2018 Semil Shah.

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”— Epicurus