Archive

Alpha Summit: On-Demand Economy Discussion

Earlier this week, I drove down with my friend James to Monterrey for this year’s Alpha Summit, which is basically a long afternoon of big group discussions with super smart founders and investors around a range of topics, followed by dinner and a party. It’s great fun and […]

Briefly Taking Stock Of The Uber Shakeup

I think about Uber a lot, before this week, to the point where I committed to write a book about the company (back in October) and its effect on the world. As a disclaimer, I’m a fan of the company. I do not own shares in the company […]

Consumer Concepts And The Enterprise As The End Customer

Earlier this week, I helped lead a discussion re: on-demand services with an old friend (Kevin from Shyp) and a new friend (Sara from Postmates) — Basti double-booked himself! Our chat was part of Emergence Capital’s annual fall “Mobile Enterprise” event (see below for the Twitter timeline from […]

The Color Of [Easy] Money

Earlier this week, Mark Suster wrote an eye-opening post about a recent experience he had with an investment his firm made which related to the behavior of an individual angel investor in that round. Please read it here. The immediate reaction by most was the shock around how […]

The Slack Effect

Now that the frenzy has passed a bit, I wanted to share a few brief thoughts on Slack, their latest investment round, and all the chatter it all created. Whenever a company breaks out under our noses and simultaneously hit that billion-dollar mark, the peanut gallery (myself included) […]

On-Demand As Tablestakes For Mainstream Consumer Experiences

The mobile-fueled “on-demand economy” has gone through a few phases. It started with magic, like — “hey, I can order an app from my phone!” Then, as distribution choked on mobile, entrepreneurs starting building “Uber for X” ideas like Postmates and other great apps — then people said, […]

Stealth Mode Is En Vogue Again

A startup idiom can go something like “stealth mode is overrated” or “counterproductive” or just plain “dumb.” Lately, however, there are more and more companies I’m seeing which remain stealth, don’t announce funding, or their investors, or much of anything. Here, the conventional reason given is: “Press and […]

Nursing My Stocktoberfest Hangover

Earlier this week, I ventured down to San Diego to hang out at Stocktoberfest 2014. As soon as I touched down, I asked myself: “What took me so long to go down here for this?” It was fun right from the beginning, and Howard puts on a great […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Auxy

About a year ago, a close friend of mine told me to get back in touch with @lg, and I did immediately — and that was a good choice. I had known Larry before and wanted to invest in Envoy on the spot. (You can read the Envoy […]

The Breakout Tech Company Of 2014

For the past two years, I ended the year with an attempt to name “The Breakout Tech Company” of that year. In 2012, I picked Stripe [see post here]. In 2013, I picked Snapchat [see post here]. Had I done this in 2011, I would’ve picked Uber. Each […]

The Thin Edge Of Food Delivery

On any given weekday, I can order Sprig or SpoonRocket for lunch while I’m in San Francisco for the day, just with the tap of an app. When I go home back to the Valley, I can have any one of the following services deliver food and dinner […]

Early-Stage Math And Upstream Expectations

For early-stage startups with the luxury to have this problem, a common topic that comes up in conversation lately is: “Well, how much should we raise?” I have a hard time answering that question with a specific number because everything is so case dependent and I don’t usually […]

Notes From On-Demand Services Panel @ Rutberg

Earlier this week down in Los Angeles, I led a panel discussion as part of the Rutberg Wireless conference (agenda here). This was a fun breakout because I’m good friends with everyone on the panel and have been investing in and writing the space. On the panel we […]

Not All Customers Are Created Equal

The type of language we use is important, and especially so when a founder and investor are discussing a business. Lately, I’ve come across the word “customer” quite often in conversation. It’s a sign of the times today that even early-stage seed level companies are courting and retaining […]

Hey, I’m Writing A Book About Uber

I have some personal news to share. I am going to write a book. Yes, a book that you can physically hold in your hands, or download to your Kindle. Though many people who know me came to know me through my writing on blogs, I don’t consider […]

Classifying Marketplaces Startups Via SVB Mashup In NYC

Earlier this week in NYC, I was invited to participate on the investor panel at the SVB Marketplaces Mashup. In short, it was an outstanding event. At the bottom of this post, I’ve embedded a hashtag search from the event, and if you touch on marketplaces in your […]

The Three Push Notification Taxes

Push notifications are awesome, right? I think so, and have for a while. Yet, recently, they’ve been on my end ever since iOS 8 reveals which apps take up battery power. And, then, a funny thing happened — my love for push notifications was called into question. As […]

Brief Reactions To AVC Review Of iOS

Earlier this week, Fred wrote an interesting post on his reactions to a new iPhone, with the caveat that he’s been on Android for years and not a fan of Apple’s closed system. Here’s a link to the original post, and I’ve copied it below in italics and […]

Notes From 2014 Venture Alpha West (VCJ)

Earlier this week, my friend Alastair Goldfisher from the Venture Capital Journal invited me to participate on a panel as part of Venture Alpha West 2014 in Half Moon Bay. I didn’t know what to expect, but randomly, I bumped into a bunch of old friends, saw Renee […]

The Post Seed Conference (Dec 2 in SF)

After my last mobile gig ended, I also took some time to reevaluate what firms I was working with. While I’ve had a bumpy ride into the world of venture, I have also been super lucky to work with friends at great firms. As Labor Day rolled around, […]

“A Round By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet”

** Update: I rec’d a lot of email/DMs on this one. My takeaway from this is there’s a mismatch of expectations when founders meet VCs. The founders may perceive they’ve raised Seed and are “going for A,” while VCs may perceive that same company to have already raised […]

Reflecting On Cendana’s LP/GP Summit

A few weeks ago, I was invited to Cendana Capital’s & SVB’s annual “LP/GP Summit” at the Bloomberg offices in San Francisco. I asked the head of Cendana if I could briefly summarize my takeaways of the event (without ascribing any comments made on stage to anyone in […]

Hypnotic Effects Of Snapchat Stories

Snapchat is the subject of more tech chatter (again!) because of the popularity of “Stories” and this video describing all the facets of what makes the product for young people today. You must watch this video. I started thinking more about Snapchat today, and I showed my wife a few […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Navdy

The idea of a connected car can be intoxicating. As I have written about previously, time inside the car is a frontier for consumer attention, content, and experiences. It will transform, no doubt – but how we get there is less certain. Lately, the chatter is around having […]

Rare Earth Metal

The sports world, television, and the Internet will be even more abuzz today as Derek Jeter steps off the field at the new Yankee Stadium one last time. There will be plenty of articles, segments, and tweets lauding Jeter’s style, jeering at his sometimes subpar on field performance, […]

Mobile-to-Offline Startups @ Series A

Because of a range of factors focusing consumer attention on mobile-to-offline models, I was curious how some of the companies we recognize were funded according to their footprint at the time. Luckily, I happen to know a bunch of them personally, so I emailed them about their size […]

Big Phones, Big Real Estate, New Image Construction

The new version of iPhone (6 and 6+) boast bigger screen sizes, specifically now 4.7″ and 5.5″ across diagonally, which is quite a step up from the 4″ for the iPhone 5 series fleet. See here for a more detailed breakdown of all the iPhone screen sizes in […]

Bubble Thoughts

I have been tweeting about some unease I have about the local economy, not out of any great wisdom or experience, but just noticing some random signals. Since then, of course, a conversation has exploded around bubbles, burn rates, and every investor transforming into an armchair economist on […]

Comment Re: On-Demand Economy Workforce

A few days ago, my friend @KevinRoose (a reporter for New York Magazine) emailed me for some comments and quotes for an article he published today investigating the use of contract workers by on-demand startups. If you are in this space, it’s worth reading Kevin’s article. He is […]

George Zachary On Silicon Valley Bubbles (Recorded June 2012)

Back in 2012, right before the Facebook IPO, CRV’s George Zachary sat down with me to discuss the history of bubbles in economic history, including Silicon Valley. Zachary has been through a few tech cycles and he’s studied the history of bubbles, so this is an interesting time […]

Events I’ll Be Attending In October

Part of my “time-off” this fall is to travel and explore a bit. I’m still working a bunch but trying to take a few days here and there to catch up, unwind, and help with stuff around the apartment. In October, I’m lucky to be traveling to a […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Envoy

I wrote the first version of this months ago, but Larry (@lg) said to “put it on ice, baby.” Then, of course, Larry emailed me TODAY, while I’m traveling, to post it. So I cleaned it up a bit, and filing this one from the Denver airport. All […]

Uber And Entrepreneurial Psychology

I’m working tonight on something where I had to catch up on a video clip. I watched Arrington’s interview of Uber’s CEO which kicked off last week’s TechCrunch conference. I didn’t attend that day so missed the talk and posts around it.  The entire discussion is excellent and […]

Unpacking Microsoft’s Acquisition Of Minecraft (Mojang)

Rumors are that on Monday, Microsoft will announce the $2.5Bn acquisition of Mojang, the maker of Minecraft. This is a big, big deal and was sort of overshadowed by all the Apple news and tech media events last week. Let’s quickly unpack why this move is in and […]

If Android Is A Freight Train, iOS Is High-Speed Rail

On the eve of Tuesday’s Apple announcement, I wanted to dial the clock back a few years and make a simple yet powerful statement about the state of mobile platforms today. Over three years ago, one of the world’s most eloquent investors penned what is, in my opinion, the […]

An Open Letter To Twitter HQ

Dear Twitter Management: I have some good news for you, and some bad news. Let’s start with the bad news first: Twitter, no matter what you do to it, will no longer ever be a hyper-growth product. That time has passed. Yes, I know public investors expect this of you, […]

Listener Effects Of Streaming vs Broadcast Media

Streaming media is the future, right? Broadcast is dead, right? Well, streaming dominates many forms today, and I don’t see that trend stopping. Streaming has many benefits. We don’t have to download media to a client. We can just search, select, and ingest. For audio, the data rates […]

New Mobile Commerce Leverage

I’m thinking about “new mobile commerce” all the time lately. If you are building something in this space, or have used products you love, please do reach out to me. While thinking about mobile commerce isn’t anything new or novel for most people, it is for me, and […]

From Seed To Market, A Peek Into Fall 2014

There is a certain excitement, a certain uptick in pace, in the Fall around these parts. This year, I feel like I’ve seen enough interesting early-stage founders and companies (so much of it falls into patterns) that I sort of have a picture of what we may be […]

Sunday Conversation #11: Keith Rabois, Khosla Ventures (Round 4)

Welcome to the 11th Sunday Conversation — on a Monday. While I want to name these videos “Sunday Conversation,” I came up against an opponent — the NFL ;-) Anyway, since I do these only once in a while now, I’ll likely just post them at different times. […]

Consumer Attention, Friction, and Investing

Here’s a brief thought that’s come up in conversation quite a bit this week, about where consumer attention is: In venture capital, the one of the biggest categories is consumer, because consumer-facing products and services at scale present the greatest possible market. This is, in part, what drives valuations for […]

Fall 2014 Fundraising Field Notes

Each August, as the Fall approaches, I try to quickly jot down my “field notes” and tips for folks who enter the marathon fundraising season from Labor Day to Thanksgiving. This Fall is a bit different. More companies, even more money, and new capital sources like the crowd […]

Getting Fireballed, And Some Clarifications

Yesterday, a funny thing happened — I wrote a post earlier about mobile startups and the timing of their decision to build on Android, and it took off — and into the hands of John Gruber, famed Apple blogger and creator of Daring Fireball. Boy, can Daring Fireball […]

Hard vs Soft Power In Technology Nation-States

Earlier this week, Bloomberg BETA’s Roy Bahat wrote a post about his views on using the “language of war” in startups. It’s worth a quick read. I wrote back to him and said while it can be crass to use belligerent language, there are probably nationalistic reasons (thinking of […]

Unpacking The Amazon-Twitch Acquisition

A few brief nuggets of interest re: today’s outlier outcome, which is Amazon’s nearly $1bn all cash acquisition of Twitch: Seven Years Post-YC: Justin.tv (the original) company went through Y Combinator in 2007 and then made a hard pivot. You know, a 7-year over night success. (This is also the largest […]

iOS First. Android Much, Much Later

I have been involved in many situations in all sorts of capacities in and around companies with mobile products where the topic of “When should we go Android?” comes up. My own thinking has evolved on this, and will likely continue to as the world changes. But, for […]

The Inefficient Frontier

I was in a meeting the other week where someone started talking about “The Efficient Frontier.” I had heard of the phrase, but wasn’t able to immediately recall the exact definition, though it was made clearer as this person charted out the different portfolio mixes the following groups […]

The Bitcoin Crunch

Remember “The Series A Crunch”? Well, I think an offshoot of this will manifest itself across what feels like almost 500 Bitcoin related companies. I, myself – I am a Bitcoin believer and Bitcoin junkie. Yet, despite that optimism, I am continuously floored by just how many Bitcoin […]

Mobile Apps And Call Avoidance

“No phone, no phone…I just want to be alone today.” –Cake, “No Phone” Years ago, I was talking with Davy Kastens, CEO of Sparkcentral, about his product. His company builds products for large consumer-facing businesses to handle, triage, and address consumer complaints about products and service. In our […]

The Summer Of Uber: Aggressive Expansion

“Now, our operation is small, but…there’s a lot of potential for….aggressive expansion.” -The Joker, The Dark Knight [video clip] Every once in a while, a truly world-class technology company emerges. There’s the scale of Apple, building integrated devices and changing the game each time; there’s Amazon, selling books […]

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