How To Help In Georgia Runoff

Who: you and Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock

What: Runoff for two seats in the U.S. Senate

When: January 5, 2021 is the final day of voting. Last day to register to vote is December 7, 2020. In person voting starts December 14th.

Where: State of Georgia

Why: Two seats are available for the U.S. Senate in the State of Georgia. Democrats are in a position to take control of the Senate

The Senate currently has 50 seats for the Republicans and 48 seats for the Democrats.

To recap the November 3, 2020 election. In Georgia, 5 million people voted out of 7.6 million people who were registered to vote, which was an amazing turnout (66%)!! The put into perspective, the entire state of Georgia has 11 million people and there are still people who haven’t registered to vote as of yet. The goal in the next few weeks is to get more people registered but more importantly, we need to have a great turnout like we had on Nov 3, if you are going to focus on organizations to contribute to, that is where we need the money.

The two candidates for the Democratic party are John Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock, see links below:

There are four organizations that are helping get people registered and/or helping get folks out to vote: Voter Participation Center, BlockPower, The New Georgia Project and Fair Fight, see descriptions and links below. I’m going to contribute to several of these organizations and have already contributed to both candidates. In terms of dollars, I’m going to be contributing more with BlockPower, as they are less well known than the others and there only focus is to increase voter turnout, which is critical for this race. I hope you can donate and/or volunteer for this candidates and/or organizations.

Jon Ossoff (Democrat)




Reverend Raphael Warnock (Democrat)




Voter Participation Center

The Voter Participation Center is a U.S.-based 5013 non-profit organization that seeks to increase voter registration among young people, people of color, and unmarried women, a group it calls “The Rising American Electorate




BlockPower is a nonprofit focused on increasing voter turnout among Black citizens who don’t vote regularly.

BlockPower pays people in majority-Black neighborhoods to be “Voting Ambassadors” and talk with their friends, family members, and neighbors about the importance of voting.



The New Georgia Project




Fair Fight

We promote fair elections in Georgia and around the country, encourage voter participation in elections, and educate voters about elections and their voting rights. Fair Fight brings awareness to the public on election reform, advocates for election reform at all levels, and engages in other voter education programs and communications



Reminder of the Nov 3 election, as of now, the state has flipped from red to blue!!


2020 has been the year of SPACs led by Venture Capitalists (VC) firms and individuals. Some people have compared SPACs to ICOs, in terms of hype and also potential outcome (ICOs flared up with a lot of drama and gov’t scrutiny). I believe SPACs can play an important avenue for specific companies, typically those that are more capital intensive and take a while to get to maturity. From a retail perspective, it provides an opportunity for investor to get access to technology companies that still have a lot of upside. I’m bullish on SPACs that are led by established technology focused VCs who have a track record of returning capital to their existing investors in established venture funds.

Here are the active SPACs in market today, including the amount of it:

VC firm led SPACs

Ribbit Capital $350M –

FirstMark Capital $360M –

Lux Capital $300M –

General Catalyst $500M –$500-millio

Social Capital – 5 SPACs for a total of $3.2B+ –

Altimeter $450M –

Dragoneer $600M –

Individual VCs (but not their firms) SPACs

Reid Hoffman (of Greylock) $600M –

Bradley Tusk (of Tusk Ventures) $300M –

I know of several other VC led SPACs coming online. More to come for sure.

Relative to all the SPACs that have been raised this year and previous years (see below), the number and total value of VC related SPACs is tiny percentage. Image is via

Insights from the SOHN Conference

I attended the virtual SOHN Conference, which was focused on the healthcare space, there were 200+ people in attendance. Having seen this tweet by Josh Wolfe at Lux, one of the event organizers, I was intrigued with the lineup below. Typically these virtual conferences don’t have a cost or very minimal cost but this was an exception as they were raising money for a an important cause: “All proceeds of the September 23rd gathering will support Rockefeller University’s Dr. Michel Nussenzweig, who is developing a novel therapy for COVID-19”

I was hoping to see the battle royal between Keith Rabois of Founders Fund and Zach Weinberg of Flatiron Health, those who are on twitter too much would get the context 🙂

The battle didn’t materialize as they did separate fireside conversations with Josh, but I did find the talks interesting and gleaned some tidbits from it.

Zach, Co-Founded Flatiron Health, which was a massive $2B+ exit and many of us in NYC tech scene are proud of, he is also an active early stage investor. Zach indicated will spend the next 10 years of his career in healthcare. On the investment front, he indicated 30%-40% of his angel investments are in healthcare but that he is sector agnostic, he just wants to fund the best Founders out there. Josh asked Zach about what trends he is seeing with Founders that he is backing, which he answered, that Founders are carrying the traits of having both technical and business skills now (called them athletes who stretch up and down), something that was less seen in the past. Zach did address the beef with Keith, made his point that randomization is critical in healthcare trials but not critical in the software business (A/B testing/optimization), so that is likely the driver of the disagreement between the two. His perspective is that covid cases will spike this fall/winter 😦 . Lastly, during the opening remarks of the fireside chat between the two of them, Josh acknowledged that he passed on the investment opportunity in Flatiron Health and that is was a big miss for him. Josh had a hard time getting comfortable with a team that has a background in advertising/media (Founding Invite Media) jumping over to healthcare, oops 🙂

Josh had a conversation with Keith Rabois, who has a deep background in operating companies, being a Founder and Investor. Keith helped form Opendoor, which just went through a SPAC, but there wasn’t time to elaborate on that event. One of the topics they discussed is distributed teams who are working from home due to Covid, both indicated that teams that are able to get together in close physical proximity will have an advantage over teams that fully distributed. Josh asked him about being wrong or missing things, Keith did indicate that he had an opportunity to invest at the Seed and Series A round in Airtable and that it was a huge miss for him. Keith also declared that he is the most active lead investor in venture over the past seven years.

Josh also spoke with Bob Nelson of ARCH Ventures Partners. Bob is one of the most successful VCs out there and recently had a massive $8B+ exit in his portfolio. Bob also believes the covid cases will spike this fall/winter but is confident that there will be effective therapeutics available by year end. He invests in really far out ideas but one area that he is currently focused on is the supply chain and manufacturing in the life science sector. I’m not too familiar with that sector but that is an area I would be interested in hearing more about from Bob, but there wasn’t enough time to dig into that during the chat.

There were more tidbits shared, but these are some of the points that stood out to me. It was great to hear from all of them as they have great insights on the market and hopefully a lot of money was raised for Rockefeller University’s Dr. Michel Nussenzweig, who is developing a novel therapy for COVID-19.

Defund Police / Abolish Police ?

After the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police, there have been protests all over the world. One of the themes coming out of these decentralized protests, is a call to action to defund the police and/or abolish the police.

For many, the words “abolish the police” is jarring as they might tie that to the demands of anarchists and it seems like a very extreme perspective, I can understand that.

For those who believe defunding the police and/or abolishing the police is an extreme view, this post is written to connect with you, please keep an open mind and continue to read. I will not give you the answers to these questions below , but I ask you to do the work and look up the answers, as I believe they are informative. My purpose isn’t to change your mind but to have your explore these questions with an open mind.

I used to believe that defunding the police or abolishing the police was an extreme view but I have slowly changed my mind. When I was younger, I was in favor the California “Three Strikes You Are Out” bill. I also voted for laws the provided more funding for the police and laws that provided funding for new prisons. It has taken years for me to get to my current perspective, it was through conversations, listening and visiting a prison, that enabled a change of view.

Here are some questions that are worth exploring, the answers are available via online research and provide insights on my position.

Who created the police?

When was the police created?

What is the purpose of the police?

What the is breakdown of the race of the people that are being arrested?

What are the offenses of the people who were arrested?

What is the breakdown of the races that are in jail?

What are the offenses of those that are in jail?

How many rape kits have not been tested by the police?

How much money is spent every year on the police?

What training do the police receive and are they trained to handle mental health causes, domestic disputes, those that are acting suicidal, deescalation tactics?

How many hours of training is needed to be a police officer? and how does that compare to other industries where people are licensed? (barbers, beauticians, architects, electricians, etc.)

Has crime gone down/up in this country? What is the trajectory?

Who monitors the police? Why do you think it is set up that way?

Have police been reprimanded for breaking any laws? If so, to what extent?

Please visit this Twitter thread as well. Thank you for reaching this far.

New June

Over several days in June 1-5 2020, several significant events occurred for our Democracy, I can’t recall a week in my lifetime where many positive events took place in a short amount of time. While we are taking some steps forward, there is a long way to go still.

It’s worth noting that the month of June is celebrated by many as this is when Juneteenth takes place , which commemorates the ending of slavery.

The events:

Steve King, who has long been considered to be one of the most racist politicians, has lost his seat in the state of Iowa, a key battleground state for the election of the US Presidency.

Ella Jones, was elected the Mayor of Ferguson Missouri. She is the first woman and first black person to be elected the mayor of that city. Ferguson is known as the location of the murder of Michael Brown, by the hand of police. Major protests ensued following the killing and Ms. Jones winning the seat is directly connected to those protests.

The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, announced the removal of iconic Richmond statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. As you are aware, the Confederate army lost the civil war , as they wanted to maintain the horrific status quo of enslaving black people in the United States of America.

The remaining three policemen who were complicit in the lynching of George Floyd were charged for their cowardly act.

Americans and people all over the world (Paris/Berlin/Amsterdam/etc), took to the streets and protested in unison, the killing of George Floyd and institutionalized behavior of police brutality.

James Mattis publicly spoke out against the President

The Mayor is Washington D.C. put up a Black Lives Matter sign and street name next to the White House

We have momentum, lets keep this going. Register. Vote. Protest. Donate. Volunteer.

Consider joining me in donating to these organizations:

Plaid, the non-obvious unicorn

If you follow the fintech/VC scene, there was a huge exit announced yesterday evening, Plaid was purchased for $5.3B by Visa.  There are some really interesting facts about Plaid that should be pointed out.

The Founders, Zach Perret and William Hockey, didn’t go to Stanford/Harvard/MIT/etc or worked at Facebook/Google/etc.  People love to do pattern recognition when picking Founders, but the Founders went to Duke/Emory and were consultants at Bain, great places but not what many VCs consider “top tier”.   If you talk to folks in the Bay Area, consultants is like a four letter word, eeck.

They only have 450 employees.  Much of the headcount was added over the past two years, see below.  You don’t need to have bloated company to create enterprise value, more isn’t better.


When the Founders started the company in 2013, fintech was NOT a hot sector, see funding history below.  The fintech startups that were considered “hot”, were mainly consumer facing, not those that were B2B and working with banks, which is what Plaid does.


It was great to see Spark Capital, the first firm to lead a round in the company, give recognition to their departed colleagues, Mo Koyfman and David Haber.  You don’t always see firms doing this.

Kudos to the early investors for making a contrarian bet and returning a lot of money to their LPs.  Per Pitchbook:

“The company raised $2.8 million of Seed funding led by Spark Capital on July 31, 2013, putting the company’s pre-money valuation at $10 million. Amit Avner, Benjamin Cirlin, David Tisch, Nat Turner, Spark Capital, Google Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Felicis Ventures, Homebrew Capital, Box Group and Zachary Weinberg also participated in the round.”

I don’t know the Founders, but folks say a lot of great things about them and while I take Glassdoor ranking with grain of salt, the employee feedback has been very positive, maybe you don’t have to be an @$$hole to be successful.

The success of Plaid is a boom for the fintech startup scene, which has been yearning for some exits, I expect to see more large exits in this space in 2020.

Side note, I had Plaid speak at a fintech conference I hosted in 2015 in NYC, the lineup was pretty killer IMHO

Fast Fashion, all in on SHEIN

I’m not the most knowledgeable person regarding fast fashion, it helps to be married , as I get to get a peak on some brands that are new to me but might be well known to some already.

H&M is really that only fast fashion brand that I’ve personally shopped at,  I’ve gotten a a bunch of items at their physical retail shops and have been pleased with the quality relative to the their price points.  They always have new products and I feel “cool” shopping there, makes me a little more hip..I think 🙂  As a side bar, the only clothing I buy online are Cole Haan shoes, Nike shoes and Bonobos.  I have yet to get into a fast fashion site…

On the women’s side, there seems to be a lot more happening, which makes sense, given most women are more into fashion than the typical male.  Fashion Nova is one that many folks know about, but I only became aware of them earlier in 2019, given my wife has gotten some pieces there and also helps the Cardi B is reppin them as well, she has her own collection there.   My Wife also bought some items for me, I wasn’t aware they have a men’s line but they do but the focus of the company seems to be on women.

The newest brand that I’ve come across is SHEIN (again, thanks to my Wife), which is known for women’s clothing but they have men’s & kids clothing as well.  I took a look at their mobile app and it well done and bought something on there to understand the flow of the app, user experience, notification and delivery.  I’ve also looked in the company a bit more, in terms of where they are based on who owns them.  They are based in China , although the CEO , Chris Xu, seems to be based in the UK.  Company was started in 2008 and did a Series A round in 2015, led by IDG Capital and Jafco, I think both investors are going to do really well on this company.    Thanks to data from Pitchbook, they have a “signals” area on company profiles, see below, I think that I’m on the right track here:


From a user experience, the mobile experience is well done, in terms of search and size filtering.  The order flow is great, love that they integrate with Apple Pay, which is my favorite and fastest method to purchase items.   Side note, the Nike SNKRS app was the first time I used Apple Pay to pay for something on an app, super slick.  One of my favorite items with the SHEIN app is the tracking of your purchases, it is integrated into the app.  Typically, when you want to track a shipment, it hyperlinks you to another site such at UPS, to see where the product is, that isn’t the case here, see screenshot of an example, very granular.



If you are developing a mobile shopping product , you should definitely check out SHEIN for ideas.

I’m long fast fashion, I’m long SHEIN, I’m long Apple Pay and long mobile shopping apps. (This is more figurative than literal, as I don’t own shares in any SHEIN)


Peloton Social $PTON

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m a big fan of Peloton and share screenshots after my rides and give a shout out to the instructors as well.


I’m also a big fan as they are NYC based and I’m a huge cheerleader for what is happening in the local tech community and their IPO in 2019 was a major milestone.  BTW, stock is trading really well right now and at a $8B+ market cap $PTON


The one area where Peloton could generate more value and customer lock-in is via social.

First, lets discuss customer lock-in.  Peloton is facing competition from legacy players, who also want to put a tablet on a stationary bike, I mean, how hard can that be?  “tablet on a bike” is how many Peloton doubters would describe the company and in some ways they are right.  However, they have a few things going for them that is creating a bit of customer lock-in.  They have done a good job on gamification, in term of badges, primarily on milestone rides, such as your 50th or 100th ride.  Many hard core Peloton fans, will actually fly to NYC, just to take their milestone ride in person at the Peloton studio and the instruction will give them a public shout out to the rider for the milestone ride.  This goes a long way for riders and provide some lock-in as you are going to lose your milestone badges if you hop to one of their competitors.  Another lock-in for now, is the specific instructors that have a big following, it is sticky for many riders as they are loyal to that instructor.  I say for lock-in for now in that instructors could jump to a Peloton competitor but we haven’t seen that as of yet, from I understand the high profile instructors have some financial incentives built in to stay a Peloton.   Anyhow, the milestone badges and instructors have created some lock-in.

The other area where lock-in could be created and might be the most sticky is social.  As of now social has been a major afterthought for Peloton, at least that is how I feel as customer, I don’t know their roadmap.   The social aspect is very basic, there is the ability to follow people and for others to follow you.  You can look people up their Peloton username but the interface is clunky and searching by name doesn’t provide good results.  The upside of following or having followers is that if you are taking a Peloton class, you can see who else is in the class with you but the odds of that happening is pretty slim as people I know live in different timezone and I’m almost never riding at the same time as someone I know.  Perhaps if I followed more people, the chances of serendipity would increase but again, adding people to follow isn’t that easy.  If I’m riding at the same time as someone I know, we can do a virtual high five, that really is the only interesting thing about the social component of Peloton as of now.

However, I believe Peloton can unlock several billion dollars of value and create higher customer lock-in by really focusing on some social components that are non-existent as of now.    Peloton users love talking about how they have a bike and also discuss specific instructors they like, it is a really a great conversation topic if you know someone that has one, there is a lot of passion around that.  The question is how you take the real world discussion and passion and put it online.  The opportunity is massive, no one has created a massive social network around working out, there are folks who have tried such as Fitocracy, Runkeeper and MapyMyFitness to name a few; they had some level of success but not at a massive scale.   I believe Peloton riders would want to get together IRL (in real life), so a geo based network is possible.  The riders could be single people, who want to find someone to date that is like minded, is into fitness and as mentioned earlier, Peloton is a real conversation starter.  As a Dad in the suburbs, I can see meeting other Dads who are into Peloton, same would go for Moms I believe.  Even if I don’t connect IRL with other Dads in the my local community, I do want to compete with them on rides, so a leaderboard for Dads in my town would be something that I would sign up for , I love competition and so do others.  I also want to be able to create a leaderboard around age, I’m 41 years old and want to see other people who are a similar age and see how hard they are working out, it’s a motivation #DadBod 🙂   There could be a benefit to Peloton for a geo based social network, as an example, if there is critical mass in a particular region/town of people are really engaged socially on Peloton, they could decide to put a studio in town, as their is a social element to sweating together with a friend IRL.

Now, I do want to acknowledge that adding social elements, is opening a can of worms around privacy (age, location, gender, etc) and could result in bad behavior by the company and its customers, see Facebook as an example.  Perhaps Peloton doesn’t want to open that can of worms, it could be a dilemma for them, I don’t know.

There is a massive financial opportunity for Peloton and benefit to their customers, if they do carefully unleash some interesting social features.  Long $PTON.

Startup Feeders

Which companies have the generated the greatest number of Founders as of today? 

If you want the tldr, scroll to the bottom, but would advise you read the post as it explains how the data was gathered and methodology around that.

The above question came to mind during the current debate as to why Amazon left NYC for their HQ2 and what the impact will be (that topic requires a whole separate blog post).  Many folks in the NYC tech community wanted Amazon to open an office here, partially as there would be a side benefit in that startups could be created by ex-Amazon employees (Amazon planned to hire 25K+ people in NYC, they have 8K+ currently based in NYC).   This perspective led to me to dig into some data to see if Amazon does generate startup Founders and if so, how many and what scale?

All the data came via Linkedin, through their advanced query.  In the query, I created a few filers:

Title: Co-Founder or Founder.  I wanted to know which individuals indicate that they are CURRENTLY Founders.  This doesn’t include people who were Founders at some point and are now doing something different.  It also doesn’t specifically filter for if they are a Founder of a tech startup or not.  While most of the people who are captured are likely tech Founders, some might be Founders of VC firms, consulting firms, non tech companies, etc.  I specifically didn’t want to search for the title “CEO”, as some CEOs are not the Founders of the companies they are currently leading.

Relationship: 1st Degree Connections and 2nd Degree Connections. Majority of my LinkedIn connections are VCs, Founders and tech operators.  I only captured people in my more immediate network.  If you are a startup Founder, the odds that my 1st and 2nd Degree connections having not connected with a tech Founder via LinkedIn is pretty low.

Geography:  San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Seattle Area and Greater New York City Area.  I only wanted to look at three geographies.  The only reason I included Seattle, is that I wanted to understand what impact Amazon has had in terms of generating Founders in Seattle, as a way to benchmark Amazon vs other large tech companies that are HQ’d in SF Area and NYC Area.

Company:  I only looked at PAST companies.  Obviously, it is hard to be a Founder of startup and work at another company.  I looked mainly at some of the large tech companies out there, I feel like it is pretty inclusive of most of the companies that have generated startup Founders.  I didn’t query the most recent past company (not sure if that is possible), meaning this data captured people who most recently worked at Facebook or worked at Facebook several jobs ago.

A few disclaimers:

  1.  I realize that the data doesn’t look at “successful” startups.  I understand why that is interesting but it is less relevant for what I wanted to accomplish.  I would add the word successful can be interpreted in various ways.  In addition, if you did look at successful Founders, it is a lagging indicator of which companies used to generate successful Founders and doesn’t necessarily mean they will create successful Founders going forward.  That being said, if you decide to pull this data, it would be an interesting blog post, so encourage you to do so.
  2. These large companies didn’t necessarily “generate” these Founders.  “Generate” was a word that best fit what I’m trying to accomplish, but please don’t get hung up on it.  These individuals simply worked for these companies in the past.  That being said, there could be some credit given to these companies for helping create Founders.
  3. To reiterate, some of these Founders are not necessarily working on tech related startups.

A few key observations (I have a bunch but wanted to limit it for the sake of brevity):

  1. regarding Amazon.  If you look at the Seattle column data, they grossly underperform Microsoft in terms of startups Founders, 812 vs 223.  I assumed the two would be pretty close.  On a more positive note, Amazon faired decently in NYC, which was surprising.  Between Seattle, SF and NYC, they only had 475 Founders in total, that seems really low relative to how large that company is and how long they have been around.
  2. Goldman Sachs!!!  Wow, I didn’t expect them to have that many Founders.  There were #1 in NYC and did well in SF too.
  3. IBM did surprisingly well in SF , NYC and Seattle.  Didn’t see that coming but they do have over 500K employees, so the odds they generate startup Founders is high.
  4. Seattle is really a two company town when it comes to Founder creation.  Microsoft and Amazon.  I didn’t expect anything different.  Over time there will likely be more balance as there are some interesting late stage startups that will generate Founders in the next decade.
  5.  SF has a strong concentration with 10 companies that really outperform in terms of startup generation.  In comparison, NYC seems to have a longer tail of companies that generate Founders, I think that is more healthy for a tech ecosystem.  This partially supports my argument that Amazon leaving NYC isn’t going to make a big impact in terms of future startup formation.
  6. Facebook??  I really expected a much higher number from them, that was quite the shock.  I can foresee people making the argument that Facebook Founders are better than other tech company Founders, maybe, don’t have that data but from an absolute number, that is really low.


Slack $7B valuation

As you may of heard, Slack is supposedly raising a $400M equity round at  a$7B valuation.

I wrote a blog post about Slack’s last announced valuation in 2016, when it was $3.8B.  The tldr was that if Slack was a public company, it would be trading a 42x revenue run rate.  In that blog post, I referenced the Bessemer Cloud Index, which provides perspective on what enterprise saas public companies are being traded at.  The median revenue rate for these companies is 8.5x, but those public companies are growing at a much slower pace, so it was expected that Slack would earn a large multiple.  That being said, I thought 42x was a bit rich.

In the article mentioned in the first sentence, the had a chart: Slack has indicated they have 3M+ paid users, see below.

slack-growth-2018-stacked (1)

Per Slack pricing page,  they charge between $6.67 and $15 per paying user per month.

So, based on 3M paying users, they are between $240M  ($6.67/user/month x 12 months x 3M paid users) in annualized revenue run rate and $540M revenue run rate.  If you split the difference, lets assume they are a $390M annualized revenue run rate.

If you take the valuation of $7B and divide it by $390M, they would be trading at 18x annualized revenue run rate.

I think 18x is a fair valuation given their grow rate, although Slack paid user growth is slowing, which is expected as the company gets larger.  The closest public saas comparison I would find is Shopify, which is trading at 17x annualized revenue run rate.