Cognitive Biases Shape Us Beautifully And Tragically

If you could only access a single URL on the web what would it be? Not something like Google or YouTube but actually a single static url — so youtube.com/[some specific video]. I was thinking about this earlier today and my initial framing was “what page is performs the most complex task that I couldn’t do myself,” imagining that optimizing for absolute computing power would be the right angle. …

Lessons on Allyship and Community

✅ IRL Friend. That’s the tweet I employ to signify that I’ve finally met up with someone previously only known to me online. Of course 2020 hasn’t had much of that interaction but I know that when we’re all hugging it out again, Danilo Campos is one of the peeps I’m looking forward to seeking out.

Danilo combines calling me out on my bullshit with a recognition that intent matters; we’re all learning; and the willingness to throw more than 280 characters towards our conversations. One such back and forth occurred on the day after the domestic terrorist attack on the US Capital. Much of the timeline was outraged and narrative was we all stand together. …

Startups Should Work To Make Their Employees Wealthy Not Just Their Founders And Investors

Earlier this week a modest deposit appeared in my checking account, one I honestly never expected. You see, it was for work I’d performed from 2001–2003 at a startup called Linden Lab, the company behind virtual world Second Life. And when that company was acquired in late 2020 by another private party, my stock purchased in 2004 turned into cash. The transaction size was small compared to the IPO and SPAC headlines from the past few months, but I had the benefit of being an early, single digit employee, and hence a stock value of around .04/share if I’m recalling correctly. …

Creator Wellness Will Be A Key Goal of New Products

Being a modern creator is, for many, exhausting. The falling economic costs of production and distribution have been replaced by a new set of taxes — physical, emotional, psychological — as your community expects new content, accessibility to their heroes and open book authenticity. Paired with the social media platform algorithms, which in themselves reward frequency and engagement, this combination saps joy and agency from the creative process and burns out the creators. Having to perform 24/7 comes with costs, and that’s only dealing with fans let alone the trolls.

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Photo by Gemma | That’s Her Business on Unsplash

What’s a creator to do? I’d suggest a better question is ‘what can these companies do help creators?’ and that we’re about to enter Phase 3.0 of Creator Wellness, one where the products build in their own affordances to assist their supply-side participants. …

And My Ask Of Investors In These Companies

It’s frustrating if you’re a customer of an expense report SaaS startup and the company goes out of business, but it’s potentially devastating if your tele-therapist or addiction counselor suddenly disappears because the platform that employed them ran out of money. This is my most significant concern about the wave of mental wellness startups being funded with venture dollars — what happens to the clients of the ones which fail?

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Photo by Matthew Waring on Unsplash

Traditional venture capital models lean into what’s called ‘power laws.’ Basically the idea that you are backing risky new ventures, many of which will stumble along the way, but one or two of the companies you back will be such outsized successes that the investment gains from those will more than offset the others. …

You’re Not Yet Google, So Don’t Blindly Mimic Their Processes

Google’s internal management approach has sustained and scaled pretty impressively over the years. Quantitative goal-setting, setting stretch targets — these principles are as evident in the 2020s as they were when I arrived in 2003. Underpinning it all are OKRs — Objectives and Key Results — the framework by which individuals, teams and the entire company is managed. Xoogler Don Dodge did a comprehensive job of documenting OKRs in an earlier blog post, but the basics were always this: Each quarter individuals and teams document their objectives for the next 90 days and grade the goals they set 90 days earlier. In Q4 teams also set metagoals for the next year. Now we have software startups who have basically built their business around OKR-style planning! …

Why Startup Ecosystems Need More Than Just VC Funding

Hi. I read your [Tweet, Medium Post, WSJ OpEd] about leaving the Bay Area for [Texas, Florida, Seasteading]. I totally understand. Even though I might be more progressive politically than you, I too am frustrated by San Francisco’s [tax policy, failure to pass housing bills, conflicted attitude towards tech companies]. …

And Four Ways For You To Reclaim Your Time

You want to see the real answer to what you value? Look at your calendar, because how you spend your time is the truest representation of what you care about. I’m going to caveat this entire post with the acknowledgement that almost no one has true ownership of all their time and that the vast majority of people are not in positions to exert agency over their work hours. Many professions ask that you are a schedule taker, not a schedule maker. Sometimes this is merely a result of their working arrangements or nature of their lives and commitments. Other times it’s the unkind practices of their employers, in particular the trend towards “flexible shifts,” where large retailers and hospitality companies treat their workers as widgets. …

Using a Weighted Scorecard Instead of Just “Did It Pop or Not?”

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Every big tech IPO results in predictable Twitter chatter. If the stock price pops on its first day some folks believe the bankers took advantage of the company because it didn’t optimize the amount of money it raised in the offering. If the stock prices doesn’t pop (or even trades down a bit), they get the ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ outcome of headlines that read “TechCompanyX IPO Meets Lackluster Demand.”

Since two of the largest consumer tech IPOs post-Uber are occurring this week (airbnb and DoorDash), maybe we can short-circuit the simple hot takes with a different approach? I’m going to suggest that any evaluation of an IPO should look more like a scorecard, where you evaluate the company based on the goals of an offering, weighted by their relative importance. …

You’ve heard the expression “All sizzle, no steak?” Or the Texan equivalent of “All hat, no cattle?” [sidenote: it’s weird that cows feature prominently in both of these]. Basically these sayings are referring to people who talk a big game but then can’t back it up with action. Sparkly but no quality behind it.

While it’s readily agreed among investors that these types of leaders eventually get seen for what they are over the long haul (although distressingly they usually get funded initially), what I wanted to discuss today is whether a founding team that’s the complete opposite (a TON of steak, very little sizzle) can also be problematic when it comes to building a successful company. This topic matters to me not just intellectually but because it’s a combination I find full of potential and often want to support. …

About

Hunter Walk

You’ll find me @homebrew , Seed Stage Venture Fund w @satyap . Previously made products at YouTube, Google & SecondLife. Married to @cbarlerin .

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