Five Memorable URLs from COVID Season One (aka the last 12 months)

March 11th was “COVID Day One” for many folks, or at least when it crossed from “will this be a big deal?” to “this is a big deal” for America. While much of Silicon Valley was already curtailing travel and starting to work from home, zeitgeist watchers note a perfect storm of the NBA suspending their season, Tom Hanks being diagnosed as positive, WHO declaring a global pandemic and He Which Shall Not Be Named implementing a travel ban (actually a good idea) as the starting point for “this isn’t just the flu.”

Reading Maya Kosoff’s ‘Lost Year’ essay as…


You will never be able to take the brand risks, the legal risks, or the partnerships risks that a true startup can

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Noam Bardin of Waze. Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

I’d exchanged DMs with Waze co-founder and CEO Noam Bardin a few weeks back to ask about learnings from his last few years inside Google. Waze is the $1 billion-plus acquisition that people, well, forgot about despite its size and growth. I mean, in all the “Big Tech” regulations discussions we regularly hear about Facebook/WhatsApp/Instagram and Google/YouTube, but Waze just kind of flies under the radar. Bardin replied that he was leaving Google at the end of January and would do some sharing after. Boy, understatement.

Today, Bardin published a personal essay titled “Why did I leave Google or, why…


Advisors can be so much more than social proof and tactical advice

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Photo by Cliff Johnson on Unsplash

“Can we put you as an advisor in our deck? You don’t even need to do anything and we’ll give you equity. It would be a big help for our fundraise.” This was the proposition offered to me surprisingly frequently during my pre-Homebrew days. You see, the demand for “startup advisors” were going through a little bit of a boomlet.

AngelList had just started and their company profile page had a bunch of “Advisor” slots to populate that were displayed in the same visual design as investors and team members. This subtly started to create social proof pressure to fill…


Cognitive biases shape us beautifully and tragically

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Photo by Damian Zaleski on Unsplash

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 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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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]. …

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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