Learning by doing

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I had lunch yesterday with someone who has been investing in the crypto / token space recently — having pooled together a small “fund” from friends and family.  It’s a short-term vehicle (like, 6 months), and a large part of the goal is simply to become hands-on familiar / capable investing in token sales / ICOs, and dealing with issues like custody and security.  At least for the moment, there are so many odd aspects of working in this space (handling private keys, exchanging tokens on various exchanges, downloading wallet software, etc.) that actually a large part of the value that a fund manager offers is handling all of that stuff.  Over time, this will change, as infrastructure and new financial vehicles (e.g., ETFs) come to market. But for now, it’s actually really complicated and hard to do this stuff, and there’s no better way to learn it than by doing it.

More generally, I just love the idea of learning-by-doing.  It’s the best way.

Right after college, when I thought I wanted to be an architect, the first thing I did was get a job with a construction company, building homes.  I spent the better part of a year shoveling gravel, jack-hammering old driveways, and sealing foundations, but I also got to do some more interesting / complicated building work over time.  My reasoning at the time was that I didn’t want to be that jackass, know-it-all architect (believe me, that’s often how they are perceived by builders) who didn’t know how things really worked at the ground level.

Same thing when I got into programming.  There are two really beautiful things about learning to code: 1) you can learn everything you need to learn at basically zero cost online, and 2) you’re making as you’re learning.   I think that’s great as a learning mechanism, and it’s also really great in terms of motivation.  Nothing like wanting to finish making something as motivation for learning how to do it!

Learning-by-doing is harder to do when it comes to investing.  Because, of course, in order to invest, first and foremost you need capital.  But it doesn’t need to be a lot, especially in the cryptocurrency space.  So it’s possible to learn to be an early stage tech investor by actually doing it.  I think that’s pretty exciting.

(as always, buyer beware!)

Keeping it simple

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We recently had our daughter’s birthday party, and we held it in a public park near our house, where there’s an old parks department building.  The sun plan was outdoors, but of course it thunderstormed and we didn’t have a back-up plan.  So we called an audible and asked if we could use the back… Read more »

What’s your medium?

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Yesterday, I caught up with my old friend Gary Chou.  Gary was the first General Manager of the USV Portfolio Network (predating Brittany and Bethany), and has since been running Orbital, a community space and “studio for building networks” (which happens to be in the original Kickstarter building on the Lower East Side).  We got… Read more »

Speaking page

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I’ve been doing more public speaking recently, and finally assembled videos into a single place: https://www.nickgrossman.is/speaking/ As I look at that list, I realize that I’ve been doing a ton of speaking in Europe. Of course I know this, because I was there, but didn’t quite realize the pattern that the majority of my recently… Read more »

Getting Help

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I’m on vacation this week, and we have some old friends and their family staying with us.  Last night we got to talking about therapy (like psychotherapy) and how valuable it has been for me over the past few years. Maybe four years ago I started seeing a therapist on a bi-weekly basis.  There were… Read more »

The joy of fixing things up

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I am on a plane right now, watching home renovation shows on HGTV, thinking about how much fun it is to fix things up. Doing projects around the house (last year I built an exterior staircase and made new kitchen countertops, the year before that I built a mudroom), coding and buding apps, and working… Read more »

Getting in over your head

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I was out last night with some of the little league coach dads, and we got to talking about whether it’s better for our kids to be bumped up a level (but be at the lower end of skills/experience) or stay back a level and have a chance to really excel.  The consensus was that… Read more »

For web platforms considering a token strategy: cryptocurrency vs. dollars?

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A lot of founders / teams have been asking if they should be adopting a cryptocurrency strategy.  This is understandable given the frenzy of fundraising recently and the ongoing dialogue about the potential for cryptocurrencies as an alternative business model for web platforms. As “traditional” web & mobile platforms explore this option, there are a… Read more »

A little better every day

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I just got done coaching my son’s baseball practice. It has been amazing to watch this group of 7 and 8 year olds improve over the course of the season – learning the fundamentals and now starting to make some pretty great plays. I had a great baseball coach as a kid.  I’ll never forget the… Read more »

Entering the world of smart contracts

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One thing that’s interesting about yesterday’s Basic Attention Token sale is how quickly it went – $36M transacted in 30 sec. Lots of people were surely disappointed as they attempted to buy into the token sale only to have their orders canceled for missing the sale window. I haven’t nailed this down for certain, but I suspect… Read more »

Mechanics of the token sale

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In case you missed it, today Brave raised $36M for the Basic Attention Token.  They had allocated 30 days for the token sale, but sold out of 1B BAT in 24 seconds. The Basic Attention Token (BAT) ICO just raised 30 million dollars in 24 seconds. VC’s didn’t even have time to put on a sweater… Read more »

Open source leadership vs. corporate leadership

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As cryptocurrencies and blockchains have continued to gain steam (and attract capital), a common question in the air is, what type of leader does it take to be successful in this space? A common variant on that question is: “will [leader] need a grownup in the room once they get ahold of all that money from… Read more »

Regulating source code

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As more areas of our economy become computerized and move online, more and more of what regulators need to understand will be in the source code. For example, take the VW emissions scandal: These days, cars are an order of magnitude more complex, making it easier for manufacturers to hide cheats among the 100 million… Read more »

Cryptocurrenices: the native business model of attention

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There has been lots of attention this week on cryptocurrencies and blockchains, what with Consensus conf and the Token Summit and lots of related announcements. And with like lots of new things (thinking back to Twitter circa 2010) I find myself spending a lot of time explaining to people what blockchains and cryptocurrencies are, and… Read more »

The Service Recovery Paradox

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I’m writing this from a plane.  I’ve been in the air for an hour and everything is fine, but for a few minutes before the flight, things weren’t fine.  At roughly the time we were supposed to board (on an already late in the evening flight), the gate attendant came over the mic to announce… Read more »

Complicity

I had an interesting experience today.  As I was in the air on my way to San Francisco, I got a text from my Airbnb host saying that they had made a mistake and accidentally double-booked my room.  I ended up taking their offer to cancel and booked a hotel room (at a steep increase… Read more »

Flexing the platform for good

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been touching base with many companies and individuals in the tech sector to understand how they are reacting to the current political environment. Every company and community (of users, customers) is different, with its own sensitivities, priorities, and goals.  So it’s been really interesting to understand the very wide… Read more »

Cycles

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It’s clear that right now we are in a moment of upheaval and turbulence, that seems to have come upon us very quickly.  Pretty much everyone I know has been wrestling to unpack this for the past several months. I’ve been trying my best to understand the worldview of Steve Bannon, who is clearly an… Read more »