Zombies eating kitties

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On Tuesday we announced our investment in Cryptokitties, and, as you might expect, received a combination of enthusiasm and skepticism in response.  Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies already sound ridiculous to most people, and virtual “real” kittens made out of cryptocurrency take it a step further.

But, as with many new technologies, these first use cases just scratch the surface of a broader potential.  There are lots of things to be excited about here, but for now I’ll just focus on one of them: interoperability.

Cryptokitties are a specific type of cryptoasset, known as a “non-fungible token” (in this case, based on the ERC-721 standard).  Non-fungible means that each one is unique.  So, when a kitty is “born”, it is a one-of-a-kind digital asset, as opposed to other types of currencies or tokens that are completely interchangeable.  So, they are different than other tokens in that way, but are similar in that each NFT is “scarce” or “real” in that is secured by the blockchain – in this case the Ethereum blockchain.  So, what we have are unique, scarce, public digital assets.

The public part is particularly interesting.  Because each kitty is a token on Ethereum, that means that anyone else (aside from the original developers of Cryptokitties) can view that asset and integrate it into other systems, without anyone’s permission.

For example, on Kittyhats — developed independently from CryptoKitties — you can buy a hat for your kitty.  Here’s the one I bought:

(There are now 899 flat brim hats still available if anyone is interested)

What’s particularly interesting is that I don’t own the hat, my kitty does — from the KittyHats whitepaper:

When you sell a kitty, the sticker remains applied to the kitty. The new owner can choose to remove the sticker or leave it attached.”

Or, put another way:

So neat!  So what we have the beginnings of is a world where digital assets that are created in one place can be freely integrated into other places.

If hats are too tame, you can also race your kitty at KittyRace: (updated, via @sidkal)

Or, when you’ve had enough of your kitty, you can head over to CryptoZombies (hat tip to Aaron), which teaches Ethereum programming via online game development.  As you create a zombie, it can start to do things.  One of the things it can do is eat CryptoKitties:

The (original) internet brought us a world where any site could link to any other site, and they could all be accessed from anywhere in the world.  This was the first interoperability revolution.  The next one will be with data and digital assets.  For a long time, data has been the property of platforms — with cryptonetworks and cryptoassets, data can live outside of anyone platform, under the control of users.  This has the potential to open up a lot of innovation.

A bigger container

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An idea I like from Zen Buddhism is becoming a Bigger Container.  My understanding of the idea is this: There are a lot of difficult/bad/sad/scary things going on in the world, ranging from serious global issues, war, famine, terrorism, etc; to things in your city like homelessness or joblessnes; to things in your family, like… Read more »

Cryptonetworks and why tokens are fundamental

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“Cryptonetworks” can help us build a more competitive, innovative, secure and decentralized Internet.  “Tokens” (also known as cryptocurrencies or cryptoassets) are integral to the operation of cryptonetworks.  As we design new laws and regulations in this emerging space, we should keep these concepts in mind, beyond the financial aspects that are today’s primary focus. In… Read more »

Teaching kids to invest

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I’ve written a bunch about why it’s expensive to be poor, why we need better tools for managing money, and how to move from a labor mindset to a capital mindset.  A big takeaway for me is that accumulating wealth isn’t just a functional activity, it’s a mindset that needs to be learned, and taught…. Read more »

How to make big problems small and small problems big

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Avoidance is to be avoided. — Nick Grossman (@nickgrossman) February 22, 2018 I’m on a plane right now.  I always find plane/train rides to be some of the best times to focus and get work done.  On this trip, I managed to get two “monkeys” off my back — little tasks that have been lingering… Read more »

You need a budget

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I’ve written for a long time about my desire to re-build personal finance infrastructure in ways that benefit people with the least money.  We see new personal financial products all the time targeting high value customers, but it still feels like they are ignoring a huge, and important part of the market: people scraping by… Read more »

The weakest link

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We have spent a fair bit of time over the past year working on security at USV and across the USV portfolio.  Anyone who has spent time working on personal or corporate security — and in particular information security, knows that there are a million ways in, and you’re never “finished”. Fred wrote a bit… Read more »

From a labor mindset to a capital mindset

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I’ve been quiet on the blog lately — writing is one of those things that’s hard to build a habit for, but always pays big dividends when you do it.  Every time I’ve gotten into a good blogging rhythm I am undoubtedly surprised by the feedback I get (good and bad!), but more importantly, by… Read more »


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The week before last, we lost a dear friend to cancer.  Deb was an incredibly sweet, caring and giving person.  The memorial service last weekend was held at the elementary school where she taught first grade for the past 15 years.  The room was decorated — to the hilt — with hearts, butterflies, and ribbons,… Read more »

Changing seasons

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Today is the last day of September, and I’m happy and relieved to see it go. I’ve been holding my breath. September is a violent month.  That may seem like a ridiculous thing to say, but I think there’s some truth in it.  Something about the end of the summer and the abrupt change to… Read more »

Labor Day: Project Repat

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Yesterday, in the process of cleaning out my closet and donating a bunch of old clothes, I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: got going creating a t-shirt quilt for my old “sentimental” t-shirts.  I’m a bit of a t-shirt hoarder, especially when it comes to shirts that memorialize some special… Read more »

Optimizing for energy

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In the world of startups and investing and ideas, things are always chaotic and fluid, and as such a key skill is to somehow cut through the noise and find focus.  That’s on a micro level, like what do I do for the next five minutes, and on the macro level, like am I (or… Read more »

On the blockchain: platform first or app first?

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I was emailing with a friend recently, who asked: “On the web, in order to build a platform you first need a hit app. Do you think this dynamic is different in blockchain?” It’s a great question, and one I have been thinking about a lot lately.  First, let’s unpack the idea that the way… Read more »

Who should police content on the Internet?

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The beauty, and the danger, of the internet is that it’s open to everyone.  Anyone can put up a website, about pretty much anything.  This “open platform” is an amazing thing, and means that innovation can come from all corners, without barriers or gatekeepers.  It also introduces new challenges for how to deal with the… Read more »

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 /… Read more »

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 »