Lately

Hi. This morning I felt the desire to start typing again into my little blog.

Been thinking about some things to write down "publicly" lately. So this post is just going to be a random collection of a few things I’ve been reflecting on in no particular order.

1/ Leaving Tumblr for WordPress.

WordPress has been way more stable for me, and I love all the flexibility I have with WordPress. But the editor is so heavy and clunky to use. I really hope that WordPress delivers on a modern, lightweight editor. And I dearly miss being part of the Tumblr community.

2/ Echo chamber vs the mute button.

There is well understood move within our collective social media experience that many follow. We connect and follow folks that we instinctively agree with. As a result, we put ourselves into an echo chamber, and little diversity of thought pierce through. Well, last year, I started following many folks that represent the other end of the political spectrum in an attempt to leave my little echo chamber. I did it for a year. And last week, I either unfollowed or hit the mute button on nearly all of them. I just couldn’t take the "pandemic will be over in 90 days" predictions every month, or an obsession about crime in their city without dealing with the underlying causes, or a lack of outrage about the poor vs bad faith arguments about "socialism." I find Twitter much better following people I genuinely like.

3/ Life changes during a pandemic.

One thing I’ve noticed with my friends, family, and professional colleagues is how many folks are taking a deep look into their lives and making a change. My friend Jerry calls this radical self-inquiry which I’ll leave for a future post. I’ve seen folks leave their marriage. Others have left their firms — including ones they started. Others, taking a break. Others getting taking care of their bodies. Others signing up and committing to therapy. Founders steeping down from the CEO role. This pandemic has created space to deeply reflect on how we want to spend our time on this planet. I have also made some big decisions about how I want to work going forward, which will be very different than I anticipated just a year ago.

Ok, that’s all for now. Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

Hallway Chat, Season 8

Nabeel and I recorded our first podcast of 2021 this week. And this time we were joined by our new Spark colleague, Brian Watson.

In todays show we discuss Apple and service-based software releasing, the PS5 and why we play games, creating a middle class Creator Economy, blogging in 2021 and finding your voice on the internet, being a VC only in up times.

As always, thanks for listening and send us feedback on Twitter (@nabeel, @bijan, @bwats)

Some thoughts on employee stock options in startup land

The vast majority of tech startups grant employees with stock options. The hard truth these stock options are worthless if the company fails. But in many cases they are valuable and in some cases they are life changing. That is how it goes in startup land. Founders and employees are all taking a signficant risk to build or make something that may not work — but providing equity to all employees provides alignment in focus, goals and reward.

I’m now in my 16th year as a venture capitalist and before that I spent about 10 years working inside startups. One of the biggest changes I’ve witnessed is the amount of equity rank and file employees receive in these startups. As the market has become more competitive, executive stock options grants have held relatively steady but founder grants have only gone in one direction — up.

The end result: the individual contributor is getting equity.

Now, I don’t want to paint with a broad brush. There are great examples of a fair employee option pool. But I’m seeing too many venture backed companies where the employees hold less than 5% of the company. In some cases a lot less. And the VCs don’t own a lot.

I am glad this market has become more competitive and founders have an increased number of sources when it comes to capital. But I encourage us all to think carefully about the employee option pool. Consider where it has been, where things stand now and what sort of impact this all makes on the culture of our industry and the world.

A new day for our country

In a few hours the United States of America will have a new President.

Trump leaves office disgraced with the lowest approval rating in history — the majority of this country understands who serves as President matters. Record turnout, record voters, and our democracy endures.

There are serious, daunting challenges ahead for this country to be sure. But on day 1, we have the most talented, & diverse cabinet to serve and Biden will issue seventeen executive orders to get us on the right path.

I am optimistic, I am hopeful and I am inspired.

The Big Island

After a great deal of thought and planning (and testing) we made a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. Our last trip to the Big Island was over 20 years ago and this island (and the world) was quite a bit different. It was also a time before we had children. This time we spent about a month in a small rental house on the west side of the island and spent our days exploring, hiking, playing board games and reading. We all fell in love with the Big Island. It’s so peaceful, the people are incredibly kind and the food was delicious. I’m completely addicted to loco moco and Kona coffee.

It was a very special trip and I am happy we were able to spend it together as a family.

I brought along two cameras, a medium format Hasselblad (square images) and a 35mm Leica M6. And many rolls of Kodak film.

Yesterday’s assault on the Capitol

The Washington Post’s Editorial Page this morning offers a clearly worded rebuke of the violence and lays the blame where it belongs.

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S refusal to accept his election defeat and his relentless incitement of his supporters led Wednesday to the unthinkable: an assault on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob that overwhelmed police and drove Congress from its chambers as it was debating the counting of electoral votes. Responsibility for this act of sedition lies squarely with the president, who has shown that his continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to U.S. democracy. He should be removed.

Worth reading the entire piece.