The Millennial’s Financial Stack, the secret Google salary spreadsheet and the $50K pay raise.

Happy Friday.
(And hello from Lincoln, NE and Chicago, IL this week.)

1. “some of the key myths about success in Silicon Valley are at risk.” [Link] [Tweet]

Ugh. The author accuses entrepreneurs of lying, ignorance and amnesia — that’s a bit much. I’m sure there are a few bad actors in there but the vast majority of people are just trying their best. You simply can’t succeed in this business unless you’re an optimist. That being said, I do agree that there ought to be more transparency between entrepreneurs, their employees and their investors.

That transparency, however, is easier said that done — especially as the number of investors on the cap table increases. I spoke to one founder who has 52 (52!!) individual investors on his cap table and he quietly complained about how he dreaded sending his monthly investor updates because of “all the $10K angels that now want to be armchair quarterbacks and live vicariously through my company.”

If you’re raising money for your own company, consider this:

  • Avoid letting yourself be someone’s first investment.
  • Remember that the amount that an investor puts in can often be inversely correlated with the amount of information they may want on an on-going basis.
  • Run the best fundraising process you can, take the money you can get and avoid running out of it.

2. My Financial Stack as a Millennial [Link] [Tweet]

Remember when we all used to log in to our shitty bank websites? Hah. So any bets on when the big banks going to start their acquisition sprees?

3. “AngelList will be the largest and most profitable venture capital fund, without deploying capital.” [Link] [Tweet]

This is a great explanation of (1) the economics of venture capital funds and (2) where AngelList will make it’s money in the long run. You should read this.

4. There’s reportedly a big, secret spreadsheet where Google employees share their salaries [Link] [Tweet]

More transparency FTW!

5. “Millions of people are beginning to realise they have been sold a dream at odds with what reality can deliver.” [Link] [Tweet]

If you’ve ever wondered what the future might look like, this is worth a read. The real question is whether it’ll take us, as a society, 20 years or 200 years to get there.

6. “This seems obvious, but you’d be amazed.” [Link] [Tweet]

If nothing else, read the section where the author talks about pivots and uses a compass to visualize them.

7. “there is plenty of opp for a wide range of investors and entrepreneurs, and a healthy economy depends on diversity” [Link] [Tweet]

This is the most coherent overview of the changes in private market investing that I’ve read in recent weeks. It’s not possible to predict the future accurately but it’s safe to say that the venture model of the past 30-40 years doesn’t really work in today’s world — venture capital firms and angel investors need to think of the business of investing as a startup itself.

8. “In the past, Ms. DeLoge never made as much as $30,000 a year. Her salary now is nearly $80,000.” [Link] [Tweet]

When mainstream America realizes that a 3-4 month coding course might give them a $50,000 raise, we’re going to see a lot more coding schools. Wait, we already have a ton of coding schools. This should be fun — let’s see who takes over the market. 🙂

9. “A lot of people think that you have a shovel and you dig. That’s not the way it works.” [Link] [Tweet]

OK, so what they’re telling you is that you probably won’t ever be able to dig a tunnel for yourself. No underground lair for you (unless you’re El Chapo or Batman).

10. “They will switch housing and jobs as frequently as necessary to improve their quality of life.” [Link] [Tweet]

Those damn Millennials, shaking shit up again. (You’re welcome.)

On Lincoln, NE (and everywhere else)
I keynoted the Nmotion Demo Day last Tuesday but, more importantly, 500+ people attended it. If you’re on the coast or some other big city, this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to you.

So, a quick story: in July 2011, I was on a cross-country drive and stopped over in Lincoln. A quick Google search turned up no startup events, no coworking spaces and I simply couldn’t find anyone that seemed to be associated with the startup/tech community.

When Brian Ardinger asked me to speak at the event, he mentioned that he expected ~200 attendees so I agreed and scheduled my flights for a quick in-and-out. A few weeks later, he sent me a quick update and mentioned that they had 525+ RSVPs (and still climbing). That caught me by surprise considering I couldn’t find anything related to the tech community just four years earlier so I asked to spend an extra day there to meet as many founders, investors and corporates in the area.

Long story short: Lincoln’s come along way in four years but it’s growth is just one example of what’s happening in smaller cities all over the US and abroad. It’s fascinating to watch.

(Any interesting events coming up in your neck of the woods? People sometimes tell me I’m a pretty good speaker. 🙂

RMR Capital FTW.

Last week, I told you about my first world problem: I wanted to try out an Apple Watch Sport but wasn’t ready to cough up $400 to do just that. Ten of you stepped up to the plate — you’re all pretty awesome and I really appreciate it.

I ended up accepting the offer from the first people that responded: Russell Rosenblumand Ed Pizzarello of RMR Capital. I’ve been wearing it since Tuesday and I’m still learning to use it. I’ll probably write up more detailed thoughts in the next week or two but, for now, the biggest change has been that I don’t carry my phone in my pocket or hand very often anymore. That’s resulted in me drastically reducing the habitual email checking every few minutes that I’ve been doing for far too long. Anyway, back to you Russell and Ed — thanks for making this happen for me. 🙂

Have a great weekend!

Access is everything. Capital, dealflow and judgment are table stakes.

Happy Friday.
(And hello from Denver, CO and Ashburn, VA this week.)

1. “You won’t find me wasting founders’ time on that crap anymore.” [Link] [Tweet]

Aside from the fact that it’s not clear whether Paige got approval from Brian/AirBnB to post all of the details for everyone to see, this is a great reminder that angel investors need to actively seek opportunities. You can’t just expect them to show up on your doorstep — especially when everyone’s an angel these days.

2. “Someday if it works, we’d love to fund 1,000 companies per year like this.” [Link] [Tweet]

Y Combinator doing it big, as usual. Nothing to see here folks.

3. “most people applying to startups do it wrong.” [Link] [Tweet]

This should be common knowledge but, especially for people moving from BigCo to startup, this is a great read. TL;DR: results matter.

4. “Human relationships are the only way that the deal gets in front of the right people and gets taken seriously.” [Link] [Tweet]

If you can ignore the clickbait title, the underlying point is important: unless you’re in the Valley (or find a way to break in), it’s hard to raise money for your company. Things are certainly getting better (rise of the accelerators, anyone?) but we’ve got a long way to go.

5. “When not one hand goes up in a room full of VCs, go there. It is going to be profitable.” [Link] [Tweet]

OK, so here’s the deal: everyone’s investing in Bitcoin, no one wants to admit it and I still don’t fully understand the blockchain. Sounds about right.

6. “Being a founder is easy.  You just start something.” [Link] [Tweet]

Other than the potential for making serious money, I’ve learned that watching founders grow into CEOs can be incredibly rewarding.

7. “We are prideful but only because our doubts can kill us. They come for us, those doubts.” [Link] [Tweet]

This article (and this line especially: “And we’re going to fix your economy so thank us later.”) was my favorite read this week.

8. “Here is the thing – most founders feel like their idea is amazing, and is worthy of an investment.” [Link] [Tweet]

Every first-time founder thinking about raising money should read this: it’s a great summary of how/why VC works. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll be more successful in your own career if you can better understand how the other person makes money.

9. “Welcome to the exclusive, 84-member Unicorn Club: the top .14%” [Link] [Tweet]

Unicorns are everywhere, they’re mostly consumer focused, they’re not efficient with their capital and immigrants play a huge role. Great, let’s get back to funding/helping earlier stage companies — kthx.

10. “Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this wasn’t possible over two years ago. We are in a new world.” [Link] [Tweet]

This is such a great summary of the HUGE changes happening right now. Consider this: “those who want to invest in YC companies but live in rural Florida can now do so with a click of a button without ever having to meet the direct investor or the company itself.” We’re living in the future, you guys.

Meet me in Lincoln, NE or Chicago, IL?
I’ll be keynoting the Nmotion Demo Day this Tuesday and speaking at Work Design Magazine’s event this Thursday (use “PAULGUEST” as the discount code). Hope to see you there!

Two (Small-ish) Favors?

  1. Forward today’s newsletter to one other person and tell them to sign up. They’ll probably thank you. Also, I’ll buy you a beer when we meet next.
  2. I wear a Fitbit Charge HR daily but can’t seem to justify spending $400 on a new Apple Watch Sport (42mm Space Gray with the Black Sport Band, if you must know) just yet. What’s it going to take to let me borrow yours for a week?

Have a great weekend!

The accelerator shakeup, managing your stupidity and massaging 50 Cent’s tongue. ?

Happy Friday.
(And hello from Ashburn, VA — where I’ve managed to be sick all week.)

I read (and tweet) a lot. This week, 125,000+ of you told me which of the reads were the most interesting (and reminded me that most of my tweets are terrible) — here are the top ten:

1. “It’s no secret that most startups fail. What’s a bit less obvious is that most startup accelerators also fail.” [Link] [Tweet]

Unless you’re part of the top-tier, the days of running accelerators and incubators on the economics of venture capital funds are over. Accelerators and incubators are the new business schools, it’s time they explored similar business models as well.

2. “So there I was with my finger inside 50 Cent’s mouth. At his invitation, I was massaging the back of his tongue.” [Link] [Tweet]

Despite 50 Cent’s recent bankruptcy filing, it’s interesting to get inside his head through articles like this one and understand how he thinks about being a musician and a moviestar. As he says, “If it makes money, it makes sense.” Perhaps this is an early signal that we all may have to think about how our skills can be applied across multiple disciplines.

3. “having kids is like having your heart running around outside your body.” [Link] [Tweet]


4. “Keep it simple, do less, and manage your stupidity.” [Link] [Tweet]

Jason Zweig of the WSJ came up with this format in 2012 and Motley Fool brought it back recently. Most of the advice is similar but the more interesting part is that you can almost sense the competitiveness amongst the investors based on the words they’ve chosen.

5. “It did most of this while living together in an unremarkable McMansion in suburban Maryland.” [Link] [Tweet]

I read stories like this one and wonder if I’d be able to make the same commitment that these people did.

6. “I’m boring my dad because he will take any text, any call, any time, even on the ski lift.” [Link] [Tweet]

I hope that I never make my daughter feel this way.

7. “money is simply data, a simple way to measure and keep track of exchanges in value, or accumulations of wealth.” [Link] [Tweet]

I own a few Bitcoins and messed around with a (small) mining rig a few years ago but I’m still not sure what to make of it all. Reid’s article is a great overview if you’re looking to wrap your head around it.

8. “And people are afraid of hard work. Which is why they’re being left behind.” [Link] [Tweet]

This is yet-another-reminder that knowing how to code is important — not because everyone needs to be a coder but because you’re going to be dealing with coders regardless of your career path.

9. “Hindsight is unfair and inaccurate, but I still enjoy its lessons.” [Link] [Tweet]

If you can get past the title of the article, the actual tips are gold. The startup world is Hollywoodized — let’s get back to building businesses.

10. “I’m loyal only to results, and I suspect you are, too.” [Link] [Tweet]

Our phones are getting crowded with single-apps. As the author says, “I don’t want Yelp; I want to know where to eat. I don’t care about Google Calendar; I care about not missing appointments. I don’t buy iPhones; I buy best-in-class pictures of my kids.” This is an interesting read on the future of mobile.

Meet me in Lincoln, NE or Chicago, IL?
I’ll be keynoting the Nmotion Demo Day on Tuesday, July 28 and speaking at Work Design Magazine’s event on Thursday, July 30 (use “PAUL” as the discount code to get a free ticket). Hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend!


The benefits of high-reputation, putting $220M into perspective and frowning.

Happy Friday.
(And hello from Greenville, SC today.)

I read (and tweet) a lot. This week, 125,000+ of you told me which of the reads were the most interesting (and reminded me that most of my tweets are terrible) — here are the top ten:

1. Two developers made 14% of mobile app revenues in 2014 [Link] [Tweet]

As a consumer, apps — Uber, Weather, Twitter, Spotify and more — have made my life easier and more effective. As a developer, this data is a stark reminder that (1) most markets are winner take most and (2) it’s incredibly hard to cut through the noise.

2. “Ownership, it turns out, can be a one-way street when you’ve only got 0.001% of a startup’s shares.” [Link] [Tweet]

This particular topic — the rise of the party round — seems to be top of mind for everyone this week and it’s about time. In general, it’s probably a good thing that early stage capital has become easier to raise. However, I suspect we’ll start to see a number of new “angel investor training” courses and events popping up over the coming year. Something about selling shovels and jeans during the gold rush, you know.

3. Putting Floyd Mayweather’s $220 million payday into perspective [Link] [Tweet]

Frankly, I still don’t get the economics of boxing but, given the amount of money involved, maybe I’m the idiot here.

4. “high-reputation VCs acquire startup equity at a 10 to 14 percent discount.” [Link] [Tweet]

Although it’s interesting to see research around this topic, I’m not quite sure that I ever got a discount on an investment opportunity because of my/our brand. Rather, I got access to the investment opportunity in the first place. Regardless, consider this yet-another-reminder that brand matters in a business driven by the Power Law.

5. “Traction is everything — in a great market.” [Link] [Tweet]

I’ve invested in Matt’s company multiple times over the past few years and it’s been interesting to watch him mature from a founder to a CEO. One of my other favorite quotes from this article: “To put it bluntly, product traction can be engineered for a price, but treasure maps get term sheets.”

6. “No one wants to buy from a person who is frowning.” [Link] [Tweet]

You guys, this 13 year old can sell — someone ought to hire her for their startup soon.

7. Success is a Question of When, Not If [Link] [Tweet]

Another (great) @pmarca tweet storm. I can only hope that, one day, I’ll be able to condense my thoughts into coherent tweets and then repurpose them directly into a blog post.

8. The most important piece of advice for folks starting their careers [Link] [Tweet]

If your career is just getting started (or you’re trying to break into the Valley), this is worth a read. Key takeaway: hustle hard and learn faster than your peers.

9. “The danger is that we’re in an Everything Bubble — that valuations across the board are simply too high.” [Link] [Tweet]

In a nutshell: “The Shiller CAPE ratio, generally regarded as a good measure of the market’s over- or undervaluation, is indeed unusually high — though not nearly as high as in January 2000.” Everything might be overvalued. Or it might be. Economic forecasting, as usual.

10. “Unfortunately we have noted recently that the number of accidents caused by lovers of self-photography.” [Link] [Tweet]

OK, the illustrations alone are worth browsing. You’re welcome.

How can I make this newsletter better?
To those of you that responded last week — THANKS. I’ve updated the format of this week’s newsletter with a bunch of your feedback. What do you think?

Have a great weekend!


Coffee shops, horses with sticks on their heads and failure.

Happy 4th!
I read (and tweet) a lot. This week, 125,000+ of you told me which of the reads were the most interesting (and reminded me that most of my tweets are terrible) — here are the top ten:

1. It all starts with the coffee shops. [Link] [Tweet] (On a related note, you can tell a lot about a neighborhood based on the time that the local coffee shop closes. Early is usually bad.)

2. “To hear him speak can remind you of the smallness of your own dreams.” [Link] [Tweet] (It’s pretty cool to see smart people trying to tackle problems, like death, at this scale. It puts some of the “me too” tech companies we’ve all heard about to shame.)

3. “Because we don’t want 50 Silicon Valleys; we want 50 different variations of Silicon Valley” [Link] [Tweet]

4. “we believe that some of them will be exposed as nothing more than horses with sticks taped to their heads” [Link] [Tweet]

5. “After that, give yourself a break. The best you can do is maximize your child’s potential.” [Link] [Tweet] (As a relatively new father, I wish more people would say this sort of thing more openly.)

6. “You’re not a failure, you’re just failing.” [Link] [Tweet] (Fellow founders, read this — it’s worth it.)

7. “The biggest solar revolution will take place on rooftops.” [Link] [Tweet]

8. “Perhaps most importantly, though, lots of teens just don’t want to work anymore.” [Link] [Tweet]

9. SEC Approves Tweeting by Startups to Test Investor Interest [Link] [Tweet] (Wait, so investors look for investment opportunities on Twitter now?)

10. “There’s substantial evidence that the return on capital converges to 0 as the slope of tech progress approaches 1.” [Link] [Tweet]

Where you at?
Last week, I asked you for more speaking opportunities and managed to lock in events in Nebraska, South Carolina and Chile. This year’s starting to get booked up, hit reply and let me know if there’s something happening in your neck of the woods. Let’s get it on the calendar ASAP. (Have I mentioned how great you are?)

How can I make this newsletter better?
I know you’re super busy (thanks for reading this far), so how can I make this weekly letter more useful and interesting for you?

Have a great weekend! (And, remember, always point the bottle rocket at the other end of the neighborhood.)


Understanding human behavior, LPs and the unrest in France.

Happy Friday.
I read (and tweet) a lot. This week, 125,000+ of you told me which of the reads were the most interesting (and reminded me that most of my tweets are terrible) — here are the top ten:

1. “Three simple rules will explain 99% of human behavior.” [Link] [Tweet]

2. “no great companies are born trying to become billion dollar companies.” [Link] [Tweet]

3. “I try my best to discourage them; I always emphasize the risks and downsides of angel investing.” [Link] [Tweet] (I’ve always wondered: given the incredible ratings/popularity of shows like Shark Tank, how long until they’re required to put “do not try this at home” disclaimers to the broadcasts?)

4. “I find that almost all startups look much worse beneath the surface than they first appear.” [Link] [Tweet]

5. “There is a huge opp for the smaller, more affordable, more family-friendly places to take up the cause of startups.” [Link] [Tweet] (Yes. Yes. Yes. Given that there are now 1,500+ self-identified incubators/accelerators listed on AngelList, I’d bet that there’s an opportunity for smart cities outside of SF/NYC to pull these post-accelerator / pre-A companies to their own city.)

6. “Opening is easier than closing.” [Link] [Tweet]

7. “There are institutional and structural barriers to innovation in Europe.” [Link] [Tweet] (The backlash against Uber and AirBnB in France this week is a sobering reminder that it can be tough to build companies in other countries and cultures.)

8. “We are drowning in folks.” [Link] [Tweet] (Filed under “Things I Should Say If I Ever Run For Office.”)

9. “How we believe others see us shapes who we are.” [Link] [Tweet]

10. “The people who manage that money are driven by very different thinking than your average Wall Street investor.” [Link] [Tweet] (If more founders understood the economics of venture funds, I’d bet their pitches would instantly improve. LPs are the “invisible hand” of the private market.)

Where you at?
I’m always looking for more speaking opportunities, hit reply and let me know if there’s something happening in your neck of the woods. (I spoke at AngelSummit in Madrid last week… beautiful city and incredibly smart people, despite my jet lag.)

Have a great weekend!


I can’t even.

Happy Friday.
I read (and tweet) a lot. This week, nearly 125,000 of you told me which of the reads were the most interesting (and reminded me that most of my tweets are terrible) — here are the top ten:

1. “I can’t even. I am unable to even. I have lost my ability to even. I am so unable to even. Oh, my God. Oh, my God!” [Link] [Tweet]

2. “you can’t just become a successful angel investor overnight.” [Link] [Tweet]

3. “Then his application for a U.S. visa was rejected and he was kicked out the country. Lucky for him.” [Link] [Tweet]

4. “Roman engineers had to sleep under the bridges’ they built.” [Link] [Tweet]

5. “Yeah, so you really don’t want in this. Trust me.” [Link] [Tweet]

6. “For comparison, that’s enough money to send a man to the moon.” [Link] [Tweet]

7. “The concept of freelancers as slackers is completely over.” [Link] [Tweet]

8. “Focus on growth rate rather than absolute numbers.” [Link] [Tweet]

9. “So for now at least — it’s a roach motel.” [Link] [Tweet]

10. “The game used to be, obviously, to own as much real estate as you possibly can, everywhere.” [Link] [Tweet]

I’m speaking at AngelSummit on Monday and Tuesday, will you be around? (I’m always looking for more speaking opportunities, hit reply and let me know if there’s something happening in your neck of the woods.)

Have a great weekend!


Venture capital is in the midst of an overwhelming buy-and-hold paralysis.

Happy Friday.
I read (and tweet) a lot. This week, 124,000+ of you told me which of the reads were the most interesting (and reminded me that most of my tweets are terrible) — here are the top ten:

1. “Venture capital is in the midst of an overwhelming buy-and-hold paralysis.” [Link] [Tweet]

2. $18 Billion. In Profit. In One Quarter. [Link] [Tweet]

3. “76% of all venture capital funding of seed accelerators go to graduates of just five accelerator programs.” [Link] [Tweet]

4. “As the investor you need to recognize who is taking the real risk here and treat them with commensurate RESPECT.” [Link] [Tweet]

5. “I believe, in the best businesses, founder time is worth $10K in equity value per hour.” [Link] [Tweet]

6. “I have learned that timing is probably one of the most undervalued factors for success in tech ventures.” [Link] [Tweet]

7. “Inexperienced VCs get caught in the pre-money vs. post-money trap.” [Link] [Tweet]

8. “I find that almost all startups look much worse beneath the surface than they first appear.” [Link] [Tweet]

9. “Building great companies is hard to do and it takes a really, really long time. Don’t rush.” [Link] [Tweet]

10. “Musk wasn’t enjoying the drama of the scene, finally was like, ‘PAUSE THE MOVIE QUICKLY PAUSE IT PAUSE IT.'” [Link] [Tweet]

Have a great weekend!


“VC’s are paying 3-5x rev for co’s are worth 1x in the public markets

Happy Friday.

I read (and tweet) a lot. This week, 124,000 of you told me which of the reads were the most interesting (and reminded me that most of my tweets are terrible) — here are the top ten:

1. “Many VC’s are paying 3-5x revenues for companies that are worth 1x in the public markets.” [Link] [Tweet]

2, Companies that are (almost always) a bad idea. [Link] [Tweet]

3. “You can’t expect to just hop into a new industry with no expertise and get your ideal role at your ideal company.” [Link] [Tweet] (MBAs are people too. Sometimes.)

4. “Yes, we want banks to engage with us, but no, please don’t talk with us.” [Link] [Tweet] (Those damn millennials are at it again.)

5. “The early risk is why they get a cheaper price.” [Link] [Tweet]

6. “The themes that I see impacting enterprise software investing in 2015.” [Link] [Tweet]

7. “Let me not die while I am still alive.” [Link] [Tweet] (This is the most touching — and personal — thing I’ve read recently.)

8. “The A380 is basically a flying weather system, with its 261-foot wings throwing off hurricane-strength winds.” [Link] [Tweet] (Having flown on the A380 quite a bit, it’s my favorite commercial airplane. Still looking for an opportunity to hop on a 787… help?)

9. “The hardest leadership challenge is in the home.” [Link] [Tweet] (Yes.)

10. Life gives you potentials for freedom, achievement, love, all sorts of beautiful things, but none of us are “safe.” [Link] [Tweet]

11. Every Friday morning, I send out a brief email containing the top 10 reads that made me smarter this week. [Link] [Tweet] (OK, so this one’s an extra BUT it was the #1 engaged link this week. Share me with a friend?)

Come say hi.

I’m speaking at 36|86 (Nashville, TN) and Metabridge (Kelowna, BC) next week, say hello if you’re around. (Hit ‘reply’ if there are other events coming up that I should be attending.)

Doing anything fun this weekend?

If you’re in the DC Metro area, driving range? (I’m terrible.)


I’m back. ?

It’s been a while, I’m sorry for the radio silence. I’M BACK.

As you might recall, Disruption Corporation (where you originally signed up for this email list) and 1776 merged back on April 16, 2015. Things got a bit hectic and I left you hanging, I’m sorry.

Now I’m back and I want to help make you even smarter. Every Friday morning, I’ll send you the top 10 things I’ve read over the past week. Here’s the cool part: the top 10 reads will be things that I find interesting but that my 120,000+ Twitter followers enjoyed the most.

Bottom line: if you stay on this list, you’ll be getting inside the head of an extremely active venture capitalist and the collective brainpower of 120,000+ other smart people.

If you DON’T want to receive this email each Friday morning, I completely understand.Unsubscribe here.

If you DO want to get smarter, sit back and relax. I’ll email you Friday morning.

You’re the best.