2017 was an extraordinary and crazy year in the world of cryptocurrencies. Prices skyrocketed (Bitcoin: +1,400%; Litecoin: +5,400%, Ethereum: +8,700%; Ripple +35,000%). ICOs raised over $3 billion. Crypto hedge funds emerged all over the map and a handful of blockchain startups reached unicorn-level valuations.
Almost inevitably, the price of individual cryptocurrencies will experience substantial volatility in 2018, and the first few days of January already look like a rollercoaster. Prices may very well crash altogether. In more ways than one, the space feels reminiscent of the dot-com days of the late 1990s, whether it is stories of newly minted bitcoin millionaires, the undeniable speculation rampant throughout the market, or the emergence of many weird things. While growing and expanding, the actual use cases of the blockchain still trail behind.
Taking a step back from the immediate frothiness, however, it seems that the crypto world has hit the point of no return, vaulting from a fringe movement into the mainstream collective consciousness, with strong interest both from the public and Wall Street. The blockchain has cemented its position as a new paradigm, which will only grow in importance, offering new solutions to the world, and new opportunities to entrepreneurs.
Continue reading “Ledger and the Fundamental Need for a Security Infrastructure in Crypto”
The concept of “personal branding” has evolved dramatically over the last few years. What used to be the territory of naturally self-promotional individuals has now become an imperative for many professionals. Whether you want it or not, employers and potential customers will look you up on social media and form judgement. It is essentially no longer possible to “opt out”. Seen more positively, personal branding can be a powerful vehicle for professional empowerment, opening up new opportunities and limiting one’s reliance on any given employer, in a context where more of us than ever will switch occupations, industries and locations several times during our careers.
Continue reading “SelfMade”
Perhaps more rapidly than ever, our work lives are changing. The concept of a career is dramatically evolving – the idea of lifelong allegiance to a company, occupation or industry has all but disappeared, whether by choice or necessity. How we get our jobs, how long we keep them, whether we are employed full time or a freelancer, what we actually do at work – all of this is morphing at an unprecedented pace.
As everywhere else, software has had a disproportionate impact on this evolution, exposing opportunities and increasing market fluidity (job boards, LinkedIn), changing hiring processes (applicant tracking systems) and hiring criteria (“how are your Salesforce skills?”). It is impacting the daily reality of work (Slack), vacation (always on) or the very nature of the job itself (data scientist, Uber driver). And, as the generation that never knew a world without the Internet hits the job market, we’re in the early innings of an even more profound evolution: the gradual penetration of artificial intelligence in all layers of human activity.
Against this rapidly evolving reality, we’re educating future generations through one dominant model – college – that emerged in Europe in the XI century and in America in the XVII century. From the Ivy League to the GI Bill, college is a deeply ingrained part of the American fabric, a widely accepted norm and a major goal for the vast majority of families.
Continue reading “MissionU and the Emergence of the College Alternative”
Today our portfolio company HyperScience is coming out of stealth and talking a bit more about what they’ve been working on for the last couple of years. We have been involved for a little while already as lead Series A investors, and we are excited to now be joined today by our friends at Felicis, a great addition to a strong syndicate from both coasts that also includes Shana Fisher (Third Kind) who led the seed, AME Cloud Ventures, Slow Ventures, Acequia, Box Group and Scott Belsky. The company is announcing today a total of $18M in Series A investment.
HyperScience offers AI solutions targeting Global 2000 corporations and government institutions. Their products enable those customers to automate or accelerate a lot of dusty back office processes, particularly those that involve the manipulation and triage of large amounts of documents and images.
Continue reading “HyperScience and the Enterprise AI Opportunity”
In the early days of Big Data (call it 2009 to 2014), a lot had to do with experimentation and discovery. Early enterprise adopters would play around with Hadoop, the then-new open source framework with a funny name, trying to figure out where the technology fit in the broader landscape of databases and data warehouses. People would also try to figure out what a “data scientist” was – a statistician who can code? An engineer who knows some math? It was a time of hype, immature products and trial and error.
Continue reading “Dataiku or the Early Maturation of Big Data”
As we are perhaps reaching the end of a cycle of innovation in tech – the one that resulted from the simultaneous emergence of social, mobile and cloud – and collectively pondering what’s next, one of the areas I’ve found particularly exciting recently is the intersection of Big Data and life sciences.
A little over two years ago, in connection with my investment in Recombine, a genomics startup, I wrote (here) about another powerful combination of trends: the sharp drop in the cost of sequencing the human genome, the maturation of Big Data technologies, and the increasing commoditization of wet lab work.
The fundamental premise was, and still very much is, as follows:
Continue reading “Phosphorus and the Rise of the New Genomics Startup”
We’re about to see a lot more 3D content in our digital lives. Various trends, some years in the making, are now intersecting to make this a near-term reality.
On the production side, 3D has of course existed for many years – this has been, in particular, the world of Computer Aided Design (CAD), which originated in part from MIT’s Sketchpad project in the early sixties. In one form or another, 3D has been used as a professional format across many industries, such as architecture, engineering, construction, and entertainment. Creation of 3D content (even for consumer-facing products like gaming) has remained largely the province of a comparatively small group of specialized professionals. Continue reading “Sketchfab and the democratization of 3D content”
The field of bioinformatics is having its “big bang” moment. Of course, bioinformatics is not a new discipline and it has seen various waves of innovations since the 1970s and 1980s, with its fair share of both exciting moments and disappointments (particularly in terms of linking DNA analysis to clinical outcomes). But there is something special happening to the industry right now, accelerated by several factors:
Continue reading “Recombine”