A weekly(-ish) newsletter on commerce, media, science, tech, investing, & internet culture by Alex Taussig of Lightspeed.

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A weekly(-ish) newsletter on commerce, media, science, tech, investing, & internet culture by Alex Taussig. I am a partner at Lightspeed in Silicon Valley.

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Drinking from the Firehose #118


I am coming up on 10 years in venture capital sometime this May.

The milestone has caused me to reflect on a few of the lessons I've learned along the way. I am still writing that post and hope to share it sometime soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share a post I wrote two years ago on the topic of finding an entry-level job in VC. I still agree with most of my own advice, so that's comforting. :-)

If you know anyone who is interested in breaking into VC, please share this post with them and encourage them to do the hard work it recommends. I've seen it make a world of difference for others.


How to land an Associate job in VC

I know several VCs who were in the market, often unofficially, for years before landing their jobs. Be patient. Develop relationships with a couple firms by showing them deals. “Come bearing gifts” to get their attention. The ultimate currency of the VC industry is deal flow, so nothing represents you better than bringing fresh deals to the table.



Baby, you can drive my car.

Once upon a time, every American teenager wanted the keys the family Pontiac. Now teens are foregoing the driving test. Only 25% of 16-year olds had a license to drive in 2017, down from 50% in 1983.

A number of factors are at play -- all a boon for ride hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. First, high school graduates are increasingly moving to walkable, urban centers with accessible public transportation. Second, the price of new cars has gone up from $25K in 2008 to $33K in 2018, as the SUV/crossover craze hit the mainstream. Third, friends are opting into more digital interactions in lieu of IRL connections: watching Netflix, chatting on social media, or playing Fortnite. Fourth, as college has become more expensive, teens are hesitant to lock themselves into auto loans that add to their debt burden.

Here come the IPOs.

A new study by a data scientist at Compass showed that 51% of new home purchases in SF were by employees of the tech industry. While the top 5 employers of these purchasers today are Apple, Google, Facebook, Salesforce, and LinkedIn, the spate of IPOs hitting the market in 2019 is likely to change that composition. He estimates that 5,000 new buyers will enter the SF market, which only transacted 5,471 properties last year.

Yet other studies of the effect of IPOs on local real estate markets show only a marginal increase in home prices. My view is that we'll certainly see more competition for million dollar homes in SF, but that many newly anointed millionaires will take their fortunes and move out of the city, and perhaps out of the Bay Area, where they can stretch their dollars farther.


Is #NetflixandChill the new birth control?

Americans are having less sex than three decades ago, and U.S. fertility is at an all-time low. Some are blaming video streaming services. In the era of broadcast TV, when your show was over, you could move onto another topic, perhaps romance. But, when there's always another episode to stream, maybe the siren song of #NetflixandChill becomes too strong?

Yet the date says otherwise. Netflix subscribers stream an average of 2 hours per day, but the average American watches 5 hours per day of TV. With only 40% share of TV time, Netflix isn't likely displacing sex. It's displacing TV.

Thumbs down.

A new poll by NBC found broadly negative attitudes of Americans towards social media. 82% say it wastes time. 61% say it spreads unfair attacks and falsehoods. 57% say social media does more to divide than unite us. Only 36% of respondents view Facebook positively. Twitter gets a 24% positive rating.

And yet, 69% of Americans use social media every day. Guilty pleasure, I guess.


Now boarding, biometrics!

Jetblue is testing a facial recognition system to check in passengers at the gate. It is partnering with Customs and Border Protection to link passenger biometrics to a centralized database. Many may find the use of biometrics disturbing, but harder-to-crack ID verification makes me feel safer. Once I got FaceID on my iPhone X, I realized this stuff was inevitable in security lines. It will be interesting to see how accurate facial recognition gets at a distance because that's when we fully enter "Minority Report" territory.


Grape news (video).

The easiest way to make a plasma in your kitchen is by placing two grapes on a watchglass inside your microwave and hitting the "start" button. The physics of this remarkable home experiment is actually pretty complicated. Recently, some scientists wrote a paper explaining it all, and it's a fascinating bit of work!


All'alba, vincerò.

Ron Howard released a trailer for his upcoming bio pic on the iconic tenor Luciano Pavarotti. If there is a single modern male voice that one associates with opera, it's Pavarotti's. His rendition of Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" from Turandot ranks in the top 5 opera performances of all time. I'm really looking forward to learning more about him in this movie.

Disclaimer: * indicates a Lightspeed portfolio company, or other company in which I have economic interest. I also own stock directly in AAPL, ADBE, AMZN, CRM, FB, FTCH, GOOG/GOOGL, NFLX, SNAP, SPOT, SQ, TSLA, and TWLO.

Lightspeed Venture Partners, 2200 Sand Hill Rd, Ste 100, Menlo Park, CA 94025 USA Sent to — Unsubscribe