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Sharing Equity with Employees

There are a few aspects of venture capital whose origins are lost to history. One of these is the 20% stock option pool. Or more simply, the idea that everyone in the startup should own (at least a small amount of) the equity. Does this idea date all the way back to Rock and Davis, or did it come later? Why 20%? Why not 10% or 33% or 50%? Was this idea ever debated, or did one VC decades ago tout...

America Started with Capitalism

The story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower taught to every American child in every American school is less than half of the actual story. Obviously there are a lot of day to day details left out, but the most striking of the omissions is the fact that the endeavor was a for-profit business. The corporate side of this story is told in the first chapter of Americana: A 400-Year History of American...

The Coronavirus Hunger Crisis

If 200,000 (on the way to 400,000) deaths from Covid-19 were not enough to worry about, there is the coming hunger crisis across at least half of the world caused by the lockdowns and economic collapse. I predicted this a month ago and have been talking almost daily with entrepreneurs in Africa with actual stories of the food system collapsing. The New York Times wrote about this crisis a few...

Pandemic Response per GDP

McKinsey latest report on the pandemic response in Africa includes this very interesting chart of the size of the government responses to the pandemic as a percentage of GDP: It is interesting as South Korea and Italy both spent very little, with vastly different outcomes. It is interesting as if there is any correlation here, it is that the smaller the outbreak, the less spent on stimulus. Thus...

Impermanence (Goodbye Hub Seattle)

Nothing lasts forever is misleading. It implies that some things last for long periods of time. Western philosophy craves stability, predictability and tradition.  We want today to be a lot like yesterday.  We get upset when it isn’t. Buddhism has a different view.  Buddha taught that the only constant is change.  That nothing ever stays the same.  That everything is...

Undercounting Infections and Deaths

I’ve been having a long discussion with a nonbeliever over on Quora. He’s convinced the virus is real but the deaths are made up propaganda, and as such the government shut downs are unnecessary. It’s a challenge to convince people like that of reality, when they refute all sources of data. Part of what leads to such denials is the fact that the data is in fact wrong. But it is...

It’s the End of the World as We Know It, and I Feel Fine

The REM song popped up on my shuffle playlist. Wait long enough and all song lyrics become relevant. None more than this one in these times. Polyphonic thought so too, and gave us the history: The REM video needs a refresh: Bob Dylan’s doesn’t (it’s mentioned in the Polyphonic backgrounder): Although… there was once something of a refresh, and I don’t know a better...

Over the COVID-19 Hill

As the U.S. and Europe hit the peak of the Coronavirus Pandemic infections and deaths, these countries have begun the debate on unlocking the lockdowns and quarantines. Let’s look at this graphically to estimate whether this discussions are premature or not. Here’s today’s view of infections, courtesy of The Financial Times and John Burn-Murdoch (with the US curve highlighted by...

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