CategoryAssumptions

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...

HTTPS is Complicated

I love hidden assumptions. Ideas and services we take for granted. Take, for example, HTTPS. The entire commercial Web has moved from http:// to https://. We did that because it is more secure. And it is. But it’s also way way way more complicated to set up. I’m not going to try an explain how it works. I have a B.S. in Mathematics/Computer Science from a top 5 university plus a M.S...

Decimalization

Have I mentioned I love a good assumption? Have I mentioned my fascination with norms that were normal for our grandparents which seem totally odd today? Did you think 29 knuts in one sickle, and 17 sickles in a galleon was making fun of non-metric countries? Nope! It was making fund of pre-decimal British pounds, shillings, and pence. Note too this video is from 1970, not 1870 or 1670. In 1969...

The end of (solely) Shareholder Value

100 years ago, in 1919, the Michigan Supreme Court made a comment in their ruling of Dodge v. Ford saying (in its common paraphrased form), “The purpose of business is to maximize shareholder value.“ In 1970, Nobel Laureate in economics Milton Friedman repeated this in an essay in the New York Times entitled “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits...

The Trigger for American Recycling

Change is hard. Making change happen even harder. Looking for the origins of change fits in with my questions of how things used to work three or more generates ago, and my general search for hidden assumptions. I was thus delighted today when I flipped on the Planet Money podcast, Episode 925: A Mob Boss, A Garbage Boat and Why We Recycle. I was in high school living in suburban New York when...

Assumed the expert

A hidden assumption in how the world works came up yesterday at a startup pitch event. More than once. It goes like this… When you are the speaker, someone introduces you, and at that moment the audience presumes/assumes that you are an expert in whatever topic you’ve been introduced to present. You remain an expert in the eyes of the audience until either you say something that an...

Success by Ten

I love to uncover hidden assumptions and thus enjoy stories of the early days of some industry,  where all of what we take for granted today didn’t exist.  Modern portfolio theory, mutual funds, and retirement accounts are commonplace today, but were all invented and become popular between the 1960’s and 1990’s. Success by Ten is supposed to be advice for creating a $1...

The (True) Purpose of Business

Five years ago when this blog was new, I posted an Ignite talk about the true purpose of business. Two years ago, I reprised that topic to help break the myth that the (sole) purpose of business is to maximize shareholder value. My podcast is almost a year old, and last week I not only (re)explained the Ignite talk with more words, but then spent the week talking what Apple, Google, Facebook, and...

Faster and faster?

The common meme you hear in the news is that the world is changing ever fast than before.  It’s not.  It took mankind less time to get from the first airplane flight to the first person on the moon than from the moon to today! Computers may be faster since then and the internet may have connected them all together, but that change pales to the 19th century when mechanization led...

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