Archive for August, 2013

Everybody Close Your Eyes

Posted on August 22, 2013. Filed under: startups, venture capital, wildcard |

Yesterday I had breakfast with one of our investors who I’ve known for a long time.  He had read my blog recently and was really excited about the future we are crafting at Wildcard.  I thanked him for his supportive words, but pushed him for harsher criticism.  I said “what are we doing wrong?  What would you be doing differently based on what you know?”  His answer was something I had not considered and it was deeply insightful.  He said “I really like the early voice you’ve established to communicate your view of the future…but don’t tell people what the future is going to be…rather invite them to help you define it together.”

This advice touches on a very subtle nuance around balancing vision and cooperation.  When I close my eyes, I see a future on mobile that is better than what we’ve got today…and everyday I come into work and try to find better language to describe it, and refine it, and bring it into reality…sometimes, when you spend all day willing something into existence, it becomes easy to become attached to the thing you see when you close your eyes…in reality, I think the process of getting to an optimal future is about making a contribution…sharing your version of the way it could be, and then listening to what others who long for an optimal future see when they close their eyes.  It’s in this dialog, that we can collectively shape something meaningful.  There is something to be said for conviction and resolve…and I do not suffer from a lack of that for sure…but Joel reminded me that if we are going to get to a mobile internet experience that is not just on par, but better than that of the desktop web…it’s going to be through a conversation with everyone who cares…

I’ll keep beating the drum for a web of cards, and the convergence of native and web on mobile…for a hybrid future, where selfishly and benevolently Wildcard will play a pioneering role, but I can’t wait to listen to the beats of thousands of other drums…may we find a rhythm together that is sweet to 14 Billion ears…

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Visualizing the seat you want

Posted on August 11, 2013. Filed under: startups, venture capital, wildcard |

Friday night I had dinner with close friends who were in town after a few months on the road. While we were waiting for dinner to be served, the subject of Wildcard came up. After explaining what we are working on (which is always fun and interesting, especially to a non-tech crowd), my friend Jess asked me what my goal for the company was. She said “Are you gonna try to sell it to Google or someone like you did last time?” She saw how cool that experience was for us…I guess it’s sort of natural to assume that we would want to do that again…

Instead, I explained that my goal was to become a Google, or Amazon, or something of that magnitude.  Like all good friends would, she accepted that goal as possible, without doubt or hesitation (thanks Jess). As we talked through what that might look like, I admitted that I was having a hard time visualizing a future where Wildcard was, in fact, a company with tens of thousands of employees and global impact/reach. I explained that it wasn’t hard for me to visualize our product on that scale of influence/import, but rather it was hard to visualize myself running a company like that.

For my entire career, I have always paid very close attention to the traits and characteristics of people in positions that I aspired to have. At General Catalyst Partners, I had 4 or 5 models of what General Partners at a top tier VC “looked like.” If I wanted to become one, I had some kind of picture in my head of what that was, and therefore I could see my path to attaining it, and also what I looked like in the seat. Sure enough, I became a General Partner at Lerer Ventures, and I think I behave sort of as I pictured I would even back then. When I was preparing to become an entrepreneur, I talked to thousands of early stage founders…again, built the model in my head of “what that looked like,” and then it became easier to see myself in the seat. Once you can see a picture of yourself in the seat…it’s not so hard to execute toward that reality. As Hyperpublic grew, I had models of my peers as well as CEO’s who were two, three, four years ahead of me…I saw our path to twenty people, and probably even 40 or 50, and I could visualize myself  in that reality.

With a goal like becoming the next Google or Amazon, I must admit I don’t have very many first hand accounts to look at…it’s hard to build the model of what “that seat” looks like. I spent a few months at GRPN post acquisition, and caught a couple glimpses of Andrew Mason in action…so I guess that’s a little input, but I’ve never really worked at a giant company, and have had very little interaction with those who run them. An email here and there, or time spent with former captains of these types of companies, for sure…but no real, first hand, “this is what the person looks like who started and is running this mega-company.” It’s a bit of a blind spot for me that I’m going to have to work on, as someone who gets places much faster when I can visualize them and then make them real.

I suppose there is something to growing into that seat organically…and I think all those who are in it, must have done so their own way…but organic matter grows faster when atop a scaffolding that provides structure. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to attain this scaffolding (good thing, we’ve got quite some time before it becomes necessary), but this is a bit of a strange feeling not having a visualization to run at of the seat I want. Maybe the first time in my life where I can’t clearly see exactly what I want to become. I guess that’s a sign that we’re shooting appropriately high.

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UX Design is on my Mind

Posted on August 7, 2013. Filed under: wildcard | Tags: , , |

We have a really special group of people working on Wildcard.  We all think in slightly different languages (engineering, strategy, etc), we all have different capabilities, everyone owns something here, but nobody yet owns UX Design.  Our engineering is exceptional, our vision grand, our execution tight, and our empathy…well, our empathy is “medium.”  It could definitely be better.  We are looking for the leader within our group to own our user’s voice and approach every conversation and decision through the eyes of our users.  We need to design product that achieves our world changing goals while remembering to make every user’s life at least a little easier every day.

I used to think that the person who would own UX design at wildcard would have designed a search experience at Google, or an Operating System at Apple, or some sort of complex system that touched both infrastructural technology on one side and users on the other…because those problems are analgous to the ones we’re solving…but that was before I really started talking to UX designers and understanding the fundamentals of design thinking and process.  What I realized is…that the system design side of things…we actually have down pretty well…the mechanics and complexities of how our technology interacts with itself and surrounding environments and layers in the stack is a strength of ours…. it’s actually the opposite voice that is the key to creating a product our users will love.  We need the simplicity of a human being, thinking in human emotions and thoughts, not machines and systems, to take what is an amazing feat of technology and help us think about how to help our users understand, interact with, and take advantage of it in a way that fits their mobile lives.

I really value the process of understanding our true goals and the best design to achieve them.  Formal training or background in Human Computer Interaction is obviously a compelling foundation for our UX Designer to rest on, but it’s not at all a requirement…Empathy, understanding, and super importantly a passion for UX Design and our users is a requirement for sure.  If you’ve led UX Design on a product that users love BECAUSE of the ease and simplicity of the application, that’s really interesting to us.  If you are super confident in your ability as a UX Designer, and would prefer to communicate directly with our founders and engineers instead of some PM or middleman, that is SUPER interesting to us.  It’s not always easy to speak all of the different languages that people here at Wildcard think in, but if you are great at asking questions, and can follow a lot of different styles of thought, and contribute your own style confidently and clearly, that is SUPER interesting to us.  If your goal is to be a “Product Lead” and assume some of the responsibilities you might find in a PM at a larger company, but first and foremost to own UX Design and make sure our users are happy everyday, that is SUPER INTERESTING to us.

I know this isn’t a conventional job listing for “UX Designer” with skills, experience requirements, etc…but this isn’t a conventional company and it isn’t a conventional role. This is really “UX Designer Plus” for an exceptional, experienced, humble, awesome person who wants to take a step into a leadership role and work amongst engineers and founders who are at the top of their respective fields.  If your intrigued, here are some background links:

1)   What is Wildcard?

2)   There is some good language on what we do in the jobs section of our splash page:

Reach out and say hi, even if you have a job, even if you are happy there, I’d love to share our passion and vision for what the mobile internet needs to become.  All inquiries will be kepy STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.

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What is Wildcard?

Posted on August 5, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 4.01.37 PMToday we are stepping out a little bit. As of today the project that began as Coopkanics, Inc. back in January is graduating to a real name and identity. Our company is now called Wildcard. A wildcard is a card that can do anything…its a card that has magical powers, to break rules and be more powerful than any other within the tightly defined structure of a game.

Ok, so what does this have to do with the mobile internet? We are not a games company, why do cards matter? Well, it turns out that on mobile, the world is moving toward a new unit of interaction called a “card.” You might have seen a card in twitter. If you use Google now, their core unit is a “card.” New platforms like Kik have implemented a “cards api”…it’s all the rage. You might say, that slowly but surely cards are replacing web pages on mobile. A card is simply a “native unit that can be displayed in line within an app that is backed by information or functionality from an underlying webpage.” It gives the user everything they want from a page or site without having to click into the web itself, load annoying pages, and navigate an environment that wasn’t designed to be consumed on a phone (the legacy web).

Ok, so web pages are dying and cards are emerging in their place. We are building the definitive card platform for the mobile web. Every site in the world, every action you want to take, all the things that are hard to do on your phone but easy on the desktop web…they can and will live inside of cards…and we are building that reality.

We’re designing the easiest and most intuitive way for users to find mobile cards on their phone. Every brand on earth, actionable in a consistent form. All of the power and breadth of the legacy web, with the simplicity and functionality of concise native apps.

We value speed. We value navigation. We value merchants and publishers who need an answer to non-performing webviews and we value native apps that are tired of kicking their users to Safari every time a link is clicked in their app.

We are the largest library of high quality mobile cards on the web, and we’re bringing a level of functionality to this emergent unit that has never been seen before. Our cards can do things that regular cards can’t…between the tightly defined structure of the web…and the tightly defined structure of the native ecosystem, a unit emerges that is special in nature…that transcends the shackles of legacy and rules…the wildcard.

We are the best early stage team in New York City. We just raised $3 Million in Series A financing from top-tier venture capital to take on giants. And we want you to come build the future with us. Engineering and design DNA only please. Click here for more information or send me a note at

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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