Archive for June, 2019

Pace Capital

Posted on June 27, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Today we are stepping out a bit with a new venture capital firm called Pace Capital. We closed our first fund, Pace I, which is a $150 Million vehicle focused on Series A investments. As we were raising the money, investors would ask us, “What’s the brand? How are you going to position the firm?” Our answer, which we deeply believe, is that a venture firm’s brand is the aggregate of the community it builds. Everything else is just hype. Right now our community is small: two GPs (Chris Paik and I) and about a dozen institutional LPs. But so much of what Pace will become is dependent on our future partners, be they the founders we back or the GPs and staff we assemble. To define Pace today would be premature. We have a clear idea of what we want to be, and we’ve laid the groundwork and foundation for that to occur, but ultimately it’s Pace founders who will come to speak for us and define us. They’ll let you know if we are their most valued investor. They’ll let you know the degree of our integrity, whether we help them consistently make good decisions, and if they like spending time with us and each other. They’ll show you what a Pace founder is and what a Pace company is, and you’ll see that Pace is a collection of generation defining entrepreneurs and investors. Until then, we’d love to lead your Series A: and

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Concert ticketing 2.0?

Posted on June 10, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This past weekend Olivia and I did a lot of driving…which for us means a lot of Spotify. We sort of have 2 modes for selecting music: 1) Creative: we’ll assemble a unique playlist for the drive and queue up a bunch of music that hits a certain vibe, or 2) Old Faithful: we have between 8 and 15 artists or playlists that are regular defaults when we don’t have the energy to curate our music. As I rotely scrolled through my library of recent listens, selecting from the default set, I thought to myself: “I wonder what insane percentage of my Spotify consumption is Leon Bridges?” I have to believe I listen to him more than most Spotify users, and I realized that, only with the advent of streaming, this is actually a pretty valuable piece of information.

Concert ticketing, at least in the primary market (the first time a ticket is sold, as opposed to say Seatgeek or Stubhub), is still living in the stone age. Priority as to who gets early access to ticket sales is still rooted in ridiculous loyalty programs like “Amex presale.” In what way does being a gold or platnum card member have anything to do with whether I deserve to see my favorite artists? Artist level loyalty is still living in the age of email sign up forms to follow your favorite acts. Perhaps, if you are a registered fan, you get an email with an early invite code, but even those programs don’t seem particularly effective in getting the most loyal fans to the show.

But what if access to ticket sales was rooted in relative consumption of a given artists’ music across streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, or Tidal. For fans, there are now objective metrics to demonstrate how loyal and dedicated a fan you are relative to others. You might even listen to a given artists more than you would otherwise in the name of jumping the ticket line. For artists, not only would you have more fun at shows playing to a sea of your most die hard fans as opposed to, say, your richest fans, but also you would introduce an incremental revenue boost to your standard concert monetization. You see, in the primary market, monetizing a concert presents a fixed upside, irregardless of demand for the tickets or who buys them. Your addressable revenue is: number of seats times x price per seat time x number of shows. The value of excess demand is captured largely by the secondary market, which on the surface, you don’t participate in. So how do you further monetize the tour? Well, if people know that listening to more of your music on streaming services gives them a better shot at tickets, you now have an uncapped increase in payouts from said services as your music is consumed more and more.

I think there’s real alignment in a listening based loyalty and ticketing strategy, and would love to see an independent company be the analytics and data provider to primary ticketing platforms, or to see any of the primary ticketing platforms leverage APIs from the streaming services to enable this type of presale. The big concern with a system like this would be people/brokers etc trying to game it, as they have every other angle of the ticketing market. I like the idea that there is a cost to gaming the system rooted in streaming subscription fees, and also that detection of unnatural listening patterns (i.e. one artist streamed 24 hours per day, 7 days a week) is within the realm of existing technology capabilities. There’s something very simple about the contract between an artist and a fan that says “if you listen to more of my music, I will hook you up with tickets, and we both win.” and that is a contract that could not be written in the age of CDs or even downloadable music.

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Airpods as the next platform, part three

Posted on June 5, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I think Airpods have a chance to be the next platform. There’s a lot of surface area at the application layer designing against this hardware edge, but I also have been thinking that it’s not just Airpods that are interesting, but rather the entire fabric of internet connected microphones that is permeating our space and society. It’s your Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple Watch, the phone in your pocket that has the microphone on even though you don’t opt for it, the voice interface in your car, and your television, and if you squint you can see a world where there will be, if it hasn’t happened already, as many internet connected microphones as there are internet connected cameras. And if you think about the amount of value that’s been created on top of internet connected cameras, the voice and audio ecosystem is an incredibly compelling problem space.

So you might ask, what’s the most valuable position you could own in a world where there exists this dense fabric of internet connected microphones? I actually think the answer may be the identity layer. Not dissimilar from how Facebook began as an application and pushed down stack to a more infrastructural identity layer largely through Facebook auth, a similar opportunity exists in the voice ecosystem. Facebook auth made it so that you could show up at a website you’d never been to before, click a button, and get a personalized experience as a result. The same premise is going to be important in the voice ecosystem.

Currently, all the internet connected microphones we use contemplate a known user or set of users. You talk to YOUR watch, or YOUR airpods. Amazon Echo can already serve different results based on whether I or my wife is asking a question, but it’s still a known set of users. If you believe that voice is going to become an important, if not dominant way that we query the internet and our various services, it’s going to be necessary for me to be able to query my information and applications regardless of who owns the microphone with which I’m interacting (i.e the conference room mic in someone else’s office). That’s a non-trivial technical problem, and I’m guessing the implementation will require not just a voice ID, but multiple inputs (i.e. your voice AND the location of your phone, or a series of other unique/probabilistic identifiers). But it’s gonna matter.

The value of this identity layer is not lost on Apple and Amazon. Amazon already is distributing the Alexa OS via Samsung televisions, trying to spread out horizontally and attain this position. Google is doing the same, but seems less likely to win here without a novel/leading voice based hardware edge. And you ask, could a startup plausibly win the identity layer in this market. I think the answer is yes, although it would probably come in the form of a new hardware edge. But even if that doesn’t happen, the mere presence of an identity layer within the voice ecosystem is going to enable an entire class of applications that was not previously possible. Again, if you are building in the space, I’d love to talk and potentially invest (especially when you are ready to raise an A round):

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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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