Archive for November, 2020

Credit Where Credit is Due

Posted on November 30, 2020. Filed under: Uncategorized |

It’s pretty in vogue these days to hate on Facebook. I myself installed a chrome extension years ago that wipes my newsfeed and replaces it with a single quote. It was my compromise to keep my identity layer and FB auth while shunning the product itself. I don’t have the FB app on my phone and am not an MAU (monthly active user).

All of that said, I have to acknowledge that Facebook has created the single most valuable product I’ve bought and/or used during this past year. Right when shelter in place began, I ordered a Facebook Portal+ for my home and sent one to my parents and one to my sister’s family. I figured if we were only going to be together virtually, we should have the highest fidelity, most natural virtual togetherness possible. The Portal is not just a dedicated video screen with a nice camera (although it is both of those things), it’s also software product. The camera automatically sizes and frames the shot to acknowledge everybody in a room, it focusses on who’s speaking, and intelligently pans around to capture movement, changes in activity, and whatever else is happening in your environment…it breaks the concept of a single point of focus in video conferencing in a way that more closely mirrors the focal permissions of in person presence. It’s honestly delightful.

My family has a tradition on Thanksgiving of going around the table and saying what each person is grateful for. This year there was no table, but we still shared in the same format over Zoom (which btw is now supported on Portal hardware). Common answers were “health” “the vaccines and biotech companies” etc…but when the conch passed to my mom, and she thought about what she was grateful for, she said “I’m grateful for the Portal. Honestly, without this, I’m not sure I would be able to get through this time. It really makes me feel like we’re together.”

I’ve heard countless pitches from founders that begin “we have so many ways to connect on social media, and yet we all feel isolated.” The party line is that Facebook is an afflictive force, stripping us of real connection…but in practice they’ve created an amazing product in Portal that does just the opposite.

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DNS for online/offline addresses

Posted on November 15, 2020. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of being able to send physical mail or packages to someone’s email address. We recently sent Pace Airpods to a large handful of friends and we had to manually chase down everyone’s mailing address to do it. These are super close people who we talk to and email all the time, but we never had a reason to know their physical address until now. Why can’t I just put their email address on the package and feel good that they’ll receive it. The world needs a mapping of physical addresses to email addresses, or more broadly physical addresses to any online id, be it an email addy, a phone number, or even an Instagram/Tiktok handle.

The tough part about this idea that has always been a block is awareness. Even if I had a way for you to send a package to, you’d have to know about it in order for it to be useful. Historically, this awareness felt insurmountable, but the world has changed. Thanks to social media and the emergence of creators and influencers, there are now very built out distribution channels (i.e. creators) with a need/painpoint that said mapping service solves. It’s quite common for an influencer’s followers to mail her samples, gifts, promotional products etc…but in order to receive this form of compensation, an influencer must reveal her address to strangers…not ideal from a safety standpoint…even if that isn’t not an issue, the friction of a fan sliding into an influencer’s DMs, asking for an address, etc…is more than it needs to be. What if a creator’s followers could send these items directly to her Instagram handle…feels like a win for all…

With influencers evangelizing this new capability, it’s not a leap to think that mainstream awareness would follow, and that everyone eventually could sign up to be reachable physically by way of an online identity. I’d love to invest in a startup that is tackling this. My hack solution, which can DEFINITELY be improved upon, is to route all the mail and packages through a proxy that maintains the mapping between digital and physical addresses. You’d be able to send me a package to: 

C/O Instagram ID
333 Front Street (Newco sorting facility address)
NY, NY, 10012
333 Front Street  
NY, NY 10012
333 Front Street
NY, NY 10012

333 Front Street would be a sorting facility owned and operated by Newco, which I as a creator or consumer pay to securely maintain (and authenticate) my digital/physical mapping. Newco would receive, readdress to my physical address and forward the package (or deliver it in the scaled state where Newco has usurped UPS, Fedex or USPS).

So what about spam? Feels solvable/manageable with focus, but yea…
So what about security? Feels solvable/manageable with focus, but yea…

I always wished the US Postal Service would have done this in a highly standardized way…but that ain’t happening so someone else should do it. Shopify and Amazon both have a pretty significant mapping of email addys to physical addresses, and I guess could play here, but seems pretty far afield for them near term. 

Holler if you happen to be thinking about this stuff or if you’ve solved it more elegantly than me:

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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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