Archive for December, 2021

Pace x Pace

Posted on December 15, 2021. Filed under: Uncategorized |

In 2009 a website hacked together by two teenagers in Russia took the world by storm. The premise was simple: you could visit the site, enable your webcam, and the service would drop you and a random stranger into a live video conversation. It was a phenomenon. Venture capitalists salivated…and then came…the male nudity…I was going to write that that was the end of the story, but after a quick google, it turns out this site is still live and connects over 1 million people a month…it’s called Chatroulette.

Chatroulette struck a chord because it spoke to something fundamental in all human beings: we seek connection. While the webcams sucked, and the internet was too slow, the live video based primitive, when paired with a very simple discovery mechanic (the random function), ignited the possibility in people’s minds that they could have rich, live conversations with strangers on the internet. They could find a friend, romantic partner, thought partner, shared laugh…whatever…they could connect.

Without sufficient guard rails to prevent nudity, abuse, etc., Chatroulette devolved into what the internet is very good at. But in its wake, Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning emerged with a new service called Airtime. Airtime’s premise was that if they could overlay Facebook data atop Chatroulette’s core live video primitive, they could address two important issues and deliver on Chatroulette’s promise of connecting strangers through live video. First, they could expose shared FB interests to the strangers in a conversation. Maybe that would solve the “what do we talk about” question. Second, by layering FB identity atop the network, they could create a safer environment for people to converse. Also didn’t work. Right idea, just not enough to get people “there.”

So where is “there?” “There” is where you go from sitting on your living room couch alone to immersion in a substantive live conversation with someone you didn’t know before while never changing out of your sweatpants. “There” is where you truly connect with strangers. “There” is an incremental relationship. A new friend. An inspiring conversation. An educational moment. A vulnerable moment. “There” is real relationships…forming online…with people you didn’t know before. It’s telepresence. It’s connectedness on demand. It’s the live video based antidote to isolation.

This year we led the Series A and I serve on the board of a company called Pace Groups (no relation) that I believe is “there.” I didn’t know it was going to be “there” when I joined my first group…I thought Pace Groups is about mental health…this must be like therapy…or therapy light…or something like that. I knew it was live video based, facilitated conversations, but the vibe isn’t therapy at all. Is Pace Groups good for my mental health? Totally…but primarily because it’s been a place to meet and form real connection with strangers on the internet. They did it…I went from putting in a credit card to making a real friend in a matter of weeks…and that friend happens to be a 75 year old widower in Northern California…to me that’s just amazing.

Jack and Cat are exceptional entrepreneurs and I am so glad to have a front row seat as they work to scale “there” to hundreds of millions of people. If you are looking to join an awesome team, Jack ran product and Pinterest and Affirm and Cat ran growth at Pinterest…they’re kind people and super super experienced and sharp. Happy to intro:

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December 13th, 2021…the one and only

Posted on December 13, 2021. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Yesterday we had breakfast with a close friend who is mourning the loss of her father. She told me that beyond the sadness, a lot of her mental energy was going toward the contemplation of her own and everyone’s mortality. It’s not something that I’ve personally spent a lot of time on, but her articulation suggested to me that there is real value in doing so. I’m an optimist. I tend to flee from dark thoughts and gravitate toward positivity. Deeply contemplating one’s own mortality and that of all around him doesn’t exactly square with such a modus operandi…at least on the surface.

That said, since the conversation, I have held onto something she shared as part of her reflection. She said something to the effect of: “This is the only today that will ever exist. There will never be another December 12th, 2021…ever. So do something with it.” Today when i got to work, I wrote that down on a large piece of paper and affixed it to my desk. What a powerful prompt to internalize each morning. “Oh, you’re tired? Well this day is never gonna happen again. When you look back on this day, will it be defined by some lazy twitter scrolling and a couple of meetings, or can you reach for something that will mark the day as actively lived? Will this day be valuable, valued, and distinct from the rest?”

If there’s only gonna be one of this day…ever…I want to stamp it with something that stands out from the routine and ritual and motions that fill less intentional living. It’s common to contemplate your death bed as a lens through which to look at big decisions. Such a lens can be clarifying when you know the weight or import of what’s at hand. But applying such a lens to the day-to-day…to the seemingly unremarkable…making sure you don’t let one go by without it’s special stamp…that’s a newer and inspiring thought to me.

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Posted on December 10, 2021. Filed under: Uncategorized |

For the past 6 or 7 years, my primary interest in crypto has been bottoms-up self organization of people, work, and capital. Topdown institutions are flawed. Profit and political incentives don’t drive the organization of ALL behaviors and actions that have value to individuals, so there must be room for those individuals to drive such behaviors and actions themselves. The governance experimentation around self-assembled bodies and the economically enforced trust between strangers that ensured behavior consistent with the ideals of such bodies was always the most interesting surface area to me.

Activism is perhaps the most pure use case of such new capabilities. Definitionally, activism exist to change political or societal structures that have come to be organized as a result of top-down (powerful) forces exerting their will on the world. A group that feels disenfranchised, not represented, or otherwise suppressed will rise up, and that is how change happens. Historically, this group has been dependent on physical assembly as its primary form of coordination. If there was gonna be a march on Washington DC, you were meeting up in person and planning that shit and then spreading the word. Technology has consistently played a role in more deeply empowering that group to succeed. That’s not to say it hasn’t played a role in empowering top down institutions to compound their influence, because it has, but advances in telecommunications really changed the way an activist group or movement both organizes and distributes information related to its agenda. Encrypted messaging apps, for example, were instrumental in coordination during Arab Spring. Signal downloads spiked hard after the George Floyd murder. Social media, which may seem commonplace today, enabled the communication of activist messaging at a scale unfathomable during the days of MLK, for example.

I process DAOs as an enabling advance of activism on par with social media or encrypted messaging. In previous advances, the group rising up received better tooling to spread its message, amplify its voice, and even physically manifest its communities, but in a capitalist society, money talks. And historically these movements have not efficiently and effectively utilized capital as a weapon to advance their agenda. There’s an asymmetry when top down institutions like companies and government use capital as a tool to shape society, relative to individuals who must find ways to funnel and inherently dilute their capital through institutional proxies.

DAOs enable the individual members within a group-rising to collectively and trustlessly coordinate their capital in a way that is aligned with their shared agenda. Importantly, if designed well, DAOs also can enable such a group to agree upon what that shared agenda is, what actions are and are not consistent with it, and which people should and should not splinter off from the group (with their capital) based on misalignment with the whole.

If you read this blog regularly, I’ve been singing this song for a long time. Recently, however, I’ve noticed that the intersection of DAOs and activism is becoming more visible to others. A project like ClimateDAO directly exerts force against top down institutions that are putting profit before the environment by enabling members to pool resources, purchase equity in public companies, and then wage proxy battles to effect board level change at those companies. Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova streams on youtube with Vitalik, acknowledging that crypto feels like an instrument that can enable such a movement to be more effective. These early explorations aren’t perfect, but they are going to get more and more clear, and I expect them to influence the shape of society going forward.

Historically activism is not an endeavor that is economically rewarded in a capitalist society. It’s still frequent, nonetheless, because the ideology and intention behind an activist movement is strong enough to command people’s work without an economic incentive being necessary. That said, I think the experimentation happening within DAOs today will prove that activism can be economically rewarded in a capitalist society if people are given the ability to coordinate capital outside institutional channels. You don’t have to starve to save society.

At Pace we have been actively investing in and aligning our fund’s capital with that of DAO communities that inspire us. We are going to keep doing that, and my hope is that we can support DAOs with directly expressed activist intentions going forward. If you are an early contributor, dreaming something up in your head, or otherwise curious about this intersection…we’d love to support you:

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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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