Congratulations to Yes VC Partner Caterina for being one of Business Insider’s top 25 female early stage investors!
Today, our portfolio company Dapper Labs announced a major financing round.
It is getting a lot of pickup because NBA Top Shot and CryptoKitties—their digital collectible trading platforms—made non-fungible tokens (NFTs) part of the mainstream. Collectors have bought and sold over half a billion dollars’ worth of NFTs on them.
NFTs are what we call social objects. A video clip, image, literally any file can be minted into an NFT and bought and sold like a physical object.
For artists, musicians and creators it’s life-giving. NFTs have a feature that will pay the originator a percentage every time it is sold or changes hands.
Digital trading cards are fun but not the whole story. Others are now building on Dapper’s Flow blockchain. It takes hard things, like building your own blockchain and wallet, to make something fundamentally new, like NFTs, easy and accessible to millions.
Let’s make the future, let’s do great things. Yes? Yes!
Yes VC Partner Caterina Fake will be speaking online at an event for Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, “Hindsight is 20/20” Caterina says she would have called this “Foresight is 20/20 in. Please join us!
Here’s a description of the event:
We are still in the early days of the Internet, but there is a growing sense that it’s creating more problems than it’s solving. This wasn’t always the case. There was a time when we shared an overriding optimism in the Internet’s capacity to make the world a better place.
Creator platforms and social media platforms saw us migrate our social lives to the Internet. While allowing us to share and interact with people we never could have before, it also fragmented our experiences and relationships. There’s an endless list of unintended consequences.
Today’s platforms were inspired by the many that preceded them — but along the way, we started to go astray. How can we make sense of where we are today? What can we understand about the decisions that were made and the structures we had in place? And, most importantly, how can the builders of new platforms that also intend to “bring the world closer together”, “give everyone the power to create” or “organize the world’s information” do it better?
Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr, David Bohnett, founder of Geocities, and Nancy Baym, Sr. Principal Research Manager, Microsoft Research, will reflect on the current state of creator platforms and social media as part of a long lineage and series of decisions that have made the Internet what it is today and discuss what today’s builders should consider in the next iteration of the web. This conversation will be moderated by BKC fellow Jad Esber.
This event will be recorded. Video and Audio will be available soon after the event.
Yes! We are on Clubhouse, and giving talks there. This one will be in partnership with Antler VC and Index Ventures, called on building thriving online communities, something for which Caterina has long been known. We look forward to seeing you there!
Join us Wednesday, February 24, 2021 from 10:00 –11:00 AM EST.
What do we look for in a founder and their product at Yes VC? Jyri answers this question, among many others, on Investor Connect.
The most interesting deals we look at here at Yes VC almost always have an AI component. AI is a huge part of the conversation at Yes VC, and we have done some deep thinking about what it can and can’t do–and what it should and shouldn’t do. Human-impersonating AI is a particular area of great potential but it comes with many possible outcomes, good and bad, that should be thought through. Some of these have been discussed in the most recent episode of Should This Exist? which involves a discussion of an app-based human-impersonating therapy AI intended to alleviate depression.
The first question was ask a founder is why they’re building the companies they’re building. We’re early stage investors, and so much of what we invest in is the ability, smarts and character of our founders. AI, with its tremendous transformative power, is a particular area where the founder’s character and motivation is of utmost importance. Listen to Should This Exist? and join us in thinking through AI and its implications.
The first episode of our new podcast, Should This Exist? is out! It’s a brand new kind of pitch show, where the entrepreneur pitches not just the business case, but the human case for their technology. Please listen and subscribe!
Caterina’s guest in the first episode is neurotech entrepreneur Daniel Chao, CEO of Halo Neuroscience. Halo is a headset that enhances the neuroplasticity of the motor cortex in your brain. It could bring about the dystopia of Gattaca, where only a select few get superhuman abilities… or usher in a new golden age where millions are virtuosos.
The show is produced in partnership with Quartz – here’s Caterina’s Quartz article on the question of our times, setting the stage for the show. The Executive Producers are June Cohen and Deron Triff, co-founders of WaitWhat, the media company behind Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale (June and Deron formerly ran media at TED for a combined 16 years).
Each episode will introduce a new entrepreneur pitching their technology, and there are some game-changers in the pipeline!
Welcome to our latest team member David Pickerell, who joins as an Associate. David has played many roles in Silicon Valley and brings a wealth of financial, investing and fundraising experience to Yes VC. Some highlights from David’s background:
- Grew up in Hong Kong
- Was President of the China Club at Harvard
- Set up Uber’s Las Vegas operation
- Helped Nauto raise $159M from Greylock and Softbank
- Worked as Analyst at Primavera, a Chinese private equity firm
- Joined Yes VC as an Associate on Jan 1st, 2019
Our portfolio company Public Goods launched its line of low-cost organic foods. One membership now gets you all of the essentials that people need and use every month. Give it a try!
We recently held our very first Yes VC Creative Director’s Summit, co-hosted by Pearlfisher, bringing together a remarkable group of creative directors who worked–or recently worked–at companies such as AirBnB, Apple, Facebook and others, who presented some of their projects, talked about major trends in human behavior and cultural change, and shared some of the challenges of being a creative person working in an engineering-dominated industry such as tech.
Caterina Fake of Yes VC–once a Creative Director herself!–presented on the idea of “scenius“, a term coined by Brian Eno. She talked about how scenes, specific to certain geographies, have created fantastic flowerings of creativity, and how the internet has dissipated the growth and flourishing of scenes. How can we recreate the Scenius of, say, Paris in the 20s, San Francisco in the 60s or Downtown New York in the 70s–but in a digital age? Insulating yourself from outside influence turns out to be important, working in a tightknit group, and delaying the release of your creations outside of the scene turn out to be instrumental in creating and maintaining a scene.
Hamish Campbell of Pearlfisher shared his creative process while working on the branding and launch of Seedlip, a distilled beverage company that creates a non-alcoholic drink based on an ancient recipe from a book published in 1651. Incredibly beautiful and strong work as you can see from this image:
There’s a great story behind the founding of Seedlip:
Over three hundred years ago, it was common for physicians to distil herbal remedies using copper stills, harnessing the power of nature & alchemy to solve medical maladies. In 1651, one such physician, John French, published The Art of Distillation documenting these non-alcoholic recipes. At that same time, a family in Lincolnshire had started farming, hand sowing seeds using baskets called ‘seedlips’.
Centuries later, Ben, Seedlip’s founder, stumbled across John French’s recipes & began experimenting with them in his kitchen, using a small copper still & herbs from his garden. That might have been the end of the story, if he hadn’t been given a sickly sweet pink mocktail one Monday evening in a restaurant. The result was the beginning of an idea to combine his farming heritage, love of nature, his copper still & forgotten recipes with the need for proper non-alcoholic options; a name inspired by the seed baskets carried by his family centuries before & a process of Seed to Lip: and so Seedlip was born.
Teemu Suviala, Creative Director at Facebook, using Malcolm Mclaren’s career as a model, presented a fascinating look at the connections between different stages in a person’s career, their seeming disconnection from each other, and how life, which is lived forwards, can only be understood backwards. Teemu explained how different stages of play, from constructive play to role play moves into stages of integration and building. Then the person (or team, or company) begins again with a new idea or project or product and the same thing happens again. Over a long career you can see these seemingly disparate projects merging miraculously into a cohesive whole and a magical, sustained career is created. Here’s Teemu’s diagram of the process:
There were many other presentations, too numerous and even too profound to adumbrate here. But it is always stimulating to thought, to creativity and to productivity to have these events and create a small scene for scenius to flower, no matter how brief.