Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund Makes Monster Bet on Bitcoin

Few mainstream investors have bought large sums of bitcoin, scared off by concerns about cybersecurity and liquidity

Founders bought around $15 million to $20 million in bitcoin, and it has told investors the firm’s haul is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars after the digital currency’s ripping rise in the past year.

.. He previously ran a multibillion-dollar hedge fund focused on global macroeconomic trends, and had some success navigating the financial crisis before racking up investment losses by investing in safe havens and missing out on the subsequent rebound.

.. Founders has more than $3 billion under management and has taken stakes in more-than 100 companies, including Facebook, Airbnb Inc., SpaceX and Lyft. More recent investments include the crypto-focused hedge funds Metastable Capital and Polychain Capital, which puts money into blockchain companies.

MailChimp and the Un-Silicon Valley Way to Make It as a Start-Up

No venture capital, no Bay Area presence, no crazy burn
rate: MailChimp’s founders built the company slowly by
anticipating customers’ needs and following their instincts.

As a private company, MailChimp has long kept its business metrics secret, but Mr. Chestnut wants to publicize its numbers now to show the road less traveled: If you want to run a successful tech company, you don’t have to follow the path of “Silicon Valley.” You can simply start a business, run it to serve your customers, and forget about outside investors and growth at any cost.

.. “One of the problems with raising money is it teaches you bad habits from the start,” said Jason Fried, the co-founder of the software company Basecamp, who has written frequently on the perversions of the venture capital industry. “If you’re an entrepreneur and you have a bunch of money in the bank, you get good at spending money.”

.. At the time, MailChimp faced a host of larger and better-capitalized rivals, including Constant Contact, which went public late in 2007. But Mr. Chestnut said MailChimp had a proximity to its customers that its competitors lacked. Because MailChimp was itself a small business, it understood what those businesses wanted out of their marketing tools. Its offerings were cheaper, it added features more quickly, and it allowed greater customizations to fit customers’ needs.

.. The next phase of MailChimp, he said, is to become a one-stop shop for the entirety of a small business’s marketing needs.

.. “Every time we sat down with potential investors, they never seemed to understand small business,” Mr. Chestnut said. Venture capitalists always wanted MailChimp to serve “enterprise companies,” large businesses with thousands of employees and, potentially, thousands to spend.

“Everybody we talked to said, ‘You’re sitting on a gold mine, and if you pivot to enterprise, you could be huge,’” Mr. Chestnut said. “But something in our gut always said that didn’t feel right.”

a16z Podcast: Getting Network Effects

Metrics

  • Zuckerberg wanted 80% useage at Harvard with 50% daily activity retention
  • Do you get more value for more people using?
  • How much of the medium.com views came internally versus facebook and google?

Growth Hacks: In a two-sided network, who shows up first?

  • Mark Zuckerberg “hacked” the Harvard directory to pre-populate facebook with data.
  • Uber subsidized traffic around a city
  • Instacart subsidized until it built up a lever of orders with grocery stores.
  • when you subsidize, what is your ROI and lifetime value?
  • Open Table could take advantage of high fragmentation, where the suppliers didn’t have market paper

It is virtually impossible to displace OpenTable because you have to go market to local market

Thomas J. Perkins, Pioneering Venture Capitalist in Silicon Valley, Dies at 84

Mr. Perkins and his partners popularized a model of investment that involved putting small amounts of money into promising young start-ups in return for a stake in the companies, giving them advice and counsel to spur their growth.

.. He also publicly broke with Kleiner Perkins in 2014 after writing an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal in which he compared the “progressive war on the American 1 percent” to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

.. David A. Kaplan, who wrote a biography of Mr. Perkins titled “Mine’s Bigger: The Extraordinary Tale of the World’s Greatest Sailboat and the Silicon Valley Tycoon Who Built It” (2007), said in an interview on Thursday that Mr. Perkins’s “legacy won’t be helped by all the excessive things he said in recent years and the grudges he nursed,” though he was a “seminal figure” for Silicon Valley.