Above the Crowd

Disrupting Finance From Above: Wealthfront

June 18, 2014:

Many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley believe that the financial services industry in the United States is “ripe for disruption. ” The basis of this argument is really two fold. First, they believe that the current offerings from the financial incumbents are lacking. They would argue that credit card fees are too high, that there is a lack of true competition amongst American financial institutions, and that the ACH process is borderline asinine. They also believe that today’s technologies, most notably the smartphone, should allow for remarkably simpler one-click paperless transactions that have transaction costs that are a fraction of the status quo. Consumers want faster, simpler, and cheaper transactions, and entrepreneurs want to give it to them. The problem […]

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HackerOne: A Superior Solution for Solving Web Vulnerabilities

May 28, 2014:

In early April, Neel Mehta of Google first publicly reported the web vulnerability that we now refer to as the Heartbleed bug . Early analysis suggested that 17% of the servers on the Internet were vulnerable, which represents about half a million unique computers. This list included some of the world’s most heavily trafficked sites including Facebook, Google, and Yahoo. On Monday May 5th, Target Corporation removed Gregg Steinhafel from his role as CEO as a result of his unsatisfactory response to a cyber security threat that compromised millions of user accounts at the retail giant. The Boston Globe suggested that “ Target’s data theft leaves CEOs everywhere on the hot seat .” The Seattle Times declared […]

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A Deeper Look at Uber’s Dynamic Pricing Model

March 11, 2014:

Over the course of the past year, many writers have offered their perspectives on Uber’s dynamic pricing strategy. Perhaps the only consistency is that people have deeply passionate views on this topic. However, there are still many misperceptions about how the model works, and the purpose of this post is to clarify some of those misperceptions. I am an Uber investor and board member, and therefore expect that many will dismiss these thoughts as naked bias. But consider that as a result of my role I have access to more information that might enable a deeper perspective. I also have […]

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On Bubbles …

January 24, 2014:

Over the past few months, many journalists have begun to ask the question that no one really wants to hear; “Is Silicon Valley in another technology bubble?” It’s a dangerous question to ponder – especially out loud and especially here at ground zero. Silicon Valley thrives on optimism, and anyone waving the bubble flag is auditioning for the title of nonbeliever or party pooper. There is another reason it is dangerous to predict the arrival of a bubble. It was 1996 when Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan first uttered the now historic phrase “ irrational exuberance .” Even though things were frothy […]

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Stitch Fix: Reinventing Retail Through Personalization

October 17, 2013:

Early this year Amie Fineberg, who has been my amazing assistant for over 10 years, mentioned that she and several other employees at Benchmark had fallen in love with a new ecommerce service, and that I might want to check it out. The company, which the founder cleverly named “Stitch Fix,” had a remarkably unique offering compared to other women’s fashion experiences. Customers are first asked to fill out an in depth profile to help identify their size, style, and preferences. Then, on the customer’s requested date, the company sends a personally styled offering (a Fix) of five items (previously […]

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