I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t post this yesterday.

I made a mix while flying on Sunday from DC to San Francisco that I’m calling 77.

Apparently SoundCloud doesn’t like me using Drake’s “Connect” as the opening, so I had to add a few effects to get around their flagging.

It’s called 77 for a few reasons — I was on Virgin America Flight 77, and the entire mix is recorded at 77bpm.

I’m still a beginner — this was recorded on an iPad — but you should vibe out to it.

Source: SoundCloud / bwats

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27th April 2014

Today, my sister completed the Nike Women’s Half Marathon — her first ever race!

I didn’t compete (although there were a few men…), but I’m feeling very inspired and may train to do my own half sometime soon.

There’s something really powerful about 15,000 people (35% were first-timers) coming together to support each other in an event that promotes well-being and a healthy lifestyle.

It’s also amazing to see how technology has enabled and increased the overall experience — her location was tracked and the whole family could follow along on a web app; we texted each other updates during the run; and her bib had an RFID chip that would display her name + words of encouragement on screens throughout the race (“You’re almost there!”).

All in all, it was a phenomenal event — major props to Nike & all of the sponsors.

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The Return of Radio

26th April 2014

I’m currently on a bus to DC, and for the last two and a half hours, I’ve been listening to last week’s Soulection Radio Show.

Earlier in the week, I also spent time listening to @jennydeluxe and @stevenstorms’s #Heartline on Bel-Air, a community radio station in Bushwick.

What I love about radio is that 1. It’s a great way of getting to know someone, 2. It’s a passive way of discovering new content, and 3. It can be super-engaging (q&a, confessions), if done right.

We’ve recently seen a premium on live content; but unlike sports & award shows, radio has a high replay value and can be played at home, in the car, or on the go.

I expect we’re just at the beginning of a radio renaissance — one across music, media, and commentary — and I can’t wait to listen (…and maybe start my own).

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25th April 2014

I just finished up a breakfast event, in which one of my friends asked me: “What’s your favorite company right now?”

In most cases, I would respond with a technology startup, but in all honesty, it’s probably Supreme.

Supreme is a 20-year-old streetwear brand that built itself off three core principles: scarcity, quality, and collaboration.

They produce their own line of clothing, but the real value is in their small-batch collaborations with everyone from Nike to The North Face to Brooks Brothers.

Everyone seems to have their own brand nowadays, but Supreme has managed its way to stay relevant despite competition with a simple business model — create community around your product, surprise them, and force them to pay attention.

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It’s Not About You

24th April 2014

If you live in downtown NYC (…or browse Google web properties, or read/watch “youth-skewing” content), you’ve probably come across the new YouTube ad campaign. 

I think it’s great because it doesn’t focus on the platform, it highlights the creators that are native to its platform.

The campaign promotes three YouTube broadcasters — Michelle Phan, Bethany Mota, and Rosanna Pansino — producing unique content that wouldn’t have found an audience in a pre-YouTube world.

The campaign has been successful both in terms of raising awareness for YouTube and driving new people to the broadcasters themselves; in fact, Phan has increased subscribers by +200k, Mota by +300k, and Pansino by +180k.

USV invests in many platforms, like YouTube, that empower creators, and we always urge our companies to remember one thing around major announcements and press: It’s not about you, it’s about them.

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Pay To Quit

23rd April 2014

Jeff Bezos recently published his latest Amazon shareholder letter, which discusses an interesting management tactic called Pay to Quit.

Pay to Quit is a program that offers associates at Amazon Fulfillment Centers a $2k (and up to $5k) cash bonus to quit their jobs with the goal to “encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want.”

When Zappos introduced this tactic in 2008, about 2-3% of employees took the offer; Amazon is reportedly seeing a “small percentage” acceptance rate.

As a large corporation, there is a wide gap between the cost of removing an unhappy employee and the gain of a productive replacement.

I wouldn’t suggest that all companies (especially those with small teams), use the Pay to Quit method, but it could be a useful tactic if one needs to re-organize and engage a large number of people.

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Paying It Forward

22nd April 2014

USV (& friends) invested in a company called Crowdrise yesterday — there’s a great crowdfunding argument, but it’s also important for another reason.

In an earlier life, I spent time at the JPMorgan Chase Foundation working on a program called Chase Community Giving.

The project’s goal was to leverage the brand’s extended social media reach (at that time ~2.5mm Facebook Fans) to let them vote and crowdsource the nonprofits that receive grants from the foundation.

While great in theory, I learned a valuable lesson that year — a vote is not an action — as the winning charities garnered votes (i.e. The Harry Potter Alliance*) but weren’t representative of larger issues like healthcare, global warming, etc.

Crowdrise is a platform that empowers people to donate to causes you care about through action (marathon campaigns, “challenges”) which, I believe, is a more efficient model of giving back and a better way to think about paying it forward. 

*I do love me some Harry Potter tho.

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