I think the bigger objections than "fairness" are:
1. These might not be good funding decisions. Maybe investing in Keith Rabois's new startup is a bad decision, but it is only happening because he's a partner at Khosla. If you're an LP in a VC fund, this is something you could reasonably be concerned about.
2. If you're an entrepreneur pitching to a investors, you expect that the pitch is being taken in good faith. If the investor is just taking your pitch so that they can access your proprietary information and use it to inform their own startup (funded by the firm you're pitching), that's pretty wack.
I have literally no information about these examples, so it wouldn't be meaningful for me to hold an opinion on whether or not impropriety is occurring. I also think that Keith Rabois probably has enough of a track record that he could easily raise funding for pretty much whatever he wants to do. I also suspect that most entrepreneurs aren't particularly worried about point 2.
Nonetheless, this is clearly right at the nexus of the objections that people raise about SV: that it's an old boy's network masquerading as a "meritocracy". It just smells fishy. Sometimes things smell fishy and are OK... but there's always a cost to doing things that smell fishy: the appearance of impropriety is often just as harmful as impropriety itself.
VCs are under no obligation to invest in outsiders at all.
Yes, it's an old boys network, old boys networks are not illegal nor are they bad. In fact they give the younger boys a fantastic opportunity to side-step the whole thing and start their own network, that's exactly what YC has done.
Whenever you see something like this there is an opportunity.
Yeah, sure. I don't think that contradicts my post: I'm just saying that people might be concerned about those things, and an LP might question whether a given VC firm is best managing the assets under its control. The author didn't say that VC firms were obliged to invest in outsiders, just that these rules might give LPs more confidence that firms were behaving properly and in their investors best interests.
That's not a wishy-washy "fairness" thing: it's a concern about whether the firm is fulfilling its obligations to its backers. You don't have to agree with the concern... but it isn't an unreasonable thing to be worried about.
The author is not an LP with a VC. He feels he's in competition with the VC partners for their money, different situation entirely.
As an LP he might take issue with this, but for that you have to be an LP first and LPs typically do not take issue with this but actually feel that their money is well spent (whether that's correct or not is another matter).
1) If you're an LP and you think this type of thing is a really big deal, don't put your money in a fund that does it.
2) Even if they didn't invest in themselves, they could just as easily give your idea to a more competent entrepreneur and invest in her instead. If you're really worried about your proprietary idea being stolen, you shouldn't be in these meetings.
Sure. But I think the author's point was that he does find these concerning, and that other people (LPs and entrepreneurs) might also find them concerning if they were more aware of them, and that he thinks that VC firms should institute rules against them.
So yeah, you can totally have the perspective that those two points don't matter. I'm not saying that you should think that they matter. But some people do think they matter, and I don't think it is wholly unreasonable to feel that way.
My goal with my earlier comment wasn't to make you agree with the author. It was just to point out that the author's points aren't just about "fairness": they're also about whether VC firms are best delivering value to LPs.
On a nitpick point: I never said "idea". The idea that people are worried only about "ideas" is silly. There are other things to worry about: if you're raising a series B and are providing data about your business, that data potentially has concrete value beyond merely an "idea". I don't personally think it's at all unreasonable to be concerned about people misusing that data.
But in baseball, almost every player has to play in the minors first. The majority of minor leaguers don't make it to the majors... but it isn't usually possible to tell which type of minor leaguer you'll be for a few years.
So in pursuing professional baseball, you really do open yourself to a significant risk of finding that you're 26 and spent the last five years making very little money and now you don't have a job, or any professional skills beyond the offseason job you may have worked.
I agree: I was being pedantic, but I don't think inaccurate: there is surely some case: the USA declared war and didn't actually achieve their principal objectives.
Does awarding "victory" depend upon who declares war? Surely there's some case to be made that for Britain, maintaining the status quo was a victory: unlike the USA they hadn't aimed for a change from the status quo.
The US did not attempt to invade and seize Canada and fail at it. The War of 1812 wasn't much more than a short-duration skirmish between Britain and the US, with both still bitter about the Revolutionary War and the various dealings and arrangements that came out of it.
Well, there were attempts, but they were extremely half-assed attempts. Often, the militia that made up the bulk of the U.S. army at that time would refuse to cross outside their state lines, which aborted several planned campaigns to attack into upper and lower Canada.
The whole affair isn't much more than a weird side-show of the Napoleonic wars, although you'd never know that from the way it is presented in most U.S. history textbooks.
Although the "chop a finger" tactic might be a worry in some exceptional cases... in the vast majority of cases I think "punch someone in the face until they reveal their password" is a more plausible tactic.
It also just doesn't matter for a lot of cases. A lot of the systems people often think of as super important and secure and permanent (like banking) have a fair amount of wiggle room for rollback in the event of fraud/crime/etc, and policies/processes to minimize the extent to which you can carry out irreversible transactions. Security is imperfect, so there's value in a system which is robust to security failure.
Every time you take an UberPool and aren't matched to another rider, Uber pays out more to the driver than you pay to Uber (for unmatched UberPool rides riders get a 20% discount, but drivers get their full payout: this generally obliterates Uber's margin).
I actually think that this comment highlights that centralization can come in quite sneakily.
Email's a great example. You could set up your own email server, but doing so in such a way that you don't harm your ability to get emails into people's inboxes is problematic in all sorts of ways: you've got a good chance of being classified as spam. So even though the system is decentralized, the fact that most users are centralized within a few big players means that those parties can unilaterally impose rules that cut off users who don't participate in the centralized ecosystem.
In short: if Coinbase becomes sufficiently large, they could have the de facto power to disadvantage people who choose to use bitcoin outside of major centralized services.
This isn't to say that a system can't tend more or less to centralization: sure, it can, and Bitcoin could have a strong tendency to make unilaterally enforced centralization hard. But even good technical solutions are vulnerable to social forces, and social forces can be very powerful.
I think you're overstating how much private mail servers are penalized. I've run several on colocated machines, and delivering emails to the major providers has never been a problem. You have to make sure that your colo gives you IP addresses that aren't on any blacklists, but other than that it's fine.
Email is decentralized, that means I can quit Gmail any time I want and use another service. Or even start my own.
Git is decentralized, that means I can quit Github any time I want and use another service to host my repositories.
Bitcoin is the same: I'm not locked into Coinbase, I can switch them for another service, personal wallet on a phone, a hardware wallet, or a combination of them. Move my coins to a company in another jurisdiction etc.
Just the very fact of how easy it is to switch, creates a pressure on your provider and makes them work harder.
US banking is not decentralized. I cannot simply take dollars out to some other service or wallet. Moving them takes a lot of time, there is no privacy, there is suspicious reports and interrogation everywhere, civil forfeiture laws and for another jurisdiction, I have to sell dollars for another currency which incurs fees, risks etc.
In short: Bitcoin is like Git, fiat money and banking is like CVS.
I'm not disputing that you can do those things. But I'm saying that when a particular provider is sufficiently powerful, they have the capability to make those options less appealing, either malevolently or inadvertently.
You could move your open source project away from GitHub, but if GitHub is sufficiently popular that most people don't understand how the patch system works in git, and hence don't know how to contribute without using the affordances that GitHub offers, then you will incur a cost by doing so.
The point I'm making is that if the majority of people using a decentralized system via a centralized wrapper, and if interaction with those people is a priority, then it is possible for the provider of that centralized wrapper to make it harder for you to interact with their customers without yourself using the centralized wrapper. The more they do so, the less value there is to you (the decentralized user) in the millions/billions of people using decentralized service X through centralized wrapper Y, because they're effectively unreachable unless you also use said centralized wrapper.
This can happen by continuing to use the decentralized infrastructure, but penalizing participants who aren't accessing the infrastructure through a popular system. Alternatively, it can happen by having the decentralized infrastructure co-opted, so even though the service to some extent interacts with it, most user interaction actually exists entirely within the centralized system.
I mean, it doesn't seem crazy for me to imagine a world in which (eg) as a Coinbase user there's some monetary advantage to receiving payments from Coinbase members vs the wider Bitcoin world. At which point maybe merchants want you to pay via "Coinbase Send" (or w/e this hypothetical service is called) rather than pure Bitcoin transactions. At which point, sure, Bitcoin is the underlying unit of value, but no-one is actually using Bitcoin transactions (Coinbase is just moving around their internal accounting DB records), and hence the fact that things are counted in Bitcoin is basically a historical artifact.
I have no idea what will happen. My argument is just that I don't think that it is impossible for decentralized systems to be functionally neutered when people mostly interact with them through centralized wrappers.
I'm a little concerned that over time, it is going to become more difficult and less private to move money out of Coinbase. Even now they ask you "where do you send your money? is it another website?" when you try to withdraw. This is unacceptable.
I'm talking about a whole community, not individuals. If some individuals are burned using centralized service, all others can learn from it and move elsewhere or choose more wisely. Not so with banking system which burns everyone and no one can opt out or compete with it.
One day blockchain.info stopped working for me (I think they mistakenly banned lots of IPs). And yes, I simply withdrew my money out of it. I just loaded my private key in a mobile wallet and swept the coins.
Apparently Coinbase now offers a multi-signature feature, so people could do the same.
I've filed a total of zero tax forms with the UK government in my lifetime. I've filed several hundred with the US government in a couple of years (and paid third parties money to file "for me" because filing directly is insanely difficult).
Guess it depends on what you mean by significant. Mine is a significant burden, but I'm probably unusual, so I checked the national averages.
The IRS says the average time to complete a tax return is 13 hours:
- 12% complete 1040EZ at 4 hours each,
- 19% complete 1040A at 7 hours each,
- 69% complete 1040 at 16 hours each .
Since some 150 million returns will be filed this year , that's an aggregate of almost 2 billion hours spent. That's just federal, of course. States are probably less time each, since they piggyback on federal, but there's certainly some time spent there.
Many people fill out the 1040-EZ themselves (a one-page form you can use if you just take the standard deductions and have no unusual tax situations). However, if you can deduct more than the standard deduction, you have non-trivial investments, or any of numerous other situations apply, you have to fill out the full 1040 form, and that requires sufficient effort that there's a substantial tax preparation industry in the US.
That said, there shouldn't be; there's quite a bit of lobbying by the aforementioned tax prep industry to prevent simplification of taxes to the point where everyone could simply file them on their own, as well as to prevent the establishment of an online government-hosted tax prep system. And that's completely ridiculous. The IRS already has more than enough information to simply send everyone a pre-calculated bill.
Yep. The proper reply would be, "Thanks. But, I don't work for your company and am not bound by those rules. In fact, it's the policy of journalists to seek the truth regardless of your company policy."
I think their issue is that TaskRabbit contractors can't talk to journalists without going through corporate PR. (While nothing prohibits a journalist from asking, I'm sure the contractors would be terminated for speaking with journalists if corporate found out.)
I would have assumed PG had eaten at decent restaurants, so the endorsement is weird. You can get OK salmon in a frying pan, but like pretty much every protein, you'll probably get better results with sous vide + a quick sear/blowtorch.
Conveniently, it's also easier than frying, requires less hands-on time, and is tremendously repeatable. And you can now buy all the gear you need for about the price of one of these pans!
Honestly, we've tried sous vide before. Pantelligent is tastier. For many practical reasons, I believe that sous vide is not likely to become a standard household kitchen item. A frying pan and smartphone already are. See also comments here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8626599