Alternative Financial Services.

For decades, banks have achieved distribution through physical locations. The historical business model of banks was to be a checking account and then up-sell products like insurance and wealth management products.

Bank traffic is in decline 30% year over year. The underlying platform for financial services is changing towards mobile and millennials. 60% of millennials want startups firms to change how banks work. As a result, new startups are leveraging mobile ubiquity, data, and new consumer behaviors to disrupt and unbundle U.S. Banking. 

Big banks are constrained by legacy infrastructure. New players are targeting potential customers at their inflection points for efficient and effective customer acquisition. 

With all the “democratization” and innovation in Fintech, half of Americans live in an alternate financial services world: check cashing, pre-paid debit cards, and payday loans. There are $320B+ transactions per year with alternative financial services.

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Secondary and Tertiary Opportunities with Autonomy.

 

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Courtesy of Benjamin Marra.

It was easy to predict mass car ownership but hard to predict Walmart.

– Carl Sagan

I’m excited about the future of autonomous vehicles. However, my investment theses are less around the self-driving car itself. The most compelling opportunities will be the second-order, third-order, and fourth-order opportunities enabled by autonomous vehicles and the larger autonomy ecosystem.

It is likely that no full-stack self-driving car companies will emerge. There are too many challenges, and the stack has clear winners in each segment. OEMs like Tesla and Ford will commoditize the automobile itself. Furthermore, Uber, Lyft, and Google (Waze) will own the core data around routing and capacity, which are both central for the autonomy ecosystem to operate at scale. 

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When Bio will Eat the World.

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Courtesy of Vijay Pande’s presentation on When Biology Moves to Engineering. This image shows how Freedom leverages neural networks to detect cancer. Bio was once a discipline of religion, then empiricism, and now engineering.

I tweeted a thread today about Why Bio is Eating the World. Vijay Pande, a GP at A16Z Bio, commented and liked the thread. Vijay has a lot more expertise in this topic than me, so read his thoughts.

My synthesis of Vijay Pande’s ideas was mostly around why people with a longer-time horizon succeed with the Internet today. The Internet is a very efficient arbitrage of ideas, but a poor arbitrage of time.

Bio is the ultimate time arbitrage play with tremendous social and economic outcomes. My interest in “Why Bio will Eat the World” is not Kurzweilian. It’s that we are at the Information Age but haven’t yet reached the Age of Understanding.

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Wellness: the Next Seven Deadly Sins.

Roelof Botha, a famous consumer investor at Sequoia Capital, famously said that he invests in companies that let consumers indulge in one of the seven deadly sins. Chris Paik, another highly-regarded consumer investor that helped start Thrive Capital, synthesizes the seven deadly sins framework as follows:

 

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When Moore’s Law Ends: the Computing Resurgence.

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Courtesy of “The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology” by Ray Kurzweil. As Kurzweil notes, “Moore’s Law was not the first, but the Fifth Paradigm to provide exponential growth of computing.”

Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors on a microprocessor would double every 18 months in 1965. This forecasted that computing hardware would become commoditized, getting cheaper, faster, and smaller at an exponential rate. Moore’s Law has held up for the past 50 years, thereby becoming not only predictive but prescriptive of the exponentially accelerating rate of technological progress. 

Moore’s Law was never a law of nature but an economic principle. When  Moore’s Law became widely accepted in 1991, the semiconductor industry doubled down on supply chains, R&D, and industry maps in an effort to keep pace with Gordon Moore’s observation. This is industrial capitalism, not a law of nature like Dennard Scaling: a law that states as transistors become smaller, they use less power. However, Dennard Scaling broke down in 2006 with CPU speeds have not meaningfully since then. 

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