Looking at Europe from Silicon Valley at Slush 2013

The fabulous Slush crew has posted a 13 minute video of my speech on how does European tech scene look from Silicon Valley these days:

If you rather prefer long form reading (and to contribute to discussion), this short version later expanded into a series of 3 blog posts :

 


So… What Does an EIR Actually Do?

This has been a persistent question since I started my Entrepreneur in Residence gig at Andreessen Horowitz, and one that I have had to both figure out for myself and explain over and over again. If you explicitly search for it, you can find an occasional article or Quora thread on the topic – but as people rightfully point out in those, it is a rather vague role that varies in each case and from VC firm to firm. So, once-and-for-all, here’s what it’s been like for me so far.

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On Bridges, Part 3: What Can Europe Give to Silicon Valley?

Bridge_drawingThis is the final post of 3 contemplating how Silicon Valley and European tech scenes could get closer to each other. The series are an expansion of a short speech I gave at Slush conference in November 2013 – video of which should be online soon. I believe this topic calls for more discussion and thinking along than 15 one-directional minutes on conference stage allowed. To get up to speed, read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

After looking at the widening gap between European and Silicon Valley tech scenes and establishing that the usual first priority, raising money from the other side might not be the most feasible way to fix this – the questions becomes: how can we build more non-financial ties between our scenes?

As US is not paying close attention I believe that the key to the solution is on the European side. And to succeed in driving this change in relationships, Europe needs a mindset shift.

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On Bridges, Part 2: Why Should Europe Care for Silicon Valley

Bridge_drawingThis post is 2nd of 3 discussing ways Silicon Valley and European tech scene could get closer to each other. The series are an expansion of a short speech I gave at Slush conference in November 2013 – video of which should be online soon. I believe this topic calls for more discussion and thinking along than 15 one-directional minutes on conference stage. As an intro, see Part 1 here.

Europe’s tech scene is buzzing. Those of us who have been on both sides can attest that the people innovating there, business models attempted and technologies applied in Europe are very much aligned with what’s happening in Silicon Valley, despite of the separation. So it would make sense to link up more, right?

As a healthy sanity check before jumping to that conclusion, let us ask: why would we need stronger ties? Looking from Europe, that is.

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On Bridges, Part 1: Realizing how Europe and Silicon Valley are drifting apart

Bridge_drawingThis post is 1st of 3 in the series aimed at discussing ways Silicon Valley and European tech scenes could contribute to and gain more from each other. The series are an expansion of a short speech I gave at Slush conference in November 2013 (video of which should be online soon) but I believe this topic is calls for more discussion and thinking along than 15 one-directional minutes on conference stage.

If you were to sit in the audience of any European tech summit these days you get soaked in action around you. Would it be TechCrunch Disrupt Europe, LeWeb, or the raising 5000-attendee rocket of the region, Slush in the November darkness of Helsinki – there is no arguing that the European startup scene is in its most bustling, vibrant shape ever.

Yet, a lot of this exciting renaissance seems still to be constrained to the Old World continent.
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VC Funds Go Where Immigrants Come From

Thinking about the linkages between US and European tech investment and startup scenes ahead of the Slush conference in 10 days, I found an interesting paper: Deal or No Deal: The Growth of International Venture Capital Investment (PDF here) by Pandya and Leblang of University of Virginia.

Recommended reading in full for anyone who cares about intercontinental talent and capital flows, but I just wanted to share this fascinating graph:

immigrantinvest

You can often hear how foreign investments and emigration are discussed as linearly opposite ends of a see-saw: if you get more of cash invested into your country from abroad your skilled talent can stay home and build companies there as opposed to seeking interesting challenges abroad. What the authors show here is rather a two-way street, another re-inforcing cycle where the movement of talented people will eventually build into increased cross-border investment of capital:

We find that US VC firms invest more frequently in countries that have large populations of skilled migrants residing in the US. In stark contrast to existing FDI research, we find that recipient countries political institutions have limited  influence over the volume of venture capital deals.


Sten @ a16z

August 1st marked the end of my 8+ year journey with Skype, after returning from an academic break at Stanford. As expected, the top incoming question following my departure tweet has been “what’s next” – so let me share a bit more.

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Robots Remake the Workplace

Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot speaking... via a robot

Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot speaking… via a robot

Spent half a day today at legendary research hub SRI International, for Xconomy-organized robotics forum (see full agenda here), listening to an impressive lineup of industry pioneers of mass-market appealing robotics talk about their businesses. Some speakers were still physically on stage, others embodied inside telepresence robots, of course. And answering to a recurring moderator question if robots will take away human jobs with a recurring “no”.

As Steve Jurvetson (yes, we keep having these sweet Estonian reunions) put it well in the final venture capital panel: it would be absurd to think that “we should pull Excel out of organisations, because we would create more jobs when people tabulated numbers manually again.” The times they are a-changin’, and for sure not  back towards a robot-less world.

See brief notes from all the sessions (and a bunch of videos of cool commercially available robots in action!) below the fold.

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A Little Different Book Review

The most surprisingly resonating fiction book I’ve read in a while inspired a little more experimentally formatted review:
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The Stanford Bubbles

As I was elected to be the Sloan Fellows representative to our school’s newspaper The GSB Reporter for this year and even though I have (see Herbert’s reflection on organizing our flash mob) and will be recruiting classmates to do most of the writing, I did submit an opinion below into the first issue that came out this week. Re-posting it here as getting the paper fully online is one of the priorities for the editorial team, but a work in progress. And for the non-local readers, have spiced the text up with some hyperlinks for background & context.

The Stanford Bubbles

The heat of the Summer quarter on campus, a luxurious head start the Sloan Fellows of GSB had this year left us a little space to ponder where have we landed. Walking one day between our campus lawns maintained exclusively with nail clippers, so lush green on the backdrop of deeply burned hillsides around The Dish it suddenly struck me:

We are truly living in a bubble here.

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