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Lessons from Albert Wenger (Managing Partner @ USV)

Albert Wenger is one managing partners at Union Square Ventures.

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He has been with the firm since 2008, and he has led investments into some of the more notable names in their portfolio. Albert is a macro investor, and from our research, you can tell that his acumen comes from thinking about technology through a 30,000 foot view.

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He was an early blockchain proponent, and most of his recent writing revolves around the secondary impact of AI.

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Here are some of our favorite lessons, quotes, and additional reading from studying Albert.

Albert Wenger (USV)

Lessons

  • Deal flow quantity is the wrong statistic to optimize. Focus on quality over everything.
  • The internet has unlocked seemingly-endless revenue models.
  • Zero marginal costs and universality are properties that have changed creation and consumption.
  • Capital used to be a restraint for innovation, but this is no longer the case.
  • Attention is a fundamental scarcity. Understanding where the world’s attention lies is the biggest challenge for leaders today.
  • You have to be a rational optimist to invest in startups.
  • The future does not repeat the past, but it does rhyme with it. In order to understand the future, you have to study how we got here.
  • The school system we have built was built for the industrial age. New forms of education should help young people discover what they are passionate about rather than lecturing them on what used to be important.
  • Network effects have turned the distribution of outcomes from normal to power laws. This creates winner-take-all dynamics that you could argue harm society as a whole.
  • Everybody is chasing network effects. You have to look for these in non-obvious places.

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Quotes

“Quantity is easy to measure, quality is difficult to measure.”

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“The number one challenge in building a great company is understanding yourself.”

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“Every age of humanity has a defining scarcity. Humanity invents new technology, and that technology defines what that scarcity is.”

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“Each time, the β€˜space of the possible’ expands dramatically, the defining constraint for humanity shiftsβ€”meaning the allocation problem that most fundamentally needs to be solved in order to meet humanity’s basic needs changes. Digital technology is now shifting scarcity from capital to attention.”

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“To be a good operator requires really good people skills and a high degree of focus on a very narrow field.”

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“Your best prediction for how long something will be around is how long it has been around.”

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