Let’s Talk About the Venture Wreckage

A reminder for new readers. That Was The Week collects the best writing on critical issues in tech, startups, and venture capital. I select the articles because they are of interest. The selections often include things I disagree with. The articles are only snippets. Click on the headline to go to the original. I express my point of view in the editorial and the weekly video below.

This Week’s Video and Podcast:

Content this week from @gideonrachman, @Tabby_Kinder, @KateClarkTweets, @askhalid, @DanKuhn13, @mvpeers, @maskedmanmarc, @BitcoinSVTrain, @IanBremmer, @IKrietzberg, @a16Z, @JagmeetS13, @EllenYChang, @Dexerto, @elonmusk, @finkd


Editorial: The Venture Wreckage

Essays of the Week

Europe has fallen behind America and the gap is growing

Silicon Valley VCs rush into defence technology start-ups

Antitrust Threat to Figma-Adobe Deal Thwarts Hopes for VC Rebound

Spotify’s podcast plan is going off the rails

FTC’S Amazon Lawsuit Is ‘Silly’ If Not Insulting, Analyst Says

What the FTC Misses With Amazon Lawsuit

In VC Ranking, New & Small Firms Make The Biggest Splash

Video of the Week

Ian Bremmer’s ‘new globalization, a digital global order’: Will it work for us, or against us?

News Of the Week

Molten Ventures still hamstrung by dismal trading backdrop

Big Tesla Rival Latest to Partner Up With The EV Leaders

Masayoshi Son Ends Seven-Month Silence to Make Case for SoftBank’s Future

Visualizing BlackRock’s Top Equity Holdings

Twitter Rolls Out 25k Character Tweets for Twitter Blue Subscribers

UK Considers New Law To Label AllL AI-Generated Content

Andreessen Horowitz creates ‘Perennial’ evergreen fund amid market slowdown

Startup of the Week

Tesla Supercharger Network: Gas Station for EVs in Future

Tweet of the Week

Elon Must and Mark Zuckerberg to Stage a Cage Fight

Editorial: The Venture Wreckage

One of this week’s news stories comes from the UK. Molten Ventures, a listed VC fund, reported its finances shortly after reducing the valuation of Revolut, a portfolio company, by 40%. Molten is trading at £2.79 a share with a net asset value of £7.80 a share. A discount of 65%. Molten is a good investor and plays a strategic role in the UK and European ecosystem; It was previously known as Draper Espirit. So where is its focus?

Group chief executive, Martin Davis, confirmed that “cash preservation and balance sheet management” are the main priorities while markets remain subdued, although perhaps the main long-term challenge facing management is the general reduction in market liquidity. 

Cash preservation, balance sheet management in the short term, and liquidity long term.

This is a pretty decent appraisal of the state of venture capital globally. The asset class has a few fundamental challenges. Some are short-term, and others are structural.

The investments made between 2020 and 2022 are almost entirely over-priced in today’s market. 2023 deals are being done at more realistic valuations.

Overpriced deals translate into a slowdown in subsequent funding rounds as companies preserve cash in order to avoid raising. So valuations stall at unrealistically high prices.

Fund managers do not draw down as much if any, capital from their LPs.

LPs cannot fund new funds as aggressively due to locked-up earlier funds not being liquid.

Growth investors have all but disappeared from the market, making mid-stage investments harder, as the future value cannot be assessed.

New managers cannot raise funds as easily.

Opportunity Funds are no longer a good idea as opportunities to invest in winners dry up.

New startups, not impacted by the 2020-2022 market, attract seed funds more easily, although at realistic valuations.

There are many other symptoms of the hangover from those three years. Suffice it to say that there is a new focus on actual cash returns from funds to their investors. IRR, MOIC, and TVPI are mocked. Only DPI is considered real. For the uninitiated:

IRR – Internal Rate of Return – measures the annualized paper gains made by investors, with time as a major variable.

MOIC – Multiple on Invested capital – measures the paper gains of investments based on dividing the current value of an asset by its starting value at the investment.

TVPI – Total Value to Paid In Capital – measures the real plus paper gains compared to all capital drawn down from investors. Most TVPI is paper-gain heavy.

DPI – Distributions to Paid In Capital – measures actual cash returned to investors compared to the amount they have given to a manager so far.

Only this last one is a measure of cash returns or represents liquidity. Venture as an asset class is inherently illiquid. It often takes over ten years for an investment to become liquid; many never do.

This normal state of affairs has not been a major focus in recent years because paper gains have been so fast and high that liquidity was not a concern. But as the valuations piled up and stalled, the lack of liquidity has been a major concern. Without it, new money cannot flow into new opportunities. This has led to things like Tiger Global seeking to exit its positions at a large discount, no matter the price. Liquidity has become more important than value or is seen as the only real value.

My point of view is that the venture asset class has to rethink its structure to consider the need for liquidity and the refactoring of capital into new investments. Waiting more than ten years for a cash return is no longer viable.

There are many approaches to liquidity. The market for buyers of secondary positions is one and is vibrant at the right (low) price. But I prefer combining publicly listed venture vehicles with secondary market liquidity solutions.

Placing capital into a permanent structure (as Andreessen Horowitz did this week and Sequoia before them) makes it possible to express the underlying value of assets in a single unit or share of the holding entity. Of course, as Molten shows, this alone is insufficient. The entity may be valued at a large discount to the asset value. So it has to be combined with a second element – liquidity.

If the holding entity is a public company and also takes part in regular and predictable secondary sales, with the proceeds being put back into investments, then it becomes an asset owner with a growing and recurring income stream. Markets value cash and growth. A company structure with income and high-growth assets solves many of the structural problems to venture capital today.

Seed, Venture, and Growth investors can benefit from this approach by creating a freer cash flow to all parts of the venture ecosystem.

Essays of the Week

Europe has fallen behind America and the gap is growing

From technology to energy to capital markets and universities, the EU cannot compete with the US


The Ukraine war has revived the transatlantic alliance. But the relationship between the US and its European allies is increasingly lopsided.

The US economy is now considerably richer and more dynamic than the EU or Britain — and the gap is growing. That will have an impact well beyond relative living standards. Europe’s dependence on the US for technology, energy, capital and military protection is steadily undermining any aspirations the EU might have for “strategic autonomy”.

In 2008, the EU and the US economies were roughly the same size. But since the global financial crisis, their economic fortunes have dramatically diverged. As Jeremy Shapiro and Jana Puglierin of the European Council on Foreign Relations point out: “In 2008 the EU’s economy was somewhat larger than America’s: $16.2tn versus $14.7tn. By 2022, the US economy had grown to $25tn, whereas the EU and the UK together had only reached $19.8tn. America’s economy is now nearly one-third bigger. It is more than 50 per cent larger than the EU without the UK.”

The aggregate figures are shocking. Underpinning them is a picture of a Europe that has fallen behind — sector by sector.

The European technology landscape is dominated by US firms such as Amazon, Microsoft and Apple. The seven largest tech firms in the world, by market capitalisation, are all American. There are only two European companies in the top 20 — ASML and SAP. Whereas China has developed domestic tech giants of its own, European champions are often acquired by American companies. Skype was bought by Microsoft in 2011; DeepMind was bought by Google in 2014. The development of AI is also likely to be dominated by American and Chinese firms.

The leading universities that feed the pipeline of tech start-ups in the US are lacking in the EU. The Shanghai and THE rankings of the world’s top universities both have only one EU institution in the top 30. (Britain does better — courtesy of Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial and others.)

In 1990, Europe made 44 per cent of the world’s semiconductors. That figure is now 9 per cent; compared with 12 per cent for America. Both the EU and the US are rushing to build up their capabilities. But while the US is expected to see 14 new semiconductor plants come on stream by 2025, Europe and the Middle East will add just 10 — compared with 43 new facilities in China and Taiwan.

Both the US and the EU are looking to turn this situation around with ambitious industrial policies that provide public finance and incentives for chip manufacturers and producers of electric vehicles. But the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency gives the Americans the ability to finance their ambitions, without spooking the markets. As one European industrialist puts it: “They can just swipe the credit card.” The EU, by contrast, has a much smaller budget and has only just begun issuing common debt.

Private capital is also much more readily available in the US. Paul Achleitner, chair of the global advisory board at Deutsche Bank, says that Europe is now “almost totally dependent on US capital markets”. He tells me that Europe has very few of the large pension funds that give depth to the US capital markets, adding that: “If you want to get anything sizeable done — whether it is an acquisition or an IPO — you always go back to American investors.” The EU has spoken a lot about creating a “capital markets union” to give Europe some of the scale of the US. But progress has been feeble….

Silicon Valley VCs rush into defence technology start-ups

War in Ukraine and geopolitical tensions lead to belief that fledgling companies will get a share of US Pentagon budget

Tabby Kinder in San Francisco

 JUNE 20 2023

Investment in military tech start-ups is booming as the war in Ukraine and geopolitical tensions with China lead to growing confidence that the US government will give lucrative contracts to Silicon Valley companies making cutting-edge defence systems.

US venture capitalists have agreed more than 200 defence and aerospace deals in the first five months of this year worth nearly $17bn — more than the sector raised during the entire of 2019, according to data from PitchBook.

This boom has mirrored the gold rush also experienced by the artificial intelligence sector, even as investment in start-ups in other parts of the tech industry has plummeted in recent months amid a broader downturn.

US venture investment in defence start-ups surged from less than $16bn in 2019 to $33bn in 2022, PitchBook data shows. Investors piled a record $14.5bn into such start-ups in the first quarter of this year.

Silicon Valley had shunned defence technology for years, spooked by association with controversial overseas conflicts and wary of the Pentagon’s notoriously slow and risk-averse procurement process, which has favoured established defence contractors.

According to interviews with more than 15 investors and founders, this wariness has given way to a belief that start-ups are finally in line to take a significant share of the US’s mammoth defence budget, which has grown over two decades to reach a record $886bn for 2024.

Large VCs including Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital have begun to invest in companies that build defence products as well as, for the first time, “kinetic” weapons systems, a military reference to active warfare including lethal force.

“We are seeing more VCs saying they are comfortable investing in start-ups doing . . . tech that can have a kinetic effect used purely for the military,” Mike Brown, a partner at San Francisco-based Shield Capital and the former director of the defence innovation unit at the US Department of Defence….

Antitrust Threat to Figma-Adobe Deal Thwarts Hopes for VC Rebound

By Kate Clark

June 22, 2023 12:49 PM PDT

Adobe’s $20 billion plan to buy design software startup Figma in September offered Silicon Valley venture capitalists brief relief from the downturn’s tight grip. But they might want to put the champagne away.  

European regulators plan to launch an investigation of Adobe’s deal, the Financial Times reported earlier this week. A few months earlier, Bloomberg reported that the U.S. Department of Justice was also preparing to sue to block the deal. Adobe can certainly move on without Figma, but Figma’s venture capital backers have substantial returns riding on it. 

The Figma deal initially made headlines for a number of reasons. For one, it arrived during a deal desert, and the $20 billion price made our heads spin. Not only was it the largest acquisition of a private startup to date, but the $20 billion valuation was 50 times Figma’s expected annual recurring revenue of $400 million for 2022. To compare, Salesforce paid 26 times forward revenue when it bought Slack.

The other major headline, which I wrote about at the time, was what a big win this was for Index Ventures, Greylock Partners and Kleiner Perkins, who led Figma’s first four funding rounds starting a decade ago. Both Index and Greylock had stakes of about 13%, worth around $2.6 billion, at the time of the deal’s announcement, while Kleiner had a roughly 10.5% stake worth about $2.1 billion. 

Spokespeople for Index, Greylock and Kleiner didn’t return a request for comment. Adobe is still hopeful the deal will go through: In a statement, a representative for the company said it was having “constructive discussions” with the DOJ and looks “forward to successfully completing the transaction.”

Other top VC firms have a vested interest in the survival of this deal in a frigid antitrust environment. Sequoia Capital also had a stake of about 6% stake worth $1.2 billion when the deal was announced and Andreessen Horowitz, which led a $50 million Series D round in 2020, valuing Figma at $2 billion, will walk away with several hundred million dollars if the sale goes through.

Of course, antitrust threats aren’t always bad news for startup backers. Recall Plaid’s case. In early 2021, the fintech startup terminated a $5.3 billion agreement to sell to Visa after federal antitrust regulators sued to block the deal. The startup then went to raise a new round of financing at a $13.4 valuation, or more than double the abandoned Visa deal.  

But these are different times. Plaid’s valuation has sunk to less than $8 billion on the secondary market, according to Notice, a provider of secondary market data. And given the current market for startup equity prices, it’s unlikely Plaid will ever reach the $13.4 billion valuation it earned in 2021. CEO Zach Perret late last year, in announcing layoffs of 20% of staff, admitted he had overestimated the company’s ability to grow revenue. 

This climate makes it unlikely that Figma’s investors could expect any better alternative than Adobe. Few VC firms have had even a glimmer of hope for liquidity over the last two years and, except for last week’s 99% day-of stock pop of fast-casual Mediterranean chain Cava, there’s not been much going on in the way of exits.

If Figma fails to complete its Adobe deal, that won’t help matters: It could discourage acquirers from going after other startups, one of the best hopes for VC funds until the initial public offering market truly thaws.

Spotify’s podcast plan is going off the rails

The company is entering the ‘next phase’ of its podcast strategy — but will it learn from its mistakes?

By Amrita Khalid, one of the authors of audio industry newsletter Hot Pod. Khalid has covered tech, surveillance policy, consumer gadgets, and online communities for more than a decade.

Jun 21, 2023, 2:31 PM PDT

Illustration by Kristen Radtke / The Verge

This is Hot PodThe Verge’s newsletter about podcasting and the audio industry. Sign up here for more.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the South of France this week for Cannes Lions (basically the less cool, advertiser and brands-focused counterpart to the film festival), you may be tempted to spend some time with Spotify. The company has pulled together an extravagant four-day program of sound baths, beach-side mixers, masterclasses on podcasting, and panels with Spotify leadership and high-profile podcast hosts like Emma Chamberlain and Alex Cooper. Attendees on Tuesday evening were serenaded on “Spotify Beach” by Florence and the Machine, Will.i.am, and Jack Harlow.

But anywhere else, you may be wary of getting too close to the streaming audio company. In the past week, Joe Rogan — the man responsible for delivering an outsize portion of Spotify’s podcast ad revenue — invited an anti-vaxxer presidential candidate on his show. The same day, a $20 million podcast deal with a certain royal couple fell apart, which was followed by a top executive calling the duo a pair of “fucking grifters” on his own podcast. And that all follows two rounds of layoffs in 2023 alone, the latter of which primarily focused on Spotify’s podcast division. 

Spotify knows something is wrong with its podcast strategy — and these past few weeks have proved it. The company’s missteps reveal how fundamentally different the formula of success is in podcasts from film, video games, books, and even music. Franchises, IP, and name recognition can be enough to deliver a hit across many different mediums. But in the world of podcasts, a series from an acclaimed filmmaker, best-selling author, or even a former president can barely register on the charts. And after years of chasing this hit-making strategy, it all seems to be falling apart.

One pillar of Spotify’s podcast strategy was meant to be originals from its in-house studios. Spotify spent big to acquire two of the best: Parcast and Gimlet, the latter of which won a Pulitzer for its reporting earlier this year. Gimlet and Parcast also produced the kind of prestige, narrative podcasts that Hollywood studios loved to snatch up for IP.

Yet despite coming with their own excellent staffs and built-in audiences, Spotify’s lack of direction and knowledge of the podcasting space proved to be a death sentence for Gimlet and Parcast. The studios failed to attract large audiences and develop hit new shows. Shows didn’t get the right marketing or support from Spotify. Keeping certain podcasts exclusive to Spotify meant a drop in audience

This culminated in the platform axing over 200 roles throughout Gimlet and Parcast earlier this month and absorbing what remained into Spotify Studios.

Look at how happy the company has been to trash-talk Archewell’s work

The next pillar of Spotify’s podcast strategy was splashy, usually celebrity-driven originals. Some of these have worked out, like the Batman Unburied podcast by David S. Goyer or the Case 63 scripted drama with Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac. But many have not. 

FTC’S Amazon Lawsuit Is ‘Silly’ If Not Insulting, Analyst Says

TheStreet’s top portfolio manager explains why the FTC’S lawsuit against Amazon isn’t anything for stockholders to worry about.



From Microsoft  (MSFT) – to now Amazon  (AMZN) – the Federal Trade Commission under the Biden administration has approached big tech with greater scrutiny.

On Wednesday, the FTC announced it is suing Amazon for violating the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act. The FTC alleged Amazon used deceptive practices to manipulate consumers into signing up for its Prime offerings and then “sabotaged” attempts to cancel their accounts. 

“Amazon tricked and trapped people into recurring subscriptions without their consent, not only frustrating users but also costing them significant money,” FTC chair Lina Khan said in a statement. 

However, Action Alerts PLUS portfolio manager Chris Versace said the lawsuit may have more bark than bite. “Our thinking is this is largely going to be noise. And it may result in some procedural changes for Amazon, maybe even a fine. But candidly, on its face, we find this simply silly, if not insulting to think that, quote, “Amazon duped millions of consumers into unknowingly enrolling in Amazon Prime,” Versace said.

The regulator alleges Amazon misled millions of consumers into signing up for its Prime Services and then made cancellation difficult. Now, these are headlines that we simply can’t ignore. But our thinking is this is largely going to be noise. And it may result in some procedural changes for Amazon, maybe even a fine. But candidly, on its face, we find this simply silly, if not insulting to think that, quote, “Amazon duped millions of consumers into unknowingly enrolling in Amazon Prime”.

Maybe the FTC should consider that consumers wanted fast, free shipping, discounts, and other benefits associated with Prime, including Prime Video. To us, when it comes to Amazon shares, the bigger issues to watch will be the upcoming 2023 Prime Day, as well as cost-cutting efforts and their impact on margins across Amazon’s businesses.

What the FTC Misses With Amazon Lawsuit

By Martin Peers

June 21, 2023 5:00 PM PDT 

In its war on big tech, the Federal Trade Commission has opened a new front. In a lawsuit filed against Amazon today, the FTC accused the e-commerce giant of duping millions of consumers into “unknowingly” enrolling in its Amazon Prime service and then making it really difficult for them to cancel. So this is what Amazon founder Jeff Bezos meant when he promised once to “focus relentlessly on our customers”! Still, as unflattering as the lawsuit’s details are, they’re hardly surprising (or news). After all, the FTC could surely have made the same discovery about many other subscription services, particularly in cable TV. 

Critics of Amazon will see the lawsuit as damning for its allegations that some Amazon staffers wanted the company to change its ways to avoid “tricking its customers,” but Amazon’s leadership resisted to protect the company’s bottom line. Whatever evidence the FTC has about that internal debate is blacked out, however, in a complaint with so many redactions you could be forgiven for thinking it’s one of those classified documents found in Donald Trump’s bathroom. What we’re left with are details like the “four-page, six-click, fifteen-option” Prime cancellation process, as the FTC described it. According to the FTC, that’s how the process worked at least until the company simplified things, under pressure from the regulator. Requiring customers to jump through numerous hoops to cancel doesn’t reflect the kind of customer-centric philosophy Amazon pretends to have. But then, anyone who believed Amazon put customers first should have come to their senses a while back, when it started jamming ads into its search results.

That’s not to say the FTC’s assessment of Amazon’s strategy is entirely correct. For one thing, anyone who’s studied the company’s financial statements knows that boosting the bottom line is clearly not management’s top priority. Last year Amazon earned just $12.2 billion in operating income on $514 billion in revenue! One reason was that it spent $83.5 billion in shipping costs, including the expense involved in getting goods to people within a day or two of their placing an order. No one offers shipping for no extra charge—a key feature of Prime—if they’re laser-focused on profits. The same goes for the video-streaming service that’s part of Prime. The costs of making shows for streaming is astronomical, as all the streaming services have found. Amazon may take steps to hinder people from canceling Prime, but it also invests a fortune to make Prime appealing, a nuance the FTC seems to miss. It’s a good bet that most of the 200 million Prime members—the number as of 2021—are paying because they want to, not because they can’t figure out how to cancel.

One question worth asking is how this lawsuit fits into the FTC’s broader strategy against Amazon. We know the commission has been aggressively scrutinizing Amazon’s parade of acquisitions, from MGM to Roomba maker iRobot to One Medical. So far that scrutiny hasn’t stopped any deals, although a case to block the iRobot deal is still possible. But the FTC was also reportedly pursuing a broader antitrust case against Amazon, which has yet to surface in a court case. Perhaps FTC Chair Lina Khan decided to pick off the low-hanging fruit instead of taking on a big case. Certainly this Prime cancellation lawsuit, which aims to force Amazon to change its ways and pay some fines, makes for good headlines. But it’s not likely to have any real impact.

In VC Ranking, New & Small Firms Make The Biggest Splash


Attention MBAs: You don’t have to work for one of the biggest venture capital companies to make a big difference. That’s the takeaway from a new study conducted by Oliver Gottschalg, a professor of strategy at HEC Paris, showing that size alone has little bearing on a firm’s impact.

The 2022 HEC Paris-DowJones Venture Capital Performance Ranking, released June 14, showcases the world’s top VC firms based on their historic performance. Identifying the firms that have generated the best performance for investors and cumulatively raised over $100 million between 2009 and 2018 in terms of aggregate performance, it shows that exceptional returns are occurring at many new, smaller firms — and ranks one of those little guys in the top spot.

“In terms of size and vintage, the analysis shows a notable split at the top of the rankings,” Gottschalg says. “This surprising data suggest that these new VC firms deliver the greatest returns, followed by a group of stellar incumbents who have grown in size over the years while still outperforming the average VC.”


HEC Paris’ Olivier Gottschalg: VC firm ranking shows “increasing globalization of the private equity sector and the emergence of formidable players from various regions around the world”

The ranking is based on analysis of data on private equity fund performance sourced from Preqin, a London-based investment data company that provides financial data and insight on the alternative assets market, as well as directly from PE firms. Using Gottschalg’s unique methodology, it ranks IA Ventures, a small, New York-based firm founded in 2010, in the top spot, while in second and third place, respectively, are new VC firms Blackbird and Group 11. See below for the complete 20-firm ranking.

U.S.-based VC firms continue to dominate both halves of the ranking, including six out of the top 10 positions. Anthos Capital, Glilot Capital Partners, Oak HC/FT Partners, March Capital Partners, G Squared, SmartFin, and Blume Ventures complete the list of top-performing small and young VC firms. New firms make up half of the ranking, while positions from 11 to 20 are predominantly taken by more mature VC firms.

“This indicates the increasing globalization of the private equity sector and the emergence of formidable players from various regions around the world,” Gottschalg says. “But among the firms ranked 11-20, the U.S. players maintained their dominance, occupying nine out of the 10 positions, reenforcing their strong presence in the industry.”


Along with the U.S.-based firms are one VC each from Israel, Belgium, Australia, and India in the top 10. Alpha JWC Ventures, an Indonesia firm, is the only non-U.S. company in the lower half of the ranking.

To compile the ranking, HEC Paris and DowJones used a variety of data sources, including the Preqin PE fund performance database and information directly provided by PE Firms. Data was gathered in November 2022 on the universe of VC firms worldwide on which Preqin provides performance data, or which provided data directly to HEC for the purpose of the performance rankings.

“This results in a sample of 415 PE firms and the 766 funds they raised between 2009 and 2018 show an aggregate equity volume of $159 billion,” Gottschalg says. “From this starting sample, we selected all those PE firms that met the criteria. These include at least two funds which raised over the 2009 to 2018 period for which full performance information is available; performance data available on all of these the funds, over $100 million raised during this time; investments in U.S., EU, or globally and at least 10 observation years (i.e. the sum of the ‘age’ of all funds as of today).”

The 95 firms that passed the criteria raised total equity of more than $66 billion through 270 funds between 2009 and 2018.

Video of the Week

Ian Bremmer’s ‘new globalization, a digital global order’: Will it work for us, or against us?

20 JUNE 2023

Jon Southurst 

Technology’s advertising-driven models and information control algorithms are destroying democracy and ripping society apart, says political scientist and author Ian Bremmer. In a recent TED talk, he describes a world that is not multipolar in the geopolitical sense, but features the combined efforts of technology companies as one of its major players. These companies are increasingly faced with decisions over whose interests they serve, he notes.

The questions Bremmer raises over technology companies’ power are still far from being understood by most people, let alone answered. As he mentions here, it’s those very companies holding the control levers over information flows and, thus, a proper understanding of what problems are and how they need to be solved.

We’ll unlikely see a definitive resolution, but control over data remains at the question’s core. The more we allow large and powerful actors, whether corporate or government, to decide ownership over and access to the data we produce, the greater their power will become. The “Web3” concept envisages a blockchain-based world network as something more transparent and accountable than today’s internet, timestamping every change to the information in “transactions” that cannot be altered or removed from the ledger.

These transactions also allow those who made them to maintain ownership of the data. Ownership also denotes access control. Users can decide at a granular level who may access their data, how much of it, and when. Ownership also creates new economic opportunities, allowing monetization of access to data of any size.

For example, did you create a piece of code or content that everyone finds useful? You could charge a cent, or a tiny fraction of a cent, for access to it. Are your personal health records useful to medical research? Researchers may pay you to use it while you maintain control over how much information is revealed.

All this requires a blockchain network with the capacity, speed, and scalability to handle all this traffic, traffic which will also grow exponentially with each year that passes. To date, only the BSV blockchain has this ability. Using Satoshi Nakamoto’s original Bitcoin protocol, it uses secure proof-of-work transaction processing to create a model that keeps records secure.

How we arrived at this point in history

In his talk, Bremmer gives some background on how the world’s great powers have shifted over time and may either become displaced or perhaps omnipotent.

“Who runs the world? It used to be an easy question to answer,” he says. He compares the “bipolar” world of the Cold War era, familiar to anyone over the age of 45, to the “unipolar world” of more recent U.S. dominance in world affairs.

News Of the Week

Molten Ventures still hamstrung by dismal trading backdrop

The tech-focused venture capital firm swung to a sizeable net loss, while net realisations collapsed

June 19, 2023

By Mark Robinson

Marked fall-away in M&A volumes and IPOs

Market liquidity a major issue going forward 

The last 15 months or so have posed challenges for companies looking to profit from the wider tech sector. That certainly applies to Molten Ventures (GROW) as the tech-focussed venture capital firm had to contend with a marked fall-away in M&A volumes and initial public offerings. To make matters worse, it also had to endure weakening trade sales, the key cash component of its realisations – down by 62 per cent to £48mn.

The trading figures precipitated another share price decline, down by over a third over the past year, although as much attention was given over to news that the tech investor had written down its stake in the London-headquartered challenger bank, Revolut, by 40 per cent year-on-year.

Molten Ventures saw an 11 per cent contraction in its gross asset base to £1.37bn, with an accompanying 16 per cent negative fair value movement. The unfavourable conditions faced by the group are most brutally illustrated by the net loss of £243mn, against a profit of £301mn in FY 2022.  

The trading backdrop hasn’t improved since the March year-end, but management has been proactively tailoring the investment portfolio, so the group was able to generate more capital from realisations than it deployed in the second half of the year.

Group chief executive, Martin Davis, confirmed that “cash preservation and balance sheet management” are the main priorities while markets remain subdued, although perhaps the main long-term challenge facing management is the general reduction in market liquidity. Losses for the period exceeded FactSet consensus estimates, but brokers are guiding for adjusted EPS of 39.5p in the current year, giving a modest, though wholly justified, forward rating of 7 times forecast earnings.

Big Tesla Rival Latest to Partner Up With The EV Leaders

On the tail of new game-changing Tesla partnerships with GM and Ford, this EV startup is the latest to get on board.


JUN 20, 2023 10:24 AM EDT

Elon Musk seems intent to change every industry he touches. 

Over the past few weeks, Musk has been shaking up the EV industry through a series of new partnerships that have cemented Tesla as the leader in the field. On May 25,  (F) – announced that its customers would soon be gaining access to Tesla’s Supercharger network. 

Barely two weeks later, GM  (GM) – in a Twitter Spaces conversation between CEO Mary Barra and Musk — said that it would be following suit. 

The latest to follow the example of these renowned legacy automakers is Rivian  (RIVN) – the EV startup that was removed Tuesday from the Nasdaq-100 index

Rivian said that its drivers will gain access to 12,000 of Tesla’s Superchargers across North America in 2024. The carmaker will also adopt Tesla’s charging standard starting in 2025. 

Masayoshi Son Ends Seven-Month Silence to Make Case for SoftBank’s Future

Billionaire CEO breaks months-long silence amid startup losses

Chip unit Arm at center of Japanese investment firm’s strategy

By Min Jeong Lee and Takahiko Hyuga

June 19, 2023 at 3:00 PM PDT

SoftBank Group Corp. is in a position to win the race to master AI, thanks to its billions of dollars of tech investments, founder Masayoshi Son said in his first public appearance in seven months.

“A huge revolution is coming,” he said at Japanese telecom unit SoftBank Corp.’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, adding that it was the parent company’s job to make aggressive early investments. “SoftBank Group won’t be deterred by a few short-term losses. We will rule the world in the end.”

The billionaire broke his months-long silence after bidding adieu to SoftBank Group’s loss-laden earnings call, saying he wanted to focus on taking Arm Ltd. public. His absence has left cash-strapped startups wondering if the world’s biggest tech investor will ever go on the offensive again.

But Son says he’s been busy, exploring generative AI’s transformative potential for the Japanese firm’s more than 400 portfolio companies. For example, the 65-year-old said he talks frequently with OpenAI Inc. CEO Sam Altman about ways SoftBank’s domestic search engine operator Z Holdings Corp. can channel generative AI phenom ChatGPT for Japanese language users.

Visualizing BlackRock’s Top Equity Holdings

 June 20, 2023

By Marcus Lu, Rosey Eason

Visualizing BlackRock’s Top 25 Equity Holdings

Founded just 34 years ago in 1988, BlackRock has quickly become the world’s largest asset manager with over $9 trillion in assets under management (AUM).

Given this status, BlackRock’s equity portfolio may provide useful insights to investors. To learn more, we’ve visualized the firm’s top 25 equity holdings as of Q1 2023. At that time, these 25 positions were worth over $1 trillion, and they represented about 30% of BlackRock’s overall equity portfolio.

Top 25 Data

The following table shows the data we used to create this infographic. These figures come from BlackRock’s latest 13F filing, which was released on May 12.

As expected, BlackRock’s top equity holdings include America’s most established tech companies: AppleMicrosoftAmazon, and Google.

BlackRock also has large positions in Nvidia and Broadcom, which happen to be America’s two largest semiconductor companies. Given Nvidia’s incredible YTD performance (198% as of June 19th), this position has likely grown even bigger.

Altogether, tech stocks make up 39% of this top 25 list. The next biggest sector would be healthcare, at 13% of the total value.

Ownership Stakes

How much of a controlling stake does BlackRock have in these companies? We answer this question in the following table, which again uses Q1 2023 data.

Twitter Rolls Out 25k Character Tweets for Twitter Blue Subscribers

Published June 20, 2023

By Andrew Hutchinson – Content and Social Media Manager

Hope you like looooong tweets.

After initially enabling Twitter Blue subscribers to share tweets up to 4,000 characters long back in February, then expanding that to 10,000 characters in April, Twitter’s now expanded this again, with Blue users now able to post 25,000 character posts in a single tweet.

You can tap through on the example tweet here to see what 25k characters looks like in a tweet. It’s a lot of scrolling.

In addition to this, Twitter also recently rolled out the capacity to add inline images into your long tweets, with all Twitter Blue subscribers getting access to the functionality last week.

So now, you can create blog post-style content, with visuals integrated into the text, within your tweets.


Jun 22, 2023 by Alex Baker 

The UK Prime Minister is reportedly considering a new law requiring all AI-generated photos and videos to be clearly labelled. The law would aim to regulate the rapidly advancing field of artificial intelligence (AI) and combat the growing threat of deepfakes. This development comes amidst rising concerns about AI technology’s potential misuse and manipulation.

According to The Times, Prime Minister Sunak is actively working on establishing national guidelines for the AI industry. He will present these guidelines at a global safety summit scheduled to be hosted in the UK during the autumn. Sunak hopes that the proposed legislation will serve as a blueprint for implementing similar laws worldwide.

The government has also established a British AI safety agency to bolster the UK’s efforts in ensuring AI safety. This agency will evaluate the most powerful AI models to prevent them from deviating from their intended purposes.

Speaking about the need for AI regulation, Sunak emphasized the transformative nature of AI technology and the associated risks it poses. “It’s going to reshape every aspect of our lives,” he stated in an interview with Sky News. “While this brings opportunities and benefits, it also presents risks, including the misuse of technology. That’s why guardrails and regulation are crucial.”

One of the major concerns driving the push for AI labelling is the rise of deepfakes. These digitally altered images and videos have been a cause for serious alarm. In May, a viral AI-generated photo depicted a fake explosion near the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C., causing temporary market fluctuations.

The European Union (EU) has also taken steps to address the issue of AI-generated content. In the forthcoming Digital Services Act, tech companies generating AI content will be required to label it. Social media platforms will also be obligated to comply with this requirement. In a recent move, Google introduced the ‘About this photo‘ tool to label AI-generated images, aiming to provide users with information about the origin of photographs.

Andreessen Horowitz creates ‘Perennial’ evergreen fund amid market slowdown

Jagmeet Singh@jagmeets13 / 10:58 AM PDT•June 22, 2023


Image Credits: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket

Andreessen Horowitz, the storied venture firm known for being an early investor in some of the biggest tech companies including Airbnb, Coinbase and GitHub, has created a new fund to continue growing its business despite the slowdown in traditional VC funding.

The evergreen fund is titled a16z Perennial Venture Capital Fund, according to a filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week. The filing shows that the fund will operate from Andreessen Horowitz’s Menlo Park office.

Additionally, the venture firm has registered its Perennial Management business with the U.S. regulator. It has been listed as a “large advisory firm” with a regulatory AUM of $105 million, per an ADV filing with the SEC.

The business unit has been registered with 18 high-net-worth individuals as its clients. It will offer advisory services such as portfolio management for individuals, small businesses and pooled investment vehicles as well as private fund managers, wealth management advisers and financial planners, the filing shows.

Andreessen Horowitz has eight employees in its new unit, including chief investment officer Michel Del Buono, who was hired last year, per the filing.

Overall, the plan seems to let the venture firm keep managing its shares in publicly traded companies instead of distributing them to LPs, similar to what Sequoia Capital did with its evergreen fund in 2021. The timing for Andreessen Horowitz could be particularly promising, given the public market is experiencing a significant decline due to macroeconomic factors and that the value of public shares has decreased due to the economic turmoil, giving them more upside potential.

Like other VC firms worldwide, Andreessen Horowitz is not seeing significant growth from its startup investments because of the overall market slowdown. Similar to a select pool of other fund managers, Andreessen Horowitz recently started openly courting capital from Saudi Arabia as U.S. companies are struggling with tighter lending and higher inflation. The firm also started creating a fund-of-funds to invest in smaller VC funds to expand its already expansive network and ostensibly get a look at more of the most promising early-stage companies ahead of some of its rivals.

Startup of the Week

Tesla Supercharger Network: Gas Station for EVs in Future

Tesla’s charging stations could generate more income for the EV manufacturer.


Tesla’s charging network could be a valuable asset for the electric vehicle manufacturer, said Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas.

The EV company partnered with Ford  (F) –  GM  (GM) –  and Rivian  (RIVN) –  recently and is giving their drivers access to Tesla’s charging network. 

Tesla TSLA has 12,000 fast chargers which GM drivers will be able to access. This partnership follows Ford’s deal with Tesla on May 25.

Tesla could emerge as the gas station for EVs as more consumers switch from internal combustion engine vehicles and adoption rates for them rise, Jonas wrote in a research report.

The number of EVs being sold only account for about 7% of new car sales currently, but by 2030, that number could rise to 25%, he estimates.

Jonas, a noted Tesla bull, estimates that 75% of new cars sold by 2040 will be EVs as consumers will make the switch to save money on gasoline and seek more environmental alternatives to transportation as battery ranges increase and more charging stations are made available.

The number of miles that are driven will also rise to 8% by 2030 and will increase exponentially, he said.

“We also forecast EV miles driven, a fundamental underpinning of any EV infrastructure model,” Jonas said. “We forecast EVs account for less than 1% of US miles travelled today, rising to 8% by 2030, 22% by 2035,50% by 2040 and nearly 90% by 2050.”

Tesla could assert “dominance” as the “filling station” in the future if the company was able to generate “its own electricity at a near zero marginal cost (and stable), stored on site with stationary batteries?” he  said.

During the next decade Tesla could wind up with the “dominant” share of the charging infrastructure if the majority of the power used is purchased at a low cost from a renewable source such as solar, Jonas said.

Using renewable energy along with on-site storage such as Tesla’s batteries called megapacks and “discharged in the middle of the day during peak demand when drivers have fewer alternatives” could be an option for the company, he said.

“We think the consideration of Tesla supercharging stations should be seen in concert with the company’s vertically integrated capabilities in renewable energy and storage at scale,” Jonas said.

Tweet of the Week

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