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Unraveling the “Secrets of Sand Hill Road” and the VC thought process, with Andreessen Horowitz’s Scott Kupor

Our Silicon Valley editor Connie Loizos hosted an Extra Crunch live conference call with Andreessen Horowitz GP Scott Kupor, who manages all ops for the firm and was formerly head of the National Venture Capital Association. He just published a new book entitled “Secrets of Sand Hill Road” which is a guide to the venture capital industry and how to attract the attention of VCs to your startup.

This was our most popular conference call so far, and it was great to see so many people coming out to chat with Scott. In case you missed it, we have published the full transcript for Extra Crunch members.

Connie: Talking about demystifying venture capital, you’ve been with Andreessen Horowitz for roughly 10 years, pretty much from the outset of the firm. Can you tell us, beyond a warm introduction, what does it take to get a meeting at Andreessen Horowitz? What do you start looking for on paper?

Scott: What we’re really looking for is a couple of things. First, we always think about market initially, because we know that we’re going to be wrong a lot of times and the way we have to invest is we have to believe at the time we make the investment that the market size is big enough to be able to support a standalone, hopefully, public company at some point in time.

So, that’s always the threshold question we’re trying to ask — is the opportunity that they’re going after is as big as it possibly can be? And then, most of the analysis, particularly the early stage, tends to be based on team, because, we don’t really have the benefit of the product yet.

We definitely don’t even know, quite frankly, how the markets going to evolve. And so, the real question is what is it about this team or set of individuals that makes them uniquely qualified to go after this opportunity? What do they know?

We use this term internally, called an “earned secret”, which is what have you learned that other people might not know that’s going to really enable you to go build something that we know is going to be tough and competitive, and a long slog? And, a lot of the evaluation really starts there.

This year’s Computex was a wild ride with dueling chip releases, new laptops and 467 startups

Our Taipei-based correspondent Catherine Shu attended the local Computex conference, which has long been a major hub in the semiconductor, next-generation silicon, AI and 5G circuits. She wrote up her observations of what’s on the cutting edge of these fields, and what the opportunities for startups are in these hot spaces.

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The Big Differences Between The Crypto Exchanges Explained

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Perhaps the first thing that a trader will look for when evaluating investment platforms is the fee structure. Fees are common across trading avenues, and understanding the inherent costs that come along with placing trades, holding assets, and transferring funds into and out of brokerage accounts is essential to making smart decisions throughout the investment experience.

The Motley Fool reports that Gemini (as of July 2022) provides trading services at a slightly lower rate than Coinbase (a maximum of 0.4% and 0.6%, respectively). The fee structures are very similar, and each platform uses alternative cost bases depending on whether you will be trading with the basic or advanced interface. At the core of investing (and earning a profit for your efforts) is the raw calculation of profit. Your margin will always be affected by the fees that are taken off the top, so understanding what those costs are and how they are assessed is critical. In this regard, Gemini comes out a nose ahead.

However, fee structure isn’t everything. While Coinbase might charge a slightly inflated fee to use the platform to perform cryptocurrency operations, the Coinbase trade deck supports more than twice as many cryptocurrency coins than Gemini. CryptoVantage notes that stablecoins have retained value better than the typical altcoin in the current bear marketplace, meaning there may be an opportunity for greater growth figures among some of the lesser-known or smaller crypto assets out there. If this resonates with you, Coinbase may be your only option for gaining access.

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This Apple-1 Computer Is The Most Expensive In The World

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While it might have been a “working computer,” it certainly wasn’t complete, and it looked nothing like what we expect a fully functioning computer to look like today. The first Apple-1s were basically just a fully assembled circuit board with 60 or so microchips. The end user still had to provide the “case, power supply transformers, power switch, ASCII keyboard, and composite video display” (via Jeffry Norman’s History of Information). Thankfully, the Apple-1 was selling at a computer hobbyist store where someone could purchase all of those things separately — American consumerism at its finest. 

Over the years, several computers from the first batch of 200 Apple-1s have sold at auction. Each is unique because, after their initial sale, they were customized by each owner. In November 2021, the “Chaffey College” Apple-1, named because it was initially purchased by a professor at the college, sold for $400,000. In March 2020, RR Auction sold one for $458,711. In May 2019, Christie’s sold one for $459,000. Christie’s reportedly sold one signed by Steve Wozniak in 2013 for $387,750, and Charitybuzz sold another for $815,000 in August 2016.

Yet, none of those were the priciest Apple on the tree.

In October 2014, the Henry Ford Museum paid $905,000 for what amounted to a “vintage keyboard with pre-7400-series military specification chips, a vintage Sanyo monitor, a custom power supply in a wooden box, as well as two vintage tape-decks.” After what was described by Bonhams as “fierce competition with a bidder on the telephone,” the final sale price ended at nearly twice the estimate going into the auction. That kind of money puts a whole new spin on the idiom, “How ’bout them apples?”

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Elon Musk’s Tesla Optimus Robot Actually Works

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What’s arguably more interesting is what’s going on inside. Optimus uses the same self-driving computer as Autopilot in Tesla’s electric cars relies upon. It also trains itself using the same processes that Autopilot does on the roads. The development platform uses “semi off-the-shelf actuators,” Musk says. The battery is in the center of the robot’s torso, with 2.3 kWh capacity. That should be enough for a full day’s work, Tesla says.

The goal, Musk says, is a robot that can liberate a human workforce. He’s predicting “maybe a two order of magnitude potential improvement in economic output” by replacing human workers with Optimus.

As to whether that’s something, long term, people actually want, Musk pointed out that Tesla being a publicly traded company means it’ll be down to shareholders to decide. “The public controls Tesla, and I think that’s a good thing,” the CEO explained. “Because if I go crazy, you can fire me.”

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