Beginning around 2018, I turned some of my investment focus and allocation to private markets. My first deals in this area were via EquityZen, a platform whose focus is mainly late-stage growth companies. Offerings on EquityZen are secondary sales, where an early employee or existing investor is choosing to sell a large block of their own stock. Secondaries are a contrast to traditional primary offerings, where a company itself is issuing stock, and the cash from the sale is going directly into the company to fund operations. Secondaries are a very common practice both for founders/early employees to “take money off the table” if they know they may still have years ahead of them until IPO (or acquisition), and also for funds that need the liquidity (either for redemptions, distributions, or just to allocate to new opportunities).
EquityZen deals are structured using “Special Purpose Vehicles” (SPVs). For a given EquityZen offering, EquityZen will place the shares that they have been allocated from the subject company into a one-off LLC (the SPV), and then sell interest in that entity to investors (along with an obligation on EquityZen’s side to turn a specific number of shares over to each investor at liquidity). This is done primarily to simplify things for the company that is the subject of the deal (since most secondary offerings require board approval, and it’s much simpler for the board to approve a single large sale to the SPV vs. 100 or more small sales to individual investors. This is also important to companies as it keeps the cap table from getting bloated).
I’ve been lucky enough to see one of my EquityZen placements through to liquidity (the subject company IPOd in 2021) and consider the platform fantastic for finding and getting into high-quality late-stage growth deals. That said, with its focus on secondary sales in late-stage growth companies, EquityZen left me with a huge universe of deals that I had an appetite for but had no clue how to get into: namely, earlier-stage Angel, seed and series A deals. Read more
I spent the month of January 2020 in Da Nang, Vietnam, a beach city situated in the central coast of the country, roughly halfway between the capital city of Hanoi to the North and Ho Chi Minh City to the south. It seems people haven’t yet written much about Da Nang from the perspective of a long-term traveler, so I wanted to share some impressions and thoughts on my time there.
I was coming to Da Nang from Rome, Italy and expected I would have to make a stopover in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City but this was not the case. An increasing number of airlines have flights into Da Nang International Airport (DAD) including Qatar, which I was flying, and that has direct service from Doha. Furthermore, a very striking thing to me was how convenient DAD airport is – it is only a maybe ~10 minutes’, few dollars’ drive from the beach neighborhood in which I was staying. Read more
For the last couple of years, I have been working remote. Initially from Berlin, then for an extended stretch from Eastern Europe. For the last 6 or so months I have been in Asia.
I had come to Saigon, Vietnam after several months in Bangkok. In Saigon I had struck up a chat at a local bar with another traveler, a student Brewmaster at Olds College, Alberta, Canada. This traveler, Mike, ended up becoming one of my better friends and more reliable companions on nights out in Saigon over the weeks that followed.
I had longstanding plans to meet up with an old friend from New York in Japan after my time in Saigon, but no idea where I was heading after. Mike strongly encouraged me to go to Taipei, and offered to intro me to a Taiwanese-American friend of his who had been living there the last 10 years and could show me around a bit.
It is this arbitrary sequence of events that found me, roughly two weeks later, landing at Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport. Read more
I spent the final 2 weeks of the year in Ho Chi Minh City (colloquially/formerly “Saigon”), Vietnam with a group of friends from Hacker Paradise. I wanted to share some quick impressions of the city while the experience is still fresh in my head. Read more
Those who know me well know that one of my most beloved pastimes, odd as it may be, is meeting strangers and trading stories in a friendly local dive bar. Having not had much of a permanent residence for the last year, getting to know staff and regulars at dive bars has been an important part of feeling like I belong wherever I am. In the interest of perpetuating the good vibes, and easing the work of others who might be on the same quest, I wanted to highlight my favorite dives in the cities I’ve stayed. As I spent about 5 months of this past year in Berlin, and had plenty of time to appreciate and settle into many of the city’s dive bars, this first installment will focus on Berlin. Here are some of my very favorite dive bars, by neighborhood. Read more
This year is the first in which I’ve spent more time outside the US than in it. Through all of this, there are a few things that contributed in an outsized way to making all the travel surprisingly seamless. I wanted to highlight a few of those things here. Read more
I did never know so full a voice issue from so empty a heart. But the saying is true: “The empty vessel makes the greatest sound.”
A decade living in New York has conditioned me to have an instinctive skepticism of the loudest voice in the room. The loud people, the pushy people, the bullies, those who take up the most space, whether in the workplace or hooting on the sidewalks at night on the weekend – these are almost always also the people of least consequence, but its a fact that is tragically lost on most. Read more