[Credit where due: this is James Cham’s spark. I’m just the typist.]

There’s a new and important kind of startup that’s become wildly successful the last few years. These startups f̶o̶r̶ ̶w̶h̶i̶c̶h̶ ̶w̶e̶ ̶s̶t̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶a̶ ̶g̶o̶o̶d̶ ̶n̶a̶m̶e̶ look to their customers like a direct replacement to some large, familiar incumbent, but use technology to provide a strictly superior offering.

We call them hot-swap startups, as in “replacing part of a system while it’s still running.”

Bonus points if you get the reference.

Examples of hot-swap startups: Compass (a real estate broker), Flexport (a freight forwarder), Doma (a real estate title company), Newfront (an insurance brokerage), Campuswire…


Getting a new job offer? Selling your company? Trying to raise money? Things often get hard in a negotiation when you reach the micro-mechanics…

“The investor says they’re going to send a term sheet tomorrow. Should I tell other investors?” “The company wants me to propose what I should get paid. Should I?” “They want a long list of diligence items. Should I give them that?”

Your tiny coach.

These micro-mechanical choices totally matter to the outcome of a negotiation. They matter even more to how you build the relationship, and what the ongoing collaboration is like.

While there are plenty of books


You’re ready to wear the mantle of “founder.” What’s the very first thing you might do, exactly?

Friends of mine are starting something new, and asked for prompts to further define their plans. All new efforts, whether a movement or a venture-backed startup, take on similar shapes. Yet most startup advice is a flashlight in a dark wood: you see something useful and lack the map to connect the trails.

After looking for some model online, I wrote this list of four questions to help those get started:

  1. Why do you believe you’re doing this?
  2. What’s the “first useful thing” you’ll offer to those you wish to serve?
  3. What does the horizon line look like?
  4. How will…


One way to protect democracy in the seven weeks left before the election.

(En español… gracias Norma Padron!)

Do you want a better way to get your vote, and those of your neighbors, counted? To act with your community to excite others about voting and inspire them? You’ve seen the dangers of voting in a normal polling place (because of the pandemic, or voter suppression). You’ve read that mail ballots may not even arrive in time to get counted.

#walkthevote is a non-partisan movement to support community leaders and voters organizing local “voting parades” to drop off absentee ballots.


A startup investor offers perspective on how to tell the difference

A wire shopping basket with flames inside against a black background.
A wire shopping basket with flames inside against a black background.
Image: Sean Gladwell/Moment/Getty Images

Many startup founders are worried, at this moment, about being a “crisis capitalizer,” a “war profiteer,” an “ambulance chaser.” As an investor in startups, I’ve been thinking about how to offer them a more nuanced perspective by asking: How can businesses tell the difference between adapting to this environment in a healthy way versus taking advantage of others?

The short answer is: It’s okay, even noble, for businesses to thrive right now. Even if your company isn’t on the front lines of health care manufacturing ventilators or delivering essential items like groceries, your company is helping to keep people employed…


I’ve been thinking about how we consume information about COVID-19 — a highest-priority, who-knows-who-to-trust, changing-by-the-moment tectonic shift.

In addition to being a human tragedy, economic calamity, and a forced social experiment… this moment will shape the future of media.

The puzzle is familiar:

There are facts out there, though they’re rare and take a moment to validate, mostly from government agencies and respected scientists — or first-hand accounts of individual experiences.

There are possible-facts, the things we hear somewhere and try to corroborate before they become facts.

And then there are opinions, and those matter more than ever: What should…


A thank you could never say enough, to a man who gave, and gave… ז״ל

Jay Kriegel, (at least) three careers before I knew him

Earlier today, an institution unto himself, a New York City patriot, a mentor to generations, a titan of New York, left us.

Jay Kriegel, when I first met him in 2003, had already had at least four careers. Flitting around at 78 RPMs, he seemed to a 27-year-old me both impossibly old (what decade did he do that thing in again?) and immortal.

I’d heard the legend, that in his 20’s Jay was so trusted by then-Mayor Lindsay that people said Jay lived in the Mayor’s ear. I was ready to absorb the magic.

Our first day working together —…


Our gang at our October 2019 team awaytime, when we gather once every 3–4 months for a few days to talk turkey.

It’s funny in the venture capital business that, every few years, you get to announce “we’re still in business!” So: we’re still in business!

We will now start to invest out of our third fund — thank you, Bloomberg.

We started day one — in 2013 — with a $75 million fund. Our second fund was the same, another $75 million fund. Our third fund is… wait for it… $75 million. Same same same. Same.

Truth is, a lot of what our third fund does will feel… familiar.

> our focus on the future of work — and machine intelligence…


Before you ask someone “if they’ve heard of something” for you… try these questions on for size.

I’m flattered to be asked, though time is short — so these days I’m only able to connect directly with people who already matter to me, or matter deeply to someone who matters to me (plus I’m more open to talking with folks from underrepresented backgrounds or when, to be honest, I’m just intrigued!).

This post originally started as a private post I’d share with people who reached out to me for advice. Some of the questions might be useful to others, even if you’re in a different stage in your career than the questions below contemplate.

I try to…

Roy Bahat

Head of Bloomberg Beta, investing in the best startups creating the future of work. Alignment: Neutral good

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