No. 258 – Psalms 137 and Bitcoin

What constantly comes to mind when I think about Ahmaud Arbery is Psalms 137:4. It’s how I feel right now.

By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How shall we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!
Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
down to its foundations!”
O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
blessed shall he be who repays you
with what you have done to us!
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!

The grief. The brutality. It’s all there. Ahmaud must get his justice. More than that, we’re going to build a world where black folks aren’t living like this.

What’s Up Next For South LA – Austin Clements, a VC out in Los Angeles, penned this nice piece announcing that he’d be leading early-stage accelerator Grid110‘s expansion to South LA. I love the vision for supporting entrepreneurs in that part of the city as they push to build the future. What’s extra dope is that the operation will be based out of Vector90, the coworking space an incubator Nipsey Hussle and David Gross built. More vim to Austin and the rest of the folks in that ecosystem as they push through the odds to build the future in South LA.

Coupa acquires ConnXus, adding a wealth of supplier diversity capabilities – A couple years ago CultureBanx covered the platform Rod Robinson was building for large companies that needed help identifying a diverse pool of suppliers. Kudos to him for getting to an exit. I hope it puts his family in a nice position.

Twitch Pitch Powered by Lightship Capital – Candice Matthews Brackeen and Brian Brackeen are building something special at Lightship Capital. I’ve been following Brian for years and have always been fascinated by the moves he makes. He moves different. From building a facial recognition startup out of Miami, to listing one of the first initial coin offerings I had seen a black person do, to going his latest move – hosting a startup pitch on Twitch’s platform. His past moves have been cool to watch. This will be also.

Bitcoin: Resilience in Crisis – I have kept the whole cryptocurrency wave in the periphery for the most part. I did find myself setting up on Ethereum after finishing Bitcoin Billionaires – a fascinating read. Jalak makes a good point that the volatility the traditional markets are seeing is making folks more apt to take their shot at cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Square Q1 Shareholder Letter – Here’s another case for crypto being something to pay more attention to. For the first time, Square’s Cash App quarterly revenue from Bitcoin totaled $306M surpassed its traditional money revenue of $222M. While that’s definitely a signal to pay attention, there’s still some ways to go before we’re talking about cryptocurrencies surpassing traditional money. PayPal put up $4.62B in revenue in Q1 for some calibration.

No. 67: Pay Attention to the Air Through Which You Walk

Chinedu Echeruo gave a talk at Stanford University’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series on the value that creativity unleashes into the world. In it, he shared a parable David Foster told in a speech to Kenyon College’s 2005 graduating class.

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

I found this to be a really compelling commentary on the power of how one thinks. We see that power all around us. Political parties. Marriage. Entrepreneurship.

While thinking on this parable further, I remembered an interview angel investor Jason Calacanis did with Peter Thiel, the contrarian billionaire co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook. He made a point about how one should pay attention to things that don’t work as well as one would like. What comes to mind now is the difficulty I have getting my daughter in and out of her car seat. His argument was that opportunities for a solution lie in those instances of discomfort.

For the past few months, I have tried to document ideas that come to mind during the course of a day. After hearing Mr. Thiel’s argument, I have tried to look a little closer at the everyday things with which I engage on a normal basis. My daughter’s car seat. The rectangular shape of my laptop and iPhone. To apply the language of Mr. Foster’s parable, I am trying to shift my thinking to be aware of the water in which I am swimming, rather the air through which I am walking.

For example, I remember that I heard Mr. Thiel make this comment about paying attention to the discomforts around you while I was sitting at a red light at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and K Street. I can remember this now, but with all the head shots I delivered playing football, I probably won’t remember this experience 50 years from now.

What if I could take a snapshot of that moment in time – the image of the intersection, the two-minute portion of the conversation, the day and time, how the conversation made me feel? Imagine being able to recall that experience 50 years from now as a form of treatment for my dementia.

You’ve seen the joy on the man’s face as he listens to jazz music he’d enjoyed decades prior. Imagine creating a playlist of sorts for your older self to enjoy pivotal moments of your life.

This may or may not be a good idea (I kind of like it and will mention it to my mom who works on dementia issues). That aside, the thought exercise of paying attention to something as routine as a memory unlocks a creativity that I look forward to experiencing more.