Survivors

I have been asked countless times the same question….”what do you invest in”?  For the past decade I have been mostly a generalist when it came to the investment business.  My thesis is mostly financial because I believe a financial thesis mitigates risk.  The other piece that has been important to me is investing in female and minority founders yet I do invest in white men too.

Many of the companies I invested in awhile ago are evolving.  Some have exited, some have sold to other companies where the investors now own stock in that entity, some are just getting bigger by the month.  What is clear time and time again is no matter how fantastic your company is doing, raising cash is always a factor. And lets be clear, raising money sucks.  Founders want to be focused on building their business not doing a dog and pony show but that is part of the territory.

There are many different places to raise capital depending on your business.  I am seeing businesses that are profitable rethink their trajectory to figure out how to grow without raising money.  Everyone has a different path.

After more than a decade I am starting to see things in entrepreneurs that I might have ignored in the past when I meet them.  It is clear to me that without really knowing it I have invested mostly in survivors.  Maybe it has to do with my personality or the overwhelming amount of women in my portfolio but the consistent theme among the founders I have backed is that they are survivors.  For the most part they are all hellbent on making their business work no matter what.  It is insanely impressive.

Was thinking that I even though I just took Gotham Gal and added ventures after it when it came to my investments that if I started again I could use the name Survivor Ventures.  It has a nice ring.

 

 

Challenging the Health Care Model, Katherine Ryder, Podcast

I met Katherine after she left the venture world and was charting her life as an entrepreneur.  She finally found the right path with Maven.  Maven connects patients and providers with video or messaging.  They are able to give advice, provide prescriptions and everything else in between.  Think of it as a place for women to get care digitally.  I love their tag line; prescriptions or advice by video appointment or private message. Whenever, wherever.

Katherine and I sat down to talk about her journey.  An interesting path to get her to where she is today.

Political Round Table

I grew up talking politics.  Both my brother and sister were poli-sci majors.  It makes for great conversation particularly when we all sit on the same side of the fence.   Our conversations around politics still continue today.  It is one of the conversations where we all enjoy interacting with my father.

He sent us all this today which I am sure he truly enjoyed.  As he put it, “well said”.

The following is a quote of a comment made by H. L. Mencken in The Baltimore Evening Sun on 26 July 1920: 
“As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and compete narcissistic moron.”

The Mar Vista

We are back in LA having our winter sojourn.  I am well aware that living in NYC we are spoiled on so many levels so I do try very hard to think differently when we are out here dining and doing.  It might take me many more years.

Mar Vista is a neighborhood on the move.  It is the place where I go every Sunday to the farmers market.  The opening of this restaurant, The Mar Vista, says something about the shift in the neighborhood which is close enough to Venice and Santa Monica but not as expensive.  I loved this designate driver sign when walking in.

The menu is connected to what is at the fresh products from the farmers market that is literally across the street.  The place was humming having opened about two weeks ago.  The restaurant is open and airy with big windows that open to the street.  The ceiling has large wooden beams jutting across it with plants hanging from them.  A new version of a fern bar?

They make their own bread there.  This is called the OG bread and butter.  Excellent sourdough baguette with whipped butter on the side.  I would have liked to see that butter a tad saltier and whipped a bit more but this was a nice start to the meal.

Briny oysters served with a pear and vegetable mignonette.   Nice touch but would have liked to see the mignonette on the side.

The carne asada plate can be a single experience or shared.  We shared.  Slices of steak served with a Latin style tasting coleslaw with plenty of cilantro over a plate of black beans.  Nice flavors but the presentation is heavy handed.

Here is the thing that threw me.  This restaurant is a collaboration of four chefs who came together to open this restaurant.  The hotpot that came out was not hot it was boiling.  You could see that someone had left is on the stove too long because you shouldn’t bring anything boiling to a table and boiling this mixture for too long destroys the taste.  This is a mixture of pork belly, squash, crispy scallions and rice.  There were clumps of rice inside the pot too.  The flavors were there but it felt just tossed together on the kitchen line.  Not what you would expect from four chefs in the kitchen.

A few desserts are on the menu we tried the brownie which is a singular serving.  A thick chocolatey brownie served on a spoon with a toasted marshmallow on the top and caramel dripped over that.  This sits on a plate of crispy rice puffs.  Good but certainly not omg.

No doubt an excellent addition to the neighborhood.  Even the menu has a kids section.  Will be interesting to see what pops up in Mar Vista next.

 

 

Los Angeles Contemporary Art Fair

This is our third year going to this show.  I really love this show because it is small, intimate and the galleries are really good.  Just the right amount of intake.

There is another building across the street from the main show where artists have studios.  This year they opened it to the public.  We took a walk through before hitting the main show.  I particularly liked these white shoes that were strewn in the parking lot and then into the hallways of the studios.

Here is one studio I peaked in where the artist, Susie McKay Krieser, was hanging and painting.  This wall took her a year.  Her paintings are mostly of people.  These are of people at beaches around the globe that she traveled to.

Kang Hong-Goo represented by the One and J. Gallery from Seoul.  Insanely prolific artist as his past work looks nothing like this.

I did not catch the artist but this is from the Susanne Vielmetter Projects in Los Angeles.  Fred started a Foursquare list of all the LA galleries we liked here for another day.

From the Anat Ebgi gallery.  Very few names on the walls so it wasn’t easy to figure out the artist.  Obviously Trump is seeping anger into the art community.

I walked into this booth and said we have bought some pieces from an artist that looks similar.  The woman in the booth said “Daniel Gordon”?  I said yes and she said this is his latest work.  Duh.  Love his work and the M+B Gallery that represents many of the artist we have collected over the years.  These new works from Gordon are fantastic.

This piece is from the Yautepec Gallery in Mexico City where I have visited twice.  This is a piece from Ian Chang but he is one of many artists inside this piece.  This is an index from ArtRank that is updated quarterly around major art fairs and auctions.  The data provides clarity on forecasting prices around artist worth that helps people making acquisitions.  There are several of Ian’s pieces in this chart.  We could have spent hours playing around with this piece.  It is purely about algorithms that assess the works value that has no basis on the works aesthetic or emotional value.  So cool.

The Hole Gallery has a great installation.  This is one of the artists in the booth, a flower sculpture.

Cherry + Martin is another great LA gallery.  These are new works from Adam Silverman, someone who we have two pieces from.  Really loved this new work of his for the show.

This is another artist T. Kelly Martin that they represent.  Film projects with LED lighting.

But my favorite that I can not get out of my head is Brian Bress.  A loop of about 20 minutes of him dressed in a doughboy chef costume where he writes inside the screen.  I am not doing the best job of explaining the work but it is really clever.

Japanese elements in this piece from Jacob Hashimoto at the Mixografia gallery.

Got a chuckle out of this one called Concrete Couples from John Baldessari.


Not surprising this caught my eye.  Rirkrit Tiravanija at 1301PE.

Thought we should get this for our office.  Phil Wagner at Marinaro

A great show.

 

Teaching values

Choosing the right school for your child is one that every single parent agonizes over.  In many areas you have zero choice but in the inner cities particularly from the early years there are a slew of choices.

When we moved back to the city with our kids then 8, 6 and 3 we went to see several schools.  We live downtown and although we know many who have chosen to send their kids to uptown schools that wasn’t something that interested us.  What was the most important was the schools whole gestalt.  It was the values of the school that were so important to us as we knew that we could always supplement other areas with a tutor to understand calculus better.

Our niece, who happens to be a teacher at LREI where our kids went to school posted this picture on Instagram this week.  These are the signs that the middle schoolers made to walk around Washington Square Park the day of the election.  Particularly in the times we live in now this hit us both right between the eyes.  The kids at LREI are growing up with a community that cares about the issues that many (unfortunately) are not embracive of.  The school is a mixture of every walk of life from black to white to muslim to jew to gay to transgender to mixed race.  They believe we are all equal regardless of our race, income or religion.  Those values is what we loved about the school.

There were times when all of our kids had frustration with the school but looking back on the philosophy that they teach has bled into our kids in a way that makes them better adults.  I saw that photo on Instagram and just smiled.  It is too bad that all children aren’t taught to speak their minds, think about big picture ideals that make an impact in our world and be open to everyone regardless of where they come from or what they believe in.  If they did then perhaps we wouldn’t be living in the times that we are living in now of anger, hate, disdain and prejudice.

RIP Mary Tyler Moore

Mary: Let me get this straight? The only reason he was paid more than I am is because he was a man?

Mr. Grant:  Oh sure it has nothing to do with your work. 

Mary: No, no wait a minute, because I want to understand this. I’m doing as good a job as he did.

Mr. Grant: Better!

Mary: Better! And I’m being paid less because …

Mr. Grant: You’re a woman. 

Mary: Well, Mr. Grant there is no good reason why two people doing the same job, at the same place, shouldn’t be making the …

Mr. Grant: He had a family to support. You don’t. Now why don’t you come back when you have an answer to that. 

Mary: Because financial need has nothing to do with it. Because in order to be consistent with what you’re saying, you would have to pay the man with three children more than the man with two children. And the married man more than the bachelor. Mr. Grant, you don’t do that. So what possible reason can you give me for not paying me at least as much as the man who had this job before me? 

I keep thinking about the recent loss of Mary Tyler Moore.  I grew up on TV in the 1970’s.  Mary represented the single working woman away from home, starting out in a big city and trying to prove herself in a male environment.  She was obviously smarter than Ted, a peer of Murray and the twinkle in Mr. Grant’s eye because he was impressed with her abilities.

Mary dated a bunch of losers.  Her best buddy upstairs Rhoda was one of my all time favorite characters and perhaps it is the Jew in me that truly connected to her chutzpah.  Both of these women were role models of my generation where women were just starting to show their chops in the public eye.

I read the book about the making of the show a few years back.  It is amazing how much fear there went into the show around Mary being divorced and for TV that was out there so instead she was single because she had broken up with her fiancee.  It is a worthy read and gave me some insight into what seemed to be normal back then was so incredibly edgy.

Mary’s character wasn’t political she just was.  The clothes and the sets were amazing.  The show shaped my perception of the working life.

There is one episode of Mary that keeps playing over and over in my mind since I read about her death.  She wasn’t comfortable doing it but she know she deserved it.  It happened on the third season premier.  She found out that the man that had the job before her was making more money than she is.  He had 3 kids but that wasn’t the point.  She was nervous but she stuck to her guns and asked Mr Grant for the raise.  It is poignant piece about women sticking up for what they deserve.  This was directly tied to the women’s movement and the wage gap that existed and still does.  Of course I had zero idea it existed at that point of my life.  It has stuck with me forever.

I went back and watched that show when she died.  Mary Tyler Moore made her mark on women of my generation in ways I believe she knew.  I just loved Mary.

 

Positively Gotham Gal, Karen Cahn, iFundWomen

Karen is the founder of iFundWomen a crowdfunding platform for women-led businesses.  Karen has been part of the tech industry of NY since the start.  This platform is not only giving women a voice but capital to build on their ideas.  They can tell their stories, raise capital and be part of a community.  Karen is passionate about the women she is helping and her enthusiasm shows in our conversation.

Enjoy the podcast!

A $20,000 Match Offer On ACLU Donations Today

Brad, Amy, Joanne, and Fred have been inspired by Chris’s $150,000 match offer yesterday and Albert and Susan’s $15,000 match offer today. So we are joining together (the four of us) and joining the movement they started and doing a $20,000 match offer on ACLU donations today.

And in the interest of keeping this thing we’ve got going, we are committing to run a $20,000 match offer for ACLU donations every month of 2017 on the first of the month.

Our hope is that by raising almost $250,000 during 2017, we will help the ACLU continue the legal and moral fight against the Trump Administration’s effort to institutionalize and legalize hatred, racism, and bigotry.

To participate in this match offer, just send us a receipt of your ACLU donation today. You can do that by tweeting your ACLU donation receipt to any one of us:

Brad

Amy

Joanne

Fred

Brenda Barnes, RIP

I did not know of Brenda Barnes until she died this past week.  Her story is one that defines the push/pull of motherhood and career.  She had an incredible career as the first female CEO at Pepsi Co presiding over Sara Lee until she decided it was enough and quit her job to become a full-time Mom.  She said her decision boiled down to one thing; time.

She died at 63 from a stroke.  Way too early to leave this earth.  It appears that she had complications with this in the past.  She walked away from her power job and my guess is her relationship with her family and kids changed in the positive way that she was missing.  Large corporations made it impossible for executives to climb the ladder and also be a present parent.  These are the decisions that women ( and children ) have paid the price for and unfortunately continue to.

I have said time and time again that when more large enterprise companies make the decision to give woman and men maternity/paternity leave and create ways for people to be more flexible with their time it is then when things will change.  If men spent the first couple of months with their child as women have done forever then their relationship with that child and their relationship with the family will shift.  Men will want to be present in a different way as they attempt to climb the corporate ladder and be a parent at the same time.  Companies must make men take the same time off as women as that will create more balance in the workforce.

Women (and men) who choose to leave that workforce for their children find themselves having an insanely difficult time re-entering that world.  PathForward is an organization that I am co-chairing and we are working on helping women (and men) reenter the workforce.  The stories of the people we have touched are amazing.  We have literally changed their lives.  Giving people the ability to get off the corporate ladder for a time to be with their family should be possible and then relatively seamless to reenter.  Women shouldn’t feel that the door is now shut on their careers.  The Atlantic wrote about this and PathForward this week.

Brenda’s story is one that needs to be remembered.  We have come a bit of a way from 20 years ago but there is so much more to be done and with this administration we need to be even more powerful as a group in our convictions that this is the future and that we are not slipping back into the past.