Hey, I'm Dan! I invest in early-stage startups at Madrona and write a weekly newsletter called the DL

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Why I'm Obsessed with TikTok

If you’re someone who cares about tech trends, you need to get on TikTok. As of this fall, TikTok is officially more popular with teens than Facebook, and it’s growing rapidly (1.5B users, 500M+ added this year).So what is it?

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Value creation and value capture - SR99 case study

Last week the Seattle Times reported that it costs $0.30 to collect $1.00 for the 99 Tunnel toll. Apparently, back when people collected physical money in tollbooths, collection overhead was 20-30%, so 30% is really bad.

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Nike vs. Amazon - Brands vs. Sellers

Lots of coverage on Nike’s break-up with Amazon last week... One thing that jumped out to me here is if you look at Amazon’s flywheel diagram, it highlights “sellers,” not “brands.”

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What Dan's Talking About

Dan's weekly summary of interesting articles, great books, cool videos, and internet memes

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What seed-stage companies is Madrona investing in?

Last week, The Information wrote an article on the top seed investors over the past decade, and Madrona was one of the ten firms on the list... So what does the next generation of Madrona’s startups look like?

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Go Sounders! ⚽⚽⚽ - ⚽

In case you want to know what it’s like to invest in a championship-winning sports team, check out this Q&A with Terry Myerson (a DL exclusive! 😊)...

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Investing in the Sounders: Q & A with Terry Myerson

Sports teams are 🔥! Every NFL, NBA, and MLB franchise is now worth at least $1B, and there are 52 teams across all sports worth at least $2B, up from one (Manchester United), in 2012. Last week the Sounders announced new owners

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October 2019 PNW Venture Deals

Here are the PNW startups that announced new fundraising rounds in the month of October. These 18 companies raised $480M+ last month!

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JEDI - Joyfully Evaluating DoD Infrastructure

A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft won the $10B JEDI contract to provide “enterprise level, commercial Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service to support Department of Defense business.” <– (i.e., cloud ☁️)...

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Seattle Unicorns

It’s been a great year for Seattle unicorns.

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Three types of AI companies

Intelligent applications are one of Madrona’s core investment themes, and this week Soma and I wrote an article on the three types of intelligent applications that VCs want to invest in...

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A tale of two retailers 🛍️

The New York Times had a fascinating pair of stories about family-run retailers this week - one about Nordstrom and one about Forever 21. There are a bunch of great stories and anecdotes in both...

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🎓 2019 Techstars Alexa Accelerator companies

Last week was demo day for the Alexa Accelerator. Techstars runs programs around the country with different groups like the Air Force, Comcast, Western Union, etc, and this one is a partnership with Alexa...

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💯 Seattle tech talent is exceptional

According to CBRE’s (commercial real estate firm) latest report, Seattle has the best tech talent in the country - ahead of San Francisco! Vancouver has also been making big strides...

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Boeing's 737 MAX and what it means for AI

The 737 MAX investigation raises a lot of interesting questions about AI, so here is my two-minute summary of the situation and what it means for the future of automation:

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Disrupt yo self! 💥

It’s really interesting to see corporate strategy play out in this era of technology and innovation because innovators are willing to take gigantic bets and disrupt themselves...

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September 2019 Venture Deals

$500M+ raised by 20+ PNW startups... Here are the PNW startups that announced new fundraising rounds in the month of September. It’s a long list - people are back at work!

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🧠 Brain computer interfaces

Last week at Madrona, we had a guest talk about brain computer interfaces with Rajesh Rao from UW. It’s fascinating to see the latest stuff in this field, so here are links to cool demos, products, and articles:

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🍞 TechLoaf presents... the latest DL survey results!

If you’re not reading TechLoaf, you’re missing out. This is the funniest tech satire out there today, and I’m proud to present TechLoaf’s analysis of The DL’s latest survey:

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What's happening at WeWork?

The WeWork IPO has gotten way too complicated, so here is the best summary of what’s going on that you can read in less than two minutes:

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How to choose your next job

Before reading the rest of this, put yourself into the shoes of a Stanford senior graduating with a CS degree, and pick one of these (real) job offers:

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How much do people at tech companies make?

It shouldn’t be a surprise to readers of the DL that tech companies pay really well, but here’s a better look at exactly how well

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Ask your friends at Amazon what they think

One of the best parts about living in Seattle is...

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“You have to have machine learning in your story or you’re not sexy.”

Last week Forbes released its list of the 50 most promising AI startups in the country, and there were five Seattle companies on the list. Here’s a quick look at each of the companies:

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Gaming in Seattle - Ninja Battles and Three Trends to Watch

In addition to cloud, ecommerce, and machine learning, Seattle is a major hub for gaming. There are more than 400 gaming companies here that generate $28B in annual revenue and create 23K jobs.

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Gen Z Survey from Morgan Stanley 👻

Morgan Stanley does a survey with all of their ~20 year old interns at the end of the summer, and it’s a super interesting view into the world of Gen Z (under age 24). Here are my key takeaways:

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"Please don't come" -Costco 😘

A few weeks ago, Costco opened its first store in China, and it was so popular they had to close the store and send a message to customers that said “Please don’t come.”

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Seattle's latest unicorn - 3 years to $3.5B!

Seattle startups are known for being understated, but Assurance must be one of the stealthiest startups ever. Last week, they were acquired by Prudential for $3.5B, and I don’t think TechCrunch even wrote about the acquisition.

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Survey says...

Last week, Sarah and I had a bet on which option would be most popular. I said B because people want variety, but on an upward trajectory. She said D because startup people like hockey sticks. Turns out we were both right!

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August 2019 Venture Deals

Here’s a roundup of PNW startups that announced new fundraising rounds in the month of August.

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Equifax's other database

Last week, someone pointed me to Work Number, which is an amazing business I had never heard about before. Work Number is a database for employment and payroll data, and customers primarily use it to verify someone’s employment.

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Seattle seed deal trends

After seeing this great visualization from Tom Tunguz, I worked with the PitchBook team to replicate the analysis for seed trends in the Pacific Northwest. Here are some highlights and areas where I’m excited about new investments

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Great use of AI for marketing 👏

I love this marketing campaign that Ogilvy worked on for Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) - such a cool use of computer vision, Facebook data, and targeted ads. Here’s a summary of what they did:

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PNW highlights from the Inc. 5000 ⭐

A couple weeks ago, Inc. released its list of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in the US, so I wanted to highlight a few of the best PNW founding stories.

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Startup success outside of Silicon Valley

Founder Collective put together an interesting analysis on the last ten years of software M&A and IPOs by geography (Jan 2009 - Aug 2019). Seattle got a nice ☕ emoji, and $50B of exit value over the last decade.

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July 2019 Venture Deals

Here’s a roundup of PNW startups that announced new fundraising rounds in the month of July. Looks like VCs weren’t on vacation just quite yet!

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Seattle's biotech startups and the Fred Hutch 👩‍🔬

Putting together the Pacific Northwest unicorn chart, I was surprised to learn that ~10% of the PNW unicorns over the last two decades have been biotech companies – Juno, Adaptive Biotechnologies, and Seattle Genetics

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How much money do VCs make? 💸

Last week, Version One, an early-stage VC based in Vancouver and SF, published a great blog post on the returns to-date for their first fund, a $15M fund raised in 2012.

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Softbank 2 -- Looking for the next 105 Robinhoods

Last week, Softbank announced that they raised $108B in their second Vision Fund with investors like Apple, Goldman Sachs, and Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund.

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Microsoft on 🔥🔥🔥

After Microsoft’s Q4 earnings call last week, the WSJ wrote, “Microsoft’s comeback is no longer tech’s best-kept secret.” The company made over $125B in revenue and $10.6B in profit last year, beating analysts’ forecasts

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Seattle Tech Trends - What's Happening in Real Estate?

There is a lot of interest in real estate in Seattle, and over the last decade, Seattle has become a major center of real estate innovation and investment. Here are some of the trends we are seeing

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1% Ideas

Businesses for the 1% are great. You don’t need to sell a lot of stuff to generate a lot of revenue, and you get to sell super cool stuff - like a four day astronaut training course that ends with a trip into space.

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Starting a Startup from Microsoft

Last week at Madrona, we hosted a lunch and learn with our interns and Brian Saab, the CEO of Unearth, a modern mapping platform. He talked about his journey from Microsoft to startup CEO, and it was a really insightful session

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Zillow, how much is this photo worth?

It’s hard to live in Seattle without seeing an article on home prices or artificial intelligence every day, but this article about Zillow is actually a cool demonstration of how much AI is changing the game

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June 2019 Venture Deals

Here’s a roundup of PNW startups that announced new fundraising rounds in the month of June.

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How to Sell a Company to Uber

Last week there were two acquisitions of autonomous vehicle startups. Apple bought Drive.ai, and Uber bought MightyAI (a Madrona portfolio company – woohoo!)

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Advice from Jeff Bezos

A couple years ago, we had a 20th anniversary celebration for Madrona, and one of the events was a fireside chat between Jeff Bezos and Tom Alberg, one of Madrona’s founders and the first outside investor in Amazon.

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Forward this to your friends at Tableau

Tableau’s largest acquisition ever, and pretty amazing for the teams that have built Tableau into a $15B+ company (to put that in perspective, Nordstrom’s current enterprise value is ~$10B)

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Pacific Northwest H1 2019 Venture Deals

I thought it would be good to start issue #1 out with some commentary on the overall startup market in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.

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