Decision Making

Water Shortages Arise from a Failure to Do Strategic Planning – They Are Not an Excuse Not to Do It

NAO 25th March

Tackling water resource issues is one of the five priority risks
the Committee on climate Change identified in its 2017 climate
change risk assessment. If more concerted action is not
taken now, parts of the south and south-east of England will run
out of water within the next 20 years.

This will of course lead to ever more
moaning that we don’t have the resources to build
the houses we need. Or as bad that we should force people to move
to places where they will be rained on more and be greatful for

We have absolutely no shortage of water in the UK. Rather we
let most of it flow into the sea without being used. Most
countries have long ago solved the technical problem of getting
water from where it is to where it is needed. Some solutions date
back to the origins of civilisation.

In the era of privitisation there was a reaction against large
scale interegional water transfer solutions as ‘white
elephants’ such as Kielder or expanding transfers from Wales to
the Midlands. With no separation of wholesale and retail markets
there was no incentive for bold long term cross basin
improvements. The government has intermittently called for a
National Water Strategy, rather like CaMKox expecting everyone but
the National Government to write it.

We don’t need a fully singing and dancing national water grid
to make progress. Small scale interegional and new reservoir
programmes are going ahead. Already in Essex in hot summers
Essex gets around 1/3rd of its water from the Great Ouse

A single pipeline from Derwent Mouth/Long Horse Bridge on the
Derwent/Leicestershire Border to the Farmoor Reservoir, and the
proposed reservoir at Abingdon, a distance a little over 120km, and
mostly on the 150m contour
, would link the catchments of most of the rivers in middle
England and completely solev the water supply situation for Camkox.
Existing rivers like the Great Ouse, and gravity, allow water to
flow where growth needs it. Lets call it the Long Horse
Waterway. Boris previously
stated support for the idea
without stating where or how. I
would expose the Southern section south of the Nene as a Canal and
use it as a major flood relief and recreational resource linking
pleasure boats from the Great Ouse, Avon Thames and Nene systems.
Why doesnt England’s Economic Heartland fund a feasibility

So why are we not getting such proposals from the wholesale
water companies?

I remember reading a couple of years ago Anglian Waters
strategic plan. It was a brilliant piece of work with
sophisticated GIS modelling of supply and demand. But it was
completely wrong. Wrong because it only included growth in local
plans, and not most of the growth in the capital planning period
which wasn’t yet in local plans . There’s the rub of it.
Non existent strategic planners not telling actually existing water
planners where to put the pipes and reservoirs.

Historically England has been bad at Water Cycle planning. It
rains so much we take it for granted. In arid countries all
planning begins and ends with where it rains and gravity. In my
recent mini ‘lecture’ tour i threw in the deliberately
provocative point that all 5 New Towns in Hertfordshire./est Essex
were in the wrong place, and the Ministry of Works had advised
Lewis Silkin that feeding 5 new towns into the always limited
capacity Rye Meads treatment centre was impractical. If we had
listed we would have now 5 new Towns feeding into the Ouse
Catchment in south Cambridgeshire (and we might again).

The Long Horse Superpipe

Decision Making

The Coronimbys – Lets Quarantine them Forever

A new breed has come forth on twitter in recent days. The
coronimbys. They never really liked human beings anyway, seeing
them as a resource consuming, pollution creating blight (except for
them of course), with this misanthropy used to resist housing, HS2,
new airports, new anything all in a pseudo environmental anti
development brand of eco-fascism why denies all hope of human
ingenuity to fix, mend and restore the environment.

Oh how they now welcome Covid, it gives them the perfect excuse
to say aha we now no longer need the housing. It has all gone
away because of recession. Hang on I havnt noticed a mortality
rate, like the Black Death, of 30% (which byu the way led to the
biggest wave of new settlement building in history in the 14th
Century as the economy recovered.) Of course if we can create
trillions at teh stroke of a bankers pen to keep the economy going
we can do so for housing. And if every major currency does it
there is no risk of inflation if we keep workers occupied and
producing. That was the lesson of the major ‘homes fit for
heroes’ wave of house building immediately after the last global
pandemic in 198-19.

Decision Making

Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

For the past six months, I’ve been working on a new podcast
called Everyday Experts , where I profile people from a variety of
jobs and industries about the people and systems behind the work
they do.

I know a lot of business podcasts already exist. But I wanted
this to be different. Rather than look to people we might
traditionally perceive as de-facto experts (that’s to say, CEOs,
renowned entrepreneurs, or celebrity figures), I wanted to help
uncover great leaders in unexpected places. That’s to say, people
you might come across in your day-to-day life, but not necessarily
recognize as experts.

Bus operators. Physical therapists. Beauticians. The local bar
owner who’s always there to take a shot with you when you need
one. The veterinarian who sees you only when you’re at your worst
and worried sick about the health of your favorite pet.

To kick things off, I rounded up a group of people I’ve gotten
to know personally — all of whom work face-to-face with their
customers or clients — and I asked them: “Can I interview you
about the work you do? I’d like to understand what makes you an
expert in your domain, and what the rest of us can learn from

We have a lot to learn from people who work face-to-face with

Amazingly, many of them said yes. For this first season,
that’s exactly who you’ll hear from — a diverse slate of
individuals who have taught me a lot about what they’ve learned
from working so closely with people in so many different contexts.
All together, these stories, and so many more, offer a unique take
at the work we do and the people we meet along the way.

I was getting very excited to launch this podcast and expose
some of their stories to the world. And so were they. But then,
COVID-19 hit, and everything changed. Under strict “shelter in
place” or quarantine regulations, bars have been shut down,
physical therapy practices have temporarily closed their doors, and
beauty services have been deemed “non-essential” businesses,
shut until further notice.

Due to the very nature of the work they do, most of these
individuals are no longer able to do their jobs. Or, they have been
disrupted in profound ways. As a result, the interviews I conducted
— all between October 2019 and February 2020 — started to feel
more like “time capsules” than real life.

It’s a scary time, to be sure. The world is collectively
holding its breath as we wait and see what the full impact of this
virus will be. And as for anybody who held a job in any
people-first industry, ranging from hospitality to theatre, there
is simply this moment, this pause, from everything they have

Given all that, it doesn’t feel quite right to launch this
podcast now. At least, not as intended. But, their jobs aren’t
going away forever — if anything, maybe their absence will remind
us what a crucial role they play, and how much more we’ll
appreciate then when they’re back. So I’m going to give it some
time to see how things are looking on the other side.

For now, I wanted to share my trailer with you, to get a sense
of what to expect in this future podcast. If these sound like the
kind of stories you’d like to hear first-hand, please subscribe,
and you’ll be among the first to know once I officially launch.
Until then, stay healthy, and I welcome your ideas about other
Everyday Experts that I might profile in the future.

Tune in here or subscribe at .

The post Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast appeared
first on Dry Erase .

The post
Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast
appeared first on
Union Square Ventures.

Decision Making

The a16z WFH Podcast: Remote Work and Our New Reality

In the latest WFH episode of the a16z Podcast — recorded all
remotely, of course — a16z general partners Connie Chan in
consumer and David Ulevitch in enterprise discuss with Lauren
Murrow the swift rise of remote work and virtual …

The post The
a16z WFH Podcast: Remote Work and Our New Reality
first on Andreessen Horowitz.

Decision Making

Teaching Online

I have been teaching in one form or another since college. I
helped pay for graduate school by teaching other grad students. For
most of my life, teaching has meant standing up in front of a group
of people and explaining things to them in a large group

But, like many things, that is quickly changing right now.

I mentioned that we have a new group of analysts at USV. And we
are doing an onboarding program for them where the various partners
at USV take turns teaching them things they will need to know
during their time at USV.

When we planned this onboarding program, we thought those
classes would take place in person. But now they are taking place

This week, I am going to teach a three-hour class on cap tables
and liquidation waterfalls. These are the spreadsheets we use to
track everyone’s ownership in a company and how much money each
shareholder gets in a sale transaction. While much of this is
straightforward, there are edge cases that can be pretty gnarly. I
am looking forward to teaching this class.

As I prepared for it this weekend, I decided to create the bare
bones of a google sheet that will have one tab for the cap table
and another for the liquidation waterfall.

The three analysts will act as the three founders of a company
and we will simulate three rounds of financings and then a sale of
the company.

We will all be in the google sheet together and also in a zoom
room together. I will coach them through the exercise but they will
do all of the work.

And as I was planning all of this out and building the bare
bones google sheet, I thought to myself, “this may be the single
best way to teach this material that I have ever come

I have taught this material to many people, but never quite like

We are leveraging two technologies that have come of age in the
last ten year; collaborative documents (google sheets) and
videoconferencing (zoom). And we are using project-based learning
in a small group setting which has always been one of (the most?)
powerful teaching/learning model.

The question I am wondering about is once I teach this subject
this way, will I ever want to teach it any other way? I think maybe

USV TEAM POSTS: David Gabeau — Mar 22, 2020

Sychronous Entertainment

Albert Wenger — Mar 21, 2020

Putting the Economy in Suspended Animation: A Proposal

Hannah Murdoch — Mar 18, 2020

Joining USV

Hanel Baveja — Mar 18, 2020

Joining Union Square Ventures

Nick Grossman — Mar 17, 2020

The Great Shift to Video

The post Teaching
appeared first on Union
Square Ventures

Decision Making

Sychronous Entertainment

It’s kind of sad that HQ Trivia, a mobile live game show, is
no longer running. This should be its moment. Much of the world has
spent the last week quarantined in their homes and are unable to
watch live sports as every league has suspended play. Currently,
the news is the only live event we are experiencing together –
and though necessary, that’s not been a fun experience. The
synchronous lighthearted entertainment that HQ provided would be a
welcome respite from the day-to-day boredom of quarantined life.
While there will always be a place for asynchronous entertainment
like Netflix & HBO, it’s already become clear to me that live
events satiate a different need.

Over the last week of quarantine, I’ve used live products more
than I ever have before. This weekend, me and 150k others
participated in #ClubQuarantine
hosted by DJ D-Nice
on Instagram Live. A friend had to cancel
his in-person birthday party, so we all hopped on a hangout to
toast drinks. Rumble, the gym I frequent in real life, began doing
exercises on Instagram Live at 9 am every morning. The real-time
energy of the instructors and live messages from other participants
made the experience fun while also holding me more accountable than
the instruction of pre-recorded videos.

People have used their time at home to learn to continue to
learn together. Our portfolio company, Outschool, hosts live
learning classes online. My younger sister, currently quarantined
in my childhood home, has begun taking a creative writing class on
the platform. My coworker, Matt, has leveraged Zoom to host
a virtual pizza
making class
. Not
Boring Club
has moved there in-person events online –
hosting daily lunches, meditations, and a trivia night. People are
figuring out ways to connect virtually through fun and creative

I would bet more entrepreneurs are working to fill the
synchronous entertainment gap society is experiencing. There are so
many talented producers and entertainers currently sitting at home.
I’d love to talk to the people currently building tools for those
creators to share their talents live.

The post Sychronous
appeared first on Union Square Ventures.

Decision Making

Firefox Better Web (with Scroll)

Ad blockers are hugely popular.
Close to 800mm people around the world use them
to avoid
intrusive ads and data collection. I do not use an ad-blocker but I
completely understand why one would choose to do so.

And yet much of the media business is supported by advertising.
There are a growing number of subscription-based media services,
but many people cannot or won’t pay for content and the vast
majority of content consumed on the web is advertising

So USV has long felt that a subscription-based ad blocker would
make a lot of sense. Ad-supported publications could opt-in to get
a piece of the subscription revenue and agree to block ads to the
subscribers who have the ad blocker.

And that is why we invested in our portfolio company Scroll which makes exactly that.

And today, Scroll and Firefox are launching Firefox Better Web,
which is a service inside of Firefox ($2.50 a month to start and $5
a month in time).

I downloaded the latest version of Firefox this morning and
signed up. It went like this:

I signed up by giving my email address and entering my payment

And then I added the Scroll browser extension and was good to

I visited SB Nation and got an ad-free experience.

Which compares to this experience in my Chrome browser without
Scroll (Scroll works on Chrome too)

The partnership between Firefox and Scroll makes a ton of sense.
Firefox has long been committed to privacy and making the web work
better for its users. If you use Firefox try the Better Web
. And if you use Chrome or another browser, you can
get Scroll and experience more or
less the same thing there too.


Nick Grossman — Mar 24, 2020

Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?

Bethany Crystal — Mar 24, 2020

Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

David Gabeau — Mar 22, 2020

Albert Wenger — Mar 21, 2020
Putting the
Economy in Suspended Animation: A Proposal

Hannah Murdoch — Mar 18, 2020

Hanel Baveja — Mar 18, 2020

Joining Union Square Ventures

Decision Making

Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?

It’s an overwhelming time right now. Everyone in the world is
focused on COVID-19, and to varying degrees, is changing the way
they live.

From an economic perspective — beyond the obvious massive
damage due to a halting of large swaths of the economy, which will
need to be addressed with some form of government bailout — there
will also be some amount of permanent restructuring.

Many people are experiencing, for the first time, how many
activities — work, learning, healthcare, and socializing — can
be done remotely and in new ways using digital tools. For sure,
when the dust settles, we will largely go back to doing things how
we’ve always done them, but I suspect that certain new behaviors
will stick, and will result in longer-term behavioral and economic

The most obvious one is business travel and remote work.
Everyone who can is learning how to do this now — including
companies/teams/individuals that may have resisted it mightily in
the past. Moving forward, it’s going to be much harder to justify
an in-person-only culture. Virtual conferences & meetings have
drawbacks, for sure, but they also have advantages. I suspect that
coming out of the crisis, many professionals will have a
permanently higher bar for justifying work travel.

The next one is remote health. We now have the infrastructure,
at scale, for communicating with doctors virtually, and collecting
test samples at home. Laws limiting what doctors and patients can
do together over voice and video will change. Nikhil Krishnan has a
great piece exploring this in detail . This will stick.

Everyone with kids is scrambling to figure out how to keep them
engaged, connected and learning. Every school is scrambling to
implement a remote learning capability. Subscriptions at online
learning platforms are through the roof. School will resume but
remote learning will stick.

Finally, it also feels like we are rediscovering our social and
entertainment lives. I have never been more active with friends and
family — especially, for some reason, those who live at a
distance — as much as recently. I have never done video chats
with groups of friends and now that’s regular. My kids are
connecting with their friends over FaceTime every day. Group and
one-on-one chats are on fire. To a degree, this is because
everyone’s at home with nothing to do. But I believe this will
also stick.

What is most interesting to me is not the social changes, but
the institutional ones. In the cases of work, learning and
healthcare, we are talking about massive institutions that are
learning new behaviors on-the-fly. This is a big deal — we’re
probably seeing years-worth of change occurring over a matter of
weeks. It’s astonishing, really.

And, as a result, a massive number of individuals are learning
new moves, which will put pressure on the institutions not to roll
everything back when this is all over. Not everything will stick,
but I suspect a lot of it will.

USV TEAM POSTS: Bethany Crystal — Mar 24, 2020

Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

Fred Wilson — Mar 23, 2020

Teaching Online

David Gabeau — Mar 22, 2020

Synchronous Entertainment

Albert Wenger — Mar 21, 2020

Putting the Economy in Suspended Animation: A Proposal

Hannah Murdoch — Mar 18, 2020

Joining USV

Hanel Baveja — Mar 18, 2020

Joining Union Square Ventures

The post
Post-COVID: Which Behaviors Will Stick?
appeared first on
Union Square Ventures.

Decision Making

Legal Capsule by LexCounsel

Force Majeure and Suspension/Termination of Contracts Coronavirus
(COVID-19) is turning out to be a twin fold pandemic – that
started with affecting public health and soon spread throughout the
economy. Sudden global shutdown and travel restrictions have
brought the economy to a screeching halt, before most of us could

Decision Making

Why Companies May Benefit from More Transparency about Product Drawbacks

Source: Pixabay

Most companies, quite expectedly, focus intensely on the
positive attributes of their products and services when
communicating with customers. They market all the benefits, and
typically, they minimize any discussion of the limitations or
drawbacks of the product. After all, who would want to shine a
spotlight on negative attributes of your products?

Well, Harvard Business School scholars Ryan Buell and MoonSoo
Choi decided to challene the conventional wisdom. They sought to
examine whether a bit more honesty and transparency might actually
be beneficial for companies. Buell and MoonSoo Choi published
their findings in a paper titled,
"Improving Customer Compatibilitywith Operational

The scholars worked with Commonwealth Bank, a large Australian
financial services company, to conduct a randomized field
experiment. On the bank's website, potential new customers
received one of two offers: one highlighted the best attributes of
the company's credit card, while the other also mentioned key
drawbacks that firms often tend to place in the fine print only.
In short, the company made explicit some of the key tradeoffs
inherent in the company's strategy and product offering. In
other words, you get these wonderful features, but here's what we
don't offer, or what we don't provide at the same level of
service. Think about Southwest Airlines… we offer you on-time
flights, low fares, friendly service, and no baggage fees, BUT we
don't assign seats, have no first class and no meals, and won't
transfer your bags to other airlines. The company makes the
trade-offs quite clear to consumers.

The scholars tracked customer behavior at Commonwealth Bank
for the next year. What did the researchers find? HBS
Working Knowledge
summarized the key results:

"The researchers found that people who opened an account
after learning about a card’s downsides spent 10 percent more
each month than customers who heard only the benefits. Their
nine-month cancellation rate was also 21 percent less, and they
were 11 percent less likely to make late payments on a
month-to-month basis… Although the team didn’t probe why
customers spent more, they suspect that providing more information
helped people choose products that were more compatible with their
financial needs, creating a better customer experience."

Now, clearly, companies need to be careful with this added
level of transparency. They can't just dump a bunch of negative
information on customers and hope to succeed. However, they can
think about how providing more transparency may help them gain
consumers' trust and help customers self-select in a way that
creates a more enduring and better fit between company and