“As meditators, we had prepared for this – how to move the energy up from the belly and into the heart and out through the head. I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou’s as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn’t afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life – so beautiful, painful and dazzling – does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.”—
After the crisis of 2008, it became abundantly clear that our staid financial institutions needed reinventing. So, as they do, talented entrepreneurs got to work. We are now seeing the first wave of post-crisis innovation starting to bear fruit across lending (e.g. p2p), investing (e.g. crowdfunding), payments (e.g. simple api’s) and other key financial services categories. But we are just getting started.
I am convinced that we will see sweeping changes to our financial system and its institutions over the coming years. Although the financial services industry has typically been a laggard, it can’t hold on forever. Technology will fundamentally change this industry, like it does all others. In order to realize this vision however, the proper infrastructure needs to be in place.
Enter Plaid, a new service founded by Zach Perret & William Hockey that I am thrilled to announce Spark’s investment in today. Plaid is a modern API for banking and credit card data that provides developers with a clean, categorized view of user transactions and account balances. In addition to making financial data actionable and accessible, Plaid connects every transaction with a clean merchant name, address, and category.
By focusing on simple integration and high-quality data, Plaid enables developers to programmatically interact with core banking infrastructure and build applications that leverage financial data. Financial technology has always had significant barriers to entry, but with a modern API and rich, contextual data, Plaid is helping developers transform the way consumers and businesses utilize financial information.
In doing so, Plaid is enabling the developer community to create the next generation of companies. The company has seen significant early traction within accounting, tax, expense, and lending; however, as the platform has grown, developers have begun using Plaid across a number of other verticals that we never would have expected.
Zach & William have created a service with Plaid that has the potential to serve as the backbone for a new wave of financial innovation, and I’m excited to see what’s next!
It’s even less of a secret that I love everything food. Be it restaurants, burger-making, cooking, or just plain eating, food has been a personal passion of mine for as long as I can remember.
So I couldn’t be happier to announce today Spark Capital’s investment in Kitchensurfing — the world’s marketplace for chefs. When Chris Muscarella first told me he was launching Kitchensurfing, I was immediately smitten. In addition to being an incredibly talented product-led internet entrepreneur, Chris, too, is a lover of all things food and has been intimately involved in building one of my favorite restaurants: Rucola in Broooklyn.
Chris has created a beautiful product with two talented German cofounders: Borahm Cho and Lars Kluge. Adding my dear friend Ben Leventhal to the mix as President was the icing on the cake. Having previously co-founded Eater.com, Ben is one of the foremost editorial minds and community builders in the food world.
On its face, Kitchensurfing is very simple — it’s a place for folks to find chefs of all stripes to come cook for them, and oftentimes their guests, in the comfort of their own home. But Kitchensurfing is actually doing something more profound. They are unbundling the idea of the restaurant and putting it together in an entirely new way.
One of the things you learn very quickly in the restaurant business is how tough it is to be a chef. While the celebrity chefs get all the attention today, aside from them and the country’s leading executive chefs, most chefs work very hard for very little money. Save for opening their own restaurant, which does not always come naturally to a creative chef, there is little room for upward mobility.
Kitchensurfing opens up opportunities for chefs to do more of what they love (cooking) and make more money in the process. Whether they are a professional or an amateur, whether they do it part time or full time, Kitchensurfing is a platform that enables chefs to be chefs and make money doing it.
From the consumer point of view, dining out is probably the biggest piece of discretionary spend. What if ‘dining in’ could take a piece of that immense pie with a different but comparable experience? Could it even grow that pie in the process? The home chef has never been a true alternative to a restaurant meal, certainly not on an on-demand, a la carte basis. But now it is.
All great in theory, but I had to try it for myself to fully believe it. I had the Lucullan team do my first Kitchensurfing dinner, and it was terrific. So far I’ve used Kitchensurfing at my home or at friends’ homes at least half a dozen times, and I am hooked. In addition to being able to try all different kinds of foods, having a talented, interesting person in your home is actually a treat in it of itself. There is a sense of community, of being part of the process of food, that is simply hard to beat. So much so that I recently had Hagar from Kitchensurfing cook our Moroccan inspired Passover seder!
Kitchensurfing is currently available in New York, Boston and Berlin—planting a domestic and international flag from day one. Chicago and Washington D.C. are coming imminently. There are now thousands of cooks on the platform, and the business has tripled in size since the end of last year. Kitchensurfing is on a tear, and I’m excited to be a part of it.
Look out for Kitchensurfing in a city near you soon. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
“Political coverage that wants to be solely high-minded is missing huge chunks of the actual interplay of personality and power that is what actually drives things”—Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed, NYTimes
The above was part of a poem I wrote in 7th grade about my favorite people, including Mayor Ed Koch. Mayor Koch was a tremendous role model to me in the way that he always spoke his mind and stood up passionately for what he believed in.
We will miss you Mayor Ed Koch. You were a great man.
Oops - missed this one. Not sure how as it was the song we got the most feedback about! Anyhow, the kids walked down to this one before Hil walked down. From one of our favorite movies — True Romance. Suffice it to say, it was a hit!
I walked down the aisle to this song. Perhaps the most emotive of the always emotional Bon Iver songs, and one of two bands that permeated Hil and my relationship from the very beginning. The other was LCD Soundsystem, which came later in the night but is not quite processional music :)
In 2008, Obama ran as a pragmatic problem-solver and consensus-builder. But as president, he devoted little time and effort to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists, which doomed hope for any real progress on illegal guns, immigration, tax reform, job creation and deficit reduction. And rather than uniting the country around a message of shared sacrifice, he engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it.
Of course, neither candidate has specified what hard decisions he will make to get our economy back on track while also balancing the budget. But in the end, what matters most isn’t the shape of any particular proposal; it’s the work that must be done to bring members of Congress together to achieve bipartisan solutions.
Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both found success while their parties were out of power in Congress — and President Obama can, too. If he listens to people on both sides of the aisle, and builds the trust of moderates, he can fulfill the hope he inspired four years ago and lead our country toward a better future for my children and yours. And that’s why I will be voting for him.