The vast majority of political journalists - and I include some of my conservative colleagues - are missing a very big story.
The Republicans are going to recapture the Senate, picking up more seats than most any forecaster expects. And the House GOP is going to add to its majority. But then comes the big story: The beginning of a new conservative revolution.
The idea that nothing much will change if the GOP captures the whole Congress is just plain wrong. The politics and policies in Washington are about to change in a major way.
Obama may still be president. But he is going to be…

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Every month we run an open office hours. It’s a great way for us to meet with lots of founders, improve our deal flow and hopefully give a little back to teh community.. Many other VCs do something similar.

We’ve just had our October office hours, and we’ve now met with approaching 100 founders through this programme. Most entrepreneurs come here to pitch us. They don’t have to, the session is theirs to do what they want with – take advice, ask about market trends, anything – but most choose to pitch. Some do it well, whilst others do it badly.

The meetings are only fifteen minutes, and that makes them difficult. Here are some tips you could follow if you are pitching and want to get the most out of the session:

  • Don’t talk fast. The meetings are only fifteen minutes, but the trick is to choose your words carefully and not try to say everything.
  • Try not to be nervous.
  • Do your research on Forward Partners ahead of time (or other VCs if you are meeting them) – you want the whole 15 minutes to be about you.
  • Think about what you want to say before you get here and leave more time than you would think for discussion.
  • Paint the big picture AND show you have a grip on the detail of execution in the short term.
  • Don’t use slides, or if you do keep it to one or max. two.
  • Be clear what you want to get out of the session. Tell us.
  • Ask what the follow up will be.
  • Respect the 15 minute time limit.

Our next open office hours will be on November 21st. You can apply here.

NB 15 minute meetings are a little painful, but I think that’s worth it because we can meet more people. Literally twice as many as if they were 30 minute meetings.



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SearchToNative

There’s an interesting post up on Stratechery asking whether we are approaching Peak Google which features the graphic above. The central argument is that in the way IBM fought to protect their PC platform and missed the Windows opportunity and Microsoft fought to protect its Windows franchise and missed the web opportunity Google will fight to protect their search platform and miss the native advertising opportunity. Search is a c$50bn out of a total advertising market of c$450bn, and hence a winner in native advertising winner could be bigger than Google.

I’m a big believer in the increasing importance of native advertising. The best companies these days have interesting products and brands that lend themselves to this new medium. That said, I’m not sure that means another company will eclipse Google. Search always looked like it might have one major winner, but I don’t see the same network effects at play in native advertising which will find its audiences on the multiple content sites where they hang out.



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By speaking out on the issue of inequality, has Fed Chair Janet Yellen risked appearing as a ‘partisan hack’? That is certainly the view for some on the right. (For a nuanced version of the argument see AEI’s Michael Strain here - for a more polemical treatment, Diana Furchgott-Roth here.)No doubt there are some political risks here. But was she supposed to remain silent on inequality for her entire tenure? For the Chair of the nation’s most powerful economic institution to ignore one of most powerful economic trends of our time would be close to a dereliction of duty.Arguments are…

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As of Wednesday, almost 800,000 Californians have voted by mail, representing 9% of total registered vote-by-mail voters and possibly about 17% of total 2014 ballots. With the election rapidly taking place, it is important to remember that Californians are not just voting on candidates, but also ballot initiatives.
Two weeks ago, I examined the four propositions on the 2014 ballot (Propositions 1, 2, 47, and 48) that are important to pass. As noted, all six of California’s 2014 propositions are boring because none have a large and vocal voter constituency on both sides, making the campaigns…

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Entrepreneurs launching “disruptive technologies” are reshaping markets across the U.S. economy, often by disintermediation and innovation. While these new products and services provide consumers more choices and better value, regulators have place increased attention on these activities, from car services such as Uber and Lyft, to those offering accommodations like Airbnb, to pop up restaurants running afoul of local health codes. In many instances, these new products emerged because innovators were one step ahead of the regulators. But as the regulatory state grows, these innovators…

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Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 14.26.45

33bn connected devices in the next six years, up from 12bn predicted at the end of this year. That will be four for every person on the planet. As others have said before me, our grandparents could count their electric motors, our parents could count the things they owned with a chip inside, and we can count our connected devices….

Here’s a quick list off the top of my head of inventions enabled by integrated circuits and/or electric motors.

  • Computers
  • Plasma and LCD screens
  • Remote control cars, copters etc.
  • Satellite and cable TV
  • Washing machines and dishwashers
  • Modern radio and television

Most, if not all, of these things would have been impossible to imagine one hundred years ago and it’s reasonable to expect that similarly unimaginable inventions will be spawned by the internet of things. And it will happen faster this time.

Our goal is to partner with the companies creating that future.



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It’s common to hear that Americans face a “retirement crisis.” In response, progressives have come up with their own solutions; including expanding Social Security and having the government run retirement plans for workers. In reality, though, the crisis is vastly overstated. And progressive solutions would do surprisingly little for those Americans who truly are underprepared for retirement. Real answers exist, but they are more about making government work better, than about making it larger.One prominent study claims that 53 percent of Americans won’t have enough income in retirement….

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The Federal Reserve’s talking heads have been hard at work over the last week. They have tackled issues ranging from early childhood education, to the Fed’s “duty to advance the maximum well-being of all citizens,” to regulatory compliance by financial firms. The Fed’s musings on topics far outside of its mandate seem odd for an institution that has a lot more thinking to do about-just to throw out a crazy suggestion-monetary policy. But the Fed’s regulatory mandate is also large, so its reflections on compliance are worth a closer look.New York Fed President William Dudley and Fed Governor…

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It is difficult to decipher why David Gordon of the Ludwig von Mises Institute is being so critical of Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames’ book Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy - and What We Can Do About It. His clearest objection is Forbes and Ames’ belief that money is a unit of measure that that needs a fixed gold price to remain a reliable and useful unit of value over time. In Gordon’s view this belief and this book are “odd”. Unfortunately, by the end of his review, the only “odd” thing is Gordon’s lack of understanding of some basic economic…

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Here’s a great example of using the right concepts and formulating a complex thought in a simple, retainable way. It’s from Daniel Henninger’s column in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal:
“The U.S. and Europe have paid a high price for six years of stimulus that didn’t stimulate, programmed consumption that fell short, regulatory expansions that froze private producers, and high tax-rate regimes that benefited the public-spending class and beggared everyone else . . .”
“Stimulus that didn’t stimulate”-a great phrase. It could be partnered with: quantitative easing that didn’t ease.
Foggy…

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I read two startling different commentaries on the health of the UK as a society this morning that made me recall the “best of times, the worst of times” quote from Dickens.

First up was a highly optimistic piece in the Financial Times titled Miserablism risks causing Britain serious harm which argues that we should all wake up to the fact that times are good right now and be wary of policies and politicians proposing radical moves that might well make things worse – e.g. price interventions and exiting Europe. This is the money quote:

Look at Britain as an informed foreigner might. Here is a country that responds to a secessionist threat to its existence by holding a free and fair referendum. It has evolved an economic model that is more hospitable to business than much of Europe and kindlier to the poor than America. It cuts public spending year on year without any civil disorder to speak of. Crime is falling. Unemployment is at 6 per cent. The politicians are small-time but basically honourable. The capital city is a miracle of the modern world.

Then I read the Guardian’s Bleak figures show a relentless slide towards a low-pay Britain which featured the graph below showing that real wages in Britain have now been declining for seven years in a row – only the third time that has happened in the last 150 years.

UKrealwagedecline

Between them these too perspectives capture the overall situation well. On the plus side the economy is performing well and society is stable, but on the downside, the spoils of growth are going to the rich, wage inequality is increasing and the social contract is in danger of falling apart.

The important question is what will happen next. The Guardian suggests two possibilities. The first is that unemployment is now reaching levels where there is little slack in the labour market and employers will find themselves having to increase real wages for the lowest paid. The second is that technological advances will continue to take jobs from mid-skilled workers, forcing them into lower paid jobs and driving real wages down. I’ve written about this before: Robots and artificial intelligence are replacing jobs.

Cycles in the economy and labour market will come and go, but the trend towards automation will run and run. For me the most likely scenario is that tightness in the labour market will force wages up over the next few years, but when the cycle turns again real wages will cycle sharply downwards. Our opportunity is take action now to help the situation. A couple of weeks ago rich Americans were worrying that The pitchforks are coming … for us plutocrats. That will be our fate too, unless we do something.

The solution is not to protect jobs or try to limit the adoption of technology, but to invest heavily in programmes that help people re-skill and get back to work. That would be the play that keeps us as when of best performing societies in the world. If we get through the current period of austerity successfully there might just have the money to do it.



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Apple stock rose over 2 percent on Monday as the company announced an increase of 13 percent in its quarterly profit, and sales of 39 million iPhones. And in a few days the company will roll out ApplePay, increasing the demand for the iPhone 6. Instead of a credit card, all people will need is their iPhone, which can be activated with a secure fingertip to prevent fraud.
South Koreans and Japanese have been using their phones as credit cards and train tickets for the past decade, but America has yet to catch on. Apple’s entry into the mobile payment space is not the industry’s first, but it…

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The global economy is beginning to resemble 1982, a deflationary environment that climaxed with that summer’s Peso Crisis and aggressive intervention by Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Although certainly not as strong as twenty-two years ago, another bout of deflation (or ‘disinflation’) is underway. The bad news is: Federal Reserve officials are only slowly recognizing it. The good news is: they have time to avert its destructive consequences.
The parallels between 1982 and 2014 are eerily similar, although the circumstances are wholly different. During the lead-up to both…

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Though it’s highly debatable that European economic weakness is what’s “rattling” global stock markets, to the New York Times this bit of conventional wisdom makes perfect sense. Forget the IMF’s hopeless track record when it comes to predicting much of anything, to the Times the IMF’s assertion about weakness has been accepted without protest.
Not surprisingly, the Times is similarly accepting of the view that says a lack of government spending is the source of European hardship. In a front page story last Friday Times reporters Jim Yardley and Jack Ewing wrote that “the largest European…

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