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Scott Belsky - Tech/Product, Creativity, & Making Ideas Happen - Issue #13

Scott Belsky - Tech/Product, Creativity, & Making Ideas Happen - Issue #13
By Scott Belsky • Issue #13 • View online
May has arrived. It feels like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope this ~monthly-ish issue of Elaboration finds you well. What’s top of mind?
  • 3 Ideas, Rapid Fire!
  • Creativity Is the New Flex
  • The Current State Of NFTs
  • On Revue & Twitter, Connecting Dots
  • Opportunities In The Portfolio

3 Ideas, Rapid Fire
(1) Nomadic Lives & Community: I got quite an unexpected stream of polarizing responses to the following thought the other day:
scott belsky
wouldn't be surprised if the next gen, especially in their 20's, spends a decade of their lives living between a set of Airbnb's around the world, working remotely, immersing themselves in communities and cultures.

a nomadic life where you feel at home everywhere. https://t.co/N3I2gQ5jmc
While dozens of people responded with their own stories of global flexible living and desires to live unbound from wherever they happened to work and live (and Airbnb’s own CEO retweeted the perspective), others were outraged - claiming that such a world would destroy culture, community, and cater only to the privileged. I learned a few things: (1) platforms that power new forms of living need to demonstrate how they serve a broad set of society across income levels (a few commenters remarked how much money they’ve saved living abroad, the nomadic live doesn’t need to be expensive), (2) there is a generational split around the definition of “community,” some see it as the default place you were born “where you have roots,” while others believe you can find and build your own community, (3) there are such polar views on this topic, which means it is an exciting space to innovate.
(2) Tech For Healthy Enterprise: Quantitative health objectives for the enterprise, directly tied to workforce performance and safety. This is a big idea. And Whoop (one of my investments) does this now, with over 400 full time employees.
Will Ahmed
We pay members of our team @whoop a sleep bonus if they get over 85% of their sleep need in a month. We also have a Red Recovery Policy to stay home if your body is run down. Team = 400 FTEs. And yes it works. @balajis

https://t.co/Eg6P0lu9PV. https://t.co/wPI50fd903
(3) The Next Generation Of Professional Networking: I think (hope) we all realize now: your history of job titles and the shingles you’ve associated yourself with are antiquated proxies for potential. People want to connect based on past projects, who they’ve worked with, and the initiative taken to pursue their interests. no better way. In such a world, we’ll find opportunity, build teams, & engage collaborators by sorting & connecting using prime elements of people: how they spend their time and what they actually do. Last week, I announced a seed investment in a new founder and team tackling this space: Polywork.
Scott Belsky's page | @scottbelsky | Built on Polywork
Creativity Is The New Flex
scott belsky
thinking: social media is evolving from a flex of wealth by flaunting experiences (travel instagram shots) to a flex of ingenuity (amazingly creative TikToks, NFTs, and tricked-up media).

in the age of ai + access to creative tools, creativity is the new flex.
I always try to understand consumer technology trends from the perspective of the most human tendencies behind them. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a great place to start, alongside understanding our most basic insecurities and desires. A common question I ask when I see any form of social technology is, “what does this flex?” In other words, what is this platform making it easier to show others? The last generation of apps have been largely used to flex lifestyle (where you have traveled, who you are friends with, how you live your life). It’s sad, to some degree, but it is also true. But something is changing these days. Increasingly, people want to be represented by their CREATIONS as opposed to their experiences or possessions. I find this trend to be extremely exciting (and good for humanity). It is more readily accessible to all, and it incentivizes the development of skills and creativity that will serve peoples’ careers, lives, and communities in positive ways. When you look at the most popular people on TikTok, it becomes clear: creativity is the new flex.
The Current State Of NFTs
I haven’t sent a newsletter out since February, so we haven’t had a chance to cover the whole NFT space. Well, suffice to say, I went down the rabbit hole pretty quickly on this one. You can see my perspective here:
The Furry Lisa, CryptoArt, & The New Economy Of Digital Creativity | by Scott Belsky | Medium
No doubt, the NFT space is still very wild wild west, and we should expect some blood baths (much like the early “ICO” days of crypto). We’re still in the Prodigy and Compuserve era of NFTs as it relates to their potential. Over the past year, I have invested in a number of “picks and shovels” companies in this space that I’m excited about. Of course, the key question is: “What does the NFT world really need but hasn’t found yet?” One big answer, aside from the concerns around energy consumption, is content authenticity. Sure, you can track any NFT to the address that minted it, but not the person that actually created it (anyone can pint someone else’s work). To solve this, we need a way to track pixel creation back to the real maker. Here’s an open-source solution we’re working on at Adobe, under the leadership of my longtime colleague Will Allen, to solve this problem.
On Revue & Twitter, Connecting Dots
This newsletter is powered by Revue, and I’ve been one of Revue founder Martijn’s investors since his seed round. Revue was recently acquired by Twitter, where Kayvon (now the fearless leader of product at Twitter) landed post the acquisition of his company, Periscope, an investment where I was both a product advisor and investor. Worlds collided in June 2019 when, after catching up with Kayvon, I made an introduction to Martijn. I was just looking back at that email intro and realized that, amidst all the “value” seed investors aspire to add, sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is simply connect dots. I think Revue brings a critical functionality and talented team to Twitter at the perfect moment. Creators want to own their audience, and the vertical integration of building your audience (tweets) and then serving your audience directly and more deeply (subscriptions, newsletters, etc…) will bring Twitter to new heights. Twitter is among my favorite digital products and has likely connected more dots in my career than I can possibly count.
Opportunities In The Portfolio
General Opportunities:
  • Adobe: Now about 3.5 years into my role leading product, eng, and design for all creative products at Adobe, I am extraordinarily excited about parts of our pipeline that took years to build. If you’re an engineer for web apps, mobile, or a designer or product leader particularly passionate about building tools for the creative world, send me a note (reply to this email). There are a few once-in-a-lifetime product inflection moments ahead, and we’re building quite the dream team right now…
  • Join A High-Growth Start-up: There are several companies in my portfolio that are growing on all cylinders, and their retention and growth charts are among the best I’ve ever seen. I (or my Operations partner, Sheldon) would be happy to share a few good matches to the right candidates 1:1, just drop us a note alongside a portfolio URL.
Specific Opportunities:
  • Levels Health: working to improve people’s metabolic health. Looking for a Lead Designer and a Software Engineer
  • Pumpkin Pie: what if we could build an app that brings humans together not based on how they look, but who they are? Looking for: iOS engineers, back-end engineers (including a lead architect), lead product designer. Feel free to respond to this email if you’re interested in learning more.
  • Cashdrop: start an online store from you phone in minutes, zero commissions, zero monthly fees. This team is empowering anyone from Taco Trucks to Soloist fashion designers to get into business. Looking for: Head of Design, Head of Growth, Head of Content, Engineers, Customer Success team members. Feel free to respond to this email if you’re interested in learning more. 
  • Ramp: building the modern financial stack that enables companies to accelerate growth without compromising on their finances. Looking for:  VP of Marketing and Product Designer
  • Schema: a unified file system that brings the fragmented app ecosystem under one roof. Looking for a Founding Engineer
  • Reeview: Video reviews as a service for e-commerce. Fantastic team, remote and central/eastern Europe based, looking for a lead designer and operations leaders.
  • Graphy: On a mission to reimagine how teams work with data. Graphy is the all-in-one data collaboration platform where teams create and collaborate on beautiful and interactive dashboards, loaded with data from apps teams already use and love. Looking for: Product Manager, Software Eng, Senior Frontend Eng; Details on these roles here.
  • Italic: (See Italic.com) One of the most novel members-only commerce plays growing under the radar right now, looking for VP Ops, VP Growth, VP Product.
  • Sawyer: (See HiSawyer.com) One of the fastest growing platforms to connect parents, children, and providers with any activity - virtual or in-person, from soccer to robotics. Seeking a Product Director with marketplace experience, job description here.
Chief of Staff/Operations Roles
1. Chief Operating Officer at Alma: making it easier for consumers to access high-quality, affordable mental health care by supporting providers.
2. Chief of Staff at Borgo: partners with celebrity talent to launch jewelry brands.
3. Director of Operations at Omsom: building the new authority in Asian Food CPG, bringing proud, loud Asian flavors into your home kitchen.
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Scott Belsky

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Scott Belsky, NY/SF