It is often assumed that the democratization of “x”, whatever it might be, is a positive development, for the mere hint of democracy is deemed to be an inherent good, a noble pursuit, a worthy cause. It predictably adopts this kind of framing for, in part, our society, among others, professes to value its freedom. But what if the crusade to democratize “x”, on balance, is an incomplete project — assuming, of course, that it fails to reliably deliver tangibly important ends?

Indeed, the quest to democratize consumer finance should be seen in that manner, for the language of democratization…


Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

Venture capital (VC) resides at the center of twenty-first century commerce. A titan in this moment of innovation, it boasts considerable powers, wielding them with a force that can as easily topple an industry as birth its successor. Predictably, VC has garnered its fair share of scrutiny, a fact no doubt explained by the rise of its influence.

But a slightly different critique takes aim at the industry’s anti-permissionless foundations, those reflecting a tightly-sealed network of insiders: a sort of permissioned insiderness among LPs, GPs and founders, if you will. But no matter the framing, the aforesaid reveals a stark…


I discovered an interesting book, Narrative Economics, written by Robert Shiller. In it, he discusses how popular stories shape economic events. In light of the Coronavirus and the shockwaves that it is sending throughout our global economy, this book certainly makes for a timely, informative read. Further, I would submit that this book has a more micro-specific application, as it makes sense of the many realities on display in Silicon Valley. Indeed, Silicon Valley is as much about technology as it is about narratives. Whether it is the revolutionary founder who rescues the company from its impending demise or the…


Over the past year, there has been a real, fundamental shift in the conversation around startups. With the arrival of this moment comes a reevaluation of not only how to scrutinize companies but also how to build enduring businesses. Indeed, the era of unit economics has arrived, replacing the growth-at-all-costs ethos that has produced the likes of WeWork and various other capital-intensive, profitability-light companies. Many are applauding this move, arguing that it signals Silicon Valley’s renewed commitment to prioritizing business fundamentals and rationality over the appeal of storytelling and emotionality. I, too, am encouraged by this reversal, as it suggests…


Recently, Alex Danco wrote an excellent post about debt and startups. In his piece, he raises an interesting point:” Because equity is how we finance startups, therefore most startups fail”. This is a rare take, for many people would instinctively reject such a claim, one that runs counter to what many believe is the optimal financing instrument for investors to use and for founders to accept. Yet Alex argues that equity, in this context, is a compromising force, a force that compels its maturing recipients to function in ways that only elevate their risk profile — not lower it. Admittedly…


I recently finished Concrete Economics, a book written by Stephen S. Cohen and J. Bradford DeLong. The book’s thesis is one of returning to pragmatism to remedy society’s most pressing challenges. I found this piece to be not only convincing but also timely, for today’s challenges, and especially tomorrow’s, underscore the need to revisit pragmatic traditions, truths that are no less relevant today than they were yesterday. However, a return to level-headed, good-faith pragmatism, I fear, may prove to be little more than wishful thinking. My concern arises not out of fear that our institutions are irredeemably damaged. Rather, the…


A common practice among venture capitalists is the creation and use of investment theses. An investment thesis reflects a conviction about and dedication to a particular sector and how the latter signals the presence of investment opportunities. An investment thesis can take many forms. Some are broad, while others are specific.

Investors are said to gain from this practice, for it offers discipline, structure, and focus. The latter, in turn, is said to provide investors with the kind of depth and know-how that supports the pursuit of outlier returns. …


Finding outsized returns in a changing entrepreneurial moment.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

That folks want to break into venture capital is not at all surprising. Tales of wealth, prestige, and influence abound. But to the surprise of many, the work is hard, success is evasive, and the demands are great. That limited partners (LPs) demand outsized returns from an asset class lacking prompt feedback loops suggests as much. To perform, VCs pattern-match, which, broadly speaking, is an observation and decision-making technique. Neither good nor bad, pattern-matching deals with matters of perceived correlation, treating yesterday’s stories as a prelude to tomorrow’s truths. …


This thesis rests on the concept of duality. It holds that things are neither singular nor one-dimensional; instead, they are plural, multifaceted, and varied, undergirded by and drawing from collectively offsetting properties.

The takeaway is simple: rarely are things fundamentally good or bad. Rather, they tend to operate under and derive from neutral states. Within reason, of course, the use or misuse of anything need not reflect nor define its identity.

Take the case of medicine, for instance.

In times of sickness, medicine is a godsend. It delivers healing, stability, and comfort, expunging the tangled roots of one’s unrest. And…

Gerald Mason

I write about tech, venture capital, and democratizing financial wellness.

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