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COVID-19 Science Logbook (Jan-May, 2020)

This logbook is where I recorded my notes on COVID-19 from January 2020 through May 2020. For future posts on COVID-19 and/or SARS-CoV-2, follow my “COVID-19” topic on my subscribe page.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Understanding the epidemiology, biochemistry, and cognitive biases regarding the spread of — and our reaction to — SARS-CoV-2

With so much misinformation out there and understandable concern regarding this disease (COVID-19), and the virus that causes it (SARS-CoV-2), the goal of this article is to help provide a scientific foundation to better process information and decide how to act. I’ll introduce the basics of epidemiology, how epidemiologists around the world are considering and responding to COVID-19, what SARS-CoV-2 is exactly and how it spreads, the status of vaccines and antiviral drug developments, and what cognitive biases are at play as we individually and collectively react to this global pandemic.

Investor pitch deck and communication strategies: pre-seed and seed

For better or worse, the practice of selling anything of significant value in the world of business involves pitch decks. This includes, of course, “selling” your next funding round to investors. While there is no lack of educational content out there recommending an ideal slide order for your deck (e.g. problem, solution, market size, traction, competitors, team, etc…), this article will guide you - an early stage startup CEO - through the nuances and differences of pre-seed and seed pitches, including tips for how to communicate with investors before and after the close. The more efficiently you can get in front of the appropriate angel investors and venture capitalists, the faster you can finish your round and get back to running your business.

Raising your first outside round: How to navigate accelerators, angel investors, and venture capitalists

As 2020 approaches, the market for raising your first round outside of friends and family - traditionally called a “seed” round - has changed dramatically. There are now a wide variety of financial products to fit early stages of your company (i.e. there are no longer standard amounts for early rounds, and a maddeningly large number of accelerators and venture capitalists (VCs) are competing for your attention. In such an environment, the global noise of books, podcasts, videos, and blogs - i.e. marketing material - often steer founders in the wrong direction; i.e. away from local angel investors and micro-VCs who will most likely fill your round.

How (and why) to evaluate validator participation in Proof-of-Stake blockchain communities

While the core promise of blockchain technology involves data security, decentralization, and transactional speed/reliability at scale, the main use cases we’ve seen thus far have been limited to long-term value storage (e.g. bitcoin) and programmatic transactions of digital tokens (e.g. ethereum). Understandably, to prove the initial usefulness of the technology, these early networks have optimized their protocols for decentralization and data integrity, rather than transaction speeds and fast finality.

Livepeer is a brilliantly designed crypto network for delivering scaled value (blockchain pioneers, take note)

Well, it’s official: the lofty promises made during the 2017 crypto frenzy have come up dramatically short. The mad rush of teams raising insane amounts of money that year have not (yet) produced mass-adoption of decentralized applications. As every experienced startup investor and founder knows (especially in hindsight), raising a ton of money without a product — let alone a proven market that wants that product — is a recipe for disappointment.

Smart Contracts vs. Application-Specific Blockchains

Besides the addition and subtraction of numbers on a distributed ledger (i.e. cryptocurrencies), blockchains hold the power to provide most — if not all — of the services that centralized computing can provide. Thus, as the community of builders continues to grow, we have seen the very beginning of not only decentralized money, but also decentralized file storage, computing services, financial services, real-life asset ownership records, supply-chain management, personal identity, energy distribution, health records, governance, and more.

How to raise and spend "friends & family" money most efficiently for your startup

There is a reason why the earliest round of capital infusion into a startup is often called the Friends, Family, and Fools round: most founders at this stage usually take money from their own savings and/or inexperienced startup investors, burn through cash haphazardly, mess up their cap table by giving away too much equity (often to too many people), literally break the law by violating securities regulations, and/or fall victim to freelancers and agencies that are happy to work for money but don’t advocate for the best interest of the company.

An introduction to Proof-of-Stake token yields: Assessing risks and rewards

Although the latest wave of blockchain hype has calmed down this year, the ferocity of teams working on the underlying technology continues to increase. The time is fast approaching when scalable, secure, and decentralized solutions for many core areas of technology (computing, file storage, payments, etc…) will be ready for application developers. When this collective tipping point occurs, there will likely be a rapid transition of user adoption from Web 2.0 apps (centralized) to Web 3.0 apps (decentralized).

An introduction to the Cosmos Network: Why the Internet of Blockchains will help drive mass adoption of decentralized applications

While the scaling problem for blockchains is well understood and being addressed by many teams, what is often overlooked is the interoperability problem and why it matters for the future of crypto. Without protocols in place to enable automated communication between chains, our decentralized projects will continue to remain in silos and our overall ecosystem will remain fractured.

A primer on Proof-of-Stake and why it matters for the future of blockchains

There is a major, multi-faceted shift happening right now in the world of crypto. It’s difficult to see given how noisy, complex, disjointed, and interdisciplinary the information flow and topics are in the community; but new consensus protocols combined with a maturing regulatory landscape are setting the stage to unify four groups that are often in conflict within a blockchain project...

The link between acrylamide, coffee, and cancer: Here’s what scientists know (and don’t know)

A judge in California ruled this week that Starbucks, 7-Eleven, and many other businesses that sell coffee need to warn consumers via food labels about the ingestion of acrylamide. California’s Prop 65 states that businesses selling products that contain one or more of 65 chemicals shown by scientists to cause cancer and/or reproductive disease must give customers a “clear and reasonable” heads up.

The Science of Healthy Fats

The world is waking up to the reality that sugar and refined carbohydrates are more to blame for the diseases of western civilization than salt or fats. Still, there remains confusion about the health implications of consuming fat. What does modern research have to say about the effects of saturated fat, omega-3s/6s/9s, and short/medium/long-chain triglycerides? What are nutritionists referring to when they use the term “healthy fats”, and what exactly makes fat healthy versus unhealthy?

How to buy bitcoin and trade cryptocurrencies: a step-by-step guide

While 2017 has been a massive year of growth for blockchains, obtaining cryptocurrencies and trading them is not for the faint of heart. In this article, my goal is to explain how to buy, store, and trade cryptocurrencies across multiple exchanges and a hardware wallet, including how to safely participate in token sales (aka Initial Coin Offerings, or ICOs).

The five common mistakes founders make after a product launch

Congratulations, you’ve introduced your product to the world! You got media attention and a ton of new users and customers. Now what? Unfortunately, most founding teams become dazed and confused at this point and end up wasting important momentum.