VC at Spark Capital where I invest in startups led by creative thinkers. Insatiably curious, strategy junkie, brand & design obsessive, art lover.

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Bond Street

I am delighted to announce today that Spark Capital has led a Series A investment in Bond Street. Bond Street’s co-founder & CEO, , previously worked with us on the investment team at Spark, so this reunion is especially sweet.

It is no secret that we’ve been focused on financial services investments for some time now at Spark. We’ve made a number of investments in the space, both early and expansion stage, and will continue to make more. We’ve invested in infrastructure software businesses like Plaid and Orchard, as well as consumer brands like Wealthfront and Affirm. We believe that financial services is undergoing a period of unparalleled innovation, and we aim to play at multiple layers of the stack and across a number of key consumer and business offerings.

The small business finance space is one that is particularly exciting to us. We’ve estimated that there is ~$280B in unmet annual demand for U.S. small business credit based on research from leading investment banks. A recent Fed study indicated that it takes 33 hours on average to complete and submit loan applications to an average of 2.7 financial institutions. Shockingly, businesses still can’t apply for a loan online at any bank in the country! Further, the established banks decline ~80% of applicants. We think this is largely a function of the current underwriting process – it costs the same for banks to underwrite a $50K credit as it does a $5M loan. This immediately disqualifies many small business for bank financing.

We believe this is all poised to change. The internet and its associated services for the first time have made small business financial and business data accessible in real time. Underwriting can now be a process that takes hours or minutes instead of days or weeks, and at a much reduced cost. Reaching these businesses has also become far more accessible, and maintaining ongoing relationships with them through innovative products that smartly leverage data is now a reality.

David, and the Bond Street team have done a great job building a beautiful customer experience for small businesses. Their first term-loan product leverages a best-of-breed loan application, smart data hooks and a seamless underwriting process to give small businesses access to the capital they need at the rates they deserve.

Most importantly though, Bond Street’s mission to become the financial advocate for every small business is what gets me most excited. This approach goes beyond any given loan product. It’s about much more than that. I’m thrilled to be in business with the Bond Street team, alongside Jefferies, Homebrew, Founder Collective and a number of other terrific investors.

Long live small business!

One might say that his subtlety was wasted on the young Yeshiva students he was mostly surrounded by. Filled with passion and impatience, a thirst for metaphysical certainty, they would look to him for clear and definitive answers. But they would never come; his endless contextualizations and qualifications were perhaps designed to frustrate his students, to show them the meaning of complexity, of nuance, of rigor and systematic thinking. The students of course would continue to ask, and they would in turn keep drinking from the cooling waters of this deep and capacious mind, learning, unwittingly, the patience and discipline required to be a thinker.

The world lost a giant among men this week, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein. May he rest in eternal peace.

The proliferation of social media means that the extreme experimentation that was once the exclusive provenance of big-name starchitects is now the defining architectural movement of our age. There is no crisis in architecture. The sense of crisis is just a byproduct of the punctured echo chamber. It is architecture’s giant sucking sound. If you listen closely, you will realize that it is being generated by a group of critics and opinion makers who are struggling with a new paradigm where the public calls the shots. This is a world without a dominant style, which confuses the old guard. This is an architecture that — because of the public’s hunger for newness — is finally free to create thoughtful and sometimes radical solutions for the problems that our society faces.
But when the new Umami Burger outlet opens down the street from you (or the new Ivan Ramen outlet, or the new Roy Choi taco joint), you can say a little prayer of thanks (or not) to Chang, Bloomfield, and her partner Friedman. You can thank them for your strange, abiding obsession with brown liquor and craft beers, and the hamburger, and that fragrant vat of kimchee your Park Slope neighbor has kept buried for months in her backyard. You can thank them for that road trip you’re planning with your suddenly food-mad 10-year-old daughter, down through the ancient Foodways of Virginia and Tennessee to find the perfectly cured country ham. You can thank them for that weirdly excellent gastropub your friend stumbled on in the wilds of Ojai, California, or Rockland, Maine, and you can thank them for a food world that’s more democratic, more accessible, and generally a whole lot more fun than the one these two young cooks, coming from different worlds, stumbled into, ten long years ago, in the summer of 2004.
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