Hi, I’m Will!
I’m wearing all hats at Contrary, a venture fund backed by founding members of Facebook, Tesla, Reddit, and more.
I sometimes write about things that interest me. Broadly speaking, that includes startups, investing, software, psychology, evolutionary biology, ethics, politics, and these important questions.
Check out my series of conversations with founders of companies like Airbnb, OkCupid, and Vimeo.
Creating Product Stickiness how businesses can become more defensible… out of thin air
Reinventing the Wheel why anti-tech pessimists think the way they do, and how to reverse-engineer that
2019 University Report a ranking and analysis of the top entrepreneurial ecosystems in the US
Analyzing Venture Opportunities Part 2: Thinking About People a list of things to consider when evaluating or pitching a team
Why Ownership Graphs Matter hidden complexity in politics and an interesting idea
Social Spaces on the Internet a handful of trends that will help shape social spaces online
The 21st Century’s Greatest Innovation my unpopular opinion on the most impactful invention of the last 20 years
The Paradox of Compound Interest saving and spending when opportunity cost compounds too
Getting Good at Startups general principles on becoming a good founder or investor as a student
3 Questions on Tech Companies a few brief thoughts on moats, successful teams, and evaluating people
Request for Startups a list of companies I’d start in another life
Competition Matters Less in Software what makes tech companies unique?
Senior: My Summer at Umbrella some learnings from interning at Umbrella
When Insiders Were Outsiders stories of people who hustled and struggled their way to where they are now
Notes on The Elephant in the Brain some context and notes on one of my favorite reads
Concise Ideas are One-Dimensional should we think about nuanced ideas where concision rules?
Worldview as Competitive Advantage do the typical value-add dimensions really matter for most investors?
Degrees of Freedom don’t make your startup’s gameplan needlessly complex
Buying IBM examples of upside/downside asymmetry
Go-To Essays and Books what I like to re-read and recommend
Getting Positive Feedback tips for founders who get really positive feedback in early validation efforts
Psychology in Product and Sales a list of concepts in social psychology with examples
Decision Making and Mental Models a toolkit for thinking more clearly and making better decisions
What Do You Optimize For? my way of thinking about living life
Simpson’s Paradox and Thinking Rationally in Venture Capital how empiricism and pattern recognition can go wrong
An Intro to Contrary Capital a quick explanation of what we’re all about at Contrary
Existential Risk and Effective Altruism a primer on a fascinating concept in ethical philosophy
Impact of Blockchain: Smart Contract Based Incentive Compensation a quick example of how blockchain tech can make structural improvements to the financial system
Analyzing Venture Opportunities Part 1: The Product and Market a list of things founders should always touch on when explaining their startup
The Flawed Economics of Robinhood: Why Users Are Better Off Without It the reasons why Robinhood’s business model is misaligned with users’ needs
A Clever Malware Tactic and Why There’s Nothing You Can Do About It how I came across an innovative scam
My App Marketing Story: 0 to 100k Downloads the strategy and tactics I used to successfully publish an Android app
V.F.S. Volume 1 – my first ever mixtape. Inspired by ODESZA’s NO.SLEEP mixes.
Twitter-Tools – a Twitter API wrapper that makes basic analytics and data munging easier
Brick Breaker Free – in high school I taught myself Android and wrote a clone of the classic game Breakout. It was downloaded over 100,000 times. (Recently got removed from the app store for having an ancient Google-non-compliant ad library…)
Techwurk.org – I cofounded Techwurk in high school to connect charities with students interested in web design. Raised a small amount of money from investors.
Perspective – a Chrome extension that parses a web page looking for textual representations of dollar amounts. It then manipulates the DOM to replace each dollar value with a phrase representing potential charitable impact. For example, a page saying “buy now for $4.99!” would be changed to something like “buy now for enough money to donate an anti-malarial mosquito net!” This small project was inspired by FlipWord.
Neural Network Text Generator – a recurrent neural network architecture to generate coherent English based on a seed phrase (not published anywhere — ask me for source).
Interest Matcher – a location-based web app that facilitates the discovery of events on campus. Chill shared a lot of functionality with Yik Yak, but it is not anonymous. I built it with and handful of other students in Fall 2015. Now it’s offline and unmaintained — ask me for source if interested.