Media VC theses, SEO keywords, cosmology, and brand design

Where top VCs are investing in Media, Entertainment & Gaming

Our media columnist Eric Peckham (who is hard at work on the Unity EC-1, which we will start to publish here shortly) pinged his network of media investors to figure out what the media VC world is up to in mid-2019:

Here are the media investment theses of: Cyan Banister (Founders Fund), Alex Taussig (Lightspeed), Matt Hartman (betaworks), Stephanie Zhan (Sequoia), Jordan Fudge (Sinai), Christian Dorffer (Sweet Capital), Charles Hudson (Precursor), MG Siegler (GV), and Eric Hippeau (Lerer Hippeau).

Lots of interesting ideas in Eric’s piece, but one that I thought was particularly interesting was from Matt Hartman at Betaworks:

In 2019, I’m paying attention to Synthetic Media and the continued fluidity between what’s real and artificially generated inside of social media. Synthetic celebrities will be complemented by synthesized voice as these content types go mainstream. The technology tools to create these characters will improve and we’ll also see technology built to detect malicious use of these new tools.

Keyword research in 2019: Modern tactics for growing targeted search traffic

There are many ways to do digital marketing, but one of the most effective is optimizing for search traffic by carefully using certain keywords. Unfortunately, these tactics rarely last long as competitors take the same actions, so we wanted to publish an article that was focused on the best tactics today that still offer a competitive edge.

Glen Allsopp, who founded SEO consultancy, provided us with an overview of the modern ways to grow via keywords. There are lots of tactics here, but one is to be open about competitors:

Social proof software Fomo, popular with eCommerce stores to show their latest sales in real-time, also have a smart approach to this.

They currently occupy the top results for any kind of alternative-related query around their brand.

Surprisingly, they openly recommend another company they would be happy for their potential customers to use instead.

Intentional or not, by being so open and honest they engender more trust in their own offering (though, further down the page, they’re not so kind about another competitor).

If your brand isn’t already big enough to have people searching for alternatives then you probably have competitors who are.

A conversation with cosmologist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Our resident humanist and ethicist Greg Epstein interviewed Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, who is a professor of physics and astronomy and also a leading advocate and activist for inclusion in science (and a whole heck of a lot more). They had a wide-ranging discussion on ethics and the challenges of people of color in science and technology:

Greg E.: In fact, the publication in which this interview will be published holds a large annual conference… which I’ve never been to, but where I may be doing some work this year; it’s called “Disrupt.”

What I think I hear you pointing out is that sometimes “disruption” is not just one slightly older industry by another slightly newer industry; it’s the disruption of real lives and communities by a certain way of thinking and a kind of entitlement.

Chanda P.W.: Yes. You have to think about objectivity, like who’s the subject and who’s the object in [speaking] about disruption? What are you disrupting? [Take] the taxi industry. What composes the taxi industry? It’s not cars driving themselves around, although I think Uber would be happy if that was the case.

The cars are being driven by people, so you’re disrupting the people. What does it mean to disrupt people? Or a community of people? What does it mean for the lives of the people whose workforce and workplaces are being disrupted?

Verified Expert Brand Designer: Kristine Arth

Continuing our series on brand design, Yvonne Leow interviewed independent branding designer Kristine Arth of Lobster Phone, who has worked with such companies as Coffee Meets Bagel, Adobe, and Eva. All in all, she has launched 22 brands since last April, “under her unofficial tagline ‘I don’t sleep.’”

From Yvonne’s interview with her:

Yvonne Leow: What do you think are some common mistakes entrepreneurs make when it comes to branding?

Kristine Arth: Entrepreneurs will come to me and say, “I want a logo, I want an advertising campaign, I want this.” And I will say, you need a brand, you need a strategy, you need a foundational promise to sell to your clients. And with that foundational promise and with that flexible brand, we’ll get what you want. You’ll get those things. So that’s the common mistake is to come with a solution versus coming in with the problem.

More Equity fun: A16Z, SoftBank, and mega rounds

Last week, Alex Wilhelm and I tried to bring the focus on the Equity podcast away from all the IPO mumbo jumbo back to startups. We discussed a wide range of equity rounds and VC fundraises, including A16Z’s new fund, SoftBank Vision Fund’s massive expansion, Cheddar’s good exit (great for the media world), and Divvy’s big fundraise.

We’ve posted a transcript of the discussion for Extra Crunch members, and of course, you can listen to the podcast there as well.


To every member of Extra Crunch: thank you. You allow us to get off the ad-laden media churn conveyor belt and spend quality time on amazing ideas, people, and companies. If I can ever be of assistance, hit reply, or send an email to