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Think Big. Move Fast.

We met Evan and Bobby, the founders of Snapchat, in March 2012. We were mesmerized. They had a vision for how disappearing photo messages would make people more authentic, more silly, more real in their communications with their friends. They only had a few hundred thousand installs at that time, but we could see from the data and from the way their users raved about it, how much Snapchatters loved Snapchat. It had become a part of their everyday lives.

We bought into Evan and Bobby’s vision and capability, and led their seed round. And we’re excited to see how Snapchat has fulfilled its vision at an incredible speed – today over 200 million snaps are sent every day! As Mary Meeker recently pointed out, Snapchat is driving most of the growth in photo sharing today.

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This growth hasn’t escaped the attention of other investors, and today the company announced that IVP led a new Series B financing. We are participating, as we have in every round, because we truly believe. Snapchat has joined the relatively small number of companies that can be used as a verb. Congrats to Evan and Bobby and the Snapchat team, and also to Dennis at IVP and Jonathan Teo at General Catalyst. The company had a lot of options and chose these guys from a field of terrific investors.

 

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Over the years, I’ve had the great honor of supporting some truly inspiring entrepreneurs as they have strived to not only disrupt markets, but also improve the world we live in.  Today, I am thrilled to see that one of those leaders, Atul Butte is being recognized for his contributions as a scientist and an entrepreneur.

On Thursday of this week,  the White House is honoring pediatrician, geneticist and entrepreneur, Atul Butte, as one of thirteen Champions of Change who are promoting and using open scientific data and publications to accelerate progress and improve our world.

The White House Champions of Change program was created as part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Through this program, the White House highlights individuals, businesses, and organizations whose extraordinary stories and accomplishments positively impact our communities.

Dr. Butte’s lab at Stanford builds and uses computational tools that convert more than 400 trillion points of molecular, clinical, and epidemiological data into diagnostics, therapeutics, and new insights into disease. In addition to creating new diagnostics and drugs for diabetes and cancers and stewarding the release of National Institutes of Health (NIH) immunology data to the public, Dr. Butte is a founder of Personalis, providing clinical interpretation of whole genome sequences, Carmenta, discovering diagnostics for life-threatening conditions in pregnancy from public data, and NuMedii, using public big data to find new uses for drugs.

We are proud to support two of Dr. Butte as investors in two of his companies, Personalis and NuMedii, and are thrilled to see him recognized for his use of open scientific data to accelerate progress and improve our world.

follow ravi and lightspeed on twitter at @rmtacct and @lightspeedvp

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Earlier this week the Federal Government shut down Liberty Reserve, a digital currency exchange, alleging that it ran “what amounted to an online, underworld bank that handled $6 billion for drug dealers, child pornographers, identity thieves and other criminals around the globe.”

Many commentators immediately asked, is Bitcoin next?

It seems like the answer is “no”.

The LA Times, writing about the Liberty Reserve Press conference, notes

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U.S. officials were careful to say Tuesday that they were not targeting digital currency systems — so long as they comply with the law.

“If they do so, they have nothing to fear from Treasury,” said David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

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Cohen’s full quote is, “In recent years virtual currencies have become a popular method of transferring funds because of the ability to conduct transactions any time, from any location with internet access. I want to make clear that today’s action does not mean that we are trying to eliminate virtual currencies. To the contrary, mobile and internet based financial technology, including virtual currencies hold great promise to empower consumers, encourage the development of innovative financial products, and expand access to financial services. In fact FinCEN issued guidance in March 2013 to bring clarity and regulatory certainty for businesses and individuals engaged in money transmitting services and offering virtual currencies. This guidance explains that under FinCEN’s rules, administrators or exchanges of virtual currencies have registration requirements, and a broad range of effective anti-money laundering record keeping and reporting responsibilities. Those offering virtual currencies must comply with these regulatory requirements, and if they do so, they have nothing to fear from Treasury.”

Furthermore, in a Q&A about DigitalCurrency with American Banker, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, the director of Fincen, says about the Liberty Reserve action:

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I think that action was against one financial institution and one type of financial service. That’s what a criminal case is, that’s what a regulatory action is. It goes against a particular violator. I would be hesitant ever to paint a broad brush because of one criminal action against an entire industry. I don’t think that’s fair to an industry in any situation, let alone this one.

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And later about digital currencies in general:

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What I do think, though, is that digital currencies are exciting because of the innovation around it. I think it shows the great innovation that’s going on in the financial services industry these days, whether it’s a digital currency or whether it’s using other types of technology to improve and extend financial services to those that are unbanked or to make things more efficient or to be able to do things in a different way that has a customer base. That innovation is a great thing. But the fact is that being a financial institution comes with certain responsibilities.

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As I’ve said before, compliance with FinCEN guidance and other regulation is one of the three key elements for building trust in the Bitcoin ecosystem. The other two are having trustworthy people and organizations around your company (including management, directors, advisers, investors, lawyers and bankers) and developing a history of strong security, of withstanding attacks from hackers. With these three elements in place a company in the Bitcoin ecosystem can build trust with users and establish a leadership position.

 

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Well it looks like the Department of Homeland Security is investigating Mt. Gox and the primary complaint is operating an unlicensed money transmittal business. Things do not look good for Mt. Gox. Its US accounts are being seized. This …

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Congratulations to Poojan Kumar, Satyam Vaghani and the rest of the PernixData team for raising a great Series B round led by Kleiner Perkins.

At Lightspeed, we are very proud of what the team has achieved in short 15 months

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It’s no secret that that I see the opportunity for Bitcoin to disrupt multi-billion-dollar markets and dramatically cut transaction costs for people around the world.  We are in the early stages of innovation in this ecosystem, and Lightspeed wants …

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For decades the leading network companies have been tightly coupling their software to complex, custom-built chips. Besides leaving IT buyers with a staggering array of appliances, the reliance on custom silicon has chilled industry startup activity. But with software defined

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FinCEN, the department of the Treasury responsible for fighting financial crimes has already issued guidance on how it views Bitcoin. Now it looks like the Commodities Future Trading Commission may also seek to regulate Bitcoin. More regulation is …

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Right now, more than 80% of Bitcoin volume is in the USD market. And many of the pundits commenting on Bitcoin, both positively and negatively, are in the US. So it is natural to assume that Bitcoin adoption will …

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The LA Times and Chicago Tribune are for sale. BarryDiller recently announced that buying Newsweek was a mistake. They are not alone in their distress. Newspapers and print magazine across the country are under increasing pressure as they …

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