On our way to

technological singularity

Venture Capital Summer Analyst 2016 – Internship in Berlin

Since I started as an intern in Venture Capital myself years ago, we wish to give back this opportunity. Therefore we look for a Venture Capital Summer Analyst 2016 here in Berlin / Potsdam (link).

What will you learn?

We will teach you, how Venture Capital works. That means, how to generate deal flow, how to analyze deals, how to come up with valuations, how to write Term Sheets and Deal Memos. You will gain insights into Business Models, Startups and Markets. You will understand the fundamentals of entrepreneurship better and have an excellent overview, if you wish to start your own company one day.

How you will work?

You will work mainly with me, Fabian. That means, you can pick your own spot to sit & work. We don’t provide you with a fixed office seat, since we don’t believe in offices. I run my companies mostly virtual, since I am most of the time on the road meeting startups in Berlin.

Additional we won’t tell you, when you have to start or end. The harder you work, the more you learn. However that is up to you. We aren’t your parents and prefer to be your mentor & coach instead. If you have questions, please ask. Otherwise I assume that you can solve the tasks within your responsibilities on your own.

Your Profile

Well, we do not care so much about your age, gender or ethnicity. It is more important that you are driven, ambitious, smart and have a positive energy. There are two roles: winning dealflow or analyzing and closing deals. Few people are both. That means, you might go out, meet hundreds of people, network all day and discover great teams. Or you sit wherever you want and can think the whole day. Yes, if you like to think fast and intense, this internship could be great for you. I never get bored in what I do. Every day is different and new business come up.

How to apply

Just send an email to talents@asgard.vc. Please add your linkedin profile and words of motivation

The process

Once we received your email, I will send you 3 + 1 questions. We will read your answers and then invite the best 10 people for an interview either in Berlin or via Skype/Facetime.

Venture Capital internship Berlin

Rise of AI 2016 – Videos & Summaries

25/02/2016 we were host to Rise of AI – the Singularity might be closer than you think. It was a great evening with 100 invited guests from various fields: researchers, investors, thinkers, corporates, journalists and developers.

It was a pleasure to meet old friends and new faces. For everyone not able to attend, we have recorded the evening.

Introduction by Fabian Westerheide

What is the Singularity for you?
Why do we humans invent machines, which shall replace us?
What do we do, if we have nothing to do?

Ronnie Vuine – Intelligence Automation

It is hard to talk about singularity, if you can’t see it. For the last 300 years humans are riding the exponentiell curve of techno capital. Intelligences are necessary to manage complex system. Therefore technocapital leads to perfect intelligence automation.

Prof. Dr. Danko Nikolic – AI-Kindergarten

Danko is a brain scientists, who started to work on AI. He claims, that humans will not achieve human-like artificial intelligence near term, since we lack 9 billion years of evolutionary learnings.

Ehssan Dariani

Ehssan talks about social and economical impact of AI. He says, that change takes time and we need patience. In 20 years, the bottom 99 % will live like the top 1 % of today. Therefore billionaires need to pay more taxes, the unconditional basic income should be introduced and drugs will be legalized.

Jan Klauck

Jan speaks about integrating AI into society.

Panel discussion

Samim Winiger and the speakers talk about:

Do we need to understand the nature of intelligence to build AGI?
How will the world look like in 50 years?
How does technology influence policies?
What are the implications of the slowdown of Moore’s law?
What are the consequences of increasing automation for human jobs?

Startups to face hard times – keep your money together

In recent months I have seen several startups struggle with their pre-seed and seed rounds, since they lack the traction to raise a Series A round. I predict challenging times ahead for these high-burn-rate companies. Getting investors to part with their money will get harder and harder. I therefore highly recommend keeping costs low and accepting moderate valuations.

Let’s start with the bad news

Tech IPOs in 2015 performed worse than the average market and lost 30% of their value (a second look at the 2015 Tech market).

Several prominent Unicorns have and will face down rounds (the end of big Venture Formula).

There is talk in Silicon Valley of Business Angels investing less in early-stage companies (As Angel Investors pull pack, valuations take a hit).

Seventy-eight percent of tech CEOs agree that in 2015 it became harder to raise additional funds.

On top of this, we are currently experiencing a bubble in stocks, bonds (corporations & states), and real estate. The market is flooded with liquidity and the returns for investors are terrible.

The world economy is facing a global recession (6 factors that point to global recession in 2016). Here in Germany, we are already seeing an 80% reduction in advanced bookings for plant engineering. This means other countries have stopped investing (KKR 2016 outlook – adult swim only).

In a nutshell – it’s never been easy to raise money and it’s not going to get any easier in the near future.

We’ve had seven good years. What will the next seven bring?

The good news

Three billion people are connected to the Internet. This number will double in the next 10 years. This means plenty of customers for you all. Alongside this, over 50 billion new devices will come online.

It is easier, cheaper and safer to start a company than ever before. There is plenty of support, early-stage grants, professional investors and free knowledge.

There are countless great technologies in the pipeline: virtual reality, artificial intelligence, self-moving objects, DNA medicine, the Internet of Everything.

Those who have a strong product, paying customers and sustainable growth will always get the money they need (Summit Partners invests 31 million € in the Berlin based Software company Signavio).

Don’t use Uber to drive to your penthouse office

Starting a company is just the beginning. Many first-time founders receive money from early investors and now have more cash in their (startup) bank accounts than they ever had before, and so they start spending it.

There is no reason why the founders have to use Uber to get to their penthouse office, with their company burning €600,000 a year without making any turnover.

To make it clear: burning money is NOT an accomplishment.

I have seen valuations which I no longer consider healthy.

For a concept alone and no entrepreneurial track record, one founder wants a pre-money valuation of €3,000,000.

A hardware startup with a prototype and a lot of Kickstarter liabilities (Kickstarter is debt), expects €12,000,000 as a current valuation – without having made a single sale.

Another young company is asking for a valuation of €20,000,000 for their third seed round, also without making sales.

I have seen a startup with 180 (part-time) Business Angels which raised over €2,000,000 during a friends & family round.

This is not Silicon Valley. This is just Berlin.

Startups should always be lean

These are extreme examples. Not every startup is overvalued.

However, just as a reference, if you start with a company builder, they keep 99% of the shares and you get 1%. If you apply for an accelerator, you get €25,000 for 10% (that makes €250,000 post-money).

Most experienced (full-time) Business Angels invest in startups with valuations below €1,000,000 pre-money.

The consequences of overinflated valuations during friends & family and seed rounds are easy to observe. Many startups struggle with pre-seed and seed rounds. They have the financial need for a Series-A round, but lack the traction (sales and growth).

The next 7 years aren’t going to be easier

What you can take from this:

Stay lean. Stay focused.

Be humble with your valuations. Be visionary with your goals.

 

12 book reading list to prepare for the future until Singularity

We should never stop learning. Books are a great way to learn. It can be facts or fiction. Sometimes both are hard to keep apart.

Technology fells like magic

Following 12 books I recommend to read:

 

Charles Stross – Accelerando

Fiction, however very interesting and a soft entrance into the topic singularity

William Hertling – Avogadro Corp: The Singularity is closer than it appears

I love his books. Read part 1 and 2 during one night session. In total 4 interesting books to read. They have more facts and less fiction than you might think.

Ray Kurzweil – The Singularity is near

Ray Kurzweil is a strong promotor of the singularity. His books should be read.

Nick Bostrom – Superintelligence

A-must-read if you are into Artificial Intelligence.

Dave Eggers – The Circle

When Facebook and Google merge. By the way, the new book “Killswitch” by William Hertling is even more extrem than “The Circle”. Check it out too.

Kotler & Diamandis – Abundance

Something to look forward to.

Peter Thiel – Zero to One

The digital world is Zero or One.

McAfee & Brynjolfsson – Second Machine Age

Similar to Kurzweil’s books, the Second Machine Age gives a good understanding of the fundamentals of singularity.

Thomas Piketty – capital in the twenty-first century

Technology creates wealth.

Federico Pistono – Robots will steal your job

Machines are modern slaves.

William Gibson – Neuromancer

Nostalgic and visionary.

Zoltan Istvan – The Transhumanist Wager

Not sure if this is fiction or a warning.

Georg Orwell – 1984

I often fear that parts of this book became true.

Aldous Huxley – Brave New World

And this book got something right about the future too.

 

We update our favorite reading list from time to time. Therefore will be more than 12 books.

25 future movies to watch to prepare for singularity

Movies are the vision someone has of the future. They are like books (12 books to read), but we see what the maker wants us to see.

Following movies I think a worth watching. I have seen of them, some of them more than once. Every movie has a message for us. Every movie lets you think about the future.

The movies discuss the consequences of artificial intelligence, robotics, virtualization, genetics, uploading, time travel, multi-dimensions and space conquest. They challenge us to define, how much control belongs to the state, how we treat the poor and the rich, what system of ruling we accept.

These movies I recommend for everyone loving to think how the future might be.

Wall E

Fun way to start to think about the future for humans. Are machines our slaves?

Ender’s Game

Strategic, some Action

I, Robot

Action, be aware that by 2030 there will be 1 robot on earth for every human.

Surrogate

Action, think about facebook and oculus rift

Tron Legacy

Just beautiful and nostalgic

Black Mirror

Great mini series of BBC, asks some good questions how society changes with technologies.

Gamer

Action, like Call of Duty with virtual reality

Gattaca

Great movie, will genetic engineering divide or unite human society?

Elysium

Action, too much dystopia. However Elysium itself looks great.

Limitless

Our way to compete agains other intelligences

Ex Machina

Watch it, if you want to know, if a machine should be like a human. Artificial Intelligence and its implications. Sweet ending.

Matrix

Mind changing movie.

Blade Runner

Old. However should be on your list.

Looper

Time Travel + Action

12 Monkeys

More Time Travel + Action + old

Interstellar

What is the fourth dimension?

2001

Creepy movie, a must-have to watch. Is Artificial Intelligence our friend or enemy?

Minority Report

That stuff is real. Police can prevent crimes before they happen trough big data predictions. And nobody cares.

Tributes of Panem

Don’t mind the games, but observe the three class system of societies.

Her

Quiet movie. What happens if you fall in love with an artificial intelligence?

Transcendence

Thought about uploading before?

Aeon Flux

Artistic action

Prometheus

Where are we humans coming from?

Starship Trooper

We fight.

Equilibrium

I don’t know why. I have seen it over and over.

Stargate

The best series of my youth. I have named Asgard after it.

Star Trek

Humans are explorers.

Star Wars

Humans are conquerers.