CES Musings

Drive Carefully

I’m an old time CES attendee… then I took an entire decade off. There is only so much “better, faster, cheaper” one can handle. About six years ago something changed. Everyone I wanted to talk to, or see, was there. Every CXO and their people were there for at least the first couple of days. Fish in a barrel. It became one of the more efficient weeks of my year. And the tech was awesome.

Everyone still goes, but the tech wasn’t as surprisingly cool this year. There should be an IES, Industrial Electronics Show, for the next few years a lot of the potential for the tech I’ve seen will transform companies, industries and manufacturers. Digital transformation is real and overwhelming, but that is a topic for another day.

First, yup, the driverless car is on its way. However, it’s going to be way harder than we imagine. I’m a tech optimist; this tech is extremely important. But, to put this into context, the best article I’ve read on this topic is already three years old. I do consider it required reading though: “Fasten Your Seatbelts: Google’s Driverless Car Is Worth Trillions” by Chunka Mui in Forbes. Its big, its bad, its coming… but when you need to swap out trillions of dollars of assets, infrastructure, policy and laws it takes time. Huge investment opportunities lay undiscovered.

IoT was everywhere and was mostly underwhelming. It felt like “corporate imagination” (usually an oxymoron) run amok. Clearly a bunch of CEO’s are asking “what’s our IoT strategy” with predictably obvious, boring, and poor answers. Worse, there are competing standards so the stuff doesn’t interoperate. Fix this folks.

The best of AI was basically embedding Amazon’s Alexa into stuff. I liked it. Another win for Bezos. If you haven’t gotten an Echo, its time. They have a $50 puck. AI will be the story this year for sure. Its behind cars, Siri, Watson, robots, etc. If you can only track a couple of tech trends each year watch this one closely.

AR/VR, I don’t have much to add here. This was supposed to be the big year. So far, VR is about gaming. AR is what I’m interested in, but it’s on the industrial, medical, instructional side.

What did I like? The MetalX 3D printer from MarkForge and the Willow wearable breast pump. I liked the Willow because it is just brilliant and helps to solve a real problem. Breast pumps are torture devices.

The metal printer is important because it is 1/10th the cost of most other metal 3D printers (yes this is a better, faster, cheaper play. But a 90% cost reduction is a breakthrough). This puts metal 3D printing into striking range of most corporate department budgets. It has the potential to be very disruptive.

Finally, a shout-out to my favorite tech from 2015, EyeFluence; you never heard of them? Often the best tech is not on the floor at CES, but is in the suites high above the crowds. It’s the mouse of the future. Congratulations to Jim Marrgraff, your team and to Google… for buying them. And yes, I will be at CES next year. Still a must in my book. Next up SXSW where again, the fun stuff is off the show floor.


Take a deep breath. Don’t panic.

The future (may be) so bright we have to wear shades. 


By Scott Mize, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Advisors, Network Society Ventures

The past couple of months have shaken many of us, with the rise of so-called populism (some would call it xenophobia, nationalism and/or neo-fascism). The very fate of the world seems to be in the balance with upcoming assaults on the climate, press freedom, egalitarianism, and many things that thinking people hold dear, even democracy itself. Clarissa Ward @clarissaward provides a cogent outline of the dilemma of the ascendance of anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-fact forces in the US that spew fake news and mercilessly troll those with whom they do not agree. Much of this is undeniably a backlash against globalization which seems overwhelming and unstoppable to many.

I share these concerns at a deep and existential level. However, at the risk of being pollyannaish, let me weigh in after making it through some dark days. All of this turmoil must be put in perspective. There is good news. Take a deep breath. Don’t panic. The future (may be) so bright we have to wear shades. Our future lies somewhere between dystopia and utopia, and if we all do our part, much closer to utopia. Thanks to NSV Advisor Ramez Naam @ramez for pointing out that there is much to celebrate. Humanity has been, is and will be making huge positive strides on a broad range of fronts.

Rob Wile @rjwile shares with us 31 Charts That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity. The progress that has been made over the past several decades is quite amazing. Angus Hervey @angushervey shows us 99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year. It is truly remarkable that these all happened in the scope of one year. This is the type of progress that won’t be stopped by a few years of poor decision making. As damaging as it might be, it cannot stop the historical momentum of progress, provided that we all keep our eyes on the prize. We must all take action to make the future bright. To help us take the next step on this never ending journey, Robert Hardies @AllSoulsUUDC offers his insight on three ways to cultivate a sense of hope even when times seem hopeless. The character and capability of the nation and world has not changed. We are likely just on a brief, if scary, detour.

Another hopeful sign is that the media seems to be having a strong immune reaction to the assault it has endured of late. There has been a surge in paid subscriptions to news outlets. It turns our that people will pay for quality journalism once they are reminded of its importance! John Avlon @johnavlon explains in his insightful article Our Murrow Moment that our citizens, journalists and institutions, including the media, are about to undergo a major “civic stress test.” He believes that now will be the best time to be a journalist, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Jay Rosen @jayrosen_nyu has provided a great roadmap for the resurrection of the media in his comprehesive prescription Winter is coming: prospects for the American press under Trump. As Aaron Heinrich @bigbrandtheory2 so eloquently states, the antidote in 2017 to the “fear, uncertainty, doubt and lies” of 2016 is the truth.

This is the optimistic approach that NSV plans to take in the new year. Our focus is investing in seed stage companies around the globe that are at the intersection of exponential technologies and decentralized networks in order to drive massively transformative change. Many of the advancements chronicled in the articles above were a result of these two very powerful forces. We are committed to playing our part. You can read more about NSV’s strategy on this Website. We welcome you to join us on this shared journey.

Photo by Andrew Choy

SingularityU Italy Raises Seed Round

Investing in Exponential Technologies to Create Massively Transformative Change: SingularityU Italy

Earlier this year, Network Society Ventures co-founded SingularityU Italy with a group of Italian investors and entrepreneurs. SU Italy has recently raised a seed round, continuing the mission of Singularity University to educate, inspire, and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges. This mission is in perfect alignment with NSV’s mission and investment strategy.


We live in a globally connected world, where our infrastructure for learning, experimentation, and implementation of the most successful ideas is available to nearly everybody. The increasing impact of exponential technologies and decentralized networks is the driver of the massively transformative change of our era. Singularity University studies and teaches about this transformation in its courses. It also invest in these technologies via the Singularity University Labs Accelerator Seed Fund (in which NSV invested last year) and launches ventures based on them in its startup accelerator.

SingularityU Global, an innovative expansion initiative of SU, began the creation of local chapters around the world last year. This year county-wide initiatives are being born, and we are excited to have invested in this development through SingularityU Italy. Italy is the 8th largest economy in the world, and has sent an outsized number of students to the SU courses over the years. The first initiative from SingularityU Italy, spearheaded by Diego Gil, its General Manager, is the organization of SingularityU Italy Summit, to be held September 27-28 in Milan, Italy. The Summit explores the implications of exponential technologies and their impact on the enterprise, the lives of individuals, and society at large.  We welcome your participation at the Summit.

Mark Hatch Talks About NSV’s Investment Strategy

Mark Hatch sat down to share why he thinks that Network Society Ventures’ investment strategy is unique and compelling, and why that drove him to join the firm.  The transcript of that session is below (emphasis ours).
My current mission is to attract capital, cognitive and financial, to the Maker Movement into the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem that I have seen just evolve over the last 5 years or so.
And I’m really exited about Network Society Ventures on a bunch of different levels. One is…we are focused on Exponential Technologies. So these are technologies that we know have exponential curves associated with them: for functionality, for price, for access, in different, actually sometimes very different domains. But there are at least six of these that are very important.
On top of that we are not just looking in those particular segments. We are also saying: “What are the Network Effects? How is The Network Society that these technologies are being introduced into, going to help create competitive advantage for these particular companies?” You combine these two things, and you now have an unique investment hypothesis that…I’m not aware of anybody else that is actually focus on it. I’ve been told there may be two or three others, but what I’m pretty confident of…none of them are doing specifically the early stage piece, that we’re interested in doing.
Whether we are putting in $100,000 bets, $500,000 bets, we want to quantitatively create a pipeline of hundreds of startups where we’re doing very early stage investing. And the reason I think this is important is that at the moment the window of opportunity for hardware startups is the widest is ever been in human history. And we are going to see a plethora of amazing startups happen.
Rather than trying to identify the 10 or the 15 or the 20 biggest winners, I think the right play right now is to take a lot of small bets on people doing very interesting things. Through the lens of is it an exponential technology, and is it going to be impacted through a network effect of some kind. Those three basic components…I think they’re going to create a phenomenal competitive advantage for Network Society Ventures, as well as creating amazing opportunities for our investors.
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Maker Movement Visionary Joins Network Society Ventures

Mark HatchWe are pleased to announce the expansion of our team with the addition of Mark Hatch, founder and former CEO of Techshop, who is an outstanding leader and visionary of the Maker Movement. Read about Mark and below is a press release. We welcome him to the team and look forward to great things!

Network Society Ventures “Makes” a New General Partner

Mark Hatch, Maker Movement leader and visionary, joins Network Society Ventures.

New York, San Francisco, and Milan. November 17, 2016.

Today Network Society Ventures is pleased to announce that Mark Hatch, a globally recognized leader within the Maker Movement, has joined us as General Partner.

Mark Hatch is the co-founder and former CEO of TechShop. TechShop, a do-it-yourself workshop and fabrication studio with a dozen locations open and hundreds more planned over the next decade, is the largest public access tools and computer enabled manufacturing platform in the world. His best-selling book, The Maker Movement Manifesto, was published by McGraw-Hill in September of 2013 and has become the leading resource for organizations and individuals who want to understand and engage in the movement. He is an entrepreneur, author, investor and a former Green Beret. He has held executive positions focused on innovation, disruptive technology and entrepreneurship/intrapreneurship in various industry sectors including packaged goods, manufacturing, retail and healthcare.

“We are excited to have Mark join us a General Partner. His background and expertise in the Maker Movement, enabling hardware companies in the healthcare, IoT, energy and other spaces rapidly accelerate their development, is perfectly aligned with our investment strategy” said David Orban, Managing Partner at Network Society Ventures.

“I am thrilled to join Network Society Ventures. Its focus on investing in ventures driven by exponential technologies and decentralized networks, at the early seed stage, is exactly where I believe the greatest investment opportunity is today and for the next several years. It is firms like Network Society Ventures that will enable the most exciting entrepreneurs to make the world a better place” said Mark Hatch.

David Orban noted “We see Mark as a critical addition to our team which will expand our ability to raise funds and invest in a broad range of cutting edge ventures.”

Mark Hatch is an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Jacobs Institute at UC Berkeley. He holds an M.B.A. from the Drucker Center at the Claremont Graduate University, a B.A. in Economics from the University of California at Irvine, is adjunct faculty at Singularity University and is on the Industry Advisory Board at The Claremont Graduate University

For more information on the Maker Movement, please see an excerpt from The Maker Movement Manifesto, and the articles from Time and The Atlantic.

Network Society Ventures is a seed stage global venture investment firm. We invest in disruptive technology-based companies that are leading the transformation from the post-industrial age to The Network Society. We call this “harvesting the upside of massively transformative change.”™ Our unique strategy is designed to maximize returns while minimizing risk as we re-invent venture investing. A set of powerful technologies is growing exponentially, with the common feature of being organized in decentralized networks. These technologies often give rise to startups that can grow exponentially, presenting the possibility for extremely large financial upside. These startup teams are harvesting the economic value made possible by these unstoppable technology trends. These technologies are driving the transformation of NSV’s eight focus sectors for investment: energy, manufacturing, food, health, learning, finance, security and policymaking.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Scott Mize at scott@netsoc.vc or +1 212-335-0693.


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The future of Venture Capital and the Blockchain

Blockchain Workshop NYC

The Blockchain is a fundamental invention that is changing not only how we define money, through Bitcoin, but also how we think about contracts. It promises to transform consequently not only the world of banking and commerce on the Internet, but also investment and the world of venture capital.

David Orban, Managing Partner of Network Society Ventures, will be speaking at the NYC Blockchain conference on Tuesday April 5, 2016 about how the venture capital industry needs to adapt and the exciting new opportunities that will come with it. He is speaking on the investor panel moderated by Primavera De Filippi of Coala Global. Other speakers include David S. Rose, Union Square Ventures, and Tusk Holdings. Below is a summary of the panel.

“Investment & Venture Capital: Incremental Innovation Versus Real Game-Changers”

What are the institutional needs that must be met from innovators and startups to enable the necessary partnerships for nascent technologies? Many of the challenges are clear, and the opportunities, while potentially great, are opaque. How do institutions navigate these waters? How do institutions approach entry into disruptive markets and partnerships with potentially game-changing disruptors? What are strategies that startups and disruptors can adopt to enable investment and adoption by larger players? You are encouraged to attend!

Keynote at d10e, the conference about decentralization

d10e sponsor small

We are sponsoring and keynoting the d10e conference in Amsterdam about decentralization.

Focused mostly on blockchain technologies and applications, our aim is to broaden the vision of the opportunities. Satoshi’s invention of the blockchain, and its first application, Bitcoin, have been often described by the press as a fad. (At last count, as of this writing, Bitcoin has been declared dead 93 times.) However, when seen in the context of a broader trend, together with solar photovoltaics in energy, 3d printing in manufacturing, and many others, it is evident that the decentralization of finance is an unstoppable force.

The talk is going to be recorded, and made available online after the conference, if you are unable to join us on Thursday, February 18 in Amsterdam.

Announcing Network Society Ventures


The tectonic shifts that exponential technologies and decentralized networks are provoking in the economy are giving rise to a huge economic opportunity. Teams of passionate startup founders around the the world are feverishly working to create products and services that are driving this accelerating wave of change.

In order to catalyze and harvest the enormous financial upside of this massive transformation, I have decided to found Network Society Ventures, a seed stage venture firm.

These exponential technologies include artificial intelligence, robotics, the internet of things, synthetic biology, digital manufacturing, cryptocurrencies and many more. They are disrupting industries through the power of their rapid growth and distributed structure. They represent a new way of organizing and delivering the added value of a vast array of products and services. Decentralized networks promise to be superior to traditional centralized and hierarchical organizations by empowering and emancipating billions of people, sustainably generating trillions of dollars of new wealth.


The solutions to our great global challenges will not come from old-style top-down control and centralized thinking. They will come from grass-roots exponential innovation. Hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs in tens of thousands of startups are working daily to transform breakthrough ideas into compelling offerings. It is their creativity, passion, and ingenuity that will create the worldwide economic and societal revolution that is needed for us all to prosper.


Network Society Ventures will play its part by seeding the most promising startups based on exponential technologies and decentralized networks. We will focus on investing in the sectors of energy, manufacturing, food, health, learning, finance, security and policymaking.

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