An AI Word Processor Wrote This Newsletter
By Ian Kar
If this newsletter seems better than usual, it’s because I’m using a new word processor—Lex, which has AI baked into it to help writers. Lex uses GPT-3, which is a deep learning language model that can take text and continue to build upon it.
Lex was built by Nathan Baschez and Dan Shipper, our friends at Every, another media upstart focused on newsletters. It’s such a fascinating idea and I’m super excited to give it a shot—I’ve known them for a little while and I’m just big fans of their frankly, so I’m happy to support as much as I can. I’m excited for them to expand into summaries soon—I think most fintech news can be summarized by AI, and I’ve played around with tools that we wanted to use to augment our content when I was running Fintech Today.
For media companies the biggest fixed costs are usually humans and GPT-3 could help alleviate that. I think this is going to be one of the most fascinating applications of AI in the next decade.
Going to keep this issue pretty casual since I know most of our readers are gearing up for Money 2020 next week, or are just busy with life. Plus I wanted to try and use Lex for this issue so let’s see how it goes.
Fintech Today Programming Notes
For the foreseeable future we’re going to move the frequency of Fintech Today newsletter’s to 2 times a week. I’m super sorry if that is a massive issue for you all but frankly my full time job of raising a venture fund is hard. We have a really focused and clear competitive advantage of helping our preseed companies with compliance and go-to-market strategies, and that means your boy’s gotta do a lotta project management work so we get shit done.
My main focus is seeing the success of our portfolio companies—not only because we make money when they make money, but also because Stevie and I are very passionate about the ideas that our portfolio companies are pursuing. Building generational funds isn’t easy—arguably the last one that’s done it well is probably Andreessen Horowitz.
Focus has always been something that’s hard for me—I love doing a bunch of things at the same time. But as I grow older it’s clear that focusing on one thing and executing it to perfection is the way to achieve massive goals. It’s still something I struggle with—but I’ve gotten better at it. I have to—we have limited time as humans on this planet and I want to make the most of it. Part of that is making sure that Stevie and I build Vol. 1 Ventures into something that’s valuable for the whole tech ecosystem.
BUT I do want to do a lot of fun shit with Fintech Today—I love community building and cultivating an ecosystem and frankly everyone who reads Fintech Today is really chill and I love meeting new people from it.
We’re going to be moving away from general “news” stuff—I’ve always hated news and frankly was never a big fan of our Friday summary product; while it’s pretty much how Fintech Today started in 2019 (I was summarizing the fintech news for my friends who didn’t work in the sector yet) there’s a lot of other places to get more comprehensive info about what’s going on. And, again, I think GPT-3 can aggregate and rewrite news content faster and more efficiently than I can.
As we move more toward informing operators and founders about building the future of finance, the contents going to be moving more towards Q&A’s, transcripts, interviews, and more evergreen related topics. If there’s a big news story I’ll probably write about it, or if there’s a lot going on in a week, then that makes sense too. But start to expect more content that educates instead of informs.
But, if I were to be completely honest, I need some help—from a creator perspective, it’s really just me working on Fintech Today. If you’re interested in contributing—whether its essays or Q&A’s/interviews—feel free to email me at [email protected] If you’re interested in doing some community stuff for us, hit me up about that too—I’ve had ideas around tactical events for fintech PM’s around things like vendor diligence, AML/KYC, shipping products in the financial sector, and more. The Workweek team is excellent at executing my ideas and doing the operations and planning around sponsorships and events, but I could use some help on the strategy and concept side of what’s interesting for people who work in fintech nowadays. I’m always around—just shoot me an email [email protected]!
Money 2020 2022
I don’t mean to be an asshole but like…please rebrand. For the amount they charge for tickets one can assume that they could use some of those funds to hire a branding agency. If you need help maybe ask the team from Capital, the startup formerly known as Party Round, who pulled off an incredible rebrand over the last few weeks, culminating with NYC Tech Week.
I told my mom Stevie and I were headed to Vegas for Money 2020 and she asked “do they know 2020 was 2 years ago?”
We’re throwing an event on Sunday night, with Activant Capital, Truework, This Week In Fintech, & Rutter API, at Hakkasan, which I’m super excited about. We have a ton of FTT readers, founders, and operators signed up so I’m hyped to see everyone there.
For Vol. 1 Ventures, I’m not expecting to do much work for our fund there—we’re a generalist fund focused on regulated sectors and frankly fintech innovation has been pretty stagnant. Plus, we’re focused on preseed companies and we aim to be the first check into startups—I’d be surprised and a bit worried if founders were spending mad money to come to Vegas to fundraise, especially in this economy.
I’m excited to see my friends though—I don’t go back to NYC that much and don’t do much besides building our fund, so its hard to stay connected with folks. I’m super excited for the FTPartners event—it’s my first time going and Steve McLaughlin’s Money 2020 events are pretty epic from what I’ve heard (Steve’s also one of the smartest people I’ve met with understanding the fintech landscape and seeing things from a macro perspective, so excited to pick his brain on some stuff too.
Post Malone is performing so I made a massive playlist of all my favorite Post Malone tracks—you can listen to it here if you want. I’ve only seen him live once before—back in the day at Governor’s Ball 2018 I think. “White Iverson” was his only big hit really back then and I was kinda the only person there. Everyone I was with was like “dude who is this guy” but I had a feeling he’d be pretty popular—in another life I would have been in A&R lol.
Frankly, a bit surprised that more companies in fintech don’t explore their own digital currency, like Nubank is planning to do for the 70 million users it has in Brazil. Using digital currency as a mechanism to track and distribute rewards seems like a no brainer in any industry, but especially in fintech.
I think one big reason that US fintech startups have avoided creating their own cryptocurrency is because of the regulatory compliance around them. It’s hard to operate a cryptocurrency exchange here in the US because you’re dealing with so many compliance requirements—it’s a really complicated business.
But, there are ways to build this that turns the token into more of a utility tool than an actual cryptocurrency, which can triggers securities laws here in the US.
I think we’ll see more of this going forward—it seems like a really smart move on Nubank’s part.
Nubank is expanding into Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina—countries where fintech adoption is growing but banking penetration is still low. It will be interesting to see how they adapt this crypto product to these new markets.