This week in Business Twitter, things got heated — at least two feuds played out in real time, one over Bitcoin’s legitimacy, and another over Robinhood’s handling of the GameStop stonk frenzy.
Here’s everything you may have missed from this week, including Elon Musk’s beef with Bitcoin naysayer Peter Schiff, Dave Portnoy calling Vlad Tenev a “rat,” and angel investment advice from a16z partner Andrew Chen.
1. Dave calls Vlad a “rat”
It’s no secret that Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy hates Robinhood founder Vlad Tenev. Portnoy may have good a reason — he lost $700,000 in the GameStop stonk craze last month after Robinhood halted trading of the meme stock made popular on Reddit.
Portnoy broadcasted his day trading woes on YouTube and Twitter, and even invited Tenev onto his show on Tuesday. The two frenemies spent around 40 minutes discussing GameStop and meme stocks. Portnoy opened the show with a bang, saying, “We all know how I feel about him. I think he's a rat and a liar.”
Portnoy and Tenev went on to discuss why Robinhood froze trading, with Portnoy saying Tenev had betrayed Robinhood’s initial mission to democratize trading. Tenev, meanwhile, blamed the larger financial system for its antiquated two-day settlement period, among other issues.
Before the video came to be, Portnoy tweeted a video of himself yelling at Tenev to “stop” the stock market, to which Tenev responded with a clip from the 1975 film “The Wind and the Lion,” about Teddy Roosevelt’s thorny encounter with a Morroccan Sheikh. Based on past tweets, it seems as if Tenev is something of a film buff.
2. Chamath sits out the Coinbase IPO
The @coinbase Direct Listing will either confirm direct listings as a reasonable on-ramp for companies or kill it all together by making retail the true bag holders.— Chamath Palihapitiya (@chamath) February 25, 2021
If institutional investors use this period to manipulate the stock from a $54B valuation on Jan29 to $100B now...
Investor Chamath Palihapitiya had some thoughts about Coinbase going public — namely that a direct listing could be a disaster. According to him, retail could be left holding the bag if Coinbase’s stock performance disappoints.
The company was valued at $100 billion last week, almost double its January valuation of $54 billion. Assuming that valuation holds, Coinbase could go public at the highest valuation for a tech company since Facebook.
Palihapitiya called the sky-high valuation “stock manipulation,” warning that the stock could start high on day one of trading, only to snap back, bringing Coinbase’s valuation back down with it. Either way, he’s sitting this one out.
3. Zach Sims on how to bring back a startup from the brink
For @Codecademy's first 4yrs, we were in the 📰 every wk. Those weeks, we made $0. The past 4 years, we've been out of the headlines. Now, we've raised $40m, our first raise in ~4yrs.— zach sims (@zsims) February 23, 2021
How'd we go from the center of the hype cycle to the brink of bankruptcy and back? Read on...
Codecademy founder Zach Sims is having a good year. His company, an online learning platform that teaches people how to code, just raised a $40 million Series D led by Owl Ventures. To mark the occasion, Sims tweeted about the company’s history, from not raising any money in the last four years to nearly going bankrupt in the early days.
Sims had some key lessons he learned from building the company’s first paid product, Codecademy Pro, just to pay the bills: media hype doesn’t necessarily excite VCs enough to write a check. The company had to prove itself financially first. Luckily, it only took six months for Codecademy to bring in $1 million in annual recurring revenue.
Sims’s parting advice was simple: focus on your users. “Most startups die of self-inflicted wounds, not because of their competitors,” he wrote. “Keep your head down and focus less on competitors and more on product market fit. Hire the right people and remember that the user is your customer, and your investors and journalists aren't.”
4. Sam Parr waits out the storm with Andrew Chen
Background: I live in Austin. @nevmed (my buddy), @noahkagan and @andrewchen were flying out of Austin for a vacay.— Sam Parr ⚪️ (@theSamParr) February 19, 2021
But the storm hit. Nev was the only one with power...so we all crashed there!
Andrew is a well known investor, entrepreneur, and blogger. pic.twitter.com/krZvt9uLQb
Sam Parr, founder of the Hustle, lives in Austin. While the city was hit with a blizzard last week, Parr waited out the storm with a few friends, including Andreessen Horowitz partner Andrew Chen. Naturally, the two spent much of their 72 hours talking business. Parr then tweeted about Chen’s angel investment philosophy.
Chen, who has written checks for the likes of Dropbox and Substack, gave Parr five tips for success:
“1. Invest in Bay Area or Bay Area connected companies.” Who said Silicon Valley was dead? According to Chen, most great companies have at least some connection to San Francisco despite operating from someplace else. However, he added, COVID may change that.
“2. Run towards the heat.” Chen is a strong believer in hype — if a company is generating buzz, there’s probably a good reason. He told Parr that a hot company will probably raise money from others, and exit at a higher valuation.
“3. Look for stuff that's growing at least 3x a year.” Chen’s goal as an angel investor is to exit with a profit. Investing in a company that’s growing quickly means profit will come faster, making it less likely that Chen would have to wait around for a return on investment to come in.
“4. If a big name investor invests, be a follower and invest.” Chen assumes that a big name investor got big because of their past successes, and that every investment they make from then on is worth following. Chen told Parr that investors have taken the time to vet and analyze companies they’re giving money to, making the investment more watertight.
“5. Aim for quantity.” Lastly, Chen advised that investing less in more companies will increase your chances of success. “If you have $100,000 to invest, 10 companies at $10,000 each is better than 4x$25,000,” Parr wrote. “If you do it right, 1 winner out of 20 or 100 will pay for all your investments plus some.”
5. Elon gives Schiff the eggplant
🍆— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 23, 2021
Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff has earned a reputation for hating on Bitcoin, no matter how high or low its price gets. This week, Schiff’s tweets turned to critiquing Tesla after the company’s share price fell 20% from its January 26 high of $883.09.
Elon Musk’s reply? An eggplant emoji.
Schiff replied with a few more words, admonishing Musk for his apparent immaturity. “So you're basically calling me a dick,” Schiff wrote. “I must have hit a nerve with that Tweet. For someone of your intellect I would have expected a more thoughtful reply, not something one would hear at a playground. Does this mean our clubhouse conversation is not happening?”
Binance chief Changpeng “CZ” Zhao even got in on the feud as a spectator, offering a Google definition of the eggplant emoji’s connotation.
The feud may have only been half in jest — Schiff even briefly changed his Twitter name to include an eggplant.