Essays

Why ICOs Probably Aren't The Future Of Early Stage Financing (At Least, Not Yet)

While catching up on the recent posts on avc.com, I came across this video from the Upfront Conference, in which a number of VCs and entrepreneurs discuss the pros and cons of ICOs and tokens in the context of early stage funding.

For those of you who don't have time to go over the entire video (although I'd still recommend watching it, as it last only 7 minutes and is highly educative), here are a few quotes from it that I found particularly insightful:

Adam Ludwin, Chain:

"It's not surprising that you see the number of ICOs you see, because of the temptation to raise capital that's not equity, so there is no dilution, and is not debt, meaning you don't have to pay anyone back, so people are just giving you money, and all you give them is the hope that the thing they have will appreciate in price. That's a very tempting deal for any entrepreneur to take."

Jim Robinson, RRE:

"What I have to get right to win is I have to have a company actually work. It has to build what it's supposed to build, it has to find an audience, it has to have sales and repeats. What I have to get right if I'm speculating or investing in tokens is not whether or not they'll actually ever work, it's whether or not I timed it correctly."

Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures:

"We're gonna invest in the sector for the long term, you know, we're thinking about it as a 10-year or 15-year investment opportunity, and so we try really hard not to get caught up in near-term price speculation... There is not enough reporting and accountability, there's not enough governance, there's too much early liquidity, there's misalignment between potentially the investors in the platform and the developers of the platforms..."

Tom Loverro, IVP:

"This is sort of constitutional democracy in 1776, like nobody really knows how to make this stuff work."

I believe those opinions offer a great perspective on why ICOs should be viewed with caution, and also why they probably aren't going to replace the traditional ways to fund early-stage companies anytime soon.

To be fair, I'm not going to argue with the fact that the cryptocurrencies and blockchain are creating some very exciting possibilities, allowing to rethink the way some things were typically done in the past. And, in case of ICOs, the idea of bypassing the intermediaries, such as VC funds, and the costs associated with them, and investing directly into the promising companies at the early stages (thus leaving potential for a huge upside, if the startup is to succeed) is certainly luring. However, the mechanisms governing such investments were put in place for a reason, and people willing to participate in ICOs need to have a very clear understanding of what they're getting themselves into.

Below is the summary of some of the good reasons to use ICOs to fund companies:

  1. For people who possess deep expertise in a certain field (thus allowing them to figure out what the most promising opportunities are) and at the same time are unwilling, or unable to invest through traditional channels, ICOs might represent an sensible (and cost-effective) investment option
  2. Some might be less interested in the long-term prospects of the companies having ICOs, and rather are hoping to earn high returns by trading tokens - for those, the speculative nature of ICOs, the lack of regulation around it and the low transaction costs can make ICOs quite attractive
  3. Also, in theory, there is nothing preventing the companies that have already gained significant traction from doing ICOs for some very valid reasons, the most famous example of that being Telegram with its huge ICO of $1.2 billion - given Telegram's ambitions to create an ecosystem of decentralized apps that won't be subject to regulation by any government, ICO appears to be exactly the right tool to raise funding; moreover, such later-stage ICOs are obviously less risky than investments made in very early-stage companies, and thus might represent a great niche for ICOs as an investment mechanism

At the same time, there are plenty of reasons for investors to be beware of ICOs (even after we exclude the obvious scams, such as pump and dump):

  1. The protections for the investors are often limited or non-existent: most ICOs today are much more similar to crowdfunding than to public offerings, thus leaving the investors vulnerable from the legal standpoint
  2. Pretty much anyone can invest in ICOs, which is not the case for most of the regulated investments that are typically considered high risk: the concept of accredited investor exists for a reason
  3. The governance structure of many companies having ICOs is often questionable at best, leaving the investors with limited say on the direction of the companies' strategy
  4. The fact that the tokens acquired in ICOs can be traded can be great in a sense that it provides the investors with liquidity; however, that also creates a conflict of interest between the founders and the backers
  5. To build off the previous point, given that the vast majority of the companies doing ICOs these days are early stage, there are often no objective ways to value them, which in turn means that the price of the tokens is subject to huge swings, often based on rumors or the quickly changing sentiments of the public

So, will ICOs evolve in a mature investment mechanism that'll revolutionize early-stage financing? To me, at this point the answer remains unclear: while ICO as a mechanism most certainly has a great potential, I think it'll most likely take years before it evolves into a more reasonable investment tool that the public can truly benefit from.

Assessing The "Worthiness" Of Companies' Missions

Recently, I've stumbled upon a discussion somewhere (I believe it was on Quora) about whether people who state that they'd only work for companies with whose missions they can strong empathize are mostly being hypocritical. The author of this argument used Uber as an example, stating that it seemed highly unlikely that so many people had suddenly found themselves so interested to work for a company that at its core remained a taxi hailing business.

While I believe that Uber and its competitors are so much more than just taxi hailing services, I found the question itself rather intriguing. How much does the company's mission actually matter to most of us? Should it even matter? And how might we approach assessing this mission in the first place?

Those are, of course, deeply philosophical questions, and I don't entertain any illusions regarding my abilities to provide the answers that would be universally applicable to everyone. I also don't have any desire to argue whether people have to care about the mission of the companies they work for. Rather, I wanted to share my take on the second half of this question - how we might approach thinking about the companies' missions and values - in the context of the tech industry today.

First, it's useful to consider how the nature of the tech products we use has evolved over the last 10-15 years. In the past, we often evaluated the products and services we used based on the new features or functionality they offered us. Today, however, that's not the case anymore: we would often be hard pressed to name even a few new features the new generations of the apps and services we use bring us, and not because we don't care for that additional functionality, but rather because what we really value today above everything else is convenience.

The New York Times has just published an essay called "The Tyranny of Convenience" on exactly this topic, which I found rather entertaining. Still, the reason I believe the change in our priorities matters in the context of this post is that it actually makes so much more difficult to answer the questions asked in the second paragraph in any reasonable fashion.

In the world that valued features, assessing the importance of the work done by many tech companies was relatively easy: the users typically had a certain type of problem, or pain point, they required solving, which in turn created an opportunity for the companies to come with a software product, a hardware device, or some combination of both, that would allow to solve that issue. Of course, it was still entirely possible that the users didn't realize that they actually had a problem, but most of the time, at least some indicators were there: the office workers of the early 1980s probably didn't know that they desperately needed spreadsheets, but someone who decided to pay close attention to the work they were doing for a reasonable amount of time, might have noticed that there was a huge potential to digitize their activities, in one way or the other.

In the world of convenience, however, the situation seems remarkably different. First of all, the users often might not even realize that they have a problem to begin with. Did most of us know that we actually need that 2-hour guaranteed delivery? What about those sophisticated algorithms that allow us to create discover new compositions based on what we listened to in the past? Or the opportunity to upload the photos to the cloud on the PC, and immediately access them from our phones? There are a thousand things we can't imagine our lives without that we would have a really hard time even dreaming of 10 or 15 years ago.

Next, in this strange new world, there is no way to solve the problem once and for all, as there is often no limit to how much something can be improved upon. Getting a guaranteed 1-day delivery from Amazon is nice, but why not focus on 2-hour delivery next? Uber and Lyft might be so much more convenient that the traditional taxi services, but the cars could still arrive even faster, and, by the way, wouldn't it be nice if it cost less? And while Amazon Echo is helping us to make some of our routines so much more efficient, it can definitely be further improved by integrating with additional services, and employing more sophisticated machine learning capabilities.

All of that implies that there is no task or problem that isn't worth solving, as long as it improves the experience for the end users (not to mention that the large advances can sometimes start as minor efforts to solve a particular issue). By extension, this also means that the true complexity of the systems aiming to provide the users with a more convenient way of doing something is often hidden from the eyes of those users. Most of us have no idea of the amount of efforts behind Spotify recommendation engine we take for granted nowadays, or the cloud infrastructure that the majority of the services we interact with today are built upon, or Amazon 1-day guaranteed delivery. Moreover, we don't care: the entire point of convenience is that the users don't need to concern themselves with all of that to benefit from those services.

Now, going back to the initial argument, if we look at the Uber from the perspective of feature-driven world, it undoubtedly is just another taxi hailing service, albeit a much more convenient one compared to the traditional taxi services, where you had to call a local company on the phone. However, in the world of convenience, Uber and the likes of it are so much more than that: they help us save time and money, while also feeling more secure and experiencing a nicer way to travel. Moreover, they hold promise of bringing us an entirely new level of convenience in the years to come, once the self-driving cars hit the roads. And when you frame the problems Uber is trying to solve like that, it seems unsurprising that they might want to recruit some of the best engineers or businesspeople, or that those people would be genuinely interested to come work for Uber and its peers.

That, obviously, doesn't mean that everyone out there does (or even should) care for the mission of the companies they work for. Rather, I'd like to argue that the question itself is somewhat flawed, at least in relation to the tech companies, given the realities of the world today.

The (Huge) Impact Of The Culture

As part of my experience at Kellogg, I've got an opportunity to work on a few projects that involved working with industry partners, and one thing that struck me as surprising was the huge impact the culture often had on every aspect of the operations of those companies. By culture here I mean not just the internal culture, but rather the all-encompassing perception of the organization and the values associated with it by both the customers and the employees.

Spending most of my time around tech companies in the past, I grew to appreciate the importance of building the right culture for the organizations, but at the same time got to view the culture as something that was constantly evolving, and could be changed over time, if need be. Part of this impression definitely comes from the fact that a lot of tech companies haven't been around for that long, but even the ones that have existed for a while and faced the need to adjust their culture and mission at some point, often managed to do that quite successfully (take Microsoft and the transition it went through in the last few years, for example).

What I've discovered at Kellogg, however, was that this is most certainly not the case for a lot of companies in other industries. While the right company's culture often serves as an amplifier for any initiative the company might be willing to undertake, it can also become a huge barrier to being able to successfully introduce the necessary changes. What's also interesting is that probably no company starts with the wrong culture in the first place - but rather, over time, some organizations might find themselves in a situation where certain aspects of the culture require adjustments due to the changes in market environment, customer preferences or the competition. What happens when this moment comes is very hard to predict, and depends on a wide range of factors, such as both the customers' and the employees' perception of the company's mission, the employees' attitudes towards the company, which are again often rooted in their perception of the company, the governance structure (e.g. being franchised definitely makes introducing changes more complex), whether this is a product- or service-driven company (changing the culture of the product-driven companies appears to be somewhat easier, but can bring other challenges) and so on.

What are some of the steps the companies might take to make it easier for them to make the necessary adjustments in the future? For starters, it seems that it is generally a good idea to start paying special attention to the company's culture while it's still emerging, and then keep re-evaluating the different aspects of it continuously, as the incremental changes certainly come easier than the all-encompassing reforms. Second, figuring out how the internal culture impacts the employees' and customers' perceptions of the company is crucial: once the customers make their minds, it's often extremely hard to do anything about it, and that in turn can affect the types of people the company is able to attract (especially if that's a B2C company). Finally, if the company's business model involves franchising, or is service-driven, bringing in the right people who can emphasize with the vision of the founders/top management and who share the same values becomes especially important. After all, the culture is by definition shaped by people, and if you're in a people-driven business, the culture essentially becomes your product.

The Power Of Personification

The cover image for "The Best We could Do" comes from ABRAMS,  www.abramsbooks.com

The cover image for "The Best We could Do" comes from ABRAMS, www.abramsbooks.com

I've recently finished reading The Best We Could Do, a graphic novel by Thi Bui. In this book, Bui writes about the story of her family, originally from Vietnam, who came to the U.S. after the fall of Saigon.

When I started it, my knowledge of the history of Vietnam and Vietnamese people was, to my embarrassment, quite limited. And yet from the first pages this book felt so personal and intimate. For the most part, Thi Bui focuses about her own experiences, and those of her family. However, in doing so, she also manages to introduce the readers to the complex history of Vietnam of the 20th century, and gives us a glimpse into how much it affected its people.

What also struck me is how similar the story Thi Bui tells is to the stories I grew up hearing and learning about from my own family and others around me: the complex and often sad history of the Jews in Eastern Europe, the rocky history of the Russians under the communist rule, and so many others. Most of us probably have the stories of their own they grew up hearing and find it easy to emphasize with. One doesn't need to know anything about the history of Vietnam to see the reflection of her own stories in the one Bui tells us in The Best We Could Do. And once you recognize that, it becomes so much harder to remain blind and unmoved by the struggles of others, no matter where they come from, what cultures they belong to, or what languages they speak.

I really wish we'd focus more on telling those personal stories - there is a tremendous power in the idea of personification of history -  something that can never be achieved if we treat the history of the living people just as collections of facts and numbers.

Mastering The New Mindset

It's no secret that among a lot of people, it's a fairly common sentiment to regard the managers as overly ambitious people who require to get paid a lot for no reason and at the same time are of questionable value to the organization (as opposed to, say, engineers, that are doing the actual work). I don't have any desire to argue for or against this position tonight. Rather, as someone who's currently (gradually) transitioning from being being purely an individual contributor to the more leadership oriented roles, I've found that there are a few skills that seem to be very difficult to truly master for a lot of managers. I feel that it might explain, at least to a certain extent, why the (good) managers are so much in demand, and are often worth a lot to the organizations they lead.

1. Learning to let go. Most of us start their careers as individual contributors, which often means that it falls onto us to do the work on the ground and focus on getting all the details right. It also provides us with a reasonable degree of control of the final output (at least for the specific piece we're in charge of). As we advance in our career, however, the situations when we need to rely on the results of the work done by others, be it our peers, or people who report to us, keep arising more and more frequently. Making the mental transition in order to accept and embrace that - learning how to delegate and refraining from the desire to micromanage - often turns out to be extremely hard, and the new mindset might take years to fully master.

2. Learning to control your ego. This is another core issue many people (myself included) struggle a lot with. For me personally, it's not so much about the need to force my views and ideas upon the people around me, but rather about the desire to feel that I'm contributing in a meaningful way. That, however, can be just as dangerous, and again, this is a habit that takes a long time to unlearn.

3. Dealing with the lack of immediate gratification. Finally, I feel that one of the biggest challenges for a lot of people entering management is the reduced amount of immediate gratification that comes with their new positions. I'm not saying that management can't be a rewarding career - it absolutely can and should be - rather, the emphasis here is on the word 'immediate'. This issue is, to a significant extent, tied to the previous points I've made above. When we work as individual contributors, we are often responsible for taking care of specific items on the agenda. We might not have a direct way to influence the agenda itself (and that can be at times frustrating), but at least we can feel good once we are done working on this presentation, or writing that sprint of code.

However, as we find ourselves in a setting that requires managing a team, we often discover that those achievements don't belong to us anymore, but are rather the accomplishments of our team members or subordinates. What that means is that we no longer can feel the gratification stemming from striking a specific thing off our to-do lists, as those aren't not actually our to-do lists anymore. Instead, we have to learn to give credit to the people around us (while still taking responsibility for the failure, if need be), and teach ourselves to focus on the longer-term objectives and the broader picture. This is something that can be incredibly motivating in the long run, but it definitely requires a lot of work to get into this mindset, and is by no means easy to do.

On Communication Style: Pushing The Limits Of Discussion

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Lately, I’ve been finding myself thinking a lot on what would be the most productive way to run meetings that involve possible conflicts and require pushing the boundaries. The exact nature of the meeting doesn't matter that much - it could be an informal discussion, a brainstorming session or a heated public debate - the question on how to best handle it to get the most out of it still remains.

My inclination in the past was almost always to focus on getting to the core of the argument as fast as possible, and than to relentlessly push the discussion forward. This often meant that was it's all right to shoot down the ideas, and the conflict was to be welcomed, not shied away from.

And for a while, this approach worked fine for me - at least as long as I continued to work in venture capital. However, when I started venturing outside of that world, it turned out that many things that worked fine in VC didn't necessarily yield the same results in the different kinds of environments I started finding myself in. I believe that it had a lot to do with some of the specifics of the setting I grew accustomed to: in VC, you typically have to deal with relatively strict hierarchy, and a lot of ambiguity, coupled with time and resource constraints, plus you're constantly surrounded by A-type personality people.

Other environments, however, are not necessarily like that. In business school, big tech or even at many startups, you might not have a clear hierarchy, instead collaborating with a lot of people who are your peers, not your bosses or subordinates. You also often have more resources (and time) to explore different areas, but at the same time have to make longer commitments once you decide to go with a particular idea. Next, not everyone around you has an A-type personality (and not everyone lives to work either), which means you have to be a bit more cognizant of other people's needs and priorities. Finally, it's important to remember that your conduct can sometimes actually offend people - something that is a bit less of an issue if you work in an high stakes environment like venture capital, where many people develop thicker skin over time.

For me, getting accustomed to this new environment turned out to be somewhat challenging. Interestingly enough, I actually do appreciate many of the things I highlighted above - as an INTJ, strongly skewed towards introversion, I didn't always feel comfortable in the heated discussions of the VC world. At the same time, over the years I had learned to appreciate the benefits that often came with having intense, frank, ‘cut to the heart of the issue’ discussions, and didn't want to give those benefits up, unless I could see for myself how adopting a different communication approach would allow me to achieve even better results.

In my previous post, I touched on one example of a situation when being inclusive and open to new ideas, even if you believe that you already know they won't work, might benefit you and your team in the long run: if your goal is to bring in new and unconventional ideas, it makes a lot of sense to ensure that you're creating a safe environment for everyone to feel comfortable sharing their insights in; and then you can always revisit the viability of those ideas later.

Another example of a situation where focusing on having a nicer, calmer discussion can be critical I can think of is working cross-functionally, something that is extremely common in the tech world. If, say, you are a Product Manager at a tech company, you have to interact with software developers, designers, as well as sales and marketing people on the daily basis. However, in most cases, none of those people report to you directly, which means that often the only way to make them co-operate with you is by gaining their trust and respect first, something that would be extremely hard to do if you have a harsh and authoritative communication style, no matter how smart you are.

This is something I've witnessed at Microsoft over the summer: in a company of 100,000+ people your networks and the reputation you’ve built for yourself are no less important that the skills or ideas that you bring to the table. You can't hope to lead any kind of meaningful change without winning the people's trust first, and you won't be able to achieve that unless you first learn to have inclusive discussions, and to attract people instead of alienating them.

The same goes for the business school environment: while you might consider yourself the smartest person in the room, others most definitely won't take it for granted, plus, for that matter, a lot of people might not even care. Therefore, it's essential to figure out how to become more open-minded and inclusive, otherwise, the impact you'd have would most likely remain very limited (plus, you'd risk gaining a nasty reputation among your peers).

At the same time, I continue to believe that we shouldn't shy away from the conflict just because they make people feel uncomfortable. Some of the best ideas were born in the most heated discussions; by arguing, we can often uncover the insights that would otherwise stay hidden, generate exciting new ideas or even simply express our views better. This isn't limited to one's workplace - arguments represent an extremely important and useful tool in practically every sphere of our lives. What I’m learning to appreciate more these days, though, is the importance of remaining polite, listening hard and being ready to change my mind if the other side’s ideas prove to be sound. Whether we intimidate others by arguing with them - or elevate them - is entirely up to us.

To quote from Bret Stephens' lecture delivered at the Lowy Institute Media Award dinner (the full text of the lecture can be found here):

"To say the words, “I agree” — whether it’s agreeing to join an organization, or submit to a political authority, or subscribe to a religious faith — may be the basis of every community.

But to say, I disagree; I refuse; you’re wrong; etiam si omnes — ego non — these are the words that define our individuality, give us our freedom, enjoin our tolerance, enlarge our perspectives, seize our attention, energize our progress, make our democracies real, and give hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere. Galileo and Darwin; Mandela, Havel, and Liu Xiaobo; Rosa Parks and Natan Sharansky — such are the ranks of those who disagree."

Invisible.

The day is absolutely gorgeous. It’s end of June now, and the summer is finally here. There is not a single cloud in the sky; the Seattle skyline as seen from Kerry Park is now augmented with a clearly visible mount Rainier in the background, and every street is flooded with people who got out to enjoy the great weather, meet friends and just hang out outside.

And yet, there is something wrong with this picture. As people leave nearby movie theater in downtown Seattle after finishing watching a movie that unfolded the story centered around the importance of believing in the best in others, there is a guy sitting on the sideline of the road. He’s in his 30s, or maybe 40s, very thin, poorly but quite cleanly dressed. He’s wearing glasses. Before him lies a baseball cap with a few coins in it. In his hands, he holds a pice of cardboard that says: “That’s what invisible looks like”.

What’s the story of this man? Why is he asking for help? How badly does he need the money? Will he have a place to sleep at tonight? Does he have a job? a family? anyone who cares about him?

To tell the truth, we’ll probably never know. He’s not the only one out there either: if you go one block further, you’ll see another person like him, and then another, and another. Leave Seattle, and drive to the next city, you’ll see the same picture. Ditto for the next state. Cross the Pacific Ocean, and nothing will change. Drive across the U.S., cross the Atlantic, and again, nothing changes.

One might argue that this is just how the world’s always been. In fact, today it’s better that ever before: we have safety nets in place now, and we try to do our best. And this will be true. Maybe we are not yet rich enough as a society to take care of everyone. Or maybe some people are too difficult to deal with, and can’t help but blow up their lives again and again, and thus just require too many resources to take care of. Or, one can argue that even the most underprivileged people in the developed countries are often much better off than hundreds of millions in the poorest places of the world, and that’s where everyone should focus.

All of this might be true. And yet, this isn’t about that. It is about that cardboard in the hands of the man. “That’s what invisible looks like”. This simple phrase is as heart-breaking, as it is true. Sure, some people might give him a couple bucks, or somebody kind enough might buy him some food. But that is probably it, and so this man is still largely ignored, remaining on the sidelines of this nice, warm and cloudless summer day.

Nobody has the resources or emotional capacity to help everyone, and for most people, this is too much of a weight to carry anyway. Still, as a society, we are rich as never before today, and this is especially true for the developed world. That’s why, every time we decide to dismantle any part of the safety net to drive our costs down, it is so crucial to stop and think about what we are doing. To think if those changes will contribute to the number of invisible people we pass by on the streets. And if it will, to ask ourselves whether it is truly worth it.

After all, we have one too many invisible people already.

The Unicorn Club: Revisited

The Unicorn Club: Revisited

In 2013, when Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures first coined the “unicorns” term describing startups valued at $1 billion or more, she named 39 companies in the U.S fitting the definition.

In the spring of 2014, when I first set to compile a list of unicorns from around the globe as part of my work at InVenture Partners, the final list consisted of 83 companies, 56 of them in the U.S.

Over the next few years, this number continued to increase at an alarming pace, with CB Insights now highlighting 186 companies, and CrunchBase Unicorn Leaderboards listing 224 unicorns and 43 exited unicorns as of February 25th, 2017.

Still, those lists, while highly interesting, don’t necessarily provide the depth of insight offered in the original article by Aileen Lee. I thought it might be interesting to revisit the topic today, and explore what unicorns from around the world have in common and what differentiates them from each other.

To do that, I set to compile a list of companies that qualify to be called “unicorns” that carries as much information as possible. This list includes all startups co-founded since...

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The Benefits Of Integrated Offering Model

A few days ago, TechCrunch published a list of 10 largest Series B rounds of 2016. The 10th place on the list went to Juicero, a juice making machine company, which raised $70 million in Series B. I’ve missed this deal earlier this year, but it still seems worth digging into, as I believe it provides some food for thought on the topic of building businesses that have hardware at their core.

An important note here is that I’m less interested in trying to predict whether or not Juicero will be a success, or defending the company’s strategy, and more interested to try to see the logic behind certain strategic decisions the company made so far.

Introducing Juicero

Juicero was founded in 2013 by Doug Evans, the founder and former CEO of Organic Avenue, a chain of stores selling organic juices. Until 2016, the startup remained in stealth mode, raising over $20 million of funding in Series A and Seed rounds. Shortly after closing $70 million round in March this year, the company announced another cash injection of $28 million, bringing its total funding close to $120 million.

Juicero sells a cold-press juicer of its own design, that fits the countertop and costs $699. Yes, you heard that right, it costs 700 hundred bucks. Sure, it looks nice, is small enough, and even has wi-fi for some reason (what device in 2016 doesn’t have it, after all?) It’s still a lot of money for a juicer, though. But that’s not all. After you buy the device itself...

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The New Reality Of 2016

The first thing I did last morning was to type “election” query into Google search box. Even though I was following the election results until around 2am, I still nurtured the hope that something changed the last minute. Of course, it didn’t happen. The new reality the world woke up into yesterday was that Donald Trump would be the next president of the United States, something that seemed unthinkable to a lot of us even on the morning of the election.

***

Before continuing, though, I wanted to make a disclaimer. I am not U.S. citizen. Moreover, I hold the passport of one of the most anti-American countries in the world. Therefore, I feel uneasy expressing my opinions on the current election and contemplated whether to publish this post at all, even though I reside in the U.S. right now and intend to do so in the future. I do have vested interests in the U.S. elections (largely aligned with Clinton supporters, or better yet with Bernie Sanders supporters), and also believe that in today’s global economy, the results of the U.S. election influence the entire world. Still, if you feel that this election is the internal affair of the U.S. that should be of no concern for everyone else, that’s OK, just close this post and forget about it; I sincerely hope it hasn’t offended you.

Also, in this post I have no intention to argue how terrible Trump might be (there is already enough written on the topic anyway), or make any predictions how good or bad his presidency will be for the U.S. Instead, I wanted to dig into...

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