Can I kick it? Dune at 5

Building a startup is a walk on the wild side. Survival can’t be taken for granted.

Can I kick it? Yes, Dune can! Building a startup is a walk on the wild side. Survival can’t be taken for granted. Dune was born September 2018, and today, I’m proud that we are alive and kicking with half a decade in the game. Here are some reflections as Dune turns 5 this week. 

One of my most cherished possessions is this gold watch. My grandfather was a mechanical engineer fixing printing presses. This watch was a gift he received after working for the same company for more than 50 years - from the ages of 17 to 70!

This treasured inheritance reminds me not of my love for hip hop with its flashy culture, or that we were paper rich at the height of the bull market. It reminds me of something much deeper, and that’s how long a long time really is. Doing something for a short period of time is easy, but doing something for a long period of time is really hard. Anybody can do something for a year or two. Doing something for multiple decades is an entirely different game.

Every cycle, the crypto space gets hyped to the moon and then dragged through the mud. Staying sane and playing the long game throughout these waves is hard, but necessary. If you make short term decisions during the bull market you will pay the price when the hype fades and realize that you’re unprepared. On the other hand, if you fold when times are hard you will not reap the benefits of the next world-changing wave this industry will unlock.

One thing I’ve found particularly important is to only work with long term and high integrity people. Across the board with your team, clients, investors and community. I was reminded of the importance of this at a board meeting we had at Union Square Ventures’ office last week. They know that world changing technologies can take a long time to play out, and can remain controversial for a long time. I’m very grateful for having investors that are truly believers and backers, not only through the good times but also the bad. 

The USV office is filled with crypto manifestos and screens with NFTs.
My co-founder enjoying the view over Union Square

When you run a business there’s a lot of talk and thinking around winning. However, there’s a very important prerequisite for winning that often gets overlooked: you’ve got to stay in the game to play the game. If you’re not in the game, you can’t win. 

I often think about the Lindy Effect: the idea that the longer something has existed the longer it is likely to keep existing. Each marginal day one stays alive doesn’t feel like any notable accomplishment when it’s day to day, but over time it really does matter. That Dune is now 5 years old, means we’re more likely to stick around for another 5 years and beyond. That is worthy of celebration. 

The startup world is fast paced, and the crypto space even more so. A lot happens in a year, so 5 years feel like an eternity. At the same time, we’re only 10% of the way to earning and deserving my grandfather's gold watch. As an industry we’re building a new financial system from the ground up. It’s a massive undertaking that will inevitably take time. Interest rate paradigms, investor interest, regulators and public sentiment will come and go. It’s a fool’s errand to think anything will be an overnight success. But if we keep working hard, one day at a time and stay alive, we will eventually accomplish great things. 

Being long term is easy to say, but hard to do. Half a decade of making crypto data accessible is a big milestone for Dune, us as founders, the whole team, investors, community, partners and customers. This journey truly is a walk on the wild side but we’re alive and kicking! Here’s to kicking it another 5 years and beyond, happy birthday Dune! 


PS. One point to you if you realized that “Can I kick it” is a homage to the legendary Tribe Called Quest song :) 

PPS. Bonus points if you caught that that song samples Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side ;) 

Doo do doo do doo do do doo...

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