Ilya Lyamkin
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2021 Wrapped

December 31, 2020

It’s funny. This is going to be my first (and the last) public post in 2021. I guess it’s better than nothing. It’s been a good year — if I had to find one word that characterizes it I’d call it “accumulation”. A lot of learning, placing my bets on many things, and just growing. Let’s have a closer look.

Travel

I kicked 2021 off in Dubai — it’s a great city with even greater opportunities to structure your business there.

Russia, Maldives, Cyprus, all around Sweden, and big thanks to my friends in Spain that always welcome me in Barcelona ❤️

This year I had to order a second passport just because there is not an empty page left for new stamps. Can I say that I like to travel now? 😂

Unfortunately, Covid is still here and disrupting my relocation plans. Where to? It depends but next year there will be changes for sure.

Finance (not financial advice)

This year I really doubled down on investments. In the first half of the year, I focused on building public stock market portfolio. Some of my winners where TSLA (200%) and NET (300%) and biggest losers TDOC (-50%) and CRSR (-20%). SPOT decided not to show up this year and obviously I have a huge stake there, I can’t really make public comments on that but hoping for the best 🚀 Overall performance ~20% which I consider average but learned a lot.

The second half of the year was mostly about crypto and NFTs. According to aggregation stats I bought ~20 NFTs for $40k 🐵 but traded out of many of them at this point. To be honest most of them are pretty degenerate trades but overall performance is ~200%. To name a few: Mutant Ape Yacht Club, Art Blocks and Axie Infinity — bullish on all of them. I still need to build out my crypto position to at least 50% of the total portfolio, to be done next year for sure.

On the private equity market, I’ve invested in 10 private companies: some of the most innovative banks, fintech, and SaaS. I’m excited about early-stage startups focused on dev tools, developer productivity, fintech, and crypto. I write $10k-25k checks and invest in teams that can turn a complex problem into a simple solution. Also, I can make an intro to other angel investors, so you secure much more 😉 If you can refer me to a good startup, I can give you some bonuses!

By next year I plan to allocate in total $300k across these three markets. Should I write more on this topic and maybe disclose some of my trades?

Learnings

If the last year I spent a lot of time interviewing different companies, this year was about interviewing people. At Spotify, we have the slogan “Listening is everything”. I took that one too seriously 😃

Many hours of one on ones with peers, being a mentor, learning about purpose-driven leadership. Understanding what motivates people, creating development plans, and giving feedback. Also, I did dozens of interviews for different positions at Spotify and probably going to 2x them in the next year.

As I mentioned in the beginning I didn’t post much content out there. First, I was lazy. Second, I was experimenting with different formats and found posts a bit boring. Youtube is the one I think I like the most — I have a few ideas I’d like to try there next year.

Remote vs in-person

This year we opened the office and after 1 year of working from home, I could actually meet people I’ve seen only on the screen. I believe that a remote setup works well for execution. However, for discovery work, when you need to be creative and ideate — in-person works much better. Maybe it will improve in the future but tech isn’t there yet to connect people better.

On the bright side, I was impressed by the Facebook (sorry, Meta) work in the VR space — their Quest is just amazing and gets great traction. Their idea is to disrupt how people communicate once again via hardware now — I’m talking replacing mobile phones as we know them kind of disruption.


That’s it. It’s been a long year but I’m very excited to get the next one started. Remember to reflect on your year as well. It’s not that important to set goals but rather to understand what you liked and disliked last year and focus on keeping what you like and stop doing what you don’t. Happy new year everyone!


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