Early in the covid-19 outbreak, my wife and I sat down with the kids to talk about donating to organizations that were addressing what we felt would be the most urgent needs: food (World Central Kitchen and Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano), shelter (Tri-Valley Haven), income / basic needs (GiveDirectly). But we also identified one topic that seemed worth focusing on, and that we felt would remain an issue through the November election: voting.

We try hard to ensure that our charitable activity as a family is not motivated by personal political goals, but is centered on those…


Photo: Rick Klau. Saguaro National Park.

A little over four years ago, I tried to get my address book mess figured out. Centralizing everything in FullContact (now known as Contacts+) was a marked improvement, but after years of living with the end result, I realized that storing contact data about a lot of people is a far cry from actually leveraging that information. I needed to do more than simply know how to contact a person; I needed to build a system that prompted me when to reach out to them.

What problem am I really trying to solve?

I didn’t start this project with a specific goal in mind — it was more…


“Can you act?”

It was the spring of 1994, and those were the first words Tony spoke to me as I walked into his office at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (because government likes its acronyms just as much as techies do, it’s the EEOB; back then, it was known as the “Old Executive Office Building” or “OEOB”). Tony worked for Vice President Gore’s Chief of Staff. It took a few moments before I realized that it was April 1 and I might be in trouble.

Let me back up.

While in law school, I worked at The Nature Company…


(I originally published this on my blog in 2012; I’ve republished it here in a slightly edited form.)

For years, my favorite Michael Lewis piece was his New Yorker magazine article about Shane Battier, The No-Stats All-Star. (I wrote about why that piece spoke to me here.) Then I saw his 2012 Baccalaureate address at Princeton. The entire address is worth watching, but here’s the quote that has stuck with me:

If you use better data, you can find better values; there are always market inefficiencies to exploit, and so on. But it has a broader and less practical message…


From the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum:

The United Nations General Assembly designated January 27 — the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau — as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges every member state to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.

Join the conversation and share your reflections about International Holocaust Remembrance Day on social media using #HolocaustRemembrance.

I wrote the essay below in 1993 as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum opened. I’m republishing it here in the hopes of contributing in a…


Photo credit: Tom Kubik.

Last month, I went to prison. Next month, I’ll return.

(Originally published on LinkedIn as part of a series; you can read the entire series here.)

A few hours after we arrived at the maximum security prison in Lancaster, Cat Hoke, Defy Ventures’ Founder & CEO, asked us to “step to the line”. Volunteers on one side of the line; EITs (participants in Defy’s program are not “prisoners”, they are “entrepreneurs in training”) on the other. Cat read a statement; if it applied to you, you stepped forward.

“If you graduated from high school, step to the line.”
Every volunteer stepped forward, less than a third of the EITs did.


(This essay is based on my keynote talk at Techstars FounderCon on October 18, 2016. I’ll post the video once it’s up.)

The United States Census of 1880 came at a pivotal time in U.S. history. It was the last time the Census Office could identify anything resembling a U.S. frontier; for the first time, just half of the country worked in agriculture. The census itself had grown so large that the government was collecting more data than it could tabulate — it took a full eight years and thousands of people to produce the twenty-three volumes containing their analysis…


(Source: Flickr user Ken Mayer, modified with permission CC by 2.0. Original here.)

I’m in my fifth year of tackling a major personal online project each year. 2012 was passwords, 2013 was document storage (no write-up; I standardized on Google Drive), 2014 was the family photo archive, and 2015 was getting my address book in order. This year, I’ve come up with an approach to ensuring a seamless hand-off of my online info when I die.

We’re all going to die. Only in the last year has this felt more real to me: two friends, one in his 30s, one in his 40s — both died unexpectedly last fall. While grieving for them…


Go Board, Hoge Rielen, BelgiumEdit Fcb981.jpg. (Source.)

I stayed up late last night watching a livestream of a game of Go being played in Korea. I don’t play Go, yet I’m quite certain that I’ll remember last night for the rest of my life. Playing against world champion Go player Lee Sedol was a computer program built by the team at DeepMind, a company that Google acquired in 2014.

Experts as recently as last fall believed that computers were still a decade away from mastering Go. As powerful as today’s computers are, there are more legal positions in Go than there are atoms in the observable universe…


Photo: Rick Klau

One of the joys of running the Partnerships team at GV is watching entrepreneurs tell their story to potential customers. The best entrepreneurs understand that the pitch is a chance to show the customer that they understand the customer’s challenges and have a solution that will impact the customer’s bottom line. Too often, though, the entrepreneur sees the pitch as a chance to show off how hard they’ve worked, to show how proud they are of a clever solution to a thorny usability challenge.

Recently, the Google Docs team asked if I’d help them build a ‘pitch’ template for Slides

Rick Klau

Husband. Dad of 3. Working on what’s next. Previously: 13+ years @Google ( @GVteam @YouTube @Blogger ).

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store