Something Ventured -- Silicon Valley Podcast

An episode in which I thank each of the 2020 guests.  A podcast first (probably).  I briefly recall – fondly – a bit of each of the 2020 episodes. Is it interesting?  I think so.  Can I do it in one take?  Turns out, yes.  Enjoy, and thank you for listening.


Marco Zappacosta, Thumbtack Founder

Keller Fitzsimmons, “Lost in Startuplandia” Author

Jeff Macpherson, Tiki Bar TV Creator

Brianne Kimmel, worklife Founder

Paul-Henri Ferrand, Brex COO

Matt Hulett, Rosetta Stone CEO

Mike Stutz, Television Producer

Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle Senior Political Writer

Kaiser Kuo, Sinica Podcast Host

Eric Tarczynski, Contrary Capital Founder

Somesh Dash, IVP General Partner

Monique Woodard, Cake Ventures Founder

Michael Ellison, Codepath Founder

Promise Phelon, The Growth Warrior Founder

Scott Simpson, Comedian – Cheaper than Therapy Founder

Parker Conrad, Rippling Founder

Brad Feld, Foundry Group Founder

Domm Holland, Fast Founder

Garrett Smallwood, Wag Labs CEO

Deena Shakir, Lux Capital Partner

Rob Chesnut, AirBnB General Counsel

William Davidow, Mohr Davidow Founder

Trae Vassallo, Defy.vc Founder

Sarah Leary, Nextdoor Co-founder

Jaclyn Hester, Foundry Group Partner

Hooman Radfar, Collective Founder

Jeff John Roberts, “Kings of Crypto” Author

Stacey Bishop, Scale Venture Partners

Direct download: 2020_Thank_You-Cast_Extravaganza_3.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48pm EST

Stacey Bishop is a partner at Scale Venture Partners where she invests in “business applications driving the Intelligent Connected World”. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of companies like Abstract, Airspace, Demandbase, Extole, Lever, and Textio.

Stacey is a founding member of All Raise – an organization frequently mentioned on Something Ventured. She is also an advisor to The University Growth Fund

Stacey got her MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA from The University of Michigan.

In this episode we discuss her path to becoming a partner at a prominent Silicon Valley firm, and the role All Raise played in accelerating her career.

Notable quotes from this episode:

 

On the Early Days of “All Raise”

“Before All Raise, women in venture, we just put our heads down, did our job -- just focused on trying to get ahead and do the right thing. And I think the most eye-opening thing – when All Raise started, it changed the dynamic. It suddenly brought all the women together. And even though we had all been kind of working side by side, we weren't really -- there were so few of us but there was little getting together. Now there's this whole network. And so I think it's changed the industry.”

 

On Hedge Funds Moving Into Venture Capital

“Hedge funds have certainly been there later stage. Mostly because private companies are going public much later. So in order for them to get the returns they need, they started coming into the private markets. So they had been showing up at the late stage. But now we're seeing them much earlier. That’s probably been the biggest change and that's been over the last several years.”

 

On Valuation Trends of Tech Companies

“We just had (another) billion dollar exit: Most people haven't even heard of the company. But, if you had a five or six billion-dollar exit, everybody would have known about it. Snowflake went public last week…it was under the radar, but Snowflake was the biggest venture exit of all time.”

 

On The Future of Meetings

“In meetings ‘before’, somebody had to get in the car and drive to go see you and take all that time. So out of respect, you don't want to not spend the time with them. So you spend a full hour or more. Even if it’s just an introductory meeting you feel this obligation. I don’t know how much in-person meetings will drop, but there will be a whole subset of meetings that can be done remotely.”

 

Stacey on Twitter https://twitter.com/StaceyCurry

 

Scale Venture Partners on Twitter https://twitter.com/ScaleVP

 

Scale Venture Partners https://www.scalevp.com

 

Something Ventured Podcast       https://somethingventured.us

Direct download: 152_Stacey_Bishop_to_upload.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 8:10pm EST

In 2013, Fortune’s Jeff Roberts visited "Satoshi Square" in New York.  It was the name of the location where a group of crypto anarchists and Wall Street traders bought and sold Bitcoin in the open air. Since that day, Jeff became fascinated with Bitcoin and new forms of money. That fascination led him to write the new book “Kings of Crypto:  One Startup's Quest to Take Cryptocurrency Out of Silicon Valley and Onto Wall Street”.

Said Fortune Senior Writer Robert Hackett:

"'Kings of Crypto' tells the story of a ragtag band of rebels who saw the future of finance before anyone else and who wrenched the revolution into their orbit. Reading this book is like using a stethoscope to open the vault containing the cryptocurrency industry's origins. Click, click, click—and a wealth of secrets spills out. Learn what made Coinbase, one of the most improbably successful Silicon Valley startups, hit it big—and what makes its founding 'Vulcan Swiss bankers' tick. As long as Satoshi Nakamoto's identity remains secret, this is the closest you’ll come to understanding the rise of crypto—and where it's all headed.”

In this episode, Jeff John Roberts discusses his fascination with cryptocurrency, the rise of Coinbase, and the potentially world altering-ascendance of Bitcoin.

https://jeffjohnroberts.com

Twitter  @jeffjohnroberts.

“Kings of Crypto” https://www.amazon.com/Kings-Crypto-Startups-Cryptocurrency-Silicon/dp/1647820189

https://somethingventured.us 

Direct download: Jeff_Roberts.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EST

Hooman Radfar is co-founder and CEO of Collective, an online back-office platform designed for freelancers, consultants and other ‘businesses-of-one’. He is also a Venture Partner at Expa, a San Francisco-based start-up venture firm and studio where he was a founding partner (along with Uber Co-Founder Garrett Camp). Previously, he was co-founder and CEO of AddThis.  AddThis was acquired by Oracle in 2016.

Recently, Hooman took the somewhat rare step of leaving a perfectly good venture capital job to start a company. In this episode, he describes why the idea he is pursuing felt so compelling he had to make the move.  He also discusses his path to building and selling a company, as well as his immigrant parent’s path to the US.

 

On How Startups Emerge from their Initial State

There's this murky period prior to figuring things out which people tend to write out of history. Where you're kind of trying to find out what's now called ‘product market fit’. Instagram went through it with Brbn, Twitter went through it with Odeo. You know, you get a group together, you create a chemistry, you start working on projects, and maybe that project works or it doesn't work. But it takes that initial leap to get that precipitate and go.”

 

On the Time People Mocked Websites that Were “Collecting Eyeballs”

‘I think the way to express it in modern terms is that when you have a flywheel with effectively a cost of acquisition of zero, it's uncommon. And I think now people realize how hard that is and how valuable it is because they know the distribution has value, that data has value. There are a LOT of monetization models:  premium, ad-supported, data-supported.”

On Why He Started Collective

“There are ‘businesses of one”:  Freelancers, consultants and whatnot. It’s the largest set of entrepreneurs in the country. And ultimately, if you believe in the next ten years, it could be fifty percent of the workforce. Not just the largest set of entrepreneurs, but the largest part of the workforce. And that's all I've been doing my whole career. And I said, wow, this is amazing. It looks like a straight line in hindsight.”

Hooman Radfar on Twitter  https://twitter.com/hoomanradfar

Collective https://www.collective.com

Something Ventured

Hooman Radfar is co-founder and CEO of Collective, an online back-office platform designed for freelancers, consultants and other ‘businesses-of-one’. He is also a Venture Partner at Expa, a San Francisco-based start-up venture firm and studio where he was a founding partner (along with Uber Co-Founder Garrett Camp). Previously, he was co-founder and CEO of AddThis.  AddThis was acquired by Oracle in 2016.

Recently, Hooman took the somewhat rare step of leaving a perfectly good venture capital job to start a company. In this episode, he describes why the idea he is pursuing felt so compelling he had to make the move.  He also discusses his path to building and selling a company, as well as his immigrant parent’s path to the US.

 

On How Startups Emerge from their Initial State

There's this murky period prior to figuring things out which people tend to write out of history. Where you're kind of trying to find out what's now called ‘product market fit’. Instagram went through it with Brbn, Twitter went through it with Odeo. You know, you get a group together, you create a chemistry, you start working on projects, and maybe that project works or it doesn't work. But it takes that initial leap to get that precipitate and go.”

 

On the Time People Mocked Websites that Were “Collecting Eyeballs”

 

‘I think the way to express it in modern terms is that when you have a flywheel with effectively a cost of acquisition of zero, it's uncommon. And I think now people realize how hard that is and how valuable it is because they know the distribution has value, that data has value. There are a LOT of monetization models:  premium, ad-supported, data-supported.”

On Why He Started Collective

“There are ‘businesses of one':  Freelancers, consultants and whatnot. It’s the largest set of entrepreneurs in the country. And ultimately, if you believe in the next ten years, it could be fifty percent of the workforce. Not just the largest set of entrepreneurs, but the largest part of the workforce. And that's all I've been doing my whole career. And I said, wow, this is amazing. It looks like a straight line in hindsight.”

Hooman Radfar on Twitter  https://twitter.com/hoomanradfar

Collective https://www.collective.com

Hooman Radfar is co-founder and CEO of Collective, an online back-office platform designed for freelancers, consultants and other ‘businesses-of-one’. He is also a Venture Partner at Expa, a San Francisco-based start-up venture firm and studio where he was a founding partner (along with Uber Co-Founder Garrett Camp). Previously, he was co-founder and CEO of AddThis.  AddThis was acquired by Oracle in 2016.

Recently, Hooman took the somewhat rare step of leaving a perfectly good venture capital job to start a company. In this episode, he describes why the idea he is pursuing felt so compelling he had to make the move.  He also discusses his path to building and selling a company, as well as his immigrant parent’s path to the US.

 

On How Startups Emerge from their Initial State

There's this murky period prior to figuring things out which people tend to write out of history. Where you're kind of trying to find out what's now called ‘product market fit’. Instagram went through it with Brbn, Twitter went through it with Odeo. You know, you get a group together, you create a chemistry, you start working on projects, and maybe that project works or it doesn't work. But it takes that initial leap to get that precipitate and go.”

 

On the Time People Mocked Websites that Were “Collecting Eyeballs”

 

‘I think the way to express it in modern terms is that when you have a flywheel with effectively a cost of acquisition of zero, it's uncommon. And I think now people realize how hard that is and how valuable it is because they know the distribution has value, that data has value. There are a LOT of monetization models:  premium, ad-supported, data-supported.”

On Why He Started Collective

“There are ‘businesses of one”:  Freelancers, consultants and whatnot. It’s the largest set of entrepreneurs in the country. And ultimately, if you believe in the next ten years, it could be fifty percent of the workforce. Not just the largest set of entrepreneurs, but the largest part of the workforce. And that's all I've been doing my whole career. And I said, wow, this is amazing. It looks like a straight line in hindsight.”

Hooman Radfar on Twitter  https://twitter.com/hoomanradfar

Collective https://www.collective.com

Something Ventured  https://somethingventured.us

 

Direct download: Hooman_Radfar.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:26pm EST

Fabrice Grinda is a wildly successful entrepreneur and investor.  In this episode he recounts in detail 4 stories that any entrepreneur – any person, really – will find fascinating.

The first is the story of building one of Europe’s first marketplaces before eBay got there – and what happens when you turn down $100 million for your company.

The second is the story of Zingy, and what it’s like to grind without capital and miss payroll 27 times, before ultimately succeeding.

Third, Fabrice talks about building OLX, the global trading platform, after Craig Newmark refused his offer to fix Craigslist.  Learn what happens when OLX and its competitor go to war and spend billions on – TV advertising.

Finally, Fabrice offers his considered view of the future:  On how climate change is being addressed through technology, and how COVID has affected startups that will ultimately change the world.

https://fabricegrinda.com

https://fjlabs.com

https://somethingventured.us

 

 

Direct download: Fabrice_Grinda_2020.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:48pm EST

Jaclyn Hester has just become a Partner at Foundry Group.  So first, “Congratulations, Jaclyn”.

Jaclyn joined Foundry Group – the Boulder-based tech company and venture fund investor -- after a few years at big law firms.  As a lawyer, she worked on everything from startup formation and financing to large M&A processes.

During graduate school at CU Boulder, she caught the entrepreneurship bug and immersed herself in the local startup community, serving as the Executive Director of Startup Colorado. She has also built a startup with her husband, Anders.   Their family’s bootstrapped tour and activity software company was successfully acquired in 2018 by Booking.com. She becomes a partner Foundry just as it raises its first Foundry Group Next (“FG Next”) fund. 

Episode Quotes:

On Her Path from Lawyer to Entrepreneur

“I always had a feeling that there was something more interesting about the businesses themselves than about the legal aspect. I think for me, it felt like being the attorney was just a way to be connected to the business. And I enjoyed going to law school. It was an incredible education.  But I must have known that I liked the businesses, maybe, better.“

 

On the Purpose of the FG Next Fund

“It is important to remember that the pools of capital at the institutional level -- so the pension funds, the endowments -- these are multi billions of dollars.  Venture capital is just a teeny tiny thumbnail inside of their private asset or private equity asset class, which itself is one a bunch of other asset classes that they invest in. And so it's probably among the riskiest highest reward of the things that they invest in. But it's a really small piece. So if you think about, a 10, 20, 30 billion dollar pool of capital spending time on making 1 to 10 million dollar investments in a venture capital fund -- just doesn't make sense.”

 

On COVID-19’s Impact on Companies

“We’ve always believed that you can build great, great companies anywhere and that the talent is not concentrated in the Bay Area. That trend is accelerating with more openness to remote work. Not having to have everyone in the same place means that people are thinking about talent differently.”

 

Foundry Group

https://foundrygroup.com

 

Jaclyn on Twitter
@jfreester

 

Something Ventured

https://somethingventured.us

Direct download: 148_Jaclyn_Hester_September_2020.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:21pm EST

There are only so many iconic social networks in the world – and Nextdoor is one of them.  While perhaps not as fast-growing as Facebook or even LinkedIn, Nextdoor has steadily become the hub for neighborhoods around the world.

Sarah Leary founded Nextdoor, along with Nirav Tolia, Prakash Janakiraman, and David Wiesen.

In this episode, Sarah tells the story of getting Nextdoor off the ground.  She talks about the painstaking work they did to figure out how to build a healthy community around a neighborhood, before they were ready to scale.

We talk about the impact COVID-19 had on Nextdoor communities, and how and why she decided to become a venture capitalist at Unusual Ventures.

Notable Episode Quotes

On Starting Her Career at Microsoft

“I joined Microsoft at really a golden time:  The early 90s.  I was on the product team that launched the first version of Microsoft Office, and that was an all-star team. It was a time when Microsoft was just taking off and went from being this software company that some people had heard of to a household name. I was fortunate enough to, for example, be on stage where we launched Office ninety five with Bill Gates and Jay Leno.  We were writing the script as we went along and that was an amazing learning curve.”

On the “Pivot” from Fanbase to Nextdoor

“If you don't get the seeds of a community right in the beginning, it becomes very difficult to fix it. And after about six months, we actually offered to give the money back to Bill Gurley, who was the lead investor in Fanbase. He said, ‘That's the easy way out. I'll give you three months to work on some new ideas. It doesn't have to be directly related to Fanbase. But why don't you guys take another crack at it?’ That was hard. It was very hard to step back and say.  ‘This isn't working and confess to each other that we didn't think it was going to be the next ESPN’, but I'm so glad that we did.”

 

On the Earliest Days of Nextdoor

“The idea of Nextdoor changed pretty dramatically in those early stages before we ever wrote a line of code. And thankfully, it's probably saved us from years of going down the wrong path and frankly, probably losing faith in what it was that we were trying to. The prototype was actually launched in the Bay Area and with one neighborhood in Menlo Park, and it worked. People wanted to talk to their neighbors, but we were very cautious and said, OK, that's not enough. Let's try some other ones. In Seattle, Washington, we had one in upstate rural New York. We had one outside of Washington, D.C., and one in Tennessee. And we just started to see how people were using the platform. And that gave us the confidence after we did about five of those to say, ‘OK, this is the winning idea and we're going to double down on it’.”

 

Unusual Ventures:  https://www.unusual.vc

Something Ventured:  www.somethingventured.us

 

Direct download: 147_Sarah_Leary_of_Nextdoor.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:28pm EST

Trae Vassallo is co-founder and partner at Defy, a venture capital firm she built with Neil Sequeira.  She was previously a general partner at Kleiner Perkins.

Trae made her way to Silicon Valley from…rural Minnesota.  As a girl, Trae fell in love with coding – on an Apple II.  She went, sight unseen, to Stanford University, where she studied mechanical and electrical engineering.  After a stint at design firm IDEO, she co-founded and led product at Good Technologies.

In this episode we discuss Trae’s path to Kleiner Perkins, and her experiences being one of relatively few female venture capital partners in Silicon Valley. She contrasts the treatment of women in Silicon Valley before, and after, Ellen Pao’s lawsuit (Check out Episode 101).  We discuss why she struck out on her own rather than staying at Kleiner, and how she and her partner came together to form Defy.

Finally, Trae discusses a health scare that led to her discovery of integrative medicine and lifelong quest for healthy living.

EPISODE QUOTES

On Her Early Experience with Computers

“It was like third or fourth grade where I have vivid recollections of seeing Oregon Trail (a video game), playing that game, and then learning how to build simple graphics programs. And that really was a spark for me:  That, you can logically build a sequence of steps and then have it go execute. And that kind of problem solving to me was incredibly exciting. And so that was the spark that made me realize I'm a problem solver, I'm a creative.”

On Palm Pilot and Women Leaders

“I was fortunate to get on the engineering team that worked on the Palm V. And through that, I got to work with Donna Dubinsky (Palm’s CEO) and Jeff Hawkins (Palm’s Founder). And this was when they were justgetting started and they had this runaway kind of success. That was my first exposure to a startup into what it meant to be an entrepreneur and frankly, a female CEO, a woman CEO who is just amazing at her job. And so I thought, OK, I love this engineering thing, but I want to do what she's doing.”

 

On Integrative Medicine


“When I left Kleiner, one of my top goals was” I'm going to get my health back.  I want to feel better than ever. I started reading up and looking at less conventional options, because I literally had been to Mayo and Cedars and Stanford and UCSF and nothing. Nothing, nothing. And I finally found this whole world of integrative medicine, which I'm now a huge fan of. The thesis behind it is really about root cause analysis instead of giving you a drug to alleviate the symptom of that issue.  Rathere, we're going to figure out why you have that issue to begin with and get to the root cause and solve that problem so we don't have to cover up your symptom.”

Defy:  https://defy.vc

Something Ventured: https://somethingventured.us

Direct download: 146_Trae_Vassallo.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06pm EST

William Davidow is a Silicon Valley pioneer, former Intel VP, and renowned venture capitalist.  He is author of the new book, with tech journalist Michael Malone, THE AUTONOMOUS REVOLUTION: Reclaiming the Future We’ve Sold to Machines (Berrett-Koehler, February 18, 2020).  It’s a provocative look at how to safeguard humanity from our autonomous future and how to harness its benefits.

According to Davidow and Malone, for the third time in the history of humanity civilization is undergoing phase change.  The first was the Agricultural Revolution, the second the Industrial Revolution, and we are now in the midst of the Autonomous Revolution.

Some ideas discussed:

  • How to adapt society to our new era and transform our relationship with intelligent machines the authors propose in the new book

  • Creating tiered personal information “safety deposit boxes” over which users would have complete control to protect internet privacy;
  • Imposing a tax on sending emails, time spent on social networks, and gaming;
  • Programs that automatically block phone use while we’re driving;
  • Regulation that puts limits on Artificial Intelligence;
  • Proactive investment in the infrastructure of the future to offset inevitable job loss.

 

More on William Davidow: 

William Davidow is a Silicon Valley pioneer who ran the microprocessor division at Intel at the dawn of the chip revolution and was later senior vice president of marketing and sales. Prior to Intel Corp., Bill worked in various managerial positions at Hewlett Packard and General Electric. He cofounded Mohr Davidow Ventures, one of the Valley's premier venture capital firms, in 1985. Bill serves on the boards of California Institute of Technology and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy. He is the author of three books and the coauthor of two, including The Virtual Corporation, which sold more than 100,000 copies.

 

Episode Exerpts:

On the Evolution of Technology Innovation

“When I was at Intel, you know, we used to get up and feel like we were putting on our Superman shirts and going out and changing the world. And what we were doing was automating existing processes: In other words, we made a stoplight run better or we made a typewriter into a word processor.

But if you looked at it, there was still a factory or there was still a stoplight. We didn't change the structure of things. And what is different today is that our technologies are changing the social and economic structure of things.”

The Problem of Virtual Worlds like Facebook

“We have real problem that people are choosing to live in a virtual world. It turns out that you evolved in a physical world, YOU controlled the physical world. A tree was not created to be firewood. You managed the world and made the tree firewood.   The physical world had no purpose and you were running the physical world. But when you go to a virtual world, a virtual world DOES have a purpose. And the purpose of the virtual world is to control your behavior. you you're down to two senses, both of which are impaired. “

On the Accelerating Pace of Job Destruction

We keep finding new work for people to do, so we keep creating opportunities, I think today the challenge is that we may not be able to create the opportunities fast enough. I mean, these technologies have such broad impact. Netflix put Blockbuster Video out of business, when Blockbuster Video had nine thousand stores and 60,000 employees. And Netflix, I think, had one thousand employees. And those are the kinds of things will continue to happen. It’s going to turn everything upside down. I believe in a free market, but free markets have their flaws. They do not allocate wealth based on social contribution, they allocate wealth based on your ability to make money. In the future we may be living in a society where we're going to have to find ways to compensate people based on their social contribution as opposed to whether they're just a great high speed trader. “

Kent Lindstrom (host):          https://kentlindstrom.com

William Davidow:                  https://www.davidow.com

Something Ventured:           https://somethingventured.us

Direct download: 145_William_Davidow.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:51pm EST

Rob Chesnut is an advisor to Airbnb, where he was previously Chief Ethics Officer and general counsel.  His recently released book is Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead An Ethical Revolution.

Rob started his career as a federal prosecutor, but decided he could do more good in the world by working for companies like eBay and Chegg.

Eventually joining Airbnb, he helped Brian Chesky navigate issues such as racial discrimination by Airbnb hosts.  He also helped Airbnb create a culture of “Intentional Integrity”.

In this episode we discuss Rob’s journey to and through Silicon Valley, and his experience creating ethical cultures those companies.  We also discuss what happened to Airbnb when the COVID crisis hit.

Hear what Brian Chesky said as Airbnb was faced with lawsuits over discrimination by its hosts

Rob Chesnut Episode Excerpts

On leaving the role of federal prosecutor to work for tech companies:

“After a while, it's a real negative. It has a negative aspect to it.  You're putting young people in jail for long periods of time, and you feel like you're not contributing in a positive, proactive way to society.”

 “On the Future of Travel”

“I don't think that the pandemic is going to push people to stay in their homes forever. I think that people are going to travel. But what I think we're going to see is that there's a maybe a different type of travel. One thing that there's a trend, I think, that may come out of the pandemic, which is really going to help Airbnb and that is ‘work anywhere’. So if you can work and do your job from literally anywhere that has Internet access, that suddenly frees you to go places and do things 52 weeks a year that you might otherwise have only been able to do three weeks a year.”

 

On Intentional Integrity

“I think that integrity is a word that people are often uncomfortable talking about because it gets to people's morals, their purpose, maybe even their religion. And so leaders are uncomfortable talking about it and what they do is outsource it to lawyers and it becomes compliance. There's a difference, though, between compliance and integrity. So the point of the title is we have to get over the discomfort, we have to have the conversation. And if we want integrity to be part of our company, we can't just assume that it's going to happen, that we're just going to hire good people and that it's going to happen. We have to make an intentional effort to weave it into our culture. And so the point of that title, is a call for getting through that discomfort and taking affirmative steps to make it part of what you do in business.”

 

Intentional Integrity

www.intentionalintegrity.com

 

Rob Chesnut

https://www.linkedin.com/in/robchesnut/

 

Something Ventured

https://somethingventured.us

 

Direct download: 144_Rob_Chestnut_of_AirBnB.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:51pm EST

Deena Shakir is a partner at Lux Capital, a venture capital firm that manages more than $2 billion.  She is particularly interested in entrepreneurs building breakthrough companies enabling human and environmental health, access, and productivity.

While her immediate background before joining Lux sounds familiar – she was a partner at GV (previously “Google Ventures”) – her path before that is a bit more unusual.  As a journalist, Deena once hosted the pilot episode of a bilingual Arabic-English TV news series modeled after 60 Minutes. 

Deena was also a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of State under Secretary Clinton, where she helped launch President Obama’s first Global Entrepreneurship Summit in 2010.

She is the first-generation daughter of immigrants from Iraq and speaks fluent Arabic and French.

In this episode, we discuss a range of topics, from her experiences as an Arab-American to her path from Washington to Silicon Valley.  We also discuss the impact COVID is having on the venture business, and families like hers.  Also covered:  The unique craziness of online parenting groups.

EPISODE EXERPTS

On Education

“Education, is an area I’m passionate about, where I've made investments like that in a company called Mos. Mos is using artificial intelligence to make the process of searching for financial aid easier. Clearly, there were already platforms for you to search for scholarships. However, they've made that much more sophisticated, and the process is so much easier now. And this was meaningful for me personally because that was a process I went through. I paid for college by myself, patching together all these scholarships. And now that is something that is changing the lives of students on a daily basis.”

On Women in Venture Capital

“ In terms of women in venture, I think we've obviously we've come a long way, particularly in the last three years. I joined the venture world maybe three months before that moment, if you want to call it that, where everybody realized this was an actual problem.  It was in the summer, I think, of 2017 when a lot of this came to light. I think we still have a very long way to go. Some of the solutions may have potentially created additional problems around tokenism, for example, around cliques around  certain folks or groups taking up all the oxygen in the room, et cetera. But that being said, I've seen some really great progress.”

On Software

“When it comes to software specifically, the democratizing piece of it is what gets me really excited. I get really excited about technology that streamlines analog industries -- that allows people to do things more quickly -- whether that means grassroots organizing or whether it means accounting.”

On the Impact of the 9/11 Attacks

“Being in high school, a teenager, during 9/11 -- being a Muslim and Iraqi American, that was a really pivotal moment for me. It was the first time where I felt like these two parts of my identity that really always felt like they were fluid and just part of who I am -- all of a sudden it seems like they weren’t to some people.  That really was troubling for me.”

Deena on Twitter       https://twitter.com/deenashakir

Lux Capital                             https://luxcapital.com

Something Ventured           https://somethingventured.us

Direct download: 143_Deena_Shakir.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:36pm EST

Deena Shakir is a partner at Lux Capital, a venture capital firm that manages more than $2 billion.  She is particularly interested in entrepreneurs building breakthrough companies enabling human and environmental health, access, and productivity.

While her immediate background before joining Lux sounds familiar – she was a partner at GV (previously “Google Ventures”) – her path before that is a bit more unusual.  As a journalist, Deena once hosted the pilot episode of a bilingual Arabic-English TV news series modeled after 60 Minutes. 

Deena was also a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of State under Secretary Clinton, where she helped launch President Obama’s first Global Entrepreneurship Summit in 2010.

She is the first-generation daughter of immigrants from Iraq and speaks fluent Arabic and French.

In this episode, we discuss a range of topics, from her experiences as an Arab-American to her path from Washington to Silicon Valley.  We also discuss the impact COVID is having on the venture business, and families like hers.  Also covered:  The unique craziness of online parenting groups.

EPISODE EXERPTS

On Education

“Education, is an area I’m passionate about, where I've made investments like that in a company called Mos. Mos is using artificial intelligence to make the process of searching for financial aid easier. Clearly, there were already platforms for you to search for scholarships. However, they've made that much more sophisticated, and the process is so much easier now. And this was meaningful for me personally because that was a process I went through. I paid for college by myself, patching together all these scholarships. And now that is something that is changing the lives of students on a daily basis.”

On Women in Venture Capital

“ In terms of women in venture, I think we've obviously we've come a long way, particularly in the last three years. I joined the venture world maybe three months before that moment, if you want to call it that, where everybody realized this was an actual problem.  It was in the summer, I think, of 2017 when a lot of this came to light. I think we still have a very long way to go. Some of the solutions may have potentially created additional problems around tokenism, for example, around cliques around  certain folks or groups taking up all the oxygen in the room, et cetera. But that being said, I've seen some really great progress.”

On Software

“When it comes to software specifically, the democratizing piece of it is what gets me really excited. I get really excited about technology that streamlines analog industries -- that allows people to do things more quickly -- whether that means grassroots organizing or whether it means accounting.”

On the Impact of the 9/11 Attacks

“Being in high school, a teenager, during 9/11 -- being a Muslim and Iraqi American, that was a really pivotal moment for me. It was the first time where I felt like these two parts of my identity that really always felt like they were fluid and just part of who I am -- all of a sudden it seems like they weren’t to some people.  That really was troubling for me.”

Deena on Twitter       https://twitter.com/deenashakir

Lux Capital                             https://luxcapital.com

Something Ventured           https://somethingventured.us

Direct download: 143_Deena_Shakir.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:36pm EST

Garrett Smallwood was recently promoted to CEO of Wag Labs, the popular on-demand dog-walking service backed by venture firms from Freestyle Capital to Softbank.

New York Times said of the company “"Most dog owners should consider installing Wag on their phones just to have as a backup option. It is the best-designed and most efficient app for summoning a dog walker with some or no advance notice."

Garrett previously founded Finrise, a startup that Wag acquired.

In this episode, find out what happened to the market for walking dogs and checking in on pets when COVID-19 led to widespread lockdowns.  It’s not as obvious as you might think.

We also discuss what happened to Wag’s employees -- and how they responded  -- when COVID forced them out of the office. 

Finally, we answer the question,  "Is there a market for cat walking?"

Wag’s investors also include:

  • Tuesday Capital
  • Structure Capital
  • Social Leverage
  • Slow Ventures
  • RRE Ventures
  • Ludlow Ventures
  • Haystack
  • Greylock
  • General Catalyst
  • Sherpa Capital

https://wagwalking.com

https://somethingventured.us

Direct download: 142_Garrett_Smallwood_Wag_CEO.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:49pm EST

Fast.co has raised over $20 million from firms like Kleiner, Index and Stripe.  It bills itself as the world’s fastest checkout – one click, no passwords.  A fascinating but typical story, such as it is, in Silicon Valley. 

But then there’s this: Domm didn’t go to Stanford.  He isn’t even from the US. He’s from Australia, where his first business was…a towing company.  A more than $50 million business.

His co-founder is a woman.  He met her on Twitter.

So in this episode – find out how Domm made his way from Australia to Silicon Valley, and how he used his status as a Twitter power user to build his business.  Also learn what it’s like when your rocket ship startup is hit by a global pandemic.

Fast  https://www.fast.co

Something Ventured  https://somethingventured.us

Direct download: 141_Domm_Holland.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:51pm EST

What makes communities of startups thrive, and how have they been impacted by the recession, COVID-19, and the remote work trend?

Brad Feld addresses these questions in this episode and in his new book “THE STARTUP COMMUNITY WAY: Evolving an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” and the second edition of his book “STARTUP COMMUNITIES: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.”

You may know Brad as the legendary investor who co-founded the Foundry Group, and who has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987. Brad previously co-founded Techstars, and was an early investor in Harmonix, Zynga, MakerBot, and Fitbit. He writes the widely followed Feld Thoughts and Venture Deals. He currently is chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology and on the boards of Path Forward, the Kauffman Fellows, and Defy Ventures.

EPISODE EXERPTS

On the Chemistry of Silicon Valley

“Today’s Silicon Valley, if it started from scratch, could not create Silicon Valley.”

 

On Initial Conditions of Startup Communities

“The punch line is that you don't have a deterministic outcome. When you have a child, raising a child is a complex system. You can't say that when the child is twenty-four years old, these are the things that child will be doing and will have done and how they will be living. All of the interaction effects over time in the moment affect what happens in the evolution of that child. Same thing with the startup community.”

 

On Racism in Startups and Venture Firms

“There is no question that empirically the number of non-white, black and brown voices and black and brown founders' is a very low single digit percentage of the (startup and venture) population. And if you add in women into that mix and say black or brown women, that's an even smaller percentage of the population. And so then the question is in now, what do you do? Its a complex system so you can't just say, ‘OK, here are the new rules and this is what's going to happen’.   Rather you've got to have participation of ALL of the different actors that have influence and ability in order to change things.”

 

On the Effect of COVID-19 on the Importance of Place for Startups

“Startup communities are complex systems that go through phase changes. In February, if you had said to anyone: “In three months, ninety nine percent of office workers around the world will be working from their houses.” That person would have said, you're crazy, that'll never happen. It can't happen. The technology won't support it. People won't tolerate it. Not possible. But lo and behold, that's what happened. And it works OK. We understand that place still has a lot of importance, especially around startup communities. However, the notion of connecting places together and building things that have a virtual component or that have a bigger geographic spread is also important.”

https://somethingventured.us 

https://foundrygroup.com

https://feld.com

 

Direct download: 140_Brad_Feld.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:11pm EST

Parker Conrad lists himself as “customer support” at Rippling, but he is its co-founder and CEO.  He previously founded Zenefits.  In this episode he traces his journey from a journalist at Harvard, to founder and CEO of a company that has raised over $50 million.

Episode Highlights:

The specific thing he likes about sales
“I really liked sales. I enjoyed it. But I liked it in a very specific way:  I enjoyed selling something that I had built. I didn't want anyone else explaining why it was great or what was so awesome about it, because they were going to screw it up somehow. They were not going to get it right when they were talking to people and telling them what's great about this. I wanted to build the thing that I was selling.”

His fundraising ‘trick’
“Just find a way to be the Twitter guys (a fast growing company at the time which VCs were throwing money at) That was really the answer. And I think that that's actually the right answer for most entrepreneurs.  Most of the “tactics” around fundraising don't really matter. They're such a rounding error. The important thing is to build a business that's so compelling that they can't afford to ignore you. And then all the other rules go out the window. And then it's like very easy to raise. And if you can't build something that is that compelling, then God help you.”

Why he’s motivated to build an HR management company
"I am an unusually resentful of the sort of busy work, administrative work. It’s why I was so resentful of having to of fax in insurance applications at my first company. If you can connect all of those underlying system and you can automate that and make it really seamless, that all disappears. And so in this sort of perverse way I really get excited about stomping that out for customers, because I'm the primary user of our product.".

https://somethingventured.us 

Direct download: 139_Parker_Conrad_to_upload.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00pm EST

Scott Simpson worked on digital books at Amazon, then podcasting at Apple.  Thus, a key guy on two technologies that revolutionized the “long tail” of content.  And then…he left to start a standup comedy show.  “Cheaper Than Therapy”,  housed in San Francisco’s Shelton Theater, presents about 6 standup comedy shows a week, almost always sold out. 

Then Covid hit Cheaper Than Therapy and standup comedy everywhere.  In this episode we discuss Scott’s path from tech to comedy, and the affects of Covid on the future of comedy.  We discuss how well jerry-rigged alternatives to standup comedy are working, as well as the dire state of performance businesses in general.

 

Scott’s podcast:  California King https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/california-king/id1506058005

Cheaper Than Therapy
https://cttcomedy.com

Scott on Twitter:

@scottsimpson

 

 

Direct download: 138_scott_simpson_to_upload.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:39pm EST

“As an entrepreneur, tech CEO and venture capitalist who is also a woman of color, I am well aware of the challenges most entrepreneurs face when it comes to raising capital.” 

So Promise Phelon summarizes with typical grace what she has learned in an amazing career.  Her book, “The Way of the Growth Warrior” – well you can’t get it yet.  You can pre-order it in the link below.  In the meantime, you can hear her story in this episode.

Promise Phelon started that career at BEA Systems, where she became Head of Product Marketing.  While a Black woman running marketing at BEA in the 1990s might be its own story, it was just her beginning...

The Growth Warrior https://thegrowthwarrior.com

Something Ventured https://somethingventured.us

Direct download: Promise_Phelon_2020.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:19pm EST

“Most Black computer science students think Silicon Valley companies are racist.”  If you didn’t know this already – you should really sit down and listen to this episode.

No one educates more Black students in computer science than Codepath.  Codepath is the non-profit co-founded by Michael Ellison to eliminate educational inequity in technical careers.  Every year Codepath teaches hundreds of college students the skills they need to get jobs at companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon.

In this episode, Michael shares his stark assessment of how Silicon Valley treats Black engineers, including CS students who may have not gone to a ‘top’ school.  He discusses the toll both Covid and the recent events like the George Floyd killing have taken on Black students.

Michael shares what Silicon Valley leaders – venture capitalists and companies alike – can do to empower Black engineering students who seek jobs, or seek to start companies in Silicon Valley.

https://codepath.org

https://somethingventured.us 

Direct download: 136_Codepath_Michael_Ellison_2020.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:45pm EST

Monique Woodard is a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.  She is one of the very rare Black, female General partners in venture capital.  Previously on Something Ventured we explored Monique’s unique path to becoming a venture capitalist, and what she invests in.

As events drove the Black Lives Matter (“BLM”) movement to accelerate worldwide, Monique was gracious enough to come back and share her thoughts.

She discusses what she believes is the state of the BLM movement in general, and Silicon Valley’s dismal record on supporting Black investors and entrepreneurs in particular. She offers pure, unvarnished advice about what Silicon Valley can do – actually do – to begin fixing its problem.

www.monique.vc

www.somethingventured.us 

Direct download: 135_monique_woodard_is_not_doing_fine.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:50pm EST

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Not every podcast includes a Langston Hughes quote.  Not every venture capitalist is Somesh Dash.  Somesh is a partner at the venture capital firm IVP.  IVP is one of the largest, most established venture firms in Silicon Valley.  From his post there, Somesh has seen several cycles of Silicon Valley’s ups and downs.

In this episode, we contemplate recent events:  Racial issues converging with US 2020 presidential politics and a country on edge from Covid. Looking to the leadership example of Ailene Lee and All Rise, we contemplate what more Silicon Valley might do to be supportive of black Americans.  Not just the few (too few) black VCs and Founders in Silicon Valley, but All black Americans.

We turn to the long arc of investing in Silicon Valley – from the early days of IVP, the dot com crash, the 2008 financial crisis, the last 10 years and – the great unknown that is next. 

We finish with how VCs have reacted to Covid, and what is REALLY going to happen with ‘working from home”. Finally – we end on a positive note, with the poem that begins this introduction.

Direct download: 134_somesh_dash.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:48pm EST

(Note:  This episode was recorded before the Covid crisis. It includes a brief introduction with Eric Tarczynski to update the status of his fund and college investing, post Covid.)

Eric Tarczynski is the founder of Contrary, a venture capital firm focused on investing in college students starting companies.  In this episode, Eric discusses how he built a network of college entrepreneurs, and how he created a venture fund focused on investing in college students.  We discuss the unique benefits and risks of investing in young founders, many with no work experience, as well as the lessons from famous college founder – Mark Zuckerberg. 

Colleges Contrary includes in its network are:  Boston College, Boston University, BYU, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Georgia Tech, Harvard, NYU, Northeastern, Ohio State, Penn State, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, Texas A&M, Tufts, Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, University of Chicago, UC Boulder, University of Illinois, University of Maryland, University of MIchigan, Notre Dame, Penn, USC, University of Texas, Virginia, Vanderbilt, University of Washington, Yale, and Waterloo.

www.contrarycap.com

www.somethingentured.us

 

 

Contrary Capital: www.contrarycap.com

 

Direct download: 133_Eric_Tarczynski_College.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05pm EST

Raj Kapoor contracted Covid in mid-March.  He and his family are recovered and well. But Raj is taking aim at shortening the path to a post-Covid world.  He partnered with Clara Health to create www.worldwithoutcovid.org.  The site let’s people register to help researchers worldwide accelerate their race to find better testing, treatments, and vaccines.

Raj has been a venture capitalist (Mayfield) and a entrepreneur (SnapFish).  He is currently the Chief Strategy Officer at Lyft. 

In this episode we discuss Raj’s journey from contracting to recovering from Covid.  We also discuss the path to finding a treatment, and the why’s and how’s of California’s lockdown.  We also discuss (Caifornia Governor) Gavin Newsom’s “6 Criteria for lifting quarantine”, and the current state of the US Presidential race.

We turn to Lyft, and the future of transportation (the original topic of this episode):   How Lyft is faring during the Covid crisis, how will change cities, and how Lyft affect climate change.

Finally, we briefly discuss the effect Covid might ultimately have on the music industry.

World Without Covid:  www.worldwithoutcovid.org

Clara Health:  www.clarahealth.com

Lyft:  www.lyft.com

Something Ventured:  www.somethingventured.us

 

Direct download: 132_Raj_Kapoor_to_upload.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:59pm EST

In the midst of the Covid crisis, how should Silicon Valley think about China?  Kaiser Kuo is founder and host of the Sinica podcast, and has been a longtime journalist and tech executive in China. Few people know more about the intricacies of China’s politics and their interaction with technology companies.

In this episode we discuss China’s responsibility for Covid, and compare its response times to those of the US.  We discuss how the US should think about China going forward as a new world order emerges.  Also, as this crisis passes what can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Finally, Kaiser discusses how we’ve flip flopped on how we view technology and other governments.  Is technology a tool of revolution? (Arab Spring) or of control (WeChat contact tracking apps).

Sinica Podcast:  https://supchina.com/series/sinica/

Something Ventured:  www.somethingventured.us

Direct download: 131_kaiser_kuo_to_upload.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:56pm EST

Joe Garofoli is the Senior Political Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, and host of the “It’s All Political” podcasts.  He recently broke the story of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which ultimately led to the resignation of the Acting Secretary of the Navy. 

In this episode we discuss the political implications of the COVID outbreak, and how Donald Trump is (not) doing in managing the crisis.  We discuss the next moves for candidate Joe Biden and now-former candidate Bernie Sanders.

Also discussed is the performance of California Governor Gavin Newsom and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and how their styles differ.

Finally we discuss the implications for the California economy, and Silicon Valley in particular.

https://projects.sfchronicle.com/tools/podcasts/

www.somethingventured.us

Direct download: 130_Joe_Garofoli_Covid_.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:11pm EST

Mike Stutz is a Hollywood producer, director and writer.  He’s worked across genres, and recently has focused on reality TV (Animal Planet, Discovery Network, etc.)

In this episode, Mike discusses the impact of COVID-19 on Hollywood:  How it affects writers, producers and even standup comics.

We also discuss: What happened when Mike decided to leave Los Angeles for Arkansas and political protest when you can’t gather.

Finally – we end on a positive note (really!) about how to address depression and suicide when everyone is isolated.

Mike on Twitter:  @suicideblows

Mike on Instagram:  @resistanceclown

Mike’s Fairytale video:  https://vimeo.com/400062533

Something Ventured website:  www.somethingventured.us

Direct download: 129_Mike_Stutz_COVID_Hits_Hollywood.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:01pm EST

(Note this episode was recorded before the current Coronavirus crisis)

Matt Hulett is President of Rosetta Stone – one of the largest language learning companies in the world.  Long known for its striking yellow boxes of CDs (those CDs are now a thing of the past, BTW), Rosetta helps people learn almost any language from any mobile device or computer, at their own pace.

Matt came to Rosetta Stone after stints at Expedia, Atom Entertainment and RealNetworks. Where he worked for famous internet execs like Rob Glaser and Barry Diller.

In this episode we discuss Matt’s early interaction with computers (including his experiences with Telnet and Sun workstations!).  We discuss his path to becoming a public company CEO, and the difference in running turnarounds, startups and big brands.

We also discuss no less than the state of literary education in the US and how Lexia Learning helps kids learn to read.  Matt shares a few of his leadership lessons, and discusses how he keeps Rosetta stone out of the tricky politics of language into which people try to pull him.

www.rosettastone.com

www.somethingventured.us

Direct download: 128_Matt_Hulett_Rosetta_Stone_President.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56pm EST

Paul-Henri Ferrand is the Chief Operating Officer of Brex. Brex, the corporate card that accelerates entrepreneurs and scaling businesses, is founded by Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi, two engineers who previously founded Pagar.me, a Brazil payment processing company. Brex has raised $315M in equity and $510M in debt, and is backed by the co-founders of PayPal (Max Levchin and Peter Thiel), Y Combinator, Ribbit Capital, Greenoaks Capital, DST Global, IVP, and Carl Pascarella (former CEO of Visa).

Before becoming COO of Brex, Paul-Henri was President, Global Customer Operations for Google Cloud, and before that President of Dell US.

In this episode, Paul-Henri discusses why he moved from leading an enormous public company, to helping execute at a startup.  He contrasts the cultures of the various companies – Dell, Google and Brex,  and discusses what it means to “consumerize finance”.  We also discuss why immigrants (Paul-Henri is an immigrant to the US, as are with both founders of Brex) find the US so appealing, and appear to be behind some of the great Silicon Valley companies.  Finally, we discuss the importance of culture and leadership lessons learned at Dell, Google and now Brex.

Brex www.brex.com

Something Ventured www.somethingventured.us 

Direct download: 127_Paul-Henri_Ferrand.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:16pm EST

Brianne Kimmel is a newly minted venture capitalist.  She didn’t join a venture fund: She started her own. Her fund ⁠— Work Life Ventures ⁠— invests in new technologies and services for your work life.   

Work today has a whole new meaning: it's social w/ Slack, flexible w/ Zoom and approachable through low-code and no-code tools for anyone with an idea to build something.   Brianne's recent investments range from enterprise software (i.e. developer productivity tools) to creator tools that help anyone launch their own course, jewelry line or creative business. 

Brianne has been an angel investor on evenings and weekends, had a YC company, and scaled Zendesk from a single product to multi-product platform. 

She started her career building influencer programs for Nikon, then scaled into Head of Social Media at Expedia — in Sydney, Hong Kong and Silicon Valley. 

But Brianne’s path to Silicon Valley wasn’t obvious.  She started out in northeast Ohio, started attended Kent State while she was in high school and started her career in Australia.  

Not the typical path for a Silicon Valley Venture capitalist.  Nevertheless…here she is.

In this podcast we cover a range of topics and ideas. We discuss why she started her own firm, rather than joining an established VC.   We have some fun with the emergence of ‘celebrity angels”, and take a more serious look at the future of distributed workforces.

She also surprises me – as it always happens – with what it’s like to be a high profile woman in the tech industry.  She honestly shares what it’s like to get unwanted attention at, for example, conferences where, sometimes, security is called.  

Please enjoy this episode with...Brianne Kimmel.

Work Life Ventures

http://briannekimmel.com/work-life-venture-fund-i/

 

Something Ventured Podcast

www.somethingventured.us

 

Direct download: 126_Brianne_kimmel.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:04pm EST

Do you know why we download podcasts, but stream video?  This is the podcast that tells the story. Jeff Macpherson is founder of AR/VR training company Motive.io.  But before that – he created and acted in “Tiki Bar TV”. If you don’t know what that is, you can -- and should -- find it at TikiBarTV.com.  Tiki Bar TV was at the red-hot center of the early video wars – which were at one point a knife-fight between Apple and YouTube. “Tiki Bar TV” caught the eye of Steve Jobs, and ended up being featured in one of Jobs’ famous onstage product unveilings.

In this episode we talk about the arc of video on the Internet, what it’s like getting the call that Steve Jobs wants to include you in his presentation, and what it’s like to collaborate with Tosca Musk, Lala and Johnny Johnny.  We also discuss how web series have changed, and early BBS culture.

www.motive.io

www.somethingventured.us

@drtiki on Twitter

Direct download: 125_Scott_Mcpherson_Dr._Tiki.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:07pm EST

In honor of Keller's recent warmly received recent talk at Jackson Square ventures -- here she is again!

-----

Keller Fitzsimmons is the author of Lost in Startuplandia: Wayfinding for the Weary Entrepreneur.  She gives lie to the idea that entrepreneurship is a thrilling, lucrative adventure.  All is great, of course, until things go horribly wrong. “As crisis after crisis hits, even the most seasoned founder can get disoriented. Whether you're in the throes of business woes or just getting into the game, E. Keller Fitzsimmons has written a field guide outlining the terrain to help you avoid getting Lost in Startuplandia.”

Keller is a serial tech entrepreneur, artist, and mother of two. She is the cofounder of Custom Reality Services, a virtual reality production company whose first two projects, Across the Line (2016) and Ashe '68 (2019), premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Keller is the recipient of the Silvertip PwC Entrepreneurship Award and Speech Technology's Luminary Award.

Her work has been published by Network Computing, InformationWeek, and Inc. An active angel investor, she serves on the technology committee for BELLE USA, a venture fund that invests in women-led startups. Originally trained as a classical archaeologist, Keller holds a master's degree from Harvard University.

In this podcast Keller discusses a wide range of topics, including losing her ability to read (before becoming a best selling author).  She discusses the surprising prevalance of anxiety, depression and suicide in Silicon Valley.

Lost in Startuplandia
https://www.lostinstartuplandia.com

Direct download: 109_E._Keller_Fitzsimmons.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:01pm EST

Marco Zappacosta is a co-Founder & CEO of Thumbtack, a startup that lets people find local professionals for “pretty much anything”.  Thumbtack has raised over $400 million and is valued at well over $1 billion.  Investors include Sequoia Capital, Cyan Banister, Jason Calcanis and brothers Ali and Hadi Partovi.  Marco has been recognized by Forbes as top “30 under 30” entrepreneur, and Thumbtack is recognized as one of Fortune's "Great Place to Work".
 
In this episode, Marco discusses how he built Thumbtack, and what it’s like to transition from overseeing a small team, to hundreds of people.  He talks about how Thumbtack is succeeding where others failed – getting liquidity in local services
 
We also discuss how Thumbtack enables local ‘entrepreneurs’ to build their business on its platform, and find a market for their traditional or unique service.  Finally we cover what structural changes are needed in the US economy to enable ‘gig’ workers, and why he’s been interested in the state of Social Security since college.
 
 
Direct download: 123_Marcos_Zappacosta.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35pm EST

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