Fri, 15 September 2023
What are the odds that 4 friends can start a VC firm, and still be firing on all cylinders years later? Hadley Harris, one of Eniac Ventures’ 4 co-founders has the answer.
Before co-founding Eniac, Hadley was as a developer and engineering team lead at Pegasystems, and later took on roles as a product manager at Microsoft and strategist at Samsung.
His time at Microsoft and Samsung taught Hadley one thing: Big companies were not for him.
So, Hadley joined a couple of talented AI founders out of MIT at Vlingo where he ran a several aspects of the business across product, strategy, and marketing until it was sold to Nuance for $225M. He rolled his experience building a successful startup into Thumb, where as CBO he helped the real-time recommendation app reach user engagement levels second only to Facebook before being acquired.
In this episode we discuss how he co-founded and built Eniac, and what he is seeing when it comes to the recently hot trend of investing in Artificial intelligence. Last, but not least, we discuss how to pronounce “Eniac”.
Direct download: Hadley_Harris_Edited_to_Upload__-_91523_2.30_PM.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:35pm EDT
Wed, 6 September 2023
Samir Kaji: Building Allocate; The State of the Venture Market; Banking Meltdown (SVB/FRB) Post-mortem
Samir Kaji is the founder behind Allocate, a pioneering platform in the venture capital space. Samir has established himself as a key connector between venture capital firms and the “LPs” (Limited Partners) who invest in them. He is building Allocate to leverage his experience into a platform.
After observing inefficiencies in the venture capital market – between venture firms and the LPs that fund them – he was inspired to create Allocate. Allocate is described as “a game-changing solution that empowers venture capital firms to streamline allocation processes, optimize portfolios, and make data-driven decisions.”
Samir's position in the industry gives him a unique perspective. In this episode he parses what he sees from his vantage point, as the VC market undergoes upheaval at the same time one of the most exciting technologies (“AI”) in 20 years emerges.
He also gives us a post-mortem on the turmoil that rocked SVB and First Republic Bank. Here he brings unique insight, given his years spent in venture banking working at SVB and First Republic Bank where he closely worked with and advised over 700 venture capital and private equity firms. .
Join us in exploring Samir Kaji's journey and the transformative impact he hopes to have with Allocate on the world of venture capital.
Mon, 21 August 2023
Darian Shirazi, General Partner at Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI Fund): Unleashing AI's Investment Potential
Darian Shirazi is a general partner at Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI fund. Gradient Ventures invests in companies that are “developing AI technologies that have the potential to make a significant impact on the world”.
Darian is a serial entrepreneur and investor. He co-founded and served as CEO of Radius, a leading customer data platform, for over 7 years. Under his leadership, the company grew to over 100 employees, raised over $100 million in venture capital, and served dozens of Fortune 500 customers.
Darian is also an early investor in many successful companies, including Lyft, Udemy, Carbon Health, and Palantir. At Gradient, he has invested in Seed and Series A rounds in prominent companies such as Mural, SecureFrame, Chili Piper, Writer, Stairwell, Gigs, FlutterFlow, and Oura.
He started his career working at Facebook as a Software Engineer reporting to Mark Zuckerberg.
In this episode we discuss his path to becoming an investor in Gradient. We also dive into the topic of the moment: Investing in artificial intelligence (“AI”). A lot of people believe AI is a more significant technology evolution than the internet. Many people believe AI is just a lot of hype. Some believe AI is a threat to our existence.
We unpack what Darian sees from his unique vantage point at Gradient about how to think about and invest in companies driven by AI. We discuss what is real, what is probably hype, and what you should be most excited about.
Direct download: Darian_Shirazi_edited_to_upload_-_81823_10.50_AM.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:26pm EDT
Mon, 24 July 2023
Anthony Soohoo is a Venture Advisor at AI Fund. It is a role he took on after building a company (Dot & Bo) that was acquired. He went from buidling his own company to becoming a leader at -- Walmart. .
In fact, Anthony became the head of Wal-Mart’s Home Division. It’s the largest US retailer for home goods, and one of six business units at Wal-Mart. Anthony discusses what it’s like going from a startup to operating at the scale of, essentially, a Fortune 500 CEO.
Anthony also begins the “AI Series” – where we start discussing what is happening as AI technology begins to emerge. Anthony advises “AI Fund”, a venture studio that works with entrepreneurs to bring their AI companies to market.
A note on the “AI Series”: A lot of people have expressed interest in the emergence of AI as a technological force driving the next wave of innovation. Many believe it is significant as the emergence of the Internet or mobile phones. So I’m beginning a series within Something Ventured where I talk to people who are experts in the field, and can bring insight as to what is happening, what to understand and what to look forward to as AI starts to…eat the world.
AI Fund https://www.aifund.ai/
Something Ventured https://somethingventured.us/
Direct download: anthony_soohoo__EDITED_to_upload_-_72423_3.42_PM.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:43pm EDT
Wed, 7 June 2023
Nnamdi Okike on Building 645 Ventures, Bias in Fundraising, and Being a Boston Sports Fan in New York
Nnamdi Okike is rapidly becoming a prominent figure in the venture capital industry. He is the co-founder of 645 Ventures, along with his partner Aaron Holiday. Recently, 645 Ventures successfully raised its fourth fund, of about $350 million.
Nnamdi's background includes an education at Harvard, membership on the prestigious NVCA board (with former Something Ventured Guest Charles Hudson serving as the chair), and time at Insight Partners.
We discuss Nnamdi's path to finding a partner and establishing 645 Ventures. He shares why he left Insight to start his own fund, how he determined Aaron was the right partner, and the challenges they faced while raising funds from Limited Partners ("LPs").
Nnamdi also discusses how he applied his experience at Insight to 645 Ventures, their decision-making process for investments, and his perspective on the current state of the venture market.
We conclude with a moment on how he manages to be a Boston sports fan living and working in…New York.
Something Ventured: https://somethingventured.us/
645 Ventures: https://645ventures.com/
Thu, 5 January 2023
David Z. Morris is part of the Coindesk reporting team that was critical in bringing to light the (apparently) massive fraud at FTX, the now bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange. FTX Trading Ltd., commonly known as FTX, abruptly collapsed in 2022, after having grown to become the world’s third largest crypto exchange with over a million users.
While still unfolding, the FTX story so far has more layers, complexities and characters than a spy novel. David provides a thoughtful, nuanced explanation of what is known so far.
We discuss what happened at FTX, how the events unfolded, and what Bankman-Fried’s role was in the multi-billion dollar collapse.
David Z. Morris is CoinDesk's Chief Insights Columnist. He has written about crypto since 2013 for outlets including Fortune, Slate, and Aeon. He is the author of "Bitcoin is Magic," an introduction to Bitcoin's social dynamics. He is a former academic sociologist of technology with a PhD in Media Studies from the University of Iowa. He holds Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, and small amounts of other crypto assets.
David Z. Morris https://www.coindesk.com/author/david-z-morris/
Something Ventured Podcast. https://somethingventured.us/