20VC: Databricks CEO, Ali Ghodsi on The 3 Phases of Startup Growth, How to Evaluate Risk and Downside Scenario Planning & Who, What and When To Hire When Scaling Your Go-To-Market
Play • 42 min

Ali Ghodsi is the Founder & CEO @ Databricks, bringing together data engineering, science and analytics on an open, unified platform so data teams can collaborate and innovate faster. To date, Ali has raised over $897M for the company including from the likes of a16z, NEA, Microsoft, Battery, Coatue, Greenbay and more. Prior to Databricks, Ali was one of the original creators of open source project, Apache Spark, and ideas from his research have been applied to Apache Mesos and Apache Hadoop.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Ali made his way from fleeing Iran as a refugee to living in a Swedish ghetto? What was the founding moment for Ali with Databricks?

2.) How does Ali think about and evaluate risk today? Why does Ali always make his team do downside scenario planning? How does Ali think about his relationship to money today? Why does Ali disagree with gut decisions? What is his process for making decisions effectively?

3.) Stage 1: The Search for PMF: What are the core elements included in this phase? What types of leaders thrive in this phase? What type struggle? How can leaders sustain morale in the early days when it is not up and to the right? Who are the crucial hires in this phase?

4.) Stage 2: Scale Go-To-Market: What are the core roles needed to expand GTM fast and effectively? Why should you hire sales leaders before marketing leaders? Why is hiring finance leaders so crucial here? What mistakes are most often made here? How do the board resolve them?

5.) Stage 3: Process and Efficiency: What are the first and most important processes that need to be implemented? How does Ali need to change the type of leader he is to fit this stage? How does one retain creativity and nimble decision-making at scale and with process?

Item’s Mentioned In Today’s Episode

Ali’s Favourite Book: Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why it Matters

As always you can follow Harry and The Twenty Minute VC on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal
The New York Times Company
For the entire 20th Century, you’d be hard pressed to find a better business than an American newspaper — Warren Buffett famously described them as “franchises” — and no American newspaper stood taller than the New York Times. Controlled by a single family bound by a legal oath “to maintain the editorial independence and integrity of The New York Times and to continue it as an independent newspaper, entirely fearless, free of ulterior influence and unselfishly devoted to the public welfare”, the Times served as the paper of record for generations of Americans and people around the world. But no good thing lasts forever, and the dawn of the 21st Century saw both the Times and this once-mighty industry devastated by the dual disruptive forces of the internet and the 2008 financial crisis. And yet by 2021, The Times, essentially alone of its former peers, has reemerged from the American newspaper wreckage and transformed itself into a thriving digital business with an order of magnitude more subscribers than its print heyday. Curious how it all happened? We dive into 170 years of history to find out! If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/ Sponsors: * Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 8. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" — if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://bit.ly/acquiredtiny * Thank you as well to Vouch and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: * https://bit.ly/acquired-vouch * http://bit.ly/acquiredcapchase The New York Times Company Playbook: (also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/the-new-york-times-company ) 1. When you find yourself sitting in front of a big approaching demand wave... ride it!! * The New York (Daily) Times was founded during the newspaper boom of the 1850s, and similarly Adolph Ochs took over the local Chattanooga paper at the start of that city’s mining boom. * The NYT made huge investments in its reporting during the two World Wars as the public’s appetite for news exploded, while its rivals missed the ball worrying over preserving advertising space. Likewise NYT launched The Daily (which would become the biggest podcast in the world) immediately following Trump’s inauguration in early 2017. * Arguably NYT’s biggest business mistake was missing the cable wave -- which Rupert Murdoch leveraged brilliantly to build Fox News into the most valuable news media franchise in the world. 2. Where there’s an entrepreneurial will, there’s an entrepreneurial way. * Adolph Ochs bought the Chattanooga Times with $250 and sellers’ notes, and then acquired The New York Times out of bankruptcy with no personal money down and $100k of real estate debt. And turned them both into successes on a level no one (even himself at times) believed possible. 3. Recurring Acquired theme: the media business is still the second-best business of all time, behind technology. * Media’s ability to generate dual revenue streams (advertising and subscription) from the same content product generates enormous leverage on investment, AND most of those costs are fixed vs. variable (especially in a digital environment). 4. This is why “content is king” has always been true in the media industry. * NYT’s version of this strategy has always been to invest more in high-quality journalism than any of its peers. It was true in 1896 when Ochs took over, true during the World Wars and the Pentagon Papers, and perhaps has never been more true than today when NYT employs 1,700 journalists around the world and pays them an average of >2x the rest of the industry. 5. That said, distribution is critical as well. To build a world-class media organization you must be great at both content AND distribution. * In the old media landscape, NYT built great distribution through its printing and delivery operations, as well as savvy investments like the Index which led to libraries and researchers across the country relying on the Times as the “paper of record”. * However in today’s media landscape, the task of building great distribution falls on the newsroom and journalists themselves. The job is no longer finished once you hit publish -- reporters and editors must own the responsibility of getting their work in front of readers via social media and shareable story elements. Links: * The 2014 NYT Innovation Report: https://archive.org/details/pdfy-59s-4-I2qSvG6MnA/mode/2up * Mine Safety Disclosures’ NYT presentation: https://minesafetydisclosures.com/blog/newyorktimes Carve Outs: Ben: * Titan by Ron Chernow: https://www.amazon.com/Titan-Life-John-Rockefeller-Sr-ebook/dp/B000XUDGHG * Iteratively: https://iterative.ly David: * Sabaa Tahir’s Ember in the Ashes series: https://www.amazon.com/Ember-Ashes-3-Book/dp/B074VDZB17 Episode Sources: * http://www.internethistorypodcast.com/2015/10/martin-nisenholtz-on-bringing-the-new-york-times-online/ * https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/99/09/19/daily/092299tifft-book-review.html?module=inline * https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0312.html * https://archive.org/details/pdfy-59s-4-I2qSvG6MnA/mode/2up * https://archives.cjr.org/cover_story/sulzberger_at_the_barricades.php * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolph_Ochs * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Hays_Sulzberger * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fort_Sumter * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Ellsberg * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dotdash * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_D._Morgan * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Jones_(publisher) * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Jarvis_Raymond * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iphigene_Ochs_Sulzberger * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_The_New_York_Times_Company#Television_stations * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_The_New_York_Times_employees * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Nisenholtz * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times_Building * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times_Company * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism * https://fintel.io/so/us/nyt * https://media.foxcorporation.com/wp-content/uploads/prod/2019/09/18223214/Fox-Annual-Report-2019_Mid.pdf * https://minesafetydisclosures.com/blog/newyorktimes * https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2015/08/new-york-times-heirs.html * https://nymag.com/news/features/40647/index4.html * https://nymag.com/news/media/51015/ * https://nytco-assets.nytimes.com/2021/02/Press-Release-12.27.2020-Final-for-posting.pdf * https://stratechery.com/2020/an-interview-with-buzzfeed-ceo-jonah-peretti/?utm_source=Memberful&utm_campaign=f14650dd37-daily_update_2020_11_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d4c7fece27-f14650dd37-110888309 * https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0058Z4NOQ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 * https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316836311/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 * https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=86354f1b322a4ec2a548e58ac3e83d49 * https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2012/05/11/new-york-times-sells-its-remaining-stake-boston-red-sox/ey4kwU4m6Xn2PYfcblrMcL/story.html * https://www.enwoven.com/collections/view/1277/timeline * https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcript…
3 hr 5 min
The Full Ratchet: VC | Venture Capital | Angel Investors | Startup Investing | Fundraising | Crowdfunding | Pitch | Private Equity | Business Loans
The Full Ratchet: VC | Venture Capital | Angel Investors | Startup Investing | Fundraising | Crowdfunding | Pitch | Private Equity | Business Loans
Nick Moran
271. LP Turned VC, Mistakes When Pitching to Allocators, and Managing Limited Partner Relationships (Marcelino Pantoja)
Marcelino Pantoja of Tribe Capital joins Nick to discuss LP Turned VC, Mistakes When Pitching to Allocators, and Managing Limited Partner Relationships. In this episode, we cover: * Walk us through your background and path to VC * Refresh on the thesis at Tribe? * Talk to us about the mindset of the allocator — what are their key objectives and what do they care about? * What are the biggest mistakes you see emerging managers making when pitching LPs? * Let's say an aspiring VC has a few years until they will raise from institutions... what should they be focusing on in order to create a really compelling offering in the medium term? * Let's say an emerging GP is raising from institutions imminently... what advice would you have for them? * Do you think it's significantly easier for an institution to make an investment in some coming from a large successful Tier 1 fund, spinoff, vs. a successful operator or angel? * What are the key challenge areas that the LP is really going to scrutinize on the spin-off and what are the areas under scrutiny for the operator? * Sometimes it's hard to get information on LPs from a distance... do you have any advice for fund managers that are trying to pre-qualify? * What is the difference between a good LP and one that may be a problem... how does a GP determine that early enough to avoid bringing on the wrong types of LPs? * In what ways is your job similar and different moving from LP to VC? * How do you compete against other firms for deals? I understand the value-add but the value has become competitive with a larger number of firms... how can you continue to win and do so at a price that makes sense for the return potential?
1 hr 6 min
Invest Like the Best
Invest Like the Best
Patrick O'Shaughnessy
Jack Clark - Grateful for Everything, Entitled to Nothing – [Invest Like the Best, EP. 215]
My guest today is Jack Clark, head coach of the University of California Varsity Rugby team. Jack has one of the highest winning percentages not only at the collegiate level but in sports history, winning an incredible 90% of games since his start as a coach in 1984. That includes a 98 game winning streak from 1990 to 1996 and a 115 game winning streak from 2004 to 2009. In our conversation, we dive into how Jack builds high-performing teams, the shared vocabulary he creates across his organization, and his work with companies applying what he's learned on the field to operating businesses. Please enjoy this conversation with Jack Clark. For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here. ----- This episode is brought to you by Tegus. Tegus has built the most extensive primary information platform available for investors. With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 10,000 calls on Affirm, Teladoc, Roblox, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. Visit tegus.co/patrick to learn more. ------ This episode is brought to you by MIT Investment Management Company. MITIMCO is the endowment office of MIT. New and small investment funds listen up. MITIMCO is looking to find investors starting funds today. MITIMCO is partnership-driven, long-term focused, and has an extensive history of backing investors early in their careers. These partners are key in delivering the outstanding investment returns required to support MIT's pursuit of world-class education, cutting-edge research, and groundbreaking innovation. MITIMCO is focused on finding and partnering with the best investors across the globe, no matter the market environment. No firm is too small, too young, or too non-institutional. If you or someone you know is currently in the process of starting a fund or recently launched, please email partner@mitimco.org or discover more on their website at mitimco.org/partner. ------ Invest Like the Best is a property of Colossus Inc. For more episodes of Invest Like the Best, visit joincolossus.com/episodes. Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @patrick_oshag | @JoinColossus Show Notes [00:03:44] - [First question] - Overview of his playing and coaching career [00:06:02] - The importance of creating a set of values for a team [00:07:53] - Why selflessness is such an important trait he looks for in teams [00:09:20] - Examples of selflessness in the teams [00:10:06] - The Winner Within: A Life Plan for Team Players [00:10:24] - Lessons on gratitude and entitlement [00:11:34] - Being a meritocracy on the team [00:12:55] - Rewarding merit as a coach [00:14:18] - Improving a team today, the power of the basics and fundamentals [00:15:29] - Defining toughness for players and teams [00:17:29] - Mark Bingham, the epitome of toughness [00:18:33] - Why he created and how he uses a glossary [00:22:09] - Creating a high rate of conversion in recruiting [00:25:01] - What qualities did the teams that beat him share [00:27:22] - Take on pride and something he is exceedingly proud of [00:29:17] - Translating the concepts from the court into the business world [00:32:20] - Where companies have room to improve [00:33:16] - Changing a company culture [00:34:21] - Coaches he has learned from [00:36:00] - The power of non-cognitive grit [00:38:45] - Advice for companies creating a value set [00:40:40] - Kindest thing anyone has done for him
42 min
Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders
Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders
Bilal Zaidi
Ana Fabrega, Synthesis // The Future Of Education & Using Games To Educate Kids
Ana Lorena Fabrega is an EDUpreneur and former teacher known by little ones as Ms. Fab. She's currently the Chief Evangelist of Synthesis School, an innovative online enrichment club started by the director of Elon Musk’s experimental school at Space X. Synthesis helps students build decision-making & problem-solving skills through games. Let us know what you think on Twitter: @bzaidi & @anafabrega11 Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Fo_CM01BNTQ After listening to this conversation, you'll understand: * why the current education system needs an overhaul * the skills we should be developing in kids * unlearning & the future of education * the role of technology in learning * forest schools, micro-schools & alternatives for parents to consider * how games can be good for your kids * the lindy effect & ideas that will stick around in education * remote vs online education * recommended books for kids Ana's Fab Friday Newsletter: https://afabrega.com/ Book Recommendations: * Wonder by R.J. Palacio: https://amzn.to/3pNfneZ * The Man Who Walked Between The Towers by Mordicai Gerstein: https://amzn.to/3qSvnh3 * The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires: https://amzn.to/3pStkbu * Fantastically Great Woman who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst: https://amzn.to/3dG3nd3 * Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Keaty and David Roberts: https://amzn.to/3uuPZyk * What do you do with an idea? By Kobi Yamada: https://amzn.to/3qXaqSk * Zero and One by Kathryn Otoshi: https://amzn.to/3dKezoM * Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg: https://amzn.to/3bC898H
1 hr 34 min
My First Million
My First Million
The Hustle & Shaan Puri
#157 - Instagram Food Drops Making $200k a Week, Chrome Extensions That are Crushing It & Open Salaries
Sam Parr (@TheSamParr) and Shaan Puri (@ShaanVP): MFM #158 * Rewarding hustle: MFM is hiring two kids to do video production because they took the job without permission. They heard Sam complain about needing a recording studio and offered to do the work https://twitter.com/DylanJardon/status/1366274333858017282?s=20.  * This is how you get the job you want. Don’t send a resume. Do the work instead. Don’t ask for permission. Food topics * The food companies of Instagram: Companies mycookiedealer.com, 1-900-Ice-Cream, and Allie’s Banana Bread are crushing it on IG with food drops that sell out in seconds. * Why it’s big: These work because it’s at the intersection of many trends: cloud kitchens (no need for expensive restaurant infrastructure), DTC (no need to get costly distribution deals and shelf space) and have virality baked into them. * My Cookie Dealer is estimated to be doing $200k per weekly drop. This is a potential $10m business today. * Formula: Sam breaks down how these companies are going viral, and how you can copy. * Make a side ingredient the main thing (cheese, cookie dough) * Make it in an unusual color (rainbow bagel, rainbow kettle cork, green ketchup, cloud bread) * Make it huge (huge sundae, massive pizza cookie, sushi rito, massive kit kat) * Frankenfood: combine two different foods (cronut, pancake cereal, donut cereal, cream cheese, bell pepper, desert burger, ramen burger, spaghetti donuts, fairy bread) * Food allergy or remove stuff from it (vega ice cream, Banza) * Make junk food or simple food ultra-fancy (tater tots, mozzarella sticks) * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IFYt20QON8  * Opportunities: So what’re the opportunities here? The guys break it down. * #1: Rolling up these brands like IMGM did for meme pages or Thrasio is doing for ecom. A collection of profitable IG food businesses lowers costs (everything can be done in the same kitchen) and lowers risk (if one fad food falls out of favor, the business doesn’t die). * #2: Guy Fieri of IG. Food reviews are extremely popular when paired with the right personality. Guy Fieri is the Gen X version of this. Dave Portnoy is the pizza version of this. Who will be the millennial/Gen Z IG/TikTok star? * #3: Cold chain. Cold chain demand is skyrocketing with the increase of foods being shipped. Further, any company that can make the process of shipping these foods easier, will win. * #4: “Eat this, Not That” for 2021. Extremely popular book series from ~15 years ago. There are similar pages doing this on social media today, but no one has made a big business out of it yet. Tiller money * Spreadsheet plugins: The guys have talked Chrome plugins and browser extensions in the past, but an overlooked niche is spreadsheet plugins. * Plugins are great businesses because they are sticky and capitalize on an existing platform and user base. They can be light, simple tools that can gain huge adoption quickly.  * Tiller Money (https://www.tillerhq.com/): Personal finance nerd Sam loves the simplicity of this plugin. Most people already manage their money on a spreadsheet...   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
52 min
Evolving for the Next Billion by GGV Capital
Evolving for the Next Billion by GGV Capital
GGV Capital
Max Levchin of Affirm: Why I Built Affirm after PayPal
Today's episode was recorded back in 2019, way before Affirm became a 27 billion dollar public company, and the BNPL (that is buy now pay later) won over young consumers across the world. Before Affirm, Max was known as the co-founder of PayPal, where he designed the company's system to detect fraud. A "fintech nerd", as he called himself and serial entrepreneur, Max shared how Affirm was a product of his guiding principle in life, and how his wife was the voice of reason when defining what was fun for him. This episode is co-hosted by GGV managing partner Glenn Soloman and first appeared on Glenn's podcast Founder Real Talk. For the full transcript of the show, go to nextbn.ggvc.com Join our listeners' community, go to nextbn.ggvc.com/community Disclaimer: This content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities or assets are for illustrative purposes only; such references do not constitute any recommendation to either buy or sell such securities or assets and are not intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision, nor do they constitute an offer to provide investment advisory services. Any information provided by third parties in this content does not reflect the views of GGV Capital and its subsidiaries or affiliates. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investors or prospective investors, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon, when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by GGV Capital. Any investment or portfolio company mentioned, referred to, or described is not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by GGV Capital, and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results.
54 min
North Star Podcast
North Star Podcast
David Perell
Li Jin: Creating the Creator Economy
My guest today is Li Jin, the founder and managing partner at an early-stage venture capital firm called Atelier. She's known for her extensive writings about the Passion Economy. Her essays explore how people can make a living from their passions and creative skills. All of her writing is filtered through the lens of consumer startups and the technology industry. In this episode, we explore Li's perspective on the future of the creator economy. We talk about what it'll take to build a middle class for creators and how platforms should enable creator monetization. But then we venture beyond the world of work and discuss the novels of Jane Austen, what Li learned by growing up in Pittsburgh, and why she thinks social media and content creation are valuable pursuits. Please enjoy my conversation with Li Jin. Show Notes: 2:37 - How do content creators get users to migrate platforms and engage in unfamiliar apps? 5:44 - Why is some digital content more consumable than others? 13:07 - What is the driving force behind Li’s background in English literature? 17:34 - Why Jane Austen is so incredibly important to the world of modern creatives 21:56 - What has contributed to the alienation of gig workers in modern economy? 24:57 - Where does Li Jin’s technological optimism stem from? 28:32 - What is an “Angel Investor”, and how do they influence the modern world of content creation? 32:55 - What is the difference between an artist and a creator? 37:44 - How has the modern market created space for content creators? 42:19 - What causes creative burnout in the world of content creators? 50:01 - What are the implications of viral fame in the modern world of content creators? 57:46 - Which aspects of traditional and non-traditional education were most impactful on Li Jin? 1:08:55 - What are some things that both successful and aspiring content creators often misunderstand about the industry 1:14:20 - What are some of the parallels between the worlds of writing and investing? 1:18:08 - How Li Jin embodies the spirit of a malleable fate
1 hr 22 min
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