Apr 5, 2020
Social Distancing With Friends: Alex Farr
Play • 22 min

Alex Farr, CEO of voice app platform Zammo, had a pandemic preparedness plan in place long before COVID-19 hit as inspired by the prescient words of his mentor, former Intel CEO Andy Grove: “Only the paranoid survive.” Paranoia is like blue jeans, Alex says. It never goes out of style.

North Star Podcast
North Star Podcast
David Perell
Tiago Forte and Will Mannon: Building Cohort-Based Courses
I have two guests today: Tiago Forte and Will Mannon. Tiago is my business partner and the creator of an online course called Building a Second Brain. The two of us record a podcast like this every year to reflect on what we’ve learned about the online education industry. And this time, we invited our Director of Student Experience: Will Mannon. Will oversees all aspects of the student experience with the exception of curriculum design. He’s at the frontier of thinking about live online learning, from how assignments should be delivered to how live sessions should be structured. ____________________________ Show Notes 3:21 - Why hiring your first employee is one of the most important steps you'll take in your business. 5:38 - How sharing a workforce and resources with another business or entrepreneur can help fast-track personal and professional growth. 11:00 - How running an online course is like organizing a music tour. 13:30 - The role of the alumni mentors in Tiago's courses, and how they have changed from his first to his most recent cohort. 17:16 - What different mentors can bring to the table and why the differences between them all brings strength to the program. 21:03 - Why giving as many people as possible the ability to lead allows much more effective learning for everyone. 25:04 - The nature of burnout and why creatives are so prone to experiencing it. 31:04 - Discovering the right size for a cohort and how to scale effectively. 37:13 - How to help students find each other and make meaningful and lifelong connections with each other. 40:28 - The "beer mode" and "coffee mode" of productivity. 44:32 - How to increase your focus by never giving yourself enough time. 51:02 - Why David and Will organize Write of Passage to have attendees "come for the ideas and stay for the people". 56:23 - Why running a course should be about empowering leadership in students, not in building dependence on the teacher. 1:02:33 - Why the element of shock is so fundamental to deep learning. 1:06:43 - How friendship can come so readily out of hardship and pain. 1:11:33 - The unusual growth of David and Tiago's online brand this year and what sparked it. 1:14:45 - Why writing a book summary for Tiago is so integral in internalizing the information and the message contained within it. 1:24:22 - What hands-on education and perseverance in the face of extreme difficulty can teach us that traditional education never can. 1:32:30 - What we can learn about education from businesses and markets outside of the educational sphere. 1:36:33 - Why success in a new business should not be focusing on competition, but on radical differentiation. 1:39:23 - The importance of finding your community online and curating it to inspire and inform you.
1 hr 45 min
Wharton FinTech Podcast
Wharton FinTech Podcast
Wharton Fintech Podcast
Jackie Reses - Leadership Lessons, Fintech Innovation, & Helping Small Businesses
Miguel Armaza sits down with Jackie Reses, former Head of Square Capital, current Chairman of the Economic Development Council of the Federal Reserve of San Francisco, board member of Affirm and Wish (Context Logic), and all-around business and fintech leader. Some of her past roles also include Chief Development Officer at Yahoo and Board member of Alibaba. She’s also a proud alum of our very own Wharton School. We talked about - Jackie’s upbringing and professional background - Why she describes Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania as a place that saved her life - The meaningful lessons she learned while working at Goldman Sachs, Apex Partners, and Yahoo - Key reflections from her experience as an Alibaba board-member and what we can all learn from Chinese entrepreneurs - What drove her decision to join Square and why she fell in love with its culture - The incredibly impactful experience of the Square Capital team navigating COVID and the complex dynamics of launching a PPP product in record-time - Her outlook of the road ahead and what’s next for Jackie - And a whole lot more! Jackie Reses Ms. Reses is the CEO of Post House Capital and Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She previously led Square Capital, part of Square Inc., where she built the business and transformed the ability of small businesses in the US to access credit. She was also the Executive Chairman of Square Financial Services, an approved FDIC-insured bank owned by Square Inc. and the first industrial bank in the US started by a technology company. Prior to Square, Jackie was the Chief Development Officer for Yahoo and the head of the US media group at Apax Partners, one of the largest global private equity firms. Jackie also spent seven years at Goldman Sachs in mergers and acquisitions and the principal investment area. Jackie is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and serves on the Advisory Board of Wharton's Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance, its fintech center, which is chaired by Mr. Stevens. Jackie also serves on the boards of Affirm and Wish (Context Logic). Jackie received a bachelor's degree in economics with honors from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
39 min
Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders
Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders
Bilal Zaidi
Mikael Cho, Unsplash // Taking On Giants, Life Design + Focused Experimentation
Mikael Cho is the co-founder and CEO of Unsplash. The world's leading image asset platform that boasts 100 million image downloads & 20 billion views per month. Unsplash is used more than Flickr, Getty, and Shutterstock combined. Let us know what you think on Twitter: @bzaidi and @mikaelcho Watch the full convo on YouTube: In this conversation, you'll learn: * how Mikael built Unsplash from a series of failed experiments * balancing focus with experimentation * how to create a growth flywheel * why good ideas are still undervalued * how to create a "superpower org chart" & find undiscovered talent * how to get a large scale advertising business off the ground TIMESTAMPS: * 00:00:00 Intro * 00:02:32 What is Unsplash? * 00:06:17 Scale * 00:09:24 Failed Experiments + A Side Project * 00:10:15 Starting Crew * 00:13:46 When Side, Becomes Main * 00:17:20 Selling Crew to Andrew Wilkinson (Dribbble) * 00:18:42 Balancing Experimentation + Focus * 00:21:03 Competing With Adobe + Shutterstock * 00:22:55 Creator Economy's Middle Class * 00:25:37 Develop A New Advertising Model * 00:28:29 Unsplash = Internet Real Estate Company * 00:31:51 Simplifying Product * 00:34:52 Aligning Your Team * 00:37:09 Product Design Changes That Surprised Mikael * 00:39:39 "Wow" Moments * 00:41:46 Unsplash Growth Flywheel * 00:43:56 API + Partnerships * 00:45:01 Future of Unsplash * 00:46:18 Mikael's Business Philosophy * 00:48:29 Validate With No Code * 00:49:41 Ideas vs Execution * 00:53:27 Knowing When to Stop A Project * 00:56:18 Recruiting Key Employees * 01:00:24 Finding Undiscovered Talent * 01:02:32 Superpower Org Chart * 01:07:04 Life Design Philosophy * 01:11:23 Incorporating Physical Health into Company Culture * 01:15:43 "Inbox Zero is a Waste of Time" * 01:19:11 "Text Edit is One of the Greatest Apps Ever Made" * 01:21:25 Writing Like You're Texting A Friend * 01:24:52 Proactive Actions * 01:31:33 Wrap-Up
1 hr 33 min
The Twenty Minute VC: Venture Capital | Startup Funding | The Pitch
The Twenty Minute VC: Venture Capital | Startup Funding | The Pitch
Harry Stebbings
20VC: The Memo: Sequoia's Alfred Lin on Why Chasing GMV Leads To Bad Behaviours, How To Approach Competition and Capital Efficiency & The Core Importance of Understanding the Difference Between Input and Output Metrics
Alfred Lin is a Partner @ Sequoia Capital, one of the world's most renowned and successful venture firms with a portfolio including the likes of Google, Airbnb, Whatsapp, Stripe, Zoom, Doordash and many more. As for Alfred, he has led deals in the likes of Airbnb, Doordash, Instacart, Reddit and Houzz to name a few. Prior to the world of venture, Alfred was Chairman and COO @ Zappos for 6 years leading to their acquisition by Amazon. In Today’s Episode You Will Learn: 1.) How Alfred made his way into the world of venture and came to be a Partner @ Sequoia? How Alfred first met DoorDash? Where did the meeting take place? Who was there? What were the first impressions? 2.) Market: How did Alfred breakdown the food delivery market when doing the diligence for the investment? How did Alfred forsee the market changing over time? What were some unexpected elements of the market Alfred did not forsee? What does Alfred look for in markets; size or growth? 3.) Competition: How did Alfred analyse the competitive landscape for food delivery at the time? Why does Alfred believe that great companies are not built by focusing on the competition? What does Alfred mean when he says, "you have to be customer-obsessed and competitor aware"? 4.) Traction: Does Alfred agree with Sarah Tavel in the dangers of chasing topline GMV? What negative behaviours can chasing GMV trigger? What does Alfred mean when he says, "founders have to be able to distinguish between input and output metrics"? 5.) Acquisition: What does Alfred believe DoorDash did so well in terms of acquiring drivers more efficiently? How did they retain them so effectively? What allowed DoorDash to compete so effectively when it came to merchant acquisition? What were some of Alfred's biggest takeaways when it came to DoorDash's customer acquisition journey? 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.
41 min
16 Minutes News by a16z
16 Minutes News by a16z
Andreessen Horowitz
Dall-E + Direct Listings
We've got segments on artificial intelligence and IPO innovation in today's episode of 16 Minutes, where we take a look at the news and what it means for the long arc of innovation. In the first segment (0:00): Take the surrealistic images of Salvador Dali and cross them with Pixar's animated film Wall-E and you've got ... Dall-E! It's a new neural network that creates images based on text inputs, and the worlds of A.I. and machine learning recently got their first glimpse. Last summer, research lab OpenAI released an API for the machine learning model GPT-3, which caused a stir with the way it could produce text that was hard to distinguish from human writing (16 Minutes showrunner Sonal Choksi and a16z Operating Partner Frank Chen discussed it in a recent 16 Minutes Podcast, "GPT-3: Beyond the Hype," breaking down what it does and doesn't mean for startups, incumbents, and the idea of "AI as a service"). Now OpenAI has unveiled Dall-E, which processes language to create new images (not new text, as GPT-3 does). Dall-E does this using a neural network called CLIP (Contrastive Language-Image Pre-training), which classifies a wide variety of images culled from the internet while "filling in the blanks" using zero-shot reasoning, enabling Dall-E to produce surprising images by inferring information it wasn't trained in. We called on Frank again to explain where Dall-E (and the broader topic of machine learning) sits on the path toward artificial general intelligence (AGI), how Dall-E's transformer-type architecture is able to infer information, what its limitations might be, and what uses we might see as this technology develops. - with Zoran Basich In the second segment (12:58), we had a quick chat with a16z Operating Partner Scott Kupor about the recent decision by the SEC to allow the issuance of new shares via direct listings on the New York Stock Exchange. Previously direct listings were limited to the sale of existing shares. Recent first-day IPO "pops" have sparked much discussion about the fairness or unfairness of the process and whether the current path we have for companies going public is broken or just needs some tinkering around the edges. Scott breaks down how the new rule will affect companies, as well as institutional and retail investors, and what this means in the long arc of IPO innovation. - with Zoran Basich
21 min
Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal
We had to do it. After 12 years and 3,000,000x appreciation, we kick off Season 8 with the best investment of all-time and our biggest episode ever: Bitcoin. From the first bitcoin transaction of 10k for two Papa John's pizzas (worth about $350m today!!) to $40k+ BTC and maybe the moon beyond, we cover the whole crazy, improbable journey of how a single 8-page PDF document changed the world of money — and perhaps the world itself — forever. 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: 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: * Thank you as well to Vouch and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: * * The Bitcoin Playbook: (also available on our website at ) 1. Technological paradigm shifts are ideal opportunities for attacking incumbents. * The traditional finance system worked fantastically well for 500 years, but it wasn't built for the internet. The fact that sharing your bank account or credit card number is required in order to transact, but there's no really robust way to protect against fraud when doing so, provided the perfect seam for a new entrant. Bitcoin and its creators saw this shortcoming and created a new form of money that worked like email. 2. In the early days of a network-effect system, usage matters more than use-cases. * Because the value of a network grows as a function of Metcalfe's Law (value = # of engaged participants squared), in the early days simply growing the number of engaged participants matters more than the specifics of what those participants are actually doing. As the network's value grows, it will become attractive to successively more groups of users and use cases. * Bitcoin started as the domain of researchers and fringe libertarians, then illicit transactions (Silk Road), then speculation (the ICO boom) before finally reaching adoption by the mainstream investment community. Each wave built enough monetary value in the network to make it attractive to the next set of users. Similarly Facebook went from sharing photos of attractive undergrads to how billions communicate, and Airbnb went from ratty airbeds to ~10x larger than any hotel chain, all within a few short years. 3. Distributing network value out to its participants creates large incentives for adoption. * Rewarding miners with bitcoin itself created a huge incentive for participants to join and stay in the Bitcoin network. Although this dynamic got a bad rap during the ICO bubble when it was overused and overpromised by grifters and scammers, it remains a powerful strategy and will likely be used more going forward. * Perhaps most excitingly, this incentive unlocks massive new potential for open-source software development: people who work on open-source software (or provide other functions) can now receive direct value for their contributions, without being employed in any traditional sense. 4. Just HODL, baby. (aka let your winners run) * You can get rich quickly by getting in early on a winning investment. But you can only get really rich by holding a compounding asset for an extended period of time. Sequoia learned this lesson painfully with its Apple investment in the 1970's: selling its entire position for just a ~$6m profit within a few years. Similarly, anyone who bought 1,000 bitcoin for $10 a piece in 2012 could have sold them for $1m four years later in 2016. But four years on from that, they're now worth $35 million. If you continue to believe Bitcoin has a bright longterm future (which, to be fair, you may not!), what could they be worth in 2024? 5. We're only just realizing the implications of digital scarcity. * For its entire existence before Bitcoin, computing and the internet was all about turning scarcity into abundance. (via infinitely replicable + easily distributable software and other digital goods) For the first time in history, Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain have introduced the opposite: scarce, non-replicable digital assets. Native digital currency (Bitcoin) and smart contracts (Ethereum) are the first big outcomes of this advancement, but there may be many more seismic shifts to come. Links: * Satoshi's Whitepaper: * Matt Huang's "Bitcoin for the Open-Minded Skeptic": * Nellie Bowles's "Everyone Is Getting Hilariously Rich and You’re Not": * Square’s $50m investment in BTC: Episode Sources: * Full list of episode sources available here:
3 hr 12 min
In Depth
In Depth
First Round
Plaid & Dropbox’s Jean-Denis Grèze’s playbook for building an engineering culture of ownership
Today’s episode is with Jean-Denis Grèze, Head of Engineering at Plaid, which securely connects your bank to your apps. Before joining Plaid, Jean-Denis served as Director of Engineering at Dropbox, and even had a stint in law school and one year as a lawyer under his belt before diving deep into the world of CS. While he says becoming a lawyer was a “four-year detour he probably didn’t need,” there’s a lot to be said for how it’s shaped his engineering career and management philosophy. As he puts it, he strongly favors pragmatism over perfection, and it’s something he hammers home within his engineering teams. In today’s conversation, Jean-Denis pulls on threads from across his career to weave together a modern playbook for engineering leadership — and the hard-won lessons that stick with him. He also shares his insights on why his engineering org doesn’t have titles, the one question he asks every engineering manager candidate, and how his team prioritizes technical debt and keeping the lights on versus sexy, brand-new projects. Today’s conversation is a must-listen for technical leaders or those who are eyeing the engineering leadership track. From motivating a team to tracking the right KPIs, Jean-Denis has got tons of great tactics and stories from his time at Plaid and Dropbox for you to learn from. You can email us questions directly at or follow us on Twitter and
57 min
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