a16z Podcast
a16z Podcast
15 May 2020
Growth in Turbulent Times
Play • 36 mins

 In normal times, every company operates against some hypothetical growth model—a data-driven framework that describes how your product grows and how you acquire new users. These, of course, are not normal times. In the fallout from the pandemic, most founders and CEOs are in the process of completely revamping their growth models from the bottom up amid new and unpredictable consumer behavior. 

This episode explores how to think about growth in turbulent times, according to two growth experts: a16z general partner Andrew Chen, who previously led the growth team at Uber, and Brian Balfour, formerly the VP of Growth at HubSpot, now the founder and CEO of Reforge, a masterclass in growth strategies (in conversation with host Lauren Murrow).

The discussion spans four sections: first, how to reassess your existing growth model, particularly when, as Brian says, the data is "completely messed"; next, we drill down into strategy and tactics for surviving the current crisis and talk about how founders can pursue growth even in the midst of widespread uncertainty and cutbacks. Third, we look ahead to discuss scenario planning and how leaders can forge a path forward. Finally, we zoom out and assess the big picture: how various categories of company may be impacted long-term, how this crisis compares to 2008 (and what that means for early-stage founders), and the industries and business models that are now prime for growth. 

 

Bio Eats World
Bio Eats World
Andreessen Horowitz
Journal Club: Synthetic Germs, Our Newest Weapon for Fighting Cancer
Dr. Willem Mulder is a Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, Eindhoven University of Technology, and Radboud University Medical Center and is a co-founder of Trained Therapeutix Discovery. He joins host Lauren Richardson to discuss the results and implications of the article "Trained Immunity-Promoting Nanobiologic Therapy Suppresses Tumor Growth and Potentiates Checkpoint Inhibition" by Bram Priem, Mandy M.T. van Leent, Abraham J.P. Teunissen, Alexandros Marios Sofias, Vera P. Mourits, Lisa Willemsen, Emma D. Klein, Roderick S. Oosterwijk, Anu E. Meerwaldt, Jazz Munitz, Geoffrey Pre ́vot, Anna Vera Verschuur, Sheqouia A. Nauta, Esther M. van Leeuwen, Elizabeth L. Fisher, Karen A.M. de Jong, Yiming Zhao, Yohana C. Toner, Georgios Soultanidis, Claudia Calcagno, Paul H.H. Bomans, Heiner Friedrich, Nico Sommerdijk, Thomas Reiner, Raphae ̈l Duivenvoorden, Eva Zupancic, Julie S. Di Martino, Ewelina Kluza, Mohammad Rashidian, Hidde L. Ploegh, Rick M. Dijkhuizen, Sjoerd Hak, Carlos Pe ́ rez-Medina, Jose Javier Bravo-Cordero, Menno P.J. de Winther, Leo A.B. Joosten, Andrea van Elsas, Zahi A. Fayad, Alexander Rialdi, Denis Torre, Ernesto Guccione, Jordi Ochando, Mihai G. Netea, Arjan W. Griffioen, and Willem J.M. Mulder, published in _Cell_. For more on the innate immune system, also check out "Journal Club: Why do only some people get severe COVID-19?" and "Journal Club: How to Win an Evolutionary Arms Race"
22 mins
16 Minutes News by a16z
16 Minutes News by a16z
Andreessen Horowitz
FinCEN Crypto Rule; Haven Healthcare Breakup
We're covering two trends in this week’s episode of "16 Minutes," where we talk about the news, tech trends, and the long arc of innovation:  #1 FinCEN, the Treasury Department's financial crimes enforcement arm, proposed a new rule targeting cryptocurrency holders’ ability to transact using self-hosted wallets. These are software applications for storing crypto that allow people to transact on the blockchain directly, rather than going through financial institutions. The rule would require banks and other financial businesses to keep records, and verify the identities not only of their customers but also — notably — their customers’ counterparties, or people with whom the customer transacts, in certain cases. (Full disclosure: a16z has publicly opposed this plan, and has said it plans to join others in the industry in challenging the rule in court. You can read more about our position here.) a16z General Partner Katie Haun and Operating Partner Anthony Albanese explain the rule and what impact it could have on crypto innovation. #2 Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase shut down their joint healthcare venture. Haven was touted as a potential game-changer for employee-funded health care plans and health costs in general, due to the combined resources of its three corporate sponsors, but it was disbanded after three years. We turn to a16z bio General Partner Julie Yoo for a quick check-in on what opportunities this project actually highlighted (including for startups). — with Zoran Basich
21 mins
Acquired
Acquired
Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal
Special: Acquired x Indie Hackers
As regular listeners know, we typically cover some of the biggest companies who often receive the most media attention (see Airbnb and DoorDash). But today's episode is a little different. In our conversation with Courtland Allen of Indie Hackers, the largest community of startup founders, we dive into the stories of underdogs. What happens when there are millions of people doing small business entrepreneurship? How does anyone having access to the globally addressable market of 3 billion internet users open the door for the niche-est of products? We tell the story of Courtland’s own “Indie Hacker” journey, how he came to found Indie Hackers itself, and the lessons learned along the way. If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show, the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our live Book Club discussions with top authors. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/ Sponsors: * This episode is supported by Teamistry, a great new podcast from Atlassian that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways to achieve remarkable things. It's one of our best new podcast discoveries in 2020 and we think Acquired listeners are going to love it. Our thanks to Teamistry for their support, and you can listen here: https://link.chtbl.com/teamistry?sid=podcast.acquired * Thank you as well to Kevel and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: * https://www.kevel.co * https://www.capchase.com Playbook Themes from this Episode: (also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/special-acquired-x-indie-hackers ) 1. As long as you don't quit your journey, you're still in the act of succeeding. * Indie Hackers was Courtland's seventh company. Before it, Courtland had started six other companies, each with a few thousand dollars in revenue but never as big as he wanted it to be. Looking back, Courtland has realized that everyone has a certain number of companies they need to start before they succeed: for some, that number may be one, for others, 36. For him, that number was 7. So his advice? All you have to do is not quit before you get to that number. 2. The journey is as important as the destination. * While Courtland was working on some of his earlier companies, he was miserable. A few of those working years felt like a complete blur. But sometime before he started Indie Hackers, he realized that in order to keep going until you succeed (see playbook #1), you must structure your life so that it's easy for you to not quit. In other words, you have to make the journey fun — almost like the emotional counterpart to Paul Graham’s famous “default alive” concept. With this reframe, Courtland began to enjoy the journey — enjoying the new people he met and the new things he learned. This mindset helped him level up as a person. Instead of worrying and asking "am I there yet?" he was able to enjoy the building journey. 3. Stories are always paramount. * As we discuss so often on Acquired, stories can be an incredibly powerful force, and their value is one of the core theses/value propositions of Indie Hackers. One insight Courtland came to from Hacker News was that people didn't want to just read comments about people who didn't succeed. They wanted high quality, verified stories that were trustable in some way. * Indie Hackers sends a survey out to users 6 months after they join the community. One of the questions the survey asks is, "would you have started your company if not for Indie Hackers?" 15-20% say they would not have started without some story or interaction on Indie Hackers! 4. Don't try to create budgets — sell to people that already have them. * Courtland originally tried to monetize Indie Hackers via advertising, and shared advertisement opportunities with the Indie Hacker community. But he soon realized that these smaller businesses weren't exactly the best customers to sell to. Eventually, he transitioned to selling to enterprises, and was pleasantly surprised by how much easier it was to sell. * The sales process simplified is: educate, then win. If you're selling to someone with a budget, you essentially bypass the education step. 5. Utilizing platforms, like everything in business, has tradeoffs. * There are no hard or fast rules in business. Everything has tradeoffs. Platforms may help with distribution but make it harder to build a brand and also create risks and dependencies. For Courtland, it was important for Indie Hackers to have its own brand. Additionally, he already had a distribution strategy (Hacker News). Hence, it made sense for Indie Hackers to be its own site, as there were many risks but few benefits to using some other platform like Medium. 6. Trust and mission alignment are critical in acquisitions. * Acquisition terms are about much more than just the purchase price. Sometimes, other considerations are more advantageous than cash (e.g. equity), and there are creative ways to align their incentives. * For Courtland, it was crucial that he retain freedom over his time and control over the direction of Indie Hackers. Hence, it was — and still remains — key that Patrick and Courtland's relationship have a high degree of trust. 7. Acquisitions can enable established brands to take bigger risks. * “Intra-preneurship” can be difficult because the initiative is constrained by internal processes and standards as well as external expectations. Hence, you can often take bigger risks through an acquisition. Google video versus YouTube is a great example of this. 8. There is an infinite number of "indie hacker" opportunities. * There is no end to the number of niche problems that can be identified and served. Big businesses and platforms create massive opportunities to go for the long tail. New businesses can build on top of these platforms or build for these platforms, creating tools to help people use them. For example, there are thriving tools business ecosystems today for Stripe, Shopify, WordPress, and still many more use cases yet to be addressed. Links: * Indie Hackers: https://www.indiehackers.com
1 hr 49 mins
Invest Like the Best
Invest Like the Best
Patrick O'Shaughnessy
Oliver Hughes – The Secret FinTech Giant – [Founder’s Field Guide, EP.16]
My guest today is Oliver Hughes, the CEO of Tinkoff, the leading online commercial bank based in Russia. I found this conversation fascinating and think it will be essential for anyone who wants to understand online financial services or the next generation of fintech. Our conversation touches on how Tinkoff used direct mail campaigns to become the largest online banking provider in Russia, their last-mile delivery platform that combines couriers with door-to-door salesmen, and how they build profitability into every aspect of the business. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Oliver Hughes. For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content check out https://www.joincolossus.com/episodes/72486324/hughes-the-secret-fintech-giant This episode of Founder's Field Guide is sponsored by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is the ultimate marketing platform for ecommerce. With targeted segmentation, email automation, SMS marketing, and more, Klaviyo helps you create your ideal customer experience. See why Klaviyo's trusted by more than 50,000 brands, like Living Proof, Solo Stove, and Nomad to help them grow their business. For a free trial check out https://www.klaviyo.com/founders. This episode is also sponsored by Vanta. Vanta has built software that makes it easier to both get and maintain your SOC 2 report, at a fraction of the normal cost. Founders Field Guide listeners can redeem a $1k off coupon at vanta.com/patrick. Founder's Field Guide is a property of Colossus Inc. For more episodes of Founder's Field Guide go to https://www.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 - https://www.joincolossus.com/newsletter. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag Follow Colossus on Twitter at @JoinColossus Show Notes [00:02:44] – [First question] – The origins of Tinkoff [00:06:18] – How they started and stayed profitable, and lessons learned [00:08:18] – Bringing Visa to Russia and what he took with him to Tinkoff [00:10:02] – Overall Credit card and Tinkoff's specifically business model [00:12:35] – Running an effective direct mail acquisition campaign [00:15:45] – Branching off from the original core credit card business into other spaces [00:18:45] – How he thinks about when to make competing investments [00:21:00] – Embedding into new businesses and how it goes wrong [00:24:50] – How they became a large door-to-door business in Russia [00:27:55] – Why that door-to-door business makes it hard to compete with them [00:29:38] – Challenges in the payments business [00:32:25] – Using content to help them grow their business [00:35:29] – Competitive frontiers for Tinkoff and how often they shift [00:38:45] – What the future of Tinkoff might look like and the Russian business environment [00:41:55] – State of the market in Russia today [00:45:27] – Recruiting talent and building culture [00:47:55] – What he enjoys most about his job [00:49:14] – Failures and lessons from them [00:52:00] – Kindest thing anyone has done for him
58 mins
The Twenty Minute VC: Venture Capital | Startup Funding | The Pitch
The Twenty Minute VC: Venture Capital | Startup Funding | The Pitch
Harry Stebbings
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
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.
42 mins
Equity
Equity
TechCrunch, Chris Gates, Alex Wilhelm, Danny Crichton, Natasha Mascarenhas, Grace Mendenhall
Checkout wants to be Rapyd and Fast
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We’re back on this lovely Saturday with a bonus episode! Again! There is enough going on that to avoid failing to bring you stuff that we think matters, we are back yet again for more. This time around we are not talking Roblox, we're talking about ecommerce, and a number of rounds -- big _and_ small -- that have been raised in the space. Honest question: do y'all plan to release news on the same week? Are trends a social construct? From Natasha, Grace, Danny, and your humble servant, here's your run-down: * Webflow raised $140 million in a round that it says it did not need. This is not a new thing. Some startups are doing well, and don't burn much. So investors offer them more at a nice price. In this case $2.1 billion. (Webflow does no-code * Checkout.com raised $450 million. The rich really do get richer. In this case the founders of Checkout.com, whose company is now worth around $15 billion Checkout.com does, you guessed, online checkout work. Which as Danny explains is complicated and critical. * We also talked about this Bolt round, for context. * And sticking to the ecommerce theme, Rapyd raised $300 million at around a $2.5 billion valuation. There is infinte money available for late-stage fintech. * Early stage as well, it turns out, with Tradeswell raising $15.5 million to help businesses improve their net margins. * Finally, ending with a chat on infrastructure, Nacelle closed an $18 million Series A. And now we're going back to bed.
14 mins
Wharton FinTech Podcast
Wharton FinTech Podcast
Wharton Fintech Podcast
Kathleen Utecht, Managing Partner at Core Innovation Capital - Unlocking Upward Mobility
Miguel Armaza interviews Kathleen Utecht, Managing Partner at Core Innovation Capital, a venture capital firm, with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, investing in high-growth financial technology companies that can unlock upward mobility for everyday Americans. Kat holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Babson College and an MBA from The Wharton School. We talked about: - Kat’s journey, from family upbringing, schooling, all the way to how she ended up in VC - Why she continues to be excited about Fintech, even after investing in the sector for over a decade - What’s changed in the industry over the past few years - Core’s investment and valuation approach and how they work with portfolio companies to prepare them from seed, to series A, and beyond - Her vision for Core’s future - And a lot more! Kat Utecht Kat Utecht is co-managing partner of Core Innovation Capital, an early stage venture capital fund making mercenary returns through missionary investments in financial services and insurance technology. Portfolio companies include HealthSherpa, Bestow, Ripple and Synapse. Prior to investing with Core and at Comcast Ventures, Kat was CEO of Green Rock Entertainment, a commerce company acquired by private equity in 2009. Kat began her career in financial services, both as an investment banker and a graduate of General Electric Capital's Financial Management Program. Kat has an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BS from Babson College. About Core Innovation Capital Core Innovation Capital is an an early stage venture capital fund making mercenary returns through missionary investments in financial services and insurance technology. Core invests across three themes: 1. Modernizing financial and insurance infrastructure, 2. Expanding access to better financial services and insurance, and 3. Creating wealth through fintech adjacencies that help increase a household or SMB GDP. We optimize our portfolio by focusing on high conviction, early-stage investments with the flexibility to participate in unique opportunities across the venture lifecycle. Our main value add is our contacts - regulatory (e.g. state insurance regulators, CFPB), people flow (internal database for hiring), commercial contracts (e.g. insurers / reinsurers; lenders / debt capital, SaaS customers) - and to bounce ideas off of since we are so focused. Investments include Ripple, NerdWallet, and Oportun, among many others. For more information, visit www.corevc.com.
37 mins
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