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Something Ventured Posts

Founder Collective’s Eric Paley on Empathy and Execution in Venture Capital

Eric Paley
Founder Collective

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Eric Paley is a General Partner at Founder Collective, one of the great seed-stage venture capital brands – and one of the relatively few venture firms led by startup founders. As the name suggests, Founder Collective is a “founder stage” venture capital fund that focuses on providing the first professional round of capital to “entrepreneurs with compelling business concepts”. Eric himself also founded several companies before becoming a VC.  Founder Collective’s investments include:  Coupang, Cruise, Kaggle, Pill Pak, The Trade Desk, Uber and Venmo.

In this episode we discuss the importance of Founder-led VC firms, and the evolution of seed VC firms – which barely existed when he started, and now number in the hundreds.

We also discuss:

  • Why the unique name “Collective”
  • Fuzzy VC math
  • VC ‘revisionist history”     
  • What’s next for Founder Collective

Eric Paley on X (Twitter)

Founder Collective

8-Bit Capital

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Homebrew’s Hunter Walk and Satya Patel: The Power of a Partnership

Satya Patel, Hunter Walk
Homebrew, Screendoor founders

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Homebrew is one of the great venture firm names.  It hearkens back to the 1970s era computer hobbyist group that included people like Steve Jobs.  Hunter Walk and Satya Patel are the partners who founded and built Homebrew (the venture capital firm).

Nevertheless, if you say “Hunter and Satya” in Silicon Valley, people will know exactly who you are talking about. 

Hunter Walk came to homebrew with experience as a product leader at YouTube and Google.  Meanwhile, Satya Patel’s background was as a seasoned investor at Battery Ventures and product leader at Twitter.

In this episode we discuss the power of partnerships in Silicon Valley.  In particular we talk about the power of the 2 -person partnership (see also:  Andreessen Horowitz), why the alchemy has to be right, and why some don’t make it.

We also discuss the evolution of Homebrew from a firm backed by outside capital (from Limited Partners or “LPs”) to one in which the two founders deploy their own capital.

Finally, we cover Hunter and Satya’s newest fund:  Screendoor.  Screendoor has a mission of supporting underrepresented General Partners of emerging venture capital funds by providing capital, access and mentorship.



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Atari’s founder Nolan Bushnell and Dr. Leah Hanes Have a (Better) Plan for Educating America

Nolan Bushnell
Atari Founder, ExoDexa Chairman
Dr Leah Hanes
ExoDexa CEO

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Nolan Bushnell’s career is extraordinary.  Nolan has ignited two entertainment revolutions: first with Atari, birthing the video game industry through classics like Pong, and later with Chuck E. Cheese, merging pizza and arcade games for family fun. A serial entrepreneur, he’s founded over 20 companies, venturing into robotics, personal computers, and beyond, forever changing the landscape of leisure and inspiration.

Nolan has turned his thoughts to the state of education in the US and has teamed up with Dr. Leah Hanes to form ExoDexa, a developer of educational games that seek to ‘gamify’ education.  Together, they’ve published a book “Shaping the Future of Education” outlining their ideas.

Dr. Leah Hanes is a force to be reckoned with as well.  Dr. Hanes has been a champion for STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) for years, leading the Two Bit Circus Foundation since 2013 and using her expertise to advocate for a more engaging and future-proof approach to learning.

In this episode Nolan and Dr. Hanes discuss the current state of education, and ways to transform the rate at which kids learn by 10X or even 20X.


Nolan Bushnell: 

Dr. Leah Hanes: 

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Richard Socher: Exploring AI with the Visionary AI Scientist, Entrepreneur and Investor

Richard Socher

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Richard Socher is a visionary computer scientist, entrepreneur, and AI researcher who has dedicated his career to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in AI. With a Ph.D. from Stanford University, Richard’s groundbreaking work in deep learning, neural networks, and NLP has paved the way for remarkable advancements in AI applications.

It may seem like everyone is an AI expert these days:  Richard Socher really is.  Richarrd is founder of the AI-focused venture firm AIX, and founder of the AI-powered search engine

He is the former Chief Scientist at Salesforce and founder of the groundbreaking MetaMind AI startup (which was acquired by Salesforce).  In short, when it comes to AI, Richard is the real deal.

In this episode, we delve into Richard’s insights on the latest AI trends, ethical considerations in AI development, the future of human-AI collaboration, and much more.

Whether you’re new to AI – or have been investing in it for 10 years — Richard’s engaging discussions and visionary ideas will captivate and inspire you.

AIX Ventures

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Hadley Harris: Building Eniac Ventures with 3 Friends / Investing in AI

Hadley Harris
Eniac Ventures Co-founder

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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”.

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Samir Kaji: Building Allocate; The State of the Venture Market; Banking Meltdown (SVB/FRB) Post-mortem

Samir Kaji

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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 him 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. .
Samir is also an active writer on venture capital and is the host of a top venture podcast Venture Unlocked.

Join us in exploring Samir Kaji’s journey and the transformative impact he hopes to have with Allocate on the world of venture capital.

Samir on Twitter

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Darian Shirazi, General Partner at Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI Fund): Unleashing AI’s Investment Potential

Darian Shirazi
Gradient Ventures

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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.

Darien Shirazi

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Anthony Soohoo: Bringing the Entrepreneurial Mindset to Walmart

Anthony Soohoo
AI Fund

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Anthony Soohoo is a Venture Advisor at AI Fund.  It is a role he took on after building and selling the company he built (Dot & Bo).

Rather than start another company, Anthony became the head of Walmart’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 begin 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 with 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

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Nnamdi Okike on Building 645 Ventures, Bias in Fundraising, and Being a Boston Sports Fan in New York

Nnamdi Okike
645 Ventures

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 his education at Harvard, his membership on the prestigious NVCA board (with former Something Ventured Guest Charles Hudson serving as the chair), and his time at Insight Partners.

Additionally, he co-founded 645 Ventures, a venture capital firm that recently secured a substantial $350 million fund. In this episode, we delve into Nnamdi’s journey and gain his insights into the world of venture capital.

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.

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Coindesk’s David Z. Morris: The Wild Story of FTX and its CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried

David Z. Morris
Chief Insights Columnist

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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

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