Eliot Brown, along with Maureen Farrell, is author of “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion”. As a reporter for the Wall Street Journal he became intrigued by the messianic founder who had raised billions of dollars, and developed a cult-like following at his startup WeWork.
“In little more than a decade, Neumann transformed himself from a struggling baby clothes salesman into the charismatic, hard-partying CEO of a company worth $47 billion – on paper. With his long hair and feel-good mantras, the six-foot-five Israeli transplant looked the part of a messianic truth teller. Investors swooned, and billions poured in.
Soon, however, WeWork was burning through cash faster than Neumann could bring it in. From his private jet, sometimes clouded with marijuana smoke, he scoured the globe for more capital. Then, as WeWork readied a Hail Mary IPO, it all fell apart. Nearly $40 billion of value vaporized in one of corporate America’s most spectacular meltdowns.”
In this episode Eliot Brown shares what he learned studying WeWork and it’s larger-than-life founder.
Brad Feld’s latest book (with David Jilk) is “Entrepreneur’s Weekly Nietzsche (A Book for Disruptors)”. Those familiar with Brad’s “Feld Thoughts” blog, will find the unexpected title – unsurprising.
While reading Nietzsche (um, yes) Brad noted that his favorite personality was a “free spirit: An obsessed individual with a vision of the future and the will to make it so, a rebel who creates the future with childlike enthusiasm.” That, thought Brad, sounded a lot like…an entrepreneur.
The book is “a modern Art of War, connecting the dots to our high-tech business environment”.
Each short chapter takes a quote from Nietzsche and applies it to an area of entrepreneurship.
Brad Feld has been a famous venture capitalist for a long time. He has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987. He currently runs Foundry group, which he co-founded. Before that Brad co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and, prior to that, founded Intensity Ventures. Brad is also a co-founder of Techstars.
Brad is a writer and speaker on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurship. He’s written a number of books as part of the Startup Revolution series and writes the blogs “Feld Thoughts” and “Venture Deals”.
Auren Hoffman is one of the most connected people in Silicon Valley. In a place where the currency of the land is connections – Auren is near the top of the heap.
Auren is a Founder and CEO — He founded SafeGraph in 2016, and
previously founded LiveRamp, which is now public (NYSE: RAMP) – a leading data
Auren is also an investor – he has invested in more than 120
active technology companies.
Auren went to UC Berkeley a B.S.E. in Industrial Engineering and
Operations Research from UC Berkeley.
But perhaps most importantly – Auren shares his wisdom: Often in napkin sketches, shared on Twitter. In this podcast we discuss Auren’s journey, his wisdom and his view from his unique perch in Silicon Valley.
In Silicon Valley enormous wealth and huge need sit side by side. The gap is bridged in large part by an important organization – Silicon Valley Community Foundation (“SVCF”). SVCF manages more than $10 billion. In this episode Nicole Taylor, SVCF’s CEO, tells us where the money comes from, where it goes, and the practical issues of giving to support Black Lives Matter.
Since taking the helm at SVCF, Nicole has led the
organization to renew its focus on the many challenges facing residents of San
Mateo and Santa Clara counties – two of the largest counties in Silicon Valley.
In April 2020, Nicole was invited by San José Mayor Sam
Liccardo to be among the five co-chairs of the Silicon Valley Recovery
Roundtable. This group was formed to address
how Silicon Valley will adapt and thrive in the aftermath of the COVID-19
pandemic. In the early months of pandemic response, SVCF raised over $50
million for funds to meet the needs of individuals, families, nonprofit
organizations, small businesses and education systems across 10 counties in the
Before joining SVCF, Nicole served as vice president of the
ASU Foundation, and as dean of Students at Arizona State University. Prior to
her time at ASU, Nicole was the associate vice provost of student affairs. She has also served as dean of community
engagement and diversity at Stanford University.
In this episode we discuss what SVCF does, how the increase in Bay Area wealth has impacted it. We also discuss the practical giving aspects related to solving problems highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Avi Loeb is author of the book “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth”. It’s a story you can hardly believe, once you hear it. But here it is — the story of the day in 2017 when telescopes around the world started tracking an object in our solar system. It was moving in such a way that scientists around the world came to the same, startling conclusion: It was an extraterrestrial spaceship.
Avi Loeb is a professor of the Harvard Astronomy
Department. He is also a member of the
Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (which is a collaboration
of Harvard College Observatory and Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Professor Loeb received a PhD in plasma physics at age 24
from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1986) and was subsequently a long-term
member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1988-1993), where he
started to work in theoretical astrophysics. In 1993 he moved to Harvard
University where he was tenured three years later. He is now the Frank B.
Baird Jr. Professor of Science and former chair of the department.
He also holds a visiting professorship at the Weizmann
Institute of Science and a Sackler Senior Professorship by special appointment
in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University.
Loeb has authored nearly 700 research articles and 4 books.
Big Vape is a nicotine-high of a book: An intense ride-along with the story of the rise of Juul. The story begins innocently – a couple guys don’t want to quit smoking, but also do not want to suffer the ill effects of cigarettes. They start Juul, and its rise – the massive wealth created, the social phenomenon, and the arrival of Big Tobacco are the touchpoints of Jamie Ducharme’s book “Big Vape: The Incendiary Rise of Juul”.
Jamie Ducharme is a staff writer at TIME magazine, where she covers health and science. (Right now, that means she’s writing almost exclusively about COVID-19.) Her work has won awards from the New York Press Club, the Deadline Club, and the Newswomen’s Club of New York. Previously, she was the health editor at Boston magazine.
Jamie Ducharme’s first book, Big Vape: The Incendiary Rise of Juul, was published by Henry Holt on May 25, 2021. It’s a deep-dive into the e-cigarette company Juul Labs and an exploration of the complicated search for an alternative to cigarettes.
Ryan and his dad are one of only two father/son NFL players to win Superbowl rings. Today Ryan’s a venture capitalist at the firm he founded: Next Play Capital. His many co-investments include Hippo, ByteDance (TikTok), Flexport, Hims, Impossible Foods, Peloton, (IPO), and Rubrik among others.
We’ve covered a lot of paths to becoming a VC on Something Ventured, but none has run through the NFL!
In this episode we discuss the football roots of the name “Next Play”, and why there were historically so few Black people in venture capital, among many other topics. We finish with an amazing thought from Ryan on how someone might be supportive of diversity in Silicon Valley – one of the most thoughtful and poignant I’ve heard.
Ali Tamaseb pulls the curtain back on the myths about billion-dollar startups – and he does it with data. That’s not surprising for a guy who is a partner at DCVC, the multi-billion dollar venture firm focused on deep tech.
Ali is a scientist turned engineer who works on a broad spectrum of areas ranging from computational health/bio to cybersecurity. More specifically, Ali identifies early-stage highly technical and defensible startups in diagnostics tools, neuro-technology, precision medicine, synthetic bio and bio-logic, disruptive healthcare models, financial technologies, alternative data, next-generation computing, cryptography and blockchain.
“Super Founders” analyzes 65 factors to determine what differentiates billion-dollar companies. Interviewees in the book include:
• Arie Belldegrun – Co-founder, Allogene, Kite Pharma: Founded Two Billion-Dollar Startups While a University Professor
• Nat Turner – Co-founder, Flatiron Health: Founded a Billion-Dollar Startup With No Industry Experience
• Max Mullen – Co-founder, Instacart: Founded a Massively Successful Business in The Second Try
• Neha Narkhede – Co-founder, Confluent: Built a Billion-Dollar Startup Initially Originated at a Large Tech Company
• Tony Fadell – Co-founder, Nest – Inventor of the iPod: Built Highly Differentiated Products That Generated Billion Dollar Outcomes
• Rachel Carlson – Co-founder, Guild Education: Built a Billion-Dollar Startup Outside Traditional Tech Hubs
• Max Levchin – Co-founder, PayPal and Affirm: Did Both Market Creation and Market Expansion
• Mario Schlosser – Co-founder, Oscar Health: Founded a Billion-Dollar Startup With Perfect Market Timing
• Eric Yuan – Founder, Zoom: Founded a Billion-Dollar Startup That Won Against Fierce Competitors
• Tom Preston-Werner – Co-founder, GitHub: Bootstrapped a 7.5 Billion-Dollar Company For Over Four Years
• Michelle Zatlyn – Co-founder, Cloudflare: Founded a Billion-Dollar Startup In the Depth of the Financial Recession
• Elad Gil – Angel Investor: Invested in Over 20 Unicorns Including Coinbase, Stripe, Gusto, Square, Wish
• Keith Rabois – General Partner, Founders Fund: Invested in YouTube, LinkedIn, Palantir, Yelp, Lyft
• Alfred Lin – Partner, Sequoia Capital: Invested in iconic companies like Airbnb, Houzz, DoorDash, Zipline
• Peter Thiel – Co-founder Palantir, PayPal: Invested in Facebook, SpaceX, Stripe, Spotify, Asana, TransferWise
Suneel Gupta is author of the book “Backable: The Surprising Truth Behind What Makes People Take a Chance”. Backable tells Suneel’s journey from first-time entrepreneur to being named “The New Face of Innovation” by the New York Stock Exchange. Suneel’s ideas have been adopted by firms like Greylock and Google Ventures, and he served as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. He has personally backed startups including Impossible Foods, AirBnB, 23&Me, Calm, and SpaceX.
Also — In 2018, Suneel ran for election to the U.S. House to represent Michigan’s 11th Congressional District. Before running for Congress, Suneel co-founded and served as CEO of RISE, a mobile health company that partnered with Michelle Obama to lower the cost of quality care for thousands of patients. Just two years after launch, One Medical acquired RISE. If that wasn’t enough — Suneel is also a lawyer and filmmaker. Yup. He started his career in the Clinton White House where he served as a speechwriter, learning from West Wing staffers like Michael McCurry and Rahm Emanuel. A few years later, he was asked to co-author the national platform for the Democratic Party.
Suneel produced the Kahani Movement, an interactive film project about the first generation of Indian-Americans, which debuted at South by Southwest with his brother, Dr. Sanjay Gupta (CNN). He also worked for the president of Sony Pictures Television when the studio was investing in new creative concepts like Breaking Bad.
And then there’s…happiness. Suneel is the co-founder at Gross National Happiness Center of America in partnership with the Kingdom of Bhutan.
David Bohnett founded Geocities in the 1990s, well before the internet attained its current ubiquity. GeoCities became publicly traded on NASDAQ and was acquired by Yahoo! Inc. in 1999. In a 2007 article, the Wall Street Journal described it as a Facebook prototype and noted, “Back then, entries were known as home pages, not profiles. But the basic, expressive elements of today’s Facebook and competitor MySpace … were all right there.”
David found himself wealthy with the ability to do whatever he wanted for the rest of his life. He became a philanthropist and social activist.
In addition to serving as Chair of the David Bohnett Foundation, he is the Chairman of the Executive Committee on the Board of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Vice Chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and Trustee of the Brookings Institution, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the University of Southern California (USC).
Since 1999, the David Bohnett Foundation has focused on several funding areas: The Fund for Los Angeles, supporting a broad spectrum of arts, educational and civic programs including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, LACMA and CicLAvia; LGBTQ-related causes; graduate school leadership programs at the University of Michigan, UCLA, NYU and Harvard; voting rights and registration initiatives; supporting research and public policies to reduce the toll of firearm violence; and animal research and rights.
Grants totaling over $115 million to date have supported the work of a wide range of organizations including the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, The Wildlife Alliance, the ACLU Foundation, Equality California, and the David Bohnett Gay & Lesbian Leadership Fellows program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The David Bohnett CyberCenters are another major undertaking — currently at over 60 LGBTQ centers nationwide, they offer business, educational, research, and recreational opportunities to the local gay and lesbian community via access to the Internet.