There are a few – very few –non-traditional paths into venture capital. Adrian Fenty may have one of the most unusual ones. Adrian was the Mayor of Washington D.C., winning that post at the age of 35 (making him Washington D.C.’s youngest mayor ever).
In this episode we discuss his path to becoming mayor and his refreshing style for governing in that office. But being mayor of a major US city was just the beginning.
Adrian became a special advisor to the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, where he had the chance to observe its founders in action.
Today, Adrian is a Managing Director of the venture firm he founded, MaC Venture Capital.
Michelle is an entrepreneur – founder of “Growth Path”, a provider of audio courses for professional development. Her goal is to teach soft skills and management at scale. She previously worked at tech firms Thumbtack and Yammer, as well as the venture capital firm Trinity.
In this episode we discuss her entrepreneurial journey,. She gives us a candid look at the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur.
Michelle has also become a (fairly popular) voice of reason concerning the state of affairs in San Francisco. She regularly poses thoughtful questions about various policies. She sheds light on the byzantine corners of San Francisco politics. Here, she shares her thoughts on a range of issues, providing pretty thoughtful solutions, and frank explanations of various head-spinning policies.
Max Chafkin is the author of “The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power”. Max is a technology reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek. “The Contrarian” isn’t just about Thiel. It’s about that, too, of course — from PayPal to his Facebook investment to his failed hedge fund, etc. But it’s also about “Silicon Valley’s political coming-of-age”, as the New York Times describes it.
We discuss how Peter Thiel came to wealth, the many controversies surrounding him. We also discuss the calculations that led him to back Donald Trump’s presidency, and ultimately take a role in Trump’s transition campaign.
Howard Morgan is one of those few – very few – people who have built multiple game-changing firms. He is co-founder of Renaissance Technologies (sometimes known as “RenTec”). While a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, he divined the opportunity to apply emerging computer technologies to investing.
The resulting firm – Renaissance Technologies — is one of the most famous, and successful, hedge funds. It pioneered systematic trading using quantitative models derived from mathematical models. It famously hires people who are incredibly smart – but don’t have previous investing experience.
While some might consider that enough of a career for one lifetime – Howard went on to co-found First Round Capital with Josh Koppelman. First Round is one of the most respected seed venture capital firms, with investments in firms like Notion, Roblox, Uber, and Square.
At last Howard is ready to retire….wait no. No, Howard is now the chairman of B Capital Group, the global investment firm founded by Eduardo Saverin.
In this episode we discuss how this remarkable journey unfolded, and what he sees for the future.
Jenny Lefcourt is a partner at Freestyle Capital, a seed stage venture firm overseeing $450 million in seed investments. Jenny dropped out of her Stanford MBA program – before that was cool — to co-found online wedding registry startup WeddingChannel.com (with classmate, Jessica Herrin)
After The Knot acquired WeddingChannel.com, Jenny started another company – Bella Pictures – also subsequently acquired. Today she is a partner at Freestyle Capital, and was recently named one of Barron’s “100 Women Shaping the World of U.S. Finance”.
In this conversation we discuss her path through these entrepreneurial experiences to becoming a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and co-founder of All Raise. She shares what it’s like to join and then become partner of a venture firm that already has a couple high-profile partners; why she thinks entrepreneurs make great VCs, and the role of All Raise in Silicon Valley.
I talk to a lot of founders and CEOs in Silicon Valley. They started telling me “you know, I couldn’t have done it without…” When I heard that multiple times, I just had to meet the guy they were talking about – Joe Hudson.
Turns out, Joe Hudson is a sought after executive coach and creator of The Art of Accomplishment, an online learning platform for personal development. And get this – he quit his job as a venture capitalist to become a coach.
Yep — as a venture capitalist Joe found that the most rewarding aspect, and the part he was most successful at, was the mentorship and coaching of the leadership of his portfolio companies. This insight moved him to his present role as a coach, business consultant and teacher. He now coaches 12 CEOs and leaders in prominent companies and runs transformative programs for both individuals and businesses. He is says he is practicing a craft that makes big, lasting, and overwhelmingly positive impacts on the lives of people in his programs and in the companies he works with.
In this episode we discuss his journey, why he only coaches 12 people a year – and how you can participate (since you’re not one of those 12 people!) (Hint: Go to https://artofaccomplishment.com/connection/ and use code “VENTURED”)
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.