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Something Ventured Posts

124 REPLAY: Keller Fitzsimmons on Mental Health in Silicon Valley

Keller Fitzsimmons is the author of Lost in Startuplandia: Wayfinding for the Weary Entrepreneur.  She gives lie to the idea that entrepreneurship is a thrilling, lucrative adventure.  All is great, of course, until things go horribly wrong. “As crisis after crisis hits, even the most seasoned founder can get disoriented. Whether you’re in the throes of business woes or just getting into the game, E. Keller Fitzsimmons has written a field guide outlining the terrain to help you avoid getting Lost in Startuplandia.”

Keller Fitzsimmons

Keller is a serial tech entrepreneur, artist, and mother of two. She is the cofounder of Custom Reality Services, a virtual reality production company whose first two projects, Across the Line (2016) and Ashe ’68 (2019), premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Keller is the recipient of the Silvertip PwC Entrepreneurship Award and Speech Technology’s Luminary Award.

Her work has been published by Network Computing, InformationWeek, and Inc. An active angel investor, she serves on the technology committee for BELLE USA, a venture fund that invests in women-led startups. Originally trained as a classical archaeologist, Keller holds a master’s degree from Harvard University.

In this podcast Keller discusses a wide range of topics, including losing her ability to read (before becoming a best selling author).  She discusses the surprising prevalance of anxiety, depression and suicide in Silicon Valley.

Listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Lost in Startuplandia
https://www.lostinstartuplandia.com

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123 Marco Zappacosta: Thumbtack’s CEO on Building a Billion Dollar Company and Helping People “Get the Job Done”

Marco Zappacosta
CEO, Thumbtack

Marco Zappacosta is a co-Founder & CEO of Thumbtack, a startup that lets people find local professionals for “pretty much anything”.  Thumbtack has raised over $400 million and is valued at well over $1 billion.  Investors include Sequoia Capital, Cyan Banister, Jason Calcanis and brothers Ali and Hadi Partovi.  Marco has been recognized by Forbes as top “30 under 30” entrepreneur, and Thumbtack is recognized as one of GlassDoor’s “best places to work”.

In this episode, Marco discusses how he built Thumbtack, and what it’s like to transition from overseeing a small team, to hundreds of people.  He talks about how Thumbtack is succeeding where others failed – getting liquidity in local markets.

We also discuss how Thumbtack enables local ‘entrepreneurs’ to build their business on its platform, and find a market for their traditional or unique service.  Finally we cover what structural changes are needed in the US economy to enable ‘gig’ workers, and why he’s been interested in the state of Social Security since college.

www.thumbtack.com

Listen on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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122 Chris Douvos: Ahoy Capital’s Founder is One-of-a-Kind

Chris Douvos of Ahoy Capital
Jon Chomitz Photography

Chris Douvos has a rare job.  There are very few venture capitalists in the world.  There’s an even more scarce job, however:  Several ‘fund-of-funds” exist that provide capital to venture capital firms, and a path into venture capital for large institutions that want to invest in Silicon Valley.  Chris Douvos’ Ahoy Capital is one of those funds.

In this wide-ranging discussion, Chris tells us how he made his way up and through a history major to his current profession.  We talk about what Chris has seen from his unique perch in Silicon Valley:  What has changed, what he sees in the future.  Chris explains how he became an early investor in superstar venture firms like First Round and DCVC, and why he didn’t invest in the equally successful Baseline Ventures.

Also quoted are at least Walt Whitman, and at least one classical Greek text.  If you don’t know Chris – meet him on this episode!

Listen on Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Ahoy Capital

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121 Mike Maples, Jr: A Master Seed Investor Shares his Wisdom

Mike Maples, Jr.
Photo by Chris Michel

Mike Maples, Jr. is Founder and General Partner of Floodgate, Floodgate is a seed investing firm that has made investments in firms like Twitter, Demandforce and Lyft.  He was #12 on the 2018 “Midas List” of top venture capitalists. The seed investing trend he identified has become, literally, an entire category of investors.  Mike is also the host of his own podcast – Starting Greatness.

In this episode of Something Ventured we talk about Mike’s path to Silicon Valley. We also discuss the investing opportunity he saw here, and how it has changed over time.  He explains terms like ‘earned secret’ and “thunder lizard”, and the overarching importance of “why now”.

If you’d like to get to know Mike Maples, Jr. – don’t miss this episode, and listen to his new podcast – Starting Greatness.

Listen on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts

Starting Greatness podcast https://medium.com/starting-greatness

Floodgate https://floodgate.com

Chris Michel Photography

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#120 David Hornik: “The Lobby” Creator and Ringmaster

David Hornik of August Capital

David Hornik is a partner at August Capital. He is also the much-loved creator and executive producer of “The Lobby”.  In preparing for this podcast, a number of people expressed sincere affection for David, The Lobby, and the relationships it has fostered.  In this episode David explains what the Lobby is, and where the idea came from.  

In addition to The Lobby, David started (with his colleagues) the first venture capital blog, VentureBlog, and the first venture capital podcast, VentureCast. He has been honored by Forbes Magazine as a member of its Midas List of top Venture Capitalists.

As a venture capitalist, David over the last 20 years has worked closely with technology companies to help them grow and prosper. David joined August Capital in 2000 to invest in a broad range of software companies. Since that time, he has invested in dozens of companies across the software spectrum, including a number of enterprise software and SaaS (e.g, Splunk, Fastly, GitLab), consumer services (e.g., Evite, Ebates, Drop), and financial technology companies (e.g., WePay, Bill.com, PayNearMe).

In this podcast we discuss everything from his investments in Broadway musicals, to the state of venture capital, to the issues faced by the LGBTQ community in Silicon Valley.  Warning – this podcast includes singing!

Listen on iTunes or Spotify

August Capital https://www.augustcap.com

The Lobby https://www.thelobbyconference.com/the-lobby

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#119: Joe Garofoli: San Francisco Chronicle Senior Political Writer Takes Us Inside Politics

Joe Garofoli
San Francisco Chronicle

Joe Garofoli is the Senior Political Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.  He is also host of the San Francisco Chronicle podcast “It’s All Political”.  Guests on “It’s All Political” recently have included California Governor Gavin Newsom, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a “Who’s Who” of Democratic presidential hopefuls.

Very few people have Joe Garofoli’s unique perch – here in San Francisco in the heart of Silicon Valley – to view California and National politics through the lens of Silicon Valley.  In this podcast he takes us “behind the scenes” of the current state of California and National US politics. We talk about everything from the recent wildfires in California, to the relationship between Governor Gavin Newsom and President Donald Trump, to what issues you REALLY should be paying attention to in the upcoming California ballots.

Listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts

Joe Garofoli at SFGate

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#118 Ryan Petersen: How Flexport is Transforming Shipping to Create a Better World

Ryan Petersen founded Flexport to make the world a more connected and better place.  He wanted to “fix the user experience in global trade”.  It’s been quite a success so far.  To date – the company has raised $1.3  billion, and Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator, told Bloomberg News, “There will be more international trade because of Flexport and international trade is a very big thing for there to be more of”.  

Before starting Flexport, Ryan was co-founder and CEO of ImportGenius.com, a data-as-a-service business for global shipping. He holds a degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from Columbia University.

In this wide-ranging discussion, we cover Ryan’s path to becoming an entrepreneur and why he thought international trade needing shaking up.  He talks about the early days of Flexport, building a strong excutive team to compliment his strenghts and how his role as a CEO and the company have scaled through each stage of growth.  Also discussed are the current trade wars’ effect on shipping and businesses, as well as the unique perspective they have as the trusted shipper for thousands of companies.

Visit Flexport

Listen on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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#117 Josh Felser: A Freestylin’ Conversation with Josh

Josh Felser

Josh Felser co-founded and sold two companies — Spinner and Grouper – for a combined value of nearly $400 million.  Then, he and his partner, Dave Samuel, started one of Silicon Valley’s most successful seed venture funds – Freestyle.   Freestyle has backed companies like Airtable, Intercom, BetterUp, Patreon and Wag.

In this wide-ranging discussion, Josh talks about building Spinner and the nail-biting moment an acquirer asked him “what’s your number”.  We also cover Josh’s rebuttal to Kent’s previous episode on Burning Man, and how Josh first met California’s governor, Gavin Newsom.   Other topics include mental health in Silicon Valley, and how to support women and people of color in Silicon Valley.  Also included is some music advice for podcaster Harry Stebbings.

Listen iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Freestyle http://freestyle.vc

Burning Man https://burningman.org

Rush https://www.rush.com/band/

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#116 Dan Scheinman: Zoom’s First Investor on Finding Outliers, Ageism and More

Dan Scheinman is one of the best investors – and nicest people – you may not have heard of…yet.  But you should know him, because he has become a force in Silicon Valley.  

Dan Scheinman

After running Corporate Development at Cisco, Dan became an investor.  Investing his own capital, he has backed from the earliest stages firms like Zoom, Arista, SentinalOne and CyCognito.  These companies are now collectively worth tens of billions of dollars.

We briefly discuss the passing of Sequoia Capital Founder and Cisco Board Chairman Don Valentine and his legacy.  We talk about the ups and downs at Cisco – which at various times has been the most valuable company in the world.  Dan talks about how to find true outliers in tech companies, and what it means to be truly ‘contrarian’.  We discuss ageism in Silicon Valley, and why investing in women, people of color and those over 35 is an investing advantage.  

Dan tells the story of how he became the first investor in video conferencing company Zoom – which is now valued at nearly $20 billion.

Finally, we discuss what to do when enormous wealth finds you, and why venture capitalists think both math and their jobs are har

Listen on iTunes.

Zoom

Dan Scheinman on Twitter

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#115 Ba Minuzzi: First Latina to Start a Silicon Valley Venture Fund

Ba Minuzzi
Babel Ventures

You know her right?  The woman who started two venture funds and a wealth management firm?  You don’t?  Meet Ba Minuzzi.  Ba was born in Brazil, where she started a fashion business in her teens.  That soon gave way to a real estate business, and then the venue changed to Miami.  In Miami, she realized she wanted to start a venture fund – and that Silicon Valley was the place to do it.  Today she is founder of Babel (an early stage healthtech venture fund), Ausum (a blockchain fund) and  UMANA (a wealth management firm for tech self-mades, conscious celebrities and athletes).  She is the first Latina to start a Silicon Valley venture fund.

In this episode, we discuss her path to Silicon Valley, why she started not one, not two, but three funds.  She also responds to recent episodes that poked a bit of fun at Burning Man.

Listen on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Babel Ventures
https://www.babel.ventures

Ausum Ventures
https://www.ausum.vc

UMANA
https://www.umana.vc

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