(Note this episode was recorded before the current Coronavirus crisis)
Matt Hulett is President of Rosetta Stone – one of the largest language learning companies in the world. Long known for its striking yellow boxes of CDs (those CDs are now a thing of the past, BTW), Rosetta helps people learn almost any language from any mobile device or computer, at their own pace.
Matt came to Rosetta Stone after stints at Expedia, Atom Entertainment and RealNetworks. Where he worked for famous internet execs like Rob Glaser and Barry Diller.
In this episode we discuss Matt’s early interaction with computers (including his experiences with Telnet and Sun workstations!). We discuss his path to becoming a public company CEO, and the difference in running turnarounds, startups and big brands.
We also discuss no less than the state of literary education in the US and how Lexia Learning helps kids learn to read. Matt shares a few of his leadership lessons, and discusses how he keeps Rosetta stone out of the tricky politics of language into which people try to pull him.
Paul-Henri Ferrand is the Chief Operating Officer of Brex. Brex, the corporate card that accelerates entrepreneurs and scaling businesses, is founded by Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi, two engineers who previously founded Pagar.me, a Brazil payment processing company. Brex has raised $315M in equity and $510M in debt, and is backed by the co-founders of PayPal (Max Levchin and Peter Thiel), Y Combinator, Ribbit Capital, Greenoaks Capital, DST Global, IVP, and Carl Pascarella (former CEO of Visa).
Before becoming COO of Brex, Paul-Henri was President, Global Customer Operations for Google Cloud, and before that President of Dell US.
In this episode, Paul-Henri discusses why he moved from leading an enormous public company, to helping execute at a startup. He contrasts the cultures of the various companies – Dell, Google and Brex, and discusses what it means to “consumerize finance”. We also discuss why immigrants (Paul-Henri is an immigrant to the US, as are with both founders of Brex) find the US so appealing, and appear to be behind some of the great Silicon Valley companies. Finally, we discuss the importance of culture and leadership lessons learned at Dell, Google and now Brex.
Brianne Kimmel is a newly minted venture capitalist. She didn’t join a venture fund: She started her own. Her fund — Work Life Ventures — invests in new technologies and services for your work life.
Work today has a whole new meaning: it’s social w/ Slack, flexible w/ Zoom and approachable through low-code and no-code tools for anyone with an idea to build something. Brianne’s recent investments range from enterprise software (i.e. developer productivity tools) to creator tools that help anyone launch their own course, jewelry line or creative business.
Brianne has been an angel investor on evenings and weekends, had a YC company, and scaled Zendesk from a single product to multi-product platform.
She started her career building influencer programs for Nikon, then scaled into Head of Social Media at Expedia — in Sydney, Hong Kong and Silicon Valley.
But Brianne’s path to Silicon Valley wasn’t obvious. She started out in northeast Ohio, started attended Kent State while she was in high school and started her career in Australia.
Not the typical path for a Silicon Valley Venture capitalist. Nevertheless…here she is.
In this podcast we cover a range of topics and ideas. We discuss why she started her own firm, rather than joining an established VC. We have some fun with the emergence of ‘celebrity angels”, and take a more serious look at the future of distributed workforces.
She also surprises me – as it always happens – with what it’s like to be a high profile woman in the tech industry. She honestly shares what it’s like to get unwanted attention at, for example, conferences where, sometimes, security is called.
Do you know why you download podcasts, but stream video? This is the podcast that tells the story. Jeff Macpherson is founder of AR/VR training company Motive.io. But before that – he created and acted in “Tiki Bar TV”. If you don’t know what that is, you can — and should find it at TikiBarTV.com. Tiki Bar TV was at the red-hot center of the early video wars – which were at one point a knife-fight between Apple and YouTube. “Tiki Bar TV” caught the eye of Steve Jobs, and ended up being featured in one of Jobs’ famous onstage product unveilings.
In this episode we talk about the arc of video on the Internet, what it’s like getting the call that Steve Jobs wants to include you in his presentation, and what it’s like to collaborate with Tosca Musk, Lala and Johnny Johnny. We also discuss how web series have changed, and early BBS culture.
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 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
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
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.
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!
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.
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!