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136 Codepath’s Michael Ellison: How Black CS Students View Silicon Valley / The Daily Reality For a Black Man in San Francisco

Michael Ellison

“Most Black computer science students think Silicon Valley companies are racist.”  If you didn’t know this already – you should really sit down and listen to this episode.

No one educates more Black students in computer science than Codepath.  Codepath is the non-profit co-founded by Michael Ellison to eliminate educational inequity in technical careers.  Every year Codepath teaches hundreds of college students the skills they need to get jobs at companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon.

In this episode, Michael shares his stark assessment of how Silicon Valley treats Black engineers, including CS students who may have not gone to a ‘top’ school.  He discusses the toll both Covid and the recent events like the George Floyd killing have taken on Black students.

Michael shares what Silicon Valley leaders – venture capitalists and companies alike – can do to empower Black engineering students who seek jobs, or seek to start companies in Silicon Valley.

Listen on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get podcasts.

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135 VC Monique Woodard — Monique is NOT “Doing Fine”

Monique Woodard

Monique Woodard is a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.  She is one of the very rare Black, female General Partners in venture capital.  Previously on Something Ventured we explored Monique’s unique path to becoming a venture capitalist, and what she invests in.

As events drove the Black Lives Matter (“BLM”) movement to accelerate worldwide, Monique was gracious enough to come back and share her thoughts.

She discusses what she believes is the state of the BLM movement in general, and Silicon Valley’s dismal record on supporting Black investors and entrepreneurs in particular. She offers pure, unvarnished advice about what Silicon Valley can do – actually do – to begin fixing its problem.

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

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134 IVP’s Somesh Dash: In Divisive Times, Is Silicon Valley Doing Enough?

Somesh Dash

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Not every podcast includes a Langston Hughes quote.  Not every venture capitalist is Somesh Dash.  Somesh is a partner at the venture capital firm IVP.  IVP is one of the largest, most established venture firms in Silicon Valley.  From his post there, Somesh has seen several cycles of Silicon Valley’s ups and downs.

In this episode, we contemplate recent events:  Racial issues converging with US 2020 presidential politics and a country on edge from Covid. Looking to the leadership of Ailene Lee and All Rise, we contemplate what more Silicon Valley might do to be supportive of black Americans.  Not just the few (too few) black VCs and Founders in Silicon Valley, but All black Americans.

We turn to the long arc of investing in Silicon Valley – from the early days of IVP, the dot com crash, the 2008 financial crisis, the last 10 years and – the great unknown that is next.  

We finish with how VCs have reacted to Covid, and what is REALLY going to happen with ‘working from home”. Finally – we end on a positive note, with the poem that begins this introduction.

On iTunes, Spotify or anywhere you get your podcasts.


Somesh Dash on Twitter

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133 Eric Tarczynski of Contrary Capital: College – The Definitive Episode on Investing in Startup Founders in College

Eric Tarczynski of Contrary Capital

(Note:  This episode was recorded before the Covid crisis. It includes a brief introduction with Eric Tarczynski to update the status of his fund and college investing, post Covid.)

Eric Tarczynski is the founder of Contrary, a venture capital firm focused on investing in college students starting companies.  In this episode, Eric discusses how he built a network of college entrepreneurs, and how he created a venture fund focused on investing in college students.  We discuss the unique benefits and risks of investing in young founders, many with no work experience, as well as the lessons from famous college founder – Mark Zuckerberg.  

Colleges Contrary includes in its network are:  Boston College, Boston University, BYU, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Georgia Tech, Harvard, NYU, Northeastern, Ohio State, Penn State, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, Texas A&M, Tufts, Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, University of Chicago, UC Boulder, University of Illinois, University of Maryland, University of MIchigan, Notre Dame, Penn, USC, University of Texas, Virginia, Vanderbilt, University of Washington, Yale, and Waterloo.

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

Contrary Capital:

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132 Lyft’s Raj Kapoor: World Without Covid

Raj Kapoor
Lyft Chief Strategy Officer

Raj Kapoor contracted Covid in mid-March.  He and his family are recovered and well. But Raj is taking aim at shortening the path to a post-Covid world.  He partnered with Clara Health to create  The site let’s people register to help researchers worldwide accelerate their race to find better testing, treatments, and vaccines.

Raj has been a venture capitalist (Mayfield) and a entrepreneur (SnapFish).  He is currently the Chief Strategy Officer at Lyft.  

In this episode we discuss Raj’s journey from contracting to recovering from Covid.  We also discuss the path to finding a treatment, and the why’s and how’s of California’s lockdown.  We also discuss (Caifornia Governor) Gavin Newsom’s “6 Criteria for lifting quarantine”, and the current state of the US Presidential race.

We turn to Lyft, and the future of transportation (the original topic of this episode):   How Lyft is faring during the Covid crisis, how will change cities, and how Lyft affect climate change.

Finally, we briefly discuss the effect Covid might ultimately have on the music industry.

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

World Without Covid


Clara Health

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129 Mike Stutz: COVID Hits Hollywood

Mike Stutz

Mike Stutz is a Hollywood producer, director and writer.  He’s worked across genres, and recently has focused on reality TV (Animal Planet, Discovery Network, etc.)

In this episode, Mike discusses the impact of COVID-19 on Hollywood:  How it affects writers, producers and even standup comics.

We also discuss: What happened when Mike decided to leave Los Angeles for Arkansas and political protest when you can’t gather.

Finally – we end on a positive note (really!) about how to address depression and suicide when everyone is isolated.

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

Mike on Twitter:  @suicideblows

Mike on Instagram:  @resistanceclown

Mike’s Fairytale video:

Something Ventured website:

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128 Matt Hulett: Rosetta Stone’s President Connects the World Through Language Learning

(Note this episode was recorded before the current Coronavirus crisis)

Image of Matt Hulett, President of Rosetta Stone
Matt Hulett
President, Rosetta Stone

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.

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

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127 Brex’s COO on Why Immigrants Build Great Companies and How Brex is Transforming Finance

Paul-Henri Ferrand, Brex COO

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, 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.

Listen on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts

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126 Brianne Kimmel: A Venture Capitalist Makes Work More Human

Brianne Kimmel
Work Life Ventures

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.  

Please enjoy this episode with…Brianne Kimmel.

Listen on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get podcasts.

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Jeff Macpherson: Dr. Tiki Explains Why You Download Podcasts, But Stream Videos

Jeff Macpherson
Creative Director,

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  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  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.

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

Tiki Bar TV

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