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Something Ventured Posts

#110 Alison McCauley: Falling down the Blockchain Rabbit Hole (and why you should, too)

Alison McCauley is the Best Selling Author of Unblocked:  How blockchain will Change your Business and What to Do About It. 

Why does blockchain matter?  Alison points out that disruption is no longer a moment in time. It’s a continual state. How do you understand new opportunity? Set priorities in a complex and ever-shifting landscape? Prepare for what’s ahead? Alison helps you navigate the human side of digital acceleration.

In this episode we discuss the moment Alison came to be blown away by the potential of blockchain, how it’s like the early Internet…and the surprisingly large role of women in this industry. 

I also conduct a thorough podcast investigation of whether Alison is Satoshi Nakamoto. Don’t miss it!

More about Alison McCauley:

Alison is founder and CEO of Unblocked Future, a consultancy that helps executives drive adoption at the forefront of emerging tech. She helps companies communicate their vision, resonate with stakeholders, and activate communities for change. She is a keynote speaker who, in addition to spending time in the blockchain rabbit hole, helps teams to educate and drive adoption in their markets at the front edge of innovation in IoT, robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and other developing technologies.. A social scientist by training, she spent her career studying the intersection of human behavior and emerging technology, with 20 years of consulting to technology-first startups and Fortune-500 companies across industries including healthcare, education, telecommunications, energy, retail, finance, hospitality, and manufacturing


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#109 E. Keller Fitzsimmons: The Darkness in Silicon Valley – Anxiety, Depression and Suicide in Startuplandia

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 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

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#108 Adriana Gascoigne: Tech Boss Lady

Adriana Gascoigne
Founder of Girls in Tech

Adriana is the Founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that empowers women in the tech industry across the globe. Before founding Girls in Tech, Adriana served in executive roles at Ogilvy & Mather, Interpublic Group of Companies, Social Gaming Network (SGN), and SecondMarket.  She has been named one of the 20 most influential Latinos in Technology by CNET, among other awards.

She is author of the book Tech Boss Lady:  How to Startup, Disrupt and Thrive as a Female Founder

In this episode, Adriana charts the influence her immigrant grandparents, and entrepreneurial parents had on her.  She shares her early experience with Silicon Valley’s unwelcoming male culture, and how she came to create the global enterprise that is Girls in Tech.  She discusses how sexual harassment in Silicon Valley has – and hasn’t – changed.  From roller skating to balling up stress like a travel t-shirt – this episode has a bit of everything.

Listen on iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts

Girls in Tech

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#107 Anne Dwayne: From Startup to Public Company To VC — Her Journey

Anne Dwane
Village Global

Anne Dwane is co-founder and partner of Village Global, the venture firm backed by an impressive and diverse group of investors that includes:  Jeff Bezos, Sara Blakely, Reid Hoffman, Magic Johnson, Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg, Diane Green, Judy Estrin, and Ken Chennault. 

Before becoming a venture capitalist, Anne was a tech company co-founder, a private company CEO, and public company executive. She built with previous podcast guest Chris Michel, and was CEO of Zinch before it was acquired by Chegg.  At Chegg she had P&L responsibility as the company became public, with a value over $1 billion.

In this episode, Anne shares her journey from Harvard Business School, to Silicon Valley, and her path to becoming a public company executive to her latest role as a venture capitalist at Village Global.

Listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Village Global

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#106 Chris Michel’s Extraordinary Path and Wise Life Advice

Chris Michel
Photo Courtesy of Christopher Michel Photography

After attending the University of Illinois, Chris Michel began his career as a Naval Flight Officer, flying aboard P-3 Orion “sub-hunters”. 

Today, he is a photographer, chronicling Silicon Valley and the World.  His photography has taken him from the edge of space, to the North and South Poles and everything in between.  Chris’s path from the Navy to photographer was not a straight line, and in this podcast you’ll hear his story. 

In this wide-ranging discussion we talk about how Chris made it from the Navy to Harvard business school, where he met his  business partner (and future podcast guest) Anne Dwane.  Also covered are his path to founding two Silicon Valley companies, and his struggle to guide them through difficult times. 

Finally, we discuss Chris’s advice on how to think about structuring a career and life.

Listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Christopher Michel Photography

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#105: Jullian Guthrie: Taking on Silicon Valley’s Male Culture with Alpha Girls

Julian Guthrie, Alpha Girls Author

Julian Guthrie is a journalist-turned-author, covering such topics as Larry Ellison’s quest for the America’s Cup, and the new age of private space exploration. She gravitates to tales of underdogs and innovation, and her latest book is no exception.

Alpha Girls:  The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime” is the story of 4 women:  Magdalena Yesil, Mary Jane Elmore, Theresia Gouw, and Sonja Hoel Perkins.  Each of these rose – against the well-known odds of Silicon Valley – to the top of the game.

Well before “me too” these 4 women juggled work and family, overcame unequal pay, and faced the sexist attitudes prevalent in male-dominated Silicon Valley.  Nevertheless, they rose to rewrite the rules of an entire industry.

Each story is amazing on its own. Magdalena Yesil, came from Turkey with $43 to her name, and would go on to help Marc Benioff build Salesforce.

Mary Jane Elmore went from the cornfields of Indiana to Silicon Valley and landed at the storied venture capital firm IVP – where she was one of the first women in the U.S. to make partner at a venture firm.

Theresia Gouw, Asian American from a working-class town, ultimately helped venture firm Accel Partners invest in firms like Google, Facebook, Imperva, Forescout, and Trulia.

Sonja Hoel Perkins, a Southerner, became one of the first women investing partners at white-glove Menlo Ventures, and invested in McAfee, Hotmail, Acme Packet, and F5 Networks.

In this wide ranging conversation, Julian shares her experience in writing this book, and previous books including “How to Make a Spaceship,” with a foreword by Richard Branson and an afterword by Stephen Hawking, and “The Billionaire and the Mechanic,” about Larry Ellison. We also discuss the current state of sexism in Silicon Valley, her predictions for the future, and the in-the-works adaptation of her book for television.

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#104: Charles Hudson Builds a Pre-seed Venture Fund

Charles Hudson is the founder and Managing Partner of Precursor Ventures, one of Silicon Valley’s hot seed stage venture firms.  He was previously at Uncork Capital, the storied seed venture firm founded by Jeff Clavier.  Precursor is a classic seed stage venture firm investing in founders they believe in. 

Before becoming a venture capitalist, Charles cofounded Bionic Panda Games, and held senior business development roles at Serious Business and Gaia Interactive.

Also – he went to Stanford.  Twice.

In this episode we discuss a range of issues including what it’s like to be a black VC in a mostly white industry, how he made his way to venture, what it’s like working at In-Q-Tel, and why he left a hugely successful VC to start his own.

Listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!

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#103: Michael Tchong on the Ubercool Future

Michael Tchong has been called “the most influential trend-spotter in America”. He is a top-rated innovation speaker, adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, trend forecaster and author of “Ubertrends — How Trends And Innovation Are Transforming Our Future.” He heads up incubator Ubercool Innovation and is the founder of four disruptive startups, including MacWEEK, Atelier Systems, CyberAtlas and ICONOCAST, all riding early market waves.

In this podcast we discuss “Ubertrends” — his proprietary framework of massive waves that are reshaping global human behavior. In this podcast, Michael and Kent discuss the trends that are shaping the future — from “time compression” to the to the ‘rise of women’ — we cover them all.

The full set of trends discussed includes: Digital Lifestyle — Marriage of Man and Machine;  Fountain of Youth — Rejuvenating Body, Spirit and Environment;  Generation X-tasy — Been There, Done That;  Time Compression — The Acceleration of Life;  Unwired — Untethered and Unfettered;  Casual Living — The Evaporation of Decorum;  Voyeurgasm — I Like to Watch;  WAF (Woman’s Acceptance Factor) — Ascent of Woman;  Innovation — Reinventing Business and Life

More about the book: Ubertrends — How Trends And Innovation Are Transforming Our Future is a graphic and eye-opening exploration of nine disruptive forces that are shape-shifting society. As these massive waves crash into the future, they leave many subtrends in their wake while leading to many cultural value changes. Society’s permanently altered behavior provides ready context for how the future will evolve

Listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

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#102: Scott Kupor: Secrets of Sand Hill Road

Scott Kupor is the managing partner of famed venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm with more than $7 billion of assets under management that sits at the beating heart of Sand Hill Road. Sand Hill road is, of course, the physical center of the venture capital industry – the greatest wealth-generating machine in the world. So…Scott is at the center of the center of the global venture capital industry.

In his new book — Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It — Scott covers a range of topics critical to any founder: Why VCs invest in particular stages, the key skill for raising venture capital, and what happens when things don’t go so well.

Listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

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#101 Ellen Pao: Ellen Changes the Game

Ellen Pao
(Photo by Chris Michel)

Ellen Pao is CEO of Project Include and author of the book Reset:  My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change.    Her book looks at power in the tech world – and why so few women and people of color hold it. 

She famously sued an elite venture capital firm for sexism, and in doing so set off a national conversation.

As CEO of Reddit, she waged one of the first highly visible battles against Internet trolls – a topic which has since exploded as big tech companies come under heavier scrutiny. 

In this wide-ranging conversation, we cover a range of topics.  From Ellen’s experience litigating against a powerful venture capital firm to the current state of diversity in Silicon Valley she tells her story.

Listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

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