Acquired LP Show

By Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal

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Description

Every company has a story. On the Acquired LP Show, we join the next generation of expert founders and investors — those whose stories are being written in real-time. We go behind the scenes on their journeys and bring back emerging insights and lessons that are useful for anyone in the startup ecosystem.

Episode Date
Italic & a New Era of Online Retail
01:12:00

We sit down with Jeremy Cai, the CEO of new retail pioneer Italic, for a fascinating discussion of how they're upending the traditional manufacturer-brand-retailer model by taking the opposite approach of earlier DTC startups. Rather than elevating brand and cutting out retail, Italic cuts out the brand and lets the actual manufacturers (who you've never heard of but who make most of the actual products that J. Crew, Everlane, etc sell) market and sell direct to customers.

Sponsor:

Thank you to Tegus for being our first presenting sponsor for the Acquired LP Show! This is a new experiment for us and we're super excited to have them as our first partner.

Tegus empowers Corporate Development teams to make decisions smarter and faster by pairing the highest quality user-generated content and data with best-in-class technology. Tegus expert calls are recorded, transcribed, and uploaded to the shared platform for all their customers to read or listen to. They are the only company in the world that aggregates qualitative information on private companies from seed-stage to pre-IPO. They’re trusted by many amazing investors and companies around the world like JFrog, Spark, Thrive, Redpoint and more.

You can learn more and get a free trial at https://www.tegus.co/acquired and just tell them that David and Ben sent you when you get in touch!

Jan 06, 2022
2021 Recap: Acquired x Not Boring x The Generalist
01:43:53

Originally broadcast live on New Years Eve: we raise a glass (of coffee haha) and recap 2021 with our besties Mario Gabriele from the Generalist and Packy McCormick from Not Boring. Thank you for making 2021 an incredible year for all of us at ACQ, NB + TG, and may 2022 be filled with great things and grand adventures for us all!

Jan 02, 2022
Mission-Driven Founders, Global Investing, and Canva (with Wesley Chan)
18:18

Last month, Ben sat down with Wesley Chan at Web Summit for a quick, 18-minute interview. The conversation was supposed to be about global investing in 2021 as an early-stage VC, but the conversation turned mostly into the origin story of Wesley's (unbelievably good) seed investment in Canva.

Wesley's firm Felicis Ventures invested pre-revenue, leading the seed round, and Canva is valued at $40 billion today. Wesley dives into the details (and why he invested in the first place!) in this interview.

Dec 30, 2021
Blue Origin and the 2021 Space Landscape (with Rob Meyerson)
40:38

Today we're excited to have a longtime friend of the Acquired family on the LP Show, Rob Meyerson. Rob was the President of Blue Origin for 15 years, and today is an investor and advisor to space industry startups. Ben recorded this interview live at the fantastic aerospace industry conference, ASCEND, where Rob is the Executive Producer.

In this interview we cover:

  • How Blue Origin started, and what it was like in the early days (spoiler: they weren't yet building rockets!)
  • Rob’s experience working directly for Jeff Bezos
  • What’s changed about SpaceX since May of 2020, when we did our Acquired episode on the company
  • Rob’s theses about what sectors of commercial space are poised for growth in the next few years
Dec 06, 2021
Ben and David on "This Week in Startups" Holiday Special
01:30:42

Ben and David go on "This Week in Startups" with Jason Calacanis for a holiday special! 

Discussion includes:

- Talking TWIST and All-In this year with everything from politics to weight loss to private jets

- Acquired's year and some of Ben and David's biggest insights from episodes

- VC, valuations, and crypto investing mechanics

- Use cases for crypto, and trying to get Jason (a skeptic) excited

- Carveouts: our favorite books, podcasts, and TV shows from this year

Note: we are publishing this simultaneously in the paid LP feed and the public feed since it is already available in the public TWIST feed.

Dec 02, 2021
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: A Fireside Chat
41:00

We are very excited to bring you a special LP interview with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Aside from Joe's well-known work as a Golden Globe-nominated, Emmy-award-winning actor in films like 500 Days of Summer, Inception, and Looper, Joe is also the founder of  HITRECORD, a startup which brings creative collaborators together across film, music, books, and more.

Ben sat down with Joe to discuss:

  • The creator economy’s focus on the finished product vs. the creative process, and how he thinks about this at HITRECORD
  • The state of the film and TV industry today, amidst the shift to streaming platforms and tech companies as primary distribution channels
  • What it has been like on set playing Travis Kalanick in Showtime’s upcoming “Super Pumped”

Thanks to our good friends at Fika Ventures for setting this conversation up!

Nov 15, 2021
Update on Dad Life, MacBook Pros, and Acquired Video
57:28

The title says it all. This feels weird to release by Acquired standards -- an hour of audio with zero research! -- but we wanted to check in with y'all and say hi from parental leave.

Topics covered:

- Update on Dad Life

- Ben's new MacBook Pro

- Discussion of Acquired's approach to doing video / YouTube

Nov 09, 2021
Web3 Marketplaces (with Braintrust CEO Adam Jackson)
59:13

We sit down with Adam Jackson, the cofounder and CEO of Freelance Labs, which builds the incredible Web3 project Braintrust. (Disclosure David is an investor via Kindergarten Ventures.) We talk all about what a marketplace looks like in Web3, and why it's a completely different animal than traditional Web2 marketplaces like Uber, eBay, DoorDash, etc. Prior to starting Braintrust, Adam was the CEO of Doctor on Demand, so has literally lived both sides of the table. Tune in for a FASCINATING discussion of everything that crypto / tokenization enables, and why it's such an exciting shift that unlocks massive, $000B+ opportunities like Braintrust.

Oct 26, 2021
Audius (with CEO Roneil Rumberg)
01:18:58

We sit down with Roneil Rumberg, the cofounder and CEO of Audius — the decentralized music platform which currently is likely the widest-adopted Web3 project in existence with over 6m active users. This conversation was AWESOME, and covers everything from Silicon Valley history, to how the music industry works, to the technical aspects and challenges of building a Web3 project today. Huge thank you to Roneil to joining us, and we're looking forward to hearing more from Audius on Acquired in the years to come!

Oct 11, 2021
Special drop: David on Levels' Podcast!
01:11:55

Earlier this week David went on Levels' podcast, A Whole New Level, hosted by Acquired "Super LP" and Levels' head of growth, Ben Grynol. We had such a blast that we wanted to share here with the community as well! Full show notes from Levels below:

When most companies start, they are single-threaded companies. More specifically, companies start with one product or revenue stream and evolve. Amazon is a great example of a company that has built an ecosystem. The company started as an e-commerce site for selling books, and now has a number of inter-related businesses that make up the entire Amazon ecosystem.

Netflix is an example of a company that started as a single-threaded company – (a platform for viewing video content) – and has, for the most part, remained that way since its inception.

As we build Levels, we often think about the way that our company will evolve – will it be an ecosystem for health, or will we remain focused on monitoring glucose? In this episode, David Rosenthal, (VC and Host of Acquired Podcast), dives deep into what it takes to build an ecosystem around a company.

Oct 07, 2021
Explaining Macroeconomics, The Fed, Interest Rates and Valuations (with Matt McBrady)
01:31:06

Confused about everything going on with The Fed, inflation and how it affects tech and startup valuations? Or why it seems like every Jerome Powell comment brings out an army of finance's equivalent of fortune tellers and tarot card readers? So were we, so we called up the best person we know to explain everything -- Matt McBrady. Matt may be the only person who's been an academic economist, worked at the US Treasury, run a massive hedge fund AND helped start and sit on the board of two very successful startups, aQuantive and Axon/TASER. Tune in for a crash course in everything you need to know!

Links

Aug 16, 2021
Kim-Mai Cutler -- From Journalist to VC
43:06

We sit down with Initialized Capital's Kim-Mai Cutler to talk about her opposite journey from us at Acquired, going from journalist to VC. We riff on how the landscape has evolved from Kim-Mai's parents' "Hewlett Packard generation" in the Valley through the TechCrunch era that se was a big part of, to today and how the nature of reporting, investing and influence -- the intersection of the two -- has changed.

Aug 04, 2021
Managing a Crypto Fund (with Kyle Samani from Multicoin Capital)
01:14:56

How on earth do you professionally manage a crypto investment firm? That was the question we wanted to find out, so we dialed up one of the best in the business: Multicoin Capital cofounder and managing partner Kyle Samani. Appropriately fresh on the heels of our Solana special episode (Multicoin was one of Solana's earliest investors), we dive into how in a few short years Kyle, Tushar and the team have built one of the largest and most well-known dedicated crypto funds on the market. We cover Multicoin's three crypto "mega-theses", how they've structured the firm across both a venture and hedge fund, and the dynamics of managing capital and running a firm in the new and fast-moving world of crypto investing.

Links:

Jul 22, 2021
Owning Your Own Media Stream (from Collison Conf with Garry Tan)
20:43

Ben interviewed Initialized Capital founder and friend of the show, Garry Tan at Collision Conf last month. Garry is of course also a YouTuber, Clubhouse'r, and master of content creation. The good people at Collision Conf gave us the thumbs up to share this interview on the value of owning your own media stream with all of you.

Jun 03, 2021
Making your customers your secret weapon (with Highspot's Oliver Sharp)
01:32:23

We're joined by Oliver Sharp of Highspot, Seattle's most recent unicorn company (at least at the time of recording!), to talk about how and why to architect everything a software company does around its customers — what today is often called "customer-led growth" — but really represents a company building philosophy that runs much deeper. Oliver has serious software cred: he first joined Microsoft in 1984, and then later became part of Bill Gates' famous "TA" staff after Microsoft acquired his first startup. The conversation was *fantastic* and we owe a huge thank you to Oliver for sharing his decades of learning by doing with us. Make sure you don't miss this one!

Apr 29, 2021
LP "Expert Call" with Josh Clemente from Levels
01:09:01

We got *awesome* feedback on the recent special episode we did with Levels founder Josh Clemente -- so we asked Josh if he'd join for a follow-up Q+A session on our next LP Call, and he graciously agreed! 

The conversation was so good we decided to release the audio recording in the LP feed. (In addition to the LP Drive as always -- the video recording is linked there.)

Thanks again to Josh and the Levels crew, and we hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did live!

Apr 23, 2021
The Meituan Bear Case (with Lillian Li)
01:13:15

When the internet’s top China tech analyst Lillian Li posted a great Twitter take (linked below) on our Meituan episode, we knew we had to try to get her on the LP Show to tell us all more. What’s really going on with these platforms on the ground in China, what is the government’s role in all this, and why is Meituan’s outlook “rosy, but maybe not quite as rosy as we painted on the episode”? Thanks to the magic of the internet, a few Twitter DMs later and voila — not only do we have this awesome episode with her, but a new friend and collaborator on hopefully much more Western - China tech crossover content to come!


Links:

Apr 01, 2021
Modern Treasury interviews Ben & David (and vice versa!)
52:18

The very cool (and also very hot! you can read about their recent funding rounds from Benchmark and Altimeter) fintech startup Modern Treasury recently asked if they could interview us for their internal "Coffee Break" series of fireside chats. We agreed, on one condition... that we also get to interview them and share with Acquired LPs! The result was a match made in Acquired interview heaven. :) 

Links:

Mar 18, 2021
State-of-SaaS and Deep Collaboration (with Jake Saper from Emergence Capital)
01:07:01

Emergence Capital's Jake Saper returns to the LP Show to talk 2021 "state-of-SaaS" and Emergence's Deep Collaboration thesis. We cover how Figma changed the game for embedded collaboration within work tools, and why this theme represents a deep vein that Emergence is investing behind with companies like Ironclad and Jake's latest investment in Maze. Plus we cover the impact of the Zoom investment (undeniably one of the greatest venture investments of all time) on Emergence as a firm, and why investing in your partnership through coaching, peer groups and simply prioritizing dedicated time together is just as important after big successes as before.

Peer group resources Jake recommends for entrepreneurs:

Mar 05, 2021
The Idea Dinner #1 (with Mario Gabriele and Packy McCormick)
01:15:14

We team up with Mario from the Generalist and Packy from Not Boring for a something new: The Idea Dinner!

We've been longtime fans of each others' work and, given all the buzz on Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces, decided to team up and run a little experiment: The Idea Dinner. Last night on Twitter Spaces we all got together and brought one beverage of choice, one public market investment idea, and one private market investment idea.

Despite some technical audio issues... it was a blast! We're super excited to share the recording here with everyone who couldn't make it. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Stay tuned for more to come!

Feb 26, 2021
Roblox IPO Preview (with Mario Gabriele from The Generalist)
01:25:09

It's a kids game, it's a social network, it's... potentially the hottest IPO of 2021? We team up with Mario Gabriele from The Generalist + S-1 Club to break down Roblox's business and its prospects as a public company.

Links

Feb 12, 2021
What Remote Work Looks Like in 2021 (and Beyond) with Doist CEO Amir Salihefendić
54:14

With 2020 and (hopefully soon) the global pandemic coming to a close, both existing and new companies everywhere will soon face a choice of how to operate going forward. Embrace the "future" that was pulled forward by the pandemic and remain remote? Or return fully/partially to a physical office environment? For those who choose the future (and investors who are considering betting on them), Doist and its CEO Amir Salihefendić provide a 10-year case study of both the challenges that arise and the opportunities unlocked by embracing the internet to its fullest extent in growing and running an organization. And oh yeah — along the way they built a profitable, double-digit $m ARR business with 100 employees, that's been completely bootstrapped on $0 capital invested. We dive into it all!

 

Share this episode: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/what-remote-work-looks-like-in-2021-and-beyond-with-doist-ceo-amir-salihefendic 

 

Topics Covered:

  • Amir and Doist's journey from side programming project to bootstrapped, double-digit million ARR global business
  • How they've operated as remote-only company for the past 10+ years, with 100 people across 35 countries and 10+ time zones
  • Why just going remote but keeping the same tools and culture as in-person doesn't solve any problems and just creates more
  • Why the temporal nature of work is just as (if not more) important than its physical location, and how the new modality of "asynchronous" work takes advantage of that
  • How remote + asynchronous unlocks massive opportunity both for new companies and the tools to serve them

 

Links:

Dec 21, 2020
VC Fundamentals Part 4: Portfolio Construction & Management (with Jaclyn Hester & Lindel Eakman of Foundry Group)
01:14:32

We continue our VC Fundamentals series with Portfolio Construction & Management — how do you build and manage a fund's portfolio as a whole, beyond each individual portfolio company and investment decision? We brought in two of the very best people in the world to help us dissect this topic: Jaclyn Hester & Lindel Eakman of Foundry Group. Jaclyn and Lindel have been early and longtime LPs in some of the best venture funds in the world: USV, True, Spark — and of course Foundry — and now also sit on the GP side of the table at Foundry. Tune in for a master class on how the best VC managers think about generating and optimizing fund performance.

Share this episode: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/vc-fundamentals-part-4-portfolio-construction-management-with-jaclyn-hester-lindel-eakman-of-foundry-group 

Topics Covered:

1. The bar for what "good" venture fund performance looks like in terms of returns:

  • Where venture sits on the spectrum of capital allocation options available to limited partners
  • The difference between "gross" and "net" fund returns and why IRR is still important
  • The distribution of returns across venture firms & funds — how many hit the performance bar — and the importance of diversification vintage years

2. Portfolio construction: how do you allocate the fund's capital across companies?

  • Why have a "portfolio" at all vs. loading up on a few high conviction investments — and what an LP's incentives are for diversification vs. a GP's
  • How to determine overall $ size you should target for a fund
  • Concentration vs diversification and the concepts of "shots on goal" and "groups" of high-potential companies within a portfolio
  • Fund reserves planning — are you "making your money at the buy", or able to buy up over time in your winners?

3. Balancing playing offense and defense:

  • The upside potential of "interstitial rounds"
  • Whether it's possible to save a company with more capital, and if pivots are a good idea

4. Time allocation vs capital allocation within a fund:

  • Understanding and managing your own cognitive biases
  • Why time & effort allocation across a portfolio rarely matches capital allocation (and shouldn't)
  • Why a firm's partnership dynamics are typically the most important driver of funds' outcomes


Links:

Nov 30, 2020
Masterclass: Superhuman's Fundraising Playbook (with CEO Rahul Vohra)
01:11:09

Superhuman CEO Rahul Vohra joins us for an absolute masterclass on startup fundraising that shatters much outdated traditional wisdom in the space. We cover why it's possible to build momentum and raise even as a solo founder, how you should think about syndicates vs. "brand name" VCs, and why you always want to be preempted and how to make that happen. This episode is a 100% must-listen for anyone raising money now, or planning to in the future.

Topics Covered:

  1. How to run a successful fundraising process
    • Why founders should think about raising money as "creating a market" for their company's equity
    • How to build fundraising momentum, and why you shouldn't be afraid of using outsourced design and development agencies
    • Preempted fundraises vs marketed fundraises: why you always want to be preempted, and how to orchestrate that happening
    • Non-obvious ways that founders should think about runway, amount to raise and raise-timing in order to always have leverage in fundraising conversations
  2. Round construction
    • The value of "brand name" investors vs. non-traditional capital, and why you actually want both at different times
    • Why founders might want to raise their first capital from other founders and operators (versus from funds)
    • Why founders should put some of their own capital into early rounds
    • How to use high-resolution financings (SAFEs and convertible debt) efficiently
    • The concept of "interstitial financings", where you raise convertible debt in-between rounds, and when & how to use them
  3. Investing while also being a founder / operator
    • Time/attention allocation and why it's now possible to do both effectively
    • Flexibility to build positions over time vs. traditional fund structures
    • Rahul's own angel fund with Todd Goldberg
  4. Bonus! The origin story behind the Superhuman name

Links:

Nov 12, 2020
Book Club Discussion: Brotopia with Emily Chang
55:41

Hello LPs!

Posting the audio recording of our Book Club Zoom session with Emily Chang in digestible podcast form. For those who weren't able to attend, we hope you get as much out of the recording as we did being there live!

Thanks as always,

Ben & David

 

LP GDrive link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1PX_6bUsHJRN3eZsCH5K8m-9OfHTOuFXH

Book notes public post: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/book-club-discussion-brotopia-with-emily-chang

GDoc version of book notes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1939VQja1rIK9yP1Ahe4w2frPy4-nUYEH7pxwRk-WjBk/edit?usp=drive_web&ouid=110434699798216361855

Oct 23, 2020
How YC Rewrote the Seed Playbook with Garry Tan
01:13:53

We're joined by Posterous co-founder, former YC partner and current Managing Partner of Initialized Capital Garry Tan to go deep on how YC changed the game for company creation and seed investing, how they thought about building the "cult" of startups, and what lies ahead as the early-stage world continues to globalize and evolve more quickly than ever.

 

Topics Covered (among others):

  1. How the recruiting challenge for early-stage startups led to outside-the-box thinking
    • Peter Thiel’s “crazy” (but not actually crazy) offer to Garry to join Palantir
    • Leveraging “cult” startup culture into a magnet for specific types of people
  2. Y Combinator’s path from fringe to mainstream
    • Insight that those same cult recruiting techniques could be applied at a meta-level to recruiting company founders themselves
    • Initial strong reactions to YC, and knowing they were on to something
    • The beginning of “influencer investing” with Paul Graham’s essays + Hacker News
  3. The blooming of Seed as an asset class alongside and around YC
    • The landmark deal with SV Angel and DST / Yuri Milner to “auto-fund” every YC company starting in 2011
    • YC scaling from ~10-12 companies per batch to 70-80 and now 200+ per batch
    • Starting Initialized Capital within YC, and then spinning it out into one of the largest independent seed funds
  4. Influencer investing and startup evangelism going mainstream
    • The impact of The Social Network movie
    • Exporting the ~”YC message” to the entire world: you can start a startup
    • The power of direct, bi-directional access to people via the internet

Links:

Sep 29, 2020
VC Fundamentals Part 3: Company Building
01:32:23

We continue our VC Fundamentals series with Company Building — everything that happens after you write the check. We catalog the different categories, strategies and tactics for VCs to "add value" to their portfolio companies, from direct involvement to portfolio services to simply doing nothing (often better than many alternatives!). For both of us, this is the best and most fun part of being an investor, and we hope that shines through in this episode. Here's to building great companies!

 

Share this episode: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/vc-fundamentals-part-3-company-building 

 

Topics Covered:

  • The goals of Company Building:
    1. (Obviously) add value to your investments
    2. (Less obviously) increase your odds of finding / winning your next investments
  • The four categories of company building:
    1. "Direct" work by the GPs
    2. "Active" platform and portfolio services teams
    3. "Passive" brand halo effect
    4. Simply "doing nothing"
  • Activities you actually do:
    • Board work (both governance and strategic / operational planning)
    • Planning and orchestrating future financings and exits
    • Recruiting, closing deals and "selling"
    • Cofounder / executive disputes and departures
    • Pivots and company shutdowns
  • And perhaps the most important Company Building advice of all: Don't Freak Out.

 

Links:

Sep 15, 2020
The Outsiders Book Club Discussion with author Will Thorndike
01:05:34

Hello LPs!

Posting the audio recording of our Book Club Zoom session with Will Thorndike from The Outsiders in digestible podcast form. Big thank you to Will and to all of you who made this a really special experience. For those of you who weren't able to attend, we hope you get as much out of the recording as we did live!

Thanks as always for being on this journey with us,

- Ben & David

 

LP GDrive link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1PX_6bUsHJRN3eZsCH5K8m-9OfHTOuFXH

Book notes public post: https://medium.com/@AcquiredFM/book-club-notes-the-outsiders-569175957ab4

GDoc version of book notes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gipiBGB_xnuQkPFVJVZ-XxSVjy6DSxwEloEN3qnloyA/edit

 

Outsiders Book Notes

Summary Thoughts:

This fantastic book consists of eight case studies of “Outsider” CEOs who, borrowing the words of Warren Buffett’s quote on the cover, “excelled at capital allocation” and created enormous shareholder returns during their tenures.

Btw, how crazy is it that Warren Buffett gave the cover quote? That rivals Reed Hastings writing the forward for 7 Powers. 😀

All of the CEOs profiled (with the exception of Buffett himself) operated in the pre-internet and, in most cases, pre-private equity eras. While much has obviously changed -- the days of buying companies for <5x cashflow are probably permanently behind us -- it’s striking how many of the lessons remain highly relevant and, surprisingly, not well or broadly implemented today. We highlight the ones that struck us as the most unique and important in the following notes.

Notes:

Rather than cover each case study (Acquired listeners will appreciate reading in full for the stories!), we list our overall themes and takeaways below:

  1. The primary job of a CEO should be capital allocation (monetary + human) in pursuit of value creation, not “leadership” or growth

    • CEOs who are “leaders” (good with the press, investors, at all-hands, etc) are often optimizing for external validation, not firm value creation
    • Growth -- in revenue, headcount, business lines, etc. -- does not always translate to value (see e.g., AOL-Time Warner, VC-backed companies spending unprofitably, etc). Often a slower but more disciplined approach is better in the long run.
    • Developing a (high) internal IRR hurdle rate that all capital projects are required to hit or exceed in order to obtain approval is the best way to manage to value creation
  2. Independent thinking (avoiding Buffett/Munger’s “institutional imperative”) is required to achieve sustained above-market results

    • If everyone else in the industry / market is doing (or not doing) something, you should really ask yourself why, and whether you would earn superior returns by taking a different approach. Again the best way to do this is to run the numbers (simply! No complicated excel sheets.) and assign projected rates of return + risk to your various scenarios.
  3. Decentralization of operations and decision making is generally preferable to centralization

    • An exception to this rule may be capital allocation decisions, which should be made by the CEO / headquarters team. However, Constellation Software (not profiled in The Outsiders) is a fantastic example of a world-class capital allocation operation that is itself radically decentralized.
  4. Flexibility coupled with analytical rigor is generally preferable to detailed future planning

    • Also not discussed in the book, but one highly effective “Outsider-type” CEO uses a simply modified First Chicago Method for evaluating all capital projects: think about 4 scenarios ranging from big win to total loss, then assign your best estimate probabilities to each. Then update those probabilities every ~6-12 months as you learn more. If the weighted return estimate falls below your hurdle rate, kill it.
  5. Frugality is next to godliness

    • Avoid cash outflows that do not create a tangible return like the plague. E.g., corporate overhead costs, managing to GAAP net income vs cashflow (which results in higher taxes)
    • We love this one: the “Edifice Complex”. Construction of an elaborate new headquarters building tends to be inversely correlated with future investor returns. (note this applies equally to startups, VCs/investment firms, etc)
  6. It’s generally better to adopt (non-core) new technologies into your business later vs earlier

    • Except for technology that is core to your product and customer relationships (which you should probably own/develop in-house anyway), it’s better to be a “settler” vs a “pioneer” when say adopting a new CRM system, etc. Let others prove ROI and figure out how to use it effectively, then implement once the value case is clear (which it often won’t be).
  7. This one is specific to John Malone / TCI, but we couldn’t resist and it’s fun re: Acquired history. TCI (and its successor Liberty Media) was basically the Tencent of cable! They owned the distribution platform and king-made + took equity stakes in content providers: BET, Turner, Discovery, etc. Curious how much of Tencent’s strategy has been deliberately borrowed from TCI/Liberty vs. developed independently.

  8. “Compound[ing] is the 8th wonder of the world” (-Einstein) Don’t interrupt it!!

    • Massively differentiated results can only be realized over long periods of time -- the vast portion of the value in a compounding asset comes in the final years you own it.
    • Look at the chart below [note, was too hard to embed in podcast notes, check the links to view!] showing relative share price performance of the 8 “Outsider” CEOs -- it only begins to diverge widely vs. market 10+ years in.
Sep 03, 2020
Primer on SPACs with Kevin Hartz and Troy Steckenrider of A* and AONE
01:02:54

We dive into everything you need to know about SPACs — what they are, why they're a compelling alternative to IPO/DPOs, and how they might play an even more important role in startup financing going forward — with two of the very best people to teach us: Kevin Hartz and Troy "SPAC Professor" Steckenrider of the newly-minted $200m SPAC, AONE.

Share this episode: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/primer-on-spacs-with-kevin-hartz-and-troy-steckenrider-of-a-and-aone 

Links:

TLDR:

  • SPACs are an alternative path for companies to go public, however until recently they were mostly obscure and little-known/used.
  • Meanwhile, the traditional IPO process has become onerous and broken: it takes 9+ months of company time, yet investors get only 15 minutes of management access and must make a decision in <24 hours. The result is massive mis-alignments in pricing and access (see e.g. Bill Gurley's rants).
  • SPACs provide (in theory) a better path: ~2 months of company and investor time spent together, the net result of which is a large cash infusion at an appropriate equity price via a liquid public stock that anyone can buy/sell. In other words, what IPOs are supposed to look like.
  • SPACs themselves also provide an interesting option for investors: each one is essentially a publicly traded "atomic" growth fund that will invest in just one company. You as a retail investor can go buy shares in e.g. AONE, Dragoneer's SPAC, Bill Ackman's SPAC, etc, whereas you could never get access to their traditional funds. (which are only open to select large institutions)
    • SPACs are also interesting to large institutions themselves: rather than commit large sums of capital upfront to blind-pool funds, they can invest company-by-company with whomever they like, and take back their capital whenever they don't like a deal.
Aug 25, 2020
Recording -- 7 Powers Book Club Discussion with Hamilton Helmer
01:16:00

Hello LPs! We heard from several of you that Book Club recordings were hard to digest as Zoom recordings. So we stripped out the audio and are posting here in podcast form. 

Thanks to all of you who made this a really special experience with Hamilton, and for those of you who weren't able to attend we hope you're able to get as much out of the recording as we did live!

-Ben & David

Aug 19, 2020
VC Fundamentals Part 2: Investment Decision Making
01:05:09

Despite many advances in industry transparency over the past ~10 years, much about the actual "jobs of a VC" remains locked inside firm/institutional knowledge and venture's apprenticeship model. With this series we aim to change that. Our goal is to draw back the curtain on what the actual tasks are that VCs do day-to-day, how you can learn them, and ultimately what's required to succeed. We hope this series will be helpful both to anyone looking to break into the industry and to those who are already practicing, and also for entrepreneurs and consumers of venture capital to understand more about the motivations and activities of those across the table!

We continue in this episode with (initial) investment decision making: how it's done in practice across the industry, who within firms makes the decisions, and -- most importantly -- the incentives and behavioral finance elements that shape people's actions. Our goal on this one was to explain and hopefully bring to light a process that impacts nearly everyone in our industry, but few people are ever exposed to (and even then only rarely).

Aug 06, 2020
Arming the Restaurant Rebels with Tock CEO Nick Kokonas
01:14:22

We’re joined by Tock CEO Nick Kokonas to discuss how they’re “arming the restaurateur rebels” versus DoorDash / Uber Eats, in much the same way Shopify has done so for ecommerce merchants versus Amazon. This episode is full of lessons on how to execute a counter-positioning playbook to disrupt entrenched incumbents, including the influence of Nick’s friend / Tock investor and Nobel prize winning economist Richard Thaler. Whether you’re an entrepreneur who’s also building a “picks & shovels” type business or an investor interested in the future of the food industry or disruption in general, this is not one to miss.

See Ben's original Tweet that spurred the episode here: https://twitter.com/gilbert/status/1277740701246083072

There are lots of great replies to help understand the restaurant tech ecosystem, and of course, Nick chimed in with a tweet that led to him coming on the show. (Thanks to Matt Shobe for connecting us!) You can read distilled observations from all the replies here.

“Even if you’re long on Tesla, don’t buy Tesla Options.” – Nick Kokonas

(Instagram: @nkokonas, Twitter: @NickKokonas)

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

Show Links:

Tuesday is Not Saturday

Tim Ferriss Interview w/ Nick: 

VCs Congratulating Themselves

 

Show Bookmarks:

[02:20] – The Beginning of Tock

[06:18] – The Margins of (most) Restaurants

[12:00] – Margins & Food Delivery Platforms

[16:20] – Building Tock / SaaS in Restaurants

[32:20] – March 06: The Oh Sh*t Day

[44:55] – Elevated Carry Out

[50:15] – Tock20: Operating a Restaurant in 2020

[56:45] – Nick’s Journey through Venture Capital

 

People Worth Knowing:

Nick Kokonas

Mark Canalis

Jeff Kaplan

Richard Thaler

Steve Burnaki 

Steve Hafner

Grant Achatz

Kimbal Musk

Howard Schutlz

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

Tock

Alinea Group

Canalis

Postmates

Opentable

Grubhub

Doordash

Ubereats

Royster

Next

Rezy

Booking.com

Twitter

Facebook

Shopify

Zyrmed

Bane Equity

Origin Ventures

Square

Tesla

Shopify

 

Episode Specific Terms:

No-Show Inefficiency

Demand Variability

Margin

Sunk Cost

Fixed vs Variable Costs

Adwords Arbitrage

Customer Incentive Misalignment

Operating Leverage vs Downside Protection

Time-Slot Based Businesses

Clearing Risk

Kitchen Pacing vs Incremental Sales

Elevated Carry-Out

Gross Merchandising Volume

On-Prem Services vs Cloud Based

Dislocation

BATNA

 

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Jul 27, 2020
VC Fundamentals: Consumer Investing Master Class with Sarah Tavel, General Partner at Benchmark
01:01:22

Benchmark General Partner Sarah Tavel joins us for a master class on consumer investing. We start with why invest in consumer at all (given the inherent risks of its "hit-driven nature"), then deep dive on marketplace investing and wrap up with social, gaming and consumer transactional businesses. Big thank you to Sarah for sharing her immense knowledge on this topic, and to her partner (and fellow Acquired "master class lecturer" on enterprise investing) Chetan Puttagunta for introducing us and for making it happen!

 

Links to Sarah's consumer investing blog posts:

Jul 07, 2020
VC Fundamentals Part 1: Sourcing
56:46

Despite many advances in industry transparency over the past ~10 years, much about the actual "jobs of a VC" remains locked inside firm/institutional knowledge and venture's apprenticeship model. With this new series we aim to change that. Our goal is to draw back the curtain on what the actual tasks are that VCs do day-to-day, how you can learn them, and ultimately what's required to succeed. We hope this series will be helpful both to anyone looking to break into the industry and to those who are already practicing, and also for entrepreneurs and consumers of venture capital to understand more about the motivations and activities of those across the table!

In this episode we start with sourcing: what it is, why it's important, who does it and when, and -- most importantly -- the brass tacks of where to look and how to do it.

 

Show Links:

SpaceX Launch

Emergence Capital Investment Themes

M-Hacks (Univ of Michigan Hackathon)

Startup Weekend

 

Show Bookmarks:

[05:05] – Thoughts on early-stage VC

[07:12] – Why is sourcing important?

[12:11] – Sourcing strategies

[21:08] – Sourcing tactics (generally)

[25:25] – Sourcing tactics according to Andy Ratcliff

[41:24] – Breaking out of Systematic VC Sourcing

[52:45] – Who does what form of Sourcing?

 

People Worth Knowing:

Sun Tzu

Andy Ratcliff

Dan Valentine

Mike Moritz

Peter Thiel

Brian Singerman

Fred Wilson

Brad Burnham

Kathryn Gould

Greg Gottesman

Margit Wennmachers

Bill Gurley

Chetan Puttagunta

Peter Fenton

Turner Novak

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:                                                                  

SpaceX

Benchmark

Sequoia

Sysco

Google

Madrona

Founder’s Fund

Paypal

Union Square Ventures

Twitter

Tumblr

Foursquare

Zynga

Flickr

Foundation Capital

Rover

Andreessen Horowitz

OutCast

Backend Capital

Y-Combinator

VTS

Branch Metrics

Cameo

Gelt VC

Slack

Meritech

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Sourcing

Asset Class

Top Of The Funnel

Generalist (Outbound Driven) vs Specialist (Inbound Driven)

Referral Driven

Proprietary-Deal Driven

Investing Thesis

Thematic Investing

Network Effects

Product to Commodity

Paypal Mafia

Logo Shopping & Brand Halo

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Jun 10, 2020
Pricing: everything you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask, with ProfitWell CEO Patrick Campbell
01:13:04

We're joined by Patrick Campbell, founder & CEO of the world's leading SaaS profit-optimization service ProfitWell, to dive deep on all things pricing and monetization. Patrick began bootstrapping ProfitWell 8 years ago, and has since grown the business into a massive success with customers like Notion, Lyft, Masterclass, Atlassian, Help Scout, HubSpot, Cisco, Autodesk and many more. Patrick gives us a masterclass in how to think with a profit-maximization lens about pricing, feature development, growth and retention. And, as a special bonus at the end of the episode, he talks about his own entrepreneurial journey, bootstrapping the company without any venture funding, along with challenges overcome along the way. This episode has something for everyone to learn about company building — and is not one to miss!

Links:

-----

Show Bookmarks:

[01:43] – Patrick’s Start

[04:09] – Pricing Overview

[12:32] – Pricing Models

[18:31] – Freemium, Trials,  and The First 30 Days

[28:53] – Picking the Price and Common Pitfalls

[33:35] – Conducting Research for Pricing

[46:24] – Grand(father/mother)ing Existing Customer Base

[56:50] – Bootstrap vs Investment

[64:10] – Initial Team Structure of ProfitWell

 

People Worth Knowing:

Brian Balfour

Casey Winters

Nick Francis

Peter Zotto

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:                                                                  

ProfitWell (Price Intelligently)

Gemvarra

US Intelligence Community

Menlo Ventures

Hallmark

Reebok

McKinsey

Google AdWords

AWS

Snapchat

Hubspot

Zoom

Zuora (Billing System)

Berkshire Hathaway

YesWare

Slack

Amazon

HelpScout

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Acquisition, Monetization, Retention (the pillars)

Underpricing

Analysis / Paralysis

Revenue Per Customer

Lifetime Value

Cost of Production vs Shipping

Billing Systems

Value Metrics

Add-Ons

Inside Sales

Unique Pricing-Per-User

Freeware & Shareware

Growth Hacker (aka Full Stack Marketing)

Viral Coefficient and Network Effect

Multivariant Research and Data Limitation

Pricing Signal

Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Conjoint Analysis

Two-Factor Authentication

Indie-Business

NPS / CSAT Scores

Unit Economics

Tech-Enabled Service

 

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May 21, 2020
High-performance Hiring & Interviewing with former Amazon Worldwide GM of Prime Membership, Anna Collins
55:25

We're joined by former Amazon, Microsoft and Bulletproof executive Anna Collins to discuss how high-performance organizations structure their hiring and interview processes. Whether you're a small startup or a big public company, as Anna puts it, there is no more important question than who you put "on your bus". Anna distills what she's learned across 20+ years and making thousands of hires into actionable, must-listen advice for anyone aiming to grow their organization in a high-performance manner (or on the other side, anyone looking to join a high-performance company!).

Anna's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-collins-5965/

Transcript link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1PX_6bUsHJRN3eZsCH5K8m-9OfHTOuFXH

-------

“I believe that structure is what is required for creativity and for humans to actually connect. If you have chaos, that is the opposite of having the ability to connect and having a good candidate experience. It’s all about being human and you need the structure to facilitate that and to be productive.” – Anna Collins

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

Show Links:

14 Leadership Principles of Amazon

33 Competencies of MSFT

 

Show Bookmarks:

[01:30] – Introduction of Anna Collins

[08:22] – Anna’s path to Business School

[09:42] – Peer Mentoring and Leadership at aQuantive

[13:35] – Leadership and Interviewing at Amazon / Microsoft

[20:26] – Balancing Standard Process and the Human Element in Interviewing

[25:05] – Anna’s Interview Playbook

[32:35] – Iteration of the Job Description and the pool of Available Talent

[34:50] – Balancing Previous Work Experience in Interviewing and Hiring

[39:37] – Anna’s rules on Interviewing and Interviewee Experience

[44:24] – Behavioral Interviewing and Good Questions

[50:50] – Questioning with Purpose

[56:00] – Last thoughts on Interviewing

 

People Worth Knowing:

Kathy Delaney Smith (Harvard Basketball Coach)

Mike Galgon (Pioneer Square Labs)

Randy Wooten (former colleague)

Jeff Hull

Warren Buffet

Jeff Bezos

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:                                                                  

Amazon Prime

Microsoft

CVS Health

Harvard University

US Service Academies

Reserve Officer Training Corps

M.I.T.

Johnston & Johnston

aQuantive

Yahoo

Bulletproof

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Tactical Interview Questions

Team vs Individual

Peer Mentoring

Media Buying for Clients

Earning Trust

Working backward (Customer Focused)

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

PRFAQ (Amazon)

Bar Raiser (Amazon) / As Appropriate (Microsoft)

Mission, Vision, and Values

Skills and Functional Knowledge

Interviewing Biases

Being an ‘Athlete’ (Flexible / Adaptable / Coachable)

Interview Panacea

Pre-Brief and De-Brief

May 05, 2020
The Jason Calacanis Special (cont.)
50:44

In Part 2 of our conversation, Jason reveals his "secret master plan" behind the Calacanis empire, as well as how he and his team manage all their various activities and their own productivity. And of course we couldn’t resist diving into some behind the scenes stories and hot takes, including a long bet on a future TWiSt - Acquired live show crossover collab. :)

You can find Part 1 of our conversation in the main show feed at: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/acquired-special-episode-jason-calacanis

Apr 29, 2020
Adapting LP Episode: Mystery - How to Grow When Your Original Business Goes to Zero (with cofounders Shane Kovalsky & Vince Coppola)
01:01:20

LP announcement: we now have an LP Gdrive! You can find full transcripts of LP Episodes and video recordings of LP Calls there: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/1PX_6bUsHJRN3eZsCH5K8m-9OfHTOuFXH

We're joined for a special LP Adapting episode by the cofounders of Mystery, a Seattle seed-stage startup that we've mentioned before on Acquired and was started by early Convoy employees. In ordinary times, Mystery sends customers on magical date nights and group outings throughout the city with no planning or decision making required -- an "easy button" for date night. Of course, we no longer live in ordinary times, and Mystery has undergone an incredible transformation. Within the span of a month, the company went from having "found" product market-fit and nearly completing a fundraise, to 100% of their business evaporating (and literally pitching Sequoia on the same day they released the Black Swan Memo), to then launching a completely new stay-at-home product and that not only recovered all of their revenue but meaningfully grew the business. We hope you all enjoy this conversation, and take some inspiration for navigating your own businesses through these stormy seas!

Links:

Apr 07, 2020
Everything you need to know about Pre-Seed (with Charles Hudson of Precursor Ventures)
01:11:31

Charles Hudson of Precursor Ventures joins us to illuminate everything Pre-Seed -- not just what it is and how founders/companies should navigate it, but also and more deeply: 

- How he came into this corner of the venture world
- How he started Precursor as a solo GP and raised his first/subsequent funds, and what that journey was like
- How he manages the firm, its overall strategy, and especially portfolio construction within this relatively new asset class (spoiler: it's different!)

Note: we recorded this episode in the days right before it became clear that the coronavirus was going to become a major global crisis. While the world has obviously changed since, nothing in this episode is fundamentally different and -- if anything -- Pre-Seed rounds are going to be more relevant for entrepreneurs and investors going forward as valuations and check-sizes contract. We hope you enjoy and find the discussion as useful and illuminating as we did!

Mar 24, 2020
Remote Work, No-Code, and Products that Sell Themselves (w/ Zapier CEO Wade Foster)
41:33

We're joined by Wade Foster, cofounder & CEO of Zapier, a company that basically hasn’t raised capital, doesn’t have an office, doesn’t have salespeople, and whose product consists of connecting other people’s products. And yet today they are doing well over $50M in profitable ARR, have hundreds of employees and thousands of hyper-passionate customers, and are one of the most interesting private SaaS companies in the world. We’re super excited for Wade to join us and dive into the full story of this came to be!

------

“We as founders have been prone to overthinking things. Just go for it, don’t be afraid of being a little weird about it. It’s hard to stand out. If your conviction is telling you to something unconventional, unconventional stands out.” Wade, CEO of Zapier @wadefoster

 

Show Links:

makerpad.co

Zapier Fibonacci Pricing

High Growth Handbook

Ford vs Ferarri

Poor Charlie’s Almanack

The Ultimate Guide To Remote Work

 

Show Bookmarks:

[00:00] – Introduction of Zapier

[03:18] – What Music and Founding a Company have in Common

[05:30] – The birth of Zapier

[09:15] – Why was Zapier founded at the right time?

[11:44] – Zaps: Great for Legacy Companies and Startups alike

[14:30] – Zapier and the Low-Code / No-Code movement

[17:55] – How and Why Zapier Won

[24:15] – Chasing Emerging Opportunities

[28:55] – Wade’s thoughts on Remote Work

[34:33] – ASYNC

[38:53] – Zapier’s Financing Strategy

 

People Worth Knowing:

Bryan Helmig

Mike Knoop

Ben Tossel

Marc Andressen

Henry Ford II

Carroll Shelby

Charlie Munger

Eric Yuan

Kevin Hale

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:                                                                  

Venmo

Wufoo

Mail Chimp

Google Contacts

High Rise

PayPal

QuickBooks

Marketo

Uber

Salesforce

Github

Zendesk

Twillio

Stripe

Ift

Mulesoft

Apogy

Intuit

ItDoesIt

Apiary

Gartner

Webflow

Airtable

Instagram

Hipstamatic

UI Path

Berkshire Hathaway

Costco

Y-Combinator

Trello

Zoom

Gitlab

Casper

 

Episode Specific Terms:

API

Integration

Activation Rates

Open API

SaaS

API-First

Low-Code

No-Code

Citizen Developer

VA-Loans

Clones

AWZ – Airtable / Webflow / Zapier

Repeatable Model

Network effects

Come For The Tools Stay For The Network

RPA

Screen Scraping

Research and Development

Product Pickers

Fixed Costs

Variable Costs

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Feb 24, 2020
Reverse Interview: Acquired Strategy, with Nathan Baschez of Divinations (& former Gimlet Media + Substack)
01:07:02

“There’s no real secret to making the stuff we make. It’s not something where you have to be crazy talented. The thing is, you just spend a little bit longer on it than is reasonable. Most people would give up, and then you just keep going on it for three more hours making it better, doing more research, whatever the thing is that makes it better. Wherever most people would say, yea, that’s good enough, you just keep going for a little while longer. Not an eternity longer, just a bit longer.” -Nathan, quoting Alex Blumberg, Gimlet Media

-------

Ben and David agree to have the tables turned in a great interview by friend and longtime Acquired supporter Nathan Baschez, who was formerly the Head of Product at both Gimlet Media and Substack, and now writes the excellent Divinations newsletter on tech and business strategy. 

This episode originally came about because one of Nathan’s first articles at Divinations kindly focused on Ben and Acquired, which you can read in full here: https://divinations.substack.com/p/ben-gilbert-on-how-acquired-launched

The core Divinations newsletter is free for everyone, but if you’d like special access to any of their paywalled content, Nathan shared this discount link for all Acquired LPs: https://divinations.substack.com/acquired . Check it out! 

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

Show Links:

Nathan Baschez

The Morning Show (AppleTV)

Thinking Fast and Slow Summary

Willpower Summary

Marshmallow Experiment

How I Built This

Startup

Serial

Invest Like The Best

The No-Code Movement

Diggnation

Joe Rogan Show

 

Show Bookmarks:

[00:00] – Intro of Nathan Baschez

[03:32] – Nathan takes the reins; “how/when do you change your opinion on a company?”

[10:57] – The Business Strategy for Acquired / Acquired LP

[23:57] – Episode Hits, Duds, and Analytics

[37:26] – The evolution of Acquired

[46:42] – The worst moments of Acquired / analytics revisited

[53:58] – The makings of a great interview

[56:12] – What’s next for Acquired?

[61:38] – A bit more about Divination, Writing, and Nathan

 

People Worth Knowing:

Elon Musk

Daniel Kahneman

Eric Schmidt

Andy Rachleff

Baumeister

Trip Hawkins

Chetan Puttagunta

Rahul Vohra

Kara Swisher

Alex Blumberg

Amira Valliani

Patrick O’Shaughnessy

Vlad Magdalin

Dan Sheppard

Gilbert Arenas

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

Jetsetter

Gimlet Media

Hardbound

Snapchat

Disney +

TikTok

Instagram

YouTube

Convoy

Script

Zoom

AppleTv

Tesla

Madrona

Amazon

Whole Foods

Uber

Lyft

Benchmark

Stanford GSB

Square

Superhuman

Glow

Atlassian

Activision/Blizzard

Zappos

Squarespace

Rover

WeWork

Sequoia Capital

Webflow

NBA

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Podcast Flywheel

Bingeable

System 1 and System 2 Thinking

 

Ben and David’s Affiliations:

Wave Capital, @WaveCapitalVC

Pioneer Square Labs, @psl

  1. Follow Acquired: @AcquiredFM, acquired.fm
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Jan 21, 2020
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (with Chetan Puttagunta, General Partner at Benchmark)
01:36:24

Let's face it, Acquired borders on Star Wars fan podcast anyways. So we dipped our toe in the water of making it official, with our review of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

We are joined by fellow Star Wars nerd and repeat special guest, Chetan Puttagunta, General Partner at Benchmark. In this episode, we *nearly* avoid any business analysis or speculation on the technology, media, or enterprise ecosystems, with only a brief revisit to the question: "Was it worth it for Disney to buy Lucasfilm?"

Did we love it, hate it, or want to bury it like the prequels? Tune in! There are definitely spoilers, so be warned!

Jan 10, 2020
Cameo CEO Steven Galanis on building the first non-advertising driven social media company (at least in the US!)
01:09:51

Steven Galanis, cofounder and CEO of the red-hot Chicago startup Cameo, joins us to discuss how they've turned selling personalized celebrity shoutouts online into both a massive business and the most interesting new social media phenomenon to hit the West since TikTok. We hope you have as much fun listening as we did recording this one!

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

Show Links:

Broke – ESPN Documentary

Mark McGrath’s Breakup Cameo

 

Show Bookmarks:

[00:00] – Meet Steven, and the beginnings of Cameo

[06:20] – Steven’s history before Cameo

[15:31] – The Start of Cameo

[20:10] – The first Cameo (Powermove.io)

[24:54] – Product Market Fit

[31:15] – The Evolution of Celebrities and Direct To Consumer Companies

[39:05] – Value Proposition and Bookings Generation

[47:21] – Content, Monetization, and the future of Social Networks

[50:00] – Cameo and Company Building

[62:18] – Scaling as the CEO; Are you still the best person for the job?

[64:39] – On Mentorship

 

People Worth Knowing:

Snoop Dog

Zach Maurides

Martin Blencowe

Devon Townsend

Mike Gamson

Jeff Weiner

Cody Ko

Jason Kipnis

Thaddeus Lewis

Cassius Marsh

David Dobrik

Nicole Quinn

Emily Weiss

Dennis Crowley

Alexis Ohanian

Michael Rappaport

Perez Hilton

Matt Maloney

Mark Lawrence

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

Snapchat

Duke University

Facebook

Teamworks

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT)

LinkedIn

Relativity

Zoom

Microsoft

Vine

Twitter

Instagram

YouTube

Patreon

TikTok

Sophia

Girlboss

Glossier

Goop

Musically

Groupon

Spothero

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Repeatable Supply

Startups as a Marketplace

Influencers

Network Effect Business

Founder Market Fit

The Hacker – The Hustler – The Hipster (The Makings of a successful Team)

Flywheel

Direct To Consumer

Direct Monetization

Marketplace Businesses

Growth Mindset

 

Ben and David’s Affiliations:

Wave Capital, @WaveCapitalVC

Pioneer Square Labs, @psl

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Jan 06, 2020
Building Webflow, and the No-Code Movement (with Vlad Magdalin, Co-Founder and CEO)
01:01:15

We're joined by Webflow's Co-Founder and CEO, Vlad Magdalin, talking about how he started the company (over a decade, trying three times), how to nail the timing of your startup, and the future of the "no-code movement."

Vlad took his company through YCombinator in 2013, and raised only $3m in the following six years, before closing a $72m Series A from Accel earlier this year. He gives his perspective on why now is the only time Webflow could have worked (not in 2009, the last time he tried to start it), what's changed in browser technology, and how he was inspired by one of the original designers of the iPhone software. Vlad also shares his wisdom for other founders and opportunities he thinks will be available for entrepreneurs in the next five years when robust "no-code" infrastructure is built out.

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“The differentiator between No-Code and Low-Code is that Low-Code makes this implicit admission that in order to really finish a project, I’m going to need a developer. Or I am going to need to know how to take it across that last mile. In No-Code, the aspiration is that for the vast majority of cases, you will not that. Or, if you do, that one or a few developers that can create the No-Code version that abstracts away the Low-Code version and put it into the hands of millions.” -Vlad Magdalin, @callmevlad

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

Show Links:

Bret Victor – The Future of Programming (youtube)

Bret Victor – Inventing on Principle (vimeo)

Paul Graham – Default Alive or Default Dead Essay

 

Show Bookmarks:

[00:00] – Meet Vlad and Webflow

[04:25] – The first and second evolution of Webflow

[10:30] – The third attempt at starting Webflow

[19:26] – Serendipity and the last iteration of Webflow

[25:50] – Webflow’s Product Market Fit

[30:00] – Webflow Today

[35:53] – Segmentation and the Ideal Customer Profile

[38:52] – The No-Code Movement

[46:52] – How Webflow can change how problems are solved

[48:10] – The rise of Productivity and Creativity Software

[54:50] – How Webflow got to Profitability and Investment Strategy

 

People Worth Knowing:

Scott Cook

Bill Campbell

John Donahoe

Scott Adams

Bret Victor

Brian Chou

Paul Graham

Arun Mathew

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

Dreamweaver

Intuit

Stripe

Y Combinator

Corel Draw

Shopify

Apple

HP

Tennis Channel

Quiksilver

Wall Street Journal

Weebly

Square Space

TurboTax

eBay

Photoshop

Wordpress

Google

Superhuman

Notion

Airtable

Sketch

Figma

Atlassian

Qualtrics

 

Episode Specific Terms:

WYSIWYG

No-Code Movement

CMS

Scaffolding

Product-Market Fit

Domain Battles

Web 2.0

Responsive Design

Direct Manipulation

Web Browser as Application Platform

Landing Page

OAUTH

User Authentication

Web Site vs Web Application

Full Stack

Node

CDN

JavaScript

No-Code vs Low-Code

 

Ben and David’s Affiliations:

Wave Capital, @WaveCapitalVC

Pioneer Square Labs, @psl

  1. Follow Acquired: @AcquiredFM, acquired.fm
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Dec 12, 2019
Early Stage and Enterprise Investing (with Chetan Puttagunta, General Partner at Benchmark)
51:45

We are joined by Chetan Puttagunta, General Partner on Benchmark, talking his investment philosophies, enterprise technology trends, and the uniqueness of Benchmark. How is this firm with only five partners and no associates so repeatably successful? Chetan shares the story of his very first investment, MongoDB, and lessons learned from his other investments and board positions in Elastic, Sketch, Duffel, Mulesoft, and many others.

Chetan also helps us understand how he balances staying open-minded enough to let founders shape his vision of the future (and not the other way around), while staying educated on areas where he thinks the future is bright.

-------------

“The product/market fit question, I don’t find to be a conclusive one…because one of the assumptions is that you’re assuming the market itself is constant, which we all know is not true. Today’s product/market fit might be tomorrow’s outdated solution.” – Chetan Puttagunta, @chetanp

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

Show Bookmarks:

[00:00] – Show intro and introduction of Chetan Puttagunta

[05:00] – Operations at Benchmark

[09:20] – How does Benchmark choose where they invest?

[11:20] – Product/Market Fit

[14:50] – Themes, Theses, and Trends and being flexible in investing

[20:32] – How to educate yourself on emerging markets

[29:00] – Enterprise Investing

[34:55] – Thoughts on being a VC vs Entrepreneur, and investing in Enterprise

[44:05] – What Chetan wants to improve

[47:09] – “Two-Sport” athletes at Benchmark

 

People Worth Knowing:

Andy Rachleff

Don Valentine

Eric Vishria

Peter Fenton

Steve Blank

Warren Buffet

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

Acquia

Benchmark

Duffel

Elastic

Glow

MongoDB

MuleSoft

Pachyderm

ReplyYes

Shopify

Sketch

Stripe

Twilio

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Cloud Infrastructure

Compounding Effects

Enterprise Infrastructure

Flow State

Fund Cycle

Learn-It-All vs Know-It-All

Leverage on Fiddling

Luck

Product/Market Fit

Relational vs Non-Relational Databases

Sharding Issues

VC vs Entrepreneur

Yacht Problems

 

Ben and David’s Affiliations:

Wave Capital, @WaveCapitalVC

Pioneer Square Labs, @psl

  1. Follow Acquired: @AcquiredFM, acquired.fm
  2. Let People Know You’re an LP on Twitter!
  3. Suggestions and Feedback: acquiredfm@gmail.com
Nov 11, 2019
Chewse CEO Tracy Lawrence on growing both as a company and a founder
01:05:33

"You can call it paranoia, or you can call it innovation. The language doesn’t matter if the feeling is the same. This is all an experiment I’m running eight years in of: How do I update my mindset to want to approach things by activating the pleasure center more than the pain center.  I’m more likely to move away from pain and towards pleasure. So why don’t I make innovation a game and bring play to, literally playfulness, into it. I see too many founders burn out because they have lost playfulness in their culture." Tracy Lawrence, @chewishgirl

--------------

Tracy Lawrence, founder and CEO of Chewse (@chewse) takes us on the journey of how and why she founded Chewse. Tracy, Ben, and David discuss most of the traditional topics (early days, product-market fit, mission alignment), but spend most of the time talking about non-traditional topics like mental health, vulnerability, and love for company and self. If you’re a founder, this episode will perk both your IQ and your EQ. For everyone else, your faith in the future of tech might get restored. Enjoy!

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

Show Bookmarks:

[00:00] Show intro and introduction of Tracy Lawrence

[06:00] – How Salary Publishing works and affects the culture at Chewse

[10:40] – The early days of Chewse

[15:45] – Market Timing and the Chewse’s differentiation

[16:48] – Business Model Innovations and the Take Rate

[20:10] – Product/Market Fit and Innovation

[28:37] – What is a “Love Company”?

[36:45] – Tracy’s thoughts on Fundraising and Authenticity

[43:10] – What Tracy from other founders

[49:19] – How and why Tracy built a village

[52:32] – Mission Alignment with the Chewse Team

[59:00] – Tracy’s personal message for non-traditional founders

 

 

People Worth Knowing:

Andy Grove

Brad Felt

Jerry Colonna

Marc Andreessen

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

All Raise

Amazon

DishDash

DoorDash

Foundry

Foursquare

GrubHub

Reboot

Seamless

Six Taste Food Tours

Subway

TedX

UberEats

 

Episode Specific Terms:

B2B Markets

Comp vs Band

IQ vs EQ

Market Place Approach

Mission Alignment

Open-Salary vs Fair-Salary

Product Market Fit

Take Rate

Vulnerability

 

Ben and David’s Affiliations:

Wave Capital, @WaveCapitalVC

Pioneer Square Labs, @psl

1. Follow Acquired: @AcquiredFM, acquired.fm
3. Suggestions and Feedback: acquiredfm@gmail.com
Oct 21, 2019
Marketplaces Deep Dive with Ramesh Johari
01:09:52

We're joined by Stanford professor and senior advisor to Airbnb, Uber, Stitch Fix and Wave Capital, Ramesh Johari, who is one of the world's leading experts in marketplaces. Ramesh has been advising David and his partners at Wave since day one, and we're super excited to bring his incredible experience and insights to all of our Acquired LPs. In this conversation we dive deep into nearly every aspect of starting, building and then operating a marketplace at scale. Whether you are a marketplace entrepreneur, employee, investor, or just curious about how some the most powerful businesses of our time work, this is not one to miss!

Oct 03, 2019
How a Startup Studio Works
52:40

Ben and David discuss the newest development in the venture ecosystem, startup studios, through the lens of Pioneer Square Labs (which Ben cofounded in 2015). David manages to trick Ben into sitting on the other side of the table and being interviewed about how PSL works, how he and his partners started it, and what lies ahead!

 

For more information, check out http://psl.com.

Sep 15, 2019
The Random Episode: Twitter Commentary and 2019 Survey Feedback
45:33

Ben and David couldn’t agree on topic for this LP episode with the clock winding down to our recording going live... so we decided to “do it live” and commentate on our Twitter feeds haha (and discuss your survey feedback). We hope you enjoy this fun slice of randomness, and we’ll be back with more actionable interviews and company building topics very soon!

Sep 03, 2019
Product recruiting and executive search (with Andrew Abramson from Riviera Partners)
49:11

We dive into one of the most critical components of company building, recruiting product leaders (and executives in general), with Andrew Abramson of Riviera Partners -- one of the most elite search firms in silicon valley. We cover first how companies and founders should think about recruiting senior leaders, from knowing when you're ready to working with search firms. Then we dive into the other side, how product managers should think about managing and progressing in their own careers toward senior leadership roles. Thanks to Andrew for joining us and we hope everyone can take away something applicable for their own companies and careers!

----------

Great Founders think about the product; Exceptional Founders think about who should lead the company vs who should lead the product. They sound similar but they are very, very different.  – Andrew Abramson, @AndrewA91

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

Show Bookmarks:

[00:00] – Show intro and introduction of Andrew Abramson

[02:35] – What is Executive Search? Why, and how it works?

[08:50] – The recruiting process

[13:30] – How is the recruiting process managed?

[16:30] – How does the company and the candidate interact?

[21:55] – What separates from good and great in the Executive Search?

[28:50] – How does compensation work?

[33:35] – Where should a candidate start? How can a candidate determine if they’re ready?

[39:15] – What skills and jobs does a strong potential candidate have on their resume?

[43:20] – Common misconceptions in Executive Search?

 

People Worth Knowing:

Andrew Abramson

Meg Whitman

Jeffrey Katzenburg

Evan Spiegel

April Underwood

Tom Conrad

Kathryn Gould

David Beirne

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

Riviera

Snapchat

Dollar Shave Club

Safire Partners

WndrCo

Quibi

Pandora

Twitter

Slack

Zoom

DropBox

Zillow

LinkedIn

Foundation Capital

Benchmark

Google

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Executive Search

Executive Recruiter

Product Management

Product Led Founder/CEO

Consumer Product vs B2B Product

 

Ben and David’s Affiliations:

Wave Capital, @WaveCapitalVC

Pioneer Square Labs, @psl

  1. Follow Acquired: @AcquiredFM, acquired.fm
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  3. Suggestions and Feedback: acquiredfm@gmail.com
Aug 17, 2019
Times they are a’changin: Series A is not what it used to be
42:14

“If you look at the firms that were traditionally the early-stage ventures firms, the Series-A firms, and you look at their fund sizes and their firm sizes and compositions, it’s changed significantly in the last ten years. Your typical early stage venture fund was a $250M Series A fund. Now your typical early stage fund is anywhere from $500M to 1B.”

 

Why Listen?

In this episode, Ben and David dive into the evolution of Seed Funds and how early stage investing has changed in the last two decades both for investors and founders alike. Understanding the past changes in the ecosystem helps founders and investors establish themselves for the future. If you are an early-stage founder, this episode will contextualize the information you need to prepare your company for investment.

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

Links from the Show:

Wing’s analysis of the current state of the early-stage venture ecosystem: Seed is the new A, A is the new B

Secrets of Sand Hill Road

Gartner Hype Cycle

Value of VC Investment (1995-2018)

US VC Investment Surpasses Dot-Com Era

 

Show Bookmarks:

[02:15] – Seed is the New Series-A; Series-A is the New Series-B

[08:00] – The Evolution of Seed Funding

[10:00] – The Evolution of VC Firm DNA

[15:30] – Money in Venture as an Asset Class

[16:50] – LP Capital: Where does the money come from?

[19:11] – Venture Capital History Revisited

[20:10] – The Bullish side of Technology Opportunity

[28:45] – The Bearish side of Technology Opportunity

[33:21] – What does this all mean for founders?

[36:00] – Judgment as a scarce resource

 

People Mentioned in this Episode:

Ron Conway

Benedict Evans

Bill Gurley

Howard Marks

Warren Buffet

John Zimmer

Scott Kupor

 

Companies Mentioned in this Episode:

Wing (Venture Capital Firm)

SV Angel (Institutional Seed Firm)

Floodgate (Institutional Seed Firm)

Baseline (Institutional Seed Firm)

Andreessen Horowitz

Berkshire Hathaway

Fidelity

Stripe

Glow

Quoteapro

Flexport

Convoy

Benchmark

Sequoia

Lyft

Lehman Brothers

TechCrunch

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Vision Fund

Valuation and Series A

Pre-Seed / Seed / Seed Extension Funding

Early Stage Venture Financing

Series-A (Post Product Market Fit)

Super Angels

Seed As An Asset Class of Funding

Full Services VC Firm

Price Sensitivity in Funding

Vision Fund

Seed Investing vs Growth Investing

High-Beta Bets

LP Capital vs Venture Capital

Layers of Platform Infrastructure

Four-Year Vest

Synthetic Reps

 

Ben and David’s Affiliations:

Wave Capital, @WaveCapitalVC

Pioneer Square Labs, @psl

Follow Acquired: @AcquiredFM, acquired.fm

 

Let People Know You’re an LP on Twitter!

Suggestions and Feedback: acquiredfm@gmail.com

Jul 29, 2019
Due Diligence
56:08

Could I see myself or my wife working for/with this CEO? Would I quit my job and go work for this person? That’s the crux of it. If you’re a CEO out raising money, that is the lens with which you should view every interaction with a VC. You should come across in such a personally compelling way that they’re drawn to you. That’s the bar they are holding you to.

 

Summary

The right amount of diligence is a great topic to think about, whether a company is ready for investment or not. This episode was made for founders getting ready for investment, or founders who want to start asking the right questions about their work. Ben and David discuss in depth what you can reasonably expect from VCs conducting diligence, and how to set yourself up for long-term value creation. Most importantly, Ben and David discuss the questions you should be prepared to answer and the questions you should be prepared to have asked about you.

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

LP Show Page

 

Links from the Show:

http://acquired.fm/survey

 

Show Bookmarks:

[02:45] – The importance of Diligence

[03:50] – Early Stage and People Diligence

[13:15] – Market Landscape

[18:02] – How can an Entrepreneur find the right VC for the right landscape?

[22:11] – What is the best diligence a found has done on Wave Capital?

[24:10] – ‘Where does the money come from?’

[29:35] – Diligence on the Product

[37:06] – Post-Term Sheet Diligence

[41:02] – Accounting Diligence

[42:47] – Legal and IP Diligence

[48:30] – Diligence on Seed vs Series B and beyond

[50:00] – Diligence Variation based on time, risk, and opporunity

 

People Worth Knowing:

Bijan Sabet

Bill Gurley

Don Valentine

Eric Yuan

Jake Saper

Steve Jobs

Trip Hawkins

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

Perkins Coie

Sequoia

Spark Capital

Square

Cisco

Taunt

Uber

Zoom

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Consumer App

Escape Velocity

Frontier Tech

IP Assignment Agreement

M&A

Market Map

Pre and Post Term Sheet Diligence

Product Risk vs People Risk

Representations and Warranties

Sovereign Wealth Fund

Team Risk

Term Sheet

The Data Room

VC Sourcing Strategy

 

Ben and David’s Affiliations:

Wave Capital, @WaveCapitalVC

Pioneer Square Labs, @psl

Jul 07, 2019
Building tech and product for marketplaces (with Rover cofounder Phil Kimmey)
48:05

“There’s often a desire to keep adding features because ‘Oh wouldn’t it be cool if we could do this or that?’ The reality is if a customer is only spending five minutes with your product, they’re only going to interact with a very tiny subset of your feature set. And so, you’re better off usually improving something that 80% of [customers] interact with that is really core than things around the edges that are more functionality.” - Phil Kimmey

 

Why Listen?

We are very excited to be joined by Phil Kimmey, one of the co-founders of Rover (and a frequent member of various 30 under 30 lists), who designed Rover in its infant stages at a Startup Weekend! In this episode, we dive into Rover’s initial design, how the business model was proved, and wrap up with a lengthy discussion on Value-Add Features vs Data-Driven Features. Phil also provides his opinion on what makes new tech and development teams successful and explains why PayPal still sends Rover’s monthly summary statements to his parent’s house.

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Follow Acquired: @AcquiredFM, acquired.fm

Let People Know You’re an LP on Twitter!

Suggestions and Feedback:acquiredfm@gmail.com

 

Links from the Show:

Conjoined Triangles of Success

 

Show Bookmarks:

[01:20] – Rover’s Start

[05:28] – Proving the Idea

[08:42] – What was harder: Supply or Demand?

[12:12] – Rover’s original construct

[15:50] – What mistakes were made in Rover’s setup?

[19:20] – Market-place technology & White Labels

[23:21] – Deciding on Features and Builds

[25:49] – Rover’s Transition from Web to Mobile App

[29:29] – Rover’s KPIs

[33:00] – Rover’s Technology for Marketing

[35:35] – Value-Add vs Data Driven Features and Services

[45:15] – Advice for New Technology Teams

 

People Worth Knowing:

Greg Gottesman (Rover, Madrona, Pioneer Square Labs)

Aaron Easterly (Rover)

Jason Kreitzer (Rover)

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

AirBnB

AirBnB+

Bandwidth

Braintree

DogVacay

GetAround

Kayak.com

KissMetrics

PayPal

Periscope

Pubnub

Redshift

Rover

Stripe

Twilio

Uber

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Acquisition Model

Alternative Marketplace Platforms

Booking Engine

Continuous Integration-Continuous Deployment (Jenkins)

Flywheel

Front End

Metadata

Mobile App vs Web App

Modular vs Monolithic Code Base

Responsive Web Page

SMS Costs

Startup-Weekends

Uber for XYZ

Unit Economics

Value-Add Services

Jun 13, 2019
Reflections on the APLUSS IPOs so far, Uber+Lyft+regulators+autonomy, and listener Q&A
53:39

“Uber, pre-IPO, had raised more money than Lyft’s current market cap. And now, because they raised 9B in an IPO, they’re close to total money ever raised to being 2x of Lyft’s current market cap. It’s an outlier in every way.”

 

Why Listen?

Ben & David reflect on what they’ve learned from the APLUSS IPOs so far, what’s ahead for Uber and Lyft, and tackle some longstanding listener questions.

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

Links from the Show:

Narrative Violations – Bedrock Capital

 

Show Bookmarks:

[01:35] – Lyft Updates

[04:20] – Uber Updates

[07:03] – Regulatory and Anti-Trust Concerns with a Merger

[14:30] – Q&A – Mutual Funds Owning Shares in Major IPOs (Alexander)

[22:47] – Q&A – Uber and the future of self-driving (Peter)

[35:02] – Q&A – Explaining DoorDash and their Valuation (Packy)

[43:15] – Q&A – Buying Puts on Widely-held Tech Predictions (Jason [Tagfu])

[52:50] – Show Wrap-Up

 

People Worth Knowing:

Aaron Easterly

Bill Gurley

Dara Khosrowshahi

John Zimmer

Logan Green

Matt Cohler

Tony Xu

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

Bedrock Capital

DARPA

DogVacay

DoorDash

Emergence Capital

Federal Trade Commission

Fidelity Mutual Funds

Glow

GrubHub

Intel

Janus Mutual Funds

Lyft

Microsoft

Pinterest

Rover

Seamless

Sequoia

Softbank

  1. Rowe Mutual Funds

Tesla

Trulia

Uber

Vanguard Index Funds

Zillow

Zip Car

Zoom

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Anti-Competitive Legislation

Buy Up Keywords

Cashflow

‘Google Halo’

Narrative Violations

New Value Creation

OEMs

Passive Investing

Path to Merger

Path to Profitability

Point of Integration in Value Chain

Post IPO Growth

Private to Public Market (Price Handoffs)

Regulated Monopoly / Duopoly

Regulatory Frameworks

Retail Investors

Second Market

Supply and Demand Dynamics

Total Capital Under Management

Value Chain

May 30, 2019
Building Product & Ops at Uber (with Brian Tolkin)
42:40

[on Uber’s Early Organizational Structure] “Uber always thought about it as a twin turbine plane: maybe for a short period of time, you could operate on one engine. But if you want to operate at full efficiency, you need both engines working in tandem and working effectively together.”  Brian Tolkin, (@briantolkin)

We’re super excited to be joined by Brian Tolkin, one of Uber’s first ~100 employees who built their “Product Ops” organization and then went on to lead Product Management for UberPOOL and all shared rides on the platform. We dive into the nitty gritty of how Uber built their “twin turbine” engine of decentralized real-world Ops and centralized Tech Product, and how the organization evolved as it scaled. We also cover Brian’s new role at OpenDoor, and the even tight ops + product coupling they’re building now in real estate.

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

Link to the Acquired LP show page

Links from the Show:

Stanford Venture Capital Club

Ben Evans: The End of the Beginning (video)

Lyft IPO (Acquired)

Pre-Meeting Narrative Example

OpenDoor.com

 

Show Bookmarks:

[01:51] Brian’s backstory / “How I started at Uber”

[03:42] Uber’s Operating Model in its Early Stages

[06:29] Uber’s “Playbooking” aka Best Practice Sharing

[09:10] Uber’s Early Thesis on Product Market Fit

[13:30] Early Team Constructs and Focuses

[17:50] The Start of the Product & Ops Team

[21:10] “Platforms and Programs”

[24:21] The Product & Ops Team Today

[26:15] The Twin Turbine Plane

[28:03] Taking Uber Global

[31:37] UberPool

[36:28] Brian’s Move to OpenDoor

 

People Worth Knowing:

Ben Evans

Brian Tolkin

Jeff Holden

Travis Kalanick

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

Amazon

Andreessen Horowitz

Cabulous (RideGuru)

DiDi (China)

Grab (SE Asia)

Groupon

Hailo (London)

Ola (India)

Juno

Lyft

OpenDoor

TaxiMagic

Uber

UberBlack

UberCab

UberPool

UberX

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Bi-Directional Communication Gap

Centralized “Growth/Marketing/Funnel/Onboarding/Pricing” Teams

Decentralized Teams

Flywheel

Funnel Optimization

Highly Distributed (as an Operating Model)

Knowledge Base

Local and Viral Network Effects

Local Operations vs Centralized EPD

Onboarding

Platforms and Programs

Playbooking

Scale

Two-Pizza Teams

Uber Launch Team “Launchers”

 

Ben and David’s Affiliations:

Wave Capital, @WaveCapitalVC

Pioneer Square Labs, @psl

May 05, 2019
VC Term Sheets
01:05:40

Ben & David take their turn at the "power ballad" of VC blogging/podcasting, explaining how venture term sheets work. From valuation to pro rata rights to founder vesting, we leave no stone unturned in this episode. If you're a founder, work at a startup, or are considering doing one of those someday, this episode is for you!

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

 

Links from the Show:

Acquired LP: Lyft Episode

Acquired LP: Demystifying Corp Dev (Sara Adler)

AR&D Letter of Intent to DEC         

Brad Feld: Venture Deals

CooleyGo.com

GAAP

Jeff Bezos, Vesting, and The Divorce                      

Perkins Coie Accelerator

SeriesSeed.com

Standard Series Seed Term Sheet [Link in Bio]

 

Show Bookmarks:

02:46: What is a Term Sheet? What is it for? When does it happen?

06:02: The History of Term Sheets

07:50: Timeline of Term Sheets

09:30: Who is responsible for the definitive documents?

12:40: Breaking down the Standard Series Seed Term Sheet [The 95%]

14:40: How is Valuation and Dilution determined? How does it work?

22:22: What is an Option Pool?

26:41: What is the standard for Option Pool duration?

27:50: How do I plan for fund-raising for my business?

31:59: The rest of the Term Sheet [The last 5%]

32:25: Liquidation Preference

35:22: Voting Rights, Voting Events, and Control Terms

40:10: The Costs of Investing and other Financial Information

43:55: What are Participation Rights?

48:03: The Costs of Investing revisited

50:17: Key Holder Matters / Founder Vesting / Resetting Vesting

56:05: Acceleration and M&A

58:53: Binding Terms and Wrap Up

61:37: Acquired LP - Lyft Episode Follow Up

 

People Worth Knowing:

Brad Feld

George Soros

Greg McAdoo

Jeff Bezos

Jon McNeill

Carl Icahn

Logan Green

Louis Gonda

MacKenzie Bezos

Philip Deutch

Saraa Adler

Ted Wang

 

Companies Mentioned in Episode:

Avis Rental Car

Cooley

Cowboy Ventures

Digital Equipment Corporation

Enterprise Rent A Car

Fenwick and West

Github

Lexington Ventures

Lyft (ZimRide)

Oasis Investment Partners

Social Capital

Zip Car

 

Episode Specific Terms:

Acceleration

Aggregate Proceeds

Alignment

Binding Terms

Board of Directors & Lead Investor

Change Number Directors

Control Term vs Economic Terms

Declare Dividends

Definitive Documents

Documentation Terms

Earn Outs

Financial Information

Founder Vesting [Resetting Vesting]

Fundraising Expenses

Future Rights

GAAP

Guard Rails [leaving room for other investors]

Liquidate or Dissolve Approval

Liquidation Preference and Preferred Stock

Liquidity Event

Market Terms

Option Pool

Participation Rights

Pre Money vs Post Money Valuation

Preference Stack

Preferred Stock vs Common Stock

Priced Round

Redeem/Repurchase Shares

Runway

Securities To Issue

Term Sheet

Valuation Term

 

 

Ben and David’s Affiliations:

Wave Capital, @WaveCapitalVC

PSL, @psl

  1. Follow Acquired: @AcquiredFM, acquired.fm
  2. Let People Know You’re an LP on Twitter!
  3. Suggestions and Feedback:acquiredfm@gmail.com

 

Apr 09, 2019
Reinventing Upfront and building LA (with Upfront partner Kevin Zhang)
01:04:09

We’re joined by Upfront Ventures partner Kevin Zhang to discuss the evolution of both Upfront as a venture firm and the LA tech ecosystem more broadly. We cover the journey from Upfront’s founding as “Global Retail Partners” in 1996 to its place today as the premier and largest tech investor in Southern California. We talk about rebranding the firm and choosing Upfront as a name, launching the Upfront Summit, what LA is "good and not good at", and Kevin’s thesis around gaming as a great place for venture investing.

Mar 28, 2019
The Art of SaaS Investing (with Jake Saper, Partner at Emergence Capital)
01:22:17

80% of the worlds workforce doesn’t sit at a desk, and 95% of the world’s software is built for people who sit at a desk. Once people build software for the other 80%, the size of the addressable market that could be created could dwarf what we currently have, which is pretty humbling to think about.”

Jake Saper, Emergence Capital (@jakesaper)

 

We dive deep into the nitty gritty details of SaaS investing and company building with the best in the business, Jake Saper from Emergence Capital. Emergence has been around since the beginning of the SaaS industry and -uniquely for a venture firm- is entirely focused on early-stage investing within it. They were early investors in major successes like Salesforce, Veeva, SuccessFactors, Box and Yammer, and more recently, Gusto, Zoom, and many more. 

This episode is a must-listen for anyone investing in, operating in, or thinking about modern SaaS companies!

 

Be sure to follow the Acquired Podcast:

Acquired.fm

@AcquiredFM

Let People Know You’re An LP on Twitter!

 

Links from the Show:

Emergence Capital

Emergence Capital – “Series-A SaaS Metrics”

Emergence Email Newsletter

 

Show Bookmarks:

[03:50] – SaaS Basics

[06:45] – The Beginnings of Emergence Capital

[08:39] – The Emergence Capital Model

[10:51] – Back to the Origin Story

[15:38] – The Emergence Capital SaaS Thesis and Investment Themes

[20:50] – Coaching Networks

[29:22] – Evaluating Market Size for SaaS Companies

[38:46] – Building SaaS Companies

[39:49] – The Makeup of CEOs and Founding Teams

[47:43] – Before Product Market Fit [“Focus”]

[51:40] – SaaS Metrics and Product/Market Fit

[1:05:52] – What happens after the investment? [The IPO Press Release]

[1:09:20] – Go-to-Market in SaaS

[1:14:45] – SaaS Pricing

[1:19:00] – Show Wrap Up

 

People Worth Knowing:

Jon David

Dannie Herzberg

Doug Landis

Gordon Ritter

Jake Saper

Joseph Floyd

Mark Benioff

Matt Wallach 

Paypal Mafia

Peter Gassner 

Rob Ward 

Stewart Butterfield

Viviana Faga

 

Companies and Products Mentioned in Episode:

Airbnb

Apple Music

Box 

Compendium

Confluence

Drone Deploy

Emergence Capital

Enrollment

Guru (knowledge management)

Gusto

Kleiner Perkins

Madrona

Meritech

Microsoft

Pfizer

Salesforce

Service Max (acquired by GE)

Slack

Software as a Service

Spotify

SuccessFactors

Taunt

Textio

Force.com

Veeva

Yammer

Zendesk

Zenefits

Zoom

 

Episode Specific Terms:

ARR/MRR (Triple/Triple/Double/Double)

Churn/Negative Net Churn

Cloud

Coaching Networks

Cohort Analysis (The Smile)

Deskless Workforce

Diligence

Disintermediation

Enterprise

Flywheel

Generalist VC vs Focused VC

Horizontal vs Vertical Software

Investing Themes

Investment Memo

Investment Thesis

Market Pull

Multi-Tenancy vs Single Tenancy

Network Effects

On Track Earnings (OTT)

On-Prem

Opportunity Sizing 

Principles, Senior Associates, Associates

Product/Market Fit (“Customer Love”)

Referral Effects

SaaS

Sales and Marketing Efficiency

Technical Thesis

Total Addressable Market (Top Down-Market Sizing)

Utilization (as a Consumer Metric)

Value Provided on Unit Basis (Bottom Up Market Sizing)

 

Ben and David’s Affiliations:

Wave Capital, @WaveCapitalVC

PSL, @psl

Mar 05, 2019
Beyond Instagram with Emily White
29:11

We continue the conversation with Emily White, covering topics including her career path, what it was like working with Sheryl Sandberg for so many years, her time at Snap, her experience serving on public company boards, and how she operates as an investor now at Anthos Capital.

Feb 26, 2019
Why aren't energy startups funded like software? (with Doug Rand)
01:04:21

As promised in our holiday special, we dive into the past, present and future of clean energy funding, with the absolutely perfect guest: the former Obama administrations Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Doug Rand. This episode was totally eye opening for us, and we hope inspires many of you to think about energy and climate through an entrepreneurial lens. 

 

Worldwide Meetup!

To celebrate passing 1m downloads, we’re hosting a worldwide meetup! Join us on February 21, 2019 at 530pm PT (830pm ET) on Zoom and Slack for our first worldwide meetup. Ben and David will be live on video hanging out and taking questions on both Slack and Zoom. Check Slack and our website for details and the Zoom link as we get closer!

 

Links:

Feb 11, 2019
Investment Theses
41:13

Ben and David talk about some of their current investment theses at PSL and Wave, as well as how VCs think about themes and theses in general. 

Links:

Jan 28, 2019
How VC Firms Really Work
01:11:52

Ever wondered what's really going on during the Monday Meetings of your friendly neighborhood VC firm? Ben and David take you behind the scenes to discuss structure (especially how the management company works), staffing, LPs, and most importantly decision-making and motivations for VC firms and their partners. Whichever side of the table you're on, we hope you find this episode useful!

Jan 14, 2019
2018 Holiday Special
01:32:51

Ben and David continue the Acquired holiday tradition... in special, extended LP form. Happy holidays to everyone and thank you for being a Limited Partner!

 

Note: we apologize for David’s sound quality... we’re still working out the kinks on our mobile recording setup.

 

Extended carve out links:

Dec 21, 2018
The Art of Pitching
57:25

Ben and David discuss “the art of the pitch” through the lens of fundraising for seed-stage companies, but the takeaways are also (hopefully) applicable far beyond!

 

Links:

Dec 02, 2018
Growing Airbnb (with Dan Hill, CEO of Alma and former Head of Growth at Airbnb)
52:46

Ben and David are back for LP episode #3, with special guest Dan Hill. Dan discusses:

- How his startup, Crashpadder, got acquired by Airbnb

- Why Airbnb succeeded, and why marketplace businesses in the US have an advantage in early growth

- How they decided on growth metrics at Airbnb

- How his new company, Alma, is making charitable giving simple

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Share that you’re an LP on Twitter!

Nov 19, 2018
Product-market fit
01:01:36

Ben and David are back for LP episode #2, this time diving into the most elusive of early-stage investing and company building topics: product-market fit. You can always manage your subscription by logging into your account at http://kimberlite.fm

 

Share that you’re an LP on Twitter!

Nov 05, 2018
VC Vocab
49:08

Kicking off the LP Bonus Show and diving into some jargon-y VC vocab.

You can always manage your subscription by logging into your account at http://kimberlite.fm

 

Share that you’re an LP on Twitter!

Oct 21, 2018