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Acquired

Acquired

Every company has a story. Learn the playbooks that built the world?s greatest companies ? and how you can apply them as a founder, operator, or investor.

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Standard Oil Part II

We bring the epic saga of Standard Oil and John D. Rockefeller to a close (for now) with two of history's greatest second acts: Rockefeller's pioneering of modern philanthropy (and really modern life itself), and perhaps the single greatest shareholder value "unlock" of all-time in the breakup of Standard Oil. And like any great American saga, of course the good guys win in the end. The only question is... just who were the good guys??

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and access for live events and discussions with episode guests. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thank you to Pilot for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 9! Pilot takes care of startups' bookkeeping, tax and CFO services so busy founders can focus on what matters. To paraphrase Jeff Bezos's AWS analogy: bookkeeping and tax don't make your product any better ? so you should let Pilot handle them for you. Pilot is in fact backed by Bezos himself, along with other all-star investors including Sequoia, Index, and Stripe. They are truly the gold standard for startup bookkeeping, and many of the companies we work with run on them. You can get in touch with Pilot here: https://bit.ly/acquiredfmpilot , and Acquired listeners get 20% off their first 6 months! (use the link above) Thank you as well to PitchBook and to Nord Security. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredpitchbook https://bit.ly/acquirednord


Links:

Titan by Ron Chernow: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400077303/ Episode sources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1PzIts5VVgKhE70sAeHnLKcmDktTkXRgEVtuHDktfNCw/edit?usp=sharing


Carve Outs:

The to-be-announced (as of recording) M1X MacBook Pro... Starfish Space: https://www.starfishspace.com/ Peloton: https://www.onepeloton.com

?Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

2021-10-18
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Michael Mauboussin Master Class ? Moats, Skill, Luck, Decision Making and a Whole Lot More

We sit down with the one & only Michael Mauboussin to dive deep into his incredible body of work: untangling skill and luck, measuring moats, persistence of returns in venture capital, decision making and ? particularly timely ? expectations investing and how to think about valuations in the current 2021 market environment. (!!) Michael's work is maybe our most frequent carve out on Acquired, so we're pumped to finally have a chance to interview the man himself. Big thank you to Patrick O'Shaughnessy and Brent Beshore for introducing us all at Capital Camp this year!

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

Sponsors:

Thanks to SoftBank Latin America for being our presenting sponsor for this special episode. If you are an entrepreneur, employee, other investor or simply someone who's interested in learning about the best young companies in LatAm right now, get in touch with them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredsoftbanklatam , and tell them that Ben and David sent you! You can get learn more about careers at their portfolio company QuintoAndar at https://carreiras.quintoandar.com.br Thank you as well to Modern Treasury and to Fundrise. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredmoderntreasury (and you can find our reverse interview with them at https://www.moderntreasury.com/acquired ) https://bit.ly/acquiredfundrise

Jobs!

Big news ? we now have a full Acquired Job Board! It's a one-stop-shop with all the very best opportunities from the amazing companies in the Acquired community, including folks like Solana, Italic, Pilot, RabbitHole, Modern Treasury, Vouch, Zapier, Levels and more. AND, if you're more casually open to opportunities, we have a form you can fill out and we'll handpick the best ones and personally send to you as they come up. Check it out at https://www.acquired.fm/jobs

Links:

Michael's wonderful talk at Google: https://youtu.be/1JLfqBsX5Lc The new revised edition of Expectations Investing: https://www.amazon.com/Expectations-Investing-Reading-Returns-Heilbrunn/dp/0231203047/ The Success Equation: https://www.amazon.com/The-Success-Equation-Untangling-Investing/dp/1422184234/ Measuring the Moat: https://research-doc.credit-suisse.com/docView?language=ENG&format=PDF&sourceid=csplusresearchcp&document_id=1066439791&serialid=4uA2wHojCvFKzqWfwIyDvkSN1pkXRpb43LvyclLcJsk%3D&cspId=null Public to Private Equity: https://www.morganstanley.com/im/publication/insights/articles/articles_publictoprivateequityintheusalongtermlook_us.pdf


?Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

2021-10-05
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Standard Oil Part I

It's time. We dive into the *original* American capitalist mega winner, Standard Oil, and its legendary founder John D. Rockefeller. This company and man almost defy characterization -- Elon, Bezos, Gates, Buffett... they've got nothing on old John D. Not only was Rockefeller the wealthiest person in modern human history, his company wrote the blueprint for today's corporations and everything we now know about business and capitalism. Pull up a chair and get ready to hear how this hillbilly, nobody kid from the sticks grew up to became the richest person in the world, creating a legend along the way that would become the American Dream...


If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and access for live events and discussions with episode guests. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thank you to Pilot for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 9! Pilot takes care of startups' bookkeeping, tax and CFO services so busy founders can focus on what matters. To paraphrase Jeff Bezos's AWS analogy: bookkeeping and tax don't make your product any better -- so you should let Pilot handle them for you. Pilot is in fact backed by Bezos himself, along with other all-star investors including Sequoia, Index, and Stripe. They are truly the gold standard for startup bookkeeping, and many of the companies we work with run on them. You can get in touch with Pilot here: https://bit.ly/acquiredfmpilot, and Acquired listeners get 20% off their first 6 months! (use the link above) Thank you as well to PitchBook and to Nord Security. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredpitchbook https://bit.ly/acquirednord


Links:

Episode sources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1X7oskTGkPX_rIKqZFlN49USR20Ii6C9p2SJCGzEXHLU/edit?usp=sharing


Carve Outs:

There Will Be Blood: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469494/ Deadwood: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0348914/ SB Nation's Secret Base Atlanta Falcons series: https://youtu.be/Lx_ORMhpmoU


?Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

2021-09-22
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TSMC

It's time. We dive into the unbelievable history behind the quietest technology giant of them all ? and as of recording the world's 9th (!) most valuable company ? the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. This story checks every box in the Acquired pantheon of greatness: China, America, MIT, Don Valentine, Silicon Valley, "real men" looking silly, and... moats literally built by lasers. We're not kidding. Pull up a seat and settle in for a great one!

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

Sponsors:

Thank you to Pilot for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 9! Pilot takes care of startups' bookkeeping, tax and CFO services so busy founders can focus on what matters. To paraphrase Jeff Bezos's AWS analogy: bookkeeping and tax don't make your product any better ? so you should let Pilot handle them for you. Pilot is in fact backed by Bezos himself, along with other all-star investors including Sequoia, Index, and Stripe. They are truly the gold standard for startup bookkeeping, and many of the companies we work with run on them. You can get in touch with Pilot here: https://bit.ly/acquiredfmpilot , and Acquired listeners get 20% off their first 6 months! (use the link above) Thank you as well to PitchBook and to Nord Security. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredpitchbook https://bit.ly/acquirednord


Links:

Episode Sources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rQMgQDY5c3Fs5DsjB4cZHVZGdhN4kK-6HapO_r7pjyQ/edit?usp=sharing


Carve Outs:

Ted Lasso (Season 1): https://tv.apple.com/us/show/ted-lasso/umc.cmc.vtoh0mn0xn7t3c643xqonfzy Greek: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0976014/ Who is Michael Ovitz?: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B2HS77M/
2021-09-07
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Kevin Rose from Web 2.0 to Web3

We sit down with the one and only Kevin Rose to talk about his journey from pioneering Web 2.0 with Digg to leading the charge on Web3 and NFT + DeFi investing as a partner at True Ventures and his new show Modern Finance. We cover it all -- TechTV, Digg's true origin story, Milk, Hodinkee, interviewing Beeple and where MoFi goes from here. This was an episode we?ve been wanting to do forever, and Kevin was truly a blast to hang out with. Tune in and then go check out everything he?s building now over at Modern Finance!

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thanks to SoftBank Latin America for being our presenting sponsor for this special episode. If you are an entrepreneur, employee, other investor or simply someone who's interested in learning about the best young companies in LatAm right now, get in touch with them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredsoftbanklatam, and tell them that Ben and David sent you! You can get in touch Rappi's Sebastian Mejia at [email protected] or @mejiasebas on Twitter Thank you as well to Modern Treasury and to Fundrise. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredmoderntreasury (and you can find our reverse interview with them at https://www.moderntreasury.com/acquired ) https://bit.ly/acquiredfundrise


Links:

Modern Finance: https://modern.finance Especially the Beeple episode: https://modern.finance/episode/beeple-his-story-the-future-of-nfts-his-favorite-digital-artist-and-more/ Proof: https://www.proof.xyz Kevin on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kevinrose
2021-08-30
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Andreessen Horowitz Part II

Alright, backstory's out of the way, and Acquired is rolling three hours deep on the venture firm that changed the game for everyone ? a16z.

VC marketing? Check. "Founder-friendly?" Check. Platform services? Check. Huge valuations and massive fund sizes? Check and check.

We dissect it all in glorious detail, right down to the famous office library (located next to the Rosewood on Sand Hill, natch). The story of modern venture capital starts here. Let's Go!!!


If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and access for live events and discussions with episode guests. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thank you to Pilot for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 9! Pilot takes care of startups' bookkeeping, tax and CFO services so busy founders can focus on what matters. To paraphrase Jeff Bezos's AWS analogy: bookkeeping and tax don't make your product any better ? so you should let Pilot handle them for you. Pilot is in fact backed by Bezos himself, along with other all-star investors including Sequoia, Index, and Stripe. They are truly the gold standard for startup bookkeeping, and many of the companies we work with run on them. You can get in touch with Pilot here: https://bit.ly/acquiredfmpilot , and Acquired listeners get 20% off their first 6 months! (use the link above) Thank you as well to Pitchbook and to Nord Security. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredpitchbook https://bit.ly/acquirednord


Links:

Michael Mauboussin on persistence of returns across asset classes: https://www.morganstanley.com/im/publication/insights/articles/articles_publictoprivateequityintheusalongtermlook_us.pdf Tomorrow's Advance Man: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/18/tomorrows-advance-man Episode sources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/12jf9pwTdEuANtdOffUzSzvE0xEJptT0Or-gBSJgk8mg/edit?usp=sharing


Carve Outs:

Childhood's End: https://www.amazon.com/Childhoods-End-Arthur-C-Clarke/dp/110196703X MKBHD's Studio channel and tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkuxIy3kFZM The Godfather: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068646/ Who Got the Truth on Spotify!! https://open.spotify.com/track/03X7SwpsCjZIofK8RFPwch?si=649d93b2be7743d5
2021-08-10
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Andreessen Horowitz Part I

We kick off Season 9 with a classic: Part I of the a16z story. How did this brand new venture firm charge out of the gates in 2009, going from zero to disrupting the entire venture industry overnight? You probably know Marc & Ben's history with Netscape and Loudcloud/Opsware... but what about the Black Panthers, Nintendo 64, Al Gore, Doug Leone, Masayoshi Son, and an epic feud with Benchmark Capital that became Silicon Valley's version of the Hatfields and the McCoys? Buckle up, Acquired's got the truth.

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thank you to Pilot for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 9! Pilot takes care of startups' bookkeeping, tax and CFO services so busy founders can focus on what matters, which is building the company. To paraphrase Jeff Bezos's famous AWS analogy: bookkeeping and tax don't make your product any better ? so you should let Pilot handle them for you. In fact Pilot is backed by Bezos himself via Bezos Expeditions, along with an all-star roster of other investors including Sequoia, Index, and Stripe. They are truly the gold standard for startup bookkeeping, and many of the companies we work with run on them. You can get in touch with Pilot here: https://bit.ly/acquiredfmpilot , and Acquired listeners get 20% off their first 6 months! (use the link above) Thank you as well to Pitchbook and to Nord Security. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredpitchbook https://bit.ly/acquirednord


Links:

David Streitfeld's great NYT piece on the Horowitz family: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/22/technology/one-family-many-revolutions-from-black-panthers-to-silicon-valley-to-trump.html Marc on the Tim Ferriss Show: https://tim.blog/2018/01/01/the-tim-ferriss-show-transcripts-marc-andreessen/ 2003 Marc in SF Gate: https://www.sfgate.com/business/ontherecord/article/OPSWARE-INC-On-the-record-Marc-Andreessen-2525822.php#photo-2684736


Carve Outs:

Ben:

The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life: https://www.amazon.com/Elephant-Brain-Hidden-Motives-Everyday/dp/0190495995

David:

Resonant Arc Podcast / YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFzWAEPDGiY34bGpwM_DWmA

Episode Sources:

http://1997.webhistory.org/www.lists/www-talk.1993q1/0099.html http://allthingsd.com/20130125/go-west-young-geek-chris-dixon-on-why-he-became-a-silicon-valley-vc-at-andreessen-horowitz-and-more-video/ http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/1789/Marc-Andreessen/ http://www.internethistorypodcast.com/2015/08/20-years-on-why-netscapes-ipo-was-the-big-bang-of-the-internet-era/ https://a16z.com/2011/05/09/microsoft-buys-skype/ https://a16z.com/2011/06/30/meet-our-new-general-partner-jeff-jordan/ https://a16z.com/2017/04/07/todd-and-freddy-okta/ https://a16z.com/2018/09/25/michael-ovitz-entertainment-culture-negotiation-talent/ https://a16z.com/2019/06/20/slack/ https://a16z.com/2019/11/20/brand-building-a16z-ideas-people-marketing/ https://a16z.com/2019/11/26/a16z-podcast-how-what-why-500th-episode-behind-the-scenes/ https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/andreessen-horowitz-hires-a-female-partner-from-outcast-communications/ https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/03/andreessen-horowitz-starts-second-fund/ https://books.google.com/books?id=zyIvOn7sKCsC&pg=PA15#v=onepage&q&f=false https://charlierose.com/videos/12907 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreessen_Horowitz https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Horowitz https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Panther_Party https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Browser_wars https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Horowitz https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_H._Clark https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Jordan_(venture_capitalist) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Andreessen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Ovitz https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaic_(web_browser) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Betty_Van_Patter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netscape https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ning_(website) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyglass,_Inc. https://fortune.com/2011/07/12/skype-the-inside-story-of-the-boffo-8-5-billion-deal/ https://fortune.com/2021/01/20/tech-and-crypto-funder-andreessen-horowitz-wants-to-replace-the-media-that-might-be-bad-news-for-investors/ https://fortune.com/longform/jeff-jordan-vc/ https://greatness.floodgate.com/episodes/marc-andreessen-was-netscape-an-overnight-success https://money.cnn.com/2009/07/02/technology/marc_andreessen_venture_fund.fortune/index.htm https://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/07/25/8266639/ https://newrepublic.com/article/162227/david-horowitz-profile-trump-propagandist-radical-leftist https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ben-horowitz-02-25-20/id814550071?i=1000466601994 https://techcrunch.com/2009/02/20/andreessen-on-charlie-rose-i-am-creating-a-fund-full-video/ https://techcrunch.com/2010/06/20/andreessen-horowitz-celebrates-first-year-with-new-general-partner-john-ofarrell/ https://techcrunch.com/2014/03/27/andreessen-horowitz-raises-massive-new-1-5-billion-fund/ https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/25/andreessen-horowitz-has-a-new-crypto-fund-and-its-first-female-general-partner-is-running-it-with-chris-dixon/ https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/01/a16z-ushers-in-new-fund-strategy-with-2-75b/ https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/andreessen-horowitz-triples-down-on-blockchain-startups-with-massive-2-2-billion-crypto-fund-iii/?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAADZwBJIiwmoiePFPnoZk3s1WbLc0aUfwh4wj_nMnhEi5nYQ0Q1xfZfmYDhSbKEsY22uz29mILPEgwMe6RNf3pL8Jmpa6t8I3D19mTdP2c5zWv5jnGf2VNMFgB6UcS4o_5nTs2ymb7QON0OtJ4X4aiHWgNAW5auKjI6Hq65Unz0x8 https://thehistoryoftheweb.com/browser-wars/ https://tim.blog/2018/01/01/the-tim-ferriss-show-transcripts-marc-andreessen/ https://venturebeat.com/2009/08/19/first-andreessen-horowitz-investment-apptio-raises-14m/ https://web.archive.org/web/20110407235346/http://bhorowitz.com/2011/04/06/andreessen-horowitz-has-a-new-200mm-co-investment-fund/ https://web.archive.org/web/20120212181829/http://www.engineer.ucla.edu/visitor-links/alumni/alumni-profiles-1/ben-horowitz-ms-201990 https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/episode-42-opsware-with-special-guest-michel-feaster https://www.amazon.com/Hard-Thing-About-Things-Building/dp/0062273205 https://www.businessinsider.com/benchmark-website-2012-11 https://www.coindesk.com/andreessen-horowitz-doubles-down-on-crypto-investments-with-new-515m-fund https://www.coindesk.com/andreessen-horowitz-rakes-in-2-2b-for-third-crypto-venture-fund https://www.economist.com/technology-quarterly/2011/09/03/disrupting-the-disrupters https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexkonrad/2019/04/02/andreessen-horowitz-is-blowing-up-the-venture-capital-model-again/?sh=6f3cdbfc7d9f https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/atr/legacy/2006/03/03/20.pdf https://www.jwz.org/blog/2019/03/brand-necrophilia-part-7/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffjordan1/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/mcopeland/ https://www.newcomer.co/p/the-unauthorized-story-of-andreessen https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/18/tomorrows-advance-man https://www.nytimes.com/1995/08/10/us/with-internet-cachet-not-profit-a-new-stock-is-wall-st-s-darling.html https://www.nytimes.com/1995/08/10/us/with-internet-cachet-not-profit-a-new-stock-is-wall-st-s-darling.html https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/22/technology/one-family-many-revolutions-from-black-panthers-to-silicon-valley-to-trump.html https://www.quora.com/How-did-Netscape-Navigator-make-money https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1660134/000119312517080301/d289173ds1.htm https://www.sfgate.com/business/ontherecord/article/OPSWARE-INC-On-the-record-Marc-Andreessen-2525822.php#photo-2684736 https://www.statista.com/statistics/203734/global-smartphone-penetration-per-capita-since-2005/ https://www.theinformation.com/articles/these-guys-are-very-different-inside-andreessen-horowitzs-rise https://www.theringer.com/2017/6/8/16045766/jeff-jordan-andreessen-horowitz-vc-pickup-basketball-ab4e54928186 https://www.wired.com/1999/02/aol-names-andreessen-cto/ https://www.wired.com/story/andreessen-horowitz-new-crypto-fund-iii/ https://www.worth.com/a-decade-later-how-has-andreessen-horowitz-changed-silicon-valley/ https://www.wsj.com/articles/andreessen-horowitzs-returns-trail-venture-capital-elite-1472722381 https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424053111903480904576512250915629460 https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB984080550858322401 https://youtu.be/PbW-1k3ZOA4 https://youtu.be/k5pbximmZdI http://cseweb.ucsd.edu/~little/OldSites/CSE_Uptime/v4.7-8/xmosaic.html https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1999-09-11-9909110235-story.html https://www.wikiwand.com/en/List_of_web_browsers http://www.internethistorypodcast.com/2014/01/mosaic/ http://www.internethistorypodcast.com/2014/01/chapter-1-part-2-netscape-the-big-bang/ http://www.internethistorypodcast.com/2014/02/chapter-1-part-3-netscape-the-big-bang/
2021-07-27
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Special: Solana (with CEO Anatoly Yakovenko)

We sit down with the hottest new protocol layer in crypto today: Solana, and its cofounder Anatoly Yakovenko, who is the CEO of Solana Labs. If you listened to our Ethereum episode or follow crypto even at a cursory level, you've likely heard of Solana and its ability to scale transactions thousands of times higher than Ethereum. And, unlike other so-called "ETH killers", Solana is doing so in production today with large and real applications. We dive into the project's history coming out of the 2017-18 crypto winter, how it works and what's ahead now that they've recently raised $314m (yes that is Pi $million) from a16z and Polychain Capital, with their native SOL tokens currently trading at a market cap around $10B (!).

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like our Book Clubs. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thanks to SoftBank Latin America for being our presenting sponsor for this special episode. SoftBank has truly been the first and best large capital allocator in the Latin American startup ecosystem, and we are very excited to work with and learn from them over the rest of 2021. If you are an entrepreneur, employee, other investor or simply someone who's interested in learning about the best young companies in LatAm right now, get in touch with them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredsoftbanklatam and tell them that you heard about them on Acquired. Shu's Twitter (which we highly recommend following!): https://twitter.com/snyatta Paulo's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulo-passoni-67195/ Thank you as well to Modern Treasury and to Fundrise. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredmoderntreasury (and you can find our reverse interview with them at https://www.moderntreasury.com/acquired ) https://bit.ly/acquiredfundrise


Topics covered:

Anatoly's background as a wireless engineer at Qualcomm, and how it led to a fundamental discovery of how to improve crypto system scalability Solana's role in the crypto protocol ecosystem and why there's a need for it (and why it can and will exist) alongside Ethereum versus "killing" it Starting Solana during the 2017-18 crypto winter, and how it forced them to focus just on building and shipping versus raising and posturing Bootstrapping adoption with the mining community (Solana's "true believers") and the early and ardent support they provided Where Solana falls on the Vitalik "Scalability - Security - Decentralization" trilemma, and why Solana's superpower of maintaining composability is so attractive


Links:

Solana: https://solana.com Solana on Twitter: https://twitter.com/solana Solana Hackathon submissions: https://airtable.com/shriNT26cAZeDJagn/tbl5fZ4E1BBbVAttW FTX: https://ftx.us Audius: https://audius.co


Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

2021-07-19
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Special: Solana (with CEO Anatoly Yakovenko)

We sit down with the hottest new protocol layer in crypto today: Solana, and its cofounder and CEO Anatoly Yakovenko. If you listened to our Ethereum episode or follow crypto even at a cursory level, you've likely heard of Solana and its ability to scale transactions thousands of times higher than Ethereum. And, unlike other so-called "ETH killers", Solana is doing so in production today with large and real applications. We dive into the project's history coming out of the 2017-18 crypto winter, how it works and what's ahead now that they've recently raised $314m (yes that is Pi $million) from a16z and Polychain Capital, with their native SOL tokens currently trading at a market cap around $10B (!).

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like our Book Clubs. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thanks to SoftBank Latin America for being our presenting sponsor for this special episode. SoftBank has truly been the first and best large capital allocator in the Latin American startup ecosystem, and we are very excited to work with and learn from them over the rest of 2021. If you are an entrepreneur, employee, other investor or simply someone who's interested in learning about the best young companies in LatAm right now, get in touch with them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredsoftbanklatam and tell them that you heard about them on Acquired. Shu's Twitter (which we highly recommend following!): https://twitter.com/snyatta Paulo's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulo-passoni-67195/ Thank you as well to Modern Treasury and to Fundrise. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquiredmoderntreasury (and you can find our reverse interview with them at https://www.moderntreasury.com/acquired ) https://bit.ly/acquiredfundrise


Topics covered:

Anatoly's background as a wireless engineer at Qualcomm, and how it led to a fundamental discovery of how to improve crypto system scalability Solana's role in the crypto protocol ecosystem and why there's a need for it (and why it can and will exist) alongside Ethereum versus "killing" it Starting Solana during the 2017-18 crypto winter, and how it forced them to focus just on building and shipping versus raising and posturing Bootstrapping adoption with the mining community (Solana's "true believers") and the early and ardent support they provided Where Solana falls on the Vitalik "Scalability - Security - Decentralization" trilemma, and why Solana's superpower of maintaining composability is so attractive


Links:

Solana: https://solana.com Solana on Twitter: https://twitter.com/solana Solana Hackathon submissions: https://airtable.com/shriNT26cAZeDJagn/tbl5fZ4E1BBbVAttW FTX: https://ftx.us Audius: https://audius.co


Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

2021-07-19
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Ethereum

We close out Season 8 with the most ambitious organization we've ever covered on Acquired: Ethereum, and it's celebrity wunderkind founder Vitalik Buterin. If you thought Mark Zuckerberg IPO-ing Facebook at $100B by age 27 was something, just wait until you hear the story of this high school junior creating $500B (!!) of market cap by the same age ? and oh yeah, maybe seeding the future dethroning of Facebook, Google, Amazon and all of big tech in the process. Regardless whether you're a crypto neophyte, a die-hard bull, or a skeptical bear, this is a story you need to hear, and Ethereum is an innovation you need to understand. Buckle in for a wild ride... and some special surprises from a few Acquired friends. :)

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors: 

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 8. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://bit.ly/acquiredtiny Thank you as well to Vouch and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquired-vouch http://bit.ly/acquiredcapchase


Links:

The Ethereum Whitepaper: https://ethereum.org/en/whitepaper/ Yung Spielburg https://open.spotify.com/artist/273so0X2Yuo93vfeX2nLDI and Mike Taylor https://open.spotify.com/artist/30ejUciK31BCg0IVCbt1dW on Spotify


Carve Outs:

Arthur C. Clarke: https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-C-Clarke/e/B000APF21M? (especially Rendezvous with Rama and The City & The Stars)

Disney-Marvel's Loki: https://www.disneyplus.com/series/loki/6pARMvILBGzF

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson: https://www.amazon.com/Diamond-Age-Illustrated-Primer-Spectra/dp/0553380966

Nier Automata: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nier:_Automata

Magic the Gathering IRL: https://magic.wizards.com/en/events/event-types/friday-night-magic


Episode Sources:

https://www.amazon.com/Infinite-Machine-Crypto-hackers-Building-Internet/dp/0062886142/ http://www.gjermundbjaanes.com/understanding-ethereum-smart-contracts/ https://bitcoinmagazine.com/technical/bootstrapping-a-decentralized-autonomous-corporation-part-i-1379644274 https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=4916.msg72174#msg72174 https://bitinfocharts.com/comparison/ethereum-transactionfees.html#6m https://blog.ethereum.org/2015/07/30/ethereum-launches/ https://coinmarketcap.com https://cointelegraph.com/news/ico-market-2018-vs-2017-trends-capitalization-localization-industries-success-rate https://consensys.net/about/ https://decrypt.co/36641/who-are-ethereums-co-founders-and-where-are-they-now https://defipulse.com https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aether_(classical_element) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin_Magazine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcointalk https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Hoskinson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Dwork https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dai_(cryptocurrency) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decentralized_autonomous_organization https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decentralized_finance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emin_Gün_Sirer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EOS.IO https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethereum https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethereum https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gavin_Wood https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Russia_(1991?present) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Goldberg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jed_McCaleb https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Lubin_(entrepreneur) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MetaMask https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_of_work https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_contract https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_DAO_(organization) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitalik_Buterin https://ethereum.org/en/developers/docs/gas/ https://ethereum.org/en/whitepaper/ https://finance.yahoo.com/news/eip-1559-nears-ethereum-upgrade-070058011.html https://info.etherscan.com/understanding-an-ethereum-transaction/ https://joincolossus.com/episodes/14242194/drake-ethereum-into-the-ether?tab=transcript https://media.consensys.net/ethereum-gas-fuel-and-fees-3333e17fe1dc https://medium.com/@ConsenSys/a-101-noob-intro-to-programming-smart-contracts-on-ethereum-695d15c1dab4 https://medium.com/the-capital/layer-1-vs-layer-2-what-you-need-to-know-about-different-blockchain-layer-solutions-69f91904ce40 https://novicedock.com/learn/cryptocurrency/ethereum https://open.spotify.com/episode/0I8O5IW4lDaFdUNrhXJZ6k?si=tt199jqFThKyk__DSgb08w&context=spotify%3Ashow%3A41TNnXSv5ExcQSzEGLlGhy&dl_branch=1 https://uniswap.org/blog/uniswap-history/ https://vessenes.com/more-ethereum-attacks-race-to-empty-is-the-real-deal/ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-07/crypto-coin-outperforming-bitcoin-is-about-to-see-supply-reduced https://www.coindesk.com/2016-ico-blockchain-replace-traditional-vc https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/358661 https://www.fool.com/investing/2021/05/27/what-is-ethereum-20-and-when-will-it-happen/ https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/031416/bitcoin-vs-ethereum-driven-different-purposes.asp https://www.reddit.com/r/ethereum/comments/4oi2ta/i_think_thedao_is_getting_drained_right_now/ https://www.reddit.com/r/ethereum/comments/m07kof/ethereum_to_become_a_deflationary_asset_eip1559/ https://www.reddit.com/r/MakerDAO/comments/as40d0/why_would_someone_choose_dai_over_tether/ https://www.statista.com/statistics/807195/ethereum-market-capitalization-quarterly/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x1b_S6Qp2Q https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4UNOv6SUcQ&t=2354s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSN5BaCzsbo
2021-07-06
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Special: Ho Nam from Altos Ventures ? A Different Approach to VC

What do you get when you combine Berkshire Hathaway's approach with early-stage venture capital? Altos Ventures. We're joined by Altos's wonderful Ho Nam to discuss their highly unusual approach to VC, which has resulted in them becoming significant shareholders in great companies like Roblox, Coupang, Woowa Brothers and Krafton (makers of PUBG). This episode is an absolute must-listen for anyone in our industry ? Ho is one of the best and most under-the-radar thinkers in Silicon Valley, and has many lessons to offer us all!

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like our Book Clubs. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thanks to MITIMCo for being our presenting sponsor for this special episode. They are truly some of the best and most well-known investors in the LP community, and their investment performance supports MIT's cutting-edge research, and world-class education. If you or someone you know is starting a fund or recently launched, or if you are interested in learning about the MITIMCo team, you can email them at [email protected] and learn more at https://mitimco.org/emerging-managers/. Just tell them that you heard about MITIMCo on Acquired. MITIMCo is looking to expand their global investment team! If you want to work with Nate and their team (with their unique structure), you can learn more here: https://mitimco.org/global-investor/. Thank you as well to Masterworks and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: http://bit.ly/acquiredmasterworks (use code ?Acquired? to skip the waitlist) http://bit.ly/acquiredperkins


Topics covered:

Altos's 13-year+ journey with Roblox, and how they deployed over $400m into the company out of an $86m fund Altos's heritage in Jack McDonald's Investments class at Stanford GSB, and the influence of Jack, Phil Fisher and Warren & Charlie How Altos successfully "value invests" in venture capital, and reconciling cashflow potential with growth "Good fundraisers" vs. "bad fundraisers" and correlation with returns Altos's unique fund structure and how they're architected to stay with companies longer than a typical venture capital firm Ho's Twitter presence and how (and why) he went from de minimus followers to one of the top FinTwit accounts in a few months


Links:

Ho's amazing Twitter presence: https://twitter.com/honam Ho's "Foxes and Hedgehogs" post: https://altos.vc/blog/foxes-and-hedgehogs Ho's "How do you know?" post: https://altos.vc/blog/howdoyouknow Ho's "Venture Lotto" post: https://www.altos.vc/blog/venture-lotto Sam Walton's Made in America: https://www.amazon.com/Sam-Walton-Made-America/dp/0553562835
2021-06-21
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Berkshire Hathaway Part III

It's time. We wrap our Berkshire Hathaway trilogy with Warren and Charlie entering a new era: the age of the internet. Can they and Berkshire adapt to this brave new world? We find out. And, after 9+ hours, we render our final judgments on Berkshire and Warren's career. Is "Never bet against America" still the right longterm approach? Or is there another, even bigger Snowball out there that Warren may be missing?

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like our recent Book Club event with Brad Stone. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors: 

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 8. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? something they're so dedicated to, they even make and sell bronze busts of Warren & Charlie online! if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Just like Berkshire, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://bit.ly/acquiredtiny and find their Berkshire Nerds store here: http://bit.ly/acquiredbrknerds Thank you as well to Vouch and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquired-vouch http://bit.ly/acquiredcapchase


The Berkshire Hathaway Playbook:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/berkshire-hathaway-part-iii )

1. The Berkshire Hathaway "Culture"

Berkshire Hathaway really only has three key cultural tenants that stretch across its huge array of operating businesses and investments: Don't put Berkshire's reputation at risk (i.e., don't be Salomon Brothers). Don't take money out of the business (i.e., re-invest and avoid or defer paying tax whenever possible). Funnel all excess cash back to Omaha for re-allocation (i.e., if you can't find a good use for excess cash, give it back to Warren).

2. You need different strategies at different company scales and points in time.

Berkshire's greatest longterm strength has been its ability to adapt and employ different strategies as it and the world has changed. From the transition from cigar butts to wonderful businesses as we saw in our last episode, to diluting the equity portfolio with fixed income assets from Gen Re before the internet bubble crash, to focusing on preferred equity during the financial crisis and ultimately making a non-controlling stake Apple the largest asset in the whole Berkshire portfolio, Warren and Charlie have demonstrated remarkable flexibility during their investing careers.

3. There are huge advantages to a company structure where one person makes all decisions.

Warren's ability to make $10 billion+ decisions on his own and within an hour (usually with input from Charlie) is truly unique in the global history of business, and allows Berkshire the flexibility to capitalize on opportunities that no one else can act upon, like the financial crisis. At the same time this setup obviously carries risk ? not so much in Warren making bad decisions (cough, airlines), but in missing other opportunities simply due to lack of diversity in thought. Which leads us to our last playbook theme...

4. Never Bet Against The Internet. (aka the "Rosenthal doctrine")

Andrew Marks of TQ Ventures perhaps sums up Warren's career best: he's the greatest "status quo investor" that's ever lived, as embodied in his "never bet against America" philosophy. As long as the future looks mostly like the present, nobody is better than Warren at handicapping probabilities and picking winners. But that's no longer the world we live in today. As Doug Leone laid out in our Sequoia Part II episode, we now live in a world of accelerating change: what works today is unlikely to keep working tomorrow. And where is that dynamic baked into the very fabric of existence? The Internet. Never bet against it.


Links:

Bill Gates 1996 Wired interview: https://youtu.be/VFFlO7yBIBM?t=1056 Jeff Bezos's 2008 AWS == electricity talk at YC Startup School: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nKfFHuouzA Charlie's 2021 Shareholder Meeting "slip-up": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gyqElEG6Uo


Carve Outs:

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits: https://www.amazon.com/Common-Stocks-Uncommon-Profits-Writings/dp/0471445509

Xbox Game Pass: http://xbox.com/gamepass

Goodfellas: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099685/

The Goodfellas soundtrack: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0xVpgEngjrg6FOw5vEFHRp


Episode Sources:

https://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1999/11/22/269071/index.htm https://berkshirehathaway.com/2020ar/2020ar.pdf https://companiesmarketcap.com/berkshire-hathaway/marketcap/ https://cunninghamjeff.medium.com/don-keough-mel-gibson-and-the-buffett-gang-abcb8b06e9b3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajit_Jain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bear_Stearns https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkshire_Hathaway https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Keough https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Graham_Buffett https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_Berkshire_Hathaway https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmon_Group https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Coke https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberto_Goizueta https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Weschler https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Giving_Pledge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todd_Combs https://finance.yahoo.com/news/bank-america-become-one-warren-141016560.html https://fortune.com/2011/09/12/meet-ted-weschler-buffett-auction-winner-berkshires-new-hire/ https://fs.blog/2009/11/the-crisis-the-decline-of-berkshire-hathaways-stock-from-triple-a-status/ https://givingpledge.org/About.aspx https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/warren-buffett-invested-3-billion-general-electric-ge-2008-crisis-2020-6-1029327040 https://omaha.com/business/ajit-jain-s-role-at-berkshire-expands-new-ceo-at-reinsurer-gen-re-will-report/article_e2c6283e-d64a-57aa-85bf-c6f540f41231.html https://omaha.com/business/berkshire-hathaways-bnsf-railway-seems-to-pull-its-own-weight/article_59b29e97-aa57-5826-9c1f-8e2cf85180cd.html https://rationalwalk.com/revisiting-berkshire-hathaways-acquisition-of-bnsf/ https://rationalwalk.com/revisiting-berkshires-wrigley-investments-brka-brkb/ https://realmoney.thestreet.com/investing/kass-apple-is-the-most-consequential-investment-that-warren-buffett-ever-made-15220462 https://sabercapitalmgt.com/warren-buffett-1997-email-exchange-on-microsoft/ https://sabercapitalmgt.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/BuffettRaikesemails.pdf https://seekingalpha.com/article/4175060-time-for-berkshire-and-mclane-to-part-ways https://static.fmgsuite.com/media/documents/1bae1ba7-c2f2-4af5-ac1f-c0429dc7e5f0.pdf https://theoraclesclassroom.com/blog/berkshire-hathaway-intrinsic-value-calculation-q3-2020/ https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-1.html https://www.ajc.com/business/keough-affable-but-tough-coke-leader/3mJH6FkDAXijjEscdeEQMK/ https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Financial-History-Berkshire-Hathaway/dp/0857199129 https://www.amazon.com/Poor-Charlies-Almanack-Charles-Expanded/dp/1578645018 https://www.amazon.com/Snowball-Warren-Buffett-Business-Life/dp/0553805096 https://www.berkshirehathaway.com/2008ar/2008ar.pdf https://www.berkshirehathaway.com/2020ar/2020ar.pdf https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2017/02/27/buffett-apple-airline-wagers-highlight-emergence-deputies/nV0z0YHUmR8SjYi1XZ6eLK/story.html https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/31/this-decade-saw-warren-buffett-finally-exit-ibm-jump-big-into-apple.html https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/31/this-decade-saw-warren-buffett-finally-exit-ibm-jump-big-into-apple.html https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/24/warren-buffett-says-apple-is-probably-the-best-business-i-know-in-the-world.html https://www.economist.com/leaders/2021/05/08/warren-buffett-should-step-aside-for-his-chosen-successor https://www.einpresswire.com/article/251597070/donald-r-keough-1926-2015 https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/02/18/the-3-biggest-mistakes-warren-buffett-made-with-ib.aspx https://www.fool.com/investing/2019/11/19/heres-how-much-warren-buffett-has-made-on-coca-col.aspx https://www.fool.com/investing/2019/12/29/heres-how-much-money-warren-buffett-has-made-in-ge.aspx https://www.forbes.com/sites/joewalsh/2021/05/01/buffett-doesnt-regret-selling-airline-stocks-last-year---and-he-still-doesnt-want-to-invest-in-them/?sh=48cbba1e6dfa https://www.goldmansachs.com/our-firm/history/moments/2008-buffett-investment.html https://www.himcap.com/#Management https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/021615/what-difference-between-berkshire-hathaways-class-and-class-b-shares.asp https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/BRK.A/berkshire-hathaway/stock-price-historyhttps://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/25/warren-buffett-says-berkshire-stock-managers-weschler-and-combs-have-trailed-the-sp-500.html https://www.nytimes.com/1995/02/15/business/worldbusiness/IHT-buffett-quietly-amasses-10-stake-in-amex.html https://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/28/business/28gum-web.html https://www.reuters.com/article/us-berkshire-buffett-precisioncastparts/warren-buffetts-10-billion-mistake-precision-castparts-idUSKCN2AR0MZ https://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/apr/30/warren-buffett-big-mistake-david-sokol-lubrizol https://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-DLB-32821 https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303341904575576373008860754 https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303467004575574630162624198 https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703740004574513191915147218 https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703977004575393180048272028 https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424053111904353504576569102534356770 https://www.wsj.com/articles/warren-buffett-recounts-his-role-in-2008-financial-crisis-1536314400 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gyqElEG6Uo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nKfFHuouzA https://youtu.be/QSGz4Y8CP2I https://youtu.be/VFFlO7yBIBM?t=1056 https://youtu.be/VFFlO7yBIBM?t=1056 https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/109694/0000898430-96-001695.txt

 

2021-06-07
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Special: Amazon Unbound (with Brad Stone)

Brad Stone joins us to discuss the making of the modern Amazon, and how it's morphed from the "flywheel company" of The Everything Store into a set of interlocking and self-reinforcing businesses that extended both wider and deeper into the global economy than anyone ever imagined. (except perhaps Jeff Bezos) Is Amazon the Standard Oil of our time, or maybe something much, much bigger? Tune in as we dive in!

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events including upcoming Book Clubs like these! We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thanks to Kevel for being our presenting sponsor for this special episode. Kevel provides API infrastructure to quickly build custom ad platforms for sponsored listings, internal promotions, native ads, and more ? customers include Yelp, Rappi, OfferUp, Mozilla, Strava, and many other large apps and platforms. In true Acquired fashion, Kevel and CEO James Avery have put together a fun page showcasing the company's "history & facts", which you can find here: http://bit.ly/acquiredkevel ! Thank you as well to Masterworks and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: http://bit.ly/acquiredmasterworks (use code ?Acquired? to skip the waitlist) http://bit.ly/acquiredperkins


Topics covered:

When and why Brad decided The Everything Store needed a sequel The process of writing the book and access he got at Amazon, including S-Team executives like Dave Clark The evolution of Amazon's core strategy from the flywheel into a set of "interlocking and self-reinforcing businesses", and how Brad landed on that as the key theme for the book Amazon's culture and the evolution from "Jeff-bots", and its embodiment in S-team members and company leaders beyond Amazon's investments in Video and why Bezos was ahead of the pack in realizing its strategic importance (including the rumored as-of-recording MGM deal) Amazon's secretive "Campfire" event and why Amazon does it despite its very un-Amazon price tag Brad's take on the future of three major Amazon business lines: Video, International and Marketplace / 3rd Party Sellers Amazon and Bezos's intense focus on competitors, despite the "theater" of their mantra to only focus on customers The Bezos "lapses of judgment" in 2018-19 and what it was like reporting on all the craziness around it Tracking down the "voice of Alexa" Nina Rolle, and Bezos's relationship with Elon!


Links:

Amazon Unbound (on Amazon, natch): https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Unbound-Invention-Global-Empire/dp/1982132612/
2021-05-27
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Berkshire Hathaway Part II

In Part II of our Berkshire Hathaway Trilogy (!), we pick up the story with Warren wandering in the woods of Omaha, searching for his life's next chapter after retiring from the professional investing business at the top of his game at age 39. How does he emerge from those woods anew, transforming from Ben Graham's cigar-butt cocoon into the butterfly collector of Berkshire's wonderful businesses? (Spoiler: Charlie Munger.) And how did one rotten-to-the-core business nearly bring it all down ? everything he'd ever worked for ? in the span of one terrible week? Tune in!

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like our upcoming Book Club event with Brad Stone. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 8. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? something they're so dedicated to, they even make and sell bronze busts of Warren & Charlie online! if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Just like Berkshire, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://bit.ly/acquiredtiny and find their Berkshire Nerds store here: http://bit.ly/acquiredbrknerds Thank you as well to Vouch and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquired-vouch http://bit.ly/acquiredcapchase


The Charlie Munger Playbook: (also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/berkshire-hathaway-part-ii )


1. Change your mind. Evolve. Reinvent.

Without Charlie's influence, Warren may have stuck to chasing cigar butts his entire career, and missed out on wonderful businesses like See's Candy, The Washington Post, Capital Cities, Geico (for the longterm) and Coca-Cola. Charlie's life experience taught him that the world can change on a dime, and what worked in the past won't necessarily work in the future. To succeed over the longterm you have to be a constant learning machine ? which sounds obvious, but the difficult part is being willing to question your own deeply held assumptions and beliefs, and then discard them when they no longer fit reality.

2. Focus on getting a few simple things right ? and the rest takes care of itself.

Adapting his beloved grandfather's motto ("Concentrate on the task immediately in front of you, and control your spending."), Charlie learned early on that there are only a few bedrock sort of things in life that never change ? and that if you just focus on getting those right, you'll do well. Find a great spouse who makes you better in life; buy wonderful businesses at fair prices; never get into a position where you're over-extended; be philanthropic when you can; have fun along the way. It's hard to argue much else matters. Reflecting back on his and Warren's success, Charlie says, "It isn't that we were so good at doing things that were difficult. We were good at avoiding things that were difficult ? finding things that are easy."

3. Risk ? volatility. Risk = chance of going out of business.

The Efficient Market Hypothesists of the 1970s-80s proposed that all investing risk could be reduced to "beta", or volatility relative to the market. This led to the 1980s' explosion of debt, derivatives and other "weapons of mass financial destruction" which people believed "riskless" because their volatility was hedged. Charlie and Warren recognized before anyone else that to the contrary, these instruments greatly ratcheted risk in the system! Operating with so much leverage, a single small but unexpected event could topple the whole house of cards. Unfortunately Warren and Charlie didn't listen to their own advice when entering the Salomon Brothers saga...

4. Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.

Some people (and companies or even whole industries) are addicted to "getting dirty" ? deceiving, betraying, evading, cheating, belittling, and generally pursuing their own self-interest above all else. It can be tempting to engage with such people, because they often have or promise great financial rewards. But you can't win in the long run. As the saying goes ? you'll both get dirty, and the pig will like it. Unfortunately again, Warren and Charlie didn't always listen to their own advice...


Links:

Chuck Rickershauser's corporate flow chart: (left half) (right half)


Carve Outs:

The Sopranos: https://www.hbo.com/the-sopranos

Macklemore on Armchair Expert: https://armchairexpertpod.com/pods/macklemore


Episode Sources:

http://www.studioz7.com/stamps.html https://cmqinvesting.substack.com/p/damn-right-behind-the-scenes-with https://cmqinvesting.substack.com/p/damn-right-behind-the-scenes-with https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/with-deal-for-tv-station-buffett-shrinks-ties-to-graham-family/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajit_Jain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkshire_Hathaway https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Monday_(1987) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Chip_Stamps https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Munger https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Meyer_(financier) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Beebe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Seeley_Mudd https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gutfreund https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_J._Byrne https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Meriwether https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharine_Graham https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liar's_Poker https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Lewis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebraska_Furniture_Mart https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Graham https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salomon_Brothers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/See's_Candies https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Charles_Munger https://fortune.com/1997/10/27/warren-buffett-salomon/ https://fundooprofessor.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/httpsdl-dropbox-comu28494399bloglinksfloats_and_moats-pdf/ https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/warren-buffett-berkshire-hathaway-dream-business-is-sees-candies-2019-7-1029916323 https://moiglobal.com/tom-murphy-2018/ https://moneyisboring.com/2019/10/03/a-case-study-of-why-warren-buffett-bought-disney-in-1966/ https://seekingalpha.com/article/4175060-time-for-berkshire-and-mclane-to-part-ways https://static.fmgsuite.com/media/documents/1bae1ba7-c2f2-4af5-ac1f-c0429dc7e5f0.pdf https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0471446912/ https://www.amazon.com/Liars-Poker-Norton-Paperback-Michael-ebook/dp/B003E20ZRY https://www.amazon.com/Poor-Charlies-Almanack-Charles-Expanded/dp/1578645018 https://www.amazon.com/Snowball-Warren-Buffett-Business-Life/dp/0553805096 https://www.berkshirehathaway.com/1999ar/FortuneMagazine.pdf https://www.fool.com/investing/2019/12/29/heres-how-much-money-warren-buffett-has-made-in-ge.aspx https://www.fool.com/investing/best-warren-buffett-quotes.aspx https://www.gurufocus.com/news/1344156/why-warren-buffetts-blue-chip-stamps-deal-was-so-revolutionary- https://www.multpl.com/s-p-500-pe-ratio/table/by-month https://www.sees.com/timeline/ https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/warren-buffett-to-step-down-from-washington-post-co-board/2011/01/20/ABWJ9NR_story.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMuX_-hE7SQ https://youtu.be/QSGz4Y8CP2I
2021-05-12
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Special: 2021 China Tech Trends (with Tech Buzz China)

We team up with two of the very best English-language analysts covering China tech today, Rui Ma and Ying Lu from the Tech Buzz China podcast, to talk about the big trends happening on the ground in China right now. We've had Rui and Ying's episodes on repeat in our own podcast players for many years as we researched our Meituan, PDD, Tencent and Alibaba episodes, and we're so excited to have them finally join us live. We had a blast and learned much more about what's actually happening in the world's largest market than the relative trickle of news Western audiences normally receive. Tune in!


LP Book Club Announcement!

The Acquired LP Book Club is officially returning! We are super excited to have Brad Stone join us on May 21st to discuss his sequel to the Everything Store, Amazon Unbound. We'll be interviewing Brad on Zoom with Acquired LPs ?live in the audience?, and Q+A to follow. You can join and become an LP here: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thanks to Kevel for being our presenting sponsor for this special episode. Kevel provides API infrastructure to quickly build custom ad platforms for sponsored listings, internal promotions, native ads, and more ? customers include Yelp, Rappi, OfferUp, Mozilla, Strava, and many other large apps and platforms. In true Acquired fashion, Kevel and CEO James Avery have put together a fun page showcasing the company's "history & facts", which you can find here: http://bit.ly/acquiredkevel ! Thank you as well to Masterworks and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: http://bit.ly/acquiredmasterworks (use code ?Acquired? to skip the waitlist) http://bit.ly/acquiredperkins


Topics and trends covered:

How Rui and Ying stay on top of trends in China tech remotely from the US The rise of ?tech company like? CPG and other consumer brands in China and extremely fast product development and iteration: e.g., Genki Forest, Perfect Diary and Shein Community group buying and the reinvention of commerce in rural China (along with an eye-opening discussion of what qualifies as ?rural? in China... which is very different from the West!) Autonomous and electric vehicle design and production in China (which is the world's largest car market), and the government's push for China to become a global leader in both The current state of anti-trust in China and why investors and operators on the ground in China are optimistic about recent developments


Links:

Tech Buzz China: https://www.techbuzzchina.com TBC's fantastic Insider community for investors and operators: https://www.techbuzzchina.com/insider
2021-05-05
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Berkshire Hathaway Part I

It's time. After 150+ episodes on great companies, we tackle the granddaddy of them all ? Berkshire Hathaway. One episode alone isn't nearly enough to do Warren and Poor Charlie justice, so today we present Part I: Warren's story. How did a folksy, middle-class kid from Omaha become the single greatest capitalist of all-time? Why, like Jordan, did he retire (twice!) at the top of his game, only to reinvent himself and come back stronger than ever? As always, we dive in. Let's dance.

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors: 

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 8. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? something they're so dedicated to, they even make and sell bronze busts of Warren & Charlie online! if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Just like Berkshire, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://bit.ly/acquiredtiny and find their Berkshire Nerds store here: http://bit.ly/acquiredbrknerds Thank you as well to Vouch and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquired-vouch http://bit.ly/acquiredcapchase


The Warren Buffett Playbook:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/berkshire-hathaway-part-i )

1. Money can create more money. (aka "Compounding")

Very early in life, Warren figured out something most people never truly grasp: money can be used to generate more money. It's sounds simple, but once you fully internalize this concept, you'll never see the world the same again. A given sum no longer represents what you could buy with it ? a coffee, a phone, a car, a house, etc ? but rather what it could grow to become over time. At the extreme, people like Warren are "cursed", seeing prices for goods not as whatever the sticker says, but 5x, 10x, 20x higher ? because that's what the opportunity cost of parting with the capital represents. If you own an asset that's compounding at a high rate with no obvious reason it will stop... dear lord do not interrupt it!! Most people are tempted to meddle: lock in gains, cover other losses, actively trade, or otherwise "manage" their investments. In the long run these actions are almost assuredly all value-destructive behaviors if you own truly great businesses.

2. Align incentives: be a doctor, not a prescriptionist.

Warren likened stockbrokers ? who got paid based on volume of trades placed, not investment performance ? to "prescriptionist" doctors who were paid by their number and type of pills prescribed, versus actual patient outcomes. Once Warren created his investment partnerships (and then later transformed Berkshire Hathaway into something similar), he not only unlocked hugely better outcomes for his"patients", but allowed created a path to pursue his own dream and become fabulously wealthy in the process.

3. You can't expect to control other people's emotions around money (or anything else).

However with the right "ground rules", you can mitigate the impact of others on your business and decision making ? and even use them to your advantage. Warren's early partnerships had a few ground rules and norms: partners will not know what securities are held, trading in/out is allowed only 1 day / year, and Warren will consistently set low expectations (leaving himself ample room to over-deliver). These set the stage for nearly complete freedom for Warren to operate as he saw fit ? to the immense gain of his limited partners.

4. Sins of omission (selling or passing) nearly always cost more than sins of commission (buying).

Warren is almost without doubt the greatest investor of all time. However even he made three incredibly stupid "unforced errors" early in his career that cost hundreds of billions in future gains: selling GEICO, selling American Express, and passing on the opportunity to invest in Intel with Arthur Rock. That said, Warren's fourth great mistake (and in his estimation his greatest) was certainly a sin of commission: buying Berkshire Hathaway itself. Warren estimates this single blunder totaled $200B+ in opportunity cost over his lifetime.


Carve Outs:

Ben: Year One of Not Boring: https://www.notboring.co/p/a-not-boring-adventure-one-year-in

David: Balaji Srinivasan on The Tim Ferriss Show: https://tim.blog/2021/03/24/balaji-srinivasan/


Episode Sources:

https://berkshirehathaway.com/reports.html https://einvestingforbeginners.com/warren-buffetts-ground-rules/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Schroeder https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Graham https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkshire_Hathaway https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Buffett https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_public_corporations_by_market_capitalization#2021 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Chace https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Noyce https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salad_Oil_scandal https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Slater https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seabury_Stanton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Pacific_Railroad https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_Falls_Company https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_Street_Crash_of_1929 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_J._Ruane https://fundooprofessor.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/flirting-with-floats-part-i/ https://fundooprofessor.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/flirting-with-floats-part-ii/ https://fundooprofessor.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/httpsdl-dropbox-comu28494399bloglinksfloats_and_moats-pdf/ https://medium.com/@madmedic11671/how-salad-oil-almost-crashed-the-u-s-economy-c3ed3c2cb797 https://minesafetydisclosures.com/blog/2017/4/16/berkshire-hathaway-brkb https://novelinvestor.com/happy-hour-wild-ride-geico/ https://qz.com/emails/quartz-obsession/1269094/ https://static.fmgsuite.com/media/documents/1bae1ba7-c2f2-4af5-ac1f-c0429dc7e5f0.pdf https://www.amazon.com/Buffett-American-Capitalist-Roger-Lowenstein/dp/0812979273 https://www.amazon.com/Poor-Charlies-Almanack-Charles-Expanded/dp/1578645018 https://www.amazon.com/Snowball-Warren-Buffett-Business-Life/dp/0553805096 https://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/1995.html https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/31/warren-buffett-on-his-successful-relationship-with-charlie-munger.html https://www.hbomax.com/feature/urn:hbo:feature:GWEW13AjEq0vCwwEAAAAH https://www.nationalindemnity.com/About_History.aspx https://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/04/business/04buffett.html https://www.tilsonfunds.com/BRK.pdf https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjXZbW8ALRA&t=463s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsDYatBvwYI&t=127s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFEwN7j0IWw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZNqLWe5o2Q&t=171s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJzu_xItNkY https://www2.census.gov/prod2/popscan/p60-001.pdf https://yale.app.box.com/s/8lb7yqca5tmfcjbjhhuw5xft7i1ddttj
2021-04-21
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Special: "Why Now" for Digital Health (with Levels founder Josh Clemente)

We dive into the fast-changing world of direct-to-consumer digital health, with perhaps the best person in the world: Levels founder Josh Clemente. (Shoutout to Ben Grynol and Michael Mizrahi from our LP community for introducing us!) Levels is on a mission to make consumers everywhere aware of their metabolic health by enabling anyone to track blood glucose levels with a continuous glucose monitor. Josh has had an incredible career, working as an early engineer at SpaceX and later at Hyperloop One before founding Levels out of a very real personal need. Join our conversation as we cover everything from Josh's time at SpaceX to why the market has changed for consumer digital health, and what the future holds for Levels.

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

Sponsors:

Thanks to Kevel for being our presenting sponsor for this special episode. Kevel provides API infrastructure to quickly build custom ad platforms for sponsored listings, internal promotions, native ads, and more ? customers include Yelp, Rappi, OfferUp, Mozilla, Strava, and many other large apps and platforms. In true Acquired fashion, Kevel and CEO James Avery have put together a fun page showcasing the company's "history & facts", which you can find here: http://bit.ly/acquiredkevel ! Thank you as well to Masterworks and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: http://bit.ly/acquiredmasterworks (use code ?Acquired? to skip the waitlist) http://bit.ly/acquiredperkins

The Levels / Digital Health Playbook:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/special-why-now-for-digital-health-with-levels-founder-josh-clemente )

High risk, high return - having a mentality of "we have nothing to lose" can create the high risk tolerance necessary to achieving high returns. SpaceX had a "we have nothing to lose" mentality for all of its early days. Elon always reminded SpaceX employees that everyone had to personally have to succeed, or "2,000 people including you will lose their jobs." Internet-based prescription workflows have unlocked a key business model innovation for direct-to-consumer digital health. The unlocking of therapeutic devices and drugs for direct to consumer cases, as pioneered by Hims/Hers, Roman, etc, has created a new age for digital health. This paradigm has shift has allowed businesses to reach patients directly without spending years (and millions of dollars) negotiating agreements with payers to get a coveted "billing code" from insurance. Often the best startup opportunities come from personal experience. The story of how Josh came to found Levels illustrates the power of being patient zero of the problem you want to solve. Josh didn't start out looking for a company to start, but by self-experiments simply because he had a problem and was curious. In new categories, starting as a premium product and moving down market as costs come down is often the best strategy. Tesla's "master plan" illustrates this perfectly: start absurdly expensive & impractical (Roadster), then still expensive but more practical (Model S/X), then mass-market viability (Model 3/Y). Data, data, data. If you listened to our Meituan episode, you'll remember us discussing the power of Meituan's review data. Similarly, Levels moat lies in its data. Amazingly Levels already owns the world's largest collective dataset of non-diabetic glucose monitoring data, and the company is still in beta! As they amass more and more data, they'll be able to generate more personalized insights and health/lifestyle recommendations for customers.

Links:

Levels: https://www.levelshealth.com
2021-04-06
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Rec Room Part II (with CEO Nick Fajt)

Last Acquired left the plucky Rec Room crew in our 2018 "Part I" episode, they were a seed stage startup making a VR game that users loved but grew slowly and barely monetized. Fast forward to today, and they're now a multi-platform social "place" with millions of active users, 500%+ YoY growth and hosting a robust creator economy that's rivaled only by their oft-compared metaverse cousin Roblox in dynamics and efficiency. And oh yeah, they're now a $1B+ company after a new $100m fundraise from existing investors Sequoia and Index, which they're announcing today. We figured it was high time to revisit Nick & crew for a Part II...

 

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

 

Sponsors: 

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 8. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://bit.ly/acquiredtiny Thank you as well to Vouch and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquired-vouch http://bit.ly/acquiredcapchase

 

The Rec Room Playbook:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/rec-room-part-ii-with-ceo-nick-fajt )

1. It's ok not to have a grand plan from the beginning.

As Nick says, company founding stories tend to get romanticized in retrospect. (Guilty as charged here at Acquired!) As a founder it can feel like there's so much pressure on you to "have it all figured out" from day one. But the reality of most great company beginnings is nothing so grand: often it's just founders who have an inkling about something interesting and the combination of courage + right life circumstances to jump into the unknown and learn as they go. Things change quickly in new or evolving markets, and if you're too wedded to a master plan you're likely to miss more opportunities than you seize.

2. Don't let early (or even just recent) success blind you if potential headwinds are on the horizon.

Rec Room experienced "explosive" growth during the 2017 holiday season with the launch of Playstation VR. However this was a classic "wiggle of false hope" (in Paul Graham parlance), not real product-market fit. It would have been easy to ignore the very real warning signs (e.g., that VR adoption as a whole was slowing) and plow full steam ahead. Instead the team realized they probably needed to step back from the temporary momentum and diversify out of solely focusing on VR to find new avenues for growth.

3. Build your company into a robust organism.

Startups constantly face existential risks: what if the market shifts? What if we make wrong strategic decisions? How can you architect your business as a system so that "you" (either you personally or the company management as a whole) doesn't need to always be right in order to succeed? For Rec Room this has meant investing deeply into UGC and letting creators lead growth. Any room or piece of content might be no more likely to breakout than another ? but in aggregate across now millions of creators, Rec Room is almost guaranteed a constant stream of "hits".

4. UGC is a flywheel that's difficult to start, but creates incredible business dynamics once spinning.

Like any flywheel, UGC requires a ton of effort to get moving in the beginning. (E.g., why should people bother to create? What tools do they need? How do you get the incentives right?) But once momentum takes over, it can become an incredible virtuous cycle where users' creativity inspires more users both to consume and create themselves, which compounds faster and faster over time. Furthermore, once a UGC flywheel is spinning, the underlying platform's unit economics get pretty fast: costs to produce content go down (or to zero), cost to acquire users go down (or to zero), and retention, engagement and monetization all spike up. In previous eras Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitch rode to this dynamic to incredible success. Today Roblox, Rec Room, TikTok and others are following the same playbook.

5. When operating a "metaverse", the best business dynamics result from having everything on a single platform (vs. siloing users based on devices/geos/etc)

Having all users able to interact on one platform not only maximizes liquidity across the creator-consumer marketplace, but affords the company more power across brand (e.g. Rec Room is the sole brand, not "Rec Room on xbox/steam/VR/etc") and central economic control.

 

Links:

Our "Part I" episode with Nick on Rec Room's seed round: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/season-2-episode-2raising-a-seed-round-with-against-gravity-ceo-nick-fajt Rec Room! https://recroom.com

 

Carve Outs:

Invent and Wander: https://www.amazon.com/Invent-Wander-Collected-Writings-Introduction-ebook/dp/B08BCCT6MW/ Resonant Arc on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFzWAEPDGiY34bGpwM_DWmA How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHe0bXAIuk0
2021-03-24
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Meituan

We dive into the history behind Meituan, the juggernaut Chinese "super-app" which dominates China's services economy, offering consumers everything from food delivery, restaurant reviews, travel booking, bike-sharing, movie ticketing, and countless other entertainment and lifestyle services all at the touch of a button. Already China's 3rd largest tech company by market cap (behind just Tencent and Alibaba), Meituan did $15 billion in net revenue in FY2019 and continues to grow rapidly. What makes it so special, and how were they able to become the market leader in such a competitive space? This story is packed with lessons that apply equally beyond China tech to high-growth company building and investing everywhere.

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 8. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://bit.ly/acquiredtiny Thank you as well to Vouch and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquired-vouch http://bit.ly/acquiredcapchase


The Meituan Playbook:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/meituan )

1. Adding product offerings (post initial product-market fit) isn't losing focus. It's smart business.

A huge part of Meituan's success and longterm defensibility versus its literally thousands of past competitors is its ability to cross-sell customers across many different product lines. Meituan can afford to spend much more on acquiring and retaining a new user who'll end up purchasing food delivery, groceries, hotels, travel and more through the platform vs. standalone competitors in each vertical. Most western companies woefully misunderstand this dynamic. (Amazon being a notable exception) Meituan enjoys an average of 26 transactions per user per year (vs e.g. Airbnb users which book an average of 0.5 transactions/year). With each additional offering, Meituan increases the number of revenue streams it can amortize its CAC over, while also offering superior experiences to customers. Key to making this strategy work is having the discipline to follow the same playbook as any startup: launch new initiatives quickly, test and improve based on real customer feedback, don't let perfect be the enemy of shipped, and kill what's not working and move on. Meituan and Amazon's new initiatives often lack polish ? but they either quickly bring in $billions of revenue, or they die and the company goes on to the next one. Again with few exceptions, western tech companies completely misunderstand how to execute this playbook effectively.

2. When you spot a market that's both large and growing fast ? ride that wave!!

Chinese e-commerce was a 20% saturation industry in 2017 and still growing nicely. However real world services was only 5% online, and poised to grow even faster. Staying nimble to capitalize on this online to offline (or "O2O") trend allowed Meituan to accelerate while Alibaba was caught flat-footed. Today Meituan (along with its fellow Tencent portfolio company Pinduoduo) represents probably the biggest threat Alibaba has faced in its entire history.

3. Many still don't realize what a powerful moat (trusted) reviews provide in online platforms.

Once it merged with Dianping, review data became Meituan's biggest competitive advantage vs other food delivery (and other product line) competitors. A deep database of reviews creates an incredible barrier to entry: any competitor can standup a set of listings, but without trusted reviews those listings are just "flat". This same dynamic helped Airbnb successfully defend against European clones early in its life.

4. Old news, but always worth repeating: the days of China simply cloning American tech companies are long gone. Today it's China, not the US, that's leading innovation on mobile and the internet more broadly across many categories.

Ironically, Meituan's founder Wang Xing started his career as perhaps China's top Web 2.0 company cloner, and Meituan itself began as a Groupon knockoff. But to say the the tables have turned today is a massiveunderstatement, haha.

5. Meituan capitalized on the secular trend of China's growing middle class and mobile-first economy.

Meituan's growth followed the growth of China's middle class. They were able to capitalize on the emergence of Tier 2 and 3 cities that provided newly addressable populations. Meituan was smart to pay attention to these non-Tier 1 cities from the very beginning. Founder Wang Xing realized that smaller cities where people were beginning to access the internet via mobile phones and internet cafes were a good fit for their initial group-discount platform.


Links:

Meituan's English language walkthrough video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wxgQVjDviQ The Tech Buzz China podcast: https://www.techbuzzchina.com GGV's Evolving for the Next Billion podcast: https://nextbn.ggvc.com/podcasts/ Bernard Leong's Analyse Asia: https://analyse.asia


Carve Outs:

Extraterrestrial: https://www.amazon.com/Extraterrestrial-First-Intelligent-Beyond-Earth-ebook/dp/B081TTY4NX/ John Luttig's newsletter: https://luttig.substack.com


Episode Sources:

Episode 258: Meituan Dianping with Liza Lin - Analyse Asia http://meituan.todayir.com/attachment/20180907112826231236667_en.pdf http://meituan.todayir.com/attachment/2020041708160280279238680_en.pdf http://www.yawenlei.com/uploads/4/4/3/4/44340649/asr_lei.pdf http://www.yourtechstory.com/2019/04/06/wang-xing-chinese-billionaire-businessman-founder-meituan/ https://about.meituan.com/en https://analyse.asia/2018/07/28/episode-258-meituan-dianping-with-liza-lin/ https://archive.org/details/aisuperpowerschi0000leek/page/22/mode/2up https://chinatechinvestor.simplecast.com/episodes/43-alibaba-has-a-meituan-problem-can-they-solve-it-with-11-billion-nTvmG0A5 https://cn.reuters.com/article/instant-article/idUKTRE7433HI20110504 https://daxueconsulting.com/o2o-food-delivery-market-in-china/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ele.me https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meituan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Xing https://medium.com/@Loisinbeijing/online-food-delivery-market-in-china-and-why-ele-me-is-losing-the-food-delivery-wars-17ef912d8f53 https://money.cnn.com/2018/09/20/technology/meituan-dianping-ipo/index.html https://nextbn.ggvc.com/opinions/meituan-dianpings-path-towards-profitability/ https://nextbn.ggvc.com/podcast/s1-ep-5-tao-zhang-of-dianping-on-merging-with-meituan-groupon/ https://secure.fundsupermart.com/fsm/article/view/rcms202620/meituan-dianping-the-unicorn-that-might-one-day-become-china-s-next-ten-bagger https://secure.fundsupermart.com/fsm/article/view/rcms204700/meituan-dianping-the-undisputed-king-of-china-s-45-billion-dollar-online-food-delivery-industry https://seekingalpha.com/instablog/49925729-dongtalk/5288005-three-campaigns-of-meituan-dianping-in-2018 https://techcrunch.com/2015/01/19/meituan-700m/?_ga=2.56564267.1010056541.1614018328-150822071.1609868284 https://techcrunch.com/2015/06/30/baidu-offline-to-online-20-billion-cny/?_ga=2.59578797.1010056541.1614018328-150822071.1609868284 https://techcrunch.com/2015/10/08/meituan-and-dianping-chinas-top-group-deals-sites-merge-in-multi-billion-dollar-deal/ https://thehustle.co/01272021-bytedance-valuation/#:~:text=ByteDance is currently valued at,%24800B) https://venturebeat.com/2008/05/26/chinese-local-review-site-dianping-a-lot-more-than-a-yelp-for-china/ https://web.archive.org/web/20170615042020/http://www.fox14tv.com/story/35003690/meituan-dianping-becomes-the-first-worldwide-on-demand-delivery-platform-to-process-more-than-10-million-orders-and-deliveries-per-day https://www.caixinglobal.com/2017-02-22/video-of-brawling-deliverymen-sets-chinese-internet-abuzz-101057682.html https://www.forbes.com/global/2011/0509/companies-wang-xing-china-groupon-friendster-cloner.html?sh=517b2d5955a6 https://www.ft.com/content/05686da9-60f8-4a3a-a5c5-95155bd01ffe https://www.marketwatch.com/story/alibaba-raises-11-billion-in-hong-kong-secondary-listing-2019-11-20 https://www.statista.com/statistics/1155778/china-number-of-wechat-mini-program-daily-active-users/ https://www.techbuzzchina.com/episodes/ep-10-meituan-the-super-app-that-won-against-a-thousand-clones https://www.techbuzzchina.com/episodes/ep-25-the-o2o-local-services-war-alibaba-vs-meituan-part-1-eleme https://www.techbuzzchina.com/episodes/ep-26-the-o2o-local-services-war-alibaba-vs-meituan-part-2-koubei https://www.techinasia.com/5000-group-buy-sites-in-china-but-no-ones-making-money https://www.techinasia.com/china-online-food-ordering-startup-eleme-raises-80-million-dollars https://www.techinasia.com/chinas-successful-founders-afraid-copycat https://www.theworldofchinese.com/2017/08/wheel-life-china-the-fast-and-the-furious/ https://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-MBB-58175 https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-dianping-valued-at-4-billion-1427962959 https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-meituan-dianping-files-for-ipo-reveals-loss-of-nearly-3-billion-in-2017-1529895226 https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-meituan-dianping-raises-3-3-billion-in-biggest-startup-round-ever-1453211614?mod=article_inline https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinese-app-meituan-raises-4-2-billion-in-ipo-1536819691 https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinese-startups-meituan-com-and-dianping-near-multibillion-dollar-merger-1444188561 https://www.wsj.com/articles/investors-gain-billions-from-chinese-tech-ipo-1538041120 https://www.wsj.com/articles/investors-including-tencent-priceline-pump-4-billion-into-online-lifestyle-platform-1508413127 https://www.wsj.com/articles/offering-discounts-and-delivery-meituan-wants-to-become-chinas-next-internet-giant-1529578801 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wxgQVjDviQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruyCPdUz1J0 https://youtu.be/IgDeiGpmXaQ https://youtu.be/z9NI-UAZDvw
2021-03-11
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The New York Times Company

For the entire 20th Century, you?d be hard pressed to find a better business than an American newspaper ? Warren Buffett famously described them as ?franchises? ? and no American newspaper stood taller than the New York Times. Controlled by a single family bound by a legal oath ?to maintain the editorial independence and integrity of The New York Times and to continue it as an independent newspaper, entirely fearless, free of ulterior influence and unselfishly devoted to the public welfare?, the Times served as the paper of record for generations of Americans and people around the world. But no good thing lasts forever, and the dawn of the 21st Century saw both the Times and this once-mighty industry devastated by the dual disruptive forces of the internet and the 2008 financial crisis. And yet by 2021, The Times, essentially alone of its former peers, has reemerged from the American newspaper wreckage and transformed itself into a thriving digital business with an order of magnitude more subscribers than its print heyday. Curious how it all happened? We dive into 170 years of history to find out!

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

 

Sponsors:

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 8. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://bit.ly/acquiredtiny Thank you as well to Vouch and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquired-vouch http://bit.ly/acquiredcapchase

 

The New York Times Company Playbook:
(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/the-new-york-times-company )

1. When you find yourself sitting in front of a big approaching demand wave... ride it!!

The New York (Daily) Times was founded during the newspaper boom of the 1850s, and similarly Adolph Ochs took over the local Chattanooga paper at the start of that city?s mining boom. The NYT made huge investments in its reporting during the two World Wars as the public?s appetite for news exploded, while its rivals missed the ball worrying over preserving advertising space. Likewise NYT launched The Daily (which would become the biggest podcast in the world) immediately following Trump?s inauguration in early 2017. Arguably NYT?s biggest business mistake was missing the cable wave -- which Rupert Murdoch leveraged brilliantly to build Fox News into the most valuable news media franchise in the world.

2. Where there?s an entrepreneurial will, there?s an entrepreneurial way.

Adolph Ochs bought the Chattanooga Times with $250 and sellers? notes, and then acquired The New York Times out of bankruptcy with no personal money down and $100k of real estate debt. And turned them both into successes on a level no one (even himself at times) believed possible.

3. Recurring Acquired theme: the media business is still the second-best business of all time, behind technology.

Media?s ability to generate dual revenue streams (advertising and subscription) from the same content product generates enormous leverage on investment, AND most of those costs are fixed vs. variable (especially in a digital environment).

4. This is why ?content is king? has always been true in the media industry.

NYT?s version of this strategy has always been to invest more in high-quality journalism than any of its peers. It was true in 1896 when Ochs took over, true during the World Wars and the Pentagon Papers, and perhaps has never been more true than today when NYT employs 1,700 journalists around the world and pays them an average of >2x the rest of the industry.

5. That said, distribution is critical as well. To build a world-class media organization you must be great at both content AND distribution.

In the old media landscape, NYT built great distribution through its printing and delivery operations, as well as savvy investments like the Index which led to libraries and researchers across the country relying on the Times as the ?paper of record?. However in today?s media landscape, the task of building great distribution falls on the newsroom and journalists themselves. The job is no longer finished once you hit publish -- reporters and editors must own the responsibility of getting their work in front of readers via social media and shareable story elements.

 

Links:

The 2014 NYT Innovation Report: https://archive.org/details/pdfy-59s-4-I2qSvG6MnA/mode/2up Mine Safety Disclosures? NYT presentation: https://minesafetydisclosures.com/blog/newyorktimes

 

Carve Outs:

Ben:

Titan by Ron Chernow: https://www.amazon.com/Titan-Life-John-Rockefeller-Sr-ebook/dp/B000XUDGHG Iteratively: https://iterative.ly

David:

Sabaa Tahir?s Ember in the Ashes series: https://www.amazon.com/Ember-Ashes-3-Book/dp/B074VDZB17

 

Episode Sources:

http://www.internethistorypodcast.com/2015/10/martin-nisenholtz-on-bringing-the-new-york-times-online/ https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/99/09/19/daily/092299tifft-book-review.html?module=inline https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0312.html https://archive.org/details/pdfy-59s-4-I2qSvG6MnA/mode/2up https://archives.cjr.org/cover_story/sulzberger_at_the_barricades.php https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolph_Ochs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Hays_Sulzberger https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fort_Sumter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Ellsberg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dotdash https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_D._Morgan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Jones_(publisher) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Jarvis_Raymond https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iphigene_Ochs_Sulzberger https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_The_New_York_Times_Company#Television_stations https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_The_New_York_Times_employees https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Nisenholtz https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times_Building https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times_Company https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism https://fintel.io/so/us/nyt https://media.foxcorporation.com/wp-content/uploads/prod/2019/09/18223214/Fox-Annual-Report-2019_Mid.pdf https://minesafetydisclosures.com/blog/newyorktimes https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2015/08/new-york-times-heirs.html https://nymag.com/news/features/40647/index4.html https://nymag.com/news/media/51015/ https://nytco-assets.nytimes.com/2021/02/Press-Release-12.27.2020-Final-for-posting.pdf https://stratechery.com/2020/an-interview-with-buzzfeed-ceo-jonah-peretti/?utm_source=Memberful&utm_campaign=f14650dd37-daily_update_2020_11_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d4c7fece27-f14650dd37-110888309 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0058Z4NOQ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316836311/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=86354f1b322a4ec2a548e58ac3e83d49 https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2012/05/11/new-york-times-sells-its-remaining-stake-boston-red-sox/ey4kwU4m6Xn2PYfcblrMcL/story.html https://www.enwoven.com/collections/view/1277/timeline https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2021/02/04/new-york-times-co-nyt-q4-2020-earnings-call-transc/ https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathanberr/2020/09/30/failing-new-york-times-stock-is-on-a-tear/?sh=57459cfd6247 https://www.library.illinois.edu/hpnl/tutorials/antebellum-newspapers-city/ https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/NYT/new-york-times/revenuehttps://www.presscouncil.org.au/uploads/52321/ufiles/The_New_York_Times_Innovation_Report_-_March_2014.pdf https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/05/15/312850571/a-complicated-first-a-black-editor-takes-the-helm-at-the-gray-lady https://www.nytco.com/company/history/our-history/ https://www.nytco.com/person/a-g-sulzberger/ https://www.nytco.com/person/joseph-kahn/ https://www.nytco.com/person/kathleen-kingsbury/ https://www.nytco.com/person/meredith-kopit-levien/ https://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/25/weekinreview/the-public-editor-paper-of-record-no-way-no-reason-no-thanks.html https://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/20/business/media/20times.html https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/opinion/nocera-how-punch-protected-the-times.html https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/17/business/media/new-york-times-reinstates-managing-editor-role-appoints-joseph-kahn.html https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/22/reader-center/ag-sulzberger-publisher-reader-questions.html https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/20/insider/times-womens-section-female-reporters.html https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/28/business/media/ben-smith-buzzfeed-new-york-times.html https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/01/business/media/ben-smith-journalism-news-publishers-local.html https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/opinion/editorialboard.htmlhttps://www.nytco.com/person/dean-baquet/ https://www.quora.com/Why-is-The-New-York-Times-called-the-gray-lady https://www.scribd.com/doc/224608514/The-Full-New-York-Times-Innovation-Report?campaign=SkimbitLtd&ad_group=1025X1162200X86792d9062cfc602c27b4a78b6a20b8f&keyword=660149026&source=hp_affiliate&medium=affiliate https://www.statista.com/statistics/315041/new-york-times-company-digital-subscribers/ https://www.wsj.com/articles/american-history-and-the-new-york-times-11602093219 https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB123660214438270341 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVH0Yz0OMT0
2021-02-18
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Special: Sequoia Capital's Investment Playbook (with Alfred Lin)

We cover Sequoia Capital a lot on this show. Not only across our now four(!) dedicated episodes, but across a stunning nearly 50% of recent season companies where Sequoia was a primary or only investor ? the most of any venture firm by an enormous margin. Today in this very special episode, we dive into the principles that have led to the firm's 49 years of unparalleled success in venture, and the playbook behind how they identify markets and companies that create outcomes worthy of the firm's namesake tree.


If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thanks to MITIMCo for being our presenting sponsor for this special episode. They are truly some of the best and most well-known investors in the LP communit, and their investment performance supports MIT's cutting-edge research, and world-class education. If you or someone you know is starting a fund or recently launched, get in touch with them at: http://bit.ly/acquiredmitimco , and tell them that you heard about MITIMCo on Acquired. Thank you as well to Masterworks and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: http://bit.ly/acquiredmasterworks (use code ?Acquired? to skip the waitlist) http://bit.ly/acquiredperkins


The Sequoia Capital Playbook:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/special-sequoia-capitals-investment-playbook-with-alfred-lin )

1. Bring a prepared mind.

Founders (as they should) typically think more about solving a problem in the world, and less about the market context around what they're doing. Sequoia has always focused on the market ? which allows them to bring a prepared mind to conversations with founders both pre and post investment. Great partnerships and great investments lie at the intersection of these two perspectives. Focusing on the market takes many forms at Sequoia. It includes building and maintaining market landscapes, constantly looking for white spaces, and convening quarterly "blue sky" sessions within the firm.

2. The two questions that matter are "Why now?" and "Who cares?".

Early-stage is different from other forms of investing. As Don would say, it's predicated on investing in markets undergoing significant change: today's solutions are wrong for tomorrow. A good answer to "why now" upends the Warren Buffet quote about reputations of businesses with bad economics surviving intact. For example, DoorDash and Instacart had great ?why now's? (ability to access a whole new class of labor through mobile devices), whereas Webvan (also a Sequoia investment) did not. Similarly, the key to evaluating market size in the context of early-stage venture is to focus on the opportunity size tomorrow, not today. "Who cares" is a great lens to predict and distill this: if this new solution were widely known and available who (how many people/customers, what segments, with what buying power) will care (how much will it improve their lives or businesses)?

3. The goal is not buying low and selling high. The goal is compounding capital.

In a compounding environment, gains from the next few years will always dwarf all cumulative gains from years prior. The goal is to invest in companies that are able to become compounders, help them do so, and enjoy the returns as long as possible. Identifying compounding (and whether it will continue) is hard to get right. The question Sequoia asks is whether the future for a given market, company or investment looks brighter than today. When the answer is yes: ??

4. Venture is a humbling business.

You can make money even if you get the investment thesis wrong, lose money even if you get the investment thesis right, and you realize your losses many years before your gains. (Alfred has been at Sequoia for over 10 years and only just had his first two IPOs: Airbnb and DoorDash.) To succeed in venture over the long run you need all three of high IQ, high EQ, and hustle. (We would also add high patience to the list!) What you don't need are specific qualifications: Michael Moritz was a journalist, Roelof Botha was an actuary, Don and Doug were sales guys and Alfred was a COO. Greatness can come from anywhere. There will always be too much capital chasing too few good deals. It's true today, it was true when Alfred started 10 years ago, and it was true when Michael Moritz started 20 years before that. But the winning companies will always generate outsized returns by using that capital to their unfair advantage. Your job as a VC is very simple, but devilishly hard: invest in those companies.


Links:

Our two-part Sequoia history: Part I: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/sequoia-capital-part-1 Part II: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/sequoia-capital-part-ii-with-doug-leone Don Valentine's talk at Stanford GSB: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKN-abRJMEw&t=2555s Our conversation about Sequoia's Black Swan Memo with Roelof Botha: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/sequoias-black-swan-memo
2021-02-01
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Bitcoin

We had to do it. After 12 years and 3,000,000x appreciation, we kick off Season 8 with the best investment of all-time and our biggest episode ever: Bitcoin. From the first bitcoin transaction of 10k for two Papa John's pizzas (worth about $350m today!!) to $40k+ BTC and maybe the moon beyond, we cover the whole crazy, improbable journey of how a single 8-page PDF document changed the world of money ? and perhaps the world itself ? forever.

If you love Acquired and want more, join our LP Community for access to over 50 LP-only episodes, monthly Zoom calls, and live access for big events like emergency pods and book club discussions with authors. We can't wait to see you there. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 8. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://bit.ly/acquiredtiny Thank you as well to Vouch and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: https://bit.ly/acquired-vouch http://bit.ly/acquiredcapchase


The Bitcoin Playbook:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/bitcoin )

1. Technological paradigm shifts are ideal opportunities for attacking incumbents.

The traditional finance system worked fantastically well for 500 years, but it wasn't built for the internet. The fact that sharing your bank account or credit card number is required in order to transact, but there's no really robust way to protect against fraud when doing so, provided the perfect seam for a new entrant. Bitcoin and its creators saw this shortcoming and created a new form of money that worked like email.

2. In the early days of a network-effect system, usage matters more than use-cases.

Because the value of a network grows as a function of Metcalfe's Law (value = # of engaged participants squared), in the early days simply growing the number of engaged participants matters more than the specifics of what those participants are actually doing. As the network's value grows, it will become attractive to successively more groups of users and use cases. Bitcoin started as the domain of researchers and fringe libertarians, then illicit transactions (Silk Road), then speculation (the ICO boom) before finally reaching adoption by the mainstream investment community. Each wave built enough monetary value in the network to make it attractive to the next set of users. Similarly Facebook went from sharing photos of attractive undergrads to how billions communicate, and Airbnb went from ratty airbeds to ~10x larger than any hotel chain, all within a few short years.

3. Distributing network value out to its participants creates large incentives for adoption.

Rewarding miners with bitcoin itself created a huge incentive for participants to join and stay in the Bitcoin network. Although this dynamic got a bad rap during the ICO bubble when it was overused and overpromised by grifters and scammers, it remains a powerful strategy and will likely be used more going forward. Perhaps most excitingly, this incentive unlocks massive new potential for open-source software development: people who work on open-source software (or provide other functions) can now receive direct value for their contributions, without being employed in any traditional sense.

4. Just HODL, baby. (aka let your winners run)

You can get rich quickly by getting in early on a winning investment. But you can only get really rich by holding a compounding asset for an extended period of time. Sequoia learned this lesson painfully with its Apple investment in the 1970's: selling its entire position for just a ~$6m profit within a few years. Similarly, anyone who bought 1,000 bitcoin for $10 a piece in 2012 could have sold them for $1m four years later in 2016. But four years on from that, they're now worth $35 million. If you continue to believe Bitcoin has a bright longterm future (which, to be fair, you may not!), what could they be worth in 2024?

5. We're only just realizing the implications of digital scarcity.

For its entire existence before Bitcoin, computing and the internet was all about turning scarcity into abundance. (via infinitely replicable + easily distributable software and other digital goods) For the first time in history, Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain have introduced the opposite: scarce, non-replicable digital assets. Native digital currency (Bitcoin) and smart contracts (Ethereum) are the first big outcomes of this advancement, but there may be many more seismic shifts to come.


Links:

Satoshi's Whitepaper: https://www.bitcoin.com/bitcoin.pdf Matt Huang's "Bitcoin for the Open-Minded Skeptic": https://www.paradigm.xyz/Bitcoin_For_The_Open_Minded_Skeptic.pdf Nellie Bowles's "Everyone Is Getting Hilariously Rich and You?re Not": https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/13/style/bitcoin-millionaires.html Square?s $50m investment in BTC: https://images.ctfassets.net/2d5q1td6cyxq/5sXNrlEh2mEnTvvhgtYOm2/737bcfdc15e2a1c3cbd9b9451710ce54/Square_Inc._Bitcoin_Investment_Whitepaper.pdf


Episode Sources:

Full list of episode sources available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16QCDNm2qzG3Bn5h1j1KXisxL_JGT7egDx7czX9ThHLY/edit?usp=sharing 
2021-01-19
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Special: Acquired x Indie Hackers

As regular listeners know, we typically cover some of the biggest companies who often receive the most media attention (see Airbnb and DoorDash). But today's episode is a little different. In our conversation with Courtland Allen of Indie Hackers, the largest community of startup founders, we dive into the stories of underdogs. What happens when there are millions of people doing small business entrepreneurship? How does anyone having access to the globally addressable market of 3 billion internet users open the door for the niche-est of products? We tell the story of Courtland?s own ?Indie Hacker? journey, how he came to found Indie Hackers itself, and the lessons learned along the way.

 

If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show, the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our live Book Club discussions with top authors. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

 

Sponsors: 

This episode is supported by Teamistry, a great new podcast from Atlassian that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways to achieve remarkable things. It's one of our best new podcast discoveries in 2020 and we think Acquired listeners are going to love it. Our thanks to Teamistry for their support, and you can listen here: https://link.chtbl.com/teamistry?sid=podcast.acquired Thank you as well to Kevel and to Capchase. You can learn more about them at: https://www.kevel.co https://www.capchase.com

 

Playbook Themes from this Episode:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/special-acquired-x-indie-hackers )

1. As long as you don't quit your journey, you're still in the act of succeeding.

Indie Hackers was Courtland's seventh company. Before it, Courtland had started six other companies, each with a few thousand dollars in revenue but never as big as he wanted it to be. Looking back, Courtland has realized that everyone has a certain number of companies they need to start before they succeed: for some, that number may be one, for others, 36. For him, that number was 7. So his advice? All you have to do is not quit before you get to that number.

2. The journey is as important as the destination.

While Courtland was working on some of his earlier companies, he was miserable. A few of those working years felt like a complete blur. But sometime before he started Indie Hackers, he realized that in order to keep going until you succeed (see playbook #1), you must structure your life so that it's easy for you to not quit. In other words, you have to make the journey fun ? almost like the emotional counterpart to Paul Graham?s famous ?default alive? concept. With this reframe, Courtland began to enjoy the journey ? enjoying the new people he met and the new things he learned. This mindset helped him level up as a person. Instead of worrying and asking "am I there yet?" he was able to enjoy the building journey.

3. Stories are always paramount.

As we discuss so often on Acquired, stories can be an incredibly powerful force, and their value is one of the core theses/value propositions of Indie Hackers. One insight Courtland came to from Hacker News was that people didn't want to just read comments about people who didn't succeed. They wanted high quality, verified stories that were trustable in some way. Indie Hackers sends a survey out to users 6 months after they join the community. One of the questions the survey asks is, "would you have started your company if not for Indie Hackers?" 15-20% say they would not have started without some story or interaction on Indie Hackers!

4. Don't try to create budgets ? sell to people that already have them.

Courtland originally tried to monetize Indie Hackers via advertising, and shared advertisement opportunities with the Indie Hacker community. But he soon realized that these smaller businesses weren't exactly the best customers to sell to. Eventually, he transitioned to selling to enterprises, and was pleasantly surprised by how much easier it was to sell. The sales process simplified is: educate, then win. If you're selling to someone with a budget, you essentially bypass the education step.

5. Utilizing platforms, like everything in business, has tradeoffs.

There are no hard or fast rules in business. Everything has tradeoffs. Platforms may help with distribution but make it harder to build a brand and also create risks and dependencies. For Courtland, it was important for Indie Hackers to have its own brand. Additionally, he already had a distribution strategy (Hacker News). Hence, it made sense for Indie Hackers to be its own site, as there were many risks but few benefits to using some other platform like Medium.

6. Trust and mission alignment are critical in acquisitions.

Acquisition terms are about much more than just the purchase price. Sometimes, other considerations are more advantageous than cash (e.g. equity), and there are creative ways to align their incentives. For Courtland, it was crucial that he retain freedom over his time and control over the direction of Indie Hackers. Hence, it was ? and still remains ? key that Patrick and Courtland's relationship have a high degree of trust.

7. Acquisitions can enable established brands to take bigger risks.

?Intra-preneurship? can be difficult because the initiative is constrained by internal processes and standards as well as external expectations. Hence, you can often take bigger risks through an acquisition. Google video versus YouTube is a great example of this.

8. There is an infinite number of "indie hacker" opportunities.

There is no end to the number of niche problems that can be identified and served. Big businesses and platforms create massive opportunities to go for the long tail. New businesses can build on top of these platforms or build for these platforms, creating tools to help people use them. For example, there are thriving tools business ecosystems today for Stripe, Shopify, WordPress, and still many more use cases yet to be addressed.

 

Links:

Indie Hackers: https://www.indiehackers.com
2020-12-17
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Airbnb

Over 13 years after its founding, one of the defining startup companies of the past decade finally makes its public debut ? and boy was it a big one. But for all the hype (and all the legitimately great things Airbnb has accomplished), this is a company that looks very different today than in the past. Even before COVID, Airbnb's once-exponential bookings growth had declined to linear levels while the company's costs continued to balloon at accelerating rates. What?s going on here? Are public investors smart to bet on a permanent shift in travel behavior coming out of the pandemic? Or is this a case of unrealistic expectations? As always, we dive in.

 

If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show, the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our live Book Club discussions with top authors. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

 

Sponsors:

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 7. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://tinycapital.com Thank you as well to Bamboo Growth and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: https://growwithbamboo.com https://www.perkinscoie.com/

 

Playbook Themes from this Episode:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/airbnb )

1. If you can create value for all sides in a market ("expand the efficient frontier"), you really can?t help but be successful.

Born out of the 2008 financial crisis, Airbnb was able to fundamentally change the nature of the travel market and provide guests with more quality for less money, while also enabling hosts to earn meaningful extra income during a very difficult economic period. This led to incredible market adoption of the service, at times almost despite the company's own actions and activities.

2. When you create a market, you have an opportunity to set the terms.

By virtue of creating a whole new class of supply that had never participated in the travel market before, Airbnb was able to enact much more platform-favorable payment terms versus the hotel industry. Unlike Booking.com and the OTAs, guests pay Airbnb at the time of booking, and Airbnb keeps that cash (including fees) until after check-in ? which could occur weeks or even months later. This created an enormously beneficial cashflow dynamic for Airbnb that allowed them to grow while burning much less cash than otherwise would have been required.

3. When you don't fly low to the ground, you aren't forced to operate at the lowest level of detail.

Unlike DoorDash which needed to create an enormously efficient operational machine just in order to survive, Airbnb's capital-light business model, low operational intensity and favorable cashflow dynamics meant they've never had to operate in a particularly cost-disciplined or product-focused manner. While the core business has been insulated from competition due to its global network effects, the company has missed or poorly executed on Amazon-like opportunities to expand into adjacent markets and services that could have continued to drive new growth.

4. Relying solely direct/organic traffic is both a gift and a curse.

Undeniably, direct/organic customer acquisition is a wonderful goal for any business to strive for. Who wouldn't want to acquire customers without paying for them? However, if you don't also build the muscle for profitable and reliable growth through paid channels, you can be left vulnerable vulnerable when organic growth slows, as it inevitably will.

 

Carve Outs:

David ? San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker: https://www.sfballet.org/productions/nutcracker-online/

Ben ? Star Wars Lofi HipHop: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5iu1sp3UBb1rjf8KNKETtJ?si=WxPdJcRpSnelHN9qh0xYSw

 

 

Sources: 

http://www.critbuns.com/index.html http://www.paulgraham.com/airbnb.html https://avc.com/2011/03/airbnb/ https://diff.substack.com/p/understanding-airbnb https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbnb https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Chesky https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CouchSurfing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Gebbia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Airbnb https://gadgets.ndtv.com/internet/features/airbnb-ipo-ceo-brian-chesky-nasdaq-december-debut-stock-market-2328441 https://growthhackers.com/growth-studies/airbnb https://hbr.org/2019/04/research-when-airbnb-listings-in-a-city-increase-so-do-rent-prices https://medium.com/traveltechmedia/airbnb-vs-booking-holdings-51e79b8cc489 https://news.airbnb.com/brian-cheskys-open-letter-to-the-airbnb-community-about-building-a-21st-century-company/ https://news.airbnb.com/designing-the-future-of-airbnb/ https://nextviewventures.com/blog/airbnb-s-1-part-1-so-how-profitable-is-this-thing-really/ https://thegeneralist.substack.com/p/airbnb-the-disaster-artist https://twitter.com/danprimack/status/1337101820007768064 https://www.amazon.com/Upstarts-Airbnb-Battle-Silicon-Valley/dp/0316388416/ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-09/airbnb-s-3-1-billion-ipo-hinges-on-hosts-who-make-rentals-feel-like-home https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/10/airbnb-gitlab-considering-direct-listings-and-bankers-coming-around.html https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/14/airbnb-raises-another-1-billion-in-debt.html https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/09/airbnb-sells-shares-at-68-in-ipo-pricing-above-range.html https://www.epi.org/publication/the-economic-costs-and-benefits-of-airbnb-no-reason-for-local-policymakers-to-let-airbnb-bypass-tax-or-regulatory-obligations/ https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidjeans/2020/11/16/airbnb-cofounders-own-nearly-42-of-covid-dented-business-ipo-filing-shows/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianchesky/ https://www.npr.org/2017/10/19/543035808/airbnb-joe-gebbia https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/20/technology/airbnb-employees-ipo-payouts.html https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/17/technology/airbnb-coronavirus-layoffs-.html https://www.phocuswire.com/booking-holdings-expedia-group-marketing-spend-2019 https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1559720/000119312520294801/d81668ds1.htm https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1559720/000119312520306257/d81668ds1a.htm https://www.theinformation.com/articles/10-questions-airbnbs-ipo-investors-should-ask https://www.theinformation.com/articles/airbnbs-biggest-ipo-winners?utm_content=article-5102&utm_campaign=article_email&utm_source=sg&utm_medium=email https://www.theinformation.com/video/313?utm_campaign=Live_Video_QA_Call_P&utm_content=565410&utm_medium=email&utm_source=cio&utm_term=197334 https://www.wsj.com/articles/airbnb-expected-to-price-ipo-above-56-to-60-a-share-range-11607527468?mod=hp_lead_pos5 https://www.wsj.com/articles/airbnb-operating-chief-to-step-down-join-board-11574439482?mod=article_inline https://www.wsj.com/articles/airbnb-paying-more-than-10-interest-on-1-billion-financing-announced-monday-11586297484?mod=rsswn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efNyRmTLbjQ https://www.linkedin.com/in/blecharczyk/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/jgebbia/ https://news.airbnb.com/brian-cheskys-open-letter-to-the-airbnb-community-about-building-a-21st-century-company/

 

2020-12-11
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DoorDash

Live from the scene of its blockbuster IPO, we recount the crazy, roller coaster journey of this "Palo Alto delivery company". From Sand Hill darling during their Series A and B fundraises to all but left-for-dead during the great unicorn massacre of 2015/16, DoorDash has clawed their way back from the brink and emerged as America's dominant meal delivery service, and its only unit-economic positive standalone logistics player. Is this the dawn of the next great Amazon-like story, or is the company simply benefiting from temporary tailwinds due to the pandemic? As always, we dive DEEP to find out.

If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show, the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our live Book Club discussions with top authors. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

 

Sponsors: 

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 7. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://tinycapital.com Thank you as well to Bamboo Growth and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: https://growwithbamboo.com https://www.perkinscoie.com/

 

Playbook Themes from this Episode:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/doordash )

1. Sometimes winner-take-all markets DO tip.

The end-state that Uber (and its global peers) spent the past decade chasing ? that eventually it would outrun its competitors, tip entire markets in their favor, add multiple product lines and turn massively cashflow positive ? has thus far proved elusive, leading many to believe that any such undertaking is a false dream. But, since 2018 China's Meituan appears to be doing just that, all while operating in an even more competitive environment than Uber. DoorDash may now be on a similar trajectory in the US. That said, it's almost impossible to predict in advance how much time and capital it will take to get there, let alone any one company's odds of success. DoorDash benefitted immensely from their competitors' relative difficulties accessing capital post-2016, and was willing to sacrifice enormous dilution to outlast them. If you're going to play the winner-take-all game, you need to be willing to go all-in when others blink.

2. If you're going to fly low to the ground, you also need to operate at the lowest level of detail.

Flying low to the ground (i.e., sacrificing higher margins in order to share more value back to your customers and suppliers) is a great recipe for success in highly competitive markets like e-commerce and on-demand services. However when you do so, you need to be maniacal about squeezing every last drop of efficiency out of your platform: every 1% improvement in margins could mean a 20%, 30% or even 50% profitability increase and the difference between life (for you) and death (for your competitors). DoorDash clearly gets this and has embedded this ethos in everything they do at the company.

3. Focus on what you can control.

DoorDash had the capital markets turn against them HARD early on in the company's life. It would have been easy to lose focus, sell or give up, as did many of their competitors. To Tony and the entire company's credit, they kept moving forward and made decisions each step of the way that kept the company alive ? even when those decisions came at a high cost. As a result they outlasted nearly all competition and were in a position to IPO at one of the highest market caps of all-time, all as an only 7 year old company.

4. "Why now" matters.

DoorDash had one of the best "why now" answers of all-time: mass-market smartphone adoption (not just high-end) made 3 things true that were never possible before: 1. average consumers could order online conveniently, 2. couriers could plug into the network via their own devices, and 3. restaurants (most of whom didn't have wifi or desk staff) could accept orders online. Before 2013 a business like this would simply have been impossible to build.

 

Carve Outs:

David:

Hades on the Nintendo Switch: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/hades-switch/

Ben:

Watchmen on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/watchmen

Succession on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/succession

Palm Springs: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9484998/

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DoorDash https://startupclass.samaltman.com/courses/lec08/ https://techcrunch.com/2013/09/30/door-dash-raises-2-4m/ https://medium.com/@DoorDash/the-doordash-story-b370c2bb1e5f https://vator.tv/news/2019-01-04-when-doordash-was-young-the-early-years https://medium.com/@DoorDash/the-red-shirts-are-in-boston-838b0ddf63de https://medium.com/@DoorDash/doordash-raises-40m-led-by-kleiner-perkins-caufield-byers-9be34d3480c1 https://medium.com/@DoorDash/with-doordash-the-colonel-now-delivers-609fe6e8d263 https://www.tmz.com/2015/11/11/in-n-out-lawsuit/ https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-doordash-restaurant-food-delivery-lawsuit-20180109-story.html https://medium.com/@DoorDash/2015-the-year-in-doordash-delivery-b40bd22738b9 https://medium.com/@DoorDash/127-million-more-ways-to-move-doordash-forward-e22d86739a56 https://www.wsj.com/articles/food-delivery-startup-doordash-is-raising-more-than-110-million-1455639655 https://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-DGB-44622 https://fortune.com/2018/08/16/doordash-raises-250m-at-4b-valuation/ https://qz.com/1549084/doordash-overtook-uber-eats-in-us-online-food-delivery-second-measure-finds/ https://fortune.com/2019/03/11/doordash-tops-grubhub-on-demand-food/ https://www.inquirer.com/news/virus-doordash-grubhand-profits-competition-sales-20200427.html https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/10/21287128/grubhub-just-eat-takeaway-merger-uber-deal-antitrust https://themargins.substack.com/p/doordash-and-pizza-arbitrage https://www.meritechcapital.com/blog/doordash-ipo-s-1-breakdown https://www.firehose.vc/p/firehose-181-dashing-to-ipo- https://medium.com/@DoorDash/live-más-on-demand-doordash-taco-bell-is-here-e94956306f9e https://blog.doordash.com/fueling-the-last-mile-3ae0a6b45ea0 https://www.wsj.com/articles/airbnb-doordash-aim-for-higher-than-expected-valuations-ahead-of-debuts-11606689243 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9KRJEAoqQ8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNfipjK3Gro https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1792789/000119312520292381/d752207ds1.htm https://thegeneralist.substack.com/p/doordash-the-value-of-speed https://www.linkedin.com/in/evanmoore/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/xutony/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/stanleytang/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/fangsterr/ https://medium.com/@DoorDash/doordash-raises-17-3-million-from-sequoia-capital-dc0d7aca1012 https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5ucHIub3JnLzUxMDMxMy9wb2RjYXN0LnhtbA/episode/MTc1NzVjMWQtYTFjNy00ZWJiLThmZTctYWE0MDc2NDFlYjg3 https://www.wsj.com/articles/doordash-poised-to-tap-torrid-ipo-market-11607442406 https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/postmates/company_financials https://blog.doordash.com/accelerating-our-unprecedented-growth-e5c9eb343ce8 https://nextbn.ggvc.com/opinions/meituan-dianpings-path-towards-profitability/ https://www.meritechcapital.com/blog/doordash-ipo-s-1-breakdown https://tanay.substack.com/p/doordash-and-profitable-food-delivery https://www.firehose.vc/p/firehose-181-dashing-to-ipo- https://themargins.substack.com/p/doordash-and-societal-arbitrage https://twitter.com/micapital2/status/1328491576109068289 https://twitter.com/Jer_Diamond/status/1329187739762184192 https://medium.com/@JeremyDiamond/feeding-the-rebels-6d748b8cfc58 https://thegeneralist.substack.com/p/doordash-the-value-of-speed https://www.ft.com/content/53e32708-59ea-11ea-a528-dd0f971febbc https://twitter.com/michaelxbloch/status/1335608288008941570 https://www.wsj.com/video/series/in-the-elevator-with/in-the-elevator-with-the-ceo-shaking-up-the-bra-industry/2BA23DB1-114C-489B-BA1A-A7346DE99136 https://www.vox.com/2019/1/9/18174556/doordash-tony-xu-christopher-payne-food-delivery-shopping-recode-decode-kara-swisher-podcast https://theflywheel.substack.com/p/doordash-flywheel-teardown https://www.wsj.com/articles/doordash-ipo-filing-shows-a-profitable-quarter-11605276373

 

2020-12-10
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Slack + Salesforce Emergency Pod with Packy McCormick of Not Boring

Acquired is live on the scene covering Salesforce's blockbuster $27.7B acquisition of Slack, with the help of the internet's #1 Slack bull (and top internet analyst in his own right), Packy McCormick of Not Boring. We dissect the deal itself, Slack's relatively short life as a public company, the impact of Microsoft and Teams, and most importantly what this means for enterprise SaaS startups broadly. And oh yeah ? we have a ton of fun too. :)

Note: you can find our full June 2019 episode on Slack's history and their DPO here: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/the-slack-dpo

If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show, the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our live Book Club discussions with top authors. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

 

Sponsors:

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 7. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://tinycapital.com Thank you as well to Bamboo Growth and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: https://growwithbamboo.com https://www.perkinscoie.com/

 

Playbook Themes from this Episode:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/slack-salesforce-emergency-pod-with-packy-mccormick-of-not-boring )

1. Distribution is still key when it comes to selling enterprise products at the highest levels.

SaaS startups can (and do!) land deals with big companies all the time now through the bottoms-up motion of individual teams adopting the product and paying by credit card. And they also can (and do!) expand those deals into large, enterprise-wide contracts. But the massive power of Microsoft, Salesforce, and to a lesser-degree Oracle and Google's salesforces + bundling distribution abilities enables deals to happen at a scale that most independent companies find difficult to match.

2. Enterprise products are like icebergs ? 90% of the work is below the surface.

This is true both at the tactical level (integrations, permissions, security, etc) and the strategic: providing seamless connective tissue between work apps inside and across organizations is what makes Microsoft so powerful as an enterprise player ? not necessarily because their products are better. This is why Slack Connect was such an important initiative for Slack, and why Microsoft trained the full firepower of its Teams marketing against it, while mostly ignoring Zoom even though Zoom is much more directly competitive on the product feature front.

3. Telling your story well always matters, no matter how big you get.

Perhaps the biggest reason Slack "failed" as a public company was its inability to effectively communicate what it did that was special, why that was important, and why it was defensible enough to withstand the assault from Teams. Arguably, great answers existed to all of those questions ? and the company kept posting impressive numbers to back them up ? but Wall Street never bought the story Slack sold.

4. Enterprise collaboration is moving deeper into work apps themselves.

Today's native SaaS tools like Figma, Coda, Notion and others are embedding collaboration and chat natively into apps themselves ? which reduces the primacy of a centralized platform like Slack, Teams or Discord. While on the one hand this is a threat to dedicated collaboration platforms, it also presents a massive opportunity: if they (or someone else) can decouple the core "collaboration layer" service from their own dedicated apps and also embed it directly into those work apps via APIs, it exponentially increases the surface area of workplace productivity that they can address.

5. The "Outsiders playbook" of growing through acquisition once your original product approaches market saturation works just as well in tech as it did in other sectors like media and industrials.

As Will Thorndike outlined in The Outsiders, many of the best CEO capital allocators of all-time utilized the grow-through-acquisition strategy very effectively. Salesforce (and other big tech companies like Facebook) are clearly adopting the same approach.

 

Links:

Not Boring: https://notboring.substack.com Packy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/packyM Packy's bull thesis on Slack from November 2020: https://notboring.substack.com/p/slack-the-bulls-are-typing
2020-12-02
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Virgin Galactic

Live from the 2020 ASCEND Space Conference, Acquired covers the full story behind the most "out there" technology story of the past few years: Virgin Galactic. How did this space tourism company grow out of the winning X Prize team, and catch the eyes and fancy of billionaires like Paul Allen, Sir Richard Branson, and, most recently, company chairman Chamath Palihapitiya who took it public via the first "modern" technology SPAC transaction in history? Tune in to find out!!

If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show, the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our live Book Club discussions with top authors. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

 

Sponsors: 

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 7. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://tinycapital.com Thank you as well to Bamboo Growth and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: https://growwithbamboo.com https://www.perkinscoie.com/

 

Playbook Themes from this Episode:

(also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/virgin-galactic )

1. Prizes can be a great way to generate leverage on innovation. If done right, the X Prize and other industry prizes like it (e.g., Netflix Prize, DARPA Challenge, etc) can bring an order of magnitude more talent to bear on a challenge than what the same dollars alone could hire.

The challenge is to create a prize that inspires and draws in a large enough pool of contributors. The aerospace industry?s ?cool? factor may be what allowed the X Prize to succeed and explain why prizes aren't employed as often in other sectors.

2. When trying new things, most people want to go second ? but those willing to go first get the best returns.Being first into new markets carries high risk (including/especially reputational), but often also offers asymmetric upside. Investing in a new frontier when others think it?s crazy is a recipe for success ? if you?re both contrarian and right.

Chamath took a huge turn from the traditional VC playbook when he created his first SPAC in 2017, years before they went mainstream. He and his investors have generated over $1B in profits from that vehicle (which is now merged with Virgin Galactic), and have since used those proceeds to launch five more.

3. The best time to invest was yesterday, the next best time is today. Great investors don?t miss the chance to invest in big markets because they?ve passed on it before. Sir Richard Branson passed on investing in the X Prize twice before partnering with Burt Rutan's winning team to build Virgin Galactic.

4. Whenever a market's prices aren't being set by supply and demand, there's probably an opportunity to disrupt that market. The traditional IPO pricing process is managed by third parties (investment banks) that represent both sides of the transaction, and also have their own economic interests at play. It's the equivalent of a real estate agent representing both the buyer and seller. As a result, many technology IPOs have left hundreds of millions or billions of dollars on the table. SPACs and direct listings are now solving that problem. Any other market with this dynamic should represent fertile ground for entrepreneurs.

 

Links:

Virgin Galactic's "One Small Step" reservation program: https://www.virgingalactic.com/smallstep/ The November 2020 launch delay: https://www.virgingalactic.com/articles/virgin-galactic-adjusts-test-flight-schedule-in-response-to-new-state-government-covid-19-restrictions/

 

Sources:

Black Sky Documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cikmdTVFPig How to Make a Spaceship: https://www.amazon.com/How-Make-Spaceship-Renegades-Spaceflight/dp/1101980494/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= http://d18rn0p25nwr6d.cloudfront.net/CIK-0001706946/362d3eae-199a-4995-ab78-232a09ced07d.pdf http://www.agent4stars.com/virgin-galactic-passenger-list/ https://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=8191703 https://abcnews.go.com/Business/virgin-galactic-resume-selling-tickets-space-reports-skyrocketing/story?id=69229936 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Galactic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burt_Rutan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Branson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaled_Composites https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spaceship_Company https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Galactic https://investors.virgingalactic.com/news/news-details/2020/Virgin-Galactic-Adjusts-Test-Flight-Schedule-in-Response-to-New-State-Government-COVID-19-Restrictions/default.aspx https://investors.virgingalactic.com/news/news-details/2020/Virgin-Galactic-Announces-Third-Quarter-2020-Financial-Results/default.aspx https://open.spotify.com/episode/63gIP0UcvBUyhuf0qz1Rza https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5mZWVkYnVybmVyLmNvbS9wcm8tcmF0YQ/episode/OTc4MDliM2MtYTI1NS0xMWU5LWJhZjMtMmYxYWQyZTM2ZmM0 https://sifted.eu/articles/fund-fintech-secret-ian-osborne/ https://techcrunch.com/2020/09/16/cant-stop-wont-stop-social-capital-hedosophia-just-filed-for-its-fourth-spac-says-new-report/ https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/aerospace/2007-08-28/northrop-grumman-seals-scaled-composites-deal https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-05/virgin-galactic-sees-new-ticket-sales-after-branson-s-space-trip https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20121005005907/en/Virgin-Galactic-Acquires-Full-Ownership-Spaceship-Company#.VFvXsPnF98E https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddawkins/2020/09/06/inside-virgin-orbit-richard-bransons-small-satellite-bid-to-match-musk-and-bezos-in-the-billionaire-space-race/?sh=1d880f577ab9 https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/industry-focus/cg-virgin-galactic-prepares-wOHokI4mM06/ https://www.marketwatch.com/story/abu-dhabis-aabar-boosts-virgin-galactic-stake-2011-10-19 https://www.renaissancecapital.com/IPO-Center/News/65718/The-Space-SPAC-Everything-You-Need-to-Know-about-Virgin-Galactic https://www.renaissancecapital.com/IPO-Center/News/72123/Palihapitiya-and-Osbornes-fifth-SPAC-Social-Capital-Hedosophia-Holdings-V-p https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1706946/000114420417044783/v473766_s1.htm https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1706946/000119312519215509/d785777ds4.htm https://www.space.com/31993-stephen-hawking-virgin-galactic-spaceshiptwo-unity.html https://www.spacedaily.com/upi/2004/0831-091100-us-spacerace2-cashprize.html https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/09/virgin-galactic-space-tourism-richard-branson-george-whitesides https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/13/17967954/virgin-galactic-richard-branson-saudi-arabia-jamal-khashoggi https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2018/05/29/amazons-jeff-bezos-says-we-need-leave-earth-survive/651715002/?fbclid=IwAR0E2z5cBtry3Zy0sNRs9jRFKjE_b-T7N-kN0TQO7MDbWJO-baZKw4ZMZGU https://www.wsj.com/articles/richard-bransons-virgin-orbit-seeks-1-billion-valuation-in-fundraising-11602403201?cx_testId=3&cx_testVariant=cx_2&cx_artPos=1#cxrecs_s https://www.wsj.com/articles/richard-bransons-virgin-raises-480-million-with-spac-11601642288
2020-11-23
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Special: Superhuman Part II - Designing Software to Feel like a Game (with Rahul Vohra)

Superstar past guest and Superhuman CEO Rahul Vorha joins us for a deep dive on how Superhuman applies concepts from game design to building productivity software. We're not talking points and badges ? we mean hardcore, Unreal Engine-style technical innovations and Fortnite-level understanding of fun and mastery. It's a topic where Rahul has serious cred: before Superhuman and Rapportive, he worked as a game designer on RuneScape, the pioneering browser-based MMORPG. This is a topic every founder, engineer, product and even sales person should listen to. Tune in!

You can listen to Part I of our Superhuman story with Rahul here: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/superhuman

If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show, the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our new live Book Club discussions with top authors. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/


Sponsors:

This episode is supported by Teamistry, a great new podcast from Atlassian that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways to achieve remarkable things. It's one of our best new podcast discoveries in 2020 and we think Acquired listeners are going to love it. Our thanks to Teamistry for their support, and you can listen here: https://link.chtbl.com/teamistry?sid=podcast.acquired Thank you as well to Lemon.io. You can learn more about Lemon at: https://lemon.io/acquired/


Playbook Themes from this Episode:
Also available on our website at https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/special-superhuman-part-ii-designing-software-to-feel-like-a-game-with-rahul-vohra )

1. Game Design not Gamification. Good games nurture intrinsic motivation in players, in part because they?re fun. ?Gamification? instead uses external motivators like badges, levels, and points to goad users into interacting with the product.

Game design combines goals and objectives, intentional emotional design, and the psychological phenomenon of flow. It forces the designer to consider, what is fun? To which Rahul?s answer is ?pleasant surprise?. Great game design creates intrinsic motivation: ?doing things because they are inherently interesting and satisfying.? Adding extrinsic motivation like points or rewards can actually erode the desire to do a task. Rahul?s Advice for product designers: ?Pull back from user wants and user needs. Instead, design for fun.?

2. It's more important to consider how your product makes customers feel than what it functionally does for them. When designing any product, interaction, or experience, identifying the exact desired user emotions can be incredibly powerful.

How do you do this? Find opportunities where the product naturally delights, surprises, or gives users a sense of accomplishment - and find light-touch ways to amplify it. Example: Inbox 0. Superhuman found that reaching Inbox 0 is one of the most emotionally resonant moments in someone?s interaction with their email. To amplify that moment, Superhuman uses beautiful imagery as a reward to trigger specific emotions when a user empties their inbox.

3. Democratizing powerful tools that were previously reserved for an elite class is a recipe success. Superhuman moved mountains to create that ?10x better? experience before launching. Even when starved for resources, it can pay off in a big way for a startup to expend massive engineering effort to build a better foundation than the competition.

The team at Superhuman faced a challenge: How can we deliver the same speed and power that developers have in code editors to ordinary people in their email inboxes? To solve it, they spent 2 years re-writing large parts of Chrome to make everything faster. Now the Superhuman browser app is faster than any standalone email app experience and provides sub-100 ms results. The result: users don?t have time to break flow state.

4. Storytelling is everything. Don Valentine used to say ?Money flows as a function of the story.? Storytelling matters across all dimensions of a startup: pitching investors, recruiting talent, selling products, building a cult-like following. On the podcast, Rahul ties rich detail and visuals to his core points.

When racing Lamborghinis: ?you see the landscape rip by, you hear the scream of the engine, you taste burning rubber.? When pitching his co-founder on joining: ?I could see as the gears turned in his mind as he?s munching this pizza, increasingly slowly until his mouth ground to a halt.? When describing engineers coding in flow state: ?our fingers dance across a keyboard like we?re playing a piano.?
2020-11-12
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Twitter (with Dick Costolo)

A week before the 2020 US Presidential election, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo joins us to tell the story of a company that has impacted all of our lives (political and otherwise) like none other. While it's easy to forget now, a very viable alternate history exists where it's Twitter, not Facebook, who owns Instagram, and Vine, not TikTok, that's the global platform for mobile video. We dive into it all on this episode ? and of course while we had Dick, we also had to discuss his controversial recent deleted tweet.

If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show, the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our live Book Club discussions with top authors. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

New! We're codifying our own Playbook notes and takeaways from each episode, and posting them here in the show notes and on our website. You can read them below or at: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/twitter-with-dick-costolo

Sponsors:

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 7. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://tinycapital.com Thank you as well to Bamboo Growth and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: https://growwithbamboo.com https://www.perkinscoie.com/

Playbook Themes from this Episode:

Sometimes early advantages matter. A lot. In a network economy industry (like social media), it's almost impossible to chase down someone with an established lead. The only way you can hope to compete is by changing the game. And even that is a long shot. Once Facebook ? and then Instagram within Facebook ? had established a meaningful active user lead over Twitter, there was no "down the middle" play Twitter could run to catch up. Twitter recognized this and attempted all sorts of orthogonal strategies: video (Vine), live (Periscope), music (Twitter Music), syndication (Moments), exclusive content (the NFL deal). In each case either Facebook was able to copy and co-opt the innovation, or the attempt simply failed. Sometimes reach matters. A lot. If you're operating in a network economy, your service MUST deliver a first-class experience on every platform that matters. Vine launched on iOS and immediately went to #1 in the App Store. But they didn't get a good Android experience out fast enough, which fractured the social graph that users could share across. Instagram was able to respond aggressively with a first-class video experience across both iOS and Android before Vine could stop the bleeding ? and the rest is history. Network Resiliency. Some network graphs are more inherently defensible than others. How easy it is to "rehydrate" your network somewhere else should drive how closely you guard it. Facebook, LinkedIn and WhatsApp all have relatively low defensible networks ? if you were to exfiltrate their graphs, you could recreate their value quickly. This is why all of those companies / products significantly restrict connection exporting, and also why they were able to bootstrap quickly in the early days by importing users' address books. By contrast, the Twitter graph is about interest, not social connections. Even if you exfiltrated all its connections, it'd be very difficult to recreate Twitter (people have tried). This dynamic made it more difficult for Twitter to scale quickly, but also has made it more resilient over time. The core Twitter product is just as robust ? if not more ? today than it was in 2010... the same can't be said for the blue Facebook product, which has bled out to Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, Snap, iMessage, etc. Balancing forest fires and forestry management. As a leader of a rapidly growing organization, you face two types of challenges: "forest fires" (this crazy thing just happened and we need to respond), and "forestry management" (this set of crazy things will keep happening until we figure out a solution that scales). You need a different mental state to approach each, and balancing between the two is incredibly difficult when you're see-sawing back and forth every day.

Links:

Ashish Goel at Stanford: https://web.stanford.edu/~ashishg/twitter.html Dick and Adam's new firm, 01 Advisors: https://01a.com/

Carve Outs:

Vote! https://www.vote.org
2020-10-28
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Special: Invest Like the Best on Acquired

On this special episode of Acquired, we're joined by a master interviewer himself, Patrick O'Shaughnessy from Invest Like the Best. We turn the tables and cover the most fascinating story he's never told on ILTB... his own! What is O?Shaughnessy Asset Management, and how are they bringing "AWS-level" innovation to the sleepy wealth management industry? How did he go from Notre Dame philosophy major to quant researcher to (arguably) technology CEO and now also an early-stage venture investor... all while simultaneously building one of the world's top new business media empires? Acquired is here to explore it all.

If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show, the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our new live Book Club discussions with top authors. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

 

Sponsor:

This episode is supported by Teamistry, a great podcast from Atlassian that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways to achieve remarkable things. It's one of our best new podcast discoveries in 2020 and we honestly think Acquired listeners are going to love it. (business + history + space!) Click the link below to listen, and our thanks to Teamistry for their support. https://link.chtbl.com/teamistry?sid=podcast.acquired

 

Playbook Special! Patrick?s Favorite Themes from 5 Years of ILTB:

Chetan Puttagunta (#1): Go slow to go fast ? http://investorfieldguide.com/chetan/ Chetan Puttagunta (#2): Open source isn?t about saving on R&D, it?s about building differentiated distribution among developers ? http://investorfieldguide.com/chetan-puttagunta-and-jeremiah-lowin-open-source-crash-course-invest-like-the-best-ep-188/ Bill Gurley: Healthy marketplace opportunities have increasing marginal value to demand from incremental supply penetration ? http://investorfieldguide.com/gurley/ Matthew Ball: The key to unlocking the Metaverse isn?t about building Ready Player One, it?s about creating interoperable systems that will move value and information between experiences ? http://investorfieldguide.com/matt-ball-the-future-of-media-movies-the-metaverse-and-more-invest-like-the-best-ep-185/ Charlie Songhurst: The best place to look for talent is in less-competitive markets ? http://investorfieldguide.com/songhurst/ Katrina Lake: The past of e-commerce was about price, convenience and selection; the future is about personalization and curation ? http://investorfieldguide.com/katrina-lake-the-next-wave-of-e-commerce-invest-like-the-best-ep-187/ Daniel Ek: Company scaling as ?seeing around corners? ? http://investorfieldguide.com/ek/ Kat Cole: Inversion as a tool to deal with difficult people ? http://investorfieldguide.com/kat-cole-how-to-operate-lessons-in-brand-distribution-and-leadership-invest-like-the-best-ep-184/ Sarah Tavel: Hierarchy as a framework ? http://investorfieldguide.com/tavel/ Josh Wolfe: The ?directional arrow of progress? and the simple power of extrapolating trend lines ? http://investorfieldguide.com/wolfe2/

 

Links:

Invest Like the Best: http://investorfieldguide.com/podcast/ Founder's Field Guide: http://investorfieldguide.com/founders-field-guide/ OSAM and Canvas: https://www.osam.com
2020-10-07
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The NBA

On the eve of the 2020 NBA Finals, we dive DEEP into the history and business model of the league behind the world's 2nd largest and fastest growing major sport. How did the NBA grow from merely an excuse to monetize hockey arena off-nights into a global powerhouse with more reach and influence and reach than any other American sport? Tune in!!

If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show, the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our new live Book Club discussions with top authors. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

 

New! We're codifying our own Playbook notes and takeaways from each episode, and posting them here in the show notes and on our website. You can read them below or at: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/the-nba

 

Sponsors: 

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 7. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://tinycapital.com Thank you as well to Bamboo Growth and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: https://growwithbamboo.com https://www.perkinscoie.com/

 

Playbook Themes from this Episode:

1. Distribution. Great product-market fit is necessary but not sufficient for outsized success; you also need great distribution.

Basketball had great product-market fit from the beginning ? it was an indoor sport that could be played in any weather, didn't require lots of specialized equipment or setup, was relatively safe and provided a great player and spectator experience. However basketball's rapid dissemination was helped enormously by its origin within the missionary context of the YMCA organization, which quickly spread the new game to its branches around North America and the world (including and especially China) ? all 50 years before the NBA's founding.

2. Hobbies. A corollary to Paul Graham's idea that great markets start as toys: finding the right business model to professionalize an amateur or "hobby" market with a large or rabid fan base can yield massive business opportunities.

Basketball was hugely popular for decades before the NBA came along. College and independent professional teams (like the Harlem Globetrotters and New York Rens) proved people would pay to watch great talent; the NBA simply provided the right league structure and real estate to serve that demand at scale. Other examples: personal computers and Apple, electric cars and Tesla, video game streaming and Twitch, bitcoin and Coinbase, etc.

3. Influence = Power. The NBA's strategy to "make the players the stars" has succeeded tremendously, and stands in stark contrast to the other major American sports leagues.

NBA players both individually and as a whole have an order of magnitude more social followers than other major American athletes and, relatedly, have also accumulated an order of magnitude more wealth: 7 current and former NBA players have ~half billion wealth or more, compared to only 1 from all other American team sports. Nike's Jordan deal + creation of the Air Jordan brand wrote the blueprint for the modern influencer endorsement (pre-Oprah!), and is perhaps the most successful non-acquisition deal of all-time. Social influence is a compounding network economy: because NBA players have more followers, they win over more fans (and especially young fans) and aspiring athletes than other sports leagues, which leads to new players and stars getting more influence, which repeats the cycle and widens the lead over other sports.

4. Internationalization. The world is a big place. Much more potential talent and customers exist outside any country's borders than inside. The wider you cast your net, the greater rewards you can reap.

Starting with the Dream Team in 1992, the NBA embarked on a deliberate campaign to internationalize its image, both with players and fans. The result is this past season 1 billion people watched the NBA (the vast minority of whom were Americans), and 25% of NBA rosters (and probably 50%+ of its young stars) are international. No other major American sport is anywhere close. Regular Acquired mega-theme reminder: China is ALWAYS bigger and more important than you think it is. 600m people in China watch basketball and 300m people play basketball. That's an entire Unites States' worth of developing players, and two US's worth of fans. Whether the future value of those players and fans accrues to the NBA or the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) will shape everything about the game going forward.

5. Cinematic Universes. The best media properties create and support whole ecosystems around the core product and across mediums.

Non-game content like All-Star Weekend and the Slam Dunk Contest, as well as short-form and behind-the-scenes access like SportsCenter highlights, Inside the NBA, etc. provide the NBA with additional compelling (and monetizable) content, all while building the game's reach and deepening fan relationships. Unsurprisingly, this echoes the core of the Disney flywheel. Technology only amplifies this dynamic: social media, over-the-top distribution and direct fan relationships provide more opportunities for the best properties to increase their share of customers' attention.

6. Younger customers = More Future Cashflows.

57% of US 13-17 year-olds list the NBA as their favorite sports league, compared to 13% for the NFL and 4% for MLB. Assuming those numbers hold for this cohort (and younger), the impact on relative future cash flows (and valuations) for the respective sports is enormous.

7. Beachfront property. That said, valuations in any market aren't just driven by the discounted sum of future cashflows; scarcity also matters. Nowhere is this better exhibited than NBA team valuations.

Average NBA team valuations have risen 600% in the past decade. Part of this is due to the League's incredible growth. But perhaps as much or more is simply because lots of people want to buy NBA franchises (see e.g., Ballmer) but there are only 30 properties, and ~0-2 are available for purchase at any given time.

 

Links:

Our old LA Clippers episode: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/episode-36-the-la-clippers The Last Dance: https://www.netflix.com/title/80203144 Allen Iverson Players' Tribune piece: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/life-and-times-of-allen-iverson

 

Carve Outs:

David:

Phil Libin and Mmhmm on Joe Sweeny's Just Raised podcast: https://overcast.fm/+hJ7uJqHMA

Ben:

Meow Wolf + documentary https://meowwolf.com/explore/origin-story

 

Sources:

Bill Simmons' Book of Basketball: https://www.amazon.com/Book-Basketball-NBA-According-Sports/dp/0345520106 http://investorfieldguide.com/hinkie/ https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1039092-nba-revenue-sharing-small-market-teams-to-benefit-from-new-sharing-structure https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1554991-ranking-each-decade-of-nba-basketball-from-the-1960s-to-today https://cbabreakdown.com/salary-cap-overview https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABA?NBA_merger https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABA?NBA_merger https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basketball https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Russell https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtics?Lakers_rivalry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Stern https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eligibility_for_the_NBA_draft https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlem_Globetrotters https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareem_Abdul-Jabbar https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NBA_team_owners https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jordan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Basketball_Association https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Basketball_Players_Association https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_2K https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_Collective_Bargaining_Agreement https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_dress_code https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_salary_cap https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Renaissance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacers?Pistons_brawl https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilt_Chamberlain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's_National_Basketball_Association https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yao_Ming https://fansided.com/2018/08/11/nba-reaches-30-million-instagram-followers/ https://globalsportmatters.com/business/2019/03/05/nba-realizing-the-power-of-new-markets-for-talent-and-revenue/ https://globalsportmatters.com/business/2019/03/07/tv-is-biggest-driver-in-global-sport-league-revenue/ https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-07-29/Tencent-NBA-extend-partnership-for-five-more-years-in-1-5-bln-deal-IJ0UB34uxq/index.html https://opendorse.com/blog/the-top-100-athletes-on-social-media-2019/ https://sabr.org/research/article/mlbs-annual-salary-leaders-since-1874/ https://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1632&context=sportslaw https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/08/chinese-firms-tencent-vivo-and-cctv-suspend-ties-with-the-nba-over-hong-kong-tweet/ https://thehustle.co/dont-even-go-there/ https://web.archive.org/web/20110811000133/http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/27/sports/la-sp-crowe-20100427 https://www.biography.com/scholar/james-a-naismith https://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/sports-news/the-25-richest-athletes-in-the-world-2020/ https://www.davemanuel.com/investor-dictionary/basketball-related-income/ https://www.forbes.com/sites/aliciajessop/2012/06/14/the-surge-of-the-nbas-international-viewership-and-popularity/#39a5149a79ef https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2019/10/09/the-nbas-soaring-franchise-value-growth-at-stake-with-china-feud/#7c83a48c4257 https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2020/02/11/nba-team-values-2020-lakers-and-warriors-join-knicks-in-rarefied-4-billion-club/#7fa5ff532032 https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2020/05/03/michael-jordans-1-billion-nike-endorsement-is-the-biggest-bargain-in-sports/#456253056136 https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2020/07/31/the-worlds-most-valuable-sports-teams-2020/#4c40b5d3c749 https://www.groovewallet.com/richest-athletes/ https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/070715/nbas-business-model.asp https://www.marketplace.org/2020/06/18/the-nba-hopes-to-recoup-revenue-in-the-bubble-at-disney-world/ https://www.nba.com/david-stern-looking-back-index https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-sports/how-david-sterns-nba-dress-code-changed-mens-fashion-104719/ https://www.sbnation.com/2014/10/5/6916597/nba-new-tv-deal-espn-turner-24-billion https://www.si.com/longform/2018/nba-international-oral-history/index.html https://www.si.com/nba/2019/06/27/yao-ming-nba-rockets-chinese-basketball-association-adam-silver https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/nba-could-see-400m-revenue-decline-in-china-this-season-57153753 https://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2017/07/17/Research-and-Ratings/Social.aspx https://www.sportscasting.com/does-the-nba-own-the-wnba/ https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/02/from-mao-zedong-to-jeremy-lin-why-basketball-is-chinas-biggest-sport/253427/ https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/life-and-times-of-allen-iverson https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2019/10/09/nba-china-hong-kong-whats-at-stake/3912447002/ https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/sports/1983/03/15/nba-red-ink-and-a-bleak-future/198bd65f-4062-4372-95e4-388b22c77666/ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/12/26/how-the-nba-went-global/?noredirect=on https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/12/26/how-the-nba-went-global/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.fd1f9bd476e5 https://www.wsj.com/articles/yao-ming-the-7-foot-6-man-caught-between-the-nba-and-china-11570727998 https://www.yardbarker.com/nba/articles/nba_owners_from_oldest_to_youngest/s1__29844068#slide_30
2020-10-01
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Special: Acquired x My First Million

Acquired teams up with the My First Million podcast for a ?best of both worlds? crossover episode. First we go deep, ?Acquired style?, on the wild story of MFM host Shaan Puri?s bought, sold, and then bought-again OG social networking site Bebo, and then we turn the tables and brainstorm startup ideas and investing themes ?MFM style?. This episode was frankly a blast to do. We hope you have as much fun listening as we did recording!

 

Sponsor:

Thanks to Quaestor for sponsoring this special episode. Quaestor is an investor relations platform for startups that gives every company and their investors the same level of tools and transparency as large public companies, regardless of their size and without a dedicated team of IR professionals. You can learn more and sign up for early access at: https://quaestor.com

Links:

My First Million?s website: https://thehustle.co/my-first-million-podcast/
2020-09-09
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Epic Games

We go deep behind the "epic" story of a plucky game developer from Cary, North Carolina (by way of Potomac, Maryland) which, after bootstrapping for its first 22 years, has quietly morphed into an $18b juggernaut that may become the most important technology company for the next evolution of the internet. And oh yeah, its founder, CEO and controlling shareholder? He cares more about land conservation than he does about money, he's beholden to no one and has the firepower of China's biggest internet giant behind him, and he's willing to stare down Apple, Google and anyone else who doesn't support his vision of an open and equal-opportunity internet future in a fight to the death. You'll want to buckle your seats for this one!!

If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show, the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our new Book Club live sessions with authors like Hamilton Helmer of 7 Powers and Will Thorndike of The Outsiders. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/ 

 

New! We're codifying our own Playbook notes and takeaways from each episode, and posting them here in the show notes and on our website. You can read them below or at: www.acquired.fm/episodes/epic-games

 

Sponsors:

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 7. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://tinycapital.com Thank you as well to Bamboo Growth and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: https://growwithbamboo.com https://www.perkinscoie.com/

 

Playbook:

Good companies find gold in a rush. Great companies sell jeans and pickaxes to everyone who pans. The best companies sell jeans, pickaxes AND find more gold than anyone else. Epic's two-part business model of the Unreal Engine plus Fortnite (and other games and experiences) is like AWS plus Amazon's consumer facing businesses: not only do they create and sell the infrastructure that powers a whole industry, but as their own "first and best" customers they can use its features most effectively and inform their own future roadmap of what to build. "Games as a Service" (embodied by titles like Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, League of Legends and Honor of Kings, etc) is a revolution that's unlocking value on the same order of magnitude that SaaS did for software. Much like SaaS apps, GaaS experiences can be built by small teams with a creative insight, in a capital-light fashion on open, best-in-class infrastructure that's cheap to rent (Unreal Engine or Unity). They can be designed to address initially small or niche-seeming use cases and desires (e.g. Battle Royale), but then adapt and scale elastically when they strike a rich vein. And perhaps most importantly they monetize via ongoing subscription and virtual economy revenue that aligns with actual user engagement, vs one-time upfront fees on boxed software. Zero (or low) marginal cost businesses are special opportunities. Anytime you can sell something for a significant price that costs you little/nothing to create incremental copies of ? e.g. Fortnite skins ? you have the potentially to do very, very well. People sometimes forget, but this dynamic also existed before the internet: the media business (both content and distribution) was perhaps the best and most consistent industry of the 20th century from a Return on Capital perspective. There's a reason Warren Buffet called Tom Murphy and Dan Burke of Capital Cities the best capital allocation team of all-time ? they were playing on a field tilted in their advantage. That said, the internet has brought this dynamic to MANY more sectors of the economy, and its next iteration (the metaverse) will extend it to even more. Capital scarcity creates a forcing function for disciplined and effective capital allocation. Capital abundance often leads to undisciplined and ineffective capital allocation. Epic created immense value during its 22 years as a bootstrapped company. While its first $330m capital raise from Tencent in 2012 has ultimately led to even more value creation, the first ~4-5 years post-investment saw the company almost lose its way with multiple long, costly and undisciplined game projects for which actual market demand was unclear. When the company ultimately re-captured its mojo with Fortnite, it was by going back to its roots with a fast-follow project built by a small team in response to clear market demand ? with a unique twist that made it special. Retaining "control" ? over your distribution, your margins, your product decisions and ultimately your company ? allows you to build the biggest possible platform in the long run. The old saying that "you can't build a really big company on someone else's platform" is usually true. Multiple times along its journey, Epic and Tim chose to go the harder, longer, and riskier "independent" route vs. relying on publishers, retailers or (now) app stores. Iteration is the in-practice implementation of compounding. Iteration is a standard dogma in startups and engineering (e.g. "agile", etc.), and compounding is a standard dogma in (value) investing. In practice they're two sides of the same coin: the small iterations that Epic does year in and year out ? on both the Unreal Engine and Fortnite + other GaaS experiences ? compound to create extraordinary value. Or put another way, within operating businesses like Epic, dollars don't just compound on their own. Retained earnings need to be re-deployed every day to build that next feature or service that future developers (and non-developers!) can build on top of.

 

Links:

MTV Cribs, "Tim Sweeney Edition": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRGUKMKadJ8

Carve Outs:

Ben's "3 part carve out": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bErPsq5kPzE - original video demo of Unreal Engine for filmmaking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUnxzVOs3rk - Feb 2020, video on "The Volume" https://ascmag.com/articles/the-mandalorian David Asimov's Foundation Series: https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Asimovs-Foundation-Foundations-Prelude/dp/B01EFDEMS8

 

Sources: (also available on Journal at https://usejournal.com/app/space/journal:space:project/7efa6d43-a601-4784-8e36-1edda2b1b451 )

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliff_Bleszinski https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_Games https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Unreal_Engine_games#Unreal_Engine_4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Sweeney_(game_developer) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZZT https://forums.unrealengine.com/community/general-discussion/40293-does-epic-make-more-money-from-games-or-game-engines https://gamasutra.com/view/feature/132426/from_the_past_to_the_future_tim_.php https://kotaku.com/the-quiet-tinkerer-who-makes-games-beautiful-finally-ge-5865951 https://open.spotify.com/episode/0c8KkHc3lrHgGVyRVCo5B3 (Wizard & the Bruiser episode on Epic) https://overcast.fm/+aLde2gbYE https://overcast.fm/+JNncEontw https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/27/epic-fortnite-3-billion-profit/ https://twitter.com/sarahjeong/status/1298031302357082112?s=10 https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/fortnite-epic-games-billion-dollar-decision-1202884194/ https://venturebeat.com/2018/04/26/superdata-fortnite-is-now-the-biggest-free-to-play-console-game-ever/ https://web.archive.org/web/20010519154729/http://www.gamespot.com/features/makeunreal/ https://www.appannie.com/en/apps/ios/top/united-states/games/iphone/ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-19/epic-games-fortnite-battle-with-apple-and-google-can-be-traced-to-nintendo-tax https://www.businessinsider.com/apple-made-360-million-from-fortnite- in-app-purchases-2020-8 https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/12/epic-games-company-behind-fortnite-was-founded-by-a-college-kid.html https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/14/the-reason-epic-landed-a-15-billion-valuation-is-not-fortnite-success.html https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/07/apple-app-store-had-estimated-gross-sales-of-50-billion-in-2019.html https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/132426/from_the_past_to_the_f uture_tim_.php?print=1 https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-03-22-tencent-paid-usd330m-for-48-percent-share-in-epic-games https://www.gamespot.com/articles/chinese-internet-company-owns-40-percent-of-epic-games/1100-6405749/ https://www.gamesradar.com/the-epic-tradition/ https://www.ign.com/articles/1999/02/04/epic-sets-up-shop https://www.matthewball.vc/all/epicgamesprimermaster https://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article238221784.html https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/25/technology/fortnite-creator-tim-sweeney-apple-google.html?referringSource=articleShare https://www.pcgamesn.com/steam-revenue-cut-tim-sweeney https://www.polygon.com/2012/10/1/3438196/better-with-age-a-history-of-epic-games https://www.polygon.com/2013/11/21/5128872/epic-classics-ships-last-copy-of-zzt https://www.polygon.com/a/epic-4-0 https://www.polygon.com/a/epic-4-0/the-four-lives-of-epic-games https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/2/21046920/fortnite-revenue-drop-superdata-nielsen-2019-earnings https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/17/21369460/apple-fortnite-app-store-services-business-model-epic-games https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-man-behind-fortnite-11560571201
2020-09-02
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Eventbrite (with Julia & Kevin Hartz)

We're joined by two very special guests, Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz and her cofounder, spouse and Eventbrite Chairman Kevin Hartz, to tell their story of building Eventbrite together (along with their lives and family) from the PayPal diaspora to bootstrapped business, unicorn status, IPO and now starting all over again in the wake of COVID with both a tragedy and a huge new opportunity in front of them as public company.

If you want more more Acquired and the tools + resources to become the best founder, operator or investor you can be, join our LP Program for access to our LP Show (including the episode with Kevin on SPACs), the LP community on Slack and Zoom, and our new Book Club live sessions with authors like Hamilton Helmer of 7 Powers and Will Thorndike of The Outsiders. Join here at: https://acquired.fm/lp/

 

New! We're codifying our own Playbook notes and takeaways from each episode, and posting them here in the show notes and on our website. You can read them below or at: www.acquired.fm/episodes/eventbrite

 

Sponsors:

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 7. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://tinycapital.com Thank you as well to Bamboo Growth and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: https://growwithbamboo.com https://www.perkinscoie.com/

 

Playbook

Seeing the next technology wave before others do is rare. It provides a roadmap for what to build and invest in if you're willing to bet on that knowledge. Kevin worked at Silicon Graphics in the mid 90's. This led him to realize that internet services like PayPal, YouTube, and many others would be possible long before others (similar to Don Valentine realizing computers would penetrate every industry from his time at Fairchild). PayPal and its subsequent "mafia" was successful in part because of rapid experimentation. They observed what got used by customers and then doubled down. PayPal's "core" use case on eBay started as an experiment. International money transfer (Xoom) and event ticketing (Eventbrite) also initially started as experiments on the PayPal API before the eBay acquisition ? and went on to become large companies. Julia, Kevin, and their cofounder Renaud had a prototype of Eventbrite running and serving customers even before starting the company ? which gave them the confidence to do what seemed crazy on paper, but was actually "de-risked": start a company as an engaged couple, have a remote technical cofounder, bootstrap for 2 years after being turned down by VCs, etc. When a company is experiencing explosive growth, they often need to leave other huge opportunities on the table. PayPal knew international remittances could be huge, but didn't build it internally because of the need to focus on eBay merchants. The TAM for bringing an offline behavior offline is often WAY bigger than anything you can calculate beforehand. The range and size of what were previously niche or impossible use cases will often expand dramatically with easy-to-use online tools. This is especially true in long-tail use cases that can only be aggregated by self-serve internet-based software. One early encouraging sign for Eventbrite was its use to host speed dating events in New York. Before Eventbrite, it was nearly impossible to organize, promote, and charge for something like that. Now, organizers could suddenly become entrepreneurs and make real money hosting events like this. Most VCs ignored or were confused by this data (~"Call us when you attack Ticketmaster."), but they missed that it unlocked a massive new market which previously operated only through word-of-mouth and cash transactions (if at all). All three major dislocations of the 21st century ? the tech bubble bursting in 2001, the financial crisis in 2008, and now COVID in 2020 ? have only accelerated offline behaviors to online. COVID is unlocking a new wave of online event entrepreneurs for Eventbrite in the same way the financial crisis unlocked a wave of in-person event entrepreneurs in 2008-10. Starting with just one niche can be incredibly powerful; often your customers will then lead you to more. Before the speed-dating in New York (which was fully inbound), Eventbrite was used to organize tech meetups in the then-smaller tech community in SF. It was even used for the first TechCrunch Disrupt! Too much capital (and too little accountability) can hurt a company much more than help it. Capital covers up problems, distracts focus from customers, and leads to poor resource allocation. Kevin: "The periods where we had raised the most money privately were the hardest and most difficult for me, because we were really fighting this gravity of overspending and creating inefficiency. And it took us away from our roots as a capital-efficient, highly-effective perpetual motion machine [that we'd had as a bootstrapped company]." Being a public company not only instills more capital allocation discipline, but can ALSO afford a degree of financial flexibility that just isn't possible as a private company. Within weeks of COVID hitting, Eventbrite dramatically shrunk the size and scope of the company AND raised $375m in new capital from new and longterm shareholders. Both actions would have been difficult to impossible as a private company with a static valuation (and associated anti-dilution, ratchet terms, etc) that no longer reflected the reality of the current situation.
2020-08-26
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Pinduoduo

We kick off Season 7 with a bang: Pinduoduo, the incredible five year-old Chinese mashup of "Costco and Disneyland" (as self-described in their IPO prospectus) which recently became the fastest company ever to pass $100B market capitalization. What makes PDD so special, and how were they able to enter a market that everyone considered "already won" and disrupt massive entrenched competitors Alibaba and JD.com? This story is chock-full of lessons that apply not only to China tech, but to high-growth company building and investing everywhere.

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Want more Acquired, including access to the LP Show, LP Calls and the Book Club? Join the Limited Partner program at: https://glow.fm/acquired/

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Links:

Photo of 26 year-old Colin at lunch with Warren Buffett: https://thelowdown.momentum.asia/cv-of-pinduoduos-founder/ PDD users on mini-programs vs other Chinese e-commerce players: https://miro.medium.com/max/1080/0*39fpSP_JqhDaPhQ2.png

Carve Outs

How to Make a Spaceship https://www.amazon.com/How-Make-Spaceship-Renegades-Spaceflight/dp/1594206724 Creativity, Inc. https://www.amazon.com/Creativity-Inc-Overcoming-Unseen-Inspiration/dp/0812993012/

Sponsors:

Thanks to Tiny for being our presenting sponsor for all of Acquired Season 7. Tiny is building the "Berkshire Hathaway of the internet" ? if you own a wonderful internet business that you want to sell, or know someone who does, you should get in touch with them. Unlike traditional buyers, they commit to quick, simple diligence, a 30-day or less process, and will leave your business to do its thing for the long term. You can learn more about Tiny here: http://tinycapital.com Thank you as well to Bamboo Growth and to Perkins Coie. You can learn more about them at: https://growwithbamboo.com and https://www.perkinscoie.com/

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Sources:

http://investor.pinduoduo.com/static-files/468b2c9f-9112-410d-84b3-2b22e07c7ee0 http://investor.pinduoduo.com/static-files/5539839d-0a1c-4d40-9bb7-bdb490e2370c https://analyse.asia/2018/08/09/episode-260-pinduoduo-their-upcoming-ipo-in-china-with-matthew-brennan/ https://analyse.asia/2020/06/28/pinduoduo-on-social-ecommerce-agriculture-with-xinyi-lim/ https://blog.ycombinator.com/pinduoduo-and-the-rise-of-social-e-commerce https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinduoduo#cite_note-8 https://hans.vc/pinduoduo/ https://medium.com/@clarkboyd/pinduoduo-everything-you-need-to-know-about-pdd-chinas-third-biggest-ecommerce-site-38ac42086e47 https://overcast.fm/+HWy7CWz34 https://overcast.fm/+I8dmHF4NU https://overcast.fm/+PLdRNCiCg https://overcast.fm/+TmYdC1VPQ https://overcast.fm/+TmYfSO3sc https://targetchina.com.au/article/how-pinduoduo-successfully-gained-market-share-through-social-commerce/ https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/26/the-incredible-rise-of-pinduoduo/ https://technode.com/2020/05/12/pinduoduo-growth-story-needs-a-new-chapter/ https://trendslates.substack.com/p/amazons-335bn-in-gmv-amazon-testing https://twitter.com/bgurley/status/1255172025053663232 https://www.businessinsider.com/fabulous-life-colin-huang-pinduoduo-2020-7 https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/22/what-is-pinduoduo-chinese-ecommerce-rival-to-alibaba.html https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/07/02/why-pinduoduo-stock-popped-today.aspx https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/07/07/4-tough-tasks-for-pinduoduos-new-ceo.aspx https://www.forbes.com/real-time-billionaires/#721870433d78 https://www.scmp.com/tech/e-commerce/article/3081078/pinduoduo-doubles-down-rural-china-five-year-us71-billion-e https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1737806/000104746918005204/a2236308z424b4.htm https://www.sec.gov/ix?doc=/Archives/edgar/data/1737806/000110465920051022/pdd-20191231x20f.htm https://www.techbuzzchina.com/episodes/ep-17-pinduoduo-from-zero-to-23b-in-three-years https://www.theinformation.com/articles/chinas-pinduoduo-is-nipping-at-alibabas-heels https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BidaQ22vWvM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqxtfOMMVFg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjLhCK8sUcw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zbskb0KMBUU&t=4s
2020-07-16
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LP Show Preview: Consumer Investing Master Class with Sarah Tavel, General Partner at Benchmark

On this preview of our most recent LP Show episode, 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!

 

This episode is a preview of the hour-long LP-only show. You can sign up to become an LP and get access to the full episode (and much more) at: https://glow.fm/acquired/

 

Links to Sarah's blog posts:

"Hierarchy of Marketplaces" posts: https://medium.com/@sarahtavel/the-hierarchy-of-marketplaces-introduction-and-level-1-983995aa218e "Hierarchy of Engagement" post: https://medium.com/@sarahtavel/the-hierarchy-of-engagement-expanded-648329d60804 Rocks, Sand, and Water Framework for Consumer Attention: https://medium.com/@sarahtavel/the-opportunity-and-risks-for-consumer-startups-in-a-social-distancing-world-a-framework-for-15f65e2fbdff
2020-07-07
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Oprah (Harpo Studios)

We close out Season 6 with the story of perhaps the single most successful media entrepreneur of all-time: Oprah Winfrey, and her juggernaut conglomerate Harpo Studios. Born to a poor single mother in the segregated 1950's deep south, Oprah's rise from terrible adversity to wealthiest Black woman in the world ranks among the very greatest American success stories. And oh yeah ? along the way she single-handedly created the entire influencer economy, rewrote the blueprint of a modern power broker, and set the world record for most cars given away at one time (276). Sit back, listen and get ready to live your best life.

 

Want more Acquired, including access to the LP Show, LP Calls and the full Acquired Book Club? Join the Acquired Limited Partner program at: https://glow.fm/acquired/

Survey link!: http://acquired.fm/survey

 

Carveouts:

David: The Dark Tower series by Stephen King https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07959YG1R? Ben: Reply All "Long Distance" https://gimletmedia.com/shows/reply-all/6nh3wk

Sponsor:

Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for being our banner sponsor for Acquired Season 6. You can learn more about SVB here: https://www.svb.com/next Thank you as well to Wilson Sonsini - You can learn more about WSGR at: https://www.wsgr.com/

Sources:

http://blackeconomics.co.uk/wp/oprahs-empire/ http://www.oprah.com/entertainment/the-oprah-winfrey-show-by-the-numbers-oprah-show-statistics/all http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/The-Oprah-Shows-Most-Shocking-Moments_1 https://diverseeducation.com/article/1205/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oprah_Winfrey https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oprah_Winfrey_Network https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WW_International https://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-oprah-regrets-famous-wagon-233648610.html https://freakonomics.com/2008/08/06/so-much-for-one-person-one-vote/ https://hbr.org/podcast/2018/01/black-business-leaders-series-oprahs-path-to-authentic-leadership https://stmuhistorymedia.org/from-rags-to-riches-the-story-of-oprah-winfrey/ https://www.amazon.com/Oprah-Biography-Kitty-Kelley/dp/0307394875 https://www.amazon.com/Ride-Lifetime-Lessons-Learned-Company/dp/0399592091 https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1998-09-25-9809260006-story.html https://www.cnn.com/ampstories/entertainment/how-oprah-winfrey-built-her-business-empire https://www.forbes.com/profile/oprah-winfrey/#c52ce3e5745f https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifereum/2014/09/29/how-oprah-went-from-talk-show-host-to-first-african-american-woman-billionaire/#7f21cfb76163 https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/oprah-gives-away-nearly-300-new-cars https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/you-get-a-car-oprah-winfrey-giveaway-studio-audience-gift-tax-members-guests-pay-show-a8208051.html https://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/tv-radio/an-anxious-america-gets-set-for-life-after-oprah-2285528.html https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2001-feb-21-ca-27886-story.html https://www.npr.org/podcasts/500692140/making-beyonc https://www.nytimes.com/1993/02/12/news/jackson-interview-high-in-ratings.html https://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/23/business/media/23carr.html https://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/11/business/media/end-of-oprahs-show-tightens-races-for-tv-ratings.html https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/the-oprah-phenomenon-by-the-numbers https://www.robertfeder.com/2016/06/15/legendary-tv-exec-dennis-swanson-retires/ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/2017/05/13/oprah-winfrey-untold-story/ https://www.thebalancesmb.com/oprah-winfrey-entrepreneur-1200951 https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/jan/12/oprah-winfrey-unlikely-to-run-for-us-president-but-could-win-if-she-did https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/oprahs-last-show-averaged-8957-million-fewer-viewers-than-mash-finale/2011/06/08/AGD5AUMH_story.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cooRceBiE8E
2020-06-25
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SpaceX

On the eve of SpaceX's historic scheduled launch of its first human spaceflight mission ? both the first ever by a private company, and the first to take place on American soil in nearly a decade ? we tell the incredible story of its rise from ragtag rocket jocks to the most disruptive and advanced force in aerospace today. While much of the Musk spotlight has shone on Tesla in recent years, is SpaceX actually the company that will have the greatest impact on our world's future, and perhaps even other worlds beyond? All of a sudden that idea seems a little less crazy...

Want more Acquired? Join thousands of other founders, CEOs, VCs, product people and engineers learning in the Limited Partner Program: https://glow.fm/acquired/

Links:

The Tesla episode: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/season-3-episode-1tesla The Ascend Conference: https://www.ascend.events

Carveouts:

David: The Last Dance: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/28973557/the-last-dance-updates-untold-story-michael-jordan-chicago-bulls Ben: Michael Mauboussin on the Success Equation: https://youtu.be/1JLfqBsX5Lc

Sponsor:

Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for being our banner sponsor for Acquired Season 6. You can learn more about SVB here: https://www.svb.com/next Thank you as well to Wilson Sonsini ? you can learn more about WSGR at: https://www.wsgr.com/

Sources:

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance: https://www.amazon.com/Elon-Musk-SpaceX-Fantastic-Future/dp/006230125X https://timelines.issarice.com/wiki/Timeline_of_SpaceX https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/03/spacex-historic-falcon-9-re-flight-ses-10/ https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/wiki/economics https://www.space.com/40547-spacex-rocket-evolution.html https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/08/how-and-why-spacex-will-colonize-mars.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceX https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elon_Musk https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_D._Griffin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Cantrell https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Mueller https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwynne_Shotwell https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Orbital_Transportation_Services https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Act_Agreement https://www.spacex.com/mission/ https://venturebeat.com/2008/08/06/private-rocket-company-spacex-gets-20m-from-the-founders-fund/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_and_Falcon_Heavy_launches https://www.space.com/40547-spacex-rocket-evolution.html https://www.businessinsider.com/spacex-starlink-spacecraft-pictures-elon-musk-2018-2 https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/09/inside-the-eight-desperate-weeks-that-saved-spacex-from-ruin/ https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/22/science/spacex-nasa-launch.html https://graphics.reuters.com/SPACE-EXPLORATION-SPACEX/010091Q82NF/index.html https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/31/elon-musk-spacex-is-now-worth-more-than-tesla.html https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-wins-launch-contract-egyptian-telecom-company/ https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-falcon-heavy-booster-overboard/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYocHwhfFDc https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-18-016.pdf https://everydayastronaut.com/will-the-falcon-9-actually-be-reusable-or-just-refurbish-able-like-the-space-shuttle/
2020-05-26
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Adapting Episode 3: Intel

Want more Acquired? Join thousands of other founders, CEOs, VCs, product people and engineers learning in the Acquired Limited Partner Program: https://glow.fm/acquired/

When you think of Intel today, you probably think of the microprocessor company. Maybe you also think about about 'Intel Inside' and their famous jingle. You might even think "big, stable, boring public company". But for the first two decades of Intel's life, absolutely none of those things were true. Today we tell the incredible story of how the company that started it all in Silicon Valley clawed back from a crisis that brought them to the brink of death, and of one man who rose as the ultimate survivor to become their leader and a legend even in his own time: the late, great Andy Grove.

Note: This episode originally aired as part of Podapalooza, a podcast festival organized by our friends at Glow to benefit COVID relief. Find out more and support the cause at https://www.plza.org

Sponsor:

Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for being our banner sponsor for Adapting and Acquired Season 6. You can learn more about SVB here: https://www.svb.com/impact Thank you as well to Wilson Sonsini - You can learn more about WSGR at: https://www.wsgr.com/

Sources:

Only the Paranoid Survive:  https://www.amazon.com/Only-Paranoid-Survive-Exploit-Challenge-ebook/dp/B0036S4B2G Swimming Across: https://www.amazon.com/Swimming-Across-Andrew-S-Grove-ebook/dp/B07CJRM4DX/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Grove https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Moore https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Noyce https://www.businessinsider.com/alan-patricof-greycroft-ipo-market-2011-1 https://anthonysmoak.com/2016/03/27/andy-grove-and-intels-move-from-memory-to-microprocessors/ http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/text/Oral_History/Intel_386_Business_Strategy/102701962.05.01.pdf https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_80386 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shockley https://www.inc.com/ilan-mochari/remembering-andy-grove-intel.html
2020-05-12
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Special Episode: Jason Calacanis

Want an edge in your business like Jason? Join thousands of other founders, CEOs, VCs, product people and engineers learning in the Acquired Limited Partner program at: http://glow.fm/acquired


We're joined by the one and only Jason Calacanis for this very special episode, wherein we chronicle Jason's journey from a kid porter in the barrooms of Brooklyn to building the largest independent media business in tech, becoming the "3rd or 4th greatest seed investor of all-time" (and the original Sequoia Scout), launching one of the top accelerators in the world, and constructing a one-man empire that may just disrupt the entire capital stack in our industry. We dive into how it all ties together, and where the money and power is shifting in the ever changing sands of Silicon Valley...

For the second half of this extended conversation, join the Acquired LP program at https://glow.fm/acquired/

Sponsor:

Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for being our banner sponsor for Adapting and Acquired Season 6. You can learn more about SVB here: https://www.svb.com/impact Thank you as well to Wilson Sonsini - You can learn more about WSGR at: https://www.wsgr.com/
2020-04-29
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Podapalooza Announcement: Intel

Missing Acquired? We are too. But the world's not done adapting just yet, and neither are we. So get ready for (in the immortal words of Sammy Hagar) the best of both worlds: an Acquired + Adapting crossover lollapalooza... at Podapalooza 2020! We'll be covering the mother of all adaptations, Intel's abandonment of the memory business in favor of microprocessors in the mid-1980's.

What is Podapalooza? It's a charity podcast festival that our friends over at Glow are putting on next weekend, April 25-26, and we're really excited to be part of it. Dozens of the best podcasters on the internet (e.g., Patrick at Invest Like the Best, Levar Burton, Cory Doctorow, J.D. Vance, etc.) are creating exclusive content for the festival, with all proceeds going to COVID-19 relief. As Glow puts it, Podapalooza is the 2020 version of Live-Aid: podcast hosts instead of rockers, pajamas at home instead of big hair on stage, but still the same purpose of supporting relief for the most important cause of this moment. We think it's a really great idea -- we've already bought our tickets and hope you do too. You can sign up at: https://www.podapalooza.org

2020-04-15
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Adapting Episode 2: Sequoia?s Black Swan Memo (with Roelof Botha)

On March 5th 2020, Sequoia Capital published a Medium post entitled ?Coronavirus: The Black Swan of 2020?. The memo minces no words, admonishing founders & CEOs to ?question every assumption about your business?, and portends that ?as Darwin surmised, those who [will] survive ?are not the strongest or the most intelligent, but the most adaptable to change.?? We?re joined by longtime Sequoia partner and head of the firm?s US business Roelof Botha to discuss on what Sequoia saw leading up to the memo and why they decided to publish it, how they and their portfolio companies are adapting to the new world it warned of, and what lasting changes might come to Sequoia itself from this moment. For anyone facing hard decisions and/or looking for ways to think about opportunity, this is not one to miss.



Want more Adapting/Acquired? You can join the Acquired Limited Partner program at: https://glow.fm/acquired/


Links:

The Black Swan Memo: https://medium.com/sequoia-capital/coronavirus-the-black-swan-of-2020-7c72bdeb9753  The COVID-19 Decision Matrix: https://medium.com/sequoia-capital/the-matrix-for-covid-19-c25bd5195f46 

 

Sponsor:

Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for being our banner sponsor for Adapting and Acquired Season 6. You can learn more about SVB here: https://www.svb.com/next Thank you as well to Wilson Sonsini - You can learn more about WSGR at: https://www.wsgr.com/
2020-03-31
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Adapting Episode 1: Canlis

The world has changed. Acquired is changing too: we?re taking a pause from our normal episodes. The world doesn?t need stories of M&A and IPOs right now. But it does still need stories of great companies and great leaders. So we?re taking everything that we?ve put into Acquired - our format, our infrastructure, and the way we can reach all of you - and launching Adapting. Adapting is a series all about doing just that -- changing to fit what the world needs right now, not what it needed last week.

Our first episode starts on the front lines of change: the local restaurant industry. Mark Canlis joins us to discuss how the world-renowned Canlis restaurant in Seattle is adapting by simultaneously closing their 70 year old dining room service, and launching three brand new, no-contact concept restaurants in just one week to keep their staff employed and the city fed:

"Pretty quickly we realized that it would be just as risky to do nothing as it would to do something really radical. And if we were gonna live into our values, every once and awhile that?s really going to cost you something."

This conversation is an incredible inspiration to us all, and a reminder of the vast power of the human spirit during challenging times. 

Want more Adapting/Acquired? You can join the Acquired Limited Partner program at: https://glow.fm/acquired/

Sponsor:

?Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for being our banner sponsor for Adapting and Acquired Season 6. You can learn more about SVB here: https://www.svb.com/next

?Thank you as well to Wilson Sonsini - You can learn more about WSGR at: https://www.wsgr.com/

2020-03-20
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The Top 10 Acquisitions of All-Time

Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://glow.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile)

5 years and 100+ episodes into Acquired, there?s been one question we get asked more than any other: what are the best acquisitions of all-time, and what can we learn from them? We thought it was time to formalize our answers. So here it is, the Acquired Greatest Hits album. :)

We also put together an accompanying blog post, which goes into greater detail on the numbers and methodology behind out rankings. You can find it here: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/acquired-top-ten-the-best-acquisitions-of-all-time

Feel free to share with your friends or on social media!

Sponsor:

Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for being our banner sponsor for Acquired Season 6. You can learn more about SVB here: https://www.svb.com/next Thank you as well to Wilson Sonsini - You can learn more about WSGR at: https://www.wsgr.com/
2020-03-17
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LP Show Preview: Remote Work, No-Code, and Products that Sell Themselves (w/ Zapier CEO Wade Foster)

Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://glow.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile)

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 solely 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!

This episode is a preview of the hour-long LP-only show.

2020-03-05
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Sequoia Capital Part II (with Doug Leone)

Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://glow.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile)

The wait is over. Acquired returns with a very special Part II of the Sequoia Capital story, joined by the very best person in the world to help us tell it - Doug Leone. Since 1996, Doug has served as Sequoia?s Global Managing Partner, in charge of overseeing the firm?s incredible expansion from a single, $150m early-stage fund focused on Northern California to the multi-billion dollar global powerhouse it is today. Doug is incredibly candid and insightful about all that has gone into building the modern Sequoia: from winning Google and missing Facebook, to the enormous (and enormously successful) bet on decentralized expansion in China and India, to the firm?s ?proudest moment? at the depth of the dot com bust. This episode is an absolute must-listen for anyone in the tech, startup and venture ecosystems today. Thank you to Doug and all of the Sequoia team for joining us to make it happen!

 

Note:

You can listen to Part I of our Sequoia story, which dives deep into the history and background of the firm, here: https://www.acquired.fm/episodes/sequoia-capital-part-1

 

Sponsor:

Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for being our banner sponsor for Acquired Season 6. You can learn more about SVB here: https://www.svb.com/next Thank you as well to Wilson Sonsini - You can learn more about WSGR at: https://www.wsgr.com/

 

Sources:

https://www.brunswickgroup.com/sequoia-capital-doug-leone-silicon-valley-i11786/ https://www.sequoiacap.com/people/doug-leone/ https://www.sequoiacap.com/newsletter/2018-06-20-doug-leone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Er4QcNdjVU https://www.linkedin.com/in/douglas-leone-a2714/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cl8X02Xd1I https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrJgwKiEpaI
2020-02-18
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WhatsApp

Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://glow.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile)

We kick off Season 6 with a long-awaited Acquired Classic: Facebook?s $22B purchase of WhatsApp in 2014, which still ranks as the largest acquisition of a private VC-backed startup in history. Yet despite that enormous pricetag and all its associated fanfare, as we sit here 5+ years later WhatsApp actually generates LESS revenue than the meager ~$20m it was bringing in at the time of acquisition. Was this this worst acquisition of all-time, or a brilliant strategic chess move by Mark Zuckerberg & co? Tune in as we render Acquired?s judgement! 

Note: Unfortunately David?s audio quality in this episode was impacted by a technical glitch which we didn?t discover until after recording. Our editors worked super hard to fix in post-production, but it?s still not totally perfect. We hope you?ll give it a listen regardless, and we?re working on getting a transcript made ASAP, which we?ll post to the website when it?s ready. Thanks for bearing with us,

-Ben & David

 

Carve Outs:

Ben: Computer glasses: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=computer+glasses David: Reebok Floatrides: https://www.amazon.com/Reebok-Forever-Floatride-Energy-Black/dp/B07NYBRQ96/

 

Sponsor:

Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for being our banner sponsor for Acquired Season 6. You can learn more about SVB here: https://www.svb.com/next Thank you as well to Wilson Sonsini - You can learn more about WSGR at: https://www.wsgr.com/ 

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WhatsApp https://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2014/02/19/exclusive-inside-story-how-jan-koum-built-whatsapp-into-facebooks-new-19-billion-baby/#64c1c94b2fa1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2014/03/04/inside-the-facebook-whatsapp-megadeal-the-courtship-the-secret-meetings-the-19-billion-poker-game/#63d8b5c4350f https://www.wired.com/2015/09/whatsapp-serves-900-million-users-50-engineers/ https://youtu.be/v6PbymjXsto https://youtu.be/X4YsJt4rIOI https://overcast.fm/+WorS9-a74 https://youtu.be/-2CAWS7M_0w https://youtu.be/X4YsJt4rIOI https://www.wired.co.uk/article/whats-app-owner-founder-jan-koum-facebook  https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/whatsapp-brian-acton-delete-facebook-stanford-lecture  https://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2018/09/26/exclusive-whatsapp-cofounder-brian-acton-gives-the-inside-story-on-deletefacebook-and-why-he-left-850-million-behind/#7475a0213f20  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-06-28/tencent-rules-china-the-problem-is-the-rest-of-the-world   https://techcrunch.com/2013/07/16/whatsapp-free/ http://allthingsd.com/tag/jan-koum/ http://allthingsd.com/20130510/whatsapp-ceo-jan-koum-hates-advertising-and-the-tech-rumor-mill-full-dive-video/  https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/31/whatsapp-hits-1-5-billion-monthly-users-19b-not-so-bad/ https://blog.whatsapp.com/10000633/Building-for-People-and-Now-Businesses https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/05/whatsapp-business-app/  https://techcrunch.com/2014/02/21/whatsapp/ https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/whatsapp-founder-plans-to-leave-after-broad-clashes-with-parent-facebook/2018/04/30/49448dd2-4ca9-11e8-84a0-458a1aa9ac0a_story.html https://www.wsj.com/articles/whatsapp-backs-off-controversial-plan-to-sell-ads-11579207682 https://www.wsj.com/articles/behind-the-messy-expensive-split-between-facebook-and-whatsapps-founders-1528208641?mod=article_inline  https://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/06/05/whatsapp-co-founder-stresses-independence-from-facebook/?mod=article_inline https://bgr.com/2020/01/17/whatsapp-ads-2020-facebook-canceled-plans-to-bring-ads-to-status-bar/ https://www.vox.com/2018/5/8/17329524/whatsapp-new-ceo-facebook-cofounder-jan-koum-departs https://www.linkedin.com/in/chdaniels/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/jkoum/
2020-01-29
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The Lean Startup and the Long-Term Stock Exchange (with Eric Ries)

Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://glow.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) 
You can hear a preview of our most recent LP show, an interview with Webflow cofounder and CEO Vlad Magdalin, at the end of this episode. To get access to the rest of that conversation and many more with top founders, operators and investors, click the link to subscribe and become an Acquired LP.
 

Season 5, Episode 10: The Lean Startup and the Long-Term Stock Exchange (with Eric Ries)

Acquired closes out Season 5 and 2019 with a radical look into both the past and future decades of startup company building, investing and - yes, exiting - in conversation with legendary Lean Startup author Eric Ries. Nine years on from pioneering the now-canonical concepts of product-market fit, minimum viable products, and pivots during the aftermath of the financial crisis, Eric?s new venture at the Long-Term Stock Exchange represents an equally ambitious attempt to rewrite the orthodoxy of how companies and their investors manage liquidity, governance and alignment around longterm value creation. Like Lean Startup a decade before it, can LTSE help address some of the endemic problems in this generation?s startup ecosystem ? excessive capital raising, stay-private-longer, dual-class founder hegemony, extreme illiquidity and quarterly earnings myopia? Tune in to find out!

Sponsor:

Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for sponsoring all of Acquired Season 5. You can get in touch with Lewis Hower, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here: http://bit.ly/2SCsbbs
2019-12-30
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Convoy (with CEO Dan Lewis)

Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://glow.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile)

Coming to you live from the University of Washington, Ben and David are joined by hundreds of awesome Seattle listeners (and a few non-Seattle listeners!) to cover the meteoric rise of trucking industry disruptor and hometown hero Convoy. How did Dan and Convoy go from nervously conducting market research at truck stops on I-5 to one of the largest logistics companies and fastest-growing startups in the world in just four short years, raising over $650m (not a typo) along the way? Tune in to find out!

Special thank you to the Paul Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington and to Pioneer Square Labs for generously sponsoring the show venue. 

 

Carveouts: 

Mystery: https://mystery.sh 

Sponsor: 

Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for sponsoring all of Acquired Season 5. You can get in touch with Minh Le, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here: http://bit.ly/2txmq4e
2019-12-19
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TikTok

Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://glow.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile)

We take Acquired to the Old Town Road to cover the amazing story behind the biggest global sensation of 2019 ? and the highest valued private startup in the world ? TikTok. How did a mid-30 year old UX architect at enterprise software giant SAP wind up creating Gen Z?s favorite social app that?s now rivaling Instagram in global MAU? Why is a 2017 merger of two Chinese companies being branded a US national security threat and retroactively placed under review by CFIUS? And perhaps most importantly, why is TikTok such an important product & technology innovation that all of us should be learning from? Tune in for all the answers!

 

Carve Outs:

Ben: Track 34 on Ghosts IV by Nine Inch Nails: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF_ceFugJjQ  David: Nintendo Switch Lite https://www.nintendo.com/switch/lite/ and Knives Out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGqiHJTsRkQ 

 

Sponsor:

Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for sponsoring all of Acquired Season 5. You can get in touch with Dan Hardman, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here: http://bit.ly/35yIrNH

 

Sources:

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2019-12-09
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