20VC: Former Tinder CPO Brian Norgard on His Biggest Product Takeaways from His Contribution to The Top Grossing App in The World, The Top 10 Reasons Why Products Fail Today & How The Best Founders Assess Risk and Use It

 

unnamed-3Brian Norgard is the Former Chief Product Officer at the top-grossing mobile app in the world, Tinder. In less than 3 years, Tinder created over $11Bn in market value and with Brian’s contribution to the creation of Tinder Gold, Superlike and Boost, the platform has seen over 200m downloads and created millions of matches. Prior to Tinder, Brian founded Tappy, a mobile messaging application backed by Kleiner Perkins and acquired by Tinder. Before that, Brian built one of the fastest-growing Facebook applications in history (Chill) which reached over 30MM people. Fun fact about Brian also, at 25, Brian was the youngest GM/VP in the history of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp after the acquisition of his first company Newroo where he served as the GM of MySpace News. If that was not enough, Brian is also a prolific angel investor with investments in Tesla, SpaceX, AngelList and Coinmine.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Brian made his way into the world of startups and came to be the youngest VP at News Corp at the tender age of 25? How did that lead to his becoming CRO then CPO @ Tinder?

2.) What is the No 1 reason that products fail today? What can founders and designers do to retain the simplicity of product over time? How does complexity change the product experience? Why does Brian believe that product experience is an art? Bring in science, to what extent does Brian believe testing and iteration is key to success in product? How does one know how long is enough time to test for vs too short and not enough data?

3.) When thinking about distribution, what does Brian look for in the way that people describe a product to their friend? How does Brian think that the most successful products bake distribution into the core user behaviour? How does Brian think about community building around product? Who has done this best in Brian’s mind?

4.) How should the very best founders and product people think about product risk? How can they know when to use risk to their advantage vs be mindful of excessive risk? On the features themselves, how important is it for a product to be 10x cheaper/faster etc? Why does Brian believe that is largely VC jargon?

5.) What were Brian’s biggest takeaways from launching Tinder Gold and seeing Tinder become the Top Grossing App in the world? How does that sort of event also impact the team? How does Brian think about whether one should celebrate those moments or push forward to the next goal?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Brian’s Fave Book: The Old Man and The Sea

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Brian on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Smart executives and business owners know that harnessing the power of
AI, embracing the cloud, and prioritizing cybersecurity are the cornerstones of growth. Every day, Wrike helps thousands of companies worldwide do this by revolutionizing how they approach work. Our secure, automated,cloud-based work management tool helps businesses future proof their cultures and evolve fast. How? Wrike ‘s award-winning, collaborative, all-company platform keeps everything in one easily-accessible space. Time to embrace next-gen work management at the executive level and encourage lean thinking from the top down. With Wrike, crushing your objectives and mitigating risks at scale is a cinch. Give Wrike a try for free.

20VC: IA Ventures’ Jesse Beyroutey on Game Theory and How It Impacts Investor Mindset, How To Avoid “The Pressure To Deploy” Today In Venture & Why Ownership Is The Single Most Important Parameter When Investing

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Jesse Beyroutey is a General Partner @ IA Ventures, one of the top-performing early-stage funds of the last decade. Their incredible portfolio includes the likes of TransferWise, DataDog, Digital Ocean, X.ai and The Trade Desk, just to name a few. As for Jesse, his investments at IA include Digital Ocean, IronClad, TransferWise, Sight Machine and more fantastic companies. Prior to joining the world of venture, Jesse studied Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Jesse made his way into the world of VC pretty much straight out of University and how that led to his being a GP with IA today?

2.) What is Game Theory? What does it mean to Jesse and how does it impact his investing mindset today? How does Jesse think about and assess startup positioning today? How important is positioning in the early days of the company? How does Jesse think about data as a sustainable moat or not? Does Jesse think in today’s excess supply of capital environment that cash alone can be a moat?

3.) How does Jesse and IA think about portfolio construction today? Does Jesse ever feel the “pressure to deploy”? How have IA structured their own fundraises to ensure they never feel that pressure? How important a role does ownership play for Jesse when making an investment? Does Jesse believe ownership is built on first check?

4.) How does Jesse assess his own price sensitivity? How has it changed over the last 8 years? How does Jesse and IA approach both investment decision-making and reserve allocation decisions? How does the lead rely on the rest of the team when making decisions? Why does capital efficiency become a core question when determining reserve allocations?

5.) Why does Jesse feel that the reading to writing ratio that currently exists between founders and investors needs to change? What should the ratio be? How does the relationship between founder and investor change when the investor provides more content? How does Jesse look to avoid news cycles in the week? What works? What does not? What is Jesse’s advice for anyone looking to do the same?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Jesse’s Fave Book: 7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy

Jesse’s Most Recent Investment: Gauntlet 

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Jesse on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

20VC: Gitlab Founder, Sid Sijbrandji on Lessons From Scaling from 400 to 1,000 People in 1 Year, Why You Have To Have A Low Level Of Shame On The Product You Release & The Secret To Making Remote Work So Effectively At Scale

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Sid Sijbrandij is the Founder & CEO @ Gitlab, a single application for the entire software development lifecycle. From project planning and source code management to CI/CD, monitoring, and security. To date, Sid has raised over $145m in funding for Gitlab from the likes of GV, August Capital, YC, Khosla and Goldman Sachs just to name a few. What is incredible, Sid has scaled the team to over 762 team members across 55 countries and is famed for his openness and transparency on how he builds both the product and company. You can find the fantastic Gitlab handbook here.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Sid made his way into the world of startups, learned Ruby in the early days and came to found Gitlab? What was that a-ha moment?

2.) In 2019 Gitlab is growing from 400 to 1,000 people, what are the biggest challenges that come with such operational growth? How does one hire at such pace and retain quality? How does Sid think about the right way to onboard new employees? How does Sid think about KPI and goal setting in the early days?

3.) Today all 750 Gitlab employees are remote, what does Sid believe is the secret to making remote teams work at scale? How does Sid think about the balance between fast shipping cadence and perfect product releases? Why does Sid believe, “you have to have a low level of shame on the product you release”?

4.) How does Sid think about operating Gitlab as a totally transparent company? What does that mean both in reality and in process? Why does Sid believe it is optimal to have a roadmap that is open for everyone to see? What are the pros? What are the cons of such transparency? How do competitors respond?

5.) If every great business is bundling or unbundling, where does Sid believe he and Sid are in the process today? How does Sid think about being too much to too many people? How does the open-source community really come into play in the development of Gitlab?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Sid’s Fave Book: High Output Management

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Sid on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Smart executives and business owners know that harnessing the power of
AI, embracing the cloud, and prioritizing cybersecurity are the cornerstones of growth. Every day, Wrike helps thousands of companies worldwide do this by revolutionizing how they approach work. Our secure, automated,cloud-based work management tool helps businesses future proof their cultures and evolve fast. How? Wrike ‘s award-winning, collaborative, all-company platform keeps everything in one easily-accessible space. Time to embrace next-gen work management at the executive level and encourage lean thinking from the top down. With Wrike, crushing your objectives and mitigating risks at scale is a cinch. Give Wrike a try for free.

20VC: Zoom From Series A to IPO, How VCs Can Provide CEOs with Additional Leverage and Why The Negative Effects of Signalling Are Very Real with Santi Subotovsky, General Partner @ Emergence Capital

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Santi Subotovsky is a General Partner @ Emergence Capital, one of the valley’s leading venture firms of the last decade focusing on enterprise & SaaS applications. Within their incredible portfolio is the likes of Salesforce, Zoom, Box, Veeva Systems, SuccessFactors and many more. As for Santi, he has led deals in the likes of Zoom, Crunchbase, Clearbanc, Top Hat and Chorus.ai to name a few. Before Emergence, Santi founded AXG Tecnonexo, a SaaS e-learning company in Argentina which he expanded to 150+ employees across Latin America and the U.S. Santi is also a founding board member of Puente Labs, an organization that helps founders of Latin American high-potential growth companies scale their businesses globally.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Santi made his way from founding a Latin American EdTech business to being one of the valley’s most successful investors of 2019 with Zoom’s IPO? What was the biggest barrier he faced when getting into VC? How did he overcome it?

2.) What does Santi believe his superpower as an investor is? What did Santi see in Eric Yuan and the 30 person team at the time that made him believe they would be successful? What made how Eric thinks about presents product so special? What did the relationship building process look like between Eric and Santi in the early days?

3.) How does Santi like to work with his portfolio companies? How does Santi think about time allocation across the portfolio? Why does Santi believe it is crucial to not just spend time with the CEO but the exec team also? Where does Santi most like to provide value and leverage to the CEO? Why does Santi believe all VCs are just sales reps?

4.) Why does Santi believe that a vertically focused fund is the optimal strategy to pursue today? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? How does Santi think about the obvious overlap between consumer and enterprise today? With the thematic focus, how does Santi think about loss ratio and batting average? How does Emergence approach the element of both ownership and price? Where do they optimise?

5.) With larger and larger funds, how does Santi see the future of venture? Why does he believe that we will see vertically focused capital-as-a-service? What does this look like in reality? Is Santi concerned by the extended window of privatisation that is now present in today’s capital markets? How concerned is Santi by the compression of fundraising timelines and what does that to investor <> founder relationships?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Santi’s Fave Book: Candide by Voltaire

Santi’s Most Recent Investment: Openpath

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Santi on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

20VC: HitRecord’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt on How Show Business Prepared Him For Life As An Entrepreneur, What Founders Should Look For Most In Their Investor Base & Why The Current Ad Model of Social Is Harming The World’s Creative Spirit

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the Founder @ HitRecord, the startup that allows you to be creative, together, encouraging less self-promotion and more collaboration, so you can create things you couldn’t have made on your own. To date, Joe has raised funding from some personal favourites of mine in the form of Alex @ Javelin, Masterclass Founder David Rogier, Twitch Founder Kevin Lin and CrossLink Capital just to name a few. Alongside his role with HitRecord, Joe is also an A-List Hollywood Actor and filmmaker starring in some of my favourite films of all time including The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, 10 Things I Hate About You and many many more.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Joseph made his way into the world of technology and startups with the founding of HitRecord? How did much of Joe’s early acting career inform much of the HitRecord product today?

2.) Having had such success in the acting world, what caused Joe to really push forward with HitRecord? Question from David @ Masterclass: who has been Joe’s biggest mentors in his transition to tech? What have been his biggest takeaways from them? How does Joe balance both being an actor and entrepreneur at the same time? What are the challenges?

3.) Why did Joe decide now was the time to raise VC funds for HitRecord this late into the company life? How does Joe approach the element of investor selection? What specific value add did Joe want to see in his potential investor? How did the pitch process go? How does it compare to presenting for a role in the acting world? What was Joe’s biggest lesson about what successful technology pitches do?

4.) When Joe thinks about the HitRecord community, what has surprised him the most with the growth of the community? Why have they purposefully decide to never spend on user acquisition or traffic? What is the strategy behind this? What is Joe’s biggest advice to individuals wanting to scale their community and the essentials?

5.) How does Joe assess both the content and social media landscape today? Why is the creative spirit of the world being killed by the current ad model of social platforms? How does Joe think this can be countered and where does HitRecord fit into this evolving landscape?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Joe’s Fave Book: Letters To A Young Poet

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Joe on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Smart executives and business owners know that harnessing the power of
AI, embracing the cloud, and prioritizing cybersecurity are the cornerstones of growth. Every day, Wrike helps thousands of companies worldwide do this by revolutionizing how they approach work. Our secure, automated,cloud-based work management tool helps businesses future proof their cultures and evolve fast. How? Wrike ‘s award-winning, collaborative, all-company platform keeps everything in one easily-accessible space. Time to embrace next-gen work management at the executive level and encourage lean thinking from the top down. With Wrike, crushing your objectives and mitigating risks at scale is a cinch. Give Wrike a try for free.

20VC: Bessemer’s Byron Deeter On Lessons From Investing in 14 $Bn Companies, What The Heck Is Going On In Cloud Today and Why Cloud IPO Floodgates Are About To Burst Open

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Byron Deeter is a Partner @ Bessemer Venture Partners where he has established himself as one of the leading investors in SaaS and Cloud authoring the iconic laws on the state of cloud computing. In terms of track record, fourteen of Byron’s investments are valued above one $1 billion, including eight IPOs and counting. Byron’s investments include the likes of Twilio, Intercom, SendGrid, Gainsight, Box, DocuSign and many more. Prior to the world of venture, Byron was a Bessemer Founder raising his Series A from them back in 2000 with Trigo Technologies. The company rapidly scaled to profitability and was acquired by IBM.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Byron made his way into the world of venture from founding Trigo Technologies and selling to IBM in 2005? How have seeing multiple booms and busts impacted Byron’s investment mentality today?

2.) What the heck is going on in cloud today? Is Byron concerned by the very rich multiples being paid in the ecosystem today? How does Byron think about how public market performance impacts his day to day role investing? Why does Byron believe that the floodgate for cloud IPOs is about to burst open?

3.) Having seen so many cloud IPOs, what should founders take from the lessons of those that have already been so successful? With 14 $Bn companies, what does Byron attribute his investing success to today? How does Byron think about what he wants to invest in today? Are we in an entirely new wave of cloud?

4.) As a former founder, how does Byron think that he engages differently with founders than more financial backgrounded VCs? What can board members really do to build that trusted relationship with the founder in the early days? Is it good for founders and board members to be friends? Is there a line of professionalism that has to be drawn?

5.) How has Byron seen his style of board membership change over the last decade? What would his advice be to someone who has just gained their first institutional board seat? What does Byron believe makes the best board members? What founder he has worked with most excels when it comes to board management? What made them so extraordinary?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Byron’s Fave Book: AI Superpowers, Legacy

Byron’s Most Recent Investment: ScaleFactor

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Byron on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

20VC: Why Self-Driving Is Still Under-Hyped in The Medium To Long Term, What Will The Ownership Mechanism Be Both In Physical Assets & Data and How To Assemble A World Class Exec Team As A Young Founder with Alex Rodrigues, Founder & CEO @ Embark

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Alex Rodrigues is the Founder & CEO @ Embark, the world’s leading developer of self-driving trucks. Embark operates the longest automated freight route in the world. To date, Alex has raised over $47m in funding for Embark from some of my favourites in the form of Pat Grady @ Sequoia, Matt Ocko @ Data Collective, SV Angel and Y Combinator, just to name a few. As for Alex, it started early with his winning a World Robotics Championship while he was in Middle School (the championship was for adults). Post that incredible achievement he dropped out of Waterloo, became a Thiel Fellow, worked as a software engineer @ Nuance Communications, before joining Khan Academy as a software engineer and also teaching robotics @ Khan Lab School.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Alex made his way from winning World Robotics Championships while he was in Middle School to founding the leader developer of autonomous trucks in Embark?

2.) Why does Alex believe in the medium to long term, self-driving is still under-hyped? What is the market analysis to support this? How did his meetings with the world’s best public markets investors impact his thinking here? How does Alex think about adoption timelines for self-driving? How do investors think about this when investing?

3.) Does Alex believe that when it comes to self-driving vehicles, they will largely be a public utility? What ownership mechanism does Alex expect to see? What are the pros and cons associated with each? How does Alex think about ownership of the data generated through self-driving? How do we balance privacy and public safety?

4.) With such large milestones and proof points in self-driving, how does Alex think about effective goal setting? What are the core KPIs to be driving for? How can they be broken into more meaningful and achievable wins for the team to get around? What is the core challenge to morale maintenance when the challenge is so long term?

5.) Where does Alex see the commonalities in the biggest mistakes that young founders make? What does Alex know now that he wishes he had known at the start? What have been Alex’s biggest lessons on hiring the world’s best in their respective fields? What have been Alex’s biggest takeaways when it comes to successful board management?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Alex’s Fave Book: High Output Management

As always you can follow Harry and The Twenty Minute VC on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

20VC: Sequoia’s Pat Grady on What Sequoia Is Focused On Today, How Sequoia Think About Investment Decision-Making Processes & Why It Is Important To Trade A Few Points of Efficiency for Culture When It Comes To Attribution

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Pat Grady is a Partner @ Sequoia, one of the world’s leading and most renowned venture firms with a portfolio including WhatsApp, Zoom, Stripe, Airbnb, Github and many more incredible companies. As for Pat, at Sequoia he co-leads the firms growth investment team and has been involved with some of the true greats, Hubspot, Zoom, Okta, Qualtrics, the list goes on. Prior to Sequoia Pat spent three years with Summit Partners.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Pat made his way from Summit Partners to co-leading Sequoia’s growth investment team? Was it intimidating for Pat entering a partnership with Jim Goetz, Don Valentine, Roelof Botha? How did he manage those nerves?

2.) So many different funds and activities, so what is Sequoia focused on today? Where does Sequoia think about their ideal insertion point today? How do they see the deployment of their blended capital across rounds? Does Pat believe in ownership on first check or building ownership over time? How does Pat think about the extended window of privatisation with IPOs being continuously delayed?

3.) Does Pat believe that VC really is a team sport today? Does Pat agree with Josh Kopelman’s statement, “I would rather be a better picker of partners than investments”? What are the core requirements, skills and traits that Sequoia looks for when adding to their partnership?

4.) What is the investment decision-making process at Sequoia? How do they feel about unanimity vs conviction based investment decisions? What are the pros and cons of each? What does Pat believe is the most non-obvious investment decision that Sequoia have made? Sequoia run an incredibly rigorous process when investing, how does Pat balance between that level of rigour with the speed to win the deal?

5.) What advice would Pat give to someone that has just gained their first institutional board? What does Pat know now that he wishes he had known when he started in VC? How does Pat think about time allocation across the portfolio? Concentrate on winners or the strugglers are where your reputation is built? Leading Sequoia Growth and with a beautiful family, how does Pat approach work/life balance?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Pat’s Fave Book: God Friended Me

Pat’s Most Recent Investment: Embark: Revolutionizing Commercial Transport 

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Pat on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.