20VC: Scale Founder Alex Wang on How To Hire Incredible Talent Before You Are A Hot Company, Why Beating Competition Is Not As Clear Cut As Investors Believe & Why AI Is Under-Hyped Today In Terms of Total Impact
Posted on 6th September 2019 by hstebbings1
Alex Wang is the Founder & CEO @ Scale, the data platform for AI providing high-quality training and validation data for AI applications. To date, they have raised over $123m in financing from some of the best investors in the business including Daniel Levine @ Accel, Founders Fund, Index Ventures, Thrive, Spark and Coatue and then also some of the world’s best operators and founders of Dropbox, Instagram, Quora, Github and Twitch to name a few. Prior to founding Scale, Alexandr was a Tech Lead at Quora, directly responsible for all speed projects and before that a software engineer at Addepar responsible for building and maintaining financial models.
1.) How Alex made his way from growing up in Los Alamos to being one of the hottest founders in the valley with Scale’s new round giving them a unicorn valuation? How did growing up outside the ether of the valley shape Alex’s operating mindset today?
2.) Why does Alex believe that AI is under-hyped relative to the state of technology today? Would Alex agree that most projects claiming to be AI are merely rebrandings from actuarial science, data science etc etc? What questions does Alex ask to determine true AI or BS?
3.) How does Alex think about how AI can deal better with ambiguity of data? What other core areas would Alex like to see meaningful step-function improvements in? How does Alex think about the value of data-set size? How does he think about the utility value of data reducing with every incremental data point? How does Alex think about the rise of synthetic data? How does this change the landscape?
4.) What are Alex’s biggest lessons on what it takes to hire incredible people before you are a hot company? How does Alex determine whether someone has the right risk profile and desire to work in a startup? What questions reveal that? Where does Alex believe that many go wrong in the early days of hiring? What would he do differently now?
5.) For the $100m Series C, how did the round come together? What did the process look like? How did this round compare to the other rounds? How does Alex think about and approach the element of investor selection? How can founders build relationships with investors in these hyper-compressed fundraising timelines? What have been Alex’s biggest lessons when it comes to CEO growth and then also board management?