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Dissecting the B2B and B2C Models(Notes from April 29 to May 5) May 23, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Automation, Digital, education, experience, finance, Founders, Hiring, questions, social, Strategy, training, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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Here we see a few longer episodes to discuss investing into different biz models. I listened to a collection of founders that started funds, did a bunch of investing, bet on themselves, worked hard and ultimately caught a few breaks in spaces that were extremely unconventional and some that weren’t.

Keith Rabois – if you don’t know who he is, I’d strongly suggest looking up some of his work – went over the differences he sees as an operator compared to being an investor. What do you want to focus on in each position and what competitors to focus on.
David Frankel is another current MP who started by building and exiting his own companies. His discussion focused on how he tries to align founders and investors at the early stages of start-ups – how he frames this to be most productive. His secret though: following the founders, themselves, and trusting they have ideas that can carry ideas.
Another MP at Founder Collective is Eric Paley – though he came from the biotech space before joining.

Amy Frederickson was a fantastic listen on the Business Radio channel. Taking second hand, vintage items and giving access to others who see beauty in them. She connects contractors in upholstery and sourcing furniture that may not be seen for what it could be and connects them with those that may have great use. I’ve heard similar stories to this being done in the second-hand space like boutiques or even goodwill – connecting foot-traffic-primary stores to the internet and allowing everyone a chance at these creative, hand-picked items.

Angela Bassa was on DataFramed talking about her managerial experience in the exploding data science field (and before). How she’s had to adapt, how she treats peers and effectively communicates – all very useful in discussion of solving the right problems in an organization.
This was a great segue for me into another a16z episode on decision-making. How to ask the right questions and ensure you get a sufficient answer. Mining the proper data for it and turn those into insights.

To finish up and not make the intro super long – I kept notes on a few other investment managers and the differences in strategies for different clients, investors and the framework for posing performance in the right light.

I hope you enjoy the notes and please check out everyone’s episodes!

  • Keith Rabois (@rabois), Inv Partner at Khosla Ventures – If You Can’t Sell Them, Compete With Them (Invest Like The Best – 12/18/18)
    investors-khosla

    • Investor, entrepreneur at Paypal, Square – investments in AirBnB & Palantir, Opendoor
    • Paul Graham’s “Clients too stuck in their ways, compete with them” – when a person doesn’t want to take advantage of tech
      • Creating money, vertically-integrated business – build the platform (adoption risk, sales cycles, economic issues for being reliable on others)
        • Provide end product to customers
      • Quintessential example as Apple – control component to create user experience – derivative product doesn’t control own fate
    • 7 Powers – book for strategic leverage
    • Irrational for the 2 guys in the garage – has to be unexpected reaction to market, team, etc — but can’t take over from scratch by following ‘playbook’
      • He’s in the business for investing in a top 100 company
      • Strategic leverage should be that the accumulated advantage should be easier – skill / talent ability normally degrades
      • Anomalies give you insight into a paradigm shift (can’t get 10x growth from UI, etc…) – end of why questions should be incrementalism
    • Secret is a belief system about the world that others don’t appreciate it – time determines if it’s true or false
    • Home as primary home as more a commodity than an art – touch/feel. Not works of art.
      • Focuses on digital health, where data is abundant. Network effect there.
      • References – take Opendoor – could make an offer for house that’s fair but you’d be uncertain with money or closing on time
        • Knowing people will make the credibility factor easier – trust matters by vertical/industry
    • Paypal had a $100k guarantee for the $ – partnered with Traveler’s Insurance as trusted brand, and used FDIC for insurance up to $100k
    • Healthcare costs ex-LASIK seem to be going up – mediated through payers (ins co’s)
      • Can improve UX, reduce cost and improve quality at same time with technology enabled – Guardant Health with liquid biopsy
        • Made it significantly cheaper to get biopsy results
    • Giving founders feedback on what they’re doing – how are they liking what they’re doing
      • As an operator, needs to make a 70% conviction and decision (as an investor, he needs to be in the 10-50% suggestions)
      • Assessment of talent is similar and understanding tradeoffs may be both of operator/investor
      • Risk profiles are different – understanding as operator where the strategy changes over time for the company (investor may be 0x to 10x)
      • Investor gets paid to learn new things, try new things – much more like baseball
        • Operator, conversely, may be like football where you should try things but need buy-in from others with your team
    • Lean start-up as stupid idea – cohesive strong strategy that can be done with less capital
      • Product-market fit isn’t required for validating fixing an idea / postulation (fat start-up – $10mil to fix real estate, for instance)
    • Steve Jobs mentioning saying No to good ideas (10% ideas) vs the 10x ideas – need experiment to get to that capability
      • Bad ideas in venture: lots of failures – 30% in baseball is good
      • Why does nobody emulate Apple or other successful companies do? Avoid the failure mentality.
        • Obsession about design and practical thinking – not empirical thinking. Book: Creative Selection
    • Interview question:
      • If you are a product, how would you describe your value proposition? – initially had product instincts – wasn’t world class, but knew business
    • Founders want to affect the real world – computer was escapist initially, but now it’s a controller for the real world
      • New capabilities / opportunities, lots of people leverage that for positive behavior, so now he says there are more ‘hard science’ innovation
        • Healthcare, biotech, autonomous, etc…
      • Early stage, pricing matters less because you just need to be correct directionally for the company, not so much off
        • How much, though, is risked by industries or risk/reward – what’s on table?
        • Later stage matters more for balancing portfolio.
    • Learning through osmosis with someone that’s very smart
      • Calling people to get feedback on certain ventures based on other talented people’s responses
    • Is there high-growth startup ex that hit escape velocity that a large competitor has beat?
      • Being paranoid is smart, but focused and talented team will out-execute a large entity
    • Narrative violations – common being fake news – average American is more informed than any other American in history
      • Average American is more informed than any other person in history, by orders of magnitude
      • Interesting question: given the resources, is the person smarter or dumber than what they used to be? Voter more/less informed?
        • Accessibility to products is so abundant now – anyone can Google or find other information
          • Definitely true in the US, maybe harder for other areas in world
      • Platforms are now more democratic versions of printing presses
    • Different components to acquiring and learning skills (athletes as needing to do, guitar probably playing songs, surgeon both reading/dexterity)
    • Most investors forget the lessons of strategy, he thinks – differentiation is your friend (mentions YC as having different mentality, economics)
      • Not much pioneering at VC level – Horowitz (and his autobio) initially, but not much innovation since – Khosla, Lux as vertical integration, maybe
      • Midlevel manager of engineering can be efficient from recruiting standpoint – what level you’re at, where you can pick from 350 companies (to 10)
    • Upside of Stress – book that’s very important, he believes — more stress and tolerating it is how you can be more successful
    • Things that stick with him – how they remember how others impacted him or vice versa, little things
      • Cascading of good/inspiration & how it changed trajectory – rewarding
  • David Frankel (@dafrankel), MP at Founder Collective (20min VC 088)
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    • Founder, CEO of Internet Solutions (ISP provider in Africa) then became a super angel
    • Founded FC with his partners for seed stage investing
    • Graduated 1992 in Elec Eng undergrad – IS acquired eventually for $3bn in mid-90s
      • Was doing ventures with FCF, made many huge mistakes, he said and remained on Board for acquiring co
      • Went to HBS – hated first 3 months but then graduated in 1993 – b2banking, b2consulting (jokingly) – but met a ton of great people
      • With capital, could back almost all of his classmates starting (first or entire checks) – had 27 companies after graduating
    • Challenge for FC was to ask how to institutionalize seed stage investing?
      • Not a lifecycle fund, just seed stage – may follow in Series A (not as lead), but hadn’t through the first stage
      • Wanted to create most aligned fund with founders – not net buyer when company is net seller
      • Believe they can make the most difference up front but not as they go forward
        • Who can be first hires? Management team gelling?
        • 2 years in, he says, they become much less useful – happy to be on board or pull off
    • Working with Chris (over at a16z) – says it’s a waste of time to look at incremental
      • Chris pitched 2 ideas before Site Advisor
    • For people not in the network – David loves hanging out with people and is very curious
      • People default to what we love doing – have to enjoy hanging out with them
    • Invested in Uber but he didn’t know in a million years how that would have been predicted on what they did
      • In the moment – Groupon just completed $5bn round and they were invested
        • Was excited about a competitor in Korea as he liked the founder, even though he believed it was “house of cards” industry
    • Comparing engineering student to business school – eng 1 in 1000 idea is Facebook, but volatility very high – business school lower volatility
    • Term Sheet as read blog, uses Twitter / TweetDeck to curate lists
    • Typically anti-sector because he follows founders moreso than industry specifically
    • East Coast vs West Coast (center of universe) – output of talent from Boston and east coast is different
      • Depends on types of company (consumer / mobile is Bay Area-centric) – Boston good for tech/biotech
    • One of favorite portfolio companies-PillPack in disrupting pharmacy & something simple
  • Amy Frederickson, Founder of Revitaliste (Wharton XM)
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    • Vintage furniture in interior design space – making it very simple to reupholster or otherwise refinish furniture
    • Discussion of her partners on the furniture side – volume doesn’t necessarily make it better if they can’t do more work / spend more hours
      • Limitations that she’s had to be careful – try to change mindset and buoy them
  • Eric Paley (@epaley), MP at Founder Collective (20min VC 089)
    • CEO, co-founder at Brontes Tech before acquisition by 3M for $95mil
    • Started a web developer company with brother and cousin in 1990s, had a bunch of startup clients and others that weren’t
      • Abstract Edge – still run by brother/cousin, but when the dotcom bust happened, sees overconfidence
      • Bad times – may learn better – he wanted to go to biz school & learned a ton
      • Looked at 3D imagery while in business school thru MIT partnership – interesting and looked at the space – had to ask “What to do with it?”
        • Facial recognition, industrial inspection, endoscopy, video games, etc…
        • Late in game, struggled with money raising and decided to look at dentistry (mass customization – every orthodontic device as singular/unique manufacturing, dental impression but if you could change this, you could have a lot)
    • First investor was David Frankel (from before – $500k into Brontes)
      • David calling and say “Thought the founder liked me but would you mind doing reference call with them?”
      • “Can you sit down with the entrepreneur and let me know what you think? – I’m out of town for 2 months in South Africa, so I trust you.”
      • Started to look for deal flow for David while he was out – with the other guys
    • As he was looking at leaving 3M, he was talking to venture companies and saw that top quartile VC’s didn’t feel like they were doing as well as they had
      • Came together with the 4 partners and should start a fund – underlying premise with better alignment at seed stage
      • Pro rata doesn’t align founder to venture – founders don’t get the option if they’re not doing well
        • Dollar average up cost-basis vs down. $8, 10, 15 million valuation vs $30, 50 or 100 million – but it’s more along the average dollar
          • Weighted later with pro rata investing
    • Believes there are plenty of seed funds that are doing well, but he’s surprised by the limited amount of funds that stick to seed stage
      • Conventional wisdom / FOMO for lifecycle / follow-ons
      • They have 3 unicorns at that time as well as a lot of good returns outside of that
    • Fooled By Randomness – NNT book as his favorite applicable to VC, frameworks for tilting the probability
    • Founder role model for him – said he was lucky to have Kelsey Worth, founder of Invisalign ($1bn company in 5 years)
      • She was on the board, would come out a day a month and help him out – dive deep and give an opinion without being dogmatic
    • Mentioned a recent investment as Cuvee – attempting to increase wine storage / pourability to 30 days
  • Angela Bassa, Director of D/S at iRobot (DataFramed #48 11/12/2018)
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    • Managing D/S Teams and how to organize development of algorithms and the processes
    • Corporate business organization of data science teams vs packaging and product building or open source work – known for more of that
    • Undergrad in Math, went to Wall Street after – got a lot of data analysis in the market, wasn’t a match for her ~15 years ago
      • Then went to strategy consulting – focused on pharmaceutical strategy, testing and experiment analysis
      • Went to marketing services industry – finally saw big data – (no longer any single machine work)
    • Talked about excelling as an individual contributor and moving to management as a different discipline in itself
      • First person she managed: quit the first day, had been a PhD graduate and assumed he was working with her, not for? (What a prick?)
    • Worked with teams in ops, finance, IT, engineering, R&D, etc…
      • Re-orgs for data science portion – always changing branches
      • If data science isn’t the product, within legacy/corporation, the team needs time to figure out the objective of the organization
        • Get past exploration and become experts
        • Her take on managers would be that they create space (o-line) for individual contributors to do their work as quarterbacks
    • As teams grow in size over time (using her experience as Manager and Director from ground up), potential vs low-hanging fruit
      • High visibility and high sophistication to give a leg up on what could be possible for the organization – low-hanging fruit is easy
      • Starting data science team have generalists but very good to mature into a better team, specialization
    • Humility for data scientists – avoiding the correlation factors that you build from gathering and going through data initially
      • What kind of questions should be answered?
    • Parts of data science that you can’t teach – how vs wanting to answer questions
      • Certain bootcamps are worthy of what they teach, organize – mentioned universities as not having programs until recently
        • Mentioned a team member trained initially as marine biologist – traveled and researched pods of dolphins
          • Modeling expertise for a fleet of robots as operating independently and together
    • Harder for C-suite to not be able to talk data in the strategy sessions for decision making
      • Common pitfalls of manager:
        • Data team doesn’t know how the data is gathered or where all it’s coming from
          • Have a data party or something to organize the data creation, designed, labeled, and stored
        • Not overpromising or underpromising
          • Lend credibility to actual outcome – being honest, transparent with other disciplines to interrogate situations
    • Her paper for HBR – Managing Data Science for AI
  • The Future of Decision-Making (a16z May 1, 2019)
    • Frank Chen and Jad Naous (via YT initially) of Enterprise Investing team
    • Digital transformation where industries are shifting to this design
      • Changing from manual to automated, digital processes and more agile
      • People’s roles will start to shift around – demand for new tools and dynamics for who wins in spaces
    • Product management – features or bugs would have been surveys manually or collecting data to figure out problem and sort them all
      • Now, the tools automate these from the product itself, often – now they can look at the dashboard of numbers
    • Marketing side: Growth hacking and market engineering – low cost to increase growth in certain parts of customer segments
      • Decision-making and creative work is the human part that can’t get automated
      • More people in the middle of the enterprise are becoming analysts – BI tools aren’t going to be enough
    • Types of tools should be operational tools that give answers to questions that they need immediately
      • Where is the bottleneck in the funnel? How to eliminate?
      • Competitor is having a flash sale – how much revenue is impacted or what segment should I target?
      • Generally, analysts would have to spend time and $ to get an answer (“$10mil to get a report that you didn’t need in the first place.”)
      • A/B test has to be continually monitored
    • Jad worked at AppDynamics – one of easiest things to sell is Performance Monitoring Tools – prevent systems from going down
      • Harder to prove ROI to other orgs – sales, marketing if they need continual results / ongoing
      • Want to have self-service tools vs full-service from someone else
      • Not analysts but instead the functional operational people – marketer, growth hacker, product manager, business people
    • AirBnB already open sourced SuperSet – ad-hoc access to data for results, used by 100s co’s – presentation layer product toward technical
      • Imply (one of his investments) for analytics and processing layer – store streaming data into database and do the analytics / presentations
      • DataBricks – processing layer
      • ETL layer is the one that has not gotten traction – domain specificity (healthcare vs ride-sharing or finance)
        • Currently too much integration issues and organizing
    • 3 categories – operational intelligence – sell tools for incumbents to enable intelligence
      • Target csm or sales or product manager (crowded currently, hardest to win)
      • Segment-focused vendors – sensors and analytics to oil & gas companies, for instance
        • Vertical solutions for industry
      • Vertically-integrated, operational intelligent company that competes against incumbents – Lyft / Uber, AirBnb, etc…
        • Biggest value but hardest
    • Non-IT buyers: Grocery, Construction, Oil & Gas – operationally efficient and commoditized as long-standing business
      • Minimal change in efficiency can be a huge value (Costco at $12.5bn ’17 on 11% margin)
      • Capital deploy for Exxon Mobile ($230bn capital invested, ROIC 9.5%)
    • Particularly excited by SuperSet, Imply – infrastructure tools – people seeing analytics and tools as necessary for business
      • Software vendors into large, existing industries – hardest would be economic profiles will be very different
      • Selling into stagnant markets (minimal margin) and not used to new tech – cycles will be long
        • Huge businesses to get in
      • Need to educate/prep investors – really bright light at end of tunnel
      • Need to become experts and trusted advisors in the domain
      • Help with software and services in the industries
  • Josh Wolfe (@joshwolfe), founder/MP at Lux Capital – Tech Imperative (Invest Like Best, 4/23/2019)
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    • Tackling massive scale problems – China as infrastructure power vs the states
      • State or story-sponsored role becomes more powerful with internet-enabling
    • Checklist of 5 main things (Xander of GoPro, now SurveyMonkey)
      1. Nail down the strategy of company – what are you going to do?
      2. Deliver capital to pursue strategy – clear, cohesive and sell
      3. Brilliant team to execute, drop others to start mission.
      4. Communicate the hell out of it – partners, competitors, media, press – keep consistent answer.
      5. Hold people accountable – if people aren’t and the goals aren’t clear, not effective organization.
    • Story – memorable, easy to repeat, conveys meaning in a clever way
      • Want to elicit an emotional reaction – putting meaning in a story for an individual
      • Portable ideas as superpowers – leaders being able to harness this, or the audience (maybe of the shared values)
        • How to aggregate the ideas
    • Abundance of liquidity to illiquidity or leverage (eg $200mln check in growth-equity round at $1bn (from $100mln) but if down-round, then the check has a big stake in it as creditors)
      • LPs and endowments are overextended – he’s telling people to look at secondaries, not venture
      • Sequoia was appealing to greed – sop it up and have to write bigger and bigger checks (get a big fund and put to work)
        • SoftBank as big problem pricing up rounds – either visionaries or producing paper assets as collateral against debt
        • Tesla as horrible balance sheet and illiquidity
    • Zoom doesn’t need to need a big business, but Uber/Lyft depends on strangers and investors to buy in to future
    • TurboChef (fast like a microwave but toasty like toaster) – Subway vs Quizno for $4k ovens
      • Sell to Subway – 20k places for purchase orders – but they got Coca Cola to buy the contracts for Subway in exchange for them to be in the stores
      • LatchAccess (one of his co’s) – remote by cloud from phone to consumer
        • New build and buildings (now 1 in 10) – did contract with WalMart / Jet
    • Some firms get lucky and parlay it into success – maybe wrong in process
      • What was process? Where did you get lucky? Where were you smart? How did you structure deal?
        • Benefit you, founders, investors
      • Price vs intrinsic value – public doesn’t do this, but path-dependent in portfolio (repeat entrepreneurs)
        • Team vs sole GPs – total equal partnerships and all mixes
        • Portfolio mix, super early stage, low probability of high financing risk
        • Others who are good at metrics / business, growth metrics
        • Subsector – fintech, crypto, etc… as experts
    • Tribes with a mantra
      • “Life sucks” – gangs, people homeless
      • “My life sucks” – 9-5 and get home and just crack a beer and grow for that
      • Like what they do – “I’m great, you’re not” – silo information, zero-sum and leave as free agents
      • Lux as “We’re great, they’re not” – robbers cave – how to get people to bond vs competitor / enemy
        • Sometimes it’s an entity – exogenous threat, devil – big oil, martians
      • Ultimate “Life is great” – mission driven, maybe Google / Facebook initially – cause/effect of money
        • Still climbing mountain, goal to reach – complacency maybe
    • Judgment: should we be disciplined about price?
      • Andreesen said only 10 good companies but you want to be in each one – but there are 1000s of decisions to be made
        • Pay any price for the ‘best’ or be discriminated – lead to FOMO and price action
        • Mentioned Cruz and setting up GM deal ($20mil at $60post vs $20mil at $80post, but GM came in and paid 11x)
      • In private markets, if you rejected them, you don’t get another chance.
    • Values: observable around morality (tech around morality and morality around tech)
      • Existence of an option is a good thing – military as a hot topic, tech as both sides affected
        • Had invested in Palantir offshoot for virtual wall for Homeland – has lots of immigrants who were deeply affected
      • Drone options or even autonomous driving (say, those who die as organ donors for the donor list)
      • Compares China’s pipeline from government to technology – decisive advantage will let them be ascendant
        • Moral discussions slow this down – barriers to experimentation
      • Real value of CRISPR isn’t the feature, but what it leads to in the platforms (ex: X-Men / Cerebro – Variant for rare populations)
        • 23andMe and Ancestry as targeting the ‘boring populations’ vs what they’re doing
          • 1000 individuals for rare conditions that have a metabolic rate that raises in the evening – what if this was monogenic / targetable?
    • Sci-fi vs Sci-fact as narrowing — ‘it will rot your brain’ as doing the next $10bn+ industry
      • Mentions engineers and Fred Moul (founder of Intuitive Surgical) starting Orace – just betting on him to recruit the right people
        • $8mn at $20mln valuation – for 5 years $90mln forecast and $450mln – then got a bunch of investment)
          • Exit for 63x for $6bn to J&J – completely flawed process on an order of magnitude
    • Directional arrows of progress if spotted increases probability of success on subsector
      • Lighting: burning flame -> bulb -> led; memory, energy density
      • Talked about Calliopa – he wanted to focus on gut-brain access – taste / sugar receptors (Charles as Chilean professor at Columbia)
        • Half-life of tech: 50 years ago, 25 years ago personal computer, 12.5 years ago laptop, 6.25 years phone, 3.5 iwatch, 1.5 airpods
          • More intimate over half-life and improved
        • Had to meet “Rearden” – “I can get rid of that” – Bill Gates’ right hand guy, polymath, PhD neuroscience after undergrad as Classics/Latin
          • Put on wrist strap that could detect 15k neurons that innervate the 15 muscles in your hand – perfectly model this
            • Can control it just by thinking of turning on whatever you’re speaking of
          • We don’t have input problem – we have output problem — too linear
            • Series A and Google/Amazon invested $30mln – want to sell after maximum value
      • Do you find companies that touch near the directional arrows?
        • Don’t need to implant in brain, can read the neurons – 5 years ago you didn’t have everything that was required – power, IoT
    • Moral imperative to invent technology, instruments to invent genius – encounter the technology that eventually inspires others
      • Losing touch with humanity – where is the song after sung? Find way to reduce human suffering.
    • Are there enough entrepreneurs in real technology frontiers? Is vs ought (jokes about competition)?
    • If you can spot “What sucks?” – can you discover something “Wait, what?”
      • 100mln mice – can’t you put sensors/automation for this?
      • Document storage (Mushroom vs atomic storage, not REIT for storing docs) – banker data, scan them – IronMountain can’t do it
      • Entropy information – he gets more optionality by giving information, but death of privacy is coming with convenience
        • Mentioned graphic novelist “Why the Last Man?”, side one called “The Private Eye” about everyone being surveilled – wearing masks
        • Socially and personal privacy is a losing battle but industrial side makes sense
        • Mentions blockchain for voracity – Banksy for private store (analog), authenticity
    • Special operations spending time for 2 weeks – Asia: Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan
      • Coalitions forces, training, sniper, subsea, Seals, cutting edge tech – able to look at things for laser targeting
        • He was there for “What sucks?” – humbled by voracity, proud by the intelligence and what he could do and who he was with
      • Optical signals for those that get through program are the opposite of the big guys – stunning, talented, quietness “stoic intensity”
  • Ayan Mitra, Founder, CEO at CODE Investing (formerly Crowdbnk) (20min VC 089)
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    • Enterprise architect and tech mgr, worked with M&S, Orange, and First Direct
    • Software eng by trade, started in mid 1990s and built internet framing for Bank Offers Direct
    • Was in NY when Kickstarter kicked off in 2010, and saw the regulation was ready for this type of investing
      • Made the concept popular, regulated funding, or Kiva-type – early stage investing is a lot more popular in Europe/UK
      • JOBS Act as regulation freedom for positive step for alternative financing
    • Wave of changes where technology is being brought on the systems and the benefit goes to the investors and markets
      • Quick and transparent – believes it would’ve happened regardless
    • Crowdbnk – reactively do due diligence, price and valuations – invest alongside with investors on their platform
      • Look to raise growth capital for equity and debt – not a pure platform/marketplace
      • Minimum / maximum – equity looking for $500k – 2mln pounds, debt – secured/asset-backed $1ml – $5mil
        • Investors – $10k pounds a year to be diversified and properly investing
    • Valuation class by Ashwin (NYC) – intrinsic valuation (creating, discounted by time and risk) or momentum valuations (price willing to pay)
      • VC could benefit from diversifying investment base – early round by Index recently
    • In crowdfunding, consumer brands may have an easier time going down crowdfunding pick
      • Harder for others to understand some of other sectors / SaaS, for instance
    • Debt funding is #168bn and growing, but small compared to financial services
    • Drawing attention as a focus over time, consumer behavior changes
      • By being more efficient, they can return value to investors and people on the platform
    • Book mentioned: Intelligent Investor – Ben Graham
      • Seth Godin’s blog
    • War chest vs planned capital injections – not a binary answer (eg: compete against Uber – good luck without war chest; tech-enabled services)
    • Funded a company called Breezy – simplifies user interface for older generation, potentially – team/value and invested by US VC’s
  • Andrew Hohns, President, CEO of Mariner Infrastructure Investment Management (Wharton XM)
    • Conceptualized and founded IIFC Strategy as part of his dissertation at Penn
      • Funding gap in project finance to address world’s infrastructure needs
        • Talked about growing projects in Africa, India and others
    • Started a fund as he finished school – raised $500mln for capital projects
      • Including a $1bn transaction with African Development Bank completed with multilateral bank and private investors
        • Provided approx $650mln in additional lending capacity
      • Credit Agricole in 2017 that was “biggest impact investing deal yet” by Financial Times to allow an extra $2bn of funding toward green projects
    • Managing the originations networks for funds with relationships with many global financial institutions
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Brands, Strategy and Consumer Spend (Notes from March 11 – 17, 2019) April 3, 2019

Posted by Anthony in Digital, experience, finance, Founders, global, Hiring, questions, Strategy, Uncategorized, WomenInWork.
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For this week, I wanted to reach outside of my usual Wharton/Business XM channels and the typical 20min VC, so I dove into Discussions in Digital, which is a podcast done by McKinsey & Company, focused on sales and marketing in the digital space. What happened for the week, then, was a convergence on marketing strategy and the pull from physical stores to online media. We’ve seen considerable growth of digitalisation across a bunch of different industries, so the collection and reading through the notes helps to shed light on how different companies are engaging this through the 2010s and beyond.

However, we start with none of those, and I wanted to highlight her work. Christine Heckart, who recently became CEO of Scalyr, has been an expert in the technology space since her childhood around her father but more importantly, as a veteran of Microsoft, Juniper Networks, Cisco, and Netapp. She went into depth on what it means to be a master operator in the tech space as well as how she has managed being a new executive in an established company, which can often be a perilous position.

  • Christine Heckart, CEO of Scalyr (Bay Area Ventures, Wharton XM)
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    • 2016 Woman of Influence by SV Business Journal
    • Talked about always being the lone woman in an industry of tech and general – always curious
    • Acts on BoDs for Lam Research and 6sense
    • Building the team at Scalyr, sitting and watching when she first replaced the founder to establish some trust
      • Not breaking things immediately, but gathering information and having the strategy
      • Her responsibility to have the vision, make the strategy and execute it all within the culture of the company
    • Previously with Microsoft, Juniper Networks, Cisco and NetApp
  • Discussion with the Marketing Matters professors
    • Talking about how Target and Walmart have been killing it again (Target french)
      • Physical locations, where they have operational excellence
    • DNVB (digital native vertical brand?) that opens a showroom/store to much success
      • Can have people try items, feel them and get a sense before placing an order online or in store
        • Have it delivered very quickly
    • Cannibalism of Gap / Old Navy on market
      • What’s the difference? Old Navy was hip and cool, initially.
      • Now, Gap is just more expensive Old Navy or vice versa
      • Releasing them as new brands (Gap/Old Navy / Banana Republic, etc…)
  • Reimagining CX in Mobile Age (Discussions in Digital, 6/28/2016)
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    • McKinsey’s Brian Gregg, Michael Jones (RetailMeNot), Mahin Samadini (McK DL), Dianne Esber (McK), Mark Philips (McK)
    • Radio 38 years to reach 50mil people, tv – 13 yrs, twitter 9 months, Google+ 88 days
    • Mobile as a phone or what? Transforming experience and every industry – beauty, connectivity and in both B2B and B2C
      • Mark was at Candy Crush – how do you understand users? Not maximized yet.
        • How to construct the journey through the product – mapped out the customer journey
        • Did a lot of pre-curation depending on IP, time of device and other numbers for the apps (before even using)
    • Can start to see that people plan shopping earlier – if outside of geofence (home, elsewhere) and look where they want to shop
      • Partners can see – RetailMeNot – when they want to shop
      • “Snacking” – personalized commerce, faster and easier to buy – more you frequently purchase
        • Reiterated by Candy Crush (90sec, even, with female demographic – put kids to bed and on way to bed or wherever)
    • 80% of transactions by 2020 will still be in physical locations in the US – 80-90% will probably be researched prior to entering store
      • This number is a bit high – it’s closer to 70%?
      • Seamless vs “Elegant seams” – customer knows where the difference is between channels
      • Mobile is still conversion-based, whereas people are commitment-phobes, so they want an experience
    • Went to RetailWest in Palm Springs – a CEO had a kid who took a picture of shoes that he could make
      • Posted on Instagram, saw how many likes
      • Eventually bought the shoes, got likes, etc…
      • Friends asked him about where he got them and he ended up building that ecosystem (but it’s not just shoes, it’s everything)
    • Toothbrush industry – how do you tell people to get a new one?
      • In 1980s, created an indicator bristle to tell customers to buy a new one based on the data
      • “What’s your indicator bristle?”
    • Existing companies out there – reality for mobile being a thriving way out
      • No singular model anymore
    • Stepping stone to AI: messaging / chat – voice – AI
    • Enabled physical world with digital (gift card originally with Apple and could take a picture and get it into iTunes)
      • Talked about OpenTable reservations – expected to have it, otherwise painful
  • How Strategy is Evolving / Staying in the Hypergrowth Digital World (Discussion in Digital, 1/18/17)
    • B. Gregg, Jacques Pommeraud (fmr Salesforce), Jon Weinberg (Sephora), Dianne Esber
    • Still a role for 3 year vision?
      • Yes – any company, any phase for what you’re shooting for.
      • Strategy could be an annual process with execs getting together – not likely going to work. Needs to be more often.
    • Sometimes smaller companies don’t see the need – how do we get bigger companies to do the vision quicker?
      • Bigger/broader vision (eg geographic expansion) hard to get passed out to the company as you get larger
      • Value of strategy comes from mobilizing the strategy
    • Architecting the strategy – has to be crisp enough to make pivots without issues, consistent framework
    • At Salesforce, what matters is customer trust, then customer success
      • V2MOM – vision, values, methods, obstacles and measures
        • Vision helps define what to do, values establish the most important
          • Customer trust / success
        • Goes down all the way in the company via a memo, accessible for everyone
      • With Facebook, used example of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Have hard conversations.”
    • At Sephora, rapid expansion – how do you continue to fuel the growth? Client-centric ideas, but how do you support it?
    • Is there a role of strategy to recruit?
      • Culture of leadership – used example of sciences like data scientist / VR value and what talents can help any company
      • Need app developed, whether it’s Bird or GE or Sephora, have to bring in people to work
    • At Salesforce – Jeffrey Moore has the 2×2 matrix for 4 zones
      • Efficiency zone (non-core activities: SG&A, support), Performance zone (core biz: 80%, execution)
        Innovation (lab, test – few things to try – new biz, products), Transformation (performance hopefuls)
      • In tech – birth of AWS – complete leader and supply chain
        • Siemens – institution-based, machines/phones/manufacturing and now high-tech medical instruments and big data
          • Data lakes, analytics and data-providing
    • Ultimate investment in next 3-5 years: People, data curation (either over-investing in tools that don’t need) or army of people (same problem)
      • No difference between retailer and tech or other companies
      • Personalize experience, data, customers
  • David Zhao? Baidu (Mastering Innovation, WhartonXM) – same day as ThumbTack march 14
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    • Talked about AI in cars (from SF Bay Area)
    • Ford’s “Faster horses” comment compared to just building the cars
      • Infrastructure came next – roads, highways
    • Initial autonomous thought sensors would have to be everywhere, infrastructure improved
      • Autonomous and sensors started taking hold once prices came down and placed into cars
    • Didn’t have a great guess – but 10 years, and he wasn’t sure how
    • Said a confidence interval would place the number of miles needed at 4 billion miles (and they’re at 800k?), 5000x necessary for Autonomous ‘comfort’
  • Michele Gelfand, author of Rule Makers, Rule Breakers (Wharton XM)
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    • How tight and loose cultures wire our world
    • Establishing relationships based on being tight / loose – none of us are across the board
      • Different tendencies – clean / neat, on-time, etc…
      • Working looseness or tight
  • Allbirds Co-Founders Tim and Joey (Built Product, Wharton XM)
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    • Talked about the business strategies they’ve had to employ, learn
    • Shoe laces that were excellent but cost too much
    • Having different soles that were 3x in cost, carbon 0
  • Adam Pritzker (@adampritzker), Chairman & CEO Assembled Brands (20min VC, 3/15/19)
    • Working capital and financial services, along with cofounder of General Assembly
      • Forbes 30 under 30, VF, amid others
    • Many in his family are entrepreneurs, so he felt it naturally
      • Empowering entrepreneurs – GA develop digital, and with Assembled Brands – products and goods
    • Optimistic about retail
      • Consumer spend much higher, and retail is closing faster – closes > openings
      • 90 of the top 100 brands lost market share (which means others are growing quickly, smaller / emerging brands)
      • Khait (partnered with a founder), and was able to look at the data in order to get a capital infusion for d2c side
    • Could map out the value chains
      • Incubated, operated emerging mobile-first, built distribution, developed creative content, financial p&a, benchmark and underwriting
      • Exists before vs exists today – as they re-platform retail, financing brands can be done differently
      • Traditional: purchase order would be collateral for bank but now buyers are individuals (banks and factories can’t underwrite this effectively)
    • One brand as brilliant vs another category not working
      • Very few SKUs and strategy can underprice incumbent by selling direct to consumers (mattresses, eyewear, razors, etc… as exception)
      • Adding channels adds complexity
        • Online/offline, direct/wholesale
        • Technologies for attending to business Shopify, Google Analytics, HubSpot
        • Creative/Quantitative marketing and product dev / manufacturing all to coordinate
    • Providing the network of founders and capital based on some of that data
    • Bigger problem isn’t price, it’s finding customer value wrong
      • Happens often where costs change or aren’t understood
        • Too many SKUs, optimization of prices around products
    • Saturation of marketing channels
      • Founders don’t realize that they can get to $30mln and cut growing to just get to profit
        • Safely growing, cutting can be analyzed – if costs remain the same but revenue squeezes, or dips
      • Instagram is the new QVC (best leveraging for social discovery)
        • Instagram empowers the content organically – ex of Halo Top
    • Fundraising infrastructure as broken – said it’s getting better
      • Old: Made samples, showed to stores, got purchase orders, use them as collateral for $ from bank, made goods and sold in store
      • New: Software and systems need to get streamlined to make it easier as the channels have gotten more complex
    • Niche exits more often than big ones
      • 70-80% ownership of the company vs multiple rounds and only 5% – can be similar exits if capitalized properly
    • Coddling of American Mind & Upside of Stress (Strive to be antifragile and to invite stress, fragility) as books
    • Design / brand that he likes: Uhuru Design, founded in 2004 in high-end furniture, contract division built out over time (d2c to enterprise)
    • Scarcity of financing and benchmarks, no IRL community for physical goods
    • Organic referral and repeat purchases (always delighting customers should be great way for a virtuous cycle)

Great Humans – Steve Jobs? Quora responds March 22, 2016

Posted by Anthony in experience, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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There was a fascinating Quora question posed about where you would rate Steve Jobs on a scale of 1-10 of the greatest humans ever. Steve Jobs – not greatest human ever – Quora for the read. There were some fascinating comments that usually comprised of two parts: a) Steve Jobs is nowhere near the list for greatest humans ever (probably much to the chagrin of millennials and those who only know Apple), and b) there is likely a “small encyclopedia” of people ahead of him on the list, depending on how you may rate a ‘great human’.

In no particular order, persons who were brought up that stood out for me from the comments in the article:

  • Gandhi – who freed a nation by protesting peacefully, costing him his life
  • Stanislav Petrov – for urging incoming missile signals were the result of a systems error and refusing to fire retaliatory Soviet nuclear strikes, at the cost of his career.
  • Jonas Salk – creator of the polio vaccine who promptly gave it away instead of patenting and profiting (biotechs, do you read this?)
  • Florence Nightingale – who pushed tirelessly for improved health standards and ushered the move toward modern nursing

Steve Jobs seems to have been an excellent entrepreneur in not taking no as an answer and pushing his vision forward. He built up the company by being an excellent salesmen while extracting the best from his top engineers. Likely a bit on the cutthroat side, and clearly was a master businessman. He had his negatives (I believe ‘caged safety’ vs ‘risky freedom’ was a description of the Chinese Apple conditions).

Each individual has their own unique skill set. One can only hope that we are able to figure out that passion and able to work through our strengths. To progress humanity, that strength may come at some cost to the individual. But therein lies the selflessness.

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