Christa Quarles is the CEO @ Corel Corporation, building software solutions that simplify the task journey for knowledge workers. Prior to Corel, Christa spent close to 4 years as CEO @ Opendoor, driving a chapter of transformational change for the company. Before Opendoor, Christa was Chief Business Officer @ NextDoor, and finally pre-NextDoor, Christa spent 4 years at The Walt Disney Company where she led Disney Interactive to profitability as Senior Vice President, Interactive Games. If that was not enough, Christa is also on the board of Affirm and Kimberly Clark.
1.) How Christa made her way into the world of startups having spent close to 10 years in investment banking? What were the biggest takeaways from her time at Walt Disney? How did her 3 years as CEO @ Opentable impact how she approaches leadership today?
2.) Company Breakpoints: What are the different breakpoints in the scaling of companies? When did this start to happen at Opendoor? How does decision-making need to change with scale? How can leaders ensure teams feel safe to be the most ambitious they can be? In what ways can leaders create environments of safety for them to be their best selves?
3.) The Role of the CEO: What decisions can only the CEO make? How can leaders determine when a C-Suite hire is a stretch too far? How has Christa's board membership on other boards changed how she runs her board today? Given a board's limited information, how can leaders extract the most out of them?
4.) "Operating is a Full Contact Sport": When has Christa found operating and leading the hardest? When faced with hard times, how does she push through them? How does Christa advise leaders on the challenges of their own scaling process? Where do many make mistakes in their own scaling? What is a "stuck state" and why is it the worst state to be in?
5.) Team Building and Trust: How does Christa approach trust today? Does she start from a position of being fully trusting or not trusting and there to be gained? What is Christa's favourite interview question to ask? In what way does Christa believe truly special candidates represent their passions in interviews?
Christa’s Favourite Book: Caste, The International Bestseller
Nick Shalek is a General Partner @ Ribbit Capital, specializing in fintech they are one of the most successful venture firms of the last decade with a portfolio including Robinhood, Coinbase, Revolut, Nubank and more. As for Nick, he started his career as a Senior Analyst @ Yale Investments Office before moving to the world of operations as Director of Business Operations @ Verne Global, a provider of 100% carbon neutral data centers.
1.) How Nick made his way from Senior Analyst at Yale's Investment Office to be one of the leading fintech investors in the world with Ribbit? What were Nick's biggest lessons from his time working with David Swenson @ Yale? How would Nick summarise Yale's investment algorithm?
2.) Entering Venture and Advice: Why does Nick tell many friends entering venture, to not join a new fund? What does Nick believe is takes to build an enduring firm in venture? What were the core reasons and inflection points in the success of Ribbit? What have been some of the biggest challenges in the professionalisation of Ribbit over the years?
3.) Pricing and Ownership: Is Nick concerned by the levels of pricing we are seeing in fintech today? How does Nick analyze his own relationship to price? How does Nick view the importance of ownership? Is it possible to build ownership across rounds? How does Nick advise founders now receiving very fast offers to pre-empt their rounds?
4.) Investment Decision-Making: How does Ribbit structure its investment decision-making process for initial investments? In what way does this process change for re-investments? Why does Nick believe in the benefits of not having attribution within venture partnerships?
5.) AMA: What has been Nick's biggest miss? How did it change his investment decision-making process as a result? What does Nick know now that he wishes he had known when he started in venture? What have been Nick's biggest lessons from his working with Micky?
Nick’s Favourite Book: A Piece of the Action: When the Middle Class Joined the Money Class
Nick’s Most Recent Investment: Kavak
Jeff Immelt is a Venture Partner @ NEA serving on both the technology and healthcare investing teams. Prior to entering the world of venture, Jeff served as chairman and CEO of GE for 16 years where he revamped the company’s strategy, re-established market leadership and quadrupled emerging market revenue. As a result, Jeff has been named one of the “World’s Best CEOs” three times by Barron’s. In addition, Jeff is on the board of Sila Nanotechnologies and Twilio.
1.) How did it feel when Jeff was told he was going to be CEO at GE? How did that come about? Did he feel the weight of responsibility when it was announced?
2.) When it comes to incumbents embracing innovation, what strategies work? Why do they work? What lessons does Jeff take from his time at GE on what worked? What strategies do not work? What are the biggest mistakes large incumbents make when adopting new products or strategies? What advice does Jeff continuously tell large company CEOs who ask this question?
3.) When does Jeff believe boards can be fundamentally impactful? In what circumstances do boards actually cause harm? What are the signs of the truly great board members? What are the causes of why board members can be misaligned with their founders? How should founders approach whether to listen or not to their board?
4.) How does Jeff think about trust in teams? Does he start fully trusting and it is their to be lost or start not trusting and it is their to be gained? What people do you want around you in a crisis? What are the signals of these people? What does Jeff mean when he speaks of "crisis accelerants and crisis absorbers"?
5.) How does David think about fear in leadership? What is the one thing that leaders are allowed to be afraid of? How do the best founders approach their relationship to paranoia? How do the best communicate their fears to their team?
David George is a General Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz where he leads their growth investing practice. Since joining in 2019 David has invested in the likes of Clubhouse, Coinbase, Databricks, Figma, Instacart, Robinhood and TripActions just to name a few. David also sits on the board of Current, Greenlight, and Workrise. Prior to a16z, David spent 7 years growth investing at General Atlantic where he invested in the likes of Airbnb, Crowdstrike, Opendoor, Slack and Uber.
1.) How David made his way into the world of growth investing with General Atlantic and how that led to his leading the newest iteration of a16z growth funds? What were David's biggest takeaways from his time with General Atlantic? How did it impact his investing?
2.) Misconceptions of Growth Investing: Why does David believe that great business models are table stakes at growth today? What gives the best the edge? Why does David believe that people over-rotate on TAM? Why is it misleading in many ways? What is the right way to assess TAM at growth today? What does David look for when digging into unit economics? When is the right time to focus on unit economics?
3.) Portfolio Construction and Scenario Planning: How does David think about portfolio construction with the new a16z growth fund? What is the right level of diversification? How does David think about loss ratio today? How does David approach outcome scenario planning? What is an attractive level of upside for David to engage at growth? How has that expectation changed over time?
4.) Valuations and Crossover Funds: How does David assess the valuation landscape today? How does David determine whether he will pay up or sit out on an investment? How has the rise of crossover funds, PE funds and hedge funds entering growth impacted the valuations being paid and the investment process itself? What does David make of these new entrants? What challenges do they bring?
5.) Investment Decision-Making: How do a16z approach decision-making at growth? Who is on the core IC? Why does David strongly believe in the single trigger model in venture when it comes to decision-making? What are the biggest reasons for politics in venture firms today? What can be done to mitigate them?
David’s Favourite Book: Increasing Returns To Scale
David’s Most Recent Investment: Loom
Nick Mehta is the CEO @ Gainsight, the leader in all things customer success helping you put your customer at the heart of your business. Last year, as a result of their incredible success, Gainsight was acquired by Vista for a reported $1.1Bn but prior to that had raised over $156M from Lightspeed, Battery, Bessemer, Insight and Bain to name a few. As for Nick, he has been named one of the Top SaaS CEOs by the Software report three years in a row and holds one of the highest Glassdoor approval ratings for CEOs. Prior to Gainsight, Nick was the CEO at LiveOffice, which grew substantially and eventually sold to Symantec.
1.) When did mental health really become a prominent thought for Nick? When was the first time Nick feels he really showed true vulnerability in leadership?
2.) Self-Worth: Does Nick feel like he is enough? What does he do when he questions himself severely? How does he talk to his wife about these challenging thoughts? Where does Nick believe this comes from? What are the dangers of people-pleasing? How does Nick try and counter people-pleasing in his role as a leader?
3.) Identity: How does Nick think about his own identity when it is so attached to Gainsight? In what ways does he try to detach? What has worked? What has not worked? How have children helped Nick in this way?
4.) Striving: Why does Nick believe that hunger and striving are fundamentally a good thing? How does Nick try and factor gratitude and appreciation into the work and success he experiences? How does Nick encourage this same striving in his children?
5.) Relationship to Money: How would Nick evaluate his relationship to money? How has it changed over time? How does Nick try to imbue the same values he had growing up in his children? Does Nick believe it is possible to "change" your children and have that impact?
Marc Lore is a serial entrepreneur turned investor who’s started and sold four companies. Most recently Marc was the President and CEO of Walmart eCommerce US following the sale of his company, Jet.com, to Walmart for $3.3 billion in 2016. Prior to that, Marc founded Diapers.com/Quidsi which sold to Amazon in 2011 for $550 million. As an investor, Marc announced his new venture firm, Vision Capital People, with his co-founder, Alex Rodrigues, earlier this year with $50M of Alex and Marc's own money. Fun fact, in 1996 Marc qualified to be in the US national bobsled team.
1.) How Marc made his way into the startup world, how he came to found Jet.com and what led to his most recent transition to the world of investing?
2.) How does Marc assess human potential? What does he mean when he says "the resume test"? What are the clearest signals of outperformers? What are signs of lack of performance? Why does Marc not believe in referencing? Does Mark start from a position of trust for it to be lost or with none and for it all to be gained?
3.) How does Marc evaluate his relationship to risk and fear? How has it changed over time? What did Marc's wife say when he left his safe job and put all their savings into his new business? What does Marc mean when he discusses finding "Sixth Gear"? How does Marc balance that intensity and ambition with romance and family life?
4.) Why does Marc believe Chief People Officer should be one of your first hires? What are the commonalities of the best Chief People Officers? What does the optimal relationship between CEO and CPO look like? How does Marc test for his core characteristics in interviews? What questions does he ask every candidate? What are the most revealing?
5.) How does Marc think about portfolio construction with the new fund today? Does Marc believe it is possible to take 40%+ of companies without alienating future investors? Is Marc concerned about over-capitalising companies too early? How does Marc think about reserves strategy and concentrating capital into the best companies?
Laela Sturdy is a General Partner @ CapitalG, Alphabet's independent growth fund with investments in the likes of Stripe, UiPath, Looker, Robinhood and Lyft to name a few. As for Laela, she joined CapitalG shortly after inception in 2013 and has led investments in Stripe, Duolingo, Gusto, UiPath and Unqork, to name a few. Prior to CapitalG, Laela was at Google as Managing Director of Emerging Businesses and held leadership roles within YouTube and search.
1.) How Laela made her way into the world of venture and came to be a General Partner at Alphabet's independent growth fund, CapitalG?
2.) The Market: With the rise of crossover funds, hedge funds, private equity, all entering growth stage venture, how does Laela analyse the current state of the market? How has the increase in capital supply impacted pricing at growth? How do CapitalG compete in a world where competitors pay 2x the valuation and have different outcome expectations?
3.) Portfolio Construction: Given CapitalG's single LP and evergreen structure, how do CapitalG think about portfolio construction? What is the right level of diversification? How doe CapitalG structure internal investment decision-making? How does this change for re-investments? How do CapitalG think about attribution internally?
4.) Upside and Downside: Given prices being so high, when outcome scenario planning, how does Laela think about good vs great when it comes to multiple expectations? How has this changed over time? On the flip side, how does Laela think about loss ratio at growth today? Has this changed with rounds becoming more and more pre-emptive?
5.) Scaling Unicorns: What are the commonalities in the biggest challenges founders face post-product-market fit but prescaling? What are the clear signs to Laela that a founder is uniquely skilled at hiring? Does Laela agree that the best founders do not need help on hiring? How does Laela feel about the future of venture being services platforms?
Laela’s Favourite Book: The Great Gatsby
Laela’s Most Recent Investment: Webflow