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The Twenty Minute VC (20VC): Venture Capital | Startup Funding | The Pitch

The Twenty Minute VC (20VC) interviews the world's greatest venture capitalists with prior guests including Sequoia's Doug Leone and Benchmark's Bill Gurley. Once per week, 20VC Host, Harry Stebbings is also joined by one of the great founders of our time with prior founder episodes from Spotify's Daniel Ek, Linkedin's Reid Hoffman, and Snowflake's Frank Slootman. If you would like to see more of The Twenty Minute VC (20VC), head to www.20vc.com for more information on the podcast, show notes, resources and more.
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Now displaying: March, 2024
Mar 29, 2024

Billy Hult is Chief Executive Officer of Tradeweb Markets (Nasdaq: TW), as Billy puts it, they are the "electronic interface that connects Citadel and Goldman". They are also one of the most under the radar but incredible businesses of the last 20 years. Through no glitz acquisitions or specific moments, TradeWeb has compounded organic growth for the last 27 years to today, with a market cap of $22BN.

In Today's Episode with Billy Hult:

1. From Betting Shop Worker to Public Company CEO:

  • How would Billy's teachers and parents have described the young Billy?
  • Why does Billy think it is so important to have a hard first job when growing up?
  • What does Billy know now that he wishes he had known when he started?

2. What it Takes to be a World-Leading CEO:

  • How does Billy define the role of the CEO? What are the core tenets?
  • What has been the single hardest element of CEOship to learn?
  • Does Billy care about being liked? How does that impact his management style?
  • Why does Billy think it is so important for CEOs to make "big bets"? What have been his biggest?

3. Hiring World-Class Teams in 2024:

  • What have been some of Billy's biggest hiring mistakes? What did he learn from them?
  • How does Billy weigh IQ vs EQ and hustle? Which wins? Why?
  • Does Billy think this generation of millennials is too soft?
  • What are the single biggest lessons Billy has on when to delegate vs when to retain control?

4. Money, Power and Family:

  • How does Billy approach his relationship to money today? How has it changed over time?
  • Fame, power or money, rank them from 1-3. How does Billy rank them?
  • How does Billy describe his own style of parenting? How has it changed over time?

Mar 27, 2024

Chris Dixon is a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, one of the leading venture firms of the last decade with investments in Oculus (acquired by Facebook), Coinbase, and many more. Chris also founded and leads a16z crypto, a division of the firm that he has grown from $300 million in 2018 to more than $7 billion of committed capital. Due to his many successes, Chris was named #1 on the Forbes Midas List in 2022.

In Today’s Episode with Chris Dixon We Discuss:

  1. From Founder to Leading GP in Venture:

  • How did Chris make his way into the world of venture and startups?
  • When did he realize investing was his calling?
  • How did Chris Dixon come to co-found Founder Collective with Dave Frankel and Eric Paley?

  1. Lessons from 12 years Investing:

  • What are Chris’ biggest lessons from working with Marc Andreesen and Ben Horowitz?
  • Does Chris agree with Doug Leone, “venture has transitioned from a boutique high margin business to a low margin commoditised industry”?
  • What are the two ways to win in venture? 
  • Does Chris agree the best founders don’t need their VCs?
  • What is Chris’ biggest investing miss? How did it impact his mindset?

  1. Are Incumbents Too Big To Be Replaced:

  • What is the biggest problem with open-source internet today?
  • Does Chris think incumbents can be replaced?
  • Why does Chris think AI will strengthen incumbents?
  • Does Chris think OpenAI should be open-sourced?

  1. Biggest Challenges in Crypto:

  • What is the biggest misconception of crypto today?
  • Does Chris think speculation is bad for crypto?
  • What would Chris most like to change in the world of crypto?
  • How does Chris think Trump will affect crypto?

Mar 25, 2024

David Clark is the CIO of Vencap, one of the leading fund of funds in the venture landscape. David has been at Vencap for 32 years and has been an LP his entire career.

In Today's Episode with David Clark We Discuss:

1. From Unemployed Student in Love to Leading LP:

  • How did a girlfriend lead to David taking his first steps into the world of fund investing?
  • What does David know now about fund investing that he wishes he had known when he started?

2. Is Being an LP Harder than Ever Before:

  • Does David agree with Doug Leone, "venture has transitioned from a boutique high margin business to a low margin commoditised industry"?
  • Does David agree with Ryan Akinna @ MIT, "it is harder than ever to be an LP"?
  • Does David think that venture returns will worsen in the coming years?
  • Has the denominator effect for LPs gone? Do LPs have liquidity today?

3. What Makes the Best Performing Funds:

  • What are the single biggest commonalities in managers that did a 3x net DPI fund?
  • Of managers with a 3x net fund, how many had a single company return the fund?
  • How do the best firms do generational transition?
  • How do the best firms take cash off the table and sell part or all of their position?

4. Five Things LPs Hate In Potential VC Investments:

  • What are the two most common reasons David will turn down a manager?
  • How does David feel about the varying fee and carry levels?
  • How does David feel about the compression of deployment times of funds?
  • How does David feel about managers increasing fund size so significantly on every cycle?

5. Fund Sizes, Exits and Concentrating Returns:

  • Why does David believe exit sizes will increase and fund sizes could be even larger?
  • Why does David think that despite the above, the concentration of returns will be even smaller?
  • Is David concerned by the IPO window being largely shut and the increased regulation on M&A?

Mar 22, 2024

Bryan Johnson is the founder of Blueprint, the man is at war with death and is mastering longevity. Bryan is on a mission aimed at enhancing human intelligence and being respected by people in the 25th century. Before starting Blueprint, Bryan also founded Braintree (acquired by PayPal for $800M) and OS Fund – a $100M venture capital fund investing in genomics, synthetic biology, and complex systems.

In Today’s Episode with Bryan Johnson We Discuss:

  1. The Philosophy of Don’t Die

  • What does Bryan think is the biggest existential threat to humankind?

  • Why does Bryan believe humans are unfit to manage their own affairs?

  • Why does Bryan care about being liked by the 25th century?

  • Does Bryan think society is ready to adapt to immortality?

  1. How to Process New Ideas

  • What 3 questions does Bryan ask to test new ideas?

  • How does Bryan combat against his own biases?

  • How does Bryan adapt to change? What has been his most painful experience?

  • Why does Bryan think religion is humanity’s most durable technology?

  1. The Most Measured Human in the World

  • What did Bryan learn about himself as the most measured human in the world?

  • How does Bryan use algorithms to take care of himself?

  • What has been Bryan’s most expensive test?

  • How did Bryan use data to rejuvenate his sexual function?

  • How will tech & AI play a role in human longevity?

  1. Health & Parenting Advice

  • How does Bryan raise his children? 

  • How does Bryan get perfect sleep every night? What are his tips?

  • What is Bryan’s advice to people who think it’s too late to start becoming healthy?

  • What health advice does Bryan think is BS?

 

Mar 20, 2024

Jean-Michel Lemieux is one of the OGs of engineering and product having been the CTO at Shopify and the VP Engineering at Atlassian. Jean-Michel helped grow both Shopify and Atlassian from single-product to multi-product companies and led the building of their platforms. 

In Today’s Episode with Jean-Michel Lemieux We Discuss:

  1. From band class to Shopify CTO

  • How did Jean-Michel make his way into the world of product?

  • What were Jean-Michel’s biggest lessons from his time at Atlassian & Shopify?

  • How are Shopify & Atlassian the same? How are they different?

  • Why does Jean-Michel think Shopify could have been 10x bigger?

  1. Building the Perfect Product

  • How does Atlassian & Shopify build movements instead of product?

  • What does Jean-Michel know now that he wishes he had known before he joined Atlassian & Shopify?

  • How does Jean-Michel balance between shipping speed vs. quality?

  • Why does JM think scrums and TDDs are BS? How did his last year at Shopify change his approach in product development?

  • What is a time horizon friction? And how does it impact teams?

  1. How to Lead a Product Team:

  • What is micro alignment, and why does Jean-Michel think it is so important?

  • What 3 types of decisions every team makes?

  • What does Jean-Michel think are the most common reasons teams become average? How does he prevent it?

  • What do Jean-Michel think are the most common mistakes CEOs make today?

  1. Hiring the Best Product Team:

  • How does Jean-Michel structure the interview process for new product hires?

  • What signals does Jean-Michel look out for when hiring? Why does he believe experience does not matter?

  • What are Jean-Michel’s biggest hiring mistakes? What were his lessons?

  • What are 2 of the most common mistakes founders make when hiring a product team?

 

Mar 18, 2024

Gili Raanan is the Founder of Cyberstarts and one of the most successful seed investors ever. In his 19 company portfolio, Gili has invested in a decacorn (Wiz), seven unicorns and had three others acquired. Prior to Cyberstarts, Gili spent over 15 years as a General Partner @ Sequoia Capital investing in some of the world's best cyber security companies.

In Today's Episode with Gili Raanan We Discuss:

1. From Founder to World's Best Seed Investor:

  • How did Gili make the move into the world of venture with Sequoia?
  • How did Mike Moritz and Doug Leone recruit him? What was that process like?
  • What are 1-2 of Gili's biggest takeaways from working with Doug and Mike?

2. How to Find and Pick the Best Founders:

  • What did Mike Moritz teach Gili about getting to know founders?
  • Why does Gili look for the pain in the eyes of the founder? What questions does he ask?
  • What are the most common signals of truly exceptional founders, having backed 7 unicorns?
  • Why does Gili believe that both market and product is BS? Why are the founders all that matters?
  • Why does Gili believe that the founder does not have to be a domain expert in a market to create a massive company in that market?

3. What it Takes to be the Best Seed Investor:

  • Why does Gili believe that the best seed investors do not have theses?
  • How important does Gili feel the brand of the VC firm is? What were his biggest lessons on brand from spending 15 years as a General Partner @ Sequoia?
  • Why does Gili believe that the best investors are never happy? When you are happy, you lose.

4. 2021 is Back: Pricing, Uprounds and more

  • Why does Gili believe that the best companies are always expensive and will always be expensive at every round?
  • Why does Gili believe that 2021 pricing and funding is back?
  • Is this a good thing? How does Gili advise founders on how much to raise and what valuation to set with investors?
  • What does Gili believe are the single biggest sins from the zero interest rate environment?

Mar 15, 2024

Luca Ferrari is Co-Founder and CEO of Bending Spoons, one of the most incredible but untold success stories in startups. Luca has scaled Bending Spoons to 100M monthly active users, $380M in sales in 2023 and aiming to reach $500M in EBITDA by the end of 2026. The company’s products include Evernote, Meetup, Remini, and Splice and their products have now been downloaded more than 500M times.

In Today’s Episode with Luca Ferrari We Discuss:

  1. From McKinsey Associate to $2BN Founder

  • What was Luca like as a child? How would his parents have described him?
  • Why did Luca share his McKinsey salary with his co-founders?
  • What were Luca’s biggest lessons from his failed startup?

  1. Bootstrapping Bending Spoons 

  • Why did Luca decide to bootstrap Bending Spoons?
  • What does Luca think about the EU vs. US startup environment?
  • Why did Luca kill a $7M project? What were his lessons?
  • How did Luca pick his investors?

  1. How to Find the Best Talent

  • What are the 3 key traits Luca looks for when picking the best talent?
  • Why does Luca think traditional interview strategies do not work?
  • What tests does Luca conduct for each candidate?
  • What were Luca’s biggest hiring mistakes?

  1. Mastering Acquisition & Growth

  • How does Luca determine which products to acquire? How does he identify signals?
  • How does Luca approach pricing assets? How does he win every bid?
  • What are Luca’s biggest lessons from acquiring Evernote?
  • What key lessons on risk management does Luca wish he’d known 10 years ago?
  • What are Luca’s biggest challenges on user acquisition?

Mar 13, 2024

Chandra Narayanan is one of the growth and analytics OGs having spent 7 years at Facebook leading analytics for the Facebook App and for Instagram. After Facebook, Chandra became Chief Data Scientist @ Sequoia Capital, helping Sequoia, find, select and help the best entrepreneurs in the world. Today, Chandra is the Founder & CEO @ Sundial, building products to help builders make meaningful use of data to fulfill *their* mission.

In Today's Episode with Chandra Narayanan

1. From Working on the Weather to Leading Analytics at Facebook:

  • How did Chandra make his way from analyzing weather patterns to leading analytics for Facebook?
  • What does Chandra know now that he wishes he had known when he started his career in growth?
  • How did one piece of advice from his manager at Paypal change Chandra's mind forever on "quitting" and when to "quit"?

2. Growth and Analytics 101:

  • What does growth mean to Chandra? What is it? What is it not?
  • When is the right time to hire a growth team/person?
  • What is the right profile for the first growth hires?

3. How to Hire the Best Growth Teams in the World:

  • What are the must-ask questions when hiring for growth?
  • How does Chandra use case studies to determine the quality of a candidate?
  • What does Chandra believe are the four main reasons people go to work?
  • What are the three different types of execs in tech? How do you know when you need each one?

4. Lessons from Leading Analytics at Facebook and Sequoia:

  • What are 1-2 of Chandra's biggest takeaways from leading analytics at Facebook?
  • What does Chandra believe are the two core skills needed to do analytics well?
  • How can you easily test if someone is good at analytics?
  • How did being Chief Data Scientist @ Sequoia change Chandra's perspective on growth?

Mar 11, 2024

Joe Lonsdale is the Founder and Managing Partner at 8VC, an early-stage venture capital firm managing over $6 billion in capital. In 2003, he founded Palantir Technologies. Since then, he has founded over a dozen companies, including Addepar, a wealth management platform helping investors manage over $5 trillion, and OpenGov, recently sold for $1.8BN.

In Today’s Episode with Joe Lonsdale We Discuss:

The Making of a Multi-Unicorn Founder:

  • What was Joe like as a child? How would his parents and teachers have described him?
  • What does Joe know now that he wishes he had known when he started his career?
  • How does Joe view the importance of luck and skill in success?

America’s New Dawn: Navigating Frontiers and Accountability

  • What did Joe mean by describing America as a “frontier nation”?
  • How does Joe contrast America’s frontiers with Europe’s social safety nets?
  • How does Joe propose restoring America using the “scalpel over the sledgehammer” approach?
  • How can America introduce accountability to non-profit institutions? What role do for-profit prisons play?

Woke Mind Virus

  • Why does Joe consider the Woke Mind Virus a “Bad Postmodern Religion”?
  • Why does Joe see Elon Musk as a key figure in challenging “woke minds”?
  • Why does Joe believe the education system is a core problem? What needs to change?
  • Is it too late to reverse the current state of “woke mind virus”?

TikTok, China, Israel:

  • What does Joe believe is the right solution for TikTok’s ownership?
  • To what extent is TikTok a danger to American national security?
  • What does Joe predict will happen to China from here? What needs to change?
  • How does Joe predict the next 24 months for the conflict in Israel and Gaza?

Investing Lessons: Wish, Palantir and more

  • What are Joe’s biggest takeaways from the failing of Wish?
  • What did Joe learn from the failed project with Lady Gaga?
  • How does Joe reflect on when is the right time to sell?
  • How does Joe reflect on his own relationship to money?
Mar 8, 2024

Brendon Cassidy is one of the OG of enterprise sales of the last decade, having advised the likes of Gong.io, Pipedrive, Showpad. Previously Brendon was first Head of Sales at LinkedIn and VP of Sales at Talkdesk.

In Today's Episode with Brendon Cassidy We Discuss:

1. From Recruiter to Sales OG and Linkedin's First Head of Sales:

  • How did recruiting prepare Brendon for a career in sales?
  • What impact did the dot-com bubble burst have on his early career?
  • What does Brendon know now that he wishes he had known when he started his career in sales?

2. The Sales Playbook and Hiring The Team:

  • How does Brendon define the "sales playbook"?
  • Should the founder be the one to create and execute V1 of the playbook?
  • Should the first sales hire be a rep or a sales leader?
  • When is the right time to make that all-important first sales hire? 

3. Why Discovery and Outbound Are Broken Today:

  • Why does Brendon feel discovery is useless in today’s sales process?
  • Why does Brendon believe outbound will move under the marketing function?
  • How does AI change the world of outbound sales?
  • Why will no great sales leaders join a company that doesn’t have an inbound machine?

4. How to Master Onboarding and Increase Sales Performance:

  • What is the right way to onboard new sales reps?
  • How quickly do you know if a sales rep is not good? What are the signs?
  • What is the right way to measure the effectiveness of sales teams today?
  • What are the biggest mistakes founders make in onboarding sales teams?

Mar 6, 2024

Peter Wagner is a Founding Partner of Wing. Peter has led investments in dozens of early-stage companies including Snowflake, Gong, Pinecone, and many others which have gone on to complete IPO's or successful acquisitions. Prior to founding Wing, Peter spent an incredible 14 years at Accel, starting as an associate in 1996 and scaling to Managing Partner, before leaving to start Wing.

In Today's Episode with Peter Wagner We Discuss:

1. From Associate to Managing Partner to Founding Partner:

  • How did Peter first make his way into the world of venture as an associate at Accel?
  • How important does Peter believe it is to have early hits in your career as an investor?
  • What is the biggest mistake Peter sees young VCs make today?

2. The Venture Market: What Happens Now:

  • Does Peter agree with Roger Ehrenberg that venture returns will worsen moving forward?
  • How does Peter answer the question of how large asset management venture firms co-exist in a world of boutique seed players also?
  • Does Peter agree with Doug Leone that "venture has transitioned from a high-margin boutique business to a low-margin, commoditized industry?

3. Investing Lessons from 27 Years and Countless IPOs:

  • What have been some of Peter's single biggest investing lessons from 27 years in venture?
  • Why is Peter so skeptical of capital-intensive businesses? Will defense and climate startups suffer the same fate as clean tech did in the 2000s?
  • How does Peter reflect on his own relationship to price? When does it matter? When does it not?
  • What have been Peter's biggest lessons on when to sell positions vs when to hold?
  • What has been Peter's biggest miss? How did it impact his mindset?

4. Building a Firm from Nothing:

  • How was the fundraise process when leaving the Accel machine and raising with Wing?
  • What have been the single hardest elements of building Wing? What did he not expect?
  • What advice does Peter have for someone wanting to start their firm today?

Mar 4, 2024

Nicolai Tangen is the CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management, the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world with $1.55 Trn in assets, owning on average, 1.5% of every listed company. Tangen was previously Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer in AKO Capital, which he founded in 2005. Prior to this, Tangen was a partner and senior analyst at Egerton Capital and an equity analyst at Cazenove & Co.

In Today's Episode with Nicolai Tangen We Discuss:

From Religious Town in Norway to Leading the Largest Sovereign Wealth Fund:

  • What was Nicolai like as a child? How would his parents have described him?
  • Why does Nicolai think that loners have a greater chance/ability to make money?
  • What does Nicolai know now that he wishes he could tell a 20-year-old Nicolai?

The Top 10 Questions:

1. US Tech Firm Concentration: Is Nicolai concerned by the concentration of enterprise value in US tech firms? Have incumbents ever been as strong as they are today?

2. Impact of AI: What does Nicolai believe the impact of AI will be on society and productivity? What is his approach to investing in it moving forward?

3. Bitcoin: Why does Nicolai not want to hold Bitcoin? Why does he not understand it?

4. China: What would need to happen for China to be investable? How will the China situation play out?

5. Europe: Does Nicolai believe Europe is so far behind the US? Why? What can we do to improve?

6. Climate Change: How does Nicolai approach investing in climate? What works? What does not?

7. Sam Altman: Would Nicolai invest in Sam's new $7Trn project? What are some of Nicolai's biggest lessons from the time he has spent with Sam?

8. Investment Psychology: How does Nicolai retain a neutral investor psychology? How does he not get too up when doing well and too low when not doing well?

9. Investing Lessons: What are Nicolai's biggest investment hits and misses? What did he learn from them?

10. The Future: Why is Nicolai so optimistic about the future? What is he concerned about? How will we overcome our greatest challenges?

Mar 1, 2024

Frank Quattrone is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Qatalyst and served as its CEO from the Firm’s founding until January 2016. Over more than four decades, Frank and the teams he has led have advised on more than 600 mergers and acquisitions with an aggregate transaction value over $1 trillion and on more than 350 financings that raised over $65 billion for technology companies worldwide. Frank led the IPOs of Amazon.com, Cisco, Intuit, Netscape, among many others. He advised Apple on its $400 MM acquisition of NeXT (which led to Steve Jobs’ return to Apple); Concur on its $8.3B sale to SAP; LinkedIn on its $28.1B sale to Microsoft; Qualtrics on its $8B sale to SAP and Twitch on its $1B sale to Amazon.com.

In Today's Episode with Frank Quattrone:

1. Has Regulation Killed M&A:

  • Why does Frank disagree that regulation has killed M&A?
  • What is the real reason why M&A is so down at present?
  • What would impact would a Trump administration have on the M&A environment?
  • What are some of Frank's biggest lessons from 600 prior transactions over dour decades of what happens when an M&A market shuts down?

2. When Will the IPO Window Re-Open:

  • Does Frank agree that the IPO window is currently closed for tech companies?
  • How does this IPO window compare to the dot com bust and 2007?
  • What is needed for the IPO window to re-open?
  • What is the timeline that Frank puts on the IPO window opening again?

3. M&A: How Do Companies Get Bought:

  • What is the process for a company to be bought?
  • What are the single biggest mistakes the seller makes in the process?
  • What do the best buyers and sellers do to get the best price?
  • Does Frank agree with the notion that "companies are bought and not sold"?

4. IPOing Amazing, Selling Linkedin and Qualtrics:

  • What is the story behind, Frank, Bill Gurley, Jeff Bezos and John Doerr pricing the Amazon IPO?
  • How did Linkedin come to be bought by Microsoft? What did that process look like?
  • How did Frank structure an event to ensure that Ryan @ Qualtrics and Bill McDermot @ SAP would meet and lead to the acquisiiton?

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