February 12, 2022
Photo: Russell Yip for Protocol
Hello, and happy Saturday. I’m Jamie Condliffe, Protocol’s managing editor, and I’m standing in for Biz Carson, bringing you a selection of Protocol stories from the week that was to keep you in the loop.
We’ll kick off with a fantastic story that Biz published this week about Sequoia’s Roelof Botha. Also: the things that CIOs worry about right now that you could tap into, some hiring tips and what you should know before you adopt a four-day workweek.
Do you care where your money comes from? Obviously, you care a bit; probably better it’s not laundered, or ethically compromising. But is a dollar from me as good as a dollar from Sequoia? OK, OK: Is $100 million from me as good as $100 million from Sequoia?
The rise of Tiger Global suggests that, for a lot of founders, money is money. In fact, hands-off investors might be even more attractive to some founders than a VC who insists on a board seat and shaping the direction of your company.
But for Roelof Botha of Sequoia, getting hands-on is basically the point. “I think of myself as being part of the Sequoia team, where I get to work with founders to help them build phenomenal businesses,” he told Biz during an interview for her fantastic profile of him. “And I don't really want to call myself a VC. It's because we're not fungible in that manner. I'm a non-fungible token.”
In fact, Botha’s doing quite a lot to put his non-fungible stamp on totally new ways for the VC industry to work. Per Biz, Botha’s name was front and center on the announcement of the Sequoia Capital Fund, a wholesale change to the structure of the firm based around an evergreen fund that will allow the company to work with companies it invests in for the long term.
His vision is to help founders company-build not just at the start of their company’s life, but over years or decades, and reap the returns that come through doing so. He’s arguing that Sequoia knows what it’s doing, that it can help for a very long time and that, yes, its $100 million is worth far more than my $100 million.
Biz’s profile digs deep into what makes Botha — now arguably one of the most important people in VC — really tick, and walks through the nitty-gritty of what Sequoia is doing differently. Also, there’s a great anecdote about pesto. Go give the whole thing a read right now.
New process control technologies and improved operational efficiencies will deliver the necessary quality, precision and cost-effectiveness to move next-gen therapeutics forward. This can only be achieved if the industry embraces the shift to smart manufacturing, particularly with the use of IoT and edge applications.
Last week, I asked what you all were doing to cope with the stresses and strains of hiring in such a tight labor market, where prospective employees have high demands. Here are a couple of responses that gave me pause:
“Seek good talent at universities. Getting soon-to-be graduates with the right attitude for your company will lead to loyal employees.” — Kostas Bitopoulos
I think there’s a broader message here, too: Try hiring earlier-career individuals than you might usually consider.
“Designate a team of individuals that want to interview.” — the team at Karat
I think you can extend this one too: Make sure everyone in the hiring process is engaged and excited at the prospect of doing the hiring rather than just going through the motions, and you stand a better chance of getting the right candidates and convincing them to join you.
If you’re selling to the enterprise, it’s worth taking a close read of this to understand what CIOs from a swath of companies — FedEx, Honeywell, ServiceNow and Procter & Gamble — are thinking about right now. And it’s a lot, from concerns over skills gaps, to making “shadow IT” work, to edge computing, to sustainability.
“I literally told the recruiter: 'I’m sorry, using Microsoft Teams is not for me,'” Alex Torres told our Lizzy Lawrence. And he might not be alone! People have always been fussy about their work tools, but with the labor market the way it is, you can no longer assume that people will tolerate whatever you give them. Lizzy took a close look at it, and I think the important point here — given you can’t always pay for the hot new thing, and if you can, then I want your budget — is to consider what the software choices you make say about you, your company and the work you do, and what that means to your staff.
Everywhere you turn in NFT Land, there appears to be a fee to pay. Tomio Geron took a look at them, not least the “gas fees,” as Ethereum transaction costs are referred to. But Tomio’s conclusion stood out to me: “Because OpenSea has become so popular and it chose Ethereum, unpredictable and expensive gas fees have become part of the NFT experience for many. But these are all technical and operational choices. And the industry can make different ones.”
It seems like everybody is talking about whether a 4-day workweek could be a good fit for their company. Here’s a fairly frank look at whether it could work for you, and what you’ll have to deal with if you do take the plunge.
From refund abuse that’s soared with the pandemic’s rise of ecommerce to a whole new world of "buy now, pay later" scams, fraudsters will always look to what’s new to make a buck. There’s something to be learned here for plenty of startups, and potentially even a few ideas for new companies.
Thinking about giving up office space and going all in on the metaverse? Maybe watch this video first; it might not be quite the utopian vision you had in mind.
Thanks for reading! I’ll be back next week with some more of the best stories from Protocol.