June 20, 2020
Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch
Hello and welcome to Pipeline.This week: An email rebellion, SoftBank actually makes a seed investment, and the VCs who love to podcast.
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Full disclosure: I am not a podcast person. I get annoyed when they're posted without transcripts to skim, which my colleague (and podcast aficionado) David Pierce reminds me "is not the point of a podcast." Fair enough.
There's a huge audience, and that's why venture capitalists have flocked to podcasts — both producing their own and joining others as guests. My question is: Which investors are the biggest podcast patrons?
But which VCs make the most appearances as podcast guests? Berlin helped me here by digging into Breaker's data for mentions of venture capitalists in podcast titles. (I gave him a list of investors: a mashup of the Midas List, CB Insights' top investors, and some other high-profile VCs I thought should be included.) He then narrowed it down to podcasts within the last year that had at least one listen on Breaker to clean up the data.
Many of the podcast favorites also have their own shows as more venture capitalists or their firms launch podcasts.
The rising stars in VC podcasts? Berlin points to Srinivasan, who rose quickly to appear on over a dozen podcasts in the last year, and Hamilton, who hosts her own show but has also gone on others to talk about everything from sobriety and equity to breaking the VC glass ceiling.
Protocol's Transformation of Work Summit
How can tech help identify and match in-demand skills with job opportunity? Hear from the Future of Work Caucus co-chairs Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Representative Bryan Steil (R-WI), followed by our expert panel with CEO of Jobs for the Future Maria Flynn, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies Matthew Sigelman, CEO of Colorado State University Global Dr. Becky Takeda-Tinker, and Chief People Officer of Aon Lisa Stevens. Presented by Workday.
What's one of your new quarantine habits?
Sourcing seafood direct from fisherpeople and wholesalers. I'm cherishing the nightly family dinners, and we've become obsessed with sourcing high-quality ingredients for home-cooked meals. The fishing industry and seafood supply chain has been crushed and has had to pivot to direct-to-consumer to keep their businesses afloat. Some of our favorites to support are Water2Table and ABS Seafood and thanks to them, my 5- and 3-year-old daughters have learned to savor all types of seafood ranging from raw oysters to salmon eggs to spot prawns!
What's one piece of advice you received that you're glad you ignored?
Get a real job. When I graduated from college in 2001 and the dot-com bubble had completely burst, my close friends and family strongly advised me to get a real job e.g. big company, consulting or banking, rather than keep pursuing this crazy startup thing that was almost certainly doomed. I stubbornly ignored that and decided to join a startup with exactly $0 in revenue and who had just laid off half of its staff. Five years later and I got to help build it into a nine-figure revenue business, take it public, and learn a ton. Glad I didn't get a "real" job.
What's a secret obsession of yours that most people don't know about?
Rap. I love listening to freestyle battles, dissecting complex bars and verses from talented lyricists, and harken back to what I consider the golden age of hip-hop: the '90s. In fact, I recorded an eight-track album in college (that will hopefully never find its way onto Soundcloud) and even won a talent competition in high school.
What was your first check?
Lazy Bear. Yes, the underground dinner party turned Michelin  star restaurant a decade ago. Restaurants are notoriously bad investments, but the pop-up concept had amassed over 20,000 eager customers on an email waitlist, so I figured that at the minimum, they'd be sold out the first several years, and I'd get a front-row seat to learn everything about the industry. It's certainly taught me how challenging it is to build and sustain a local business, compared to the "1% problems" that venture-backed startups face.
What's one of the worst predictions you've ever made?
Dropbox would exit at $250 million. It's valued north of $9 billion today. Oops. In the early days, the company reached out about their first senior business role given my relevant previous experience, and I chose not to pursue it based on my assumption about the terminal value of the company. I was so wrong. They were so right. And I'm a huge fan of the company, product and Drew.
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