tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:/posts garry's posthaven 2021-09-16T19:19:20Z Garry Tan tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1578718 2020-07-29T14:40:44Z 2021-09-16T19:14:41Z How founders can build Trust & Safety teams

Steve Kirkham and Eric Levine were the early builders at Airbnb that created the Trust and Safety team. They fought for billions of dollars of transactions and beat scammers day in and day out. Learn how they built that team and how you can use their newest product Berbix to protect your online platforms and build marketplaces like Airbnb that matter. Every business in the world is moving online— and the smarter founders can be about building Trust and Safety within their companies, the faster that will happen. 

00:00 Intro 
01:25 Building Trust and Safety at Airbnb 
03:01 Knowing who you're doing business with is the first step 
04:52 Empathy for fraudsters 
06:08 Verify identity around key points 
07:11 Why the incumbents like Jumio are terrible 
07:48 Why Steve and Eric started Berbix 
09:13 Instant software-only verification unlocks all new marketplaces 
11:03 Fundamental need: Sybil resistance 
11:39 When founders should build Trust & Safety teams 
12:50 Types of bad actors 
14:36 How to thwart bad actors 
16:34 ID checks are a strong deterrent 
17:31 Berbix can help you with your trust and safety problems 
18:11 Advice for future founders 
20:45 Conclusion: You can't do business with people if you don't know who they are!

 Learn more about Berbix at https://berbix.com

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1575802 2020-07-21T13:17:38Z 2021-09-16T19:16:02Z Micromanagement is toxic: Delegation is the cure (6 simple steps)

One of my direct reports once told me in a 1:1 early in my career as a founder: "I've never felt so disrespected in my career." This was a wake-up call. I wasn't delegating, and we weren't aligned on goals and values. I was micromanaging, and second guessing everything. In this video we talk about what it takes to be a great leader: a conductor of people who drive greatness. 

00:00 Intro: My management mistake 
00:58 Hire and delegate to get more time 
02:59 How to delegate in 6 simple steps 
04:38 Delegation's shadow: Micromanagement 
05:39 If delegation fails, ask the deeper questions 
06:21 I was a terrible manager at times when I failed to delegate or align 
07:04 Conclusion: Be a conductor of people
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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1573205 2020-07-14T16:11:09Z 2020-07-14T21:30:36Z Sell? Die? No. Grow profitably. How Ooshma Garg and Gobble did it and why default alive matters


Picture this... You're burning more than a million dollars a month You're growing great but your biggest splashiest competitor just had one of the worst IPOs of the entire year. and they're taking down the whole space with them. 

What do you do? For many founders that means selling, going out of business, or recapping the business. Not for Ooshma though. 

We're going to go talk to Ooshma Garg— my friend, and founder of Gobble. Not only did she get profitable, she doubled the business in less than a quarter and now they're putting out real cashflow. It's one of the coolest stories I've ever seen, and I've seen it up close because I'm on the board. Stay tuned. Let's get started.

00:00 Intro 
01:35 How Gobble got started in 2011 
02:04 First idea: peer to peer lasagna 
03:08 The breakthrough 
03:40 Food tech must nail the food too 
05:13 The secret of long term retention for food IP 
07:50 Easier and tastier = best lifetime value 
08:33 Gobble's 1000 days to innovation: How they got product market fit 
08:50 $6M ARR overnight 
09:47 What to do when a worse competitor raises more money 
11:44 Markets are voting machines early and weighing machines later 
12:15 On burning $1M/mo to earning nearly that much 
13:54 When you can't raise, get profitable 
14:57 Digital ad buying lessons: ROI and market depth 
17:12 You don't know if you can be profitable until you try 
18:36 Default alive gives you control 
20:49 The future of Gobble after profitability: re-investment 
22:56 Great food businesses generate cash 
24:37 Ooshma's hardest lessons she wishes she knew when she was 22

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1570832 2020-07-09T14:35:25Z 2020-07-09T14:35:25Z Hans Tung and the 16 unicorns: How a global venture capitalist funds billion dollar startups

Hans Tung has funded some of the most iconic billion dollar startups: Bytedance, Airbnb, Wish and Affirm just to name a few. He's been on the Forbes Midas List for 7 years straight now, this year at #10. He has seen it all, and we discuss war stories (don't miss the discussion of Alibaba in a global financial crisis and pandemic!), founders, and the future of food tech, software, and robotics.

00:00 Intro 
00:50 Hans's journey to venture capital 
03:18 Hans met iconic founders very early 
05:00 The Alibaba story in 2003: Pandemic and global financial crisis with 5 months of runway (MUST WATCH) 
08:18 The perseverance of Brian Chesky and Airbnb 
09:23 The perseverance of Peloton 
10:36 Global consumer trends now first emerge outside of the US 
13:06 Software eats the world is a one-time shift 
13:45 Foodtech in China: Darkstores and clean data 
16:14 Global food tech trends: Automation 
17:06 All food distribution will be automated and tech enabled: better, faster, cheaper 
18:20 What Uber did to consolidate taxis (a fragmented, no-tech business) will happen everywhere 
20:19 Software in business: first back-office, then front-office, now whole-office 
21:10 Each successive wave of software is more powerful than the last. We're on the 5th or 6th wave now. 
21:59 On founder-market fit 
23:36 Max Levchin and founder-distribution fit at Slide 
24:16 Platform shifts create distribution opps that open, then close quickly 
25:02 5G and the future of distributed computing 
25:33 Timing your startup idea 
26:22 WeChat as a growth channel for Pinduoduo 
27:55 Autonomy and our robotic future 
28:53 Characteristics of great founders 
31:24 What Hans wishes he knew at 18 or 22

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1566911 2020-06-30T14:43:00Z 2020-07-01T21:59:43Z How Postel's Law enabled the proto-Internet and set the culture for the future of humanity


00:00 Intro
00:37 What is Postel's Law?
01:39 How Jon Postel became the god of the Internet
02:03 How did Postel's Law create the Internet as we know it?
02:57 Postel's Law in Product Design
04:03 How to apply Postel's Law in your own life (remote work-edition)
06:00 Postel's Law for managers: How to make a user manual for your own protocols 
05:56 Conclusion: You need Postel's Law in your life

Everyone knows the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But do you know Postel's Law? It's what allows the internet to actually work, set forth by someone who some call the God of the Internet. 

The Golden Rule is necessary to be a good person. But Postel's Law is necessary for creating something truly great. Let's get started. 

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1559504 2020-06-15T14:30:04Z 2021-09-10T17:41:00Z Roll your way to a billion dollar startup - Advice for founders from Katamari Damacy


Hey guys, today we're going to talk about Katamari Damacy. 

I'm going to teach you how this obscure 2004 PlayStation 2 game will teach you how to create a billion dollar company. 

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1546974 2020-05-19T23:57:06Z 2021-09-16T19:18:16Z Changing the world can make you insane, but it doesn't have to (5 tips)

You can change the world, but it sometimes comes at a steep cost. It did for Ignaz Semmelweis, the first doctor to discover handwashing saved lives, especially mothers in his maternity ward. He made 5 key mistakes that you can avoid. And in doing so, I hope you'll be able to avoid the insane asylum. Everyone who makes something new gets hit back quickly with what is known now as the Semmelweis Reflex— people reject anything that challenges them out of hand. 

You can be prepared to face this. Here's the five ways steps: 
  1. Speak for yourself — 03:05 
  2. Persevere, and don’t ragequit — 04:26 
  3. Speak truth when you know you’re right — 05:34
  4. When they go low, we go high — 06:09
  5. The breakthrough is only half the work — 07:13  

Thanks for watching! I made this video last night in about 3 hours— I'm going for a video a week, and my goal is to just help future founders and people who are making things get to the next stage.


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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1543622 2020-05-13T16:26:44Z 2020-05-14T23:15:02Z Metaprogram your own mind: A conversation with Cameron Yarbrough of Torch.io


Is it possible to reprogram your own mind? Yes, it is. Coaching, therapy, meditation, and group work are the keys to unlocking incredible potential. Trauma is a surprising common trait for many founders, and those who can overcome their past can truly build the future. Cameron Yarbrough was my coach for years before starting Torch.io, the best way to get exec coaching. We discuss the problems we've faced over the years, and how you're not alone. There is absolutely a way forward.  

I wish I worked on these things 10 years before I did— doing deep work will change your life if you let it. 

If you take care of your mental health and have a great executive coach, what you get to do is meta programming your own mind. And if you do that, you'll greatly increase the chances of your success.

00:59 Many founders have difficult childhoods that set them on the path to founderhood 
02:19 How difficult pasts can uniquely prepare founders for startup life 
03:26 Cameron was Garry's coach through many difficult periods in his business life 
03:53 Critical moments in your business career are driven by your own mental health 
04:49 Cameron could coach Garry because he had to overcome many of the same challenges 
07:10 Cameron's childhood impact on his early founder experiences 
07:59 Cameron's past leadership challenges drove him to seek therapy, meditation, and coaching 
08:47 It's extremely valuable for repeat founders to do deep internal work before diving back in 
10:05 The horse and rider allegory: Deep work lets the rider can better steer the horse 
10:37 You can work on mental health right now. 
11:01 YOU CAN DO THIS NOW. 
11:46 Executives who get their own mental health right will radiate this health to the whole org. 
12:47 Bibliotherapy 
13:37 Proper deep work is metaprogramming 
14:41 How to get behavior change 
15:25 Regular coaching and therapy enables breakthroughs 
16:45 On finding the right coach or therapist 
17:41 Even coaches have coaches
18:30 Radical candor enables winning leadership style 
20:12 What is the optimal organization? 
21:04 Your own experience is not universal 
22:02 Leadership and mental health in the time of COVID-19 
24:17 Wartime leadership requires more empathy, not less 
25:01 Cameron’s toughest COVID-19 crisis decision 
26:54 Why coaches are important even if you have lots of friends 
28:13 How to get help in group sessions 
29:46 You are not alone

]]> Garry Tan tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1540540 2020-05-06T18:04:52Z 2020-10-11T13:35:24Z Building General AI with D Scott Phoenix, founder of Vicarious


Can a computer be as smart as a human? Today we're sitting down with my friend and Initialized portfolio founder D Scott Phoenix. Vicarious has come up with a new type of machine learning based on the computational principles of the human brain. AGI. Artificial General Intelligence is coming. Let's go meet Scott.

00:59 How Garry and Scott met 
02:02 How Scott came up with the idea to work on AGI 
02:41 The time to build AGI is now 
03:10 Why work on AGI? 
04:26 What are the building blocks to building a general AI? 
04:49 What is a human-like learning system? 
06:15 Vicarious vs Deep Learning 
08:08 Traditional AI methods resemble insectoid or reptilian brain approaches 
09:43 New methods and models are more important than more money on training existing models 
11:52 Limits of narrow AI 
12:48 History and origins of the AI debate in philosophy and neuroscience 
14:45 Brute force methods require 14,000 years of training to do what children only need 2 years to learn 
15:28 Lessons from biology 
16:24 How do systems layer to generate more complex behavior? 
17:30 Is an ambitious project like AGI composable and iterable like SaaS software? 
20:01 Long term ambition is great, but what do you do along the way? 
20:38 Vicarious's first applied use case in robotics 
22:16 Vicarious vs other robotics approaches 
23:47 Building learning systems, not one-off point solutions 
24:51 Advice for builders just starting out 
25:17 How to tackle large problems and ambitious projects 
26:57 Technology is the ultimate lever for humans to create a better world 
29:14 How to be prepared for the long hard road
]]>
Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1537067 2020-04-28T23:43:45Z 2021-04-13T07:15:47Z Six skills for startup success: What founders can do to improve their chances before they take the plunge


In this video, we talk about what skills a future founder can and should work on before they take the plunge into starting something. Let's get into it. 

Do you have the skills and do you have what it takes? First off, here's the list and it's pretty long. 

The more things out of this list you are actually familiar with, the more likely you will succeed. 

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1534279 2020-04-22T14:33:31Z 2021-01-26T03:39:35Z Timebox your way to startup product market fit

I have one tool to share with you. If you remember one thing from this video, it's this, you have a finite number of tries. But if you timebox your tries, you'll get to try a lot more things. And that will maximize your chance of success. Remember to timebox. Let's get into it. 

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1530813 2020-04-14T14:52:54Z 2020-04-17T18:59:04Z Masterclass on Remote Work: Management with empathy, fostering a values-based culture (Part 2 of 2)

How do you build a fast growing startup team that builds a world-class product? This is part two, focusing on management with empathy and how to build an organic remote work culture from scratch that is truly collaborative. 

My colleague Katelin Holloway (partner at Initialized, formerly head of people at multi-billion dollar startup Reddit) sits down with Shogun cofounders Finbarr Taylor (former engineer at Y Combinator) and Nick Raushenbush (former cofounder of famed video production co Glass & Marker) and they talk through all the things that they did to succeed.

Here is what we cover in this masterclass: 
01:00 Managing culture remotely 
01:54 Weekly check-ins and 1:1s with leadership 
02:29 Remote work requires trust by default 
03:45 How to run a 1:1 remotely 
04:52 Forming an organic remote culture 
08:53 How to communicate values 
11:39 How to handle management when things go wrong 
13:17 How to handle performance issues 
15:02 How to handle misalignment in values 
16:39 Rewards and recognition 
17:42 Approaching diversity and inclusion 
19:52 Remote work in the time of coronavirus]]> Garry Tan tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1528280 2020-04-07T15:02:00Z 2020-10-18T09:24:08Z Should you work on that startup idea? Ask: Why me? Why now?

New vlog this morning:

Sometimes you just really nail that idea. It's something everyone wants. It's clearly the future. Like in this clip from Silicon Valley:

Nelson Bighetti: The user can control their Hooli phone solely with their neural impulses. Point, click, drag, even type, all using only brainwaves. Think it, and it happens.

Gavin Belson: Holy shit. Seriously?

Nelson Bighetti: Seriously.

Gavin Belson: This is great! Fuck yes, team! So, what's our timeline here? I mean, when can we start testing this? How long before we can integrate this into Nucleus?

Nelson Bighetti: Not long. It'll probably happen in our lifetime, we just have to figure out how to make it work. But I really believe that our grandchildren are going to grow up taking this technology for granted.

Gavin Belson: Our grandchildren?

Nelson Bighetti: I know you're single, but you might meet someone.

Gavin Belson: No... no!

It's not enough. Getting pointed in the right direction is just not enough. As you saw in that clip right there, Big Head in "Silicon Valley" found this out the hard way. You can't just point at the moon, you've got to build the goddamn spaceship. 

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1525858 2020-04-01T15:18:07Z 2020-04-07T12:06:36Z Masterclass on Remote Work: Hiring, recruiting, and essential tools (Part 1 of 2)

This is the first part of a two part masterclass on remote work, now live here:

01:46 Meet Shogun, the e-commerce page builder 
02:58 They started fully remote as a side project that became profitable 
04:23 The Tools: Hardware and software that enables remote work 
07:40 How to do learning & development 
08:29 On recruiting for remote teams 
11:35 Remote recruiting process 
19:43 How to legally hire remote candidates 
22:05 Onboarding remote employees

Watch the full video at YouTube here: https://youtube.com/garrytan — You can also read the full Shogun Remote Work guide at their blog here

I guess we're all working remotely right now, so who better to sit down with than a team that is the best at remote work that I've ever seen, Shogun?

Today's a master class in how to run remote work teams, from a team that has been working remotely from nearly the beginning. They've gone on to create one of the best products in the whole portfolio, and they did it through great recruiting, great management, great software, and great processes.

In this masterclass today, they sit down with Katelin Holloway Partner at Initialized and former head of people at Reddit to walk through all of the secrets they learned the hard way so you don't have to. Part one is about recruiting, tools, workflow— Let's get started.

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1518020 2020-03-11T15:27:39Z 2020-04-01T19:43:55Z Masterclass: How to sell to 20M software developers with an amazing onboarding experience

20M software developers in the world— if you can convince this set of people in the world to use your software, you've got a very very valuable startup. Today I wanted to sit down with the folks behind one of the best developer experiences I have ever seen and hear their lessons as they built it. 

Quick run of show—

01:15 Algolia is realtime fast customizable search, both backend and frontend 
02:02 Tech giants can put 100s of devs on search. Algolia democratizes that. 
03:34 Walking through the developer experience 
03:45 The homepage 
04:01 Evolving from self-serve to enterprise 
04:16 Even if you sell by enterprise, showing value to developers immediately is still key 
05:51 Garry's magical experience using Algolia 
06:12 The docs drive you directly to the tutorial: Interactive is better 
09:53 Design tip: Strong call to actions 
10:42 Developer docs are only effective when they make devs feel powerful 
11:56 How did Algolia implement their interactive developer docs? 
13:01 How to support 9 runtimes? 15 engineers out of 100 are devoted to dev xp 
14:43 Low bar high ceiling: the holy grail for products and services 
16:56 How Sylvain got into tech 
18:56 When your competition is 20 year old tech: Lucene and Sphinx 
20:05 Career advice for engineers starting out 

Transcript below
]]> Garry Tan tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1516285 2020-03-04T14:46:21Z 2020-03-04T23:04:11Z Stories from China Tech that don't get reported: A conversation with Rui Ma of Tech Buzz China

Today we're sitting down with Rui Ma. She is a very old friend of mine who also runs one of the top Chinese tech podcasts. Th ere are so many stories we never get to hear in the West, so I thought it would be fun to talk through a bunch of those narratives. It's a country of 1.4B people. People say China is either the future, or it copies the future. The reality is a little bit of both. 

Transcript below


The best podcast on Chinese technology— Tech Buzz China

00:30 Meet Rui Ma, Co-host of Tech Buzz China 
00:58 Tech in the West doesn't pay enough attention to China 
01:18 Why Rui started Tech Buzz China 
02:13 Luckin Coffee is an example of US tech media getting it wrong 
02:43 Media’s false equivalence: Luckin = Starbucks 

What's it called and how do we find it?

It's called Tech Buzz China, and then you can just go to any platform and we'll be there.

That's awesome, and what kind of stuff do you like to talk about?

Basically I talk about China tech, but it's with a heavy emphasis on internet. So, consumer internet primarily because that's really a lot of the big Chinese internet companies, that's what they're doing.

There's just so much happening in China and it feels like the media environment is completely separate. It doesn't make sense, it's worlds apart in sort of a sheer hardware platform, a sheer, like, software platform, but I don't think people pay attention to what's happening with Chinese companies nearly enough, and I'm glad for what you do. Thanks for doing that!

Oh, thank you.

Why did you start the podcast?

I thought there was an opportunity to more clearly bridge a divide that I saw between English coverage of Chinese tech companies and then what actually was happening on the ground in China. There are certain companies that are really popular in the media, or with the media here in the U.S., and are actually viewed quite skeptically in China, for example. There are other companies that are viewed very strongly in China that might not get a lot of airtime here in the U.S. but that are really interesting. And so, I look primarily at actually Chinese rich coverage, and I lived and worked in China for eight years, so, I tried to use my knowledge and cultural understanding to bring that, yeah.

That's super useful. What's the most extreme example of this?

One of the more extreme examples of recent years is a company called Luckin Coffee, which basically does delivery of their coffee. In China, there's a lot of skepticism about the company, but in the U.S., I think that they have, you know, there's some balanced coverage, but overall, I felt like that they were covered more favorably here.

How do you think that happens, that reporters here can't get access to the right people to sort of vet the story properly?

I think basically the reason why that happens is that there are certain narratives that come more naturally to Western audiences, so it's just more interesting because it's more familiar, whereas there are lots of things that are more unique to China that are just difficult to explain without have to provide a ton of context.

In the case of Luckin, they sort of just used one work to explain their business, and the word was Starbucks, which I think everyone here can understand, but if you take another company in China, like Kuaishou, which is a short-video app that does live-streaming e-commerce, all these other things, it's just much harder to explain 'cause there's no Western analog.

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1514184 2020-02-28T14:52:25Z 2020-03-04T23:26:38Z Andrew and Garry's Guide to Selling Your Startup

When and how should you sell your startup? M&A (mergers & acquisitions) are always a high stress process, and there are a lot of things you have to consider when you are trying to get a startup exit executed in the right way. Garry's startup Posterous was sold to Twitter for $20M and Andrew Lee's startup was sold to Zynga too. As venture capitalists today we work with more than a hundred startups from the earliest possible stage to now a total market value of over $36 billion. We've seen nearly every kind of startup exit and regularly try to help founders as they navigate these problems. This short video encompasses a lot of the advice we end up giving frequently to our community.


Transcript below

Andrew: Are you recording now?

Garry: Yes, recording. The reality is like, we sold our company because the company was ****ed.

Andrew: Yeah.

Garry: We were out of money. This is why you really sell your company. You made something good and then you're not growing. You can't raise more money. The company's going to die.

Andrew: Yeah, but sadly, what's happening is you always get approached when your company is growing, it's doing super well, and you don't really need anybody, and that's the time when it's probably the best time to sell. That's the classic problem.

Garry: That's the conundrum! It's okay, though, this video is to help you figure out how to actually get it done.

Andrew: And remember, companies are not sold, they're bought.

]]> Garry Tan tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1511496 2020-02-21T14:41:01Z 2021-09-16T19:14:49Z Email overload is the first sign you need to scale yourself

New vlog this morning! Transcript below or click play above.

Do you ever get a lot of email? Do you ever wish you could just do this with all that email? 

Of course, then this would probably happen.

As much as I'd like to hide from email, I can't hide, and most founders cannot hide either.

The ability to deal with a crazy amount of information and prioritize it properly feeds into the one trait that is super important for every founder— Conscientiousness. That is being able to do one's work well and quickly, with diligence.

There's an interesting study by Bucknell University from 2004, linked here. It's a study of businesses that were able to survive for eight years, and it studied founders on five different traits: agreeableness, extraversion, emotional stability, openness, and conscientiousness. 

Those first three had no affect on the outcome of the business after eight years. There was no significant correlation. Being agreeable or disagreeable? Maybe it doesn't matter. 

However, conscientiousness and openness we do have to worry about. Conscientiousness is positively correlated. The surprising result is that openness is actually anti-correlated with success over eight years. 

I think this points to a certain type of transition that happens in the life of every startup. Early on it's incredibly important to be as open and creative as possible. Later on, it's incredibly important to be as conscientious as you possibly can be.

Pre-product market fit? You need openness. You need creativity. You need the ability to do something that nobody else has done. You need the chaos of the prototyper, you needed to try things that other people have never tried. You need to be contrarian against the status quo.

But, over the long haul, that switches. It's the founder who has to manage the transition from this open, creative period, to one of scalability. 

Post-product market fit is about execution. It's about that founder who found product market fit, giving power and control over to the best possible people they can possibly hire. It's about delegation, it's about goal setting, and then it's about keeping people accountable to those goals that were set. It's a switch that a lot of people fail at.

Here's what it looks like when someone who has product market fit finds it, and loses it. The graph goes up, up, up, to the right, plateaus, and then starts falling. 

Founders who cannot scale, end up being overwhelmed by email first. It kind of looks like the scene from the movie "Brazil" that started this video. You're jammed for time. You become a bottleneck for the decisions you have to make. Your decision quality suffers over time. 

The fix is straightforward. You must invest in your skills as a manager. You must hire people you really trust, who are excellent, and then you have to delegate and trust them. But then verify! You've got to hold them accountable.

Those are all skills that many first time founders, who start off as incredibly open, and creative, do not have, but they must either develop those skills, or hire people under them who do have those skills. 

We have a finite number of hours in the day. Founders need to really manage this transition well— going from founder to CEO, running a board, running a team of executives. You have to be the player-coach, instead of just the star player. 

So this is actually a pretty useful roadmap for founders. Pre-product market fit, it's about openness, it's about creativity. Later, they need to switch into conscientiousness mode. They need to take what they've learned, and then march the whole team in that direction, and hold that team accountable the way they would hold themselves accountable.

When a founding team nails the first, and then the second, that's the makings of something that can truly be great.

]]> Garry Tan tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1508750 2020-02-12T13:55:43Z 2020-05-03T10:34:35Z How to bend a spoon with your mind


This is a transcript of my vlog just posted on YouTube. Watch the full video on YouTube at https://youtube.com/garrytan

If you can turn your thoughts into actions, that is supreme alchemy. Here's Planet Asia and Talib Kweli talking about exactly that.

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1506526 2020-02-05T15:00:00Z 2020-02-13T04:54:45Z What to do when someone steals your idea

New vlog this morning! Transcript below:

What do you do when someone steals your idea? First off, yes, it does happen. It's so hard to get a good idea that sometimes it's easier for people to just look at what's already working, and then rip it off.

]]> Garry Tan tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1503866 2020-01-29T15:46:28Z 2020-02-18T20:57:30Z Parker Conrad on building eng teams outside of SF and why engineers must do customer support (Part 2)

This is part 2 of my interview with Parker Conrad, founder of RipplingRead part 1 of this interview here.

Garry: Parker, one of the things that we're definitely seeing across our whole portfolio is that we're here in San Francisco, but engineers are very expensive. There's not enough housing, quality of life is very difficult at some level... but what's difficult for San Francisco is turning out to be an incredible boon for the rest of the world. How do you guys think about remote work, and what are you seeing across all of your customers?

Parker: In my view, remote work is the worst way to build a company, except for all the others. It's really not possible to build engineering teams at scale in the Bay Area right now. I think it's not something that a company can do, and so, if you need to build a big engineering team, you've gotta do at least some of it, or big parts of it outside of San Francisco. 

One of things that I think was not unique anymore, but was unique when we started doing it, is most of the company was actually outside of the Bay Area. We have a second office in Bangalore, and that's, even to this day, more than half the company is at our Bangalore office. And a lot of that is engineering, but there are other functions there as well. 

All of the challenges of having remote teams are there, but it's so impossible to build everything in the Bay Area that you need to find ways to overcome those challenges. And we see in our customer base, Rippling is really one of the only systems like this, it's the only payroll and HR system that was built for remote-distributed teams across the globe.

You can hire people outside of the U.S., you can pay them outside of the U.S., you can have one system for everyone, and so, we see this in a lot of our customers. That's one of the big value propositions is for companies that do have people, whether it's employees or contractors outside the U.S., you can do it all seamlessly inside of Rippling.

]]> Garry Tan tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1500982 2020-01-20T21:11:49Z 2020-01-20T23:33:22Z The 4 Habits of Auteurs That Made Hideo Kojima’s Video Game Masterpiece, Death Stranding

New vlog today! Here's the transcript below if you prefer to read, but this one in particular is a lot of action! The video game we talk about is gorgeous and words don't do it justice.

Games are violent. Really violent. Holy crap! Really, really violent, seriously. 

But do they really, really have to be that violent? 

This game doesn't think so. 

Today we're talking about "Death Stranding" One of my favorite games. It's so beautiful, it's super fun, and you don't have to kill a lot of people. 

]]> Garry Tan tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1497312 2020-01-13T14:55:22Z 2020-03-08T09:33:22Z Parker Conrad's hard-won billion dollar startup lessons: Do unscalable things, but then actually scale it (Part 1)

New Vlog this morning! It was a real treat to sit down with Parker. 

Transcript below

Today we're going to hang out with Parker Conrad. He created Rippling. He's one of the best product-focused CEO's I've ever met. Today he's going to share some of the most hard-won startup lessons that I've ever heard. And he hasn't talked about it anywhere else.

Let's go check it out. This is part one.


Garry: Thank you so much for hanging out.

Parker: Yeah, no, thanks for coming by.

Garry: So Parker, what is Rippling?

Parker: If you're a founder or CEO, one of the things you probably noticed at your company is that there's a lot of just irreducible admin work involved in running a business. Could be getting hired, it could be getting a raise, a promotion, getting married, having a kid, moving to a new address, eventually leaving the company, and each of those life cycle events for an employee create, have this set of implications across all or some subset of your different business systems that today, you need to handle manually and by hand, but with Rippling, we automate that end-to-end.

So, we get people added to all the right email lists, the right Slack channels, we get them a computer, all the right softwares installed, they're enrolled in the right insurance benefits, get 'em paid correctly.

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1495872 2020-01-06T15:50:34Z 2020-01-20T23:33:39Z Storytelling for your Series A, with Initialized Partner Andrew Lee

Hi everyone. The vlog today is a little different, since I asked my friend and colleague Andrew Lee to sit down with me and talk through some of the advice we give very frequently to our founders. This isn't intended to be a comprehensive guide, but most everything we discuss here is stuff that comes up as a part of our experience working with hundreds of startups at Initialized.


Transcript below

The advice that I'm going to give is just a truism that you already know, but it reminds me of the good Buddhist mantra: 

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Hi, my name is Andrew Lee. I'm a partner at Initialized Capital. I'm going to talk to you about follow on fundraising. That means you've already raised, for example a seed round and you're going to raise your next round. Let me go ahead and dive into some of the things that we've seen that are very helpful to those who are working on their next follow on funding round. 

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1493957 2019-12-29T18:24:21Z 2020-01-21T00:40:40Z Nikola Tesla predicted the smartphone: Now the world is forming into a global brain

Today, we're gonna talk about the global brain.

Imagine every single person on the planet, all seven and a half billion people. In the past 10 years, something remarkable has happened. Five billion of those people now have phones. Suddenly nearly every person on the planet can talk to everyone else instantly. 

Let's put this into perspective. In 1860, it took 10 days for mail to travel from St. Louis to Sacramento by Pony Express, two times faster than the next best alternative. As awesome as the Pony Express was, it was put out of business in two days, by the advent of the intercontinental telegraph, October 24th, 1861. There were a lot of sad horses and riders that day. Ponies have difficulty keeping up with the speed of light. 

The world used to be a really huge place, and now, we've brought it together, it's much smaller. 

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1492336 2019-12-23T15:33:58Z 2021-04-14T16:06:54Z Working for Microsoft cost me $200 million

Hey everyone, new vlog for this morning. I was in Seattle last week and it made me nostalgic. When I lived there, I made a career decision that cost me a lot, so I wanted to share it with you with the hope you can make different mistakes than me. 

Watch on YouTube—

Transcript below

My name's Garry Tan, I'm a Venture Capitalist. I started off as an engineer, a designer, a product manager. If you're new to this channel, I'm here to teach you all the things that I learned the hard way, starting with the most painful lesson, which cost me $200 million. 

I'd just graduated in 2003, and my friends were starting a company with Peter Thiel. They flew me down to have dinner with Peter. 

It was about the time Peter wrote the $500,000 check to Facebook that made him a billionaire. He was a known great entrepreneur. He just wasn't the billionaire that you know him as today. 

He looked at me and said, "Garry, "what are you doing at Microsoft? "You're wasting your time." Keep in mind, I was 23 years old, I didn't know anything about startups, I didn't know anything about finance, and I definitely didn't know how these things got started. 

He said, "Garry, I'm so sure this is the right thing for you, "you need to quit your job right now." 

He asked, "How much a year do you make at Microsoft?"

It was $72,000 a year, really the lowest of the low coming right out of college. He got out his checkbook and wrote me that check. 

"Cash this check, quit your job. This is a zero risk opportunity for you." 

I said, "Thank you very much, Mr. Thiel, but I might get promoted to Level 60 next year." 

Big mistake. This mistake cost me $200 million in equity, at least. Palantir is now worth $20 billion or more. 

Later, I did end up joining as employee number 10. I got to build one of their major product teams from scratch. I learned a lot, and it still worked out, but this is a story that you should keep in mind as you think about where you want to work. 

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1490885 2019-12-19T19:39:01Z 2020-01-20T23:04:37Z How to double profit margins for the most competitive industry in the world with software

Meet Ram Jayaraman. He is co-founder of Plate IQ. He’s helping restaurants actually understand how much money they’re spending on their food bills. This is an $860 billion market that has no pricing transparency until now. Plate IQ is used by 3% of restaurants in major cities today, and just getting started. 

A lot of companies claim to use AI to automate manual tasks, but Plate IQ has done it. They process now over 1M invoices per month. They took an unprofitable process and scaled it with pure software, and in the process are building something that gives pricing transparency that never existed before. 

You can watch the full video here: 

Here's the transcript of our conversation

Think of a business that's the hardest business in the world. Restaurants. It's only a three to 5% profit margin. What would happen if you could double that profit margin, just using software? That's exactly where Plate IQ plays. They're helping restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, all the way down to your neighborhood Jamba Juice, actually understand how much they're spending on food. It's an $860 billion market, every single year. And using software, they're able to let restaurants that you and I love stay in business, in the most competitive industry in the world. 

Garry: Ram, thank you so much for hanging out with me, man.

Ram: Yep, same here.

Garry: You've built something that is actually remaking every restaurant. And the crazy thing is, everyone eats.

Ram: Well, we started four years ago, really trying to help restaurants understand the money they are spending. And that information is kind of hidden in their invoices. On paper, and PDF, and so on, to kind of, really help them get all of the data that is there, the invoices.

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1460839 2019-09-29T15:29:43Z 2021-09-16T19:18:47Z Avoiding the cofounder trap: The #1 thing that can help a startup is also the #1 thing that could destroy it

Cofounders are the #1 thing that can make your startup. Having a true partner means you will overcome a lot more than you might when doing it all alone. But cofounder conflict is also the #1 reason why startups fail! How do you overcome this trap? 

I cofounded Initialized with Alexis Ohanian, creator of Reddit. Cofounders need to spend time getting on the same page so that’s what we did in New York City this episode. 

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1458626 2019-09-23T17:04:11Z 2021-09-16T19:19:20Z My newest YouTube video: Meet Jake Klamka who made Insight Fellows, the world's next applied graduate school for data and engineering

Today we’ll meet with Jake Klamka of Insight Fellows program, a free fellowship that has brought together the world's best scientists and then helps them get to the top of their fields at the best tech firms in the world. This program started with just 8 fellows 8 years ago and has now grown to a program that graduates 1,000 alumni per year in 6 cities and 8 different disciplines— not just data science but data engineering, AI, DevOps, Health Data, Data Product Management, Crypto and Security fields too. This free fellowship is an incredible community of smart people who keep paying it forward, and along the way, cross-pollinate ideas and methods for new technical fields that didn’t even exist 10 years ago! It truly is a new type of highly applied post-doctorate graduate school.

Please like this video and subscribe to my channel if you want to see more videos like this!

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Garry Tan
tag:blog.garrytan.com,2013:Post/1456787 2019-09-18T19:27:40Z 2021-09-16T19:19:20Z My three tips for your Y Combinator application as a former YC partner (video)

Just posted episode 2 above. Watch to the end to get a link to get your YC application reviewed before this next deadline. Send it to your friends who are applying, and please like and subscribe to this channel to see more like it.

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Garry Tan