Brad Stulberg, bestselling author of the books ‘The Passion Paradox’ and ‘Peak Performance,’ joins Venrock partner Bob Kocher to discuss his newest book, ‘The Practice of Groundedness.’ Stulberg offers a healthier, more sustainable model for success and dives into what groundedness means to him – a sense of feeling solid, stable, and whole; in a way that doesn’t eliminate ambition. Stulberg highlights the value of being present and how his views on well-being and performance have evolved. Kocher and Stulberg also discuss the importance of active reading, how grit only works if you have the right fit, and how wisdom impacts peak performance in different disciplines.
Venrock partner Bob Kocher speaks with Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, Professor and Dean at Brown University School of Public Health, about the importance of interdisciplinary approaches and knowledge translation in tackling big public health problems. Dr. Jha delves into the journey that led him to become Dean at Brown University and his thoughts on academia’s role in sharing information with the public. Dr. Jha and Kocher discuss the challenges of allocating vaccines and investing more in public health and pandemic preparedness. Dr. Jha also shares his thoughts on how Covid-19 will evolve, what will happen when schools open up in the fall, and the negative impact of fragmented information.
Not knowing where items are located, what’s in stock, or if they are properly priced cost the global retail industry more than a trillion dollars. Venrock partner David Pakman speaks with Brad Bogolea, co-founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics, about how Simbe’s robot Tally is solving these major blind spots. Bogolea delves into how robotic solutions can keep up with rapid changes without overhauling infrastructure and provide greater optical data than traditional solutions. Bogolea discusses the competitive and consumer pressures prompting retailers to embrace robotic solutions and how the pandemic exposed the need for autonomy and better data. Bogolea also touches on the challenges of financing in the robotics sector, and how being customer-oriented is key to Simbe’s success.
Vlad Coric, M.D., CEO of Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, joins Venrock partner Nimish Shah to speak about the significance of innovation and creativity across all aspects of a business. Coric dives into the challenges of launching Biohaven’s drug, Nurtec ODT, during the pandemic and why he believed it was their moral duty to continue the drug supply chain, despite the lockdown. Still seeing patients today, Coric discusses how his patient-centric approach positively guided him as a drug developer. Coric touches on Biohaven’s collaboration with Khloe Kardashian for Nurtec’s launch and his excitement for the digital transformation occurring in biotech. Coric also advises other biotech CEOs raising a cross-over round or going public to be selective with the investors they invite in, as they become an extension of the team.
Venrock partner Nick Beim speaks with Jason Wenk, founder and CEO of Altruist, about his mission to increase the accessibility of great financial advice. Wenk walks through his early entrepreneurial endeavors and explains how they’ve contributed to the creation of Altruist. As his leadership style has evolved over the years, Wenk shares the biggest lesson he’s learned while building Altruist and how he’s embraced the fact that it’s okay to not know everything.
Cyrus Harmon, co-founder and CTO of Olema Oncology, joins Venrock partner Alex Rosen to discuss the history of Olema. Olema had a successful IPO last year and Harmon sheds light on what biotech companies should look for when selecting banks for an IPO and how to build momentum for financing rounds. He also dives into the factors that led to the founding of Olema and how the company evolved to develop their OP-1250 drug, used for the treatment of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Harmon shares the biggest challenges he encountered, things he would have done differently, and the importance of perseverance as a leader. Harmon also touches on the biotech trends he’s most excited about, including mRNA vaccines, gene therapy, and AI in computational drug discovery.
Venrock partner Camille Samuels speaks with Angie You, CEO of Amunix, and Rich Heyman, Chairman of the Board, about the dynamics between a CEO and a Chairperson that foster a successful company. You and Heyman dive into the importance of mutual trust and respect between a CEO and the Board, and You shares her passion for people that makes her such a great talent hunter. You shares her experience as an Asian female CEO that has busted through multiple ceilings, and how her supportive friends and network help to make the CEO’s role less lonely. They also discuss how they’ve built an incredibly diverse management team at Amunix and why diversity of thought is so important.
Eric Brown, CEO of Dynamic Signal, joins Venrock partner Brian Ascher to speak about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Brown believes you can’t have great culture without putting inclusion first, which is why it was the first thing on his agenda as he stepped into his role as CEO of Dynamic Signal last year. Brown discusses some of the company’s initiatives, including the Mentorship and Access program, and shares how these programs have been received so far. Brown also shares the challenges of balancing family and work and how he had to purposefully make space for each of them to exist in harmony.
Venrock Partner Mike Tyrrell speaks with Jason Purcell, co-founder and CEO of Salsify to discuss his career and how Endeca’s $1B exit lead to the creation of Salsify. Purcell explains how we are in the midst of a “masses of markets” world, and delves into how commerce experience management platforms like Salsify are helping brands navigate a space where consumers engage with products on a broad variety of channels and win on the digital shelf. Purcell shares the toughest part of his journey at Salsify and what the company sees as its “North Star”. They also discuss the importance of repeated clear communication in leadership strategy, particularly when a company grows past the startup stage.
Dataminr uses AI to detect when major events are happening, long before the first news reports emerge. How is this possible? Venrock’s Nick Beim chats with Dataminr’s co-founder and CEO Ted Bailey to discuss how the rise of real-time data platforms and misinformation around the 9/11 attacks helped spark the idea for the company. He shares how Dataminr helps clients mitigate and respond to potential crises more effectively, including the ongoing pandemic. They also discuss how the Dataminr workforce is responding to all-remote work and how Bailey has grown as a leader since founding the company in 2009.
Emily Drabant Conley, CEO of Federation Bio, joins Venrock partner Racquel Bracken to chat about lessons learned from her time at 23andMe and how Federation Bio is disrupting the microbiome space. Conley discusses key takeaways from her experience in handling moments of crisis, including the importance of transparency and staying consistent with your company’s mission. As a female CEO, Conley shares what traits of 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki she tries to emulate and discusses how setting aggressive goals has helped her career. Conley also discusses the opportunities that come with working at a small company and reveals her passion for cooking, which she’s ramped up during the pandemic.
Venrock partner Nimish Shah speaks with Jason Fenton, managing director and head of healthcare capital markets at Cowen, to discuss the explosion of activity in the biotech IPO market this year. Fenton dives into the pros and cons of a virtual IPO process and shares best practices for companies looking to go public. Shah and Fenton outline some of the important factors to consider when choosing bankers and touch on common mistakes CEOs make while going through an IPO. Fenton also walks through the components of a recent successful IPO deal and provides his expectations for the biotech market in 2021.
Ryan Nece is a former NFL player, Super Bowl winner, and now a venture capitalist at Next Play Capital. He joins Venrock partner Brian Ascher to chat about the transition from the field to the boardroom, including why so many professional athletes take an interest in venture capital and what elite athletes and successful entrepreneurs have in common. Nece shares the highs and lows of having a famous parent, football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, and his gratitude for the opportunities made possible by his upbringing. No stranger to adversity, he also discusses a challenging time battling injuries that almost ruined his career before it started.
Venrock partner Bob Kocher speaks with Hill Ferguson, CEO of Doctor On Demand, about how the company managed a huge spike in demand for virtual care as COVID-19 spread throughout the country beginning in March 2020. He shares how Doctor On Demand implemented a real-time assessment for higher-risk patients to handle growing wait times, and how they partnered with Medicare to cover virtual care visits for seniors for the first time. Kocher and Ferguson discuss how social injustice, economic hardship, and losing loved ones to COVID-19 are contributing to the increased demand in behavioral health services offered by Doctor on Demand. Ferguson also highlights the importance of balance and self-care, shares his expectations for flu season, and unpacks Doctor On Demand’s plan to make primary care more accessible through virtual visits.
Jennifer Bisceglie, CEO and founder of Interos, joins Venrock partner Nick Beim to discuss how Interos mitigates the challenges of third party risk management, particularly during the pandemic, by providing customers full visibility of their extended supply chain. Bisceglie describes how Interos continuously builds “family trees” of companies and scans for risk factors so customers can gain visibility into their supply chains and understand the vulnerabilities that can interrupt operations. She shares her proudest moments at Interos so far, the biggest challenge that female entrepreneurs face, and provides advice to women who are looking to start a business.
Venrock partner Camille Samuels speaks with Corvidia co-founders Ram Aiyar and Michael Davidson about Corvidia’s recent acquisition by Novo Nordisk, just four years after its founding. They discuss how inflammation contributes to cardiovascular disease – the number one killer in the United States – and how their drug Ziltivekimab “Zilti” is proving to be a successful therapy. Aiyar and Davidson share their experiences and advice for other companies exploring a sale, including always being ready for Plan B (or C), maintaining positive relationships, and not rushing any deals. They also discuss why the cardiovascular space is becoming increasingly appealing to entrepreneurs and investors when it was previously avoided.
Latane Conant, CMO of 6sense, joins Venrock partner Brian Ascher to chat about marketing strategy for B2B companies and the role of marketing in corporate culture. They discuss the “First Sip Club” which Conant started during the pandemic to stay connected to fellow SaaS marketers, and she shares how it has evolved to stay relevant in a rapidly changing environment. Conant also discusses her new book No Forms, No Spam, No Cold Calls: The Next Generation of Account-Based Sales and Marketing, which covers her distinct B2B marketing and sales philosophy, and gives advice for junior marketers looking to excel in their careers.
Healthcare industry veteran George Barrett joins Venrock partner Bob Kocher to discuss how the U.S. handled the unprecedented demand for PPE (personal protective equipment) for healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Barrett explains the significance of examining all components at the supply chain level to create a system that is more flexible and resilient. They also delve into Barrett’s non-traditional business background and how his musical talents have shaped his career.
Venrock partner David Pakman speaks with Roham Gharegozlou, CEO and founder of Dapper Labs about launching CryptoKitties, one of the world's first and most successful blockchain games, and shares his predictions for how crypto gaming will evolve in the next decade. They also discuss the launch of NBA Top Shot, a new kind of digital collectible that capitalizes on consumer affinity for collecting and sports, and Flow, which is a blockchain that takes care of the underlying technology so developers can focus on building their applications.
Following up on their discussion of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, Venrock partner Bryan Roberts speaks with Mathai Mammen, Global Head of R&D at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, about Mammen’s career path and what differences he’s found working on drug development in both small companies and large companies. Managing 14,000 people has its challenges, but the scale is incredible: J&J’s products touch more than 1 billion people worldwide. They also discuss trends in gene editing and CRISPR thanks to machine learning and AI.
Venrock partner Bryan Roberts chats with Mathai Mammen about COVID-19 vaccine development and therapeutics in this special episode of Running Through Walls. Mammen serves as the Global Head of R&D at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, where he is heading up the firm’s COVID-19 vaccine development. They discuss J&J’s unique approach to the vaccine and which therapeutics are promising in the fight against the virus. Mammen shares how the U.S. can be better prepared for the next pandemic, and highlights how his company approaches vaccine production and distribution on a global scale.
Allison Pickens, former COO at Gainsight and co-author of “The Customer Success Economy: Why Every Aspect of Your Business Model Needs A Paradigm Shift” joins Venrock Partner Brian Ascher to discuss the new and increasingly important function of customer success for SaaS companies. They discuss how customer success differs from customer support, how working with customers has evolved, what startups should consider when making their first customer success hires, and common mistakes companies make when rolling out new programs. Recorded pre-pandemic, Pickens also shares how startups can make sure all functions are working together to support customer success with several examples that are relevant in today’s remote working environment.
Venrock Partner Bob Kocher speaks with Ezekiel Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, about Emanuel’s upbringing and family, how to deliver better patient care and implications of data/AI for medical ethics. They speak about their time working together in the Obama White House on the Affordable Care Act. With the 10-year anniversary of the legislation coming up in March, Emanuel talks about what’s improved in the U.S. healthcare system and what challenges remain. Emanuel also shares his love for chocolate and what inspired him to become a chocolatier.
10x Genomics CEO and co-founder Serge Saxonov joins Venrock’s Bryan Roberts to discuss the founding of the company and its recent IPO. Saxonov shares his story of emigrating from Tajikistan to New York City as a teenager, learning English and becoming an entrepreneur. He talks candidly about how he’s grown as a leader over his six years as CEO of the company and how the company’s technology has evolved to meet customers’ needs.
Paul Koenig founded SRS Acquiom to make M&A deals more manageable for entrepreneurs. Venrock partner Brian Ascher speaks with Koenig about what he’s learned from seeing thousands of deals, including best practices for shareholder reps, common misconceptions about due diligence, and trends in all-cash vs. stock offers. They also discuss how entrepreneurs can set the stage for a smoother M&A process when they first start the company and why having the right advisors is crucial.
Adam Boehler, CEO of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and former Deputy Administrator for Innovation & Quality at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, sits down with Venrock’s Bob Kocher to talk about the business of healthcare. He shares his journey from venture to founder to government, and he offers lessons learned in the shift to a value-based healthcare paradigm. He talks about his experience as founder and CEO of Landmark, including the decisions and challenges in providing home-based medical care.
Venrock’s David Pakman speaks with Misty Robotics Founder and Head of Product Ian Bernstein and CEO Tim Enwall about the launch of Misty II and the company’s evolution into a platform for developers. They discuss what sparked their initial interest in robotics and the various ways a robot can help people at home, from eldercare and cleaning to any other application that developers can dream up. They also share lessons learned from launching the BB-8 robot at Sphero, and how design factors into human-robot interaction.
Venrock’s DJ Patil speaks with Secretary Ash Carter, who served as the 25th Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration, about his experience in national security, technology and management. He shares how he successfully introduced new technologies to the Pentagon while earning the nickname “The Deliverer.” He discusses his new book, “Inside the 5-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon,” and how he leveraged technology to make the world a safer place over his 35-year career.
Venrock partner Camille Samuels sits down with her fellow Unity board member Paul Berns to discuss his long career in the pharmaceuticals and biotechnology industries. He shares how he led Anacor to a $5B+ acquisition by Pfizer in 2016 and his approach to managing people (the most important variable for success) with intellectual honesty and a high EQ. They also discuss the history of Humira, the world’s largest drug, and how the patient ultimately shapes every business decision he makes.
Venrock Partner Bob Kocher sat down with Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness in front of a live audience during the launch of their latest book “The Passion Paradox” at the offices of Lyra Health. They talked about cultivating a harmonious passion based on research that counters the conventional wisdom to find and follow your passions. “The Passion Paradox” is available on Amazon.
Ed and Todd Park join Venrock’s Bryan Roberts to continue their conversation about fixing the big problems in healthcare. In the second part of our two-part episode, the Park brothers examine rewiring the healthcare stack for the inevitable shift to a value-based care paradigm. They talk about their success with their latest venture Devoted Health, including how they build and motivate a workforce to stand up to the challenge of healthcare.
Todd and Ed Park, serial entrepreneurs in health IT, sit down with Venrock partner Bryan Roberts to discuss their early experiences founding athenahealth. Todd and Ed look back at how the company evolved from a women’s health clinic to a provider of practice management services. Tune in to find out their advice for new entrepreneurs, the mistakes that shaped their path, and the core team that helped them get to where they are today.
Kathleen Sebelius joins Venrock partner Bob Kocher for this episode of Running Through Walls. Kathleen is a former Governor of Kansas and was Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services under President Obama. They discuss her upbringing in a political family, what led her to pursue a career in public service herself, and lessons learned from the implementation and subsequent fix of Healthcare.gov, following the unveiling of the Affordable Care Act.
Todd Brinton, cardiologist and co-founder of Shockwave, spoke with Venrock’s Colin Cahill to discuss his journey from studying bioengineering to starting medical device company Shockwave. He shares the ups and downs of applying to medical school, how he decided to veer off the traditional medical path, and why he values mentorship. They also discuss bringing Shockwave to market and the tremendous impact it’s had on patients’ lives so far.
Venrock partner David Pakman speaks with CoinFund’s Jake Brukhman and Aleksandr (Alex) Bulkin about their path to the crypto space, projects they have worked on, as well as the challenges they have faced. The crypto ecosystem is still early in its evolution and there is a lot of room for improvement, but what will catalyze widespread adoption? David, Jake and Alex also discuss opportunities for investors and what projects excite them.
Jessica Neal, Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, joined Partner Tom Willerer for a special event at Venrock’s office to discuss culture, hiring and what early-stage founders need to think about when building their teams. Tom and Jessica discuss some of the unique features of Netflix’s culture and share their advice on all things HR/culture with the audience.
Hamilton Helmer, strategy expert and author of "7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy" joins Venrock partner Tom Willerer for part two of their conversation, applying the 7 Powers framework to three iconic organizations: Tesla, Stanford University and Netflix.
Hamilton Helmer, strategy expert and author of "7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy" joins Venrock partner Tom Willerer for part one of their discussion about business strategy and Helmer's book. They discuss each power, why it matters, and how much attention early-stage founders should be paying to strategy.
Venrock’s Megan Blewett speaks with Harvard chemistry professor EJ Corey about his childhood growing up in the Great Depression, what led him to pursue chemistry as a career, and how he became interested in human health. They discuss the day Professor Corey found out he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1990, and he shares his perspective on mentorship, having mentored more than 700 students over the years.
Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera and professor of Computer Science at Stanford, joins Venrock’s Tom Willerer to discuss her experience as a first-time founder. Daphne shares how her desire to make the world a better place led her to found Coursera, providing broader access to education for millions of users. She also discusses the decision to create a for-profit company vs. non-profit and why knowing your weaknesses helps when hiring a diverse team.
Dr. Bob Harrington, an interventional cardiologist and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Stanford University, speaks with Venrock’s Dr. Bob Kocher about his passion for coagulation and thrombosis (seriously, he loves it) and his involvement with Gusto, a clinical trial that changed the way doctors treat heart attack patients. Bob also talks about working with an executive coach to develop new skills, when he found himself managing teams at Duke Clinical Research Institute.
Maria Eitel, founder and co-chair of the Nike Foundation, joins Venrock’s Bryan Roberts to discuss the Time’s Up movement and recent cultural shifts in the workplace. Maria shares her journey from working in the White House to founding The Girl Effect, and the simple formula girls need to be successful. She also discusses the importance of creating shared spaces where men are involved in the conversation.
Venrock partner Brian Ascher speaks with Randy Womack, a seasoned executive who has served as both COO and CEO in several companies, including his current role as co-founder and CEO at Socrates.ai. They discuss the “Sheryl” effect, what to look for when hiring a COO, and when is the best time to introduce the COO role into a company. As CEO at Socrates.ai, he shares the difference between the two roles and discusses common misconceptions about what a COO really does.
Jessica Lessin, founder and editor-in-chief of The Information, joins her college roommate, Venrock’s Racquel Bracken, to discuss the evolution of journalism and how she created one of the most successful subscription news sites in Silicon Valley. Jessica shares her journey from the middle school newspaper all the way to the Wall Street Journal and breaking out on her own to start the Information. She also shares her views on journalism's role in the #metoo movement.
Part two of the discussion between former Netflix Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord and Venrock’s Tom Willerer focuses on Patty’s time at Netflix, where she created an acclaimed culture and learned how to encourage collaboration amongst colleagues. She and Tom also discuss the myths surrounding startup culture and why being on time was so important at Netflix.
In the first part of her conversation with Venrock’s Tom Willerer, former Netflix Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord shares her experiences at Netflix and how she helped build a culture that startups and large corporations continue to emulate. Elaborating on the concepts mentioned in her book, Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, Patty discusses what it takes to develop trust in the workplace and why being “nice” isn’t always the best approach for delivering constructive feedback.
John Katzman, CEO and founder of the Noodle Companies, joins David Pakman to discuss the evolution of edtech. He shares what he learned from his time as founder and CEO of The Princeton Review, including hard lessons he learned as a first-time CEO. John shares with David the two values that all successful entrepreneurs must hold sacred, and why his focus on metrics has become a worthwhile obsession.
Ben Anderson, CEO and co-founder of Amino, joins Venrock’s David Pakman to discuss how Amino brings people together to share their passions. Amino is a mobile app where users join communities based on their interests, whether it’s Game of Thrones, robotics or modern art (to name a few). Unlike most gathering places on the Internet, Amino is rare in that it’s a positive place, almost always free of trolls. Being a first-time CEO, Ben tells David about the nuances of managing millennials and the importance of creating a constant stream of positive reinforcement. Ben shares how hustle, willpower, and perseverance have helped his team create one of the most highly rated apps in the App Store today.
Chris Chen, CEO of ChenMed, joins Venrock’s Bryan Roberts to discuss the challenges and successes of providing healthcare to the population that needs it most – the poor, the old, and the sick. Chris’s father, James Chen, founded ChenMed as a way of providing concierge-style healthcare to low- and moderate-income seniors. When his father faced a health scare, Chris spent 24 hours learning how to run the business. After his father recovered and Chris completed his fellowship, they expanded ChenMed to 42 medical centers and significantly decreased hospitalization rates of their patients. With cardiovascular, oncological, and orthopedic diseases plaguing his patient population, Chris emphasizes the importance of holistic healthcare practices and collaborating with doctors who understand the economics of healthcare. Although wanting to cure the world may be his kryptonite, Chris shares how staying focused allows him to help those who need it the most.
Noah Lang, CEO and co-founder of Stride Health, joins Venrock’s Bob Kocher to discuss the changing nature of work, and how his company is helping independent workers successfully create a “business of one.” Lang recalls his childhood love of building and creating, and how it led him to study product design at Stanford and later launch Stride Health. Stride Health delivers a toolkit that helps independent workers find healthcare coverage and other benefits that workers outside of traditional 9-5 jobs do not typically receive. This shift towards independent employment has fueled Lang’s passion for helping these workers keep more of what they earn and thrive in their businesses. Lang also shares how running and guidance from his coach have helped him continue to improve as a first-time CEO.
Chris Lochhead, a three-time Silicon Valley CMO, co-author of Play Bigger, and former entrepreneur, joins Brian Ascher of Venrock to discuss the importance of category design and marketing on this week’s episode of Running Through Walls. From having a provocative point of view to not accepting the status quo, Chris outlines what every business needs to do to become a category king. He discusses the right time to think about category design, whose job it is, and why concentrated campaigns called “Lightning Strikes” will grab the attention of consumers more effectively than traditional marketing.
Peter Lee, executive director for California’s health benefit exchange Covered California, joins Venrock’s Bob Kocher to discuss working with Washington and Peter’s goal of making healthcare a right, not a privilege. Lee started his career as a lawyer and became an AIDS/HIV activist in the 1980s. Peter humorously recalls the time he was arrested outside the Reagan White House for protesting the government’s lack of responsiveness to the AIDS epidemic, and how he had to disclose that story when he worked on the Affordable Care Act under the Obama Administration. Peter shares how he grew Covered California from 13 employees to 1,600, and how he allocates his $110 million marketing budget to successfully target specific consumers. Peter also speaks to the importance of creating a mission that employees believe in, and how he fosters a sense of start-up culture within the government.
Curious about cryptocurrency? Venrock’s David Pakman talks to Adi Sideman and Yonatan Sela about the upcoming launch of PROPS, a new cryptocurrency. The YouNow team pioneered mobile live video and they were the first to introduce an economy around interactive video, where on the one side people can buy a virtual currency, and on the other side, creators who perform can earn that currency. They discuss what led them to this point, and how YouNow is setting out to distribute network value broadly across users and break up the centralized control of media with the PROPS project.
As the CEO of medical technology company ZELTIQ, Mark Foley was on the front lines of a major business transformation. Venrock’s Bryan Roberts talks to Foley about turning the company around by changing the business model and swapping out the majority of leadership, culminating in the successful acquisition by Allergan for $2.4 billion in April 2017. But the exit wasn’t all smooth sailing. Foley shares details on the initial failed bids that rocked the company’s culture, how he managed morale during this tricky time, and what led to the successful deal in the end. He also shares how investors can recover after an initial stumble, and how he made the transition from VC to CEO successfully.
Steve Walske founded Parametric Technology Corporation in 1985 and is now on the board of several prominent Silicon Valley companies including Synopsys and 6sense. Venrock partner Brian Ascher talks to Walske about his unique formula for building a strong sales team and striking a balance between managing and empowering salespeople. Walske believes in efficiency above all else, and that means turning down opportunities until the company establishes a real sales presence in the area. They also discuss the truth about “bowling league syndrome” and why employee turnover doesn’t faze him.
Venrock partner Nick Beim talks to Mark Gerson, co-founder and Chairman of Gerson-Lehrman Group, about his early entrepreneurial pursuits, why society should promote entrepreneurism and why it’s a bad idea to keep all of your ideas to yourself when first starting out. When Gerson’s innovations stretched to providing first-response services and healthcare for underserved populations, he came to the realization that philanthropy, like any other venture, focuses on the amount of return — social or financial — on any project. From a healthcare foundation operating in areas like Malawi and Kenya, to a network of first responders that treat victims of pre-hospital trauma in Israel, Gerson shares his wisdom on building connections and social awareness through business.
In the first part of his discussion with Bryan Roberts of Venrock, former Genentech and Facebook CFO David Ebersman shares what he learned about leadership from the dynamic duo of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, and discusses his experience taking the company public in 2012. Now CEO and founder of Lyra Health, Ebersman discusses how Lyra solves the problem of finding quality care for mental health conditions, and talks about the most surprising aspects of being a startup founder after stints at large companies.
Virta Health CEO Sami Inkinen took a circuitous path to CEO, having grown up on a farm in Finland and studying physics before embracing his passion for computers and pursuing entrepreneurship. Inkinen speaks to Venrock partner Bob Kocher about what led him to co-found the real estate startup Trulia and now Virta, an online medical clinic that’s on a mission to reverse diabetes in 100 million people by 2025. They discuss how this goal impacts decision-making at the company and helps with hiring and motivating employees. Inkinen also shares the differences he’s encountered in healthcare after starting his career in tech.
When Matthew Prince and Michelle Zatlyn met in business school, they didn’t envision a class project turning into a billion-dollar company, but that’s exactly what happened. Bryan Roberts, partner at Venrock and Cloudflare board member, talks with the co-founders about the early days of company building and how their initial mission statement has remained the same years later, a rarity among Silicon Valley startups. Prince and Zatlyn discuss their measured and thoughtful approach to hiring, and why slower growth helps them keep Cloudflare’s culture strong. They also share their experience with public policy, and a time when they took drastic measures to protect the privacy of a Cloudflare user.
Bruce Cozadd was a musician in his early years, but a passion for science and business led him to enter the biopharma industry. Venrock partner Camille Samuels talks to Cozadd, now CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, about his journey to co-founding Jazz and the people who helped him along the way. He shares the joys of starting Jazz with a team that had worked together in the past, but also highlights the downside: that his team lacked diverse prior experiences to rely upon while building a company. When Jazz’s stock price fell to just $0.53 a share, Cozadd persevered and relied on grit and determination to turn the company around. He also shares his wisdom about managing people through all stages of their careers, and reveals what his mentor taught him about treating people well no matter how difficult a situation the company is in.
Hill Ferguson joined Doctor on Demand as CEO in 2016. Venrock’s Bob Kocher talks to Ferguson about his first day on the job and hallmarks of a successful founder to CEO transition, including the delicate balance of fixing problems while preserving what’s already great with the company. Ferguson was on the employee side of this transition in previous roles, and learned the importance of creating an environment where all employees, regardless of position, feel comfortable asking questions. They also discuss Ferguson’s product expertise, and how he views all products as solutions to problems. What products inspire him? Those that help humanity and create economic value while improving people’s lives. Hint: not foie gras delivery. Ferguson also shares the nuances of recruiting doctors for telemedicine and what a good day looks like for Doctor on Demand’s physicians.
Steven Aldrich, Chief Product Officer at GoDaddy, has thrived professionally at both large companies and startups, something Brian Ascher of Venrock notes is unusual during this interview. Aldrich shares lessons startups can learn from more established companies and vice versa, noting that startups often try to be scrappy and do things internally regardless of expertise, while hiring someone with expertise would save them time and money. Conversely, big companies need to encourage experimentation and find ways to maintain the sense of urgency that energizes a team around problem solving. Aldrich says having a growth mindset (Carol Dweck, Mindset) is at the bedrock of how he hires and manages, while fixed mindset folks have no place in Aldrich’s organization. Aldrich also talks about GoDaddy’s famous Super Bowl commercials and what impact they had on the company then and today. Spoiler alert: you will see a new GoDaddy commercial during the upcoming Super Bowl.
Matt Rogers, co-founder of Nest, started his career as an intern at Apple and it was during that first week on the job when he met his co-founder Tony Fadell. While speaking with David Pakman of Venrock, Rogers talks about stretching people to help them grow, why he and Fadell chose to reinvent the thermostat, and why Apple is a breeding ground for entrepreneurs. Nest was going after a market dominated by well-entrenched players, but Rogers says they were prepared for a fight and ultimately these older companies have made it easy for Nest to stay one step ahead. Rogers also recalls a low point in the company’s growth – a product recall – and how they navigated that situation with transparency and continued focus on the whole customer experience. Now a part of Alphabet, Rogers says it’s hard to know what to expect when your company is acquired, but building a good relationship with the acquirer is key. Roger’s kryptonite? Large crowds!
Founded as Microbia to explore and develop antifungal and antibacterial drugs, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals now has two drugs on the market helping patients with IBS and Gout. After nearly 20 years and many different approaches and targets, founder and CEO Peter Hecht tells Venrock’s Bryan Roberts that he is proud of the failures along the way as the end goal was always to build an enduring pharmaceutical company. The key is to kill programs that aren’t working early and not let them go too long – research is cheap, development is hard. Hecht also talks about managing people when you have a moving target. You have to have great people with the right skill sets and you have to help people who don’t have the right experience move on to a new challenge. Hecht’s superpower? Knowing what he doesn’t know. Though Roberts thinks it is Hecht’s ability to attract a variety of assets – people, ideas, capital...
Gio Colella, co-founder of RelayHealth and Castlight Health, speaks with Bryan Roberts at Venrock about starting companies and the importance of surrounding yourself with amazing people. Colella advises other entrepreneurs to find partners you can trust, who are very different from you, and who are aligned with the vision for the company. Colella and Roberts also talk about the early days of Castlight and the iterative process that revealed the foundation of the company, as well as the challenges related to managing through the highs and lows as a public company. They also talk about what made RelayHealth’s acquisition by McKesson so successful, in a world where M&A horror stories are rampant. Colella immigrated to the US from Italy and left his psychiatry practice to answer the call of entrepreneurship.
Farzad Mostashari, founder and CEO of Aledade, speaks with Bob Kocher at Venrock about bringing a data-driven approach to solving problems and the importance of knowing the question you want to answer, so you can apply the appropriate analysis. Mostashari, who went to medical school, knew quickly that he would not pursue a traditional career as a physician. In medical school he was an outlier, asking questions about population/public health, and then during his residency was mostly curious about the systems, so it’s no surprise that Mostashari went on to hold positions with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York City Department of Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Despite loving government service, Mostashari saw an opportunity to improve healthcare through Accountable Care Organizations, that would be better for patients, better for doctors and better for society. And in 2014 Aledade was born.
Sam Mazin, Founder and CEO of RefleXion Medical, speaks with Colin Cahill at Venrock about managing a big project with a lean budget, raising money, and communicating an evolving and complex vision. They explore the evolution of RefleXion’s addressable market as clinical data showed better results than the standard of care, and what that means for some cancer patients. Sam and Colin also talked about learning to manage “on the job” and how you manage people who have more experience. Sam’s research as a postdoc at Stanford led to the idea of combining radiotherapy with PET imaging, and RefleXion Medical was born.
Ryan Gilbert, co-founder of SmartBiz Loans, speaks with Brian Ascher of Venrock about building a fintech company and what went wrong along the way. The company mastered the art of pivoting and ultimately found its niche in small business loans. Gilbert advises new fintech entrepreneurs to partner with large banks rather than focusing on disruption, as banks have started to embrace new technology. A catch-phrase master, Gilbert wonders where truly novel technology can be found in the finance industry – where is the tech, in fintech? They also discuss the war for talent, giving non-obvious candidates a shot and promoting loyalty. Gilbert also talks about becoming a VC and what has surprised him most about his new role.
Anne Wojcicki, founder of 23andMe, speaks with Bob Kocher of Venrock about her path to entrepreneurship, the importance of authenticity and health as the ultimate equalizer of humanity. Wojcicki was dismayed by the lack of transparency in healthcare, which led the company to sell direct to consumers and empower them with information to get the care they want. In addition to understanding how their genetic information impacts their health, 23andMe has allowed people to engage with their genetic information to understand where they come from. Ancestry has been an addictive component of the product for consumers as people are often surprised to find that their roots and connections may not be exactly what they thought. Long lost cousin? Mostly, Wojcicki loves the honesty in healthcare.
Kevin Ryan, co-founder of DoubleClick, MongoDB, Business Insider, and Gilt Groupe (among others), speaks with Nick Beim at Venrock about building teams and what to look for in a VC. Ryan advocates taking risks as an entrepreneur, even if it leads to a failure or two. You can learn a lot from unsuccessful ventures and it prepares you for the next thing. They also discuss how entrepreneurial optimism is essential as there will always be rejection and bumps along the way, but it can also cloud judgement when it comes to an exit opportunity. Overconfidence may make you want to pass up a good deal when it comes along. Ultimately, you have to have fun. It’s what keeps you going.
Blue Shield of California (BSCA) CEO Paul Markovich speaks with Bob Kocher at Venrock about bringing the healthcare system out of the stone age and the opportunities for entrepreneurs to bring much needed change to the industry. They talk about how Paul’s career path led him to healthcare, how he fosters an open environment that welcomes feedback and what BSCA is doing to create new efficiencies through a collaboration with Anthem Blue Cross, called Cal INDEX. They also discuss “what insurance companies actually do” and who is making money in healthcare. Paul is currently president and CEO of BSCA, a four million-member nonprofit health plan. Their mission is to ensure Californians’ access to high-quality healthcare at an affordable price. Paul was previously an entrepreneur, having cofounded MyWayHealth, a consumer-driven health plan.
Candice Morgan, Head of Diversity at Pinterest, speaks with Venrock’s Richard Kerby about her experience so far balancing recruitment and retention of diverse candidates at Pinterest, and challenges of recruiting in San Francisco in particular. They also discuss the less sexy side of diversity initiatives that are rarely covered in the media, and Morgan shares experiences from earlier in her career of executives not being supportive of diversity efforts. She also highlights the Rooney-rule like requirement at Pinterest that promotes hiring underrepresented minorities and women in leadership roles.
Candice is currently Head of Diversity at Pinterest, leading strategy and programs to enhance a diverse and inclusive company. She is a frequent speaker at global conferences and events. Formerly, Candice was a Senior Director in Consulting Services at Catalyst, the leading nonprofit for research, advisory, and practices on women in business.
YouNow CEO and founder Adi Sideman talks with Venrock partner David Pakman about his dream of an interconnected and livecasted world, and how he made it a reality with the founding of YouNow. He shares his views on the one pure form of rich media creation, what it’s like to compete with Twitter and Facebook, and how his game development experience helps him to deliver a magical experience to customers. They also discuss how YouNow avoids common safety pitfalls of other social media sites and why New York is the perfect home for the company.
Adi Sideman is a pioneer in participatory media, with more than 20 years of experience creating apps and companies in the user-generated content space. Founded in 2011, YouNow’s mission is to create an interactive platform where anyone can participate and express themselves live.
Brent Lang, an Olympic Gold Medalist and CEO/President of Vocera, speaks with Venrock partner Brian Ascher about his journey from winning an Olympic gold in swimming during the 1988 Seoul Games to leading a public company. Brent shares lessons learned from competing in the Olympics and discusses his insights on becoming an effective leader and managing a board. He also reflects on maintaining Vocera’s strong company culture during times of transition, and what he’s learned about establishing a healthy work/life “harmony.”
John Stuelpnagel speaks with Venrock partner Bryan Roberts about his career transition from large animal veterinarian to entrepreneur, the keys to Illumina’s dominance in the industry, and the future of genomics. As the founder and board member of many successful genomics companies including Illumina, Ariosa Diagnostics, 10X Genomics and more, John shares his advice for the next generation of entrepreneurs and offers his perspective on the next frontier of innovations in genomics.
Venrock partner and early Dollar Shave Club investor David Pakman speaks with CEO Michael Dubin about the acquisition by Unilever and the company's journey to this point.
Six-time founder Ned David speaks with Venrock partner Camille Samuels about why he doesn’t particularly enjoy being an entrepreneur, but feels compelled to build companies, including newly formed Unity Biotechnology. They discuss Unity, and why Ned is passionate about eliminating the aches and pains of old age and extending human “healthspan.” He also shares how his hiring tactics have evolved from “The Bad News Bears” to “The Expendables” over the years, and why he wants to make his son proud.
Cami has invested in all of Ned’s life sciences companies and currently sits on the board of Unity. Ned has founded a series of companies in the biotechnology and sustainable energy sectors, including Syrrx, Achaogen, Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Sapphire Energy and now Unity, which designs therapeutics that prevent, halt, or reverse numerous diseases of aging.
Entrepreneur Bryson Gardner speaks with Venrock partner David Pakman about how his experience at Apple - where he worked on the iPhone and iPod - led to the creation of Pearl Automotive. Bryson shares his vision for Pearl and why you shouldn’t have to buy a new car to get the latest technology. They also discuss which aspects of Apple culture he emulates and which he purposefully avoids.
Bryson Gardner has over 20 years of experience developing consumer products, most recently at Apple. Founded in 2016, Pearl is dedicated to improving the more than 1.2 billion cars on the road today through advanced automotive technology that updates automatically to deliver ongoing feature enhancements.
6sense founder and CEO Amanda Kahlow speaks with Venrock partner Brian Ascher about the importance of identifying company values and her unique spin on making those values a part of her company’s DNA. Amanda also discusses the most telling questions she asks every potential new hire, the ups and downs of letting people go while maintaining a positive culture, and shares how a little competition with her brother pushed her to succeed early in her career. She also has some advice for her fellow female entrepreneurs.
Amanda Kahlow is a product-focused CEO who is passionate about bringing the power of predictive marketing and sales intelligence to B2B enterprise and mid-market companies. The 6sense predictive intelligence platform uncovers net-new prospects at every stage of the funnel and determines which existing prospects are in market to buy.
Gina Bianchini, CEO and founder of Mightybell, speaks with Venrock partner David Pakman about the secrets to building healthy communities online, “revisionist history” in Silicon Valley, the No. 1 product mistake she’s made, and how to build trust among teams. She also shares why sponsors, not mentors, helped her the most when first starting out in her career.
Gina is an expert in community entrepreneurship. Mightybell is designed for entrepreneurs and company innovators to launch communities that need to exist in the world. Before founding Mightybell, Gina Bianchini co-founded and led Ning, the largest social platform for communities, started in 2004.
Grand Rounds CEO and co-founder Owen Tripp talks with Venrock partner Bryan Roberts about the move from tech into the healthcare industry, his goal to make everyone a medical insider, and what he loves about Millennials. He also reveals his weakness in evaluating candidates, and discusses the rise of women in healthcare IT.
Grand Rounds’ vision is to create a path to great health and health care, for everyone, everywhere. Prior to Grand Rounds, Owen co-founded Reputation.com and grew the company into the worldwide leader in online reputation and privacy management.
Russ Fradin, CEO and founder of Dynamic Signal, talks to Venrock partner Brian Ascher about his long history as an entrepreneur and how that experience has impacted the way he approaches running a business today. They discuss lessons learned from Dynamic Signal’s early pivot, as well as Russ' contrarian view on fundraising, why he’s always open to blind emails and why it’s stupid to be stealth in the enterprise world.
Russ is a digital media industry veteran with nearly 20 years of experience at companies such as Adify, comScore and Flycast. Dynamic Signal’s employee advocacy and engagement platform changes how companies communicate, turning employees into experts, advocates and contributors.