Playing with unicorns is a new weekly show on startups, entrepreneurship, and venture capital. I cover everything I learned as an entrepreneur, angel investor and venture capitalist during the last 22 years, focusing on everything I wished I knew when I first got started as a tech entrepreneur.
#43 Julio Vasconcellos and the state of Latin American tech
1:14:51I had the pleasure of receiving Julio Vasconcellos on the show. Julio is the Founder and Managing Partner of Atlantico, a leading early-stage venture fund in Latin America. It was Julio's role as the inaugural Facebook employee for Latin America that initiated his path in the startup world in the region after starting his career in Silicon Valley. He later co-founded Peixe Urbano, scaling it to over 1,200 employees and $100M+ in revenue. After a startup rollercoaster ride with multiple near-death experiences, Julio sold the company to Baidu, and went on to join Benchmark Capital as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. There, he met Scott Belsky and the two went on to co-found Prefer in San Francisco which Benchmark backed, as they had with Peixe Urbano. Alongside his entrepreneurial journey, Julio has been investing for over a decade. Starting as a seed investor, he co-founded Graph Ventures with fellow colleagues from Facebook and Stanford. Later, he helped co-found Canary (https://canary.com.br/), the leading seed-stage fund in Latin America. In 2020, Julio returned to Brazil to found Atlantico and focus on early-stage venture investing. We covered: His history and path into tech. His transition from entrepreneur to investor. Why he built Atlantico to focus on Series A investing in Latin America. The significant investment potential within Latin America today.
#42 Kevin Ryan, Unicorn Builder
1:08:46I had the pleasure of being joined by my good friend Kevin Ryan. He’s often been called the “Godfather of NYC tech.” Kevin is one of the leading internet entrepreneurs and investors in New York. He is a co-founder of MongoDB, Business Insider, Gilt Groupe, Zola, and Nomad Health, and founds new companies with AlleyCorp every year. Earlier in his career, Kevin helped to grow DoubleClick first as President and then as CEO, leading their growth from a 20-person startup to a publicly traded global leader with over 1,500 employees, through IPO in 1998 and acquisition by Google in 2007. Kevin is also on the Board of Tech:NYC, Vice Chairman of The Partnership for New York City, a member of the CFR Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Director Emeritus for Human Rights Watch. Kevin previously served on the boards of the Yale Corporation and INSEAD. It's also worth mentioning Kevin is the one who convinced me to go to Antarctica with him. We covered: · His history and path into tech. · How he built so many successful companies with Alley Corp. · Lessons learned along the way. · His general life philosophy and perspective on Antarctica, Burning Man, psychedelics and much more.
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Episode 41: Ask Me Anything
1:53:17It had been over a year since we did the last Ask Me Anything (AMA) so the time had come. As requested by the audience, my son François joined us for the first part of the show. He was his usual epic self: calm, poised, and playing along cutely. His presence clearly played a part in the success of the episode which was one of the most watched ever across all the platforms and was by far the most interactive episode ever with 137 live comments in addition to dozens of questions submitted ahead of time! The audience’s questions fell into 5 categories: Antarctica, Marketplaces, Startups, Macro, and Other (life decisions, books, etc.) which I covered in turn.
#40 Oskar Hartmann: Unicorn Accumulator
1:12:52This week, I had the pleasure of chatting with my good friend Oskar Hartmann. He’s had the most incredible unicorn experience: He was part of 10% of all German unicorns Made a $300M mistake on Ozon Managed to make money on Fab.com despite it going from $1.5B in value to $0 in 6 months Why selling at the point of maximum secondary liquidity is probably a bad time to sell Much more!
#39: Simpl and the Indian Fintech Ecosystem
55:53On this week’s episode I had the pleasure of welcoming Nitya Sharma, co-founder and CEO of Simpl, to conclude our mini-series on the Indian tech scene. We had a fascinating conversation on the state of Indian Fintech, which in many ways is more advanced than the US. I am beyond impressed by the free C2C / B2B / B2C instantaneous real time payments allowed by UPI and the business models that emerge when you can do free microtransactions. I wish the West had the equivalent of India’s UPI (or Brazil’s Pix). I am also beyond impressed by what Nitya has built with Simpl, which I hope will be a Unicorn soon!
#38 The Indian Tech Ecosystem & FJ Labs’ Thesis in the region
41:16This week we are covering the state of the Indian tech ecosystem. We are joined by Luke Skertich, senior associate at FJ Labs, who is leading the charge with our Indian investments. In this episode, we cover: The history of India’s tech ecosystem and the recent explosion in unicorns Why we are short term pessimistic, but medium and long term super bullish Why we are focusing on Picks and Shovels, Financial Infrastructure, and B2B Marketplaces
#37 Building India's 76th Unicorn & the Indian car market at large
40:29In this episode, we cover: Niraj’s path to creating Spinny, including creating two much less successful startups right out of college The differences between the US & Indian car markets Spinny’s unique solution to the market considering the specifics of the market Spinny’s ambitions on a go forward basis The impact, if any, of the massive global multiple compression in comps like Carvana and Cazoo The state of Indian tech market
#36 Building a Web3 Unicorn with Lorien Gabel (Figment)
52:18Lorien Gabel is the Co-Founder of Figment Network. He holds an LLB from Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School and is a member in good standing with the Ontario Bar. In 1994, at the age of 24, 6 months into practicing law, Lorien quit to help his brother Matt run a bourgeoning internet company, Interlog. Over the next four years, they managed the growth of Interlog to over 150 employees, 65,000 customers and profitability. It was later acquired by a large multinational telecommunications company.