Jason Stofferwas still early in his career at venture capital firm Maveron in 2012 when he declined an opportunity to invest in Remitly, then a fledgling Seattle startup with ambitions to challenge Western Union by bringing a tech mindset to the business of international money transfers. He was impressed by Remitly co-founders Matt Oppenheimer and Josh Hug but knew they faced a huge challenge in getting the state-by-state regulatory approval required to make monetary remittances to what was then their initial international market, the Philippines. "It felt like the end vision was powerful — if they can get there," Stoffer recalled. "But two guys in a room in Seattle saying they were going to navigate an incredibly complex regulatory environment and figure out how to market in a country a continent away, it felt like too big a hill to climb. And they proved me wrong." Ten years later, Remitly is poised to go public in an initial public offering that values the company at $6.5 billion, as we reported this week. Stoffer, whose successful exits as an investor include Flywire, Course Hero, General Assembly and Zulily, analyzed Remitly's financialsrecently on his new blog, Ringing the Bell, displaying an admirable humility in his assessment of a company that could have been part of the Maveron portfolio. He joins my colleague John Cook and me on the GeekWire Podcast to talk more about Remitly, lessons learned, the current market for tech investing, and his approach to reading S-1 regulatory filings. In the final segment, we discuss Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first television appearance since assuming the top role from founder Jeff Bezos. Stoffer is an investor in Cap Hill Brands, an aggregator of third-party Amazon sellers. Audio editing and production by Curt Milton; Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, and more from the GeekWire Summit
26:13This week on the GeekWire Podcast, we’re sharing a few highlights from the GeekWire Summit, our annual business and technology conference, which we held this week for an audience in Seattle and online. For online access to the full video of every GeekWire Summit 2021 session, purchase a ticket at geekwire.com/summit to watch at your convenience. On this week's show: Computer scientist and entrepreneur Yoky Matsuoka talks about her journey from academia to Silicon Valley, and compares and contrasts her experiences at Apple and Google. Matsuoka is leading an independent Panasonic subsidiary called Yohana that recently launched a personal assistant subscription service. Related: Robotics pioneer Yoky Matsuoka on the human touch in her new personal assistant venture Yohana Amazon CEO Andy Jassy addresses questions about the company’s impact on the world and responsibilities beyond serving customers. The GeekWire Summit appearance was Jassy's first live on-stage interview since succeeding founder Jeff Bezos as Amazon CEO — leading one of the world's most influential companies at a pivotal moment in its history. Related: Amazon CEO: Relationship with Seattle City Council has become ‘rougher,’ but hope remains Grammy-award winning entertainer and entrepreneur Ciara discusses creativity and independence in music and business. She talks about the moment of insight that accompanied her hit song "Level Up," which became an ethos that translates into her work in music, business, fashion, and more. Related: GeekWire Summit 2021 recap: Leaders and luminaries share insights at our annual conference Audio editing and production by Curt Milton; Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Microsoft's larger lesson from TikTok: Brad Smith on the future of U.S.-China tech relations
30:20Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella this week called the company's unsuccessful efforts to acquire TikTok's U.S. operations last year "the strangest thing" he's ever worked on. Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and newly named vice chair, laughed when he read that — agreeing with the sentiment, even if he has seen stranger things in his two decades representing the tech giant in its dealings with companies and governments around the world. In the new paperback edition of his book, Tools & Weapons, Smith writes that the situation showed it's "possible to run a foreign technology service in a domestic data center with strict security, privacy, and digital safety controls in a manner that provides appropriate transparency to local government officials." "In effect, this creates the opportunity to consider a new technology regulatory model for those instances where the US government wants technology trade to continue across the Pacific, but in a more controlled manner," he writes. Smith elaborates on the issue in this GeekWire Podcast conversation about the paperback update to Tools & Weapons, written with co-author Carol Ann Browne. They made extensive updates in the new paperback version of Tools & Weapons, including new chapters on the challenges created by unprecedented cyberattacks and the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith also talks about Microsoft's new cybersecurity initiatives, his concerns about a lack of transparency and communication about cyberattacks among U.S. agencies and companies, and the future of work after the pandemic. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
What to expect in Windows 11: Former Microsoft PM Kevin Stratvert on the OS upgrade
43:27Come on, how much has really changed in Windows 11 vs. Windows 10? To paraphrase a certain Spinal Tap guitarist, is it really worthy of taking it up to eleven? Kevin Stratvert hears that question all the time, and based on his experience so far, his answer is yes. Stratvert is a former Microsoft program manager who left the company to focus full-time on his work as a YouTube creator, producing how-to videos about software and services from Microsoft and others. Stratvert joins us this week on the GeekWire Podcast to look ahead to the launch of Windows 11 on Oct. 5, providing a sense for what to expect. We talk about the new Windows 11 user interface, overall performance improvements, the centered Start menu, Windows 11 Widgets, upgrades to the multiple virtual desktops feature in Windows, the integration of Microsoft Teams Chat, the updated Your Phone app, Windows 11 hardware requirements, and Microsoft's plan for a gradual rollout of the operating system. Stratvert has been focusing on Windows 11 in many of his recent videos: Windows 11 Requirements: Can your PC run it? 5 Awesome Windows 11 Features you should use First Look at Windows 11 - impressions from an ex-Microsoft PM Windows 11 Event: Biggest announcements & my thoughts In-depth Look at Windows 11 Insider Preview In the second segment, we discuss some highlights from this week's Microsoft Surface event, including the Surface Laptop Studio and the new Surface Duo 2. And in the final segment, we talk about Stratvert's own journey from Microsoft program manager to full-time YouTube creator, which was documented in this CNBC story. Subscribe to Kevin Stratvert's YouTube channel, or see his site, kevinstratvert.com. Audio editing and production by Curt Milton; Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Amazon's Kindle Vella through the eyes of a longtime Seattle author
26:27Fred Moody is a retired journalist in the Seattle area, the former managing editor of Seattle Weekly, and the author of a series on Kindle Vella, Amazon’s new episodic storytelling platform for mobile devices. It's called Barfly on the Wall: A meteoric misadventure into Seattle bartending. GeekWire's Todd Bishop has been looking into Kindle Vella and other story platforms as a reflection of broader changes in how people publish and read stories. Moody is one of the authors featured in a GeekWire story on the subject. Moody has followed Amazon since its early days as an online bookseller, interviewing Jeff Bezos for an article when the company was based in a modest office south of downtown Seattle. The company was so small at the time that Bezos personally followed up with Moody to explain how the journalist's out-of-print book about the Seattle Seahawks ended up in Amazon's online catalog. "He was talking about why he was located in Seattle, and what his plans were, to be the world's biggest bookstore and all that, but there was no sense that they were headed where they were headed, at least not to my benighted eyes," Moody recalled this week. "You could tell he was really onto something, but nobody could have imagined what that something was." In 2004, as the tech economy was taking off in the city, Moody wrote about Seattle's "struggle for its soul" in his book, Seattle and the Demons of Ambition. That book was inspired in part by his experience encountering protesters during the World Trade Organization riots, which opened his eyes to Seattle's evolution into a "massive establishment symbol with all this corporate power," as he puts it. More than a decade later, in 2015, his eyes were opened to yet another side of the city when he came out of retirement to work as a day-shift bartender at the Shanghai Room in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood, which his daughter Caitlin and son-in-law Tony took over when they opened the adjacent North Star Diner. (They stepped down as owner/operators earlier this year.) Moody started taking notes about the characters at the bar, the people he worked with, and his experiences with the late Anthony Bourdain and his crew when the famed chef and television host visited Seattle for his final show here. When the pandemic hit, Moody found himself with the time to write. "I wanted to experiment with a different kind of narrative, where I'm telling these short little pieces, sometimes anecdotes, sometimes conversations, or little pieces from people's lives, then just kind of jumping from one to the other," he explained, describing it as "a mosaic" that builds into a larger narrative. Then he heard about Vella. "It was almost like a perfect format for what I'd been doing," he said. "I could just take these bite-sized, little things, and make these episodes." Vella also matched the trends he had witnessed from behind the bar. "I was really taken with the idea that it would be so phone-friendly, because the audience I was thinking about for this book were people that read exclusively on their phones, which I noticed in my bartending was the case with almost everybody under 40 years old," he said. Read the full story on GeekWire. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
'They proved me wrong.' Investor who passed on Seattle startup analyzes its IPO
27:14Jason Stofferwas still early in his career at venture capital firm Maveron in 2012 when he declined an opportunity to invest in Remitly, then a fledgling Seattle startup with ambitions to challenge Western Union by bringing a tech mindset to the business of international money transfers. He was impressed by Remitly co-founders Matt Oppenheimer and Josh Hug but knew they faced a huge challenge in getting the state-by-state regulatory approval required to make monetary remittances to what was then their initial international market, the Philippines. "It felt like the end vision was powerful — if they can get there," Stoffer recalled. "But two guys in a room in Seattle saying they were going to navigate an incredibly complex regulatory environment and figure out how to market in a country a continent away, it felt like too big a hill to climb. And they proved me wrong." Ten years later, Remitly is poised to go public in an initial public offering that values the company at $6.5 billion, as we reported this week. Stoffer, whose successful exits as an investor include Flywire, Course Hero, General Assembly and Zulily, analyzed Remitly's financialsrecently on his new blog, Ringing the Bell, displaying an admirable humility in his assessment of a company that could have been part of the Maveron portfolio. He joins my colleague John Cook and me on the GeekWire Podcast to talk more about Remitly, lessons learned, the current market for tech investing, and his approach to reading S-1 regulatory filings. In the final segment, we discuss Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first television appearance since assuming the top role from founder Jeff Bezos. Stoffer is an investor in Cap Hill Brands, an aggregator of third-party Amazon sellers. Audio editing and production by Curt Milton; Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
How the pandemic is taking a toll on collaboration; AI, ML and the NFL; Listener feedback
28:36Remote work is putting productivity and innovation at risk. That was one of the conclusions of a peer-reviewed study of more than 61,000 Microsoft employees, published this week, and it’s our first topic this week. We talk about the workplace dynamics that are creating the situation, and explain why the implications go far beyond Microsoft’s workforce as the COVID-19 Delta variant pushes back the return to the office. Plus, how predictive analytics and machine learning could change the NFL and other sports, and a preview of the GeekWire Summit, featuring Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, pop superstar Ciara, and a lineup of top leaders in tech, business and science. For the audiophiles in the audience, our listener feedback section offers another important clarification in our seemingly never-ending discussion of the Blue Yeti microphone. A special request for loyal listeners: Help us get to 100 reviews on Apple Podcasts! See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal: Amazon, antitrust, and the future of big tech
24:56GeekWire's Mike Lewis talks with U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat who represents the 7th Congressional District in Washington state, including Amazon’s hometown of Seattle. Rep. Jayapal is also the Vice Chair of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, and the author of a bill that aims to prevent what it calls monopolistic practices by big tech companies including Amazon. In addition to antitrust issues, they discuss online privacy, vaccine mandates and infrastructure spending. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Startup secrets; Windows 11 launch; In defense of the Blue Yeti
35:00A global pandemic might seem like the wrong time to pursue a new startup idea, given all the uncertainties, but in many ways, the timing couldn't be better. That's one of the insights from our GeekWire Podcast conversation this week with Seattle-area entrepreneur and investor Shirish Nadkarni, author of the book From Startup to Exit: An Insider’s Guide to Launching and Scaling your Tech Business. The changes in user behavior and tech platform shifts caused by the pandemic dovetail with one of the lessons Nadkarni is hoping to get across to entrepreneurs. "Look for opportunities where there is either some major technology shift or some macro trend that either surfaces an old problem, or enables you to build a solution in a unique fashion that could not be done before," Nadkarni says. "I think those are the best opportunities for an idea to succeed." We also talk about startup opportunities in artificial intelligence and machine learning; the impact of the IPO and SPAC craze on startup psychology; and the effect of remote work on investing and recruiting. Nadkarni founded mobile wireless email pioneer TeamOn Systems, acquired by Blackberry in 2002, and co-founded language learning site Livemocha, acquired by RosettaStone in 2013. He began his career at Microsoft, working on Windows development tools, overseeing MSN's transition into a web portal, and leading Microsoft’s Hotmail acquisition. In the news this week ... Microsoft announced an Oct. 5 release date for Windows 11, but said it won't be making Android apps available on the new OS until a later date, under a partnership with Amazon. Seattle-based money remittance company Remitly disclosed key financial results on its path to its upcoming IPO. It posted $257 million in revenue and a $32.5 million net loss in 2020. And in our final segment, we hear from a loyal listener, Steve Case (no, not the AOL founder), with feedback on our recent behind-the-scenes episode about the audio technology we use for the show. I had critical things to say about the Blue Yeti mic on the show, to which Steve gave this response: I like and use the Blue Yeti (with an external pop filter). It was the logical choice when I was doing a bit of voiceover, and pondering podcasting. The Yeti is perfect for podcasting because of its three condenser capsules and four modes, so it’s good for one person (cardioid mode) or interviewing someone in person (bi-directional mode). Of course that was back in the pre-quarantine days when we might actually sit on the other side of a microphone from someone outside of our household. Many people who use these for podcasts, YouTube videos and the like, don't seem to understand the modes – or even which side to talk into. This is a side-address microphone, but I see people talking into the end of it, or even into the back side when using cardioid mode. Then there are the folks way too close to the mic, without a pop guard, and the gain set to full. The built-in gain control is a great feature, but with the power to change gain at the microphone comes the responsibility to set it appropriately. Noted! Thanks to Steve for his insights. You can reach us at email@example.com with your thoughts on mic technology or anything else we discuss on the show. Audio editing by Curt Milton. Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Inside the White House cybersecurity summit with Hadi Partovi of Code.org
46:18President Joe Biden brought together top executives from the nation's biggest technology, financial services and energy companies this week to address the growing challenge of cybersecurity, speaking to tech leaders including Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Apple CEO Tim Cook. "The federal government can't meet this challenge alone," Biden said in his public remarks to open the meeting. "I've invited you all here today because you have the power and the capacity and the responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity. And so, ultimately, we've got a lot of work to do." So what happened next? And did any real solutions emerge? Our guest on this episode of the GeekWire Podcast was in the closed-door meeting. Seattle-area investor and entrepreneur Hadi Partovi, CEO of computer science education nonprofit Code.org, shares details and key takeaways on this week's show. In the third segment, Partovi reflects on his own childhood in Iran, as a 6-year-old during the 1979 revolution, later immigrating to the U.S. with his family, and finding success as a computer scientist and entrepreneur along with his twin brother, Ali, who joined him in founding Code.org. Read his full thread on that topic and see our earlier coverage. See GeekWire.com for more. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Inside our hybrid studio: GeekWire's tech tips and tricks for the latest twist in virtual meetings
28:32The last 18 months have been an audio-visual adventure, requiring many of us to improve and refine our at-home tech setups for virtual meetings and remote work. And just when we thought we'd figured it out, we were hit with a new scenario entirely: hybrid work, with some people together in the office, and others dialing in from home. Getting things to work seamlessly in these situations is no easy task. This can be especially challenging when you're trying to get good sound. We’ve struggled with this latest twist on GeekWire's podcasts, with multiple people in the studio, for example, and others joining us remotely. We’ve figured it out, mostly, through lots of trial and error — emphasis on the error. We're sharing our hard-won lessons on this behind-the-scenes episode of the GeekWire Podcast, including details on hardware and software we’ve been using. Even if you're not recording audio or video, or producing your own show, we hope these insights might help with your own hybrid meetings and events. We use a few of our favorite mics to record the show, letting you hear the difference in quality. In addition, we discuss mics to avoid, based on our experience. Also making an appearance are some new Microsoft headsets and microphones that we’ve been trying out on loan from the company. Stepping out from behind the virtual booth to participate in this episode is Curt Milton, who edits and produces the GeekWire Podcast every week. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.