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Pattern Recognition - Investing in the Future

Pattern Recognition - Investing in the Future

By John Hu
Pattern Recognition ties together insights across world-class venture capitalists, private equity investors, and startup founders as they invest and manage billions of dollars of capital. Join our host, John Hu, as we dig into the patterns that senior decisionmakers look for as they move markets and stoke innovation. From finance to sales and marketing, we'll dive deeply into every aspect of what it takes to build the next game-changing business.

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Spencer Rascoff - Founder at Zillow - Early Network Effects

Pattern Recognition - Investing in the Future

Arianna Huffington - Founder of HuffPost & Thrive Global - Work Life Harmony
Arianna shares concrete tips on how to excel as a world-class entrepreneur. After transforming the digital media landscape with HuffPost, Arianna embarked on a mission to cure the stress and burnout epidemic. Arianna shares clear rationale to prioritize sleep and turn off your phone, as well as practical strategies to actually execute on your goals. She also shares the key patterns she sees across the most successful entrepreneurs, 
December 13, 2020
Spencer Rascoff - Founder at Zillow - Early Network Effects
After founding Hotwire and Zillow, Spencer Rascoff is back building dot.LA to support the LA tech ecosystem. Spencer reflects on how the Zillow team kickstarted its early network effects and how it differentiated in consumers' minds with the 'Zestimate'. Spencer also shares how he approaches his board work with Zulilly, TripAdvisor and Palantir with a focus on scaling and managing talent. And lastly, Spencer discusses his work building dot.LA and how he's planning to empower entrepreneurs across SoCal.  
August 23, 2020
Leah Solivan - Founder at TaskRabbit - Marketplace KPIs
What are the key KPIs that drive the world's leading task marketplace? Leah Solivan, Founder and Former CEO of TaskRabbit, reflects on the operational metrics that define a successful marketplace on both the supply- and demand-side. We also chat about her reflections on TaskRabbit’s exit to IKEA. And lastly, Leah and I discuss what she looks for in startups now that she’s investing fulltime as a general partner at Fuel Capital. For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
January 03, 2020
Brian Halligan - Founder at HubSpot - Demandgen Flywheels
With a $6bn+ market cap, HubSpot has revolutionized marketing. Brian Halligan, HubSpot's CEO and Founder, and I sit down to discuss how the entire customer experience, from discovery to post-purchase, is the defining factor of winning companies today. From there, we discuss what exactly a demandgen flywheel is and how to build one through inbound and content-driven marketing. Brian also shares his take on competing with large incumbents in mature markets and the key KPIs one should hone in on in building a sustainable marketing engine.  For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
December 11, 2019
Elie Seidman - CEO at Tinder - The Future of Dating
Tinder pioneered the dating app market. But where does it go from here and how does it maintain its dominant market position? Elie Seidman, CEO at Tinder, and I discuss how the company has gone from introducing 'swiping' to college campus to becoming a global phenomenon. Additionally, we talk all about user alignment, specifically in the context of the KPIs that drive Tinder's freemium subscription model.  We also touch on the challenges of user trust/safety at scale as well as how authentic human connection will sit at the center of the next great consumer platform. For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
November 21, 2019
Reshma Saujani - Founder at Girls Who Code - Bridging the Gender Gap
Recently named by Fast Company as the most innovative non-profit in the world. Girls Who Code is on a mission to bridge the gender gap. Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO at GWC, shares how her and the team have worked with over 185,000 girls by partnering with governments and corporates alike. Reshma also reflects on the operational KPIs that have driven Girls Who Codes success as well as how brand authenticity and staying true to your mission are at the core of an impactful non-profit. For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
November 05, 2019
Phil DeSimone - Co-Founder at Carbon - 3D Printing
Having most recently raised at a $2.4bn valuation, Carbon is revolutionizing manufacturing by being the first to market with a breakthrough technology that makes 3D printing both scalable and affordable. Phil DeSimone, co-founder and Chief Customer Officer at Carbon, discusses how Carbon is differentiating in both technology and business model. By leveraging a recurring revenue model and 5-7yr contracts in the company's go-to-market, Phil and his team are building a long-term focused business that's truly aligned with its customers' success. In today's episode, we chat all about specific tips around working with large corporate partners like Adidas/BMW, upping customer retention via a customer success department and properly incentivizing your sales team. For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
October 28, 2019
David Gardner - Founder at The Motley Fool - Subscription Media
Having built one of the largest financial media conglomerates, David Gardner and his team are now 26 years into democratizing the stock market for the masses. As a firm believer in active management, David's portfolio of stock recommendations has consistently beat the market year after year. So in today's episode, David shares with us the key patterns he sees across his most successful stock picks. Additionally, we get to hear all about the Fool's journey, from dot com boom/bust to the modern era, and how David and his team have honed a culture of innovation, openness and resilience. For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
October 22, 2019
Chip Paucek - Founder at 2U - Revolutionizing Higher Ed
Having built one of the most successful billion-dollar edtech companies, Chip and his team at 2U made a pioneering bet that the future of education is online. Entering the industry with a disruptive business model: Chip and his team invest their own cash upfront during program implementation, instead negotiating revenue share agreements in a way that better aligns incentives across all stakeholders... in pursuit of the best student outcomes.  In today’s podcast, Chip and I discuss how to go about revolutionizing a risk-averse and bureaucracy-laden industry by innovating both in business and delivery model. Additionally, Chip shares the risks inherent in building a $bn edtech businesses and how the 2U team went about convincing the Yales and UNCs of the world to join their journey. And lastly, Chip shares the patterns he sees across successful public companies. For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
October 02, 2019
Sophia Amoruso - Founder at Girlboss and Nasty Gal - Advice for My Younger Self
Having built Nasty Gal into a dominant ecommerce brand in the 2000s, Sophia Amoruso is now leading the #Girlboss movement by creating a new age social network, media company, and community designed to bridge the gender gap and empower women in business. In today’s podcast, Sophia and I reflect on lessons learned during the Nastygal experience, and how those experiences led Sophia to not only start Girlboss, but build the company’s mission, team, and culture in an intentional and deliberate way. Additionally, we also discuss how Girlboss is creating a new age of media as well as how we all can help bridge the diversity gap. For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
September 18, 2019
Dom Barton - Global Managing Partner at McKinsey - How Talent Wins
Having sat at the helm of the world’s premier management consulting firm for close to a decade, Dom Barton has seen what it takes to build leading teams across the world’s most successful $bn companies. Alongside Ram Charan, Dom penned Talent Wins, a guide that lays out how to scale a dominant and long-term business by focusing on people.  So in today’s episode, we discuss how exactly Talent Wins. Specifically, we dive into the structural building blocks found in McKinsey’s culture and values that allow its people to achieve excellence. Additionally, Dom shares the key qualities he looks for in candidates that are applying to McKinsey and how junior talent should think about scaling to senior roles. Lastly, Dom shares the consistent patterns he’s seen across his most successful clients through the lens of multiple economic cycles. For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
September 06, 2019
Henri Pierre-Jacques and Jarrid Tingle - Founders at Harlem Capital - Why Diversity Matters
The startup industry has a diversity problem. Of the thousands of VC partners out there, only 18% are female, and of the VC-backed founders out there, only 9% are female. And when you cut the statistics by race, the picture gets even more grim. Only 1 percent of venture-backed founders are black and 2% are latino. Henri-Pierre Jacques and Jarrid Tingle co-founded Harlem Capital while at Harvard Business School to level the playing field. In today's Pattern Recognition episode, we discuss how diversity actually leads to better business results in today’s globalizing world in addtion to laying out actionable strategies for how companies and firms can up their diversity metrics. We also share a few lessons learned for any entrepreneurial investors on how to go about raising a fund. For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
August 25, 2019
Justin Kan - Founder at Twitch - Mindfulness, Gratitude and Building a Meaningful Life
After exiting Twitch to Amazon for $1bn, Justin Kan set out on a mission to redefine B2B legal services... but on the way realized that something wasn't right. Despite his highlight reel, he felt that something was missing, and that something was a source of meaning and fulfillment that no business success can sustainably achieve. Although today's episode covers Justin's business lessons learned as a serial entrepreneur (M&A, virality, market vs. execution risk), our conversation centers around the structural practices Justin embeds into building a conscious work culture, feeling good, and making the space for mindfulness and gratitude in our day-to-day.  For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
August 18, 2019
Jim VandeHei & Roy Schwartz - Founders at Politico & Axios - Media in the Age of Trump
After building Politico into the go-to source for politics, Jim VandeHei and Roy Schwartz went about revolutionizing the media industry again, this time through Axios. As a combination of Twitter and The Economist, Axios seeks to meet modern media consumption needs through a concept Jim and Roy call "smart brevity". So it's no surprise that Axios is scaling rapidly as today's source for expert opinions and differentiated content. In today's episode of Pattern Recognition, Jim and Roy discuss how to raise venture capital funding to build a sustainable, long-term focused media business. Additionally, we discuss how Trump has changed the media paradigm (for both good and bad) and how to evangelize a new kind of sale. For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
August 08, 2019
Andrew Dudum - Founder at hims - Customer Acquisition Cost
Breaking through the unicorn barrier in less than 2 years, Andrew Dudum and his team at hims & hers are on a mission to make medicine more accessible... and they're having a ton of fun while they're at it. Andrew shares his insights around the novel ways hims is building a memorable and unique brand among consumers along with how he thinks about maximizing LTV/CAC. Additionally, we discuss the key performance metrics that are core to hims and hers and how the team measures their performance through concepts like multi-touch attribution. After listening to this episode, it'll be no surprise to you as to why hims has raised venture capital funding from some of the best consumer VCs out there. For show notes, unreleased episodes, and more check out: Twitter: @JohnHeezy | Instagram: @johnghu
July 29, 2019
Prashant Pandey - VP Engineering at Asana - DevOps and Building an Engineering Org
Scaling a technical organization that's reached $100M ARR is quite the challenge. Prashant Pandey, VP Engineering at Asana explains how he's built a thriving engineering organization that's put collaboration and efficiency at the center of its process. We dive into the concept of DevOps and how Prashant hires and structures his team to deliver value to the customer as quickly as possible. 
July 24, 2019
Stephane Kasriel - CEO at Upwork - M&A and IPOs
With a $1.8bn market cap, Upwork is revolutionizing the way we work. As the head of the largest freelancer marketplace, Stephane Kasriel walks us through the operational metrics required to scale a billion dollar marketplace, from user retention to trust and safety. In addition to sharing how Upwork differentiates, Stephane recounts his experience merging the two leading competitors in the space to form Upwork and then ultimately taking the company public in a highly successful IPO. As Stephane shares his M&A integration tips and recounts each step of the IPO, you won't want to miss out on this episode!
July 16, 2019
Alex Garden - Founder at Zume - Revolutionizing the Food Supply Chain
Having raised at a unicorn valuation from SoftBank's Vision Fund and Kleiner Perkins, Alex Garden and his team at Zume are revolutionizing the way we consume food. In today's episode, Alex and I discuss everything from the unit economics of restaurant delivery to saving the world from global climate change. And within our broad conversation, we dive really deep into how Zume is using robotic preparation and mobile kitchen deliver to provide both consumers and restaurants with a higher quality, better tasting and cheaper experience.  We also get into the nitty gritty of how Alex and his team think about KPIs and metrics, and how data-driven decisioning serves as the cornerstone of Zume’s business.
July 07, 2019
Monica Long - SVP Marketing at Ripple - Cryptocurrency
With a $19bn market cap, Ripple's cryptocurrency XRP is revolutionizing the global financial ecosystem. Monica Long, SVP Marketing at Ripple, demystifies what exactly Ripple is and does... and why their blockchain-based network is so disruptive. Additionally, she shares a few key patterns critical to evangelizing a new market, working with large financial partners, and navigating a complex regulatory system.
June 28, 2019
Keith Belling - Founder at Popchips & RightRice - Food Innovation
What does the food innovation process look like? In our age of wellness-focused living, Keith Belling has helped pioneer better-for-you products in both the snack and pantry aisle. Keith shares how he and his team focus on scaling a brand's awareness via field marketing and targeted partnerships as well as how he thinks about forecasting supply/demand in the early innings of a CPG startup.
June 20, 2019
Henrique Dubugras - Founder at Brex - Disrupting Regulated Industries
Having just raised at a $2.6bn valuation, Brex is changing the credit card landscape with a novel approach to underwriting and software. Henrique Dubugras, founder and CEO of Brex, walks us through how his company is revolutionizing one vertical at a time as it scales across an incredibly complex and highly regulated industry. Additionally, Henrique shares his reflections on building a sales organization and measuring marketing ROI.
June 12, 2019
Jack Conte - Founder at Patreon - Pricing Optimization
Processing over half a billion dollars in payments per year to support content creators, Patreon is revolutionizing the way we consume the internet. Jack Conte, Founder and CEO at Patreon, discusses how the legacy advertising model has led to perverse consequences on the internet, and how Patreon aligns incentives across all stakeholders, ultimately leading to higher quality content for all audiences. Additionally, we dig into the nuances of rolling out new pricing initiatives, from conducting market diligence to tiering your product offering. 
June 09, 2019
Ian Siegel - Founder at ZipRecruiter - Aggregation Theory
With a $1.5bn valuation, ZipRecruiter is revolutionizing careers as the #1 Job Search app in the market. Ian Siegel, Founder and CEO at ZipRecruiter, walks us through how ZipRecruiter has created a sustainable competitive advantage with the help of 1) Aggregation Theory and 2) AI/machine-learning capabilities. Ian also shares how ZipRecruiter's novel monetization model and disciplined focus on product have satisfied employers of all sizes.
June 03, 2019
Leo & Oliver Kremer - Founders at Dos Toros - Multi-Unit Scaling
What does it take to build a thriving multi-unit restaurant in fast casual dining? Leo and Oliver Kremer, brothers and founders of Dos Toros, share the key lessons they've learned bringing a taste of the Mission burrito nationwide. From managing complex supply chains to hiring and retaining talent, Leo and Oliver discuss what it takes to delight thousands of customers a day.
May 27, 2019
Marco Zappacosta - Founder at Thumbtack - Marketplace Differentiation
Last valued at $1.3 billion, Thumbtack provides a service marketplace for millions of consumers a year. So what's it like running the ship? Marco Zappacosta, Thumbtack's founder and CEO, walks us through how he thinks about differentiation in the gig economy, how to hire at scale, and how Thumbtack is empowering the small business economy.
May 19, 2019
Jared Hecht - Founder at GroupMe & Fundera - Strategic Exits
Very few founders can tout building an app with millions of users and a marketplace that's originated over a billion dollars in loans. Jared Hecht, the founder and former CEO of GroupMe and founder of Fundera, discusses his reflections selling GroupMe in the early days of mobile to Skype (Microsoft) and the lessons he learned in that sale process. He also shares his perspective on how to navigate a slow-moving regulatory landscape within financial services and how Fundera is enabling the small business economy.
May 08, 2019
Jeff Fluhr - Founder at StubHub & General Partner at Craft Ventures - Marketplaces
What was it like scaling a marketplace after the the dot-com bubble burst? Jeff Fluhr, General Partner at Craft Ventures and former Founder and CEO at StubHub, sits down to talk lessons learned in hiring, dealing with an unfriendly regulatory environment, and exiting successfully to a strategic. Additionally, Jeff shares his take on marketplace unit economics like LTV/CAC, sell-through rate, and cohort analyses. Jeff also dives into the contrast between building StubHub and his second startup, Spreecast, which he ultimately wound down. 
April 30, 2019
Doug Bouton - President at Halo Top - Bootstrapped CPG
How do you bootstrap a CPG business to north of $100M in revenue? Doug Bouton, President and COO at Halo Top, discuss how the Halo Top team has built one of the leading consumer brands in today's grocery aisle without raising institutional capital. We'll cover the company's relentless focus on questioning the accepted norm, and how that's translated into profitability and healthy unit economics. Doug also walks us through how iterating through constant employee feedback loops has helped earn Halo Topt he #2 spot on LinkedIn's Top Startups to Work For list.
April 23, 2019
Zach Sims - Founder at Codecademy - Freemium Consumer Subscriptions
What's it like to teach 25 million people how to code? Zach Sims, CEO and co-founder at Codecademy, discusses how he's empowering millions while building a scalable and sustainable business.  We dig into specific levers and initiatives Zach and his team have used to increase user retention as well as the business’ entry into enterprise partnerships. Additionally, Zach shares his perspective on consciously hiring and building a culture-first team. 
April 14, 2019
Justin McLeod - Founder at Hinge - Dating Apps
What's it like to monetize love? Justin McLeod, founder and CEO at Hinge, walks us through his story scaling one of the leading dating apps in the game. We'll dig into his differentiated approach to building an app that's 'designed to be deleted' and how he aims to instill transparency in all of his business decisions.
April 06, 2019
Daina Trout - Founder at Healthade Kombucha - New Age Foods
What's it like running America's fastest growing beverage company? Daina Trout, Founder and CEO of Healthade , walks us through how she 'follows her gut' while leading a rocketship. Additionally, we'll also discuss the challenges of manufacturing 36+ million bottles of kombucha a year and the trial-and-error iteration inherent in the founder experience.
March 21, 2019
Jonathan Reckford - CEO at Habitat for Humanity - The "Business" of Non-Profits
How do you balance running one of the highest impact non-profits, one of the largest global homebuilders, and a highly profitable retail store all at the same time? Jonathan Reckord, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, walks us through how he brings for-profit efficiency to the non-profit world. Additionally, we discuss the 'business' of running a non-profit and why combining good business with good impact is crucial for recruiting and engaging today's millennial generation.
March 10, 2019
Josh Luber - Founder at StockX - The Rise of Streetwear
Josh Luber, CEO and Founder at StockX, has built the leading marketplace that sits at the crossroads of fashion and ecommerce. Having crossed the one billion dollar revenue run rate market in just three years, Josh and his team are set on redefining the way we as consumers consume goods. In today’s conversation, Josh and I dive into the history of sneakerhead culture, building a unique consumer experience via stock market-esque gamification, and the key lessons Josh has learned from working with famed entrepreneur Dan Gilbert.
February 24, 2019
Chris Barton - Founder at Shazam - Viral Consumer Apps
Reflecting on a $400M sale to Apple, Chris Barton shares Shazam's founding story and how the business has tenaciously evolved over time from both a technological and monetization standpoint. We'll also cover the key takeaways Chris had in maximizing an exit to a strategic and patterns he observes across viral consumer apps (Uber, WhatsApp, Shazam, etc). 
January 06, 2019
Tien Tzuo - Founder at Zuora - The Subscription Economy
 Welcome to the Subscription Economy: an age defined by customer happiness, perpetual product improvements, and more resilient business models. Tien Tzuo, CEO and Founder of Zuora ($2 billion market cap), joins us to talk through why shifting from a product-centric sale to a customer-centric subscription is so compelling and how companies like Adobe have successfully transitioned into a subscription-first business. 
January 01, 2019
Andre Haddad - Founder at Turo - Marketplace Business Models
How do you convince millions of users to join your online marketplace? How can the sharing economy create a cheaper, better and more convenient customer experience than legacy offerings? What are the key KPIs investors and operators should focus on as they scale marketplaces? Andre Haddad, founder and CEO at Turo, walks us through how he solved the chicken-and-egg problem with starting a marketplace as well as how he and his team optimize conversion on both the supply- and demand-side of the Turo platform.
December 21, 2018
Matt Salzberg - Founder at Blue Apron - DTC Subscription Business Models
As the Co-Founder/Chairman of Blue Apron, Matt Salzberg dives into how Blue Apron scaled out its supply chain for delivering hundreds of thousands of high quality meals on a weekly basis. Additionally, given his background investing at Blackstone and Bessemer Venture Partners, Matt shares what metrics he uses to gauge the health of a DTC subscription business (organic referrals, churn, lifetime value) as well as his take on the future of food.
December 05, 2018
Mason Levey - Founder at Y7 Yoga - Building a Resonant Brand
As the Co-Founder/Former CEO of Y7 Yoga, Mason Levey shares how Y7 transformed from a weekend pop-up into the leading boutique fitness experience. We'll dive into the key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics the Y7 team looks to optimize, how to build a resonant consumer brand, and the pain points Mason is currently looking to solve in the meditation market.
November 28, 2018
Philip Krim - Founder at Casper - Omnichannel Business Models
As the Co-Founder/CEO of Casper, Philip Krim shares how Casper transformed from a DTC product into an omnichannel brand in its mission to reinvent the sleep industry. We'll dive into the logistical headaches of serving millions of customers, the logic behind omnichannel, and the focus required to build a differentiated and sustainable consumer brand.
October 31, 2018