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Sand Hill Road

Sand Hill Road

By Sand Hill Road
A place to talk about startups, venture capital and tech. For a full download, double-click on
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E20 Unpacking growth with Andy Johns, Partner at Unusual Ventures
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Andy Johns (@ibringtraffic), Partner at Unusual Ventures about his growth journey at Facebook, Twitter, Quora and Wealthfront.   00:00​ Intro  00:37 Growth at Facebook  03:50​ Growth at Twitter  05:31​ Growth at Quora   09:25​ Growth at Wealthfront  12:11​ Unusual Ventures  16:25​ A balanced approach to growth  21:16 Shipping the org chart  24:29​ Running experiments  28:05​ Product development for innovation  31:40​ Wonderschool  35:22 Ride Report  38:22​ Finding out more about Andy
January 8, 2021
E19 Moving from the monolith to a microservices architecture with effx founder Joey Parsons
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner and Cameron Weibel are joined by Joey Parsons, founder of effx to talk about moving from the monolith to a microservices architecture.   00:00 Intro  03:05 From rockstar engineer to found  06:02 Building early social network PicRave   $07:30 Taking the plunge with wife 5 months pregnant  09:00 Founder focus as a young father  10:06 Transitioning from Airbnb to Kleiner Perkins  12:03 Daily life as an entrepreneur in residence  13:46 Defining microservices  14:53 Explaining microservices to a kid  16:28 Microservices vs. structured programming  19:55 Functionality of microservices  22:20 User microservice example   24:15 Starting out: monolith vs. microservices architecture  25:42 Microservices teams: UI, middleware, DBA specialists   28:38 Data layer of microservices  30:56 Microservices vs. monolith debate  34:36 Moving to a microservices architecture at Airbnb  37:59 Managing microservices at Airbnb  42:12 effx and Kubernetes  43:44 Go to market strategy at effx  46:07 Raising the $3.9m Seed round
December 24, 2020
E18 Looking for the next Cal moonshots with Caroline Winnett of UC Berkeley's SkyDeck
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is joined by Caroline Winnett, Executive Director at UC Berkeley's accelerator and incubator SkyDeck.    00:00 Intro  01:51 What is SkyDeck?  02:57 Demo days during Covid-19  03:35 Caroline's founder journey at NeuroFocus  05:24 Joining SkyDeck and setting up the SkyDeck Fund  07:23 Berkeley SkyDeck carry split 08:35 Berkeley SkyDeck LP base  09:50 SkyDeck vs. YC, 500 Startups, Techstars 12:11 Cohort profile and eligibility requirements  14:37 Accelerator milestones  15:22 Breakout success stories  16:26 Berkeley within Silicon Valley ecosystem  18:33 Future of SkyDeck
December 8, 2020
E17 Migrating lawyers to the cloud with legal technologist Richard Mabey, co-founder of Juro
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Richard Mabey, co-founder of London-based legaltech startup Juro, backed by Union Square Ventures.  00:00 Intro 02:01 Magic circle years at Freshfields 03:35 Catching the entrepreneurial bug 05:15 Transitioning to legaltech via LegalZoom 07:26 Meeting co-founder Pavel Kovalevich 08:43 The Juro Minimum Viable Product (MVP) 09:54 Getting the first customer 13:15 Finding customer pains and building the core product features 15:06 Core feature set: painkiller vs. vitamin 17:05 Early pricing 18:34 Selling Saas to corporate lawyers 19:59 Tech stack of Juro 21:11 Seedcamp accelerator 22:40 $750k Seed Round led by Point Nine Capital 24:24 $2m Seed extension round 25:15 $5m Series A led by Union Square Ventures 26:15 Getting a warm intro at USV 27:01 Deploying the Series A 28:12 Navigating through the Corona pandemic
September 17, 2020
E16 Unpacking marketplaces and modern food delivery wars with Mike Ghaffary from Canvas Ventures
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Mike Ghaffary, general partner at Canvas Ventures about his journey as app builder, co-founder of Stitcher, CEO at Eat24, to becoming a successful angel investor and now institutional venture investor at Canvas. 00:00 Intro 02:21 Swiss army knife of education 04:04 Business school after Dotcom bubble burst  05:06 Founding Stitcher 06:14 Focusing on news 08:03 Becoming CEO of Eat24 09:39 Growing Eat24 from 10FTEs to $700m top line 10:45 Food delivery wars 11:55 Grubhub Partnership that never launched 13:12 Jeremy Stoppelman and Steve Jobs on search on mobile 14:30 Becoming a successful angel investor 15:35 Paying off graduate debt by making the most expensive iPhone app ever 16:37 Angel investment in Strava 17:20 Angel investment in Superhuman 17:50 Joining Social Capital 19:58 Mike’s experience at Social Capital 20:28 CloudKitchens investment 21:30 HubHaus investment 22:37 Joining Canvas Ventures 24:04 Flyhomes investment 27:52 Marketplace Deep Dive 28:27 Lenny Rachitsky: focus on supply or demand side? 30:06 Thomas Eisenmann: Two-sided networks 30:57 Uber: demand side vs. supply side subsidies 32:09 Local vs. global network effects 33:24 Sarah Tavel (Benchmark): Unlocking new supply in delivery wars 34:21 Local delivery war zones 35:36 Uber Eats entering the market 37:04 Public vs. privately held delivery war contenders 38:54 Marketplace take rate 40:38 Out-of bound marketplace take rates 41:57 Zero percent take rate 43:02 Finding out more about Mike
August 29, 2020
E15 Building a cloud unicorn for developers with Digital Ocean co-founder Moisey Uretzky
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Moisey Uretzky,  co-founder of Digital Ocean. Digital Ocean is a cloud infrastructure unicorn built for developers and headquartered in New York City. In this episode we journal the founder journey from getting into Techstars to scaling the company with venture debt to a recent unicorn valuation.  00:00 Setting the scene  03:55 The Uretzky family  05:22 Roots of intellectual curiosity  07:15 Mathematics and first principles thinking  09:18 Startups before Digital Ocean  14:16 Finding co-founders on Craigslist  19:16 Digital Ocean MVP  23:12 First major Product Iteration: 5$ SSD Plan  29:36 Getting into Techstars  32:35 Raising the Seed from IA Ventures  37:19 Raising the Series A from a16z  42:28 Using venture debt to scale up  47:19 Scaling up Digital Ocean  54:22 Competition with big tech cloud providers  59:00 Running Digital Ocean during the Corona pandemic
August 8, 2020
E14 The great hits and misses of venture capital with Brendan Wales of
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Brendan Wales, general partner at on investing in data infrastructure unicorn Segment at the Seed and passing on TikTok (then at the Series A. Check out Brendan Wales on Medium: 2:10 First job running a Golf shop while at college   3:20 First job out of college in 2009 and entrepreneurial ambitions   4:29 'I gotta get to the Valley' finding Zozi's on Crunchbase   6:06 Joining in 2012   7:52 History and roots of    9:53 current fund and global footprint   11:10 Investing in at the Seed along with Kleiner Perkins   15:08 Consumer-tech perspective on Segment   16:02 Passing on   17:30 Warm introductions vs. metric-based discovery (digital exhaust)   20:30 Metrics requested from founding team / key consumer social metrics   22:17 Machiavellian founder perspective on consumer retention   24:35 Ex-post reflections why they passed on   26:35 Comparison to the recent Clubhouse a16z-led Series A   28:50 Venture capital returns over the lifetime of a fund   31:10 Pattern matching for early markups   32:58 This Week's Seed Companies   35:24 EVA Growth Index / X-Factors   37:37  Nacelle: headless CMS for Shopify stores, backed by Index and Accomplice   39:05  Most recent investment: Airvet, $14m Series A led by Canvas Ventures
July 21, 2020
E13 Uncoding the ‘Coding VC’ Leo Polovets, Co-founder and General Partner at Susa Ventures
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Leo Polovets,  co-founder and general partner at Susa Ventures. As a partner at Susa, Leo focuses on investments in enterprise software, developer tools, technical products and logistics and supply chain. In this session we discuss his journey from being the second engineer at LinkedIn to starting his own venture firm. We discuss some of his notable  investments in breakout companies, such as Robinhood and Flexport, as well as his most recent investment in Scalyr. As Leo is an icon on the VC twitter, we also dig into some of his previous tweets and try to draw lessons that go beyond the 280 character limit.
April 2, 2020
E12 Exploring the latest in data science with Sarah Catanzaro from Amplify Partners
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Sarah Catanzaro from Amplify Partners. As a partner at Amplify, Sarah focuses on startups that apply technological advances in machine intelligence and enterprise infrastructure to solve real-world problems. In this session we discuss her journey from data scientist to venture capital, her take on recent data sciences trends and her most recent investments, including OctoML, InterVenn Biosciences, Maze and Bayes.
March 19, 2020
E11 Investing in the next frontier of open source with Bryan Offutt from Index Ventures
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Bryan Offutt from Index Ventures, which is an active investor in the open source vertical, having invested in the likes of Hortonworks, Confluent, Elastic, Kong, Cockroach Labs and most recently Starburst. In this session we talk about  the next frontier of open source, such as the open sourcing of pre-trained ML/NLP models (such as BERT) and distributed design. We also cover Index Venture's most recent COSS investment in Starburst, an open core company built around Presto, a distributed, open source query engine that has originally been developed at Facebook. Check out the Youtube version on:
February 1, 2020
E10 Pioneering the gig economy with TaskRabbit co-founder Brian Leonard
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner talks with Brian Leonard (@bleonard), the technical co-founder of TaskRabbit, which has pioneered the gig economy alongside Airbnb and Uber. In the session, they talk about the journey from the early days of TaskRabbit when it was just a few hundred Taskers to how they scaled it to one of the largest gig economy marketplaces that was eventually sold to IKEA. Check out the Youtube version on:
January 23, 2020
E09 Investing in vertical SaaS and marketplace companies with Trinity Ventures Principal John Lin
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner talks with John Lin, who is a Principal from Trinity Ventures about his key learnings from being an entrepreneur himself and his transition to VC at Trinity. We take a deep dive into his portfolio companies Branch, Grow, Squire and Side. Check out the Youtube version on:
December 6, 2019
E08 On financing hard tech with Root Ventures partner Lee Edwards
Venture capital used to be about 'financing what would not otherwise be financed'. This is exactly what Root Ventures is all about. In this session I talk to Lee Edwards about his journey from CTO at Teespring to venture and about financing deeply technical founders who are tackling interdisciplinary engineering problems. Check out the Youtube version on:
November 29, 2019
E07 Simmer co-founders Richard Wu and Vaibhav Verma on challenging Yelp through dish level reviews
Simmer is a recent Y Combinator company that is challenging Yelp's restaurant discovery through dish-level reviews. In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is joined by the co-founders Richard Wu and Vaibhav Verma about their startup journey so far, which challenges they have had to overcome so far and how they are planning to change the way in which foodies discover the best cuisine. Check out the Youtube version on:
November 21, 2019
E06 Investing in open source software with Patrick Chase from Redpoint Ventures
Patrick Chase is an investor with Redpoint Ventures who specializes on investments in the open source vertical. In this episode, I talk with him about the different business models in open source, challenges around defensibility and open source software moving from the backend to the application layer. Check out the Youtube version on:
November 14, 2019
E05 Pioneering version control for data science with Pachyderm co-founder and CEO Joe Doliner
5 years ago, Joe Doliner and his co-founder Joey Zwicker decided to focus on the hard problems in data science, rather than building just another dashboard on top of the existing mess. It's been a long road, but it's really payed off. Last year, after an adventurous journey from their seed round, they  closed a $10m Series A led by Benchmark. In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is joined by Joe Doliner to explore what Pachyderm does and how it scaled from just an idea into a fast growing tech company. Check out the Youtube version on:
November 2, 2019
E04 Open sourcing code and companies with Gitlab co-founder and CEO Sid Sijbrandij
Gitlab is a unique tech unicorn. Last valued at $2.75bn, the company is fully remote. The two co-founders worked fully separately on the company for more than a year, knowing only each others avatars. As such, Gitlab is defying not only how code is deployed, but also how companies are run. So far, Gitlab has raised $436m from the likes of Khosla Ventures, August Capital and Google Ventures. In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is joined by co-founder and CEO Sid Sijbrandij to talk about their founder, product and financing journey. Check out the Youtube version on:
October 27, 2019
E03 Exploring chaos engineering with Gremlin co-founder and CTO Matthew Fornaciari
Gremlin is a fast growing company in the chaos engineering space founded in 2016. The company has pioneered the space by offering failure-as-a-service. So far, Gremlin has raised almost $27m from the likes of Amplify Partners, Index Ventures and Redpoint. In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is joined by co-founder and CTO Matthew Fornaciari to talk about their founder, product and financing journey. Check out the Youtube version on:
October 23, 2019
E02 How open-source software is eating software with Joseph Jacks from OSS Capital
In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Joseph Jacks, founder and general partner at OSS Capital, the first and only VC fund exclusively dedicated to supporting commercial open-source software founders.  We discuss the definition of commercial open-source software (COSS) companies and how open-source software is eating software. Check out the Youtube version on:
June 14, 2019