Artwork for podcast Decoding Digital
Decoding Hype Cycles: Brad Garlinghouse on Crypto and Tech
Episode 211st June 2021 • Decoding Digital • AppDirect
00:00:00 00:26:07

Share Episode

Shownotes

How can companies use technology to solve problems? Brad Garlinghouse believes it’s about embracing innovation. In this episode of Decoding Digital, he talks about his impressive career and shares insights into where growing companies commonly make mistakes. He also discusses cryptocurrency and how it will have a lasting impact on customers and businesses.

Press play to hear Brad’s thoughts on…

The Problem with Traditional Payments

“It's amazing to me that you can stream video from the space station, but if you want to send money to me in London, that's going to take days to get there and it's going to cost you a fair number. And it's like, wait, how did we end up here? Where I can do all these things on an almost instantaneous basis, but I can't move my own money from point A to point B.”

Disrupting the Middleman

“Today, if you and I were going to transact, there has to be a middleman involved. Pick your middleman, but there's a middleman everywhere. With a blockchain we’re saying ‘Hey, take out the middleman. You can still transact. You can have certainty, but you don't have to have trust.’”

The Power of Blockchain

“I think if you want to impact the most people and really put a dent in the universe, how do we reach 99%? Not, how do we get the 1% using Bitcoin for payments to 2%, 3%. No, I'm going to go work with the major institutions, the major governments. And I'm going to introduce these technologies in such a way that they can have a broad impact on a broad cut of the population—the unbanked, the underbanked—in ways that I think are pretty profound.”

Transcripts

Speaker:

It's not about the speculation

Speaker:

and the price speculation of

Speaker:

where's the price of Bitcoin

Speaker:

going. It's about how do we use

Speaker:

these technologies to solve real

Speaker:

problems for real customers, and

Speaker:

to the extent that is delivering

Speaker:

utility and there is value in

Speaker:

those underlying technologies

Speaker:

and underlying assets.

Speaker:

That's Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of

Speaker:

Ripple, a $10 billion company

Speaker:

behind XRP, the world's second-

Speaker:

largest cryptocurrency by value.

Speaker:

Under Brad's leadership, Ripple

Speaker:

has received widespread

Speaker:

recognition, including being

Speaker:

named to the CNBC Disruptor 50

Speaker:

and recognized as a Technology

Speaker:

Pioneer by the World Economic

Speaker:

Forum. Before Ripple, Brad

Speaker:

served in senior executive roles

Speaker:

at Yahoo and AOL. For all the

Speaker:

crypto fans out there, in this

Speaker:

episode, you get to hear Brad's

Speaker:

insights on the crypto space,

Speaker:

how

Speaker:

to avoid what he calls the

Speaker:

peanut butter trap, and what he

Speaker:

thinks is in store for the

Speaker:

future of Silicon Valley. This

Speaker:

is Daniel Saks, Co-CEO of

Speaker:

AppDirect, and it's time to

Speaker:

decode cryptocurrency and

Speaker:

FinTech. Welcome to "Decoding

Speaker:

Digital," a podcast for

Speaker:

innovators looking to thrive in

Speaker:

the digital economy. I'm your

Speaker:

host, Daniel Saks, and I'll sit

Speaker:

down with other founders, CEOs,

Speaker:

and change-makers, to decode the

Speaker:

trends that are transforming the

Speaker:

way we work. Let's decode. Brad,

Speaker:

thanks for joining us today.

Speaker:

Thank you for having me, Dan.

Speaker:

Good to see you. Happy

Speaker:

quarantine to the extent that it

Speaker:

doesn't seem too strange.

Speaker:

Thanks. I think the last time we

Speaker:

met, we had nice coffee and

Speaker:

maybe some breakfast, which we

Speaker:

won't be doing today.

Speaker:

Well, coffee, but

Speaker:

remotely.

Speaker:

Yeah. We can do that. Before

Speaker:

joining Ripple, you worked at

Speaker:

early Internet powerhouses,

Speaker:

Yahoo and AOL.

Speaker:

At the time, they were

Speaker:

powerhouses. Less so today.

Speaker:

Maybe that's a good leading

Speaker:

question. Tell us about what

Speaker:

drew you to those companies?

Speaker:

Maybe also from an observation,

Speaker:

what went wrong?

Speaker:

I'll start with Yahoo. My thesis

Speaker:

joining both companies is quite

Speaker:

different. Yahoo, I joined it

Speaker:

the end of 2002, beginning 2003.

Speaker:

That was a dark moment of the

Speaker:

Internet's evolution. The dotcom

Speaker:

crash had happened. Measuring

Speaker:

these things by market value,

Speaker:

Yahoo's stock price, I think

Speaker:

that the market cap of the whole

Speaker:

company was a few billion

Speaker:

dollars, and had a couple of

Speaker:

thousand employees. It

Speaker:

definitely had gone through a

Speaker:

lot. My viewpoint generally was,

Speaker:

on the hype cycle, people got

Speaker:

too excited about what's going

Speaker:

on the Internet, and the despair

Speaker:

cycle, people gotten way too

Speaker:

skeptical about what was going

Speaker:

on with the Internet.

Speaker:

Fundamentally, I felt the

Speaker:

Internet was changing the nature

Speaker:

of how information is

Speaker:

transmitted, and it's super

Speaker:

obvious now, nearly 20 years

Speaker:

later. At the time, it felt

Speaker:

Yahoo had the opportunity to be

Speaker:

one of the most substantial

Speaker:

Internet companies. What went

Speaker:

wrong? That's a longer Yahoo

Speaker:

story which we'll probably spend

Speaker:

some time on as we talk today.

Speaker:

People forget that in 2005, 2006,

Speaker:

Google was barely on the scene.

Speaker:

Gmail had launched. Gmail is

Speaker:

really Google's second product,

Speaker:

the only thing that they had

Speaker:

researched. Yahoo was, what was

Speaker:

at the time, a big deal.

Speaker:

It was a great

Speaker:

experience. It felt it was an

Speaker:

amazing group of people. The

Speaker:

alumni network from that chapter

Speaker:

in my life was extremely strong.

Speaker:

Initially, I had a guy named

Speaker:

Mike Speiser reporting to me. I

Speaker:

got Stewart Butterfield

Speaker:

reporting me. I got Scott

Speaker:

Dietzen, the CEO of Pure Storage,

Speaker:

reporting to me at various times.

Speaker:

Jeff Bonforte. A really

Speaker:

interesting group of people that

Speaker:

went on to do frankly more

Speaker:

interesting things than I

Speaker:

have gone off to do.

Speaker:

Yahoo, I think lost its way, and

Speaker:

we can talk more about that.

Speaker:

AOL is a totally different

Speaker:

animal. AOL, I joined with a

Speaker:

thesis that this massive

Speaker:

audience. 100 million active

Speaker:

monthly users was using AOL when

Speaker:

I joined in 2009. They had a lot

Speaker:

of cash and it was spinning out

Speaker:

of Time Warner. This is the

Speaker:

post-Time Warner mergers. I spin

Speaker:

out AOL. It's got a lot of cash.

Speaker:

It's got a lot of visitors.

Speaker:

Let's reinvent what AOL is. I

Speaker:

got very excited with that

Speaker:

entrepreneurial opportunity to

Speaker:

say, "Hey, we've got all these

Speaker:

users, and the audience, it's

Speaker:

there. If we can introduce them

Speaker:

and engage them in new ways,

Speaker:

that can be compelling." I now

Speaker:

subscribe, more so than I did

Speaker:

then, to the Warren Buffett

Speaker:

saying of, "Most turnarounds

Speaker:

don't turn." It turns out that

Speaker:

in this case, that was certainly

Speaker:

the case. It was a really hard

Speaker:

journey. I was traveling back

Speaker:

and forth. The headquarters are

Speaker:

in New York City, working for a

Speaker:

guy named Tim Armstrong, and

Speaker:

finally said, "Look, this is

Speaker:

tough," and decided to pull the

Speaker:

parachute and look at something

Speaker:

more local. Anyway, those are a

Speaker:

couple of starting thoughts on

Speaker:

those early Internet powerhouses.

Speaker:

What lessons can you take from

Speaker:

that to, let's say, traditional

Speaker:

businesses that are looking to

Speaker:

digitally transform and embrace

Speaker:

innovation in a new way for the

Speaker:

first time to move into the

Speaker:

digital age and hopefully become

Speaker:

a growth player in the industry?

Speaker:

I've two thoughts on that. One

Speaker:

is, you have to be really clear

Speaker:

about what you're trying to

Speaker:

achieve. I remember I'm sure,

Speaker:

Dan...Well, this may be before

Speaker:

you got as involved in

Speaker:

than I am.

Speaker:

Back in the late '90s, '97, '98, '

Speaker:

99, there was this phenomena of

Speaker:

bricks and mortar retailers

Speaker:

adding a .com to their name as

Speaker:

if like that was a digital

Speaker:

transformation. By the way,

Speaker:

their stock price would go up

Speaker:

when they did that. It's just

Speaker:

like, "Oh, boy." I

Speaker:

think it missed the point.

Speaker:

Understanding where you're going

Speaker:

and understanding what outcome

Speaker:

you seek, I think having clarity

Speaker:

about that going in will help

Speaker:

enable a robust digital

Speaker:

transformation. Some people

Speaker:

just say, "Hey, we're going to

Speaker:

hire a chief digital officer."

Speaker:

That was all the rage for a

Speaker:

period of years. You had all

Speaker:

these companies, "Hey, we got

Speaker:

our chief digital officer, but

Speaker:

what does that mean? What were

Speaker:

they empowered to do? How are

Speaker:

you going to measure? What are

Speaker:

their OK hours that we care

Speaker:

about?" The second thing I

Speaker:

would really push on is focus,

Speaker:

focus, focus. Be clear about

Speaker:

what outcome you're seeking, and

Speaker:

then focus, focus, focus.

Speaker:

Certainly, this was true at

Speaker:

Yahoo and one of the things that

Speaker:

became well known for is I wrote

Speaker:

this document called the "Peanut

Speaker:

Butter Manifesto." The Peanut

Speaker:

Butter Manifesto was really

Speaker:

talking about how Yahoo was

Speaker:

trying to be all things to all

Speaker:

people. I did this exercise at a

Speaker:

leadership off-site. I remember

Speaker:

where we were when we did this

Speaker:

at one hotel down in San Pedro.

Speaker:

About 30 or 40 people in the

Speaker:

room, and I said, "OK,

Speaker:

everybody's got a piece of paper

Speaker:

in front of you. On that piece

Speaker:

of paper, I'm going to say a

Speaker:

brand. When I say the brand, I

Speaker:

want you to write what word

Speaker:

comes to mind." At the time,

Speaker:

again this is back in 2005 or

Speaker:

2006. I would say, "eBay."

Speaker:

People would say, "Auctions." I

Speaker:

would say, "PayPal." They'd say, "

Speaker:

Payment centered." I'd say, "

Speaker:

Google." At the time, it was

Speaker:

just search. I would go through

Speaker:

five or six of those. I would

Speaker:

say, "Yahoo," and I'd say, "No,

Speaker:

don't say it out loud. Just

Speaker:

write it down." We would go

Speaker:

around the room and ask people

Speaker:

to share what was the word that

Speaker:

the Yahoo brand represented.

Speaker:

What would happen is you go

Speaker:

around the room and some people

Speaker:

would say, "Sports." Some people

Speaker:

would say, "Fantasy." Some

Speaker:

people would say, "Search." Some

Speaker:

people would say, "Mail." Some

Speaker:

people say, whatever. The point

Speaker:

I try to make is, if we as a

Speaker:

leadership team are confused

Speaker:

what the Yahoo brand represents,

Speaker:

certainly our consumers are also

Speaker:

going to be confused about what

Speaker:

the Yahoo brand represents. To

Speaker:

me, that was the point of The

Speaker:

Peanut Butter Manifesto. If we

Speaker:

aren't focused on some specific

Speaker:

thing, we're not going to be

Speaker:

successful at anything. We're

Speaker:

going to be very average at

Speaker:

everything. As companies decide

Speaker:

to focus on certain things to be

Speaker:

the best in the world at search,

Speaker:

then we're not going to win that.

Speaker:

There are a lot of things that I

Speaker:

think Yahoo could have done

Speaker:

better in retrospect, but that

Speaker:

was certainly one that we didn't

Speaker:

handle perfectly. If you're

Speaker:

trying to kick off a digital

Speaker:

transformation, one, be clear

Speaker:

about what outcomes you want.

Speaker:

Two, focus, focus, focus, and

Speaker:

don't let the new bright shiny

Speaker:

object interrupt you from that

Speaker:

focus. That's true for

Speaker:

entrepreneurial endeavors as

Speaker:

well.

Speaker:

Tell us about the origins of

Speaker:

cryptocurrency? How did it

Speaker:

evolve? Why did you join Ripple?

Speaker:

I'm not the best person to give

Speaker:

you the first part of that

Speaker:

question, the origins of

Speaker:

cryptocurrency. I didn't get

Speaker:

involved with crypto deeply

Speaker:

until I was at Ripple. I did own

Speaker:

Bitcoin already when I joined

Speaker:

Ripple. I had been exposed to

Speaker:

crypto a bit before then through

Speaker:

a good friend of mine who sadly

Speaker:

has passed away, Dave Goldberg.

Speaker:

Dave knew that I was an angel

Speaker:

investor in various companies,

Speaker:

and said, "Look, Brad. Whatever

Speaker:

you usually write in check for

Speaker:

into an angel invest, you should

Speaker:

buy that much worth of Bitcoin,

Speaker:

and to think about it that way."

Speaker:

I was like, "Dave's smart guy."

Speaker:

I like him, and he badgered me

Speaker:

into it. To my point, the way I

Speaker:

think about the origins of

Speaker:

crypto, it really was born of

Speaker:

this idea during the financial

Speaker:

crisis of 2009, 2010, that the

Speaker:

banks are bad for society. An

Speaker:

idea that we shouldn't trust

Speaker:

government to manage currency.

Speaker:

There are certainly examples

Speaker:

where that bears truth to that.

Speaker:

Even many in the crypto

Speaker:

community, in those earliest

Speaker:

days, were very libertarian in

Speaker:

their kind of, "We want to take

Speaker:

anonymity back. We want to be

Speaker:

able to control our financial

Speaker:

lives with anonymity." A lot of

Speaker:

those things are key tenants of

Speaker:

the origins. When I had

Speaker:

purchased Bitcoin, I thought

Speaker:

that those are really

Speaker:

interesting, but I think the

Speaker:

idea that we're not going to

Speaker:

live in a world of laws is a

Speaker:

little bit...and like, "I'm not

Speaker:

really buying it." I remember

Speaker:

first hearing the Ripple pitch

Speaker:

in 2015, maybe in end of 2014,

Speaker:

2015. To me, the simplest thing

Speaker:

at the time was we actually want

Speaker:

to work with the government. We

Speaker:

want to work with the banks to

Speaker:

leverage these technologies to

Speaker:

impact way more people. Even

Speaker:

today, with the success of

Speaker:

Bitcoin, and some crypto that is

Speaker:

designed for more anonymous

Speaker:

transactions, it's a tiny, tiny

Speaker:

fraction of the global financial

Speaker:

system. If you want to impact

Speaker:

the most people and really put a

Speaker:

dent in the Universe, how do we

Speaker:

reach 99 percent, not one

Speaker:

percent? Not, how do we get the

Speaker:

one percent using Bitcoin for

Speaker:

payments, to two percent, three

Speaker:

percent? It's like, "Look, no,

Speaker:

I'm going to go work with the

Speaker:

major institutions, the major

Speaker:

governments. I'm going to

Speaker:

introduce these technologies in

Speaker:

such a way that they can have a

Speaker:

broad impact on a broad cut of

Speaker:

the population, the underbanked,

Speaker:

in ways that are profound." We

Speaker:

all have to remind ourselves

Speaker:

it's not about the speculation

Speaker:

and price speculation of where

Speaker:

is the price of Bitcoin going?

Speaker:

It's about how do we use these

Speaker:

technologies to solve real

Speaker:

problems for real customers. To

Speaker:

the extent that it's delivering

Speaker:

utility, then there's value in

Speaker:

those underlying technologies

Speaker:

and underlying assets.

Speaker:

On the speculation side, shortly

Speaker:

after you joined Ripple, Ripple

Speaker:

co-founder, Chris Larsen, didn't

Speaker:

his network spike to about 60

Speaker:

billion due to a huge bump in

Speaker:

XRP valuation?

Speaker:

I never dug into that, but yes.

Speaker:

The value of crypto in, I guess,

Speaker:

it was 2018, went through a

Speaker:

massive, speculative frenzy,

Speaker:

which, it has to some degree

Speaker:

worked itself out. I still think

Speaker:

it hasn't totally worked itself

Speaker:

out. I only say that because

Speaker:

there are now thousands of

Speaker:

different cryptocurrencies. The

Speaker:

vast majority of them, I'm not a

Speaker:

believer. I, frankly, not

Speaker:

recently, but I've said publicly

Speaker:

that 99 percent of

Speaker:

cryptocurrencies are probably

Speaker:

going to go to zero. There's a

Speaker:

small number that are at the top-

Speaker:

end. I certainly include Bitcoin,

Speaker:

I include Ether, I include XRP

Speaker:

on that list. They have real

Speaker:

value in how they're solving

Speaker:

problems for consumers or

Speaker:

businesses. The way Ripple

Speaker:

deploys XRP into it to solve an

Speaker:

institutional problem for banks,

Speaker:

and that has served us well.

Speaker:

That speculative frenzy

Speaker:

certainly drove Chris Larsen's

Speaker:

net worth way up.

Speaker:

Yeah, no, it's crazy. You look

Speaker:

on the cover of "Forbes," he's

Speaker:

the fifth richest person

Speaker:

overnight. What's into this

Speaker:

crypto stuff, like in the '90s,

Speaker:

Netscape IPO. That was a whoa

Speaker:

moment for me. Like you say,

Speaker:

it's about the underlying

Speaker:

technology, right?

Speaker:

I remember where I was when

Speaker:

Netscape went public in '95. It

Speaker:

was August of 1995. Yes, that

Speaker:

was a moment of frenzy, of

Speaker:

interest, and participated that

Speaker:

IPO, which brought a lot of

Speaker:

attention into the industry

Speaker:

overall. It also, that interest,

Speaker:

brought a lot of investment,

Speaker:

brought a lot of attention. In

Speaker:

some ways, that Crypto frenzy

Speaker:

did the same thing. The number

Speaker:

of smart entrepreneurs, the

Speaker:

number of investors who came in

Speaker:

and said...Blockchain

Speaker:

technologies are quite profound

Speaker:

in how they can change the

Speaker:

nature of transactions. Ripple

Speaker:

focused on payment transactions,

Speaker:

other people were working on

Speaker:

other things. At its core, the

Speaker:

novelty of a blockchain is a

Speaker:

little bit academic, maybe a

Speaker:

little bit esoteric also. The

Speaker:

novelty of a blockchain is

Speaker:

simply enabling two parties to

Speaker:

transact without trust, but with

Speaker:

certainty. Today, if you and I

Speaker:

were going to transact, there

Speaker:

has to be a middleman involved.

Speaker:

Now, the middleman could be I'm

Speaker:

passing you a $100 note, or a $

Speaker:

20 note, and it's, effectively,

Speaker:

the US government, the federal

Speaker:

reserve note is commuting trust

Speaker:

between us as you trust that is

Speaker:

worth something. Today, if you

Speaker:

want a middleman transaction,

Speaker:

you have a credit card company,

Speaker:

you got stock transactions.

Speaker:

You'll pick your middleman, but

Speaker:

there's a middleman everywhere.

Speaker:

A blockchain's basically saying, "

Speaker:

Hey, take out the middleman."

Speaker:

You can still transact, you can

Speaker:

have certainty, but you don't

Speaker:

have to have trust. Anybody

Speaker:

who's in the middleman business,

Speaker:

in financial transactions,

Speaker:

blockchain technologies have the

Speaker:

opportunity to disrupt that.

Speaker:

Again, Ripple has said banking

Speaker:

transactions, cross-border

Speaker:

transactions, there's trillions

Speaker:

of dollars flowing globally. In

Speaker:

many ways, it's stuck on how it

Speaker:

was developed 50 years ago.

Speaker:

It's amazing to me that,

Speaker:

literally, you can stream video

Speaker:

from the Space Station, but if

Speaker:

you, Dan, want to send money to

Speaker:

me in London, that's going to

Speaker:

take days to get there. It's

Speaker:

going to cost you a fair number.

Speaker:

It's like, "Wait, how did we end

Speaker:

up here where I can do all these

Speaker:

things almost on an

Speaker:

instantaneous basis, but I can't

Speaker:

move my own money from point A

Speaker:

to point B?" To me, that's the

Speaker:

middleman transaction, how

Speaker:

blockchains can be leveraged.

Speaker:

Ripple has decided to focus on

Speaker:

payments, and simple cross-

Speaker:

border payments. There's a whole

Speaker:

bunch of middle transactions

Speaker:

that could be disintermediated

Speaker:

to improve speed, to improve

Speaker:

cost, efficiency. Blockchain

Speaker:

technologies will impact a lot

Speaker:

of industries over the next 10

Speaker:

years.

Speaker:

You spoke to hype cycles a few

Speaker:

times back with Yahoo, Netscape

Speaker:

era, and then, potentially,

Speaker:

again today. You also mentioned

Speaker:

that hype cycles are maybe

Speaker:

necessary, because they take

Speaker:

esoteric technologies and make

Speaker:

them more aware in the public

Speaker:

light. Where do you think we are

Speaker:

on the hype cycle for both

Speaker:

crypto and overall tech right

Speaker:

now? How do you think that will

Speaker:

impact the future of work 15

Speaker:

years out?

Speaker:

I do think that the next two to

Speaker:

three years are very bullish for

Speaker:

crypto at large. That's because

Speaker:

we have governments around the

Speaker:

world, US government being one

Speaker:

example, printing massive

Speaker:

amounts of additional dollars.

Speaker:

The stimulus associated with

Speaker:

COVID, that's happening on a

Speaker:

global basis. When that happens,

Speaker:

if you print more dollars, the

Speaker:

dollars you hold just became

Speaker:

worthless. This is inflation.

Speaker:

Over time, you are seeing people

Speaker:

saying, "I don't want to hold

Speaker:

dollars. I want to hold

Speaker:

something that is non-

Speaker:

inflationary." Crypto's a good

Speaker:

example. When you go out and

Speaker:

inflate currencies, fiat

Speaker:

currencies, people want to hold

Speaker:

non-inflationary assets. Crypto

Speaker:

is an interesting new one that

Speaker:

people are increasingly like, "

Speaker:

Huh, that's a pretty good one."

Speaker:

That bodes very well for the

Speaker:

next several years. The hype

Speaker:

cycle on tech, more broadly...

Speaker:

Tech is in an interesting, and,

Speaker:

I'll even say, a little bit of a

Speaker:

frustrating and depressing spot.

Speaker:

I say this as, I'll call myself,

Speaker:

a veteran of Silicon Valley.

Speaker:

I've been here 23 years. I've

Speaker:

been a part of, as we talked

Speaker:

about, some interesting

Speaker:

companies, and certainly watched

Speaker:

them up close and personal.

Speaker:

Tech needs to take ownership for,

Speaker:

both, how it has positively

Speaker:

contributed to the evolution of

Speaker:

society and how we interact

Speaker:

together. We also need to take

Speaker:

responsibility for some of the

Speaker:

negative, unintended

Speaker:

consequences. There are a lot of

Speaker:

positives. The fact that you and

Speaker:

I can have this conversation, I

Speaker:

don't know where you are

Speaker:

geographically, I'm in

Speaker:

California. The fact that we

Speaker:

can do this so seamlessly, and

Speaker:

it can be recorded. It's magic.

Speaker:

There's also factors that we

Speaker:

look at, and we're like, "Wow,

Speaker:

how is tech contributing to echo

Speaker:

chambers? How is tech

Speaker:

contributing to the polarization

Speaker:

of, frankly, society? How is it

Speaker:

being abused by bad actors?"

Speaker:

When I see tech leaders not

Speaker:

owning that, and not saying, "

Speaker:

Hey, we didn't intend for those

Speaker:

abusive behaviors, but we can

Speaker:

help address them." It's

Speaker:

frustrating for me as a tech

Speaker:

veteran to see that happen.

Speaker:

There's a powerful Netflix

Speaker:

documentary called "The Social

Speaker:

Dilemma" that, if you haven't

Speaker:

seen, and your viewers and

Speaker:

listeners haven't seen, it's

Speaker:

worth listening to. For those

Speaker:

of us in tech, we know some of

Speaker:

the people in the documentary.

Speaker:

It helps you understand some of

Speaker:

what has driven where we are.

Speaker:

Again, the first step to solving

Speaker:

a problem is admitting you have

Speaker:

a problem. When I see some of

Speaker:

these tech leaders say, "Well, I

Speaker:

mean, that's not our fault." I

Speaker:

think, "Wait a minute, come on,

Speaker:

guys." I know that the intent

Speaker:

wasn't that bad outcome, but to

Speaker:

not acknowledge there's been

Speaker:

some bad outcomes is a little

Speaker:

bit hard for me to process.

Speaker:

Do you think the solution is

Speaker:

policy? Obviously, congress has

Speaker:

taken a very vocal stance with

Speaker:

the tech leaders, trying, in

Speaker:

many ways, to vilify, but also

Speaker:

drive accountability. Do you

Speaker:

think this becomes a policy

Speaker:

issue? Is it better self-

Speaker:

regulation? I agree with you on

Speaker:

the "admitting the problem." How

Speaker:

does this make progress in the

Speaker:

next few years?

Speaker:

Self-regulation on this topic

Speaker:

has not worked. The evidence is

Speaker:

rampant. When self-regulation

Speaker:

doesn't work, I only see one

Speaker:

alternative. It is for the

Speaker:

regulatory dynamics in

Speaker:

Washington DC to change, or by

Speaker:

state, Sacramento, to enforce a

Speaker:

level of accountability. If

Speaker:

YouTube bills financial risk

Speaker:

associated with scams on their

Speaker:

platform, they're going to

Speaker:

change their posture. They're

Speaker:

going to change the way they

Speaker:

engage on this because there is

Speaker:

risk to them. Now, I'm not

Speaker:

smart enough nor spend time on

Speaker:

it to know exactly how to

Speaker:

approach it, but I will suffice

Speaker:

to say I don't think self-

Speaker:

regulation is going to work.

Speaker:

You've mentioned, you've worked

Speaker:

with a lot of tech leaders,

Speaker:

people like Stewart Butterfield

Speaker:

at Slack, or you knew Dave

Speaker:

Goldberg, founder of

Speaker:

SurveyMonkey. In this community

Speaker:

of early Silicon Valley leaders,

Speaker:

what have you learned from those

Speaker:

who have succeeded? Are there

Speaker:

characteristics specifically of

Speaker:

people that you worked with that

Speaker:

outperformed versus now?

Speaker:

That's a really good hard

Speaker:

question. Sometimes, I see

Speaker:

entrepreneurs who I think are, "

Speaker:

Wow. They are so talented.

Speaker:

They're so smart," and they

Speaker:

don't achieve success. You say

Speaker:

like, "Why? What went wrong?"

Speaker:

Anyone who tells you luck isn't

Speaker:

part of what drives success,

Speaker:

that's not true. Luck is a

Speaker:

factor. Right time, right place.

Speaker:

If I were to highlight a couple

Speaker:

of attributes that I value in

Speaker:

the investments I have made as

Speaker:

an angel investor, and as I

Speaker:

think about people I like to

Speaker:

hire, optimism is one. It's

Speaker:

fundamental belief that you put

Speaker:

any wall in front of me, I will

Speaker:

find a way through it, around it,

Speaker:

over it, under it. I do say to

Speaker:

my kids, I don't talk with kids

Speaker:

a lot, but when they say the

Speaker:

word, "Can't" at home, I don't

Speaker:

know what that means. I'm like, "

Speaker:

Word 'can't' to me, it's not a

Speaker:

word." You may choose not to. It

Speaker:

may be difficult to do that, but

Speaker:

can't is very rarely. They love

Speaker:

to have fun and say, "You can't

Speaker:

teleport into the middle of the

Speaker:

sun." I'm like, "Not yet."

Speaker:

I don't know how to do it yet,

Speaker:

but somebody's going to figure

Speaker:

it out." I don't know. It's a

Speaker:

bad example. I think that in

Speaker:

amazing entrepreneurs, there's a

Speaker:

sense of optimism and a sense of

Speaker:

like, "Can do," that is really

Speaker:

powerful. The second thing that

Speaker:

I was highlighting in all of

Speaker:

these two, and this is going to

Speaker:

sound a little bit derogatory or

Speaker:

pejorative, but it's effective

Speaker:

storytelling. The best

Speaker:

entrepreneurs are good at

Speaker:

articulating a vision,

Speaker:

articulating where they see the

Speaker:

world going. People sometimes

Speaker:

think like, "God, they're so

Speaker:

smart, but they're not good at

Speaker:

storytelling." If you really

Speaker:

want to be an entrepreneur and

Speaker:

build a new vertical, develop a

Speaker:

new category, you've got to help

Speaker:

the world see what could happen,

Speaker:

and effective storytelling is an

Speaker:

important part of that.

Speaker:

Both really impactful traits.

Speaker:

Really appreciate that. I know,

Speaker:

the last time we connected, you

Speaker:

talked about the crypto space

Speaker:

and a lot of crypto fans out

Speaker:

there and people reaching out.

Speaker:

Some famous wanted to get to

Speaker:

know you, wanted to get to learn

Speaker:

more. Can you tell our viewers

Speaker:

about who and why and how?

Speaker:

Right around the time I saw you,

Speaker:

I had the opportunity to sit

Speaker:

down for coffee with Bono & The

Speaker:

Edge. They were super interested

Speaker:

in what's going with crypto. I

Speaker:

will say, both of them were

Speaker:

quite knowledgeable. The Edge

Speaker:

was super plugged in. He asked

Speaker:

very specific questions, even

Speaker:

about performance issues,

Speaker:

different blockchain

Speaker:

technologies, and scalability,

Speaker:

and I was super

Speaker:

impressed. Obviously, I was a

Speaker:

guy who went to high school and

Speaker:

graduated high school in the

Speaker:

late '80s. "The Joshua Tree"

Speaker:

album and U2 was the .

Speaker:

For me, there's examples like

Speaker:

that, that have been very cool

Speaker:

opportunities to connect with

Speaker:

people and talk about how these

Speaker:

technologies could actually

Speaker:

impact. Bono particularly has

Speaker:

been incredibly generous with

Speaker:

his time, his energy, his

Speaker:

attention, and some of his money,

Speaker:

and addressing particularly

Speaker:

communities that I would

Speaker:

describe as either completely

Speaker:

unbanked or very much

Speaker:

underbanked and how some of

Speaker:

these technologies can bring

Speaker:

them into the financial system

Speaker:

in a way that is constructive,

Speaker:

is a big deal. Those are maybe

Speaker:

one example of an interesting

Speaker:

opportunity.

Speaker:

Got it. Fast forward 15 years,

Speaker:

do you think Silicon Valley will

Speaker:

still be the center of gravity

Speaker:

for technology?

Speaker:

Silicon Valley's dominance isn't

Speaker:

going to go away. I guess, if

Speaker:

you're to have a metric of

Speaker:

concentration, that will change

Speaker:

and the concentration will go

Speaker:

down. COVID has obviously had

Speaker:

an impact on a lot of cities.

Speaker:

The tale for how it impacts San

Speaker:

Francisco, and the San Francisco

Speaker:

community might be a little bit

Speaker:

longer than how it impacts New

Speaker:

York City, for example. New

Speaker:

York City has a broad-based

Speaker:

economy. You already have some

Speaker:

investment banks. They want

Speaker:

their traders already back on

Speaker:

desk, and there's tech there. I

Speaker:

think that people will come back

Speaker:

to New York City more quickly.

Speaker:

San Francisco, when you have

Speaker:

companies that have said -- like

Speaker:

Twitter, I would highlight as

Speaker:

one -- that said, "Look, you can

Speaker:

permanently work remote." What

Speaker:

does that mean? If 10 percent of

Speaker:

people in San Francisco take

Speaker:

advantage of that, 10 percent

Speaker:

doesn't sound like a lot, but

Speaker:

that means tens of thousands of

Speaker:

people don't move back to San

Speaker:

Francisco. Don't come back. How

Speaker:

does that impact, given the

Speaker:

concentration of tech, as a

Speaker:

major employer in the Bay Area?

Speaker:

To your core question that I

Speaker:

think that the concentration 15

Speaker:

years from now of tech as the

Speaker:

center of gravity out here in

Speaker:

the Bay Area, it will become

Speaker:

more distributed. COVID has

Speaker:

accelerated in what was already

Speaker:

happening.

Speaker:

Is there a call-out technology

Speaker:

or trend that you see now on the

Speaker:

early precipice that you think

Speaker:

is going to be game-changing in

Speaker:

the future?

Speaker:

I'm going to talk my own book.

Speaker:

I'll give you two answers. One

Speaker:

is, I do think blockchain

Speaker:

technologies are still in their

Speaker:

early innings, and digital

Speaker:

assets are in the early innings

Speaker:

for how they transformed various

Speaker:

transactions. We talked about

Speaker:

that earlier, but I think

Speaker:

there's a lot of industries that

Speaker:

will be touched by blockchain

Speaker:

technologies that we haven't

Speaker:

even started. The second one,

Speaker:

I'm not smart enough to go into

Speaker:

this industry, but I am

Speaker:

completely fascinated as a human,

Speaker:

by genetics and some of what's

Speaker:

going on with regard to

Speaker:

understanding genetics being

Speaker:

able to -- I like the word

Speaker:

manipulate, suggests a negative,

Speaker:

but -- to be able to leverage

Speaker:

these understanding in a way

Speaker:

that is the betterment of the

Speaker:

human experience, I think is a

Speaker:

very big deal. As an

Speaker:

entrepreneur, I like to get

Speaker:

involved with things I feel like

Speaker:

you can put a dent in the

Speaker:

universe. That's what gets me up

Speaker:

in the morning. Ripple has been

Speaker:

an example of that. There are

Speaker:

certainly companies in the

Speaker:

genetic space that...Again, I

Speaker:

don't know who's going to win,

Speaker:

who's not going to win. If I

Speaker:

were to reset my career for the

Speaker:

next 20 years right now,

Speaker:

genetics would be high on my

Speaker:

list of being really smart. I'm

Speaker:

not, but I would be interested

Speaker:

in pursuing that.

Speaker:

Amazing. Any last piece of

Speaker:

advice you'd give to our

Speaker:

listeners?

Speaker:

It's great you're doing this.

Speaker:

It's great you're taking the

Speaker:

time as a commitment of your

Speaker:

time and plan to do it. I

Speaker:

appreciate you inviting me.

Speaker:

Hopefully, it's somewhat

Speaker:

constructive for your viewers

Speaker:

and listeners.

Speaker:

Thanks so much, Brad.

Speaker:

Good to see you.

Speaker:

On the next episode of Decoding

Speaker:

Digital.

Speaker:

Companies, as they moved to

Speaker:

subscription-based business

Speaker:

models, they now have this

Speaker:

massive new thing they've got to

Speaker:

figure out. How do I make sure

Speaker:

my customers have been onboarded

Speaker:

properly? That they're adopting

Speaker:

the products and services.

Speaker:

They're getting value. They're

Speaker:

going to stay with me. They're

Speaker:

going to grow and spend more

Speaker:

money over time. We thought

Speaker:

that would create a whole new

Speaker:

industry, and it turns out it

Speaker:

has. It's created a new job,

Speaker:

customer success manager, which

Speaker:

according to LinkedIn now is the

Speaker:

sixth most promising job in the

Speaker:

world. It's created a whole new

Speaker:

strategy for companies which is

Speaker:

not just about sales and

Speaker:

marketing, but making sure your

Speaker:

customers are successful.

Speaker:

CEO of Gainsight, a pioneer in

Speaker:

the customer success sector, and

Speaker:

a new unicorn company, Nick

Speaker:

Mehta. Thanks for listening to

Speaker:

Decoding Digital. Make sure you

Speaker:

never miss an episode by

Speaker:

subscribing to the show in your

Speaker:

favorite podcast player.

Speaker:

To

Speaker:

learn more, visit

Speaker:

decodingdigital.com. Until next