Too often, the conventional wisdom imparted to entrepreneurs is to treat board meetings as a necessary evil, part of the price you pay for raising money. While it's true that many boards are dysfunctional, when you build a great startup board, it will be a powerful tool that can help the CEO make the company successful. Reid Hoffman shares insights from his career as an entrepreneur, investor, and board member.
Greylock general partner Reid Hoffman in conversation with Harry Stebbings, host of the popular podcast The 20 Minute VC. Picking back up from a conversation in November 2020, Reid and Harry source questions from Twitter to discuss everything from Reid's earliest lessons as a young entrepreneur; investing in startups such as Airbnb; and up into the current environment of navigating political issues (and a pandemic )while running a company.
Cloud native is the new order of business. But most existing monitoring technology is insufficient to contend with the complex, dynamic, and ephemeral nature of the modern cloud environment. That's why Martin Mao and Rob Skillington formed Chronosphere, a purpose-built platform to monitor cloud-native infrastructure and apps and enable organizations to make precise, data-driven decisions.
While it’s been difficult, 2020 has also been a time of great progress in the startup ecosystem. Not only have we seen extraordinary efforts to advance technology and experiment with new business models, we’ve seen many individuals and organizations taking important strides towards building a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive future.
It’s lonely at the top. It’s even lonelier to be an entrepreneur. But you don’t have to go through this struggle alone. Reid Hoffman on why it’s so lonely to be an entrepreneur, how he dealt with this challenge through both success (LinkedIn) and failure (SocialNet), and how entrepreneurs can find allies and aid in their struggle against loneliness.
Platforms like Shopify have made it possible for entrepreneurs to quickly get storefronts up and running, and its attitude of embracing developer partners has created an equally important ecosystem of infrastructure entrepreneurs to support merchants. With scale, merchants demand higher levels of flexibility and control, and the impact of speed on conversion is more pronounced. Enter headless architecture, which allows merchants to decouple the front-end storefront from the back-end.
To make sense of the rapidly evolving commerce landscape, we’re launching a new Greymatter podcast series focused entirely on the sector. The series will be hosted by Greylock General Partner Mike Duboe, who previously led growth at Stitch Fix and now partners with entrepreneurs across commerce, marketplaces, and network-oriented businesses.
Innovation happens fast in the cloud-first era of today. Yet the tools and processes that allow software developers to ensure their products are secure were designed for a different era. apiiro was formed to reinvent the secure software development life cycle, by creating a unified platform that allows developers to embed security at the earliest stages.
While the past fifteen years of the cloud transition has produced some large and likely enduring companies, today we are seeing new companies that are not part of the cloud transition or a hybrid cloud generation. They aren’t even cloud-first– they are cloud only.
In his latest column for Forbes, Greylock general partner Asheem Chandna discusses how entrepreneurs need to focus on getting three big things right to successfully fundraise, regardless of the economic environment: the sponsor, the pitch, and the diligence process.
The ability to derive insights and take action from an ever-increasing volume of data has become a critical success factor for organizations across every industry. But as business operations become increasingly digitized and move to the cloud, first-generation analytics systems struggle to deliver insights at the scale and speed necessary to build modern data applications. Rockset is a distributed SQL database that can return queries in milliseconds but under the hood, Rockset's storage architecture is more closely related to a search engine like Google or Facebook newsfeed.
Geographic location shouldn't dictate whether one can participate in the startup ecosystem. That's why Alice Bentinck and Matt Clifford created Entrepreneur First – a global platform to recruit exceptional entrepreneurs, pair them with co-founders, and connect them with investors all over the world. Beyond connecting prospective entrepreneurs, the organization provides an environment where people to test out working relationships, thereby helping them figure out which complementary skills and attributes are needed in their partners before ultimately forming a team. Nearly a decade after its founding, Entrepreneur First's international footprint has given it an advantage in adapting to the now largely remote-first way of working. As the organization's network of entrepreneurs, investors and alumnus has expanded, Entrepreneur First has seen an uptick in interest from an increasingly diverse pool of founders.
Working remotely often means back-to-back scheduled meetings and a constant barrage of text and email notifications. The result is exhaustion. But that doesn't mean coworkers don't want to talk to one another. Ad-hoc conversations are energizing and foster stronger team connections, which is why Remotion built a video workspace designed to enable colleagues to virtually "glance over" at one another and just start talking.
Greylock general partner Reid Hoffman discusses the ABZ planning framework, a key concept from his book The Startup of You. Hoffman revisits the concept for 2020 - which he refers to as "The Age of the Inconceivable" – offering a systematic approach to adaptation that allows for the pursuit of goals while also maintaining the ability to quickly course-correct when external shocks or unexpected discoveries occur.
Products don’t sell themselves. Even those that provide inarguable value to a customer can underperform their potential. Clearly communicated value can lead to faster sales, more accurate pricing, and less customer churn. Value-based sales underpins some of the most successful enterprise software companies and their sustained growth.
The mission of career advancement nonprofit Management Leadership of Tomorrow (MLT) is to change the reality of the tech industry: a dearth of people of color in leadership positions. The organization has teamed up with Greylock in a new partnership to accelerate that change. MLT CEO John Rice and Greylock general partner David Sze discuss the partnership on Greymatter.
Automation software startup Zapier has been a distributed company since its inception, and the company is often held up as an example of how to work remotely. Zapier CEO and co-founder Wade Foster is frequently asked for advice, and says there are many common pitfalls among those in forced-remote work situations such as an over-reliance on synchronous communication.
At the SaaStr Annual event (held virtually this year) Greylock general partners David Wadhwani and Sarah Guo discussed the key elements to successfully navigating operational phase shifts, which David has experienced numerous times over the course of his two-decade career as a software executive at companies such as AppDynamics and Adobe. David detailed 5 things every company and founder should do to navigate phase shifts successfully, illustrated by examples of how they played out during his own experience.
Pivots are an integral part of the entrepreneurial process. Whether you're pivoting in the early days because you haven't yet found product-market fit, or you're pivoting by reinventing yourself later on, all companies – if they're going to become and stay successful – are going to have to pivot.
The nature of work today is increasingly dynamic, distributed, flexible, and digital-first. Relying on the extended workforce is more than a short-term, stop-gap solution: businesses are finding this population to be an efficient, viable source of talent instrumental to their core operations. That's why Utmost developed the first ever extended workforce system (EWS) to help enterprises source, engage, pay, and optimize their entire non-employee workforce, including freelancers, consultants and more. The company, which was founded in 2018 by former Workday and Groupon executives, has been a distributed organization from the start and has a unique vantage into the fast-changing nature of work.
In the context of the pandemic and economic crisis, Reid Hoffman discusses the new methods entrepreneurs can apply to building, strengthening and navigating their business ecosystem and network.
Productivity software startup Coda was founded to empower anyone to make a document as powerful as an app, no engineering required. Now that many businesses have no choice but to be distributed, Coda has seen accelerating adoption as a central collaboration hub within companies. Coda CEO and co-founder Shishir Mehrotra discusses with Greylock general partner Sarah Guo why he believes “the world runs on docs, not apps,” why the core metaphors for productivity systems are stagnant, solving the “tragedy of the commons in enterprise software,” the most commonly pressed three buttons in SaaS, why you want structured participation in your board meetings, lessons learned from the in-office (and not) cultures of Microsoft and Google, and his predictions for the future of productivity.
While failure is often the default state for startups, it is neither inevitable nor is it necessarily the end of the story. If you are able to bring yourself to look failure in the eye, you can take steps to maximize your chance of success. And even if you fail despite your best efforts, if you behave ethically and demonstrate that you've learned from the mistakes you might have made along the way, failure is definitely not the end. In fact, it may be the beginning.
Since Covid-19 first hit, Solv Health has played an instrumental role in helping healthcare organizations connect virtually with patients to provide telemedicine and same or next-day clinic appointments, as well as myriad administrative services such as contactless payments and digital paperwork. The widespread shift to telemedicine meant Solv went from hosting about 9,000 virtual visits in all of 2019 to hosting half a million since March of 2020, and the company is now facilitating Covid-19 testing across its partner organizations.
In an increasingly politicized world, it’s harder and harder for CEOs to keep business and politics separate. And in an increasingly politicized world, they shouldn’t. When an issue creates risks that are severe, broad in scope, and systemic in impact, business leaders have an obligation to speak up, especially if the issue clashes with the company’s ethics, culture, and vision for the future. Reid Hoffman and Blitzscaling co-author Chris Yeh outline a set of principles that can help decide when, how, and why CEOs should speak out.
Figma was founded in 2012 with a mission to connect designers virtually, enabling collaboration and communication no matter where they were in the world. Fast forward to 2020, and that original operational intent has paved the way for the company to expand significantly in the face of Covid-19’s impact on the working world.
The term “early-stage” covers a lot of territory in venture investing, from incubating a brand-new idea, to investing in a Series A. Moreover, the indicators that show founders are ready to take on new capital in order to progress to the next phase of company-building – be it hiring, expanding into a new market, launching a product or more – can vary from company to company. As the Greylock team has learned after decades of partnering with early-stage founders, the best approach is establishing a core set of fundamental questions that can be tailored to each individual company, rather than looking at a rigid set of metrics.
The coronavirus pandemic has rendered us reliant on technology for nearly everything we need to do these days. While that’s made a lot of us more appreciative of technology, it’s also bringing our attention to places where it could be better – or places where it doesn’t even exist yet. From audio visual technology and collaborative software platforms that could make remote working, (and learning, and socializing, and everything else) closer to the real thing, to tools that enable organizations to become more efficient and resilient (particularly in stressful times like today), now is clearly a time for innovation. But how should entrepreneurs think about product development at critical moments like now?
Although it’s been nearly six months since Covid-19 hit and upended virtually every aspect of life, we’re still in the early days when it comes to long-term business planning. Among the most pressing decisions is how to approach remote work policies and compensation. To better understand what the future of tech employment might look like, Greylock conducted an informal survey of 48 portfolio companies to get a sense of how they are approaching the new environment.
Today’s entrepreneurs find themselves falling from the cliff and assembling a plane with tools that are on fire while being attacked by a swarm of murder hornets. Yet despite the increased risks, entrepreneurs are still taking those leaps of faith, for which we should all be grateful. Greylock partner Reid Hoffman and his Blitzscaling co-author Chris Yeh explore how to help and encourage those entrepreneurs by offering some thoughts on how to mitigate – or even leverage – the present set of risks to accelerate their progress.
Software startup Clubhouse built its product specifically for distributed teams, and the company had a high percentage of employees working remotely even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. But Clubhouse CEO and co-founder Kurt Schrader said the shift to 100% remote work has provided fresh insight into the need for more and better tools that effectively recreate the ambient intelligence of working in an office.
The fundamental choice that venture-backed entrepreneurs face is simple: M&A or IPO? The short answer is that it almost never makes sense to start a company with the intent of selling it. You incur nearly as much risk, and shed as much blood, sweat, and tears whether you sell or go public. And even though only a small set of companies succeed in going public, the value of going public is such that the expected value of going public is mammothly higher. The big problem with building to sell is that companies are bought, not sold. As a result, in a very real sense, it's harder to build your company to sell than it is to build it to go public because if you’re aiming to go public, at least you know what public market investors want to see. Fortunately, there is one approach that allows you to build to go public AND to sell.
Okta CEO and co-founder Todd McKinnon shares leadership lessons for times of dramatic change, and how they're meeting the surge in customer demand for Okta since Covid-19 hit. Todd, who left his job leading engineering at Salesforce in 2009 to start Okta, a Greylock portfolio company, reflects on the platform shifts that convinced him to take the leap, the parallels he sees today, and what's next for Okta.
Months into the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the top questions on entrepreneurs’ minds is whether venture capital firms are still making investments. The short answer is “Yes,” but the details are important enough that the partners of Greylock thought it was worth exploring in greater depth. Reid Hoffman and Saam Motamedi discuss the topic on the latest episode of Greymatter.
Entrepreneurs must evolve with the forces shaping this new economic and cultural reality to create products and businesses that can endure throughout - and beyond - this time of great volatility. As we think about what the first wild half of 2020 has looked like, where are the entry points of new opportunity and growth that could influence what the rest of the year and 2021 look like?
Greylock general partner David Thacker sat down with Quora CEO and co-founder Adam D'Angelo to discuss his decision to make the company a remote-first organization. Adam shared the reasons for making the far-reaching change, what impact the shift has made on Quora’s productivity and culture, and how he thinks remote working will change society for the better.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the environment for entrepreneurship. In many ways, entrepreneurship has become more challenging; in a few ways, and for a few people, it has become easier. For all of us among the broader society, it has become more important. The pandemic has shown us the harsh reality of the world as it is. That new clarity may allow entrepreneurship to make more rapid progress towards how it should be.
Box CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie sat down with Greylock General Partner Sarah Guo on Greymatter to discuss his company’s journey during the past decade leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, how it has changed their product roadmap, and where he believes the opportunities for innovation still lie.
A handful of companies have stood out as pioneers of the remote work movement. Many of them were instrumental early on in the pandemic in transitioning to an all-remote workforce, and have been the lead adopters of long-term policies that may set the tone for many industries outside of technology. We are devoting a new podcast series to conversations with these technology industry leaders, hosted by Greylock general partners Sarah Guo and David Thacker.
While there is a tendency for pundits to say that everything has changed, and that we’re in a new world, Reid Hoffman posits that more is actually the same than different. Converting challenge into opportunity is a normal part of the entrepreneurial journey, and right now is precisely when people with entrepreneurial skills are accomplishing amazing things, because generally speaking, it's actually better in the long-run to successfully start a business during a recession than during a bull market.
Covid-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare, prompting many health systems to adopt technology that not only enables virtual visits, but provides better data visibility across all aspects of the healthcare continuum. One of those companies is Notable Health, which provides software that uses robotic process automation and natural language processing to replace manual, in-person administrative tasks in healthcare.
In 2014, Greylock general partner Reid Hoffman co-authored The Alliance with Chris Yeh and Ben Casnocha. The book argued that in the modern economy, the key to a stronger, healthier, longer-lasting employee relationship was to be honest about the temporary nature of nearly every job. Much like negotiators of a treaty of alliance, employees can work with their managers and employers to steer their careers on a track that transforms both company and employee. In 2020, the world is suffering through the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, and those alliances are under more stress than ever before. Chris and Reid discuss how the current crisis also represents an opportunity to honor and strengthen those alliances, even in cases where employers are furloughing or laying off employees.
With a high number of employees with young children, the leaders of health tech startup Cleo understand the needs of working parents. The company, which offers a platform for employers to provide family benefits and resources to their employees, was particularly attuned to the expanded needs of working parents in the time of Covid-19. In the months since the coronavirus pandemic hit and subsequently forced schools and most businesses to shift operations to the home, Cleo experienced a swell in demand for supportive tools and information from its member base.
Historically, searching the internet means handing over your private information and being tracked across the web. But it doesn’t have to. Greylock partner and former Google executive Sridhar Ramaswamy believes the public is ready for an alternative, which is why he co-founded Neeva with Vivek Raghunathan. We sat down with Sridhar to discuss Neeva’s mission to put consumers first with an ad-free search platform built on privacy.
While the disruption and turbulence associated with the Covid-19 pandemic is broadly negative and unpredictable, it does open up new opportunities. Even during a pandemic, there will still be blitzscaling opportunities. They’ll just look different from the opportunities that emerged during the long economic expansion. Greylock general partner Reid Hoffman and his Blitzscaling co-author Chris Yeh say it is now more critical than ever to focus on and enable entrepreneurship.
On average, employers spend nearly as much on healthcare benefits as they do on payroll. But the complexity of the healthcare system means many workers still struggle to find, access and understand their care options. That’s why health tech startup Grand Rounds created a navigation platform to make the process of finding and receiving healthcare easier, faster and more affordable. It’s also why the company has played a critical role in helping employers and health systems grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
Greylock-backed founders joined our virtual town hall to hear general partner Reid Hoffman's assessment of the current economic, political and public health landscape. He answered questions about how entrepreneurs, investors and new graduates can adapt to the new market and societal conditions.
Techfair is a highly selective and curated event that brings together the best and brightest engineering students and recent grads - from undergraduate to Ph.D. - with some of the most exciting and fast-growing technology startups. This year’s Techfair will take place virtually on July 16th.
The COVID-19 crisis meant our annual CXO Advisory Council retreat took place where every other business interaction is happening now: online. Even as we are working from home, large enterprise organizations are facing and responding to change, and startups are still building the tools to be successful in a new environment for us all.
The sudden, high-volume shift to virtual work has accelerated what businesses had been dealing with prior to COVID-19: increasingly distributed workforces that need seamless integration of technology. Now that many employees have transitioned to all-virtual, all the time, the toolset critical for keeping businesses running has also expanded.
The current COVID-19 crisis has shifted virtually every aspect of life to online. With that increased internet activity comes increased risk of cyberattacks. As large enterprise organizations rush to adjust to an all- digital business, it’s been a moment of reckoning: what technology is critical to ensure companies are prepared and protected from malicious activities?
How do you scale a consumer brand company to profitability without losing the human touch? Moreover, since marketplace platforms like Shopify have made it relatively simple to launch an ecommerce business, how do you stand out among the noise and reach customers in the first place? And how do you measure how well those methods are working?
The COVID19 crisis is causing an unprecedented level of turbulence, likely across every aspect of your personal and professional life. From my experience as a CEO during two economic downturns, I’ve found that crises can actually help focus your priorities in ways that not only help you weather the storm, but ultimately make you a stronger, more enduring business in the future.
This episode of Greymatter is the third in a series of growth discussions featuring Greylock investor Mike Duboe. In this podcast, Lenny Rachitsky, former growth lead at Airbnb, and Dan Hockenmaier, founder of Basis One and former director of growth marketing at Thumbtack...
Silicon Valley can frequently be too provincial in its views of entrepreneurship, strategy, and markets, and can benefit from learning about a broader view of entrepreneurship where the strategies of Blitzscaling can be applied outside of Silicon Valley and China.
In this episode of Greymatter, Reid Hoffman, Partner at Greylock and Co-Founder of LinkedIn sits down with Wences Casares, CEO and founder of Xapo, a Greylock portfolio company in Patagonia to discuss a range of topics, including what Silicon Valley can learn from Argentina.
Greylock Investor Mike Duboe, Right Side Up CEO Tyler Elliston, and KeepTruckin VP of Data Science Kim Larsen discuss frameworks and tactics for successful growth marketing.
Greylock Investor Mike Duboe, Reforge CEO Brian Balfour, and Mulesoft SVP of Product Shaun Clowes discuss developing a healthy and successful growth strategy.
This episode in the Greymatter Blitzscaling capsule series, with Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh, focuses on the major threats that blitzscalers need to watch out for as they scale.
I was lucky to be a part of the Messenger team in the early days. As product manager, I worked on the Messenger Developer Platform, integrations with key partners (such as Uber, Lyft, KLM)
Since the launch of our book, and after the Stanford class, Chris Yeh and I have received many questions from entrepreneurs who want more details on how to blitzscale their companies.
(Episode 3/5) Greylock Partner Josh McFarland shares lessons learned from scaling TellApart and how the company could have scaled even faster.
Forming a well-crafted communications strategy is part action and part reaction. It’s about developing and telling your brand story in a deliberate way, while at the same time understanding the macro media landscape and thoughtfully responding to the narratives about your industry. In this podcast, I sit down with Aaron Zamost, the Head of Communications at Square who led comms through the company’s IPO, to talk about how a tech startup should think about communications from the early days all the way up to IPO.
The term “brand” is often misunderstood in business. Many attach it to your company aesthetic — logos, fonts, colors, and website design. But thoughtful and strategic brand represents so much more. Few people in the world understand building and maintaining brands better than Heidi Hackemer, the founder of Wolf & Wilhelmine — a New York-based brand strategy shop that has worked with clients ranging from small startups to the White House to iconic companies like Google and Nike.
You are the founder of a startup. You get a call. “I am looking for your comment. I heard from my sources that your company is…” The reporter begins to fill you in on the piece. They are chasing a story leaked from a source (or two…or three…) and trying to confirm the facts. Maybe it is a negative story, or perhaps it is just something you are not yet talking about publicly. In short, it’s stuff you would rather not see in print. Oh, and they want to publish within the hour.
This is session 17 of Technology-enabled Blitzscaling, a Stanford University class taught by Reid Hoffman, John Lilly, Allen Blue, and Chris Yeh. This class features Chris Yeh interviewing Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo.