Today’s guest is none other than Silicon Valley Legend, Heidi Roizen. She is an accomplished, Entrepreneur, former head of developer relations at Apple and now, a legendary VC. She shares with us why today is the Golden Era for entrepreneurship, how any company is literally a tech company and more about VC-backed company, Memphis Meats.
Silicon Valley's Greatest Connector
The Financial Women of San Francisco honored Heidi as Financial Woman of the Year in 2018. She is also dubbed as “Silicon Valley's Greatest Connector.” She is currently sits on the board of companies such as Zoox, Planet, Memphis Meats, HelixRE and DMGT.
“I talk about the fact that there should be more women entrepreneurs and there should be more women venture capitalists and diversity. Not just gender diversity but other diversity and I try to support that through my actions. I think it’s appropriate given my role in Silicon Valley. If I have an opinion about that, I should be vocal about that.” - Heidi Roizen
Other than these achievements, Heidi is a self-proclaimed animal lover. She adopted several dogs from the shelter, which she fondly shares in her social media.
Golden Era of Entrepreneurship
Heidi describes the market as a seller's market when it comes to early-stage equity. There are a lot of sources of capital in the market, its very competitive. She enumerates all the positive assets entrepreneurs have in today’s world.
“There's just so many different avenues for funding. There are so many tech breakthroughs that can be built upon, whether that is networking or processing power, sensors, devices, GPS, next-gen VR technologies, ubiquitous platforms. When you think about the kinds of businesses you can start today for pennies, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past.” - Heidi Roizen
The only negative she can mention is about competition, as she believes everyone else can also solve many big, interesting problems. Additionally, she mentions why companies nowadays are considered tech companies.
“I do think it’s interesting today is, every company is a technology company, right? For the most part, how they interact with the customers, how they distribute their products, how they garner feedback, how they handle customer service, tech support, logistics, supply chain, internally, HR systems—every company is deep in technology now.” - Heidi Roizen
Memphis Meats. Cell-based Meat
Heidi shares more about Memphis Meats and why she believes there is a huge growth potential for cell-based meat. First, she discusses how meat is inefficient to produce: from breeding to feeding to slaughtering and distribution to markets. Not only does it requires more resources, such as land and water use, it is also highly prone to contamination.
“The great thing about being a venture capitalist is, we don’t have to actually invent this stuff. There are really awesome entrepreneurs that are way smarter than we are who come up with these ideas. We just have to make sure they want to come to talk to us, and that we can validate sufficiently what they are doing through our own research learning.” - Heidi Roizen
To hear more about legendary Silicon Valley stories of Heidi Roizen, download and listen to the episode.
Heidi represents the voice of the entrepreneur, having been one herself.
But she also represents the voice of the user, as those are the roots that led her to start a company in the first place.
She is on the boards of directors of Zoox, Planet, Memphis Meats, HelixRE and DMGT (LSE:DMGT.)
After Heidi earned her undergraduate and MBA degrees from Stanford, she co-founded T/Maker, where she served as CEO for over a decade through its acquisition by Deluxe Corporate in 1994. Next, she joined Apple as VP of Worldwide Developer Relations, and from there, Mobius Venture Capital.
For the second part of our two-part series on legendary category king companies, we are featuring John Rossman, author of “Think Like Amazon.”
We have a fun, insightful conversation about how Amazon became arguably the most innovative category king in the world and most importantly, how you can learn to think like Amazon in your career.
Digital vs. Traditional
Christopher probes John on his thoughts about the distinction between traditional businesses versus data-driven, digital ones. John shares that other than the technological aspect, he could relate digital businesses to athletic attributes such as speed and agility.
In detail, John said speed is about doing a repetitive motion, extremely well and efficiently. In business terms, that is considered as operational excellence. The second attribute, agility, is the ability to sense and make change happen.
“Part of being digital is about the eternal pursuit of becoming perfect. How do we reduce cycle times? Improve quality, reduce costs? Cut out little pieces of friction from both our customers and employees?” - John Rossman
Embracing New Niches
John cites Amazon’s business strategy in terms of embracing new niches. The other aspect of finding problems, then working on a solution, is the notion of working into the future. He defines the future as a “time and a place for unconstrained thinking.”
“Amazon’s answer to that, their philosophy or their technique is: start with the customer and work backward. ” - John Rossman
When teams are brainstorming, all of these constraints come to the table and they deliberately understand which parts of the solution they are. Afterward, they identify the right mindset, then the right tools and ultimately, the right approach in order to solve the problem.
Architecture is the Business Strategy
Citing some parts of the book, Think Like Amazon, Christopher asks John the idea behind the concept architecture is the business strategy.
“You have to plan forward on how you build things, because the constraints, the flexibility the adaptability on how you build your operations and your technology architecture—will either be a key enabler or key constraint in your ability in going forward.” - John Rossman
In the end, John shares that his whole goal is to give a business person, who is not technology architect, a set of tools and questions that they utilize to be a better partner with their technology expert
To hear more about how digital businesses like Amazon innovate across entire the entire value-chain and John Rossman’s thoughts on how to make wise bets on new business ideas, download and listen to the episode.
John Rossman, Digital and Innovation Advisor
Mr. Rossman is an expert at digital business models, operations and organizing programs. He has led engagements on developing innovation processes, Internet of Things strategies, marketplace and API driven platform business models.
He is a sought after speaker on creating a culture of operational excellence and innovation.
Mr. Rossman has worked with clients across various industries, including retail, insurance, education, healthcare, consumer products, industrial products and transportation.
Mr. Rossman’s notable assignments include The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, Nordstrom and several of the world’s leading retail and insurance organizations.
Prior to Rossman Partners, John was a Managing Director at Alvarez and Marsal, a performance improvement consulting firm.
Prior to A&M, John was an executive at Amazon.com where he launched the Marketplace business and third party selling platform, and ran the merchant services business.
Linkedin: John Rossman
This is the first in a special two-part series featuring two CEO’s of two recent multi-billion IPOs—Jennifer Tejada, CEO of Pager Duty and billionaire, founder and CEO of Zoom Communications, the amazing Eric Yuan.
Today’s episode features an insightful conversation about how Eric feels like to have a super successful IPO. Eric further shares Zoom’s culture centered on happiness and his motivation, mission and vision for Zoom and much more.
Culture of Happiness
Eric Yuan guested at Christopher’s previous podcast, Legends and Losers Episode 032. As of recording time, Zoom Communications raised $357M in IPO and is a $20+ billion market cap company.
“When I wake up, the first person I ask is myself. Do I feel happy or not? I encourage our employees to ask the same questions. Ultimately, if our employee is not happy, I’m pretty sure they cannot give happiness to our customers. That's why we keep the happiness culture here.” - Eric Yuan
Christopher cited some amazing data from GlassDoor. Employees rated Zoom 4.8, 5 being the highest. On the question “would you recommend Zoom to a friend, as a great place to work,” 95% said yes. Lastly, on CEO approval, 97% of the respondents said they approve of the way Eric runs the business.
“I think based on that, I should focus on the 3% and plus the 5% why they do not recommend us too. Again, we always like all those feedback to help us become a better company.” - Eric Yuan
Zoom: The Game Changer
Christopher admires how Eric runs his company and how he epitomizes everything great about entrepreneurship, technology, and innovation. He has changed the game in the B2B space in North American and now, internationally. As Christopher says, Zoom has made impossible, possible, such as the ability to work from home and collaborate with the team in different countries.
“I truly feel we just started. We look at our user base and our customer base, compared to the number of knowledge workers worldwide, I think we just started. A huge opportunity ahead of us. How to connect workers worldwide, if you look at the total market, it's also huge. Look at our revenue, we just started.” - Eric Yuan
Vision and Mission for Zoom
In the next 5 years, Eric candidly shares that he visualizes Zoom to give people a whole new experience in meeting and communicating, even aiming to replace the whole face to face meeting.
“We truly believe data communication is the future, video is the new voice. In the future, no matter where you are, no matter which device you are using, just one click, you can talk with anyone in the world. You can speak on your language and understand with real-time translation.” - Eric Yuan
Christopher also discusses with Eric the amazing marketing strategies that they employ, especially the huge advertisements in major airports in the US.
“They should leverage our technology. Since it’s good for the family and good for society as well. Our goal is to make sure our existing customer is happy. Whenever they travel, [we remind them] you already have Zoom, why do you travel often?” - Eric Yuan
To hear more about The Power of an IPO, and to learn more information about Eric Yuan, Founder of Zoom Communications, download and listen to the episode.
Prior to founding Zoom, Eric was corporate vice president of engineering at Cisco, where he was responsible for Cisco's collaboration software development. Eric was one of the founding engineers and vice president of engineering at Webex. Between 1997 and 2011, he grew his team from 10 engineers to more than 800 worldwide and contributed to revenue growth from $0 to more than $800M.
In 2017, Eric was added to the Business Insider list of the 52 Most Powerful...
In this episode, the CEO of Athena Alliance Coco Brown talks about how to build a legendary board of directors. Coco is an entrepreneur and an advocate for women. She tells us why boards need to have fresh talents and why they need diversity on skills and people. Also, she shares why the old model of creating a board is worn out.
The Athena Alliance
Coco Brown is the CEO of Athena Alliance. It is a global community of women business leaders, committed to driving diversity on company boards and developing new women leaders.
“We're essentially bringing the top-tier women together in a digital ecosystem that provides us a lot of opportunities for them across disciplines.” - Coco Brown
Coco describes the community as in-part-Linkedin — with a portion of coaching and networking — and in-part-Bumble, because of matchmaking activities.
Male CEOs and The Outdated Board of Directors
Athena Alliance serves as an agency. The group is in contact with male CEOs who wish to expand their network with women.
Coco further shares with Christopher how outdated most companies are, in terms of the composition of their Board of Directors. In the past, the board is ultimately responsible for long term shareholder. Oftentimes, it is the reason why CEOs tend to stay long in their position, up until retirement.
“The board room needs a lot more empathy, connection, communication and understanding of the marketplace. If you look at the old board — seated with former CEOs and financial experts — the average age is 63, the average tenure is 8 1/2 years.” - Coco Brown
Building A Legendary Board
In the past, the committees are largely about CEO compensation, equities, and succession. Historically, committee topics are financials or risks. In the new world, these financial experts try to squeeze in other pressing corporate issues into those committees.
“So you’re starting to see this need for a much wider range of skills set in the board room. People who understand consumers. So good market strategists and leaders.” - Coco Brown
Moreover, she suggested to bring in more sets of people in their 30s or 40s. Ideally, she suggests contemporary professionals who are experienced with the operations.
To hear more about building a legendary Board of Directors, and more relevant information about Coco Brown, download and listen to the episode.
Coco Brown leads “change and transformation.” She is responsible for accelerating multimillion-dollar growth through vision, strategy, technology, and people leadership.
She held leadership roles including CEO, COO, President, board member, and advisor—partnering with F1000 companies, start-ups, and nonprofits. Through her leadership, she has delivered successful outcomes for Apple, Cisco, eBay, Facebook, Silicon Valley Bank, and many others.
Currently, she is the founder, CEO, and board member of The Athena Alliance. The company is a game-changing executive firm helping to position the top 10% of executive women for advancement and board opportunities.
Since founding Athena in the Spring of 2016, she has led the organization to a network of over 1000 C-Level women, VCs, and CEOs from over 150 companies. These companies include Accenture, Cisco, Microsoft, Intuit, Autodesk, and Alphabet / Google.
Within two years, we have overseen 20 board placements and have secured $2 million in income through corporate and investor service offerings.
LinkedIn: Coco Brown