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ACQ2 by Acquired

Author: Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal

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ACQ2 is Ben and David's conversations with expert founders and investors. Acquired the stories of great companies — and ACQ2 dives deeper into the lessons we can learn from them, often with the protagonists themselves.
100 Episodes
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The space industry is one of the most fascinating areas of technology in 2024. The reduction in launch costs and proliferation of satellites make all kinds of new businesses possible. Today we are joined by Austin Link, the co-founder and CEO of Starfish Space (where Ben and PSL Ventures are investors!). Austin lays out the state of the space industry today, particularly as it pertains to startups. He and Ben explore what it takes to build a space company, then gets into the specifics of what Starfish Space is building.Starfish Space has created a spacecraft to dock with and reposition satellites. This "space servicing" technology enables their customers to extend the usable lifetime of satellites (unlocking tens of millions of dollars in revenue), or safely dispose of aging satellites to avoid space debris. Starfish's product, the "Otter", uses autonomous navigation software and electric propulsion to move through space and dock with customers' satellites.If you're into physics, outer space, or any sort of "hard tech", tune in! Links:Starfish SpaceSponsors:Quartr
If you’ve been waiting for us to venture back to the land of semiconductors, you’re in luck! On our NVIDIA and TSMC episodes, we explored two components of the silicon value chain: the fabless chip companies that design chips and the foundries that manufacture them. Today, we dive into the software that powers it all, the field electronic design automation (EDA). This is essentially the software that enables chip designers to do their jobs, which has changed dramatically with the rise of AI.This interview is with two people who understand that world better than anyone: Aart de Geus, the co-founder and Executive Chair of Synopsys, and Sassine Ghazi, Synopsys’s CEO and President. Aart founded the company in 1986, and was CEO until January 2024 when he handed the reins to Sassine. Synopsys is now worth $80 billion, with virtually every chip company as a customer or partner for everything from AI to 5G to automotive. Aart and Sassine talked with us about the future Moore’s Law, where chip makers are finding efficiencies today, how we got here, plus a bonus section on simulation and their $35 billion acquisition of Ansys. Enjoy!Sponsors:Quartr
On our Novo Nordisk episode, we covered the business of Ozempic, the GLP-1 taking the world by storm. On this episode, we dive into the science of the molecule semaglutide (and its predecessor liraglutide) with the world expert on the topic, Lotte Bjerre Knudsen. Lotte is Novo Nordisk’s Chief Scientific Advisor, and led the research group back in the early 1990s that first invented the molecule. A few topics from our conversation:The science behind what is happening in the body that causes weight loss while on OzempicWhat it was like in the 1990s and 2000s believing in a drug for a problem that the rest of the industry (including her own company) had written offHow weight loss was actually a goal from the very start — not just a side effect of diabetes medication like you often read today!Sponsors:Quartr
We’re joined by Imprint cofounder and Thrive General Partner Gaurav Ahuja to dive deeper into the modern payments ecosystem and Visa’s current place within it. Gaurav was one of our research sources for the Visa episode, and we wanted to bring his insights to you all too. We discuss whether Visa really should be worried about eroding interchange fees, the impact of realtime payments systems, opportunities for startups and whether the Visa / Mastercard duopoly could really be overthrown. Tune in and enjoy!Links:https://www.federalreserve.gov/paymentsystems/files/Avg_IF_by_PCN.pdfSponsors:Quartr
Morgan Housel

Morgan Housel

2023-11-0601:38:212

We sit down with Morgan Housel, who is one of our very favorite authors and has also become a good friend of the show over the past few years. Morgan’s last book The Psychology of Money had a huge impact on both of our personal financial philosophies (and by extension Acquired’s!), and Morgan was kind enough to give us an advance copy of his new book launching tomorrow, Same as Ever. It’s equally as good, and maybe even more relevant in the current environment for thinking about what’s not going to change as we cycle through vastly different macro financial environments. Tune in and enjoy!Links:Morgan’s new book Same as EverThe Psychology of MoneyMorgan’s blog on Collaborative Fund and on TwitterMorgan’s new podcast!Sponsors:Quartr
While preparing for our Porsche episode with Doug DeMuro, we had a lot more than Porsche to discuss… but the episode was already over 3 hours! We decided to save the rest for its own episode, released here on ACQ2. Doug helped us understand what’s going on with the car industry supply chain in 2023, the transition to electric vehicles, the car dealership business model, and how most consumer car purchase decisions really get made.We also got to talk with Doug about his business empire. In addition to his YouTube channel with ~5 million subscribers, Doug started a car marketplace called “Cars and Bids”. Earlier this year, Doug took a $37 million investment from The Chernin Group, and Doug walked us through that transaction and what it’s been like going from “indie creator” to a large and more professionalized organization. And of course, there’s some discussion on our Porsche episode together.Links:Cars and Bids!Doug on YouTube and TwitterSponsors:Quartr
We sit down with RunwayML’s CEO Cristobal Valenzuela to discuss the incredible tools they’re bringing to film and video creators (including last year’s Best Picture “Everything Everywhere All at Once” from A24), and the history + current state of the “visual” branch of generative AI. We cover how they’ve gone to market with both creators and enterprises, the potential for much more radical future use cases, and the company’s recent $141m strategic raise from Google, Nvidia + Salesforce and the context of the current AI fundraising landscape. Tune in!Links:RunwayFollow Cris on TwitterSponsors:Quartr
We sit down with Crusoe Energy CEO Chase Lochmiller to talk about the two “hard to imagine” tasks they’ve undertaken: 1) building a new AI cloud infrastructure provider from scratch, and 2) colocating and powering it with stranded energy from some of the harshest and most remote locations on earth.Crusoe’s cloud of course has to compete with (and in many cases exceed) the price/performance curves of cloud incumbents like AWS, Azure and Google in processing AI workloads. And the way it does so is by building data centers literally on top of oil flares (and other wasted energy sources) that otherwise comprise multiple percentage points of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. In other words — methane that previously just got lit on fire is now powering your favorite AI startup’s training workloads!We cover what it actually takes to build and operate a public cloud, the latest Nvidia networking and server innovations and what they mean for GPU data centers, and how to set up a company to pursue something “hard” like this across the team, operations and capital raising fronts. Tune in!Links:Crusoe Energy and Crusoe CloudFollow Crusoe and Chase on TwitterSponsors:Quartr
Every now and then, we come across super interesting and under-the-radar (at least to us!) public markets folks like NZS Capital who make us think differently about the art of investing. TDM is another one of those groups — founded 18 years ago in Australia, they’ve compounded a single, private pool of capital at 26% per annum over nearly two decades. That’s Warren & Charlie territory!TDM recently published a memo comparing the current “post ZIRP bubble” market with what happened in the years following both the dot-com crash and the GFC in 2008. As always, past performance isn’t necessarily predictive of the future, but what happened back then surprised us and might surprise you too. More importantly, it gave us the perfect excuse to sit down with TDM cofounder Tom Cowan and share the conversation with you all. Tune in and learn alongside us!Links:TDM’s 2023 Market MemoThe current BVP Cloud IndexFollow TDM on Twitter or LinkedInSponsors:Quartr
How do you build defensible business value in an era when, as AngelList CEO Avlok Kohli said on our last ACQ2 episode, the “cost of intelligence is going to zero”? Longtime friend of the show Jake Saper and his partners at Emergence Capital have been refining their thesis for this brave new world of Generative AI in B2B, and we sit down with him to discuss. We cover topics including:When do exactly correct answers matter, and when do they not?When are human-in-the-loop systems necessary?When do startups have an advantage vs. incumbents, and vice-versa?Where can companies capture value on a durable basis?When do you need proprietary data in order to be defensible?Whether you’re building or investing in existing businesses from the “pre-AI” era or brand new startups that are native to GPT, this episode has plenty of takeaways you should consider. Tune in!Links:Jake’s recent blog post on Generative AI and B2BFollow Jake on TwitterSponsors:Quartr
Since joining AngelList as CEO in 2019, Avlok Kohli has presided over perhaps the most unexpected and astounding transformation in the venture ecosystem: taking AngelList from an SPV provider to a company that is quickly becoming the software platform for the entire industry.Today, AngelList provides investors and founders with the infrastructure they need to launch and scale a startup or fund, and supports over $15B of assets (including David’s own Kindergarten Ventures!). We sit down with Avlok to discuss how it all happened (and happened so fast), and - also unexpectedly and astoundingly - how generative AI is about to transform their entire business and the venture ecosystem again. Tune in!Links:Visit AngelList to get startedFollow Avlok on TwitterSponsors:Quartr
David Hsu has one of the most interesting founders journeys in tech today. After growing up in Silicon Valley, he left to study both philosophy and computer science at Oxford in the UK, then returned immediately afterward to found an internal enterprise tools company. Fast forward to today, and Retool is a multi-billion dollar valuation juggernaut that — almost uniquely for this era — operates at roughly cashflow breakeven while still growing rapidly. On this episode David shares his thoughts on finding product-market fit through sales, the dangers of product-led growth, how to get $1-5 million in ARR with just 5-10 people on the team. Tune in!Sponsors:QuartrLinks:Retool!Follow David H. on Twitter
Ben and David joined Sam and Shaan of "My First Million" to talk about scaling to a large podcast, the company they would like to own, the CEO's you don't want to compete against, and the 100+ year history of Nintendo. If you liked this and want more of Sam and Shawn, subscribe to the MFM YouTube channel here.Sponsors:QuartrLinks:* Hampton* Wait But Why* Marques Brownlee* Nintendo* NVIDIA------Show Notes:(01:45) - Intro to Acquired(10:00) - How to scale to a big podcast(14:05) - How big do you have to be to be at the top of the business category?(23:55) - What commonalities are there between weird companies?(27:40) - How to tell a real from a fake contrarian(34:45) - Nintendo(37:45) - Which company would you most want to own?(40:45) - Who would you least want to compete against?(52:30) - Business ideas(56:40) - Will you ever sell Acquired?(58:20) - Best ways to make money as a podcast
On our AWS episode, we talked briefly about the next chapter of cloud: data warehouses. But what makes them so powerful? Why do enterprises rely on them? And how will cloud customers collaborate on data stored in multiple clouds?We sit down with Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, the co-founder and CEO of Samooha, a new company backed by Altimeter and Snowflake Ventures to tackle the problem of secure data sharing and collaboration in the cloud. Kamakshi has an impressive background to speak to this problem, having been a part of AdMob (sold to Google), and the founder/CEO of Drawbridge, which sold to LinkedIn. She then went on to work in Microsoft's Office of the CTO, where she obviously had a lot of experience understanding the needs of cloud customers.If you want a better understanding of how enterprises use the cloud, multi-cloud architecture, and how security and privacy works with customer data at scale, this episode is for you!Sponsors:QuartrLinks:Kamakshi on TwitterSamooha Samooha Product Demo Video
Statsig CEO and former Facebook VP Vijaye Raji joins us to discuss democratizing the tools of big tech. Before starting Statsig, Vijaye spent 10 years at Facebook where he led the development of their mobile ad product (yes — THAT mobile ad product that’s the core of FB today).We talk all about about Facebook’s early days in mobile, and the internal building and shipping process that let them continuously experiment and roll out features out to billions of users, which Statsig is now bringing to engineering and product teams everywhere. This episode is a must-listen for product builders at all stages!Listen in any podcast player.Sponsors:QuartrLinks: Statsig’s generous free feature flags offeringStatsig experimentation community on Slack, LinkedIn and Twitter
We sit down with Altimeter Capital’s head of Capital Formation Meghan Reynolds (who previously was TPG’s global co-head of Capital Formation for 10 years) to talk about everything that goes into the LP - GP relationship at venture funds. We cover how (and why) to think strategically about Capital Formation, why it should be about so much more the just investor relations/fundraising, and also why and how it’s going to change dramatically over the next decade. This was a GREAT conversation, and very relevant for GPs, LPs, and also company founders and employees heading into 2023 and post zero-interest-rate capital markets.Sponsors:QuartrLinks:Follow Meghan on Twitter! Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.  
The Acquired community's own Austin Federa joins us for a 101 primer on how to self-custody your crypto assets, and why it’s the only truly safe way to hold them. Given all the current turmoil (and fraud) in crypto-land, we were thinking “how could we do something to help the Acquired community right now”, and Austin gave us the perfect idea. In addition to running the #digital-assets channel on the Acquired Slack, Austin is the head of communications at the Solana Foundation and has plenty of hard-won experience through previous crypto cycles and implosions. This episode covers both the nuts and bolts of a “how-to” guide, as well as a more philosophical discussion of self-custody across asset classes, and the practicalities and convenience tradeoffs involved.Sponsors:QuartrNote: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.  
We had the rare opportunity to interview Jay Hoag, cofounder of the first tech crossover investing firm, TCV, at TCV’s Engage Summit in Half Moon Bay earlier this fall. Jay and Rick Kimball started TCV back in 1995 and have been part of the private-to-public journeys of storied companies like Netflix (which Jay shares some great war stories about on this episode), Spotify, Zillow, Expedia, Facebook, Airbnb, Peloton and many others. Jay and TCV were kind enough to let us release the conversation as an Acquired LP episode, and we’re excited to share it with all of you. We cover the firm’s history, how companies should calibrate the magnitude of their future-looking product investments (a topic we didn’t realize would end up being so timely) and perhaps most importantly, pivotal moments where now seemingly unstoppable companies almost died amidst big macroeconomic changes. We hope you enjoy!Links:The Acquired Merch StoreThe Acquired SlackSponsors:QuartrNote: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.
We sit down with Brian O’Malley of Forerunner Ventures to talk about where in the cycle we are right now for consumer investing. We touch on the macro environment (obviously!), but also how to navigate between and around the current generation of platform incumbents, and where the next breakthrough consumer technology companies might come from. And in true Acquired Playbook fashion we talk about the benefits of focusing on niches — and how on the internet they can expand ever bigger than you might initially imagine!Links:Acquired Qualcomm Live Show at Breakpoint 2022!The 2022 Acquired Survey!The Acquired Merch StoreThe Acquired SlackSponsors:QuartrNote: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.
The CEO of Mutiny, Jaleh Rezaei, joins us to talk about the playbook to profitably grow a B2B company — something particularly useful for founders in 2022! Jaleh was Gusto’s first head of marketing (and before that worked at VMware and Sequoia), and has since gone on to build Mutiny, which helps B2B companies dynamically optimize their websites for conversion and has raised over $70m from Sequoia, Insight, Tiger and other great investors.Sponsors:QuartrLinks:Acquired Qualcomm Live Show at Breakpoint 2022!Follow Jaleh on TwitterThe 2022 Acquired Survey!The Acquired Merch StoreThe Acquired Slack
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Comments (7)

Maciej Czech

Zero audio edit on this one - inhales, nose sounds, sucking saliva in - disgusting. Nobody even from the team listen to your episodes?

Jun 6th
Reply

steve

3:13

Nov 14th
Reply

Maciej Czech

First 5 minutes wasted like almost always

Sep 13th
Reply

steve

2:56

Mar 11th
Reply

steve

1:55

Feb 19th
Reply

steve

2:31

Feb 5th
Reply

steve

First week of 2022

Jan 4th
Reply
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