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  • Jason Calacanis 06:19:47 on 2021-03-26 Permalink
    Tags: , TWiST,   

    Paul Judge on helping lead SoftBank’s $100M Opportunity Fund, the future of VC & more | This Week in Startups Blog 

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    Top Insights

    • Investing over zoom expands the top of the funnel and lowers the barrier to entry for all founders
      • Investors can take 2-5x more meetings with founders from anywhere in the world
    • Paul’s thesis: Investing in overlooked founders will likely generate outsized returns
      • The American Southeast and Midwest include 44% of the US population but only receive 14% of VC funding
      • Despite this, 36% of last year’s Inc. 5000 reside in these regions with a median growth rate of 161% year-over-year
    • The “either or” debate between making existing firms invest in underrepresented founders from their main funds OR raising “opportunity” funds that are specifically focused on underrepresented founders isn’t helpful, both are necessary to make VC funding more equitable
    • Jay-Z had the best Q1 2021 of any entrepreneur or investor
      • Tidal was acquired by Square for $297M, he sold 50% of Ace of Spades to LVMH for ~$300M, launched $10M cannabis-focused fund to back black founders, Oatly filed for IPO


    • Paul Judge, Ph.D. is Managing Partner of Panoramic Ventures, a VC fund that invests in “underserved geographies and overlooked founders” prioritizing the American Southeast and Midwest. Paul is also Co-Founder & Executive Chairman of Pindrop, an information security company that provides risk scoring for phone calls to detect fraud and authenticate callers). Pindrop’s most recent valuation was $900m in 2018.
    • Paul also serves on the investment committee for SoftBank’s $100m+ Opportunity Growth Fund to invest in Black, Latinx and Native American founders
    • Paul is based in Atlanta, but has become a Miami regular.
    • Atlanta’s startup scene is heating up:
      • Airbnb just located it’s East Coast engineering team there
      • Local Unicorns: Calendly ($3B), Greenlight ($1.2B, consumer fintech), Rubicon ($1B, recycling technology), SalesLoft ($1B, sales software)
      • Strong talent pipeline from Georgia Tech

    The virtual-first investing paradigm shift

    “I see more companies than I would have seen otherwise, the top of funnel is wider. From the entrepreneur’s standpoint, it’s easier to get a meeting with an investor than it was traditionally. That means a whole new generation of entrepreneurs that wouldn’t have had access, now have more access to venture capital funds & angel investors.”

    Paul Judge
    • Paul has made 25 investments in 2020, all over Zoom. He has met 2 founders in person, but only after investing.
    • Being an active investor in 2020 required going virtual. Most investors never considered this a viable method prior to the pandemic. Both Paul & Jason discovered that virtual investing offered a new set of benefits:
      1. Investors can take 2-5x more meetings because intro meeting times went from 2-3 hours to 20-30 minutes. How?
        • Commutes and pleasantries are eliminated, and everyone gets down to business ASAP.
        • Conversations now start with hard numbers. Entrepreneurs have become more direct in their approach, making the information needed to diligence an investment up-front in their first email.
      2. Investors now have much greater access to founders outside their city. Travel and cost of living in the Bay Area are high and are no longer an obstacle for founders.
        • By taking more meetings from broader geography, investors are able to reduce their bias.
        • With more meeting slots available, it’s easier to take a chance on a founder you wouldn’t have met with pre-COVID.
      3. Virtually, the pattern-matching necessary to be a great VC becomes more about assessing the founder based on their performance, rather than by charisma or presentation skills.

    How Paul Judge invests

    • Paul’s Techsquare Labs was focused on backing top talent (students & professors) from local universities like Georgia Tech, funding founders at the pre-seed and seed stages.
    • He is now expanding to be involved at Series A & B both at SoftBank and Panoramic Ventures, which just launched a $300M fund.
    • Paul knew 2/4 other members of the Softbank Opportunity fund’s investment committee from being a part of the 2016 class of Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellow Program.
    • Panoramic’s thesis: investing in overlooked founders will generate outsized returns.
      • The American Southeast and Midwest receive only 14% of VC funding even though they include 44% of the country’s population.
      • 36% of last year’s Inc. 5000 reside in these regions with a median growth rate of 161% year-over-year.

    How to make investing more equitable

    “Black founders are not just solving black problems, they are solving some of the most meaningful problems that exist.”

    Paul Judge
    • The “either or” debate between making existing firms invest in underrepresented founders out of their main funds OR raising “opportunity” funds that are specifically focused on underrepresented founders isn’t helpful, we need both to make venture capital more equitable.
    • VC firms typically don’t change their partners often (turnover typically occurs with a new fund every 3-7 years), so adding new diverse partners to existing firms is a slow process.
      • The industry needs to evolve in this way, while also meeting fiduciary responsibility to limited partners who invested in the fund.
    • Purpose-built investment vehicles like SoftBank’s Opportunity Fund have a clear mission and can make an impact right away.
      • Another benefit is creating an ecosystem where some of the top underrepresented entrepreneurs can support & inspire each other.

    Jay-Z’s groundbreaking Q1 2021

    “I was just talking with somebody about who had the best quarter, Chamath or some other venture capitalist and I was was like, ‘No, I think Jay Z had the best, he just sold half Ace of Spades to LVMH.'”


    “I love that love Jay-Z’s going after industries that have traditionally been unfair to the people that have been creating value. The music industry is traditionally unfair to the creators, so he did Tidal. In food and beverage, the Crystal CEO got shot himself in the foot, so [Jay-Z] went after that. Then if you look at the cannabis industry, I mean, it’s not exactly tech, but it’s creating tens of billions of dollars of value. It’s one of the most valuable crops that this country’s ever seen. But if you look at everyone that’s going public, there’s no diversity, but we all know this country was built on the backs of blacks tending to crops.”

    Paul Judge

    Companies Paul Shouted Out

    The post Paul Judge on helping lead SoftBank’s $100M Opportunity Fund, the future of VC & more | This Week in Startups Blog appeared first on Jason Calacanis.

  • Jason Calacanis 18:18:06 on 2017-01-03 Permalink
    Tags: ces, travel, TWiST,   

    Heading to CES 2017; looking for interviews 

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    Going to CES Wednesday until Sunday, currently attending the Core Dinner (Wednesday), DFJ dinner (Friday) and taping three episodes of This Week in Startups at James Siminoff’s Ring booth (GREAT product btw, I have two). Staying with my boy Tony Hsieh in his trailer park in an Airstream.

    Have two of three interviews for TWIST locked up… need one more remarkable CEO/founder in the gadget/hardware/tech space…. cc: Jacqui Deegan, my producer (jacqui@launch.co).

    Might do a quick hit for CNBC while there, have time for 1-2 other interviews if folks need a talking head.

    The main goal: don’t get the CES flu.

    Who else is going / what are your goals? <– click here for Facebook discussion about CES.

  • Valerie Stimac 16:56:56 on 2016-02-06 Permalink
    Tags: TWiST   

    This Week in Startups: News Roundtable with Marketplace’s Molly Wood and The Guardian’s Nellie Bowles 

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    On episode 619 of This Week in Startups, Jason sits down for another News Roundtable, with Molly Wood from Marketplace, and Nellie Bowles from The Guardian. Through the course of conversation, they touch on some of the hottest issues in startups and Silicon Valley news: ongoing developments from Theranos, the competitiveness of incubators like Y Combinator, room for improvement at both LinkedIn and Yahoo, and how San Francisco is faring as the Super Bowl approaches. Here are some of the highlights from their conversation.

    This Week in Startups: Soundcloud | YouTube | iTunes Audio | iTunes Video | Join Our Mailing List

    [ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): http://ctt.ec/M0abC ]

    Who Wants to Write the Theranos Narrative?

    Following on the heels of his conversation with Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou in episode 617, Jason is eager to hear both Nellie and Molly’s perspective on Theranos — and how Elizabeth Holmes’ role in the drama will impact female founders elsewhere. Additionally, they discuss the irony of Theranos’ latest headline looking for a ‘Writer’ to join the team; both writers give their opinion on the opportunity (or lack thereof).

    What Jason Really Thinks About Y Combinator

    After discussing Theranos, conversation turns toward how the right outside guidance is crucial to creating successful startups, and the role incubators play. Y Combinator comes up, and Jason gives Molly and Nellie a peek behind the veil at some of the dynamics going on with VCs and incubators in the Valley. They also discuss how founders can adapt to the often treacherous political and social pitfalls that abound.

    LinkedIn Stock’s 40+% Nosedive

    Jason then brings up another headline from the day: LinkedIn’s stock plummeting over 40% with relatively no provocation. Molly gives her opinion about how spooked the entire market is right now (echoing sentiments from the last News Roundtable with Mattermark’s Danielle Morrill and NYT’s Katie Benner), and the group discusses how LinkedIn both provides value, and could improve their product offering.

    The Scorecard from Marissa Mayer’s Time at Yahoo

    Next, the group dives into ongoing news about Yahoo including mass staff departures and a lawsuit against Marissa Mayer for unfair HR practices in favor of women. Molly and Nellie both provide opinions on the many failures of Yahoo in the past several years, and Nellie ends by saying it’s okay that Yahoo’s sun has set.

    San Francisco and Super Bowl 50

    The conversation ends on a discussion of San Francisco, in the context of the Super Bowl and the latest news about corruption related to Mayor Ed Lee. The group as a whole laments the social problems that seems to be more prevalent in the city despite its current ‘boom’ status, and Nellie ends with a great discussion of how tensions in San Francisco are preventing it from adapting and growing to meet the needs of those living there.

    Want to hear the whole conversation? The full episode with Molly and Nellie, as well as past episodes are all available on This Week in Startups.


    2:59 - 11:24: Jason, Nellie, and Molly discuss the ongoing news about Theranos, the frenzy in the biotech industry, how investors and journalists play into these frenzies, and the need for governance.

    14:39 – 17:30: Jason asks Molly and Nellie about how Elizabeth Holmes’ role in Theranos will affect female founders in the Valley.

    19:20 – 21:13: Jason lets Molly and Nellie know about the opportunity to be a ‘writer’ at Theranos, and they discuss.

    21:13 – 26:19: Jason, Nellie, and Molly discuss Y Combinator and the dynamics of incubators and investors/VCs at events like Demo Day.

    29:20 – 32:30: Molly asks Jason about how founders and entrepreneurs are faring in the current Silicon Valley atmosphere with the competitive incubators.

    32:30 – 34:20: Jason continues discussing how Y Combinator interacts with VCs and other interested parties.

    34:20 – 36:50: Molly sounds off about LinkedIn’s stock decline and how guidance plays a role in the success of companies.

    36:50 – 41:07: Jason, Nellie, and Molly chat about startups offering customer support, Amazon, romcoms, Jeb Bush and Trump.

    41:07 – 43:33: Nellie, Molly, and Jason discuss LinkedIn’s product and what improvements they can make

    43:33 – 44:21 – Molly gives some insight into the skittishness of investors and the market right now.

    44:21 – 47:08: The conversation on LinkedIn continues, and turns toward Theranos again.

    48:15 – 56:04: Jason opens the door to discuss developments at Yahoo including Marissa Meyer’s track record.

    56:05 – 59:58: The group discusses San Francisco and SB50.

    59:48 – 68:05: Jason lays the foundation for conversation around the latest controversy surrounding Ed Lee, and the social problems San Francisco is facing.

    – Valerie Stimac, TWiST Archivist

  • Jason Calacanis 17:16:02 on 2015-06-09 Permalink
    Tags: jobs, this week in startups, TWiST   

    The best job for an audio/video genius in San Francisco! 

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    16078702253_798ca60c79_kFor the past six years I’ve taped of 500 episodes of my podcast, This Week in Startups. We’ve had the most amazing guests on the show, from Travis at Uber (Ep. 180) to Chris Sacca to Glenn Beck to VC John Doerr (ep 520) to Anne Wojcicki (Ep521) to Fred Wilson (Ep 523) to Yancey at Kickstarter to Chamath to Evan from Twitter to Kevin from Instagram to Andrew from Groupon to Tim Ferris… the list goes on and on and on and on.

    The show has massive reach and massive resources now. We tape in our own studio, we have the latest cameras, microphones and technology.

    Most importantly, we have an Emmy Award Winning producer named Jacqui!

    We do live shows that sell out in seconds with 500 attendees.

    Most importantly, we have hell of a good time! We laugh and joke and sit in awe of the subjects we get to interview.

    The show is doing so good that we are adding two full-time directors and video editors. We are looking for at least one with a lot of experience, and the second one can either have a lot of experience or a lot of hustle!

    You can Apply here

    If you ever want to reach me and pitch me on working on my team, I have the winners@calacanis.com email always open!

    Working for me will level you up and you’ll have me as an advocate for life. I’ve invested in my alumni’s startups, and helped get my former team members the greatest gigs in the world. I’m loyal like a bulldog and I love seeing my people do their best work and go on to great things.


    Working for me is like joining the Navy Seals: most folks can’t do it, but those who can go on to change the world — and push themselves to a levels they didn’t even know they could.

    This Week in Startups is pure joy at this point, with a ton of resources to do things correctly.

    Join us as we tell these stories!

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