🔐 Giri Sreenivas. Helm founder questions the kind of world do we want to create for our children.
Son of an Indian immigrant family, Giri is a Stanford graduate and a co-founder of Privacy Labs, a local Bellevue Washington startup. We talk about raising two kids in the new world filled with devices, what his company is all about, why privacy is going to be instrumental in the future, and how the world has changed since a few decades ago while Giri was growing up.
Hello and welcome to the ride that podcast today. My guest on the show is Gear, a shrine of US, founder of the privacy labs here in Bellevue, Washington. Gerry and I will talk about what it's like to be raising a family while being an entrepreneur, what it's like to be raising a multicultural family here in Bellevue, Washington, and how it might be different from other parts of the country. And, of course, we're going to talk about what privacy is and how it's changed over the last couple of decades, where it's going and how it's going to affect our kids without further due. Gary, Welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me here. I'm happy Thio share my experiences and half a total to someone else. That's great.
So let's see how very kids right
now. So I have ah, five and 1/2 year old and two years and nine
months. So five and 1/2 in almost three.
Yeah. Yep, that's right.
And have you been a startup guy this whole time that you have kids?
I have Well, pretty much. Yeah. So we were expecting our first child when I was running my first company with my co founder. And shortly after he was born, our company was acquired. And so I became less of, ah, start up guy and that it was not sort of the founder really running the whole show. Are you with my co founder? But I was part of a much larger organization. So the company that acquired us was about 280 people, and I would describe them as being a late stage start up to the point of, you know, we took the company public and 2015 and so you know, they're true. A lot of that growth on then spent some time there. Post. I pose well and then got back to starting a new company. So I've kind of seen various sort of life cycles of the start up. A zoo parent.
Actually, Do you think it was part of the reason to sell the company that you were headed? Kid coming.
It's a fair question is a good question for us. It wasn't part of the decision making process, right? I mean, I think it's always a peripheral factor because any time you make a significant decision to sell your company and your company in many ways is like a baby. It's like your baby, right? So it was a peripheral factor, but it was not a key thing that drove one way or the other. I mean, ultimately, the decision was driven by my co founder and myself and the market on DDE the suitors, right? I mean, it was a combination of all of those things that made it seem like this was a good move for for everybody who was involved. But yeah, it was nice to have the pressure ease off a bit with a very young child at home with My son was born in July, and we closed the acquisition in the first half of October. So it's pretty close,
actually, for a start of listeners shall be curious to know. And I was just talking to another founder this morning about acquisition when you have a young kid. Was that I mean, sure, it was a pretty impact for you trying to do this business deal super high stress and
so the company requires is based on the East Coast,
and you were here in the Great Pacific Northwest,
and so that time difference is an interesting thing.
There were several occasions where I was up in the middle of the night,
feeding my son in one hand,
holding the bottle,
feeding him or getting him to sleep,
and then the other hand,
And we're supplying two emails about making the deal move forward.
And on the other side of the table,
the Corp Dev team.
I was like, What are you doing up at this hour, right? It's like it's 2 a.m. your time or 3 a.m. your time. It's like, Well, I'm up because, you know, taking care of my kid. And if I'm gonna be up and hold them, always sleeping. And you know, there's some things that I can help move forward because that's the shorter that that process takes, the easier it is for everybody, right? So,
yeah, so that that happened on more than one occasion and yeah, it was, uh, it's very tiring to have ah, very young baby at home because of the what it does to your sleep schedule. And then you attack on the stress of extra trying to close a deal It's a tough time, period. But way had, thankfully, we had some help along the way. We had good people involved on both sides and good advisers and were able to make it through.
I mean, judging by the way you say it wasn't that impact for it, Probably you're doing starts by then. So you really used to not sleeping for more than four hours, and I'm like,
that's the fundamental difference,
between the first company and the second company,
So I went into the first start up kind of not paying too much attention to my sleep in my health s.
There were a lot of nights where 345 hours was kind of the norm this time around,
try to make sure I get at least six hours a night and usually at least seven hours a night.
It makes a huge difference,
the first time around,
with that little sleep,
you introduce the baby into it. You know, what I would say is, the difference is you know, you when you're just running a start up and you need to get that sleep. Just get that core amount of rest. You still get to dictate when you start going to bed. And when you wake up, you get to set that time. And, as you know, because you've got kids, too. You don't have those choices with babies with young Children, right? You know,
at that age, it's everything you do, everything and anything in your power to make them thrive. And a lot of that is you have to be super responsive to their needs and so that can throw a wrench in things. And so I remember dealing with that in terms of thinking about okay, You know, our son usually wakes up between these hours, so maybe I'm gonna go to sleep this many hours before then. Or I'm going to stay up until that until that first night feeding happens and then try to sleep before the next feeding. There's a lot of, like micro planning that goes into that whole process that I kind of remember sweating a lot of those details, trying to eke in the rest when I could, and certainly after our son was born, you know, we got a couch at the office and yeah, I mean,
I would occasionally crash on the couch and just take, like, a 15 minute, half an hour naps here and there. And I think it was, you know, my team understood some of them had family. Some of them didn't. But I think they have the It's I wanted us to sort of lied a little bit by example in that like, hey, if you need the rest, you gotta take the rest, right? It doesn't do anyone well for you to just be forcing yourself to grind it out. Otherwise,
actually, so speaking of leading, was your wife working at the time? Because yeah, because I'm curious. How do you show up to work and lead a team? Well, you completely sleep deprived, and you still need to get home to take care of the baby on their these competing priorities. Because startups or in general, I think, looking outside of startups for anyone working in a high stress environment, like where you want to accomplish things right, you work for a lot of people, like where it gives meaning and it takes away from time with kids. So how do you manage this And how do you said the Uh huh. The goals for a team such that they know that, Like you're still a good dad, you know, just driving everyone insane. Right,
So So you have a question about whether my wife my wife works,
she's an attorney.
she she is in an area of law where there is a reasonable demand on in terms of working and ability in time for space,
after after our son was born,
she took some time off,
typical sort of maternity leave.
She was able to take some time off from from work.
in terms of that,
how do you have you balanced that? And how do you lead and set that example? I mean, I think that, you know, Dirk and I, we both have my co founder Cannot. We both have this mentality of lead by example with an organization. Some of it is explicit in vocal on verbal and and you write things down and walk through planning, talk about it. But a lot of it is like you lead by example with the work ethic and accomplishments and things like that. And I think a lot of that also comes with how you show what it is that you value. Right. So, you know, I was pretty transparent with my team and in particular microgram is my first time going through it.
And as much as I talked to friends and family and tried to understand what it was gonna be like to be a dad, nothing prepared. Nothing prepares, right? Just that moment when our son was born from that time forward, I was just like, Well, none of those conversations really prepared me for what is ahead. You're not helping. This podcast is helping people prepare thing. I think that, like there's, there's nothing, I'm just kidding. No, it's It's a fair point,
but there's there's nothing that prepares you for that. I think the emotions around right. I think that there are structural things that can be done with planning in terms of your you know, what you do with your life and how you prioritize your time and and those sorts of things. And so my biggest thing with the team was to try to be transparent and say, Look, you know, this is This happened with my family, and so I'm gonna be in late writing to leave early or yeah, you know, I need to crash on the couch couch for half an hour before I do this. That or the other. And I think that, you know, it's my hope is that it helped convey to the team what it meant and how, you know,
engaged. It was at home with what was going on. And you know that some of the more recent example now is, uh, you know, I drop my son off at school every day in the morning and pick him up every day, most days and my co founder, he coaches some sports teams for his sons, and that's way. Don't we talk about that with the team? Like we explained like, Hey, these are things that are important to us. We do them and these air commitments that allow us thio kind of spend the time that allows us to have that bond with their families. For both my co founder, my family's really important way love what we're doing and to your point earlier about work giving people purpose,
I would say you know, we found a purpose professionally, and it turns out that the most efficient way to achieve that purposes through start up right now. But, you know, family is super high priority for us. And so way just make that evidence and how he talked how we conduct ourselves around everyone that we work with. You don't try to keep that stuff in the shadows,
is a boss.
I'm also curious how you navigate this because you said you explain that this is important to you.
But I assume is your team growth,
There's gonna be gonna be single people.
They're gonna be people with families.
They're gonna be people with sort of like cultural priorities.
it's all gonna be very different,
How do you set thes goals in such a way?
We're kind of everyone on this dance that there's work time and there's personal time.
I'm just thinking,
looking at other start ups and kind of high gross companies that I see especially out of Silicon Valley,
It's it's really easy. Get caught up and say, like, office time. You know, I remember talking to one founder who said Well, you you know, you just can't leave work till maybe 6 30 or seven. Because what people think about you like even if you get to office of four o'clock in the morning because you can if you leave before other people leave while you're horrible person,
that's a toxic culture,
I mean way.
we tend to focus on the contributions that people make.
Not the time that they spent sitting in a chair where we can see them.
It is important for us as a team and for our culture to have common overlapping hours where we're all in the office.
But that is Ah,
That's not like a hard concrete rule.
So when we when we talk about it with perspective hires and we explain to them what it is we're building,
lots of people have questions about what it's like to come join early stage company.
Not a lot of people that we talked to have experience working at this stage of the company,
and a lot of people ask me Well, how much do you work? How many hours do you spend and I'm like, Well, I can answer that question if I sit down and try to add it all up. But for me, it's what I do. Doesn't feel like work like this is, you know, like a life purpose for me, right? So it's not like direct directly translatable conversation with directly traceable hours for those for someone who's joining a company versus someone who starts something like this. But I do think that way we try to be pretty transparent with people that coming into an early stage company is pretty demanding right. We early stage started trying to do the impossible right. That's just by by their very nature. They're trying to achieve the impossible.
And so some of that means that you have to figure out, even in your own life, how you occasionally achieve moments of the impossible and that requires a certain amount of work. I think that it's not about gauging how many hours people are in the office. I think it's about gauging the level of contribution and we we set goals and priorities based on what our business realities are, and then we turn the dial on those based on what people are able to achieve within that framework, right? So if we've got a milestone that we're trying to hit, we set that as a goal for the team. We talk with the team and get feedback, all right. I don't think that you can lead by, You know by saying Hey, we want to get to a certain point in a certain period of time with who we've got And then that's just the absolute standard you have to be able to calibrate based on who you have and what's going on with them on DDE that it's hard, right? I mean,
it's hard on the people who are within the team because if you've got people who really believe in everybody's roling in the boat in the same direction and they themselves were dealing with the internal struggle of how to balance what's professional and what's personal. And you, as a za leader of a business, are struggling and trying to find that balance of how do we make sure that we achieve these goals and, you know, respect what people's needs are. You have to constantly be okay with imperfection, right? And I think that it's ah depends on everyone's personality type, right? Some people, things are very black and white and for other people that totally okay in the great space. And I feel like if you want to be in started planned, you gotta be really comfortable with grey space.
So can we talk about what it is that you're working on or not quite yet
Way could talk about a high level,
we have not disclosed what the product does.
we're still working on it.
Way will have more to say later this year.
the way to think about this is,
the Internet has shifted away from its roots.
When I'm came up on the Internet in the nineties as a kid,
Probably not too different from you.
Maybe. And, you know, at that time, like you could do quite a bit of personal discovery, you could explore a whole bunch of interesting topics. There's a whole bunch of things that you could do online, and you never really had Thio think much about your privacy or your security. You just there. There was inherent level of accepted privacy and security and the way things were done in spite of the protocols themselves on actually being secure, which is which is kind of interesting, right? The original, the core protocols Internet were decentralized by their very nature at the beginning. And what we've seen is in an effort to ease the experiences around. Different service is online.
We've seen this concentration of power amongst a handful of companies. Yeah, well, sure you could talk about You know, I s P s are an interesting one, but I tend to think about like Google APP is on Google, Apple, apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. These air this sort of the big five and they have created a new data economy Data is the new oil on DDE? What I what I think and what I find most fascinating about it is when you really when you sit down with people and you are able to walk them through that that unconscious trade that they've made when they have given up control of their personal data. People are kind of shocked and surprised, and a lot of people are uncomfortable with it. And so way sort of got turned on to this whole thing after the Snowden revelations in 2013 way started talking about what each of us had done on our own over the years to maintain control and ownership of our personal data. And we identified a couple of things that were common,
and from there we decided, you know, we are able to do these things because we have a significant level of knowledge and technical sophistication and interest in time, right? The combination of those things allowed us to not rely on Google for certain things were not rely on Dropbox for certain things, and we decided, Let's build something for ourselves and make this easy. We don't have to waste all this time, you know, being I t. Edmund's on the side, right? And then once we solve that and we feel good about the user experience around it, or we feel like we can get to a nice place on it, let's go see if there are other people out there who are like us. Are there enough of them to go build something that's interesting and compelling?
And when we did that research, you know, we figured out a lot of people out there right now who feel pretty hopeless or helpless around their control and ownership of their personal data and all the privacy and security benefits that come from that. So, you know, that's what privacy Labs is about, right? It's about the power to be free. It's the power power to be in control, have privacy and security over your personal data. And, yeah, there's a lot more coming that we'll talk about later in the year. I'm pretty excited. This is gonna be a big year for us. So wait, we'll have a lot
of news. Do you have a timeline sometime in the summer? You know. Depends on how things
go in the second half of this year. We'll have a lot more to say.
All right. All right. I guess it's all stealth. I want to know things.
Yeah. I mean, I'm a big believer and you know, you you have to.
The parents aren't survive.
You gotta be a paranoid about that. You compared, What about competition? All of that. But I think also it's, you know, it takes time to build a meaningful moat. One of the reasons we are we're working on a combination of hardware, software and service is right, And so the You know, if you're doing a software on Lee Company these days, the moat is very difficult to build. A moat is one of the reasons why you see, like a lot of these Akwa hires, where they're primarily talent and the talent is fairly hard to come by because you need that level of talent to actually be able to
develop a moat. Well, because the big co choices do. I hired 10 people to go and build whatever it is that I'm thinking of buying. Or do I just a little bit extra and buy it now and plug it into my ecosystem today?
But I'm seeing and I'm even talking about acquisitions before the practice fully baked,
and I think it's hard enough to get that talent.
If you take a look at,
like a lot of deep learning talent right there,
teams that are being built and acquired or built and funded extremely high valuations,
primarily because it's just so hard to find and come by those people.
And it is becoming meaningfully important because that's a leading indicator of how how difficult it is to establish that moat so for us,
we're in a different space,
but for us to be able to establish that moat around the product,
the technology and the experience,
it takes time.
we're we're keen on developing.
what's what we have in our minds were keen on getting feedback from users. Honing what? That what? The experiences, like honing how we talk about it before you go out and you don't You don't get too many shots of, like, the 15 minutes, right? Yes. So when when you get him, you got to make the most of them. I was actually really reluctant to announce our financing, right. Our news about our financing came out almost exactly a year ago, and we have this debate about should we follow the FCC form D or should we not? And ultimately, we decided to do that.
Is it because once you announce financing, basically the timer starts and people start judging youand what
your progress is, our people start asking questions and you know, which is fine, but, um, you know, it's it takes you out of relative anonymity, right? Andi, I think that's why you see that There are a lot about a lot of companies in the Valley and even some companies up here who just don't announce that first financing. I mean, I think I read about two companies today that announced their financing, which was a combination of, like their seed in Siri's A. At the same time, they put it out at the same time. And I think they're more and more people who are recognizing, like the value and the importance of being ableto work under the radar
Why give you a competition?
Just extra advantage is really telling them what you're doing.
That totally makes sense.
speaking of privacy in the future,
what do you think is going thio?
What the future is going to look like for our kids?
You know whether or not you're successful or you're just one piece of the puzzle in privacy,
and I've had a kind of a different number of conversations with users,
and they're certainly wants to appreciate privacy.
But the ones who actually have no idea that their privacy has been completely exploited,
and when you tell them they don't actually even believe that it could be exploited to such an extent and then almost maybe even reject that notion.
Because you don't really want to know that everything about you is known to somebody like the companies out there that know more about you.
not you, but in this case, but a single person more than the person probably knows about themselves, right? In some cases. But it's given all of that like, where do you think we're going in the future and like, What's it going to look like for our kids? 30 years from that? Like, what kind of issues do you think they're going to deal with? I'm just
curious what you think. It's a great question. So, you know, starting from today and kind of looking for right? I mean, I see I've got friends on Facebook or Instagram or even Twitter that have created accounts for their Children already.
I've done that, but just to the Facebook doesn't created
from the Children,
but then they're kind of like posting through their child's account,
and I think it's interesting.
I registered domains from my kids names,
Just so that we have him um,
I think that,
it's looking toe.
Look at what it's gonna be like in the next 30 years.
I kind of look at what it's like,
what the difference is generationally between our Parentsgeneration,
our generation and then kind of like that younger millennials coming up behind us. Right? And, you know, our parents generation has a much stronger corps, sort of intrinsic belief around privacy and how to do that. I mean, I got a lot of my beliefs and ideals around privacy for my parents. You know, when I was in the eighties and nineties, my parents were strutting their mail because they had anything to hide. But just because they believe they're like, we don't want other people in our business right on now, these are things that are, like, sort of Maur common practice,
right? So when I, when I look at, is like, we have more of an awareness around privacy and then maybe a zit gets as you get into younger and younger generations, there may be less awareness and therefore less of ah, willingness or ability to believe what companies were able to gather about us and what they're able to do with that information Now I do think that there are some very interesting things happening right now that are kind of shaking that trend, right? And a key one is what happened with the intervention in the election. So we're It is becoming increasingly clear that public information about people has been used to target them with misinformation for the purposes of more or less manipulating them one way or the other, right? I mean, the fact that Russia was able to orchestrate a white supremacy rally in the US and that people on both sides show up is kind of amazing. It is actually amazing, like in a bad
way bed maybe, but it's still pretty fascinating
that somebody could do that right.
It's exactly exactly.
And so what I'm getting at is I think,
that there's actually this.
There's a tail wind around people understanding what it means to put your information out there,
how it can be used,
what ends can be accomplished with it,
And so that's sort of on a macro scale,
Like if you take,
if people are not happy with what happened,
the election right and what's in and what's going on with everything.
they're gonna take a look at that and say,
here's some of the root causes around that this was this was a framework and a product,
really, that was susceptible to this type of tampering and abuse, and it would not have necessarily have been possible if this sort of micro targeting was not available. Right? Take a look at the number of votes that swung the election and how much money was put in. I mean, it's kind of mind boggling, like you believe that it may have actually influenced the election. So I think that there is this tailwind around increasing awareness of what it means to put your data out there. I think there's also there also hints and indicators that you know what I like. That's what I like to tell people is like, generationally as you go younger. Maybe people are willing to share Maur, but that does not necessarily mean they don't care about privacy. And I look at Snapchat is a great example of that, right?
I mean, you know, I think that a lot of the early biased against Snapchat was like, Oh, this is just being used to send illicit pictures back and forth. But really, the core value is that people wanted to send an ephemeral message that went away right. And if you boil that down, the essence of it is like I don't want people toe have a lasting capture of whatever that communication itwas That's a privacy century core belief. And those those early users were kids, right? They were not your, you know, like our parents generation, like Exactly So. So those are the types of things that lead me to believe that there is this underlying tail win that Andi.
We are also benefiting from the fact that just by virtue of of younger people aging into, you know, being adults in a more technology savvy time, the average population is more tech literate right on. And I think that that creates the opportunity to have meaningful and intelligent discussions about the trade offs of deciding to have a Facebook account. I decided to use Gmail. Oh, are whatever the service's are.
So in a way, we're going through an inflection point. And when they were kids girl, there things maybe substantially better for them if we do it right right
now, Yeah, I think I think there's a way are at an inflection point, and this is an opportunity for us to change the course of things right? It's if a society and culture we decide to go all in on entrusting a handful of companies with this degree of control and this degree of influence over our day to day lives. The future does not bode well for our Children. I think if we look at an opportunity, we look at the opportunities to return control back to people and have them be in more control and have more of that autonomy than the future. Bodes well for our Children because they will be able to make decisions about their information in their data as opposed to having that decision made for them.
thinking about the past Well,
you said your privacy focus right now is influenced in the way.
But your parents in the past and you grew up around here,
I'm just curious.
How did the area life everything really changed,
any drastic differences that you can see?
we have a lot of these in general saying Tech,
we have a lot of relegations about,
sexism and just like bed characters.
But then you talk to people in this able actually in history,
It repeats itself. That may be deep question, but in messages just kind of like life in general. What do you think has changed And what do you think maybe influenced you? The most is apparent to be like who you are today. You were growing up here. It was not quite a farm town, but it was definitely not this booming city wearing right now.
I think that there was quite a bit of growth here.
when I when I was growing up around here,
Microsoft was driving a lot of that growth.
Boeing was driving a lot of that growth.
They had large employers who are driving a lot of that growth and bringing a lot of people to the area.
So when I was in school,
I would say about 1/4 of the kids that I went to school with were immigrants or Children of immigrants.
I'm a child.
My parents immigrated here so much.
Child of immigrants now looking at the schools that my Children will go to,
it's north of 50% north of 50% of the kids are immigrants or Children of immigrants.
this city is now a minority majority city, right? So the content of the Constitution of companies that are here, they're developing offices that are attracting talent. It is attracting people from all over the country and all over the world. I mean, even for us, when we're recruiting, we run into. We run across quite a few candidates who have immigrated from their home country to another part of the U. S. And then have decided subsequent to that they want to come to the Seattle area. There's just there's just I mean, it's a city that's got a lot of attraction for a lot of people right now, because the cost of living hasn't yet caught up with some of the other major Major Metro's thing. We're still behind. We're still behind the bay, for sure.
In the league of its own
San Francisco Silicon Valley. That whole stretch, it
was close to Elise Iam, as you can get the right so there's kind of Silicon Valley and the rest of the world. Well, okay, no, there's like Singapore's over the world. Even the New York You could kind of still, like, live in New York, maybe in Brooklyn, maybe a little bit outside and commute to the city and Silicon Valley. You know, people commute for, like, already half everyday just cause because there's really no affordable living. But, uh,
I think that's one of the one of the changes I've seen right is that the number of companies that have come here has grown pretty dramatically.
Everyone's got an engineering outpost here,
big companies of the opening outpost here.
That's that's drawn quite a bit of talent to the area.
It's led to a tremendous amount of growth.
I think when I was,
when I was growing up here,
we were maybe 75 80,000 people in the city.
Now I think we're pushing like 130 100,000 people in the city.
So you were close to doubling,
maybe in a 20 year time period,
which is which is an interesting phenomenon.
Seattle is added 100,000 people in like the past 10 years,
or something like that,
and it's phenomenal period of growth for the city on their associative pains that come with it.
One of them is affordability and housing costs. Um, your other question about history repeating itself in all the things that were becoming privy to. I mean, I think, with sexism and racism in the workplace, what's fundamentally different now about things versus back then is I think, that there's more of a light being shined on it, and there is more. There's more pressure for that to not be accepted or tolerated behavior. And I'm you know, it's overdue. As far as I'm concerned, right, it's way overdue.
like you said,
you were here on the city was about 1/4 immigrants,
kids of immigrants,
and now it's over 50%.
So it sounds like,
that's what attracted me to Seattle as well.
I love diversity,
I went to university in Toronto,
and that was one of the major appealing factors because everyone was from everywhere and you'd never have a boring conversation.
And the same is about Seattle right now,
but so to me it seems like it's getting a lot better if if this is the kind of thing you're into.
But do you think it's getting better or I mean world,
the same norms we have right now around 40 years ago.
40 sometime in the past, right? But we just didn't have any visibility instead, or like, did this diversity really improved? This is the situation,
I think I think diversity Almost all.
it always improves the situation.
There's almost no situation by which is not improved by having more diversity of thought,
more diversity of backgrounds,
people from around the world from people from different economic backgrounds.
People of different genders,
That is all goodness.
And we need We need way more of it.
you know where we're speaking,
In a suburb of Seattle Way have this diversity.
Seattle proper is one of the whitest cities in the country.
Uh, yeah, it's Portland and Seattle. I think they're like top five or top 10. Like white of cities
in the country. I noticed thing that walking through
there is tremendous,
progress to be made on that front.
just looking around Tech.
we don't We don't hire enough women into tech.
We don't promote them into positions of leadership as much as we need to.
And we should be.
I look at it as there is a lot of work to be done.
Um, people like us have a responsibility to do what we can to further it and promote it. And that should be forcing a shift from norms of the past. Right? It should. You know, I don't I'm a sort of anti authoritarian type of person, by nature's like, I don't really believe or ascribed to norms to begin with. And so on, Def, I had I don't think I would ever have been anything other than you know, what would have traditionally been my path that would have just followed a would have been a doctor or something. Some other profession that, like, had been laid out for me.
That was very typical for people who kind of came from my background. My lawyer was an engineer, right? Yeah, they're all respectable profession. There's nothing wrong with that, but like, you should also have the freedom to explore and do what it is that you want. What you feel is right for yourself. In a lot of that is being able to break through whatever those norms are. Right. So, um, that's where I think that diversity matters because you need to see people of all different backgrounds doing a variety of different things to understand that really anything is possible. That's one of the most encouraging things that I see now about what's going on with, like,
media, right? Like with music and with TV shows and movies. You're seeing more and more of this. And this is the thing that I'm excited about for my Children, right? You know, I'm Indian, my wife's Korean, you know, our Children are half Indian, half Korean. They're gonna they're gonna see a whole bunch of media, and they're gonna look at that and say, like, Oh,
I see. Yeah, my parents do this in this, but I also see all these other portrayals of people who are like me in one way, shape or form, doing a bunch of different things and that that matters like it's really important. And I don't think I don't think we talk about that enough and emphasize it enough for everybody. So that's one of things I'm really excited about,
you know? I mean, that's one of the reasons I love that you're here talking about this, right? Because you have this unique perspective, two different races and kind of growing up in this amazing city. So do you see that impacting you kids in school? Uh, like,
So I mean,
I think it's a really interesting question.
So you know,
when I when I was growing up here,
there were like,
two or three other Indian kids in my class.
Sometimes in my school,
And I think that it Zoe,
that's unusual inside challenging position.
To be in right where you're one of very few of a certain group is very easy.
Thio have to shoulder quite a bit of responsibility for a whole group. When you're that one camera, remember? Like being an elementary school and like we're talking about India and you know, the elementary school teacher is like looking at me for you during the India listen for confirmation. But all the facts of India and I'm like I'm not bored. There's like a 1,000,000,000 people in the country, and I'm not from there. Yes, it's my It's my heritage, my ethnicity, and I'm proud of it and all of those things. But I'm not the expert. I'm also there's no soul representatives. So So, yeah,
I mean, when I look at this and I think about it for my kids, I think it's, you know, we made a We made a conscious decision to be a in a location in a place where they would be able to experience a tremendous amount of diversity. That was a very clear, distinct guiding factor in where we decided to buy a house, what schools we wanted to go Thio. We wanted them to go to Rather, and you know, that's that's where the future is headed, right? The future is not headed toward isolated groups and pockets of people that don't associate with everyone else, Right? You know, one of my favorite comedians is Russell Peters,
and he's got a funny line about how many Indian people there are in the world and how many Chinese people there on the world, all of these things. And he's like basically the whole world's going beige, right? And it's true. Yeah, I mean, that's obviously a comedian. He's taking it to a certain extreme. But, you know, way are the future of the world is very multicultural and very diverse. And I think the sooner that you know, everyone embraces that. And the sooner that our kids get to experience that and not feel like they're the outlier but that they're the norm, easier on the better experience or they're gonna have With that,
I mean, around here, the other norm. Great. But do you have to now that least a five year old right is old enough. Now, do you have to do any additional teaching or it kind of like explain the world to your kids in any different way to gonna prepare them? Two be adults. You know, soon enough, they're going to be adults, and there's gonna be this ever changing world. Yeah,
yeah, yeah. I mean, I think that just comes with the territory of being a parent, right? You know, I have to look out and few steps ahead and try to try to do what you can to guide them and lead them in that direction. I mean, I think you know, kids, kids say the darndest things and they asked the darndest questions, right? And so there are some funny ones that we've encountered, but yeah, it's, you know, it's
funny. Once you can share in the boat, guess that
we've gotten funny questions about,
skin color has come up right as a five year old asking about skin color,
and that's an interesting one to talk about,
light colors versus yellow colors versus brown colors.
And you know he's a he's a five year old son.
Brings in blue with yellow and purple and all these other colors,
So it's an opportunity.
Look at all of these things is opportunities to have a discussion yet right?
And to be able,
Thio convey like skin color is it's what you see,
but that's you know you need.
Everyone was a person,
and you need to think about how you connect with people on how you treat people on the basis of them being people right,
and also I think I'm a little bit sensitive to this, but I also encouragement like you should not allow anyone to treat you worst on the basis of something like that. Like, I need to kind of stand up and stick up for yourself. Um and so you know, some of that just on the basis of my experience, right? Being a relative minority growing up around here.
Interesting. I just I just realized on the question of color. Well, my three old hasn't asked yet, but if she did, I know that I would start with explaining how pigments and skin work, you know, and go that way first, cause I know that would that would get us in the rabbit hole of like, Oh, well, what a pigments. You know how this can work and turn into this, like our long science lesson, But the next morning, she probably wouldn't remember, but still be fun, because I don't know how to explain the social norm story. You know, the thing that really norms but biases, right thing this
age? Yeah, Thinkit's a hard thing, but, you know, kids are gonna hear it and see it. And, you know, one thing I struggle with is I try to listen to NPR in the morning with my son on the way into school. It's hard to listen to the news in the morning with a five year old like there's this. A lot of not great stuff on the news, you know, and and a lot of it is. Unfortunately, in the current climate, a lot of it has to do is sort of racial right. Think based on. So it's a tough time right now to to deal with a kid at that age and the current climate and what's going on in the news and hacked into your point. Be able to try to explain it all, but not expect a whole lot of it to stick right. That's that's a tough
Maybe there's, Ah, room for a radio show, which is old news
for kids, kid friendly NPR. I would sign up for that.
Uh, I've got the podcasting year already. Okay? No, that sze great to hear it Sounds like I guess I haven't met your kids in person yet, but, uh, it sounds like they're gonna grow to be a pretty fabulous individuals.
We're doing what we can wait. Hope so. Just a couple more questions for you. You know, you went to
a Stanford and Carnegie Mellon, right for education. And so you had a pretty good career with a couple of jobs. A couple startups. I mean, right now you're doing very well for yourself. But education system, he's changing quite a bit. Is there anything you're doing to prepare kids for that, or
I think that's so thank you.
I kind of turned into the cliche against the Stanford alum who now start up stuff.
But e I put my time in right.
I worked a small companies and big companies before.
I kind of kind of went off the deep end with startups,
I do think a lot about education and our Children.
I was really fortunate.
My parents at a very young age really stressed the importance of education,
and I took it really seriously on dhe for me.
in many ways,
education was a ticket to be able to get to kind of independence and a life that I wanted to build initially for myself and then with my wife and then, you know, now, with the family on dime, unfortunately, you know, my wife is very similarly minded. She grew up with education being extremely important. She's internally a very driven person. So, yeah, we both we both placed high value on it. We think we share similar values about how we think about educating our kids. You know, in spite of how much I love technology and how much I've dedicated myself to the field, our kids are relatively tights.
No, you know, no time with the phone. No time with tap, no screen time, very little screen time. They watch a couple hours of TV on the weekend, right? And it's interesting, because when I when I talked to Piers of mine in a similar situation, we spent a lot of time in technology who I have young Children. They have taken a very similar tact, and I think we all kind of shared the belief that there is time for them to learn that stuff and pick up on it. And by the way, it's no judgement. We've got friends who do the tablet thing and do the phone thing,
and they got other types of toys that are more technology or injured for their kids. And that's great, right? Everyone's gonna got to do what they think is best for their kids and so no judgment on that. But for us, we we just took, tried and large part succeeded in avoiding that for the time being. And I think about that in the context of education for kids, because I'm like, I want them to really focus on the fundamentals, right? Like one of the things that strikes me now, particularly in the time that we're in, where it's sort of the era of distraction with, like Twitter and Facebook notifications and all of these things is how important it is to cultivate focus. Focus is super critical as just a core skill.
And, you know, I think that being Able Thio work on those types of skills with our kids at this age is more important than trying to get them thio, figure out howto navigate a tablet or browse the Web or something like that. I think that those are things that if they figure out some of the more foundational skills and have the time to develop and focus on those things, they'll be able to hopefully pick up those other things later.
No, I absolutely agree And that's how we try to explain this to, say, our grandparent's who inevitably end up putting a phone in front of a kid, you know, here and there. And it's really hard to compete with a phone because it's such an easy tool, you know, like what if she's just browsing through photos? Well, it's real easy to browse photos. It's really hard to sit down and read a book. Pretend read a book. A three year old doesn't really it right, but pretend reading is way better than scrolling through photos. But once you start competing with technology, it's It's impossible. So I forget that you guys send your kids to Montessori school.
Our son is in Wana story right now. Daughters will
be going toe. Yeah, that sounds like a great idea because at least kids get to sit down and just do their thing for as long as they want to, and
there's some structure to it. But the general principle of learned by play is I mean, I think it's very compatible with a lot of different types of kids. It's not for everybody, right, and I understand that. But, you know, I kind of when I was younger, I did a combination of mon a story and some, like experimental something or the other between, like, U Dub and some school around here. And it worked. It was also sort of driven by this learning through play
where you were anything you say he is. But any chance for you? You see, Yes. That's the U Dub school for kids.
I don't think I don't think so. Yeah, Um, I don't call us too young, but yeah, I mean, I think way tend to get really as a culture, we tend to get really caught up in, like, technology is going to solve all of our problems. And we leave some of these fundamentals behind. And, you know, learning how to learn is kind of the first thing. And I don't I don't want us. Don't you know we try to not lose track of that?
We're getting close to the end,
But there's one question that's very relevant things being on my mind a lot.
There are a lot of companies and even,
the old school educational institutions everyone's now promoting,
learning to code for kids.
But given everything we talked about and you being the founder or start up and you needing to hire people who know how to code.
What do you think?
It's important that kids learn to code and if yes or no,
like at what point?
And what should they focus on and maybe not even just kids.
young adults throat like teens and twenties because I see these questions come up on the start of boards where people say,
my job's in eggs But should I go learn to code? And I showed them what language, you know, it's really popular, but I'm just curious. What's your take on it? Giving that you actually need people who know?
I would say,
a lot of my thinking on this has evolved,
So it's funny because I think it's really fashionable for people to these days to be like,
I've always believed this and this is right,
and now it's true and how I told you so right?
But I think I was wrong earlier,
I have a background in computer science,
I did a formal degree.
I started programming before I went to college.
I spent the summer actually at Carnegie Mellon in high school and took an interest. He has class there on dhe, but I was not programming from a very young ages. But I started a little bit before college. Tried it out, senior. And you know, I When? When these certificate programs and academies and, you know, boot camps. All these things were coming online years ago when they first were showing up, right? I waas naive and I thought, Man, what are people gonna learn in 10 weeks?
How can they? How can they learn enough in 10 weeks to be able to contribute and be as good as someone who's gone through, like, a formal degree program and all of these things? Right? But now, now I think, you know, I have changed my thinking in a for a variety of different reasons. So one to answer your initial question. I absolutely 100% believe kids should be exposed thio software development or should be exposed to computer science, right? Probably more computer science And just like the general coding thing, because I think that there's something interesting about getting people to understand computer science is basically it's like applied math and you teach math anyway. And so I think, getting people that think algorithmic Lee is interesting,
right? And getting people getting kids to relate, how old the things that they use in the world around them, and more and more of the things that they use it in the world around them have software underlying right, so being able to relate those two things together is important. I don't think we do enough to expose kids to it. I mean, when I was when I was in high school, I did like an AP computer science class as self study. There was no formal class. I had to go and petition a physics teacher and say, Hey, can I do this? And then you did it on my own right? And now I know, you know,
especially around here. There's like a P classes, you know, all around for every every single subject. But I do think we should just like we expose kids to reading, writing man, foreign languages, music. We should include computer science, and maybe some coding is part of that. That's not to say that I think everybody should be its offering. Everybody doesn't need to be super proficient with coding, but they should have that exposure. Um, and I think that that would go a long way towards you know, us having a more welcoming culture in tech to people from or diverse backgrounds,
which we don't currently have right now. So So, yeah, you know, the sort of later stage stuff I've got A I've got a coast friend who is switching careers, you know, he was in business and law on Dhe. He's really interested in being a software engineer, and he's he's teaching it to himself. He's incredibly intelligent. He's, you know, he was in a close group of friends that we had is super sharp guy who will make a phenomenal software engineer because he's one of the smartest people that I know. But he doesn't have the resume. Right? Doesn't have,
like, the degree, and you know he's doing a self taught. He will eventually be an amazing software engineer. Someone's gotta take a chance on him to make that happen. And so that's where, like a lot of my thinking has constricted that recognize, You know, my earlier thoughts were fairly naive. And so we We've never had a requirement in either of our companies that people have to have a degree. One of the best offer engineers that I worked with, that T Mobile basically came straight out of high school. Self taught, right? So we're open to people of all different types of backgrounds, all different types of experiences.
And I think that as as an industry, we have to keep an open mind on how people arrive at the profession and judge people on, you know, their talent. They're fit their background, how they came to get to be where they are, give people credit for the struggles that they've been through, give people a chance. And that's how we end up with a more inclusive culture. That's what we need. We won't have better products that serve everybody and not just work well for certain groups of people. We need to have more.
It makes us think you include people who end up being the users of the product that no, I love it. That's, uh, it's a very wait. Answer it and just like it's not like you have to Lena Olin and or not do it at all. But there's a time and there's degree to which you should expose your kids.
Yeah, I mean, I love what co dot organs doing right. They've created the table stakes curriculum for teachers to be able to bring it in right? I don't like haven't I tried a little bit of their stuff to see what it's like. I'll probably eventually give it to my kids, but I think it sze on the right track.
Well, so your kids five and three, give or take. And you in a high stress work environment. Or at least maybe it's not stressed and demand right? What would you? There are a lot of lessons and what we talked about for people to dissect on their own and see how it fits their personal life. But if you were to sort of give advice to parents in your situation, or parents who will inevitably end up, do you think what can they do to prepare themselves? So Thio manage it better?
So I'm lucky. I've got an amazing wife who is very supportive but also is very honest and direct with me, right? So she lets me know how I'm doing? I think that that's important because you need another perspective. And, you know, it's easy to get caught up in for me, for me in particular, like it's very easy for me to get caught up in lost and work. And so being able Thio kind of get shaken out of that from time to time is pretty important.
talk to each other,
talk to each other yet communications.
I think the big thing is a lot of people don't really know what they want.
They don't know.
Not a lot of people spend the time to be introspective and figure out what it is you want and then structure your life around it,
And so sometimes we want things that we can't have immediately.
It takes time to build up to it.
It takes time to get it.
Maybe you got accumulate,
time you've got accumulate money,
you've got a human,
all these things.
But what are the priorities?
What is it that you want in your life and then and then really be able to try to plan and structure things around it? And I you know, I for better or worse, that figured out. You know, there's something that's really important for me to build. Um, and that's why we started this company. It's the most most efficient way to do it. Even though it's it's pretty hard for a lot of work. I'm a glutton for punishment, right? Which is why why, you know, start decide to start another company again. But it's also,
you know, it's really important for me to spend time with my kids is really important for me. Thio Teach them what I can for them. Thio always feel like I'm gonna be there for them when they need me on DSO. That's the, you know, people. People talk about work, life bouncing all these things, you know, My take on it is you know, I don't like that I don't like the description of a balance because it feels like you've got to give up on one thing to get the other, and I instead look at it as you know what? You know, on any given day, one thing is gonna take priority.
And so how do you structure what you're doing to achieve? You know, that priority and the best way that you possibly can. And so for me, some days it's like on the weekends. Sometimes it's gonna be things with my kids on the weekends, sometimes gonna be things with work, too. Right? And so those are the trade offs. I also think that if you want to go into an early stage, start up, you want to be a founder. There is a certain amount of sacrifice that comes with it. There's a there's a really good friend of mine is in San Francisco. He started a company slaved away for about a decade,
who he had. He had a head like a possible outcome way, didn't make a ton of money, didn't lose money for, didn't lose a lot of money for his investors. A sort of middle of the road that way. But he's got three kids and he understands. He and I are like, very simpatico on the struggle. We talk about it, you know, he gets it and I we get each other on a basic level. And when we were talking about this, you know, every time we get together, we talk about this and you have to acknowledge that there is a degree of sacrifice that comes with it,
and it may. It may not be. You may not be the kids. It may not be your work, but it might be your health or it might be your sleep. Or it might be other parts of your family or travel or whatever. So I think you're going to expectation that you could somehow have it all. You set yourself up for failure in frustration
Makes sense. I mean, they say You gotta focus when you do company right? But that focus extends beyond just the company. Your entire life has to be focused around what's important, and something's gonna have to go out of the window.
Yeah, well, and one other thing that I think is, especially if you're expecting a kid and you're worried about this one significant difference from a pre kid and post kid that I figured out is I'm way more efficient as a father way, way, way, more efficient, as a father like in terms of what I get done, how I get it done, cutting out things that were sort of like not particularly productive, very good use of time, and then also having a clear sense of myself. But knowing okay, really need to take a break from work or I really need some personal time to myself or, you know, those sorts of things. So the efficiency factor goes up considerably when you have really explosive demands like I can't face, like the disappointment of letting my kids down. And so that's, you know, that that's a motivating factor for me to figure out how to be way more efficient.
That's good. Yeah, it makes total sense for me, but hopefully this will give it a listen or some idea Teoh on the run, you figure out how to structure life properly. Well, it's been really good. I love everything, had to say, And there's really a lot to think about them to help people fully understand how Thio do their life or what to expect if they're in a similar situation. So thank you very much for coming. If there's anything else you want to say to, you know, Dad's feel free
Thanks for having me on. I think it's great that you're doing this. It's a team effort, raising kids think it's it's good to get more fathers out there thoughtful about what it's like. Thio be a parent, Think about their life, their job in there and what it's like to be in tech. And, yeah, it's, uh, school that you're doing this so happy to be here.