Sand Hill Road on Smash Notes

Sand Hill Road podcast.

December 28, 2019

A place to talk about startups, venture capital and tech. For a full download, double-click on sandhillroad.io



Recently updated notes

In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Leo Polovets,  co-founder and general partner at Susa Ventures. As a partner at Susa, Leo focuses on investments in enterprise software, developer tools, technical products and logistics and supply chain. In this session we discuss his journey from being the second engineer at LinkedIn to starting his own venture firm. We discuss some of his notable  investments in breakout companies, such as Robinhood and Flexport, as well as his most recent investment in Scalyr. As Leo is an icon on the VC twitter, we also dig into some of his previous tweets and try to draw lessons that go beyond the 280 character limit.

Key points in this episode

In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Sarah Catanzaro from Amplify Partners. As a partner at Amplify, Sarah focuses on startups that apply technological advances in machine intelligence and enterprise infrastructure to solve real-world problems. In this session we discuss her journey from data scientist to venture capital, her take on recent data sciences trends and her most recent investments, including OctoML, InterVenn Biosciences, Maze and Bayes.

Key points in this episode

In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Bryan Offutt from Index Ventures, which is an active investor in the open source vertical, having invested in the likes of Hortonworks, Confluent, Elastic, Kong, Cockroach Labs and most recently Starburst. In this session we talk about  the next frontier of open source, such as the open sourcing of pre-trained ML/NLP models (such as BERT) and distributed design. We also cover Index Venture's most recent COSS investment in Starburst, an open core company built around Presto, a distributed, open source query engine that has originally been developed at Facebook.

Key points in this episode

In this episode, Erasmus Elsner talks with Brian Leonard (@bleonard), the technical co-founder of TaskRabbit, which has pioneered the gig economy alongside Airbnb and Uber. In the session, they talk about the journey from the early days of TaskRabbit when it was just a few hundred Taskers to how they scaled it to one of the largest gig economy marketplaces that was eventually sold to IKEA.

Key points in this episode

In this episode, Erasmus Elsner talks with John Lin, who is a Principal from Trinity Ventures about his key learnings from being an entrepreneur himself and his transition to VC at Trinity. We take a deep dive into his portfolio companies Branch, Grow, Squire and Side.

Key points in this episode

Venture capital used to be about 'financing what would not otherwise be financed'. This is exactly what Root Ventures is all about. In this session I talk to Lee Edwards about his journey from CTO at Teespring to venture and about financing deeply technical founders who are tackling interdisciplinary engineering problems.

Key points in this episode

Simmer is a recent Y Combinator company that is challenging Yelp's restaurant discovery through dish-level reviews. In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is joined by the co-founders Richard Wu and Vaibhav Verma about their startup journey so far, which challenges they have had to overcome so far and how they are planning to change the way in which foodies discover the best cuisine.

Key points in this episode

Patrick Chase is an investor with Redpoint Ventures who specializes on investments in the open source vertical. In this episode, I talk with him about the different business models in open source, challenges around defensibility and open source software moving from the backend to the application layer.

Key points in this episode

5 years ago, Joe Doliner and his co-founder Joey Zwicker decided to focus on the hard problems in data science, rather than building just another dashboard on top of the existing mess. It's been a long road, but it's really payed off. Last year, after an adventurous journey from their seed round, they  closed a $10m Series A led by Benchmark. In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is joined by Joe Doliner to explore what Pachyderm does and how it scaled from just an idea into a fast growing tech company.

Key points in this episode

Gitlab is a unique tech unicorn. Last valued at $2.75bn, the company is fully remote. The two co-founders worked fully separately on the company for more than a year, knowing only each others avatars. As such, Gitlab is defying not only how code is deployed, but also how companies are run. So far, Gitlab has raised $436m from the likes of Khosla Ventures, August Capital and Google Ventures. In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is joined by co-founder and CEO Sid Sijbrandij to talk about their founder, product and financing journey.

Key points in this episode

Gremlin is a fast growing company in the chaos engineering space founded in 2016. The company has pioneered the space by offering failure-as-a-service. So far, Gremlin has raised almost $27m from the likes of Amplify Partners, Index Ventures and Redpoint. In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is joined by co-founder and CTO Matthew Fornaciari to talk about their founder, product and financing journey.

Key points in this episode

In this episode, Erasmus Elsner is talking to Joseph Jacks, founder and general partner at OSS Capital, the first and only VC fund exclusively dedicated to supporting commercial open-source software founders. 




We discuss the definition of commercial open-source software (COSS) companies and how open-source software is eating software.

Key points in this episode

This episode is about the tidal wave of startups which have been termed the direct-to-consumer (DTC) or digitally native vertical brands (DNVB). It's this fleet of niche brands, which are delivering products to consumers primarily online and outside of traditional bricks-and-mortar retail channels. It's the Warby Parkers, the Caspers and the Allbirds of this world. In this episode I'm introducing their business model and compare it to the more traditional Amazon-style online shop model. It's a long episode with lots of examples from the startup journey of firms like: Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, Away, Harry's, Allbirds, Casper, Wish, Brandless, Jet.com and Fab.

Key points in this episode

I listened to this great session with Jason Calacanis and Ben Haim, co-founder of JFrog, over the weekend. In this episode, I'm sharing what I think we can learn from it in terms of (i) building products before there's a market for it and (ii) the difficult fundraising journey that comes with it.

Key points in this episode

Tech builders don't like bean counters that's why Silicon Valley has fallen out of love with the public markets over the past decades. In the week of Uber's disappointing IPO, we have seen two of Marc Andreessen's "projects" take the next step in transforming market allocation of tech stocks:  Carta raising $300m at a $1.7bn valuation to build the "world's largest marketplace for private companies" and  Eric Ries' Long-Term Stock Exchange (LTSE) getting approval by the SEC to become the 14th regulated stock exchange in the U.S. I reflect on what this could mean to the way in which we finance innovation in Silicon Valley.

Key points in this episode

Uber has finally set its IPO price at $84bn and revealed a $500m investment from PayPal and at the same time Slack has dropped its S-1 for a direct listing

Key points in this episode

Mary Meeker, the long-term Kleiner Perkins GP seems to have managed to obtain capital commitments for $1.25bn for her new fund called Bond.

Key points in this episode

In this episode I'm discussing the revenue model of Robinhood, the famous fintech unicorn, popular with the millenial demographic. It appears that Robinhood is routing a substantial part of its trades to high frequency traders like Citadel and Virtu.

Key points in this episode

This was a crazy day in tech IPO land: Zoom was up 81% in the first day of trading and Pinterest up 25%. Zoom clearly stold the Pinterest show again, with a valuation of c. 16x it's last private valuation.

Key points in this episode

In this episode I talk about the new phenomenon where late-stage Series D+ unicorn startups are joining traditonal VC rounds in Series A or B companies in the same vertical

Key points in this episode


0:00
0:00