110 episodes

A podcast about Silicon Valley, hosted by newsletter writer and independent journalist Eric Newcomer. Listen in for interviews with the dealmakers and builders who matter. Subscribe to newcomer.co for summaries of the episodes plus tech industry news, scoops, and analysis.

www.newcomer.co

Newcomer Podcast Eric Newcomer | newcomer.co

    • News

A podcast about Silicon Valley, hosted by newsletter writer and independent journalist Eric Newcomer. Listen in for interviews with the dealmakers and builders who matter. Subscribe to newcomer.co for summaries of the episodes plus tech industry news, scoops, and analysis.

www.newcomer.co

    Why Software Is Eating The Banks | Mercury CEO Immad Akhund, Then Lead Bank CEO Jackie Reses

    Why Software Is Eating The Banks | Mercury CEO Immad Akhund, Then Lead Bank CEO Jackie Reses

    Today we’re highlighting two fireside chats from the Newcomer Banking Summit on March 14.
    First up is Mercury CEO Immad Akhund. He talked about how the Silicon Valley Bank crisis sent customers rushing to his digital banking service.
    He pitched a world where software — not human bankers — solve most of customers’ problems. Akhund told me, “My experience with relationship banking was I need to send a wire and I literally cannot figure out to do it, please help me. Which to me never felt like a relationship, it felt very transactional and painful — and with Mercury you don’t have to do that.”
    Mercury is limited by the fact that it is not a bank — it’s a software company on top of banking partners — at a time when regulators are looking closely at how banks work with fintech partners.
    We concluded our summit with Jackie Reses — who was a top executive at Square before leaving to buy a bank. Reses is the CEO of Lead Bank, a regional Kansas City bank that still serves local customers but has built an onramp for financial technology companies to connect with the banking system.
    “The thing I saw at Square — which I consider to be a very strong, innovative fintech — is that owning a bank and operating a bank is a 10X delta in understanding compliance to working in a tech company,” Reses said. At Square, Reses said, she learned to “appreciate the complexity of what it takes to do this, so that we could learn how to serve our clients better and help them scale — but make sure we never put ourselves in the position to risk the relationship that we have operating with our regulators.”
    You can give the episodes a listen or watch them on YouTube.
    Also: The Future of Banking with Rho, Jiko, and Ripple
    In case you missed it, we’ve posted another panel with three fintech/banking leaders.
    Rho CEO Everett Cook, Jiko CEO Stephane Lintner, and Ripple President Monica Long are all trying to solve shortcomings in the legacy banking system, with different approaches. Check it out to see their takes on the major problems with banking today.


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    • 48 min
    Lessons Learned From a Bank Run (Peter Hébert & Laurence Tosi) + SVB's Marc Cadieux

    Lessons Learned From a Bank Run (Peter Hébert & Laurence Tosi) + SVB's Marc Cadieux

    We’ve got two great sessions from the Newcomer Banking Summit for you:
    * First up, WestCap Group founder Laurence Tosi and Lux Capital co-founder Peter Hébert. They give an unvarnished account of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank with the benefit of hindsight. “It was like the banking equivalent of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Hébert said. “It was absolute sheer terror.”
    * We follow that up with Silicon Valley Bank President Marc Cadieux, who talks about where SVB is today and fields questions about all the new competition his reconstituted bank, now owned by First Citizens, is facing.
    I thought Tosi and Hébert’s talk was the spiciest of the day. And Cadieux was the man of the hour. I wanted to know where his head was at one year after the crisis.
    You can give the episodes a listen or watch them on YouTube.
    Breaking the Bank: BCV’s Matt Harris
    If you missed it, yesterday I published a talk from Bain Capital Ventures’ Matt Harris.
    In the headline, I made a mortifying error and used the acronym of another VC firm. Harris is Bain Capital Ventures’ fintech guru; he gave a great presentation and I had nightmares last night about my mixup. Apologies!
    Here’s that talk:


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    • 52 min
    Two Titans on the Future of AI (with Reid Hoffman & Vinod Khosla)

    Two Titans on the Future of AI (with Reid Hoffman & Vinod Khosla)

    Today, we have a double episode for you — two conversations from the Cerebral Valley AI Summit.
    Reid Hoffman was fresh off a meeting with President Joe Biden when Hoffman and I sat down on stage at the Cerebral Valley AI Summit Nov. 15. On stage, he told us that working to get Biden elected next year is one of his top priorities.
    Then, I sat down with the ever-feisty Vinod Khosla. The investor called for a TikTok ban and more welcoming immigration policies while warning against open-source artificial intelligence projects.
    Thousands of enterprises around the world rely on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to power applications that drive their businesses. OCI customers include leaders across industries, such as healthcare, scientific research, financial services, telecommunications, and more.
    NVIDIA DGX Cloud on OCI is an AI training-as-a-service platform for customers to train complex AI models like generative AI applications. Included with DGX Cloud, NVIDIA AI Enterprise brings the software layer of the NVIDIA AI platform to OCI.
    Talk with Oracle about accelerating your GPU workloads.
    Hoffman Plans to Go Big for Biden
    Hoffman, fresh off a meeting with President Biden, kicked off the afternoon with a strong endorsement of the President’s record. Hoffman praised Biden for his recent executive order on artificial intelligence.
    Reid called himself “a 95%-98% supporter” of the executive order, endorsing provisions on reporting and monitoring, “red team” testing, and voluntary commitments by companies that might eventually be enforced via the Defense Production Act. But he pushed back on the idea that the FTC should be monitoring the AI industry for anti-competitive conduct.
    “Startups are not being impeded right now,” he asserted, despite the apparent dominance of OpenAI and the mega-cap tech companies. Reid sits on the board of Microsoft, and offered that he was in fact “first money in” on OpenAI, through his personal foundation, but he’s not concerned about, er, his own companies having too much power. “I don’t think it constrains competition on any level.”
    Hoffman is always happy to engage on policy, and I asked him what he thought about Marc Andreessen’s recent “techno-optimist” manifesto, which denigrates the very idea of government oversight. Reid said he was a techno-optimist too, and half-joked that Andreessen “quoted kind of liberally from things I’ve written and said” without any attribution. But Hoffman said that he’s not on board with Andreessen’s approach. “It’s kind of dumb to think that when you have major technologies there can’t be negative side effects,” he said, noting that all his AI projects have safety teams. “Tech can be amazing. Let’s be intentional about building.”
    Khosla Wins Cheers from the Cerebral Valley Audience
    Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla confirmed that his firm, boosted by an early stake in OpenAI, was about to close on $3 billion in commitments for a new fund. Valuations are high, he said, “but just because valuations are high doesn’t mean it isn’t a good time to invest.”
    He’s not buying existential risk, calling it “nonsensical” talk from academics who had nothing better to do. But he’s long on China risk, saying the U.S. is in a “techno-economic war” with China and needs to fight hard. “I would ban TikTok in a nano-second,” he said, unlike his predecessor on stage, Hoffman, who Khosla said he very much admired. Khosla is firmly against open-source AI models as well due to the China risk.
    Bio-risk and cyber risk are real concerns too, he noted.
    But if China or rogue viruses don’t kill us, Khosla thinks the near-future is very bright: “I do think in 10 years we’ll have free doctors, free tutors, free lawyers” all powered by AI. 
    Khosla also gave a grudging endorsement of the Biden Executive Order, saying it was “okay.” 
    But like most Silicon Valley moguls, he has no time for antitrust issues

    • 44 min
    Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi & MosaicML Founder Naveen Rao Speak at Cerebral Valley

    Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi & MosaicML Founder Naveen Rao Speak at Cerebral Valley

    We were delighted to kick off the 2nd Cerebral Valley AI Summit with Ali Ghodsi, CEO of Databricks, and Naveen Rao, co-founder of MosaicML.
    Their encounter at our debut event in March led to Ghodsi buying Rao’s company, which had little revenue, for $1.3 billion. At our event on Nov. 15, the two discussed how the deal came together quickly after meeting at the conference dinner.
    Thousands of enterprises around the world rely on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to power applications that drive their businesses. OCI customers include leaders across industries, such as healthcare, scientific research, financial services, telecommunications, and more.
    NVIDIA DGX Cloud on OCI is an AI training-as-a-service platform for customers to train complex AI models like generative AI applications. Included with DGX Cloud, NVIDIA AI Enterprise brings the software layer of the NVIDIA AI platform to OCI.
    Talk with Oracle about accelerating your GPU workloads.
    Ghodsi recounted how he started spending some time with Rao and thought, “these guys are pretty good,” and then by chance noticed an employee he respected poking around with MosaicML and offering a strong endorsement. Soon Ghodsi was on the phone with the head of his deals team, who told him “if you want to buy these guys you have to do it this weekend.” Rao said by that point “you kind of know he’s going to pop the question,” and once they worked out the money, the deal was done.
    The two executives certainly seemed to be in harmony as they touted the potential benefits from their combination, which in simple terms will bring MosaicML’s expertise in building specialized generative AI models to Databricks’ corporate data platform products, essentially super-charging Databricks for the generative AI era.
    They were eager to defend the idea of open-source foundation models that are specific to certain tasks, rejecting the notion that general-purpose models like ChatGPT-4 will eventually swallow everything. (This conversation took place before OpenAI was thrown into chaos by its board of directors.)
    Ghodsi said calls to limit open-source models on the grounds that they’ll be too easily exploited by bad actors a “horrible, horrendous” idea that would “put a stop to all innovation.” 
    “It’s essential that we have an open-source ecosystem,” he said, noting that even now it’s unclear how a lot of AI models work, and open-source research will be critical to answering those questions.
    Rao added that many of the people making predictions about how AI would develop are “full of s**t.” On the safety question, he noted that cost alone would stand in the way of any existential risks for a long time, and in the meantime the focus should be on real threats like disinformation and robot safety.
    Give it a listen



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    • 22 min
    The Artificial Intelligence Startup Draft

    The Artificial Intelligence Startup Draft

    If you could amass any five artificial intelligence startup bets right now, which companies would you pick?
    My Cerebral Valley co-hosts and I took a stab at answering that question with an artificial intelligence startup draft.
    Our startup draft starts at 27:35 after a discussion of some of the biggest themes going into this week’s Cerebral Valley AI Summit.
    The draft gave us a chance to dissect some of the most promising startups in artificial intelligence right now.
    The goal was to amass five companies with the biggest valuation five years from now. We restricted ourselves to AI startups that had raised more than $100 million.
    I encourage you to make your own prediction in the comments.
    Give it a listen


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    • 1 hr 4 min
    Chip War (with Chris Miller)

    Chip War (with Chris Miller)

    For this week’s episode, I spoke with Chris Miller, the author of Chip War, about the rise of Nvidia.
    While OpenAI gets the lion’s share of the public adulation for the sudden excitement about generative intelligence, Nvidia’s H100 chips are powering much of the generative AI frenzy. Nvidia’s stock has climbed over 200% over the past 12 months. And the company has become a key investor in generative AI startups.
    Miller (who comes on the show around the 41-minute mark) talks through Nvidia’s history and the geopolitical war raging over the production of chips.
    In the first part of the episode, Cerebral Valley AI Summit co-hosts Max Child, James Wilsterman, and I discuss how big technology companies are working to fend off this new generation of AI startups.
    Give it a listen


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    • 1 hr 32 min

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