We believe creating something of true significance starts with seeing things others do not.
Tony Fadell on Learning To See, Telling Stories, & Being A Troublemaker
It’s not often you get to see through the eyes of someone who created a product that you and hundreds of millions of other people use, hundreds of times a day, every single day, and have for a decade or more.
Tony Fadell is the legendary inventor of the iPod, co-inventor with Steve Jobs of the iPhone, and Founder of Nest. Now he is the Principal at Future Shape, an investment and advisory firm coaching over 200+ startups.
There’s almost an infinity of things to learn from Tony, but what we most wanted to uncover are his product frameworks and first principles for design. How can Founders think about designing products that are both high-utility and beloved -- that achieve dent-in-the-universe levels of adoption?
As Tony puts it: For truly great designs, 50% of the design is the design. 50% of the design is the story behind the design.
And it all begins with re-learning how to see.
The Founders' List: Shishir Mehrotra with an Inside Look at How YouTube Scaled (Rituals for Hypergrowth)
This is The Founders' List - audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community.
When Shishir Mehrotra left YouTube in 2014, a number of other company leaders wanted to understand how YouTube worked from the inside. He wrote this article summarizing their key rituals in a stage of hypergrowth. This article was originally published in 2015, but has since been expanded upon by Shishir.
Read the full essay here - https://coda.io/@shishir/rituals-for-hypergrowth-an-inside-look-at-how-youtube-scaled
Super Founders with Ali Tamaseb & James Currier
What started as a viral medium article from two years ago has now turned into 'Super Founders', a book on what data reveals about billion-dollar startups. Today on the NFX Podcast we have Ali Tamaseb (partner at DCVC) talking with James Currier about his data-driven approach to understanding what really differentiates billion-dollar startups from the rest.
The book includes exclusive interviews with the founders/investors of Zoom, Instacart, PayPal, Nest, Github, Flatiron Health, Kite Pharma, Facebook, Stripe, Airbnb, YouTube, LinkedIn, Lyft, DoorDash, Coinbase, and Square, venture capital investors like Elad Gil, Peter Thiel, Alfred Lin, and Keith Rabois.
Ali Tamaseb has spent thousands of hours manually amassing what may be the largest dataset ever collected on startups, comparing billion-dollar startups with those that failed to become one—30,000 data points on nearly every factor: number of competitors, market size, the founder’s age, his or her university’s ranking, quality of investors, fundraising time, and many, many more.
Major Opportunities for Young Founders with Jon Levin, Dean of Stanford GSB
Stanford GSB Dean Jon Levin joins NFX Partner Pete Flint to discuss his perspective on new Founders entering the industry, how Stanford encourages its students to solve real-world problems with technology, macroeconomics, and the overall state of capitalism.
Jon Levin started teaching at Stanford in 2000. Has been Dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business since Sept 2016 and is about to celebrate 5 years in that role. Levin received his BA and BS degrees from Stanford University in 1994, an MPhil in Economics from Oxford in 1996, and his PhD in Economics from MIT in 1999.
Pete got to know Dean Levin from being on the GSB Management Board after graduating in 2005. He has also co-taught a number of cases at the GSB.
The Insider Story of Waze with Noam Bardin
Underlying Waze's journey is a little-known approach to product thinking, super-powerful data network effects, and a guiding north star metric. This is Waze's insider story, as told by their former CEO, Noam Bardin.
NFX Partner Gigi Levy-Weiss recently sat down with Noam, where they discussed the step-by-step story of the company's growth, starting from their early days in 2008 with just 2,000 monthly active users, through being acquired by Google for $1B in 2013, and hitting 140M monthly active users at the time Noam stepped down in Feb 2021.
Early-stage Founders are wise to study as many successful growth stories as they can. While there is no single playbook of best practices, each case contains deeply valuable learning that we at NFX aim to pass along from Founder to Founder.
Read the full NFX Essay here - https://www.nfx.com/post/the-insider-story-of-waze
Heather Fernandez & Pete Flint on Startup Speed As A Public Good
Speed is routinely acknowledged as a major advantage for startups. But startup speed is not sufficiently understood as an invaluable competency for society at large. Solv Health’s growth during the pandemic is a great example. Just 4 years old, the startup managed 5 million Covid tests in 2020, compared to 7 million tests by long-established CVS.
Today NFX General Partner Pete Flint is joined by Heather Fernandez, Co-Founder and CEO of Solv Health and previously a leader with him at Trulia. They analyze mental models and hard tactics for using speed to convert chaos to growth — and good.
Read the full NFX Essay here - https://www.nfx.com/post/startup-speed-as-a-public-good