93 episodes

Conversations with the Harvard and Radcliffe Class of 1992, hosted by Will Bachman '92. Every member of the class has a story to tell, and the goal is to interview every one of them. There are 1,600 members of the class, so at a rate of one episode per week, this project will take 30 years. Register for email updates at 92report.com

The 92 Report Will Bachman

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 18 Ratings

Conversations with the Harvard and Radcliffe Class of 1992, hosted by Will Bachman '92. Every member of the class has a story to tell, and the goal is to interview every one of them. There are 1,600 members of the class, so at a rate of one episode per week, this project will take 30 years. Register for email updates at 92report.com

    93. Joshua Brandon Holden, Math Professor and Author of The Mathematics of Secrets

    93. Joshua Brandon Holden, Math Professor and Author of The Mathematics of Secrets

    Joshua Brandon Holden, the author of The Mathematics of Secrets, Cryptography from Caesar Ciphers to Digital Encryption, graduated with a degree in pure math and went on to teach at the University of Massachusetts and Duke. He discovered that he was spending most of his time on teaching, so he sought jobs where they would reward teaching. He then worked at the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, where he did both teaching and research. 
    Common Misconceptions about Cryptography
    Joshua discusses common misconceptions about cryptography and its connection to the internet. He explains that people often knew about cryptography in ancient times but don't know about the throughline. Older theories of cryptography were implicitly mathematical but not explicitly, while new theories are very explicitly mathematical. Joshua aims to open up the connection between older forms of cryptography and the new ones, stating that everyone has some ability to do all of it in varying amounts. He talks about the current state of cryptography online, including public key cryptography, which originated in the 70s and gained popularity in the 90s with internet commerce. Public key cryptography allows users to send secret messages through a one-way key, which is only decrypted by the sender who has a different key. This is important for sending credit card information to companies like Amazon or Walmart. However, end-to-end encryption means middlemen are no longer able to decrypt messages, so it's crucial to look carefully at providers' policies to determine if they stay in the loop. Joshua talks about the networks and relationships within the cryptography field, including the opportunities for professionals to work in private camps, government agencies, and academia. He notes that while there is money and space in the field, there is also a lot of space for professionals to stay updated on the latest theories and developments.
    Quantum Computers in Cryptography
    The conversation turns to the potential of quantum computers in cryptography and the potential for breaking encryption systems. He believes that quantum computers are expected to be better at breaking the problems used in creating mathematical problems used in special public key systems, such as encryption used by browsers to protect credit card information and communications. He also discusses the development of quantum resistant cryptography, which is a more complex system but the basic principles of quantum resistance systems are still relatively graspable for anyone with high school algebra and a willingness to dig deep. By applying enough computing power to end-to-end encryption systems, it is possible to break them. The only way to achieve perfect secrecy is to have a secret key, which is as long as the conversation. This method was supposedly used for the famous red phone between the White House and the Kremlin during the Cold War.
    Keeping Your Data Safe
    In terms of security, Joshua advises people to know their threat model and consider the potential threats they face. Some people may worry about powerful governments trying to break their communications, while others may be concerned about corporate spies, children, or random people passing by. For those worried about corporate espionage, it is recommended to look for end-to-end encryption systems. While quantum computers may not be easy to break, they do not guarantee that someone can’t break the system with enough computing power.
    Class Field Towers Explained
    Joshua talks about his research in the field of mathematics, specifically in the area of class field towers. He explains why imaginary numbers are not square roots but rather arbitrary choices. He also discusses the concept of Galois groups, which track the number of ways complex numbers can be shuffled around without making a difference. He explains that class field towers consist of rational numbers, real numbers with irrational decimals, and complex numbers on top o

    • 41 min
    92. Mark Jacobstein, Accidental Entrepreneur

    92. Mark Jacobstein, Accidental Entrepreneur

    Mark Jacobstein resides in Stanford, California with his wife, two children, and his mother in law. Mark's career has primarily focused on entrepreneurial technology, primarily in health tech, biotech, molecular diagnostics, and digital health arenas. After Cambridge, he worked with Scott Murphy, a close friend and business partner. He moved to California in 2003 to start a technology company and has been there ever since. He lives on the Stanford campus, which allows his children to grow up on a college campus. 
    Founding a Fantasy Sports Business
    Mark shares his journey from writing software for Mike Bloomberg in the early 90s to inventing the first online fantasy sports business [Small World] in 1994. He and his partner, Scott, initially struggled with starting a technology company due to their naivety and lack of experience in the tech startup ecosystem. However, they eventually built the first online fantasy sports business, which was one of the biggest consumer sites in the world at the time. In 1995, they spun out a web consultancy to solve various problems for corporate clients, building stateful and database-driven websites. They later built corporate websites for companies like Xerox and consulting for McKinsey on the internet's future. The business was sold to I-Excel in 1998. One common thread Mark has seen over the past 30 years is looking for systemic paradigm shifting changes in technology. Mark’s career highlights the importance of adapting to new technologies and finding the most effective way to grow a business.
    Entrepreneurship in Machine Learning and AI
    Mark’s last two companies and new venture studio focuses on machine learning and AI. He discusses his journey as an entrepreneur and the transition from a hobby to a business. He emphasizes the importance of looking for latent demand in businesses, he also emphasizes the importance of not engaging in gambling and making ethical choices in business decisions. His first experience as an entrepreneur was when he and his roommate Scott started hiring employees. They faced challenges like the.com crash and the need to lay off employees.
    Startup Business Mistakes 
    Mark discusses the mistakes made by his company in structure and decision-making processes. He believes that they were naive and didn't put enough thought into the process of disagreements, which caused friction and strained relationships. He also mentions that the biggest mistakes they made were sins of omission. They were too early to realize the monstrous opportunities that nobody was taking advantage of. One example is hiring Matt Funk, a summer intern who later became a hedge fund manager. He suggested they buy domain names, but Mark argued that this was unethical. Another example is building the first Business to Business Exchange (B2B) website, TextTrade.com, in 1996. This was an effort to make the textiles business more efficient. However, Mark argues that they missed out on the commercial implications of the internet and how they could have used their technology to service other industries.
    Silicon Valley and the Tech Landscape in the 2000s
    Mark, a former CEO of Apple, shares his experiences in the 2000s, particularly in the mobile business industry. He sold his fantasy sports business, Small World Sports, to Paul Allen, who bought Sporting News, an interactive TV channel. After a burnout at Sporting News. Mark met Trip Hawkins, founder of Electronic Arts and 3DO. Mark was offered a position as co-founder and president of a mobile phone company. He was invited to Silicon Valley to meet with Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins. He was mentored by Trip and his experience in Silicon Valley was a pivotal moment in his life. He shares his experiences in the tech industry, starting with his time at Digital Chocolate and then moving on to venture capital firm Sequoia. He was introduced to Sam Altman, a young wunderkind, and worked with him to build a company called Looped, which was later sold

    • 51 min
    91. Andreas Stavropoulos, Entering the Third Act

    91. Andreas Stavropoulos, Entering the Third Act

    Andreas Stavropoulos, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur, came to the United States from Greece at 18 and has been in the United States ever since. His big moves include marrying his high school sweetheart, arranging their lives around graduate school, medical school, business school, and moving to California. He is now 55-years-old and is excited about the third act of his life, where he can choose where to spend his time more than he used to.
    A Career as a Venture Capitalist
    Andreas started his career as a venture capitalist in 1999 and has been doing so for over two and a half years. He has stopped making new investments in this endeavor and is now spending most of his time back to nonprofit public service and helping his country. He is increasingly spending more time back in Greece. In the third act, Andreas is considering the empty nest and choosing where to spend his time. He is now in the third act phase, where he is stepping back from full-time work, focusing on what he chooses to do with his 20+ 25+ productive years. This involves stepping back from full-time work, reducing board load, and not chasing after new deals.
    A View of the Business Landscape in Greece
    Andreas talks about his decision to pursue public service in his third act. He gives a brief overview of the crisis Greece has experienced since the 1980s. The crisis was ushered in after a short, populist five-year phase of trying empty promises. However, in 2019, a new generation of moderate, business-friendly leaders emerged, inoculating voters against the empty promises of populism. Greece is now a leader in this regard, showing the rest of Europe how a post-populist society and governance model can look like. The generation of leaders in power is younger and more business friendly, making them an opportunity to help the country catch up with Western Europe. He is also working on a board of a private company that manages large privatization and public-private partnerships in Greece, such as airports, ports, and highways. Another area of focus is AI. He is on an advisory committee to the prime minister on topics related to artificial intelligence, and he talks about the influence of Greek diaspora.
    On the Board of a Privatization Entity
    Andreas discusses his experience on the board of an entity that manages privatization. The board includes seven independent members. The nominating committee has combined complementary skills, providing a sound foundation of skills in various areas. The finance side of the board includes working with portfolio companies to mature them for financing, going public, or getting sold. The board also oversees state assets that are not ready for deal-making, designing business plans and leveraging them to create something attractive to private investment while maintaining upside for the state. The board also involves working with bankers and consultants to do transactions, as well as fiduciary duties. They also work with assets to maximize value and develop eco-friendly tourism activities. The advantage of being on the board is learning about the country's large construction projects and local opportunities efficiently. Additionally, working with local players, such as large investors and consultants, allows the board to build a network that allows them to understand data and the players in a relatively small economy.
    Managing and Motivating People
    Andreas shares his insights on the business world and the way things work. He explains that talented people, particularly project managers, can be difficult to unleash due to non-meritocratic and bureaucratic processes. For example, Greece's promotion system was purely seniority-based, based on degrees and years of service. However, this approach has led to a loss of motivation for people to go above and beyond. Andreas has learned the importance of thinking about reward systems and what drives human motivation. He believes that humans are rational and evaluative maximizers,

    • 49 min
    90. Shannon Frison, Marine and Judge

    90. Shannon Frison, Marine and Judge

    Show Notes:
    Shannon Frison joined the United States Marine Corps during her time in law school. She spent her second year at officer candidate school and became commissioned as an officer. After law school, she returned to Massachusetts, worked for a year at the TAs office, took the bar, and went on active duty with the Marine Corps. After serving at Marine Corps Air Station, New River, North Carolina, she worked for a litigation firm called Dwyer and Clora before opening a law firm. In 2009, she applied for the bench in Massachusetts and was appointed to the Boston Municipal Court. She then applied again to the Superior Court and was appointed to the Superior Court in 2013 where she stayed until 2024 when she retired from that position and reopened a law firm.
    The Decision to Join the Marine Corps
    Shannon was initially an athlete in college but later discovered the judge advocate program in the Marine Corps while taking a firefighters course. She found the Marine Corps offers a physical experience that is not sanitized or lighter training, and lawyers are considered line officers. They go through the full Marine Corps infantry officer training, which is the minimum required for being a judge advocate. Shannon shares her transformation from the Marine Corps to active duty service, stating that she was physically and mentally transformed. She learned about boundaries, limits, and how to lead people effectively. The training in the Marine Corps is designed to push individuals to their limits.
    Training in the Marine Corps
    One of the challenges she faced during her training was a 15-foot jump from a tower, which she struggled with for six months. Despite being encouraged by others, she struggled with this mental block and graduated late. This experience made her realize her weaknesses and strengths. She explains how she managed to overcome this mental block. Shannon's experience in the Marine Corps has had a significant impact on her personal growth and development. She has learned to appreciate her limitations and the challenges they present, and has been able to adapt and improve her skills throughout her time in the military. This experience has helped her become a better person and better equipped for her future roles in the Marine Corps. Shannon shares her experience of jumping off a helicopter after completing the swim qualification, which helped her overcome anxiety and mental anxiety. She also shares that her time in Harvard and the Marine Corps taught her that she would not always be the best at everything, as she met many outstanding individuals in those environments.
    A Career on The Bench
    Shannon talks about her time as a judge, where she applied to the Bench through an application process. The Massachusetts system of selecting judges mimics the federal system, but it is an application process. People may recommend applicants, and applicants must fill out a long, dramatic application that asks for every detail in their life and legal life. She explains the rigorous vetting process for applicants before they reach the governor's desk, where they meet with their lawyer for further vetting. Once the governor nominates them, Congress and the governor's counselors confirm their nomination to the bench. If they get their seat and commission on the bench, it is a lifetime position and they don't need to do it again unless they go to another court.
    Explaining The Difference between Courts
    Shannon discusses her experience working in the Boston Municipal Court and Superior Court, two different courts in Massachusetts. The Boston Municipal Court and district courts handle a variety of cases, including criminal, restraining orders, traffic tickets, and small claims matters. She states that all cases begin in these courts. The Superior Court is a court of general jurisdiction, handling more serious matters such as rapes, robberies, and murders. Judges must do both civil and criminal trials, with each session lasting thre

    • 51 min
    89. Anastasia Fernands, Patent Litigator

    89. Anastasia Fernands, Patent Litigator

    Show Notes:
    Anastasia Fernands has been practicing law since graduating from NYU. She started practicing in Boston at Hutchins, Wheeler and Dittmar, which was the oldest continuously running firm in Boston at the time. Anastasia has since moved to New York and now practices at Quinn Emanuel. Anastasia’s career primarily focuses on intellectual property litigation, particularly patent litigation since the mid to late 90s. At that time there were two schools of thought on patent litigation: technical people who understood technology and those who were litigators by trade. There was a shift for litigators who weren’t necessarily experts in technology to be more involved in patent litigation.
     
    The Initial Stages of Patent Litigation
    Patent litigation starts after someone has received a patent from the patent office. If the patent owner thinks someone is infringing, they might reach out in a friendly business manner, send a cease and desist letter, or immediately file a complaint. Litigation begins when a complaint is filed, and sometimes even a motion for preliminary injunction is filed to try to enjoin the competitor from selling the accused infringing product. Depending on the jurisdiction, there are local patent rules in many jurisdictions. Once the complaint is filed, there is an answer, a scheduling conference, and, in jurisdictions that have patent rules, a number of specific deadlines. The preliminary phase involves exchanging information about how to interpret the patent, exchange documents, take depositions, and have expert discovery where experts give their opinions on infringement and invalidity, as well as other issues.
     
    Statutory Damages Limitation and Prosecution Latches
    In patent litigation, damages are limited by statute to only six years before filing of the complaint. Prosecution latches is based on delay in patent prosecution. If a party continues to file follow on applications with the patent office, prosecution latches could kick in,  if they get new claims 10-12-15 years into prosecution. [AF1] 
     
    A Discussion on High-profile Litigation Cases
    Anastasia talks about her involvement in Samsung versus Apple and Apple vs. Samsung. Her role was to be a member of the team in various trials and appeals, and she was on the team from the beginning of the case through trial for one of the Northern District of California litigations. Anastasia also shares her experiences in pharmaceutical and biologics cases, highlighting the challenges of patent law. She discusses Section 101, which determines whether a patent claims patent-eligible subject matter. Invalidity can occur due to the nature of the subject matter, such as if something is naturally occurring or a law of nature. The bargain between the patent office and patentee is that the patentee must advance the art to obtain exclusive rights for their invention. A patent must provide adequate written description and sufficient information for a skilled person to recreate it. Anastasia reflects on her understanding of the world and how it has changed over the years as a patent litigator. 
     
    Misconceptions about the Patent System
    Anastasia discusses the misconceptions people have about the patent system, particularly regarding the concept of patentable ideas. She explains that just because an idea is great doesn’t mean it meets all the requirements for statutory patentability. She discusses the difference between trademark, copyright, and patent, and the different types of intellectual property rights each covers. Anastasia cites the Supreme Court case of the Myriad, which revolved around a link between the BRCA gene and breast cancer. She also discusses the concept of section 101, which determines whether a subject matter is patentable. Section 101, concerning not patentable subject matter, has been a hot topic in law over the last 10-15 years. As advancements in science and the human genome continue to link specific genes to

    • 35 min
    88. Brett Janis, Principal at Strong Bridge Advisers

    88. Brett Janis, Principal at Strong Bridge Advisers

    After Brett Janis left Harvard, he worked as a journalist in Southeast Asia and later attended Georgetown University's Masters of Science and Foreign Service program, which introduced him to the International Affairs world. After a stint in Egypt, Brett joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1995, where he focused on economic issues related to the Southeast Asia crisis, including issues related to banks and financial markets. He left the CIA just before 9/11, which was a critical moment in his life. He went back to Asia and started a business which dealt with finances for family offices. 
    Brett returned to the US in 2005 and went to Columbia Business School, where he managed money for a family office with an international focus. Since then, he has been doing finance and consulting, working for PWC, McKinsey and the Treasury Department under Obama's second term. Brett joined the Financial Stability Council as a senior analyst during a time of financial system regulation. He also reconnected with Tim Geithner, who was one of his first principals at the CIA. Brett currently runs a private Wealth Management Practice called Strong Bridge Advisors, LLC, based in San Francisco. 
    Working at the CIA
    Brett talks about his interactions with Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, two influential figures in the Treasury. Geithner was part of the committee at Treasury, which focused on social stability and risks that had not yet been faced and not just economics. The remit at that time was to understand the impact of a banking sector crisis on smaller Asian economies. Brett had his most critical briefing with Larry Summers in 1998, where he brought valuable insights from his deep knowledge of Southeast Asia and Thailand. He believes that the role of an advisor is to bring insightful information, listen to other views, and he states that a lot of the  quality policy decisions are made through authentic dialogue and respect for different perspectives. Brett goes on to explain why he was comfortable with the processes and structure of the role at that time. 
    Working at McKinsey vs. CIA
    As a former associate partner, Brett compares the approach of the CIA to McKinsey, both with a reputation for intense cultures and intellectual horsepower. While the CIA  dealt with serious issues, such as life-threatening issues, national security and social stability issues, Brett believes that both prioritize risk-awareness. He mentions that people at the CIA have more seniority and dedication to the issues they are passionate about because their sense of public duty to the government is higher than for employees at McKinsey.  In conclusion, Brett's experiences with the CIA and McKinsey highlight the importance of maintaining strong relationships and being creative in risk-taking and decision-making.
    Setting Up an Investment Advisory Practice
    Brett discusses his decision to set up an investment advisory practice after becoming a CFA. He began managing money and private capacity for family office clients at Columbia Business School, working with people who were friends and retired from different government agencies and services. He completed a value investing program at Columbia and brought this skillset to his company. Brett felt that larger institutions often didn't provide the same attention to clients as they needed, and industry pressures were often not in clients’ best interests. His company, Strawbridge, cuts through this clutter and focuses on the investment process, serving the best interest of his clients. The practice provides skills in tech investment, good value investing, and understanding macroeconomics.
    A View on Relationships
    Relationships play a significant role in Brett’s career. Many former friends and associates have become clients. He enjoys building relationships with people who have helped him or who he respects and has maintained relationships through personal changes, geographic changes, and stress situations.

    • 23 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
18 Ratings

18 Ratings

SJW19 ,

A gift to our class

Thanks to host Will Bachman for seeking and sharing the stories of our 1992 classmates - fascinating and authentic sharing.

Mather Alum ,

A Real Class Gift

A tremendous service for the class of 1992. Really enjoyable interviews. Thanks Will.

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