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Acquired LP Show

Author: Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal

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Every company has a story.

On the Acquired LP Show, we join the next generation of expert founders and investors — those whose stories are being written in real-time. We go behind the scenes on their journeys and bring back emerging insights and lessons that are useful for anyone in the startup ecosystem.
67 Episodes
We sit down with Jeremy Cai, the CEO of new retail pioneer Italic, for a fascinating discussion of how they're upending the traditional manufacturer-brand-retailer model by taking the opposite approach of earlier DTC startups. Rather than elevating brand and cutting out retail, Italic cuts out the brand and lets the actual manufacturers (who you've never heard of but who make most of the actual products that J. Crew, Everlane, etc sell) market and sell direct to customers. Sponsor: Thank you to Tegus for being our first presenting sponsor for the Acquired LP Show! This is a new experiment for us and we're super excited to have them as our first partner. Tegus empowers Corporate Development teams to make decisions smarter and faster by pairing the highest quality user-generated content and data with best-in-class technology. Tegus expert calls are recorded, transcribed, and uploaded to the shared platform for all their customers to read or listen to. They are the only company in the world that aggregates qualitative information on private companies from seed-stage to pre-IPO. They’re trusted by many amazing investors and companies around the world like JFrog, Spark, Thrive, Redpoint and more. You can learn more and get a free trial at and just tell them that David and Ben sent you when you get in touch!
Originally broadcast live on New Years Eve: we raise a glass (of coffee haha) and recap 2021 with our besties Mario Gabriele from the Generalist and Packy McCormick from Not Boring. Thank you for making 2021 an incredible year for all of us at ACQ, NB + TG, and may 2022 be filled with great things and grand adventures for us all!
Last month, Ben sat down with Wesley Chan at Web Summit for a quick, 18-minute interview. The conversation was supposed to be about global investing in 2021 as an early-stage VC, but the conversation turned mostly into the origin story of Wesley's (unbelievably good) seed investment in Canva. Wesley's firm Felicis Ventures invested pre-revenue, leading the seed round, and Canva is valued at $40 billion today. Wesley dives into the details (and why he invested in the first place!) in this interview.
Today we're excited to have a longtime friend of the Acquired family on the LP Show, Rob Meyerson. Rob was the President of Blue Origin for 15 years, and today is an investor and advisor to space industry startups. Ben recorded this interview live at the fantastic aerospace industry conference, ASCEND, where Rob is the Executive Producer. In this interview we cover: How Blue Origin started, and what it was like in the early days (spoiler: they weren't yet building rockets!) Rob’s experience working directly for Jeff Bezos What’s changed about SpaceX since May of 2020, when we did our Acquired episode on the company Rob’s theses about what sectors of commercial space are poised for growth in the next few years
Ben and David go on "This Week in Startups" with Jason Calacanis for a holiday special!  Discussion includes: - Talking TWIST and All-In this year with everything from politics to weight loss to private jets - Acquired's year and some of Ben and David's biggest insights from episodes - VC, valuations, and crypto investing mechanics - Use cases for crypto, and trying to get Jason (a skeptic) excited - Carveouts: our favorite books, podcasts, and TV shows from this year Note: we are publishing this simultaneously in the paid LP feed and the public feed since it is already available in the public TWIST feed.
We are very excited to bring you a special LP interview with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Aside from Joe's well-known work as a Golden Globe-nominated, Emmy-award-winning actor in films like 500 Days of Summer, Inception, and Looper, Joe is also the founder of  HITRECORD, a startup which brings creative collaborators together across film, music, books, and more. Ben sat down with Joe to discuss: The creator economy’s focus on the finished product vs. the creative process, and how he thinks about this at HITRECORD The state of the film and TV industry today, amidst the shift to streaming platforms and tech companies as primary distribution channels What it has been like on set playing Travis Kalanick in Showtime’s upcoming “Super Pumped” Thanks to our good friends at Fika Ventures for setting this conversation up!
The title says it all. This feels weird to release by Acquired standards -- an hour of audio with zero research! -- but we wanted to check in with y'all and say hi from parental leave. Topics covered: - Update on Dad Life - Ben's new MacBook Pro - Discussion of Acquired's approach to doing video / YouTube
We sit down with Adam Jackson, the cofounder and CEO of Freelance Labs, which builds the incredible Web3 project Braintrust. (Disclosure David is an investor via Kindergarten Ventures.) We talk all about what a marketplace looks like in Web3, and why it's a completely different animal than traditional Web2 marketplaces like Uber, eBay, DoorDash, etc. Prior to starting Braintrust, Adam was the CEO of Doctor on Demand, so has literally lived both sides of the table. Tune in for a FASCINATING discussion of everything that crypto / tokenization enables, and why it's such an exciting shift that unlocks massive, $000B+ opportunities like Braintrust.
We sit down with Roneil Rumberg, the cofounder and CEO of Audius — the decentralized music platform which currently is likely the widest-adopted Web3 project in existence with over 6m active users. This conversation was AWESOME, and covers everything from Silicon Valley history, to how the music industry works, to the technical aspects and challenges of building a Web3 project today. Huge thank you to Roneil to joining us, and we're looking forward to hearing more from Audius on Acquired in the years to come!
Earlier this week David went on Levels' podcast, A Whole New Level, hosted by Acquired "Super LP" and Levels' head of growth, Ben Grynol. We had such a blast that we wanted to share here with the community as well! Full show notes from Levels below: When most companies start, they are single-threaded companies. More specifically, companies start with one product or revenue stream and evolve. Amazon is a great example of a company that has built an ecosystem. The company started as an e-commerce site for selling books, and now has a number of inter-related businesses that make up the entire Amazon ecosystem. Netflix is an example of a company that started as a single-threaded company – (a platform for viewing video content) – and has, for the most part, remained that way since its inception. As we build Levels, we often think about the way that our company will evolve – will it be an ecosystem for health, or will we remain focused on monitoring glucose? In this episode, David Rosenthal, (VC and Host of Acquired Podcast), dives deep into what it takes to build an ecosystem around a company.
Confused about everything going on with The Fed, inflation and how it affects tech and startup valuations? Or why it seems like every Jerome Powell comment brings out an army of finance's equivalent of fortune tellers and tarot card readers? So were we, so we called up the best person we know to explain everything -- Matt McBrady. Matt may be the only person who's been an academic economist, worked at the US Treasury, run a massive hedge fund AND helped start and sit on the board of two very successful startups, aQuantive and Axon/TASER. Tune in for a crash course in everything you need to know! ‍ Links J.P.'s Never Gonna Give you Up Follow Matt on LinkedIn to see his posts or connect with him for consulting, board opportunities, etc For more on Matt’s academic work, check out his UVA faculty webpage
We sit down with Initialized Capital's Kim-Mai Cutler to talk about her opposite journey from us at Acquired, going from journalist to VC. We riff on how the landscape has evolved from Kim-Mai's parents' "Hewlett Packard generation" in the Valley through the TechCrunch era that se was a big part of, to today and how the nature of reporting, investing and influence -- the intersection of the two -- has changed.
How on earth do you professionally manage a crypto investment firm? That was the question we wanted to find out, so we dialed up one of the best in the business: Multicoin Capital cofounder and managing partner Kyle Samani. Appropriately fresh on the heels of our Solana special episode (Multicoin was one of Solana's earliest investors), we dive into how in a few short years Kyle, Tushar and the team have built one of the largest and most well-known dedicated crypto funds on the market. We cover Multicoin's three crypto "mega-theses", how they've structured the firm across both a venture and hedge fund, and the dynamics of managing capital and running a firm in the new and fast-moving world of crypto investing. Links: Multicoin's crypto mega-theses: The Block: Kyle on Twitter:
Ben interviewed Initialized Capital founder and friend of the show, Garry Tan at Collision Conf last month. Garry is of course also a YouTuber, Clubhouse'r, and master of content creation. The good people at Collision Conf gave us the thumbs up to share this interview on the value of owning your own media stream with all of you.
We're joined by Oliver Sharp of Highspot, Seattle's most recent unicorn company (at least at the time of recording!), to talk about how and why to architect everything a software company does around its customers — what today is often called "customer-led growth" — but really represents a company building philosophy that runs much deeper. Oliver has serious software cred: he first joined Microsoft in 1984, and then later became part of Bill Gates' famous "TA" staff after Microsoft acquired his first startup. The conversation was *fantastic* and we owe a huge thank you to Oliver for sharing his decades of learning by doing with us. Make sure you don't miss this one!
We got *awesome* feedback on the recent special episode we did with Levels founder Josh Clemente -- so we asked Josh if he'd join for a follow-up Q+A session on our next LP Call, and he graciously agreed!  The conversation was so good we decided to release the audio recording in the LP feed. (In addition to the LP Drive as always -- the video recording is linked there.) Thanks again to Josh and the Levels crew, and we hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did live!
When the internet’s top China tech analyst Lillian Li posted a great Twitter take (linked below) on our Meituan episode, we knew we had to try to get her on the LP Show to tell us all more. What’s really going on with these platforms on the ground in China, what is the government’s role in all this, and why is Meituan’s outlook “rosy, but maybe not quite as rosy as we painted on the episode”? Thanks to the magic of the internet, a few Twitter DMs later and voila — not only do we have this awesome episode with her, but a new friend and collaborator on hopefully much more Western - China tech crossover content to come! Links: Lillian’s Chinese Characteristics substack: Lillian’s original Twitter thread after the Meituan episode: Our original Meituan episode:
The very cool (and also very hot! you can read about their recent funding rounds from Benchmark and Altimeter) fintech startup Modern Treasury recently asked if they could interview us for their internal "Coffee Break" series of fireside chats. We agreed, on one condition... that we also get to interview them and share with Acquired LPs! The result was a match made in Acquired interview heaven. :)  Links: Modern Treasury:  MT's Journal: 
Emergence Capital's Jake Saper returns to the LP Show to talk 2021 "state-of-SaaS" and Emergence's Deep Collaboration thesis. We cover how Figma changed the game for embedded collaboration within work tools, and why this theme represents a deep vein that Emergence is investing behind with companies like Ironclad and Jake's latest investment in Maze. Plus we cover the impact of the Zoom investment (undeniably one of the greatest venture investments of all time) on Emergence as a firm, and why investing in your partnership through coaching, peer groups and simply prioritizing dedicated time together is just as important after big successes as before. Peer group resources Jake recommends for entrepreneurs: Enrich Pace 10X CEO Leaders in Tech
We team up with Mario from the Generalist and Packy from Not Boring for a something new: The Idea Dinner! We've been longtime fans of each others' work and, given all the buzz on Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces, decided to team up and run a little experiment: The Idea Dinner. Last night on Twitter Spaces we all got together and brought one beverage of choice, one public market investment idea, and one private market investment idea. Despite some technical audio issues... it was a blast! We're super excited to share the recording here with everyone who couldn't make it. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Stay tuned for more to come!
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First week of 2022

Jan 4th
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