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Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman

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The best startup advice from Silicon Valley & beyond. Iconic CEOs — from Nike to Netflix, Starbucks to Slack — share the stories & strategies that helped them grow from startups into global brands.

On each episode, host Reid Hoffman — LinkedIn cofounder, Greylock partner and legendary Silicon Valley investor — proves an unconventional theory about how businesses scale, while his guests share the story of how I built this company. Reid and guests talk entrepreneurship, leadership, strategy, management, fundraising. But they also talk about the human journey — with all its failures and setbacks. 

With original, cinematic music and hilariously honest stories, Masters of Scale is a business podcast that doesn’t sound like a business podcast.

Guests on Masters of Scale have included the founders and CEOs of Netflix, Google, Facebook, Starbucks, Nike, Fiat, Spotify, Instagram, Airbnb, Uber, Paypal, Huffington Post, Twitter, Medium, Bumble, Yahoo, Slack, Spanx, Shake Shack, Dropbox, TaskRabbit, 23&Me, Mailchimp, Evite, Flickr, CharityWater, Endeavor, IAC and many more.

120 Episodes
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"This was like 1918, 1929 and 1968 in one week," says Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. With the pandemic, economic crisis, and civil unrest all coming together after George Floyd's death, Walker found himself flooded with calls from CEOs struggling for how to respond. Walker's advice mixes clear-eyed messages — denying the trauma borne by communities of color is no longer option — with optimism about the opportunities ahead. At the Ford Foundation, they've accelerated giving and even exceeded their own KPIs. With more leaders dedicated to making a positive impact, he says, the wind is changing, for people of color and for America.Read a transcript of this episode: https://mastersofscale.com/rapidresponse/Subscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
Startups are audacious. They’re big. They’re world-changing. But you can’t achieve scale on day one. Sometimes the best way to achieve that monumental success tomorrow is to take a teeny tiny step today. This is what Charles Best did when he founded one of the world’s first crowdfunding platforms, DonorsChoose. For 20 years, the nonprofit has been helping public school teachers get funding and supplies for classroom projects and it all started with just a handful of projects in the Bronx, where Charles was a public school teacher. Now it funds thousands of projects in all 50 states, raising almost a billion dollars in the process. Charles did it by adeptly creating a flywheel that matches for donors and grantees, allowing them to connect directly with one another, and doing it all one small step at a time. Cameo: Stephen Colbert.Visit DonorsChoose.orgLearn more about US campaign funding laws: https://www.fec.gov/introduction-campaign-finance/understanding-ways-support-federal-candidatesRead a transcript of this episode: https://mastersofscale.com/charles-best/Subscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
A surprisingly candid and upbeat interview on the industry hardest hit by the pandemic. Delta saw seat bookings fall to less than 5% of normal, had 40,000 employees go on unpaid leave, and raised $14 billion in funding – all to withstand a cash burn that still stands at $30 million a day. To rebuild traveler trust, Delta CEO Ed Bastian has enacted a slew of new safety standards, including capping flight loads at 60 percent and using hospital-grade HEPA filters on board – in fact, Bastian contends there's not a safer time to be on a plane than right now. He's also sped up forward-facing company initiatives, like phasing out less-efficient planes, building out airport terminals, and installing better wifi. Bastian acknowledges there will be fewer planes in the sky in years to come, but he believes Delta will come out of the pandemic as strong and essential as ever.Read a transcript of this episode: https://mastersofscale.com/rapidresponse/Subscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
Every great founder has a second purpose — something outside their main business they're trying to get done in the world. And every successful company is like a Trojan Horse, carrying this second purpose forward. No one knows this better than Robert F. Smith. You may know him for his legendary Morehouse commencement speech (in which he promised to pay off the student loan debt of the entire graduating class), but Robert's scaling success and philanthropic work go far beyond that. As founder, chair, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, Robert finds profound ways to serve both his business and his second purpose — liberating people to reach their true potential — at scale. Recorded live at Summit LA 2019.
What can your business do right now in the struggle against racism? More than you think, says Shellye Archambeau, former CEO of MetricStream, now a board member at Verizon, Nordstrom and Okta. She returns to the show with her all-too-rare perspective as a Black woman at the top of some of the world’s largest businesses. The struggle is a marathon, but businesses are uniquely poised to demand accountability and transparency from their communities. Whether you're a CEO or a citizen, Shellye has heartfelt and hard-earned wisdom for us all.Learn more about Shellye’s upcoming book Unapologetically Ambitious at unapologeticallyshellye.comFollow Shellye on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ShelArchambeauRead the full transcript of this episode at mastersofscale.com/rapidresponse
Forget writing that business plan. Design an experiment instead. So many products and companies fail because the assumptions in their beautiful business plans were just wrong. So stop writing and start testing. No one knows this better than Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup and founder of the Long-Term Stock Exchange. After his first product failed, he developed a new method of product design based on running small, fast experiments, measuring the results, and learning from them. It’s a system built on data, not assumptions, and it works with almost everything, from app development to airplane design. It starts with establishing your own measure of success — then experimenting, improving, and trying over and over again. The feedback loop never stops.Learn more about the Long Term Stock Exchange: ltse.comLearn more about The Lean Startup: leanstartup.coRead Eric’s blog, Startup Lessons Learned: startuplessonslearned.comListen to Eric’s new podcast, Out of the Crisis, on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/out-of-the-crisis/id1505392824Read a transcript of the episode: https://mastersofscale.com/eric-ries/Subscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
GM is now reopening auto plants, after shutting them in March, temporarily reducing pay for 69,000 employees, and making a fast pivot to produce masks and ventilators. But with the killing of George Floyd, things are hardly back to normal. Chair and CEO Mary Barra speaks to her “profound feeling of sadness,” but also to her optimism that the country and her company will bounce back. Though there is work to be done, says Mary, we're poised for transformation.
How do you 👀find new markets when your old ones stall? How do you stay agile when your team is overwhelmed? And do constraints always lead to creativity — really? In this Strategy Session recorded in the height of the global pandemic, Reid fields smart questions from six entrepreneurs with Village Global, an early stage VC that’s backed by some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.
BuzzFeed audience is at record highs. But the pandemic's economic effects have crushed the bottom line. BuzzFeed co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti shares how his company is making hard decisions to build long-term stability. “But the transition is painful,” he says. While BuzzFeed is leaning into food vertical Tasty, new e-commerce habits, and BuzzFeed News, he worries that businesses like his don't have more resources to support staffers of color. But, he says, there's a clarity of purpose in crisis, in bearing witness to the things that are happening in the world.
New graduates 🎓are like entrepreneurs — standing on the edge of that cliff, ready to build their own plane and fly. But what if the blue skies and calm winds disappear? In a commencement speech for 2020 graduates — and anyone embarking on something new — our host Reid Hoffman says: Be optimistic. Be bold. But most of all, steer toward the opportunities emerging in this new world. How do you find them? Cultivate a network of people smart, curious people. This network creates a map of the world. And at uncertain times like these, you’ll definitely need that map.
"Being the first to close is one thing. But I don't want to be the last to open,” says iconic restaurateur Danny Meyer in his second Rapid Response interview. After shutting his iconic New York City restaurants, laying off 2,000 staffers (with hopes to re-hire) and returning a $10m PPP, Danny finds himself reconsidering nearly everything about his business model. Even before the coronavirus lockdown, the restaurant industry had a slew of “preexisting conditions,” Danny says. Now those weaknesses have become exposed, putting at risk the future of hospitality — one of America’s core industries. Danny’s Union Square Hospitality Group is reimagining what and HOW their restaurants serve; rethinking how they generate revenue; and exploring new cost structures, like a bold new relationship with landlords. It’s all in the hopes, says Danny, of getting back to business, with customers safely at their tables, and the teams back together.
Since One Medical’s IPO in January, CEO Amir Rubin has been forced to constantly adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, as healthcare needs, expectations, and behaviors shifted. From telemedicine to Covid-19 testing, One Medical has leaned into existing advantages to scale quickly: standing up respiratory care clinics and testing centers; revamping virtual and in-person visits; vetting labs and data. One Medical is now helping other businesses identify new practices to safely bring employees back to work. If you have a consistent platform and mission, explains Amir, that operating system can be applied to even fast-changing environments.
Crowdsourcing is more than a group of people interested in the same cause, it’s a way to tap skills – and scale – that you don’t have. And when it works, it can be the rocket fuel that launches you to scale further than you could have ever imagined. No one knows this better than Luis von Ahn, founder and CEO of Duolingo. Duolingo is a language app with over 300 million users worldwide, who complete over 7 billion exercises a month. It’s their passion for learning that drives them to create even more content for the app – igniting the rocket fuel that Duolingo needs. Cameo appearance by Elizabeth Sampat (game designer and author). 
"It's like getting hit in the face over and over and over,” says Warby Parker co-CEO Neil Blumenthal. But “crisis brings out clarity.” At Warby, planning for the future has meant leaning into the present — from physical changes in their factory and stores that ensure social distancing to optimizing online vision tests. Blumenthal shares the complex factors they consider in deciding which stores to re-open and when, and relates the human challenge of inspiring their on-the-ground factory employees — at times of increased risk. For Blumenthal, it's all about recognizing new priorities (safety) and fitting them into ongoing strategy.
In Part 2, Angela arrives at Apple, which feels like another planet after her years in fashion. In never-before heard stories, Angela shares how she learned the language of tech (the physical store is the ‘hardware’; the experience inside the ‘software’), then introduces innovations that change the face of Apple retail, from an app (The Loop) that let store managers collaborate to the landmark “Today at Apple” program, building community through free classes inside each Apple store. Throughout, Angela shows her team, through words and actions, that each person matters, and that they're all a part of something much bigger than themselves. Cameo: Eric Trigg (Trigg Ranch).
Data streaming, videoconferencing – even phone calls are way up at Verizon amid Covid-19, as digital interaction steps in for IRL. But boom times don't mean easy times for CEO Hans Vestberg, who moved over 100,000 employees remote in two weeks. As coronavirus hit and pressure on the Verizon network skyrocketed, Vestberg split his leadership team in two: one to deal with the specifics of the crisis and one to focus on pursuing present-and-future business goals. From new customer initiatives (like free bandwidth and FIOS-in-a-box) to future bets (like the acquisition of video conferencing service BlueJeans), Vestberg has championed that meeting customers' needs today – even if not fully compensated for them – will pay off for the business tomorrow.
The Apple logo. The iconic Burberry check. These images inspire loyalty of customers and employees alike. But it takes more than a beloved brand to power a company and motivate a team. No one knows this better than Angela Ahrendts, former SVP of retail at Apple, and the former CEO of Burberry. Angela has spent most of her career learning how to imbue those logos with meaning – and support them by down-to-earth, everyday, human connection. Why? Because to unite a team – especially one that’s large, global and dispersed – you need to turn them into mission-driven families.
In sports, everyone has an opinion on every hire, every trade, every price change. That’s the reality – and also the privilege, says Scott O'Neil, CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. When the NBA dramatically shut down its season MID-PLAY, O'Neil's life changed in a very public way. He has faced new leadership challenges that include missteps, like the decision (and sudden reversal) of cutting employee salaries, and discoveries, like knowing it’s ok to tap out when you need to recharge. With no players on the court or fans in the arena, O'Neil is shifting his focus on what the new era of sports and entertainment can look like. 
In the Covid-19 storm, treating hospital patients requires constant iteration, creative information-sharing, and worst-case-scenario planning. Dr. Bon Ku, an ER physician and director of the Health Design Lab at Jefferson University in Philadelphia, takes us inside the practice and mindset required to perform under extraordinary pressure. He offers on-the-ground business insights we can all learn from, as he looks toward the future and reflects on a possible second wave of infections and the faulty incentives in the medical system.
Will the U.S. run out of food? Can the world's food supply chains survive coronavirus? Sara Menker, founder and CEO of Gro Intelligence, which parses 650 trillion agricultural data points daily, shares eye-opening insights based on real-time facts. Learn about the hidden forces that impact what we see on shelves -- and why we might be worrying about the wrong things.
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Comments (104)

jordan thielman

The commercials of this episode were better than the content.

Jun 30th
Reply

Jordyn K

w3 w 2

Jun 16th
Reply

Mack Bawden

Reid! You said my name wrong but I still very much appreciate the shout-out! Let me know next time you're in Salt Lake or at Sundance and want to come push a wheelchair with my nonprofit. Thanks for being such a great mentor!

Jun 14th
Reply

Mack Bawden

Reid you said my name wrong! it's Mack! But I so appreciate the shout-out. Come push a wheelchair with my nonprofit the next time you are in Salt Lake, or at Sundance for that retreat you do!

Jun 14th
Reply

F

Pretty disingenuous to report this as if Buzzfeed is dying from anything other than crap partisan journalism written by 19 year olds and marketed to 25 year olds for a decade. This site was cancer and so was everyone else attached to it, including this podcast for even considering that there might be another reason for its failure.

Jun 10th
Reply

seyed hesameddin beheshti shirazi

pod

Jun 6th
Reply

Regina Burkhart Graham

Love love love Verizon! Amazing job, always, and especially during this pandemic!

May 21st
Reply

Martin Shaw

Where is part 2?

May 17th
Reply

Celia Fauth

kz j no w not uu manipulation

May 15th
Reply

Celia Fauth

again

May 15th
Reply

Abeye Duguma

Brilliant! Very informative... wish it were longer... deserves another invite Bob. Thank you Sara.

May 9th
Reply

JJ Burnam

Nancy ... you're not in the catastrophe business, you're in the healing business, a worthy growth industry.

May 1st
Reply

Calvin Kim

what a loveably cringy and hilarious intro 😂

Apr 28th
Reply

Sachin Garg

one of great interview. thanks for this

Apr 21st
Reply

Kris Moe

I hope the tides change to honor the worker. They've been unrepresented for too long and this pandemic may help us see the value of their work.

Apr 3rd
Reply

Mack Bawden

I consider Reid a personal mentor from this podcast. I'm very inspired by the leader interviewed, she's very reassuring and trustworthy. This episode was a little sloppy with pings and background noise.

Apr 3rd
Reply

Nicolas Andre Guaiquin

omg! so annoying the music. I see a lot of work being put on this podcast, but I only wanted to listen the interview. Sorry, but a 20min interview turned in what? 1hr 1/2. I think they would do and amazing job creating material for kids, but for me it was way too much.

Mar 24th
Reply

chaitanya mehta

would be pretty cool if Reid didn't speak at all so that we could listen to the speaker. Feels like the speaker has a colouring book with boundaries that he needs to fill colour in!

Mar 15th
Reply

Okamifan1 Productions

Never subscribed to this trash. Dont need notification #garbage

Mar 9th
Reply

Mark Jacobs

🏥🐗

Mar 2nd
Reply
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