309. The Future of Softbank and Vision Fund 2, Creative Monetization of User Growth, and Why VC’s Missed on Zoom (Nagraj Kashyap)

Nagraj Kashyap of Softbank joins Nick to discuss The Future of Softbank and Vision Fund 2, Creative Monetization of User Growth, and Why VC’s Missed on Zoom. In this episode we cover:

  • Walk us through your background and path to VC
  • How do you think through horizontal, vertical, or geographic expansion and when the right time is to do so?
  • You were an investor in the first institutional seed round in Zoom. Any thoughts on what other VC’s missed at the time?
  • How do you evaluate an investment opportunity? 
  • What key things are you looking for in a consumer startup? 
  • How do you consider fitting the right monetization to the right business and market? 
  • What current and upcoming trends are you monitoring closely in Ecommerce?
  • Last week, news came out that Sequoia is moving to a single, evergreen fund model with both public and private holdings. Who benefits most from the new structure and will other firms follow suit?

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Transcribed with AI:

Nagraj Kashyap joins us today from San Francisco. Nagraj is Managing Partner for Softbank Investment Advisers, which is manager to Vision Fund 1 and advisor to Vision Fund 2. He has made investments in Go1, Vuori, City Block Health and Clearco amongst many others. Nagraj, welcome to the show!

Thank you, Nick. Look forward to it.

Yeah, it’s exciting to have you, sir. So can you walk through your background and your path to venture capital?

Yeah, absolutely. I do call myself an accidental VC. So I started life as a software engineer out of school in Austin, going to UT Austin. Finished my master’s in computer science, and then did some programming for about four years before I realized I wasn’t that good at it. And there were a lot of folks better at it. So I moved into a business setting after my MBA, which I got in Kellogg, and then joined a consulting company called prgm. Where I enjoyed the work greatly PR team is now part of PwC, I had a really good time, and I got exposed to what I would call, doing different things and solving different problems at a pretty rapid clip, because we were doing a client work at very, very different industries, every three to six months. I really enjoyed the work. What I didn’t enjoy was essentially me traveling to the client. And so I decided to seek a career path where I could do interesting things and people came to me for the most part. And so I then went to Qualcomm and became a founding member of the Qualcomm ventures team landed in San Diego. And then you know, since then I’ve been a VC first at Qualcomm ventures. And then after growing that for about 13 years, I switched to start out M12, which is Microsoft’s venture arm. And then most recently, in February of this year, I joined the Vision Fund.

So talk us through that decision to join, you know, how did you make that choice? And what’s your focus there?

Yeah, absolutely. So I think the while I think most folks know me from M12, which is my most recent experience, where I did mostly software investing, the first 13 years of my venture career at Qualcomm were primarily consumer. And you know, there we found that companies, like ways where we like to be around we did companies like Fitbit, we did Xiaomi in China, and a number of other consumer names, and then you know, I switched to tm 12. And for the most part, what I did there, I did software, looking at essentially the end employee and how software could basically improve his or her productivity or bring some clarity and frictionless work experience to employees. So I viewed them as a customer as well go on one of my investments, a simple example of that, I can go through it in more detail afterwards. And then when the Vision Fund came calling, I’d developed a good relationship with folks at the Vision Fund or my time in control, because some of the companies that I had done at an early stage, division funded, then funded and had done well for them. And when they came calling, I was like a great opportunity for me, not only one of the best and biggest tech platforms, investing platform, but also now I could go back to my roots on consumer and still do software, because there’s, there’s a lot of convergence, it’s not separate, these worlds are not separate anymore. And so that’s how I landed up here, I get much bigger VC platform, I get to do consumer, my kids now finally recognize the companies I do again, they used to when I was at Qualcomm and the lost track of it at Microsoft, and now they say, I know what I know that what that means what they do. So that’s great.

Awesome. I know it’s still pretty recent, but you know, what’s it like working with some of the All Stars like masa and Rajiv and Ron and the rest of the team?

It’s been, at least for me, a blast. And I think you always feel that you’ve spent so much time and you can’t learn anything. And it’s the opposite. You know, it’s one thing I learned at Microsoft was having a growth mindset, which is always being a learner. And coming to Softbank, I’ve learned from all three of them. I mean, they’ve had such varied but also long experience in many different areas. I think Softbank Vision Fund folks forget it was a path breaker in this now, now, very common world of large rounds and Softbank pioneered that. So every time I go in front of masa, Rajiv, Ron, you know, I think I learned something new from their past experiences. They’re pretty good at figuring out what has worked and what has not worked in the past. They’re self aware, which is, I think, a really important trait. And so I’m learning in many cases as to what I should be looking out for, in some of these companies. Very No, look, I’ve done a lot of investing in my time, but I’ve not seen everything and so having another perspective for myself has been very, very helpful.

Now, what do you all think about sort of the state of growth investing, you know, you’ve got some of the earlier players moving weight. And then we have many non-traditional sources of finance coming in from the public sphere, or, you know, corporates or various other players, you know, how do you think about positioning and, you know, maintaining an edge at the stage that you invest?

That’s an excellent question. And I think, in some ways, capital is on its way to becoming a commodity. And then what do you do? So you have people left in the business, I think what you optimize for is people. And I think one of the things that at least, I have had success in my career is building these long term relationships, which transcend fund to fund and transcend companies, where there is a sense of trust in not only doing right, by founders, but also doing right by the VCs that come before you. So I think that has helped, at least me personally, basically, able to say, look, it’s not like, our 200 million is substantially better than somebody else’s 200 million, but you are dealing with people here and you want somebody who can be there for you in the inevitable times when things are not always up to the right. And you know, afford and hockey stick, right. But then also leveraging soft banks, amazing reach, I mean, many of our companies, you know, yes, there is a good personal relationship. But also they picked us because they want to expand into Japan, for example, they want to have a deal, or work with the many telcos that Softbank is involved with, they want to sell into our portfolio companies which have 300 plus have, I mean, I have repeated the story. But you know, I think one of my founders basically told me “Look, I just do all of the next quarters quota, just by selling it to portfolio companies used to make the introductions.” And so I think this is a combination of all of these, but our life is still a people business to a large extent. So while winning good deals, you do need to have good people on your side. And I think that’s sort of the culture that we’re trying to build, which, you know, obviously, leveraging our capital, leveraging the platform connectivity, and then sort of marrying it with really good people.

You know, Nagraj, you mentioned growth in helping companies unlock growth, you know, I found one of the most difficult conversations with the companies that are scaling is when to pursue what type of growth, whether it’s vertical expansion, horizontal expansion, geographic expansion, getting the type and the timing, right, is a challenge. How do you think through growth opportunities for your companies, and when to activate different types of growth or different geographic expansion?

I think every company struggles with the growth stage, you’re right, I think it is so different from company to company, I would argue that, you know, some of my companies in my portfolio, can keep going at it in the US and not have to go anywhere outside from a geo perspective, because the opportunity set is pretty large already. I think, in other cases, it does make sense to expand, if you think you have really nailed all the unit economics, you’ve got the product market fit. And then I think you have this expansion opportunity where if you don’t do it, then somebody else will. And that comes down to a little bit of making sure the founder doesn’t lose focus, the team doesn’t read focus. But we also don’t give up an opportunity that is ours for the taking. It is a nuanced discussion, at most points, I will tell you that, you know, some founders don’t have what I would call international competition, they don’t have an equal and somewhere else, and they can take a little bit more time to nail down their home country, where, you know, I think I was also investing so many times out of countries like Israel, I mean, a lot of my successes in Perl came and actually waves came out of Israel. And there you have to be, I would say global from day one, you can’t think of your home market, which is very small. So you have to sort of day one thing, okay, this is just like a proof of concept. And then I need to sort of expand to get real sales outside the country. So it is very, very specific to the company, the kinds of things they’re doing the competition set. And then you know, at some point, the capital availability as well, I think, VCs are not giving you capital, so you can put it in a fixed deposit account. But that doesn’t also doesn’t mean you burn capital. It is as balanced, which is I think the difference between great founders and great companies and things that sort of don’t necessarily have escape velocity.

Nagraj, is it more difficult to scale geographically or expand geographically in a consumer startup than it is in an enterprise?

In some ways it can be because when you’re expanding geographically and consumer startup depending on whether you need credit Mass, I think it can be hard. I think I go back to the example of ways where they got critical mass in Israel very quickly, it’s, you know, it’s a smaller country. But getting critical mass in the US was a long process, because almost like geo by Geo, I mean, when I say God, it’s like Southern California, northern California. And so that actually can be a challenge. But ultimately, you can’t have that as one of the advantages, once they have critical mass, then it does become easier to have a much wider user base, which is a requirement for an engineer startup, I think you need to have that bigger consumer base. So I do think it’s, it’s probably harder, but you have to just do it at some point in time, otherwise, you’re just going to be a small company, if you don’t have a base that sort of extends beyond, there’s also cultural differences, language issues, which may not naturally lenders lend itself to your product, what may be very, very good in in the US may not be that good in Western Europe, except maybe the UK, or some any speaking countries. And then it will almost never work like, for example, in Southeast Asia, in India, or China, it may just not work at all, because it’s a very, very different market. And you need a local startup. So it’s kind of very hard. And I think on the flip side, enterprise software startups can actually sell because, you know, some of those issues or problems they’re solving are fairly universal, from a b2b perspective. And they don’t have the same challenges of localization, because you have to localize but you don’t have it as no, culturally, this is a very different product. It’s not most of the time you can actually sell outside your home country. If you’re a b2b startup.

I’d love to talk more about how you select startups to invest in and then maybe a good place to start. You know, I understand that you were an early investor in the first institutional seed round and zoom. Any thoughts on what other VCs missed at the time? 

Yeah that’s, that’s an interesting story. I think what we see is missed, and I think this is where it is very situational. I was running Qualcomm splinter group, one of the things that we had a unique experience, and I’d seen it was early days of the smartphone, and how hard it was to have complex applications running on this on this device, which today is, you know, has more compute horsepower than any of the laptops or things we used 10 years back, but at that point in time was fairly resource constrained in terms of memory in terms of compute. And that was very much an insight I had because I was at Qualcomm ventures at that point in time. So when I met Eric and team, I will also tell you that, you know, I told people he was I was not the first port of call for Eric, that was probably the eight or nine that for every VC that he had met had turned him down. And when we met him, he just did a product demo. And the product demo he did was video conferencing across a smartphone at that time, which is like a really early smartphone, laptop and a tablet. And when I saw that I was just completely blown away. So how seamless it was, it was a product that I never seen work like that across multiple constrained devices. And we were used to using it at that time, whether it’s telepresence or WebEx and things like that, and we knew first hand how clunky the experience was. So I think that what the VCs at that point missed was just context, they felt that, you know, there already were enough video conferencing tools, it was not like, Zoom was the first one. And I think they failed to appreciate how hard it was to build what Eric was building. And the fact that he had this one big advantage, which was he was starting not from any point he was not taking something on and building on it. He was building it from the ground up. So he could optimize for video in a way that others had not been able to do in the past and for connectivity, and that he had seen these new devices come on board that consumers should be using. So I think that was the missing context. And basically, the pod demo was so good. And I think we were just blown away, frankly speaking. And we made a commitment very quickly after that.

I remember using in corporate America, I remember using WebEx in the late aughts, early 10s. And this is a high paid platform and software program. And even within an organization and under the VPN, you know, device, the device there. It seemed like one out of every three times there were just problems.

It was terrible. And I think it looks like it’s also the similar story of most founders there, which is Eric wanted to basically do this under Cisco, because he sort of saw that there was a new wave coming he could do it better. He knew the issues with however it came from there. But of course, as with any big company, as well as any good, big company, they said, No, we don’t have to do it. And you know, I think that was his cue to say, Let’s go do it outside. And I think, of course, that took courage, he could have just basically stuck around there. And you know, he was pretty comfortable. And then I think he built something from the ground up, which really blew us away. So to your point, it was so clunky at that point in time to use anything within internal teams, let alone with outside folks.

That rush just taking a step back, can you give us a sense more generally, how you evaluate potential investment opportunities?

Yeah, so I think most of them, I would say, over the last, probably five years, maybe even the last three years, a lot of VC investing has shifted to focus a little bit more on cam. And I think the one of the reasons to focus on tam versus the micro in the current is, digital transformation has really been pulled in. And especially the last two years, we’ve all seen this. So the assumption is you will find product market fit if you have a good product, but you have to be playing in an area that has a really large TAM. And as long as that’s the case, then you can basically try to then bet on the market leader. And the market leader is defined differently based on a category that might have a few years on it, or a category that’s just emerging. So I think for us, we are especially focused on either emerging or current market leaders in areas with large Tam, where there’s not necessarily a single winner. Most times there’s multiple winners, but you still want at least back what we think is the winner with the newest or the most current tech stack that has the most momentum. So I do think there is still we all look at the same metrics and all that. But I think we are coming to a point where, since there’s so much capital, we have to assume that these companies are going to grow fast and that they’re growing at rates that are much faster than what we’ve seen, even five years back. And I think if you ever come to this question, people keep focusing on valuations and I keep focusing on Yes, valuations are growing fast. But look at how fast these companies are growing, what growth would have happened in five years is not happening in two years. So it’s somewhat natural that valuations follow as well. It’s not like folks are just describing valuations, companies are growing slower. Everything has been pulled forward, companies are finding product market fit much faster. And I mean, we are seeing acceleration to having just seen that kind of growth and kind of companies come into the market in two years, grow from zero to like, basically double digit millions, where you know, you’ve taken like four or five years to get there.

Is there anything specific to consumer startups that’s different from enterprise that you often look for?

Well, I think the difference, whether it’s consumer, what I would also classify as software startups and SMB is, it’s easy to get your first few customers because essentially, the sales cycle, whether you’re selling to a consumer to an SMB, is quite fast, there’s always the early adopters that you will get, and then the contract sizes, whether you’re selling to an individual or you’re selling to an SMB or smaller, but then main challenges, these consumers or SMBs, may not stick around, the churn is high. So while you sell into an enterprise, that is sticky revenue, I think, you know, you call it Arr, some consumer companies will say, I have got Arr, we really don’t have Arr, as a consumer startup, you may have some form of recurring revenue, but it’s not sort of something where you can put in the bank every year. So, the consumer startup has to be this enduring value proposition that keeps the consumer in your sphere without a contract, there is no actual contract with consumers, typically speaking, they want you to engage them and you know, what the product is, has to be solving a real need. And the real need could be to entertain them, improve their productivity, help them connect with others, this variety of a human needs that this sort of have to tap into. But that human need has to be enduring and not fleeting. Because if it is fleeting, then you know, you will not have Arr, you will have a lot of churn. And I think that’s the key difference that we see is you can be very quick out of the gate. But then how sticky are your consumers? How much does it cost acquire them, all of those things are, I think more important for a consumer startup, then company that’s sort of selling into enterprise where for the most part, if your product is good, you got PMF you know, you’ll get a sticky, at least a one year contract. In many cases as you grow, you get three year contracts. So the revenue predictability is much better on the b2b side.

Right? Yeah, we’ve seen that as well. Nagraj, you’re known for your skill in monetization approaches. How do you consider fitting the right monetization to the right business and market? In? Can you talk us through maybe an example or two of how you helped a founder think through, you know, the right monetization strategy for their business?

Yes, I think there’s probably monetization in both, I would say, product led growth companies in the enterprise. And there’s also just pure consumer companies. And I think if you, if you take a couple in recent memory, I think you’ve got a company like Kahoot, which I did in attempt 12. It’s selling into the edu sector. And basically, the kind of growth they had was somewhat similar to what zoom had in the enterprise sector from a conferencing perspective. And Kahoot, we always had this question, like, we’re seeing a ton of user growth, but how do you monetize it? And I had two kids growing up, and both reason codes in the classroom, I mean, Kahoot becomes somewhat like a, we’re just like you say, they hop on a zoom, you know, you sort of build or make a Kahoot. It’s a quiz based learning mechanism. And every time we had this conversation, you know, we sort of basically came down with, let’s not try to monetize this current mechanism by which you’re getting basically user love, you use it and send student love, and actually, teacher love, which support is important for basically having this being sticky. What we ended up doing there was we started adding products to the core portfolio, which then we then monetize to the same user base, we picked a company that was selling what I would call helping you do better at math equations. And then that was a product we monetized. But we already had sort of the user base to go after so many times, what Kahoot ended up doing, and you know, what, the story is always different with different companies . We chose not to hinder the growth because it was becoming this global worldwide, you know, global brand. And you talked about this, you know, this is one company that transcends the value of geography as a company based in Norway. And obviously, that’s not a big enough market for them. But you know, their biggest markets clearly in the US, but also Australia, and so many other countries, it was a very natural tool for students and teachers to engage in. So it really grew organically. So instead of trying to stall that growth, because monetization always has the option, we decide to monetize differently. In that case, in the case of ways, again, it was very different, we decided, actually not to monetize there at all. Because the idea was to build the end product, which is mapping, and use the consumers to help build that along the way with leverage, they were helping ways build a mapping product, instead of having cars driving by every week or so trying to map things out was such a scalable approach. So early monetization would have been very counterproductive. And I think, coming back to zoom, I think everybody sort of now knows the story. But the initial discussions were really, you have this product, which had a 45 minute time limit, you have a free product, X number of users, you get an option. At some point in time, the person who signed up for zoom has their boss on the line, and the meeting is 44 minutes, and you can’t have that meeting drop, and you have the conversion to premium going right there. So it was this one thing which monetization is built into the part, it was not like an afterthought. It was like built into the product. And so there’s so many different ways of doing it. And I think if you do it wrong at the wrong time in your growth cycle, then you’re just going to basically destroy all the value built. So every company is different. But having seen a few of these go through. It’s fascinating that there’s no one approach that works. But the good news is, at least I think I’ve seen, I’ve learned stuff that I shouldn’t be doing or shouldn’t be telling foreigners to do. You always have those stories where things didn’t work out. And I think you can build those into the new ones that you know we’re working on.

I’m curious, you know, you’ve seen many companies that have had tremendous success, you know, as they hit the growth and the scale phases. I’m sure you’ve also seen some that have gotten stuck in the mud or have had trouble getting that line to go vertical, you know, as it just kind of grinds out incremental growth. Are there any common threads in the businesses or the profiles that struggle to really hit that exponential growth curve versus those that Excel?

There’s, I think I’ve seen more than my fair share of failures. I think as a VC, if you don’t have failures, we’re not taking enough risk. So I think clearly, we don’t talk about the failures as much as successes because nobody wants to hear about the failures. But many times The ones that stall out, you know, I think, also come back to what the underlying growth drivers were. And if, as a company, you really understand those, and then are able to optimize and expand on that, pour gas on that or not. I’ve had situations without naming companies where we’ve seen almost exponential growth that then stalled out. And one of the reasons is, the teams basically lost track of why that growth happened. And whether it really happened because users love the product, and were engaged with it. Or it happened because there was an algorithm change on a social media network that basically popped your app to the top of the list. And then users just engaged with it didn’t really necessarily like it, but kept seeing it in the feed, and you got a lot of engagement. And then basically, it Petered out when the algorithm changed again. So there’s cases like that, where if you don’t fundamentally understand your product, and the applicability of the consumer, that you will basically at some point in time lose. So a fair bit of companies that fell into that trap, essentially, look, my app is doing good on number on the App Store. While you’re only that, because you’re writing on the backs of some algorithm that then is changing, you know, it’s we’re also guilty, because you all get stuff wrong, get basically saying, hey, this company is going really great. You’re all by the hype. And then you know, I think when it falls on dirt, you just realize that it really didn’t have any stickiness, folks didn’t actually like it or engage with it. So there’s this little bit of that, on the on the software side, on the enterprise side, this happens also, this definitely happens where if you know, if you’re in a product lead growth motion, which I’ll call zoom to be a plg motion, which you know, you get adoption from the, the bottom, and then it sort of goes there. That only happens if you have true love for the product. Otherwise, it doesn’t happen in enterprise and people you know, sort of adopt it and buy it. And there is some organic movement that when you sell top down, you then have to make sure that your first 234 reference accounts were not essentially a selection bias, you just selected them correctly. But it was not a horizontal product. We’ve seen companies where their first product had massive adoption on the software side in a sector. And it happened. So because they had product market fit in that sector, it did really well. And then they went to a different sector and completely fell flat. That’s a mistake that I’ve made myself in backing a company where you know, we thought, hey, look at this, what we didn’t do was try and see if this was truly horizontal, or it was only applicable to one sector. And this actually nothing wrong in vertical software. Vertical software is a very big area, we just funded a company vertical software as well. But that means that you have to a priori understand that your team is in this category. And then you fund accordingly. And that’s great, because if your company essentially is the dominant player in a category that’s vertical, you’re fine. It’ll be a very large company, it’s fine. But if you fund it, as if you are funding a horizontal company, with their use value proposition does not transcend from one sector to the other. That’s when you end up making mistakes. And that’s when companies also end up making mistakes where they just see the success in one area as like this is great. I can just take from pick a sector to another section all transcend

Last week, news came out this coil is moving to a single evergreen fund model with both public and private holdings. Lots of clickbait article titles out there like Sequoia is blowing up the 50 year old financing model. I’d be curious to hear you know why? Why do you think they made this change?

Look, I really hate speaking on behalf of other VC firms. But you know, I think if you look again, I mentioned this earlier, three, four years back, there was probably some articles along this line toward Softbank Vision Fund was doing Vision Fund one was doing and I would say structurally speaking, if I look back, the changes that happen because of Vision Fund one are probably, you know, more far reaching, I mean, the whole market is completely changed, because the fund model had not changed until Vision Fund came up. And when they did first it was met with that’s the wrong model. And then it was met with I have to do the same thing. And basically now you’re seeing almost every early stage VC having a growth vehicle, more like you just said, non traditional investors coming into the growth stage. So I think if you want to see some structural change that happened, I’m a Vision Fund. One actually ended up helping with a structural change what Cisco has done and I think what I’m showing are some other VCs are considering, you know, might have that change, but I don’t know. I mean, it’s access to capital at the end of the day. And the realization that at some point in time, you need to have capital for every stage of the business, and just being limited to one stage of the business is not sufficient. And so how do you then raise capital at a rate that nobody’s seen before, and be able to satisfy every stage of the company? And so you might have seen some announcement for seed funds that are half a billion dollars? I mean, if you, if you think, how do you even spend a half a billion dollars and how to deploy half a billion dollars in seed startups, those are all things that I think we’ll see the results of these next few years, probably too early to tell. But every time somebody says, everything, you know, is getting blown up, I’m always like, let’s wait and see, I do think Vision Fund did actually end up blowing up the model in a different way, I think, in a positive way, for founders. Now, if you talk to any founder, he or she can basically build a large company with far less dilution than they will have to take five years back. And that’s primarily because you’re getting access to large amounts of capital with less dilution. And so that has been a positive permanent change in the VC industry. I wouldn’t say all VCs like that, but it is a change. And from a founder perspective, it’s a great change. For them. I can build a company with, you know, let’s say 15% dilution versus like a 30-35%, or sometimes 50% dilution I’d have to take. So that’s really changed my mind.

Nagraj, this question is called three data points, I’m going to give you a hypothetical situation with a startup. And you can ask three questions for three specific data points, let’s say your approach to invest in a growth stage consumer subscription startup, the company is based in San Francisco, the sector is consumer health and wellness, they have 50 million of ARR. And they’re growing 15% month over month. Again, the catch is you can only ask three questions for three specific data points, in order to make a decision with three questions. The

First of all, Nick, can I ask you which company that is, because I’d love to invest in that, but otherwise, stepping back, I think from a consumer startup perspective, you want to really understand, I’m going to ask, you know, what’s your LTV to CAC? How are you acquiring these customers? What’s their value? I want to understand the gross margin profile. And I think third, I want to understand what historical growth looks like. So those three should be sufficient for us to make a call. Given that, I don’t like to ask startups a question that I can do on my own. So these would be ones that I asked them, but we have to do a ton of work on making our own hypotheses on what’s the TAM for this one. I mean, are the count competitions all of those things that we should be able to do on our own without wasting startups time? So again, asking these specific questions to make sure we understand their business as it applies to big or small, large time competition, all that should be sufficient?

If it’s the same question, but it’s an enterprise business, instead of a consumer, do the questions change?

The question changes from typically, you know, you look at more on the net retention side, and that’s basically saying, Hey, are you not only selling but able to expand into accounts? Would you know, that covers churn as well. So there’s a very sticky metric to ask about. I don’t think, you know, you necessarily asked about LTV to CAC as much because you know, it’s not the same. But overall, the rest of the questions I think are similar. I mean, there’s probably one more layer of questions you ask friend press out of, but I would say enterprise startups have become fairly standardized in terms of metrics. You can also argue that some startups on the enterprise side actually know what metrics VCs are asking for. And so you can either back solve, or you can basically say, look, Lisa, I know every question you’re gonna ask because there’s such standardization, here’s how I rate and so it’s become a little bit, I would say standard to to be able to evaluate an enterprise startup from their own metrics, because these metrics are very well published and very well known.

Nagraj, if we could feature anyone here on the show, who do you think we should interview and what topic would you like to hear them speak about?

See, I mean, I think I would pivot towards getting a really good pounder on the pitch. Now look, I’m a little biased. If you asked me I would say if you can get Eric, get Eric to speak. He is like an amazing story. Step in stepping into two different startups but you also can choose from many others in what we have done. We’ve got companies like outreach which Manny Medina is the CEO of. He’s a really good story of coming here from Ecuador and basically having extensive corporations and then building outreach to be now close to no. I think the last one is four plus billion. So there’s a number of companies of founders like that that have great stories that have seen some mostly successful and also seen failures that I think I would recommend more of that then people like me, so my bet would be It’d be my recommendation 

Nagraj, what do you know you need to get better at?

I need to get better at reading a lot more. So I think I lost the ability to not basically have the time to read, given how caught up I’ve gotten with my day job. But reading has always given me new insights and I feel like I need to get better at developing new insights. Our word you can only be successful if you can keep up with what’s going on but We tend to then latch on to what I would call near term in the moment clickbait like you just mentioned, for a news, but there’s so many lessons to be learned from stepping back and reading about whether it’s how companies have, what lessons you can take from successes, failures, other problems that startups can solve. I mean, I give the example of this book, American sickness, recently. So how broken the healthcare system is, as in you get some first hand perspective. So I need to do more in depth, I need to get better at more in depth, reading and internalizing those more so than clicking on every blog that I come across. 

Well, any final words of advice for the founders out there?

I would say you know, it is just for the founders out there, I think it is really the golden age, you have so much capital chasing after your ideas that I think, be selective. Pick good people, because while things may be going well, today, you know, there’s always a time when things get harder. And you know, the people around you are the ones who will support you and take you through ups and downs. And I think it’s so important. And this is still a people business until the time comes when a big brain somewhere will do our job.

Finally, here, Nagraj, what’s the best way for listeners to connect with you and follow along with Softbank Vision Fund?

I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. So I think that’s the best way to connect with me and follow along. We always post and I just posted another exciting company. We found it today called Zen business. So please follow me there.

Very good, sir. Well, thank you so much for the time today for telling us more about your plans at SoftBank. And you know, best wishes.

Thank you, Nick, and good luck with the show.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai