Direct listings, the Pomplianos killing it, a flying indoor camera / drone, Gaby's instructor or Naval, and more.

Sup people! In between classes the past few weeks (and during classes 😂), we've found some awesome content that we want to share with all of you. Hope you get a chance to check some of these out :)

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We have two types of newsletters:

  1. Long-form interviews with leading founders, operators, and investors. These are released every Monday. (Check out: Jeff Moris Jr. (Chapter One)Ashley Brasier (Lightspeed)Domm Holland (Fast), Sam Altman (OpenAI), and Anu Hariharan (YC))

  2. Curated content that our Team found interesting and relevant for our subscribers. These are released every other Friday. (This newsletter is an example)

Hey everyone 👋,

Welcome to the October 9th Edition of What We’ve Been Following (WWBF), our bi-weekly newsletter highlighting some of the newsletters, podcasts, blog posts, tweets, startup news, and more that our Team found interesting over the past few weeks.

If you missed the last Edition of What We’ve Been Following, released on September 25th, you can check it out, below (huge thanks to Lukas for putting that one together!).

WWBF 9/25/20

As always, you can find us on Twitter @_TheTakeoff.

(Today’s What We’ve Been Following newsletter is written by Michael.)

First… what we’ve been up to

The Takeoff is still young. We’re experimenting a lot, trying to nail content (our newsletters and podcasts), and can worry about letting this thing takeoff (pun absolutely intended) later. I wrote a short blog highlighting where The Takeoff was as of August, you can check it out, here: Experimenting with The Takeoff. We’ll also be releasing an update through The Takeoff’s newsletter in the coming weeks (keep an eye out for that 😁)! But, a super, super quick update first:

Recent Interviews

It’s been a busy few weeks here at The Takeoff. Since I wrote my last WWBF newsletter (on August 28), we’ve released 7 interviews (5 newsletter; 2 podcast) and two What We’ve Been Following newsletters, all while adjusting to college life during COVID. You can check out our last few interview releases, below:

If you haven’t already had the chance to check out these interviews, I highly recommend giving them a look. Anu and Saam share amazing advice related to investing, and Sam shares incredible insights related to just about everything.

What the team has been up to

Lukas, Roshan, and I are all undergrads at WashU. Lukas and I are both in St. Louis for the semester — though Lukas has been traveling around the Midwest with some of his high school buddies the past few weeks. Roshan chose to take all his classes remotely this semester, so he’s out in the Bay Area, though he is coming to St. Louis to visit next week. It’ll be the first time the three of us have been together since last December!

While Zoom and FaceTimes are fun, I’m super excited to brainstorm in person — hopefully, we’ll come out of next week with some awesome new ideas for The Takeoff! If anything is on your mind, shoot us a DM on Twitter (@_TheTakeoff). We love hearing from you guys :)

Onto What We’ve Been Following


Podcasts 🎙

  1. We usually try to give a few podcast recommendations in our What We’ve Been Following newsletters. This week, we’re trying something a bit different. If you’re looking for advice from others about good podcasts to listen to, you can find a ton of recommendations in the responses to Harry’s tweet.

  2. Dave Portnoy on The Pomp Podcast. Barstool founder Dave Portnoy (aka El Presidente) recently joined Anthony Pompliano on his podcast, The Pomp Podcast, to discuss the history of Barstool, how he thought about the recent sale of the company, his launch into the world of stock trading, bitcoin, and more. Portnoy holds nothing back in this episode. It’s both an entertaining and enlightening listen.

Twitter 🐦

  1. Good things take time to build. Revenue growth of Bleacher Report prior to being acquired by Turner in 2012.

  2. Naval or Gaby’s Peloton Instructor? Our awesome Contributor Gaby Goldberg started a “new series” on Twitter the other day. I found it quite amusing — just hoping she continues the “series” moving forward!

  3. Kevin Durant, the billionaire? Joe Pompliano has been tweeting some cool threads recent relating sports and business / economics. This recent thread on KD caught my eye. The Pompliano’s are making a splash in this week’s WWBF (props to them for the awesome content and insights!).

Articles, Newsletters, Blog Posts, Etc. 📝

  1. Ring’s flying security camera. Former Shark Tank reject Ring, which Amazon acquired for north of $1B in 2018, is creating an autonomous drone security camera. The Always Home Cam (as Ring plans to call it) will cost $249.99 and will have the ability to fly around “inside your home to give you a perspective of any room you want when you’re not home.” Frankly, I don’t see the need for a product like this, personally, but it’s a cool concept and an awesome use of technology in the home.

  2. Spotify founder, Daniel Ek, is investing €1B of his fortune in “moonshots.” Ek hopes that his commitment will help provide European founders with access to capital, who otherwise would have had a tough time raising capital. The capital will focus on deeptech projects, and Ek hopes to make Europe more compatible with the US in terms of funding and the number of “super companies”. Excited to see this play out and love the initiative!

  3. Cameo is turning “D-List Celebs Into a Monetization Machine".” Here’s how. Cameo’s strategy of targeting the long tail of celebrities is paying off. In the words of Cameo’s founder Steven Galanis, “The contrarian bet we made was that it would be way better for us to have people with small, loyal followings, often unknown to the general population, but who were willing to charge $5 to $10.” However, all good things have some faults. In 2018, a group of white supremacists used Cameo to get celebrities to say coded anti-Semitic messages. This is a situation Cameo is closely monitoring and they will hopefully develop a concrete process to prevent similar incidents moving forward.

More … 💡

  1. Social Cooling. The feeling that we are being watched online is limiting people’s desire to take risks and exercise free speech. People are beginning to change their behavior to conform to algorithms. This is breeding a society where self-censorship and risk-aversion are the new normal. Public awareness is still very low, but it will be interesting to see how this idea of “social cooling” continues to develop moving forward.

  2. Direct Listings. Last week, both Palantir and Asana went public via direct listings. A number of notable technology companies have gone public via direct listings in recent years (in addition to Palantir and Asana, Spotify and Slack come to mind). I’m curious to see whether or not a major shift comes in the near future as to how companies prefer to go public. Successful direct listings of major technology companies, and a recent rise in SPACs, suggests that these alternatives to the IPO are becoming increasingly popular. Will this trend continue long-term?

    • BONUS: if you want to learn more about Asana and Palantir, check out Mario Gabriele’s posts Asana and Culture as a Moat and Palantir and the Chaos Dance from The Generalist. We’re big fans of what Mario is building with The Generalist. In these two posts, he breaks down Asana’s and Palantir’s S-1s, their markets, their products, their leadership teams, their business models, and more.

Additional reads: Funding galore for delivery startups (Instacart raises $200M at a $17.7B valuation, goPuff raises $380M at $3.9B valuation), NY- and LA-based Greycroft raises $678M across two new funds (shoutout David Kwon!), Shogun raises $35M, the feeling of product-market fit (Lenny Rachitsky).


Product Recommendation: WHOOP

I recently got a WHOOP for my birthday after hearing my stepbrother and countless athletes (shoutout Justin Thomas) rave about it. For those who don’t know what a WHOOP is, it is essentially a wrist-band that monitors and tracks fitness and sleep. It requires literally no effort to maintain and works wonders in tracking your performance. When I drink alcohol or don’t sleep well, my WHOOP allows me to see the direct impact on my health. When I’m stressed, I can see clear differences in my body’s recovery and performance, too. I’m a huge fan, and you should be too.

WHOOP is HQ’d in Boston and has raised over $100M from investors such as Foundry Group and Two Sigma Ventures. While it has a pretty hefty cost ($30/month), you get a free month for joining and a free month for each friend you refer. WHOOP can also (sometimes) help you know if you have COVID (see how)!

I am becoming increasingly interested in products that help us live better, healthier lives, so if anyone has recommendations for additional things to try out, shoot me a note :)

(If anyone wants a WHOOP for yourself, shoot me a DM on Twitter or respond to this email, and I can send over a referral code.)

That’s all for today’s Edition of What We’ve Been Following!

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