Mike Vernal on "The Market Curve," Lenny Rachitsky, Supreme gets acquired, Turner Novak on TikTok, and more.

Sunday reads and listens (What We've Been Following [November 15, 2020])

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Hey everyone 👋,

Welcome to the November 15th Edition of What We’ve Been Following, 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, published on October 30th and written by Lukas, be sure to check it out, here.

In case you missed it, we recently launched a Telehealth podcast series. Make sure to check out the podcast series if you haven’t already, and stay tuned for more episodes:

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

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



Quick rundown of today’s newsletter:

  • 2 Podcasts 🎙

  • 3 Tweets 🐦

  • 4 Articles, Newsletters, Blog Posts, etc. 📝

  • 4 ‘More’ 💡


Podcasts 🎙

  • Behind the Paywall with ‎Lenny Rachitsky on Village Global's Venture Stories. Lenny Rachitsky, former PM turned newsletter writer, recently joined Erik Torenberg on Venture Stories. Lenny and Erik talk about a bunch of things related to Lenny’s Newsletter (in particular Lenny’s recent post on bottom-up SaaS metrics), product management (including when to hire you first PM), SaaS, how to increase retention / improve product, and more. The episode is just under an hour long and is definitely well worth the listen :)

  • Eoghan McCabe, Intercom Founder, on 20VC. In this incredible episode on 20VC, Eoghan and Harry discuss having a chip on your shoulder and building ideals for who you want to be. Some of our takeaways include:

    • Don’t just identify yourself by what you do (i.e. If you’re a venture capitalist, don’t just tell people, “I’m a VC.” If you’re a founder, don’t just tell people, “I’m a founder”).

    • Having a chip often comes from not believing you are enough.

Tweets 🐦

  • More Lenny! If the podcast above wasn’t enough and you want some more content from Lenny, here are some of his takeaways from running a newsletter.

  • DoorDash’s S-1. I’m a huge fan of DoorDash and its CEO and founder Tony Xu. DoorDash released its S-1 earlier this week — something that made me super excited! Check it out, here. The tweet below highlights some just one of the amazing things DoorDash has been able to accomplish recently.

Articles, Newsletters, Blog Posts, Etc. 📝

  • Mike Vernal (Partner at Sequoia) wrote an excellent blog post called The Market Curve in which he explains a simple way for founders to think about market size. It’s crucial for founders to understand their market and market size shouldn’t just be calculated based on a simple Google search, such as “Market size for X”. This was my personal favorite read in the past few weeks because of how much I learned from such a short read. Some of our takeaways included:

  • Former Takeoff guest Sam Altman talked with Elon Musk three years ago about what he would work on if he was 22. Elon says that anything with value to society (even a game or small app) is worth working on — it doesn’t need to be world-changing. That said, the three things Elon thinks are most likely to affect humanity are: 

    1. AI

    2. Genetic medicine

    3. Brain integration/enhancement products

  • How VCs See Your KPIs. This is an old post from NFX GP Gigi Levy-Weiss on the importance of KPIs, how VCs know when founders are serious about KPIs, guidelines for developing KPIs, and more.

  • What is Ant Group? Ant Group has been all over the media recently since its anticipated IPO got blocked by Chinese regulators. For those looking to learn more, in-depth, about Ant Group, I highly recommend reading Mario Gabriele’s entire post. In it, Mario discusses Jack Ma (Ant Group’s founder and the founder of Alibaba), how and why Ant Group was able to gain significant market share in such a short period of time, and much more. For those who just want some key takeaways, don’t worry, we’re here for that too :)

    • Ant Group (formerly AliPay) has been able to gain significant market share due to going after a massive market with a ton of room for innovation. Whereas many people in China did not previously have access to proper banking and wealth management, Ant Group essentially created a digital wallet for many and brought with it a ton of other opportunities, too.

    • Ant Group is massive! Ant offers a variety of products and solutions, from credit to insurance to much more. The size of Ant’s user base gives the company significant leverage, helping “squeeze supplier margins”

More… 💡

  • Turner Novak takes TikTok. Gelt VC’s own Turner Novak has been making some hilarious Tik Toks. If you’re on the app and interested in venture or public markets, I highly recommend giving him a follow. This one was one of my favorites.

  • Supreme gets bought. VF Corp, which owns Vans and The North Face (among other brands), will soon own Supreme. The deal was worth $2.1B. VF stock jumped 17% from this news, its biggest jump in 33 years.

  • Nuro hits $5B valuation. Nuro, an autonomous delivery startup founded in 2016, recently raised $500M in its Series C, valuing the company at $5B. I am fascinated by Nuro as I think it’s interesting that they’re tackling driverless delivery as opposed to the usual autonomous driving.

  • Ezekiel Emanuel. I recently saw that Joe Biden will be putting Ezekiel Emanuel on his COVID-19 advisory board, which made me revisit one of my favorite reads of all time: Why I Hope to Die at 75. In this controversially titled essay, Emanuel makes the argument that “society and families — and you — will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly.” This essay really got me thinking about how I want to spend my time and money as I grow older, and more broadly about our healthcare system.

Bonus (another great read from NFX): The Network Effects Manual: 13 Different Network Effects (and counting)


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

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