Episode 102 / January 31, 2021

Jon Sakoda, Founder, Decibel Partners on Investing and importance of having a coach for early stage founders

39 min

Episode 102 / January 31, 2021

Jon Sakoda, Founder, Decibel Partners on Investing and importance of having a coach for early stage founders

39 min
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On our 102nd episode, we chat with Jon Sakoda, Founder, Decibel Partners, a Cisco-backed venture fund. Jon founded Decibel to push through the conventional boundaries of early-stage investing in SaaS startups.

After being an entrepreneur for a few years and working as a General Partner at New Enterprise Associates, Jon decided to set up Decibel Partners.

With Decibel, Jon’s vision was probably an industry-first approach to provide a way for entrepreneurs to get access to unparalleled resources at a time and stage when they need it most.

In this episode, catch Jon talking about pivoting as an entrepreneur, finding the right coach to guide you through your startup journey, and much more.

Notes –

01:39 – “I’m a recovering entrepreneur.”

06:29 – Pivoting and finding product-market fit

09:11 – Partnership with Cisco

13:20 – Leveraging strongholds of industry dominant LPs in the VC firm

17:20 – “What makes you great in getting you from 0 to 1, may not be great in getting you from 1 to 10 or 10 to 100.”

23:10 – Coaching for early-stage founders; for Performance and Efficiency

29:27 – Having an Advisor v/s having a Coach as an early-stage founder

32:30 – “You should be more conscious about who you want to work with, rather than, where you want to work.”

Read the full transcript here:

Siddhartha 0:00

Hi, this is Siddhartha Ahluwalia. Welcome to the 100x entrepreneur podcast. Today I have with me, Jon Sakoda who is the founding partner of Decibel. Decibel is an independent venture capital firm created in partnership with Cisco to push the conventional boundaries of early-stage investing. They are seed investors in, blameless, Censys, CMD, fyi, Inception ops, and Pachyderm. And Jon has been previously a general partner in new enterprise associates, that investments in early-stage startups in consumer internet and enterprise software sectors. Prior to becoming a VC, he was an entrepreneur and co-founder of IMlogic, serving as the chief technology officer and vice president of products through acquisition by Symantec operation. He was previously with Goldman Sachs in private equity, investing in software, internet, and communications. Welcome, Jon to the podcast.


Jon 1:06

Thank you. Thank you for having me.


Siddhartha 1:08

Joh, we would love to know about your journey and what things shaped you in your current role today.


Jon 1:14

Well, thank you for asking. I always like to tell people that I’m a recovering entrepreneur. So I started my first company when I was 24. If you remember before, there was Facebook and friends, there was instant messaging. And Yahoo, Skype. And in many ways, this was the precursor social media and the social messaging era that day. Yeah, messaging went from almost no users to 200 million users in 18 months, it was, at the time, the fastest-growing communications medium of all time. And when I was 24, I started a software company on top of instant messaging. We ended up coming up with a few great ideas for cool games and cool applications that would make instant messaging more fun and more interesting. But along the way, we actually ran into some challenges with companies like AOL, and MSN, and Yahoo, they didn’t always want us to build consumer based applications, they sometimes felt like that was inside of their strategic goal and not necessarily something that they wanted partners to do. And we had to pivot in many ways before pivoting was as common or as, as, as even conventional as it is today. And we ended up becoming an enterprise software company. So I think one of the more interesting things that I learned along the way in starting a company was just how hard it can be and how challenging it can be to initially have an idea and then to have to pivot into something. You know, in the first couple of years of our company, we certainly didn’t always feel like we had everything figured out. I think we ended up landing on a really good idea as, as our company progressed, we discovered that many people were using instant messaging at work. And when you use IM at work, you actually create a pipe between your company and the outside world. And back in 2003, and 2004. It was very important for people to protect themselves from viruses or attacks that might come in from the outside. And obviously, nobody wants their intellectual property or confidential information to be spread externally. So after about 18 months of looking around, we actually decided that we could build an instant messaging firewall, and we could stop bad things from coming in and stop good things from going out over IM. And that ended up becoming relatively successful business because a lot of financial services companies and pharma companies and media and healthcare companies, they all really wanted to allow their employees to use instant messaging at the time. But they certainly wanted to make sure that they could keep themselves secure and also meet their compliance requirements. So that ended up being our pivot, we ended up building this messaging firewall, we ended up in some ways, pivoting from a company that put fun into IM to being a company that took all the fun out of IM, but we’re eventually acquired by Symantec in 2006. I think many people ask me why I didn’t just immediately start another company after that. But as you might imagine, we, like many founders felt like it was a long road, it was not always an easy road. In hindsight, we, of course, remember all the thrills and all the upside, but my wife always reminds me that along the way, there was always some bumps in the road and moments where we felt like we were running out of money in moments where we felt like we weren’t quite going to make it. So I, I think I had a certain empathy for that journey. And it was one of the reasons why didn’t just jump in to start another company, but instead decided to work with some investors who I’d known for a long period of time at NEA( New Enterprise Associates), and I joined an NEA in 2006. And I was a partner there for 12 years.


Siddhartha 5:14

And Jon, you mentioned that you had a few pivots, like not one pivot, but a few pivots. How could you survive during that painful period?


Jon 5:26

Well, I would say in the beginning, for us, it always felt like we were pivoting. And I actually think this is quite common. I actually now don’t describe early stage product development as pivoting as much as I call it continuous improvement. Because I think it’s a more positive way of describing what is it a very natural process of, you know, finding product market fit. I think people think that product market fit is you sit on a whiteboard, and you design a product, you build it, and then you introduce it to the market, and people magically buy it. But I’ve come to believe that product market fit is really found by taking two rough stones and grinding them together. right one, one rough stone is your product, the other rough stone is the market. And if you can’t actually find product market fit, you create it by grinding, and eventually, you know, finding the ultimate fit between what you’re trying to do and what the market will need. In our particular case, we went into the market with a bunch of great ideas, thinking that instant messaging would be a widespread communication medium, which it was, but the industry dynamics didn’t allow us to create as many of the fun applications as we wanted to create. But it was, it was certainly the case that the market was looking for something that would protect users while they were using it. And so we you know, whether you’re lucky or whether you’re smart, or you know, whether you’re just, you know, have the capacity to continue to iterate we eventually found something that was really resonating with people. And I think in many cases, you just have to listen to the customer. And you just have to listen to where, where the market is moving. And if you can do that, then you can ultimately iterate or pivot or improve yourself to the point where you find product market fit. And so I always like to remind people that this is just a natural part of the early stage process. And I think some people maybe become impatient or they lose faith in themselves or even their teams or their technologies. But I think I think we should all remind ourselves that it’s just a natural part of the process. And but if you can continuously improve, you eventually will find something that fits.


Siddhartha 7:49

Jon, you choose Cisco as a partner, is Cisco the single LP in the fund. How is the partnership like?


Jon 7:57

Well, probably it is helpful if I tell you a little bit about how it came together. And then I can describe the role that they play, and the value that they add and how we’ve come together over the course of the last couple of years. So in 2018, I left NEA and I created Decibel in partnership with Cisco. My simple view on the industry is that we’re now in a very large and very diverse market in venture capital. founders have a lot of choices. And in particular, it’s important for founders to try to find investors that will create the biggest unfair advantages and provide the most value to their company so that they can figure out a way to find product market fit and to scale as quickly as possible. So in 2018, I think one of the great opportunities that I saw was to unbundle what I thought was the best of independent venture capital. So I had come from one of the oldest and largest and most storied venture capital funds, which has really taught me a lot about what was great about the business. And I also worked with some really amazing venture capitalists, firms like venrock Associates, which again, is one of the oldest and most traditional venture funds they were they were one of the early investors in my company. So I felt like I had some first hand experience with really great early stage work and I felt like that is still today. Some of the most important advice and insight and value that entrepreneurs need. They need great investors who are relatively seasoned in helping small companies become big companies. And I felt like that’s a really critical part of the venture model. But in 2020 I didn’t feel like that was enough. I felt like that’s just one of many things that you need. And in particular I felt for, for b2b software companies, software companies that you know, are selling primarily to other companies who have budgets and have priorities, to invest in software, I felt one of the most important things was getting access to customers. And as much as independent venture firms aspire to be great at doing that, I do feel like you need some specialization and you need some help in figuring out how you’re going to reach dozens, if not hundreds, if not someday, 1000s of customers. Not every company needs access to customers. So in healthcare or biopharma or in other industries, it’s maybe not the most important thing. Sometimes science is the most important thing. Sometimes product design is the most important thing. But in b2b software, in particular, access to customers is the most important thing. And I felt that Cisco really had a lot to offer in that regard. And they too felt like they wanted to find ways to unbundle the best of what they had, so that they could help founders at the very earliest stage. So we had a very common goal, which was we really wanted to work with founders at seed and series A and early Series B phase. So at the earliest phases possible, we wanted to engage with founders. And then we wanted to bring something that was differentiated and offered something unique that perhaps founders wouldn’t get if they didn’t have the size and scale and the resources of a company like Cisco. So in unbundling, much of what Cisco had to help early stage companies, we felt like we could create a unique offering. And we felt that the best of both worlds was possible if we created an independent fund that was founded by traditional venture capitalists that had experience wholly working with startups, because ultimately working with very, very early stage companies is its own unique experience and its own unique skill set. But we also really wanted to bring something unique that was different that a company like Cisco could offer. So we tried to unbundle the parts of Cisco, that founders would find really interesting and really valuable, like customer access. Cisco, famously has been one of the biggest b2b tech companies in the world for several decades now. And they have over 750,000 customer relationships. So it’s a very important partnership for us to try to unlock for founders. We do want to make sure that we’re always independent, we can always put founders first. So we have welcomed in outside limited partners who are not conventionally viewed as strategic investors, they’re generally speaking more financial institutional investors. And our goal is ultimately to invest in the best b2b software companies, and to try to serve them with all the capabilities and all of the early stage help that they might ask for, as if they were working with really any top tier venture capital firm,


Siddhartha 13:04

That’s a beautiful model. So, you’re saying Cisco as a deep partner, and one of the LPS in the fund so that all your interests are not just aligned with one LP, but you bring out best of their strengths. I think such venture funds at very early stage should be established. If somebody is not thinking of working within a similar model with Salesforce, you know, in b2b space, because Salesforce brings a different strength. If somebody’s wanting to invest in hardware startups, I think an early-stage investment firm with Apple would be wonderful. You have unlocked a new paradigm of venture capital, I must say, Jon.


Jon 13:50

Well, I think we’re all following the footsteps of others. So I think, you know, in almost every industry, there’s two ways to truly innovate. There’s bundling. And then, of course, there’s unbundling. I think, the venture capital industry over the course of the last 20 years went from being very small to being very big and largely speaking, the most conventional playbook in venture has been to bundle. And I think over the last 20 years, many people have tried to put the early stage and late-stage and sector diversity and geographic diversity all into one fund. And suddenly NEA was early in doing that, and many other big funds have done that. But I think that’s also created the opportunity for unbundling and re-bundling. So I think one of the great opportunities, when you’re trying to innovate and venture now, is to not wholly focused on the the innovating in the investing side of what we do, because I do think there’s now a lot of money and there are lots of ways to get money and there’s lots of ways to to invest in companies. So I do think that there is innovation left in that area. But I do think entrepreneurs now have a lot lots of ways to raise money. So I feel like there’s plenty of variety and lots of choices there. But I think there’s tons of room left on innovating on what we do to help companies. So if we move beyond wholly looking at ourselves as investors and looking at ourselves as service providers to founders, and we think through what does it take to actually get a company that starts with a PowerPoint and an idea and get it to be a public company, there is a lot that needs to get done. And I think every venture fund is trying to figure out how to help these companies get up the mountain. And I think a lot of the innovation is in the service delivery and the technology and the partnerships that can be created in order to help small companies become big companies.


Siddhartha 15:58

Jon, you have mentioned, you know, in order for a company to thrive, it has to grow faster than the people can on their own. And the moment you learn this, as a founder is the moment you unlock the potential for your company. We’d love to have a deep dive of your thoughts on this.


Jon 16:18

Well, thank you for bringing that up. I think I tweeted that out a few weeks ago, and I was surprised how many people liked it and retweeted it. I feel like every entrepreneur initially feels like they’re alone. So perhaps as founders, we think that we can do it all, sometimes we have to do it all. And I don’t think you can start a company without actually having that mindset of, it’s just me, or it’s just mean a small number of people. And I have to, I have to somehow know it all and do it all. Partially because you have no choice. You don’t have a lot of money, there’s not a lot of people that are willing to jump in and join you. So you are on your own for a bit. And I think the companies and the end up getting off the ground and have some success. Usually they have a founder who is a force of nature, and is usually very independent and largely speaking can know it all and do it all. That paradoxically becomes somewhat of a limitation inside of a startup, if you might imagine, what makes you great and getting you from zero to one may not be what makes you great, and going from one to 10 or 10, to 100. And ultimately unlocking that, that potential of going from one to 10 or 10, to 100, generally speaking requires you to move from knowing it all and doing it all to bringing in people who know more than you and can do more than you. And that process is not natural. Again, you know, people, people are creatures of habit, and they’re creatures of their past so many companies wouldn’t be successful, if not for the sheer energy and focus and charisma and hustle that comes from a founder. But I think sometimes that carries on too far, especially once a company has the potential to really be great. And I think all of us need to understand our own limitations and understand how we can grow, we have to bring in other people who can augment and extend what we know and what we can do. We’ve got to trust those people to make the parts of the company that they’re responsible for their own and to grow their teams as fast as possible. And I don’t I watch this over and over again, I’m not sure it always comes naturally, which is why I try to encourage people to get help and to get coaching and to try to step out of themselves to see the company not through their own eyes, but through the eyes of others. And if they can do that, then I really think they can unlock the potential of the company. And I certainly don’t expect this to come naturally, which is why I try to coach people through finding ways to see it for themselves


Siddhartha 19:10

Jon you know, on this there are various thoughts that that that have if a founder is not growing as fast as the company is growing, then he should find an external CEO. Is that also true in some senses, because you know, or a team member is not going in that particular function if what they are leading as far as the entire company is growing then you need to replace that person from that position?


Jon 19:43

I think I would probably separate the observation from you know, the context of what you’re supposed to do for any one particular person. So I certainly think that if you’re privileged enough to have a fast growing company, This is a question that comes up regularly. And it’s a difficult question because first I should say not every company is growing fast enough to have this problem. So you, you do need to really figure out how to work hard enough to get your company to a point where it can take a life of its own. And then I think for many people, they become privileged in that they, they really do have a company that has a life of its own and begins to grow at a rate which may grow faster than many, many people can imagine growing, right, if you think about if you human beings are generally speaking, not supposed to grow at exponential rates, but yet our companies can grow at exponential rates. So, I do think that this is a it’s a problem, that potentially is a high class problem, but it is something that everyone has to consider. And I think more conventionally the right approach is to just try to get as much help around a founder as possible. And usually, the first step is to bring in management team members or people on the team that augment and bring capabilities or experiences or resources that founders themselves wouldn’t, wouldn’t be able to do on their own, or learn on their own. So that’s, that’s usually conventionally the first step. And then, if for some reason the company continues to grow and be successful, and and ultimately, the founders sees the they, they can’t quite lead the company to the next level, then I think the founder has a really important choice to make as to whether or not they want to, to, you know, try to keep up and try to figure out how to stay in front of the wave, or whether they feel like they need to find somebody else who can really take the company to the next level. And I think there’s lots of examples of this done successfully, where the founder finds the right people around the table to help the company achieve its greatest potential. And then there are lots of cases where founders have chosen to bring in professional CEOs or others to help them do that. But I would say, I would say, in general, this is a very, very common set of questions that people have, but it’s only after you have the capacity to really grow at a rate that you’re even fortunate enough to consider these questions.


Siddhartha 22:31

And you mentioned the role of coaches, because one of your tweets mentioned that you have been looking for coaches for early-stage founders. My first question there is, can early stage founder afford professional coaches? And second, you know, do they have time to engage? Because early stage is a lot lot about, you know, getting the rocket off the ground. And all the energy spent countless nights and days are spent in in in doing that. And the third is, you know, how do you find these coaches who are ready to mentor especially the first time founders,


Jon 23:12

these are all really great questions. Maybe I’ll start with, when I was younger, I didn’t think I needed a coach. I certainly, in fact, thought coaching was taboo. I think there’s a certain natural disposition that we all have to I don’t need coaching, I already am a probably an unconventional thinker, if I’m a founder, and somebody that doesn’t like to be told what to do. And somebody that, you know, believes My way is the best way. These are common characteristics of founders, I don’t think you would start a company if you weren’t somehow already a disruptive, independent thinker. And I think conventionally many founders, including myself, felt like coaching was something that you needed only if you had a problem. I think that that’s maybe where, over the course of two decades of myself going having gone through coaching and having watched founders go through coaching, I think it’s more common than people think and which is one of the reasons why I’m trying to make it more public is I, I suspect, many founders think, Jee these really successful founders have never had coaching, but the reality is, many of them have and, and perhaps there’s an unfortunate view that it’s taboo to use coaching, when in fact, it’s actually quite an asset and a benefit for people to have coaching. And when I when I look at other parts of the world, for example, in sports, it would be crazy to not have coaching it may in different dimensions right to to put a player into a game or into a sport or on the field without coaching. That player is going to lose to somebody who has great coaching every single day. So I when I look at Entrepreneurship and starting companies, it’s not that different. I think if you, you know, have great coaching and have great mentorship and have great advice, similar to say, a performance athlete, you’re just going to do better than somebody who doesn’t have that. So I guess the first thing I would say is, I think everybody could use coaching. And I really do mean everybody, I think somebody that has not actually tried coaching, perhaps they’ve not necessarily discovered their own long term potential. So, I really do think that everybody could use a coach, in terms of time and cost. One, what’s the cost? I think that perhaps is a perception that it’s quite expensive to have coaching, but you can get coaching from anybody. I think a lot of people who advise or mentor startups or founders, they provide coaching for free. And, and I suspect many of us have mentors or friends who could be great coaches, and could be great advisors. And I would, I would recommend, at a minimum that people, lean more on others and ask more for help. So that’s my first piece of advice. And then my second piece of advice is, I think you need to make time to get help. There is a lot to do in a startup. And don’t get me wrong, I’m in myself a startup fund, and I work with lots of young companies, and we are all working harder than ever, and are putting in more time every day into our jobs and into our careers than ever. But I think in order for you to make the most of that time, and to be your best self and to show up every day for the people that you work with. It is important to make time to make sure that you’re mentally prepared and and playing at your best level. And I think a coach can really help with that. So I I have more recently thought that it would be great to watch more people use coaching. And it doesn’t mean that they have to use them every day. It doesn’t mean they have to use them every week, but they should at least understand the role of coaching in their career. And and if they understand that role, I think they really can be their best selves.


Siddhartha 27:18

Especially let’s say for early-stage founders, Is coaching more about accountability? Or is coaching more about getting somebody who is better than you in that particular area, for example, enterprise sales?


Jon 27:31

Well I guess, to answer your question, there’s perhaps two different ways to think about this. One is performance, and the other is efficiency. So efficiency is perhaps applicable to things like domain. So for example, I’ve never really sold to an enterprise before and I’m trying to figure out how to close my first deal. You can get that kind of advice from lots of different types of people. And there is really no need for any intimacy really, and in deciding how you’re going to, to get that kind of advice. And that’s certainly important. It’s a little different than perhaps that I’m talking about I, I think it has more to do with performance. And that’s not accountability, it’s it’s really about trying to unlock the limitations that perhaps you have in making the most out of your day and your time and your goals. I actually think a lot of times people, people don’t realize how lonely they are on their startups and the demons inside and the limitations inside. They’re all literally just inside. And, and I noticed that a lot of times, startups begin to lose faith in themselves, or they have bad days, or they worry about competitors. And you know, the there are lots of reasons why people, you know, choose not to have their best day and, and sometimes coaching can help unlock you from those moments. I’m sure every founder goes to bed at night imagining the way that their company can thrive, but also wakes up in the middle of the night imagining ways that their companies can die. And that’s just natural, but sometimes that also gets in the way of work and execution and getting from point A to point B to point C and when that happens, I think you really need a great coach


Siddhartha 29:24

So, help you understand, is there a difference between an advisor and a coach? And is coaching more one-off? Like, you know, you, you had a one hour call with? You know, for example, a CEO of a billion-dollar company, would you call it a coach or is it coaching more continuous in process of aligning a certain outcome? And we are talking in all in respect of an early-stage founder trying to go to the growth stage.


Jon 29:50

I think I think again, I try to think about this as sort of functional in nature four advisor ship. So advisor ship is usually I go to this person for some domain expertise and that’s a highly functional relationship. For example, I don’t really know how to price my product, that kind of question can be answered with incredible effectiveness and efficiency with people who have that domain expertise. And there’s a certain functional gain from talking to people quickly about those topics so that you don’t have to wander in the woods yourself. That’s more classically how I think of advisor ship. Coaching is answering questions like, Hey, I am worried today because I am not sure that we’re going to be able to meet our goals for this year. And if we do that, we might run out of money. And I’m not sure that my investors are going to give me more money. And because of that, I’m trying to figure out should I be focused on raising more money from other people? Because I’m just not sure we’re gonna hit our financial goals. And there’s a certain subjectivity to handling that question, which is not domain-specific and can’t just be answered with a piece of paper. And I think usually speaking, there’s two different types of people that, that play these types of roles, advisors tend to be able to answer questions with efficiency, and coaches tend to be able to walk you through what sometimes is a more continuous journey that has, you know, different paths that you need to navigate and requires a little bit more intimacy than you might get from an advisor.


Siddhartha 31:36

Got it. And one other thing, which you mentioned on your Twitter feed is, I guess, after this podcast, a lot of people, people will be scrolling your Twitter feed. But you mentioned that, you know, you got advice from one of your mentors when you graduated from school, your graduate school, that who you choose to work in life is more important than where you choose to work. And it will ultimately determine your long term health and happiness. In terms of, you know, startups and VCs, how is that applicable because you choose to work with after, after starting up one of the best and the largest venture funds in the world? Was it driven to this through this lens?


Jon 32:33

Yeah, so I actually feel like every single step in my career is connected through people that I’ve chosen to work with or people that have brought me into their world. And I feel very fortunate for that. I graduated from college in 1999. It’s a big part of the reason why I’m even on this podcast with you today. I certainly did not know that I wanted to go into tech or venture capital, I just happened to graduate in a year where when you went into the workforce, there were a lot of tech jobs, because 1999 was the height of the first internet bubble. So I think sometimes when we trace back our careers, we sometimes think that we have somehow to design them from day one, and that we’re plodding along our career path. But I think when you talk to lots of people, there’s a lot more connectivity across the people that you choose to work with, and a lot more that is tied to situations in your environment than it is anything else. So, my career, largely speaking is tied together for people. And I certainly didn’t in 1999 say that someday I wanted to start my own venture fund. I certainly didn’t even know what it meant to start your own venture fund back in 1999. I largely became, I also chose to start a company because I, really loved some of the people that were involved at the very beginning. And I think largely speaking because one of the reasons we were successful is because we had just a tremendous group of people around the table, who were the types of people that would figure things out the types of people that didn’t want to quit. And sometimes I think the team chemistry and the team capabilities triumphs some of the situations that you’re in. So I, I actually am a really big believer overall, that we also just spend so much time at work. And so almost irrespective of what you are measuring as an outcome, you’re you know, all along the way, it’s just a very long amount of time. And so our health and happiness is ultimately determined by who we’re spending our time with. And so I think people sometimes should become more conscientious about who they’re spending their time with and how they’re spending their time, almost irrespective of what the outcome is because so much of our life is spent at work.


Siddhartha 35:02

And Jon, you know, one of the things which intrigued me. Again, it’s more applicable from seed to series C and Series D founders, you mentioned that creating something new means the audience is not always clear. And that’s okay. In a startup, the rate of change is much more important than knowing everything. And the rate of change and capacity to iterate rapidly is a leading indicator of future growth. You know, I would love to know your thoughts, in a more deep manner on this?


Jon 35:39

Well, first, I would say that, when you’re doing something new, it’s not going to resonate with everybody from the beginning. And you’re also not going to have it perfect from the very beginning, because you’re doing something by definition that hasn’t been done before. So I think sometimes people are looking for validation that this is a really, really great idea. And everyone’s gonna think this is a great idea. And customers are gonna line up and use the product tomorrow. And they want us and that’s an amount of certainty when they’re innovating and creating something new. And I try to, to dispel that myth that somehow it’s, it’s this perfect formula. And if you follow the perfect formula that gets the result that you want. And I try to remind people that it’s innovation is this continuous process. And that success actually comes from continuous improvement and continuous innovation, not that there’s, you know, discrete points that are measurable, or even that there’s, you know, there’s like quantum leaps that you make, and only when you achieve that quantum leap the ticket to the next level. So in particular, in b2b software, I, I think that this iterative process and capacity to change is everything, I think a company that learns to continuously improve itself is formidable, because it never, it never is content with where it is. And it’s always trying to improve, and it’s always trying to figure out what’s new and better and different. And even when it makes it, it keeps learning and improving. I think Amazon is a great example of this. It’s just the company that, you know, always was like a little company before the beginning, and has had its highs and lows and is has taken on, you know, sort of many, what at the time seemed like controversial steps. And now in retrospect, you know, look looks, you know, quite, quite prescient and formidable. So, is there a good example of a company that I think just continuously innovates and improves and, and they’ve had more than their fair share of projects that didn’t work and things that failed, but along the way, they also have more than their fair share of really disruptive outcomes and disruptive ideas. So I think any organization that is continuously learning and improving, is formidable. So I look at that as a leading indicator when I see a group that is capable of rapidly iterating and improving. I like their odds because I feel like that, that trajectory, it’s hard to stop.


Siddhartha 38:21

Thanks, Jon. This has been a really wonderful conversation with you. And thank you for sharing your views. You know, do I would have liked to talk more about some of your portfolio companies, including Abacus which is an AI software company, and Censys, which is a security startup. I believe that the wisdom which you shared today on mentoring coaching, the rate of change which founders should aspire to, is formidable. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on that.


Jon 39:00

I thank you for having me. My pleasure.


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