SAN FRANCISCO, CA—APRIL 10, 2019Sonix announced today that it has been nominated for Best Website in the 23rd Annual Webby Awards. Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), is the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet.
Sonix is revolutionizing transcription and re-imagining how audio and video content is created and shared. By using artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning, Sonix makes content production and distribution, fast, easy, and affordable.
“Nominees like Sonix are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet,” said Claire Graves, Executive Director of The Webby Awards. “It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 13,000 entries we received this year.”
“Being recognized for all the work that we put into Sonix is truly rewarding”, said Jamie Sutherland, Co-Founder & CEO of Sonix, “At the end of the day, we want to make it fast and easy for storytellers to get their amazing stories told.”
Winners will be announced on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, and honored at a star-studded ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2019, at Cipriani on Wall Street in New York City.
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Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites, Video, Advertising, Media & PR, Apps, Mobile, and Voice, Social, Podcasts, and Games. Established in 1996, this year’s Webby Awards received nearly 13,000 entries from all 50 states and 70 countries worldwide. The Webby Awards is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). Sponsors and Partners of The Webby Awards include: YouTube, WP Engine, EY, YouGov, Vitamin T, WNYC Studios, Fast Company, ESA, Product Hunt, and Social Media Week.
Sonix is an automated transcription service. We transcribe audio and video files for storytellers all over the world. We are not associated with Gwyneth Paltrow. Making transcripts available for listeners and those that are hearing-impaired is just something we like to do. If you are interested in automated transcription, click here for 30 free minutes.
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Entrevistadora: Estoy con Gwyneth Paltrow. Una gran actriz, ganadora de un Oscar, de un Globo de Oro. Cualquier premio, esta mujer lo tiene.
Entrevistadora: ¡Qué rico estar contigo! ¡Qué elegancia!
Gwyneth Paltrow: Gracias.
Entrevistadora: Y es impresionante escucharte hablar español. Hablame, ¿dónde lo aprendiste, y por qué te entusiasmó aprender español?
Gwyneth Paltrow: Bueno, cuando tenía 15 años, yo estaba estudiando español en el colegio Nueva York, que la profesora nos había dicho. Bueno, hay una oportunidad para ir a España, a estudiar ahí. Entonces, yo hacía un intercambio y vivía con una familia en el centro de España, cerca de Toledo.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Y me encantó. Y fue como una temporada en mi vida muy importante. Me encanta españa, la cultura latina; siempre me voy a México por ejemplo.
Entrevistadora: Ah, que gusto.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Me gusta mucho la cultura, la lengua, la gente.
Entrevistadora: Así que lo aprendiste en la escuela, con la gente. ¿Ningún amigo en especial, amiga?
Gwyneth Paltrow: Yo tengo una amiga en Londres que es de Mallorca, se llama Rosario y con ella hablo, practicábamos. Bueno, yo practico con ella y también tenemos una niñera de España en casa. Porque para que mis niños pueden aprender también. Entonces, siempre estamos hablando en español y yo creo que es muy importante.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Yo tengo una amiga que hablaba como cinco lenguas, algo así, y ella me decía una lengua, una vida. Y yo creo que es verdad, cuando puedes hablar más de un idioma, puedes entender muchísimo más. Y yo creo que es una experiencia profunda para hablar más de un idioma.
Entrevistadora: ¡Qué bien por ti! Y nos ayuda mucho a nosotros.
Entrevistadora: La película Robert Downey Jr., la conexión entre ustedes impresionante, la química espectacular y lograste domar a un mujeriego. ¿Cómo le hiciste?
Gwyneth Paltrow: Bueno, siempre me encanta trabajar con Robert, el es supergracioso y la verdad es que es un tipo de genio. Siempre está pensando una manera muy no sé, muy inteligente, original.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Y para trabajar con él siempre me siento muy contenta, y él está siempre muy animado, y se pone todo su cuerpo en lo que está haciendo. Y en este, en el tercero, nuestra relación está aun más interesante.
Gwyneth Paltrow: También, yo me pongo su traje de Iron Man.
Entrevistadora: ¿Cómo fué eso?, lo que te iba a preguntar, ¿cómo es vestir y usar el traje de Iron Man?
Gwyneth Paltrow: Eso fue muy divertido. Y también mi niño estaba en el set, cuando estaba con el disfraz; y su cara, nunca lo olvido. Él estaba superorgulloso de su mamá. Y no estaba muy incómoda, ni nada, estaba bien.
Entrevistadora: Quizas tendremos a la Iron Man, Iron Lady.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Sí, exacto. Me encantaría.
Entrevistadora: Sería espectacular.
Entrevistadora: Sé que acabas de escribir tu libro en cocina. Cuentame, ¿qué te inspiró a cambiar tus hábitos de alimentación?, porque sé que un amigo especial que tuviste, te cambio toda tu alimentación. Cuentanos sobre eso.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Bueno, mi marido y mi hijo tienen alergias al gluten, a trigo, a leche de vaca. Entonces, yo soy la cocinera en la casa y no quería que mi niño estuviera comiendo; sabes, comida muy sana, sin sabor. Entonces, empezaba a hacer recetas con mucho sabor y como comfort food como: albóndigas, pero sin pan, sin huevo, sin queso y cosas muy ricas.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Entonces, eso fue.
Entrevistadora: Como te cambio e inspiro.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Sí
Entrevistadora: Muchísimas gracias Gwyneth.
Gwyneth Paltrow: A ti.
Entrevistadora: Es un placer hablar contigo. Y tú no te pierdas Iron Man 3 que a lo mejor es posible que veamos también a Gwyneth como Iron Lady.
Sonix is an automated transcription service. We transcribe audio and video files for storytellers all over the world. We are not associated with Barack Obama. Making transcripts available for listeners and those that are hearing-impaired is just something we like to do. If you are interested in automated transcription, click here for 30 free minutes.
To listen and watch the transcript playback in real-time , just click the player below.
Pres. Barack Obama: You can't say it, but you know it's true.
Pres. Barack Obama: Good evening, everybody.
Audience: Good evening.
Pres. Barack Obama: It is an honor to be here at my last and, perhaps, the last White House Correspondents Dinner. You all look great. The end of the Republic has never looked better.
Pres. Barack Obama: I do apologize. I know I was a little late tonight. I was running on CPT, which stands for jokes that white people should not make. That's a tip for you, Jeff.
Pres. Barack Obama: Anyway, here we are, my eighth and final appearance at this unique event. And I am excited. If this material works well, I'm gonna use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans. That's right. That's right.
Pres. Barack Obama: My brilliant and beautiful wife, Michelle, is here tonight. She looked so happy to be here. That's called practice. It's like learning to do three-minute planks, and she makes it look easy now, but, next year, this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot, and it's anyone's guess who she will be. But standing here, I can't help but be reflective and a little sentimental.
Pres. Barack Obama: Eight years ago, I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I clearly should have been more specific. Eight years ago, I was a young man, full of idealism and vigor. And look at me now, I am gray, grizzled, just counting down the days till my death panel.
Pres. Barack Obama: Hillary once questioned whether I'd be ready for a 3:00 a.m. phone call. Now, I'm awake anyway because I got to go the bathroom. I'm up. In fact, somebody recently said to me, "Mr. President, you are so yesterday. Justin Trudeau has completely replaced you. He is so handsome. He's so charming. He's the future." And I said, "Justin, just give it a rest." I resented that.
Pres. Barack Obama: But, meanwhile, Michelle has not aged today. The only way you can date her in photos is by looking at me. Take a look. Here we are in 2008. Here we are a few years later. And this one is from two weeks ago. So, time passes.
Pres. Barack Obama: In just six short months, I will be officially a lame duck, which means Congress, now, will flat out reject my authority, and Republican leaders won't take my phone calls. And this is gonna take some getting used to. It's really going to … It's a curve ball. I don't know what to do with it.
Pres. Barack Obama: Of course, in fact, four months now, congressional Republicans have been saying there are things I cannot do in my final year. Unfortunately, this dinner was not one of them. But on everything else, it's another story. And you know who you are, Republicans. In fact, I think we've got Republican Senators Tim Scott and Cory Gardner. They're in the House, which reminds me, security, bar the doors. Judge Merrick Garland, come on out. We're gonna do this right here, right now. It's like the red wedding.
Pres. Barack Obama: But it's not just Congress. Even some foreign leaders, they've been looking ahead, anticipating my departure. Last week, Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe. That was a slap in the face. A clear breach of protocol.
Pres. Barack Obama: Although, while in England, I did have lunch with Her Majesty, the Queen, took in a performance of Shakespeare, hit the links with David Cameron. Just in case anybody is still debating whether I'm black enough, I think that settles the debate.
Pres. Barack Obama: I won't like, but, look, this is a tough transition. It's hard. Key staff are now starting to leave the White House. Even reporters have left me. Savannah Guthrie, she's left the White House press corps to host The Today Show. Norah O'Donnell left the briefing room to host CBS This Morning. Jake Tapper left journalism to join CNN.
Audience: But the prospect of leaving the White House is a mixed bag. You might have heard that someone jumped the White House fence last week, but I have to give Secret Service credit. They found Michelle, brought her back. She's safe. She's safe back at home now. It's only nine more months, baby. Settle down.
Pres. Barack Obama: And yet somehow, despite all this, despite the churn, in my final year, my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide on my major. And here's the thing, I haven't really done anything differently. So, it's odd. Even my aides can't explain the rising poll numbers. What has changed? Nobody can figure it out. Puzzling.
Pres. Barack Obama: Anyway, in this last year, I do have more appreciation for those who've been with me on this amazing ride. Like one of our finest public servants, Joe Biden. God bless him. I love that guy. I love Joe Biden, I really do. And I want to thank him for his friendship, for his counsel, for always giving it to me straight, for not shooting anybody in the face. Thank you, Joe.
Pres. Barack Obama: Also, I would be remiss. Let's give it up for our host, Larry Wilmore. Also known as one of the two black guys who's not Jon Stewart. You're the South African guy, right? I love Larry. And his parents are here who are from Evanston, which is a great town.
Pres. Barack Obama: I also would like to acknowledge some of the award-winning reporters that we have with us here tonight: Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber. Thank you all for everything that you've done. I'm just joking. As you know, Spotlight is a film, a movie about investigative journalists with the resources and the autonomy to chase down the truth and hold the powerful accountable. Best fantasy films and Star Wars.
Pres. Barack Obama: Look, that was maybe a cheap shot. I understand the news business is tough these days. It keeps changing all the time. Every year at this dinner, somebody makes a joke about BuzzFeed, for example, changing the media landscape. And every year, The Washington Post laughs a little bit less hard. Just kind of a silence there, especially at the Washington Post table.
Pres. Barack Obama: GOP Chairman Reince Priebus is here as well. Glad to see that you feel that you've earned a night off. Congratulations on all your success, the Republican party, the nomination process. It's all going great. Keep it up.
Pres. Barack Obama: Kendall Jenner is also here. And we had a chance to meet her backstage. She seems like a very nice, young woman. I'm not exactly sure what she does, but I am told that my Twitter mentions are about to go through the roof.
Pres. Barack Obama: Helen Mirren is here tonight. I don't even have a joke here. I just think Helen Mirren is awesome. She's awesome. Sitting at the same table, I see Mike Bloomberg. Mike, a combative, controversial New York billionaire is leading the GOP primary, and it is not you. That has to sting a little bit. Although it's not an entirely fair comparison between you and the Donald. After all, Mike was a big city mayor. He knows policy in depth. And he's actually worth the amount of money that he says he is.
Pres. Barack Obama: What an election season. For example, we've got the bright new face of the Democratic Party here tonight, Mr. Bernie Sanders. Bernie, you look like a million bucks. Or to put in terms you'll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each. A lot of folks have been surprised by the Bernie phenomena, especially his appeal to young people. But not me. I get it.
Pres. Barack Obama: Just recently, a young person came up to me and said she was sick of politicians standing in the way of her dreams. As if we were actually going to let Malia go to Burning Man this year. It was not going to happen. Bernie might have let her go. Not us. I am hurt, though, Bernie, that you've been distancing yourself a little from me. I mean, that's just not something that you do to your comrade.
Pres. Barack Obama: Bernie's slogan has helped his campaign catch fire among young people, "Feel the Bern. Feel the Bern." That's a good slogan. Hillary's slogan has not had the same effect. Let's see this. Look, I've said how much I admire Hillary's toughness, her smarts, her policy chops, her experience. You've got admit it though, Hillary trying to appeal to young voters is little bit like your relative who just signed up for Facebook, "Dear America. Did you get my poke? Isn't appearing on your wall? I'm not sure I'm using this right. Love, Aunt Hillary." It's not entirely persuasive.
Pres. Barack Obama: Meanwhile, on the Republican side, things are a little more – how shall we say this – a little more loose. Just look at the confusion over the invitations to tonight's dinner. Guests were asked to check whether they wanted steak or fish. But, instead, a whole bunch of you wrote in Paul Ryan. That's not an option, people. Steak or fish? You may not like steak or fish, but that's your choice.
Pres. Barack Obama: Meanwhile, some candidates aren't polling high enough to qualify for their own joke tonight. The rules were well established ahead of time. And then, there's Ted Cruz. Ted had a tough week. He went to Indiana, Hoosier country, stood on a basketball court, and called the hoop a basketball ring. What else is in his lexicon? Baseball sticks. Football hats. But sure, I'm the foreign one.
Pres. Barack Obama: Well, let me conclude tonight on a more serious note. I want to thank the Washington press corps. I want to thank Carol for all that you do. The free press is central to our democracy and, no, I'm just kidding. You know, I'm gonna talk about Trump. Come on. We weren't just gonna stop there. Come on.
Pres. Barack Obama: Although I am a little hurt that he's not here tonight. We had so much fun the last time. And it is surprising. You've got a roomful of reporters, celebrities, cameras, and he says no. Is this dinner too tacky for the Donald? What could he possibly be doing instead? Is he at home, eating a Trump steak, tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel? What's he doing?
Pres. Barack Obama: The Republican establishment is incredulous that he's their most likely nominee. Incredulous. Shocking. They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president. But in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina. Miss Azerbaijan.
Pres. Barack Obama: And there's one area where Donald's experience could be invaluable, and that's closing Guantanamo because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground. All right, that's probably enough. I mean, I've got more material. No, no, no.
Pres. Barack Obama: I don't want to spend too much time on the Donald. Following your lead, I want to show some restraint because I think we can all agree that from the start, he's gotten the appropriate amount of coverage befitting the seriousness of his candidacy. I hope you all are proud of yourselves. The guy wanted to give this hotel business a boost. And, now we're praying that Cleveland makes it through July.
Pres. Barack Obama: As for me and Michelle, we've decided to stay in DC for a couple more years. Thank you. This way, our youngest daughter can finish up high school. Michelle can stay closer to a plot of carrots. She's already making plans to see them every day. Take a look.
Pres. Barack Obama: But our decision has actually presented a bit of a dilemma because, traditionally, presidents don't stick around after they're done. And it's something that I've been brooding about a little bit. Take a look.
Kristen Welker: The Obamas are staying in DC for two years after the president leaves office.
Chuck Todd: He's about to go from Commander-in-Chief to couch Commander.
Pres. Barack Obama: Boo, Chuck Todd. What am I going to do in DC for two years?
Joe Biden: It sounds like a dilemma, Mr. President.
Pres. Barack Obama: I can't golf every day, can't I?
Joe Biden: Which do you like better, this or this?
Pres. Barack Obama: Joe, they're the same.
Joe Biden: They capture different moods.
Pres. Barack Obama: Joe, I need some focus here.
Joe Biden: [Indecipherable].
Pres. Barack Obama: I'm sorry. What's that?
Joe Biden: I said, Mr. President, that you had to be practical. Look, you can drive again. You're going to need a license. You love sports. Why don't you volunteer to work for one of the teams around here?
Kristen Welker: Is this the Washington Wizards? I understand you're looking for some coaching help. Let's just say I coach my daughter's team a few times. Hello. Hello.
Female Voice: Ready for him.
Pres. Barack Obama: So, I'm going to be in DC for a while. And I thought I'd take up driving again.
Female Voice: What's the name?
Pres. Barack Obama: Barack Hussein Obama.
Female Voice: Yikes. Well, since you don't have a driver's license, you're gonna need a birth certificate.
Pres. Barack Obama: Really?
Female Voice: Really.
Pres. Barack Obama: It's real.
Chuck Todd: Is it?
Pres. Barack Obama: It's real.
Female Voice: But is it?
Pres. Barack Obama: Michelle left her phone. Let's see here She's got Snapchat. Obamacare is great, and it's really working. Sign up now.
Male Voice: Breaking news.
Male Voice: Michelle Obama in hot water after posting this video earlier today.
Pres. Barack Obama: Obamacare is great, and i really working. Sign up now.
Pres. Barack Obama: No?
Michelle Obama: No.
Pres. Barack Obama: Did we get a lot of views, at least?
Michelle Obama: Honey, enough. Why don't you just talk to somebody who's been through this? I gotta go to Soul Cycle.
Pres. Barack Obama: She's right. I know who I can to talk to.
Pres. Barack Obama: Hey, it's Barack. Listen, can we together?
Pres. Barack Obama: Now, that is a great movie.
John Boehner: Yeah.
Pres. Barack Obama: So, you got any advice for me?
John Boehner: So, now, you want my advice? First, stop sending me all these LinkedIn request. And second, here's the beauty of this whole thing, you've got all the time in the world to figure this out. You can just be you for a while if you're not going to do that again.
Pres. Barack Obama: So, I can just be me? And I can wear my mom jeans piece. I hate these tight jeans.
John Boehner: Good, good. Yesterday, I had a beer at 11:30 in the morning. And, you know, McDonald's now, serves breakfast all day long.
Pres. Barack Obama: You know, Michelle's gonna be at spin class, so she'll never know, right?
John Boehner: Let it go. And it won't be long, you'll be able to walk right out of the Oval Office singing, "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay." Man, you got plenty of time to work on your tan. And you know what? I finally got the grand bargain on a sweet Chevy Tahoe. Look here, you want one?
Male Voice: Barack Obama on his 347th round of golf for the year, and it's totally great. And Gloria, not a problem for anybody.
Gloria: I can't think of a reason to care. And believe me, I've tried.
Pres. Barack Obama: There you go. I am still waiting for all of you to respond to my invitation to connect to LinkedIn. But I know you have jobs to do, which is what really brings us here tonight.
Pres. Barack Obama: I know that there are times that we've had differences, and that's inherent in our institutional roles. It's true of every president and his press corps. But we've always shared the same goal, to root our public discourse in the truth, to open the doors of this democracy, to do whatever we can to make our country and our world more free and more just. And I've always appreciated the role that you have all played as equal partners in reaching these goals.
Pres. Barack Obama: And our free press is why we, once again, recognize the real journalists who uncover the horrifying scandal and brought some measure of justice for thousands of victims throughout the world. They are here with us tonight. Sasha Pfeiffer, Mike Rezendes, Walter Robinson, Matt Caroll, and Ben Bradlee Jr. Please give them a big round of applause.
Pres. Barack Obama: A free press is why, once again, we honor Jason Rezaian, as Carol noted. Last time this year, we spoke of Jason's courage as he endured the isolation of an Iranian prison. This year, we see that courage in the flesh. And it's a living testament to the very idea of a free press and a reminder of the rising level of danger, and political intimidation, and physical threats faced by reporters overseas.
Pres. Barack Obama: And I can make this commitment that as long as I hold this office, my administration will continue to fight for the release of American journalists held against their will. And we will not stop until we may see the same freedom as Jason had.
Pres. Barack Obama: At home and abroad, journalists, like all of you, engage in the dogged pursuit of informing citizens, and holding leaders accountable, and making our government of the people possible. And it's an enormous responsibility. And I realize it's an enormous challenge at a time when the economics of the business sometimes incentivizes speed over depth, and when controversy and conflict are what most immediately attract readers and viewers. The good news is there's so many of you that are pushing against those trends. And as a citizen of this great democracy, I am grateful for that
Pres. Barack Obama: For this is also a time around the world when some of the fundamental ideals of liberal democracies are under attack and when notions of objectivity, and of a free press, and effects, and of evidence are trying to be undermined or, in some cases, ignored entirely. And in such a climate, it's not enough just to give people a megaphone. And that's why your power and your responsibility to dig, and to question, and to counter distortions and untruths is more important than ever.
Pres. Barack Obama: Taking a stand on behalf of what is true does not require you shedding your objectivity. In fact, it is the essence of good journalism. It affirms the idea that the only way we can build consensus, the only way that we can move forward as a country, the only way we can help the world mend itself is by agreeing on a baseline of facts when it comes to the challenges that confront us all.
Pres. Barack Obama: So, this night is a testament to all of you who've devoted your lives to that idea, who push to shine a light on the truth every single day. So, I want to close my final White House correspondents' dinner by just saying thank you. I'm very proud of what you've done. It has been an honor and a privilege to work side by side with you to strengthen our democracy. And with that, I just have two more words to say: Obama out.
Sonix is an automated transcription service. We transcribe audio and video files for storytellers all over the world. We are not associated with Barack Obama. Making transcripts available for listeners and those that are hearing-impaired is just something we like to do. If you are interested in automated transcription, click here for 30 free minutes.
To listen and watch the transcript playback in real-time , just click the player below.
Barack Obama: More than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. It moves forward because of you.
Barack Obama: It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope. The belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation.
Barack Obama: Tonight, in this election, you, the American people reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back. And we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come. I want to thank every American who participated in this election.
Barack Obama: Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that. Whether you pounding the pavement or picked up the phone. Whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.
Barack Obama: I just spoke with Governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard fought campaign. We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son, Mitt Romney, family has chosen to give back to America through public service. And that is his legacy that we honor and applaud tonight.
Barack Obama: In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward. I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America's happy warrior, the best vice president anybody could ever hope for Joe Biden.
Barack Obama: And I wouldn't be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. Let me say this publicly, Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation's first lady. Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes, you're growing up to become two strong, smart, beautiful young women just like your mom. And I'm so proud of you guys, but I will say that for now, one dog's probably enough.
Barack Obama: To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history. You were new this time around and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning. But all of your family, no matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together and you will have the lifelong appreciation of a grateful president.
Barack Obama: Thank you for believing all the way to every hill, through every valley. You lifted me up the whole way, and I will always be grateful for everything that you've done and all the incredible work that you've put in. I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly.
Barack Obama: And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics who tell us that politics nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in the high school gym or saw folks working late at a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you'll discover something else.
Barack Obama: You'll hear the determination in the voice of a young feild organizer who's working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. You'll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who's going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift.
Barack Obama: You'll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who's working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head.
Barack Obama: That's why we do this. That's what politics can be. That's why elections matter. It's not small, it's big. It's important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs.
Barack Obama: And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won't change after tonight, and it shouldn't.
Barack Obama: These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. And we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.
Barack Obama: But despite all our differences. Most of us share certain hopes for America's future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers.
Barack Obama: A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow. We want our children to live in America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.
Barack Obama: We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this this world has ever known.
Barack Obama: But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being, we believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag.
Barack Obama: To the young boy on the south side of Chicago sees a life beyond the nearest street corner. To the furniture worker's child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president.
Barack Obama: That's the heat. That's the future we hope for. That's the vision we share. That's where we need to go forward. That's where we need to go.
Barack Obama: Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there, as it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line. It's not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward.
Barack Obama: But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovered. A decade of war is ending, a long campaign is now. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you and you've made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work he is to do and the future that lies ahead.
Barack Obama: Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours, and in the coming weeks and months. I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil.
Barack Obama: We've got more work to do. But that doesn't mean your work is done. The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America's never been about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self government. That's the principle we were founded on.
Barack Obama: This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We had the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world. But that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.
Barack Obama: The belief that our destiny is shared, that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and the future generations to the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for. Comes with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great.
Barack Obama: I am hopeful tonight because I've seen the spirit of work in America. I've seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors. And then the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job.
Barack Obama: I've seen it in the soldiers who reenlist after losing a limb and in those seals who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back.
Barack Obama: I've seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government has swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm.
Barack Obama: And I saw just the other day in Minner, Ohio, where a father told the story of his eight year old daughter whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything, had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company. I had to you to not just talk to the father, but meet. This incredible daughter of his.
Barack Obama: And when he spoke to the crowd, listening to that father's story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes because we knew that little girl could be our own. And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That's who we are. That's the country I'm so proud to lead as your president. And tonight, despite all the hardship we've been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I've never been more hopeful about our future.
Barack Obama: I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I'm not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight.
Barack Obama: I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.
Barack Obama: America, I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love.
Barack Obama: It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America.
Barack Obama: It's.
Barack Obama: I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggest. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions. And we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United.
Barack Obama: Grace, we will continue our journey forward and. Just what is that we live in the greatest nation on earth.
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We recently spoke with Blake Oliver from the Cloud Accounting Podcast about some of things he’s done to build his listener base. He explains the importance of engagement and how that propelled their podcast. He also talks about having influential industry people on his podcast drove a lot of new listeners. And lastly, he speaks about how the Sonix Media Player DOUBLED his listener base overnight.
You can see the Sonix Media Player below in action. Note the sandwich icon on the top right of the player. If you click that you can quickly navigate to any part of the transcript!
Jamie: Hi, you’re here with Sonix and we’re talking to Blake Oliver today about his podcast and why he’s been able to double his listeners using the Sonix Media Player.
What is the Cloud Accounting Podcast about?
Blake: We are a weekly news update for accountants and bookkeepers who are interested in cloud accounting technology.
Jamie: I just got a couple of questions. The first one is how is your podcast going?
How is the Cloud Accounting Podcast going?
Blake: It’s going pretty well, I think we’re at something like 60 plus episodes now. So, in the current form, we’ve been doing it for a little over almost actually almost exactly a year. And it takes a while to get traction. Right. The first 50 episodes, I don’t know. You know, maybe a few hundred people were listening to each one of those. We’re in a niche right in the accounting world. But we just stuck with it and kept doing it and I think that’s what it takes. So, now we’re I think the last 4 episodes are a 1,000 listens each. So just onward and upward from there.
Jamie: Awesome. So what are your biggest challenges as it relates to podcasting?
What are the biggest challenges as it relates to podcasting?
Blake: So, initially it was just learning how to do it, because I do all the production. For something that wasn’t revenue generating for the first year I didn’t feel like going out and spending money on somebody to record it and produce it for me. And, you know, I’m kind of a stickler so I wanted to be able to pick which sections I’m going to cut and all that stuff.
How Blake learned how to create, produce and publish a podcast
Blake: I had to learn how to use the software–I use Adobe Audition. We use a tool called Zencaster to record the audio. You know, it took me like a solid day to figure out how to do an episode. And then I’ve got it down to a point where I can edit a 30 minute episode and post it in a couple of hours. So I just you know, we’ll do that on a Friday afternoon or evening with a beer or something like that.
Blake: Yeah. And the other challenge was figuring out the format. So we tried an interview style format and then we realized every podcast was doing that. And it got boring because if you had a bad guest, then you know the episode’s shit.
Blake: So, we decided we were gonna mix things up and do a weekly News Round-Up. And just sticking with that as our format I think has has really helped us grow the listener base because now they know what they’re going to get. And we’ve been really consistent about recording and and putting out an episode every week just trying to figure out the format and how to make it work. That was the biggest challenge. And now I think if we just keep doing it and we’re consistent with the quality, then hopefully we can grow to 10,000 thousand listeners.
Jamie: You’ve always been an entrepreneur and that’s almost like a pivot you created for your podcast. And I guess the question I have, with that, is as other podcasters look for listeners. What did you do to increase your listeners?
How did Blake grow and double his podcast listener base
Blake: Engagement is really huge. So, that’s that’s part of the reason we did the interviews in the first place. We figured, OK, if we interview somebody like Guy Pearson from Practice Ignition, who is known thought leader in the accounting world, then he’ll promote it and that’ll get us more listeners. So that that worked really well. But then we were having trouble keeping them because not every interview is going to be that good. And we were starting to run out of people to talk to.
Jamie: So you’re saying engagement was one or other things that you did to help grow your base from hundreds of listeners to thousands?
Using social media to grow the Cloud Accounting podcast listener base
Blake: Being active on a particular social media platform has been great. David and I have sort of keyed in on Twitter as being our best channel for this show, because I think the very quick rapid discourse on Twitter mirrors the way we like to handle stuff on the show. It’s very quick, like, here’s a news story that was important to accountants and we’ll talk about it for two to five minutes and then we’ll move on to the next one. So not these long, drawn out episodes that people are used to in our industry. They’re really boring.
Blake: And so then Twitter is great for that. So we will share out the stories that we talked about in every episode on Twitter throughout the week and say: “As discussed on the Cloud Accounting Podcast”, we created a handle for the podcast where people can go and link to the different services we’re streaming on. So that has been really helpful.
Engagement has been key to growing the listener base
Blake: And then engaging with different listeners. So listeners will tag us on Twitter with their thoughts as they listen to the episode and we will retweet those. We will comment on those. Even though our show isn’t live and it’s pre-recorded, we have a conversation throughout the week after the episode drops. And that gets people excited about it. They start talking about it. Our most loyal listeners, we will shout out to them on the show. That has been a really, really powerful tactic.
Jamie: Awesome. That makes a lot of sense.
Why Blake is inspired by Taylor Swift 🙂
Blake: So it’s funny because I heard a story about Taylor Swift when she was first starting out. Not that we’re ever gonna be as famous as she is. Right? But.
Jamie: You never know.
Blake: Yeah, well, maybe in the accounting world but apparently she responded to every single fan letter and engaged with everybody who was following her when she had a small following. And that built up that core loyal following that has become this massive following. So that’s what I think engagement can do.
Jamie: So you’re saying Taylor Swift is your role model?
Blake: Really? I think she’s probably everybody’s role model in a lot of ways. So.
Jamie: Right. Ok. More specific to Sonix. We know you use Sonix. Why do you transcribe your podcast?
How the Sonix media player helped doubled his podcast listener base
Blake: So this goes with getting the show out there for more people. I find that it’s hard to convince people to go into their podcast app, search for a podcast that they’ve never heard of, and then listen. It’s a big commitment. And so the idea with using Sonix was because you guys have this amazing web player. I can have every episode transcribed, clean it up, and then post it on my episode page for every episode shortly after it goes live.
Blake: And so that way, when people who aren’t subscribed to the podcast, they find it online. Not only do they see the show notes, but they see a full transcript right below the show notes and they can just click anywhere in the transcript to play that particular part.
Blake: And to give you an example on our most popular episode to date. We had a 1,092 unique listeners to the podcast who actually listened to the episode or downloaded the episode, but because we also transcribed it in Sonix, the Sonix player had 2,387 uniques. So, basically, twice as many people were reading the transcript and playing the audio on the Sonix player as were downloading in their podcast app.
How the Sonix media player has driven more loyal listeners
Blake: And I think that episode helped us get more loyal listeners. Of course, not everybody is going to go and then subscribe to the podcast. They might just come for that one particular story. But the fact that they were able to listen to us and not just read it on the episode page. My suspicion is that that’s what helped us grow our listener base.
Blake: After that we went from like 500 listeners on every episode to almost a 1,000 now.
Jamie: Sounds like the Sonix media player is helping from a discovery standpoint. So you’re saying it’s a little bit more challenging for a brand new listener to go through the regular channels of downloading your podcast through Apple or Google Play, but they can easily find you on your web site?
Attracting listeners that aren’t subscribed to a podcast app
Blake: Yeah, and I think one reason it helps in our niche is because accountants are often on their desktop computers or laptops. So like if they’re going to listen to the podcast, they’d have to go over their phone and find it. And that’s just friction right there.
Blake: Whereas if they found us through a Google search because they’re searching about Quickbooks, then they would just click play and oh, now it’s there. And they want to get straight to the Quickbooks stuff because that’s what they’re interested in. Accountants like to get straight to the point. They can just scroll through the transcript and then click on whatever they want to hear.
“The Sonix media player is awesome” 🙂
Blake: For me, the embedded web player is awesome. There’s transcription services out there, lots of them, but nobody has a web player that works as well as yours.
Creating subtitles and captions for your LinkedIn videos is time-consuming and painful. You could pay someone to do it for you, but that’s expensive and the turnaround time could be days or even weeks. There is a faster and easier way: An automated caption generator powered by artificial intelligence and natural language processing.
Solution: Automated caption generator
Sonix uses the latest artificial intelligence to create subtitles and captions automatically for your LinkedIn videos. Simply upload your video file to Sonix and you’ll receive a full transcript of your video in less than 6 minutes. From there you just export an SRT (SubRip Subtitle) file and insert it into your video on LinkedIn. It’s that simple.
Sonix is an automated transcription service. We transcribe audio and video files for storytellers all over the world. We are not associated with Kara Nortman or the Upfront Summit. Making transcripts available for listeners and those that are hearing-impaired is just something we like to do. If you are interested in automated transcription, click here for 30 free minutes.
To listen and watch the transcript playback in real-time , just click the player below.
Kara Nortman: We’re very fortunate today to have David Sacks with us. I think many of you guys know David Sacks, but I’ll give a quick introduction. Founding COO of PayPal, Founder and CEO of Yammer. And then most recently, in his operating repast, went into Zenefits during its most difficult time as CEO. And then, a very prolific and successful angel investing career in a few companies you guys might have heard of – Facebook, Slack, Airbnb, SpaceX just to name a few of them. And then, most recently, David started Craft Ventures, a $350 million venture capital fund. So, we have a lot of topics to cover today.
David Sacks: Great.
Kara Nortman: So, David, you’ve made some big bets both with your career and as an investor in trends kind of before other people saw them. So, FinTech with PayPal, the consumerization of communication in the enterprise with Yammer, which Microsoft obviously bought for over a billion dollars. I think what’s probably most interesting to start off with for this audience are: so, what trends are you most excited about? What are you thinking about? What are you investing around?
David Sacks: Yeah. Well, thanks. Thanks for having me. I think the computing era that we’re in right now is the era of devices and sensors. You know, each successive era in computing kind of redefines the one that came before it. When you had the shift to mobile, we kind of interpreted — we kind of reinterpreted the PC as an insufficiently personal computer. The mobile device is really the most important, is the most personal computer.
David Sacks: I think what’s happening with device and sensors is we’ll look back at the mobile phone as just one of, you know, end devices that become internet-connected and transformed in the process. Well, there’s going to be a proliferation that’s already happening of new kinds of devices, appliances, sensors. And I think that’s creating a lot of interesting new business models.
Kara Nortman: And you just used to invested in one, I think, that you announced last week. Do you want to tell us a little bit about Swarm?
David Sacks: Yeah. So, Swarm is a critical enabler of this trend. It’s a — Swarm actually creates a — It’s a satellite network, a new satellite network. But what it does is they’ve got a chip the size of a quarter that any developer will be able to put in their IoT device, and it will just be kind of magically connected to the internet. Right now, if you want to connect a device, an IoT device to the internet, you need to have a WiFi hotspot or a cell tower. And what Swarm will enable is just, you know, it’ll work anywhere just kind of automatically. You pay a metered rate for your data. And right now, that’s not really possible with the existing satellite solutions. They’re just kind of too expensive, and the procurement process is too difficult.
Kara Nortman: And so, what are the kind of the killer apps that once this is built you think will sit on top of these devices?
David Sacks: Yeah. I mean, it’s — So, the ones that are easy to think of are the ones where people are trying to connect a sensor where there’s no internet access. It could be a shipping container on a boat that’s the middle of the ocean, or it could be a sensor in an agricultural field, or it could be traffic lights. Well, you know, how do you connect those things easily?
David Sacks: But I think what’s really exciting is that once you create kind of ubiquitous connectivity, what are the new applications that we’re going to see that don’t even exist today in the same way that, you know, every expansion of internet access has led to all sorts of — whether it was — you know, first, it was kind of you went from dial-up, to broadband, to WiFi. And this is kind of the next step in that evolution.
Kara Nortman: And so, I mean, a couple questions for a company like this, right. It’s a big ambition, big vision, a lot of potential applications. I’d say, first, how do you due diligence the founders and the technology in a space like this?
David Sacks: Yeah.
Kara Nortman: Start there.
David Sacks: Yeah. So, I mean, in this particular case, we used some experts in our network to help us evaluate the core technology, the kind of the micro satellites. What they’ve done is they’ve invented a satellite that’s like this big. I mean, it’s tiny but fully — Well, they can put a satellite in space for about 1% of the cost of those big Iridium satellites. And so, it’s just incredibly disruptive on the cost side, and that allows them to offer this kind of very simple metered rate. It’s kind of API for internet access.
David Sacks: I think, for us, we’re not big on necessarily taking a tremendous amount of invention, like scientific invention risk. In this case, the company had already proven the satellites work. They had three of them already in space. And so, we just had to believe in the market adoption. And we feel very comfortable taking kind of market risks.
Kara Nortman: And so, then, flipping to the market side. So, sort of the world is your oyster. In terms of go-to markets, a bunch of different applications from bringing internet to the developing world, to connecting lights. I definitely have one light in particular I’d like to move faster. So, if you know anyone once it’s live, please lob in a request for me.
David Sacks: Right.
Kara Nortman: But how much does the team think — how much are you looking for the team to think about go-to market at this stage? And how far in advance are they developing those use cases?
David Sacks: Yeah. I mean, we talk about it extensively. For me, the founding team having a distribution plan is critical. In fact, I would say that the team innovating on the distribution side is as important as them innovating on the product side. And I’m always looking for a team that’s figured out a distribution trick.
David Sacks: The way we did at Yammer with, you know — Yammer was one of the first viral applications inside of the enterprise. And so, we use kind of consumer vitality as our trick to grow in the enterprise. At PayPal, it was also viral, but we used sign up for referral bonuses. We also bootstrapped off of eBay. So, I’m always trying to figure out like, what is the thing that’s going to allow this to grow at some unusually fast rate?
Kara Nortman: Got it. Wonderful. So, maybe shifting gears to another kind of company in the space that we both probably love to talk about, but you’ve been with since the beginning. Is Bird kind of one of those companies you think fits into this thesis?
David Sacks: Yeah, totally because it’s — you know, basically, you connect a scooter to the internet, and you, you know, pack it with new devices or new sensors like GPS and other things, and all of a sudden, you’ve got a new mode of transportation. And so, that’s really exciting. I think it’s a great example of how when you take a kind of non-obvious device and connect to the internet, you can enable all sorts of new businesses.
David Sacks: And I do think from our standpoint as startup investors, the device has to be somewhat non-obvious because Amazon and the big Google, big companies are connecting all the obvious ones. I mean, Amazon right now is running down a checklist of they’re connecting your microwave and all that. And so, if you’re just kind of doing that, I don’t think it’s interesting enough for startups, but if you take a really non-obvious one, I think Bird’s an example of the kind of magical things that can happen. And I really do think it’s a new mode of transportation in cities that’s just going to keep getting bigger and bigger.
Kara Nortman: Awesome. Okay. We’re going to unpack Bird a little bit. Have anyone heard of Bird? Can you raise your hand in the audience? Okay, just kidding. So, let’s start with the easier stuff. You funded Bird in the first $3 million round. It’s right in our backyard in Santa Monica. We eventually got smart and caught up. But what did you see at that stage? This is a founder you’ve worked with in the past, but in a space that no one was talking about back then.
David Sacks: Yeah, yeah. So, I mean, Travis had work for me at Yammer. I thought he was a terrific entrepreneur, and he came to me with this idea. I thought it was crazy. I mean, you know, you’re just going to leave these scooters. No one has really seen this. This is really a new type of scooter.
Kara Nortman: And you had funded him in something that didn’t quite work, right?
David Sacks: Yeah, I’d written his first angel check in his previous company, which was on-demand car washing service. It was called Cherry. The company didn’t work, but it created some interesting tech. It got acquired by Lyft. And then, he got recruited to be an executive at Uber. So, he was very deep in this transportation space. And what he saw at Uber was that half of trips in cities are under three miles, and he discovered this really new form factor with these new battery-powered scooters that were coming out of China, and he had this idea that we could solve that last mile problem more cheaply, more easily, more convenient doing this.
David Sacks: And, you know, when I first heard the idea, I thought it was crazy because, you know, you’re just going to leave these things on the street, and people are somehow going to know how to use them. But then, I actually tried the product, and it was a lot more magical than I was expecting. And so, you know, I wrote him an angel check. And then, when we had the fund, we wrote him, you know, a venture check as well.
Kara Nortman: Yeah. I mean, I remember. Obviously, the business grew up under our eyes. And so, I remember one day running around UCLA, and nobody was on any of the bikes, and everyone was on Bird scooters all over the place. And it was just very clear that something was happening.
David Sacks: Yeah. In fairness to you guys, I had the opportunity to preempt the round because of my relation with Travis. So, yeah, it would’ve been a tough one for anyone else to get. But, yeah, I just thought it was just this really magical thing. And you can see how transformative it’s been. And, now, we’re in a little bit of a, sort of, pessimistic news cycle about it. But people should just keep in mind that one year ago, scooters were only available in one city, Santa Monica, that was actually criminally prosecuting the company for launching there.
David Sacks: And a year later, we’re now in hundreds of cities all over the world. It’s become this revolution. And cities have now embraced it and accepted it. We’ve got operating agreements with dozens of cities now. The Mayor of Boston just said yesterday he wants to welcome them. The New York Times has come out on their editorial page saying that they should be brought into Manhattan. So, this whole wave is just getting started.
Kara Nortman: So, I mean, do you think — So, this market euphoria, slight pessimism euphoria. So, let’s kind of plot the line. Let’s plot the line through it.
David Sacks: Yeah.
Kara Nortman: So, what — Let’s hit some of the harder topics. Let’s first talk about safety. So, there’s a lot — you know, there’s a lot of opinions on safety. I think people don’t necessarily know the safety story of Bird, but tell me how you think that safety is, you know, the original board member, and what Bird is doing specifically in that area.
David Sacks: Yeah. So, I mean, from the beginning, Bird has been very concerned about safety. One of the things we realized very early on is that night riding. So, you know, riding late at night would be dangerous for riders. We never allowed it. So, I think, you know, we turn off all the scooters at 9:00 p.m. If you look at where are the fatalities and critical injuries have actually occurred, it’s generally been between midnight and 4:00 a.m. in the morning. You know, our competitors have not done this. They want the extra rides, and we think it’s irresponsible.
David Sacks: The only fatality that’s occurred on a Bird has been — It was actually a Bird that was stolen out of a charger’s house and was ridden at 4:00 a.m., which kind of it’s the exception that kind of proves the point about this, you know, riding late at night. That wasn’t something we could control because the scooter was in task mode. But if you look at our competitors, they’ve just had, you know, multiple fatalities at night. We think it’s really irresponsible. Anyway, the company has, I think, done a lot on the safety side. And, you know, they’ve given away a lot of free helmets. They’ll send you one if you want one. And they’ve done a lot on the rider education side as well.
Kara Nortman: And so, we have Travis here tomorrow. So, I’m not going to go too deeply on the economics and other questions that he’ll likely get to. But I think from that perspective of the investor and the board member, what are some of the lessons learned? What are some of the things you think the market’s getting wrong? You know, add to or dispel any myth that you’d like.
David Sacks: Yeah. So, I think, in 2018, the big challenges or the things that the company had to prove were, first of all, product market fit. I mean, again, everybody was incredulous, including myself, about this idea until Travis proved that people wanted it. And I think the company has proved that in its first year.
David Sacks: And the other thing is regulatory acceptance. I mean, we had to fight these battles including in, you know, our home city. But I think that cities have generally come out on the right side of this, which is it’s going to be allowed, there’s going to be operating agreements, or creating permits. And so, I think those are the big battles.
David Sacks: I think, in 2019, the big battle or the big things that the companies are focused on is dialing in on the economics. And there, the challenge is and what we’ve learned is that if you just use a retail scooter, scooter that’s available for sale on Amazon, which is what all the copycats are doing, the economics of that won’t work. The scooters aren’t rugged enough. They’re too easy to steal. There’s no supply chain for parts. And so, we’re seeing from Bird and, you know, also, the other kind of market leader, Slime, is they’ve now both vertically integrated, developed their own supply chains, developing their own scooters. And I think it’s a significant barrier to entry because if all you’re going to do is use these retail scooters, we can tell you that that business does not work.
Kara Nortman: Yeah.
David Sacks: But it’s what was available a year ago. So, when Travis want to prove product market fit, it’s what was available, it’s what he used. But, now, we’ve again gone vertical and are building our own.
Kara Nortman: Yeah. So, last quick question, and then we’ll move on to another topic. It’s a company that’s raised a lot of capital quickly, and is sort of in a blitz scaling moment, and suspending quite a bit of capital to take share. How do you think about, you know, bumpy markets for for a company like Bird?
David Sacks: Well, I think that is the right strategy. I mean, PayPal did the same thing. You know, we were — you raise a lot of capital, and you burn a lot of capital in order to take market share. And I think that is the right approach. The reality is that consumers aren’t going to want to have five scooter apps on their phone, you know. There’s going to be, you know, one, maybe two scooter apps on their phone. And, you know, getting the biggest footprint, creating the most liquidity in the market, developing that supply chain, those are all capital intensive things, but they’re what is required to win this big market.
David Sacks: And I’m not a fan of kind of Lean startup methodology. At least once you have product market fit, I am a fan of blitz scaling, which is once you know that there’s a market there, you need to basically go all out to win it. And I think that is the right strategy for Bird.
Kara Nortman: And also knowing that there’s margin there, right? And that-
David Sacks: Yeah.
Kara Nortman: And so — but totally makes sense.
David Sacks: So, we know there is because with every successive generation of scooter that we use, the economics keep improving. And so, if you look at like Bird Zero, which is their own homegrown scooter, it’s much more ruggedized. It’s better on anti-theft. The economics are vastly better than the retail scooters. And there’s — I mean, I don’t want to spill the beans, but there’s new miles of scooters coming. And with every successive generation of supply, the economics just keep getting better and better.
David Sacks: You know, one thing I can tell you about like retail, the retail scooters is you can now buy a $25 chip set or brain kit from China and convert, you know, those Xiaomi or Ninebot scooters. So, you know, you take that stolen scooter, convert it to a personal scooter. And that’s, I think, what’s fueling a lot of the theft. You can’t do that with Bird’s own scooter because it’s something they completely own. There’s no chip set for that. So, it’s just one example of how everything gets better when you control it yourself.
Kara Nortman: Absolutely, absolutely. One of the things I love about LA and about scooters growing up here is you literally would see women in their couture, maybe it was, you know, ready to wear, but, you know, they were dressed up with their heels on their Bird scooters. And it was — you know, a beautiful sight to see all kinds of people using Bird scooters.
David Sacks: Totally.
Kara Nortman: So, let’s hit — I want to get into some other things, but before we do, I know you’re looking at a couple other themes. Just to leave it with potential co-investors in the audience, what are some of the other themes at a high level you’re thinking about?
David Sacks: Yeah. So, I have two partners at Craft. You know, one of them is Jeff Fluhr, former founder of StubHub, which is, you know, the most popular ticketing marketplace. He’s spending a lot of time looking at marketplaces. But the big shift he’s seeing is moving from product marketplaces to service marketplaces. It’s not really about selling goods. It’s more about selling services. And a lot of those are B2B marketplaces. And so, we’re taking a look at a lot of those things.
David Sacks: And then, my other partner, Bill Lee, spends a lot of time on emerging areas like VR, crypto, gaming, and you know. And what we’re seeing there is, you know, we made a big investment in Cloudnine. We led that Series A round. It’s an e-sports company. E-sports has just gotten huge. And we think there’s a lot of things like that in gaming and virtual brands that get us excited.
Kara Nortman: Awesome. Wonderful, wonderful. Okay. Well, so, shifting gears a little bit. You know, one of things we sometimes in VC or newer VCs, maybe a bit more timid, you know, there’s kind of a maybe sometimes a lot of copycat investing, tiptoeing. You’ve made some big, bold bets very quickly. So, you know, one of my favorite and most overused words in venture capital, it’s the synergy of its time, is conviction. But tell us, you obviously have a lot of conviction to make the bets you’ve made. Tell us what gives you conviction.
David Sacks: Yeah. I mean, I guess, I’m not like tremendously worried about job security. And our LPs are diversified. So, I kind of figure it’s okay for me to be more concentrated. The number one thing that gives me conviction is when I can use the product myself. And I mean, that’s not always possible, but when I can use the product myself, and it’s a product that is useful to me, and I love it.
David Sacks: And so, Bird was a case like that where I tried it down here in LA. And then, when I went back to San Francisco, I felt myself missing it. So, you know, I’m listening to that voice in my head. Same thing with Uber, you know. I think I discovered Uber in 2010. And six months later, like I got rid of my car. I just went full Uber. And so, I reached out to the company to invest in that. Similar story with Houzz and PlanGrid, which I was doing a construction project, and I used PlanGrid for my plans, and I used Houzz for my interior design.
David Sacks: And so, anytime I’m using a product, I will reach out to the company and see if I can invest in it. Obviously, that doesn’t work for something like Swarm. And, you know that, I’m going to rely on things like, you know, obviously, how great is the team, and, you know, does this product make sense, can I put myself in the shoes of who the customer is, and have they thought of that distribution trick.
Kara Nortman: Yeah, I love it. I love it. I always say I know I’m very excited about a company only when I’m driving my husband crazy. If I can’t stop talking about this like, “Did you make an investment already?” So, I think it was passion, do the work, all the stuff that our mothers probably told us but not everyone does. So, that’s exciting.
Kara Nortman: Okay. So, we’re going to shift gears, and I’d love to talk a little bit. I think you and I were just talking about this. We met back when you were starting Geni, which is the predecessor company to Yammer. So, first question, you started Geni in LA-
David Sacks: Yeah.
Kara Nortman: … many moons ago, but then you moved Yammer up to the Bay Area. Is that — Why did you do that? And tell me how you would think about it today.
David Sacks: Yeah. I think, you know, that was 10 years ago. And, you know, we felt that the LA ecosystem, the tech ecosystem was a lot smaller back then. It’s not a decision I would make today. I think if I were down here with a startup today, I would not try to move it. And the reason is just because the tech ecosystem in LA has just gone so much bigger. It’s so much deeper. There’s so much more talent. There’s, you know, a lot more investors like you guys who cover it. There’s this — the relative advantage, I think, of Silicon Valley is just it’s much less, and there’s a lot of advantages to LA now as well.
David Sacks: So, yeah. I mean, I think, you know, LA is an ecosystem that we really like as investors. So, you know, I was an angel investor in SpaceX, and we did have a follow-on investment through the fund. They’re obviously been here for a long time. There was Bird, Cloudnine, the sports company I talked about. I think that LA is definitely the epicenter for all things, e-sports, and content, and gaming-related. We actually did a seed round in a B2B cannabis marketplace in LA and which is based in LA. And so, yeah.
Kara Nortman: So, if the other ones don’t go well, we got you guys covered.
David Sacks: Yeah. So, there’s been — you know, there’s just been a lot of really interesting companies that are coming out of LA now. And so, we think it’s a great ecosystem.
Kara Nortman: Awesome, awesome. And how — you’re also somebody who, in the distant past, made a movie, Thank You for Smoking, which was a great movie. If you haven’t seen it, those of you who are like in your early 30s, go back and watch it. But I was curious, like how do you compare and contrast innovation in Silicon Valley and in tech in LA to innovation in more of kind of the traditional content fields or Hollywood?
David Sacks: Yeah. I mean, after producing a movie, I went back into tech. I wanted the relative sanity of the startup business after my exposure to Hollywood. I think, you know, the basic problem is entrepreneurship is very hard in Hollywood, in the kind of traditional content business because the entrepreneur really kind of gets squeezed between the studios, kind of the distribution gatekeepers on the one hand, and then the talent on the other. And those are really the two big kind of rent extractors. And I think it’s very hard for an entrepreneur to come in and disrupt that.
David Sacks: You know, obviously, Netflix has done a lot of very big scale, but I think for a startup, it’s just very tough. And, you know, the great thing about startups is just, you know, there are no real gatekeepers yet. And the talent are the entrepreneurs. And so, you know, I always — there’s always something that kind of rubs me the wrong way about when I got to Hollywood and started producing this movie. You know, I learned that there were these people called the talent, and I wasn’t one of them. And that always, you know, maybe a little bit kind of concerned. So, yeah, I just think, you know, tech moves a lot faster, it’s much more scalable, and it’s much more kind of free and open to entrepreneurs. So, yeah.
David Sacks: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. The room, they’re always there. When there are problems, there’s room for solutions as well. We’re just about out of time. So, maybe we’ll leave with one kind of last thing. Maybe a bit of advice. Again, we have a lot of VCs the audience. So, you’ve, now, been on both sides of the table.
David Sacks: Yeah.
Kara Nortman: As a kind of former operator and, now, board member, what’s your advice to, you know, somebody sitting around the table as a relatively new board member or, you know, a longstanding board member as to what’s been most valuable to — what’s the most valuable kind of board behavior you’ve seen? And what are the things that drove you crazy as a founder?
David Sacks: Yeah. I had, you know, really — I had a really great board at Yammer. I mean, I got along with everybody, and everyone contributed in different ways. You know, I think that there’s a lot of things that an investor can bring to a startup. You know, let’s say, first, is being a great sounding board. You know, giving feedback, strategic advice. You’re never going to be deeper in the problem than an entrepreneur, but I think you can provide — Again, you can just be a sounding board and make sure that you’re giving feedback, make sure they’re thinking about it the right way.
David Sacks: I, also, think that investors tend to have more breath. So, you know, founders are, you know, hopefully, just very heads down obsessed with what they’re doing. Investors get a lot more breath. And so, they can bring, you know, benchmarks. They can kind of tell you, you know, what’s working in other contexts. They can tell you what your numbers should be, you know, at this stage or, you know, what number — you know, is this cap number a good number or a bad number? So, you know, I tend to think that investors can provide perspective, and that can be that can be helpful.
Kara Nortman: Any pet peeves?
David Sacks: Probably the thing that that VCs do the most is just overestimate the number of things that a startup can really do. And so, there tends — You know, if you have a board that every board member has kind of their pet thing they want the company to do, the reality is that startups can’t get that much done. And so, you know, the thing I’m always pushing for is just focus, you know. Like what is the one most important thing that we need to get right now and let’s just be obsessively focused on that. So, yeah, that’s probably the — I don’t know it’s a pet peeve but it tends to be. Just by having a lot of voices at the table, that can be the unintended consequences as you kind of defocus the company a little.
Kara Nortman: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, listen, David, thank you so much. We’re so honored to have you here. This is a wonderful conversation.
David Sacks: All right. Thanks, Kara.
Kara Nortman: So, we really appreciate it.
David Sacks: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you.
Kara Nortman: Let’s give David a round of applause.