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Alysa Hutnik, Chief Privacy and Data Security Architect @ Ketch

May 8, 2023
Written By
May 8, 2023
Season 4 Episode 2
39:18
Written By

We are delighted to share our new episode of the {Closed} Session podcast with guest Alyssa Hutnik. Alyssa looms large in the privacy world, and she’s been thinking deeply about the intersections of data, technology and the law for nearly two decades. She’s also the Chief Privacy and Data Security Architect at Ketch, a super{set} company, as well as a lawyer. Hope you enjoy the episode!

The {closed} session - Season 4, Episode 2

Guest, Ayssa Hutnik, Chief Privacy and Data Security Architect at Ketch.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alysahutnik

Ketch: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ketchdigital/, TW: https://twitter.com/Ketch_Digital

Transcript

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Closed Session, How To Get Paid In SiliconValley with your host, Tom Chavez and Vivek Vaidya.

Vivek Vaidya:

Hello and welcome to the Closed Session podcast. I'm your host Vivek Vaidya and with me, I have.

Tom Chavez:

Tom Chavez in the house.

Vivek Vaidya:

He just made it. You just made it.

Tom Chavez:

I literally just ambled in here three minutes ago.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

It's karma. It's meant to be.

Vivek Vaidya:

It is meant to be. So today, we have a special guest inour podcast. We have Alysa Hutnik who chairs Kelley Drye's privacy informationsecurity practice. And Tom and I have the privilege and honor of working withAlysa as the chief privacy and data security guru at Ketch. She deliverscomprehensive expertise in all areas of privacy and data security andadvertising law. This includes compliance with federal and state lawsthroughout the US, including CCPA, CPRA compliance in California andinternationally, GDPR. That was bureaucratic, right?

Tom Chavez:

Very, very vicious.

Vivek Vaidya:

I did it though. I did it. I was told to do that, so I didit.

Tom Chavez:

Well, and I just saw Alysa last week in person at the IAPPconference, which is the, let me see if I can, it's the InternationalAssociation of Privacy Professionals where Alysa looms large. There's a numberof conferences and sessions and so on. And I saw Alysa at one of our breakoutsand I said, I can go to all of these different events or I could just sit downfor 10 minutes and talk to you and know everything that's going on in privacy.Bang. So we got 35 minutes of Alysa here.

If you're listening, everything you need to know aboutprivacy, you got dummies like me and Vivek asking open-ended questions. Listenclosely because Alysa looms large in privacy. Hi Alysa.

Alysa Hutnik:

Hi. That's a tall bill to live up to, but I'll do my best.

Tom Chavez:

We're your hype man.

Vivek Vaidya:

We are your hype man. Exactly. And Alysa is also on theboard of the Ethical Tech Project, Tom.

Tom Chavez:

Ethical Tech Project. Let's do a quick mention. EthicalTech Project is a convening of bright minds from legal and technology andbusiness and regulations focused on the application of data judiciously andethically to create cooler, more nourishing human experiences. We really meanit. It's that broad. It's that ambitious.

We understand that it's a collaborative thing. You can'thave just techies, for example, tackling problems of ethical data use. Youcan't have just legal folks. So we've convened the Ethical Tech Project andAylsa sits on that board with us as well. We like to think of it as a think anddo tank. So there's thinking and policy and advocacy, and then we also show upwith our engineering hats on to suggest open standards and referencearchitectures for how actual system builders could embed privacy into theirsystem. So it's pretty cool to have Alysa with us on that.

Vivek Vaidya:

Awesome. And Alysa, you got into privacy really, reallyearly, right, and now, you must be sitting back and saying, ah, the planet andstar finally started to tilt. I predicted it God knows way back when. So whatdrew you into privacy in the first place?

Alysa Hutnik:

It's been an interesting journey. As I think back to itnow, it's been over 20 years or so. And I think originally I got into it, we'reconsumers and I think all of us really care about our own privacy and dignityand probably read too many books growing up and worried about Orwellianscenarios. But as a lawyer, I had just the greatest luck and started workingwith a group that did a lot of FTC, Federal Trade Commission investigations.And I just happened to be there at the right time where the agency, they'dalways done advertising related work.

But they started pivoting to also including privacy anddata security as part of what the agency was focusing on. This was early 2000s,so think really boring webpages that did not do a whole lot. And it's been awild ride since then.

Tom Chavez:

You're such an OG. And to build on Vivek's question, Imean, first there weren't any of these model clauses in the EU at that time,which was the precursor to GDPR. It was entirely a state of mind, mostly in theUS. You were operating and advising a number of ad tech companies as I recall,right? So, were there particular insertion points or things going on? We'retrying to go back in a discussion like this, especially how the hell did we gethere? What were the early seedlings in terms of market concern for issuesrelating to privacy in 2000?

Alysa Hutnik:

Yeah, sure. So, it always starts with what's therelationship with the consumer? You're a retailer, you're a technology company,have you, you've got a relationship with an end user and you're trying tomarket to them. You're trying to find more customers. And so, I'd be advisingon marketing laws, advertising laws, that was part of my ambit. And a lot ofthat is based on permissions. Can you send an email to somebody? Can you callthem? Can you text them? And there are rules around that.

And the rules started getting longer and longer. And theway that we were seeing governments enforced or lawsuits being filed at the endof the day, the court was just more this complicated web of how companies usedinformation about their customers. And the way my mind works is I always try tomake sense of the chaos and consumer protection law, it's a lot of dots. Andyou got to find where the patterns are in that and there's just a lot ofinteresting patterns that kept building on each other.

I did some work in the health space, which had its ownHIPAA privacy law. That was early days, so that was its own set. But there's alot of themes that were in HIPAA that we would see and apply in other contexts.There was data security enforcement early 2000s. And there's a lot of themesthere that you would similarly apply to data uses. And at the end of the dayit's coming up with what makes sense as a program if I work with companies. Andthey don't want to focus on the law, they want to focus on the business.

So what is essentially rules of the road do's and don'tsthat can allow them to use their data in a way that they're not likely to getin trouble with the law.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah. Well, so building on that, because Vivek and I run astartup studio that is focused on building data-driven companies, we've beenworking in data management for 20 plus years. So just like you're coming up anddoing this thing that now is at the center of the planet, we also kind of feelsimilarly that, wow, things kind of really suddenly ... We did it because itwas cool and we're geeks, but then suddenly everybody's talking about dataAIML. So that's what we do with our jobs.

Now, data is either a geeky word or frequently a dirtyword in this context. People here, especially in the context of privacy, itgets everybody's hackles up. And so, I'm wondering if you could talk for aminute about how, and maybe it's too grand a question, but let's take a stab,how do you make it less geeky? How do you make it more relatable and accessibleand not so charged? And are you seeing any changes that way?

We just went to IAPP and all of these sessions and so onabout AI and data. So everyone's doing the talkie talk, but it still feels kindof elusive and geeky and weird. What's your thoughts?

Alysa Hutnik:

Well, two, one, when we're talking about data, you canlose the fact that there's a person involved. There's a human with feelings andbehaviors and may not like certain things or may really like certain things. SoI think if you humanize that it's more than just flat data, that's reallyimportant because it's really about relationships and trust. But I think theother part too is in the US, privacy wasn't super regulated. That's changed.

But for many, many, many years it really was more of bestpractices. And so, I don't see too many companies, I don't see any companiesthat would say and really invite regulators to come in and check everythingout. Because I don't think companies necessarily feel super proud that theyhave everything, the bells and whistles, on their privacy program because theydidn't have to. I think they didn't see where that was a revenue generatingopportunity, it was more in the compliance side.

So nothing you'd want to put a big spotlight on. And,well, I don't think we're there yet that there's that invitation. I think ascompanies have put the human first and really created something where they'reproud of it, when you see a lot of ad claim, advertising claims out now onprivacy safe and privacy supported and all because it is a draw. Now that claimalso has to be supported. But I think that it's indicative of a trend whereit's an area of investment that businesses see the business benefit of it asopposed to just a legal compliance related obligation.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. And so, that's interesting. So you're looking at itfrom the outside in the consumer's point of view and treating the consumer asan individual with feelings and expectations and all of that. And as companiestry to adopt these practices and change in mindset, I'm sure you must have runinto these challenges that companies face where they want to do the rightthing, but for whatever reason, they have these internal issues, let's justcall them those, that are getting in the way of them wanting to do the rightthing. So what are some examples of those that you've seen?

Alysa Hutnik:

So, I think a lot of companies have just collected dataover the years. Maybe they acquired other companies and assisted all sorts ofsystems that might not speak well to each other. So they don't even know whatdata they have. And it's bringing order to just that massive amounts of data isa lot. It's difficult. It's easy to start it from the ground up, but to applynew requirements that really require you to understand what data you have andwhy you have it and why you can use it, that is work and it is hard.

And so I think retrofitting to privacy obligations topreviously collected data is hard. I think relationships are really hard. Youmight have the best intentions of having a robust privacy program, but if yourbusiness partners are not on the same wavelength in terms of whether personaldata needs to be opt in or opt out the permission so that you can pass down thesame level of protection. It's hard to jump in that pool alone. You really needothers to be in the same level of what the expectations are.

And so it's fluid. I think the third aspect here is justknowledge. This has been moving so quickly. It is complicated. And I think wecan get lost in the weeds on what the rules are that I have to remind myself alot that you got to zoom out and what is this all about? You can focus on theparticular details, but really good judgment and trying to think of thatconsumer and what's reasonable, what would they expect can go a long way.

Tom Chavez:

Man, I really appreciate that point about rememberingthere are people involved that there's somebody on the other side of the screenthat's generating the data you care about and that person has motivations andaffinities and beliefs and expectations. And before we deface and defile themwith terms like consumer, I'm going to do this quick. I've always had a beefwith the word consumer. It's such an impersonal word. You're like, we're alllittle faceless conscripts out there consuming on behalf of a company.

At our last company, we actually took to calling it, wewouldn't refer to it as consumer data, we called it people data. It's sort ofan oxymoron like jumbo shrimp because data is the scientific engineering thingand a person is an actual person. I had a board member tell me, that's aterrible idea. Don't call it people data because nobody's going to know what itmeans. We're trying to change the conversation. What a difference a decademakes, right?

I'm glad to hear you say, Alysa, that companies now arestarting to recognize that it's not just a chore, but it's a responsibility.They have to be good stewards of that people data and they can't just keep onvoraciously devouring as much of it as they can without concern or constraintsor separate related like big tech has gone hog wild with too much data withoutenough good reasons for holding all of that data.

Alysa Hutnik:

Right. And maybe just to tack onto that, I think theindustry changes with Apple's move to ATT opt-in, the future deprecation ofthird party cookies by Chrome has really motivated companies that your firstparty data supply, how you get your customers, we don't have all you can eatbuffet of online advertising in the way that it used to be. So you have to be somuch more intentional in your customer acquisition. How do you retain thosepeople and really build that trust because that data is all the more valuable.

Tom Chavez:

Totally. Well, so I mentioned we were at this DC thing andit's really just the second one that we've attended. Ketch is still a youngcompany, so it's the second one we've been to. And man, what a difference ayear make. So I wanted to see if I could get your view and maybe I'm seeingwhat I want to see, but I was excited because last year felt a little cheery,honestly. This year felt like people are on the move and they're much fewerdefensive conversations tied to compliance. And at least several moreconversations I noticed in and around our booth tied to opportunity. How do wego on offense? Sort of along the lines of what you're saying, Alysa, but what'syour sense of the zeitgeist at IAPP this last year?

Alysa Hutnik:

I also felt the energy. I don't know if it's a matter ofpost pandemic or folks have gone through the different stages of grief. They'venow accepted it and are willing to move on and build. But I think in some ways,it's human nature. When you know that the dynamic has shifted, now it's movingforward. How do you move forward? You have to. That resonated for me in terms ofthe conversations that I had with folks. I think AI, every conversation was AIin one respect or another and privacy considerations.

So I think there was a lot of energy about that and justcuriosity. Amazingly, so many of these sessions, they had reached capacity.There was one that had the California regulators in there, and there's a lineof, I would say, maybe 200 more people who wanted to get in before they cut itoff. And so, when it comes to demand for content, demand for direction onprivacy, that was pretty telling in both about the enthusiasm and attentionthat the conference really had captured this year.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. I wasn't there, but my offline kind of takeaway wasthat regulation was not a four letter word and people are actually talkingabout it in ways that could make businesses better. Especially to your point,as AI starts to take more and more front and center stage, the intersection ofAI and privacy is open territory right now. So what's your view on where allthis kind of goes? How should a new company or even existing companies thinkabout the interplay between AI and privacy? What can they do with theirproducts, for example, to take advantage of all of this?

Alysa Hutnik:

Yeah, sure. So, I'm going to go back to that good judgment,read the terms, read the fine print. So, for example, open AI's terms. They'vegot a lot of restrictions in there and disclosures. And so, if you think aboutany platform, would your use comply with those terms or are consistent with theway that ChatGPT, for example, is powered. Their privacy concerns in terms ofthe type of data that's ingested and it's really based upon, and would you becontributing your customer data?

Is that consistent with what you've said in your privacypolicy? So thinking about just the privacy implications. I think the other sideto this is, really, how do you describe the AI tool and do that accurately whenyou're not really sure how it's powered or the emphasis of what data and theaccuracy of the outputs. And so, just even the description of it could be alegal claim, false advertising type of claim that the FTC or just privatelitigants are very likely to scrutinize.

There's a ton of other legal issues, but I think with anyshiny new technology object, really understanding what its capabilities are andwhat its limitations are. And so that you match your use for it to reallyaccount for those types of considerations.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. And it's fascinating what you just said. It seguesinto one thing I want to talk to you about. And we mentioned it, Tom mentionedit at the beginning with the Ethical Tech Project. The very nature of what youjust described. In order for you to do that successfully, it's aninterdisciplinary kind of approach. It can't just be the remit of lawyers orlegal people, product people have to be involved and engineers have to beinvolved, IT people have to be involved, et cetera. So, what do you see? Incompanies, are these cross-functional task forces being assembled to tackle theprivacy problems, so to speak?

Alysa Hutnik:

Well, when I see that they are assembled, that's where yousee, really, just more competent successful programs. If you have legal runningthis, then it's going to be compliance and somewhat defense risk management.And that's not how most businesses are run. So I think if there's a goodtranslation layer, which comes from all the different stakeholders trustingeach other and really trying to problem solve as opposed to speaking in silos,you just get better outputs from that.

But that's investing in relationships too. And I thinkthat's a culture to the company and I think it really contributes to thesuccess and a whole range of things.

Tom Chavez:

So now I'm going to get a little sporty, but I rememberearly on in my career when I was talking to lawyers and I remember just exitingthose conversations depleted because I just got 45 minutes of all the reasonsyou're going to die, all the reasons you can't. And I mean, the legal training,creates a lot of that dynamic for people. And I'm newer to the privacy lawelements here, but I do remember Alysa early on, before we were fortunate tomeet you, some of these conversations were just punishing because you haveofficious, very zealous privacy lawyers kind of just throwing the gauntlet atyou.

Again, all the reasons why you can't and all the thingsyou can't do and no problem solving to your point. I don't want to turn thisinto therapy session, but it feels like if we're going to succeed here, theprivacy lawyers need to get a lot more interested in solving problems andpartnering tightly with techies like us and business people to try to threadthis needle.

As you've educated us, there's a lot of murk still inthese. There's a lot of squish in the way these things can be interpreted andput into action. Again, I want to see what I wanted to see, but I felt likethis last year at IAPP, it was more practical the way people like us show up.Okay, what are we going to do now? Are you seeing people in your, and you'retraining people at Kelley Drye, I presume, to take that posture and get inthere and don't just throw the book at them, figure out ways to solve theseproblems. Is that a broader sea change, do you think? Are we seeing that happennow?

Alysa Hutnik:

I'm hopeful. I mean, it's back to the culture of thelawyer and the law firm in some ways. I think, for us, it's client servicestandards. And so, that's all about how do you support the business objective?It's not, the law doesn't exist for the sake of the law. We're trying tosupport a company and its mission. And I think you probably do have a lot oflawyers just like you have any other professionals that may have limitations.So I think in some ways, finding your right privacy support and that coulddepend on the company and really what its needs are.

But I was excited about at IAPP, yes, you have lawyers andyou also all these non-lawyers, privacy professionals. So that is prettyexciting in the terms of the support that companies can get. That I think alsocould be a good translation layer and an economical one so you're not payinglawyer type rates for all of the implementation work that needs to happen.

Tom Chavez:

Right. Hey listen, can I interject with a totally unpaidfor promotion?

Vivek Vaidya:

Oh sure.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah.

Vivek Vaidya:

You have one?

Tom Chavez:

I do have one.

Vivek Vaidya:

Okay.

Tom Chavez:

And you don't even know what it is. Sometimes if you'relistening to these podcasts, we've got a little something up our sleeves. Thistime, I'm just throwing it out there.

Vivek Vaidya:

Drop it.

Tom Chavez:

So you mentioned, I was just barely on time and I got tostop and get a big shout out to a Luxor cab driver named Scott. So when I landat the airport, a lot of people like to do their Ubers. I love to do my oldschool, just walk out and get a cab ...

Vivek Vaidya:

Oh wow. Look at that.

Tom Chavez:

I know. I'm like, I'm a man of ...

Vivek Vaidya:

You're old school.

Tom Chavez:

I'm old school. So I go out to the taxi line and I hopinto this cabin. It was a delightful ride and a nice little walk back downbecause this guy is a veteran, born and raised in San Francisco. I tell himwhere I live, it's a quirky street. He knows exactly ...

Vivek Vaidya:

How to get there.

Tom Chavez:

And by the way, yes, it's like three secret routes.Because you live in San, when you live in San Francisco, it's a quirky city. Soyou have all these weird little routes that only the veterans know of and theamateurs take obvious streets. So we have a delightful conversation about howto get to my place. And in that context, he takes me back to old stories of SanFrancisco, which was again lovely. Also, I found this interesting. He wastalking about, I asked him, how long have you been driving? Oh, I've beendriving a cab for 40 years. Never had another job. Those are the last of the ofMohicans. I mean there's like five of those guys in San Francisco.

But talking about how he had basically divorced friends ofhis who were cab drivers and then went to what he calls the dark side. He won'teven say the word Uber.

Vivek Vaidya:

Wow.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah, he won't even say Uber. But you know what?

Vivek Vaidya:

Did you get his consent though, Tom, before using his namethough?

Tom Chavez:

I did not, but there's a lot of Scott.

Vivek Vaidya:

See, Alysa, what do you think about that?

Tom Chavez:

I didn't say his last name. And it's his ...

Vivek Vaidya:

Luxor cab. Scott. There's a lot of information beingdisclosed over there, right?

Tom Chavez:

You got me.

Vivek Vaidya:

I love that you're considering that. I feel like, Scott,we're probably still in a somewhat anonymous state there. Wouldn't give you toomuch heartburn.

Tom Chavez:

When you got a name like Scott or Tom, you could beanybody. Vivek, in contrast, that's more ...

Vivek Vaidya:

I don't know about that.

Tom Chavez:

That's a more discriminatory power.

Vivek Vaidya:

I don't know about that.

Tom Chavez:

We pretty much know who you are. Anyway, shout out toScott. Totally unpaid for promotion. If you're in San Francisco and you see aLuxor cab and a nice older gentleman is driving, he's probably Scott, give hima hug for me.

Vivek Vaidya:

There we go. Scott, I'll be on the lookout for you.

Tom Chavez:

There you go.

Vivek Vaidya:

Should we get back to privacy?

Tom Chavez:

Okay, let's do it.

Vivek Vaidya:

All right. All right. All right. So, just building on whatwe were talking about earlier before we heard this magnificent story aboutScott, what do you think Alysa is working or not working when it comes to dataprivacy, especially when it's applied? So the practice of data privacy in theenterprise or the industry out there.

Alysa Hutnik:

So I think where we're used to legal support is, if you'relucky, you have somebody who specializes in certain areas and they work in thecompany. And the privacy would be in their domain and they're responsible forit. I think that is fine when there's not a whole lot of obligations and it'sreally more ad hoc advice here and there. The problem is that we now have awhole slew of requirements that go to the fabric of a company. It's not a legalissue. It's how you design your systems? How the marketing is even thinkingabout their strategy, their digital strategy, their offline strategy? Howthey're setting up clean rooms? It's like the big shiny new thing.

All of that raises privacy issues, the risk assessmentissues. And you can't have one or two people be responsible for that for thecompany. I mean, it's a leadership issue. It's a stakeholder issue. And it hasto be, you know the word privacy by design, but really it's like everybodyneeds to be aware and at least trained within their role on what they should beissue spotting for and incorporating. So until we're there, then I think we'restill working uphill.

Vivek Vaidya:

We're optimists, right? So, optimistically speaking, whatare some things that you're excited about as you climb this hill? What are somemilestones along the way where you're like, oh, wow, that was cool. That'sexciting and that's hopeful.

Alysa Hutnik:

Well, I am an optimist, and as you know, I totally nerdout over privacy. So, I get really excited about all of this. And I'm excitedfor the reasons Tom said that people are talking about it and people aretalking about it who are not lawyers. It's in the consciousness. We are seeingmore leadership really speak about it to their companies within the company andbe open to change that actually accounts for privacy.

So, I do see a tide turning. And I think just even theinnovation, and you don't need to use so much personal information for certainbusiness functions, and that has been a hard concept to really swallow for alot of companies. But it is a mindset and it's cool to see the different kindsof innovation, like clean rooms, like privacy enhancing technologies. I just seea lot of promise in where we're going there. Even in the advertising context,contextual advertising has gotten a lot better than it should be.

Tom Chavez:

Well, let's go deeper on a particular point here. SoCalifornia has a privacy regulation called CCPA and then CPRAs is coming out.Now, I wanted to ask you to educate our listeners for a minute as to what, andmaybe a little case study on CPRA, what is it called for? What are the mainelements with that? We can geek out for, but give them the main thrust. Butalong those lines now, see, everybody looks at California. When I grew up inAlbuquerque, New Mexico, my dad would playfully refer to California as the landof fruit and nuts because all those crazy Californians, they're always comingup with nutty stuff and who knows.

But it's not just California, it's Virginia, it'sColorado, it's Connecticut, it's Utah. So, let's also make sure peopleunderstand it's not just crazy Californians doing the privacy thing. Otherstates are doing it. So, the first part is, give us a little tutorial on CPRA.But then, go forward a little bit and tell us what we should make of thispatchwork of state regulations. At Ketch, we refer to it as whack-a-mole,right? We see companies who are frustrated trying to figure out how to navigatethis complex array of different state regulations and they're not the same,right? So what's ahead in that regard? But first, CPRA.

Alysa Hutnik:

Yeah, so CPRA, the version 1.0 was the first version, andit was enforced so that made it real really quickly for companies. It obligatedcompanies to make specific disclosures about their data practices, which alsohad to be accurate. So it forced companies, really, to look at what they aredoing and get pretty granular in terms of the kinds of third parties they'resharing personal information with and their advertising practices and thedifferent uses.

And I think that was a fairly intensive obligation for anumber of companies and just getting those notices right, not very sexy, butthat was one of the obligations. The other one, contract terms. They had amagic language privacy terms in their contracts with partners, with serviceproviders and have a good sense of who actually was a service provider that youshared personal information with. And I think many companies just assumed,look, we've got contract terms. They're our partner, they're our vendor.

And California made a really big distinction on is itactually just using the personal data, your customer data for you? Or was itpowering other business commercial endeavors by that partner? And if that's thecase, then there are certain rights for that consumer on whether they wanttheir data to be shared in that way or not and the choice to choose not to havethat. And so that was a big change that companies did not have to do before.

The other things they had to go through their websites andreally understand what tags they were using on their websites and what tagswere firing, advertising and analytics tags, and have some process around that.So when a consumer said, I don't want that, the consumer could actually be ableto opt out of that and have those right notices explain those rights. And then,the rights. So I was talking about the opt-out, but consumers also could ask acompany, give me a copy of all the data you have about me. Or I want you todelete all the data that you have about me and have that done within a prettyreasonably short timeframe to do that.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah. Well, on that point about service providers, Vivekand I have had big feelings about that for well over a decade. The firstproduct we built at the last company called Krux was a thing called DataCentury. And this is before, well before CPRA, so if we get the fine print of aprivacy regulation. From our perspective, way back when you saw all of thatthird party script on people's websites, we were trying to, with modestsuccess, I would say, we had some companies who felt strongly about it where,no, no, no, no, that's your data.

In fact, we had stickers on our laptops. That's your data.It's not their data. Why are these other weirdos coming in and extracting dataunder the dark of night? And by the way, is that any good for the consumer onthe other side of the screen? Did they even know? Of course there was no opt-init was, again, in the dark of night. So it was crazy town in 2010. I'm gladthat there are actually regulations now that attend to that problem. It's stilla biggie.

Alysa Hutnik:

There are. They're just not the same.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah.

Alysa Hutnik:

You mentioned the other states besides California. So wehave six states. And depending on the type of personal information, if it'ssensitive for example, it might need an opt-in instead of an opt-out. And so Ithink for a lot of companies, just really thinking through the data they have,classifying it and having the right set of permissions. And do they want to dosomething different for California because it's the most specific on certainthings? Or do they want to do it to whole United States? Even if some of thestates, many of the states, don't yet have specific laws.

To the whack-a-mole point, I think just really having astrategy so that you're not constantly telling your engineers and yourmarketing team one thing and then going back to them a month or two monthslater and saying, actually there's a new law and now we have to do somethingslightly different. That's a hard program to roll out. So it's reallyanticipating around the corner and having something that's more durable in myview.

Vivek Vaidya:

So let me just ask a somewhat controversial question, Iguess. Do you think we'll see a federal regulation on privacy in our lifetime?

Alysa Hutnik:

In our lifetime?

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Alysa Hutnik:

That was a very good caveat. So I had mentioned earlier Iam an optimist, and I am. I am not optimistic though that we will see acomprehensive privacy law, the federal privacy law. I think we might see a newchild's update to that or teen's data. It's just been really difficult to getbipartisan compromise on this. There are strong feelings on whether thereshould be only a privacy law in states should not be allowed to have their ownlaws.

And I think that that is really just a gating issue. Andparticularly when you have laws like California that now not only are out, buthave regulations have been enforced, companies have designed programs aroundthat to suddenly shift course that seems less and less likely with the moretime that goes by.

Vivek Vaidya:

So the whack-a-mole is going to continue.

Tom Chavez:

On this podcast, we don't show for our companies, but italmost, it's just nutty and irresponsible not to mention that this is why Ketchexists, right, because we've seen these problems. There is this whack-a-mole,this patchwork of state regulations, and so many of the privacy promises thathave been made were just kind of a state of mind. They weren't actually beingenforced and enacted. We looked at that and said, okay, that's a beautifulplace to put the machines to work. You can't hire enough privacy programmanagers and lawyers. You can't throw enough bodies at the problem to manage itin that way.

So it's a beautiful opportunity for software. And that'sthe essence of Ketch. I mean there's many nooks and crannies and complexity,but the essence of it is turning privacy programs with lawyers and programmanagers and making it programmatic, making IT software enabled and go tosleep. If the privacy demons go bump in the night, the software's doing whatit's supposed to do.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. So ...

Tom Chavez:

That was an unpaid for promotion as well, I guess ...

Vivek Vaidya:

For whom though? For Ketch?

Tom Chavez:

For Ketch.

Vivek Vaidya:

There we go. Okay. Yeah, yeah. Good well done.

Tom Chavez:

At least I'm owning it. At least I'm owning it.

Vivek Vaidya:

At least you're owning it. That's right. That's right. Soas we close this out, Alysa, just a great conversation. What advice do you havefor our listeners who are kind of grappling with these issues? If there aresoftware companies like Ketch or large companies who are trying to deal withthese privacy regulations, what advice do you have?

Alysa Hutnik:

Have a data strategy, really. Thinking about why data isimportant to them and their future. And I think if you really build your datastrategy and how privacy supports that data strategy, because clarity ofmission, I just think it's so critical. And if you're dead by a thousand cutson privacy compliance along the way, it's just really ... I think it just cutsagainst the ability for a business to move forward. And this is happening,right? It's not changing.

And so, the more you are sophisticated and reallyunderstand, back to the good judgment on how can I have durable strategy for mydata and where does privacy fit into that? And if you're not getting practicaladvice from the lawyers with whom you're talking to solve the problems, thentalk to some other lawyers. Because I think having those relevant stakeholdersat the table and really thinking big picture before you dive into the weeds, Ithink, you'll just be so much more efficient and you'll have clarity of missionthat the privacy compliance just really goes along and helps support that.

Vivek Vaidya:

No, I think that's spot on. I wish we had done that atKrux way back when, right? Because we actually did have some of these issuesand it was hard for us to retrofit all these. I retrofit our technology tocomply with GDPR and things like that. We were able to do it. It was painful.But yeah, I sure wish we had thought about a lot of these issues way back in2010 that would've simplified our lives quite a lot, actually.

Tom Chavez:

You're speaking our language, Alysa. And how interestingis it to have a privacy lawyer on this podcast who is advocating a datastrategy. Find the data strategy, and then attend to the privacyconsiderations. But sort of to your point, Vivek, and we've seen thisfirsthand. You can't staple on these solutions later. You got to get it rightat design time.

Well, Alysa, what a pleasure having you with us. And it'sso cool to get to work with you in all these different contexts and tointroduce you to our listeners today on this important topic of privacy.

Alysa Hutnik:

Well, thank you so much for having me. I've been an activelistener, so it's super exciting to be on the podcast. Thank you.

Vivek Vaidya:

Well, thank you, Alysa. And yeah, thank you listeners, andwe'll see you soon.

Tom Chavez:

Thanks everybody.

 

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MedCity News: It’s Time for the Tech Revolution to Come to Mental Health Diagnoses

Headlamp Health co-founder Andrew Marshak writes in the MedCity News that "We need to take inspiration from the progress in oncology over the last few decades and challenge ourselves to adapt its successful playbook to mental illness. It’s time for precision psychiatry."

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What Consumers Think of AI and Their Privacy

Everyone’s talking about AI - so The Ethical Tech Project decided to listen. Joining forces with programmatic privacy and data+AI governance platform Ketch, The Ethical Tech Project surveyed a representative sample of 2,500 U.S. consumers and asked them about AI, the companies leveraging AI, and their sentiment and expectations around AI and privacy. On the latest episode of The {Closed} Session, get an inside look at the survey results in a deep-dive conversation with the team at The Ethical Tech Project.

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Why the AI Revolution Will Be Data-Centric

Pankaj Rajan, co-founder of MarkovML, joins super{set} Chief Commercial Officer Jon Suarez-Davis (jsd) to discuss the role of data in gaining a competitive advantage in the AI revolution. Learn the difference between optimizing models and optimizing data in machine learning applications, and why effective collaboration will make or break the next-gen AI applications being created in businesses.

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How Boombox Nurtures Customer Collaboration for Success

In a conversation with boombox's co-founder India Lossman, the discussion pivots to the art of fostering customer collaboration in music creation. Lossman unveils how artist-driven feedback shapes boombox's innovative platform, with a glimpse into AI's empowering potential. Understand the synergy between technology and user insights as they redefine the independent music landscape.

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The super{set} Entrepreneurial Guild

Has someone looking to make a key hire ever told you that they are after “coachability”? Take a look at the Google ngram for “coachability” — off like a rocket ship since the Dot Com bubble, and it’s not even a real word! Coaching is everywhere in Silicon Valley...

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We don’t critique, we found and build.

The super{set} studio model for early-stage venture It is still early days for the startup studio model. We know this because at super{set} we still get questions from experienced operators and investors. One investor that we’ve known for years recently asked us: “you have a fund — aren’t you just a venture capital firm with a different label?”

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High-Velocity Personal Growth

What's the price you put on personal growth? In his most recent note to founders, super{set} Founding General Partner Vivek Vaidya outlines 7 points of advice for startup interviews and negotiations. Vivek explains his compensation philosophy and the balance between cash and the investment in personal and career growth a startup can bring. Here’s the mindset you need to reach your zenith at a startup.

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Watch: Sandeep Bhandari Fireside Chat

Sandeep Bhandari, Former Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Risk Officer at buy now, pay later (BNPL) company Affirm, joins Vivek Vaidya, Founding General Partner of super{set}, in conversation.

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Why CTOs Should Care About Gross Margins, Cost-to-Serve, and Product Management

Why should a tech exec care about profit and loss? Aren’t our jobs to make the product great, and someone else can figure out how to make the numbers add up? That was my attitude for a long time until I finally appreciated the significance of gross margins for SaaS businesses during the early part of my tenure as the CTO of Krux.

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Diamonds in the Rough

Obsessive intensity. Pack animal nature. Homegrown hero vibes. Unyielding grit. A chip on the shoulder. That's who we look for to join exceptional teams.

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How I Learned to Stop Optimizing and Love the Startup Ride

Reflections after a summer as an engineering intern at super{set}

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Good Ideas, Good Luck

Coming up with new company ideas is easy: we take the day off, go to the park, and let the thoughts arrive like butterflies. Maybe we grab a coconut from that guy for a little buzz. While this describes a pleasant day in San Francisco, it couldn’t be further from the truth of what we do at super{set}. If only we could pull great ideas out of thin air. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.

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The Four Types of Startup Opportunities

In our last post, we discussed how data is the new general-purpose technology and that is why at super{set} we form data-driven companies from scratch. But new technologies are a promise, not a sudden phase change.

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VCs Write Investment Memos, We Write Solution Memos

When a VC decides to invest in a company, they write up a document called the “Investment Memo” to convince their partners that the decision is sound. This document is a thorough analysis of the startup...

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Forbes: 5 Startup Studio Misconceptions

It's still early for the startup studio asset class - and we hear misconceptions about the studio model every day, ranging from the basic confusion of accelerators versus studios to downright incorrect assumptions on our deep commitment to the build-out of every company. Read Tom Chavez' latest in Forbes.

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super{set}’s Spectrum Detoxifies The Online Space

We are living in a time of extraordinary concern about the negative consequences of online platforms and social media. We worry about the damage interactive technologies cause to society; about the impact to our mental health; and about the way that these platforms and their practices play to our most destructive impulses. Too often, the experiences we have online serve only to polarize, divide, and amplify the worst of human nature.

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Spectrum Co-founders Launch Nurdle AI

Justin Davis and Josh Newman, Co-founders of Spectrum Labs (acquired) launch Nurdle to get AI into production faster, cheaper & easier.

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Building Fast, Scaling Globally

Harshil Vyas joined the super{set} Hive (i.e., portfolio companies community) in March 2023 as Co-Founder of Kapstan and employee number one in India. We jumped on a Zoom recently to talk about accelerated timelines, globally distributed workforces, and what is unique about the super{set} model.

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Former Salesforce SVP of Marketing Strategy and Innovation Jon Suarez-Davis “JSD” Appointed Chief Commercial Officer at super{set}

The Move Accelerates the Rapidly Growing Startup Studio’s Mission to Lead the Next Generation of AI and Data-Driven Market Innovation and Success

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Podcast: Tom Chavez on How AI Startups Can Show Us What’s Next in Marketing

Tom Chavez joins the "Decoding AI for Marketing" podcast published by MMA Global and hosted by well-respected international marketing & AI experts Greg Stuart (CEO, Author, Investor, Speaker) and Rex Briggs (Founder/CEO, Inventor, Author, Speaker).

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Pivots and Possibilities

Discover how lessons from law enforcement shape a thriving tech career. Ketch Sr. Business Development Representative Brenda Flores shares a bold career pivot in our latest "Pass the Mic" story.

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Jamming with Habu’s Matt Kilmartin on Partnership Strategy

Discover how Habu, a trailblazer in data clean room technology, utilizes strategic partnerships with giants like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and AWS to expand its market reach and foster the potential of an emerging category. Learn from CEO Matt Kilmartin's insights on how collaboration is the secret sauce that brings innovation to life.

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Overheard @ super{summit}

Vivek Vaidya's takeaways from the inaugural super{summit}

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How Engineers Should Talk to Customers with Empathy

Do you get an uneasy feeling anytime you get added to a customer call? Do you ever struggle to respond to a frustrated customer? Peter Wang, Product lead at Ketch, discusses how customer feedback can help drive product development, and how engineers can use customer insights to create better products. Learn best practices for collecting and interpreting customer feedback.

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Developer tools that are worth their while: KEDA and Boundary in action

Running cloud platforms efficiently while keeping them secure can be challenging. In this blog post, learn how two of super{set}’s portfolio companies, MarkovML and Kapstan, are leveraging tools like KEDA for event-driven scale and Boundary for access management to remove friction for developers. Get insights into real-world use cases about optimizing resource usage and security without compromising productivity.

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Too Dumb to Quit

The decision to start a company – or to join an early stage one – is an act of the gut. On good days, I see it as a quasi-spiritual commitment. On bad days, I see it as sheer irrationality. Whichever it is, you’ll be happier if you acknowledge and calmly accept the lunacy of it all...

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super{set} Celebrates First Exit: LiveRamp to Acquire Data Collaboration Software Startup Habu for $200M

LiveRamp Enters Into Definitive Agreement to Acquire Habu, Reinforcing super{set}'s Unique Company Building Model of Founding, Funding, and Scaling Data+AI Businesses

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Why Proprietary Data Is the Linchpin of AI Disruption

Read Vivek Vaidya's latest in CDO Magazine and learn why in this new AI landscape, those who harness the potential of proprietary data and foster a culture of collaboration will lead the way—those who don't risk obsolescence.

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Lessons from the Startup Circus

super{set} Technical Lead and resident front-end engineering expert Sagar Jhobalia recaps lessons from participating in multiple product and team build-outs in our startup studio. Based on a decade of experience, Sagar emphasizes the importance of assembling the right engineering team, setting expectations, and strategically planning MVPs for early wins in the fast-paced startup environment.

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Hold Fast: Game-Changing Wisdom from Seamus Blackley

Creator of the XBox and serial entrepreneur Seamus Blackley joined Tom Chavez on stage at the 2023 super{summit} in New Orleans, Louisiana, for a free-ranging conversation covering the intersection of creativity and technology, recovering back from setbacks to reach new heights, and a pragmatic reflection on the role of fear and regret in entrepreneurship.

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Founder and Father: A Balancing Act

Making It Work With Young Kids & Young Companies

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Building Tech on a Moving Regulatory Target

In an interview with Ketch co-founder Max Anderson, the focus is on data privacy laws and AI's role. Anderson discusses the global privacy landscape, highlighting Ketch's approach to helping businesses navigate regulations. The conversation also emphasizes data dignity and Ketch's unique role in the AI revolution.

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The Balancing Act For Women in Tech

This post was written by Ketch Sales Director, Sheridan Rice, as part of our #PassTheMic series.

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Why I Left Google To Co-found with super{set}

Gal Vered of Checksum explains his rationale for leaving Google to co-found a super{set} company.

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Four Tips for a Distributed Workforce

This month we pass the mic to Sagar Gaur, Software Engineer at super{set} MLOps company MarkovML, who shares with us his tips for working within a global startup with teams in San Francisco and Bengaluru, India

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Why I'm Joining super{set} as Chief Commercial Officer

Announcing Jon Suarez-Davis (jsd) as super{set}’s Chief Commercial Officer: jsd tells us in his own words why he's joining super{set}

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Why Headlamp Health is Bringing Precision to Mental Health

Co-founder of Headlamp Health, Andrew Marshak, describes the frustratingly ambiguous state of mental health diagnoses - and the path forward for making mental health a precision science.

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Infrastructure Headaches - Where’s the Tylenol?

Head of Infrastructure at Ketch, and Kapstan Advisor, Anton Winter explains a few of the infrastructure and DevOps headaches he encounters every day.

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Navigating the Startup Journey from Launch to Finish Line

Are you a launcher, or a finisher? The balance of conviction, a guiding vision, and the right team to execute it all make the difference between entrepreneurial success and failure. Tom Chavez delves into his journey as a first-time CEO and the invaluable guidance he received from a key mentor.

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Why I'm Co-founding @ super{set}

Pankaj Rajan, co-founder at MarkovML, describes his Big Tech and startup experience and his journey to starting a company at super{set}.

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Why the AI Revolution Will Be Data-Centric

Pankaj Rajan, co-founder of MarkovML, joins super{set} Chief Commercial Officer Jon Suarez-Davis (jsd) to discuss the role of data in gaining a competitive advantage in the AI revolution. Learn the difference between optimizing models and optimizing data in machine learning applications, and why effective collaboration will make or break the next-gen AI applications being created in businesses.

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Detecting Software Bugs with AI

Gal Vered is co-founder and Head of Product at Checksum (checksum.ai), an innovative company that provides end-to-end test automation that leverages AI to test every corner of an app. He sat down with Jon Suarez-Davis (jsd) to discuss the exciting problem that Checksum is solving with AI and what Gal likes best about working in super{set}'s startup studio model.

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boombox.io Raises $7M to Build Out Creator Platform for Music Makers

super{set} startup studio portfolio company’s seed funding round was led by Forerunner Ventures with participation from Ulu Ventures Raise will enable boombox.io to accelerate product development on the way to becoming the winning creator platform for musicians globally

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ActiveFence Acquires super{set} Company Spectrum Labs

ActiveFence, the leading technology solution for Trust and Safety intelligence, management and content moderation, today announced its successful acquisition of Spectrum Labs, a pioneer in text-based Contextual AI Content Moderation.

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From Chords, to Code, to Chords Again: The Story Behind Boombox.io

super{set} founding general partner Tom Chavez wasn’t always set on a life of engineering and entrepreneurship – music was his first love. For a time, he was determined to make a career out of it. With boombox.io, Tom has combined the best of both worlds into a product that inspires and delights both the engineer and the musician.

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Not Just On Veterans Day

This post was written by Ketch Developer Advocate, Ryan Overton, as part of our #PassTheMic series.

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The RevOps Bowtie Data Problem

Go-to-market has entered a new operating environment. Enter: RevOps. We dig into the next solution space for super{set}, analyzing the paradigm shift in GTM and the data challenges a new class of company must solve.

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Data Eats the World

The wheel. Electricity. The automobile. These are technologies that had a disproportionate impact on the merits of their first practical use-case; but beyond that, because they enabled so much in terms of subsequent innovation, economic historians call them “general-purpose technologies” or GPTs...

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Horizontal Scaling at super{summit}

Vivek gives us the rundown on what the hive is buzzing about after super{summit} 2023: how to 'horizontally scale' yourself.

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Tech Crunch: Answering AI’s biggest questions requires an interdisciplinary approach

Tom Chavez, writing in TechCrunch, calls for new approaches to the problems of Ethical AI: "We have to build a more responsible future where companies are trusted stewards of people’s data and where AI-driven innovation is synonymous with good. In the past, legal teams carried the water on issues like privacy, but the brightest among them recognize they can’t solve problems of ethical data use in the age of AI by themselves."

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Why Head of Product is Our First Co-Founder

At super{set}, we stand side-by-side and pick up the shovel with our co-founders. Our first outside co-founder at a super{set} company is usually a Head of Product. Let’s unpack each portion of that title....

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When Inference Meets Engineering

Othmane Rifki, Principal Applied Scientist at super{set} company Spectrum Labs, reports from the session he led at super{summit} 2022: "When Inference Meets Engineering." Using super{set} companies as examples, Othmane reveals the 3 ways that data science can benefit from engineering workflows to deliver business value.

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The Product Mindset for Engineers

Ever find yourself scratching your head about product management decisions? Join India Lossman, co-founder of boombox.io, as she unpacks the product mindset for engineers. Unravel the art of synergy between PMs and engineers and delve into strategies to enhance collaboration and craft products that users will adore.

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7 Ways to Turn an Internship Into a Job at a Startup

Chris Fellowes, super{set} interned turned full time employee at super{set} portfolio company Kapstan, gives his 7 recommendations for how to turn an internship into a job at a startup.

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The Information: "TikTok Is Not the Enemy"

Tom writes a nuanced take on the TikTok controversy and outlines ethical data principles that will restore people’s sense of trust and offer them true control over how and when they grant permission for use of their data.

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Forbes: Why A Collaborative Approach Trumps "Lone Genius" In Company-Building

Off the heels of super{set}'s first exit - the acquisition of data collaboration company Habu by LiveRamp for $200 Million - Tom Chavez writes how the super{set} approach to collaboration in company building leads to successful outcomes.

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How To Avoid Observability MELTdown

o11y - What is it? Why is it important? What are the tools you need? More importantly - how can you adopt an observability mindset? Habu Software Architect Siddharth Sharma reports from his session at super{summit} 2022.

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Tom Chavez in Huffpost Personal for Hispanic Heritage Month

Writing in the Huffington Post: "My Mom Sent Me And My 4 Siblings To Harvard. Here's The 1 Thing I Tell People About Success."

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From Watsonville To The Moon

This post was written by Habu software engineer, Martín Vargas-Vega, as part of our new #PassTheMic series.

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The Information: The People OpenAI Should Consider for Its New Board

Tom Chavez writes in The Information that "OpenAI’s board needs a data ethicist, a philosopher of mind, a neuroscientist, a computer scientist with interdisciplinary expertise and a political strategist."

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Understanding The AI “Alignment Problem”

Vivek Vaidya recaps his conversation with AI researcher and author of "The Alignment Problem" Brian Christian at the 2023 super{summit}.

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MedCity News: It’s Time for the Tech Revolution to Come to Mental Health Diagnoses

Headlamp Health co-founder Andrew Marshak writes in the MedCity News that "We need to take inspiration from the progress in oncology over the last few decades and challenge ourselves to adapt its successful playbook to mental illness. It’s time for precision psychiatry."

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Silicon Valley’s Greatest Untapped Resource: Moms

This post was written by MarkovML Co-Founder, Lindsey Meyl, as part of our #PassTheMic series.

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An Intro to Product-Led Growth from MarkovML

Want to grow your product organically? This blog post breaks down understanding costs, setting up starter plans, and pricing premium features using MarkovML as an example. Learn how to engage new users and encourage upgrades, enhancing user experience and fueling growth through actionable insights.

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CalMatters: Why visa reforms benefit not just California’s tech sector but the economy overall

Vivek Vaidya writes that America needs more H-1B workers. Common sense reforms to the program will even the playing field for startups, not Big Tech, to bring innovative talent to American's shores.

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Forbes: Why The Biden-Xi Talks Should Put A Microscope On San Francisco

The prettifying and securing of downtown San Francisco, where super{set} is headquartered, should be the norm - not just for special state visits from the world's dictators. Here are 3 things the city of San Francisco should be doing all year round to make the city better to live, work, and invest in. Read Tom Chavez' latest in Forbes.

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Q&A with Accel Founder Arthur Patterson

Arthur Patterson, founder of venture capital firm Accel, sits down for a fireside chat with super{set} founding partner Tom Chavez as part of our biweekly super{set} Community Call. Arthur and Tom cover venture investing, company-building, and even some personal stories from their history together.

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The Era of Easy $ Is Over

The era of easy money - or at least, easy returns for VCs - is over. Tom Chavez is calling for VCs to show up in-person at August board meetings, get off the sidelines, and start adding real value and hands-on support for founders.

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From Suitcases to Startups: Why Immigrants Innovate

How are immigrants like entrepreneurs? Peter Wang of Ketch arrived in the U.S. at age 7 with two suitcases and a box. Read his story in the latest "Pass The Mic."

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Redefining Customer Experience in Data-Driven Tech Startups

Ted Flanagan, Chief Customer Officer at super{set}-founded Habu, sat down with Jon Suarez-Davis (jsd) to provide insights into how Habu's strategies in customer experience set it apart in the data collaboration market. Learn how customer experience strategies helped Habu land a $200 million after being acquired by LiveRamp in January 2024.

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