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The Future of Work and Talent in Tech

July 11, 2023
Written By
July 11, 2023
Season 4 Episode 6
33:26
Written By

Does it matter where you go to college? Should the SAT be abolished? Do you have to have a degree in computer science to work in tech? What are the differences between higher education in the US and in India? Why did Tom and Vivek ban Harvard and Stanford degrees from working at their first company?

Even though both Tom and Vivek have – in their own words – fancy degrees themselves, they also acknowledge that they came into the job market when there were fewer graduates in computer science than there are today. So what do the thousands of freshly minted CS graduates need to know about becoming successful? As Vivek notes, sometimes all you need is an opportunity.

super{set} Twitter: @supersetstudio, @ClosedSeshPod

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/superset-studio/

Twitter: @tommychavez, @vsvaidya

Transcript

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Closed Session, How to Get Paid in Silicon Valley with your host, Tom Chavez and Vivek Vaidya.

Vivek Vaidya:

Welcome everyone to season four of the closed session. I'm Vivek Vaidya and with me, I have...

Tom Chavez: Tom Chavez. 

Tom Chavez:

So this episode, we wanted to talk about the future of talent, and we want to take a broad, broad view because even though in my mind I'm 17, 18, I actually have two kids who are older and Vivek has a kid who's in high school.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

And so we've been at this-

Vivek Vaidya:

About to turn 17.

Tom Chavez:

Right. And he's way more mature than I am. So we have kids and we see them moving up in the world and we see, for example, Columbia University, an August Ivy League institution. We instantly decided to abolish SATs, and so we're going to treat that as an insertion point for the discussion, but we really want to, if we can, kind of cover the whole sweep and share some perspective on how the battle for talent and the preconditions and the dynamics of talent in our industry, which is tech, how all of those things are shifting and they're shifting at the speed of light right now, wouldn't you say?

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm. Yep, absolutely. I think it's interesting because there's the work aspect of talent and then there's education. I think the two are related, but they're not the same. So it'll be wonderful to kind of examine those two things.

Tom Chavez:

Right. And look, the elephant in the chapel is that you have a lot of younger people these days. When you and I got into this game, let's just say it, I mean, was one of a tiny handful of computer science students in 1990 graduating in a class of 1600 people. Now, fast-forward to today, I understand that there are like 550 computer science graduates, right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm.

Tom Chavez:

So you and I just stumbled upon this for different reasons and we just liked it. Suddenly the whole planet tilts in our direction and everybody's trying to get in the game. And you see a lot of young people wanting, and we get it, you want to create wealth for yourselves, you want to take care of your family. Those are laudable goals. Correspondingly, in the same way people used to get into management consulting and investment banking, because they were all about the wealth. You see that same kind of influx now-

Vivek Vaidya:

Happening in tech.

Tom Chavez:

In tech. And everybody's trying to figure out, well, how do I do it? And how much do the fancy degrees matter? How do I credentialize myself to be taken seriously? So we want to explore all those kinds of questions.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. One interesting thing to comment your point about, you were one of few computer science graduates. The fascinating thing was when I graduated [inaudible 00:03:31], the companies that came to hire during our placement, through our placement office, most of them were just hiring engineers from IIT. They were not looking for computer science engineers. They would take civil engineers.

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

And then they would train them-

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

To do the computer science jobs.

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right? Software development jobs mostly. So the training, engineering training mattered, but all the other training, all the on job training happened on the job. There was nothing that prepared them in school for that job, that happened on the job.

Tom Chavez:

Okay, so let's just back it up now for our listeners here quickly, because maybe not everybody knows about IIT. So back it up, IIT is...

Vivek Vaidya:

The Indian Institute of Technology. It is the premier engineering school in India, has been around since the early fifties. The first engineering school was at [inaudible 00:04:33] in 1954, I think. And there were five or six, depending how you count. Not so long ago. And then there are 23, I think now my last count, somebody's telling me.

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

There's a lot of IIT's now in India.

Tom Chavez:

So IIT is like the Harvard plus Stanford of India multiplied to the nth degree. It's a highly coveted institution, right?

Vivek Vaidya:

It is. The difference though is that IIT is only tech.

Tom Chavez:

That's right.

Vivek Vaidya:

Harvard, Stanford, et cetera they have a much broader-

Tom Chavez:

True.

Vivek Vaidya:

They have liberal arts and all that, but IIT's are only technology.

Tom Chavez:

True. And you know, you and I have talked about this in the past. We got to have a moment of silence, and I know it's a little charge for some people, but you got to have a moment of silence.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm. For Jawaharlal Nehru.

Tom Chavez:

For Nehru.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

Incredibly prescient.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yes, yes.

Tom Chavez:

To create this institution in 1954.

Vivek Vaidya:

50, yeah. Just-

Tom Chavez:

Absurd. Right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

Maybe there's a separate episode. How did he understand that wait for it, 50 years from now, this will define the competitive basis for industries across the planet?

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah, I don't think he thought of it that way. I think it was more, his thinking I think was more like it's something that the country needs as a new young country. You'll need education-

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

Engineers to build the country and by and large, I think that's proven to be true, although there's a lot of debate around an [inaudible 00:06:03] around brain drain and all of that. But-

Tom Chavez:

Okay, so you went to IIT.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

Which is this incredibly coveted, prestigious institution. By the way, you carry on about this intolerably all day long. That's one of the things that you won't stop telling people.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah, yeah.

Tom Chavez:

That you graduated from IIT.

Vivek Vaidya:

That's right.

Tom Chavez:

And a lot of us are getting a little, it feels a little much.

Vivek Vaidya:

So you think I should die it down-

Tom Chavez:

Just kick it down a notch.

Vivek Vaidya:

Okay.

Tom Chavez:

Right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Okay.

Tom Chavez:

Okay, so I called you out. But okay, I'm going to come clean too. So mama wanted us to study hard and get good grades. And I went to Harvard and I studied computer science and philosophy, which is a separate, maybe potentially related story. Why did I want to do computer science and philosophy at the same time? And then I like to tell people at 3:00 AM in a science center one night working on a programming assignment, I had an epiphany. I was programming next to a guy like you.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm.

Tom Chavez:

And I said, oh my God, I can't code at that level. I better get my ass to graduate school and learn some math.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm.

Tom Chavez:

Because I like the math. And so I went to Stanford, got a PhD in applied math. So you're a fancy pants.

Vivek Vaidya:

If you say so.

Tom Chavez:

You are, intolerably, so.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

And then I got these Harvard, Stanford-

Vivek Vaidya:

Did I tell you I went to ITT, Tom?

Tom Chavez:

You mention it all day long, multiple times.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

So, and then I have these degrees. So this is the thing that's going to be a little weird maybe for listeners to understand, is that here we are now, let's go back to Rapt, which is the first company we're building together. I think you recall that I actually instituted a ban on Harvard Stanford candidates. We would not look at them. We had particular focus on business school.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yes.

Tom Chavez:

People from HB... But it kind of expanded from there. That was a strange thing for people because why is this guy who went to Harvard and Stanford banning us from considering these kinds of candidates? Do you remember why?

Vivek Vaidya:

Because you thought they were too fancy.

Tom Chavez:

And indeed they were. Right? So part of the challenge, and this is, we want to set this up now as Columbia abolishes the SAT and as a lot of young people try to get their heads around, "Hey, how do I get in? And am I going to be dinged if I'm getting an engineering degree from San Luisa Bisbo?" Here we are, coming clean at the beginning and saying, "Look, you have very talented, hardworking people from those institutions." In many cases, as with Rapt in Harvard and Stanford at that time, it was a negative indicator of potential future success for these people because they were showing up with too much entitlement, a little too fancy, a little too convinced. And by the way, the nature of what we do, whatever you learned in your computer science class, I remember we studied C with the Richie textbook. That's adorable. Whatever you learned however many years ago is no longer relevant.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yep.

Tom Chavez:

Right? So I want to get your perspective though, on what you see, and bringing this back to Columbia and your son-

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

As a rising senior.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

What advice do you have for young people now who are coming to this game? How do you they think about training talent, credentials in preparation for a successful career in tech?

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah, I think the most important thing is for you to acquire the skills, right? And by that, I mean, unlike when you and I went to college, the amount of publicly available information, high quality, publicly available information. It's just orders and orders and orders of magnitude different. The internet didn't exist the way it does right now back then, right?

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

So you don't have to go to a Harvard, a Stanford to get the kind of knowledge that you need to, that will help you in your job, right? The educational curriculum, which is a separate perhaps topic we can pick up. The CS educational curriculum has not changed, has not evolved since the time you and I went to college.

Tom Chavez:

No.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right? And so the first thing I will say is where you go to college doesn't matter. You can still acquire the knowledge you need to apply for these jobs. Now the thing is its still... The hiring practices of companies haven't evolved the way they need to. So you still need to find someone who is going to recognize your talent and take a shot on you, but after that, it's yours to lose. So, yeah.

Tom Chavez:

So abolishing the SAT, is that a net positive?

Vivek Vaidya:

I think-

Tom Chavez:

Net neutral?

Vivek Vaidya:

I think, so it's interesting, right? In India, the admissions into not just the IITS now, but a lot of engineering colleges is all done through competitive exams, right?

Tom Chavez:

Mm-hmm.

Vivek Vaidya:

And the SAT is different than those because the SAT is one of many factors that is taken into account when considering college admission, when considering applicants, right?

Tom Chavez:

Mm-hmm.

Vivek Vaidya:

So I think what's more important is to have a well-defined and transparent selection process.

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

Which SAT or no SAT can be created. Even with the SAT, the process is not transparent. I think as the population increases and the number of applicants increase, there has to be some system that is used because you can't admit everybody.

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

Not every educational institution can admit everybody so transparency is more important. But like Riplev, my son, he flat out said, "I'm not taking the SAT." He will not take the SAT and okay, I mean, that's fine. That just means that we have to exclude colleges that require the SAT.

Tom Chavez:

Mm-hmm.

Vivek Vaidya:

So-

Tom Chavez:

Yeah. But see, I worry a lot in this context now. I view it as a net positive because I think what, and many people have commented on this already, and we'll put the numbers to it. A good SAT score more often than not is a reflection of the privilege and resources of the family who's training the kid to take all of these classes and get the tutors and the help to get a good SAT score. Right? And it's not really necessarily a measure of raw clock speed, raw ability, right? And there's also systemic racism, right? I mean, there's certain kids from certain underprivileged backgrounds who, for example, you take the English SAT and there's just a different kind of vocabulary, right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

That underprivileged kids might not be exposed to. You can go to college and learn all the right words, right? And I'm not expert enough to speak to all of the nooks and crannies there, but it strikes me that yes, systemically it's probably a better measure of the resources that your family can apply to getting you the support you need to get a good score versus your own intrinsic talent.

Vivek Vaidya:

I think that's right. Now, you said something very interesting.

Tom Chavez:

Hmm?

Vivek Vaidya:

Which is you correlated performance in the SAT with access to resources and wealth.

Tom Chavez:

Mm.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right? And there probably is some correlation, but there are a lot of people who don't have access to those resources that still do well on the SAT.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right? And so my-

Tom Chavez:

Let's celebrate them.

Vivek Vaidya:

Correct. But then see this is where is it a problem with the fact that there is an examination? Or is it the problem with the type of examination you are conducting? Because your point about English is absolutely right, right? Like somebody you can do well on math may not necessarily do well on English because they're not as good with the language as they are with numbers.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right? And so how do you distinguish that?

Tom Chavez:

Yeah. Well look, I mean, we're getting into now, and this applies now to tech, is that there are very different types of intelligence, right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

And I knew about myself, now we're going to make it a little personal. I knew early on that mine is a much more sort of contemplative, obsessive compulsive. I will ponder this thing and just pay attention to it for a long time, right? And by the way, I had two older brothers who were really good test takers. I was a pretty good test taker, but they had much stronger SAT scores. I did fine, right? What I noticed though, because I'm also competitive, when it came time to apply to graduate school in Albuquerque, we just showed up and took the SAT.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm.

Tom Chavez:

Like, "You're going to take a test now. Sit down." Okay, you go in cold. You have no idea what the pattern of the questions or anything is. And then later on now in college, like, "Oh, wait a minute." I was in a bookstore and I saw these GRE test prep books.

Vivek Vaidya:

Correct. Correct.

Tom Chavez:

Like, "Oh, I'm going to buy one of those books."

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

I bought one of those books and oh my goodness, what a difference. Like when I took the GRE, smashed it?

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

Right? So it's my own little personal example of there are learnable patterns.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yes.

Tom Chavez:

To these tests, and some kids are super clever and don't need, they just like, nope, here. They show up cold and get a 1600. Let's celebrate those kids. And, not but, and let's also attend to a consideration of the different types of brains that are out there-

Vivek Vaidya:

100 percent.

Tom Chavez:

And get them in the boat.

Vivek Vaidya:

100 percent. Because the other thing you mentioned, which is absolutely true, is that the SAT perhaps is not a measure of clock speed, right?

Tom Chavez:

Correct.

Vivek Vaidya:

But there has to be some measure.

Tom Chavez:

That's right.

Vivek Vaidya:

Because otherwise it's just going to be anarchy. So there has to be some measure, whether it's the SAT or something else, I don't know. And that's now turning, bringing it back to the work life, there has to be some measure of how we assess a candidate.

Tom Chavez:

That's right.

Vivek Vaidya:

It has to be transparent.

Tom Chavez:

That's right.

Vivek Vaidya:

You can't do it with the whole thing.

Tom Chavez:

It can't be subject to whims-

Vivek Vaidya:

Correct.

Tom Chavez:

Or unspoken rules or codes that nobody knows.

Vivek Vaidya:

Correct.

Tom Chavez:

Just put it out there, 100 percent.

Vivek Vaidya:

Correct.

Tom Chavez:

And maybe that's what the abolition of the SAT will start to spawn is a broader spectrum kind of consideration of the different types of... But with, why is there just a single... I remember there was once upon a time, there was the single FICA score, and then they have multiple FICA scores.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

It's not a perfect analogy, but similarly, there could be other ways in which institutions or colleges want to appraise a student's ability and with other mechanisms. I have no idea, maybe there are some tests taking experts listening to this, and people are baking up new tests or appraisals. It doesn't even have to be a test, right? At different measures of a student's capability. Interesting times. Hey, so mapping it back now to tech, because we see a lot of people coming up in our companies. I'm thinking of somebody in one of our companies who was a civil engineering person, decided to go to a boot camp.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

And lo and behold, a couple years later is performing as a top tier architect.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

So lots of paths into this game. I'm wondering if you could speak a little bit to sort of the different kinds of journey. So IIT is one path, right? What are other paths that people can take or have we seen on their way to getting into tech? And by the way, not just with software engineering, but sales, marketing, services, support, lots of different paths.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah, I think on the... So I'll draw two parallels, right? In India, the path to a career in tech, especially a programming career in tech, is through tech. Meaning you have to study science and then engineering in some way, shape, or form. I don't know of anyone. They may exist. I don't know of anyone who's not studied science and is a programmer. Because in India, we kind of divide. You choose your field of study right after your sophomore year of high school. You go in, you either study science, which is physics, chemistry, math, computer science, or biology or whatever, and English. Or you study commerce, which is business.

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

Counting, economics, et cetera.

Tom Chavez:

Mm.

Vivek Vaidya:

Or you study art. History, English, literature, blah, blah, blah, blah. So you make that choice very early. Here, there's a lot more flexibility.

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right? And we know of people who studied liberal arts and now are programmers, right?

Tom Chavez:

And kick ass programmers.

Vivek Vaidya:

And kick ass programmers, yes.

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

So-

Tom Chavez:

And let's freeze there for a minute because if there are younger people listening to this, it's one of the things that I think upsets both you and me is this presumption that if you don't have a CS degree from such and such a place that the door is closed. We have literally hundreds of counterexamples, right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. I think the steel thread that runs through those hundreds of examples is that at some point in time, somebody gave them an opportunity.

Tom Chavez:

Mm-hmm.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right? Because-

Tom Chavez:

And they exhibited the curiosity of the will to do it.

Vivek Vaidya:

Exactly. Exactly. So both things are true, right?

Tom Chavez:

True.

Vivek Vaidya:

They gave them an opportunity, and then this person, they made the most of the opportunity.

Tom Chavez:

Mm-hmm.

Vivek Vaidya:

By grabbing it with both hands and then working hard and showing the will to succeed as opposed to just having the skill and showing up in an entitled way, like the Harvard people or whatever that you were talking about earlier-

Tom Chavez:

Yep.

Vivek Vaidya:

Did. So in the US at least the parts to a career in tech are myriad. You can, as long as you have some... You've made the effort to learn a few things. Like this person you're talking about, the civil engineer, they did go to a bootcamp, right?

Tom Chavez:

Mm-hmm.

Vivek Vaidya:

And they did learn some skills.

Tom Chavez:

Mm-hmm.

Vivek Vaidya:

And they're very smart and very capable, and now they're operating at a very, very high performing level. But it wasn't like they showed up with their civil engineering degree and said, "Okay, I want a job. Can you give me a job?"

Tom Chavez:

And look, it's funny to be having this conversation now with you, because I've been working with you for a long time, and I remember now back on the grass on Petre Hill at the beginning of Rapt, you show up as employee number one and our first engineer, and there were people in that cohort. People get stale, they get comfortable, right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

And well, I'm an RDBMS guy, and I'm an expert in thread locking. Well, good for you, but dude. You got to keep learning new stuff, right? And you've always really set the gold standard for "Yep, I did that." I remember early on just sitting, you're sitting down, like this map produced thing seems interesting. I'm going to put myself into the shed over the weekend and just, right? And it's just a constant kind of leveling up where a lot of celebrated computer scientists that I've seen 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago at certain points, too many of them kind of piece out.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

They just stop learning, right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

Why is that, I know it's kind of a slightly rhetorical question, but do you have a psychosocial theory why that happens?

Vivek Vaidya:

I think it's not specifically to referring to the computer scientist, but I think everybody gets comfortable with what they know, and they're in a place where they're rewarded for that, for what they know.

Tom Chavez:

Mm-hmm.

Vivek Vaidya:

And they choose a certain way of life, work life, personal life, whatever, where they're just content with that.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah.

Vivek Vaidya:

And other people are not.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah.

Vivek Vaidya:

And therefore they keep learning and doing new things and whatever else. And with us, when we started Superset, we intentionally decided we're not going to just do another set of companies in ad tech or market. We could have done that.

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right? But we chose not to because we just wanted to learn new things.

Tom Chavez:

Absolutely.

Vivek Vaidya:

I think it becomes just how people are wired, I'm guessing.

Tom Chavez:

I guess. Yeah. It's really not specific to tech.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

I love music and I spend time dabbling. And it strikes me, certainly in music, you have a similar kind of pattern where certain producers or songwriters or artists like, "Oh, I was the guy who did Crunk."

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

Okay? I'm very happy for you. But what's next? Right?

Vivek Vaidya:

What's next? Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

Music is very trend oriented in the same way. Whatever you did five, 10 years ago, nobody cares, right? Because it's constantly reinventing itself in the same way tech does.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

Tech loose at least as fast.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah, and since you mentioned music. That's one of the, and perhaps this is unfair, but one of the critiques I have of musicians in the recent elk of musicians is that they're very formulaic.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right? But when you look at sixties, seventies rock and roll, the artists Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd or whatever, their music, every album had something unique in it.

Tom Chavez:

Mm-hmm.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right? And so there is a big difference in my opinion.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's also, we got to have a moment to bash on the music labels for a minute because they industrialized and took all the soul.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

The soul and the joy and the inventiveness out of it, because they're just trying to crank out hits.

Vivek Vaidya:

Hits, yeah.

Tom Chavez:

Great artists, like great computer scientists just don't care.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yep.

Tom Chavez:

And they keep on doing their own thing. So bringing it back now to talent and how it shows up in tech, I want to come back to something you touched on because I think it's just so important, which is the broad spectrum. And I've also heard you talk about this, like IIT, it was all engineering. Possibly to the detriment of other humanities and disciplines that could have been threaded in.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm.

Tom Chavez:

And in 2023, if you think about, well, what happens after computer science? Well, it's a dissatisfying and potentially smug answer, but probably just more computational. Instead, what happens after computer science, computational biology. Computational immunology.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

Comput... I was just talking this-

Vivek Vaidya:

Computational advertising. It's a thing.

Tom Chavez:

Right. I was just talking to somebody this morning, a professor at Stanford who is looking at applications of AI and ML for American elections, computational political science.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

Right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

So we're just still, I know, again, it sounds like something you expect two techies like you and me to say, but my goodness, we're still at the beginning. But the point I'm driving to though is it's this idea of playing at the intersections across fields.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yes.

Tom Chavez:

Right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Yes.

Tom Chavez:

That's what's exciting. And that's what I think gives up and comers a lot more opportunity-

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

If you're open to sitting at that straddle point.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. I think there's two things. One, I think this is what you were kind of settling up to is that the more interdisciplinary stuff that can happen in even an institute like the IIT because not enough does, it would be wonderful. And second, if there were a heavy, a healthy dose, not heavy, healthy dose of liberal arts, whether it's philosophy or literature or psychology or what have you, it would make for better engineers, more rounded engineers coming out of these institutions.

Tom Chavez:

I completely agree. And look, I mentioned it briefly before, so let's come back to it. I studied computer science and philosophy. I still, like why did I want to do that? Where did I come from? But I was dead said on it. I'd be lying to you if I told you that there weren't many moments during an average day when I feel really wistful about, oh my God, how wonderful would it be to be back in college doing those two things melted together in a context now where we're trying to think through the implications of ethical tech.

Vivek Vaidya:

Exactly.

Tom Chavez:

Right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Exactly. As more and more, and there's all this talk now with Chat GTP, GTP four, what have you. And people are saying, "Oh, we won't need programmers anymore." Maybe you will, maybe you won't. I have my own views on that. But what will be needed are people who understand how to apply this technology in a way that serves the humanity-

Tom Chavez:

Absolutely.

Vivek Vaidya:

And society. Right? And there, you can't just be, "Oh, the tech does it, so it's just possible." That's what's gotten us in trouble so many times.

Tom Chavez:

That's why democracy is imperiled-

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

And teenage girls have dysmorphia over what they look like and how they show up in the world, I mean, we could go on and on and on. Because if you just leave it to the tech bros, we're all headed to hell in a hand basket.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

Right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

I mean, you and I both have a lot... And so anybody listening, oh my God, please study your political science and your history and your sociology and these other things.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

And if you can, bring it into a technical context because it's not just the field is crying out for your help. Human flourishing depends on it.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

Right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

It's pretty... And so, yeah. I mean, I think we both worry a lot when we read these sort of very tidy little declarations from techies sometimes, like, "Oh, don't worry, we'll going to solve world hunger. We got an AI solution to the North Korea problem."

Vivek Vaidya:

Correct. Correct.

Tom Chavez:

You don't. Right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Well nobody, yeah.

Tom Chavez:

It's that hubris, right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

That techies fall into.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

So embrace. I had a teacher a long time ago who talked about intelligence as a T. There's the breadth of the top of your T and the depth of the tree.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

Right? We need people with broader Ts.

Vivek Vaidya:

Correct. Yep.

Tom Chavez:

Much broader Ts.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yep. Yeah. Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

So how do you think the system now... Riplev is applying to college. How do you think the system should adapt to prepare students like Riplev for the changing job market and the skills needed in the future? What do you advice?

Vivek Vaidya:

It's exactly what I said earlier. The more interdisciplinary stuff you can do, the better. Like Riplev wants to study music, right? And not as in... He wants to study music technology, music business. And there's going to be so much computer science and data analysis and all of that in a music tech, music business job in the future that if he can study all of that, which is why I tell him that you have to keep your options open, right? And so the more complimentary stuff that you can do that gives you the skillsets you need to actually be successful in a professional setting, you should do that. So if you're studying computer science, study, take some courses in a complimentary field like biology, for example, to your point about computational biology-

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right?

Tom Chavez:

Right.

Vivek Vaidya:

Study economics. Because it'll help you if you're so inclined to deal with issues around how the markets work or whatnot, because-

Tom Chavez:

That's right.

Vivek Vaidya:

All of this is related to computers, right? So I think the more you do that, the better.

Tom Chavez:

If you're interested in data science, take some sociology classes.

Vivek Vaidya:

Correct.

Tom Chavez:

Right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Correct.

Tom Chavez:

Take some history classes.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah. No, I second all of that. I would also add, as we close this out for listeners, especially younger listeners if you're tuning in, I hark back to freshman year at Harvard, and I'm thinking of a particular friend who will remain nameless, but this guy of course has a 1600 on his SAT. He's really good analytically, really good at math, jumps into some of these classes and just gets freaked out.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

I'm sure you've seen this.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

I mean, if I had a quarter-

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

For every really analytically talented person who goes to a class with a lots of hard charging techies sitting there and mead mugging, everybody else trying to look hard in front of the class. And he pieces out, he took one or two classes and just lost his nerve.

When you think about the loss in human capital, right? From thousands or potentially millions of people who really wanted to study these fields, but somehow just lost their nerve here's a message from me. Don't. Like, hang on. I mean, there's always going to be, I love to tell, I was in a abstract algebra with a guy named Noah Melkes, he's won the Fields medal twice. Okay. That's when I, all right, you know, Melkies, you got me. I'm not going to win... The Fields medal isn't the Nobel Prize of math. There's no way I'm going to keep up with Noah Melkes. That's okay.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

Lots of other ways to show... It's okay. Don't hang up your cleats. Stay in the game, right? Keep learning. And then as we're saying here, broaden the top of your T.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

Don't be afraid to take those other classes. In fact, when we hire people, we're much more interested in broad-minded folks with hobbies-

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

And different disciplines.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

The univariate, little techies who just-

Vivek Vaidya:

Who just know how to program.

Tom Chavez:

Who just know how to program and aren't interesting and aren't curious enough-

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

To keep up with all of the problems that we're tackling. No, we usually pass on those ones, don't we?

Vivek Vaidya:

Yep, we do. We do. I think the other thing that I would add to what you said is, look, if you try to compare yourself with the smartest person in the room, there's always going to be somebody smarter than you, right? And so focus on what you are good at-

Tom Chavez:

Yeah.

Vivek Vaidya:

And build on that. To your point about Noah Melkes and you not being as good as him in abstract algebra.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah.

Vivek Vaidya:

Well, there are plenty of things that you do that Noah Melkes can't even contemplate. Right? So think of it like that. And it's easier said than done, but hang in there.

Tom Chavez:

You can't know this. You cannot possibly know this, but you're quoting my mom. This is one of her dinner table memes.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm.

Tom Chavez:

There's always going to be somebody out there smarter, better looking, richer, whatever. Don't pay attention to those people.

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

It's a life principle-

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

Right?

Vivek Vaidya:

Mm-hmm.

Tom Chavez:

Don't lose your nerve. And if you want to stay in tech, get into tech. We need you. We need people. We need all comers. And don't worry about SATs and tests. If you want to get in this game. Again, it's not just the field, but arguably all of humanity is depending on you to throw your hat in the ring.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah.

Tom Chavez:

Show up and compete.

Vivek Vaidya:

So get in there. Learn, learn, learn. And we're always interested in speaking to people who have broad, broad tees. So come check us out at Superset.

Tom Chavez:

Holla. All right. With that, let's wrap it up. Thank you, Vivek. This was fun.

Vivek Vaidya:

All right. Thanks, Tom. Thank you listeners.

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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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Marketing in the Age of AI with Rex Briggs

How is AI steering the future of marketing strategy? With the convergence of AI and marketing tactics, Rex Briggs paints a compelling picture of what's possible: AI agents that revolutionize user interactions, and generative techniques that craft persuasive content. Drawing from his deep expertise in marketing measurement, Rex joins Tom Chavez and Vivek Vaidya to explore the cutting-edge of AI-driven marketing strategies. Listen for insights on harnessing AI's potential in modern marketing.

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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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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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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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Spotlight Series: Andrew Marshak, Co-founder of Headlamp Health

The {Closed} Session Spotlight Series showcases a different co-founder from the super{set} portfolio every episode. Up now: Andrew Marshak is Co-founder and Head of Product at Headlamp Health (Headlamp.com), a healthtech company bringing greater precision to mental health care.

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Philosophy, Data, and AI Ethics with NYT Best-selling Author + Data Scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

From unpacking Google search patterns to understanding the philosophical underpinnings of big data, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz offers a unique lens. As the NYT Best-selling author of “Everybody Lies” and a renowned data scientist, he delves into the ways data mirrors societal nuances and the vast implications for tech and its intertwining with everyday life.

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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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Ringside Tales from Serial Startup Champion Omar Tawakol

Like Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, the fiercest competitors can sometimes become friends. Omar Tawakol is a prime example. As the founder and CEO of BlueKai, he went head-to-head with Tom, Vivek, and the 'Krux mafia' for dominance in the Data Management Platform arena. A serial entrepreneur with roots in New York and Egypt, Omar eventually steered BlueKai to a successful acquisition by Oracle before creating Voicea, which Cisco acquired. Today, he's pioneering a new venture called Rembrand (rembrand.com), which innovates in product placement through generative fusion AI.

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Spotlight Series: Lindsey Meyl, Co-founder of RevAmp

The {Closed} Session Spotlight Series showcases a different co-founder from the super{set} portfolio in every episode. Today's guest is Lindsey Meyl, Co-founder at RevAmp (rev-amp.ai), a "Datadog for RevOps" platform that offers observability across the revenue engine, monitoring performance, flagging when something is amiss, and determining the root cause of how to fix it.

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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.

read more

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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super{set} Moves to New Global HQ in Downtown San Francisco

Read coverage in the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle of super{set}'s recent move to the flagship 140 New Montgomery building in downtown SF, next to SFMOMA.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Jeremy Klein on Leading super{set}'s Data-Driven $90 Million Fund II

Jeremy Klein is a general partner at super{set}. Jeremy helped build super{set} from day one alongside Tom Chavez and Vivek Vaidya, designing super{set}’s structure, recruiting co-founders, and laying the plans for a scalable buildout. super{set} recently announced the closing of its $90 million Fund II. He sat down with Jon Suarez-Davis (jsd) to provide insights into the strategic timing and vision behind launching Fund II, his professional journey from a legal expert to an integral part of super{set}'s fabric, and how his unique background and approach have been instrumental in building super{set} and recruiting top-tier co-founders.

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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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.

read more

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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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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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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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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super{set} Fund II: $90 million to intensify our serial focus on data+ai company building

Announcing super{set} Fund II

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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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Overheard @ super{summit}

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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Tech Crunch: Boutique startup studio super{set} gets another $90 million to co-found data and AI companies

Startup studio super{set} has a fresh exit under its belt with the sale of marketing company Habu to LiveRamp for $200 million in January. Now, super{set} is adding another $90 million to its coffers as it doubles down on its strategy of building enterprise startups.

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Founder and Father: A Balancing Act

Making It Work With Young Kids & Young Companies

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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.

read more