Danny In The Valley
After more than a decade in London, Danny Fortson returns to Silicon Valley to meet the techies trying to change the world - and make loads of money while doing it.
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After more than a decade in London, Danny Fortson returns to Silicon Valley to meet the techies trying to change the world - and make loads of money while doing it. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Rippling’s Parker Conrad: “We raised $500m in one day to survive the SVB collapse”
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent brings on Parker Conrad, founder and chief executive of Rippling, to talk about getting caught in the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (3:30), receiving a call at 5:30 am (8:30), how wide the SVB blast radius was (11:00), moving $130m to JP Morgan in three hours (13:45), raising $500m in a day (17:00), why some people still didn’t get paid (23:40), the growing vulnerabilities of regional banks (30:20), the importance of SVB to tech (32:30), Conrad's...
Primer’s Sean Gourley: “AI is the biggest change to war since the internal combustion engine”
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson things on Sean Gourley, founder of Primer AI, to talk about how he got into the industry (3:45), and then getting into counterintelligence (6:40), the image recognition revolution (9:00), raising money from the CIA (11:00), AI in war (16:30), how machines beat human Top Gun pilots (20:00), AI as the “third offset” (22:00), how the US is still living with a Cold War mentality (27:30), the AI arms race with China (30:00), the long ties between...
Earth’s Tom Harries: “Turning people into soil”
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Tom Harries to talk about his previous cremation startup (3:20), how he got into human composting (5:00), the problems with burial and cremation (8:20), society’s changing attitude toward funerals (13:50), perfecting the microbial breakdown process (14:50), controlling temperature (21:10), using human remains to reforest land (24:20), raising $10m (27:15), why it takes 45 days to compost a body (33:05), building a household death...
UC Berkeley’s Stuart Russell: “ChatGPT is a wake-up call”
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Stuart Russell, professor at UC Berkeley and one of the world’s leading experts on artificial intelligence (AI), to talk about working in the field for decades (4:00), AI’s Sputnik moment (7:45), why these programmes aren’t very good at learning (13:00), trying to inoculating ourselves against the idea that software is sentient (15:00), why super intelligence will require more breakthroughs (17:20), autonomous weapons (26:15),...
Character.ai's Noam Shazeer: "Replacing Google - and your mom"
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Noam Shazeer, founder of Character.ai, to talk about his work at Google (4:00), joining the search giant in 2000 (6:50), what is deep learning (5:10), starting on language models in 2015 (9:10), starting the company in 2021 (10:50), virtual therapists (15:00), monetizing (20:40), what is possible (23:00), growing up coding and doing maths (31:00), winning the international Math Olympiad (32:20), how this compares to the Internet...
Forum Mobility’s Matt LeDucq: “Electrifying trucking”
The Sunday Times tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Matt LeDucq, founder of Forum Mobility, to talk about drayage (4:25), its health impacts (6:20), starting out in renewable energy twenty years ago (9:10), how drayage is like solar decades ago (12:10), the coming wave of electric lorries (13:30), building giant depots (16:45), the cost question (18:20), and electric grid challenge (20:20), being the tip of the spear (23:25), deciding to start the company (28:50), putting steel in...
Giant's Cameron McLain: "Buddhism, music and venture capital"
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Cameron McLain, co-founder of Giant, to talk about why he chose the name (3:05), what he did before starting a venture fund (7:00), moving to America (8:30), dabbling in Buddhism philosophy (10:30), getting into the music industry (12:45), starting and selling a company (15:25), finding good founders (17:30), bringing in Lord Browne as an advisor (24:50), the importance of timing (26:20), raising money right as the pandemic hit...
Now's Lara Hodgson: "Don't follow your passion"
The Sunday Times’ correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Lara Hodgson, founder of NOW, to talk about her previous companies (3:15), how a payment problem led to the launch of Now (8:55), meeting US political star Stacey Abrams (12:15), the Now account (15:15), the origins of the “net 30 “ payment model (22:00), the state of the economy (23:30), her meandering career (28:15), taking advantage of being a women in a male-dominated industry (33:15), focusing on impact rather than your passions...
Mammoth’s Trevor Martin: “Programming the code of life”
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Trevor Martin of Mammoth Biosciences, to talk about “programming biology” (4:10), the slow grind of innovation (7:25), CRISPR (10:20), the problems he’s trying to solve (16:15), curing thousands of diseases (19:40), reaching for a science fiction future (24:40), meeting Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna (27:40), starting the company (35:00), becoming the chief executive (38:50), raising $265m (43:45), and what comes next...
Formic’s Saman Farid: “A robot arm can do the work of eight humans”
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Saman Farid, founder of Formic, to tlak about why we need more robots (3:40), the labour shortage (7:20), the growing universe of jobs that are automatable (10:00), the latest AI bubble (13:45), growing up in China (21:20), being inspired by China’s rapid industrialization (23:30), how AMerica is losing 10,000 factory workers each day (25:20), starting his first couple companies in China (29:30), the deep learning revolution...
TrueMed’s Calley Means: “Sugar, kids, and the crime of the century”
The Sunday Times tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Callery Means, founder of TrueMed, to talk about his early days in politics (4:20), how the food industry avoided sugar taxes (7:45), the links between industry and institutions of trust (12:00), the “food compass” and why it says Lucky Charms is better than chicken breast (18:00), why we consume 100 times more sugar than we used to (23:45), what TrueMed is (29:45), how he aims to rebalance incentives in the healthcare industry...
Frore's Seshu Madhavapeddy: "Centuries-old tech and the tyranny of heat"
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Seshu Madhavapeddy co-founder and chief executive of Frore Systems, to talk about why our devices underperform and we don;t know it (4:20), the problem with fans (8:00), inventing a new chip (13:00), how it works (17:30), why he started the company (20:30), getting into an IIT in India (21:40), leaving Nortel at the peak of the dotcom boom (26:00), startup lessons (28:10), raising $116 million (33:00), getting Frore’s chips into...
Akili's Eddie Martucci: "The world's first prescription video game"
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Eddie Martucci, co-founder and chief executive of Akili Interactive, to talk about making the first prescription video game (3:40), the original pitch (6:10), sweeping the floors of his parents’ pharmacy (13:20), how he landed on video games as medicine (16:40), why ADHD is more present that it used to be (19:00), targeting a “weak link” in the brain (24:00), how the game algorithmically hones it treatment to each player (27:55),...
Benedict Evans: “What Chat GPT is - and isn’t”
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on analyst Benedict Evans to talk about Chat GPT and machine learning (5:00), how it gets things wrong (10:00), the “fluent bullshit” problem (12:00), whether this is a genuine breakthrough moment (15:20), what this means for humans (18:25), “prompt engineering” (23:00), humans as curators rather than creators (26:40), tech’s mid-life crisis (27:45), the future of “search” (32:10), using AI do make “no-code” software (35:00), where we...
Kernel's Bryan Johnson: “Dinner at 11:00 am and reversing age”
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent brings on Bryan Johnson, tech entrepreneur and Kernel founder, to talk about reversing his biological age with “the blueprint” (4:50), eating dinner at 11:00 am (12:15), pleasure through pain (15:45), rethinking what it means to be human (17:30), changing society (23:00), how this philosophy dovetails with his startup Kernel (24:50), the “cognitive crisis" (26:45), living outside the norm (30:45), the autonomous self (33:15), assembling a team of 25...
SciFi Foods' Joshua March: "Brewing a $1 lab-grown burger”
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Joshua March, founder of SciFi Foods to talk about why he is trying to brew burgers (3:30), mixing meat and plants (6:00), the cost challenge (8:00), growing up in small town England and his first startup (11:50), launching a social media software company (15:00), finding a technical co-founder and starting a meat company (17:20), leaning into the science with its branding (25:20), the cost challenge (30:30), the road to regulatory...
Neoplants' Lio Mora & Partick Torbey: "A houseplant that eats carcinogens"
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Patrick Torbey and Lio Mora about engineering plants (3:45), the age of biology (6:15), their $180 houseplant (11:25), indoor pollution (13:45), meeting at a startup incubator (17:30), founder dating (20:55), raising money (24:30), spending four years developing the first plant (27:25), the market education problem (33:00), why certifications is more difficult than it seems (39:30), the maintenance challenge (41:45), and their...
Obvious Ventures’ Andrew Beebe: “Do stuff that matters”
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Andrew Beebe, to talk about “world positive” investing (4:00), the dotcom boom (5:30), zeroing in on climate years ago (10:10), how a cold call to Google worked (12:10), how he met Twitter founder Ev Williams (16:00), investing in the downturn (19:10), screening for world positive companies (23:45), how he coaches founders (28:20), climate tech whiplash and why this time is different (32:000), and his worst day of work...
Mayfield's Navin Chaddha: “The best companies get bought, not sold”
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Navin Chaddha of Mayfield Fund, to talk about the future of work (3:10), and Silicon Valley (9:50), managing $2bn with seven people (13:55), his first startup in the dotcom boom (18:00), the importance of timing (22:50), holding his nerve at the recent peak (28:10), the other two companies he started (33:10), the lessons from he took from them (38:10), the current downturn (42:05), how he made it here from India (46:50), going...
Blackrock Neurotech's Marcus Gerhardt: "An inflection point for brain-computer interfaces"
The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Marcus Gerhardt, chief executive of Blackrock Neurotech, to talk about his boarding school days in Wales (4:00), his dotcom adventures (10:00), pivoting to brain-computer interfaces (16:00), the “Utah array” (18:40), how in 2006 the first person sent an email with his thoughts (20:30), starting the company (23:00), the state of the technology today (26:40), targeting tetraplegics (33:00), getting investment (38:15), going to market...