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    From NFL to Startup COO to Congressman Regulating Crypto (with Rep. Anthony Gonzalez)

    enAugust 02, 2022

    Podcast Summary

    • Congressman Gonzalez's Dynamic Career Journey Intersects with Web 3 and Crypto RegulationRepresentative Anthony Gonzalez's transition from football to business school and Congress has given him a unique perspective on regulating technology industries. Vanta's resilience and ability to adapt to market changes have contributed to its success.

      Representative Anthony Gonzalez, a US Congressman from Ohio, is a pioneering member of Congress who understands and regulates Web 3, crypto, and other related fields. He has played around with it and ran a venture-backed startup before serving in Congress. His story is incredible from being a football player at Ohio State and in the NFL, catching touchdowns from Peyton Manning, to going to business school, and now serving in Congress. The sponsor, Vanta, a leader in automated security and compliance, raised a $110 million financing round at a $1.6 billion valuation from Craft, Sequoia, and other investors led by CEO and co-founder Christina Cacioppo. Vanta's resilient company DNA allowed it to shift gears to embrace new funding environments in response to market changes.

    • Congressman Gonzalez's family immigration story and committee rolesCongressman Gonzalez's journey to Congress highlights the value of democracy and freedom, and how being a House member allows the opportunity to focus on issues relevant to one's district like cryptocurrency and NASA.

      Congressman Anthony Gonzalez shares his family's story of immigration and exile from Cuba, highlighting the value of democracy and freedom that his family admired in the US. Being a House member, he is on three committees that are relevant in the near and long term: the House Financial Services Committee, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and the Climate Committee. He is highly involved in cryptocurrency, Web3, and their regulations, and NASA, among other things. Being a House member is like a choose-your-own-adventure, where you can pick whatever's interesting and relevant to your district. Gonzalez's story is a reminder that democracy and freedom are important values that many people cherish and aspire to have in their lives.

    • From Ohio State to Congress: The Unorthodox Path of Anthony GonzalezHard work and perseverance can lead to success, even if the path is unorthodox. Dedication and determination are key in achieving one's goals, no matter the obstacles in their path.

      Anthony Gonzalez grew up in Northeast Ohio and is proud of his working-class background. His father played football at Michigan and started a steel company that Anthony would visit after school. Despite being a huge Michigan fan, Anthony ended up playing football at Ohio State after being ignored by Michigan during a recruiting visit. He went on to play in the NFL and is now a member of Congress. Gonzalez's unorthodox path to success is a testament to his hard work and perseverance. He represents a community that he loves and is honored to call home. Anthony's story shows that with dedication and determination, anyone can achieve their goals, no matter the obstacles in their path.

    • The Impact of Philosophy and Adapting to ChangeHaving a backup plan and being adaptable to changing circumstances is important for success. Success in one career doesn't define a person's entire life. It's never too late to pivot and pursue a different path.

      Anthony's decision to attend Ohio State and major in philosophy impacted his career trajectory in sports and led him to pursue a career in business instead of law. He attended a business program at HBS and later went to Stanford Business School. Despite facing numerous injuries in the NFL, he focused on his long-term goals and transitioned to a successful business career after his football career ended. This highlights the importance of having a backup plan and being adaptable to changing circumstances. It also reinforces the idea that success in one career doesn't define a person's entire life and that it's never too late to pivot and pursue a different path.

    • From Startup to Congress: How Anthony Adapted and SucceededAdapting to change and utilizing diverse skills can lead to success in new endeavors, as seen in Anthony's transition from business to politics.

      Anthony had a long-standing desire for public service, originally planning to pursue it after a successful business career and family life. However, the divisive nature of politics after the 2016 election forced him to reconsider and he decided to run for Congress. He applied principles he learned from working in startups, conducting customer interviews to understand his district's concerns and crafting a message that focused on economic issues. He recognized that having a great message alone wasn't enough, he needed a strong team to get his message out. Anthony's story emphasizes the importance of adapting to changing circumstances and using skills acquired in different areas to succeed in new endeavors.

    • Anthony's successful fundraising strategy for 2016 elections targeting inclusivity and equal economic growthUsing Salesforce to manage revenue and building a diverse support base can help achieve fundraising goals while conveying strength and unity. Prioritize economic policies that work for everyone.

      The real takeaway from the 2016 elections was the economic transformation where several car manufacturing plants shut down leading to loss of jobs. Anthony ran on an economic and unity message that resonated with people. He focused on building a great team and raising money. He used Salesforce to manage revenue and built a custom salesforce dashboard to hit fundraising targets. The aim was to have broad support and not just rely on wealthy donors. People want to back a winner, and raising a lot of money quickly sends a signal of strength. The goal is to work together to build the economy in a way that works for all of us.

    • Building a Connection with Voters as an Elected OfficialOnce elected, it is important to constantly engage with and prioritize the needs of your constituents, making decisions that align with both their values and your own judgment. Use political capital wisely and trust your instincts.

      Raising funds is just the first step. Once you have the initial support, the real work begins, which is to continuously sell and connect with the ultimate audience you hope to represent. Voters are smart and know more about the issues they care for than anyone else. As an elected official, you have a dual responsibility to think in the best interest of everyone, not just the specific group you represent. Most of the time, an elected official's values align with their voters' values, but there are occasional moments when they may have to choose between their own judgment and political expediency. It's important to be careful about how you spend political capital and to rely on your own instincts while making decisions.

    • Chaos and Fear at CongressThe January 6th attack on Congress instilled fear in members and resulted in 10 Representatives changing their vote to impeach the former president. The impact of that day will not be forgotten.

      The events of January 6th were an unforgivable assault on the country, and it was led by the former president who was inspired by him. The pressure built up as the day approached and the protestors arrived. The Congress was disrupted, and the House chamber session was canceled. Members were instructed to hide in a bunker and be dead silent. The situation was finally resolved three hours later. The Representative had to change his clothes to be safer. He was just hoping someone would take responsibility and call it off but it didn't happen. The events changed his mind about voting in favor of impeachment and he was one of the ten Representatives who did so.

    • Holding Presidents Accountable Through Impeachment and Upholding the OathUpholding the oath to the Constitution and the country should be the priority for future presidents, regardless of personal drawbacks. Discussions on important policies, such as cryptocurrency regulation, should continue for the betterment of our country.

      It is important for future presidents to know that actions like the ones taken by the former president will not be tolerated and lead to impeachment, as it sets a precedent for the future of our country and democracy itself. This decision may come at a personal cost, but those who take an oath to the Constitution and their country must live up to that oath. While politics may have personal drawbacks, there is still important work being done in committees, and policy discussions that ultimately shape the future of the US. The pandemic brought cryptocurrencies into the spotlight and 2020 saw thoughtful discussions on its regulation on Capitol Hill.

    • Anthony's journey into understanding cryptocurrency and blockchain technology and regulating it in Congress.Anthony believes that legislators should have a first-hand experience of what they are regulating and that the committee's 5% expertise can help educate and guide the other 90% in Congress on regulating cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

      Anthony had an aha moment during an annual trip with his wife's family when he heard about Flamingo DAO on Kevin Rose's podcast. He realized that blockchain technology could help solve many issues in society and capital markets. While being on the Financial Services Committee, he learned about DeFi and played with it to understand it better. He also believes that legislators should have a feel for what they're regulating. Anthony's committee has had productive hearings with great witnesses and is getting to the point of legislating on crypto, specifically stable coins. While most in Congress don't understand crypto, the committee's 5% expertise can pull the other 90% with them. Republicans tend to be more supportive than Democrats, but Anthony believes the issue is split on age or demographic lines.

    • The Legislative Process for Cryptocurrencies in CongressCryptocurrency legislation undergoes a multistep process in Congress, including committee hearings, voting, and bipartisan collaboration. However, the process can be slow and prone to unrelated amendments.

      Legislation for cryptocurrencies goes through a thorough process in Congress. Committees hold hearings on various topics related to the main issue, like stable coins or CBDC, before developing a durable and bipartisan legislation. The legislation proposal gets a vote in committee before being passed to the House floor and then to the Senate. The Senate needs 60 votes, unlike the simple majority in the House. Once passed by both houses, the bill goes to the White House to be signed into law. However, the legislative process is frustrating and chaotic, often taking years to accomplish. Bills can also be prone to scope creep, with unrelated issues added onto the legislation.

    • Unintended Consequences of Crypto Provision in Infrastructure BillCrypto regulation should be approached thoughtfully, taking small steps as we understand the space to avoid causing unintended harm. A framework of "do no harm" should be adopted based on a better understanding of the industry, not limited initial understanding.

      The crypto provision in the infrastructure bill aimed to ensure tax compliance in the crypto space, but its unintended scope would have required all developers to provide tax information, which would kill the industry. This highlights the need for more thoughtful regulation in the crypto space, taking little bite-sized chunks as we understand them to avoid causing more problems than intended. Looking to the Clinton administration's approach to the early internet, the directionally right framework for crypto regulation should be 'do no harm.' Regulations should be proposed once we understand the space better and make sense given what it's becoming, not based on our initial, limited understanding.

    • Developing Responsible Laws to Protect Crypto IndustryCongress should prioritize protecting consumers and fostering innovation in the crypto industry by regulating stable coins in bite-sized pieces, without stifling growth and job creation in the United States.

      Congress should focus on developing laws that do no harm to the crypto industry and take bite-sized pieces of regulation as they become obvious. Stable coins are the most straightforward to regulate, with a focus on payment fiat-backed stable coins. Algorithmic stable coins are much harder to define. Regulation should serve to protect American consumers and investors while giving comfort to developers that they can innovate without doing something illegal. Most innovators in this space want to build transformative, amazing products and do it responsibly. Congress needs to pass laws that show bipartisan support for principles to signal to regulators that heavy-handed regulations are not the solution. The innovation happening in crypto is powerful and will create a ton of jobs and economic might, and it's essential to keep it in the US to support growth.

    • Fiat-backed stable coins and financial innovationFiat-backed stable coins can provide both consumer protection and pro-innovation benefits, allowing for instant settlement, reduced fees, and less reliance on intermediaries while being regulated to prevent harm to the public. They can be used as an incremental step towards financial innovation and avoid overregulation.

      Fiat-backed stable coins can provide both consumer protection and pro-innovation benefits. Understanding what stable coins are and defining their functions can help ensure that farmers and investors are paid in something solid, and stable coins can be invested in without risking investment capital. The benefits of instant settlement, less reliance on intermediaries, and reduced fees can be achieved alongside regulation to prevent harm to the public. While algorithms and other innovative technologies are not well-understood, fiat-backed stable coins can be used to take incremental steps towards financial innovation and avoid overregulation. Brex is providing solutions to create a culture of financial discipline that accelerates business growth by delegating and empowering employees, rather than implementing blunt instrument policies.

    • Brex Simplifies Spending and Automates Compliance for Managers and EmployeesBy pre-approving spending and eliminating receipt requirements, Brex makes compliance easier, aiding in expense review. This improves understanding of allowed spending and reduces the need for manual intervention. Meanwhile, Anthony Gonzalez favors legislation allowing college athletes to benefit from their image and likeness.

      Brex automates compliance by allowing managers to pre-approve spending, eliminating the need for receipts and streamlining expense review. This simplifies spending for employees and managers, making it easy to understand what is allowed and focus on anomalies. Anthony Gonzalez, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, spends a sizable portion of his time on China, cap markets, and crypto. Despite holding hearings on the GameStop meme stock craze, no legislation emerged, which he found disappointing. Gonzalez believes that college athletes should have the ability to benefit from their name, image, and likeness and feels that the NCAA's recent move to allow them to take sponsorships is a step in the right direction.

    • The Need for a National Standard for Name, Image, and Likeness in College Athletics.To prevent market distortions and provide fairness to student-athletes, Congress should establish a national standard for NIL. The NCAA's current approach is problematic and lacks transparency, leading to potential exploitation.

      The current rules around name, image, and likeness (NIL) for college athletes are chaotic, leading to the emergence of collectives raising marketing dollars to buy players on behalf of teams, creating market distortions that could lead to the entire system going professional. To avoid this, a national standard for NIL should be established, which provides economic rights for all athletes and builds in guardrails around inducements and recruiting. Congress has proposed bipartisan legislation to achieve this, which is needed to stabilize the situation and provide transparency and fairness for all college athletes. The NCAA's recent decision to allow NIL but not enforce it has resulted in the emergence of problematic practices with limited transparency and potential for exploitation.

    • The Trade-Off and Implications of College SportsFull professional sports in college could limit opportunities for athletes and affect minority backgrounds. Implementing the NIL policy is crucial to supporting athletes financially. Strive for meaningful reforms to make government more reflective of the people.

      The trade-off for full professional sports in college would be the possible elimination of non-revenue-generating sports, which would limit opportunities for athletes. Sports can be a valuable means to expand opportunities for people from different backgrounds. Thus, if we kill the college model, we will kill the opportunity for student-athletes from minority backgrounds. It is essential to be eyes wide open as we think through the implications of college sports. Implementing the NIL policy is an excellent way to help athletes market themselves and support their financial needs. Additionally, the real divide is between those who believe in American democracy and those who don't, not between Republicans and Democrats. We should always strive for meaningful reforms to make our government more reflective of the people we serve.

    • The Role of Individuals in the American DemocracyAmerican democracy is not perfect but requires participation from politicians and individuals to improve and succeed. Increasing primary electorate participation can lead to moderate and improved politics.

      The American democracy has placed the sovereignty of the individual at the center of society, creating more wealth, prosperity, and lifted more people out of poverty while freeing people and overseeing the longest sustainable peace in world history. However, it's not a perfect system and requires participation and support from the people. People in positions like politicians need to do a much better job of fighting for things that are relevant for the people by ignoring the most extreme voices and taking necessary political risks to bring the country back. It's also important for individuals to participate by voting in primaries and making informed choices to improve our politics. Moving our primary electorate participation from 20 to 50 would mean moderate and improved politics dramatically.

    • How Tiny can fix VC-backed companies and why the US must lead in critical technology and American industrialismVoting is important to hold representatives accountable, but for struggling VC-backed companies, Tiny can provide solutions by acquiring and aligning incentives. Prioritizing critical technology and American industrialism is key to building a sustainable economy and tackling social issues like poverty and opioid addiction.

      If you're frustrated with representatives who don't meet your expectations, the solution is to vote more. Tiny, a company like Berkshire Hathaway of the internet, can help fix the situation for VC-backed companies that cannot get to scale for an exit, since Tiny can come in, acquire the company, reset the capital structure, and align incentives for management and employees to continue running the company profitably. Building a sustainable, dynamic and resilient economy is important to create vibrant communities and curb negative social impacts, including poverty and opioid addiction. The US must lead in every critical technology and improve American industrialism without neglecting the offshore supply chain.

    • Investing in Critical Technologies for a Sustainable EconomyTo achieve sustainable economic growth, we need to invest in R&D to find green alternatives, fund demonstration projects, and make these alternatives accessible for developing nations.

      In order to have a dynamic, resilient, and sustainable economy, critical technologies and supply chains, particularly for mission-critical items like semiconductors, should be brought back to the country or to trusted allies. However, this needs to be done in a way that balances sustainability and dynamism. Investing in R&D is crucial in coming up with green alternatives that are cheap and reliable, and this is a 20- to 50-year journey. Legislation funding demonstration projects for clean steel is an essential step towards solving this problem. The US and other developed countries need to work towards making green alternatives attractive and accessible, rather than oppressive, for developing nations to adopt.

    • The Role of Innovation and Government Investment in Driving Economic Advancement.Leveraging existing assets and promoting innovation can lead to prosperity and growth, even in challenging times. Collaboration between legacy companies and startups can yield success, as seen in Silicon Valley and Ohio.

      Innovation and government investment in R&D are crucial in solving problems and advancing economies. Leveraging existing assets like talent pools and industries can help to increase dynamism and prosperity. The free enterprise system creates strong economic incentives that drive innovation and advancement, even in politically challenging times. The push for clean energy can also create new opportunities for development and manufacturing. Pushing innovation out of universities and into the market can lead to greater success, as demonstrated in Silicon Valley. A combination of legacy companies and startups can drive growth in regions like Ohio, using existing assets like tech and insurance industries as jumping off points.

    • Stanford's Unique Approach to Tech Transfer and Business Advice from AnthonyConsider Stanford's model of taking a small percentage of equity and look to industries with significant growth potential. Will Thorndike's '50X' podcast offers valuable insights into business growth strategies.

      Stanford's approach to tech transfer is unique in taking only a small percentage of equity in projects developed in the university, unlike many other universities that want 25-50% equity. Anthony, while considering his next chapter, intends to build a business like the Investment Group of Santa Barbara (IGSB) model that works with people they like and admire. He advises founders to look for industries with enormous growth potential and try to fit inside them. Indicators suggest that vaccine development and pharmaceuticals might have substantial growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Will Thorndike's new podcast '50X' is an excellent resource for people interested in business growth.

    • Prioritize Personal Growth and Positive Relationships in Career DecisionsFind your niche, surround yourself with people you love and admire, and prioritize personal growth. Keep an eye on decentralization and decarbonization trends, but focus on areas where you can be your best instead of chasing money. The most meaningful experiences come from pushing your limits with diverse people in uncomfortable situations.

      Focus on the areas where you can be the best in the world and have a bunch of tailwinds, and surround yourself with people you love and admire. The most fun times and meaningful experiences come from working with diverse people in uncomfortable situations. It's important to find your place in the world and stick to it instead of chasing money in areas where you don't fit. Decentralization and decarbonization are interesting tailwinds to watch for in the next 50 years. The development opportunity lies in pushing your own limits with people you love and admire. It's important to prioritize personal growth and positive relationships in career decisions.

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    Pilot: https://bit.ly/acquiredpilot24
    Statsig: https://bit.ly/acquiredstatsig24
    Crusoe: https://bit.ly/acquiredcrusoe


    ‍Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

    Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

    Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

    We sit down with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek live in Stockholm at Spotify’s amazing HQ studio (check out the video version of this episode — which plays natively on Spotify!). This was an incredibly special and timely conversation: for those who haven’t been paying attention over the past few years, after revolutionizing music Spotify has now ALSO completely transformed our own industry in podcasting. Starting from way behind with ~zero market share in 2018, Spotify has now aggregated the listener market and amazingly surpassed Apple as the world’s largest podcast platform — including close to home with the Acquired audience, where it has 60%+ market share among you all!


    We discuss the origins of this “second act” strategy with Daniel, the vision to move from a music company to an audio company, and what’s coming next with Spotify’s entry into Audiobooks. And of course we relive some key moments from the Acquired canon that Daniel was involved in, including his pivotal conversations with Taylor Swift and her team convincing her to come back to streaming following the release of 1984. Tune in!

    ACQ2 Show:

    Links

    Sponsors:
    Pilot: https://bit.ly/acquiredpilot24
    Statsig: https://bit.ly/acquiredstatsig24
    Crusoe: https://bit.ly/acquiredcrusoe

    Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

    Stratechery (with Ben Thompson)

    Stratechery (with Ben Thompson)

    Ben Thompson joins Acquired to discuss the business of Stratechery itself and celebrate 10 years (!) of the internet’s best strategy analysis destination. Even beyond Stratechery’s enormous impact itself on business and tech over the years, Ben’s work inspired a whole generation of business content creators — this show very much included — and it was super special for us to give the Acquired treatment to one of our own heroes. We cover the full history of Ben pioneering the subscription internet media business model (indeed SubStack’s seed round pitch was “Stratechery-in-a-box”), and how + why he’s evolved the business since and is now doubling down both on podcasting and a broader vision of the Stratechery Plus bundle… including for the first time content not made by Ben himself! Tune in and enjoy. 

    If you want more Acquired, you can follow our public LP Show feed here in the podcast player of your choice (including Spotify!). 

    Sponsors:
    Pilot: https://bit.ly/acquiredpilot24
    Statsig: https://bit.ly/acquiredstatsig24
    Crusoe: https://bit.ly/acquiredcrusoe


    Links:

    ‍Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

    Nvidia Part I: The GPU Company (1993-2006)

    Nvidia Part I: The GPU Company (1993-2006)

    He wears signature leather jackets. He can bench press more than you. He makes cars that drive themselves. He’s cheated death — both corporate and personal — too many times to count, and he runs the 8th most valuable company in the world. Nope, he's not Elon Musk, he’s Jensen Huang — the most badass CEO in semiconductor history. Today we tell the first chapter of his and Nvidia’s incredible story. You’ll want to buckle up for this one! 

    Sponsors:
    Pilot: https://bit.ly/acquiredpilot24
    Statsig: https://bit.ly/acquiredstatsig24
    Crusoe: https://bit.ly/acquiredcrusoe


    This episode has video! You can watch it on YouTube

    PSA: if you want more Acquired, you can follow our newly public LP Show feed here in the podcast player of your choice (including Spotify!).


    Links:

    Carve Outs:

    ‍Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

    Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

    Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

    Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi dropped by the Acquired studio for an Eats delivery, so we broke out the cameras and asked him to hang out for a wide-ranging conversation. :) We talk about his 20 years working with Barry Diller, starting his career at Allen & Company, how the Uber CEO search process ACTUALLY went down… and oh yeah, the massive transformation that’s happened at Uber over the past few years. When Dara took over the company it was bleeding huge sums of cash, losing share to competitors and embroiled in one of the biggest corporate controversies in recent memory. Fast forward to today and it’s turned cashflow positive while also having tripled revenue to over $30B (on $120B in GMV) and solidified its rideshare dominance in the US. And in perhaps the biggest change, it’s done it all while staying out of the headlines. Tune in!

    ACQ2 Show + LP Program:

    Links

    Sponsors:
    Pilot: https://bit.ly/acquiredpilot24
    Statsig: https://bit.ly/acquiredstatsig24
    Crusoe: https://bit.ly/acquiredcrusoe

    Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.