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    Super Pumped (with Brian Koppelman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

    enFebruary 22, 2022

    About this Episode

    We sit down with two of the most talented and respected people in Hollywood — Brian Koppelman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt — to talk about the process of adapting Mike Issac’s story of Uber, “Super Pumped”, into their new Showtime series. To say this was a thrill for us is a MASSIVE understatement. Huge thank yous to Brian, Joe and Showtime for making it happen!

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    This episode has video! You can watch it on YouTube.

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    ‍ 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.

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Tech startups are becoming a topic of mainstream entertainment, as seen in the upcoming Showtime series 'Super Pumped' based on Uber's events. The podcast also highlights the growing ease of using cryptocurrency through platforms like Phantom.
    • Building connections and being open to new ideas can lead to unexpected and serendipitous partnership opportunities.
    • We must question the consequences of disruptive innovation that prioritizes profit over people. Curiosity and uncovering hidden truths are crucial in creating a more humane generation.
    • Good storytelling involves a complex portrayal of characters, including their shortcomings, while striking a balance between cautionary tales and glorifying bad behavior. Going beyond the headlines and portraying a whole human character is crucial for a great show or movie.
    • Artists provoke emotions and questions, whereas businesses aim to create value for shareholders. Priorities shift as art and profit conflict. Empathizing with people is key to avoiding disaster.
    • The use of innovative storytelling techniques can enhance the impact of a story and provide a richer canvas for its message. Modern Treasury's API offers a game-changing solution for managing payment operations and is trusted by many fast-growing companies.
    • With Modern Treasury, startups can streamline their payment processes and settle payments faster, allowing them to focus on improving their product without worrying about payment operations. Storytelling should be engaging but not negative, and casting plays a crucial role in building a story's environment.
    • Acting on a movie set requires concentration, imagination, and intense dedication amidst logistical challenges that can be physically and mentally taxing, but can result in creating something great for audiences to enjoy.
    • Stay focused on your intrinsic motivation, collaborate with others, and prioritize the joy of creating something you're proud of over external feedback or success.
    • Being an artist requires courage to express innermost thoughts and feelings, creating powerful art that reflects parts of ourselves we may not have the courage to experience. Going deep within oneself is essential for true creative expression.
    • We need to move away from the unsustainable growth model and create a more equitable system to solve global issues. The podcast "Your Undivided Attention" and the book "Unrequited Infatuations" provide insights into the problems with the current system, while "Don Jon" showcases Joe's work. Check out acquired.fm/jobs for curated job opportunities or join the Slack to participate in the conversation.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    How Uber's implosion is becoming a pop culture phenomenon

    The podcast, Acquired, talks about great technology companies and will air a special episode on the implosion and events of Uber leading up to their IPO, which will be adapted as a Showtime series called Super Pumped. This goes to show how startups and venture funds are becoming part of entertainment and pop culture. The episode had guests Brian Koppelman, who is an executive producer, writer, and show runner of Super Pumped, and Joe Gordon-Levitt, who stars in Super Pumped playing Travis Kalanick. They are also founders themselves and talked about their experiences. Listeners can also explore Phantom, the fastest growing crypto wallet built on Solana, which helps in trading tokens and collecting NFTs and makes using crypto much easier.

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Take on Ethereum and Web 3.0

    Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt was inspired by the Acquired podcast's episode on Ethereum and how it changed his perception on Web 3.0, which he previously only associated with hype and scams. Brian Koppelman and David Levine, co-creators of Super Pumped, met Joseph through his long-time agent and friend Warren Zavala, and praised his intelligence, preparation, and willingness to tackle challenging roles. The rare and serendipitous partnership was made possible by Warren's recommendation and Joe's enthusiasm for the project. The episode highlights the importance of building connections and being open to new ideas and perspectives.

    The Uber Story: Profit over People in Silicon Valley

    The story of Uber is a powerful example of the trend in our culture of putting profits above all, even if it means disregarding the impact on people. This mentality is not exclusive to Silicon Valley but is executed better there. It's vital to tell stories about this issue because it's driving the human race off a cliff, and we need to change this as a generation. The Uber story raises important questions about disruption, cost, and the consequences of revolution while also providing fascinating insights into the people who put it all on the line. Finally, this story emphasizes the importance of curiosity, which drives investors, artists, and audiences to explore and uncover hidden truths and lessons.

    Balancing Real Life Portrayal and Serving the Story.

    The making of a good show or movie involves weighing source material and personal information about real-life people while serving the story being told. As an actor, it is important to go beyond headlines and portray a whole human character, even one who does bad things. The complex portrayal of characters is what makes for a great story. It is also crucial to strike a balance so that the show is not seen as a glorification of bad behavior but a cautionary tale. The audience's perception of the show may vary, but the unflinching exposure of the protagonist's shortcomings and dark moments helps in conveying the message.

    The Contrast Between Art and Business

    Artists job is to make people feel something and ask important questions. It's not their job to provide answers. In contrast, business people's job is to create value for shareholders by solving problems for customers. Although some businesses can be conducted in an artful way, it's mostly antithetical. The priorities in business shift and what happens when ordering switches from an artist to a business person is significant. The show, through Travis, portrays how an artist willed something into existence despite all the odds stacked against him. Companies being incentivized by profit could lead the world towards disaster. It's necessary to think about people and their problems empathetically, which art reminds us of.

    The Disruptive Storytelling Techniques of Uber's Founding.

    The story of Uber's founding has been portrayed with innovation and bold risks that go beyond traditional storytelling conventions. The filmmakers have taken advantage of the subject of disruption to disrupt the form of storytelling. The use of clever techniques like the fade-away has allowed them to play with the audience's perception and provide a richer canvas for the story. Additionally, Modern Treasury is a great platform for companies to manage their payment operations. They offer APIs that enable users to move money right in their product using code, which is a game-changer for the industry. The platform is trusted by many fast-growing companies and is a great tool for building FinTech or Web3 apps.

    Streamlining Payment Operations for Startups with Modern Treasury

    Modern Treasury provides a solution for startups to handle payment operations while they focus on improving their product. It streamlines the payment process from funds flow and enables payments to settle in your account 2X faster. The integration of payment rails directly doesn't make your beer taste better. Rather than worrying about payment operations, it's essential to focus on the product. The process of transforming a book into a show involves extensive research and faithful adaptation of facts to make them exciting, appealing and engaging. However, storytelling should not affect the people involved in a negative way because the representation of actual events is crucial. Casting plays an essential role in building the environment for the story.

    The Challenges of Acting on a Movie Set

    Acting in a green-screened, white-taped laptop is like playing pretend according to Joseph. The challenge is to maintain concentration and imagination amidst logistical nightmares in a movie set. Actors work for a minimum of 12 hours and then have a 12-hour turnaround. The lifestyle is not exactly the best and even the most well-run sets have a million things all going on at once. If you know it's bad, it's bad and Joe believes that he doesn't have names for all the things he probably does. Brian and Ben appreciate the challenges of acting and acknowledge that the audience may not understand the amount of work it takes to create something great.

    Balancing Authenticity and Appeal in Creative Pursuits

    When creating something, it's important to strike a balance between making something true to yourself while also resonating with a large audience. It's important to focus on the intrinsic motivation of creating something you love and giving it your all, without being too focused on external feedback or success. Even if something doesn't initially succeed, it can still become a classic years later. Ultimately, the bond formed with collaborators while working on a project and the joy of creating something you're proud of is what matters most.

    The Importance of True Creative Expression

    Being an artist is about going deep into oneself to find a unique voice and expressing it with openness and truth. Money and popularity are not important. The courage to express innermost thoughts and feelings creates powerful art. Mystery is a company that takes the headache out of planning virtual team events and makes them awesome and magical. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a multi-talented artist who can sing and play a variety of instruments, but also possesses the courage to express his innermost thoughts and feelings through his acting. This creates a beautiful and sacred kind of art that reflects back parts of ourselves we may not have the courage to experience. The book Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke is a wonderful read that encourages going deep within oneself to find true creative expression.

    Addressing the Root Cause of Climate Change, Inequality, and Democracy Through Systemic Change.

    the issues of climate change, inequality, and democracy are interconnected and stem from the unsustainable economic growth model of our system. To solve these issues, we need to address the root cause by changing the grow-or-die approach and create a sustainable and equitable system. Joseph recommends a podcast, Your Undivided Attention, where Daniel Schmachtenberger discusses the problems with the current system and suggests possible solutions. Brian recommends a book, Unrequited Infatuations by Little Steven Van Zandt, which delves into the relationship between art and commerce. Additionally, Brian praises Joe's film, Don Jon, for showcasing the breadth of his work. Listeners can join the Slack, become an LP, or check out acquired.fm/jobs for curated job opportunities.

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