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Ep 21: Drew Olanoff. The miracle of stem cells, lethal flying scooters and 76ers fandom

Ep 21: Drew Olanoff. The miracle of stem cells, lethal flying scooters and 76ers fandom

Host: Joshua Strebel | Published: January 20, 2020

Drew Olanoff got his start in computers at a young age moderating BBS’s. An internship for America Online kicked off a long and illustrious career working at companies like Yahoo!, TechCrunch, NextWeb and others. In this interview Joshua interviews Drew on his journey in tech, winning his bout with cancer through the miracle of stem cell technology, the barometer of the VC industry in Silicon Valley, a thought experiment on universal 20% time devoted to solving societal issues, bone marrow registries and more. Enjoy!

Watch

Show Notes

0:00:53   Welcome and context
0:01:21   A key question about 76’rs basketball this year…
0:03:41   Breaking news: the CEO of Twitter has been hacked
0:07:49   Tell us about your career in tech working for TechCrunch and others
0:08:43   BBS’s and old school computing days
0:12:31   “People only want something that’s 1% better than what they’re used to”
0:15:17   Managing an AOL chat room
0:18:37   What happened after AOL?
0:21:21   “I moved to NYC and started writing for NextWeb”
0:22:49   Can you share how you ended up with the Twitter handle @yoda?
0:26:53   Where are you working now?
0:30:21   Positioning > Product everytime
0:31:23   How do you define success & failure?
0:32:53   Do you think the Silicon Valley VC zeitgeist has run its course?
0:35:03   Hurricane-weaponized scooters in Miami
0:37:13   The business climate in Phoenix: we’re shrubs
0:38:53   Profitability is sexy
0:41:47   Professionalism, ethics & integrity
0:45:23   Waldorf schools
0:46:49   Congrats on your marriage
0:49:19   20% time applied to solving societal problems
0:50:23   You got a stem cell transplant?
0:55:41   Partnership opportunity with 23andme?

Show Transcript

Joshua: 00:00:53 Welcome to the podcast today. Everybody. I’m here with Drew Olanoff. Good friend of mine and a 76ers fan till he dies. Go ahead and introduce yourself, Drew.

Drew: 00:01:05 My name is drew Olanoff and I am a 76ers fan until I die. Pretty much nailed it there at this point in life. That’s, that’s it.

Joshua: 00:01:15 Yeah. So before we get to this breaking news that we just were made aware of, let’s get right to it. Can Simmons and Embiid take it all the way this year?

Drew: 00:01:27 I think so. I think so. I think the Sixers did the right thing and bringing in Horford so that NBA doesn’t have to play 40 minutes a game and have to play every three games so they can keep them healthy for the playoffs. Ben Simmons finds his jump shot somewhere. Why not?

Joshua: 00:01:44 Sky’s the limit, do you think a mid seed four or five?

Drew: 00:01:50 I think there were two or three seed, honestly. And I think they’re, I mean, they’re extremely strong at home, so they should, they should push, you know, they shouldn’t take the rest of the, the latter part of the season off. They should really, you know, focus on getting a high seat because they’re still really strong at home.

Joshua: 00:02:06 Well, I I envision as a decade long Phoenix Suns fans, Phoenix Suns fan. Hopefully this is the year we get out of the bottom.

Drew: 00:02:19 They look good. Look, the Suns are looking good. Every team has to go through a process. I mean the, you know, we dealt with this since, I mean, since ever. So like 2002, 2003, we haven’t had anything. You guys have a lot of exciting young players and yeah, so I think it’s fine. I mean, everything’s in flux in the NBA and then off season it was wild. I think everyone thought that they knew what was new, what this year would look like. And then quiet Leonard threw everything off chemo God mode, right? Yeah, totally. Good for me. I don’t blame who would want to live in Toronto. I nothing against folks in Toronto.

Joshua: 00:03:05 Yeah. That’s that’s asking a lot, so. Sure. All right. So the Sixers second seed and the East, maybe the sons can turn it around on the backs of Booker and and a second year eight and I’m looking forward.

Drew: 00:03:20 The playoffs, I’m saying that right now the sons are making the Plaza. I’m, I say that 100%. I am confident,

Joshua: 00:03:28 Bold prediction. I appreciate that. Oh, let’s see if it comes true. So onto this breaking news, we were just as bad. Just as bad as we were getting on this call. Some news broke. It turns out that the CEO of Twitter, Jack has just been hacked

Drew: 00:03:44 Lisbon packs. It seems to be a pattern of other high profile hacks. If you look at the content and some of the words that we will not repeat on this program. Nonetheless, the CEO of the company being compromised is probably at probably the worst possible thing you could have happening to the company at this point.

Joshua: 00:04:08 Yeah. The, I, somebody tweeted something that the put options, you know, so you know, somebody who’s put in short sailing or something just changed like four or $5. So if somebody is getting rich,

Drew: 00:04:20 Look, it’s, it’s one thing to argue like, you know, cutie pie is hacked or something mother or you know, a celebrity or something like that and you go, Oh, they didn’t have a good password. They didn’t have two factor authentication set up correctly. The CEO of the company and Jack, I think Jack, I think Jack is a good person. I, I obviously I’ve been on Twitter for 13 years. That’s sad. But I know that and saw that I’d been on for 13 years. But yeah, that’s, I mean the think about it. What’s the equivalent Mark Zuckerberg getting hacked on Facebook. That’s news. I mean, and my first thought was because Jack and I follow each other is his, it’s his direct messages.

Joshua: 00:04:58 Oh no.

Drew: 00:04:59 And I go hopefully smart enough to not have serious conversations over direct messages. You never know. It’s, yeah, it has some ramifications there. That’s it. It sounds like the actually the real problem.

Joshua: 00:05:13 What’s worse if, if, if you could pick your poison, you’re the CEO of Twitter and your account gets hacked and your DMS get published or your a female celebrity like the hunger games gal. Like her iCloud got hacked and some, some personal photos were released. I mean pick your poison.

Drew: 00:05:35 Okay. You ready? I’ve thought I knew you were going there with this and I started thinking about it. But it’s easy I feel with the photos because honestly my direct, I mean I’ve been on the service for a long time. Same as Jack. You can’t account for every single thing you’ve said. I mean that’s not, I’m not diminishing something that, that, you know, women have gone and men with having photos exposed. But when you think about your intellectual property, things you have thought things you have said, lack of context, they have been inebriated. I don’t know, direct messages scare that my DMS being, even though I’ve done nothing broken their laws, that still scares me. That’s a really good question.

Joshua: 00:06:20 Correct. The context or the lack of context or the conversation between two friends, you say shit you would not say in public between D friends.

Drew: 00:06:34 Right. Our DMs, the DMS between us, it scans it for years it’s disconnected. It’s just read them top to bottom. There’s no connection to them whatsoever. But if you’re just reading it through, you’re like, Oh, who knows? That’s nuts. That’s scary. So I don’t know how you could have your account hacked and not have your DMD access. I mean, maybe it’s sort of like a third party app or some thing or an API or something. Let’s hope that’s the case and his content hasn’t been because that’s, that’s a huge liability for the company.

Joshua: 00:07:09 Well, maybe, maybe if he’s lucky. There’s a hidden Twitter feature that auto purges DMS after 24 hours that only he has enabled like they did with Zuckerberg. Remember

Drew: 00:07:20 The messages started disappearing and then a bunch of us go. We went in and we were like, it’s like we were talking to ourselves. There was this whole line of us talking. It was like, Oh. And then they got caught and they were like, Oh, we’ll make that feature available for everyone. And we’re still waiting. We’re still waiting. So I guess that’ll be the playbook. If I’m Twitter now, I have my communications, I don’t really, if I’m Twitter I that may be the route I go.

Joshua: 00:07:47 Hey, so perfect segue. Talking about communications. You’ve had a long storied career in tech. You know, I know you used to work for tech crunch and various various other outlets. Tell us a little bit about what you did in the past and what you’re doing now.

Drew: 00:08:02 Yeah, I mean, I think it really, it honestly started my career, started with the second my dad sent me down at the computer and I was like 10 or 11 Oregon trail. Yeah, we’re Oregon trail dos. You know, I had the book that was this thick and I’m typing and you know, IMS doll slash whatever. And then, you know, kind of said, Oh, well there’s newer computers are going to get a newer computer. And then you kind of worked your way up. And I remember having like a you know, visual interface for DAS is just the menuing system and that was a huge level up and I think it all clicked for me or BBS is were huge.

Joshua: 00:08:42 Oh yes. Yeah. Not only that, I’ll throw one more out there. A di Q muds like before world of Warcraft, like text-based RPG. Mm. Oh geez. Or whatever they call them.

Drew: 00:08:53 Oh, I really do a quick story. I am so I’m the wrong person I have on the show those days, those visual games like those, those stories, games or what did you call them? MMR or like a mud, multi-user dungeon and that this, yeah. Yeah. No, I know what you’re talking. I met this guy on a BBS. He was, he was blind. He’s, I mean he is still blind and his name is Dylan Surfin and he, I found out later he lived near me and I met him and I hung out with him and a screen reader because it’s his spring talk or his computer talk to him. It just went over a little the door. I’m like, damn, how do you do it? And he built a game, he wrote a game called Barney splat, which was one of those games and it had to do with Barney the dinosaur and it was horrific.

Drew: 00:09:40 Like Barney was a murderer and it was like Barney was Charles Manson and you were a part of his coat. It was awesome. But yeah, I remember sitting on BDS is, and you know, if they were just a two line BBS, I would wait for someone else to log on. Like I wasn’t in huge into gaming download. Adults ask you porn ask you torn. I mean, but you know I wanted, I was like, someone else liked the idea that I was like, there was someone else. Yup, yup. I’d be that kid that was like, hi, how are you? How are you doing? Where are you from? And like, no agenda. I wasn’t trying to find a girlfriend or anything. I was just like, Holy crap, there’s another person. Yeah. For your kids out there. This is like 1989 and 92 like pre America online, pre prodigy. This is old, old school stuff, you know the old modem sounds.

Drew: 00:10:40 Yeah. And I used to, you know, if you hit it, if you edited your string, your dial string to put in asterick 82 that would block call waiting. So my dad used to freak out and he’d be like, why? Why isn’t your grandmother called? I’m like, I don’t know why she called. That’s cause when she calls she gets a busy signal. Cause I asked her, Katie don’t, I was bad, I got yelled at for that. But I could but like the phone would ring and it would disconnect because of call waiting. So that’s news to me that that feature even existed. Okay. Yeah. Well, you know, because I asked can we get a second phone line and at that time that was like bazillions of dollars. Why we do who has two phones. That was the equivalent of getting fiber. Exactly. Exactly. It’s a big deal.

Drew: 00:11:28 But yeah, that was BBS. This for me was like that kind of like connection and, and interesting, you know, you know, I was like a CIS admin on, on a BBS and I thought that was cool. Like, I could kick people off and like, you know, band people. And then, you know, then I, there was groups and you’d meet and hang out a bunch of nerds and then like you said, AOL comes along and that changes everything. [inaudible] That that was, I, you know, it’s probably jumping forward, but I look at what Facebook’s doing, I look at what Twitter is and I look at what’s Snapchat’s doing and Instagram is doing, they’re all trying to recreate a, well, Facebook almost got bought. I mean, it will try to buy a by Facebook and it will try to buy them. A lot of people try to buy Facebook but you know, aim instant messenger and how much we made fun of that. But that status updating and that connect, everyone’s doing it really literally recreating it.

Joshua: 00:12:30 My wife, Sally has a great saying that people only want something that’s 1% better than what they’re used to. So Facebook was 1% better than AOL, and Twitter’s 1% better than dead, dead, dead, dead. And the list goes on. If you get too radical, you know, a big paradigm shift it, you know it’s hit or miss, but if you just improve what people love and know a little bit, you’re going to have a success.

Drew: 00:12:52 Yeah. I mean you look at rabbit and the need for being anonymous and stuff like that. A little chat rooms was that you could go in, I would go into the Philadelphia chat room. There was no more, you could only have 30 people in there. You’d have your profile, you can be whoever you want it, say whatever you want it. If you did something against the rules. Yeah. Got kicked out.

Joshua: 00:13:13 [Inaudible] I think I was 12 years old and my BBS username was lady lover,

Drew: 00:13:20 80 lover. I was always say, my name is drew, my name is Andrew. So I was always Andrew on PDs, which was easy to get a unique username. But then of course I thought I was really fun on, on, on AOL and I was flier fan, F, L Y R fan F N 69 because at 12 years old I knew the significance. Oh yeah. Like I have any experience, but I thought that was pretty cool. I remember in a chat room one time somebody asked me is you’re a flyers fan man, hot cancer. Yeah. And they said 69 whose number is that? And I thought, yeah, no, no, I really should. Yeah. Wow. That is because we’re all kids. Yes. Oh. But we sure thought we knew everything. Thought we knew. But yeah, a wall for me and a wall was actually my first job. Oh wow. Because I was, I was in these chat rooms a ton more than anyone should be.

Drew: 00:14:23 And you know, you know, had downloaded all that. Did you download all the software, like the punters and the kickers kick? Never got that in AOL, dude. It’s really bad. It was bad. I’m still admitting this is horrible, but so you can only have 30 people in a room. One of your friends pops on, they pop, they hit you up on aim and they say, Hey, let me get into the film room. Because once, once there were 30 people in Philadelphia chat room, it would split our Philadelphia one, two, three, four, five, six. Nobody wanted it to be a numbered room door fire up the kicker, you kick somebody out or you know, you put in the chat room, Hey everybody, hit control out the leap, see who does it.

Drew: 00:15:05 And then somebody pops in. So what AOL used to do is they had what they call digital cities and they would have offices in all the major cities. And so they, I was 14, 15 and they invited me to hang out, meet the team at digital city Philadelphia, and then offered me an internship. Which is really like, it was, it was like the movie big where I just kind of like sat there and I’m like, what do you think of that and what do you think of that? And I’m like, don’t put ads in. It’s the best where people freak out. And then my job, I used to edit advertisements, so local ads, so you know, when you it out day a well and all the boxes popped up, animals and stuff. There were local ads for car dealerships or whatever. So I used, I had a tool, the internal tool is called Raman and I would have it at my computer there and in the office and I would update it.

Drew: 00:15:56 And of course I would put the little like notes in like if it was a black background that you’d have black texts that said, Hey, everybody jury’s here. Oh. So I just thought that that was the coolest thing in the world. It wasn’t mine, but it was fun seeing that from the inside. And and what also was interesting I, you can, you know this from starting your own company, everything, what you think people think of your business or products or you think they’re going to use it one way, you have no clue. [inaudible] Minute to minute basis. You think a, well, people are here to find information and go on the worldwide web. No, people were there. They were trying to get laid. Like I had a moment with my friend this’ll be the last AOL thing. Maybe it was my friend and he told me, he said, check this out.

Drew: 00:16:49 I’m going in these chat rooms, the girl and the girl on girl chaplain. Nope. Yeah, I have a different username cause you could have five a week. And I’d go in there and I’d talk to these girls and I’d be like, Hey, what’s up? Hey. And I’m like yeah, you’re not the only one who does that. So more than likely you’re in a chat room of guys talking to guys, pretending to be girls, talking to other girls. Never did it again. And that was the reality. The internet, you busted a cat fishing ring. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a lot of people do that. But that was a, well, that’s what we have. Wow. What’s an awful, looking back it wasn’t, you know, people tell the old sir and by day we didn’t, we walked, you know, to school uphill both ways. We didn’t have it so bad.

Joshua: 00:17:36 Yeah. Yeah. The, the, the early days, the wild West, I guess, of online internet and social media. It was a special time that I think some people pine for the wackiness the craziness, but it was also

Drew: 00:17:50 Just pure and fun and yeah, there was the creepy parts like there are now, but it was like a small sliver was creepy. Everything else was just so new and interesting and exciting and frankly mindblowing. Right? Sure. Yeah. I mean, you and hundreds of thousand people for hundreds of thousands of people were online doing something at the same time. And, and at that time too, if people were being creepy, usually they were Astros, like you would call them out and be like stranger danger. Unfortunately now, since our billions of people are on the internet, there are pockets of freebie that give each other the thumbs up. So hard to suss that out and off suicides. But yeah, AOL, I don’t know. So where did that lead to next? I mean, you spent some time in the Valley. What did you do out there? Yeah. So, you know, I, I, before I went out to the Valley, worked at a company that, that did that supported like study abroad and grad programs as they try to, tried to take themselves online.

Drew: 00:18:53 They had basic websites and stuff, but they weren’t taking applications and they weren’t, you know, they still required students to come into the office if they wanted to study your dorm. Like, dude, it’s got time. And so did some of that. And then I read an article in tech room two about this company called plugged in Seattle that did speech recognition technology podcasts. Cause I had started doing some podcasting. I have a podcast tattoo that I guess 2005. And I thought this was really cool that the idea that you could record an hour babbling my, I’m the dabbler. And then have, you know, this technology basically extract the text from it. That’s huge. Make it searchable. So I reached out to them and I said, and I was probably like premiere. I was like 22, 23. And I said, Hey I don’t know if you’re hiring, but what you’re doing is really cool and I’ll be your janitor.

Drew: 00:19:49 And they responded and said, Hey, you know, you, you’re a podcast or it’d be great if you could go to events and probably just, you know, they’re plugged teacher tell people about the slide and what we’re doing. That kind of turned into like a community manager slash other angels role. And they said, you know, we raised money. I didn’t know what raising money meant at that time. If we raised some money, we move out to Seattle and you can do it for sure, whatever. It’s on me $1,000 check every so often. And I would go do stuff. And I met with them when you’re working and said, Hey, we raised money from this, this firm called Draper Fisher Jorgenson and, or Johnathan. And I had never heard of that. And they handed me a checking of $10,000 and said, you’re this. Yeah. And I, and I said, I’ve got two boxes worth of stuff. I’ve tickets 200 bucks, this is going to be awesome. That was my book. You know, before living in Silicon Valley proper start up. Yeah.

Joshua: 00:20:50 You were, you were swimming in the cash

Drew: 00:20:52 Start up to her heart.

Joshua: 00:20:54 Oh, imagine that.

Drew: 00:20:58 The exciting, the exciting part is you completely own your work and you can make a difference. Like everything you do mess up, it’s a big mess up. But if you use something right, it’s a big deal. So, you know, I was there for about a year and, and I did a couple of, you know, community manager roles was in, you know, San Francisco and LA. And then I started writing for the next web. Never thought of myself as a writer by the way. Sorry, I’ll go back. And I don’t wear this as a badge of honor, but just referential. I dropped out of high school and I was 15. I had, I had skipped skips in grades. I was a senior. I still didn’t like school. I had to move schools because my parents didn’t like it. I like to work, so I was already doing like the cure stuff and I was like, I forget the school stuff.

Drew: 00:21:47 So it was, so, it was, it was, it was hard for me to find roles as the companies because, you know, like you get application software, you put in your information and you put in your college degree, I don’t have one. So you don’t even get looked at. So there were companies that I was like, man, I would do a really good job in there. I could definitely do this job. In fact, I might be overqualified, but I don’t meet the criteria. So it was kind of clothing and relationship building to kind of get to where I got. So the next web in 2000, well before that, in 2009, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer and the lymphatic system which is extremely treatable, very lucky. And since I was, you know, I’m on Twitter now, we’re talking about Twitter again. I started hashtag welcome Rangers cancer and they said that they, you know I lost my keys, I doing jurors cancer and I found some brands that put some money into every time somebody blamed my cancer or something and it went to charity. I auction off my username name on Twitter.

Joshua: 00:22:48 Yeah. So, so I still use that hashtag once in a while. And let’s talk about your user name real quick, cause you ended up with Yoda. It’s Yoda now, which is bad ass, but in a very kind of circular roundabout way. That’s a pretty interesting story if you don’t mind Sharon.

Drew: 00:23:45 Oh, that’s weird.

Joshua: 00:23:46 Yeah. So I’ve had Yoda, so I, so when I signed up for Twitter in 2006 I had you, well I had, I was drew, which was great. And then I was a Holy grail. And like I got my first name, he says, I’ve been retired. And I saw that Yoda wasn’t being used. Someone registered it. And so, I mean, this is when Jack and visit were still there and I kind of just said, Hey, nobody’s using Yoda. Can I have it? I’m like, okay, fine. So I took Yoda on a friend of mine, Brad just, we tweeted like Yoda, you know, once in awhile in Yoda speed. And just have it going. But then, you know, when I was thinking of things to do to raise money for, for lifts or only for charity, I asked if I can auction off my check, my using name drew. Because you can’t sell usernames. That’s against terms of service. So I said option at off and the money goes right to charity North of me. Is that okay? It’s true. So I did that. And so drew Carey gave him $1 million, a little string for it. Drew, drew Carey, the comedian and host of prices, right?

Drew: 00:24:50 The prices room. He’s a very good guy. Who’s a good friend, he’s very nice guy. He had had a family history of cancer and just a nice guy. So I’m like, okay. So he’s drew for TV on Twitter. He never changed his username, which is super easy to do if you have control to users, just switch them. You don’t lose users or followers or anything. He just didn’t want to, I’m so sad. So I was like, okay. So I had changed my name to that Julia, but then I had Yoda. They’re kind of sitting there and getting it. I’m getting older. I’m not the biggest star of everything, which is the funniest thing. I was like, I’ve always like Yoda, so it’s like, I’ll switch over to, you know, [inaudible]. So drew is kind of still sitting, waiting. It’s actually with have you ever heard of the property brothers?

Joshua: 00:25:35 The property brothers? Yeah. It’s like a twin brothers on HGTV. Yep.

Drew: 00:25:39 About palaces. So he is now in Semite controlling of drew. Gotcha. switch is fun, but yeah, that’s, that’s fun with Twitter. But yeah, the hashtag was, was a great use of Twitter as the first time that it was a hashtag was used for charity in that way. And it kept my mind off of the fact that I had, that I had cancer. No, super helpful. But then I wrote an article for the next one about blinders cancer and they said, Hey, do you want to write more? Hmm. Sorry, I didn’t think of myself as a writer. But as you know, as somebody who works on AOL and on the internet all the time, what we do is typing, communicate. So

Joshua: 00:26:22 And if you have an interesting story to tell or even if you, if you don’t think it’s interesting, others may think it’s insist, interesting. And you put the proverbial pen to paper or fingers to keys and they can make a career out of it.

Drew: 00:26:36 And some of the best writers have right. The way they speak. And and, and, and it works though. It works. So is it the next one I’m going to tech Frenching covered, covered, ended up covering Twitter and covered Google for about five years, which is again, game is interesting. And where are you working now? So we’re going to add a, a, a affirm in San Antonio. I’m based in Philadelphia. I worked for a firm in San Antonio’s call scale was we acquire, this is, this is interesting. This is time. And it found, it’s what I found it interesting because of being moved with they acquire SAS companies where, you know, they, the company has basically plateaued revenues, good customer base is great. Founders are like, I don’t want to raise money and I’m ready to move on to the next thing. So we acquire those companies bring in new CEOs, new leadership and you know, so it’s, it’s not like traditional private equity where you acquire a company in, squeeze it for Ash, actually try to revive themselves. Having been a reporter, I’d been in Christian on some of the companies you hear about them, they raise $5 million, they launched a feature and you don’t hear from them ever again. And then you kind of poke them, Hey, what’s up? And then their email doesn’t work one day.

Drew: 00:27:56 Right. The kind of tool, the tool companies, that’s what people don’t get about like Silicon Valley and tech. It’s like 98% of the companies just don’t make it. Not because of like, you know, no family, some urban, it’s big mistakes. But most of the time it’s just, that’s just the way it works.

Joshua: 00:28:12 So obviously, you know, of of throwing so much shit at the wall, some of it deserves to just go away. Like it doesn’t deserve to live on. But there is a, a class of idea or a classic company that has some promise. It has some value where they’re either a, you know, cultural value or economic value, but it just can’t get over the hump. And that’s what you guys special and you kind of come in and see the, see the nugget there and bring it up.

Drew: 00:28:39 So like one company we acquired is keen analytics. I mean keen is, I think I covered Kim, I was a recorder. Great customers, great analytics tools, dashboards and all that stuff. They had just kind of, you know, taking it to where they could take it. And the founders were like, all right, it’s time to move on. And you know, we, we, you know, we refocused a little bit and, and now they’re kind of like digging deep into like a user facing metric. So anyone who has an app that provides analytics for their users, like a bank kind of focusing on that, serving the existing customers, but kind of giving it a little focus and breathing a bit bit of new life into it. So it’s, it’s interesting things to work on. So I do communications, so I kind of sit with the teams, you know, and think about the messaging and kind of how to communicate SAS companies, let’s be honest, pretty boring.

Drew: 00:29:36 You know, they had their heads down, they’re cranking out features are putting out stuff and they’re like, we do this one thing. Really? Yeah. Either either this or you don’t find. But like the ones that can really break out and say and communicate what they do really well, what kind of people use their stuff? You know, what’s coming down the pipe. You see breakouts. Ask somebody like slap Slack is a SAS enterprise tool, but they’re, they don’t act like that in their marketing and communications people have an affinity for that brand and that product. And yet it’s something we use for work so

Joshua: 00:30:15 That it can be done if the positioning and well, okay, correctly identifying your audience and then positioning within that space. I would say way more important than having the dynamite best product or the dynamite best feature because you know, how many great products never go anywhere just because they positioned it wrong and messengered it all wrong.

Drew: 00:30:39 Right, right. Yeah. And, and, and, and so your point, you know, you got to focus on the people that are actually using it and find out you have to extract what value they see otherwise, how are you going to target more people like them and more, more customers like that. I think of a lot of people just are shooting in the dark and they’re hoping and praying and it’s like, no, play a little bit of small ball, you know, and take your time. Like and I think too is like with the companies that we see, and just in general, the ones that have been around a long time, the work that you guys had blown, which I have, which I’ve always said, I’m super proud of you because that’s winning. Having a successful business, like first of all, success and failure, there is no true definition. Pride, right? How do you define success? I don’t know.

Joshua: 00:31:33 Yes. It was very personal, very personal to everyone. So having a successful [inaudible]

Drew: 00:31:37 Business, it should be too many. Being able to have employees, paying your bills, having happy customers, being able to do things that you want to do either within the business or in a personal life. You know, we want to build new features or we want to do this, we want to go to a conference and we can afford that. We’re not, that’s success raising 500 million hours and not knowing what the hell you’re doing and then running it into the ground or doing things that are not above board, like a leg, a you know our friends the science company what the hell would they call

Joshua: 00:32:18 But the analysts or something, right. Like I said, Matt knows the MCU villain like so much focus on like Lynch and the climbers go big and it’s like, I don’t know. You know, that wasn’t that one. I can’t say it wasn’t a sick, I can’t

Drew: 00:32:40 Say it was a failure. It’s a definition, but I can’t say it was a success either. Nobody’s happy, nobody’s paying bills from it.

Joshua: 00:32:48 Do you think the zeitgeists is getting tired of that, of that just the kind of Silicon Valley, rah, rah, rah, everything’s awesome. Throw money at everything. We’re the next greatest. Awesome. I mean, it’s been, it’s been a 12 year cycle, you know, 13, 14 year cycle of just like tech crunch, just beating the drums of series a, D C F, Q. And it’s like,

Drew: 00:33:15 There is value. Yeah, there’s value in knowing what’s happening, right. Cause you can’t make any assessments or having an opinion on anything if you don’t know what’s going on. So now I’m not there getting tech around for the tech arms in like wall street journal and all that and stop covering all the rounds of funding. One would assume there is no more funding. So we need to know that there is funding. But yes, to your point, the kind of raw, raw, I mean look Silicon, I have a love hate relationship with Silicon Valley. I spent 10 years in San Francisco, even more years working with companies, startups that, you know, in Silicon Valley and there is a value to having like access to capital access to, you know peers, you know, but I can probably think number one upside to being in Silicon Valley is a lack of fear and you have a lack of fear because you have so many companies and so many opportunities and the pay is so ridiculous that yes, as a 20 year old engineer, you can go, you know what?

Drew: 00:34:11 Screw it. I’m going to move to San Francisco and I’ll take a low level job at Google. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll go get a job with Facebook that doesn’t work out. I’ll go work in my buddy startup. So you’re kind of just 24 hour focus on working and you’re not focused on like a family where you’re not focused on like what happens if I were anyways or you know what I mean? There’s a safety net everywhere. And that turns into a bad thing too, because you have bad actors like their nose and you know some sexual harassers and there’s a safety net for them too. Because if you don’t provide the safety net, there’s no safety net for you. So there’s this vicious cycle of that. So it’s not all bad in Silicon Valley, but it’s noisy. It’s extremely noisy and it’s lost its way. And you know the idea of companies saving the world scooters don’t save the world.

Joshua: 00:35:04 The scooters. Oh no, we won’t talk about scared. No I don’t. I hate them. They’re just, they’re so messy.

Drew: 00:35:12 I mean, did you read about the story of my Anthony? I didn’t know the hurricane is coming. So there’s one of their main fears are these unintended suitors that are now weapons. There’s going to be decapitation by scooter. You tried to say you were solving a problem for transportation and you’ve created more problems. I was just annoys me.

Joshua: 00:35:38 I was just in San Diego a couple of weeks ago walking down mission or mission Boulevard and sure for about 27 seconds at seven in the morning, all the scooters are nicely placed on the corner, eight inches away from another with their kickstands. And it looks nice at the 29th second. They’re just splurged and splashed and strewn about, and it just looks like ass dude. I was like, let’s, let’s just pollute or litter basically. Let’s just litter our neighborhoods with these scooters that are discarded or the environment. I don’t know

Drew: 00:36:18 Nobody. Why? Why didn’t burden, why I need to raise all that money? They didn’t, but they could. That’s also a Silicon Valley ethos of if you can raise it, you do. And that messes the whole thing up. There’s no calibration. Silicon Valley, everybody’s, there’s a bubble. And it’ll crash. No, it needs to be recalibrated. Yeah. Leveled a little, little bit. I mean, sure there’s space for fun, but like everything has to disrupt something. And it’s like,

Joshua: 00:36:54 You know, back to your kinda semi question on like, how do you define success and failure? And you know, we’re in Arizona, I’m in Arizona, I spent 11 years in Phoenix and now we’re based out in Tucson. And I always use this analogy when somebody asks me and I’m like, what’s the business climate like in, in Arizona? You know, you’re a tech company, why aren’t you in the Bay? And you know, I, I’d come up with this really silly analogy. It probably doesn’t make any sense, but companies in the Bay, you know, they’re like spring flowers, they’re beautiful, they grow fast, they come up and, and there’s this wonderful thing, but as soon as it stops raining, they all die. But the business climate and Phoenix, dude, we’re cactus. We’re shrubs, right?

Drew: 00:37:41 LOPA laugh baby.

Joshua: 00:37:42 Exactly. Sustainability, profitability comes number one, not glitz, glamour and, and, and series B rounds. It’s like whatever I’m doing, I need to think 18 months out, 24 months out, will I still be here? Will I make payroll? Will I be able to grow? Because frankly it’s only going rain twice, maybe three times this year. So I better make these resources last. So it’s everybody in my tech community here, you know, I have a little mastermind group. Yeah. We’re so much down to earth just like, Hey, we’re going to call out another 8% and this month or another 10% this quarter. And you know, we’ve forecasted this and this and it’s very much run by the numbers and by the sustainability and you know, and, and also founder enjoyment, you know, like are we doing joy? Imagine that. Right?

Drew: 00:38:33 Yeah. I look, I’ve heard I’m, I’m a fan of shoot for the stars. I understand that big things don’t happen if people don’t think big, but not, not everything is, is a moon shot, right? Yeah. There’s a lot of, there is no shame. I mean it shake, beat talking profitability. It’s actually it very in Vogue right now. It’s, it’s a good thing people talk about all the sasses like when I used to be a tech round, if somebody’s pitching in a SAS company, I’d either delete it or I’d send it to Ron Mueller, my colleague at tech crunch, cause I might now you’d think about it, now I can own 39 I’m almost 40 and I’m like, man, companies that make money are sexy. You’re negative positive. Oh dang, that is so it’s a good thing that we’re getting where there is no like shame. It’s not like, well who are your investors? How and when are you raising right now? Cause everybody in Silicon Valley is raising on that broad generalization. But you know, these hypergrowth companies, they’re always raising, they’re always in a state of raising. So that means why your executives, your CEO is not focused on the business. Right? Or the customer or the product or the product or the employees. And that’s how you get a situation like Uber. You got, you had Travis County who was grow, grow, grow, raise, raise, raise. Oh my God, there’s all this bad stuff happening. Huh? Oh, I mean, yeah dude.

Joshua: 00:40:04 I mean cause you know, anybody or any thing can essentially optimize for one outcome, right? You can optimize for sustainability, you can optimize if you’re a charity for a number of cases helped or something. If you’re on the rocket fuel train, you’re optimizing for your next round period or, and then the bigger optimization is your IPO.

Drew: 00:40:26 Sure. Which, you know, I in today’s climate is not, is that something people really shoot for anymore? Like running a profitable or you know, almost profitable private company sounds way more [inaudible],

Joshua: 00:40:40 You know, speaking, you know, Pat myself on the back, speaking from experience, it doesn’t suck. It doesn’t suck at all. It’s a, it’s a nice place to be. It’s

Drew: 00:40:51 Different and you can really, you, you know, when I play, when I say things like play small ball, it’s not the minute, it just means you can focus on like build real thing. Right. And I always say to our companies, I’m like, look, you should build your infrastructure, meaning your customer support and you know, all of your sales teams and things like this to be so that if tomorrow you decided to sell peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, people would be like, okay, team energized centers. It’s a little weird, but I’ll listen to you like, let me hear all about those peanut butter jelly sandwiches. Like, and that’s how you get there. How do you get to be a company like that? Going culture, hiring you know, in a, in a smart way that’s thinking about the future. I’m selling in a transparent way or in a way that’s fair. You know, hunting the customer support tickets in a timely manner, in a respectful way, like

Joshua: 00:41:47 Professionalism, ethics, integrity, imagine that. Right? So if you do those things right and you do have to make a pivot, your audience will at least be receptive to a given you a fair shot.

Drew: 00:42:00 Sure, sure. And I think the, like the idea of a pivot, it’s like Whoa, if I’m giving a company my money to do one thing, as long as they’re going to continue to serve me in that way, or at least tell me if there are changes or whatever. As long as there’s communication, as long as it’s, there’s a, you know, partnership or you’re, you’re, you’re fine. I mean, yeah, it’s, it’s you if, but if you’re running to the point of we’re going public or we’re going this way, which it appears to be, that’s what the skewers, I mean I have friends that work at these companies so I’m not, I don’t hate anybody, but the reality of the situation, the scooter stuff is not sustainable. Like that growth is not matching that funding and it’s a seasonal business at best. I mean it doesn’t fly on the East coast. You know, it snows here. I’m not using a scooter. So you’re reading, there’s so much potential for this. Yeah.

Joshua: 00:42:56 And is it a category that really needs a first, second and third? No, it needs like a half of one.

Drew: 00:43:03 A half a one. Is there, is there an interesting technology being built around logistics and micro payments and stuff like that? Yeah. So maybe a bird gets acquired by Uber and they absorb that technology and that would be a fine outcome to founders and investors. Maybe that’s the goal. [inaudible]

Joshua: 00:43:23 Yeah. You know, I, I don’t, or I wish success on everybody. Even even the people playing a different game from me, even if I don’t understand the game that they’re playing, you know, I still wish them a positive outcome. And you know, you gotta love the chutzpah and the ingenuity it takes to come up with some of these ideas. Just whoever thought of whatever the next thing is, you’re just like good on you man. Way to just put yourself out there and that’s awesome that it worked or it didn’t, but you intend something.

Drew: 00:43:55 When I find myself getting too cynical, which, which, which happens often again because of my age and because I’ve been around for too long and probably because I was a journalist and just got a lot of bad pitches, a lot of bad things. I remember when, when Steve bomber was interviewed, after Steve jobs announced the iPhone in 2007 and they said, well, what do you, what do you think of the iPhone? And he laughed and he said, I have $100 for a phone. Soaps. It doesn’t have a keyboard business. People want keyboard.

Joshua: 00:44:31 Hmm. And that was like

Drew: 00:44:32 Microsoft’s or big response. We’re comfortable with what we are. We have these 12 different types of phones, there’s keyboards, there’s all this stuff. And so yeah, thinking big people think you’re nuts and it works. But also I don’t think, you know, creating those phones, no one could argue then that those phones now were addictive for us. But at least Apple is doing things like screen time to, that would have been another screen. I was glued to my computer anyway.

Joshua: 00:45:03 Oh, we all were Saturday morning cartoons and then, and then after school did my, my afterschool lineup was duck tails Thundercats Voltron. And I think it was silver Hawk, silver Hawks sick. But yeah. So my kids go to a Waldorf school and if you’re curious what that is, you can look it up. But it’s a very kind of a hippie play-based type of education. And they have a mandate. We, we don’t want any screens until second grade. And so we have to balance this, which we believe that that’s a good thing. You know, that we’ve seen the harm screens do, I spend way too much time on my phone, but we have to balance that mandate with life. And mom and dad worked on a computer all day and the kids are like, what are you doing? And so yeah, they have their own iPads, but thank gosh, yes. The screen time app man. The things I don’t, I don’t have to say no. You know, it sounds like a cop out. I don’t have to parent because they pick up the iPad and it’s like locked back and they just put it down and go play Legos. I don’t like see that. That’s a little easier having the screen time map there than me always having to say no, no, no, no. Right, right.

Drew: 00:46:20 That I am, I stuck a little bit here. Yeah.

Joshua: 00:46:23 Your video there, you go back

Drew: 00:46:26 All this money in scooters and we still can’t mail it to ms. Wonderful. But I do love zoom. That’s what we use at scale. Works good on them. That was a great idea to point with the screen stuff. Yeah. I mean, is that an addiction to entertainment and consumption? I was just going to move from a platform to a platform.

Joshua: 00:46:48 Yup. Hey, so let’s let’s get personal for a moment. Let’s do it. Catching up with you. You recently married and congratulations. And it’s been four years, I think, four years. Yeah. So I’m S I’m, I’m thinking like internet timelines, like I’ve known you about 10 years, so, so recently it was like, just the other day on Twitter. You said you got married, so four years.

Drew: 00:47:14 Yeah. Yeah. I mean, she she actually, she runs, so we’re in the same line of work, which makes it interesting and that, you know, you know, I was salary like you, you guys work together. Like she runs communications for Postmates. I’m not a commercial postpaid, but [inaudible] was run. So we’re both in communication. So we speak the same language. At first I thought that would be rough because it’d be like, Oh, then it’s all we would talk about, but it’s actually opposite. We can kind of drop it at the door at the end of the day. Let me kind of, I always tell, I tell her boss and she tells mine, reminds them, it’s like you’ve got two for one, you’ve got your [inaudible] as well.

Joshua: 00:47:53 I hope you’re getting two for one salaries.

Drew: 00:47:58 They, David, they do very well. But no, I mean we, I mean we met, I was a reporter. She was a, she was a communications person. She pitched me on, on the stories for awhile. Yeah. And I said, [inaudible] either date or you could the chain of stories, ethics. And she, she said, okay, let’s date. So I did have a half a second where I thought, well, I must be a really shitty writer. I bought my writing or, and she’s like, yeah, I’ll just catch Anthony. I’m like, all right, cool. Yeah. And then after I got after we got engaged, I was diagnosed again with cancer and got any STEM cell turned on. It was my own donor. He wasn’t about technology like I D man, we should funnel all technology, all that money, that crazy scooter money in society and all this stuff because like bone marrow transplants and STEM cell transplants and all that. It’s amazing lifesaving stuff.

Joshua: 00:48:56 The, the, I’m tired of reading these great studies and, and press releases for new studies where it’s 10 years away, let’s reach out in the future and bring it to today. Yeah. And with enough funding in the right areas, I think it’s possible.

Drew: 00:49:12 You know what, man, here’s what we should do. We should ask all the big companies, including Jaclyn once he figures out thing and like Zuck and all these people working on like virtual reality and like stupid crap. If Facebook, it’s like, Hey, you know, let’s look at what Google does and spends 20% of their time on stuff that’s not Google. What if every company spent 20% of their time trying to help and solve like disease problems or homelessness or something like, like every, I would do it. I like everybody at our company just then 20% a month thinking about these things. Think just thinking about them. That’s why I think, you know, technology and the ecosystem is a powerful thing is when we work together and think together, big things happen. Yeah.

Joshua: 00:49:59 One thing Arizona has going for it is most of it’s funded, funded companies are actually in bio-sciences and life sciences. So there, there, there’s hopefully some good stuff coming out of here soon.

Drew: 00:50:12 I’m due to visit. So and if you’re ever in Philly too. Sure.

Joshua: 00:50:16 Oh dude, let’s cut. Let’s catch a game. Yes. So you, you, okay. So real quick, you were diagnosed again and then got a STEM cell.

Drew: 00:50:28 Walk me through that. STEM cell transplant. So, so basically I was diagnosed with the same cancer again, so it recurred is Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And so STEM cells are like STEM cells that are like stored in bone marrow and they’re transferable. And they regenerate quickly in many different ways, like crazy, crazy waves. It’s like just for one thing or another. So basically I’ll give you the really quick what a STEM cell transplant. No problem. I didn’t need a donor, so I was lucky in that I, that I didn’t need a donor and I’ll explain that. But everyone should join the bone marrow registry. All you have to do is swab your mouth, right? You send it in, they put your spit in a thing and then you’re in a database. So if you ever do match someone and they need it really narrow extraction, it pinches, it hurts for Nanay.

Drew: 00:51:23 It’s not that bad. You save somebody’s life. Also something that you’ll hear a lot about is when you have a child, I want to go to too much information that you’ve heard. Do you have a child? There’s an umbilical cord. We all knew that. Yep. We banging them cord bank. Both our kids core, those core cells in there, those are the most, they’re super self. They’re powerful. They work. You don’t even have to be a match anyways. So I was my own donor. So basically what they did was they hit me up with chemotherapy until I did not have any more cancer in my body. And then they extracted blood and separated the STEM cells from the red blood and plasma and all that stuff. Then gave me more chemo. Then they, they knew my, my STEM cells with radiation made sure it was clean and made sure I was clean. And then one day they came into my room with a little bag and it was frozen and they threw it on the thing. And I said, what’s that? How’s that? And they said, that’s your stencil. And if we, I’m like, okay, so you’re going to put it up on the hook and give it to me? Yeah, but we have to wait for them another, the frost. And I’m like, okay, it’s a TV dinner now. I’m like, are you serious? This is like the least scientific.

Drew: 00:52:37 And they hung it on the bag. And these, these, you know, treated STEM cells that came from my body. So I was a match winning and regenerated at an accelerated pace. And they considered my immune system to be zero years old. So they counted out left at the house cause I was in the hospital for 60 days straight. I was, you know, one years old, two years old or one day old, two days, three days crazy. So basically with a reboot re you know, the my immune system. Wow. So your computer is like a defrag and so you, you were your own treatment and what’s the prognosis now going forward? They can S they consider it a cure. So you

Joshua: 00:53:26 Were, you were your own care. Yeah. Wow.

Drew: 00:53:29 And if I hadn’t have been, if they, if it was an aggressive, more aggressive form of cancer, again, cartoons, a foment, not that it stays in the lymphatic system, like you haven’t to of it, so it stays there. It doesn’t metastasize outside of usually. But for more aggressive forms of cancer you will need a, you know, you need a bone marrow transplant to get those STEM cells, but that’s why it’s like the registry is really important to make sure that it’s a diverse registry. You know, for, you know, man, you went in African American and yeah. So that there’s something for everybody. Cause it’s, it’s a, it’s a little harder to match them blood a lot harder than that. But we did in 2009 way back when we did, you know, we did a blinders cancer [inaudible] and we’d have the swab thing right there and a bunch of people swap. Since then I’ve had like, I’ve had two people, one in the past year say I got contacted, I was a match. Oh damn. So you’re in the registry forever.

Joshua: 00:54:30 Yeah. Can you, can you go ahead and give our listeners the information on that website and where to find it?

Drew: 00:54:39 Be the match.org? They’re a great organization. They’re the main, main ones that do this and it’s a registry that works internationally. So it’s a big international database. And basically you, you go on be the match.org sign up to be a donor. They will send you a kit in the mail that has a little Swaby. You swab it in your mouth, you put it back in this pre, I mean it’s pre, pre stamp stick it in the, and in the mailbox they put you in the registry and then you don’t hear, you know, you don’t hear back unless you’re Mac and if you’re a match you have the option for that to help out.

Joshua: 00:55:19 What is that? Oh that sounds wonderful cause you’re probably you say it’s, it’s, it’s harder to find a match than blood and then maybe even like Oregon’s and such. Right. So like one in a, one in a million.

Drew: 00:55:33 It’s the Oregon side, right? It’s not as big as a waiting list as Oregon. So it’s probably somewhere in between.

Joshua: 00:55:40 Yeah, sounds like a partnership opportunity where the DNA testing kits like 23 and me and such could just have a check box check here. If you’d also like to submit to be a match. I mean cause they’re already getting a sample. Right.

Drew: 00:55:55 You should tweet it. That’s a really good, I never thought of that. Repurposing the spit.

Joshua: 00:56:00 Well you’re already submitting it. It’s just like on your tax return. Like check here to add a dollar to the democratic candidate or whatever. Do you want to be an Oregon Damon? There you go. You’re already submitting it. You might as well just add yourself to the registry.

Drew: 00:56:15 That’s a useful, that’s a useful you know, but yeah, that’s, that’s where it’s mostly watching science advance like that because the treatment that I got in 2014 was different, more advanced than the treatment I got in 2009 as far as the types of medications, how sick they made me, her advancements every day. And these therapies, I mean, you see Alex for Bactrim jeopardy who was diagnosed with a cancer that, as you know, has a very low survival rate. Yep. He’s made it through chemo and more, you know, we hope that he does well there. You know, hopefully one day that it’s, it’s, you know, when you hear someone and can we just say, Oh, you’re a cancer. I’m so, I’m sorry. And all I would say it was your fault. How dare you, why did you give me cancer? When you hear cancer it’s like it’s it, it’s always going to be scary, but it’s not going to be like a death sentence. Cancers touch everybody. Everybody now knows someone who has had cancer or have it themselves. But yeah, no, I mean technology as an amazing,

Joshua: 00:57:17 So everybody out there listening go start a bunch of bio-science companies or donate to bio-science companies because you know, we’ve got to figure this out. Not just cancer but everything. Like there’s so many interesting things out there.

Drew: 00:57:31 So many interesting things. And I think that goes back to something you said, you said earlier when you were like, what? Having a company and doing things that you care about and then make you happy and then give you a life outside of the work that’s about like, you know, for me maybe working in a company one day that that helps shore disease or treat disease, I haven’t been very rewarding. For me, I think finding a job, health care not that is rewarding that you feel like you are accomplishing something and, and there is maybe you can’t save the world and everything’s going to save the world, but if you can make it a little bit better that’s awesome. Like older and you spend more time and you go, well that’s what this is all about.

Joshua: 00:58:14 Yeah. Cause on one hand you have life sciences and all the possibility or scooters or scooter, no more scooters.

Drew: 00:58:24 What companies are raising more money recalibration. Let’s just recalibrate their total just a little bit. There could be slurry but it doesn’t have to be $10 billion for stupid. Yeah. That’s just my 2 cents.

Joshua: 00:58:37 Hey drew, you’re, you’re such a great guy dude. I thank you so much for coming on. I’m not quite sure when this will air, but it should be here in a couple of weeks and we’ll, we’ll, by then we might know how this hack of port Jack goes out. And I’m, I’m so happy that you your, your treatment went well and that you and your wife are doing well. And dude, I’m telling you right now, if sons go to the playoffs, you will be my guest in my seats. Here’s a Phoenix

Drew: 00:59:06 And anytime you want to come to fill it out here, we, I, I work to go with Sixers games. That’s basically what I do at this point. It sounds like so proud of you. Please send my love for the family. Sally, I shoot this. You guys are, and when win it again, you can’t define success. You can’t define failure, but you know, there’s, there’s a happy but sweet spot. You don’t know somebody’s situation from the outside, but watching you guys over the years have super proud of him.

Joshua: 00:59:36 Oh, thank you so much. Drew, tell everybody where they can find you.

Drew: 00:59:41 I’m know on Twitter and I really hope at the time they started won’t be hacked off.

Joshua: 00:59:48 All right. If you do see something on my Twitter account,

Drew: 00:59:51 Not that you don’t agree with it, you’re like, what a jerk I was having.

Joshua: 00:59:55 That’s your out. All right. Well, we’ll let you go to go change your TFA. Login to Twitter. Drew. Thanks so much.

Drew: 01:00:02 I am. All right. Thank you brother. Cheers.

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