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Running Through Walls

Running Through Walls is a Venrock podcast featuring candid conversations between investors and entrepreneurs. Each episode, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the breakthroughs, challenges and nuttiness associated with building and growing companies. Venture capital firm Venrock has been investing in entrepreneurs across technology and healthcare since 1969.
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Running Through Walls
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May 15, 2019

Venrock Partner Bob Kocher sat down with Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness in front of a live audience during the launch of their latest book “The Passion Paradox” at the offices of Lyra Health. They talked about cultivating a harmonious passion based on research that counters the conventional wisdom to find and follow your passions. “The Passion Paradox” is available on Amazon.

Apr 17, 2019

Ed and Todd Park join Venrock’s Bryan Roberts to continue their conversation about fixing the big problems in healthcare. In the second part of our two-part episode, the Park brothers examine rewiring the healthcare stack for the inevitable shift to a value-based care paradigm. They talk about their success with their latest venture Devoted Health, including how they build and motivate a workforce to stand up to the challenge of healthcare.

Apr 3, 2019

Todd and Ed Park, serial entrepreneurs in health IT, sit down with Venrock partner Bryan Roberts to discuss their early experiences founding athenahealth. Todd and Ed look back at how the company evolved from a women’s health clinic to a provider of practice management services. Tune in to find out their advice for new entrepreneurs, the mistakes that shaped their path, and the core team that helped them get to where they are today.

Jan 9, 2019

Kathleen Sebelius joins Venrock partner Bob Kocher for this episode of Running Through Walls. Kathleen is a former Governor of Kansas and was Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services under President Obama. They discuss her upbringing in a political family, what led her to pursue a career in public service herself, and lessons learned from the implementation and subsequent fix of Healthcare.gov, following the unveiling of the Affordable Care Act.

Oct 31, 2018

Todd Brinton, cardiologist and co-founder of Shockwave, spoke with Venrock’s Colin Cahill to discuss his journey from studying bioengineering to starting medical device company Shockwave. He shares the ups and downs of applying to medical school, how he decided to veer off the traditional medical path, and why he values mentorship. They also discuss bringing Shockwave to market and the tremendous impact it’s had on patients’ lives so far. 

 

Oct 3, 2018

Venrock partner David Pakman speaks with CoinFund’s Jake Brukhman and Aleksandr (Alex) Bulkin about their path to the crypto space, projects they have worked on, as well as the challenges they have faced. The crypto ecosystem is still early in its evolution and there is a lot of room for improvement, but what will catalyze widespread adoption? David, Jake and Alex also discuss opportunities for investors and what projects excite them.

Sep 12, 2018

Jessica Neal, Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, joined Partner Tom Willerer for a special event at Venrock’s office to discuss culture, hiring and what early-stage founders need to think about when building their teams. Tom and Jessica discuss some of the unique features of Netflix’s culture and share their advice on all things HR/culture with the audience.

Jun 27, 2018

Hamilton Helmer, strategy expert and author of "7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy" joins Venrock partner Tom Willerer for part two of their conversation, applying the 7 Powers framework to three iconic organizations: Tesla, Stanford University and Netflix. 

 

 

 
Jun 13, 2018

Hamilton Helmer, strategy expert and author of "7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy" joins Venrock partner Tom Willerer for part one of their discussion about business strategy and Helmer's book. They discuss each power, why it matters, and how much attention early-stage founders should be paying to strategy. 

May 30, 2018

Venrock’s Megan Blewett speaks with Harvard chemistry professor EJ Corey about his childhood growing up in the Great Depression, what led him to pursue chemistry as a career, and how he became interested in human health. They discuss the day Professor Corey found out he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1990, and he shares his perspective on mentorship, having mentored more than 700 students over the years.

May 16, 2018

Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera and professor of Computer Science at Stanford, joins Venrock’s Tom Willerer to discuss her experience as a first-time founder. Daphne shares how her desire to make the world a better place led her to found Coursera, providing broader access to education for millions of users. She also discusses the decision to create a for-profit company vs. non-profit and why knowing your weaknesses helps when hiring a diverse team.

May 2, 2018

Dr. Bob Harrington, an interventional cardiologist and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Stanford University, speaks with Venrock’s Dr. Bob Kocher about his passion for coagulation and thrombosis (seriously, he loves it) and his involvement with Gusto, a clinical trial that changed the way doctors treat heart attack patients. Bob also talks about working with an executive coach to develop new skills, when he found himself managing teams at Duke Clinical Research Institute.

Apr 18, 2018

Maria Eitel, founder and co-chair of the Nike Foundation, joins Venrock’s Bryan Roberts to discuss the Time’s Up movement and recent cultural shifts in the workplace. Maria shares her journey from working in the White House to founding The Girl Effect, and the simple formula girls need to be successful. She also discusses the importance of creating shared spaces where men are involved in the conversation.

Apr 4, 2018

Venrock partner Brian Ascher speaks with Randy Womack, a seasoned executive who has served as both COO and CEO in several companies, including his current role as co-founder and CEO at Socrates.ai. They discuss the “Sheryl” effect, what to look for when hiring a COO, and when is the best time to introduce the COO role into a company. As CEO at Socrates.ai, he shares the difference between the two roles and discusses common misconceptions about what a COO really does.

Mar 21, 2018

Jessica Lessin, founder and editor-in-chief of The Information, joins her college roommate, Venrock’s Racquel Bracken, to discuss the evolution of journalism and how she created one of the most successful subscription news sites in Silicon Valley. Jessica shares her journey from the middle school newspaper all the way to the Wall Street Journal and breaking out on her own to start the Information. She also shares her views on journalism's role in the #metoo movement. 

Mar 7, 2018

Part two of the discussion between former Netflix Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord and Venrock’s Tom Willerer focuses on Patty’s time at Netflix, where she created an acclaimed culture and learned how to encourage collaboration amongst colleagues. She and Tom also discuss the myths surrounding startup culture and why being on time was so important at Netflix.

Feb 20, 2018

In the first part of her conversation with Venrock’s Tom Willerer, former Netflix Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord shares her experiences at Netflix and how she helped build a culture that startups and large corporations continue to emulate. Elaborating on the concepts mentioned in her book, Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, Patty discusses what it takes to develop trust in the workplace and why being “nice” isn’t always the best approach for delivering constructive feedback.

Feb 7, 2018

John Katzman, CEO and founder of the Noodle Companies, joins David Pakman to discuss the evolution of edtech. He shares what he learned from his time as founder and CEO of The Princeton Review, including hard lessons he learned as a first-time CEO. John shares with David the two values that all successful entrepreneurs must hold sacred, and why his focus on metrics has become a worthwhile obsession.

Jan 23, 2018

Ben Anderson, CEO and co-founder of Amino, joins Venrock’s David Pakman to discuss how Amino brings people together to share their passions. Amino is a mobile app where users join communities based on their interests, whether it’s Game of Thrones, robotics or modern art (to name a few). Unlike most gathering places on the Internet, Amino is rare in that it’s a positive place, almost always free of trolls. Being a first-time CEO, Ben tells David about the nuances of managing millennials and the importance of creating a constant stream of positive reinforcement. Ben shares how hustle, willpower, and perseverance have helped his team create one of the most highly rated apps in the App Store today.

Jan 9, 2018

Chris Chen, CEO of ChenMed, joins Venrock’s Bryan Roberts to discuss the challenges and successes of providing healthcare to the population that needs it most – the poor, the old, and the sick. Chris’s father, James Chen, founded ChenMed as a way of providing concierge-style healthcare to low- and moderate-income seniors. When his father faced a health scare, Chris spent 24 hours learning how to run the business. After his father recovered and Chris completed his fellowship, they expanded ChenMed to 42 medical centers and significantly decreased hospitalization rates of their patients. With cardiovascular, oncological, and orthopedic diseases plaguing his patient population, Chris emphasizes the importance of holistic healthcare practices and collaborating with doctors who understand the economics of healthcare. Although wanting to cure the world may be his kryptonite, Chris shares how staying focused allows him to help those who need it the most.

Dec 13, 2017

Noah Lang, CEO and co-founder of Stride Health, joins Venrock’s Bob Kocher to discuss the changing nature of work, and how his company is helping independent workers successfully create a “business of one.” Lang recalls his childhood love of building and creating, and how it led him to study product design at Stanford and later launch Stride Health. Stride Health delivers a toolkit that helps independent workers find healthcare coverage and other benefits that workers outside of traditional 9-5 jobs do not typically receive. This shift towards independent employment has fueled Lang’s passion for helping these workers keep more of what they earn and thrive in their businesses. Lang also shares how running and guidance from his coach have helped him continue to improve as a first-time CEO.

Dec 6, 2017

Chris Lochhead, a three-time Silicon Valley CMO, co-author of Play Bigger, and former entrepreneur, joins Brian Ascher of Venrock to discuss the importance of category design and marketing on this week’s episode of Running Through Walls. From having a provocative point of view to not accepting the status quo, Chris outlines what every business needs to do to become a category king. He discusses the right time to think about category design, whose job it is, and why concentrated campaigns called “Lightning Strikes” will grab the attention of consumers more effectively than traditional marketing.

Nov 22, 2017

Peter Lee, executive director for California’s health benefit exchange Covered California, joins Venrock’s Bob Kocher to discuss working with Washington and Peter’s goal of making healthcare a right, not a privilege. Lee started his career as a lawyer and became an AIDS/HIV activist in the 1980s. Peter humorously recalls the time he was arrested outside the Reagan White House for protesting the government’s lack of responsiveness to the AIDS epidemic, and how he had to disclose that story when he worked on the Affordable Care Act under the Obama Administration. Peter shares how he grew Covered California from 13 employees to 1,600, and how he allocates his $110 million marketing budget to successfully target specific consumers. Peter also speaks to the importance of creating a mission that employees believe in, and how he fosters a sense of start-up culture within the government.

Nov 9, 2017

Curious about cryptocurrency? Venrock’s David Pakman talks to Adi Sideman and Yonatan Sela about the upcoming launch of PROPS, a new cryptocurrency. The YouNow team pioneered mobile live video and they were the first to introduce an economy around interactive video, where on the one side people can buy a virtual currency, and on the other side, creators who perform can earn that currency. They discuss what led them to this point, and how YouNow is setting out to distribute network value broadly across users and break up the centralized control of media with the PROPS project.

Oct 4, 2017
Brian O’Kelley, CEO and co-founder of AppNexus, started his entrepreneurial endeavors early, first in high school refurbishing old Apple II computers and later in college creating websites in the nascent days of the internet. Venrock partner Mike Tyrrell talks to O’Kelley about his path from odd jobs to CEO of a $1 billion company. He discusses the tough times at Right Media that led to his firing, and how he turned that experience into a positive one with the founding of AppNexus. And in the tough times of building the business, O’Kelley shares how his commitment to the vision of programmatic advertising led him to keep pushing. He also discusses how he mentors employees and promotes company spirit through all things orange, even his polished toenails. 
 
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