Massive data problems plus massive markets mean a big opportunity for companies like Color Genomics
Health care is a multi-trillion dollar market awash in data, but thanks to regulatory and political sclerosis, it’s been a difficult sector for NewCos to gain a foothold. But that hasn’t stopped a new wave of startups from trying, and perhaps the most interesting are focusing on the intersection of genomics, lethal disease, and preventative testing. We covered Grail Bio last year, and for this week’s Shift Dialogs, we speak with Elad Gil, a co-founder of Color Genomics, which like Grail is working on new approaches to battling cancer. And as Gil explains in our interview, there’s far more potential for Color’s services than just cancer detection — as genomic testing costs scale toward zero, the potential for saving lives scales up. Below is the interview in both video and text, edited for length and clarity.
John Battelle: Welcome, Elad. To start, what’s Color Genomics founding mythology? How did you and your co-founders come up with this idea?
How do you get major companies like IBM, Starbucks, Nike, and GE to radically rethink their purpose? Keith Yamashita starts by asking companies to “lead into the unknown.”
Keith Yamashita and his team at SY Partners have spent nearly a quarter century helping individuals and companies transform, but 24 years in, business is better than ever. When you’ve got decades of experience helping companies like Starbucks, IBM, and Target become better versions of themselves, word gets around.
Yamashita and his team will only accept work with large enterprises if the CEO and executive team are fully committed to challenging their core assumptions. Plenty of companies pay lip service to transformation, but Yamashita’s genius has been in identifying the leaders who are truly ready for the journey change requires. Perhaps his most illustrative client is Howard Schultz’ Starbucks, which has been working with Yamashita ever since the founder returned as CEO nine years ago. During the decade of their partnership, Starbucks completely rewrote its purpose statement, focused its business on its employees and its role in the community instead of the bottom line, and saw its stock grow by nearly 15X.
How Marc Pritchard works with Google, Facebook, and Snapchat to help P&G transition to a new world order
If you’re a senior executive running a massive American consumer goods corporation, there’s plenty to keep you awake at night. Customer behaviors are shifting dramatically, and nimble startups, devoid of legacy business practices, are growing larger in your rear view mirror. Traditional mass market approaches to marketing and brand building, once centered around three networks and a strong creative brief — have fractured into an algorithmic tangle driven more by math and data than ideas and narrative.
And if the startups and the data aren’t enough, there’s the law of large numbers: Wall Street demands growth, and growth is hard when your revenue base exceeds hundreds of billions of dollars, and your core markets are flat to down.
Bruce Aust is Vice Chair of Nasdaq, one of the largest financial services firms in the world, best known for its tech-laden, US-based marketplace. But what many don’t realize is that Nasdaq provides the platform for 70 markets around the world, and has an extensive corporate services business as well. The firm recently stood up a non profit, the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, which celebrated its first anniversary just one week ago.
Aust, who ran much of Nasdaq’s operations over the past 15 plus years, recently moved to California to oversee the Center and to be closer to his company’s West coast clients. The Center, which is our partner in producing the Shift Dialogs, has provided free education and mentoring programs to more than 3000 entrepreneurs in its first year. Below is a transcript of my conversation with Aust, as well as the video, both edited for length and clarity.
Deborah Hopkins has operated at the highest levels of corporate America for decades, holding senior roles at GM, Lucent, and Boeing, where she served as CFO. She is now Chief Innovation Officer of Citi and founder and CEO of Citi Ventures, a five-year old firm that has a unique approach to investing and an equally unique role in helping its 200-year-old parent company learn how to innovate in today’s startup-drenched landscape.
Many corporate venture firms maintain an arms-length distance from corporate headquarters, but not Citi Ventures. Not only does it focus its investments on startups that add value to Citi’s core business, but it is also responsible for driving new business practices into the company, through a network of growth boards, innovation labs, and the soft power of deep relationships nurtured over decades.
A conversation with the peripatetic Dr. Jordan Shlain on the “hairball” of healthcare, insurance companies, sugar in our food, and why you have to keep filling out the same form over and over
Dr. Jordan Shlain is a fixture in the Silicon Valley scene, a sharp witted, opinionated, and always on physician whose unusual career includes founding several health-related companies, inventing a new approach to private practice, co-founding a non-profit dedicated to redefining society’s approach to sugar in our foods, and launching Tincture, a publication which seeks to elevate our cultural conversation around health. Shlain also frequently flies to Washington, DC, where he speaks to policy makers about the frustrating realities of healthcare as a practicing physician.
Shlain is also a close friend, and he happens to be my doctor as well. He’s deeply connected to nearly every specialist in the Bay area and beyond, and is certainly a good man to know should you ever find yourself in a complicated or challenging health crisis. His approach to patient care is not for everyone — his practice, which has offices in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles, is high end and quite selective. But while many doctors are experimenting with atypical approaches to primary care, Shlain stands out for his outspoken beliefs about how our healthcare system is broken, and what it will take to fix it.
A conversation with Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder and CTO, Airbnb
If Nathan Blecharczyk hadn’t moved out of the apartment he shared with co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, Airbnb might have never existed. But when rent was increased on the friends’ San Francisco flat, Blecharczyk decided it was time to find cheaper digs. To cover the gap, Chesky and Gebbia rented out his vacant bedroom to several visitors, and a multi-billion dollar brand — which has served 100 million travelers and counting — was born. In this episode of Shift Dialogs, Blecharczyk shares his views on Airbnb’s rise, its frequent tangles with local, state, and national governments, and its mission of helping “anyone feel like they belong anywhere.” Below is a full transcript, edited for clarity, and the video interview, edited for length.
John Battelle: I like to start with founding mythologies. How did Airbnb come about?
Over the course of nearly two decades, I’ve been one of many journalists, analysts, and bloggers who’ve made a career of deciphering the impact of Evan William’s creations. From Blogger, which reshaped media as a two-way conversation, to Twitter, which supercharged it, to Medium which…
…well, in fact, amongst a certain set of media observers, Williams’ latest creation has been both fascinating and confounding. Is it just a better-looking Blogger? A Twitter-like network, but focused on long form writing? A platform for publishers? Something entirely new?
If you’re of a certain age, the Kodak name evinces a simpler era — a time when taking a picture was a revelation, and photographs were precious — each exposure was finite, a “roll of film” only offered 24 or 36 shots, and it cost money (and time) to actually see your work developed. Selfies? Who had time for selfies?!
During that era, Kodak was Instagram, Apple, and Sony all rolled into one, a massive, 140,000-person icon of American capitalism. The company’s market cap peaked at $30 billion — huge for its time. But the relentless advances of digital drove Kodak to a humiliating bankruptcy in 2012, one that became emblematic of how large companies can fail to innovate.