My guest today is Henry Ward, co-founder and CEO of Carta. Started in 2012, Carta helps companies and investors manage their cap tables, equity plans, and ownership. Last year, they launched CartaX, a platform for private companies and their employees to access secondary market liquidity. Our discussion is a detailed exploration of private market infrastructure and Henry’s views on building an enduring business. Please enjoy my conversation with Henry Ward.
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[00:02:57] - [First question] - The first key mental moment of how Carta came to him
[00:05:30] - Initial thoughts on how to position Carta as a business model
[00:06:47] - Historical divergence between private and public market infrastructure
[00:08:33] - What a price discovery process for primary shares could look like in the future
[00:11:09] - The end state Carta is trying to effect in their perfect state
[00:13:29] - Why it’s so hard for private company staff to manage their illiquid wealth
[00:15:45] - Lessons and challenges in the new market creation business
[00:17:57] - The nature and dynamics of supply and demand in this space
[00:20:16] - Restrictions that prevent retail investors from participating in private markets and why there’s more alpha in private markets
[00:22:45] - How Carta is mapped onto the success of its customers
[00:25:27] - Deciding on what is a good idea and what isn’t when it comes to focus
[00:28:07] - Describing the One of N versus N of One market frameworks and principles of this philosophy that manifests in how he runs Carta
[00:32:11] - How working at Carta would differ from a payroll-type company
[00:35:37] - Characterizing his leadership and management styles
[00:37:57] - The types of circumstances that bring out his tough side
[00:39:33] - Making hard decisions in a bottom up management model
[00:44:05] - How he spends his time while building Carta
[00:45:02] - What a great product looks like to him
[00:47:10] - The Systems Bible; Defining what a great team looks like
[00:49:13] - What he’s learned about being great at Go-To-Market
[00:51:26] - Effective ways to beat competitors and build relationship pipelines
[00:53:49] - Things he likes the least about leading a company of this size
[00:55:13] - What he fears most as he thinks about the future of Carta
[00:55:45] - Advice for entrepreneurs when thinking about data in modern businesses
[00:58:26] - The biggest missing pieces in capital market structure writ large
[01:00:17] - What’s next for CartaX and what he’ll be pushing to make it work
[01:02:10] - Lessons learned from serving venture investors
[01:04:25] - Whether or not investment banks are their competitors
[01:05:18] - Public market dislocation and how long it will last
[01:06:58] - The kindest thing anyone has ever done for him