My guest today is Jess Lee. Jess is a partner at Sequoia Capital as well as their Chief Product Officer. Before becoming an investor, Jess co-founded fashion app, Polyvore, and was an early product manager for Google Maps. Most recently, she founded All Raise, a non-profit that is changing the gender balance in tech. Our discussion ranges from Burning Man to Marvel to Sequoia’s mobile app and I hope that Jess’s passion for delighting users rubs off on you. Please enjoy my conversation with Jess Lee.
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[00:02:35] - [First question] - Why more investment firms don’t have a product mindset
[00:05:22] - How to approach building a productized version of capital
[00:08:00] - Ways Ampersand measures success and judging their own performance
[00:08:49] - Driving reasons that Sequoia wins deals beyond their brand name
[00:10:28] - How her work as CPO at Sequoia has changed her investing approach
[00:12:28] - Everything she’s learned about community and its relevance to business
[00:17:48] - What the gold standards are for studying strongly built communities
[00:19:42] - What it is about Comic-Con that works so well from a community standard
[00:21:18] - The role that scarcity plays in communities writ large
[00:23:10] - Product mindset and customer obsession
[00:24:33] - Knowing when it’s okay to begin expanding
[00:25:14] - The formative experiences or lenses that inform her investing decisions
[00:28:12] - Rates of change in her investment progress and dollars going to female founders
[00:29:36] - Systemic bias and what’s driving a lack of funds towards female founders
[00:32:26] - How she applies community building lessons to All Raise
[00:33:20] - The internal learning culture in Sequoia that others could adopt and benefit from
[00:37:01] - Which Marvel superheroes her Sequoia partners would be
[00:39:05] - Seeds of motivation for Arc and what it is
[00:43:06] - When you should innovate and when you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel
[00:44:31] - The best ways she’s seen companies manage and support human capital
[00:45:36] - Biggest mistakes made when managing human capital
[00:46:42] - What working on Google Maps taught her about product development
[00:48:42] - Someone she admires and has learned the most from in All Raise
[00:50:02] - Measuring success at Sequoia over the next ten years
[00:52:20] - The kindest thing anyone has ever done for her
[00:53:42] - What it was that made the people who believed in her take a chance on her
[00:55:03] - Things in pop culture today that most has her attention