My guest today is Lydia Jett, Managing Partner of SoftBank Investment Advisers. Lydia leads the team’s consumer, internet, and e-commerce investments and has worked with many of the most significant consumer platforms in the world, including as a board member of Coupang and Flipkart. We cover all aspects of e-commerce and explore Lydia’s evolution as an investor alongside Masa Son at SoftBank. Please enjoy my conversation with Lydia Jett.
For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.
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[00:02:34] - [First question] - What curiosity thread she’s been pulling on thus far in her career
[00:05:17] - The biggest felt differences doing things one way for a decade and changing now
[00:07:08] - Learning about tailwinds and what the predominant ones are that exist today
[00:08:38] - How much room to go there is left in the world transitioning to e-commerce
[00:10:44] - Competitive frontiers that exist today in e-commerce
[00:12:14] - What drives companies that grow faster than their competitors
[00:13:15] - What areas the world’s most innovative e-commerce companies are focused on
[00:16:38] - Unique characteristics that they select for in ecommerce CEOs and founders
[00:17:44] - Which country she would send an American investor to in order to learn more
[00:19:03] - Upside down approaches to e-commerce that aren’t common in America yet
[00:20:15] - Subcategories and sub sectors she’s most drawn towards lately
[00:23:05] - Lessons learned about business models that don’t work in e-commerce
[00:27:47] - What western investors should know about Coupang
[00:30:12] - Everything she’s learned about vertical integration
[00:33:01] - Everything she’s learned and cares about in regards to margins
[00:34:24] - Evaluating a younger company’s ability to drive margins in the future
[00:37:17] - The most extreme version of efficiency gain she’s seen deployed
[00:39:06] - Whether or not the public perception of SoftBank’s simplified approach is accurate
[00:41:27] - The role the size of assets plays at SoftBank
[00:47:42] - Focusing on efficiency and smart allocation first before trying to scale
[00:50:33] - Companies as products that investors buy and defining what great looks like
[00:53:16] - The danger of premature optimization around a set of KPIs
[00:55:46] - How important the specific founder is for their given e-commerce company
[00:58:18] - Why e-commerce companies tend to start from a worse place than offline ones
[00:59:45] - Ways that she’s changed from working alongside Masayoshi Son for a year
[01:03:31] - Who comes most to mind as a great investor
[01:05:23] - The kindest thing that anyone has ever done for her