Alex Lazarow: Will Silicon Valley Still Be the Heart of Innovation After the Pandemic?
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
On today’s episode, Alex Lazarow, venture capitalist and author of Out-Innovate: How Global Entrepreneurs—From Delhi to Detroit—Are Rewriting the Rules of Silicon Valley, discusses what are the rules of innovation and how they will change after the coronavirus.
From the episode:
Alex Lazarow: I suspect if you fast forward ten years from now, the Middle East will be a much bigger voice as a whole. In my book, I talk a lot about how in Silicon Valley instead of building unicorns, entrepreneurs are building camels. Let me tell you a little bit what I mean by that in the value of this notion of growth at all costs. In many emerging ecosystems, entrepreneurs are focusing on building sustainability and resilience into the business model from the get-go. For instance, that means charging for the value you are providing to entrepreneurs and really thinking about your economics that work throughout the journey. Second, thinking about burn and managing it along the way. Third, taking a long-term view to building your startup.
One of the stories I really like in the book is the story of GrubHub. I interviewed Mike Evans, the CEO and co-founder, and he talked a lot about their fundraising journey. When I think of on-demand delivery nationally, I think venture-subsidized models, but GrubHub raised a paltry 80 million dollars before its IPO. Mike talks a lot about how every one of his fundraises was profitable and sustainable, and every single fundraise was very specifically-purposed, to expand to a couple other cities. It was to scale or to make a small acquisition or what have you, and I think that’s a model that we’re going to see a lot more of where we’re going to build still for growth and still looking for network effects. So working for a lot of things that get us scale over time, but taking a little bit of a longer-term view and a more balanced growth approach.
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Alex Lazarow is a venture capitalist specializing in global innovation and impact. He presently works with the global investment firm Cathay Innovation. He was previously a principal with Omidyar Network. He is a Kauffman Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations term member, and an adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Lazarow is a graduate of Harvard Business School and the University of Manitoba. He lives with his family in the San Francisco Bay area.