Sanjay Reddy is a founding partner at Unlock Venture Partners. Unlock is targeting check sizes of about a million dollars into seed stage companies out of their fairly new Fund II. Congratulations. Before Unlock, Sanjay was the CEO of OVGuide, the founder and CEO of live matrix, and he has extensive operational and M & A experience.
Good to see you today.
You too Thanks for having me.
Okay. First question, what is the correct way of pronouncing your name?
I was wondering if she was going to break or you were going to bring that up. So it’s Sanjay, it’s S U N. Think about the sun moon, sun, and the letter J Sanjay super simple. The problem we have is, uh, the Sanjay Gupta on CNN has, resulted in most people in America thinking that that is the core pronunciation of it.
So you say the problem we have, you mean the problem? We collectively all the Sanjays in the world have.
Collectively. That is what we have. It’s not a massive obstacle relative to other things, but yes.
Okay, great. So I’m glad we’ve cleared that up. How about unlock?
You are mostly Southern California and Seattle focused looking for companies with AI and data as a moat.
So yes, we were industry agnostic, but the filter we do use is that the company slash teams need to have some kind of unique conviction or insight around data. It’s just a question of, you know, as, as we’ve talked about separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of what is data that’s relevant versus what is data just to be data?
Well, I mean, yeah, maybe you and I have talked about it a little bit, but, uh, no, I actually don’t totally know what filter you apply when you’re looking at companies and what you consider valuable.
I mean, it’s, it’s obviously situational, but you know, when, when people say data’s the new oil and, and the rest of these cliches, no, The HEDA, her white terrorist data, and there is data, uh, so one part is there’s data. That’s just data, which isn’t valuable at all. And the second part is, is there data that you have that you can actually unlock value for?
And so does that mean, like when you think about monetizing data, are there different models for monetizing data that you think about
Sure. I mean, when we think about it, there’s the traditional and you know, you’re a 10, one 10, Gill’s obviously thought about monetizing data, uh, with factual, et cetera. I think there’s there’s, there are a few ways to think about that. The, the high level models are, obviously you can look at API and, and API access to, to a dataset.
And at that particular case, maybe there’s a base license plus, uh, a certain set fee per, per on a, on a ongoing call basis, or there’s just a usual blanket license based on audience where you get, you know, monthly or annual fee to access a dataset. kebab obviously seen SAS models where, you know, things like PitchBook, et cetera, where, you know, you access data.
So it just depends on, on, on when you, when you’re thinking about third-party monetization. And the funny thing is when we see these models in the financial projections, And you see data as something they intend to monetize. It’s very easy to tell whether the data is quote unquote valuable and actionable in terms of how far out on the projection cycle, the first set of revenue associated with the data is it’s usually by year three, four, five, or something like that.
And that’s when it’s like, yeah. Okay. Your data is like your, your father IP, you know, sort of cost center.
Okay, got it. So three, four or five was enough. Like no one really expects you to do anything more than handled.
Yes. I tend to discount how convinced you are if the value of your data, when you don’t bring it close enough to me, for me to hold your feet to the fire. If I did invest.
I like it. I will, I will apply that from now on. Um, I appreciate it. So yeah, I was gonna start actually, talking about you as a founder, I think, um, you’ve got a lot of interesting stories, but, uh, you as a founder CEO, maybe you can tell us about, maybe start with live matrix. Thanks.
Sure. so I found it co-founded live matrix with, uh, Nova Spivack. Uh, he was one of the founders of earth, web
And so I had just come off selling Gemstar TV guide and randomly we got connected and he said, I have this idea. And it’s, you know, there is no guy to the live web. Everyone thinks if the web, and this is like, you know, like, 2008, nine, everyone thinks that, the web as an asynchronous consumption platform, but the notion of, you know, there’s a lot of things that occur on the web, which actually no one knows about in advance, otherwise people would attend and consume it.
It was, it was a precursor to the live where we knew where the web was going to go. If you you’ll look now at things that occur online, there’s tons of stuff that is scheduled, right? Uh, obviously COVID has meant almost everything we do now is schedule on the web. I E what we’re doing right now, uh, on this, uh, on this zoom call slash podcast.
And so he said, we should build a guide for it. And Oh, by the way, can hope pain. Very, very obvious. You just came off of turning around Gemstar and you have perfect domain knowledge and expertise. And so that’s how we jumped into live matrix. And this, we were very sure this was a massive potential idea, but we were also realistic about the notion of do we really think that this is something as a standalone you can get from zero to the promised land.
And we really do think that it would be about, uh, not necessarily taking on a ton of venture money. It literally thought that this was better within a larger enterprise. So, so go into it with that type of, uh, thought process. And so, that was the first thing we, we set up and it, it was, it was kind of hard to source.
The metadata on the one side, you know, how do you actually gather unstructured data, try to get, data feeds from folks who are not set up to provide that information. But at the same time they realized, Oh yeah, it has a lot of value because it’s like television, you get a higher CPMs from advertisers.
If you deliver an audience at a specific point in time, but if you’re not set up to do so, how do you do it? So that was the early days there was some YouTube live. We did the first grid for Facebook live. Um, you know, where it was literally, they said, okay, here, go talk. This is the early days. So go talk to you, stream live stream, adjusted TV out of which Twitch game.
And so, you know, very, very familiar with sort of the live space early on. We knew where it was coming, but a little ahead of our time.
so, did you, uh, did you do the venture path for that? I know.
We, well, we, we did talk to a venture, but as, as usual adventure, this is one of those things. It’s just a weird, and I totally understand. And now sitting on this side of the table, um, which is okay, the whole traction word. Uh, and, and I understand, cause there was one piece which is, is this a consumer product or is this a distributed embedded product within, you know, enterprise?
And so it was one of the little bit of chicken in the egg because as the right answer, I, I definitely do believe was it, it needed to be embedded and get enough traction within distribution channels, almost like having an, a better TV guide grid within, you know, multiple consumer facing sites that were maybe media focused.
And so we actually raised a bunch of very informed angel money. And then, I don’t think we were, I don’t think we were on the venture track again.
but didn’t you tell me that at some point you pitched all of like the LA
early stage, was this for live matrix when you did like the Brian Garrett of 10 years ago,
exactly. So Brian and Rick, I think, were working out of the barn offices at CAA, uh, uh, pitch Mark Shuster when he was at GRP, when it was called GRP before upfront Jeremy Adelman was at Rincon. And I actually, I pitched him sitting where I am in my office study. So he’s been to my house and then, you know, uh, um, subsequently, so, so those are some of the guys that I can remember right off the top of my head, but subsequently transitioning to the next piece.
We actually. As a part of the pitch. I did pitch Peter Lee as well when he was at Baroda not embark. And, it was one of those things where we talk about conversations. a conversation is a conversation is another opportunity to have another conversation for the down. And so that was the start. I pitched him through Alan Morgan, who is one of our Sherpas, Alan was at Mayfield.
And so he introduced us. He was on a board with, uh, with, uh, David Bonette, who was Peter’s partner at, uh, uh Baroda. And so I met Peter who pitched ship. He liked the idea, uh, at the time. And this is funny where I met Peter. He was actually moonlighting as the CEO of OVI guy. And so they had an investment in Novi guide and it had been incubated out of Baroda.
And so there was Peter and I pitched him at OB GYN. So I still remember walking into the office in Beverly Hills and then fast forward. I ran into Peter at, uh, Seaborn associates, uh, you know, uh, w one of their first, uh, conventions that, uh, in Santa Monica. And that’s where we started talking about merging the two companies,
but that’s kind of, um, totally unconventional. I think I hope which is to have the VC, the investor end up, you know, in Peter’s role as the CEO. Right. I’m I’m not planning on becoming a CEO anytime
you know, things happen, let me put it this way. Peter was like, he had short answer is it’s not what Peter wanted either. Uh, and, and so he wanted, you know, he bought live matrix and said you would be the perfect guy, put them together and let’s see what we can do. And so, yes, it is not usual. I can tell you, it’s a strange thing to go into a board meeting when, uh, The board members pinned to CEO of the company, knows all the people who work there.
Uh, but it’s also cool because we could skip over all the normal things that want to have to talk about because Peter already had an intimate understanding of the business. And so we, the board meetings were really kind of, I think there were pretty good because he would just get to the heart of the matter and solve issues.
Anyway, I’ll skip the head,
okay. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. That was what I was going to say. So this is then you become, so you guys live matrix and Obie guide merge, and you become the CEO of OB guy you take over from Peter.
Tell me about OB guide. What did you do?
Yeah. Yeah. So, so it will be guide had millions and millions of users globally, uh, primarily web. And so it was the interesting part to say, okay, how do we. I was brought in to say, like, let’s not take any more venture money. There’s already a bunch of liquidation preference sitting here. Let’s packages up and, and, let’s sell it.
And so how do we incrementally, uh, generate values such that it would be an interesting opportunity. And so obviously we went into, you know, looked at the assets and this is the early days of embedded players. So Hulu was trying to get, um, there are TV shows out there. And so they would provide the embedded player.
You have YouTube, of course you couldn’t really monetize that. And so it’s the notion of, okay, how do we make money? Initially, we were making money. The bulk of the money outside of display was, was affiliate. So generating leads for the Netflix’s and the Amazon primes with world. Get bounties. We had a high degree of, uh, SEO in terms of the traffic that we got.
So for an affiliate business sense, that’s really good because you have a fresh set of users that you can then monetize to, to third party services. We had the display, but then what was the next thing that would actually make it interesting? And so we started, it was the early days of video advertising, in terms of Avon.
And so the, the notion really was can we build a data business? So we had all of this metadata associated with this is a video guidance solution, or is it an Avon business?
Hmm. And just catch me up on just what I mean, the defined terms. If you could define a VOD or just like what OVI guide had.
Yeah. So VOD video on demand, three flavors. And God only knows. Now there might be 16 just like COVID variants, but, ad supported VOD. Think about it as free, right. And as VOD subscription, VOD, Netflix, there’s also T-bone, which is transactional VOD. I E one-time payment for pay-per-view T VOD, not so good, tough business, uh, because not enough margin, you have to have massive volume and it’s, it’s not a great business.
So it’s clear at spot has been obviously very successful, but in order for a smaller company to do asphalt, then as now, incredibly hard, because just content costs and, you know, can you get enough content at scale to convince people. To pay a subscription fee monthly, theoretically, you could have gotten away with it.
There were a bunch of micro S SVOD companies that started up in the early days. At this point. There’s no way there’s too much, too many S’s that people have to deal with. And they’re just, they’re only going to pay for a few, especially when with Amazon, you theoretically think that you’re not paying for it because you get prime with your, you get the video with your subscription, uh, to prime.
And so, ad supported. So it was a natural thing. You don’t have to work. Sorry. Uh, how can I best turn that off?
I actually didn’t hear that.
Okay. It’s just my messages going off the text on my, on my computer anyway. Okay.
the only, we have a little bit of, uh, an internet. Sometimes our internet is a little junky, but man. Yeah. I don’t know. Yeah. Uh, that was fine. Let’s let’s I I’m getting, I’m getting 98% of this. It’s good. Um,
So, so, so
but Avon looked promising, right?
yeah, well, for us it was reductionist, right? We can’t do . We can’t do T VOD, so that’s do Avon. But apart from that, I felt you talking about a global business. You know, I do believe, and we had a global audience, most people on this planet value their time, a lot less than money, especially if you look at two of the biggest markets, India, China.
And so Avon to me is a natural way. And there’s some talking about not today where people look at Pluto in Tubi and everybody who has an asphalt business wants to launch an Avon business as, as almost like a freemium solution to, to capture some part of the market, but also feed into S squad. And so, I personally set the strategy that Avon is going to be big.
It is, it has to be a big because that’s the natural progression.
But then why, why come and sell it? If you believe that
very good question. But the point was, this is also pre-roll code. So Avon is okay. The video. Yes, but, okay. How are you, how can you really build a big enough business to justify taking on incremental venture money, which moves the goalposts further out, um, more liquidation sitting on a risk adjusted basis.
I couldn’t see a model out that the ad supported business would get as big as quick as it did domestically to justify taking external money which moves the goalposts further out The other part of this, which was important is I’d inherited a team that had been added for a bit. So, and it’s not like it was a hundred person team.
Operating, you know, doing a huge job in terms of managing millions of users, but with a relatively small team of which most of it was engineering as you well know, engineering, super hard to retain, especially in LA some years ago, where were always at risk of, of being poached. And so that was the other part where you’re constantly titrating between, you know, how quickly can I get to a satisfactory outcome?
And then if I do take it venture, can we actually keep the team, around long enough to make it pay off? You know, And in hindsight, The right answer was, we did get a lot of signal when Roku started scaling because we were among the first people to create full length ad supported VOD channels on Roku. So as you think about it, like Pluto and Tubi were there at the same time as us. And when we had a lot of scale, we were up on Roku featured top 20, you know, top 10, 20 Avon channels strategy was dead.
Right. But we were already course committed on, on the M and a process. So in hindsight, yes, I should have gone back and said, okay, we’re not going to run a long process. You know, uh, uh, David and Peter, why doesn’t burrata lead off another round, or we can go raise around the money, but if we don’t want to spend too much time, but you can run an M a process and raise money when you’re a small team.
Uh, at the same time. And so we just have an insider lead around, get something done. So in hindsight, that’s what we should have done. but we didn’t. And we, we did, get an M and a deal done, into a company that it was about to go public. and so we thought that was the right course of action hindsight, probably not the right, uh, not the right move, but, you know, that’s okay.
If I had done that, then I might be still sitting on, on an earn-out and all these wonderful companies that Unlock has invested in might not have come to me. So, Hey,
Well, sure. I guess that’s the seat we sit in inventor. If the team’s tired, just not much you can do unless you’re Peter Lee. Anyhow, let’s bring it back to Unlock. What has changed from Unlock one to Unlock two. What have you learned? I guess that’s the seat we sit in in venture. Uh, if the team’s tired, it’s just not much you can do unless you’re Peter Lee.
Anyhow, let’s bring it back to Unlock. What has changed from Unlock one to Unlock two? What lessons have you learned? I guess that’s the seat we sit in in venture. If the team start just not much, not much you can do unless you’re Peter Lee and yeah, let’s bring it back to Unlock what what’s changed from Unlock one to Unlock two.
What have you learned?
Well, I think, uh, I’ve learned that venture is a never ending process. We will, it will never end the day will never end the work will never end. No, I think, uh, we’re, we’re doing more of the same. I, I feel like we were relatively experienced as investors. There are always nuances when you go into, into a certain type of investing, which, you know, once you fully commit, when you’re a full-time institutional investor, it is still different, regardless of how much experience you have doing it as an angel, or even on the corporate side, I’ve done, corporate investing.
It is different. And, but, but from, from, from where we started to where we are, we just feel we have. A bit more data around pattern recognition of what works for us. So all we’re trying to do is, is, is, is, is try to be well, sorry. We can forget all that. The one big learning for us is even though we should’ve known it already, and you do know it intellectually experientially after the realized time is finite.
So you have to make a more concentrated bets in order to actually maximize your time.
Like ownership matters.
ownership matters because as you get beyond one fund, the number of companies starts piling up and you can only help accelerate, assist that many people in a day.
Yes. And yet here’s one thing that you, that you told me that I didn’t know was that you’re creating or have created Unlocked venture labs. So time is, is infinite or is finite. You don’t have that much of it. And yet you’re starting your, you know, incubating, you’re creating companies
Yes. Well, we do do, we, we did create, we folk, uh, sorry. Let’s try it. We co-founded four companies in fund one
while you’re busy.
well, the good news and some part of it was we have, we’re still entrepreneurs. We have ideas. We’re not going to be operators. It’s just, that’s what we want to do, but we do have ideas. And when we think when those ideas meet with experienced entrepreneurs, there is magic and we take our time, we’ll start with a blank sheet for the most part.
And so we take our time and what we found, there were a couple of things. One, we enjoy it. Do we feel that especially when we deal with experienced entrepreneurs, you can take a time and create something really potentially meaningful. Uh, with those particular, with these entrepreneurs who want to sort of iterate on ideas and thought processes with, with someone who’s done it before. But my point is you can Unlock a certain set of entrepreneurs who you might not get access to with a traditional venture route.
So that’s w that’s the other piece. The third part of this is we do amplify returns to our investors and to our fund, because what we’ve done is on the first fund. The founders common and we We take the founders comma, we don’t take much in general, you know, it’s gotta be their company, not ours. We take the founders comma, we contributed to it.
We contributed to our LPs with no GP promote. So when you think about IRR and return, et cetera, and coming back to the point about ownership, you know, there is a way out, it’s a way, especially when you have a smaller fund to start with, there is one way again, to generate the right ownership and the right economics.
So you’re able to maximize the winners as they progressed moving forward. And we’ve had that one example with possible finance, where now, you know, it’s gone from, we went from blank sheet in the second half of 17 to three years later, a series B led by union square ventures. And so, you know that that is an example of their work.
But to answer your question about Unlocked venture labs, it was that there’s a third set of entrepreneurs potentially. Who might not have a technical co-founder or want to build the product with some external help. We can’t oversee those things. So we created Unlocked venture labs in Taiwan to provide, we have full-time engineering resources and a full-time CEO for that entity to basically help with taking the ideation to an MVP, building it, testing it, spinning it out and bringing it back.
So there’s, there’s a different option. So there’s venture investment, the regular venture investment, there’s the co-founder deals. And then there is the venture labs and each of those requires a different level of focus from us. there’s that?
Did I answer your question?
I think so. Yeah. That’s just trying to figure out if it’s something I should do.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong. I mean, it’s just a question of, do you also want to do it just let’s be clear. It does suck up a lot, a lot more time than other than that other thing. So you really have to feel like it’s an idea that you’ve noodled on for a while.
That intellectually makes a ton of sense to you and you know, you’re going from a blank sheet. So you have to also have the patients to, to let it germinate and get there. And some of that stuff may never get there. So
there’s that other opportunity cost of burn time.
Yeah. Um, let me pick your brain more on things I know, you know, a lot about, um, how about M and a, I know you’ve done a lot of MNA in a variety of different capacities. What you sold ova guide, you sold a variety of things along your path, and you started as an MNA banker. What’s your advice? Um, like here’s a question I have a portfolio company wants to, you know, learn about MNA or I am, I’m a founder.
When, what scale do I need to have? What, who do I talk to? Who do I know? How do I know who to talk to? When do I bring in bankers? That sort of thing.
Oh, gosh. Um, in general, the saying is always, you know, companies are, are, are not sold. They’re bought. Right. What does that actually mean? It’s one of those. Oh, that sounds so Sage. Like, what it means is that, you know, there’s a fair amount. There’s serendipity, but forget about serendipity. If you’re proactively thinking about what to do, it means having a bunch of conversations and get in the circle with folks who are talking to other people.
In an organic manner. So what I mean by that is in general, depending on where to start up is if you look at, and there’s, this is just like startups, there’s a wide spectrum of bankers. So if you want to talk to the Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan, their hurdle rate in terms of what they think about is as a deal they’re going to pitch or talk to is way beyond what normal startup is.
By the time you get to that level, all the corporate debt folks already know who you are, right? And so it’s a question of, but the flip side is bankers. Even the big ones, they always like to, to, to come off as incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable about the space. And the only way you do that is by talking about these early companies that people are not going to know about when they go pitch the head of Corp dev or strategy, if all of these larger public companies.
So the notion is how do you organically? And maybe it’s intentionally on a periodic basis, have conversations. With that set of people. And maybe it’s your investors who do that on your behalf. But the key is to inform people early on of what you’re doing and that way it sticks to their mind and they put it in the pitch.
So now when your name comes up organically with the Corp dev hat or whatever, you have to see the market, just like with PR that’s what M and a is. Um, you have to see the market and you really don’t know where it might go. So what I always say is you prepare your company, put it out in the sh in sort of the public arena, very much like you would, if you were trying to get funding, right?
Because it’s inherently a different type of funding that you’re seeking in terms of, so that’s what you would do just normally it’s good business practice to do that and have enough conversations to tell your story. If you have ideas about an individual company or a segment of the company with, for whom you believe your company resonates.
Instead of telling people, Oh, this Google should buy me because I mean, this is just, and it’s all, and this is the other one and it’s only $10 million or it’s only 50 million. Oh, it’s Google, it’s a hundred million. It’s nothing, those things don’t inherently work. You have to sort of think about and talk to the Corp dev folks or the strategy folks.
See what their problem points are sure about what it is and see if there’s a fit, then you can figure out the different angles from your network to work, to get this in front of the right people at the right time.
and, but if I have, you know, what’s too small, you know, is there, I get it like Goldman Sachs is not going to engage, but you know, if I’ve got 50 million, if I’ve got 20 million in revenues, like when you know, is that still credible? And how would I know who the right bankers are? I want to get an ear of the right banker
Yes. So this is where I’m going to give it, give you the D it depends, but I’ll give you the specific independence. I do believe that the way there are bankers, like I said, up and down the spectrum. So you have mid, mid market. You have people. The other part I personally feel when, when it’s subscale, you want to find out the top bankers for your particular industry segment.
So if you are selling, IOT devices that are relevant to the fitness industry, sounds crazy. Find the bankers who have done the most find out who’s which company sold, find out who represented them. Those are the people you should be talking to because those are the ones that have the most credibility with the strategics.
When it comes to that space, I’ll give you a perfect example. When I was at Gemstar, we own SkyMall, it did not fit. So it was a corporate disposition. That was we, we had a process. So we, we, we put the RFP out. There was a big bulge bracket bank that had been a long time banker for NewsCorp. So they came and it was like going to be a 50 to a hundred million dollar deal.
Not what they wanted to do, but because they were protecting a huge corporate relationship, they were like, Oh yeah, yeah. And so when they pitched, one of our assistant John counsels, his father had had a catalog business and he said, look, you should talk to these guys. Goldsmith.
You never heard of him a long time. Banker never heard of him. They specialize in Dr. And catalog businesses. I mean, talk about it. Like I said, IOT for, for fitness. It literally is Dr. And catalog. There are people who specialize in that. So their, their pitch book, like ridiculous, so detail. And so we still were thinking bulge bracket, just because, and then we said, you know what?
Let’s just ask, do they really want to do the deal? And they were like, yeah, no, you know, They, they came for free to their credit. They said, no, you know, if you have a better bank and it was the perfect answer, we went with the other Cub with the other banker and and they were the perfect agent to represent the asset.
I mean, it sounds obvious to you. It’s not obvious to me. Okay. You find out who sold. And you find out what banker they used. Uh, how about, you know, you’ve been in video for a decade or something, right. how do you think about video? How do you think about where it will be a decade from now?
Wow. As, as an operator and as an investor, I, we at unlock definitely believe in picks and shovels. We’re not going to be in the content game. I think a tons of money’s going to be made in content there. The, the, the cliche of content is King, et cetera, is absolutely true. because everything else is just, if you look at it, all that’s happening is the distribution channels.
Just keep getting reshuffled and that’ll continue to happen. So content is is, is the place to be, I just don’t feel like we are the right people to pick what content is, the right content or to finance those things, because that requires a whole different balance sheet in our opinion.
However, Well, we do believe video is, I mean, you think about it, right? People were thinking, Oh, video, you know, watching OTT video. But if you think about it, what we’re on right now with zoom, that’s filling the pipes, you’re going to see AR of course, it’s, it’s a different type, but that’s, you’ve got computer vision stuff.
You’ve got, autonomous think about all the cameras that are going to be sending things back and forth from autonomous, from IOT. So we’re going to have video, just continue to explode. So we’re, I’m very interested in where I do believe there’s a bunch of money to be made is if we think about delivery mechanisms.
And this goes back to my time when I worked at COVID, you have a pipe that delivers, the traffic. The pipe has physical limitations. And so the question is okay with more and more video coming through. how do you actually deliver the video? We can look at 5g and alternate forms of delivery, but if you think about fiber or if you think about regular pipe, I think there’s a ton of money to be made on compression and optimization around video.
So very, very interested about that. And the other piece is I think. Personalized advertising and talking about all of that one-to-one type of messaging. Everyone talks about advertising, but there’s one-to-one content, which is we’re nowhere close to that. this sort of the promise land that people have been looking for and the golden ticket?
I think it’s still out there on multiple fronts. So I’m very excited to see where video goes. And I think it’s only going to get bigger. I think we could see holograms. I worked in some hologram stuff before. Think about us delivering holographic video without, you know, full on VR goggles.
That’s the promised land. So I think, think about how much video that’s, how much capacity that’s going to require. And so I have, I’m firmly of the belief that that is the next frontier and it’s coming.
I’ve seen some cool demos recently. Uh, what else? I think I told you, no, you told me you’d bring in some good stories. What are some good, you know, have I missed any good stories from the past? Um, you know, bringing up your banker days or your
Yeah, so yeah, courtesy of being an older guy, you’ve done, you know, I’ve, I’ve done a few things, right. And so, no, but I, I think, I, I think I’m very fortunate by accident. You know, I look at some of the, the, the younger folks who, who they’ve got their lives planned out for.
I I’m in all, I’m just, I was just an idiot kid for like, Oh, that sounds good.
And, and so want to build a bunch of things, but, uh, fortunately I feel very blessed to have worked in the entertainment business in digital media and TV and music in Hollywood, uh, worked in, uh, MNA banking on wall street and Solomon. And I worked in technology in Santa Clara. And so if I think about three of the most exciting, and I think defining industries, of course, healthcare, and I’m not a doc.
Yes, I’m Indian, but no, I’m not a doctor, uh, defining, um, any exciting fields. Those are three are feminine. And I feel fortunate to have worked at the epicenter of each of those industries. , when I came here by accident, I wound up in the independent record business.
And so I actually lived for a time on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. It was just this building. Nice enough building. So in the apartment I was dealing with musicians. So at the time in LA, there was a song called act, the full rap hit.
I think early days the rapper was King T. So in LA, he was a legend. He left in the apartment right next to mine, and we had music. I mean, music would there be like fall on the equipment and stuff blowing up. But the weird thing was one day I walked in, I see this Porsche and Ferrari is sitting in the garage.
I’m like, this is an apartment building on Hollywood. Why is there a portion for Ferrari there? The content of flora, my boy goes, Hey, you know, iced tea just moved in next door. So right around thing, there’s ice tea. And this is iced tea, legit ice tea, you know, superstar So I’m like, why is ice tea while he was getting his house, but in Hollywood Hills.
So he just he rented this apartment. He was staying there. And then if you know, rap back then ice, they used to have his wife. Then Darlene Ortiz, she would be the bikini model on the album covers. So one day you walk in the elevator. They get in and there’s Darlene and there’s ice tea and some of his other guys, and I’m like looking at the elevator flight.
I have not lucky this way or that way. Cause I have no desire to look at you anyways. So the long and short of it, he was my next door neighbor. And kinky was my next door, like literally on my floor. And then one morning I opened the door to go out and there comes easy walking right down the hallway. So it was a very alternate reality that a nice Indian kid growing up in Calcutta should never, you know, would never have been exposed to.
I’ve been in a studio where, you know, Tupac was in studio, down in echo sound in Glendale. You know, it was a lot of stuff that you wind up doing and seeing, that’s why I say, I feel now I look back on it and I was like, people are just, you know, doctors and all these guys are like, Oh my God, you know, guys who grew up in LA and he go, how the hell I’m going to like, look, it was all accident.
And maybe I didn’t come off Richard for a minute for money. But, uh, I think the experiences that I had were kind of interesting. That’s why I say when I, when I saw a lot of those things, like when I saw what’s that a straight outta Compton, some of those things, I mean, I know exactly what death row was.
Cause we had a deal at that building in on Kamenga. So a lot of times when I see some of these things, uh, you know, they bring back a lot of memories and at some point in time, you know, maybe I’ll have a podcast. I’ll bring you out. We can
yeah, yeah. Wait, um, do you have a hard stop? One more question. One more question. So we, I guess I didn’t quite really, did you, you grew up in Calcutta. When did you
Yeah. When I was 18 for
my parents still live in India. So yeah, no, I, uh, I I’m very, very. Um, I’m very connected to my friends and family who are know the guys I grew up with, uh, the people I grew up with. They’re all over, they’re all over the world. Um, but yeah, so I’m very connected with the Indian community. I’d like to do something more with, especially in LA it’s a little bit more spread.
I mean, if I went up North where people speak Delego, which is my native language, Than anything I’d feel very comfortable up North in this and not comfortable in the sense that I I’m literally most, a lot of the engineers up North come from this state of on it, but they should have Telangana, which is where I’m from.
And so it’s very much more embedded up there. Whereas here there are a lot of Indians. I mean, geez, LA has tons of Indians, but I think as far, as far as I think about tech and media, it’s a little bit more, we haven’t sort of collect coalesce. So I’d love to do something to do that, to, to bring that to bear, uh, because I think it could be, it could be very helpful to a lot of people.
Look, I think founders are always looking for cohorts of people who can help them, which is something we try to do and unlock. Look, it’s not about saying Indians. Yes. You know, I can help Indians, but you know, there are gaps. It’s not like we’re talking about a, I don’t know, vinyl watch when engineers, you know, there’s still a lot of us in there.
So, but I do think, you know, for instance, hyphen capital has done a really good job of bringing in Asian American founders to help Asian American, uh, successful Asian American founders to help them. And I think, I think within unlock arrives, he was also born in India. He came here much earlier, um, that we, you know, we, we should definitely do something to help, but I think there are enough people to help.
And I think it will organically come to where I feel like we can help. I do believe the big, it’s a good thing to ask that question to anybody. Cause I think the other piece of this is you know, it’s part of the progress of unlock, but India is to huge, massive opportunities to last massive opportunity that that’s there.
Oh, I think the India market is fascinating, but lest we confuse people and, uh, correct me if I’m wrong. But unlock today has a geographic focus on funding entrepreneurs coming out of Southern California or Seattle.
Yes. unlock was born of the thesis that If we looked at the, the markets of Seattle and Los Angeles, and we’ll say Southern California, broadly speaking, it’s obvious that, you know, those are two of the five largest tech markets to the U S and obviously these markets, especially if you think about Seattle are capable of producing very large outcomes when it comes to technology.
However, there is a row of dearth of early stage capital relative, I mean, to the Bay area, but even to some of the East coast markets. And so given the fact that we were very committed to those particular ecosystems, we’ve been in those ecosystems, my partner, Andy, new up in Seattle, myself down here, we have a third partner Razi mom in the Bay area.
We felt that given our presence and long-term standing there as well as conviction about those markets that we wanted to focus on those two markets.
Yeah. Fantastic. Well, essentially, unless there’s anything else you think anything else you think we should cover?
no, but I think you did pronounce my name well,
and yes, I will. At some point stop in a weighty, not I’m not being weighty, but I will get out there and surf with you.
Oh, fantastic. Okay. That’s a good, that is a great note to end on a Sanjay. It’s great to see you as always. I enjoy talking with you and I know we have a couple of co-investments, but I hope we managed to pull in a few more great ones.
Yeah, absolutely. Well,
thanks Minnie, thanks for having me.
Real quick. It would be great. If you could spare a moment to give the podcast five stars or share with a friend Or I love getting emails. Send me a note, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.