Shervin Pishevar and Anthony Pompliano

Shervin Pishevar On Identifying Industry-Defining Entrepreneurs | The Pomp Podcast

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Key Takeaways

  • As an investor, look for great founders building industries, not just companies
  • Advice for Founders:
    • Capital and talent are your oxygen
    • Be open to being convinced when you are wrong
    • Founders with substance are straight forward, they don’t play tricks
    • Be careful who you bring into your companies, bad investors can be a nightmare
  • “If you become attuned to the possibility of a massive bet that you believe in and you are passionate about, that’s when you are willing to forget your fear, it gives you kind of antibodies” – Shervin Pishevar
  • “The true billionaires are about having a positive impact on a billion people” – Peter Diamandis
  • Anyone that has a loyal audience has a chance to build something that impacts billions of people and make billions
  • Future prediction: great founders will fund other great founders

Books Mentioned

Intro

  • Shervin Pishevar (@shervin) is an Iranian-American investor and  the former founder and executive chairman of Hyperloop One
  • Host – Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano (@APompliano)

The American Opportunity

  • Every American comes from an immigrant blood line
    • Even native Americans immigrated here at some point and had to start from scratch and build
  • The American story inspires founders and innovation all over the world
    • But the US will get left behind if it doesn’t keep up
  • This is the time for builders, we can re-architect and re-build everything
    • From currencies to governments to financial or medical systems, all is up for grabs
    • Build industries, not just companies

Hyperloop

  • Hyperloop revolutionizes logistics, cargo, and commerce – here is how:
    • A logistics network that enables manufacturing anything per order
      • You order something online and it’s manufactured, distributed and delivered to you within 48-72 hours anywhere globally
    • Like a real time pulse to the global economy

Elon Musk

  • Elon is loyal to his family, friends, and employees
    • People are inspired to build great things under such leadership
  • SpaceX is executing a multi-decade plan and is now sending humans to orbit
    • Don’t bet against Elon and his teams

Companies are Becoming Sovereigns

  • Major companies have the power of nation states (think Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.)
  • Travis Kalanick founded Uber with the goal of replacing car ownership, not as a “taxi company”
  • Next level: A private company enabling humanity to become a multi-planetary species
    • SpaceX colonizing Mars is an extension of companies becoming sovereigns

What makes great founders?

  • Super intelligence, grit, will power, constantly thinking and working
  • Incredible recruiting skills
    • As a founder, capital and talent are your oxygen
    • For instance, Travis Kalanick spends a lot of time recruiting, whether with Uber or Cloud Kitchens
  • Founders with substance are straight forward, they don’t play tricks
    • Playing tricks is for the people who have a reason to do tricks to get some advantage
  • Be open to being convinced when you are wrong

Make Long-term Systemic Bets

  • Innovations like SpaceX and Bitcoin are long-term systemic bets on the future of humanity
    • Ponder this: What is the total addressable market of an entire planet, a new civilization?
  • As an investor, look for great founders that are building industries, not just companies
  • Shervin’s Love principle: “You have to love the founder, the team, the product, the market. If you don’t love any one of those things, probably not a good investment”
    • Then do the due diligence and get insights
    • “If I have any kind of qualitative or quantitative reason not to believe in one of those things, I am not going to do the investment”

Fear Kills Potential

  • Fortunately, “When we try to bend the universe, the universe yields, and it yields in the way it’s supposed to yield” – Shervin Pishevar
  • Elon Musk wouldn’t have built SpaceX and Tesla if he let fear control him
    • “If you become attuned to the possibility of a massive bet that you believe in and you are passionate about, that’s when you are willing to forget your fear, it gives you kind of antibodies” – Shervin Pishevar
  • When you see inventions like SpaceX or Bitcoin work, you get a feedback loop of wanting more similar inventions and companies

Great Founders Aren’t Driven by Money

  • Even better than massive portfolio returns is investments with massive returns to society
    • “The true billionaires are about having a positive impact on a billion people” – Peter Diamandis
    • That said, money gives you the leverage to walk away, an essential element for the greatest negotiators
      • Having F-you money is “liberation of the soul”
  • Founders can get tied to profit-generating machines, this blurs the line between what’s right and wrong
    • For instance, social media had a positive impact during the Arab spring
      • However, the moral compass of many social media companies have changed and the impact may no longer be positive
  • In his article, Humans Are The Routers, Shervin discusses how “The last bastion of dictatorship is the router”

Rise of the Creator Class

  • The evolution is Influencers, founders, people becoming the brand
    • Anyone that has a loyal audience has a chance to build something that impacts billions of people and makes billions
    • Death of the middle-man allows this to happen faster than at any point in history
      • Talking directly to your audience will be the end of middlemen in the media industry
  • The common business model is to build a company first, then get audience and customers
    • This is being inverted to “how can I build a company that can serve my audience”
  • Keep in mind: capital is not a guarantee for success or scale
    • “Just because you have a billion dollars to spend, doesn’t mean you have a billion dollars of scale” – Shervin Pishevar

Role of Investors

  • Great founders have a lot of opportunity to get funding and are picky
    • Good investors are not easy to find
    • Additionally, having bad investors on your board/cap table can be a nightmare
    • In short, founders have to be careful who they bring into their companies
  • An example is VCs bowing out on Elon Musk at the last minute, when Tesla and SpaceX were on the verge of collapse
    • Future prediction: great founders will fund other great founders
  • “As entrepreneurship spreads and goes viral, we are going to find the Elons of Africa, the Travis of South America, we are going to find the undiscovered Edisons that are out there” – Shervin Pishevar
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Notes By Mostafa Khaled

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