Adam Nash Transcript

Clint Betts:

Adam, thank you so much for joining the show and sharing your experiences with us. Let's start with Daffy, how you got to become the CEO of Daffy. What Daffy is and what its outlook for the future is.

Adam Nash:

Yeah, sure. Happy to talk about that. The simple answer is Daffy, I'm the co-founder and CEO of Daffy, and so in some ways it gave myself the job as it turns out, but Daffy is a very simple thing. Daffy stands for the Donor Advised Fund For You; it's a very simple insight that there's about 60 million Americans households who gift to charity every year, but where is the kind of great application, where is the great service that helps bring them together and makes it easier to be more generous more often? And so we've had all this fintech innovation in the last 10 to 15 years, all these great apps that help people save a little bit more, maybe spend a little bit smarter, invest better. But Daffy was built around the idea of building an easy app that helps people give. And so it's a modern platform for charitable giving.

Now, under the hood, it's built off a donor advised fund, which is of course a very popular product for the wealthy, a lot of tax advantages, et cetera, to putting money aside for charity. And we're hoping that we can open up those advantages to everyone who gives and supports organizations and causes.

In terms of the founding story, I mean Alejandro, my co-founder was one of my favorite engineers to work with at LinkedIn. We had kept in touch and talking about starting a company for years, and he got very excited about this idea. I was excited about this idea, and so we dove into it. So those are the basics of the Daffy story. I mean, we launched a couple years ag. Our first year, we saw about $20 million in contributions to give to charity, and last year, we saw 105 million, which is, of course was, over 400% growth. So we're very excited about the product and the platform, but it's still very early days.

Clint Betts:

How does that work exactly? As I understand it, a donor-advised fund is, like you said, it's primarily for wealthy people who probably have a family office of some sort, and they're required, if I'm not mistaken, to give a percentage every year to charity through the DAF. Is that correct?

Adam Nash:

No, no, no. I think it's much simpler than that.

Clint Betts:

Oh, okay.

Adam Nash:

I think that there's a lot of things in the charity space, and as you mentioned, I don't think everyone has a lawyer or accountant or wealth manager who runs through this, but I think some of what you're talking about is actually very high end starting a family foundation, right? You're talking about billionaire crowd, et cetera. But donor-advised fund is very simple. In some ways, it's just a taxed advantage account for putting money aside for charity. Kind of like a 401k or an IRA is for retirement, or a 529 plan might be for college savings. A donor-advised fund is just an account. It has this unique advantage where you put money into this account that is treated as an irrevocable donation to the charity that hosts the fund. You get this deduction on your taxes for making a charitable donation, which is great, and then that money is invested tax-free and grows over time.

And then, anytime you want to donate to an operating charity, you just put a recommendation into the app, and if it's approved, it goes through, and the charity gets the money. So it's really a brilliant product. The problem with this product is that it has been in the past, mostly sold to wealthy families and individuals, and so most people have never heard of it. I heard about it for the first time back when LinkedIn went public, and there were a lot of financial managers and accountants, et cetera, swarming around the campus. But the truth is, it is a great product, a great account to have for anyone who's passionate about giving. Everyone who sets some money aside every year to give to a few organizations that they support. And most people do support organizations. They give to their kids' school, maybe their alma mater, maybe there's a national organization they support, maybe a religious institution, a church, a synagogue, et cetera.

And so having a donor-advised fund just means that you can put that money aside, have it in your budget. It's in a place where you can get to it if you need to. You get that tax advantage of the deduction, and then it's available anytime you're inspired to give.

I mean, a lot of what we built into the Daffy product was making it exceptionally easy that when you're inspired to give, you have this app on your phone where you can go, press, press, press, and boom, get money to the organization you want to support.

Clint Betts:

Now, tell us how the product works on the nonprofit side. If you are one of these organizations that these people want to through Daffy give a donation to, how does that work on their side? Do they have a profile on your platform? How does that work?

Adam Nash:

They do. The IRS publishes a list of every legal charity in the US. On an ongoing basis, you have to register, and so we support every legal charity there is. But the great thing about Daffy for the nonprofit organization is how much they don't have to do. It turns out most nonprofit organizations aren't big, sophisticated financial organizations. They're dedicated to a mission, to a community, to a cause. If you have a food bank, you're mostly in the business of feeding people and making sure you have that process set up. And so Daffy basically takes all that work away from them, and all they get is the money delivered to them. And so whether you contribute to Daffy, you can use a credit card, you can use a debit card, you can link your bank account, Apple Pay. We accept stock, we accept ETFs, and Mutual funds, Crypto. We make it as easy as possible for people to put money aside for charity.

And so we take all that work away from the nonprofit, and we try to make it very easy for people to set up things like recurring donations, which, of course, if you talk to most nonprofits, they'll tell you that's really what they want to see from their donors. It's not just a one-time gift but ongoing support for the organization.

And so a lot of organizations that are spending time out there trying to figure out how they can better utilize donor-advised funds and the people who put money aside into them. We're just trying to make that as easy as possible for people and as broadly available as possible.

Clint Betts:

That's incredible. And the growth you've experienced sounds incredible. Where do you go from here?

Adam Nash:

Oh, it's still very early days. I mean, we have a fairly audacious goal, I would say, for the platform. Our basic insight is that actually giving is a really large market in the US. It's a huge part of the economy. It's almost half a trillion dollars a year going to charity in the US. But as big as that number is, we think it could be bigger. The research says that when people are intentional, when they set a goal for their giving, when they pre-commit, they end up giving 32% more to charity. And so, as big as the number is in the US, we actually think that most people actually don't give as much to charity as they want to. Life gets in the way, etc. And so we're hoping to build a platform where, at scale, millions of people who care about causes and organizations are putting money aside, and it's a better place for them to discover from each other organizations and causes they can support. And it's a better place for nonprofits to find people who care about the causes and the initiatives that they're driving.

Clint Betts:

What does a typical day look like for you?

Adam Nash:

Oh, in some ways, it's mundane. I live in Silicon Valley, but my day mostly starts most parents with the rush to get the kids out to school. My wife and I have four children, so it turns out drop-off is not as easy as you might think. So it starts there and some coffee in the morning.

But one of the habits that I got into earlier in my career, it was advice actually from one of the partners I worked for at a capital firm, was really to be intentional going into the day, the week, the month, any time period about what were the three most important things you were going to get done. And so in the morning, I tend to always make sure, or the night before, make sure that I know ahead of time going into the day that there's at least three things that I have to get done. I mean, now, usually, I have to get a hundred things done, but at least I like to know what the highest priority things that I'm going to get done that day and that way, day to day, week to week, et cetera, you're always moving and making progress on the things that matter the most.

Clint Betts:

How do you stay motivated?

I mean, you've had an incredible career, LinkedIn, Wealthfront, I'm sure I'm missing something. eBay, you've worked with these incredible companies, Dropbox, by the way. How do you stay motivated? I mean, what had you sign up for another round?

Adam Nash:

This is a great question. I get it a lot. I've been fortunate enough in my career that at a number of different times, I had to ask the question, well, what do you want to do next? I had multiple opportunities. And I think some of it is based on my background as an engineer, et cetera. I love building things. I love products. I like seeing technology applied to problems that matter. And there's some truth to the fact that if you want to see something built, if you want to see something in the world, sometimes you can invest in a company that's going to do it, in a great team, but sometimes you dig in and do it yourself. And so Daffy, my current company, is very much about that. I was not convinced that a platform like this was going to get built any other way unless we built a new company, a new organization, a new platform to do it.

But if I look at all these different career decisions along the way, there was always a point of like, well, what am I really looking for? Where do I feel like I can add the most value? What's the best opportunity? And the hard part, of course, is really being introspective and thinking about where you're going to do your best work, what's going to motivate you. And so each step of the way, I've asked those questions and I've been fortunate enough that the answer to those questions each time led to some amazing opportunities. I remember thinking about what I was going to do after eBay, and a friend of mine introduced me to Reid Hoffman. We had a long breakfast talking about the future of the web and product and what that meant for professionals and marketplaces. And I think it was something like a week or two later, I started at LinkedIn. It was quite small at the time. And now that's become an amazing platform.

And so when I think about LinkedIn, when I think about Wealthfront, eBay, Dropbox, or Daffy, taking a little bit of time in between to actually think about what you've learned and how you're going to apply that and what you want to do next, I think that some of us get trapped a little bit into that cycle without actually taking the time to think about our careers, our jobs on what to do next. And I really do recommend that people do find the way to take that time if they can. I mean, every few years, you get this opportunity to think about what you want to do next, how are you going to grow? Where can you have the most impact? And I think that it's worth taking that opportunity when life presents it.

Clint Betts:

What did you learn about leadership from Reid?

Adam Nash:

Oh, so much. Reid's a very interesting person, obviously very unique. It is not surprising to me that he's had the success that he's had. But for me, what Reid did fantastically well was just around the clarity of his thinking strategically, why a company needed to exist, why a platform, why now. Some of the advice I give to product leaders and to leaders in general is around strategy and that clarity of letting your team know what game are you playing and how do you keep score? And a lot of that insight I got from Reid. Reid was also very thoughtful about things like leadership and transition and how to scale organizations. He's a natural venture thinker, building a company, building a platform involved, solving a thousand different problems. There's no way you could solve them all at once. And so that phase thinking of like, no, no, no, this year, this is the next problem we have to solve.

He was always very good with the team about, hey, growth, engagement, revenue, these are all problems that we have to work on, but what's the most important problem to work on this year, this quarter right now? And prioritization, strategy, those frameworks, if they don't come from the top, you run a real risk, especially if you're running a great organization where you hire a lot of brilliant, motivated, ambitious people. If you don't give them the framework to operate in, they'll come up with their own. And it may not be aligned with what the company needs. It may not be aligned with your vision. It may not be aligned with what all the other people at the company are doing. And so I think there really is a lot of leadership responsibility around the framing, around the strategy that you give your team. And a lot of that insight I got from Reid.

Clint Betts:

How are you thinking about AI as it relates to Daffy? Are you going to implement that into the product at all, or yeah, even just generally given your vast experience in tech and as a developer, I'd love just your overall thoughts on the technology as well?

Adam Nash:

Well, I think true to my roots, and I think where I am in Silicon Valley, I think everyone is excited about all the different things that AI can do, and there's a flurry of activity because the technology is moving quickly right now, and even if fundamentally the technology isn't moving quickly, it's the end result. The improvement in what these LM models can do has just been phenomenal. If you think about how short the time has been since OpenAI released GPT for people to play with, it really has not been a lot of time.

Now, at Daffy, of course, we look at the same way a lot of startups look at it, which is, how can we use this technology and platform to do what we do better and rethink some of the things we do? And some of them are soft touches. It might mean that when you make a donation on Daffy, instead of just getting a table of data, you get language framed to you in English as a thank you for what you've done and encouraging people to give a bit more.

We certainly have used AI on the development side. We're in the nonprofit industry. You'd be surprised how much government data comes in these really arcane and archaic formats. And the ability now using AI to not only run through that data, but then process it and turn it into something that humans will find accessible, I mean, it's fantastic. A lot of people want to know more about the organizations they're donating to, and a lot of that data is hidden away in places that's hard for people to get to or understand. And AI helps Daffy do all those things better, at least the technology and tools. But I mean, I think, in general, there's a lot of different camps around AI right now. A lot of fighting going on online and even in political circles. I tend to be an optimist about technology. I tend to think more about all the new things that we can do with the technology, all the things we can improve. And so I'm very bullish on the technology.

I do think it's a massive platform shift. These platform shifts don't happen that often in the industry, but reliably, every five to seven years, something forces you to rethink, wait, that used to be very expensive and difficult to do at scale, and now it's become inexpensive and very simple to do. That changes everything. And so I think a lot of people in Silicon Valley, I think that we're going to see a lot of amazing products and services, sorry, products and services come out in the next few years that are really going to change the way people look at what they can do online and what they can do with technology. So I'm very excited about it in general.

Clint Betts:

When you think of the debate that's happening and the people who are kind of down on AI, I tend to share your view on being optimistic about it. I never really understand AI is going to destroy humanity, turn on us, all that type of stuff. The only problems I never really get a good answer to as to how? Do you have an answer as to how that would happen?

Adam Nash:

Oh, unfortunately, actually, I think there's almost some danger to asking that question because that really gives license to every fan to come up with their favorite movie or story, etc. And by the way, there's a lot of creative people out there. I'm not a big horror movie fan or genre and that sort of thing, but you kind of don't want to go through horror movies and come up with all the crazy ways that people have come up to terrify people, like terrifying situations like that, et cetera. No, I think there's always a fear that people have around technology, and I think it's just getting applied to AI as well, which is, wait, this is going to change a lot of things. What happens to all the people who did that for a living? They'll get replaced, right? There's always an analogy that floats around a little bit.

It's kind of like moving from horse-drawn carriages and riding horses to automobiles or other forms of transportation. And then they show this crazy chart of like, well, how many horses are there? And it scares everyone. And look, there's a lot of intelligent reasons to be apprehensive about some of the things that could happen with artificial intelligence, especially if we end up creating things that actually have the ability to reason and operate with people and do things, especially things that humans can't do. What if we make something that's smarter than us in some way and dimension? I think, in some ways, that's inevitable given the way technology is progressing. But I think what people miss about technology, and the reason I tend to bias towards the positive, is that the history of technology is that actually, in the end, it's humans that are the source of value, and they ascribe value in the economy, in what we're doing.

And so inevitably, with technology, technology ends up being utilized by humans to do things better and more valuable. And then, when you do things that are more valuable, you get more of it. So many people were worried about spreadsheets and software replacing accountants, but it actually really just changed what good accountants do. And I don't think today most accountants would want to live in a world where they didn't have access to computers or spreadsheets, et cetera. And you see this across the board with a lot of different technology examples. And so I tend to think when I look at my own investments as an angel investor, et cetera, and my exposure to artificial intelligence, in the end, it always ends up being a tool that allows people to do far more than they could have done before. And when a person does something that's more valuable than what they do before, they're worth more, they're more valuable, they're more productive.

And so, of course, you want more people like that. You want more jobs like that, you want more activity. And so I think that artificial intelligence is going to be a huge economic boon for society, for people, et cetera. I think we're going to see new companies and products built, and yes, I think that some of the existing products and services that are built will seem somewhat anachronistic in a world where we take AI for granted, but that's true with every transition, and we've been through a lot of transitions in the industry even in my lifetime.

Clint Betts:

Let's go to another transition or debate that's happening in Silicon Valley, and that is this work-from-home hybrid, everybody in the office, everybody virtual. How have you decided to handle that issue within Daffy?

Adam Nash:

Well, we didn't have much choice. It turns out Daffy was founded in the midst of the pandemic, and so you were either going to build the company remote first or you weren't going to build the company. And I think a lot of people have seen a lot of real benefits. Some that are obvious. You're not spending as much money on real estate or in-office perks, benefits of having access to talent anywhere. I mean, Silicon Valley has a lot of talent, but it's not like it has a lock on every brilliant engineer or, designer, marketer out there. It's phenomenal to be able to tap into talent and find people. I mean, this is the passion that I had at LinkedIn was. LinkedIn always talks about connecting talent with opportunity. And there's no question that remote work opens that up.

And there's actually some subtle benefits to it, I think, culture benefits. Daffy, I'm a big believer in writing things down, expressing, actually putting, whether it's pen to paper, typing it out using documents instead of presentations, et cetera. And when you build a remote first company, you end up building a culture that really forces you to write things down, which I think improves the quality of thinking and discussion and the decision-making that happens.

That being said, there are some real benefits to being in person. I do think that for people early career, it's very hard to put a price on the value of unplanned interactions with senior members of the team, with other folks who've been around. I mean, I think about my early days at companies and how many things I learned from people, not because I was assigned to a project with them, but because I saw them in the lunchroom in the cafeteria, or I saw them walking down the hall or was introduced to them by someone else, kind of semi-randomly for social reasons.

And so it's hard for me to... I think there really are some benefits in-office. Also, when I'm hashing through problems on product. I mean, Alejandro and I, as co-founders, still hash them out in person for the most part. Somehow, we can get done those difficult decisions of what is the MVP, what features are in or out, how is the thing going to work or scale? Somehow, we can get done in just a couple hours in person and a whiteboard things that seem to cycle take longer when you're going back and forth or doing Zoom meetings, et cetera. And so, like anything, I think there's pros and cons.

But for Daffy, we are kind of hybrid at this point. We have a number of people who come into headquarters in the office, some who come in every day, sometimes a few days a week. But we also depend on the talent. We have members of the team in different time zones, in different countries, and it's been really phenomenal to just have the opportunity to work with talent like that from around the country and, in some cases, other countries.

Clint Betts:

How do you define and maintain culture? Given all of that? How do you maintain and your values? And honestly, it'd be interesting to hear what Daffy's values are, but how do you maintain that virtually?

Adam Nash:

Well, I think, listen, everyone knows this, and this has been often discussed, but culture often talked about, but actions speak louder than works. It's behavior. I think there's no substitute for leadership behavior for how teams make decisions. People watch, they see, they internalize what's rewarded. And so I don't think that changes with remote first. But we do have some traditions at Daffy that I think have turned out to be very useful. So, for example, I do do a weekly all-hands with everyone. Most of the team here at Daffy is building the product, is building the platform, working on new things. It just turns out my role is a little bit more outward-facing. And so, very often every week, I talk about where the company is and how I'm thinking about it. And that echoes back to a process we put in place that I'm a big believer in as a leader, which is every six months, I write a document for the whole company that explains where we are, what we've learned, what our strategy is and what that means for the next 12 months.

And we actually have an off site with the whole team. We get together all in person at least twice a year where we all review that strategy and talk about it and what it means for our roadmap, what it means for prioritization, what it means for the features we're building. And so I think there's a lot on culture that actually depends on communication and framing and then behavior.

Another tradition we have is that every Friday morning, we have a Zoom with everyone on it where people share what they worked on this week: developers, the code designers, the design marketers, what they're working on. And it's a wonderful way to touch base and softly get together and actually reward the behaviors that you want to reward, which is sharing the information about what you're working on, where you're running into trouble, things that you're excited about, and allowing some of those impromptu kind of conversations and connections to happen.

But in general, I don't think it's a solved problem. I think that culture is something that you build over time. And like I said, in general, these decisions come up and as a leader, you're faced with dozens of decisions every day, every week, every month. But a lot of culture is based on how those decisions actually get made and how the team internalizes what the priorities are and what acceptable behavior is at the company.

Clint Betts:

Along those same lines, it seems to me all the CEOs and leaders that I talk to say, "Wow, it's fascinating how often I have to think about or even comment on things that have nothing to do with my company but are happening in the world. Like the macroeconomic world. If there's a war in Ukraine, all of a sudden, that's going to..." These types of things where it seems like 20 years ago, you could really just focus on leading your company, and you didn't have to weigh in on these types of things. How do you think about your role there in things that are happening outside the company, and how do you think just generally about the current macroeconomic environment and what we're in for this year?

Adam Nash:

And then the question about the macro comes in afterwards. It's good. I like that. I like that. Why are CEOs asked all these questions? And by the way, here's a question. No, I like it. It's good. It's good. I like it.

But no, in the end, I think it's a mistake for leaders to ever forget that companies, that the value is sourced from the people. And I know that's a little bit of a truism, and it might seem obvious, but it's very easy to forget. If you look at a company enough financially, you look at the spreadsheets and the numbers and the margins, et cetera, you start thinking that the company is somehow an outcome of those numbers. Venture capitalists, founders will talk about strategy or technology. We were talking about AI earlier, right? It's easy to think that that's where the value gets created, but no, it is actually the people and the team. And I think the reason a lot of leaders and a lot of CEOs got pulled into these issues is really two trends that happen. One is social media opened up this role of people seeing executives, seeing leaders in their personal lives.

I mean, Hollywood celebrities were used to this a long time. If you had a job in the media, you might get used to some of your personal life getting exposed. But for the first time you started seeing these questions came up, who is this person? And more information was out there. And then second, I think you saw an increasing trend in the last 10 to 15 years where the economy was good enough, and there's a huge competition for talent, especially in technology. There's always a huge competition for talent, almost always. And so people had a lot of choices about where they wanted to work, and they wanted to work at places where they believe in the leadership, they believe in what they're building and what they're doing. And that can easily cross over into who the leader is and how they think about different issues.

Now, like everything that can go too far, like you're asking... There's a lot of very important international, political, economic issues where, sure, lots of people have opinions, and so do the executives at companies and leaders, but that may not be the most important thing or most relevant thing for actually what the team and what the company is trying to build right now or what success looks like. And sometimes, it can distract you from that. So, I think a lot of leaders and CEOs are struggling with that. I mean, I think personally, I always struggle with how much information personally to put out there. What's too much? When am I speaking for myself? When am I speaking for the company? And so I think everyone's been navigating that, certainly, the last five to seven years, if not longer. But from my point of view, I think there's an authenticity to being who you are.

And there's a balance to building out a culture where you give people the comfort to know that they can express themselves and they also can be they are and who they need to be to do their best work. But also the clarity of saying when you're working for a company, there's a focus there. What's relevant and not relevant for the company? Diverse teams of people from different backgrounds and different beliefs can come together and build amazing things together if they focus on the problem, if they focus on the product if they focus on the customer. And I think that leaders do have a responsibility to remind people of that reality and actually pattern that behavior themselves. You can't be a leader talking about what you're doing on the weekend or your opinion about the latest movie that came up and then somehow think it's frivolous if your employees do the same thing.

That's just hypocrisy. That doesn't make a lot of sense. But it also can be very clear that sometimes that, when you're working for a company, a platform, that you have to be careful. You are representing the company in some way, and there's a little bit of a burden on that. And so I think that it's a hard problem, but I personally enjoy it. I don't mind commenting on things out there when I think they're relevant. I think leaders can get themselves in trouble. You have expertise in one domain or another domain. It doesn't necessarily carry over into everything. And so, I always like to show a little bit of humility around the areas where I'm less confident, or I feel like I have less education or knowledge. So I try to stick a little bit closer to home in terms of the things and the problems that I've worked on. But I think there's a lot of different patterns out there for leaders, and a lot of debate. I think this is a very active area of debate amongst executives and leaders about what are the best patterns.

Oh, you asked the question, the macro environment.

Clint Betts:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Adam Nash:

Well, we actually run into this a lot because I get asked the question a lot at Daffy, right? So we have a front-row seat to what's going on with giving. And to some extent, a lot of the problem we work on is grounded in personal finance, kind of individual pocketbooks. Like when do people feel like they have money available to give, to put aside and what are the stresses and strains on their financial lives? So we do have a little bit of a window into that. And so I don't mind commenting.

I mean, I think the macro environment right now is confusing for a lot of people for a number of reasons. One is, let's not forget, we just had a pandemic, which is kind of a once-in-a-century phenomenon, at least when you look back. And so that's out of most people's memory space. And so I think you'd have to have an amazing amount of ego and hubris to believe that you could totally predict all the economic ramifications of what we just went through in the last few years. And so I think that's still working through the system, both in explicit actions and in changes in consumer behavior, which drives dollars. Obviously, we had surges of government intervention money. We're dealing with those. It's not quite the same thing as the great financial crisis 15 years ago. It's not quite the same thing as when the bubble burst. And so I think everyone's dealing with that.

And then, of course, it's an election year. And so one of the increasing things you see in the data is that people's opinions about the economy seem to be more and more driven by politics and less and less driven by the actual dollars and cents of what's going on in their financial lives. We are human. We all pick and choose what we focus on. And it looks like politics is driving a lot of opinions from people.

But I'll say from giving, what we're seeing is that from a platform like Daffy, is that actually people are very aware of problems going on in different communities. They're aware of this lumpiness in the economy. Some people are doing phenomenally well in this economy. Some people are still struggling. Some people did well and found systems that got them through the pandemic, but they want to go back a little bit to what they did before. And they're trying to figure out how to do that. And that's true for individuals, that's true for businesses. But what we see on giving is that people still realize that organizations need their support. And a lot of people are thinking, how do I do that better? How do I do that more consistently?

And so you see this amazing growth in the donor-advised fund market, not just Daffy, but the entire category is just exploding year over year as more and more people discover that there's a way to put money aside for charity that might be smarter from a tax perspective, might be smarter from a personal budgeting perspective. And they're finding a lot of reward in that. So I don't know if you have something specific about the macro environment, I'm happy to...

Clint Betts:

No, I just wonder; you kind of touched on it a little bit. Obviously, the United States is going to have an election this year, about 20 other countries are going to have an election. Election years are kind of unpredictable. I wonder how much you think about, I mean, this isn't a political show, but I wonder how much you think about just the cultural ramifications of things like that.

Adam Nash:

I think, like anyone, first and foremost, I'm here in society. I'm a person. There's a lot of us, but we all have opinions, and we all have a life to lead, and we only get one. So you have to put some thought into these things and interact. And so a lot of people, I think about my family, I think about my community, I think about the groups that I belong to and the organizations. And I, of course, think of things at the national level, etc.

For me, I mean, coming from Silicon Valley, I tend to take the point of view... Listen, I said earlier, I'm a technology optimist. I think that through a number of both intentional actions and accidents of history, Silicon Valley ended up creating, not just creating, I would say, but really proving out the dynamism that can come from enabling people to build new products, build new companies, build new services. And I look at the economic value, and not just economic value, but I look at the positive impact. All of this amazing economic growth and productivity and all these new technologies have unleashed.

And so my biggest concern right now is that we don't forget the lessons of the past. Silicon Valley did not happen with top-down orchestration. A lot of the best products and services that happened didn't happen because some executive at a big company decided to invest in that area, or at least it didn't happen completely because of that. Sometimes, we don't give enough credit to the research and development that happens years and decades before the commercial success happens. So, for me, I tend to spend a lot of my time being an advocate for innovation, advocate for all the systems that come together to keep companies being built new products and services. I love encouraging education and getting more people educated. I love encouraging company formation, entrepreneurship, widening out the availability of investment and that capability, telling more people that they can build businesses or that it's not scary necessarily to join a new business and how to manage their career.

And then, of course, on the political front, I tend to be a big advocate for opening things up to open up that opportunity to more and more people. And so I spend my time there, but one of the advantages of actually being a founder and running a new startup you don't have a lot of time for other things. And so I find that most of my days are really focused on how do we make this incredible platform, this vision that we have of a place that brings together millions of people who are all putting money aside for charity and the organizations and causes they support, most of my hours are spent on that problem, which takes me a little bit away from macro issues.

Clint Betts:

Adam, I can't thank you enough for spending the time with us. We end every interview with the same question, and that is at ceo.com; we believe the chances one takes or the chances one gives, sorry, is just as important as the chances one takes. I wonder, when you hear that, who gave you a chance to get you to where you are today?

Adam Nash:

It's a great question, but I don't know if I could pick just one person. If I think back through my career, there's so many times where you're given a shot. I mean, even when I was at LinkedIn, I actually spent a lot of time on this design thing, the hope, the what if, what if I get this job, what if I get this role, this opportunity? And so there's so many people that I support. I'm always grateful. Craig Federighi, NeXT, actually, even before it merged with Apple, took a shot on hiring me out of school as an engineer. And it's hard for me to think about what my career would've been like otherwise. I think about folks like Reid Hoffman, who gave me a shot at running core product at LinkedIn, which turned out to be an amazing platform and team and company to be a part of.

So there's just so many people along the way that you're inspired by or give you a shot. And so anyway, those are some names, but I tend to see that opportunity all the time, and it still happens to this day. A lot of Silicon Valley, a lot of companies. I mean, when I make an angel investment, when I invest in a company like Figma, I mean, Dylan has done an amazing job. That company is incredible. Did I give him a shot by supporting him and writing a check in the early days when a lot of people wouldn't, or did he give me a shot to be a part of that company and give me the opportunity to invest in it? There's always two sides to these things. And so I think that magic and those moments when people bet on each other is probably what I think about most when I think about that question.

Clint Betts:

That's incredible. Well done. Good investment on Figma, by the way.

Adam Nash:

At this point. I think it's pretty clear that Dylan did me quite a bit of favor of involving me. And actually, I tell everyone now, be nice to the interns. He was an intern at LinkedIn back in the day. That's how I first met him. I was a VP, and when we got along. But the magic of Silicon Valley is he went off, and when he had an idea for a company, he came to me for advice. You don't have to do these things. But this is what I love about that culture in Silicon Valley, the pay it forward culture. A lot of what happens in Silicon Valley doesn't happen for pure financial reasons. It happens because we realize that everyone has this hard problem of building new technology building new companies, and it's hard. And someone helped you. A lot of people gave advice and helped you and spent time that they didn't have to spend when you needed it, and you pay it back when you're later in your career.

It is what I try to do as an investor and an advisor today. It's what I try to do as a leader, but it is one of the parts of the culture that I hope that we don't lose. I think that there's a real economic price to be paid for purely transactional cultures. And I think one of the things that's made technology boom in the last 50 years has been that culture of people leaning into things, not because it makes financial sense per se, but because they're excited about what the technology can do and the value it can create for people.

Clint Betts:

Yeah, I agree with that totally. Adam, thank you so much. What an honor to have you on here.

Adam Nash:

Oh, thank you for having me.


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