Anamitra Banerji

Partner at Foundation Capital. Formerly first PM at Twitter.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 18, 2015

Discussion

anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
Hi - I am Anamitra, Partner at Foundation Capital, a board member at Kik and Custora, as well as a board observer at Localytics and SpoonRocket. I was the first PM at twitter, started twitter ads there. I also built bits of Overture and Yahoo. I am looking forward to all of your questions today!
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Welcome, Anamitra. Being the first PM at Twitter, I'm sure you saw some interesting things during its hyper growth. What's the craziest story you can tell from your days there?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@rrhoover thanks ryan for having me here. the craziest story at twitter...hmm...i joined twitter as the #25 person there, and left when we were around 900 people give or take. in those early days we were growing rapidly across all dimensions - users, employees, infrastructure - and we were also growing in terms of the number of celebrities who wanted to stop by at twitter. i remember the time kanye west came in. for some reason i was pulled in that meeting. it was a small room in our bryant street office, biz, ev, goldman and kanye and his people. kanye's management team was presenting to US! it was about how big a brand he was and how much he could do to market twitter. that was pretty crazy. dustin diaz - JS genius - and an avid photographer, took a photo of him in our elevator...i think we stuck that up in the meeting room he was in as an homage!
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@anamitra Hi - great to have you here today! On your About.me profile you mention that you're looking for the underdog - the crazy ones. Can you elaborate a bit more about the 'wild cards' you're looking for? What has been the wildest company you've invested in to date?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@ems_hodge sure. i think Wut was a pretty wild card investment - information discovery & consumption via push notification. i have great regard for paul and beamer for being the first to try something radical in the way we interact with information in the mobile age.
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@anamitra thanks for joining! What would you say was the hardest thing about being the first PM. And what did you do to overcome that obstacle?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@corleyh whoops...i thought i was answered this one. the hardest thing for the first pm is to establish credibility with the founding team and engineers.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi! How do you view online schools/education? What is the one element missing that could make them grow exponentially?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@theo_dimarhos i am not too familiar with the space but it's clear from what Coursera and others are doing that there's a massive demand for high quality education that the supply of campus based institutions can not meet. what's harder to solve is the value that students, recruiters, companies put on accreditation (diploma) and branding, and the actual network of fellow students who are initially strangers but then become lifelong friends over time. this network of friendships is pretty hard to solve for because this it is mostly built outside the classroom setting. imho, outside of the actual diploma the greatest long-term benefit of Universities is the network of friends students build.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
welcome anamitra! what's something you used to fervently believe that you now see as fundamentally misguided?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@eriktorenberg one thing i used to be biased by early on - i wouldn't go as far as to say fervently believed - is to find a product that's working today (or not working today) and implicitly make an assumption that it will keep working in the future or keep failing. i think that's misguided, it comes down to lack of imagination - being able to imagine a future where the market/users/customers or some other dynamic might change, which might stall traction or vastly improve a product that's middling today. in a nutshell, having a pov on what could go right is what i am getting better at, instead of focusing on what could go wrong.
Nagesh Pobbathi@npobbathi · Founder & CEO, GameCommerce
@anamitra Thanks for doing this. What is your investment process - criteria, timelines and typical sizes? Thank you.
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@npobbathi early stage investing, focus on big markets. founders ability to articulate a set of problems that are worth solving and the unique and compellingness of the solution.
Lejla Bajgoric@lejlahunts · Intern, Product Hunt
Thanks for being here Anamitra :) What's the most applicable/important thing you learned from getting an MBA at Cornell that's shaped your management style?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@lejlahunts mba, the thing about the mba is that i have forgotten most of what i was taught. but the thing i remember are, 1) my network of friends and alumni who helped my find my first internet job at Overture - that means a lot because i was at the end of my rope since no internet tech companies used to come to Cornell to recruit, so i had to hustle and it was an alum that took a chance on me. and 2) learning from cases...what have you learned from one problem or solution, that you can you apply to a problem in a different space. being able to link the dots really helps me today as an investor because e.g a new consumer behavior among teens in gaming can open up my thinking about what's possible in a different space, like VR.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@anamitra @lejlahunts Do you think an MBA is an important qualification for employees to have in the startup and tech space?
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
How do you think the world of display ads will change over the next 5 years?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@russfrushtick a lot has changed in the removing the friction from buying and selling via programmatic. i think relevance is still unsolved. and authenticity is still unsolved. i think the biggest innovation in advertising companies will come from consumer platforms - such as facebook, twitter etc. because they are forced to innovate with the user in mind, not just the $$
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
Anamitra who have been some of the most impactful people in your life?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@katesegrin people who have helped me in true times of need. someone said something to me a while ago that i still remember he said to "love those who love you". words to live by!
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
What have been some pivotal moments in your personal life and in your career?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@katesegrin there are many but two big ones come to mind. first one is when i married shakuntala, my wife. she has been an incredible rock for me. and when our son arhya was born 5 years ago. he was born a few months after we launched promoted products (ads) at twitter, and i remember thinking that i had two babies...arhya and my product at twitter.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
What Twitter product feature do you like the most since you left? What product feature do you still wish Twitter would adopted but hasn't yet?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@alexcartaz i like the "like" button! we had debated the meaning of "favorites" ad nauseam when i was at the company and i am sure the debate continues. the like button is mainstream, it's what people are used to. it's less ambiguous and it makes twitter more approachable and easy to use for new users. a product i think still has enormous potential is trends...there's literally no product like it anywhere, it beats Google at information discovery because people learn about things as trends before they think of typing into a search box. but productizing it effectively, and scalably is pretty challenging. Moments is a good first step in that direction.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@anamitra What is the craziest thing you have seen in a pitch?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@bentossell the pitch was a demo actually, the setup for the demo took up 45 mins. callibrating the big screen tv - which served as the main canvas for the demo - took up all the time. that and the founder wanted to recruit an observer i invited to the meeting :)
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
What types of companies are you most excited to invest in? What do you look for in founders?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@alexcartaz i am excited about early stage startups that are building new ways in which consumers can connect & communicate with one another, discover information, and consume media (e.g. VR). the very best of these companies are building unique networks which become defensible over time. and their market entry tactic is very focused, e.g. an initial community of users that the founders understand really well.
Carlos Caceres@lichi0323 · CTO DL Alert Pro
Hello @anamitra Are you planning to go to any startup event anytime soon?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@lichi0323 the events and conference season is coming to an end i guess. i haven't put together my list for next year. what would you recommend?
Earteza Auvee@earteza · Team Member @Foundedx
HI @anamitra i am from @foundedx , i am based in Dhaka, Bangladesh , do you guys any plan for Bangladeshi Startups ?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
@earteza congrats on founding the company. unfortunately we are focused on the US market.
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
There is really one hard thing...establishing credibility with engineers and the founding team. because the first pm needs the autonomy to be successful but that autonomy is pretty hard to get.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@anamitra what are currently reading? What apps are on your homepage?
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
I am reading ready player one. i am actually using the left swipe from the home screen a lot (on ios) to reveal Siri suggestions, stuff nearby and news. the left swipe page is pretty early and raw but you can totally see where apple is going with this, feels like Google Now but based on an explicit user action, so it feels less like magic (which can be a good thing :)
anamitra banerji@anamitra · partner, foundation capital
Alright folks...I am calling it a day here. This has been pretty awesome, thanks for all the questions. If i can be helpful to anyone or if you have any questions, you can always reach me on twitter https://twitter.com/anamitra