Hi - I'm Cyan Banister, partner at Founders Fund. Formerly, I was an angel investor -- some of my notable companies I've invested in are: Uber, Thumbtack and SpaceX. I love to build things with friends, especially art and I love watching movies. I don't like being serious all of the time, which is why "silly person" is in my bio on Twitter as a reminder to lighten up. Super duper excited to be here - ask me anything! Update: Thank you all for your questions. We can continue the chat on Twitter if you want - @cyantist. This was super fun.
What are your favourite questions to ask founders?
@bentossell What makes you uniquely fit to solve this problem and what do you have that nobody else has (tech, team, etc.) that will make you #1? Also, my new favorite question was asked of me by Peter in my interview: "what worries you?".
@kingsongchen · Founder at Lace, Marketplace for GovTech
Hi Cyan, what needs to change for it to be easier for startups to sell to regulated industries (i.e. government)?
@kingsongchen Regulators are not always the enemy, it is the job of companies to figure out how to work with them. Ideally, you build a company that offers products that are useful. This is a pretty broad question, so it is important to understand the specific problems you are trying to solve.
@cyantist hey Cyan, thanks for joining us! Two questions: 1) Can you tell us about Uber's seed round? How did you get in, did you think the company would get as big as it's become? 2) How did you get the coolest Twitter profile pic of all time?
@nivo0o0 1) That is a fun story. I originally heard about Uber from my personal driver who took me to the airport. (Roger) He handed me a card and said, "I'm not an investor, but if I were, I would call this guy Ryan Graves -- this company is going to be huge!" He was their first driver I believe. Or at least, one of their first drivers. Eventually, his whole family was driving for Uber. He kept handing me cards and after meeting Travis at a demo pitch at one of Jason Calacanis' Open Angel Forums, I knew that I needed to finally call Ryan. Luckily he let me in :) 2) That wonderful photo was created by my friend @nadya on Twitter. We are collaborating on a series of photos of what the future looked like from the past. That is what VR looked like in the 80s. Not far off!
@candriopoulos · https://medium.com/strictly-curious
Hello Cyan, thanks for taking our questions. Where do you look for emerging trends (e.g. sources, events, websites, etc.) and how do you pick ventures in nascent industries?
@candriopoulos Mostly I have conversations with smart people that I respect. That's one of the reasons I wanted to join a firm, so I can constantly be surrounded by people that I can bounce around ideas with. Other than that, I'm very active on social media and watch what people are doing and what they are discussing.
@shaanvp · ceo, Monkey Inferno
Hi Cyan, The first time we met, I noticed you had great, infectious energy. What does the first hour of your day look like? Do you do anything out of the ordinary to shape your mood & mindset? -shaan
@shaanvp This is a wonderful authentic question - thank you Shaan. My first hour of my day is a nightmare probably like most people, but it is more about my outlook on life. I try to stay curious. I'm constantly learning - about myself, about others etc. In general, we have one life to live (IMO) and treating each day as a special day is kind of my secret I suppose. Also, I was stoked about meeting you.
What are some common mistakes that you see marketplace startups make? and what are some key traits of marketplaces you believe will succeed?
@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
What is working with Peter Thiel and the other great minds at Founders Fund like? What have you learned so far? What, if anything, has surprised you?
@tomstocklein The team pushes you to look at everything in different ways. Just when you think you know something, a team member will ask you a question that will make you rethink or reshape how you think about any given topic. Everyone here is a generalist, which may be surprising to some, but part of that is the willingness to go deep and learn new things about sectors you know nothing about. We look at a wide variety of businesses, from sandwich delivery, to drones, to vertical farms to biotech and so on. I've mostly learned a little more about my team so far. I'm only a month in. Every day I'm surprised, which I think is a good thing to be.
When should founders start thinking about social impact and/or philanthropy?
@leila_janah I look for founders that are trying to maximize positive impact through their work, because I believe the most important technology companies have the potential to uplift people all over the world. This may not always take the shape of philanthropy, not everyone has the resources to do the Benioff pledge, but if you can, that's always one way to go, or commit some of your time on the side.
Hey!! If you had to be a tech CEO/founder for a week, who would it be and why?
@bentossell Reed Hastings from Netflix. I have immense respect for him and his team. I'd love to know how they turned a dvd on demand business into a company that now produces amazing original content. They are incredibly innovative. That would be a dream come true to shadow him for a week.