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Apr 8, 2022
April 8, 2022 So, you got lucky and rose to the top of a search firm’s waitlist . Now, how do you make sure your executive recruiters — whom you’re likely paying at least $100,000 to help find your next CXO or VP — get the job done well? Like any external partner, recruiters need to be managed, and the leaders who hire them need to play an active role in the process of finding great executives. We asked top executive recruiters, as well as some of the VC talent partners who work with them most frequently, for advice on how to get the most out of an executive search firm. Choose the firm carefully. Search firms have different networks, and different specialties. Michelle Delcambre, operating partner at Felicis Ventures, recommends working with highly specialized firms. Look for search partners with a rep search list — a track record of recent searches they’ve completed — that’s as relevant to your company’s search as possible. “Most startups have a network of their own, or they have investors who have a network,” Delcambre said. “If they’re leveraging executive search, it’s for access to a broader network, and to someone who understands the market.” Beyond that, the right recruiters can help sway top talent to consider a new job, Delcambre said. The going rate for a search at most firms is 28% to 33% of the executive’s first-year pay, and it’s becoming more common for search partners to ask for equity. Not all companies want to give equity, so decide whether that’s a dealbreaker when evaluating firms. Lastly, don’t get overly hung up on a search firm’s fee, one VC talent partner said: If the right head of sales can take your business from $500,000 to $25 million in revenue, does it matter that you paid $50,000 more for a search firm with a better network or more relevant expertise? Align expectations early. Communicating openly and early about the process will help clients learn what they’re getting into, and recruiters to know whether they’ll be able to deliver on the client’s expectations. Talk with the recruiters about the market, the role, the compensation and other expectations related to the search. That conversation should take place before signing the contract, said Delcambre. “The better we do that, the more we avoid situations where the client’s not happy with the level of candidates that they’re getting,” said Mike Foley, regional managing partner of Heidrick & Struggles’ Technology and Services practice in the Americas. “Having that partnership and that relationship to be able to give tough feedback both ways, I think, is helpful to come to the right conclusion.” Check in throughout the week. Treat your search firm as a partner, not just a vendor, said Frank Cumella, a partner at search firm Daversa Partners. “This is your search partner, your strategic adviser for what we all agree is the most important part of your business: your people, your talent,” Cumella said. “It’s not a once-a-week check-in sort of relationship.” In Cumella’s view, founders should be exchanging “constant feedback” with their search partners over mediums like text and Slack. Holly Rose Faith, executive talent partner at Greylock, recommended calling the search partner immediately after meeting a candidate to share feedback. “The quicker you’re able to move with both giving feedback and getting feedback, the more advantageous it is for you in order to close your search,” Faith said. “Bringing [search partners] as close as you possibly can to the search is going to have, ultimately, the best outcome for you.” Get comfortable with feedback. Founders should both be able to trust their search partners and expect some pushback when they disagree, Cumella said. Be willing to give your search partners negative feedback about candidates — and to receive the critiques that candidates pass along, said Faith. “Our human nature is we’re sensitive on how we give feedback,” Faith said. “The best thing you can do is to make that open line of communication so that you both get the positive feedback, but then you also get the critical feedback.” That can help improve your search and interview process, enhance the way your company is being pitched to candidates and refine the way you evaluate potential hires. Know what you want, but keep an open mind. Be clear about how you’re defining success. Being clear with recruiters about what the role should look like will move the process faster, Delcambre said. But sometimes, clients have an overly prescriptive vision for the executive they’re looking for, said Foley. “Don’t get me wrong: That’s our job, to try to find that,” Foley said. “But outside of that, I think they have to have — especially in this market — an openness to look at different avenues to solve the search.” That could be moving from a regional leader to a global leader, or considering an executive at a much bigger company, Foley said. While your search partner doesn’t know your company as well as you do, you don’t know the talent market as well as they do — and they have the perspective of hundreds or thousands of past placements. Some founders have never even hired an executive before, and it’s the search partner’s job to serve as an adviser. Try to be patient. Everyone wants to find the perfect candidate in the least amount of time. That includes recruiters: Executive search contracts are typically paid in three installments over 90 days, so recruiters are incentivized to get the search done as quickly as possible. But search firms are brand-conscious, and in some cases recruiters will continue working on a difficult search for six months or even a year, Faith said. There’s a range of how long a search will take: A company may only need to meet four candidates before finding the right person. In other cases, it could take 30 intros, Faith said. Delcambre recommended that clients optimize for hiring the right executive, even if it takes longer to find them. “Of course it makes sense to get these done as quickly as possible,” Delcambre said. “But it is a really tight talent market. Talent is being really thoughtful about moving.” Speak up if you’re not satisfied. Subpar search partners can’t hide in this talent market: With so many opportunities, it’s tougher than ever to reach top candidates. One VC talent partner said she’d seen three companies walk away from search firms in the last year over low-quality work. Good candidates weren’t moving forward, too many bad candidates were surfacing and the search partners weren’t managing the client relationship well. In one case, the search firm agreed that the work was so bad, it refunded the whole fee. A second company got a partial refund. A third company, a Series B startup looking for a VP of Engineering, heard objections from the search partner about how tough the market was — but when that company went to another search firm, it was introduced to a steady stream of candidates. On the other hand, companies that aren’t closing the right candidates might have themselves to blame, said Delcambre. “It’s incumbent upon companies to be the kind of company that talent wants to go and work for,” Delcambre said. “The best executive search firm in the world will help you find talent, but they can’t make you a better or more appealing organization.” Think long term Executive teams evolve over time as companies grow. Talent partners at VC firms can help advise on how companies should plan for this at different stages, Delcambre said. “The roles, the motivators, the outputs, the expectations change on both sides — both for the company and for the person you’re putting in that role,” Delcambre said. If founders are looking ahead, they can be more proactive about filling important roles without a sudden time crunch. “There’s value in companies and founders understanding not just what they need today,” Delcambre said, “but what it’s going to look like in a few hundred million more in revenue or a few years down the road.” Keep ReadingShow less March 24, 2022 This is part three of a three-part series exploring the experience of frontline workers and new workplace tools being deployed to support them. Changes born out of a crisis have upended every single workplace in the last two years. The old rulebook has been torn up, and new rules were written about how to communicate with and keep employees happy. Investing in effective communications technology has become core to that new world of work. Three in four frontline workers believe good technology that keeps them in touch with their higher-ups is a must-have for any good business. And in turn, managers are recognizing the need for change. 94% feel they have to prioritize upgrading and changing their frontline technology to stay up to speed with the rapidly changing workplace. “Are you offering them the ability to provide their feedback, and their input, and be a part of the products or solutions that you're building? Will you recognize them?" It’s a concern that’s well-known to many. Workplace, a business communication tool from Meta, recently commissioned research to try to understand the changing relationship between frontline staff and their back-office bosses. “What we've found is that there's a critical gap in communications [that] frontline workers, and particularly frontline managers, waste on average 387 hours a year,” said Abby Guthkelch, Head of Global Executive Solutions at Workplace. “That's equivalent to 9.3 working weeks on this disconnect, this lack of ability to get in touch with and connected with head office.” Workplace Tech - The Future of the Frontline April 8, 2022 For most of its early life, tech industry insiders thought of Nvidia as a business focused on video game graphics technology; first graphics cards, and then the specialized chips that power them. But Nvidia has come a long way after it realized that the parallel processing tech that was so good at rendering graphics could also be put to work on machine-learning problems for enterprise tech. It has expanded its chip offerings into the data center, developed a software business and recently pursued the $10 trillion health care market en route to surpassing Intel as the most valuable chip company in the U.S. That $10 trillion target is no secret among other big enterprise tech companies that have an AI business either. Cloud titans such as Oracle and Microsoft have also begun to chase the lucrative industry, each announcing big acquisitions in recent months that revolve around the evolution of health care and AI. Nvidia’s top executive heading up those efforts is Kimberly Powell, vice president and general manager of Health Care and a 14-year veteran at the company. Powell recently spoke with Protocol to discuss Nvidia's recent health care initiatives, and how it plans to approach the sector in the future. This interview has been edited and condensed. Can you outline Nvidia’s current effort in health care? We think we can make a significant contribution in the area of medical imaging and medical devices. One of the largest workloads in supercomputing, and accelerated computing, is in the area of life sciences. To be able to do simulation of diseases, and chemical compounds interacting and trying to stop the behavior — [it’s] to do drug discovery, essentially in silico, in a computer. Our charter, which we put out back in 2018, is that with the accelerated computing platform [and] the new modern AI era, how do we take these computing approaches, and help the health care industry benefit from it. We called the platform Nvidia Clara, after Clara Barton who invented the Red Cross. Our Clara is a platform that helps the industry take advantage of the most advanced computing approaches — everything from hardware solutions, through accelerations layers, libraries, full-on applications. And we target domains we think we can make a unique contribution to. We solve really hard problems. One of our most successful bodies of work is Monai, which is where we’ve taken PyTorch and essentially wrapped it and domain-specified it for health care. What is the market opportunity Nvidia is chasing in health care? You can think of the [total addressable market] in a lot of interesting ways in health care, and where it’s going to go. But it's approaching a $10 trillion industry. For example, if you look at the radiology practice itself, it’s a half-trillion dollar market, where you’re doing a combination of the devices themselves, but then also the skills needed to interpret these images. You could imagine that whole thing as the TAM. The expansion will continue too. If you know a bit about health care, only a third of the population of the world has access to things like radiology, or even surgical procedures. And it’s growing. We’re living longer; our population is growing. We don’t have enough medical professionals to serve the existing population. And so we need to have ways of automating and augmenting the medical professionals that we do have. Being able to create competing platforms that could take someone who has studied medicine for a few years and make them a trained surgeon rather than the 30 years it usually takes for them to be a trained surgeon. So that’s where the market analysis you could take all the way through if you’d like. We think about it in a way that without a doubt every single one of our medical professionals will be augmented with these platforms with these capabilities. How large is the team and how does it fit into Nvidia? It’s in the hundreds, because at this point we are building full-on products and platforms. We have everything from applied research, engineering, product marketing, technical marketing, developer marketing, campaign marketing, business development. I essentially report to [Nvidia CEO] Jensen [Huang]. Our report structure generally doesn’t really signify anything. In general, I’m working with Jensen on efforts in health care and he is very, very passionate about this area, which is why [it's] 14 years in the making. How do you decide where and how to allocate resources, R&D budget? We have three fundamental questions that get us set straight on this. One, that we have identified an important problem. [Second], is it super hard to do? Because if it’s not hard to do, I’d love for somebody else to go do it. Truly. Because we attract the world’s most fantastic talent and you want them to work on something that is just hard to do. And the third thing is: Do we have a unique capability to do it? If all three of those don’t check out, then it’s not really something we would deploy resources on. Does Nvidia make hardware that is designed specifically for health care applications? Or does Nvidia build something like its DGX data center AI server systems for the health care industry? If you think of what medical devices are, what they are becoming — they are being redefined by AI and robotics. And they need a specific platform that is medical grade. Is that down to the silicon? No, it's built with the three chips Nvidia offers: smart networking interconnection that [can] stream in all of the data that’s coming off the sensors, whether it’s ultrasound or an endoscope. You need to stream that data in and then you need to start operating its data pipeline to do more and more sophisticated things to assist the surgeons or the radiologist, or whoever is reading the result. We use our network interconnect to stream in to do a direct memory access right into the [graphics processing unit] to start all of the AI processing. If you think of what happens with ultrasound, the first thing you want to do is increase the image quality, or you want to de-noise it. These are all now AI applications that can be done in software. And as soon as you get the image quality where you want it, you want to start providing real-time information. This is the heart, this is the ventricle, how much blood flow is going through this particular area. Cut here, don’t cut there. It’s guiding, so they’re essentially becoming robots themselves. So Clara Holoscan is a platform for medical devices, and Clara Holoscan MGX hardware is the compute platform that will essentially create that architecture: streaming in massive AI computing, and in a complete real-time sensor to display, because you need that when you’re in a surgical environment. When you talk about Nvidia’s health care products being “medical grade” what do you mean by that exactly? How can a chip or a piece of software achieve that? There are two pieces of it. Because we’re a platform, there’s a hardware layer and a software lawyer. And those two pieces need to be medical grade. You can’t put any old computer next to a patient; liquids might spill on it, for example. Or it might interfere with other signaling that’s going inside the health care environment. There are certifications that the market has to go through, so we architect the system for that at the hardware layer. At the software layer, there are similar safety certifications for medical devices. It exists for the automotive industry, all the redundancy things that you need, and similar things exist in the health care industry. Think of a startup company engineering a system, getting it medically certified, building the entire compute stack so they can run their application on top. They’ll go out of business before they can even dream about doing it. We’re really just trying to create that platform for them to accelerate innovation and go to market. Picking up on what you said about training a surgeon in three years vs. 30, what will we have to achieve in computing technology, chip design and software in order to enable that? If you’ve watched Jensen describe what he means by “million-x” — it’s a paradigm, not just for medical but we absolutely apply it. The first thing you need to do is make something accelerated. The next thing you need to do is scale it in parallel, and then the next thing we’ve done is introduce artificial intelligence. Let me give you the example of drug discovery. We are able to take what would otherwise be an intractable problem, where you have to accurately simulate how drugs interact with diseases. It’s intractable in its current form but it can be refactored by using AI, physics-informed neural networks, to essentially augment that simulation and approach. So these AI models that are essentially able to predict physics behavior applied throughout, so that’s going to be what is absolutely transformational in the area of drug discovery and simulation. And simulation is present in everything that we do, and what we are going to do in the future. So without that, it will be very hard to get where we want to go, and that’s the next five to 10 years — AI being able to do these physical world calculations, physics predictions. Keep ReadingShow less Hirsh Chitkara ( @HirshChitkara ) is a reporter at Protocol focused on the intersection of politics, technology and society. Before joining Protocol, he helped write a daily newsletter at Insider that covered all things Big Tech. He's based in New York and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. April 8, 2022 Nova Labs didn’t set out to address the connectivity gap, but it may have accidentally cast itself in a pivotal role. The newly minted unicorn — fresh off a $200 million series D funding round led by Tiger Global and a16z — uses blockchain to facilitate a decentralized IoT and 5G hotspot network. This distributed model could be particularly useful to help address the internet affordability gap in densely populated areas. But it’s unclear whether legislators will embrace the new technology — and whether Nova Labs will even try to change their minds. Nova Labs — then known as Helium — launched its distributed wireless network in Austin, Texas, back in 2019. Austin residents could purchase Helium Hotspots that would broadcast their home internet connection for anyone in the Helium Community to use. The idea is that, while people wouldn’t normally trust strangers to use their home internet, blockchain could facilitate a secure shared connection. The network now consists of over 700,000 hotspots in 170 countries. In exchange for hosting strangers on their home networks, Helium hotspot owners mine tokens that can be sold on secondary markets. The total circulating supply of Helium tokens is now worth around $2.7 billion. Enterprise partners pay for network access based on their data usage, which creates a two-way economic exchange. The original Helium white paper from 2018 claims this economic model would “inject decentralization into an industry currently controlled by monopolies.” Decentralization would in turn allow network coverage to become a “commodity, fueled by competition, available anywhere in the world, at a fraction of current costs.” Bridging the internet connectivity gap wasn’t something Nova Labs set out to do, at least not in those terms. “It’s not something we specifically focused on because, in the beginning — this goes back nine years — the mission was always to just figure out how to build a global contiguous network that was low-cost and easy to use and open,” Nova Labs COO Frank Mong told Protocol. Mong pointed to the example of San Jose turning to Nova Labs for remote learning, which was “not something we planned for, but it sort of just happened.” The San Jose partnership probably isn’t as direct as you expect. Rather than giving students access to the Helium network for their schoolwork, Nova Labs subsidized it through mining. Here’s how it worked: The San Jose Mayor’s Office Of Technology used funds from the California Emerging Technology Fund to purchase Helium-compatible hotspots to volunteer residents and small businesses. The mining funds from those hotspots were then used to subsidize internet access for over 1,300 households in the form of $120 gift cards. The pilot program officially began in January and details of the fund disbursements are supposed to arrive after six months. Further complicating the narrative, the California Emerging Technology Fund is a nonprofit endowed by AT&T and Verizon, as required by the California Public Utilities Commission when it approved merger deals for each of the companies in 2005. Somewhat ironically, then, the San Jose project that on its surface appears to be a win for decentralization, and crypto was originally funded by the incumbents Nova Labs set out to challenge in its white paper. In any case, Mong said the mining subsidy model could act as “UBI for the internet.” The project in San Jose is ongoing, and Nova Labs has seen interest in launching similar programs from mayors all around the world, Mong added. But the subsidization model is only one way for Helium to address the internet affordability gap, and probably not the most obvious. “I think creating 5G coverage in neighborhoods that normally would not get that coverage because of many economic reasons would be a great place for us to start,” Mong said. This more direct approach could help Nova Labs benefit from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act , which allocated $65 billion for expanding internet access. However, it’s unclear whether Nova Labs would attempt to directly tap into that pool of funds. Several of the key partners of Nova Labs — including Dish and series D investor Deutsche Telekom — have undoubtedly set their sights on broadband subsidies. But Mong told Protocol that Nova Labs hasn’t been directly involved in talks with regulators about subidziding connectivity. “We're no experts in government policy, but we are, I would say, decent at technology and figuring out how to leverage that technology to make some amazing things happen,” said Mong. “We're just trying to continue to push forward this crypto model that we think can solve a lot of cold-start problems, reduce costs of wireless infrastructure for everyone. And hopefully, that reduction in cost means that the on-ramp to the internet is much more affordable and accessible for all.” Keep ReadingShow less Owen Thomas is a senior editor at Protocol overseeing venture capital and financial technology coverage. He was previously business editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and before that editor-in-chief at ReadWrite, a technology news site. You're probably going to remind him that he was managing editor at Valleywag, Gawker Media's Silicon Valley gossip rag. He lives in San Francisco with his husband and Ramona the Love Terrier, whom you should follow on Instagram . April 7, 2022 Meta has ditched a short-lived name for its financial division, Novi, in favor of Meta Financial Technologies. It’s just the latest, most visible indicator of the massive upheaval in the division that houses Facebook Pay and other financial products. Novi was a high-profile bet for Meta. It was originally the name of Facebook’s crypto wallet, a project championed by executive David Marcus, but grew to become the name for the group he oversaw. When the company changed its name to Meta Platforms Inc., Marcus announced that his unit would change its name from Facebook Financial, or F2, to Novi. But Novi was a strategic failure, dogged by regulatory challenges and global government scrutiny. Marcus abruptly left weeks after announcing the name change. His successor, Stephane Kasriel, quietly revealed the new name on Twitter in March. Kasriel has also been updating the division’s strategy in what appears to be a major reversal of Marcus’ crypto push. The Financial Times recently reported that employees were calling a non-crypto virtual currency “Zuck Bucks” — a name used a decade ago to describe Facebook Credits, a digital currency used for then-popular games played on top of Facebook’s desktop website. Such a system would be a throwback to Facebook’s earliest payments efforts. Relying on stored-value accounts similar to PayPal, user wallets holding credits would largely fall under money-transmitter regulations. And Meta has had a corporate infrastructure for conventional payments for over a decade . Marcus and Kasriel were both intimately familiar with those systems. Marcus founded and Kasriel was an executive at a startup called Zong, which processed mobile payments for purchases of Facebook Credits. Marcus sold that company to PayPal, where he was president before he joined Facebook. A stored-value system using conventional money would also mean avoiding the regulatory woes that doomed the Novi wallet and its associated crypto stablecoin, Diem. In contentious hearings about Facebook’s cryptocurrency plans, some members of Congress referred to Diem and its predecessor Libra as “Zuck Bucks,” which strongly suggests that the moniker won’t make it off campus. A Meta job listing for a security engineer doesn’t even mention Novi, instead describing work on an “MFT digital wallet.” A job listing for a data scientist likewise omits mention of Novi. Stephen Rocco Rodi, a Meta spokesperson, said the security engineer job listing was a “mistake” and would be updated to include the Novi name. He added that the Novi wallet remains in a pilot test. Most of Meta’s recent registrations and licenses were made through its Novi Financial Inc. subsidiary. It remains registered in California as a money transmitter under the Facebook Payments Inc. name, and it has registrations as Facebook Payments International and Facebook Payments Europe for international payments. One area where Meta could make a big push is in ecommerce payments for purchases on Instagram, Facebook Marketplace and possibly new metaverse environments. One job listing for an MFT strategic merchant manager describes the position’s duties as reducing “barriers that prevent people from driving payments and commerce on Meta.” But Meta faces significant competitors there, including PayPal and Shopify. Many merchants have been reluctant to embrace crypto payments, and the Novi name’s associations with crypto may have proved a drag on Meta’s efforts in ecommerce. The name did not come cheap, in yet another sign of the importance Meta placed on it. Besides the ongoing expense of removing references to Novi, Meta paid the parent of MetaBank , Meta Financial Group, $60 million last year for Meta-related trademarks. The bank, which is an important partner to many fintech companies, renamed itself Pathward last month. The abruptness of the change may explain why, a month after Kasriel tweeted it into existence, Meta Financial Technologies has barely any footprint on Meta’s corporate websites. Among other openings, the company is hiring an internal communications manager. That person will work on “building morale, articulating organization and company-wide strategy, building confidence and trust in leadership, and rallying employees around the organization’s ambitious goals.” It will also require someone “comfortable working in ambiguity.” Keep ReadingShow less
Novi Financial Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
When was Novi Financial founded?
Novi Financial was founded in 2017.
Where is Novi Financial's headquarters?
Novi Financial's headquarters is located at 351 9th Street, Suite 300, San Francisco.
What is Novi Financial's latest funding round?
Novi Financial's latest funding round is Seed VC.
How much did Novi Financial raise?
Novi Financial raised a total of $3M.
Who are the investors of Novi Financial?
Investors of Novi Financial include Republic, Lightspeed Venture Partners, M Ventures, Achieve, Runa Capital and 5 more.
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