My CNBC Appearance

I spoke at Techcrunch Disrupt yesterday and several media outlets had crews there. I was asked to speak to a few of them and I said yes. I was on CNBC and ABC News yesterday morning. To my knowledge the ABC News clip is not yet up. But CNBC put up three clips that I believe, in their totality, make up my entire appearance. So here they are in order and sorry about the pre-roll videos in front of all three. I looked for a single clip for the entire interview but could not find it.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Twain Twain

    In middle school, we definitely don’t need to learn calculus and complex differentiation/integrals to learn CS and code.CS was compulsory in my mixed school from 11. That’s why I go from bewildered to bemused when I read about STEM’s “pipeline problem” especially wrt getting girls into code.I graduated from the STEM pipeline (got an A in CS and an A in Maths; the only person at school to do so — not even the boys got a double A, haha) and can say that the simple disciplines and methods I learnt at that age still inform the way I framework how to solve more complex engineering problems today.It’s simple to learn the basics and base of CS and code. Once that’s done, it’s easy to build on top of and integrate modules of learning to complement the code stack.Admittedly, when we get to Machine Intelligence level of computing and the type that runs the Quant Risk algorithms in hedge funds and banks it is absolutely necessary to have a Maths degree (as I do) and/or a PhD in Comp Sci / AI / Neuroscience / Maths / Astrophysics and to be a bit of a rocket scientist — simply because we are talking about derivatives, Black-Scholes and Hidden Markov and a whole raft of other complex calculations.However, for just regular engineering of consumer platforms (everything from Etsy to Kickstarter to Twitter), we definitely don’t need Advanced Maths.Besides which, most of the Data Science is based on Probability and Stats and Logic rather than Calculus.

    1. fredwilson


    2. ShanaC

      I actually think everyone needs to take a basic stats class. So much of the world is driven by probability, and I think a lot of very different sort of people who make better, more confident decisions for themselves if we also required stats

      1. Twain Twain

        In Mark Twain’s autobiography he attributed this phrase to Benjamin Disraeli, the UK Prime Minister: “There are lies, damned lies…and statistics.”EVERYTHING in the world is driven by Probability & Statistics:* Market research, search engines & recommendation algorithms* Machine Intelligence methods to classify Natural Language (see Word2Vec) as well as do Machine Vision, speech recognition and even control whether the robots will fail / kill us.* Companies and brands’ decision-making based on the data science and “Big Data”* Global economic systems* Government resource allocation* Weather predictions* Manufacturing inventory and operational optimizations* Investment strategies by the financial institutionsSo it would indeed improve employability for youngsters to learn basic stats in middle school.And yet…, for all their utility, Probability & Statistics are INADEQUATE and IMPRECISE tools for measuring and modeling the human mind, our language, our cultures and our behaviors.The moniker of “fuzzy logic” for Probability & Statistics is a valid one. Their approximations and bounds (within n standard deviations of….) is indeed fuzzy.

    3. Joe Cardillo

      As a slight corollary, I’ve done a bit of tutoring / coordinating with kids learning the basics, and (like others here I’m sure) I’ve seen how fun and interesting it is to a variety of little humans irrespective of gender, ethnicity, class, or religion. It’s just exciting and useful to learn to create things. Every person has that spark in them.

  2. JimHirshfield

    “Fed Wilson” in title on 3rd video. ;-)Great passion on your part at the end of the interview.

    1. fredwilson

      freudian slip 🙂

    2. JamesHRH

      I caught that too. Can’t imagine Fred wanting that job.

    3. panterosa,

      Fed Wilson, best typo of the week!

    4. Russell

      As the saying goes “Don’t argue with the Fed”

  3. LIAD

    No ads in UK.Kudos for CNBC to nonetheless allow the vids to show. Other news orgs just hit you with a ‘this content cannot be played from your location’

    1. William Mougayar

      you can use Hola if that happens.

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        LIAD says : No ads in UK.William Mougayar responds : you can use Hola if that happens.I (stupidly) thought : Why would you WANT ads ?Who would have thunk it :)Teaches me to skim a blog !

        1. William Mougayar

          I use Hola to watch some clips from La Voix/The Voice on TF1.

  4. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Couldn’t agree more on codingFar from math being a pre-requisite coding is a great way to introduce calculus -EXAMPLE The idea of iterating over a function between limits and summing is what integration is:total=0; ## Empty a bucket which we store stuff infor( i = 1 to 10){ ## repeat ten times setting i to 0,1,2,3, etc total = total + f[i] ; ## measure some idea at position i} ## do it againprint (total) ## stop and look at totalIf you can understand that code and why it approximates to the total of f() over the range 1-10 congratulations – you understand what underlies integral calculus.(After that its just sausage machine rules )We must stop frightening students. Calculus is SO obvious that more than one person came up with it at the same time

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Great video (3 mins)Doesn’t a child’s gratified response to a new idea just make the hairs on your arm stand up.“For the mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth.” —Plutarch, “On Listening to Lectures”.

      2. David Semeria

        I really liked the bootstrap video and especially the t-shirts with “I program my own video games”.When I was a kid my dad would only let me play video games on my home computer if I had made them myself. Smart fucking move.

    1. JamesHRH

      Its not often that name dropping seems appropriate, but I wish someone had said – ‘ wait, didn’t you go to MIT? ‘

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Haha – Oxford in my case (but yes – its often best left under a bushel)

    2. ShanaC

      I think I would have gotten much further with math if comp sci was introduced concurrently with algebra. I actually think it would have been more fun too – then you can make stuff with algebra and geometry!

      1. Joe Cardillo

        That’s a nice point, feel similarly. I hated / feared math during middle & high school years, now that I understand (and do some basic) coding I enjoy using math and statistics quite a bit.

  5. Jermiah Dylan

    Absolutely agree on the coding.Before I learnt to code I was dissuaded from attempting to learn because I thought it was primarily deep math. Only when I forced myself did I see how wrong I was.

  6. Tom Labus

    I was hoping for some Net Neutrality questions. Great Interview

  7. Walker

    Loved your comment that you do not have to be a rocket scientist to learn how to code. There is a terrific Time Warner public service cable TV show called “It Ain’t Rocket Science” dedicated to promoting STEM for kids and that same proposition.

  8. William Mougayar

    This interview certainly covered a lot of your favorite topics. As you implied, staying private too long makes public reentry really tough. Its like another version of Carlota Perez overshooting theory.Just to pick on a few, can UBER, Airbnb and Snapchat become public & maintain their valuations? Big question.

    1. JamesHRH

      Will require a new paradigm. Not sure Wall St is that big on being the recipient of new paradigms…..

      1. JLM

        .While I want to agree with you and your comment is perfectly reasonable and correct, I think the current state of Wall Street when bringing forth “name” tech companies is akin to contemplating a long weekend away and giving your Airedale three days of food and telling him: “Pace yourself, don’t eat it all at once.”The Airedale wags its tale in agreement and as you pull out of the driveway is well on his way to making himself sick with his gluttony.Wall Street is that Airedale.They will sell anything they can sell and the consequences will be damned.This is a bunch who tells its clients to go long on the third floor while shorting the same security on the seventh floor.The current high tech fascination — a good thing, not a criticism — is driving all of this. Everyone wants in and is not discriminating enough to really measure earnings and growth.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Salt Shaker

      Public markets=greater accountability and scrutinization. Also greater risk/reward. Increased capital and valuations in private market feed visions of grandeur, sometimes realized, often not.

      1. fredwilson


      2. deancollins

        Its almost like we need two public markets… for blue chips where pension funds can invest for their 2-5% return all day long and another for “mid life startups” where you can lose everything but the upside is better.I never thought about how private companiesstaying private for longer can be detrimental to investing as it “restricts”which members of the public can get rewarded for investing in these companiesuntil Fred’s interview yesterday. Yes its good that VC’s make a healthy returnfor investing early (and losing a lot if their investment capital in the onesthat don’t make it) but this skews capital returns for ma and pa investor inthat they miss out.I guess a long time ago that’s what NASDAQ was meant to be…..but it hasn’t filledthat roll in a long time.

    3. JLM

      .The question is not really “can” they become public as they have to in order to monetize the shares of their owners. They “will” become public.The question is can they “behave” well as public companies? Can they adhere to the regulatory and legal standards of a public company?Once you inject the 1933/34 Acts, Reg D, SOx and other regulatory restraints much of their swashbuckling past will lead them into danger, costly danger. Not true of all but true of some.As an example, Boards will have to vouchsafe much of their behavior as a matter of simple corporate governance. Boards will become progressively less aggressive once their actions are priced on a real time basis.Not suggesting that any course of action is preferred over another. I think they have to go public to complete their life stories.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Anne Libby

        “I think they have to go public to complete their life stories.”It would seem to me that, indeed, some of the companies being created today via the accelerator route have a set of possible life stories that are more or less foreordained from the outset.

      2. William Mougayar

        Yup. It will be interesting to see one of those super unicorns make that transition.

      3. Joe Cardillo

        Read this & William’s comment earlier and been thinking about all day….obviously Snapchat is in a different category than Uber, but I find myself wondering if part of core problem is the idea that you can make the billions later without first having made the millions.I know that sounds obvious and I don’t have the experience to think from the investor end talking about risk etc…but I just can’t wrap my head around this: if you’ve captured some huge portion of the market but you never had to actually balance revenue or run ops for a significant number of transactions, why should a public market trust you?Unless I’m missing something it seems from reading between the lines that there are a number of still privately held unicorns only running tens or low hundreds of thousands in transactions each 6-12 mos. Not to mention the ones that don’t appear to be trying to make money at all yet (nextdoor?). “We’ll figure it out later” seems fundamentally different to me from “we’re building a model we can test globally.”

        1. JLM

          .There is a day of reckoning out there for some big name techs — Amazon is my favorite — whose underlying operations fail to produce the most important thing — PROFITS.Right now, there is a cult of personality buzzing around Jeff Bezos’ head.When people point out that there is no profit, they get blinded by the mojo about how fast AWS is growing — which I think is a real business which I predict they will spin out in the next 2 years — and what a visionary he is.He is a great wealth creator for himself and others who were in at that point in time. Otherwise, there is no real basis for the stock price.You can only fool the masses for so long. That time is coming up on its “sell by” date.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  9. awaldstein

    Good stuff.What’s interesting is how good these interviews are and how much better the Periscope one could have been.More than one camera angle and someone who understands how to ask questions within a format makes all the difference.

    1. JamesHRH

      Last refuge of professionals still being a cut above amateurs?

      1. awaldstein

        There is a massive–really massive–community of video bloggers who are going to adopt one of these platforms and break this whole paradigm to pieces.

    2. fredwilson

      The periscope sucked!!!

      1. awaldstein

        Agree.Taking interesting people and telling topics and making them boring is hardly a moniker for success!I think someone is going to take this potential, understand it from a broadcast point of view and hand this to the maker community and change how we consume live feeds.I don’t think it is going to be Twitter.

    3. Matt Zagaja

      Agreed. Periscope is interesting but limited. Not everyone is going to be Kara Swisher or Charlie Rose.

      1. awaldstein

        Periscope is not the issue. Intent from Twitter and understanding where it could go is.I am so so bored with smart companies like Twitter and Google even just throwing shit against the wall and seeing if it sticks.Not how to make a difference. Squandering an opportunity.

        1. Salt Shaker

          GOOG prints money and is profitable, TWTR isn’t. GOOG can afford to throw shit up and see what sticks, TWTR can’t. For the latter, a company still struggling to find mass relevancy (at least by Wall Street’s standards), “release and pray” contributes to a perception of mismanagement. Their CFO, Costelo, investor relations, etc., have done a horrible job managing expectations, and the stock gets punished unmercifully. Public companies just can’t hide under the hood.

          1. awaldstein

            Good points all.I would say that just because you can afford to throw shit against the wall doesn’t mean you should.Just freakin lazy.I think Periscope could have been huge. I think that just maybe the time for video in the hands of the market has come.I’m old school and believe that intent is the first step towards success even when often, intent in marketing turns out to be not quite right.

          2. Salt Shaker

            Agree 100%. I think the pressure on a publicly traded company that’s under duress, like TWTR, often leads to hasty decisions. My hunch is the Periscope launch would have been handled more strategically and w/ greater care if TWTR was still privately held. Current mgt. doesn’t have that luxury or the luxury of time.

          3. awaldstein

            Dunno–Been in charge of the market for three public companies in my career, two with revenues of over $1B/Y at the time of my tenure and never rushed to spend millions of dollars on half ass ideas.Was wrong at times but never by doing a shitty job.I bring a lot of out of the box thinking with me but I’m all about intent and plans and budgets.The cost of doing a poor job on launching Periscope is far greater than the opportunity cost of doing it with more savvy.

          4. fredwilson

            Twitter will earn $500mm of EBITDA which is roughly equal to pretax cash flow this year and the street projects $1bn in 2016The narrative that Twitter is not profitable is nonsense and yet you hear it all the time

          5. Salt Shaker

            I, like many, wasn’t aware of that. No excuse for my own ignorance, but doesn’t that also speak to poor communication and really lousy company guidance? Managing expectations is a critical component for managing investor psychology, no? The stock gets hammered (unfairly IMO) in part cause expectations and communication aren’t managed particularly well.

          6. fredwilson

            They are clear about it in every quarterly call and earnings report. People want to believe what they want to believe

          7. JLM

            .What do the GAAP numbers look like?It always makes me cringe when I see public companies discussing EBITDA numbers. Of course, when I ran a public company, I did it.The SEC, in their every three year audit, takes a hammer to companies who use the term EBITDA — which is not a GAAP defined term — without deriving it from GAAP defined terms.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          8. fredwilson

            I don’t want to get into a debate about stock based comp so I’m hesitant to even go there but Twitter is accruing a ton on non-cash stock based comp in their GAAP numbers as a result of options and RSUs they issued when they were private and because of acquisitions they have made. I know the arguments about why the accountants want stock based comp in GAAP earnings but the fact is if you bought the company today you’d get the cash flow without feeling the impact of that dilution which happened in the past. For that reason I prefer to look at free cash flow and EBITDA after backing out stock based comp when valuing companies. Its a bad accounting rule if you ask me to put stock based comp in GAAP earnings

          9. JLM

            .You will get no argument from me on the dilemma of stock based comp and its accounting.Newer companies with a overhang of entrepreneurial compensation program design will feel this much more so than bigger, more established companies. Goes with the territory.As to valuations, I also agree that enterprise value, free cash flow and EBITDA are useful measures for valuation but when a company is public, it cannot avoid the realities of a market set price and the underlying notion of P/E ratio.When goodwill was no longer amortized and instead valued on an annual basis, companies who had goodwill on their balance sheets were “rewarded” in some manner.I agreed with this change as it accurately reflected the underlying value of the acquired assets which had arguably not been “impaired” and thus the goodwill had not been amortized. It was unimpaired and should have been accounted for in this manner.As to compensation, while I am not a fan of the accounting for stock based comp, the expense of attracting and retaining talent is a real expense regardless of how it is paid for in the short or long terms.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          10. fredwilson

            I bet they buy all of their hardware instead of lease it. When you have

          11. ShanaC

            meanwhile, andy just made the point of how valuable twitter’s data is because of what happened with twitter. Oh the irony

        2. Anne Libby

          Is that a problem with big companies trying to be “entrepreneurial”?

          1. awaldstein

            I don’t think so.I think it is companies that have marketing and a market sense as part of their dna.Think Apple and Etsy as ones that do, Twitter and Google as ones that don’t.

          2. Anne Libby

            Ah, yes.Apple and Etsy also have “design” DNA. From the outside in (non-designer) that seems to involve working with constraints.Wonder if/how much design culture vs. engineering culture factors into this.

  10. Brandon Burns

    You look so refreshed. LA and Paris doing you some good, eh?

    1. fredwilson

      Being jetlagged and going to bed at 8pm is the move apparently

      1. Brandon Burns

        Ha! I’ll have to try that tactic. 😉

      2. Brandon G. Donnelly


  11. pointsnfigures

    It was a good interview. Most of the time CNBC and other financial news networks don’t have good stuff on. It’s people shilling. They have become noise for people in finance, since news breaks on Twitter. CNBC and other Fin News networks should stay away from breaking news, and do real in depth news so that people could generate ideas and thoughts from it. Totally different model. But I think it works.

    1. Joe Cardillo

      Thought so too – the reporters (for the most part) did a nice job of staying away from gotcha journalism There’s definitely room for longer form stories.

  12. JLM

    .Well played, Fred!Stronger than a half acre of garlic. Oh, let’s not be stingy — an entire of garlic roasting in the West Texas sun!Well played!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  13. Ovidiu Schiopu

    Comments on market regulation and also school curriculum are spot on…definitely something to be passionate about. Further on school curriculum, given what we know now based on all the studies that back up a need for change, when are we going to get out of the Dark Ages. Thanks Fred. BTW – was in your city last weekend – love it !!!

  14. thinkdisruptive

    I was wondering if the “Fed Wilson” booboo in the headline was a Freudian slip.

  15. Brandon G. Donnelly

    liked your comments on IPOs and public policy

  16. Val Tsanev

    Totally agree Fred on your point on companies going public earlier and this way giving access to retail investors. Having worked on several IPOs during my Credit Suisse career I totally understand why founders are trying to stay private for as long as they can, there is a lot of public scrutiny once you go public. Unfortunately there is a bit of inherent conflict of interest, which contributes to the unicorns staying private for as long as they can.

  17. Matthew Perle

    Fred, have you commented on Etsy’s decision to list a single-class of stock rather than a dual-class structure, or in general on the concept of dual- vs single-class for public companies?

    1. fredwilson

      I’m not commenting on Etsy publicly ever again. Its a public company and I’m on the board. Its not something I can or should or will doI believe I’ve written about dual class stock in the past. I’m not a fan

      1. ShanaC

        healthy answer!

  18. JasonBoisture

    3rd video, 1:16 mark — Fred makes a nice save and says “nonsense” instead of “horse manure”

    1. fredwilson

      You caught that. I was going to use more colorful language

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        It definitely felt like you were about to say “horseshoe” 😉

        1. fredwilson

          Close. It was a bit more colorful than that

          1. Joe Cardillo

            Was surprised also by the absence of head nodding + the relaxed expressionless-ness. Takes years to master (and I’m guessing plenty of experience being taken out of context) by the talking heads.

  19. Kirsten Lambertsen

    That was fun to watch. You’re such a pro at the interview thing!I was literally cheering out loud during the coding-in-our-schools part. But, I fear, until a corporation with familial ties to our government (or just enough $ to influence it) stands to benefit financially from CS as core curriculum, we won’t see it.

  20. Dan Conway

    Loved the passion and delivery in that last clip…you completely nail it.I’ve recently toured high schools with my daughter in Los Angeles, both private and public, and asking if they teach coding the response has been somewhere along the lines of “Coding? No, but we do have a computer room and offer access to the internet.”That clip could be the starting point for packaging together a PSA with well known futurists/technologists that should be aired nationally and repeatedly delivered to each school district, parents association and presidential candidate.

  21. Travis Henry

    To the point on circling the wagons around private company investments, isn’t Title IV of the JOBS Act a direct response? It seems to depend on the buy-in of the actual equity crowdfunding platforms (FundersClub, CircleUp, etc), but regular folks will be able to invest up to 10% of their annual income into private ventures.

  22. sachmo

    Nice set of videos. Love the passion regarding CS education.

  23. george

    You were on fire mate! I just love how you drive your point of view across. Be careful, your day job might be at risk now…Bravo!

    1. fredwilson


  24. randyholloway

    Great interview Fred. A question and a comment:1. I agree with the idea that we need to make it easier for companies to go public earlier with more people having the opportunity to take on risk/realize the returns in these new businesses. How do you think it would change the nature of VC and what would the impact be for your business? You talk a lot about how USV helps founders build businesses and not just provide funding (true of many good VCs I’m sure), if exits were occurring more quickly would there be a downside for you?2. Great to see your passion on CSNYC and related initiatives, I’ve worked on this problem in CA with Microsoft and I am amazed at how much resistance there can be to what is so obvious. Fortunately we’ve been able to make progress on small initiatives like allowing CS to count as math credit towards graduation and several bills were passed last year. (Example here – http://leginfo.legislature…. There is so much more to do though.

  25. Keenan

    Dude, get em my man!! Love your passion about kids and teaching them how to code. Sick em Fred. LOVE IT!!!!

  26. Alex Murphy

    First. I love the Internet, and the ability to watch this asynchronously. (and i love google for helping me spell asynchronously)Second, the third video is the best. We need to change education to focus on the needs of the day, and that includes the common core, and it is horse shit / bull shit / whatever shit you want to call it that we are not focused on the important capabilities of our youth.Third. You did a long interview with a channel that you were very frustrated with earlier this year.… There is a big take away here, which is don’t let the past get in the way of the future. Kudos to you for making this happen!

  27. LE

    Do they serve their employes organic lunches at no charge?

  28. Charlie Crystle

    I believe they do