After guiding the company through a near-death experience, Airbnb’s Brian Chesky talks with Rapid Response host Bob Safian about what he learned and how responding to a crisis both reveals your character and teaches you what’s most important. Recorded live on stage at the Masters of Scale Summit in San Francisco.
If the most prestigious aspect of your business isn’t paying dividends, should you leave it in the past? BuzzFeed’s co-founder and CEO, Jonah Peretti discusses the surprising decision to shutter the Pulitzer Prize-winning BuzzFeed News, and how the company seeks to re-anchor toward the bright future of media. In his third appearance on Rapid Response, Peretti shares lessons about redefining the tool of social media, leading a private versus public business, and how to tune-out the external noise.
Hard challenges demand that we embrace tension. Former CEO of IBM Ginni Rometty argues that, right now, business has a responsibility to deploy what her new book calls Good Power — from putting skills first in hiring, as a way to close systemic opportunity gaps, to thoughtfully erecting guardrails around new technology. As an early pioneer in the AI space with IBM’s Watson, Ginni acknowledges the risk that disruptive technology can have on society. She offers her insider perspective on balancing what she calls “the teeter-totter” of marketplace demands with positive long-term impact.
To breathe fresh life into an established platform, Kickstarter’s new 33-year-old CEO Everette Taylor is shaking things up – and he’s unapologetic if it makes people uncomfortable. From bold new product lines to bold statements, Taylor is working to kickstart Kickstarter’s existing community while aggressively pursuing new users. Marketing is product and product is marketing, he says. “I want to build a juggernaut.”
The carbon-capture industry notched a breakthrough in early 2023, when Climeworks became the first company to be third-party certified for taking carbon out of the air and mineralizing it underground. Climeworks co-founder and co-CEO Christoph Gebald is now racing to scale this new potential, from Iceland to Oman to the United States, by convincing investors, corporate partners, and governments to support a new pillar in the quest for net-zero goals. Christoph points to both serendipity and learning from mistakes as key in helping Climeworks navigate the steep path required in addressing climate-crisis.
Smart entrepreneurs know one of the secrets to scale is leveraging wisdom from others. (In fact, that’s the mission of this show!) But not all advice is right for you right now — and some can even be disastrous. As the founder of the proto-fintech platform LearnVest, Alexa von Tobel scaled her business by seeking advice from mentors and friends … and then, taking only the advice that served her mission. Following Alexa’s story, you’ll learn how to become a good advice detective, with the power to sort the transformative advice from the traps.
While many retail businesses have struggled to cope with a wave of disruptions — from pandemic to supply chains to inflation — Lululemon has continued to scale, even when retail sales elsewhere dipped. CEO Calvin McDonald shares how mid-term strategic planning, control over inventory, and a culture that climbs mountains together has fueled agility and versatility. When it comes to brand-building and community building, Calvin says, it’s critical to lean into listening, so you can amplify what makes your business truly distinctive.
While media companies from CNN to Buzzfeed have faced layoffs, one digital network focused on Black millennials has continued to forge ahead. Morgan DeBaun, CEO of Blavity, which reaches some 100 million users through brands like Travel Noire and Afrotech, has defied the odds — repeatedly. Morgan’s experience offers lessons about financial discipline and focused patience, as well as the untapped value in multicultural consumers. An adviser to big companies like American Airlines and an advocate for the Black tech community, Morgan illuminates how openness and opportunity reinforce each other, for enterprises at all scales.
When the FDA blessed Upside Foods’ grown-from-cells chicken as safe to eat, it was a coming-of-age moment for cultivated meat. Upside founder and CEO Dr. Uma Valeti shares his journey of convincing skeptics, landing investors from Bill Gates to food giants Tyson and Cargill, and building a collaborative partnership with the FDA and USDA. Plus, his lessons on leadership from a career in cardiology and what it will take to convert consumers to a never-before-seen product.
Running a business can be a lonely job. The long hours, the existential threats — it can feel like the weight of the entire company is on your back. That’s where the transformative power of co-founders comes in. Co-founders provide more than added manpower; they bring fresh perspectives and talents that help businesses conquer problems at speed. And the co-founder effect extends beyond the people who started the company: The lessons hold true for every team member that contributes in a foundational way. The more voices you add, the more resilience you build in yourself, and your organization.
Businesses run on incentives — from attracting customers with great prices, to drawing in talent with great salaries. But incentives aren’t something you set once; you must constantly revisit them to adjust to changing times. Cindy Mi, founder and CEO of the learning platform VIPKid, has leveraged the power of incentives to build a thriving global learning community — and, to shepherd her organization through a black hole-sized disruption.
How do you reinvent a world-renowned automaker for an all-electric future? At Mercedes-Benz, CEO Ola Källenius has set the jaw-dropping goal to put fossil-fuels in the rear-view mirror by 2030 — ahead of other competitors and well ahead of Paris Climate Accords recommendations. Pushing the company’s tech, customers, and workforce to operate in a new gear, Källenius says, is repositioning Mercedes for whatever challenges and opportunities are ahead. From strategizing for the luxury market — balancing volume with desirability — to grappling with the complications of economic disruption, Källenius takes us inside the epic transformation of an iconic brand.