A Conversation with Bumble Founder & CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd

In 2014, Whitney Wolfe Herd launched Bumble as, “the only dating platform where women make the first move…” Today, Bumble has over 55 million users in 150 countries.  As Whitney notes herself, “Bumble has now grown far beyond a dating app into a networking platform, allowing people of all genders to make empowered connections in all areas of their lives, whether that means you’re seeking a romantic relationship, making new friendships or growing your professional network.” Like many of the world’s fastest growing entrepreneurial companies, Bumble is rooted around real pain points, faced by millions of people, which are solved elegantly, intuitively and engagingly.  I caught up with Whitney to learn more about her entrepreneurship journey, and what it takes to build a successful scale-up business.

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A Conversation with Hussain Sajwani, Founder of DAMAC

Hussain Sajwani has an extraordinary story.  From modest beginnings, he has become a self-made billionaire, recognised as one of the most powerful Arabs in the world.  Sajwani is Founder & Chairman of the DAMAC Properties, a global business with revenues of over $1.6bn and 2000+ employees which has delivered over 25,000 homes and has a development portfolio of over 40,000 units.DAMAC is now one of the largest businesses in the United Arab Emirates, a region which has taken its wealth of oil & gas reserves, to create a dynamic, diverse and fast-growing economy. I had the pleasure of catching-up with Hussain Sajwani to learn more about the DAMAC story, and his views on entrepreneurship and investment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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A Conversation with Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

By deploying capital and talent, guided by the vision that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has achieved some incredible successes.  Over 500 million children have been vaccinated, with over 7 million lives saved… 3 million households have received access to drought-tolerant crops…. 99% fewer Polio cases are now reported worldwide… 8 million people have received access to anti-retroviral drugs, guinea worm disease is close to being eradicated, and almost 500 million mosquito nets have been distributed.   Melinda French Gates is a philanthropist, businesswoman, and global advocate for women and girls. As the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda sets the direction and priorities of the world’s largest philanthropy. She is also the founder of Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company working to drive social progress for women and families in the United States. I had the pleasure of catching-up with Melinda Gates to speak to her about her learnings in philanthropy, and creating lasting global change.

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A Conversation with Nile Rodgers and Merck Mercuriadis

Among music legends, Nile Rodgers is truly exceptional.  His work in the CHIC Organization and his productions for artists like David Bowie, Diana Ross, and Madonna have sold over 500 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide.  Merck Mercuriadis is one of the most successful music managers and entrepreneurs of all time; former manager of globally successful recording artists, such as Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, Morrissey, Iron Maiden and Beyoncé, and hit songwriters such as Diane Warren, Justin Tranter and The-Dream, and former CEO of The Sanctuary Group plc.  Their latest venture, Hipgnosis Songs Fund (LON:SONG) turns the most successful songs in history into a new investment asset-class and already owns copyrights including Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)’, Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ Kanye West’s ‘All Of The Lights’, Justin Beiber’s ‘Baby’, and Jay-z’s ‘Holy Grail’ featuring Justin Timberlake.  Estimates suggest the fund could rapidly grow to well over £1 billion in market capitalisation. In these exclusive interviews I spoke to Nile Rodgers and Merck Mercuriadis to learn more about the business of music, their creative process, the secrets of great management, production and what they’ve learned from a lifetime at the pinnacle of the music world.

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The Reality of Silicon Valley

The San Francisco Bay Area (more commonly known as Silicon Valley) has a GDP of $840 billion, to put it another way – if this region was a country, it would be the 18th largest global economy, larger than the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland, and only a little smaller than Turkey and Indonesia.  It is perhaps with eyes on this prize that so many leaders therefore divert civic investment and incentivisation into the growth of technology companies. To learn more about the reality of Silicon Valley, I spoke to three world experts. Kara Swisher (Co-Founder of Recode & NYT columnist), Nicholas Thompson (Editor in Chief of WIRED), John Carreyrou (Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist & Author of Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup) and Cary Mcclelland (award-winning writer, filmmaker and human rights lawyer who is the author of Silicon City: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley).

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A Conversation with Farfetch Founder & CEO, José Neves

José Neves started his first business aged just 19, creating software for business in the North of Portugal.  His family had a history in shoemaking, and it was perhaps inevitable that fashion would play a role in his career – but few could have predicted the decade long-journey, beginning in the depths of the global financial recession, that would see José take the idea for a luxury fashion eCommerce marketplace and build it into Farfetch; a business with close to 3,000 employees, 3m customers, almost U$1bn in listed merchandise, and a market capitalisation approaching U$6bn – making José a billionaire in well-under 10 years from a standing start. I caught up with José to learn more about his entrepreneurship journey, and building a global luxury brands business.

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Rand Fishkin’s Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World

Our inability to disconnect extreme events from the norm also affects our perceptions of business. The picture we see of the business environment shows us the tails not the curve, we here about the super exciting startups, and the gigantic behemoths but we don’t see much about the middle; the small and medium sized businesses who account for the majority. We don’t see that of the 6 million companies in the US, 90% have less than 20 employees. I caught up with Rand Fishkin, Founder of SparkToro and Co-Founder of MOZ & Inbound.com to understand more about the realities of starting-up, and what we can learn from the businesses in the middle.

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A Conversation with Scott Farquhar, Co-Founder of Atlassian

Scott Farquhar is the archetypal entrepreneur.  He and his Co-Founder Mike Cannon-Brookes started Atlassian in 2002 (after meeting whilst studying at the University of South Wales, Sydney).  Deciding neither of them wanted a corporate job, they took out $10,000 on on credit cards and bootstrapped Atlassian; a company which has now grown to over $13 billion in market capitalisation, with 2,500 staff in 6 countries (2 planets) and over 100,000 customers.  Scott and his Co-Founder are now both billionaires in their own right, and two of the world’s most progressive philanthropists. I caught up with Scott to learn more about purposeful entrepreneurship.

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Leadership

Leadership sits at the very heart of everything we do as a civilisation, and to understand more we spoke to a group of the world’s foremost experts on leadership across the military, business, government education and research: General Stan McChyrstal (Founder, McChrystal Group & former commander of US and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) Afghanistan), Tony Hsieh (Founder & CEO, Zappos.com), General Richard Myers (President of Kansas State University, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), John Kotter (Chairman, Kotter International & Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership – Harvard), General Sir Peter Wall (Chief of the General Staff, the Professional Head of the British Army), General Sir Richard Shirreff (Deputy Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, NATO), Professor Stewart Friedman (Founding Director, Wharton Leadership Programme & Wharton Work/Life Integration Project) and Drew Povey (Headmaster & Leadership Expert).

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