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Fortt Knox

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132 - The WeWork IPO: Why the Controversy?
I’ve got a business idea. I’m going to take out loans to rent a bunch of apartments around the world. Two-year leases. Then I’m going to decorate them with a super-cool modern vibe … snacks, premium soaps, entertainment spaces… and Airbnb them by the week and half week to vacationers and business travellers for less than they’d pay for a hotel room.  But wait, you say. You’re signing up for two-year leases and only getting commitments in the days and weeks. What if the economy goes bad? What if your landlords raise the rent? What if you try to grow too fast, and your loan payments go up? Funny you should ask. WeWork’s parent company just filed for an IPO this week, and WeWork’s business model sounds a lot like the one I just described, only it’s office space, not apartments. Is it a good bet? We’re gonna talk WeWork, we’re gonna talk Viacom/CBS, Disney/Fox, Yahoo/Tumblr, Twitch/Mixr – all kinds of things that come in twos.
80 - Q-Tip, the Abstract: Championing Creativity in the Digital Age
Q-Tip. The Abstract. He’s not going to say it about himself outside of the the playful banter of a rhyme, so I’ll say it: He’s one of the most recognizable voices and influential minds in the history of hip-hop music.    Q-Tip is probably best known as part of A Tribe Called Quest, a group that emerged in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Hits like “Can I Kick It?” “Scenario” and “Bonita Applebum” cemented Tribe’s place as innovators, both in their lyrical cadence and the way they used sampling and a broad mix of musical genres to make something new.   A Tribe Called Quest released its final album in November 2016. Member Phife Dog, Malik Taylor, passed away from diabetes complications earlier that year. I talked to Tip about his new music, his other creative efforts, mourning Phife, and the state of the music business. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
54 - Earl "Butch" Graves, Jr., Black Enterprise CEO: An American Brand In A New Generation
Growing up in the black community in Brooklyn and Washington, D.C. in the ‘70s and ‘80s, there were a few things you'd take for granted:  We learned Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing, also known as the Negro National Anthem, in school. We learned there was practically nothing George Washington Carver couldn’t do with a soybean. And a middle class black family was likely to have at least four magazines in the house: Ebony and Jet, of course. And if they were a little fancy, Essence and Black Enterprise.   These days, magazines aren’t what they used to be. Like many digital publishers, Black Enterprise is undergoing a reinvention, becoming less a publication and more a live events business. Back in October I interviewed Intel's CEO at a Black Enterprise tech event outside San Francisco – an event that showcased the brand's push to evolve beyond the printed page.   Earl Graves, Jr. -- he's known as "Butch" -- is the son of the founder of Black Enterprise. Now he's the CEO. I sat down with him to talk about how the brand was born, how it's trying to evolve in a digital world, and what the future looks like for minority entrepreneurs.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
53 - Katrina Lake, Stitch Fix founder & CEO: Giving Shopping, and Leadership, a Makeover
Katrina Lake is the founder and CEO of Stitch Fix. And as of today, at 34 years old, she is probably the youngest woman to take her company public – ever.   Stitch Fix is a San Francisco company that combines data-crunching computers with human stylists on a mission to send you the perfect outfit. On Friday the company went public on the Nasdaq stock market at a market value of more than $1 billion, and I was there for CNBC, covering the remarkable story.  Katrina Lake sat down with me at the Nasdaq in Times Square minutes after shares of Stitch Fix started trading for the first time – you can hear the buzz of Stitch Fix employees and customers in the background as we talk. The first part of our conversation was live on CNBC's Squawk Alley, which I co-anchor weekdays on the network. She took some time after that portion to talk more about how she developed the idea for the company, why she still works as a stylist on the platform, and why the story of how she overcame sexual harassment from an investor is especially resonant today.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28 - Kevin Busque, TaskRabbit co-founder & Guideline CEO: Married to the Game
You've probably heard of TaskRabbit – the online service lets you pay a contractor to run an errand, clean an apartment, put together an Ikea bookshelf – any number of odd jobs. Before there was Uber or Airbnb, TaskRabbit birthed the so-called "gig economy." You might not know that Kevin Busque co-founded TaskRabbit with his wife, Leah, who he is quick to admit was the brains behind the operation all along. In an unusual twist on the typical Silicon Valley story, Kevin and Leah were high school sweethearts, married right after college. They worked at the same company more than once, bootstrapped a business together, and eventually moved across the country to realize the Silicon Valley dream. Leah served as CEO of TaskRabbit for years, and is now executive chairman. Kevin recently launched a new venture, Guideline, a 401(k) platform. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24 - Mark Fields, Ford CEO: Be Sure the Sleeves Match the Cuffs
For Ford CEO Mark Fields, the love of cars started early; he still remembers the set of Matchbox cars his dad bought him for his 6th birthday.   Of course, love of cars alone wasn't going to get him to the helm of the second-largest U.S. automaker, and a brand that's been around for more than a century. That would take a mix of competitive spirit, adaptability, and a knack for getting teams to focus quickly.  Mark Fields leads a company that last year sold more than 6.6 million cars, bringing in more than $141 billion from vehicle sales. In the era of Uber and Tesla that's getting harder by the day.  I sat down with Fields to talk about some of Ford's latest efforts, and his own journey to the top.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
6 - Sanjay Poonen of VMware & Jay Simons of Atlassian: Two Unique Paths to Power
Sanjay Poonen grew up lower-middle class in India and pushed past rejection to become one of the most respected executives in Silicon Valley; he's now chief operating officer at VMware. Jay Simons' detour before law school took him playing piano across Asia – and inspired him to ditch law for tech, where today he's president at Atlassian, one of the industry's hot young companies. For most of us, the path to success isn't going to be a straight line. But those who make it learn a lot of lessons you can't capture on a résumé. So what qualities separate the best from the average? I sat down with Poonen and Simons for the latest episode of the Fortt Knox Podcast, and the two executives shared some wisdom from their journeys that should help others along the way. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
38 - Jason Calacanis, investor: The Brooklyn Kid Turned Angel
Brooklyn in the 70s and 80s. Today, he says, his net worth is somewhere north of 100 million dollars. That's not because he's an entrepreneur, though he has started a handful of companies. Jason got rich as an entrepreneur. But he got really, really rich by investing in the crazy ideas … of other entrepreneurs. He just wrote a book: Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups. He says he can tell you how he did it, and give you pointers so that – maybe you can do it, too. In the tech world, we call these people "angel investors." They're usually the first money into a startup, giving six figures or less – just enough to keep an idea going while the founder figures out whether it's big enough to attract millions from venture capitalists. The downside of being an angel investor: It's really risky. You're probably going to lose the money you put into 90% of startups. The upside: If you get a couple of winners, they can be huge wins. And get this: because of the way regulations are changing, you can now become an angel investor, from the comfort of your computer. You can pool your money with other angels. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29 - Nicole Eagan, Darktrace CEO: Riding Out the Boom/Bust Cycles
Today she sits at the helm of a promising cybersecurity company. But first Nicole Eagan had to survive the dotcom bust. Eagan is CEO of Darktrace, a startup that battles hackers using software that gets smarter over time. Invented by mathematicians and former British intelligence operatives, the technology, much like a human immune system, looks for signs of odd behavior in a client's network. Eagan and Darktrace are on the cutting edge not only in security, but also in a gender-balanced tech workforce. Eagan says half of her employees are women. She knows how unusual that is, having operated in Silicon Valley through booms and busts … as an enterprise tech worker, a venture capitalist, and now as an executive. Nicole Eagan sat down with Fortt Knox to share lessons from efforts that worked, and efforts that didn't. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15 - Bayard Winthrop, American Giant founder: Clothes Made in the U.S.A.
Bayard Winthrop got his inspiration from Silicon Valley. If we could put a touch-screen computer in the palm of everyone's hand, why couldn't we actually make the next great American clothing brand … in America? So five years ago, Winthrop shipped his first American Giant sweatshirt, made in the U.S.A. from domestic cotton. Now he's producing thousands of shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, and sweatpants for men and women every month. And it's not all lounge gear: he's just introduced the brand's first cotton dress. This is Fortt Knox, rich ideas and powerful people. I'm Jon Fortt. This is a weekly podcast bringing you the highest achievers from business, entertainment, philanthropy, and sport. I'm going to learn how the very best climbed to the top, and take notes to help you up the mountain. If that sounds good to you, make this a habit: subscribe on Apple's Podcast app or Google Play. And once you've done that, tell a friend — these talks are definitely conversation starters. There's lots of talk about bringing manufacturing jobs back to America these days. American Giant is actually doing it, and doing it the hard way. The company owns its factories in North Carolina where Winthrop says he employs hundreds of workers sewing clothes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
9 - Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO: The Boss's Favorite Mistake
Twenty-five years ago, the man who is now CEO of the world's largest maker of computer chips was an engineer at the company. And he made an error that almost got him fired. "I wiped out the output of an entire factory for a week," Intel CEO Brian Krzanich tells me in the latest episode of the Fortt Knox podcast. "I'm lucky to be employed at Intel, sometimes I say." But instead of dooming him, his handling of the problem influenced the company culture, helping to birth a system called "Copy Exactly" that's become a part of its identity. Krzanich went on to make a name for himself as the executive responsible for all of Intel's factories, a job that prepared him to be CEO. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
78 - Anthony Wood, Roku founder & CEO: Continual Reinvention
Today it's a $4-billion publicly-traded company. It's synonymous with streaming video, going head-to-head with Apple, Amazon, Google and lately Netflix, in the cord-cutting era. But Roku's been around for more than 15 years. That means it's older than YouTube.  Anthony Wood, the founder and CEO, hasn't followed a straight line to get Roku where it is. He's gone through a few different business models. He got some help from Netflix. Now he's defying the odds and talking about Roku's latest strategic moves. I met Anthony Wood at Roku's New York office in Midtown Manhattan. We talked about his journey as an entrepreneur – from selling used golf balls as a kid to his big move to Silicon Valley. He also gives his take on what's next in this golden age of TV. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
62 - Adena Friedman, Nasdaq CEO: Build A Career With Smart Adjustments
You don’t have to be playing the markets every day to know that stocks have been doing very well lately – and not just lately, for about nine years now.   That means you might be hearing a bit more about stock exchanges. Which brings us to my next guest. Adena Friedman is the first woman to lead a global stock exchange. She’s the CEO of Nasdaq, a job she’s held for a year.   To get there, she’s had to chart a path where there was none. For example, it meant choosing what was right for her family over what seemed like the more obvious career decision – and making it all work anyway.   I sat down with Adena Friedman – where else? At the Nasdaq, in New York’s Times Square. We talked about the roads not taken, and the new landscape for female entrepreneurs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
42 - Ben Chestnut, MailChimp co-founder: A Layoff Pushed Him to Success
Seventeen years ago, life gave Ben Chestnut the push to start the company that became MailChimp. He was in web design. He got laid off. His employer offered him another job, but he knew: this was his chance to build his own thing. Today if you run a small business or you're into marketing, you've probably heard of MailChimp. For everyone else, it's the way a lot of people reach their customers' email inboxes. Newsletters, offers for special sales, you name it – MailChimp is in the tricky game of helping companies reach the people who actually want to be reached. Today, Ben Chestnut's team has more than 14 million users, and had more than $400 million in sales last year. Ben himself? An introvert. A soft-spoken guy who has perfected the art of capitalizing on the wrong answer and getting to the right one. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
45 - Louis Hernandez, Jr., Avid CEO: The Storyteller's Dilemma
Louis Hernandez Jr. is the CEO of Avid Technology, a company that makes tools for editing video and audio, and writing music.  Avid is facing hard times as rival Adobe grows stronger with Premiere and other creative suite tools, and as more software moves to the cloud.  Hernandez is unique for a lot of reasons. One of them is that he's the Latino CEO of a publicly traded technology company. He recently wrote a book, The Storyteller's Dilemma, about the way technology is changing the media market.   Louis talked to me about his path to the C -suite, his vision for the future of storytelling, and the factors that made his story so different from many of his cousins in the LA area where he grew up. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
31 - Steve Ballmer, L.A. Clippers owner: Living Large After Microsoft
There's a story about former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer throwing a chair across his office and hitting a table with it. This story has become a piece of Silicon Valley lore. Now, Microsoft is not in Silicon Valley. It's in Washington State, near Seattle. But the story is a piece of Silicon Valley lore because of the reason Steve Ballmer allegedly threw the infamous chair. He wasn't aiming at a person. He didn't hate his table. He was fired up, because one of his engineers was leaving to take a job at Google. Google! And Google IS in Silicon Valley. The guy is passionate. One project he's spending time on in retirement: USAFacts. It's a trove of information about where our federal tax dollars really go – you can find it at, and play with the numbers yourself. Ballmer started digging after his wife asked him to get more involved in the family foundation's charitable work. Ballmer is passionate about making sure kids have the opportunity to do better than their parents did financially. I asked him if that passion is what motivated him to do a massive data project. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26 - Michael Dell, Dell CEO: Starting a Business and Keeping it Going
Michael Dell founded his company 33 years ago, in his freshman dorm room at the University of Texas, Austin. He had $1,000 to buy PC parts, and took orders over the phone. After that, it ballooned like crazy – and made Dell Computer one of the fastest-growing companies ever. The stock price went on a dizzying tear throughout the 1990s, roughly doubling most years throughout the decade. It also made Michael Dell a multi-billionaire. Since then, the path hasn't been easy. The era of gonzo growth in personal computers and corporate servers – Dell's bread and butter – is over. Now attention has turned to smartphones and cloud computing. Sensing weakness, legendary investor Carl Icahn tried to buy out the company four years ago, which probably would have resulted in it breaking into pieces. Michael Dell fought him and won, taking his namesake company private, and then making it bigger than ever. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
143 - Microsoft JEDI: The Empire Strikes Back; with Morgan Brennan
It's the biggest single cloud contract … possibly ever. Definitely the most talked about. The Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract. JEDI, going to: Microsoft late last week. The Empire Strikes Back. The JEDI contract is worth up to 10 billion dollars over 10 years, but just as valuable as the money: It's worth bragging rights and street cred. This was supposed to be Amazon's contract to lose. Amazon practically invented enterprise cloud computing 14 years ago with AWS. When the Pentagon put out the requirements for the contract a year and a half ago, some competitors cried foul that it was too tailored to Amazon. Is this a game changer in the cloud wars? With me this week, co-anchor of CNBC's Squawk Alley, Morgan Brennan.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
142 - Mr. Zuckerberg Goes to Washington: with John Stanton and Farhad Manjoo
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Washington this week arguing for Libra, the digital currency his company created and wants to build around. This after he last week made the case in front of an audience at Georgetown University that Facebook’s future, its past, its reason for being are all tied up in free speech. With me this week for another bite out of this Facebook and free speech debate: John Stanton, the cofounder of the Save Journalism Project, and Farhad Manjoo, columnist for the New York Times. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
101 - AWS CEO Andy Jassy: The Plan to Stay Ahead in the Cloud
Andy Jassy started the cloud business at Amazon, and still runs it. As AWS re:Invent, Amazon's annual cloud conference, I talked to him about Amazon's cloud strategy, global tech momentum, rivalries with other tech giants, and more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
115 - Should Big Tech Break Up? Plus, Playwright Dominique Morisseau
Have tech companies gotten so big that it’s bad for the economy? Senator Elizabeth Warren says so. She’s proposing to break up not one, but several tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. She says they shouldn’t be allowed to both run distributor platforms and compete on them. It’s like being an umpire and a team owner at the same time.   Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek not calling for a breakup, but he is calling for an overhaul – specifically when it comes to Apple. He’s pointing to the same issue Warren is: Apple is charging Spotify to operate on its App Store, but then also competing with Spotify in the same store.   So. Is there a problem here? Should big tech be broken up? If not, should regulators step in to change the rules?  This week I’m joined by Wired senior writer Lauren Goode; and here with me, New York Times Tech columnist Kevin Roose.   Joining us in just a bit, former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Author of new book: “From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future”  Later on the podcast: Dominique Morisseau is a playwright, a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, and her musical “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations” opens on Broadway this Thursday. A unique innovator shares her journey and you don’t want to miss it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
90 - Analyzing the New iPhone XS Max & Apple Watch with Chrissy Farr, Josh Lipton, Jillian Manus
Three new iPhone Xs and a watch that's a cleared medical device: That's what Apple announced at its biggest event of the year. But what does it mean for Apple? Which, if any, of this stuff is worth buying? Jon Fortt breaks it down with Christina Farr, health reporter who has been breaking stories left and right on Apple's health advancements; Jillian Manus, Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and CNBC tech correspondent Josh Lipton. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
65 - Rob Bernshteyn, Coupa CEO: Saving Your Way to Success
Frugality is baked into Rob Bernshteyn’s life experience. His family immigrated from Russia when he was a kid, and he used savings from a paper route to start a baseball card business … which helped pay for his college education. In his mid-30s, after an executive role at SuccessFactors, a tech company that went public, Rob’s entrepreneurial itch became overwhelming, and he used his modest IPO windfall to launch Coupa. Coupa’s mission? What else — help businesses save money through smart software.  Rob and I met at the Nasdaq Marketsite in Times Square to talk about how far Coupa’s come — it’s now a public company worth $2 billion — and how he got there. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
112 - Amazon Leaves NYC: Good or Bad? With Anand Giridharadas and Robert Frank
So long, New York! Amazon has pulled out of its commitment to build a massive campus and bring 25,000 to 40,000 high-paying jobs to Long Island City in Queens. On Valentines Day!  Roses are red / violets are blue / you’re not getting / my HQ2 – Love, Jeff  What went wrong? Why the breakup?   First of all, some critics were mad that New York offered 3 billion dollars in tax incentives to lure Amazon in the first place. Most businesses just come here because they want to be in New York and pay the taxes.   Second, you’ve got the union issues. Amazon flat out said, we’re not going to want our employees to unionize.  But still. It wasn’t as if the working class in Queens was rising up in protest against the Amazon deal. A poll by the Siena College Research Institute found 56 percent of New Yorkers wanted it, Democrats and Independents more than Republicans. Blacks and Latinos favored the deal more than any other group.   So what gives? And what does it mean for future deals between billionaire-run corporations and cities?   Joining me: Anand Giridharadas, author of  “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World” and CNBC Wealth Editor Robert Frank. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
106 - WW CEO Mindy Grossman; Plus, Wellness and Fitness Tech for 2019
Wellness, fitness, nutrition – all of it is getting a makeover in this age of mobile tech.   Now you can book doctor appointments on an app, get your blood drawn and the results back in 20 minutes. You can give your doctor access to your genetic code and get truly personalized service.   Your stationary bike can connect to the Internet to motivate you.   But how much is too much? And what are the best services to check out?   We have got just the show to kick off the year, whether you do resolutions or not. Joining me today, CNBC reporters Chrissy Farr and Diana Olick. And I’m thrilled to have WW CEO Mindy Grossman here with me. What’s WW? It’s the artist formerly known as Weight Watchers.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Podcast Details
Nov 13th, 2016
Latest Episode
Nov 23rd, 2019
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
36 minutes

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