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ACQ2 by Acquired

Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal

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ACQ2 is Ben and David's conversations with expert founders and investors. Acquired the stories of great companies — and ACQ2 dives deeper into the lessons we can learn from them, often with the protagonists themselves.
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Artwork

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Acquired

Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal

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Monthly
 
Every company has a story. Learn the playbooks that built the world’s greatest companies — and how you can apply them as a founder, operator, or investor.
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show series
 
The tenacity required to build Klarna over the last 19 years is astonishing. Despite several headwinds and changes in the payments landscape since founding, Klarna is used today by 150 million consumers globally, processing two million payments a day. Founder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski joins us for one of the most honest and thoughtful discuss…
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Starbucks. You’d be hard pressed to name any brand that’s more ubiquitous in the world today. With nearly half a billion global customer purchases per week across its stores and 3rd party retail channels, a significant portion of the human population gets their daily fix in the green and white paper cup. (Including our own Ben Gilbert who famously …
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The space industry is one of the most fascinating areas of technology in 2024. The reduction in launch costs and proliferation of satellites make all kinds of new businesses possible. Today we are joined by Austin Link, the co-founder and CEO of Starfish Space (where Ben and PSL Ventures are investors!). Austin lays out the state of the space indus…
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If you’ve been waiting for us to venture back to the land of semiconductors, you’re in luck! On our NVIDIA and TSMC episodes, we explored two components of the silicon value chain: the fabless chip companies that design chips and the foundries that manufacture them. Today, we dive into the software that powers it all, the field electronic design au…
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Microsoft. After nearly a decade of Acquired episodes, we are finally ready to tackle the most valuable company ever created. The company that put a computer on every desk and in every home. The company that invented the software business model. The company that so thoroughly and completely dominated every conceivable competitor that the United Sta…
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Renaissance Technologies is the best performing investment firm of all time. And yet no one at RenTec would consider themselves an “investor”, at least in any traditional sense of the word. It’d rather be more accurate to call them scientists — scientists who’ve discovered a system of math, computers and artificial intelligence that has evolved int…
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On our Novo Nordisk episode, we covered the business of Ozempic, the GLP-1 taking the world by storm. On this episode, we dive into the science of the molecule semaglutide (and its predecessor liraglutide) with the world expert on the topic, Lotte Bjerre Knudsen. Lotte is Novo Nordisk’s Chief Scientific Advisor, and led the research group back in t…
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In luxury, there’s Hermès… and there’s everyone else. Stewarded by one French family over six generations, Hermès sells the absolute pinnacle of the French luxury dream. Loyal clients will wait years simply for the opportunity to buy one of the company’s flagship Birkin or Kelly bags. Unlike every other luxury brand, Hermès: Doesn’t increase supply…
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Last year Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company behind Ozempic and Wegovy, overtook LVMH to become Europe’s most valuable company. And the pull for Acquired to finally tackle healthcare (18% of US GDP!) became too strong for us to resist. While we didn’t know much about Novo Nordisk before diving in, our first thought was, “wow, seems lik…
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Ben has some big news. Actually, double big news! On what has become a holiday tradition here at Acquired, we cozy up to the fire to do our annual review of the show “in public”. We reflect on what can only be described as an absolutely mind-blowing 2023 (LVMH! Jensen! Costco! Charlie! Half a million plus listeners!) and look ahead to some big thin…
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We’re joined by Imprint cofounder and Thrive General Partner Gaurav Ahuja to dive deeper into the modern payments ecosystem and Visa’s current place within it. Gaurav was one of our research sources for the Visa episode, and we wanted to bring his insights to you all too. We discuss whether Visa really should be worried about eroding interchange fe…
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To paraphrase Visa founder Dee Hock, how many of you know Visa? Great, all of you. Now, how many of you know how it started? Or, for that matter, who started it? Who runs and governs it? Where is it headquartered? What’s its business model? For the 11th largest market cap company in the world, Visa’s history and strategy is almost shockingly unknow…
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We sit down with Morgan Housel, who is one of our very favorite authors and has also become a good friend of the show over the past few years. Morgan’s last book The Psychology of Money had a huge impact on both of our personal financial philosophies (and by extension Acquired’s!), and Morgan was kind enough to give us an advance copy of his new bo…
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We sit down with the legendary Charlie Munger in the only dedicated longform podcast interview that he has done in his 99 years on Earth. We’ve gotten to have some special conversations on Acquired over the years, but this one truly takes the cake. Over dinner at his Los Angeles home, Charlie reflected with us on his own career and his nearly 50-ye…
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We finally sit down with the man himself: Nvidia Cofounder & CEO Jensen Huang. After three parts and seven+ hours of covering the company, we thought we knew everything but — unsurprisingly — Jensen knows more. A couple teasers: we learned that the company’s initial motivation to enter the datacenter business came from perhaps not where you’d think…
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While preparing for our Porsche episode with Doug DeMuro, we had a lot more than Porsche to discuss… but the episode was already over 3 hours! We decided to save the rest for its own episode, released here on ACQ2. Doug helped us understand what’s going on with the car industry supply chain in 2023, the transition to electric vehicles, the car deal…
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It’s a(nother) new era for Nvidia. We thought we’d closed the Acquired book on Nvidia back in April 2022. The story was all wrapped up: Jensen & crew had set out on an amazing journey to accelerate the world’s computing workloads. Along the way they’d discovered a wondrous opportunity (machine learning powered social media feed recommendations). Th…
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We sit down with RunwayML’s CEO Cristobal Valenzuela to discuss the incredible tools they’re bringing to film and video creators (including last year’s Best Picture “Everything Everywhere All at Once” from A24), and the history + current state of the “visual” branch of generative AI. We cover how they’ve gone to market with both creators and enterp…
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Costco is not only Charlie Munger’s favorite company of all time (plus he’s on the board, natch), it’s an absolutely fascinating study in how seemingly opposite characteristics can combine to create incredible company value. For instance: Costco has the cheapest prices of any major retailer in America — and also the wealthiest customer base. They p…
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We sit down with Crusoe Energy CEO Chase Lochmiller to talk about the two “hard to imagine” tasks they’ve undertaken: 1) building a new AI cloud infrastructure provider from scratch, and 2) colocating and powering it with stranded energy from some of the harshest and most remote locations on earth. Crusoe’s cloud of course has to compete with (and …
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Nike — it’s perhaps the most iconic and most prolific brand of the modern era. On any given day, swooshes adorn the feet of more people on earth than any other footwear company — by a long shot. If you read Shoe Dog or watched Air, you may think you know its history. But Shoe Dog ends in 1980, and Air… well let’s just say it’s an enjoyable piece of…
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Nobody’s perfect — including Porsche. Despite that phrase appearing in their famous 1983 magazine advertisement, they managed to get damn-close to the perfect luxury business (even Bernard Arnault would be jealous!). Porsche is both quality AND quantity, owning the most prestigious brand in its market, while at the same time churning out almost hal…
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Every now and then, we come across super interesting and under-the-radar (at least to us!) public markets folks like NZS Capital who make us think differently about the art of investing. TDM is another one of those groups — founded 18 years ago in Australia, they’ve compounded a single, private pool of capital at 26% per annum over nearly two decad…
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Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi dropped by the Acquired studio for an Eats delivery, so we broke out the cameras and asked him to hang out for a wide-ranging conversation. :) We talk about his 20 years working with Barry Diller, starting his career at Allen & Company, how the Uber CEO search process ACTUALLY went down… and oh yeah, the massive transform…
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