Better Ways to Make Money? Up Close With Betterment and Neeva; DoorDash Goes Grocery +More

Sarah Levy of Betterment, Sridhar Ramaswamy of Neeva, Tony Xu of DoorDash

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My best weeks are the ones when I get to talk to leaders and entrepreneurs who are innovating across a wide variety of industries. Getting to know them and distilling their insights is a big part of what Fortt Knox is about.

This week I talked to an arcade junkie turned media executive turned fintech CEO, a former Google adtech engineer who’s on a mission to dismantle the dominance of search ads, and a Fortt Knox alum founder/CEO who’s continuing to expand his company beyond restaurant delivery and into data-driven local logistics. And that’s just a start.

So the theme of the week? Search & Deliver.

Break Up Big Tech? On the Other Hand

Congressional bills could pave the way toward breaking up Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. Is this good for competition or government overreach? I argued both sides in the latest On the Other Hand, on CNBC's Squawk Box:

DoorDash Charges into Grocery: CEO Tony Xu

It’s a massive moment in “last-mile” logistics: DoorDash is pushing into grocery delivery. This is huge because I think a lot of people are confused about what DoorDash is trying to be. The company isn’t about delivering restaurant food. It’s about building a data-driven system where trusted contractors can shuttle local items to customers. If Tony Xu and his team can hone this system and get smarter about knowing what people want even before they order it, there are all kinds of ways it might be profitable:


Former Google Exec Wants to Rewrite the Search Model: Neeva Cofounder Sridhar Ramaswamy

Sometimes the first swing is a strike. That’s what happened to Sridhar Ramaswamy the first time he tried to test into an elite university; but he tried again and crushed the test. It’s also what happened for him in the search business. He spent years building Google’s ad-driven search business, until he realized he didn’t believe in it — and built Neeva instead:

From Media to Money: Betterment CEO Sarah Levy

Sarah Levy was at Nickelodeon when SpongeBob was on the drawing board, and led operations at the media giant as the Netflix era dawned. At the end of 2020 she took over as CEO of fintech company Betterment, this time facing an industry disruption from the helm of a tech innovator, not an incumbent.

A New View on Windows: Microsoft CVP Yusuf Mehdi

It’s 21 years after a judge ordered Microsoft to break itself in two, and the company just announced Windows 11 — a platform the company touts as a democratizing force for those chafing under the tyranny of Apple and Google.

A Tech Worker and A Hip-Hop Label Owner: Ace Patterson

I heard about Ace Patterson through a LinkedIn connection. He’s a Silicon Valley tech worker who’s a hip-hop artist, who also started his own record label. I not only related to the hustle, but embraced the message: Embrace your talent. Develop it. And don’t be confined by the work others have given you to do:

If you know me, you know that I like projects. I put a lot of thought into things that are important to me, at it's not limited to Fortt Knox. My company, Fortt Media, is the home of The Black Experience in America: The Course, a curriculum I researched, designed, taught and then built into an interactive experience. I'm still building it, and crafting teacher training to increase its impact.

To share what I've learned from the process so far, and to learn from others who are passionate about Black history education, I'm participating in the Teaching Black History Conference, hosted by the Carter Center for K-12 Education at the University of Missouri, led by LaGarrett King. My presentation will be 7/23 at 8 a.m. ET. It's $99 to attend (virtually). Register here: