Jeremy Weisz 4:49
we’re talking like your Intel in like 1974 right? So
Richard Melmon 4:55
yeah, seven This is my Chrome experience was really 75, 76, 77 ish. And I just want to
Jeremy Weisz 5:02
give people a sense because you’re talking about the computer in 1974. That is not normal that you know what I mean? Yeah, no,
Richard Melmon 5:10
I was one of you know, I was one of probably five or six people, you know, gates, guys like me, Bill Gates. It had this had this kind of crazy vision. And, of course, is the two Steve’s actually did it. They built you know, they build something, I actually was in a little company that I won’t probably even remember the name of. I left Intel, they joined a little company. And we actually competed a little bit in kind of a funny way with with the early Apple stuff. But anyway, I went to McKenna. And so I was dealing with Steve Jobs all the time. He was a brutal, he is a young man, he was brutally, let’s be clear, I think he turned out to be a genius. A very fascinating person, I could go on at length about him in his older age. I didn’t know him as he was, you know, once he became rich and famous, I had no real contact with it. But in the early days, I he was in my life all the time is one of his, you know, one of his girlfriends worked for me and McKenna. And so we saw him on Steve all the time. And he was difficult. He wasn’t, he didn’t give any real indication when he was young that he was going to turn out to be this genius that he became. There’s they’re, you know, he was obnoxious he was it wasn’t that really that great at doing what he did, but but you know, in the end, the he grew up and became, became what he what the world now knows, and I loved what he did. And I you know, I’m terribly sad that he didn’t, you know, that he’s not an older man now doing what is what he could do.
Jeremy Weisz 6:51
What did you see Richard, at that time, you’re talking like in the mid 70s. And you’re seeing computer like, you know, most people are not even thinking in that realm. And I know your background is in physics. And so I’m not sure how did you land in marketing from being in physics?
Richard Melmon 7:11
Well, I wasn’t a good enough physicist to really be a physics physicist. And so I had to confront that reality. My brain didn’t work the way you really it really needs to work to be, you know, to be at the forefront of physics. I did it for 10 years. And you know, I kind of operated kind of in the margins between physics and kind of crude, early early engineering phases. I was always involved from even when I was a physicist. You know, I start I was in an entrepreneurial company in 1960, to be a venture backed company in 1961. You know, I come from, I lived in San Francisco, I lived in phylo Farnsworth his grandmother’s house, and Firefox was the inventor of television, for crying out loud. I had uncle Sue knew both Hewlett and Packard, I was destined to be an entrepreneur. And so even when I was a physicist, I did it in a very kind of weird and wonderful way. I was always kind of more creative than I was technically astute.
Jeremy Weisz 8:18
was any of your family entrepreneurs. Growing up?
Richard Melmon 8:21
I had to. I had two uncles who wanted to be entrepreneurs were and and wanted to be involved in the sciences. And they influenced me enormously. My father was an optometrist, and was also you know, technically astute. So I came from that kind of a family I always knew I was going to be a physicist. I went to Berkeley and that was all it was all kind of hardwired in and I you know, I built ham radios and flew model airplanes as a kid and, and so it was just natural.
Jeremy Weisz 8:55
You left Intel because they you’re like, there’s this computer thing. Yeah, they’re gonna be big. What did you do next?
Richard Melmon 9:04
There was a little spinoff out of Intel, it started a company called m tech. It was started by a guy named Albert you. And we built a we built something that fell into the crease between the game business and the computer business and it ultimately didn’t work and we, we left the business. But you know, in that period, I negotiated with Bill Gates for for a basic language compiler that would run on what was called an f8 which is a little controller chip that Fairchild built, I mean it was it was just it was wonderful times you know, Bill must have been like, I don’t know he was probably 20 years old when I met him. And and I got to know Bill a little bit later when with the spreadsheet with the with the Visicalc stuff.
Jeremy Weisz 9:56
What was he like them at age 20?
Richard Melmon 10:00
him you knew. I mean, this kid you knew was going to be something now he turned out. I mean even more magnificent than I ever imagined he would given what he’s done with his money and everything but you knew that he was going to be something he was just very special. And very smart Of course, and extremely determined. I mean this, this young man was really a very determined guy. So that was clear.
Jeremy Weisz 10:34
You mentioned VisiCalc right? So
Richard Melmon 10:38
yeah, this is an interesting thing I was showing, I was showing a I was working again I was at McKenna I was doing the you know, struggling to get Apple into the business world. We couldn’t figure out how to make apple other than just a hobby machine. We wanted businesses to use it. We wanted businesses to buy it, but none of us markula struggled with it. I did we all struggle with how do we get this thing to be useful for business? It was critical. It’s when I actually first time I met Trip Hawkins ultimately I found a DA with he was you know, he was at Apple then trying to figure out the same thing. A friend of mine guy named Ben Rosen became a famous venture capitalist, very interesting guy wasn’t that he was a, he was a, he was in the he was a journalist actually good as an analyst, and a journalist, showed me this, this prototype of what was called the spring, they didn’t even know what to call it, it was called VisiCalc. Visual calculator was their idea. But it turned out to be the spreadsheet. And there was a big battle over what to name it that I was involved in. But anyway, I looked at that in in two seconds, in literally two seconds. I knew the whole future of personal computing was going to be opened up and changed fact the whole world would change. It was at that point, I realized that everything that we’re now living with was going to happen in literally two seconds. I told Ben, Ben, this is a pisser I sent it I hope you can put that on here. And you know, I just it just was clear to me this was going to allow the personal computer to be used usefully in business and it was going to really make apple and and so it’s a very complicated story about you know, how I finally ended up working for the VisiCalc people but literally the first day on the job that I was at the the what became this a Corp, named I actually insisted we renamed the company after the after the spreadsheet. It was called personal software. But literally the first day I met the company I got I got a call from Steve Jobs. Steve never calls me he was much too much of a glorious, arrogant big shot to call a guy like me, a minion like me. And and so I knew something probably not pleasant was in the cards and came over to see me and he threatened to put us out of business. Here was this little teeny company building a product that was absolutely making his company a success. And, and he was coming over and say, hey, we’ve we’ve, we’ve cloned Visicalc, and we’re going to put it in, we’re going to offer it for free to everybody, but we in the graciousness of our heart. We’re going to, we’re going to give you the chance, we’ll give you a bucket copy, if you license it to us. And he had his he had his sandal bear sandal feet up on my desk because he was telling me this. And I remember this clearly, I said, Steve, I’m going to say a couple of things to you first, take your feet off my desk, and second, get the blank and I use a very bad word get the blankety blank out of my office, because you guys aren’t smart enough to clone visicalc and you’re just bluffing. So get the hell out of here. And he did. And I was right. They were bluffing. And so you know, it’s an appreciate it. But the first spreadsheet had to work in a very tiny memory space within the apple two computer. And it was an incredibly magnificent job of coding that allowed it to be done and Apple could there was no way Apple was gonna do this. In fact, you know, there were 20 or 30 or 40 called visie clones that attempted to compete with VisiCalc but never did and so it wasn’t until much later when the when the IBM machine came out and you know, the the history of this spreadsheet of VisiCalc very dysfunctional company is very complicated, interesting story. And so the company ultimately failed, but but there was a period of a few years where boy we were the kings of everything.
Jeremy Weisz 14:56
You think Richard if Steve Jobs came to you in a different manner that you would have considered that offer, like not threatening or threatening manner, but offering, listen, we’ll give you $1, whatever. Do you think that would be under consideration or not at all? Well, I
Richard Melmon 15:17
think there would have been, there was a very good reason for Apple to try to do something with this company, because it was so central to them. And that was also a very good reason for this little company to do something with Apple in order to, you know, bolster its its own self. But you know, we were all crazy. You know, Steve was crazy. I was crazy. Yeah, we were
Jeremy Weisz 15:41
What do you say? Why do you say you were crazy,
Richard Melmon 15:43
we were all we were all infected with the glorious mission of building out this destiny of the digital world. It was it was in it was in us. And we, we could feel it palpable, and we all felt we were, you know, warriors, you know, like, going to war almost, but we all felt just invincible. And so it was very difficult in those days, from a human point of view, young people, you know, building a whole new world to kind of act reasonably. And so there was a lot of unreasonable and crazy kind of thing like Steve coming over in that way. I mean, that’s nuts. Why would Why would a person do that, but we were all kind of infected with that kind of hubris. And,
Jeremy Weisz 16:27
you know, I remember Richard in talking to Alvy Ray Smith. And he also kept mentioning Moore’s Moore’s law. And also, I think, his backgrounds in physics. And he, I don’t know, so I’m curious of what you saw the application of Moore’s Law becoming he, you know, like, kind of plotted out Toy Story based on Moore’s law, and he can’t, it was amazing to hear him talk about, he knew He’s like, oh, within, based on computing power and Moore’s Law within, it’s gonna take five more years. Like he just knew the time period it would take and what do you see what’s going to be happening?
Richard Melmon 17:06
Listen, you people are talking about Moore’s law. But I argued about Moore’s law with Gordon Moore. in the hallways of Intel, I said, Gordon, you’re not being aggressive enough. And thinking about how big this memory business this memory is gonna be. It’s gonna be much, and
Jeremy Weisz 17:23
you’re an Intel? Yeah,
Richard Melmon 17:25
I’m an Intel with Gordon, who was the inventor of Moore’s Law, I mean, towards the end. So, you know,
Jeremy Weisz 17:34
we’ll give people a brief synopsis, like Moore’s law for people and don’t know what it is, how would you describe it?
Richard Melmon 17:41
It’s just that the, the ability of the technical people to continually improve the performance of the integrated circuit was, it wasn’t computable, you couldn’t compute Why, why this thing called Moore’s Law work, it just was experience showed that the the performance of these products kept getting better and better and better, as the collective technology that built them. And the designs of them got better and better and better. And so the power kept increasing in a predictable way, every, you know, you could say every 18 months, every 12 it depended on how you wanted to compute it, but we could, we could, we could predict quite reliably what the power would be. at some future point, we’ve kind of run you know, we’re kind of running into the more or less the end of that now. It’s still, there’s still these improvements. But the cost of making the improvements are now so atrociously huge, that there are the Moore’s law is kind of, in some sense, somewhat coming to an end, that’s not strictly true. But but from a practical point of view, more or less true. But back in back in when I was a young man, we could you know, we could say, hey, when riches 75 it’s, here’s the power that these machines are going to have and be pretty close to, right.
Jeremy Weisz 18:58
So at that point, you see the computing power just going up exponentially. And so you saw the personal you saw that point, the vision for the computer just to be mainstream, based on
Richard Melmon 19:11
the thing that was a little weird about guys like me, was it was I just knew, I knew to a certainty that this had to happen and that and that there would be this absorption into the, you know, into the culture of this, of this computing ability. I don’t know why I knew that. I don’t know how I knew it. It wasn’t a rational, thoughtful process. It was an intuition. But But I was convinced to a certainty. And it turned out I was right. I mean, go figure. I mean, I’m not prescient about things today. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen next week, let alone five years from now but but back then I could and and there were a bunch of us that kind of were in it and knew that it was gonna happen. Did
Jeremy Weisz 20:01
you know I mean, I don’t know. I mean, looking at your background, you know, hindsight is 2020 but like you had this background in physics, you had an MBA in business, you know, from Stanford. So it kind of this cross section of, what is this going to look like? And also what’s the application and in the world? And then So, talk about the beginning of EA sport or Electronic Arts, I always hear like john Madden’s voice, like, yeah, you know, but
Richard Melmon 20:32
I hate to be I hate to be candid and honest about this, because I love bragging about Electronic Arts gives me great pleasure. You know, I’ve had selfies taken with Saudi princes who wanted to show their kids that they had talked to a founder of Electronic Arts people come up to me all the time and say, my kids, blah, blah, blah, I have very little to do with Electronic Arts to truth be told, I had one important thing that I contributed, which was understanding that we had to take charge of our own marketing and distribution and we had to become a marketing powerhouse to dominate ultimately dominate the business. But I fought with I didn’t fight with but I didn’t get along with Tripp Hawkins. And it was in everybody’s interested in one or the other of us leave the company fairly early. And, and so I was going after about two years, and so I can’t really honestly brag too much about the company. But But when Tripp and I wrote the business plan, the business plan, almost to the letter turned out to be correct. With the one exception that we had to really the EAA about about about eight years in they had to reverse engineer the Sega machine and get into the game platform business, which they did. And that’s when they could, that’s when ultimately they can go public. But the basic vision of the company to have a studio and all that stuff, Tripp and I collectively put that together and I feel quite proud that that we got that right. And even though the two of us really couldn’t get along all that well, in the end, still the the combination of the two of us I think was critical to making the company ultimately a big success. But I don’t want to over pat myself on the back. I just, you know, I enjoy the story of it. I wasn’t really that much of a game guy myself alone, my son is incredibly much a game a game film.
Jeremy Weisz 22:17
Was that a hard decision at the time, Richard? To leave I mean, like you said, is one of us. And
Richard Melmon 22:25
they basically threw me out here kind of ugly, it was, it was hurtful. Yeah, I’m sure I could have handled it better. They could everybody could have handled it better. But but they, they were fair. I mean, I kept a bunch of stock and, and so forth. So it wasn’t as if I was screwed or anything. It just was, it was kind of a it was unnecessary. If again, if we had been a little more sane, you know, we if everybody had been a little bit less imbued with this kind of craziness that made this industry it probably didn’t have to happen but it did.
Jeremy Weisz 23:00
What was next then So usually,
Richard Melmon 23:02
that’s when I that’s when I started my high tech at a big agency. And basically, you know, I launched the you know, Xilinx and some of the precursor to Cisco and I mean, I basically did a lot of the advertising for companies I didn’t do Intel, but I did Sun Microsystems and it’s over so you know, 30 or 40 of the main high tech companies were my clients in advertising we did a nice job and we then sold it to a pretty interesting ad agency up in Seattle that wanted to get into the high tech business and so I then you know, I then went on and did this I had in my mind all along building a better spreadsheet and I did that in Objective software
Jeremy Weisz 23:46
Talk about the lessons for you know, several of your companies have been acquired Are there any where some of the mistakes or lessons you learn like other people now like you know, one day I’m going to sell my company for some of the battle scars
Richard Melmon 24:02
I think there’s only one thing that that I’ve learned I was was this little company after Intel that built a product that I knew I knew the product wasn’t quite right but i thought i was such a I had such expertise in marketing and in computer sales from the digital and the digital watch experience I thought okay it doesn’t matter I’m such a good market here I can I can make this success this successful and then we’ll fix it. bad mistake. The worst mistake of my of my long career now was that was that thing, you have to have the product right, the product? companies don’t fail because marketing isn’t done right. companies don’t fail because you can find the right sales guys. companies don’t fail because the advertising messages and perfect companies fail because the product doesn’t really suit the market and doesn’t work right and so that’s it. That’s the only wisdom I think I’ve come up with over now that I’ve been doing this for 50 years.
Jeremy Weisz 25:06
You know, that’s a good point. So the product has to be a product market fit for it to work at the end. So I’d love to hear your okay so some of these instantaneous like you saw the spreadsheet you’re like this is that this is what’s going to do. And obviously you help you invest in companies, you know what’s with the company. So I love to hear one where you knew instantaneously another one? Maybe you thought you knew instantaneously, but there was, you know, I don’t know what what the batting average is for for good, but it’s probably like a Hall of Fame baseball for You bet. You know, three 400 you’re a Hall of Famer. So
Richard Melmon 25:46
probably not that good. It’s probably not that good. I’m famous at Bullpen for saying, guys, this has to happen, you know, this is this is this is such a great idea. This obviously has to happen. And and, and we see that a lot. Now the problem with that is just because something has to happen, doesn’t mean the particular instantiation of how it will happen, is the thing that’s making me say that so when I look at when I look at stuff that comes in and thinking it has to happen, there’s a lot of times when Yes, ultimately what has to happen happens, but it doesn’t happen with the with the group that I put my money into. And so it’s not that easy. There’s timing
Jeremy Weisz 26:33
involved, you know, like you’re thinking the computer, there’s
Richard Melmon 26:38
so much involved, it’s Yeah, it’s timing, it’s luck, it’s it’s it’s not unknowable, it’s in the end is not a normal process. That’s why, you know, a venture firm makes investments in 25 companies, and two of them will will return the fund, but you don’t know which two, and now that I’ve been now that I’ve been doing formal venture stuff, for a long time, I realized not even I can figure out exactly which one of these damn things is going to make us the money. It’s humbling. But it’s just, it’s a process that is not knowable, in a fine tooth way, once a company has absorbed maybe 10 or 15 or $20 million of early money, and it’s been around for three or four or five years and has been engaged in the marketplace and is making revenues, then you can start analyzing it like, you know, the hedge funds, analyze their deals, then you can start looking at the numbers and the numbers will actually give you a pretty good indication of what’s going to happen. But in the early days, the the classic numbers of growth and revenue and all that are, are usually they can be a little bit helpful, but nowhere near as much helpful as people imagined. And so analytics isn’t much help in the very earliest period of company formation.
Jeremy Weisz 28:05
I know Richard Paul was saying, you know, you were just at his office all the time. So you just decided to give him a key like you’re here all the time. might as well give you a key what what is what’s, what strikes you about, Paul, because you could have a lot you have a lot of different opportunities, I imagine. And you probably choose them carefully. So why Paul and Duncan with Bullpen Cap?
Richard Melmon 28:30
No, don’t I know Duncan for many years. And I knew him. Well, and he you know, he’s a very smart guy and I had met Paul probably, before we did bullpen I probably met him five years prior and had invested was the first check in one of his, in his company aggregate knowledge. Paul is just one of these guys. It takes maybe 10 seconds or 20 seconds to realize this guy is smarter than you. In fact, he’s the smartest guy in the room. Ball policy. You know, he’s got a mind he’s a genius. You know, he just he was born with a freaky, wonderful brain. And he’s a character and and I loved him from from the first go. I mean, he’s, you know, he’s half my age. He’s younger than my children. And, but, you know, I just immediately liked him. And yeah, he hung out in our little office on Sand Hill Road, which was then a mostly a consulting firm. We weren’t really an investment company yet. And we got to know each other over the years. And when Duncan and he came to me, the last thing on my mind was becoming a venture, an actual real venture capitalist. But I did and I think, I think I fooled them. You know, I don’t think they realized how old I was when they hired you know, when they when they said, hey, let’s put this Bullpen together. Because you know Duncan’s not that young. He’s not anywhere near as old. I’m not that young Paul was the young guy. And then there was Duncan. And then it was really quite old me, but I don’t think they knew how old I was because I looked young. And so in the end, you know, we had to bring in some younger people to make a venture firm, you can’t have a venture firm in which the old guy, you know, which everybody has to retire, the investors want to have a long term generational stability. And so, but it was great fun, and I and I, and I still do, you know, I’m now Americans with them. And I, I do have that, you know, they let me do a deal or two here and there and, and I enjoy it enormously and go to all the partner meetings. But in the early days, we were really working at it, it was fascinating. And all of us learned, you know, we had to learn how to really do it as we went. And, of course, it’s worked out very, very well.
Jeremy Weisz 30:47
Do you remember, any advice that you gave? Either Duncan or Paul, that that struck them are some observations because you’ve been in the industry, for, you know, since the beginning of the computers,
Richard Melmon 31:03
people don’t listen to advice and so forth? I mean, we, you know, we went back and forth. And we, I think we, I think we all respected each other, but no one I’ve never been, I’ve never been the type to be reverently thought of as some kind of Guru. And so I think I think I was able to make them understand that the analytics they’re very analytical, both those guys you’re very analytical and I and you think a physicist would be analytical too. And I always tell people, listen, I’m a physicist, I can analytic anybody generally, that except another physicist, but, but there’s more to it than that. And I think they, they ended up seeing that I was successful with them in picking deals, they ended up I think, in the end, learning from that, more than me convincing them with any argument.
Jeremy Weisz 31:58
What’s an example of that where you saw a deal that, you know, based on what you’ve seen in the past that met your criteria?
Richard Melmon 32:08
Well, you know, there’s a company that we that was controversial that I wanted to invest in, that was controversial. And, you know, they finally kind of grudgingly went along with it. And it’s gonna turn out to make probably more money than any other investment in the history of a Bullpen. And so I think that experience was important to both Duncan and Paul
Jeremy Weisz 32:32
what did you see there? What was it that you saw that maybe other people didn’t?
Richard Melmon 32:38
It was as it was a somewhat on a tiny, tiny scale, it was kind of a spreadsheet, like experience. So this is a company that’s now called braze. It was called App Boy in the beginning. But it was a company that we invested in very small amount of money as a seed investment, I don’t think it probably wasn’t more than a couple $100,000. And it was, it was in a funny space, it wasn’t clear what was going on. And then the founder of the company came and had lunch with me one day, and he said, rich, we’re gonna change the direction of the company, and try to become the CRM for mobile. And as soon as he said that, everything snapped, and I knew Oh, my God, this is right. And this is needed. And this is going to be a huge winner. And I went back and I tried to convince the part, the partners to let me do a pre emptive investment in this company, that would have given us a very, very big position. And I wasn’t able to convince them to do it. And we ended up putting pretty good money into it, but not as much as I would have wished. And so I never let him forget that I keep every day, you know, it’s 10 years now. bringing it up every chance I can, and of course, it annoys the hell out of everybody. And I shouldn’t do it is ridiculous, but we’re still gonna make a huge return on this company. But it was just like, Okay, this is this. This was one of those things when I got it right. And it happens every now and then. But it but it’s rare. It doesn’t happen that often. I was much smarter about everything back when I was young. And in the in arguing with Gordon Moore about Moore’s law. In this in this in this world. I’m just another guy trying to figure it out like everybody else.
Jeremy Weisz 34:25
Talk about NSV Wolf Capital, and what you’re doing there.
Richard Melmon 34:30
My partner there who I’ve known for ever a guy named Hiroshi menzo is a Japanese, Japanese, Japanese came to America 30 years ago, became an American citizen, but he’s fundamentally Japanese. And so he and I made a living, giving advice to major enterprises in Japan, about the coming digital age and we did that starting in. We did that starting in 19. 96 in another partnership with McKenna, interestingly enough, but ultimately did it in our own company starting in 2002. And we weren’t consultants fundamentally. But a little by little, we realized that that the only way to get companies to really do something important is to get them to put money in. And so we we created a fund to funds in which we would invest in Silicon Valley VCs, and use that to inform the limited partners that we had gotten out of Japan. And so that NSP wolf capital is a small fund of funds, also does direct investing, that that gets its money from five big Japanese companies who want to do the right thing in terms of moving better into the digital age, it’s been fantastically successful. Our LPs love the advice we’re getting, we’re actually going to make them a little bit of money as well. And, and so it’s just been good all
Jeremy Weisz 36:01
around. How do you see the differences between Japan and the US as you’re working with the US based companies in the Japanese based companies?
Richard Melmon 36:12
Well, you have to be kind of careful. Because it’s not, it’s not, you know, it’s not a one size fits all explanation. But generally, the Japan as far as the Japanese, the large, Japanese companies tend to be fairly rigidly run very hierarchical, the very top management’s tend to be a bit out of touch with the fast moving developments in middle management tends to have a difficulty, even if they can follow them, really getting initiatives through because everybody is so cautious. Now that’s changing. And there are entrepreneurs in Japan that are fantastic. And there are companies you know, I mean, there’s been a whole generation now of decent entrepreneurship, the venture industry in Japan is a little bit difficult. And and hasn’t been that hasn’t been that vibrant, but that’s changing too. And so I think the cliches that we have about jab about Japan and Japanese culture and companies, there’s some truth to it, but you have to be careful and and not in not look at those cliches, only you have to look past them. And we’ve had some fantastic experiences now in really getting companies in Japan that were height bound to really loosen up and they’re doing extremely well. So it’s an exciting thing to go through.
Jeremy Weisz 37:39
Richard, you know, I’m curious, from your perspective, what’s on the horizon? And we were talking about before we hit record, that you’re skeptical of AI
Richard Melmon 37:51
well look at it the work that deep mind has done in particular, and now now part of Google but but the work of those guys has been incredible. And so there’s no question that these these AI methods in certain instances can be enormously helpful in, in, in, in finding relationships in the data that that are that are subtle and non obvious. I don’t think that AI is going to you know solve huge cultural issues or I don’t think you know, there’s this very famous book Sapiens written by Yuval Harari. He’s he goes on a great length about how there’s going to be a melding of the machine and the man and so forth. I don’t think I think he’s crazy I don’t think that’s right i the books is a genius the book is fantastic and and and, you know, how can I say anything negative about the book, but that one idea where when there’s going to be this inevitable melding of man and machine and singularities and the machines are going to take over completely misunderstands the the evolutionary roots of life and humanity and so forth. And so I don’t, I don’t I think that part of it’s very much over done. I think the the algorithmic social networking, stuff we’re going through now is going to have to be fixed in some way. We can’t allow this Facebook nonsense to continue the way it has been. It’s just, that’s a pernicious evil. That has to be good, somehow gotten rid of, I don’t know how we do it. I’m glad it’s not my job to figure out how to do it, but it We can’t let that continue. So I think AI has to be taken with very, very large grain of salt All the while, giving it its due and in in a practical way, solving some really interesting problems. This protein folding business that that’s been announced by deep mind is fascinating. Again, it’s not a panacea. If you talk to the you know, if you talk To the scientists in the field they say it’s really interesting and it’s very very helpful but it doesn’t get everything right you still need to go in by hand and figure out how to tweak each of these things doing the quantum mechanical computations right down to the atomic level if you’re going to do true drug discovery so you know quantum Thank
Jeremy Weisz 40:19
you As for what do you think would be best use cases for AI?
Richard Melmon 40:26
Well any anytime there’s massive data that in which there are patterns to be discovered that can be usefully exploited so diagnosis is going to be helpful and so forth. For sure, you know for sure the techniques we’ve we’ve developed for that are going to continue to be impressive and important and every everything is going to have a little AI in it it’s going to be one of these generic things where you’re going to have every you know, all the applications will have to do a better job of understanding what the data says
Jeremy Weisz 40:59
Richard um, you know, as far as with this business and throughout your career there’s there’s always tough decisions to be made you know, who do you turn for, to for advice, my colleagues when you’re thinking something through you want another set of eyes on it? Who do you turn to?
Richard Melmon 41:20
Well, first thing I do is I asked myself Hey, what would Don Valentine you don was the founder of Square Capital and as quiet as the only venture firm in the world that I think actually really knows what it’s doing at least did in the Don Valentine era so I first asked myself that he passed away a few years ago and he he found he was a guy that really put Tripp together to found Electronic Arts and so I have a deep admiration for for him and but you know, I I take the counsel of my partners all of them you know both on the on the NSV Wolf Capital side and on the Bullpen side I listened I listened to to them I asked them for their for their input I I listened to my wife very carefully I have a son whose advice I seek from time to time and and then there’s some very you know, some old there’s just some old friends of mine that I occasionally will will pick the brain of and so as you get older you do realize you’re not you’re not you don’t really know what you’re doing and you need to avoid making disastrous mistakes you really do need to listen to the people around you
Jeremy Weisz 42:46
What does your son do now? You mentioned he’s he’s more in gaming
Richard Melmon 42:49
he’s he’s a great into it he’s done a lot of things but right at the moment he’s he’s trying to build a I can’t call it really a game I call it anyway it’s it’s as a fascinating take on some aspects of psychology that that he’s got very interesting that he’s gotten very interested in and he’s trying to figure out how to put this together in what would be a really a different kind of social networking paradigm and and so it’s one of the more he is prolific in terms of going into ideas. And he and he and I’ve done a bunch of things that were right but didn’t quite make it. So I’m I’m going to be curious to see how this one turns out for
Jeremy Weisz 43:34
what’s his background? And is he a programmer,
Richard Melmon 43:37
he made himself into a programmer, he actually had a degree in economics and he got a law degree, but he ended up you know, he ended up in this business and IT trained himself to be a you know, pretty, pretty successful and competent program.
Jeremy Weisz 43:55
was that there was Moses like around the dinner table, hearing your stories, because it seems like he kind of went a different route in the beginning going into law.
Richard Melmon 44:04
My son and I have a relationship like many fathers and sons where I think he Yeah, I think there was some osmosis but you know, he’s his own person and he is a hell of a lot smarter in many ways than I am and so I think that I have no idea how he
Jeremy Weisz 44:28
and I find this fascinating because like, as a parent myself, I mean, I have younger kids like seven and 10. Um, you know, what you discuss around the dinner table how that affected him. I mean, ultimately, they’re gonna take their own path, but they’re still affected probably by you know, your advice, your lessons, you know, just parenting. by example. I
Richard Melmon 44:52
mean, it’s really by example, you know, he worked at EA as a as a tester there even after they kicked me out. He continued to to work there and he knows you know he he’s close to some of the old EA people you know even as I am but so he was always you know when when when I was consulting and we did stuff in it we put companies together you know we we we would just do things so it’s really I think you’re right it’s it’s it’s not literally around the dinner table but it’s certainly around the house and around the life and just because they’re you know, they know your friends and they know what you’re doing it It can’t help but rub off
Jeremy Weisz 45:38
what was an example of some that you said you’ve worked on some projects together
Richard Melmon 45:44
we actually created the first internet radio venture that was really right and it was called binary broadcasting of America and and it failed we couldn’t raise money for it, but we were but we you know, we anticipated all of the Pandora and, and all of that stuff. And it it was it was it was largely his work. And we had a woman who really knew the radio business that was enormously helpful as an artist by go figure but she was she had started her life selling radio ad space and so the between the two of them and so forth, we we put this thing together that should have become Pandora. But didn’t. That happens a lot.
Jeremy Weisz 46:34
I love it. Richard, first of all, I want to be the first one to Thank you. Sure. Everyone should check out NSVwolfcapital.com they should check out bullpencap.com. Where else should people check you out online?
Richard Melmon 46:48
Well, just google me and you’ll see I have a long and storied Google track. And I used to be confused with the famous Chicago restaurant tour tour and I would get comped when I went into fancy restaurants because people confuse me with him. And now I hope he can be confused with me, although I doubt that he is the
Jeremy Weisz 47:12
first one to thank you. Thank you Richard. Thanks, everyone.