Hunter Walk has been synonymous with some of the biggest names in tech. The Queens native's resume includes product development at Google and product management at YouTube, as well as stints at NBC Universal, Mattel and Linden Lab. Add to that his latest venture: partner at Homebrew, a seed-stage venture fund.
Through Homebrew, Walk and partner Satya Patel, a Twitter and Google veteran, have invested in such diverse ventures as Internet communications company Layer; Plaid, a modern API for banking and credit card data; shipping tool Shyp; daily e-newsletter theSkimm; and legal services provider Upcounsel.
On his fast and furious trip to New York, the San Francisco transplant clues us in to the value of "disruption" in the tech space and why it's a bad time to be a control freak.
What's Homebrew's mission statement?
We are a seed venture capital [firm] and have operational expertise for entrepreneurs building the 'Bottom Up Economy.' This enables small businesses, individual consumers and developers to more easily and cost-effectively access technology, information and customers so they can create, transact, communicate and grow. We don't just bring capital, we offer operational expertise.
Why does the tech world like disruption?
We like to see it as skim off the disruptions with love. For theSkimm, they grew up as news junkies and now are making news accessible in a newsletter. Investors are looking for catnip, which are businesses that normal people use but no one knows about it yet.
What were you doing at Google?
I spent the last six years at YouTube with the product team. When Google purchased it, there were 65 employees. We brought 1 billion people to the site.
How can you make money on YouTube?
Think like a creator, not like a consumer. YouTube gives you a chance to be heard as it's a meritocracy, not a democracy. Number one: You get free product. Number two: Make your own content. Number three: Someone else can edit/film for you. Number four: It's the next generation of media companies. It's the party promoter business model: Keep authentic and your followers will be loyal.
What's the forecast for the future?
3-D printing. It's a vehicle for manufacturing, design and even jewelry. You can make anything with a 3-D printer. I also see a future with Bitcoin -- a virtual world of currency. I've been watching this idea since 2000. It's the new PayPal: Exchange without a middleman. We will even be able to build and sign contracts which will be authenticated by block chains. Even artwork will be authenticated. I also like Jason Hirschhorn's MediaREDEF, which is a web portal that provides tastemaker-curated information streams for industry communities. The 21st century is a terrible time to be a control freak.
Tell me about your interest in Eastern medicine.
It's basically an optimization of problems and using information to try different things. It allows you to look at yourself in a different framework. Asian medicine is the original quantified self.
Any advice to share?
Ask questions and don't always provide answers. Only work on projects you want on your tombstone. My work is a part of who I am. And, realize your own superpower.