As a long-distance commuter, I listen to a LOT of podcasts. And given the explosion in podcasts on tech startups, it’s hard to keep track of them all. There really isn’t a good discovery source, although Product Hunt and The Podcast Wire come closest. So here’s the survey we’ve been missing. I have left out general business podcasts and most of the podcasts for small business (although I kept those few specializing on women entrepreneurs, whose focus is mostly on small bootstrapped companies,) and focus on the ones relevant for the founders of VC-backed startups who are looking to go big.
Before we hit the ranked list of 75, yes, 75! podcasts below, a few thoughts.
A) The formats of almost all of the best podcasts are interviews or taped lectures. 16 of the 24 podcasts graded A- or better are one or the other.
B) Interview quality varies greatly, even with the same host. Jason Calacanis (This Week in Startups) and Andrew Warner (Mixergy) each have done many hundreds of podcasts. So not only can the quality of the guests vary, sometimes the hosts has a bad day. (A guest like Chris Sacca or Danielle Morrill brings out Jason’s best, at which times there is no one better. But when he’s not really into the guest, he reverts to constant name-dropping and “me-me-me” mode. That’s why he has a massively polarized audience, with 90 5 star iTunes ratings…but 30 1 stars. He’s someone I love and hate at the same time…so “A” Jason + “C” Jason resulted in a B rating from me.)
C) The podcasts available in both audio and video versions generally are better than audio-only podcasts. Better production value, better preparation, better guests. Similarly, the video content on Youtube for any one speaker is superior to the audio podcasts. Best example: Eric Ries videos (like this talk at Google) are preferable to his podcast. Why? I think people just work harder on videos. Another example, discussed below: Y Combinator’s “How to Start a Startup” video podcast is great, but it’s audio-only “StartupSchoolRadio” is lacking.
D) If the podcast comes from a blogger, the blog is better crafted and quicker to consume. One example is Steve Blank’s podcast, which is delivered unconvincingly by a voice actor reading over the excellent blog. It’s lost in translation. Similarly, John Gruber’s Daring Fireball blog is incisive and readable, but his podcast meanders forever. One possible exception is the output of Ben Thompson: while his outstanding Stratechery column is superior to his podcast, the two ARE additive. If you don’t subscribe to Stratechery, at least check out his Exponent podcast; it is free and features the most incisive thinking in tech.
E) VC and company-sponsored podcasts generally are solid, but accelerator-sponsored podcasts don’t cut it. 3 out of the 6 A+ rated podcasts come from VCs. The VC winners: “Ventured” from Kleiner Perkins, “A16Z” from Andreessen Horowitz, and “Traction” from NextView Ventures. They are putting their reputations on the line, and podcasting is one way they try to attract the best entrepreneurs. Similarly, the better corporate podcasters (e.g., Hubspot, InsightSquared, Intercom, 37 Signals) are trying to gain goodwill by being thought leaders more than just shilling their product. But the podcasts from the accelerators inexplicably are so-so to poor, with a B going out to Seedcamp, a B- to the (discontinued?) 500 Startups podcast, and a generous C+ to the tone-deaf StartupSchoolRadio from Y Combinator. To be fair, Sam Altman of YC organized a Stanford lecture series “How to Start a Startup” which featured great lectures from incredible speakers. However, the podcast shows the damage a mediocre host can do. The host, (who incidentally was only in one startup, which cratered quickly in spite of raising a bunch of money,) tries to parrot Paul Graham’s more famous sayings onto any conceivable example, without nuance or in some cases understanding. Just go to the source and read Paul’s brilliant essays instead. And going back to point C), check out 500 Startups terrific Youtube video channel for great lectures on growth-hacking.
F) Anything Stanford touches is gold. How to Start a Startup and especially Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders are awesome. It’s not just the household name speakers. Wondering about what goes into acquisitions of startups by larger tech companies? Check out Jeff Seibert’s wonderful lecture, dealing with the good and bad he learned from selling 2 companies (to Box and Twitter) and buying some for his new bosses. (BTW, if you want the best digital startup education out there, StartupSecrets films a great class by VC/HBS Prof Michael Skok and puts it on the web. Not a podcast, not on iTunes, so not included on list below, but otherwise A+! Curriculum/readings included.)
Explanation of the Table
The podcast name and its embedded link is followed by my personal, subjective grade, along with the number of podcasts in the series , the number of 5 star ratings/total ratings in the iTunes Store for consensus opinion, and date of the last podcast to show frequency.
At the bottom. I have more detailed notes. Let me know which ones I’ve missed or where you disagree in the comments.
|Ventured||A+||From Kleiner Perkins: Randy Komisar and friends. Check out Bill Campbell episode.||14||5/9|
|How to Start a Startup||A+||The biggest names in Silicon Valley take on a topic in this Stanford lecture series||20||21/39|
|Startup Podcast||A+||Following 1 startup a year, NPR-style storytelling||32||4004/4027|
|Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders||A+||More talks at Stanford by Steve Blank, Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, etc.||251||166/256|
|Traction||A+||Getting growth between seed and A round||16||64/64|
|Dorm Room Tycoon||A+||The biggest names, interviewed skillfully||131||24/24|
|Work in Progress||A||37 Signals execs talk openly and honestly about running the company||59||6/6|
|Design Details Podcast||A||Designers at GoPro, Etsy, Pinterest talk shop||93||141/152|
|Product People||A||Emphasis on virality and engagement; Aimed at bootstrappers||75||44/47|
|UX and Growth Podcast||A||Hubspot Designers/Developers talk their subjects||15||n/a|
|A16Z||A||A16Z partners talk about current tech topics||187||18/28|
|Tech In Boston||A-||Interviews of players in the Boston tech ecosystem||57||18/18|
|Bothsides TV||A-||Mark Suster and guests. I’ll consume anything Mark puts out.||19||3/6|
|The Inside Intercom Podcast||A-||Product management, design, and marketing||11||n/a|
|Exponent||A-||Tech and Society: Ben Thompson and James Allworth’s weekly discussion||62||54/61|
|The Tim Ferriss Show||A-||Author/investor Tim Ferriss interviews world class performers||132||1855/2822|
|Foundation with Kevin Rose||A-||Terrific TV from the very connected investor Kevin Rose||43||12/14|
|Founder Calls with Aaron Levie||A-||Fun but still meaty. Aaron Levie of Box interviews his peers||6||n/a|
|Re/Code Decode||A-||More journalism than education:stars interviewed by Kara Swisher||33||32/50|
|The Rocketship Podcast||A-||Lots of accelerator grads and MDs; ability to search by topic||106||126/126|
|Venture Studio||A-||Dave Lerner’s terrific interviews primarily with NY-based investors||16||14/14|
|Customer Success Radio||A-||Interviews about growth and metrics with solid guests||25||10/10|
|The Growth Show (Hubspot)||A-||Interviews from Warby Parker to Facebook to AirBnB to Heady Topper||59||111/125|
|The Startup Chat||A-||Two pros chat about SaaS, metrics, Growth||67||94/96|
|VentureBeat’s What to Think||A-||Tech news||61|
|Full Ratchet||A-||Interviews with partners at Spark, Social Capital, other cutting edge VCs||88||41/41|
|This is Product Management||B+||Everything through the eyes of Product. One guest per week|
|Hallway Chat||B+||Fun. Two Spark Capital VCs discuss trends. (But most shows dated)||21||n/a|
|Million Dollar Insights||B+||Top SaaS practitioners interviewed||24||70/72|
|Tech.eu||B+||Discussion of European startup news||25|
|The Pitch||B+||Like SharkTank, with guest VCs–easy, fun listening||14||75/83|
|Collective Wisdom for Tech Startups||B+||VCs doing a deep dive with startup CEOs||8||13/16|
|From Scratch Podcast||B+||Half startup gods, half inspirational people from the real world||85||20/22|
|Product Hunt Radio||B+||Hippest podcast going, interviews by Ryan Hoover.||38||n/a|
|Reboot||B+||CEOs baring their souls to Jerry Colonna, a top Executive Coach||30||13/13|
|The James Altucher Show||B+||Quirky writer/entrepreneur interviews A-listers||149||321/381|
|HBR IdeaCast||B+||HBR editors discuss their articles–can be dry||504||108/182|
|Venture Voice||B+||Plenty of interesting guests–albeit from 7 years ago||60||19/22|
|Startup Grind||B||Live interviews from conferences of bigger names||100||16/16|
|Seedcamp Podcast||B||Good guest list, mostly Americans being interviewed by British accelerator||69||n/a|
|Startups for the Rest of Us||B||Small business approach rather than venture-backed startups||270||279/296|
|LeanStartupCo||B||Interviews with practitioners of Lean Startup techniques by Eric Ries & co||174||n/a|
|Acquired||B||Tech acquisitions that actually went well||5||n/a|
|Mixergy||B||From big names to unknowns–check transcripts first. More details below.||1249||226/264|
|The App Guy Podcast||B||Startup discussion revolving around mobile apps||401||39/39|
|TwentyMinuteVC||B||VCs fawned over by an overenthusiastic Brit.||20||19/21|
|Developer Tea||B||Quick topics for coders||178||135/140|
|This Week in Startups||B||The best guests ever. The polarizing Jason Calacanis as host. Highest highs, frequent lows||611||91/137|
|The O’Reilly Data Show Podcast||B||Data Scientists. Pretty dry.||20|
|500 Startups Podcast||B-||Not as good as their YouTube stuff. Discontinued?||53||18/18|
|The Talk Show with John Gruber||B-||Discussion with Guest Pundits. Too longwinded and rambling||141||717/1785|
|Hack the Entrepreneur||B-||mixed crowd||173||288/305|
|Hack to Start||B-||Plenty better than this||78||n/a|
|Seth Godin’s Startup School||B-||Very basic. One topic per lecture. If you like Godin (I don’t), it’s an A-||15||94/122|
|NYRD Radio||B-||A discontinued but fun podcast with Alexis Ohanian of Reddit||9||14/15|
|Perpetual Traffic||B-||Panel discusses getting paid traffic to websites.||27||366/405|
|Startup Nation||B-||Israeli entrepreneurs||4||n/a|
|Women Who Startup Radio||B-||Panel style discussion of, by and for women entrepreneurs||10|
|Startup School Radio||C+||Interviews mostly of YC alums and staff||30|
|Angel Insights||C+||European/British Angels||29||n/a|
|The Competitive Edge||C+||A few good names, but generally schlocky||61||n/a|
|SaaS Revolution Show||C+||Probably the weakest of the SaaS specialty broadcasts, but not just SaaS||32||n/a|
|She Did It Her Way||C+||Interviews with female entrepreneurs||53||21/22|
|The Gently Mad||C+||“Inspirational” startup stories with soul-searching||60||108/126|
|The Slow Hustle Podcast||C+||Founder lessons on “managing the pendulum swing”||62||31/33|
|Ask Gary Vee||C||Over-caffeinated celebrity-investor host offers good insights delivered like AM radio. Not my style, but plenty love him.||192||536/558|
|Angel Investing with Tatyana Gray||C||For beginning angels…by a relatively new investor.||15||40/41|
|Entrepreneur on Fire||C||Popular for reasons beyond me. Pass.||1175||2079/2169|
|Steve Blank Podcast||C||Voice-overs of Steve’s blogposts by other people||68|
|Zen Founder||C||The soft stuff: how to survive as a founder, by a psychologist||50||28/28|
|The Struggling Entrepreneur||C||For solo, underfunded entrepreneurs||284|
|Go For Launch||D||Total “Get Rich Quick” crap. Avoid at all costs||45||43/44|
|Freelancers Show||NR||Had technical problems, didn’t review||183||5/5|
|Venture Confidential||NR||Silicon Valley VCs, just started. First guest: Bessemer VC||1||n/a|
|The Changelog||NR||What’s new in open source for hard core techies||189||13/15|
The one that got away: Startup Secrets Unfortunately, this is not included in the table above because it is only available for web viewing, but I have to highlight it. Startup Secrets goes right into serial entrepreneur/VC/HBS professor/Techstars mentor-instructor Michael Skok‘s class at Harvard, recording the lectures. Not just videos, but slideshares, course notes, reading. Simply the best resource I’ve ever seen from one person. Thanks @mjskok!
Venture Studio Dave Lerner, repeat entrepreneur, prolific angel, and currently Director of Entrepreneurship at Columbia University, assembles a list of sterling, but not necessarily well-known, names of investors who are at the top of their field (like Matt Harris of Bain Capital, considered the best fintech investor around), changing investing paradigms (like Dustin Dolginow of Maiden Lane Ventures and AngelList), or just spearheading NYC’s charge to arguably the 2nd most important region in startups (Alex Iskold of Techstars and David Tisch of Box Group.) Dave is soft-spoken but just as insightful as his guests. My favorite shows: those with John Frankel of ff ventures.
Collective Wisdom Founders Collective’s partners have done it all–success both as entrepreneurs and as VCs, with seed or A round investments in Uber, Buzzfeed, and Hotel Tonight. Eight hourlong fireside chats with founders (TripAdvisor, ZocDoc, Behance…), along with short clips of the highlights of the talks with investors, advisors, service providers. I should probably upgrade this–I hope they do more podcasts!
Mixergy. Andrew has amassed an enormous library of interviews. While many are with bootstrapped small business owners, he also has talked, all of them gets down to real details of strategies, and Andrew is fearless of asking any question and getting detailed examples. His two talks with Harley Finkelstein (here and here), head of business development for Shopify, are required listening for any biz dev producer or manager. Unfortunately, most of the archive are behind a paywall–you can try several for free, or subscribe and get current releases without paying. I recommend screening the transcripts before deciding which episodes you want to download.
Re/Code Decode. Technews journalism from a masterful Kara Swisher. Timely interviews with both Dick Costolo and Ev Williams just after the latest regime change, digging for dirt. Other episodes in the same vein, like when she quizzes Brian Chesky about AirBnB’s future plans. You get the picture. Skilled interviews, but more entertaining than educational by design, and I personally opt more for education