I was super-excited to catch up with Jeff Wald, a serial entrepreneur, investor, board member and author. I met Jeff many years ago, when he was a board member of Register.com, at that time a Didit client. Today he’s Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Bento Engine and Sonero.ai.
Jeff’s written a number of books, including The End of Jobs: Rise of On-Demand Workers and Agile Corporations, and I wanted to lead off our interview by asking what led him to write it. “I thought we have a responsibility to really look at history, to really look at the data, and really understand how companies engage workers,” said Jeff. “And if we look through those lenses — we don’t have a crystal ball — but we have a higher probability of being accurate. And that’s all the more important, as we are in the early stages of this fourth industrial revolution. And people are very concerned: “are the robots going to take my job?” “Is AI going to take my job?” And the answer to that it is ‘it depends.'”
Jeff and I discuss the current state of the job market, including the mass layoffs that are currently happening in the tech sector, and turn to the macroeconomic environment and the possible recession ahead in 2023. We then trade notes on the specific problems faced by B2B companies which may need to adjust their sales operations to lengthened sales cycles that typically occur during macroeconomic retractions.
Jeff and I have both had our hands in many startups and we trade notes on startups, with particular reference to the factors that cause them to fail. “Startups are really hard,” Jeff observes. “The ideas are easy; the will to execute is expensive… they usually overspend early.”
We then turn to LinkedIn. We agree the platform has great strength as a business networking hub but suffers terribly from the proliferation of fake profiles (a topic I’ve addressed in these pages). Jeff and I speculate that one great application of AI could be to detect and ferret out imposters (after all, Microsoft owns LinkedIn!).