Dr. Jenny Woo, MBA 09 – Living Her Next Thing in the Present
From frenzy to focus: Kavita Sahai on how we can cancel hustle culture and create a new sustainable work paradigm
Xan Wood: General partner at Courtyard Ventures Fund II
Insights into why Haas might be the business school for you
Venture capital funds are tight. You can still get your share
The immediate impact of an MBA boils down to expertise
Jann Wenner on UC Berkeley in the 1960s & the evolution of Rolling Stone
As co-founder of Rolling Stone Magazine, Jann Wenner published the first major interviews with dozens of top rock stars of the 1960s and launched the careers of generations of journalists, musicians and photographers.
AT 77, Wenner recently published a memoir, Like a Rolling Stone, which covers the launch of the magazine and the music, politics, lifestyle, and cultural change that swept America during the 1960s and beyond.
In conversation with writer author and music critic Greil Marcus last week, Wenner looked back on his time as a student at UC Berkeley, where he met Marcus and participated in the Free Speech Movement.
“The soil of Berkeley gave birth to this,” Wenner said during The Chris Boskin Deans’ Speaker Series in Business and Journalism talk. “Part drugs, part music, part student – it was out of this consciousness.”
Running a groundbreaking publication brought its share of organizational challenges, Wenner said.
“Our main task in the first 15 to 20 years was learning how to be a business and how to manage growth,” Wenner said. “Our growth was rapid. We had no experience. Anything that you did that was wrong, you don’t learn from, you just move on. It leads you, obviously, into making some pretty dumb moves and mistakes, thinking you’re better than you are.”
Rolling Stone helped pioneer narrative journalism when two of the magazine’s reporters, Hunter S. Thompson and Timothy Crouse, eschewed conventional reporting during the 1972 presidential race between George McGovern and Richard Nixon.
“We did something so brilliant and exceptional that it changed journalism forever and put Rolling Stone up into the first rank of American publications,” said Wenner.
Wenner also published Outside, US Weekly, Family Life, and Men’s Journal, and co-founded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Startup Spotlight: Alokee wants to be your virtual realtor
Startup Spotlight profiles startups founded by current Berkeley Haas students or recent alumni.
Team: Matthew Parker (co-founder and CEO), Hamed Adibnatanzi (co-founder and head of legal), Noman Shaukat (co-founder), Marcus Rossi (COO), and Mandy Kroetsch (CMO), all EMBA 23.
When Mandy Kroetsch met Matthew Parker last year in the Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives Program, she was juggling classes while bidding on houses in southern California.
“I was getting up at 4 a.m. and checking listings,” said Kroetsch, EMBA 23. “I found houses that came on the market before my agent even told me.”
Kroetsch started questioning the value of her real estate agent. Meanwhile, her challenges confirmed for Parker, a veteran Seattle real estate broker, that she probably didn’t need one.
So Parker decided to solve the problem by partnering with EMBA classmates to create startup Alokee. The company, which functions as a virtual real estate agent, empowers California home buyers to bid directly on properties.
The site is designed for people who grew up banking, paying bills, and shopping for most everything online without an intermediary, Parker said.
“Increasingly, Gen Z and other digital natives are baffled by why they have to talk to a real estate broker when they find all of the listings and tour the properties themselves and want to just make an offer,” Parker said.
“Increasingly, Gen Z and other digital natives are baffled by why they have to talk to a real estate broker.” —Matt Parker
Ease of use, money back
Launched nine months ago, the Alokee website is live in California, featuring photos of homes that have sold in San Jose and San Diego. The company plans to expand soon, and has a waiting list to beta test the site with customers in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada.
Alokee’s selling point is its ease of use: Create an account, provide proof of funds for a down payment, and then “make 12-to-15 decisions” on offer price, a closing date, loan payment schedule and amount, and other sales decisions. A buyer could potentially be in contract to buy a house in a matter of minutes, Parker said.
A second benefit is that the buyer receives a chunk of the agent’s fee in cash back after a sale. In San Francisco, for example, where the agent commission on a home sale averages $40,000, Alokee takes a set fee of $9,000 and returns $31,000 to the buyer. “We don’t want to chase down the big commissions,” Parker said. He added that the check comes at a perfect time, as buyers typically invest the most in their houses—additions like solar panels, window replacements, energy-efficient appliances, and insulation—at the time of purchase.
An EMBA team
Parker started Alokee with classmate Hamed Adibnatanzi, a legal affairs veteran. Adibnatanzi used his law expertise to make sure that the mass of paperwork required for any real estate deal on the site was simplified for a direct buyer and met federal, state, and local requirements.
Meanwhile, the team is still sorting out the website’s technical complexities. Noman Shaukat manages the code behind the offers that flow through the site. “It’s a technical challenge, not a legal one for us,” Parker said.
Parker also asked Marcus Rossi, a former commanding officer with the U.S. Marines, to be Alokee’s COO and invited Kroetsch, a chemical engineer by trade, to join as CMO. “I told him I’d love to help,” said Kroetsch, who worked with a branding agency to come up with the name Alokee, which combines the words Aloha and key (meaning the key to a house).
“We are working through the marketing plan right now, and I am happy to be a part of this team,” she said.
Learning to scale
This is Parker’s second startup. He came to Haas after starting national home improvement repair and renovation service ZingFix. At ZingFix, he realized that there are different skills required to manage a company as it scales across state lines. “A quickly-growing startup was a new business challenge for me,” he said. “The more people that joined, the more I realized that I would need an MBA to take care of our stakeholders.”
Deciding on Haas, he said the program has provided priceless support for what he’s trying to achieve, from mentorship to participating in the UC LAUNCH accelerator program and competition, in which Alokee was a finalist. “Once you get to the finals of LAUNCH you get introduced to top-tier mentors and a storytelling coach. These people understand what you are doing, and they pick apart your business model,” he said. Senior Lecturer Homa Bahrami spent time coaching the team, helping them to develop a hiring framework. “Everything she told us was correct,” Parker said. “She’s probably in the top 10 smartest people I’ve met in my life.”
He added that Distinguished Teaching Fellow Maura O’Neill’s New Venture Finance course also helped them navigate as the company works to land a seed round of funding.
While saving homebuyers money is a goal, Parker said the company will build more gender and racial equity into the home buying process by giving buyers direct bidding power. “Homes are how people stay in power and get in power,” he said. “We want to give all people the power to win in the real estate game.”
The long game
Why the tech layoffs offer opportunity for a reset: Q&A with Saikat Chaudhuri
While tech employment remains strong, a wave of layoffs is shaking up the industry. According to the tracking site layoffs.fyi, about 137,000 people have lost their jobs since layoffs started ticking up in May.
To find out more about what is driving this shakeup, we spoke with Saikat Chaudhuri, faculty director of the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (MET) Program and of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Hub. Chaudhuri, an expert on corporate growth and innovation, mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing, and technological disruption, says the upheaval offers the opportunity for a reset and a chance to pursue growth in emerging areas.
The economy and labor markets are going strong. So why are so many tech companies laying off workers?
Many people are confounding two different things. We should not mix up the events specific to the tech industry with all the other issues that are going on in the broader economy due to the challenges of macroeconomic shocks, like Russia’s war on Ukraine, the aftereffects of the pandemic including supply chain problems, and the general inflationary pressures. The technology industry is also affected by those events, but there are additionally more fundamental factors at play.
“I am not worried about the jobs coming back. What we are seeing are structural changes. The jobs will be shifting, and will grow in up-and-coming areas.”
What’s happening in the tech industry is really a natural shakeout after over a decade of phenomenal growth. It is not unlike when the dotcom bubble burst in 2001. The sector was overheated and it could not continue as it had. The same is true now, as many startup and unicorn valuations skyrocketed over the last years, especially because the pandemic accelerated the growth to record levels as the deployment of technology and digital transformation became necessary everywhere. On the bright side, it’s actually not all bad. While I recognize that layoffs are painful for many people right now, the industry as a whole needs this adjustment to bring us to a path of more sustainable economic growth in tech. Because what was happening, especially with hiring over the last few years, was just completely unrealistic.
How did we get here?
During the pandemic, we went more digital. People worked remotely and they could work from anywhere—Hawaii, the countryside, anywhere. Tech became a big factor as the economy shifted entirely online: online retail, online banking, online instruction, online meetings, online therapy. It brought significant disruption to all industries.
We need to keep in mind that the pandemic was a different kind of economic crisis. Usually in an economic crisis, everybody loses, but that didn’t happen here. Some industries actually gained significantly, especially most of the technology sectors. The growth rate that they experienced, whether hardware, software, e-commerce, healthcare apps, fintech, crypto—you name it—was completely unsustainable. Just take a look at tech hiring last year: Tech job postings hit their peak in March 2022 and have been declining sharply since. We hit the point where the trend reverses. It was going to happen, either now or a year or two from now. It coincides with what’s going on in the overall economy and world politics, leading to a perfect storm.
“Once that first domino falls, it is easy for others to follow.”
This situation also poses a great excuse for employers. They say: A recession is coming. I will have to let people go.” Once that first domino falls, it is easy for others to follow.
Are you saying there was an inflation of the workforce inside the tech industry?
Yes. The reason for this is very simple: You don’t get penalized for growing your workforce while the sector is growing so fast. Everybody knows it will have to stop at some point, but there’s no penalty for riding the wave.
In fact, there’s a loss for your firm if you don’t ride the growth. If you said, “We should be more prudent because some sort of adjustment is going to happen,” there’d be no gain and you’d be losing out on the potential benefits—profits, funding, talent. Because when the correction happens, you can simply lay people off by the thousands. Two years later, the same people who got laid off will come back to the industry (whether at the same kinds of firms or new areas that emerge), and the same VCs will invest. There are no consequences for these actions. That’s just the way of Silicon Valley and the tech world, as they go through cycles.
Is this correction just a tightening of the belt, or is the industry reorganizing itself to make room for a new wave of technologies that require new skills or a reallocation of resources?
There will be some reorganization happening, because some areas are growing faster than others. For example, Amazon decided that not all of its devices are doing so well. Companies have been carrying losses in some areas for a while. But it didn’t matter because there was so much growth overall, and they didn’t want to miss out on that wave. It is not unlike the dotcom bubble, where for instance network equipment companies were investing in an array of optical networking products that never properly worked, because regular routers and switches were minting money.
“A re-evaluation of talent needs will also play a role.”
Moreover, re-evaluation of talent needs will also play a role. I’ve been puzzled for a while about all the anxiety surrounding the shortage of software developers, and the salaries they were being offered in the mad scramble to secure such talent. So much basic programming work has become well-defined, codified, and routine that those skills can be learned at scale by a wider base of employees. If you think about it, thousands of software developers, even at companies like Microsoft and Google, are engaged to implement enhancements to products such as adjusting fonts or updating visuals or adding simple features—not product design or creation of new functionality. Those jobs don’t require computer science graduates, as IBM realized five years ago, when they began hiring non-college graduates with programming experience, at that time out of necessity.
In fact, there are tools now that can automate basic code writing, which are already being deployed. It won’t stop there, because we now also have algorithms which can do many sophisticated tasks; just look at Open AI’s ChatGPT, which is writing essays, poems, lecture notes, speeches, and other creative pieces at the click of a button!
Why now? Is there anything in particular that started this domino effect this year?
Now, with increased scrutiny from investors and others who look at a firm’s financial viability, this overstaffing approach is getting reined in. There have been excesses in view of rosy projections and seemingly limitless valuations. Now the bubble has popped, as it does in every tech cycle, and it’s been a great opportunity (and excuse) for firms to make adjustments, tighten their belts, and reduce their workforce.
Where do you see opportunities?
The next wave of growth will come from emerging sectors, like cleantech and green tech, new materials, breakthroughs in the life sciences, and novel products and services resulting from the maturation of general purpose technologies like AI. Just like the dotcom era was about the internet and all that it spawned—cloud services, big data, the internet of things, and other advances in information technology—there will be a wave of new technologies that will disrupt a lot of different sectors.
In many industries, the disruption has just begun and exciting new transformations are taking place that’ll unfold over the next decade—whether in education, healthcare, finance, automobiles, or aerospace, just to name a few. I am not worried about the jobs coming back. What we are seeing are structural changes. The jobs will be shifting, and will grow in up-and-coming areas.
“If I could give one piece of advice, it’s this: Don’t get sidetracked by group think and FOMO. To become a leader, you’ll need to be comfortable charting new paths and challenging conventional approaches.”
What does that mean for the students at Haas, and those considering an MBA?
For our own graduates, it would be healthy to see this as an opportunity. The most entrepreneurial people are the ones who look at these situations and say, “Change is good, and uncertainty has two sides. It’s what creates the opportunity for new things.”
Instead of defining your career in terms of a particular job at a particular company, you could think about which problem you want to solve. That is where you will find the opportunity to lead and to make a real impact.
It’s great to aspire to work your way up to an executive job at a large firm, and many of our graduates will do that and be very successful. Others will go against the grain. They will be the ones we hear about, because they actually change how Goldman Sachs works or McKinsey works or Google works for the next era. And of course there will be the entrepreneurs who will pursue startups that will redefine entire industries.
Take Stuart Bernstein, BS 86, former Goldman Sachs managing director and partner who shook up investment banking with his passion for clean energy and the environment. A true leader by definition changes things. That’s why we pay attention to them and learn from them.
A lot of our students come in wanting to make an impact early in their careers. What does it take to get there?
If I could give one piece of advice, it’s this: Don’t get sidetracked by group think and FOMO. To become a leader, you’ll need to be comfortable charting new paths and challenging conventional approaches. Leaders have confidence, without attitude—confidence in their vision and in their ability to make it happen, and the humility to learn and acknowledge challenges and risks.
The good news is, you don’t have to be born with it. An MBA program like Berkeley’s gives you the opportunity to develop that kind of confidence. You can train yourself to see the opportunity in ambiguity, embrace serendipity, and take intelligent risks.
Along the way you also learn key the business skills—finance, marketing, management, operations, and so forth—that you will need as a leader. All that will help you develop this vision for your path to make an impact, and the confidence and network to make it happen.
What opportunities are there at Haas and Berkeley to get ahead of the next wave?
As part of our strategic priorities, we are building a new entrepreneurship hub at Haas that will be a game changer for our students and students across Berkeley. It will draw people from all over the campus. The great thing about Berkeley is that it has so many top-rated departments, and we will be able to bring them to one place to talk to each other and collaborate. So many of our Haas signature programs are about this kind of cross-pollination. Take Cleantech to Market’s partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, or the Berkeley Skydeck accelerator, or the dual degree programs we have with Public Health, Engineering, Law, and that we are developing with the Rausser College of Natural Resources.
The most pressing problems of global society today require interdisciplinary perspectives. The hub we are developing will not only allow diverse people to connect, but it will provide them with the space and resources to create community, build their ventures, and be discovered by investors. What is novel is that we will not only support those who have a good sense of the entrepreneurial path, but also those who simply would like to be exposed to what it’s all about—the “entrepre-curious,” as we call them. And anyone from around the university will be able to drop in to simply ask an expert for guidance on how to navigate the vast innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at Berkeley based on what they need.
“While the tech industry is doing a reset, it may be a great time for you to do a reset as well.”
What’s your big-picture advice?
Silicon Valley is our backyard. While the tech industry is doing a reset, it may be a great time for you to do a reset as well. Beef up your skills, develop your leadership potential, build your network, and embrace your inner entrepreneur.
Napa 10 Questions: Part of her heart belongs to iconic San Francisco business
Grant Muir Inman, MBA 69
Berkeley emeritus trustee, VC pioneer
Grant Muir Inman, 80, a visionary leader and philanthropist, died at home in Orinda, Calif. in June.
After earning his Berkeley MBA, Inman blazed trails in the world of venture capital. Early on, he was a general partner of many VC firms, including Hambrecht & Quist, before co-founding Orinda-based VC firm Inman & Bowman in 1985. He then went on to found Inman Investment Management where he worked until his death.
Inman left an indelible mark on the Cal community, including serving on the Haas School Board and chairing the UC Berkeley Foundation’s Investment Committee, where he helped ensure the university’s long-term financial stability. In recognition of his extraordinary contributions, UCBF honored Inman with both the Wheeler Oak Meritorious Award for leadership in fundraising and its most prestigious honor, the Chancellor’s Award.
Inman also generously donated to numerous schools and programs on campus, including Haas, the College of Engineering, and Cal Athletics. He was named, along with his wife of 56 years, Suanne, a Builder of Berkeley.
Giles Cropsey, BS 34, MS 36
Carolee Todd, BS 45
Richard Brooding, BS 49
Frank Anderson, BS 50
Donald Schroyer, BS 50
Babette Barton, BS 51
Richard Lewis, BS 51
Edward Presten, BS 52
Reid Johnson, BS 53
Herman Trutner, BS 53
Donald Timmerman, BS 54
Howard Wiggins, BS 54
Sheldon Wolfe, BS 55
Michael Hughes, BS 56
Walter Schaetz, MBA 56
Donald Foster, BS 58
Laurence Kay, BS 58
Sam Saghera, BS 58
Gordon Huber, BS 60
Richard Hungate, MBA 61
John Boyl, BS 62
Richard Lieser, MBA 63
William James, MBA 65
Jeanne Yeh, BS 67
Richard Beacham, MBA 68
Gerald Vaught, MBA 72
Melvin Burruss, BS 73
Ray Reynolds, BS 74
Mitchell Lee, BS 75
David Bowen, PhD 76
Jennie Hoopes, BS 80
John Obana, BS 81
David Makofsky, MBA 81
Grace Spiridon, BCEMBA 12
Daniel Freitas, Friend
Henrique Ceribelli, MBA 07
SVP of Product Management, Bill.com
When native Brazilian Henrique Ceribelli was accepted into Haas after working as a computer engineer for five years, he was eager for professional opportunities unavailable in his homeland.
But it almost didn’t happen. With no employer to fund his continuing education, the costs were daunting. Plus, bank loan requirements at the time demanded a co-signer, which Ceribelli found only by chance in a friend of a friend. He also received a fellowship from Haas earmarked for international students.
“People I didn’t know helped me,” says Ceribelli, a trend that continued when he was looking for a job post-graduation. Classmate Vijay Raghuraman, MBA 07, connected him with a product manager post at year-old startup Bill.com, a cloud-based payment platform.
Fifteen years later, Ceribelli is now senior vice president of product management and the company has since gone public and acquired three other startups. As Ceribelli’s professional life has blossomed, he’s never forgotten his good fortune. “The friends and network I had at Haas got me to Bill.com and the success that I have today,” he says.
Which is why Ceribelli is committing $500,000 over 10 years to support MBA fellowships for full-time students, with a preference for those who earned their undergraduate degrees in Latin America.
“I was lucky enough that Haas gave me a chance,” says Ceribelli. “I want to provide financial aid for those who are trying their luck and working hard, because they also deserve the chance.”
Shock and Awe
The pandemic’s effect on innovation
In 2014, when Jerome Engel and colleagues presented a framework to describe innovation communities in Global Clusters of Innovation, the world was different. Now Engel has refined that framework with Clusters of Innovation in the Age of Disruption, a collection of essays from business leaders and teachers. Berkeley Haas asked Engel, the founding executive director emeritus of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship (now the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program), about his new findings.
What inspired this book?
In my first book, we demonstrated how innovative technology companies tend to emerge in clusters in certain regions—and we questioned what drives that process. The world has since entered a period of severe economic, cultural, and environmental disruption due to an ongoing series of shocks. We wanted to investigate what was happening in these innovative communities and whether they demonstrate enhanced resilience. We found that the answer was yes. Clusters of Innovation have entrepreneurial agility that enhances their resilience to external shocks, contributing significant social and economic value to society.
How do they do this?
Through innovation, which I define as the positive response to change. Truly innovative tech trends are often pursued by venture capital-backed entrepreneurial firms. Their market entry strategy is often to approach niche markets, which provide a beachhead opportunity because incumbent firms are not serving their needs exactly. Many of the entrepreneurial firms that blossomed during the pandemic had been in place for years, refining their technology and products. This allowed them to quickly provide solutions when the shock occurred.
Can you provide an example?
Zoom, which displaced slower-moving incumbents to (seemingly overnight) revolutionize business, personal, and educational communications. Its quick mass adoption revolved around product-led growth, an evolution of the freemium model emphasizing ease of user adoption (no logins, no hassle). This allowed the rapid behavior change that enabled a greater collective agility—a greater resilience.
2022 UC Berkeley holiday gift guide
Boosting the odds of securing venture capital and achieving startup success in a challenging economy
Winemakers and their muses
Dean’s Speaker Series: Footwork Co-Founder Mike Smith, MBA 98 on ‘embracing the zig-zags’
When Mike Smith, MBA 98, was 16 years old he mapped out a plan that would help achieve his career goal of becoming a CEO of a public company by age 42. But after working for a dot-com startup that would later go bust shortly after its launch, Smith learned quickly that the best laid plan doesn’t always work out.
“These [career] journeys are super windy, they’re rarely up and to the right,” said Smith. “My advice is to embrace the zig zags.”
Smith said he’s grateful for those who helped him build his career as previous COO of Walmart.com and Stitch Fix, and now as general partner and co-founder of venture capital firm Footwork. He spoke with MBA students and the Haas community about his career successes and failures, talent management, and cultivating a workplace culture at a recent Dean’s Speaker Series talk held on Nov. 1. The event was co-sponsored by the Berkeley Culture Center.
In his current role, Smith, along with business partner, Nikhil Basu Trivedi, backs early-stage startups focused on consumer technology, many of which are founded by BIPOC entrepreneurs and women. Their portfolio includes Table 22, an online tool that helps restaurants build subscription models, and Cradlewise, a smart crib that helps babies and their parents get better sleep.
The former Stitch Fix COO also talked about his experience with leading diverse teams, hiring employees who have forced him to be an excellent leader, and the value of mentorship.
Watch the complete DSS talk here:
‘Magic’ disruption in the transportation industry lures MBA grads to jobs
As a strategy manager at self-driving car startup Zoox last summer, Yiannos Vakis, MBA 23, spent a lot of time thinking about the challenges of rolling out robotaxi fleets in cities.
“Watching self-driving cars navigate the complex streets of San Francisco is pure magic,” Vakis said. “But to commercialize at scale, the industry has big strategic questions to work on that no one has fully solved so far.”
Vakis, co-president of the Berkeley Haas Transportation and Mobility Club, is among a growing number of students drawn to the rapidly-changing and fast-growing transportation/mobility industry. At Berkeley Haas, interest in the sector reflects that growth, with eight students in the Class of 2022 taking full-time jobs in the industry, (up from previous years), and 15 students in the 2023 class accepting internships. One lure, aside from the fun of being immersed in new technology, is the impressive pay. Mean base salaries for the 2022 FTMBA grads reached the higher end of the school’s employment report, coming in at $152,000 with a mean $23,000 bonus.
The Haas Mobility Club is hosting its annual Haas Mobility Summit 2022 Saturday, Nov. 5, at Chou Hall’s Spieker Forum.
Doug Massa, a relationship manager in the transportation and mobility sector for the Berkeley Haas Career Management Group, said the rise in interest comes at a time when companies that spent years on the technical aspects of building their products and services are looking to scale.
“That’s why these companies are recruiting strong MBA talent,” Massa said. “MBA roles like corporate strategy, product management, and operations are what get our students excited and these are the types of roles that they’re landing.”
Many current students are meeting and networking through the Haas Mobility Club, which is hosting its annual Haas Mobility Summit 2022 Saturday, Nov. 5, at Chou Hall’s Spieker Forum. The summit, UC Berkeley’s largest transportation-focused conference, focuses this year on “reimagining sustainable and accessible mobility,” with senior executives from Zoox, Rivian, General Motors, Spin, Autotech Ventures, and others joining. The student-run Haas Mobility Club, now more than 175 members strong, welcomes graduate students from beyond Haas—in the Engineering, Data Science, and Urban Planning programs.
As the market has heated up, Massa said he’s fielding about 20 calls a week from first and second-year students who want to talk about job opportunities in transportation. In addition to Uber and Lyft, Massa helps students recruit for roles at upstarts as well as big automakers like GM and Ford, electric auto leaders like Tesla and electric adventure vehicle maker Rivian, and autonomous vehicles like Cruise.
Haas Mobility Club member Minjee Kang, MBA 23, landed an internship in strategic operations at Rivian. Kang, who worked in operations at Air Korea before coming to Haas, said her goal and her reason for getting an MBA is to be part of sweeping industry-wide change.
“I believe the airline industry is going to be disrupted soon, just like Uber and ride sharing disrupted the traditional auto industry,” she said. “I think the transportation and mobility industry is facing a variety of opportunities as a whole, and I want to be a part of it.”
Sarah Thorson, MBA/MEng 23, who studied mechanical engineering as an undergraduate, landed an internship in product management at Nvidia, where she worked on autonomous vehicle development tools.
Thorson said she’s always been pulled to the technical side of the auto industry and knew she could study both business and engineering in her dual degree program. “I wanted to come to Haas to explore a product role in tech and to learn about the impact of technology innovations on transportation and mobility,” said Thorson, co-president of the Haas Mobility Club.
Investment opportunities in transportation also lures MBA students. Logan Szidik, MBA 23, pivoted toward early stage venture capital investment at Haas, working as an intern at Menlo Park-based Autotech Ventures.
“With companies staying private longer than ever before, private capital has an outsized impact on the future of the automotive industry,” he said. “As someone with a deep interest in technologies addressing the climate crisis, I wanted to better understand how investors approach start-ups focused on emerging spaces like vehicle-to-grid and fleet electrification.”
As more Haas grads move into transportation, the alumni community has expanded, with about 180 members of the Haas Mobility Network’s WhatsApp group.
That community includes transportation industry entrepreneurs like Ludwig Schoenack, MBA 19, co-founder of Kyte, a cars-on-demand service, and Arcady Sosinov, MBA 15, CEO of FreeWire, which makes fast electric vehicle chargers and battery generators. Both Bay Area companies have found success in raising $239 million and $230 million respectively, to expand their businesses.
This rich alumni network will continue to serve students well, Massa said. (Carlin Dacey, MBA 22, for example, recently joined Kyte as a market manager)
“The network has led to internships and full-time jobs,” he said. “It’s become a really nice ecosystem.”