Tank Talks
Tank Talks By Ripple Ventures
Morning Brew CEO Austin Rief on the Rise of the Solo Capitalist

Morning Brew CEO Austin Rief on the Rise of the Solo Capitalist

Episode 79

With the disaggregation of traditional media, the popularity of influencers, and the unraveling of ad platforms like Facebook, creating a community through content has never been more important. Our guest today knows about the power of content and how it can grow into something world-changing. Austin Rief, is the CEO and Co-Founder of Morning Brew, an online media powerhouse that was founded as a newsletter in the dorms of the University of Michigan in 2015. Its impact and growth quickly became apparent and in 2020 it sold a majority interest to Business Insider for a reported $75M. Austin is also a solo capitalist at his fund, Austin Rief Ventures.

About Austin Rief:
Austin started at the University of Michigan as a Finance major in 2014, and he left 3 years later with a degree and was well on his way to becoming a media mogul. Co-Founding Morning Brew in 2015 and was originally the COO, he became the CEO in 2021. He also started a rolling fund on Angel List and parlayed that into Austin Rief Ventures, a seed-stage fund.

In this episode we discuss:
01:34 The early days of bootstrapping Morning Brew
02:13 Early expectations for Morning Brew
03:41 Lessons learned from the M&A process
05:16 Why they decided to sell in 2020
06:24 What the internal conversations were like around the sale
07:48 Why Austin decided to start investing
09:28 Reasons why founders seek him out to be on their cap table
11:58 Why he believes content and social media can help founders
14:31 How his due diligence process works
15:50 Favorite questions he likes to ask founders
17:27 How he views portfolio construction
19:28 Getting allocations in competitive rounds
20:33 How he views founders with stacked SAFE rounds
21:44 Why it’s okay for founders selling on the secondary
24:00 How top funds will need to adapt to smaller investors getting pro rata
25:05 Working and attracting LPs as a solo capitalist
27:06 Austin’s skillsets that founder come to rely on
28:15 The importance of finding a CEO coach
31:31 What Austin is most excited about in the startup space
34:48 Why it’s important to be in the best companies
36:41 The future of Crypto and Defi and why he invested in Rare Circle
40:26 Thoughts on the new YC deal structure
42:40 What Austin has learned from his misses
46:14 Plans for Rief Ventures

Fast Favorites:
Trillionaire Mindset

Morning Brew
Ben Thompson
Pack McCormick

Tech Gadget
Eight Sleep Mattress

New Trend
The feud between threads and shitposters

Not Fade Away
When Breathe Becomes Air

Life Lesson:
Focus on increasing luck’s surface area

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