Feb 24 • 52M

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

Episode 79

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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:
Podcast:
Trillionaire Mindset
All-In

Newsletter/Blog
Morning Brew
Ben Thompson
Pack McCormick

Tech Gadget
Eight Sleep Mattress

New Trend
The feud between threads and shitposters

Book:
Not Fade Away
When Breathe Becomes Air

Life Lesson:
Focus on increasing luck’s surface area

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