Roy BahatSan Francisco, California, United States
Obsessed with how we make work -- the thing we do with more waking hours than any other -- better. To do that, I prioritize job one: husband (2007 - Present) and father (2008 - Present, promoted to father of two in 2011). I tried writing my LinkedIn to be honest to both my successes and the other stuff -- so you can understand me better than if the camera only showed my good side. If that means you'd rather not work with me, let's be grateful we learned that now! (The only important thing that hit the cutting room floor is the long list of side projects half started, started and abandoned, or started only in my imagination.) I've had a messy, hand-wringy career (in non-profit, professional services, city government, big media, video games, academia, day-zero startup, investing), where I was never hired for any job for which I was qualified (including starting a company, where I guess I sort of co-hired myself and was still unqualified). Only later did I realize the one thread that tied it all together -- making work better. In 2013, Bloomberg L.P. gave me the opportunity to turn my obsession with the future of work into my job when we created Bloomberg Beta. I believe the fastest way to make change is to build extraordinary technology companies (and, these days, machine intelligence companies in particular). To keep learning, I teach a course in media at Berkeley's Haas School of Business, and serve on the boards of a non-profit (the Center for Investigative Reporting). And last: I type 88 wpm. I play Werewolf. Never at the same time. Yet. I'm unsure if I know enough to give, or even believe in, advice, if you're tempted to ask for any.
Jan 2013 - Current
Venture firm investing in the future of work, with a specialty in machine intelligence. Currently investing out of a $75M fund. Also served as co-chair of the Shift Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology -- a joint effort of New America and Bloomberg to understand the long-term prospects for work in America. We run our fund in unorthodox ways to build trust with founders: We're a corporate-backed fund that invests to make money. We experiment with the limits of transparency -- instead of a normal website, we open sourced our entire operating manual. We measure success by our founders' customer service ratings of us. To deliver our promise to founders, I'm lucky to work with a team that's a poker hand of five aces and one joker. Blog post on how to write intro emails sadly has 100x the traffic of the one on using less warlike language in business.
University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business
2011 - Current
I teach an annual seven-week course on media to MBA students.
Co-Founder and Chairman
Sep 2012 - Jun 2015
A new kind of game console, unlocking game developers who brought to it more games than on any other game console. Invented by Julie Uhrman, designed by Yves Béhar, born on Kickstarter, backed by the intrepid, supported by tens of thousands of game developers, built by a heroic team. Acquired by Razer. Was responsible for fundraising and failed to raise a seed investment from VCs -- got 40 no's (or, more accurately, 40 not-a-yes's since many VCs simply never said no). Despite raising $8.6M on Kickstarter, only got two term sheets and one verbal offer, and it took seven months from first meetings to closing the round. Failed to have any semblance of work-life balance.
Aug 2012 - Jan 2013
Changed LinkedIn title to "Doing Nothing." Succeeded for about two weeks, then worked almost full time to raise money for OUYA.
Sep 2007 - Aug 2012
Thank you to the one-of-a-kind team at IGN for oh-what-a ride. We hired software engineers without looking at their resumes; a colleague built an always-on system for giving feedback to anyone to replace the "think about your feedback" twice a year reviews we used to do; we gave bonuses decided by peers instead of managers. Spent 18 months trying to do a management buy-out to spin IGN out from News Corp., unsuccessfully, despite three reasonably good offers. Also struggled to retain key leadership poached by fast-growing startups, and spent way too much time and effort on a project to create a new website serving female gamers, before realizing we had no clue how to do it, or if it could be done.
Mar 2006 - Sep 2007
Finally hired after almost a year of searching, phew. Got to see much of the world for the first time (had never gone to Asia before this job), and worked on making News Corp. carbon neutral (mostly by buying carbon credits, a bit of a hack).
Jul 2005 - Mar 2006
Went on 102 interviews, from internships on up. Consistent feedback: "Nice guy, seems smart, don't know what I'd do with him." Often stayed home for entire days, sitting on the couch writing follow-up emails, struggling to answer the "what do you want to do" question. (Did get to do project work, including on what became Catalist, a data service for progressive political organizations.)
Director of International Strategy
Nov 2003 - Jul 2005
International outreach at New York's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. Hired a guy to knock holes in the office wall with a sledgehammer, so I could communicate more easily with my team. New York placed 4th out of 5 cities. Met almost no actual IOC Members myself. Unclear what effect if any our efforts to persuade IOC Members had on the outcome.
Senior Policy Director
Office of the Mayor, New York City
Feb 2002 - Nov 2003
Economic development policy aide in New York's City Hall. Proposed the idea that New York City buy the World Trade Center site from the Port Authority in exchange for the airports -- would have taken two acts of state legislatures, and stalled under its own weight. https://www.highly.co/hl/56214f106c696c08687f0100
McKinsey & Co.
Sep 2000 - Feb 2002
Felt impostor syndrome at giving business advice despite never having been in business. Accidentally called management consulting "value-added PowerPoint resale" in a meeting on values. When 9/11 happened, I was on a conference call discussing movie theater pricing for popcorn. Before I joined, got rejected by McKinsey's competitor, BCG, when I estimated the population of the UK at 6 million people, not 60.
Stuyvesant High School
Harvard UniversityA.B., Social Studies (sic)
University of OxfordM.Phil., Economics
Abraham Joshua Heschel School