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Fortt Knox

Jon Fortt co-anchors TechCheck on CNBC, and has covered technology and innovation for more than 15 years. Fortt Knox brings you rich ideas and powerful people. Guests include Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Accenture CEO of North America Julie Sweet, Olympic champion Michael Phelps, and Broadway veteran Rory O'Malley (Hamilton, The Book of Mormon). Join Jon's conversations with power brokers on how they made it, what they value, and what makes them tick.

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48 - Chamath Palihapitiya, Social Capital CEO: The Beauty of a Calculated Risk

Chamath Palihapitiya is one of the most sought-after investors in Silicon Valley. It's because he has a knack for figuring out how things work. At Facebook, he led the team that studied our online behavior and figured out how to grow that service from 50 million users when he joined in 2007, to 700 million users when he left four years later.  Now as the CEO of venture investing firm Social Capital, he's working on something different: cracking the code to understand how tech is changing our world – and maybe make a few billion dollars in the process. It's quite a journey for Palihapitiya. He grew up poor, an immigrant from Sri Lanka, with a knack for numbers, a talent for gambling, and the proverbial deck stacked against him. I visited Chamath at Social Capital's offices in Palo Alto, California to get an up-close look at how he thinks. One of his deepest insights? Getting the right answer is overrated. Real growth happens from examining our wrong answers. 


14 Oct 2017

Rank #1

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142 - Mr. Zuckerberg Goes to Washington: with John Stanton and Farhad Manjoo

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Washington this week arguing for Libra, the digital currency his company created and wants to build around. This after he last week made the case in front of an audience at Georgetown University that Facebook’s future, its past, its reason for being are all tied up in free speech. With me this week for another bite out of this Facebook and free speech debate: John Stanton, the cofounder of the Save Journalism Project, and Farhad Manjoo, columnist for the New York Times.


26 Oct 2019

Rank #2

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17 - Michael Phelps, Olympic champion: The Toughest Battle Is in Your Mind

We love to have these debates about who's the greatest of all time in any given sport; maybe it's because you don't even have to be an expert to get in on them. All you need to know is the yardstick for success. Serena Williams or Steffi Graf? Tom Brady or Joe Montana?That's what makes Michael Phelps special. There's no debate. He's the greatest swimmer and most decorated Olympian of all time. He won 28 medals over four different Olympic Games, 23 of them gold.The question is, how? Well, Michael Phelps is not a fish. Doctors have shot down the notion that his abnormal wingspan and flexible joints give him an outsized advantage.It turns out, Phelps worked hard on his craft. He also does a few mental exercises that the rest of us would do well to emulate. I sat down with him for the Fortt Knox podcast to get some of his best insights.


4 Mar 2017

Rank #3

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9 - Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO: The Boss's Favorite Mistake

Twenty-five years ago, the man who is now CEO of the world's largest maker of computer chips was an engineer at the company. And he made an error that almost got him fired. "I wiped out the output of an entire factory for a week," Intel CEO Brian Krzanich tells me in the latest episode of the Fortt Knox podcast. "I'm lucky to be employed at Intel, sometimes I say." But instead of dooming him, his handling of the problem influenced the company culture, helping to birth a system called "Copy Exactly" that's become a part of its identity. Krzanich went on to make a name for himself as the executive responsible for all of Intel's factories, a job that prepared him to be CEO.


9 Jan 2017

Rank #4

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30 - Tom Siebel, CEO of C3 IoT: Billionaire vs. Elephant

To say Tom Siebel has had an interesting life would be putting it mildly. He’s a billionaire, a tech visionary, and the survivor of an elephant goring eight years ago that, by the odds, should have killed him.Several doctors told Siebel he would never walk again, much less sail competitively. But he does.So what do you learn about life when you’ve stared down death in the form of a five-ton elephant, been crushed by that elephant, and lived to tell the tale? What do you learn when you’ve invented one of the first killer workplace apps of the PC era, then sold it for about $6 billion dollars?After you’ve made all that, survived all that, why, at 64 years old, are you still inventing?Tom Siebel, now the CEO of C3 IoT, sat down with me for the at the Nasdaq Marketsite in Times Square to share some insight into what’s made him tick – and what’s helped him succeed.


3 Jun 2017

Rank #5

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61 - Al Kelly, Visa CEO: Career Shifts, Bitcoin, and the Future of Money

Imagine you've worked 23 years at a company, up to the top. You're being groomed to be the next CEO. And then the current CEO tells you – actually, he's not leaving anytime soon. That's the position Al Kelly was in nine years ago at American Express. What happened next is a textbook case in how to handle career curveballs. Today Kelly is the CEO of Visa, and has great things to say about Ken Chenault, who’s retiring as CEO of American Express. Kelly also has great insight into what's happening in the world of money, from Bitcoin to Apple Pay.  I sat down with Kelly recently at the National Retail Federation conference in New York. Visa is a big company, worth more than a quarter trillion dollars, and its technology touches a staggering number of the payment transactions happening around the world. We talk about that – plus his career, which has taken him around some interesting corners. 


20 Jan 2018

Rank #6

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140 - Savings and Startups: Credit Carma CEO Ken Lin; Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman

It’s hard to save money these days – and I’m not talking about the new phones and earbuds that come out this time of year and tempt you to spend. Interest rates are really low. Which is great if you’re borrowing to buy a house or a car, but not so awesome if you want to save. The interest rate for the typical U.S. savings account is 9 hundredths of a percent.  But! All is not lost. For a long time there have been higher rates for savers, even from mainstream banks. Now a young and scrappy group of tech startups are pushing the boundaries further with interest rates at about 2% – that’s 20 times higher than average. It’s the difference between earning 16 bucks a month on 10 thousand dollars in savings, or earning just 75 cents.  That’s just the beginning. There are cheaper ways to trade stocks, ways to make money off of credit cards. Today we’re going to help you put a plan together.  With me this week, CNBC’s personal finance expert Sharon Epperson. And Kenneth Lin, CEO of Credit Karma, which has just announced it’s launching one of these high-yield savings accounts. Later, Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman.


13 Oct 2019

Rank #7

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18 - Tom Steyer, investor and activist: A Billionaire's Surprising Rules of Winning

Tom Steyer became a billionaire by solving puzzles.That wasn't his technical job description – he actually founded Farallon Capital, a hedge fund in San Francisco, 30 years ago. As an investor, two signature moves stand out: One, he got his alma mater, Yale, to invest a portion of its endowment with him; the success of that arrangement sparked a trend. Two, he often made his own luck by investing deeply in countries and industries.As Steyer scouted unusual investments in unexpected places, he followed some basic rules. Now that Steyer has set his sights on politics and policy – he's rumored to be considering a run for California governor – I sat down with him for Fortt Knox. He gave me some of his best insights on how to succeed, and why he's fighting the new administration in Washington, D.C.


13 Mar 2017

Rank #8

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55 - Andy Jassy, Amazon Web Services CEO: The Father of the Cloud

About 13 years ago, Andy Jassy had a big, big idea. What if you could rent computing power and storage over the Internet instead of having to buy a whole bunch of computing equipment?  Jassy worked for Amazon.com at the time, as the technical assistant to one Jeff Bezos – the founder and CEO of Amazon. He told Jeff about the idea. They decided to do it. And now, more than a decade later, Andy Jassy has not only built a business that brings in 16 billion dollars a year. He and his team also essentially invented the business of cloud computing, and upended the tech world in the process.  I flew out to Las Vegas this week to have a chat with Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services. The company was having its annual re:Invent conference, where software programmers from around the world gather to hear the latest cloud tools Amazon is looking to put in their hands.   I wanted to hear from him about how he got started at Amazon; how he worked with his boss, Jeff Bezos, to launch a business that has turned out to be Amazon's biggest profit-maker; what his strategy is now, and just how massive he thinks it all can get.


2 Dec 2017

Rank #9

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85 - Roger Lynch, Pandora CEO and Sling TV co-founder: The Great Rebundling

Pandora, the music streaming service, has a culture that's heavily musical. So as a new CEO of the company, it helps that Roger Lynch not only plays guitar, but he actually still plays live gigs with a band. Lynch sat down with me above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, before the opening bell. He's been in the job for less than a year – and he's got his work cut out for him. Spotify just went public, and has grabbed a lot of attention. Meanwhile, many of the most powerful companies in tech are competing with him in the market, including a few little names like Apple, Amazon and Google. How does he plan to win?  Lynch started out a scientist, became and investment banker, and found his groove as an entrepreneur – he's the founding CEO of video streaming pioneer Sling TV. 


21 Jul 2018

Rank #10

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39 - Tristan Walker, Walker & Company Brands founder & CEO: A Black Entrepreneur in Silicon Valley

Tristan Walker is the founder and CEO of Walker and Company Brands. He's 33 years old. In this episode I somewhat jokingly say that growing up, he was an odd kid, because of the surface contradictions.He's a business mind who made a name for himself when he joined a mobile technology startup, but his first company focuses on skin and hair care. He grew up in a working-class family in New York, and his father was killed when he was young – but he went to a boarding school.His most prominent investors? Andreessen Horowitz, the marquee Silicon Valley venture capital firm – but he and I speak plainly about Silicon Valley's diversity challenges.I recently visited Tristan Walker at the offices of Walker & Company Brands in Palo Alto, California, the heart of Silicon Valley. This episode was special for me, because, let's be frank: There aren't many African-American technology journalists in this business. I'm one. There aren't many African-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, and Tristan is arguably the best-known. I'm seven years older than Tristan, but we're of a similar generation. We've been a part of this era of sweeping change, and seen what's missing ... and who's missing.


6 Aug 2017

Rank #11

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46 - Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO: Hit Refresh with the Power of Empathy

Satya Nadella is the third CEO of Microsoft. He's also a husband and a father of special-needs kids. He's an immigrant.And he's pretty close to doing something that, until he took the job just over three and a half years ago, most people in tech – heck, most people at Microsoft – thought was impossible. That near-impossible task is a cultural revival of a once-dominant tech giant that was losing its grip on its soul. Under Nadella's leadership morale is up, and so is product quality and the stock price. The question is whether all of that can stick. Satya sat down with me at the Nasdaq Marketsite in Times Square in New York, where he stopped through to promote his new book, Hit Refresh, about the revival he's attempting at Microsoft. The conversation for my Fortt Knox podcast offers a fresh look at one of the most influential technology leaders in the world today, who's engineering a cultural rebirth that few thought possible – while also being a dad who faces some unique challenges helping his kids reach their full potential.


30 Sep 2017

Rank #12

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40 - Julie Sweet, Accenture CEO of North America: The Beauty of Reinvention

This is a conversation about reinvention. Not just once, but over and over.Julie Sweet leads the North American business at Accenture, a global consulting giant that employs more than 400,000 people and produced more than $32 billion in sales last year. Julie's territory made up almost exactly half of that total.I'm not really sure how most people become consultants. Ideally they get good at something, then show other people how to do it better.Julie's path was different. She was a lawyer – a partner at one of those swanky firms: Cravath, Swaine & Moore – and left that to be the top lawyer at Accenture, which you might also know by its old name, Arthur Andersen Consulting.She parlayed that job … into a bigger job. And that's the key detail here. Julie has a history of doing that sort of thing, and I wanted to find out how.I sat down with Julie Sweet just this week at the Nasdaq Marketsite in Times Square to talk about her path to the C-suite of one of the world's top consulting firms, and how her father, who painted cars for a living, set the no-excuses example that helped her get there.


12 Aug 2017

Rank #13

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141 - Tech's Free Speech Challenge

Tech just can’t get away from politics.  Senator Elizabeth Warren has a bone to pick with Facebook. Mainly its standards for political ads. After Facebook refused to take down a Trump Campaign ad that accused former vice president Joe Biden of wrongdoing connected to his son Hunter’s work in Ukraine, Warren fired back. She posted her own Facebook ad that started with a false claim that Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg have endorsed Trump for re-election.  A little farther afield, Activision Blizzard is caught out in the storm of controversy around Hong Kong. Chung Ng Wai, a Hearthstone player, was removed from a tournament, denied prize money and banned for a year for saying in a post-game interview, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” ATVI has since softened a little, saying they’ll let him have his 10,000 dollars prize money and ban him for just six months.  With me this week to talk free speech and more: from LA, Mike Jackson is CEO and principal at Motus One and founder of 2050 Marketing. Here in New York, Nilay Patel is editor in chief of The Verge.  


19 Oct 2019

Rank #14

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29 - Nicole Eagan, Darktrace CEO: Riding Out the Boom/Bust Cycles

Today she sits at the helm of a promising cybersecurity company. But first Nicole Eagan had to survive the dotcom bust.Eagan is CEO of Darktrace, a startup that battles hackers using software that gets smarter over time. Invented by mathematicians and former British intelligence operatives, the technology, much like a human immune system, looks for signs of odd behavior in a client's network.Eagan and Darktrace are on the cutting edge not only in security, but also in a gender-balanced tech workforce. Eagan says half of her employees are women. She knows how unusual that is, having operated in Silicon Valley through booms and busts … as an enterprise tech worker, a venture capitalist, and now as an executive.Nicole Eagan sat down with Fortt Knox to share lessons from efforts that worked, and efforts that didn't.


29 May 2017

Rank #15

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11 - John Legere, T-Mobile USA CEO: CEOs Can't Say That

How's this for authenticity: T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere has no qualms about dropping an f-bomb right in the middle of a press conference. He was taunting his rivals on Twitter long before that became the new standard in diplomacy.More important than all of that, Legere is growing the rolls at the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier at a dizzying clip – T-Mobile added 2.3 million subscribers in the first nine months of last year. AT&T and Verizon might be bigger, but T-Mobile is bold, scrappy, and changing the rules of the game.That's why for the latest episode of the Fortt Knox podcast I sat down with Legere to talk about how he decided to be a different kind of CEO, and why.More: http://forttknox.com


23 Jan 2017

Rank #16

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91 - What the Most Successful Founders Have in Common: Maynard Webb, Scott Galloway, Robert Frank

We’ve got a fascination with founders in our culture – people who start stuff. Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos. Bill Gates.  I’ve had a new generation of founders here on Fortt Knox: Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake, and Guild Education founder Rachel Carlson to name a couple.  So this week we’re going to dig into what successful founders do right, and what we can learn from them. Because hey: The way I look at it, even if you’re not starting the next Apple, the chances are pretty good that a lot of us have started something, or will before too long. Maybe it’s a small business – a major project on your job.   My guests: CNBC Wealth Editor Robert Frank, who has chronicled the ways of successful entrepreneurs for many years now. And the irrepressible Scott Galloway, Professor at NYU’s Stern School of business, author of New York Times bestseller The Four, which examines the animating ideas behind Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon. This week for the Fortt Knox one-on-one I’ve also got Maynard Webb. He’s former Board Chairman at Yahoo, former CEO of LiveOps, chief operating officer at eBay, and board member at Visa and Salesforce. 


22 Sep 2018

Rank #17

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36 - Anil Chakravarthy & Bruce Chizen, Informatica: Even CEOs Need Mentors

Think of this as getting to audit a little bit of a leadership master class.Bruce Chizen has the kind of unique executive experience that would fill a book of business school case studies.As the CEO of Adobe – the company that makes Photoshop, Premiere and more – Bruce mentored his replacement, Shantanu Narayen – and he often sat across the bargaining table from Apple CEO Steve Jobs.That's when I met him, as a young reporter in Silicon Valley, nearly 20 years ago now.Today, Bruce sits on many boards of directors, most notably the board of Oracle – run by the one and only Larry Ellison.At the same time, Bruce is executive chairman at Informatica. Informatica works with businesses to manage the trove of data they store in the cloud. There, he's working with new CEO Anil Chakravarthy on navigating a tricky job. Not only does Anil have to inspire the rank and file, he's got to develop his lieutenants and manage a board of directors stacked with impatient private equity investors.


17 Jul 2017

Rank #18

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65 - Rob Bernshteyn, Coupa CEO: Saving Your Way to Success

Frugality is baked into Rob Bernshteyn’s life experience. His family immigrated from Russia when he was a kid, and he used savings from a paper route to start a baseball card business … which helped pay for his college education. In his mid-30s, after an executive role at SuccessFactors, a tech company that went public, Rob’s entrepreneurial itch became overwhelming, and he used his modest IPO windfall to launch Coupa.Coupa’s mission? What else — help businesses save money through smart software.  Rob and I met at the Nasdaq Marketsite in Times Square to talk about how far Coupa’s come — it’s now a public company worth $2 billion — and how he got there.


17 Feb 2018

Rank #19

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20 - Katie Jacobs Stanton, Color CMO: Be the Exception to the Rule

Katie Jacobs Stanton knows how to create her own options.Stanton, a veteran of Twitter, Google, Yahoo, and a presidential administration, now serves as chief marketing officer of genetic testing startup Color Genomics. Her professional journey from East Coast to West, and back and forth again, has given her rare insight into the workplace cultures that shape us today.I sat down with her for the Fortt Knox podcast to talk about the environment for women in tech, and her journey to the executive ranks in Silicon Valley.


26 Mar 2017

Rank #20