The VC/founder marriage analogy is weird, and other startup BS: Parker Conrad on the 20VC podcast


Apr 26, 2021

There were massive opportunities for SaaS point-source solutions 5-10 years ago, but now many of those unicorn opportunities have been picked over. We’re entering the era of the compound startup—one that’s fueled by a drive towards integration and consolidation as well as a capital-rich market full of VCs willing to fund a new breed of companies.

This is the state of the startup world, according to our CEO Parker Conrad. 

Parker joined Harry Stebbings on the 20VC podcast to discuss what makes his vision of a compound startup unique, the ethos behind the Rippling business model, and what founders should look for in their relationship with VCs. 

Listen to the episode > 

The highlights

  • Why Rippling? Parker’s “aha” moment came when he realized that employee data is far more distributed across companies than people realize. Not simply relegated to HR and HR business systems, the data unites all facets of a business. When successfully orchestrated, it can help improve everything. 
  • Compound startups like Rippling are not easy to build. But, as Salesforce has proved over the decades, such companies can be incredibly powerful. 
  • One of the biggest challenges with selling a compound startup is nailing its core marketing message. Focus on the challenge at large, not the individual product features. 
  • There is a commonly used metaphor in the VC / startup world—the relationship between a founder and their investors is like that of a marriage. Parker sees this relationship as more like the one you’d have with a general contractor; you may disagree, but those disagreements are not going to get you kicked out of your home. 
  • Rippling is always looking for leaders who have the right mix of impatience, humor, and something to prove.
last edited: May 11, 2023