Aug 22, 2017
Jess Lee is currently a Partner at Sequoia Capital, and was
the Co-Founder & CEO of Polyvore until 2016. Jess first began
her career as a project manager at Google where she learned some
important lessons about company culture.
Jess made use of those lessons at Polyvore, which was acquired
by Yahoo in 2015. Although she was inexperienced as a CEO at the
time, she took the challenge in stride and surrounded herself with
amazing talent to help grow the company.
In this episode, Jess discusses what she learned at Google,
how it helped her career at Polyvore, why some companies are unable
to cultivate good company culture, and why women in the tech
industry are still struggling to get ahead. She also shares her
methods for staying grounded and organized throughout her
- [1:20] What does Jess’s work week typically look like?
- [2:00] What motivates Jess?
- [2:30] How did Jess end up working for Google?
- [4:00] What is Polyvore?
- [6:10] What skills from her time at Google did Jess bring to
- [6:50] When Jess first joined Polyvore, there were only 4
people on the team. Over time, they grew to 125 people.
- [7:20] What kind of important leadership lessons did Jess learn
as Polyvore was growing?
- [8:00] It took Jess a while to figure out what her leadership
style was and how to lead authentically.
- [9:35] If you’re not an experienced CEO, surround yourself with
awesome and inspiring people, to help you fill in the gaps.
- [10:20] As an introvert, how does Jess survive in an
- [11:55] What is Jess most proud of from her time at
- [12:55] Jess is now in venture capital, why the shift?
- [14:20] How does Jess help entrepreneurs save time?
- [14:55] What areas of innovation have Jess’s attention right
- [16:55] What are some of the biggest roadblocks to companies
trying to innovate?
- [18:30] How can companies welcome innovation when they start to
get larger than life?
- [20:00] When does an entrepreneur know they have a ‘good’
- [20:40] About to start your first company? Build something
useful, and delightful! Also remember, good companies take a while
to grow. Polyvore was an 8.5 year journey.
- [22:25] Why is it still difficult for women to get ahead in the
- [24:55] How can we fix toxic culture?
- [26:45] How does culture impact innovation and creativity?
- [28:45] From a VC standpoint, what does Jess look for in a
- [30:25] Empathy is important in business. You need to be able
to put yourself in other people’s shoes.
- [33:50] What is Jess’s daily routine?
- [36:10] How does Jess manage information overload?
- [36:40] Fun fact: Jess is a huge fan of comics and anime!
- [38:25] What’s next for Jess?