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她曾任职于蔚来甚至差点成为Twitter CEO,如今跨界创办在线读书会

她曾任职于蔚来甚至差点成为Twitter CEO,如今跨界创办在线读书会

Maria Aspan 2021年02月12日
读者可能是一个充满热情的市场。

帕德马锡·沃里奥 图片来源:Fable提供

帕德马锡·沃里奥的职业生涯大都在担任高管职位,曾经在思科(Cisco)、摩托罗拉(Motorola)和特斯拉(Tesla)的竞争对手蔚来汽车(Nio)管理硬科技业务。

可她最近的创业为什么选择了……阅读?

当然,阅读比其他领域的科技含量更高。但在男性主导的科技行业,沃里奥一直是资历最高的女性之一。如今她离开了企业软件和电动汽车领域,转而投身到创建在线读书会。她的初创公司Fable是她18个月努力的结果。她希望为图书爱好者和他们工作的公司创造一个更有思想深度、有害影响更少的社交媒体应用。

考虑到目前社交媒体平台争议不断,现在进入这个特殊的领域似乎有些不合时宜,但沃里奥相信Fable可以避免令其他公司困扰不已的问题。她在本周早些时候表示:“纷纷扰扰的社交媒体平台让人疲惫不堪”。当时,规模最大和争议最多的社交媒体平台仍在继续打压特朗普总统和他的暴力支持者。 “我喜欢阅读,而且一直如此,所以我要利用我在科技行业学到的知识,创建一家我们所说的具备艺术家灵魂的科技公司。”

几个月以来,Fable一直在悄悄筹备,但周四,该公司正式公布了一款最新应用,在苹果(Apple)应用商店和谷歌(Google)安卓商店开放下载。Fable在种子轮融资中融得725万美元,由红点投资(Redpoint Ventures)领投,但未披露公司估值。7月份结束融资之后,沃里奥利用这笔资金招聘了更多员工(Fable现有19名全职员工以及“大约5位”承包商),并继续开发公司的服务。

客户必须通过Fable的网站购买电子书,才能充分发挥该应用的价值,但Fable并不是一家图书零售商,而是一个基于订阅的推荐引擎和私人社交网络。用户每年支付会员费69.99美元,可访问数千本不受版权保护的免费图书,还有杰出作家和其他嘉宾为他们推荐图书。(目前,幽默作家大卫·赛德瑞斯推荐了“典型嗜酒者的自传”,小说家兼诗人齐特拉·蒂娃卡鲁尼推荐的图书讲述了为什么“移民的故事就是美国故事”。)这些图书需要额外付费购买,但Fable的客户可以成立数字读书会,通过这款应用与好友分享读书笔记,讨论图书作品。(Fable也有免费版,用户可以阅读这些图书并加入讨论,但不能创建读书会。)

沃里奥表示:“我最开始有两个主要目标:如何将读书会进行现代化升级并将它们引入到数字世界。市面上有数以百万计的图书,你如何帮助人们找到最好的图书?”

她最大的竞争对手可能是亚马逊(Amazon)旗下的书评网站Goodreads。Goodreads是市场主导者但却经常遭到批评。Medium公司的OneZero栏目在2019年9月发表的一篇专栏文章的标题是:“关于Goodreads的一切几乎都已经无可救药”。这篇文章批评了该网站“丑陋的设计和糟糕的功能”,以及在该平台上查找和与他人分享图书推荐的难度。OneZero称:“读者和作者都应该有一个更好的在线社区。”

沃里奥似乎注意到了这种需求(以及Goodreads联合创始人奥蒂斯·钱德勒的建议。钱德勒在2019年离开亚马逊之后曾经与沃里奥有过交流。)沃里奥表示:“我认为Goodreads更像是一个列表应用,你可以在里面跟踪自己读过和想读的图书。但它也变得非常哗众取宠。我不会到这个平台上查找某个主题我应该阅读的三本好书。”

Goodreads发言人表示,该平台依旧有1.2亿用户。Goodreads CEO维罗妮卡·莫斯在一封电子邮件声明中告诉《财富》杂志:“我们仍在持续完善我们的设计和用户体验。”她承诺“将有更多全面更新”。

读者可能是一个充满热情的市场。沃里奥希望会有大量图书爱好者愿意付费订阅Fable精心准备的好书推荐,以及除了Zoom以外扩大疫情读书会的机会。但沃里奥和她的投资者看到了将快乐阅读变成企业与企业间的收入流的一次重要机会。Fable将销售企业会员,希望成为一项员工福利,类似于有些雇主使用的冥想应用Headspace和Calm(目前在私人市场的估值为20亿美元)或治疗应用Talkspace(在周三宣布成立一家特殊目的收购公司,估值为14亿美元)。

去年,疫情迫使大部分知识工作者居家工作,并使所有人的心理健康状况持续恶化,因此这些心理健康类程序变得更受欢迎。沃里奥表示:“有许多科学文献谈到了阅读对于认知健康和心理健康的好处:阅读让我们更放松,可以缓解压力,增加同理心。读书让我们与某种意义和某种目的建立联系。”

这种商业模式在沃里奥任职于《财富》500强企业-科技公司期间经过不断完善。沃里奥在思科担任了七年首席技术官,目前仍是微软和Spotify的董事会成员。她表示,Fable已经与企业客户签约开展试点,但她并未透露合作伙伴的名称。

红点投资总经理安妮·卡塔夫主持了Fable的种子轮融资(在加入该风投公司之前曾主持Uber货运部门的战略运营业务)。她表示:“我想我合作过的每一家公司都有读书会。消费者版本更容易理解,但从商业模式方面,读书会也适用于企业的创意,恰好是帕德马的优势。

创建后Twitter时代的社交网络

沃里奥曾任摩托罗拉和思科的首席技术官,最近曾在中国电动汽车公司蔚来汽车担任美国CEO。她一直被认为是科技领域最有影响力的女性之一。那么她为什么会突然进入阅读和心理健康领域?

沃里奥指出:“我的职业发展过程一直是非传统的,而且我一直在不断转行。”她补充说自己离开思科“进入汽车行业,当时人们都以为我疯了。”

2018年12月,加入蔚来汽车三年的沃里奥宣布辞去CEO职务,而三个月前该公司刚刚完成了10亿美元首次公开募股。她辞职的理由是“个人兴趣”以及她希望“解决下一个大挑战”。如今她表示,她一直计划的是干满三年,并且她希望能集中精力发展一家健康行业的初创公司,但她也承认,在特朗普总统任职期间,中美贸易关系日益恶化为蔚来汽车的运营增加了不可预测的复杂性。

她说:“我们为这家[中国]母公司的美国子公司制定的许多策略,都发生了重大转变。”她补充说,希望即将上任的拜登政府能够执行“更平衡的”对华贸易政策:“中国是一个巨大的市场,我们必须想明白两国应该如何共存。”

Fable还让沃里奥有机会思考她在2015年本可能走上的另外一条职业道路(或许会改变这个国家的发展方向)。当时有媒体报道称,她是Twitter CEO的考虑人选之一。如今,沃里奥在社交媒体巨头Twitter上拥有超过140万粉丝。她说经营Twitter“或许会是我喜欢做的事情,但杰克[多尔西]一直做得很好。”

沃里奥补充说,Twitter依旧需要认识到它“作为一个平台的力量,因为人们会利用或滥用这个平台来放大他们的议程。”几天前,Twitter以特朗普总统煽动暴力为由封禁了他的账号。 “我感觉他们终于向前一步,承担起了应尽的责任。”

这让我们回想起她作为一家新社交媒体的创始人和CEO的雄心壮志。沃里奥说,Fable “不是一家社交媒体公司”,或许它算是一家社交媒体公司,只是它决定收取订阅费而不是出售广告和用户数据。Fable还围绕仇恨言论制定了社区行为准则,其读书会中设立的“主持人”有权踢出违反准则的用户。

随着规模的扩大,Fable平台的付费模式或许能够避免困扰免费社交媒体平台的一些糟糕行为,尽管沃里奥正在为这些熟悉的挑战做好准备。

她说:“如果你想到Facebook、Twitter、TikTok、Snap等社交媒体平台,你会思考:它们有哪些优点?我们如何整合这些优点,摒弃那些哗众取宠的部分?我们只需要小心谨慎,防止现有的社交媒体平台允许我们做的所有糟糕的事情,在我们的平台上发生。”(财富中文网)

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

帕德马锡·沃里奥的职业生涯大都在担任高管职位,曾经在思科(Cisco)、摩托罗拉(Motorola)和特斯拉(Tesla)的竞争对手蔚来汽车(Nio)管理硬科技业务。

可她最近的创业为什么选择了……阅读?

当然,阅读比其他领域的科技含量更高。但在男性主导的科技行业,沃里奥一直是资历最高的女性之一。如今她离开了企业软件和电动汽车领域,转而投身到创建在线读书会。她的初创公司Fable是她18个月努力的结果。她希望为图书爱好者和他们工作的公司创造一个更有思想深度、有害影响更少的社交媒体应用。

考虑到目前社交媒体平台争议不断,现在进入这个特殊的领域似乎有些不合时宜,但沃里奥相信Fable可以避免令其他公司困扰不已的问题。她在本周早些时候表示:“纷纷扰扰的社交媒体平台让人疲惫不堪”。当时,规模最大和争议最多的社交媒体平台仍在继续打压特朗普总统和他的暴力支持者。 “我喜欢阅读,而且一直如此,所以我要利用我在科技行业学到的知识,创建一家我们所说的具备艺术家灵魂的科技公司。”

几个月以来,Fable一直在悄悄筹备,但周四,该公司正式公布了一款最新应用,在苹果(Apple)应用商店和谷歌(Google)安卓商店开放下载。Fable在种子轮融资中融得725万美元,由红点投资(Redpoint Ventures)领投,但未披露公司估值。7月份结束融资之后,沃里奥利用这笔资金招聘了更多员工(Fable现有19名全职员工以及“大约5位”承包商),并继续开发公司的服务。

客户必须通过Fable的网站购买电子书,才能充分发挥该应用的价值,但Fable并不是一家图书零售商,而是一个基于订阅的推荐引擎和私人社交网络。用户每年支付会员费69.99美元,可访问数千本不受版权保护的免费图书,还有杰出作家和其他嘉宾为他们推荐图书。(目前,幽默作家大卫·赛德瑞斯推荐了“典型嗜酒者的自传”,小说家兼诗人齐特拉·蒂娃卡鲁尼推荐的图书讲述了为什么“移民的故事就是美国故事”。)这些图书需要额外付费购买,但Fable的客户可以成立数字读书会,通过这款应用与好友分享读书笔记,讨论图书作品。(Fable也有免费版,用户可以阅读这些图书并加入讨论,但不能创建读书会。)

沃里奥表示:“我最开始有两个主要目标:如何将读书会进行现代化升级并将它们引入到数字世界。市面上有数以百万计的图书,你如何帮助人们找到最好的图书?”

她最大的竞争对手可能是亚马逊(Amazon)旗下的书评网站Goodreads。Goodreads是市场主导者但却经常遭到批评。Medium公司的OneZero栏目在2019年9月发表的一篇专栏文章的标题是:“关于Goodreads的一切几乎都已经无可救药”。这篇文章批评了该网站“丑陋的设计和糟糕的功能”,以及在该平台上查找和与他人分享图书推荐的难度。OneZero称:“读者和作者都应该有一个更好的在线社区。”

沃里奥似乎注意到了这种需求(以及Goodreads联合创始人奥蒂斯·钱德勒的建议。钱德勒在2019年离开亚马逊之后曾经与沃里奥有过交流。)沃里奥表示:“我认为Goodreads更像是一个列表应用,你可以在里面跟踪自己读过和想读的图书。但它也变得非常哗众取宠。我不会到这个平台上查找某个主题我应该阅读的三本好书。”

Goodreads发言人表示,该平台依旧有1.2亿用户。Goodreads CEO维罗妮卡·莫斯在一封电子邮件声明中告诉《财富》杂志:“我们仍在持续完善我们的设计和用户体验。”她承诺“将有更多全面更新”。

读者可能是一个充满热情的市场。沃里奥希望会有大量图书爱好者愿意付费订阅Fable精心准备的好书推荐,以及除了Zoom以外扩大疫情读书会的机会。但沃里奥和她的投资者看到了将快乐阅读变成企业与企业间的收入流的一次重要机会。Fable将销售企业会员,希望成为一项员工福利,类似于有些雇主使用的冥想应用Headspace和Calm(目前在私人市场的估值为20亿美元)或治疗应用Talkspace(在周三宣布成立一家特殊目的收购公司,估值为14亿美元)。

去年,疫情迫使大部分知识工作者居家工作,并使所有人的心理健康状况持续恶化,因此这些心理健康类程序变得更受欢迎。沃里奥表示:“有许多科学文献谈到了阅读对于认知健康和心理健康的好处:阅读让我们更放松,可以缓解压力,增加同理心。读书让我们与某种意义和某种目的建立联系。”

这种商业模式在沃里奥任职于《财富》500强企业-科技公司期间经过不断完善。沃里奥在思科担任了七年首席技术官,目前仍是微软和Spotify的董事会成员。她表示,Fable已经与企业客户签约开展试点,但她并未透露合作伙伴的名称。

红点投资总经理安妮·卡塔夫主持了Fable的种子轮融资(在加入该风投公司之前曾主持Uber货运部门的战略运营业务)。她表示:“我想我合作过的每一家公司都有读书会。消费者版本更容易理解,但从商业模式方面,读书会也适用于企业的创意,恰好是帕德马的优势。

创建后Twitter时代的社交网络

沃里奥曾任摩托罗拉和思科的首席技术官,最近曾在中国电动汽车公司蔚来汽车担任美国CEO。她一直被认为是科技领域最有影响力的女性之一。那么她为什么会突然进入阅读和心理健康领域?

沃里奥指出:“我的职业发展过程一直是非传统的,而且我一直在不断转行。”她补充说自己离开思科“进入汽车行业,当时人们都以为我疯了。”

2018年12月,加入蔚来汽车三年的沃里奥宣布辞去CEO职务,而三个月前该公司刚刚完成了10亿美元首次公开募股。她辞职的理由是“个人兴趣”以及她希望“解决下一个大挑战”。如今她表示,她一直计划的是干满三年,并且她希望能集中精力发展一家健康行业的初创公司,但她也承认,在特朗普总统任职期间,中美贸易关系日益恶化为蔚来汽车的运营增加了不可预测的复杂性。

她说:“我们为这家[中国]母公司的美国子公司制定的许多策略,都发生了重大转变。”她补充说,希望即将上任的拜登政府能够执行“更平衡的”对华贸易政策:“中国是一个巨大的市场,我们必须想明白两国应该如何共存。”

Fable还让沃里奥有机会思考她在2015年本可能走上的另外一条职业道路(或许会改变这个国家的发展方向)。当时有媒体报道称,她是Twitter CEO的考虑人选之一。如今,沃里奥在社交媒体巨头Twitter上拥有超过140万粉丝。她说经营Twitter“或许会是我喜欢做的事情,但杰克[多尔西]一直做得很好。”

沃里奥补充说,Twitter依旧需要认识到它“作为一个平台的力量,因为人们会利用或滥用这个平台来放大他们的议程。”几天前,Twitter以特朗普总统煽动暴力为由封禁了他的账号。 “我感觉他们终于向前一步,承担起了应尽的责任。”

这让我们回想起她作为一家新社交媒体的创始人和CEO的雄心壮志。沃里奥说,Fable “不是一家社交媒体公司”,或许它算是一家社交媒体公司,只是它决定收取订阅费而不是出售广告和用户数据。Fable还围绕仇恨言论制定了社区行为准则,其读书会中设立的“主持人”有权踢出违反准则的用户。

随着规模的扩大,Fable平台的付费模式或许能够避免困扰免费社交媒体平台的一些糟糕行为,尽管沃里奥正在为这些熟悉的挑战做好准备。

她说:“如果你想到Facebook、Twitter、TikTok、Snap等社交媒体平台,你会思考:它们有哪些优点?我们如何整合这些优点,摒弃那些哗众取宠的部分?我们只需要小心谨慎,防止现有的社交媒体平台允许我们做的所有糟糕的事情,在我们的平台上发生。”(财富中文网)

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

Padmasree Warrior has spent most of her career in prominent C-suite offices, running large hard-technology operations at Cisco, Motorola, and Tesla competitor Nio.

So why is her new startup devoted to…reading?

Sure, it’s more high-tech than that. But Warrior, long one of the most senior women in the male-dominated tech industry, has now swapped enterprise software and electric vehicles for online book clubs. Her new startup, Fable, is the result of 18 months spent trying to create a more thoughtful—and less toxic—social media app for book lovers and some of the companies that employ them.

Given the controversy now dogging social media platforms, it might seem like an odd moment to enter that particular fray, but Warrior believes Fable can avoid the problems that have plagued other companies. “There’s a lot of fatigue around noisy social platforms,” she said earlier this week, as the biggest and noisiest ones continued to crack down on President Trump and his violent supporters. “I love reading, and I always have—so I’m applying everything I’ve learned in the tech industry into creating what we call a tech company with the soul of an artist.”

Fable has been quietly gearing up for months, but on Thursday it officially unveiled its new app for both the Apple and Google Android stores. It has also raised $7.25 million in seed funding from investors, led by Redpoint Ventures, for an undisclosed valuation. Since closing the deal in July, Warrior has used the money to hire more employees (Fable now has 19 full-time workers, plus “about five” contractors) and to continue building out Fable’s services.

Customers have to buy ebooks through Fable’s website to get the most out of the app—but it’s less of a retailer than a subscription-based recommendation engine and private social network. Those who pay an annual membership fee of $69.99 get access to thousands of free titles in the public domain, plus recommendations of works selected by prominent writers and other guest experts. (Currently, humorist David Sedaris is recommending biographies of “iconic alcoholics,” while novelist and poet Chitra Divakaruni is recommending books about how “the immigrant story is an American story.”) These books must be purchased for an additional fee, but Fable customers can then form digital book clubs, to share notes and discuss a particular work with friends through the app. (There is also a free version of Fable, which allows users to read some books and join discussions but not start their own.)

“The two primary goals that I started with were, How do you modernize book clubs and bring them into the digital world?” Warrior says. “And there are millions of books out there, so how do you help people find the best ones?”

Her biggest seeming competitor is Goodreads, the dominant, if frequently criticized, book-review site now owned by Amazon. “Almost everything about Goodreads is broken,” opined the headline of a September 2019 column in Medium’s OneZero, which criticized the site’s “ugly design and poor functionality” and the difficulty of finding and sharing book recommendations with others on the platform. “Readers and authors deserve a better online community,” OneZero declared.

Warrior seems to have paid attention to such demands (and the advice of Goodreads cofounder Otis Chandler, who spoke with her after he left Amazon in 2019). “I think of Goodreads more as a list app, where you keep track of books you’ve read and want to read,” she says. “But it’s also become pretty noisy. And it’s not where I go to find what are the three great books I should read on a particular topic.”

Still, Goodreads has 120 million users, a spokesperson pointed out. “We continue to evolve our design and user experience,” CEO Veronica Moss told Fortune in an an emailed statement, promising “more updates across the board.”

Readers can be a passionate market, and Warrior hopes that plenty of individual book lovers might want to pay for Fable’s curated recommendations—and a way to extend their quarantine book clubs beyond Zoom. But Warrior and her investors also see a big opportunity to make reading for pleasure into a business-to-business revenue stream. Fable is selling corporate memberships, hoping to become an employee benefit similar to how some employers are using meditation apps Headspace and Calm (now privately valued at $2 billion) or therapy app Talkspace (which on Wednesday announced a SPAC that would value it at $1.4 billion).

Such mental-wellness programs have become even more popular in the past year, as the pandemic keeps most knowledge workers in work-from-home isolation and continues to worsen everyone’s mental health. “There’s a lot of science that talks about how reading is really helpful for our cognitive fitness and our mental health: It allows us to relax more, it allows us to de-stress, it increases empathy,” Warrior says. “This is all about human connection with a meaning and a purpose.”

And it’s a business model honed by her career at Fortune 500 enterprise-tech companies. Warrior, who spent seven years as Cisco’s chief technology officer and who currently sits on the boards of Microsoft and Spotify, says that Fable has already signed up corporate customers for pilots, although she would not name any.

“I think every single company I’ve ever worked for has had a book club,” says Annie Kadavy, the Redpoint managing director who led Fable’s seed round (and who ran strategic operations for Uber’s freight division before joining the venture capital firm). “The consumer version is a little bit easier to understand, but the idea that this is also applicable to enterprises plays very well into Padma’s strength in terms of a business model.”

Building a post-Twitter social network

So just how did a woman long considered to be one of the most powerful women in tech—a former CTO at Motorola as well as Cisco, last seen as the U.S. CEO of Chinese electric car company Nio—swerve into reading and mental wellness?

“My career has always been nontraditional that way, and I’ve shifted industries throughout,” Warrior points out, adding that when she left Cisco and “went to the car industry, people thought I was crazy.”

Three years after joining Nio, and three months after its $1 billion IPO, Warrior stepped down from her CEO role in December 2018, citing “personal interests” and her desire “to tackle the next big challenge.” She says today that she always intended to stay for three years, and that she wanted to be able to focus on developing a startup in the wellness industry—but also, she admits, the worsening U.S.-China trade relations under President Trump yielded some unforeseen complications for Nio.

“A lot of the strategies we had for the U.S. subsidiary of this [Chinese] parent company were changing quite dramatically,” she says, adding that she hopes the incoming Biden administration pursues a “more balanced” trade policy toward China: “The relationships at all levels are just so strained. China is a big market, and we need to figure out how to coexist.”

Fable is also allowing Warrior to explore another path her career (and perhaps the nation) could have taken in 2015, back when she was reported to be under consideration for Twitter’s CEO job. Warrior, who has more than 1.4 million followers on the social media giant today, says that running Twitter “is something that I would have loved to have done—but Jack [Dorsey] is doing a great job.”

Still, Twitter does need to recognize its power “as a platform people use or abuse to amplify their agenda,” Warrior adds, days after Twitter banned President Trump for inciting violence from his account. “And I feel, finally, they’re stepping up and taking responsibility for it.”

Which brings us back to her ambitions as a newly minted social media founder and CEO. Fable is “not a social media company,” Warrior says—except it kind of is, one that’s made the decision to charge subscriptions instead of selling advertising and its users’ data. Fable also has established community guidelines around what constitutes hate speech, and its book clubs have “moderators” who have the power to kick out users who violate those guidelines.

As Fable scales, the platform’s largely paid nature may help keep out some of the worst behavior that troubles free social media platforms—although Warrior is bracing for those familiar challenges.

“If you think about Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Snap, and others: What are the good things about them? And how do we incorporate that but not the noisy part?” she says. “We just need to be really careful that it doesn’t devolve into all the bad things that current social media companies allow us to do.”

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