TheBridge profile: Bradley Tusk
Name: Bradley Tusk
Current city: New York, NY
Current job: CEO, Tusk Holdings
Past job: Campaign Manager for Mike Bloomberg, Deputy Governor of Illinois, Communications Director for US Senator Schumer
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? 71 Irving (in Manhattan)
Q. Describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job. Working in politics taught me how to move legislation, shape policy and influence what happens. Especially as Deputy Governor, I learned both the mechanics of government and regulation, and more importantly, the levers that move it. We use this knowledge in our work with startups every day.
Q. Job advice in three words? Work really hard
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech / innovation and regulation? We’re working with a dozen startups at any time to win approvals to operate, fight off entrenched interests who use pay to play politics to stymie competition and innovation, and spreading our views on the right regulatory framework for sectors like crypto, autonomous vehicles and esports through our platforms (book, column, podcast).
Q. What can innovators teach regulators? A lot. Regulators, at their best, want to protect consumers but also enable new ideas and competition. Not every startup is a good idea and no startup should be immune from sensible regulations, but almost every successful startup in a regulated industry came up with a tweak on an existing sector that was failing consumers (otherwise there wouldn’t be market demand for Ubers or Birds or Airbnbs). Regulators should want to see and work to see better products and services available to consumers. That’s ultimately who they’re supposed to represent — not the donors of their campaigns or the entrenched interests they often end up trying to protect from competition.
Q. What can regulators teach innovators? Some regulations are dumb but many exist for a reason. Ignoring government and politics ends up both in your making dumb decisions and often in consumers getting hurt. You can dislike or oppose any given law but the rationale behind it is often legitimate.
Q. What's one piece of advice you are still trying to master? Still trying to master saying no. Never seems to get much easier.
Q. If you had to live in another city, which would it be? I’d live in LA if I couldn’t live in New York. It has the energy of a real city to me and I feed off of that.
Q. Living person you admire? Eric Swalwell has been working with us on our blockchain voting initiative and he’s been incredibly insightful.
Q. Startup to watch? I’m just promoting my own portfolio when talking about which startups to watch but keep an eye on Nexar.
Q. Congratulations on your new book, The Fixer. Why might TheBridge network like it? If you’re interested in how tech and politics collide in real life, how startups like Uber, Tesla, FanDuel and Lemonade have dealt with it and how politicians have dealt with it, it’s a fun and useful read (it’s called The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups From Death by Politics).
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