Out of the Crisis

By Eric Ries

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Out of the Crisis, a podcast hosted by myself, Eric Ries, highlights leaders from all sectors who are providing and coordinating relief efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

No one is more heroic than the healthcare workers and those on the frontlines treating the sick. But there’s also a role for others, particularly those in positions of privilege, to play in this crisis. As I’ve worked to make my own contributions, I’ve crossed paths with many different people and organizations offering their skills, expertise, and resources to get aid to essential workers and the sick. I created this podcast to share these inspiring stories in real-time, but also as a call to action. If you think you can help, do. If you want to help but don’t know how, the people in these episodes will guide you towards ways to get started. They’re helping to lead us through and eventually out of the crisis and offering tools for joining the effort.

Hosted on Breaker.

Episode Date
Ron Klain: The Ebola Czar on COIVD

Ron Klain may know more about government pandemic response than anyone in the US. This is because in 2014 Ron lead the response to the Ebola epidemic, resulting in only 18 infections and 2 deaths. Ron was talking about a need to response to COVID as early as January of this year, when he authored an op-ed in the Atlantic saying we had moved beyond the "if" COVID comes to the US to the "how bad will it be" phase.

Ron and I spoke about his experience as the Ebola Czar, how we should have responded to this pandemic, and how Ron thinks we can end the crisis.

Aug 10, 2020
Tomas Pueyo: The Hammer and the Dance

In these conversation, I have spoken with many every day people who managed to have a large impact in this crisis. Tomas Pueyo is, perhaps, the best example of this. 

Tomas began to notice what was going on with COVID early in 2020. He realized that there was no comprehensive guide on what governments needed to do to flatten the curve. So, Tomas set out and wrote "The Hammer and the Dance" After an initial share on Facebook, this article eventually reached over 60 million people. Tomas and I spoke about how he got the data for the article, the impact it had on government responses and what it means for governments to use the hammer and the dance. 

Jul 27, 2020
Bitwise: Retraining and reemploying American workers

There are two types of unemployment we are seeing right now. Unemployed caused by pandemic, and unemployment caused by the lockdown caused by the pandemic. This is a serious issue and will have long lasting impacts on our country if we don't act now.

Jake Soberal and Irma Olguin were already tackling the issue of unemployment, and job training, well before the pandemic. Bitwise, the company they founded, specialized in providing technical training to people in what they called "underdog" cities. So, when the saw the rampant unemployment, they sprung into action. I spoke to Jake and Irma about Bitwise, the organization they founded in response to the pandemic Onward US, and what more needs to be done to fight unemployment.

Jul 20, 2020
Revolution Foods: Rethinking the Food Supply Chain

Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey had no idea that they were building a nationwide phenomenon when in 2006, they founded Revolution Foods. Their mission was simply to provide kid-inspired, chef-crafted food to school aged children. Fast forward to 2020, they were serving over 2 million meals per week to kids across the country.

When COVID hit and they saw their revenue decline, they made the choice to get into the fight. Kirsten and Kristen used their food supply chain to get meals to the most vulnerable among us at nursing homes and homeless shelters. While there is so much more work to do, Rev Foods is providing crucial support at a time of need. We should all follow their example.

Jul 13, 2020
Sal Khan: The Classroom of the Future

Sal Khan may be the most famous educator in the world. His organization, Khan Academy, was helping millions of students around the world supplement their learning. However, since the lockdown, Khan Academy has taken on a new role. Instead of just augmenting education, Khan Academy has become a provider. They are now partnering with school districts across the world to provide education to hundreds of millions of students.

I spoke with Sal to discuss how Khan Academy reacted in the early days, how they are operating now, and if a fully remote education system could work. 

Jul 06, 2020
Max Henderson: CovidActNow, a Necessary Counterweight

Remember how fast shelter-in-place went from seeming impossible to becoming a reality? Remember how policy makers all of a sudden appeared to understand what was at stake and take action? How did this happen?

Max Henderson was on a sabbatical from his full time role at Google, when he saw the first few COVID cases in the US. At that moment, he realized that we were not acting quickly enough. This led Max to found CovidActNow.org, which started out as a simple calculator to understand how many deaths could result from every day of delay. Pairing this with a large public pressure campaign, Max helped push government leaders to respond to this crisis. I spoke with Max to talk about the early days of CovidActNow, how he came up with his model and what he is focusing on going forward.

Jun 29, 2020
Dr. Robert Schooley: Why weren't we ready?

Why weren't we ready? There are so many conflicting theories surrounding this idea that it seems hard to answer. But it is not a black box, there is a science to this. In fact, we have been through outbreaks so many times that our lacking response is shocking. To learn more about the history of infectious disease and why we weren't ready I decided to talk to an expert.

Dr. Robert Schooley is one of a handful of true infectious disease experts. He has seen numerous outbreaks and spent his entire career in research and treatment of infectious disease. Dr. Schooley and I spoke about the historic lack of resources for the study infectious disease, where we went wrong in this pandemic, and what the path to "normalization" must look like to avoid a relapse.

Jun 25, 2020
SF New Deal: A model for the future

Lenore Estrada, like many of us, was set up for a good year heading into 2020. She had just broken ground on a new site for her bakery, Three Babes Bakeshop, and was scaling up her operations. Then, everything had to be put on hold. At this moment, Lenore decided to use the tools of entrepreneurship and her experience in the food industry to make a difference.

Lenore launched SF New Deal with the goal of providing income for workers and meals for those who have been hurt by COVID-19. Now, SF New Deal has disbursed over $3 million to small businesses and delivered over 300K meals to people in need. Lenore and I spoke about how she started SF New Deal, the broader implications this crisis is having on under-resourced communities, and how we can use her experience as a model for others who want to join the fight.

Jun 22, 2020
Robert Rhinehart: Building the tools for research

Robert Rhinehart is most known for Soylent, a company and product he founded in the search for nutrition supported by science. But, Robert has always been interested in technical underpinnings of biology.

So, after reading a paper about the effect of COVID on the brainstem, Robert jumped into action. He launched the Corona Initiative, a public benefit corporation dedicated to building the tools for research. These tools, such as a psuedovirus, are required for researchers to run experiments and test treatments. In this conversation Robert and I discussed why basic research is underfunded, what we need to accelerate COVID research and the implications this pandemic could have on biotechnology companies going forward.

Some of the resources we discussed are:




Jun 18, 2020
Alpha Lee: An Open Source COVID Moonshot

After seeing the impact of the SARS pandemic as a child in Hong Kong, Alpha Lee dedicated his life to science. Studying mathematics and biology at some of the most prestigious universities in the world, Alpha has now turned his attention to an area ripe for disruption, preclinical drug discovery.

Alpha had just arrived in the bay area for the startup program Y Combinator when the lockdowns for COVID starting. Having been through this before, Alpha knew what he needed to do. Alpha decided to use the technology he had been developing to find promising compounds to fight coronavirus and then open source it. Alpha received thousands of submissions and now the most promising of those are being developed in a lab in the UK. Alpha's message throughout all of this? Let's not waste the opportunity, this time.

Resources we discussed:





Jun 15, 2020
OOTC Special: Roy Bahat: a reflection on Tech's Response to COVID-19

This year, I sat down with Roy Bahat at CogX, a large global technology conference, that this year was completely virtual.

Roy and I used this time to reflect on everything that has happened since the start of the pandemic. What many don't know is that a catalyst for the technology industry's response to the crisis in the early days was a WhatsApp group that Roy and I were a part of. We shared what it was like in those early days, how we got involved and what we need to do now to make sure we build a better world on the other side.

This is the first ever live tapping of Out of the Crisis. It was recorded on June 9th, 2020.

Jun 15, 2020
Curative: Testing Thousands for COVID-19

Fred Turner is a scientist and biotech CEO who, like so many during this crisis, felt an obligation to act when the pandemic hit. In a matter of days and with the help of his friend Celine Halioua, Fred pivoted his startup, found a research lab, and relocated his entire operation from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Now, Fred and his team at Curative are testing thousands for COVID-19. Fred and I discussed his pivot, how he managed to get up and running within days, what those first tests were like, and what more we need to do to get widespread testing adopted in this country.

Jun 12, 2020
Jeremy Howard: The Data Behind Masks4All

Jeremy Howard is not a lobbyist, politician or a doctor. He is a data scientist. And yet, he is one of the main reasons that governments across the US are telling citizens to wear masks outside. To understand how this came to be, I spoke to Jeremy about his background, the data supporting masks, other country's experiences with masks, and the various trends the data is showing.

Jun 08, 2020
Hannu Rajaniemi: Creating a Vaccine Manhattan Project

Hannu Rajaniemi is most know for his work as a science fiction author. However, recently, he has taken his talent for seeing the bigger picture and turned it towards finding a solution to the pandemic.

In the early days of the crisis, Hannu rapidly pivoted his cancer vaccine startup Helix Nano to focus on developing an mRNA vaccine for COVID-19. But he has as not stopped there. Hannu has also put together a proposal for a Vaccine Manhattan Project, calling for the coordination of public, private and nonprofit sectors to create a vaccine for COVID-19 in a matter of months. This project is ambitious, but it may be the best shot at mitigating the damage the virus could have on our society. 

In this episode Hannu and I talk about his background, the biological mechanisms at work when a virus attacks our cells, the different types of vaccines, and the need for a Vaccine Manhattan Project.

May 28, 2020
Frontline Foods: fueling the fight against COVID-19

Sydney, Frank, and Ryan have been friends for a long time. So when the crisis hit and Sydney was thrown into the frontlines as a pediatric nurse, Ryan and Frank wanted to help.

What started out as a pizza party for Sydney's team, has now turned into one of the largest organizations coordinating meals for frontline workers across the US. I asked the three founders of the Frontline Foods to share how they got started, the impact they have had so far, and where they want to take the organization from here.

Hosted on Breaker.

May 25, 2020
Brian Chesky (part two): Exponential Growth

In part one, Brian and I spoke about the effect the pandemic has had on Brian personally and the changes he has made to both his personal philosophy and his business. But then, the conversation shifted to the future.

In part two, Brian shares his thoughts on the importance of design, why there is no better time than now to start a company, the power of exponential growth, the importance of thinking and acting long-term, and why it is so important to build businesses on love and trust.

In this episode we discuss:

The second half of the chessboard:


Grand Tours:


Paul Grahm Be Good:


May 21, 2020
Brian Chesky (part one): The Hero's Journey

I have been lucky to call Brian Chesky a friend for a long time now. So, when the crisis hit, I knew how hard it was going to be for him and Airbnb. He and the Airbnb team have been working furiously to make sure what they have built will not only weather this storm, but be defined by it.

This is one of Brian's first public conversations since the pandemic hit. It is also the first time Brian publicly discusses the layoffs and why they took the approach they did. We also discussed Brian's approach to crisis leadership and the importance of love and compassion. There was a lot to cover, so I decided to release this in two parts.

Links and resources we discussed:

Andy Grove: https://venturebeat.com/2020/04/23/intel-ceo-bad-companies-are-destroyed-by-crises-great-companies-are-improved-by-them/

RISD Industrial Design Program: https://www.risd.edu/academics/industrial-design/

Extenuating circumstance policy: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/2701/extenuating-circumstances-policy-and-the-coronavirus-covid19

Airbnb grant to Hosts: https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/30/airbnb-commits-250-million-to-helping-hosts-cover-cancellations-due-to-covid-19/

Brian's note about layoffs: https://news.airbnb.com/a-message-from-co-founder-and-ceo-brian-chesky/

Joseph Campbell's The Hero of A Thousand Faces: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1577315936/?tag=CSSF-20

Frontline Stays program: https://news.airbnb.com/frontline-stays-global-program-update/

Hosted on Breaker.

May 19, 2020

HelpwithCovid.com (HWC) has now matched thousands of volunteers with projects focused on providing COIVD relief. I personally have placed hundreds of volunteers on projects through the site. The projects range from building PPE, to providing food to frontline workers to initiatives as simple as sending supportive messages to families affected by COVID. Right now, HWC is a major hub for any civilians who want to get into the fight.

To help share the story of how HWC came into being, I decided to record a conversation with the founder Radu Spineau. I have worked with Radu closely over the last few months, and I am excited to help share his story.

The links we discussed are:

Hosted on Breaker.

May 11, 2020
ANA Therapeutics: Niclosamide

Like almost all scientists, biologists and pharmaceutical researchers, Akash, Nadja and Andrew were not planning to work on COVID-19 treatments a few months ago.

They had just taken a big step with the FDA for their contraceptive treatment and were going full steam ahead in drug development. The company they founded, YourChoice Therapeutics, was poised for a big year. Then, the crisis hit. They realized their treatment could have an impact on COVID. The following weeks saw them pivoting their entire operation to try to help.

In this episode we discuss the science behind their treatment, the story of how they pivoted their company and the challenges they are facing.

May 04, 2020
Carl Liebert: Radical Optimism

Carl Liebert has been in leadership positions during multiple crises. He oversaw Circuit City stores in New York during 9/11, led Home Depot in New Orleans when Katrina hit, and took over a major role at 24 Hour Fitness during the 2008 recession. Prior to all this business experience, Carl was an officer in the Navy.

These experiences and hardships would make some into cautious leaders with warnings about the dangers of a crisis. However, when I talked to Carl, I was surprised to hear his radical optimism. Carl and I discussed the lessons he learned in his various roles, advice for other leaders during this time, and the importance of staying positive, no matter what.

Apr 27, 2020
Jen Pahlka and Raylene Yung: Creating the US Digital Response

A few months ago, Jen Pahlka was planning on stepping back from running organizations and working on a book. Then the pandemic struck. Along with Raylene Yung, Jen has now put together the US Digital Response, an organization dedicated to connecting governments with the tech resources they need to address the current crisis. I spoke to Jen and Raylene about USDR, the trends they were seeing and how they thought we could get out of this crisis. 

Apr 21, 2020
Mark Cuban: The Role of Business in a Crisis

There are very few people who don’t know about Mark Cuban and all he has accomplished. What many people don’t know is how instrumental he is in relief efforts for the COVID-19 Crisis. Mark and I are working on a few different initiatives together so I asked him to take some time to discuss his view on where we are in the crisis, how we get out of the crisis, and what the world will look like when we do.

For those who want to get involved in the initiatives we discussed please visit:

And for those interested in learning more about the Dunning-Kruger effect you can check that out here.

Apr 06, 2020
Sam Altman: Accelerating Biotech’s Metabolism

Sam is one of the most prolific company builders in Silicon Valley. He’s also one of the first people I saw taking action to help fight COVID-19. In this episode, Sam and I discuss the investor’s perspective and role in helping with a crisis, how he thinks we’ll move on from the pandemic, and whether the pandemic will lead to a paradigm shift in work, science, and crisis prevention.

For those who want to get involved in the initiatives we discussed please visit:

Mar 30, 2020

This is a series of podcast conversations with people who are helping to lead the way out of our current crisis. Each of them is working from a different angle to bring together and support the industries and individuals using innovation, expertise, and sheer force of will to tackle the challenges we face.

Despair is not an option right now. There is a future. There's an opportunity to act decisively, to mitigate damage, and to lay the foundation for a prosperous, more equitable future. But it’s not going to happen on its own. We have to find courage, examples, and inspiration to take action. I hope you’ll find all of that in this podcast.

Mar 30, 2020