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Ex-AOL exec Ted Leonsis sounds off on Apple, Snapchat, Netflix and more

Leonsis spoke with Kara Swisher on the latest episode of Recode Decode.

2014 Audi Best Buddies Challenge - Washington, DC - VIP Reception Larry French / Getty Images

Ted Leonsis got his big break as one of AOL’s first executives. Today, he’s a founder and partner at Revolution Growth, investing in companies across the country like DraftKings, Bedrock Manufacturing and Sweetgreen.

He’s also a bit of an outlier in the tech investing world, calling Washington, D.C. his home. So, how does Leonsis evaluate the current “it” companies of Silicon Valley and other tech centers? Kara Swisher asked him on the latest episode of Recode Decode. Here’s what he said:

Uber: “Unbelievable. Travis needs to be managed, because he’s on top of the world, but he has changed everything. I think it’s one of the great companies ever.”

Airbnb: “Even better. I sold a company to American Express and am on that board, and know what consumers are doing, and they just superset the entire hospitality industry.”

Slack: “Um ... I don’t know if it’s a tool or a platform environment. I think it’s a generational, not a long-term [company] ...”

Snapchat: “Snapchat is the first platform that I haven’t adopted. It just shows that I’m old. When I first saw Snapchat, it’s like, ‘I get this, it’s like AOL in the old days.’ It’s personal communications. They’ve done an incredible job in creating stories and narratives and being able to communicate to millennials. They could be the sleeper in being able to do something very creative with sports.”

(Side note: Leonsis has good reason to pay attention to sports and tech — he’s the majority owner of several D.C.-area sports teams, including the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals).

He also weighed in on some big public companies:

Apple: “I love the company and I’m a family of Apple adopters. The one thing that I don’t feel good about is — jobs are so important in the U.S. I’m trying to be a part of this maker community. Apple needs to start to make some things here. Nike needs to start to make things here. We have to have that social responsibility.”

Twitter: “I think Twitter needs to be reimagined ... I do not think they’ve done a good job in innovating, monitoring the system. It does not have a sense of community.”

Netflix: “You pay $8-$12 a month for schmuck insurance. For the price of one movie ticket, you can get every movie that you won’t watch and will occasionally get some episodic, cool, original content. I’ve been paying $8 or $12 a month for Netflix for 10 years. I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie, but it’s schmuck insurance and it’s hard to cancel, and it’s just become a utility. I want it and I need it.”

You can listen to Recode Decode in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher. And don’t miss this week’s first episode, in which Kara spoke to “Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

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