Tristan Walker: The Extroverted Introvert

Tristan Walker: The Extroverted Introvert

By
Jeffrey Pfeffer
2016|Case No.OB93| Length 13 pgs.

Tristan Walker was a 32-year-old entrepreneur. A visionary thinker and GSB graduate, Walker had accomplished much in his short career, and had worked briefly at Twitter, Foursquare, and Andreessen Horowitz before founding his own company, Walker & Company Brands. Walker was also the chair and cofounder of Code 2040, a nonprofit that helped underrepresented minorities chart successful pathways in the technology sector.

Tristan Walker grew up in Queens, NY, where a Boys’ Club program led him to a scholarship at the Hotchkiss School, a Connecticut prep school. From there he attended SUNY-Stony Brook, planning to head into the financial world. A brief stint on Wall Street convinced him otherwise, so he applied to Stanford GSB.

Walker spent his time at the GSB building a solid network of connections and mentors. During his first year at GSB, Walker found himself in the right place at the right time when he interned at Twitter, and embraced the company’s role in changing global communication. His next move was to jump to Foursquare, a company with an app that let users share information about nearby businesses and attractions. Walker’s perseverance was legendary—he announced he was coming to work there, showed up and signed up merchants, and ended up head of business development.

Much of the case describes how Walker decided on the goals of his own enterprise and how he launched his vision. As an entrepreneur-in-residence at Andreessen Horowitz, Walker concentrated on coming up with a fresh idea. The realization that African Americans could avoid razor bumps by using different shaving products resonated with him, and he could see there was an opportunity to serve this underrepresented market. So he set out to make health and beauty products tailored for the comfort and benefit of people of color. Walker’s extensive contacts and immense following on Twitter, and his range of experiences all helped prepare him for the launch of Walker & Company in 2013.

Learning Objective

As part of a class on power, the objective is to explore how Tristan Walker, at the age of 32 and just 6 years post business school, has built such a powerful personal brand and network. The case focuses on his cultivation of personal relationships and the media.

This material is available for download by current Stanford GSB students, faculty, and staff, as well as Stanford GSB alumni. For inquiries, contact the Case Writing Office.