The progress of the human race is technological progress.
INVESTMENTS PER YEAR
Founders and markets
I look for a particular type of founder ― curious individuals who are deeply obsessed with what they do, have a deep desire to prove themselves, and want to change the world for the better. I back teams with interdisciplinary talent who are visionary, remain positive in volatility, and thrive in chaos. I get excited by ideas in deep tech or that require complex coordination. I am usually the first check where my job is to de-risk your startup. I operate as founder confidante and psychological protector, helping you navigate the extreme ups and downs of startup life. I aim to be the first text, email, call, etc. I also help you think about sequencing growth, observing and orienting, raising money, leading teams, and creating culture.
I believe that there are four absolute needs to build a better future for humanity.
Hard Tech. Startups are difficult. Building a winning product is already challenging enough. With hard tech startups, the obstacles are even greater. Today, the costs to launch a startup is nearing zero. Any entrepreneur could rapidly and inexpensively iterate on an idea to achieve product/market fit. Distribution channels like mobile devices and the social web help companies reach their target customers faster. However, this does not work with hard tech startups. Hard tech startups have to throw out a lot of conventional startup wisdom. Fortunately, there is a new renaissance: Interdisciplinary teams working together to solve challenging problems in energy, computing, biology, and materials. I believe a playful curiosity coupled with a deep desire to invent the future can be even more dramatic and profound than the Internet.
Platforms. Not all technologies are created equal. Many iconic companies were initially dismissed as toys or fake technologies; they were highly misunderstood. These startups execute on a very deep strategy that ultimately resolves very challenging problems to redesign or create massive industries. As these startups grow, their strategy naturally unfolds. Eventually, these startups turn themselves into platforms. Their platforms have built-in network effects which serve as foundations for virtuous cycles of innovation. They enable an ecosystem of companies to create complementary services that funnel revenue back into the underlying system. Ultimately, they become indispensable to the entire ecosystem. Examples include Salesforce, Apple, and Facebook.
Intelligence. It is a primeval instinct within all of us to attempt to have full knowledge of our environment. However, this is not possible in a world driven by chaos and rare events. Even if you accumulate perfect knowledge it is fleeting as the environment quickly changes. We have to be constantly observing and orienting to avoid being defeated. This involves a balanced interplay of an ever-evolving synthesis growing out of many-sided, continuing analyses, which cut into a problem from many different angles. The objective here is to insure that one’s orientation matches the ever-changing requirements of a changing and often unpredictable external environment. Therefore, surviving, learning, and adapting are keys to understanding and innovating. My goal is to fund startups augmenting human intelligence, helping us evolve an adaptable orientation to support observations and decisions that work in the changing conditions of the real world.
Healthy Life Extension. Over the last century, an improved standard of living has significantly extended human lifespan across the world. However, we have not seen another step-function change in human lifespan despite advances in modern medicine. This is not to say medical advances are not powerful but ― coupled with afflictions from modern society and culture ― globally we are spending trillions of US-converted dollars per year on healthcare yet our collective quality of life is decreasing. My goal is to create a future where everyone has the option to experience a dramatic extension in their healthy human lifespan without iatrogenesis while allowing free-will to control one's destiny: This means one could extend their healthy human lifespan or end life on their own terms.
I am founder and market-focused, often backing startups as the first investor.
Iconic companies are built on mission, technology, and people. They are realized because of superior strategy and execution. They flourish because they position themselves in valuable markets. They survive because they can sequence growth: This starts by monopolizing a small market, obliquely entering a total serviceable market, growing into a total available market, and finally entering adjacent markets.
I do not believe in artificial distinctions in markets. For example, large, established markets like farming and healthcare are artificial distinctions. Instead, I look for startups operating in valuable proxy markets. Most of the time, these are non-obvious.
I make the decision to invest where I believe founders could build the next Intel, Genentech, Alibaba, or Apple. To answer this question I have a very simple heuristic: In this market, could this team build a 100x company?