Accelerating advances in computing, AI, genetics and synthetic biology are converging to make possible what we used to consider science fiction. Clean energy, reusable rockets, bio-fabricated meat, cancer cures before birth, autonomous personal assistants, quantum computers; these all seemed to be fantasy until only recently but are a reality today.
But while scientific progress has increased our standard of living in ways unimaginable generations ago (as reflected in Fig. 1: GDP per Capita), it has also created or unearthed new massive challenges: creating a new economy that allows us to maintain our standard of living while preventing the destruction of our livable environment (see Fig. 2: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Scenarios) and includes guardrails to protect us against major systemic shocks, feeding 9 billion people sustainably and humanely, preventing, controlling and curing the diseases of the world’s growing and aging population, helping humans professionally and personally benefit from automation rather than being massively displaced, combating populism and creating new consensus mechanisms to replace our malfunctioning social, political and judicial systems.
The choices we make today will determine how the future actually unfolds. 2020 has provided a stark reminder that we are the architects of our world, and we must build strong foundations to withstand stressors and stand the test of time. We want to be active contributors to building the society and planet we desire. Progress has been accelerating for generations, and we believe the compounded effect will result in massive change during our lifetime, unlike anything we have ever seen.
And where there is massive change,
there is massive opportunity.
Many venture capitalists today resist investing in higher-risk, longer-term projects. The initial cycles of venture success (semiconductors, PCs, etc.) required significant capital risk. However, the most recent wave of innovations (Internet, mobility, social networks and the rise of cheap, turnkey SaaS thanks to the rapidly declining cost of computing and storage – see Fig. 3: Compute Power) have provided plenty of opportunities for outsized returns on low capital intensity and relatively short-term investments. This era of “low- hanging fruit” is coming to an end.
Software and mobility will continue transforming industries, but the innovation in this space is well understood and therefore no longer the most fertile ground for venture capital. We believe the next wave is in harnessing accelerating advances in scientific innovation, processing power and its intersectionality with biological understanding (see Fig. 4: Cost of Sequencing a Human Genome) to build new products, businesses, and tools that maximize humanity’s potential while minimizing the (often) self-inflicted damage resulting from our rapid progress.
Focusing on long-term, transformative solutions has the largest economic and societal payoffs. As a result of the “low-hanging fruit” incentives, most entrepreneurs and investors have been distracted from addressing the most important problems and possibilities facing humankind. But current times demand more. The good news is one doesn’t have to be primarily altruistic to focus on what really matters. We believe meaningful and sustainable returns will come from solving our biggest challenges, and that’s why we partner with the scientists and entrepreneurs addressing them.
It is a truism in venture investing that team is everything. We agree and believe backing the absolute best founders is critical to success. And in our view, the best and brightest, with ample choices to pick from, would rather work on big, meaningful problems. Hence, our mission is highly aligned with picking the best entrepreneurs.
In a nutshell, investing in a better future for humankind is the best use of capital we can think of today. The profit motive surfaces the most efficient, sustainable and scalable solutions to our biggest challenges, the best and brightest entrepreneurs want to build companies that leave a positive dent on the world, and in a rapidly changing world in which billion- and trillion- dollar industries are being rapidly disrupted, wealth created in this century must be at least partially redeployed backing the successes of tomorrow to reduce the risk of underperformance by missing out on the drivers of future growth.
We provide early-stage capital to companies leveraging breakthrough technologies to further push the boundaries of possibility and solve humanity’s biggest challenges. We’re focused on companies answering some of the questions that keep us up at night (and get us out of bed in the morning):
How do we build new industries that replace an extractive economy with production systems that make humanity a net positive without reducing our standards of living?
Areas of interest: biotechnology and synthetic biology, new materials, sustainable production.
How do we increase healthy lifespan and cure or prevent major diseases and pandemics?
Areas of interest: healthspan, longevity, diagnostics, therapeutics, genetics, genomics
How do we feed 9 billion people sustainably and humanely?
Areas of interest: ag-tech, bio-fabrication, new foods, biotech and synthetic biology, sustainable production, carbon capture
How do we effectively educate future generations and augment human capabilities with a better understanding of the brain?
Areas of interest: neural-tech, AI, cognitive enhancement, new learning models
How do we improve life on Earth by leveraging and exploring outer space?
Areas of interest: Space infrastructure, space exploration, geoengineering
How do we address the negative externalities of the attention and surveillance economies?
How do we modernize our political, judicial, and economic systems to adapt to modernity and technological advances, thereby enabling society to thrive?
Areas of interest: future of data management, decentralized networks, global platforms
How do we develop the technological building blocks to make all the above happen?
Areas of interest: machine learning/Big Data, AI, quantum computing, nanotechnology, decentralized networks
What new innovative approaches and technologies will enhance collective and individual wellbeing of the human race? How do we set society up to effectively address the unforeseen negative externalities that will inevitably arise as we push progress forward?
Areas of interest: TBD
We recognize we don’t have many of the answers to these challenging issues, and thus are eager to collaborate with others to increase the odds of a brighter future for all. If you are thinking of the world as we are, have best in class domain expertise, and are building a viable business model to address any of these challenges, we would love to get to know you and find out how we can help.