I invest primarily in artificial intelligence, software, fintech and defense. I spend a lot of time thinking about technology catalysts, the broad waves of disruption they create and the new companies that emerge from these waves.
My Interest in Artificial Intelligence
I am particularly interested in businesses driven by artificial intelligence. AI is making software radically smarter, unlocking the value of unstructured data and creating fundamentally new capabilities, from autonomous driving to real-time information discovery. AI is enabling a new set of software applications that were not possible or even conceivable just a few years ago. These applications tend to emerge first in the most data-intensive verticals, including technology, financial services and defense. The three core fuels of artificial intelligence – data, computing power and more efficient algorithms – continue to grow at a rapid pace, suggesting that the current AI innovation boom will be a long and productive one.
Importance of Great People
As much as I try to understand the specifics of these trends, I frequently meet brilliant entrepreneurs who are many steps ahead of me and who have developed a clear vision of what the world will look like in a particular space and have outlined a compelling new business idea to pursue in it. This is the most fun part of my job, and above all I spend my time trying to find the great new entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
When I Like to Invest
I like to invest early in companies I think have significant disruptive potential and help them develop their product and business strategies and build out their teams. This is the time where I feel I can add the most value to these companies. Most of the companies I invest in have less than 10 employees, and most have not yet launched a product. I’m happy to invest however much an entrepreneur needs, and my initial investments generally range from $500K to $15m.
My current investments include Dataminr, a real-time AI platform that identifies critical breaking information from publicly available data sets; Percipient.ai, an advanced computer vision and machine learning analytics platform; Rebellion Defense, which develops products using AI that serve the mission of national defense; Chisel.ai, an enterprise platform for a new class of intelligent insurance applications; Altruist, a digital investment platform for financial advisors; and Quiq, an intelligent messaging-based customer service software application.
My past investments include JBoss, the leading open source application server (acquired by Red Hat); Intent Media, a predictive analytics platform for ecommerce; Care.com, a global online marketplace for care services (IPO); the Gilt Groupe, a private sale ecommerce company (acquired by Hudson’s Bay); OatSystems, the pioneering RFID application platform (acquired by Check Point Systems); and Conductor, a SaaS application for SEO optimization.
My Interest in NYC
I live in New York City and am a big advocate of the New York startup ecosystem. I started investing in New York in 2003, when the venture capital industry viewed it as an unconventional idea. New York is now one of the fastest-growing startup ecosystems in the world, and in my view its growth will only accelerate in the decades ahead. My wife is a genomics entrepreneur and helps support the growing biotech ecosystem in New York.
I have deep interests in public policy and in particular how technology is changing the nature of national security. I’m a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and recently participated on a Task Force there that published Innovation and National Security: Keeping Our Edge, examining how the U.S. can maintain its lead in science and technology and the national security and economic consequences of failing to do so (quick summary article here). I also serve on the Executive Advisory Committee at the Center on Global Energy Policy.
I care a lot about international development and serve on the board of Endeavor, a non-profit organization that supports high-impact entrepreneurs globally and helps catalyze startup ecosystems in emerging market countries. To date Endeavor has supported over 1,600 high-impact entrepreneurs, and today their companies generate over $10 billion in revenue and have created over 700,000 high-wage jobs. Tom Friedman has called Endeavor “the best anti-poverty program of all.”
When I’m not chasing the next big idea or my three children around the house, you might find me windsurfing or kiteboarding wherever I can find a strong enough wind.