Sunday, May 19, 2013

Venture High aka the Blue Jeans/Genes Club

Inspired by my companero and buddy, BA. Thank you bringing the drive and caffeinated motivation to my life. and your work with Fair Trade coffee, which continues to fuel..

As interesting paradigm stood out, as I was going through the Forbes list of the world's youngest billionaires under 40.
It perhaps explained my own complex understanding and relationship with wealth and value creation and why much of the world has that complex relationship with it as well.
There seemed to be three types of billionaires in the list.
First there was the innovative, self-made, brilliant nerd-geek billionaire. This was the 'T-shirt in the garage genius', who changes the world. with an explosion of technology and real innovation - transforming the world in real tangible ways. Think Steve Jobs-meets-Sergei/Larry Page-meets Genentech and the monoclonal antibody. Interestingly, this category included only the US and notably Japanese billionaires..which is isn't very surprising. The US club did include two 'star' hedge fund managers, signifying the non-ubiquitous dominance of Tech.

Then there was the "Botox billionaires club". Think French Rivera meets Saudi oil wealth. It is purely inherited wealth.. with the jet-setting family-owned jets and the palace intrigues. With an almost Mafiosi/Godfather like vibe. It reminds me of the British monarchy and could be one of the reasons why inherited wealth is such an anathema to me. In terms of the base, it's primary value lies in stable, inter-generational products and lucrative investments spread out over continents, including the oil money.

The third category were the self-made oligarchs in newly capitalist economies, primarily the Russians and the Chinese. This was self-made wealth, but with an industrial revolution like, sweatshop-owned vibe about it. Wealth that could have been gained with forced labor and the like. These are entrepreneurs in newly opening capitalist economies and was dominated by commodities. Wealth primarily made off low-innovation, but essential commodity goods, ranging from sunflower oil to aluminum mining and steel. Innovation WAS dominated by Russians.. but by those that had immigrated to the US. The Sergei Brin meets the Genes club.

Some of the most inspiring names that stood out within the list included the Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey and Ryan Kavanaugh, the founder of the production house 'Relativity', which produced the pop-blockbuster 'Safe Haven' this year, at a cost of $25 mn and grossed over $50 mn. worldwide.

I love love love the smell of venture capital. Take me back to my old days on the Street in London, where I first started my career.. despite being wrongly away from Science. The smell of self-made achievement, still lingers, lurks in my veins. Venture is the lifeblood of innovation.. the lifeblood which is making me type these letters and listen to the classical song at the same time. And read about GESTALT. And Capital Intensity.
But what matters is Execution.. as Ted Schlein says. The double helix of achievement.

Schlein -who is General Partner at venture giant Kleiner Perkins - put it eloquently on Forbes,com, "Innovation and venture are long-term ventures. They are non-plussed by every single development that happens. Every venture is fighting for the same dollars.. held to the same standards." This is probably why I was drawn to Kleiner Perkin as an inspiring VC hub to begin with. Kleiner was the first VC firm to believe in - of all things - pig-synthesized insulin! By two MIT-UCSF Ph.Ds and the company they wanted to start in 1976, Genentech. The pig-synthesized insulin is now one of the most utilized medical products on the planet - and the creation  of Genentech spawned the beginning of 2nd industrial revolution. The Biotech age.

Kleiner has an amazing product called the Digital Growth Fund, which is comprised of Tech. Pure Tech. Namely: Life Science, Green and Digital, the mantras of the new millennium. Pretty much the three drivers that will move the world in the next century.

More to come in Part Deux. On the new edge in Biotech and Bionformatics, the double helix of the Tech DNA.

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