Founders Fund, best known for being an early investor of Facebook, published a manifesto titled “What Happened To The Future?”
Written by its former partner and COO Bruce Gibney, the manifesto lays out five areas of investment of Founders Fund and discusses future opportunities and challenges in these sectors:
- Aerospace & Transportation - Commercial space travel is the future, but might still be distant, as the cost of sending mass in orbit unbudging since the 1960s. On the flip side, this represents enormous opportunities for technology companies to change the current situation.
- Biotechnology - The number of new drugs is on the rise, but new drugs that actually get approved and are put in use is on the decline. “Biotechnology companies that can overcome these stumbling blocks will create enormous value for their investors and society,” the manifesto says.
- Advanced machines and software - This means robots, machine learning and ultimately true general artificial intelligence. The industry has enormous growth potential yet remains relatively poorly funded.
- Energy - VC returns in the energy sector haven’t been satisfactory. Gibney believes the reason being that investors are pursuing the wrong model. He says VCs need to focus on energy that are not only “alternative”, but “transformational”.
- The Internet - Just because the Internet is not a new technology anymore doesn’t mean it’s dead. Successful companies like Facebook, Spotify and Youtube demonstrate that there is still life in this field.
Finally, the manifesto listed four characteristics that promising startups have in common:
- They are not popular (popular investments tend to be pricey; e.g., Groupon at so many dozens of billions).
- They are difficult to assess (this contributes to their lack of popularity).
- They have technology risk, but not insurmountable technology risk.
- If they succeed, their technology will be extraordinarily valuable.
You can read the full manifesto here.