Reboot Defense with Technological Innovation

I attended Georgetown University as a government major with the intention of pursuing a career in the military or the Intelligence Community, but midway through senior year I came to the conclusion that to make a significant impact on the world, I needed to learn how to invest in disruptive businesses. In my early career I was fortunate to work at institutions where I had the opportunity to invest across a variety of sectors. I ultimately came to the realization that I wanted to focus on investments in industries that are fundamentally changing the world (Bio-IT, healthcare, logistics, GovTech, and defense), but I needed to find a platform with large ambitions and the entrepreneurial DNA to pull them off. Enter 8VC.

Being a partner at 8VC is like playing for the New York Yankees; it’s a privilege to work with the brilliant, experienced members of our partnership. The firm has a sterling reputation, and is rich with talent, resources, and support staff. But more importantly, 8VC is one of the rare investing firms that truly aims to solve the world’s most important problems.

Joe Lonsdale first called in March of 2017 to “run some ideas” by me. The pitch was straightforward– Joe told me there were a lot of problems he wanted to solve and wanted my contribution. He told me that I was going to run really hard for ten years, but would learn a lot, and eventually narrow down on a few specific focus areas. I’ve only just begun, but it is a privilege for me to be part of this team.

Although 8VC is a large, dynamic platform, it’s run like a startup. Each partner handles multiple responsibilities in addition to investing and portfolio work. As such, I evaluate companies, build relationships, and invest across many different industries, but primarily focus on incubating and investing in companies in defense. More than at any period in history, the American national defense industry must out-innovate our adversaries. 8VC’s audacious mandate and entrepreneurial spirit empower us to rapidly transform the security and defense markets in order to protect American citizens and ensure global stability.

Our adversaries are rapidly developing commercial technologies that may well endanger the American people. It is imperative that we win the innovation race. Consequently, one of our long-term goals at 8VC is to collaborate with Department of Defense and Intelligence Community innovation units to invest in/build security and defense companies that keep our country safe. If the technologies that enable individuals to inflict damage are developed and deployed more rapidly than those that enable societies to defend themselves, Western civilization will be vulnerable to 21st century threats.

New technologies lower the barrier for individuals, small groups, and state actors to harm our interests. But these technologies can strengthen the ability of the United States and its allies to defend themselves, consistent with the rule of law and the protection of privacy. Successful national defense is not a question of money, but of good will and collaboration with our government.

We need to help address inefficiencies that limit innovation within our government. We can help from the outside by incubating and investing in new, innovative technologies that will enable our country to face an uncertain future. At the height of the Cold War, American technology companies played a crucial role in empowering our government to succeed. The imperative to do so is even greater today. 8VC is uniquely capable of recruiting and investing in elite entrepreneurs who will meet this perennial challenge and transform the world in the process. It is an honor to be a part of this vital project.

John Tenet
Partner, 8VC


8VC is a San Francisco based venture capital firm investing in industry-transforming companies. For more information, or to sign up for our newsletter visit www.8vc.com