Hacker + Humanist
Originally published in Stanford Daily, February 11, 2015
A few days ago, I interviewed Patrick Chung, founding partner of Xfund (podcast below). Xfund is a relatively new VC fund that raised its second fund of $100 million just a few months ago, and is partnered with the likes of NEA, Accel, Breyer Capital and Polaris Ventures. They invest in what they call the “hacker meet humanist” — that special mix of the critical thinker and coder. Prior to founding Xfund, Patrick started ZEFER, a website-building company for enterprises during the first dot-com boom, which later got acquired, and worked as a partner at NEA, making investments in companies like 23andMe, IFTTT, Pulse, Loopt and Xoom.
Over the span of 40 minutes, we had a great dialogue (podcast below), covering Xfund’s thesis, the scalability of venture capital and what he looks for in founders.
Xfund is focused on finding people who, beyond possessing technical gifts, have the analytical minds often found in the liberal arts.
For me, the best part of Patrick’s talk came about halfway through the podcast. Patrick noted that the barriers to entry for starting a company are now knocked down: He waxed poetic and called it a golden era for innovation. This doesn’t imply that there are only good startups — to believe so would be naïve. There will always be bad startups. However, now more than ever, it’s about how gritty the founders are and how much they hustle: It’s about people, not bits. And in such an environment, where ideas and perseverance rule supreme, I have to agree.