In Pursuit of the Future

The last few months have led to unexpected turning points for many people. In addition to the many changes in the world at large, some personal life events have moved me to reconsider the world and my place within it. When I look ahead to the next five, ten or twenty years, I wonder what life will look like. What changes will science and technology bring that impact our health, livelihood, relationships and planet? How can I do my part to ensure that we don’t destroy humanity in the name of progress? And how can I do that with the highest impact?

As a start, I’ve decided to exclusively invest in and support the people who are imagining, inventing and building the future. As of today, I am joining the investment team at Lux Capital as a partner.

I first met the Lux Capital team eight years ago. At the time I was an investment manager at Stanford University’s endowment. We managed dozens of investments in private equity and venture capital funds, and my personal mandate was to look for up-and-coming talent. Peter Hébert and Josh Wolfe, the founders of then-New York City-based Lux, came in to pitch their second fund. They described a bold vision for their firm that looked an awful lot like bringing science fiction to life. At the time, that meant investing in nanotech, new materials and processors. Lux was an outlier: a firm 100% dedicated to futuristic ventures that lived at the intersection of science and technology.

Fast forward to today, Lux has evolved significantly with the addition of new partners, sectors and a Silicon Valley office. Their current portfolio runs the frontier gamut: 3D printing, computer imaging, surgical robots, drones, satellites, autonomous vehicles, machine learning, AI, VR, genomics, synthetic biology, vaccines and cures for the diseases plaguing our generation (cancer, Alzheimers’, autoimmune).

A few months after meeting Peter and Josh I moved on to join Felicis Ventures as an investing partner. In my early years at Felicis, I invested in a range of sectors, including consumer and fintech (e.g. Dollar Shave Club, Bonobos and MetroMile).

Bit by bit, I moved into the frontier space and my interests and Lux’s began to converge. We co-invested in a number of future-making companies, including Planet (satellites and imaging), Rigetti (quantum computing) and Survios (VR). We also got excited about the opportunities in autonomous vehicles about the same time, as well: I worked on Cruise and Swift Navigation; Lux backed Zoox.

I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside a number of the partners from Lux. I have seen first-hand the firm’s commitment to taking courageous leaps into the scientific unknown — a willingness to be the first to put down a term sheet on an interdisciplinary team of geniuses working on a gnarly, non-obvious solution to an important problem. I am proud to join their ranks.

Investing is personal. I believe strongly in improving the quality of life for all people. A great deal of attention in tech is spent on increasing our quantity of life. I’d like to spend my days in search of things that help us live well. In my new role at Lux, I’ll seek to invest in the most ambitious startups with that vision in mind. I am in search of technologies that can transform the future of humanity, in particular health, food, happiness, cognition, computational creativity and longevity. If you are an entrepreneur or investor interested in pursuing those goals, I hope you will reach out to me at renata@luxcapital.com