A couple of years ago, we were inspired by the beginning of a groundswell — entrepreneurs looking to unite recent advances in hardware technologies with previous gains in the areas of software and data. We raised our first fund with the notion of supporting these fledgling companies as they tackled uncharted territories in both creation and integration.
In 2016 we wrapped up the investment period for Eclipse Fund I. It’s remarkable to reflect on the industry evolution that’s taken place since we launched the firm. We’ve seen a proliferation of companies in our wheelhouse, so much so that the language surrounding these types of investments has also proliferated. This space now has its own lexicon: systems, deep-tech, frontier-tech, hard-tech, emerging-tech, software-defined hardware, full-stack, vertically-integrated.
We’re watching a new technology cycle unfold in real time. Yet, despite the expanded vocabulary, our mandate remains the same: invest in companies using hardware to gather inputs from the physical world, digitize those inputs, and leverage the output data. Whether it’s medicine, agriculture, manufacturing, retail, or the home; we invest in companies pursuing big goals in historically offline industries.
As we kick off investing Eclipse Fund II, there’s a new question — with all this activity, are certain things overhyped? Yes and no. If we had a dollar for every presentation we’ve received featuring the words, “AI,” “machine learning,” and “computer vision,” it’s quite possible that we’d have enough money to close our next fund. But here’s the thing: great language isn’t great technology, and great technologies are not always great companies. However, despite the increased hyperbole, we find the growth of the industry very exciting. The ability to gather and synthesize data from previously offline sources, coupled with vast improvements in speed and compute power means that we now have the ingredients necessary to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
We fundamentally believe that these technologies have reached a point where the “tech reality,” can actually exceed the “tech hype.” But these are difficult companies to build.
Startups with this level of intricacy typically have more pitfalls to navigate due to their multi-disciplinary nature. As a result, we prioritize a culture of radical collaboration at Eclipse, both internally and with the portfolio companies who choose to work with us. We’re proud to have an investment team with heavy-weight operating experience and grit, honed through years of company building. Furthermore, while our team may coalesce around the broad common theme of “hard-tech;” our ages, industry experience, technical specialties and backgrounds vary dramatically. From millennial to octogenarian; from manufacturing to marketing; from coding to CNC machines, and the rainbow of passports we collectively possess, we’re consistently considering multiple points of view in portfolio company discussions, because homogeneity rarely produces novel ideas.
We’re excited to put Fund II to work and build a cohort of companies that will become a bedrock for future innovation.