A Future That Belongs to Everyone
by Shripriya Mahesh, Founding Partner, Spero Ventures
Sci-fi novelist William Gibson once said, “The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.”
Some of us want to do something about that.
Today I’m proud to introduce a new kind of venture capital firm: Spero Ventures, a $100 million fund investing in founders who are building a future that belongs to everyone. We spun out of Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm entirely funded by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar. Pierre will continue to be our sole investor/LP.
The primary tenet of our purpose-driven fund: We are driven to deliver value to our shareholders AND society.
When the notion of disruption is to win at any cost — without regard for the impact on society — we know we have a problem.
When the tools that were supposed to make it easier to be friends actually push us further apart, we know we have a problem.
When nearly half of all Americans don’t have enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense, we know we have a problem.
When loneliness is an epidemic, and is deadlier than obesity, we have a problem.
When we look out to the year 2050 and realize we won’t have enough food to feed the growing population of the world, we know we have a problem.
But when we see creatives, scientists and engineers working together to build solutions to these problems, we have hope.
When the entrepreneurs at Koko devised a way for social networks to create safe, healthy online communities, we saw hope.
When the founders of Bunker made it easier to give freelancers and gig-economy workers access to a safety net through insurance, we saw hope.
When the team at Skillshare began scaling a platform that allows anyone to learn the necessary skills to change their career trajectory, we saw hope.
When the entrepreneurs behind SafeTraces found a way to solve the food traceability problem using DNA, we saw hope.
Spero, the name of our new fund, means “hope” in Latin.
We are optimistic about the role of technology in building a better world, and mission-driven entrepreneurs give us hope for the future.
When we began thinking about what kind of fund we wanted to bring into the world, and what companies we wanted to invest in, we thought a lot about what the future might look like. Sometimes it is painted grey; sometimes it’s technicolor — but it usually has a space-age feel to it: vehicles flying through superhighways in the air; androids and people living side-by side; interplanetary travel, etc.
While some or all of that may come true, we believe some fundamental things are likely to stay the same:
- We will care about our health and the environment we live in.
- We will seek fulfillment in our work and our sense of purpose.
- We will value relationships with friends, family and community.
These are the things that have the potential to define a life.
Last fall, a few days before a board meeting to pitch the idea of this new fund, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Immediately everything in life became hyper-focused. I thought about those three fundamental things:
- My well-being
- The purpose of my work
- My family and friends
As I progressed through the treatments, I thought about what purpose drives me, and what kind of people I wanted to spend my life with. The answer is: People who give me hope.
If you’re building a purpose-driven startup in the areas of well-being, work and purpose, or human connection, we hope you’ll learn more about how we invest, our team and reach out to us.
We know that the best opportunities often come from unexpected, unknown places, so feel free to send us a note right here on our website.