The issue for us: It seems very byzantine on the outside looking in. There’s no really clear way to engage a company with that. Who do you talk to, how do you start those conversations?
I think it has to be the opposite. Yesterday we had a massive insurance company and they have an enormous balance sheet. Now the discussion has quickly transitioned to: How we can use our collective balance sheets to solve some important problems for you, that I care about?
What do they care about? They care about different ways of repricing risk. They care about different ways of process automation. They care about understanding what all this gobbledygook around big data and machine learning are. What I said was, “Here’s some of the things that we’re doing. I could be compelled to learn about those things, but let’s do it together in a way that makes sense, where we share the risk.”
Those can be one-off things, those can be broad balance sheet type discussions.
We have to be positioned like any other smart, strategic, flexible company, with really smart people, who are just trying to build a big business ourselves.
When we are too brittley defined in what we do, like $5 million series A’s, it limits those discussions. Instead what happens is the corporate VC is rendered as the last mile cheque-writer, who often does deals, frankly, that are the crappiest, in really bad structures, and that’s just unproductive.
They’ve actually been solving big, important, problems. We, together, have a better chance at solving some of these big, important, problems.
My experience in building our healthcare portfolio with the corporate VCs we partnered with has been unbelievable. We need them, to exist. For us it’s been a really constructive experience. There’s a trail of breadcrumbs to a much brighter future on how that should work together.
I find that the funds that are not founder-driven are the most open. I also find the ones that are the furthest away from tech are the most open-minded. At the intersection of non-founder-driven and least technology, are actually some of the brightest, most thoughtful, capable people I’ve interacted with.
At the centre are all these dopes that have conflated luck and skill, who think they know what they’re doing, and they are a huge waste of time.