Whenever we look at an investment now, we will not move forward in deep diligence until we have a one pager. It can literally only be a page. If you’ve ever tried to write a one pager on something complex, it’s really hard to capture saliently the few things that matter.
At the top, we always ask the same questions repeatedly.
The first one is, is this really addressing a fundamental human need? We’ve done a lot of work to try to actually unpack what we think these fundamental psychological human needs in society are, and we try to say whether we’d meet them or not.
We ask ourselves, in 2045, could this be used by a billion people? In 30 years, could this be a $100 billion plus company? We say 30 years explicitly because it gives you the time horizon to see what could be possible.
The last question we ask is, is there somebody really special here?
When we’re trying to get to ground truth, those are the questions that we’re really trying to answer. And by “answer,” the best examples of investments we’ve made, the answers are, “Possibly,” “Possibly,” and, “Probably.” Many times, the answers are, “No,” “No,” and, “Unlikely.”
“Possibly,” “Possibly,” and, “Probably,” is a fantastic set of answers for those questions.
[$100 billion] is intellectually tractable, without being crazy. I first started with, “Could it be a trillion dollar company in 35 years?” I just kept iterating until somebody [accepted it.]
That allows us to clarify quickly how to spend time. In the case of this CRISPR thing, it’s like “Yes, Yes…” and now it’s like we don’t know, because we don’t know how to judge those people who are capable today because we don’t know what the true benchmarks on the road will be to genetic engineering.
For example, in that company: How do you judge someone’s morality, or long-term ethics? How do you judge the ways that those ethics will change if they are the ones that are in control of something like that? I don’t know how to judge that.