If you didn’t need permission…

August 7, 2018


What do you wish you could do—but can’t—because it requires the permission of others…a boss, an investor, or society?

In 2013, fresh after selling my company Braintree, I finally had enough resources to pursue nearly any endeavor, no permission needed.

One problem I saw was that not enough money was being invested in deep tech (hard science + technology) to solve our most vexing challenges.

Here’s the issue: most of the world’s wealth is owned, managed, and invested by people who do not have formal scientific training. Among the top 400 Forbes billionaires, only 5% have PhDs. People usually invest in what they’re most familiar with and, as a result, less money is invested into hard sciences than in other areas. I wanted to change this.

So I started OS Fund, personally investing $100M into 28 companies working on revolutionary deep tech, despite my not having formal scientific training. Of the 28 investments, 27 have made enough progress to receive additional investment from other investors, 4 are now valued at more than a billion (others on their way), and 2 have been acquired. OSF performance ranks us among the top 10% of U.S. funds.

These companies are literally rewriting the building blocks of our existence. Doing things such as storing data in DNA instead of hard drives; manufacturing molecules atom by atom; and programming biology to outdo nature. You can read about these companies here.

It’s a long, hard road to cut through permission structures. I spent the first 35 years of my life throttled by them. Had I required the permission or capital of other people to start OS Fund, it never would have happened.

My hope, through OS Fund and other endeavors, is to remove the barriers that throttle visionary scientists from bringing their breakthroughs to the world.  

Today, my team and I announced that we’re raising $250M for OS Fund II. We’ve already invested $24.9M in 12 companies.

Most of societal progress comes from those finding a way to circumvent permission granters. I encourage you to consider how you can do that and what you could accomplish as a result.