🧱 How Venture Capital Made the Modern World
Today’s essay is brief, but here’s a TLDR: I’m a huge believer in venture capital as an accelerator of economic and social progress. For this week’s podcast, I sat down with Sebastian Mallaby to discuss exactly this. He got unprecedented access to top VCs while writing his new book about how venture capital evolved, where it’s going next, and what separates the best investors from the pack. You can listen to our conversation in full here.
VCs back unproven technologies, rewarding technological risk, and paving the way for products, services and solutions that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
Almost all of today’s superstar companies – dominant players like Alphabet, Apple, Netflix, Uber and Meta – are venture-backed. So too are healthcare pioneers like Genentech, AbCellera, Guardant and Moderna, as well as enterprise firms like Cisco and Salesforce. I’m willing to bet the next generation of dominant companies will be venture-backed, too.
The story of how venture capital became so central to our economies has it all: big personalities, billion-dollar bets, and ideas that changed the course of history. In a very real sense, it’s the story of how the our modern industries have come to be.
I’ve had the good fortune to work in this arena in a bit of a golden age, and to meet some of its most inspiring people. I would happily talk about the history and formation of venture capital for hours on end.
So, that’s exactly what I did. Well, not exactly for hours. For one hour.
I sat down with Sebastian Mallaby, a journalist and author who’s spent five years researching and writing a book on venture capital, The Power Law. Sebastian got unprecedented access to the world’s top firms, including trigger-pulling partners at Tiger Global and Sequoia.
Sebastian shared some brilliant anecdotes and analysis about the men* who made modernity happen. He also shed some light on why the best VCs keep winning, how other regions are starting to replicate Silicon Valley’s success, and why Web3 won’t make VC go away.
I really, really enjoyed speaking to Sebastian. It’s not every day I get to speak to someone this knowledgeable about one of my favourite topics. I’m a huge believer in venture capital’s role as one of the motive forces in the Exponential Age. It’s driven progress for thirty years, and I’d bet on it doing the same over the next thirty, too.
*Unfortunately, they are mostly men – but Sebastian and I discuss what VCs can do to change that.