In 22 minutes I will turn 45… my youngest son has claimed that 44 is when you are officially “old”… so I guess I am now old…or at least halfway through my life (I hope!).

But I have a 79 year old father who reads a book a week, walks 10,000 steps a day (even during lockdown inside an apartment)and still has a twinkle in his eye. So there is inspiration…

So as I turn 45, I am for once serene (and those of you that know me know that is a dichotomy). Two years ago I said I was stepping back from the VC firm I co-founded. It was my choice. Two and a half years ago I made a proclamation that I wanted to back S**t that Matters. …

Image for post
Annual global temperatures from 1850–2017

It was only seven years ago that Aileen Lee publicly coined the term “Unicorn” to describe companies with a valuation of over $1B and ‘found 39 companies [belonging] to… the “Unicorn Club”’. By mid-2020 CBInsights counts 479 companies who can claim that status. Mythical creatures have promulgated in less than a decade!

A few days ago, I tongue-in-cheekly tweeted that we should start hunting for Gigacorns along with Unicorns. Namely a company whose technology can impact global CO2 emissions by 1 gigaton of CO2 per year while being commercially viable.

Would a single company ever achieve that scale? Some raised eyebrows: “1 GT is a big number — total transportation CO2 of the European Union” responded a friend who invests on behalf of one of the largest global sustainability funds “Total global emissions is like 35GT and 1GT is 30% of the entire EU emissions…I think 10MT would be a great target. …

Image for post

A very successful real estate investor recently mentioned that they proudly build “one-hundred year assets”… I raised my eyebrow (knowing very little about real estate to be honest) and quipped “In that case I could almost guarantee those assets are mis-priced as many of them won’t be around in 100 years!”

We, humanity, have conglomerated around the urban environment:

  • 1% (ONE) of the world surface is built up (with 50% of land used in agriculture to support the majority of people in that 1%)
  • Half the world population already lives in urban environments, 2/3 by 2050 (with the US at 89%, China at 80%). …

On my reading list this summer was The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells which his expands on his 2017 New York Magazine article.

As The Guardian’s review of the book puts it, the book is scary “enough to induce a panic attack…” It elegantly outlines science and data to shake the reader a bit, to help highlight “ a tendency, even among those of us who think we are already sufficiently terrified of the future, [are] strangely complacent about the figures.”

Image for post

Early in the book Wallace-Wells casually makes an observation that stuck with me:

“In fact more than half of the carbon exhaled into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels has been emitted in just the past three decades. Which means we have done as much damage to the fate of the planet and its ability to sustain human life and its civilization since Al Gore published his first book in climate than in all the centuries -all the millenia- that came…

To track your progress (and raise your round)

Image for post
Photo by Nias Nyalada on Unsplash

If you are building (and fundraising) for a company with deeper technology, it is likely that you will not have the “traditional” metrics by which investors would evaluate a more traditional startup at the various investment stages.

By traditional metrics, I am referring to things like revenue, GMV, MRR, churn, AVC, etc. …

Image for post

As the 2019 started out, and with a personal desire to continue satisfying my natural curiosity, I posted on social media inviting others to provide their ideas for “brain-food books.” We got over 80 submissions, and as promised, the results are below:

Interestingly, the vast majority of the suggestions were non-fiction:

Image for post

I have been lucky to have been involved with the early rise of four transformational platforms: Relational databases and “big data” in the late 90s, mobile and the app economy leading up to the launch of iPhone and Android in ‘07/’08, and the early days and explosion of social and the social graph starting back when MySpace still led Facebook, and most recently the acceleration of machine-powered computational algorithms as an enabling technology.

This has led me to continuously think about “what comes next” in terms of three core components coming together to create and disrupt industries: Data sets combined with latent platforms to which we add computational layers to extract value. …

In 2013, having seen the momentum growing around European tech, I left the amazing ride that was Facebook and co-founded White Star Capital to help back ambitious entrepreneurs on both sides of the Atlantic. I am amazingly proud of the platform and team that we have been able to build over the past 5 years. Our portfolio is now over two dozen companies with close to 1,500 employees across 9 countries and our two funds now combine for more than $250 million under management.

I am now, however, stepping back.

I will remain a venture partner at White Star, continuing to manage my investments and supporting them as they scale, but I will not be doing any new investments through the firm. …

You may have heard of founders or funders describing their startups or their funds as “Deep Tech”… but what does that actually mean?

The term was coined by Swati Chaturvedi, CEO and founder of Propel(x) and they define it as:

“A deep tech startup is a newly established business founded on breakthrough science or engineering. Swati Chaturvedi…defined the term “deep technology” to identify new businesses on the cusp of momentous scientific and technological breakthroughs that will define the next century.”

A number of funds, especially in the US, have based their investment focus on bringing science from the lab to the commercial mainstream such as Lux Capital and DCVC [aka Data Collective]. …


Christian Hernandez

Geeky tech-guy backing same. Previously co-founder of @whitestarvc exec roles @facebook @google @microsoft. Salvadoran-born Londoner. YGL of the @wef Father ^3

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store