Building the Future

by on October 12, 2016

My colleague Shawn Abbott always reminds me that perhaps the most difficult aspect of investing in innovation is mitigating the timing risk. He often paraphrases the words of William Gibson: “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Accepting that adage requires us to model hurdles to (and drivers of) technology adoption as sources of timing risk to be managed. In some cases, capital can be used as a tool to manage this risk by pulling the future forward and thus flattening the resulting distribution curve. The trick in wielding this tool effectively is in deploying larger quantities of capital as the market starts pulling in the same direction as the to-be-invested monies. The ultimate effect should be to amplify momentum rather than to artificially inflate it.


Over the last two weeks, we have announced significant investments in two teams of entrepreneurs that we believe have developed fundamental breakthrough technologies that capitalize on inflection points in their respective markets. The first, Thalmic Labs, raised $120M to pursue its vision of what the next generation of human-computer interactions will entail. It is an audacious goal by any means, but entirely representative of the scope of ambition, rapid iteration and operational excellence that have come to characterize Stephen, Aaron and Matthew. It is an absolute privilege to join them on the next step of their journey, and support them in bringing that vision to reality.


Another triumvirate of founders at Clearpath have demonstrated a similar track record. Matt, Ryan and Bryan built the future of industrial self driving vehicles before others even began to appreciate the underlying seismic market shifts that are now enabling the widespread adoption of their products and technology. We are proud to announce today that we are leading a $30M Series B financing to help accelerate that adoption, and help them build the factory of the future…today.


Building self driving vehicles in isolation is inherently hard. Releasing them to the market is an order of magnitude more difficult. Creating an ROI on those deployments that entice customers to expand their purchase orders faster than you can even deliver inventory is a sign that it is time to invest, expand, and scale up. Clearpath’s founders have already built a world class team, technology stack and customer base. Now they are laying the foundations for entirely new business models enabled by artificial intelligence, autonomy and automation.


A special thanks must go to some of our leading Limited Partners at Northleaf Capital, Kensington Capital Partners, Grayhawk, Hedgewood, and Globalive Capital for contributing their own additional co-investment capital and wisdom towards Clearpath’s latest funding round. It is a privilege to act on behalf of our investors as the custodians of their capital, and steward it towards such transformative initiatives. These are exciting times for all involved and we are looking forward to watching Clearpath’s progress over the coming years.