Josh Wolfe @wolfejosh VC, entrepreneur, fund manager @Lux_Capital; Chair @CiPrep Coney Island Prep; Trustee @SfiScience Santa Fe Inst; CoFounder of Carson, Quinn & Bodhi w/ @ltwolfe Jun. 01, 2019 3 min read

1/ In the PRESENT + FUTURE we take for granted the PAST

-in science: we stand on the shoulders of giants
-in citizenship: born into a country of hard-fought wars + laws
-in family: sacrifices of our ancestors
-in sports: records set + inspiration of past greats

2/ In the PRESENT of VC + founders + entrepreneurs we take for granted the PAST

-it’s rooted not in demo days, unicorns, twitter, blogs, podcasts or conference stages
-it is rooted in DEFENSE

3/ The first VC was ARD (American Research & Development Corp) founded in 1946 by Boston industrialists, financiers + academics—who sought to turn...

You guessed it: WWII technologies... into companies against stifling regulations of the New Deal that was hampering US growth

4/ George Doriot was the head
HBS prof + a Brigadier General who oversaw developing new defense tech to help win WWII

In 1957 Doriot + ARD bet on Digital Equipment Corp (DEC)—funding 2 MIT engineers backed by goverment funds

Their product?

Aircraft defense system for MILITARY

5/ In late 1957 Sputnik happened
In ‘58 w/defense spending being pulled in—the US gov created the SBIC program to spur investing in small startups, especially electronic WARFARE.

By the mid 60s, hundreds of small investment co’s funded co’s tied to military-industrial complex

6/ Silicon Valley stalwart Intel—came from Fairchild.

The guy who built Fairchild’s sales force?
Don Valentine—founder of Sequoia.

Fairchild’s biggest customer? The Military.

Their product? The silicon integrated circuit.

It’s use in 1957? almost EXCLUSIVELY in missiles.

7/ MILITARY dominance would give way to US geopolitical power

which gave way to ECONOMIC power:

control of the seas + global protection + policing trade routes, growth and leverage & power in laws + markets for US companies + founders to enter new markets globally.

8/ The rise of consumer tech on back of industrial tech saw rise of IBM, Compaq, MSFT—all of whom had gov as a HUGE client

That put personal PCs on people’s desks—which got connected by another defense + MILITARY project (to connect scientists in event of crisis):

the Internet.

9/ ARPANET was run by the MILITARY for 20 years until 1990 to connect scientists + protect against comms infrastructure going down in nuclear attack.

10/ The US adversary of USSR disappeared, capitalism won, MILITARY was strong + the infrastructure was laid for peace-time explosion of the greatest bull market of the 90s, the internet/.com boom + bust, of media, music, content...

11/ That laid the foundation for the past 20 years upon which Web 2.0, the rise of social media, mobile phones, apps, search....

With the rise of NETWORK technology + economics, came similarly distributed + coordinated defense THREATS + terrorism.

12/ MILITARY again: the rise of non-state actors, cyber hacking, (dis)information, fake news, election meddling + of course unmanned systems: robots + drones (first military then consumer)

...not just air but sea and land—

13/ And of course SPACE.

We celebrate going to MARS—and of course we have MTV + Sirius XMRadio + sports on satellite TV—

but almost all Space programs have been and will be motivated by...MILITARY.

14/ A current zeigeist gripping techies
-part generational
(millenials w/very strong VALUES but very weak KNOWLEDGE of HISTORY)
-part waves of immigrants (esp after 2 unjust jingoistic wars) not identify w/ “USA”
-partly disinformation by Russia + China fueling anti-military POVs

15/ What’s SCARCE is VALUABLE

The TECH role in the future of DEFENSE is becoming more scarce—and thus EXTREMELY valuable

We don’t know what we got til its gone
We take the key role of MILITARY in our PAST for granted as we build our FUTURE

Those who don’t know history...


You can follow @wolfejosh.



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