Social Capital's exceptional impact VC returns

Small Steps Vol. 36: Chamath Palihapitiya's annual letter 💌, regenerative body parts 💪, and the curious psychology of recycling ♻️
July 8, 2021
Giant Leap Fund

What stopped us in our tracks

💌Chamath Palihapitiya of Social Capital, a US-based VC that has built a tech portfolio with almost half of its companies directly solving problems of climate, health, and education, published his 2020 annual letter back in May. In it, he called for rethinking food systems not just for climate, but also to tackle the looming health crisis that threatens to cripple the US’s resilience to future pandemics, and pondered holding institutions accountable for the information they share to refocus on facts and make progress on our biggest problems. Social Capital also reported a 33% annual return since 2011 compared to the S&P’s 13.9% — another data point for the strong returns of an impact approach to VC.

😱 Deers can regrow their antlers and children under the age of seven can regrow their fingertips too. So why can’t we induce the regrowing of failed organs? For developmental biologist Michael Levin, the answer lies in bioelectricity — the broader convergence between biology and computers. Testing this theory he’s been able to coax frogs to regrow their legs, or tadpoles to grow an extra eye on their stomach. This read in The New Yorker sounds like science fiction now but regrowing organs could be science fact before we know it.

🛌 Another health issue that piqued our interest: Sleep. The CDC says you need on average 7 hours of sleep per night, but you’d have to be pretty remarkable to attain that consistently these days. There’s plenty of ways of tackling the problem. One of them is sleep-tech — technology aimed at tracking and augmenting your sleep. That market is expected to grow $40.6 billion over the next few years. The other is looking at what’s actually keeping us awake — blue light, screen time and stress. Yasmin Tayag (Quartz) did an excellent deep dive series (paywall) on the subject if you are looking to learn more about the sector. Good bedtime reading.

♻️ Are you a “wish cycler”? That’s where you so desperately want something to be recyclable (when it’s not) that you chuck it in the recycling bin, which can mean the entire load ends up in landfill instead. We loved Sustainability Consultant, Emma Avery’s thoughts on the curious psychology of recycling, which shows it’s as much a behavioural problem as it is an environmental one. For instance, you’re less likely to recycle a cup if your name is written incorrectly on it.

Career paths

🤑 Impact investment firm Tripple is looking for an Executive Assistant.

💸 Australian Impact Investments is hiring multiple roles including Analyst, Associate and an Associate Director.

😴 Mindset is hiring a heap of software roles and a GM for their Menopause Program.

💡 Amber is seeking a Digital Designer.

🙏 Applied is searching for a People Scientist.

💪 Investible is hiring a Climate Tech Analyst.

🔥 As always, there’s 80+ more jobs on the Giant Leap Fund jobs board and more jobs at ethical companies on the global B-Work job board.

Giant Leaps

👌 Congratulations to Alex and Chris Naoumidis from Mindset, who just announced their $6.7 million raise (PS, did we mention they’re hiring?)

👏 Our venture partner Kylie Charlton offered her words of wisdom to Global Raising the Bar audio series. You can tune in here.

📈 John Treadgold wrote about the Impact Startup Benchmark Report in his OnImpact blog.

Connect with us

🦘 It’s NAIDOC week! We’ll be attending this forum on Monday August 9 celebrating indigenous entrepreneurship run by First Nations accelerator Barayamal.

💭 Our Partner Adam Milgrom will be part of the Giant Warm Intro this year. If you’re interested in meeting us or other great VCs, sign up before July 12.

💬 Our Associate Charlie MacDonald has availability in his office hours.

For the road

💥 Keeping on events: US VC firm Fifty Years is running a forum on the future cultivated (lab-grown) meat providing insight on the subject for entrepreneurs and investors.

👍 Are you gearing up to raise a Series B round? Rachel shared some advice in here from eight really experienced VCs.

🚗Car Next Door, a platform to share your car (and reduce overall need for new cars with huge carbon footprints), reported owners making up to $15,000 a month. Bonkers.

💊 Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has chipped in to a $32 million raise for an antiviral spray that could be used as a supplement to the COVID vaccine for the most vulnerable.

💰 Some incredible new impact fund announcements in the past few weeks:

🛍 Is retail behemoth Amazon dipping into the impact investing space? We’ve seen them hand out grants with a high proportion going to impact companies like Goldilocks (baby health monitoring) and Baresop (waterless, eco-friendly cleaning).

♫ Let’s finish off with some crazy music trivia: Of the top 100 Billboard hottest hits between 2008 and 2020, only 0.7 per cent (8 songs) have lyrics around same-sex relationships. Nine out of 20 have lyrics about opposite-sex relationships. Yet, almost all of the songs that made the hottest hits mentioned a form of relationship. This article on The Pudding breaks down how pronouns in songs are changing. In summary: There’s more diversity now than ever, and interestingly more songs than not now use gender-neutral pronouns in their lyrics.

Further Reading

Read ALL