Are you tired of trying to balance making the world a better place with making money? Do you find yourself stretching your own credulity as you spin stories about how data mining and firewall proxy technologies are somehow helping human flourishing?
Forget all that.
I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new fund from my firm, Disruption Venture Partners.
The fund’s official name is “DVP Amoral LP 2014,” but most people prefer its nickname: “The Dark Side Fund.”
The thesis of this fund is that there are unique opportunities and outsized returns available by employing an aggressively amoral perspective. In this fund, we will seek out markets where technology can create or protect value for large entities with significant budgets, such as governments and corporations.
People like to criticize Silicon Valley for a misguided focus on trivial needs like photo sharing and finding new restaurants and bars, but I see a different gap. Frankly, technology investors have been led astray by a mix of holdover 1960s Northern California idealism and 2000 years of Christian Ethics.
As anyone who watches Game of Thrones knows, being charitable, honorable, or even just decent, tends to get your head chopped off or your throat slit. (Also, brothels are ideal spots for meetings and long expository speeches).
So this fund will be focused, opportunistic, and amoral.
The “Dark Side Fund” has two broad themes:
Illiberal Government Empowerment
- Technologies to monitor communication over telecom, mobile, and social networks to promote stability and suppress excessive citizen self-expression
- Infrastructure for “National Internets” with partitions and controls to manage dangerous influences from the outside world
- Platforms that leverage social media as an outbound channel for message control and perception shaping around appropriate national themes and objectives
Digital Exploitation of Consumers
- Networks that extract valuable data about consumers via the provision of free services while minimizing unnecessary concern or awareness by the end user
- Applications that optimize growth and reduce acquisition costs through consumers providing data about their friends and families – again, without unnecessary user awareness
- Natural Language processing that develops Terms of Service that are legally compliant and operator-advantageous, while opaque to a human consumer reader.
We are seeing great initial response from the LPs we have spoken to in the fund-raising. This isn’t surprising given that our last three funds have delivered an aggregate 44% rate of return (7% after after management fees, office remodel, and General Partner vacation home allowances).
To find the right entrepreneurs and strategic partners across these themes, we’ve developed rich relationships with key incubators and seed stage investors in Moscow, Tehran, Beijing, Washington DC and Menlo Park.