Investing in Human
and Planetary Evolution:
Conscious Capitalism in 2020

Announcing Arvind Gupta as Partner

July 15, 2020
Navin Chaddha and Ursheet Parikh

Twenty years into the new millennium, we find ourselves in a bewildering time. Covid-19 has locked the world at home while systemic racism has lit our streets on fire. Millions of Americans are unemployed and many will not have a job to return to. Compassionate leadership is absent and social media sows confusion rather than clarity. All the while, climate change continues unabated, wreaking silent havoc on our marine and forest ecosystems. Progress seems inevitable. It is not. It is the outsiders, the dreamers and the visionaries that create progress. And we must support them now more than ever.

It is the outsiders, the dreamers and the visionaries that create progress. And we must support them now more than ever.

To support human and planetary evolution, we need to adapt as an industry to become conscious capitalists, building business for better rather than for business as usual. This means thinking about the social impact of technology, beyond the technology itself. This means creating opportunities for diversity, equity and inclusion. This means bringing an ethical lens to how leaders treat their employees. This means looking at how innovation can simultaneously re-invent trillion-dollar industries while improving our lives and the state of our planet.

With fifty years in business as one of the pioneers of the industry, Mayfield has participated in many technological revolutions. We have pattern recognition. And we see a new revolution emerging.

To support human and planetary evolution, we need to adapt as an industry to become conscious capitalists, building business for better rather than for business as usual.

From the 1970’s to the 1980s’s computer technology was fringe, filled with CMOS, transistors and ethernets, and few who understood it. A computer was something only outcasts bought. Then advances like the PC, GUI, world wide web and cloud services changed everything. The technology became invisible, reinventing shopping, communication, education, transportation and life.

At the same time, biology was biotechnology and fringe, filled with plasmids, proteases, FDA clinical trials, and white lab coats. Biology was only for a small group of PhDs whom the world did not understand. Now with workhorses like bacteria, yeast and bioinformatics, biology is also becoming invisible, reinventing food, materials, health, energy and life.

Technology disappeared in both these cases because the code creating the products (whether 1’s and 0’s, or A’s C’s T’s and G’s) eventually became a commodity, enabling full focus on the customer experience.

Five years ago, we saw that the ability to marry the engineering approaches of information technology with advances in biology creates a big opportunity for a whole new class of companies. We see a mutually reinforcing engineering biology innovation loop coming together that enables these companies.

The Engineering Biology Innovation Loop:

Engineering Biology Innovation Loop

 

The innovation loop starts with innovations in digitizing biology that quantify the living state and create data that allow for IT innovations like cloud computing and machine learning to be applied to life sciences. There have been some groundbreaking advances in this space such as the cost of whole genome sequencing for a person falling from $1B to about $100 in 20 years, advances that allow for finding sequence differences between individual cells of a person, very low cost and accurate diagnostics enabled with emerging CRISPR toolkits and continuous data streams from wearables.

Concurrently we have also seen the emergence of platforms to precisely engineer biology with very low costs such as gene editing, DNA synthesis, bioprinting, cell engineering and neuromodulation.

These platforms in turn enable faster development of new applications, including new diagnostics and therapeutics, new materials, new foods, and environmental engineering. These new applications create demand for more enabling tech in digitizing biology and bio engineering platforms, completing the innovation loop. This loop is hitting critical mass for super-fast iteration because the cost for digitizing biology is trending to zero.

Solving the current twin challenges of human and planetary evolution presents the greatest entrepreneurial opportunity in history. Our mission at Mayfield is to partner with entrepreneurs leading this movement.

Solving the current twin challenges of human and planetary evolution presents the greatest entrepreneurial opportunity in history. Our mission at Mayfield is to partner with entrepreneurs leading this movement.

In order to achieve this mission, we are announcing two actions today:

  • Adding a New Partner: We are adding Arvind Gupta as Partner. As founder of IndieBio, the world’s leading biotech accelerator, Arvind brings a deep track record of partnering with early stage scientists and helping them build biology-based businesses addressing world scale problems. Over the last six years, he has nurtured hundreds of entrepreneurs, with some of his industry-defining investments including Memphis Meats (redefining meat), Geltor (redefining collagen), Synthex (redefining peptide therapeutics), Endless West (redefining alcohol), Prellis (redefining organ transplantation), NotCo (redefining plant based food), Catalog (redefining data storage), Tinctorium (redefining blue jeans), Mycoworks (redefining leather) and more. He is a thought leader and author with his book Decoding the World, set to be released in October by Twelve Books, a division of Hachette Book Group. Most importantly, Arvind is a people-first investor, deeply committed to helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams. Arvind joins us to expand our engineering biology focus. Together, we are excited to partner with entrepreneurs building industry redefining consumer and enterprise companies, with biology under the hood.

Most importantly, Arvind is a people-first investor, deeply committed to helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

Headshot of Arvind Gupta

 

  • Creating a New Alliance: We have invested in and joined forces with SOSV, the parent firm behind IndieBio, to co-found the Genesis Consortium, an alliance of funds and corporations to promote human and planetary evolution. Arvind will continue as founder and Venture Advisor at IndieBio and advise cohort selection as well as mentoring of new IndieBio startups for both SF and NY. Mayfield will also invest alongside IndieBio in their SF batches every 6 months, cementing the partnership with SOSV.

 

We have been here before.

Over our 50 year history as a firm, we have been fortunate to partner with many bold entrepreneurs who leveraged inflection points to build iconic companies. They include:

  • The first biotech revolution led by:
    Genentech (biotech)
    Amgen (biopharma)
    Applied Biosystems (protein sequencing)
    Millennium Pharmaceuticals (drug discovery);
  • The medical device era with portable defibrillator Heartstream and surgical robotics provider Intuitive Surgical;
  • The IT revolution with game changing companies such as:
    Atari (digital gaming)
    Compaq (personal computing)
    3Com (computer networking)
    SGI (graphics computing)
    Nuance (speech recognition) — which transformed the way humans live, work and play;
  • Sustainable products and services including alternative energy:
    SolarCity (solar energy)
    Lyft (ridesharing)
    Poshmark (social commerce)
    Grove Collaborative (eco-friendly CPG);
  • The first wave of digital health:
    Brighter (transparent healthcare)
    Basis (quantified self)
    Tonal (precision fitness);
  • The Rise of the Individual B2B communities which enabled humans to become superhumans:
    Marketo (marketing automation; elevating marketeers)
    ServiceMax (field service automation; elevating field service workers)
    HashiCorp (multi cloud; elevating developers and DevOps professionals)
    Outreach (sales engagement; elevating sales professionals)
    Rancher Labs (cloud native; elevating ITOps professionals);
  • Healthcare and Engineering Biology innovation:
    Mammoth Biosciences (CRISPR)
    Mission Bio (single-cell sequencing)
    Qventus (healthcare AI)
    Endpoint Health (precision medicine), and additional stealth companies in neuromodulation therapeutics and precision diagnostics.

As we enter the summer of 2020, we believe now is the time for biology to rebuild the world and ourselves one cell at a time. With tremendous excitement, we are joining forces to partner with the world’s best scientists and entrepreneurs to accelerate human and planetary evolution, a noble effort that will enable us to do well while doing good.

As we enter the summer of 2020, we believe now is the time for biology to rebuild the world and ourselves one cell at a time. With tremendous excitement, we are joining forces to partner with the world’s best scientists and entrepreneurs to accelerate human and planetary evolution, a noble effort that will enable us to do well while doing good.

If you are excited by this purpose and want to partner with us, drop us a line. We look forward to hearing from you.

Human & Planetary Evolution:

Human and Planetary Evolution Timeline