Two years ago, we spoke with Lear Susan, founder of the now six-year-old Eclipse Ventures at Cao Palo Alto Ca. At the time, Clothing believed that the next big thing was no longer social networks, but rather the ability to rebuild old-line industries through a whole technological stack – including hardware, software and data – into the twenty-first century. Fast forward, and not changed in any way, however Eclipse is not inside. When the world went through a dramatic transformation due to the coronavirus epidemic – the destructive infrastructure of the United States was not so obvious to so many people – the planet supports exactly the same kind of organizations that always and with the same amount of funds.
In fact, after closing the second and third funds with $500 million, the company finally shut down the fourth vehicle earlier this month, originally pledging $500 million from donors. This morning, we talked with Susan about the focus of enlightenment on reviving old industries that are technically mostly contagious, and why Eclipse’s pitch and the rest of the planet’s team have never been more powerful. Parts of that conversation are lightly edited for length and clarity.
LS: Not really. We have been saying from the beginning that the infrastructure we are living in is 50 to 60 years old across the board. We’ve been in those social software and fintech, new ideas and customer trends in those times. But we don’t live on the internet; we actually live in the physical world. And the physical world is not [investing] at all. But much of that innovation can be applied to the world we live in, and what we want to do is bring those $65 trillion backstage economies into the digital age.
LS: We have a very specific strategy. We only lead early-stage investments in about 22 companies with funds, with our initial checks we want 20% to 25% [and] we will double down the companies that are being disbanded and try to lead us in two or three phases down the row.
And we know how to run spreadsheets and guess what enterprise values we need to create to deliver alpha returns [and that math takes us $500 million].