What I’m chasing down these days

Posted on October 18, 2022. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I sent this note to a bunch of friends this morning and it occurred to me that I should share it with the internet at large:

Hey friends. Every so often I share some ideas or themes i’ve been looking to invest behind.  If you are interested in any of these, would love to jam on them and think together. And if you have friends or portfolio companies that touch them, I’d love to hear about them. We’re just starting to deploy our $250M second fund at Pace, would love to collaborate on any of this stuff 🙂

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things I’m actively hunting for at the moment:

1) I’m still obsessed with solving the communication layer in the Web 3 ecosystem. What’s crypto’s version of email? How do wallets message each other? How do Apps communicate with users where wallet is the sole UID?  Unlike phone/email, the UID in this ecosystem doesn’t double as a communication channel.  Here’s roughly what I’m looking for, but very open to alternate visions: https://jordancooper.blog/2022/06/09/lightweight-contacts-dapp-and-the-path-to-a-ubiquitous-protocol/

2) Proof of humanity: i’m blown away by the volume of machine generated imagery and media that I’m consuming these days. It’s increasingly obvious to me that content creators, consumers, and businesses are going to want and need the ability to prove or attest to their output being “hand made.”  This basically gets into the realm of attestation, be it directly from the content creator, or from the app which the creator used to create or capture a piece of media.  With deep fakes a few years ago, I spent time with companies trying to solve for post-facto verification and authenticity of media, but I see a change where solutions that contemplate supply side participation are going to emerge and be valuable.

3) Something I’ve been wrestling with, is whether or not prompt generated media is, in fact, a new media type/format, or simply a new way of creating an existing media type.  The reason I’m interested in this is because I’m obsessed with publisher platforms that give voices to ever expanding populations who previously didn’t have a voice in a given medium. WordPress, Twitter, Youtube, Snap Stories, Tik Tok, podcast platforms, clubhouse/spaces, etc…when you increase access to a medium by virtue of a format evolution that reduces the friction to have a voice in it, value is created.  With prompt generated media, there’s no question that a group of people who have never been able to express themselves visually now can. And I’m confident that the relationship between a prompt and it’s output is distinct from the output alone…so if all that is true, there’s probably surface are for a new publishing platform to enable creation and consumption of the new media type, and said platform would have a lot of pent up demand from wordcels 🙂

4) I read somewhere that the majority of students today are copying homework from the internet instead of doing it themselves. A while ago I looked at a bunch of the platforms that were quietly enabling this type of activity, but I’m curious to find antidotes that can make homework productive in an age where frictionless internet cheating is pervasive.

5) Climate audit: I’m early in auditing the capital flows in the climate space. Increasingly, I don’t think “climate” is actually a space or sector, but there are pockets that I find myself drawn toward. High conviction that there are 20 year investable themes here.  So far, and this is not novel, I find myself interested in building exposure to electrification, both EV related, and beyond.  I’ve also found some of the software enabling the supply side of the carbon economy interesting.  And the supply chain around lithium, cobalt, neon and other inputs to electrification are interesting to me as well. 

6) Deglobalization: After 25 or 30 years of hyper-globalization, and against all of my instincts for an optimal system design, it does appear that we’re at the precipice of a pretty meaningful reversal. This one is weird because it’s both profound and gradual, which makes for tricky investing.  I haven’t yet figured out how to invest behind this reality, but it’s a long wave that I’d like to have multiple bets in over time. High level curiosities include domestic logistics, local supply chains, talent/skills/capabilities/training/immigration, mining, incentives for people to do undesirable jobs, revival of agriculture, domestic industrial marketplaces, etc…

7) Social interaction with AI agents: A few years ago I spent a bunch of time with Replika and was quite intrigued. Replika is basically an AI chat bot that is positioned as a user’s friend/romantic partner. More recently, I’ve seen attempts at enabling consumers to free-text design that type of chat bot for the purpose of interacting with others, as opposed to themselves.  Ultimately it feels like there’s going to be a distribution layer on top of LLM capabilities that helps consumers wield the technology to shape/design/iterate on agents that will expand the surface area of the agent creator’s identity.  Your bot will say something about you, the same way that who your best friend is says something about you. I’m interested in the tooling and creation platforms that contemplate an agent creator’s identity and representation of self as the first order problem space.  Your bot should be an artifact of your creativity/taste/voice even if AI is generating the media it creates.  

8) Cloud Nations: I’m high conviction that it’s possible to decouple physical geography from services and infrastructure historically provide by local/federal governments.  This is a class of coordination and collective resource allocation that I’m obsessed with.  Specifically, I’m interested in the points of interface between such endeavors and legacy public systems.  How do we ride on existing rails while innovating on the experience of being a citizen of somewhere ethereal? I’ve seen a number of endeavors here. Interestingly I haven’t yet seen cloud religions (at least not explicitly named as such), but I find that interesting too…

9) Gig labor applied to a much broader set of work-types: If uber/doordash etc…have given labor control over their hours and schedule and the ability to “pick up” predictable work on demand, what are new realms of labor that would and do value the same capability? I recently heard that factory workers in the midwest are demanding that kind of flexibility and on demand hours.  What about certain classes of knowledge work? Where can a big 4 accountant go to pick up a few tax return gigs at night? Where can an estate lawyer go to pick up a few will gigs on demand?  Where can a trained waiter go to pick up an on demand shift? We have an investment in a company called Dework where I’m seeing this behavior on a small atomic work unit level in the web 3 ecosystem, and it feels like low context/high value work is increasingly doable and in many cases preferable to FT/PT/trad contract…

10) As always, very open to inspiration and new areas of exploration. If you’ve been thinking about something you think I would dig, I’d love to catch up and discuss.

Jordan


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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)

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