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Episode 37
Featuring Josh Wolfe
Demetri speaks with Josh Wolfe, co-founder of Lux Capital, about his perspective on investing in a discussion that ranges from the material to the immaterial. We learn to capitalize on the breakthroughs of science while freeing ourselves from the impulses of the herd. Topics include artificial intelligence, energy investments, and more.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Josh Wolfe, co-founder of Lux Capital. Lux Capital is a venture firm that specializes in the hard sciences, supporting scientists and entrepreneurs who pursue counter-conventional solutions to the most vexing puzzles of our time. Josh is also a founding investor and board member with Bill Gates in Kymeta, which makes cutting-edge antennas for high-speed global satellite and space communications. He is a Westinghouse semi-finalist and published scientist who previously worked in investment banking at Salomon Smith Barney and in capital markets at Merrill Lynch. In 2008, Josh Wolfe co-founded and funded Kurion, a contrarian bet in the unlikely business of using advanced robotics and state-of-the-art engineering and chemistry to clean up nuclear waste. He is a columnist with Forbes who has lectured at MIT, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, NYU and been invited to The White House and Capitol Hill to advise on nanotechnology and emerging technologies.

 

The fields of science, technology, and investing are not new territory for Hidden Forces listeners. These are subjects that we have covered at length with previous guests, including Geoffrey West, Ray Monk, Robert Johnson, Christopher Cole, and Tim O'Reilly. Rarely, though, do we find ourselves in conversation with someone like Josh Wolfe, who has made a multi-billion dollar business of investing in and around ground-breaking technologies and innovations in the hard sciences. Some of these breakthroughs include artificial intelligence, advancements in medicine and biotechnology, gene editing, energy technology, and much, much more.

 

In an effort to help us understand how he capitalizes on these breakthroughs, Josh Wolfe shares his unique perspective on investing with us, as well as his methodology for learning about the forces shaping our unknown future. What role does art play in informing our understanding of the world? How do we gain direction for our work from the insights provided to us by our passions? What information can we glean from the substance of our curiosities? How important are the presence of internal strife and discontentment in propelling us towards success? Can we learn to nurture our contrarian impulses in the face of our instinct to follow the herd?

 

In a philosophical discussion that ranges from the material to the immaterial, Josh Wolfe inspires us to reckon with the paradox of our own humanity. Are we simply animals born in an indeterminate world whose mysteries we are helpless to uncover? Or, are life's greatest mysteries - the nature of reality and the hard problem of consciousness - open to same types of empirical analyses and reasoning that have propelled our species forward since the earliest days of human enlightenment? 

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

 

Josh Wolfe co-founded Lux Capital to support scientists and entrepreneurs who pursue counter-conventional solutions to the most vexing puzzles of our time in order to lead us into a brighter future. The more ambitious the project, the better—like, say, creating matter from light.

 

Josh is a Director at Shapeways, 3Scan, Lux Research and Kallyope and helped lead the firm’s investments in Planet, Echodyne, Clarifai and Authorea. He is a founding investor and board member with Bill Gates in Kymeta, making cutting-edge antennas for high-speed global satellite and space communications. Josh is a Westinghouse semi-finalist and published scientist. He previously worked in investment banking at Salomon Smith Barney and in capital markets at Merrill Lynch. In 2008 Josh co-founded and funded Kurion, a contrarian bet in the unlikely business of using advanced robotics and state-of-the-art engineering and chemistry to clean up nuclear waste. It was an unmet, inevitable need with no solution in sight. The company was among the first responders to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. In February 2016, Veolia acquired Kurion for nearly $400 million—more than 40 times Lux’s total investment.

 

Josh is a columnist with Forbes and Editor for the Forbes/Wolfe Emerging Tech Report. He has been invited to The White House and Capitol Hill to advise on nanotechnology and emerging technologies, and a lecturer at MIT, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia and NYU. He is a term member at The Council on Foreign Relations and Chairman of Coney Island Prep charter school, where he grew up in Brooklyn. He graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Economics and Finance.

 

@wolfejosh

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