Innovations & Inspirations

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The Non-Wealth Optimizing Move

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After a wonderful trip back to San Francisco, the learnings of which will be the subject of my next blog post, I’m officially writing this post from Cambridge, Massachusetts…where I now live.

Wait, what?

Earlier this year, I walked into the offices of few General Partners at NEA and told them I was thinking about doing my JD/MBA at Harvard.  The responses varied from “you’re out of your mind, stay at NEA” and “this isn’t the wealth optimizing move,” to “the JD is a commodity degree today” and “do you know how many MBAs call me and want your job?”  But as I described my rationale—one that had nothing to do with my company-building and investing career—they slowly became enthusiastic.

For years, Silicon Valley has in general responded to government with a signature brand of techno-libertarianism, flourishing alternately condescension, ignorance, and a deliberate apathy. But in the birthplace of innovation, such a response is inimical to everything that this community stands for: knowledge, progress, and collaboration. Indeed, if Silicon Valley is to continue to lead the world in innovation, rather than rebuff government, we must work to reform it.  Allocating capital and reforming policy the way a venture capitalist would—with a high risk tolerance, potentially massive impact, and a long-term orientation—could do wonders in the public sector.  But in order to enable these shifts in the law, one needs to understand where the law came from– hence the JD.  Tack on the MBA, which is only an extra year in the combined program, and it can’t do more harm than good, right?

Of course, I could be completely wrong, and this expensive long-term call option— considering both tuition and opportunity cost– could expire worthless if I never decide to enter public service.  Alternatively, I may find the lure of Silicon Valley and the opportunity to build the next generation of companies too enticing and drop out, which many people are betting on.

But so far, I’m having an intellectually enriching time learning about the law and, more importantly, meeting the people.  My classmates are diverse: a former member of the CIA who did special operations in Yemen, the sons and daughters of Heads of States around the world, the former head of the NFL Players Association, many brave and deeply selfless military personnel.  And I haven’t given up investing: in fact, I am still actively investing and taking board seats/becoming an advisor to a few companies, some which will be announced soon.

Let’s see where this takes me.  At worst, I will have dropped out of Harvard– that can’t be that bad, right? 🙂

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Written by sheeltyle

September 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm

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