FIS Digital – May 2021

In conversation with a venture capitalist

Todd Ruppert in conversation with serial entrepreneur and technology investor, Joe Lonsdale.


Joe is a serial entrepreneur and technology investor. While a computer science student at Stanford University he interned at PayPal. Upon graduation he left PayPal to work in a variety of roles with PayPal co-founder, Peter Thiel. In 2004 he co-founded Palantir Technologies, a data analytics software firm, with Peter Thiel and others. Palantir went public in September 2020; it was valued at over $40 billion on April 30, 2021. Joe left Palantir in 2009 to co-found Addepar, a wealth management and data analytics firm, which today administers over $2 trillion in assets. Other companies Joe founded include OpenGov, Esper, Anduin Transactions, Affinity, Epirus Systems, and Zanbato.

Joe has invested in numerous technology, biotechnology, healthcare, logistics, and other companies since leaving Palantir, most recently through his venture capital firm, 8VC, which he founded in 2015. All of his funds were oversubscribed. Notable portfolio companies include Elon Musk’s The Boring Company (where Joe is a member of the board), Joby Aviation, Wish, Flexport, Anduril, and Asana, among others. Joe debuted on the Forbes “Midas List” in 2016 (as the youngest member). In 2020 he was ranked 36th in Forbes’s list of “Top Tech Investors” and in 2021 was ranked 18th on Forbes’s list of “The World’s Top 100 Venture Capitalists.”

In 2018 Joe founded the Cicero Institute, a policy group that delivers entrepreneurial solutions to public problems. He and his wife are also active philanthropists. In 2020 Joe moved from California (where he was a two time scholastic state chess champion) to Austin, Texas. He is working on an experimental Beta City on the outskirts of Austin, which would rival Neom, the $500 billion new city that Saudi Arabia Crown Prince is building.


R. Todd Ruppert is founder of Ruppert International, a firm with diversified interests in various fields globally. He is a board member of INSEAD Business School, Wilshire Associates, Shetland Space Centre, The Fine Art Group, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, among others. He is a venture partner at Greenspring Associates, a $12 billion venture capital firm. He is also an advisor to venture capital firms Antler, Fin VC, Sure Ventures, and Global Ventures. He is an advisor to private equity firms Access Holdings, Motive Partners and BroadLight Capital. He is also a serial early stage investor and advisor to numerous companies globally. Ruppert has over 40 years in the financial services industry. He retired from T. Rowe Price, the global asset management firm with over $1.5 trillion under management, where he was CEO and president of T. Rowe Price Global Investment Services, co-president, T. Rowe Price International, and a member of the operating steering committee of the T. Rowe Price Group.

Key takeaways

  • VC investment involves working with the most talented individuals to build companies, which in turn hold the seeds of future companies.
  • It involves being across key trends and their wider ripple impact – like, for example, how smart phones triggered ride sharing.
  • Successful investment involves finding out what is newly possible that wasn’t five years ago.
  • At 8VC recent investment in the biotech sector includes establishing a first-of-its-kind manufacturing and technology company dedicated to broadening access to medicines and protecting the supply chain against disruption.
  • Lonsdale is also at the forefront of investing in financial services, increasingly transformed by data, the cloud and APIs.
  • Addepar is a leading private wealth management technology company.
  • Institutional investors should come together to create a prize to help finance and develop cutting edge carbon capture technology.

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