Last week, we hosted our Second Annual General Meeting. In line with the conditions of the times, we decided to host this year’s event in a fully virtual format. For us, this was an opportunity to bring more participants together across time and space, and to harness the connective power of technology in order to create an event that was virtual yet truly engaging, entertaining and insightful.
We put together an exciting schedule for both days, including discussion sessions with our brilliant portfolio founders around the relevant themes of our times, such as healthcare, FinTech and the promising sectors of the future. In parallel, we held a number of conversations with international speakers who shared their experiences in the fields of investment and venture capital in times of economic prosperity and in times of crisis.
We covered plenty over the course of the event, but one of the recurring topics across both days centered around the COVID-19 pandemic and its bearing on businesses, industries and the economy. John Mack, Senior Advisor and Former Chairman at Morgan Stanley, shared his views on the economic and market downturn resulting from the pandemic and its ensuing crisis – an undoubtedly unique and more positive than usual perspective. He also revealed unpublished insights and stories about his involvement and role in previous crises. Yusuf Alireza, Founder of ARP Global Capital, added a layer of depth to this conversation as he shared his own outlook on the state of the economy post-crisis and critical factors for recovery.
Yusuf also spoke to us about the future of tech investing and the state of renewables in the new normal. This was another cross-cutting theme on both days: what does the future of investment look like in a post-COVID world? Noor posed that question to Alex Rogers, Managing Director of HarbourVest Partners. Specifically, she asked him about future trends in investment direction given the disruptive shifts taking place in a number of industries today. His insights into the optimal allocation of capital in the new normal are key takeaways from that conversation.
Complementing this discussion was a future-focused prediction session with Dave Clark, Partner at Expa and former Senior Advisor at Uber. It fit in perfectly with the theme of the second day – the ways in which the world is moving. Dave was an early investor in Uber, worked alongside Sir Richard Branson in building the Space Program and is currently working on a vTOL flying car program for Kitty Hawk – a company building electric flight transportation solutions to free people from traffic. Dave is not your average forward-thinker. He’s a futurist, investing patient capital into moonshot ideas for a far away future. His words pushed us to think ahead… way ahead.
This theme invited another pressing question – one that has been brought center stage and top-of-mind with the pandemic: what is the future of healthcare? His Excellency Zaid Al Siksek, Former CEO of the Abu Dhabi Health Authority and Founder of BlueApple Healthcare, shared his expert view on the topic. His belief is that the future of healthcare is personalized and digital, and that this transition is both essential and imminent.
We also had a foundational and philosophical conversation with Randy Komisar, Advisor at Kleiner Perkins. We say foundational because it is difficult to think about investment strategy and direction without simultaneously thinking about the founders, ideas and infrastructures supporting these investments. Randy talked to us about what it takes to build and sustain ecosystems of real innovation, shared his pro tips for spotting a great entrepreneur and also discussed areas of improvement for venture capital investing. We say ‘philosophical’ because he also imparted his philosophy on work and life as he told the stories behind some of the most-quoted passages of his book, the Monk and the Riddle.
We could not think of a better way to conclude our AGM than with a recap conversation with Vivek Mehra, Partner Emeritus at August Capital and Ellie Rubeinstein, CEO and Co-Founder of Manna Tree. The closing session became a casual and light chat about AI, digital health and last but not least, the future of food.
One week and an outpour of positive feedback later, we are pleased to say that we succeeded in creating an event that was both informative and engaging. The participation of these brilliant thinkers from around the world was a key contributor to that success. We thank all of them for the time, the insights and especially for the inspiration.