“As the founder of the Google Brain deep learning project and co-founder of Coursera, Andrew Ng was one of the most recognisable names in the machine learning community when he became Baidu’s chief scientist in 2014. He left there in early 2017 and quickly launched a number of new AI projects, including the Deeplearning.ai course and Landing.ai, a project that aims to bring AI to manufacturing companies. It turns out that what he was really working on, though, was his AI Fund”
Why this matters?
- - To raise a specialist fund, you need to have considerable experience and reputation within your niche, Andrew Ng certainly has that going for him.
- However, this is actually not really a traditional fund. In fact, it holds more similarities with BetaWorks, as the ‘fund’ will essentially initiate new businesses and build new companies. This also helps to explain why so many VC funds have invested, including NEA, Sequoia, Greylock Partners and SoftBank.
- In fact, the more generalist the VC fund, the higher the need to ensure they have their bases covered in the ‘hotter’ verticals. Backing smaller vertical-specific funds is one clear way of doing this, allowing them to build a strong pipeline and getting an early foot in the door, despite not being experts in specific verticals themselves.
- You also see this play out in other ways too, with location-specific funds (like my own) or stage-specific. When funds invest in funds, it is predominantly this generalist vs specialist dynamic playing out.