Building The Base

In this week's episode of Building the Base, hosts Lauren Bedula and Hondo Geurts are joined by Katherine Boyle from Andreessen Horowitz. Katherine, a general partner at Andreessen, leads the American dynamism practice, which focuses on national security, aerospace, defense, public safety, housing, education, and industrial sectors. Katherine discusses her journey from being a reporter at The Washington Post to venture capitalism, emphasizing the growing importance of technology in the defense industry. The episode explores the role of venture capital in supporting companies that address critical national security challenges.

Top Five Things to Know:

1. The defense industry is experiencing a shift as technology and venture capital become increasingly intertwined, emphasizing the need for collaboration between Silicon Valley and national security.

2. The American dynamism practice at Andreessen Horowitz focuses on investing in early-stage companies addressing national security challenges, emphasizing founder-driven missions.

3. Venture capitalists play a vital role in supporting founders beyond providing capital, offering mentorship, networks, and knowledge sharing to help them navigate the complexities of the defense industry.

4. Collaborative networks are forming among venture capital firms with a shared mission, recognizing that investments in capital-intensive sectors require cooperation and expertise.

5. Education and awareness within the venture ecosystem are crucial, as early believers work to expand understanding and engagement in the defense and national security sector, ensuring innovation and support for critical missions.

What is Building The Base?

"Building the Base" - an in-depth series of conversations with top entrepreneurs and leaders from tech, financial, industrial, and public sectors.

Our special guests are weighing in on a broad selection of topics such as: shaping our future national security industrial base, leadership in challenging times, experiences related to the intersection of business and national security, and personal anecdotes related to their positions of influence.

Building the base is hosted by our own BENS member Lauren Bedula who is the Managing Director and National Security Technology Practice Lead at Beacon Global Strategies, and BENS Distinguished Fellow, Jim "Hondo" Geurts who retired from performing the duties of the Under Secretary of the Navy and former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition.

Lauren Bedula 0:03
Welcome back to Building the Base, Lauren Bedula and Hondo Geurts. Here with today's guest, Katherine Boyle from Andreessen Horowitz, who we're so excited to have. Katherine is currently a general partner at Andreessen and leads American dynamism, which I'm so excited to dig into, focused on national security, aerospace, and defense, public safety, housing, education, and industrial. So, all very important components of the defense industrial base and the topics we talk about here on our show. Katherine was previously a partner at General Catalyst. So, she has spent many years in the venture capital world and was also a general reporter at The Washington Post, which I think is so cool too. So, Katherine, we're excited to hear about what you're working on. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Katherine Boyle 01:15
Thanks so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

Hondo Geurts 01:17
So, Katherine, I've said it on another podcast, you know, everybody's background we have as guests is so amazing, and probably uncharted when they were younger in life. Tell us a little bit about your journey to get into this nexus of venture capitalism and national security. And how does the Washington Post reporter coming to then running one of the biggest kind of dual-use funds we have here in America?

Katherine Boyle 01:40
Yeah, I always tell people don't hold it against me that I was a reporter. But it's actually a pretty circuitous path to venture capital. So I spent the first 10 years of my adult life in Washington, you know, was a reserve reporter at The Washington Post, I care deeply about national security, care deeply about the areas that government cares about. And was at The Washington Post at a really difficult time. It was right before Jeff Bezos bought the paper, it was a really interesting time for newspapers. And sort of had this view that I should go out to Silicon Valley and learn about how technology if it was disrupting my illustration, learn about how it's disrupting every industry. And so moved out to Silicon Valley. And I always describe, you know, I had been all over the world, I've lived in many countries. And when I moved out to Silicon Valley, it was the greatest culture shock of my life. Because everything I had read about technology, and about how Silicon Valley worked, there was always sort of this belief that it was deeply linked to the national and to National Intelligence, it was deeply, deeply linked to the defense world. And when I got out to Silicon Valley, no one read newspapers, no one was talking about defense, no one was talking about the issues that Washington really talks about all the time that we're obsessed with there. And so it was really deep culture shock. And so, you know, I sort of gravitated towards people who were similarly there was a small crew of people, this was around 2014 2015, that we're starting to talk about how defense and software companies and artificial intelligence companies could potentially work together. And so really started digging into those circles, not only on the tech side but also on the government side. And started building my career around that, realizing that this was going to be a very important thing that I think a lot of people in those early, you know, kind of years where the DOD was talking about it, it was, you know, DIU was just formed at that point, that this was going to be an important initiative going forward. And I think what's happened over the last few years, that's been a pleasant surprise, is that Silicon Valley has really woken up to the fact that Washington and Silicon Valley need to work hand in hand on some of these important issues. So, you know, flash forward to a year and a half ago when I joined Andreessen Horowitz, much of the impetus for that was the realization that Andreessen Horowitz and myself, we had been investing in many of the same companies, companies around aerospace, defense, national security, but we didn't really have a name or practice for what those companies were needing. They're not like traditional software companies, they don't have the same inflection points. They build companies very differently. They have a very different customer set. And so, you know, we founded the American dynamism practice, mainly because we realized that this next generation of companies are going to be focused on companies that support the national interests, they're going to be focused on very different missions. But that there's ripe opportunity, just given how founders are becoming obsessed with the idea of how do you build for the country's greatest problems? So, you know, founded the practice, we recently announced that we have a $500 million commitment to early-stage companies in the category of aerospace, defense, national security, transportation, infrastructure, energy, the categories that really touch all Americans and are deeply tied to the physical world.

Lauren Bedula 04:57
It's such an exciting announcement and an important industry. And I'm curious, Katherine, if you could tell us a little bit about how you came up with those focus areas, and then what you're looking for in companies for new investments, like what's a priority for you as you're scoping what's out there?
Katherine Boyle 05:15
Absolutely. So, I think, you know, the part of the impetus for the practice was realizing we had made a lot of these investments prior, but just didn't have a name for them. So, you know, we had investments in aerospace and defense in companies like SpaceX and Andrew, you know, companies that, in some ways, have built, you know, next-generation aerospace and defense and led to this new crop of founders. Many of them are leaving companies that have already scaled to start new companies in and around that ecosystem. So that was a part of the impetus, realizing now that the ecosystem is very ripe because so many of the people who have been trained in these companies to understand best-in-class manufacturing or to understand the playbook of how you work with government and how you sell to government, you know, there's now sort of, I would say, a critical mass of founders who've had that experience. You know, back in 2010, 2011, 2012, there were not founders in Silicon Valley who had that experience. So I think that's a part of how we came up with the sectors that we're focused on. I think the important thing for people to realize is that, as investors, we don't come out with a very strong, you know, we're not so didactic about the thesis. We don't come out and say we want to invest in X and then find the companies. It's actually vice versa. The founders really come up with their strong theses of, you know, there's this problem that I experienced while I was working in the DOD, and now I want to go fix it, or there's this problem I experienced. We have a founder who was formerly FBI, with an issue that he experienced personally when he was inside the FBI. He says, "I want to come out, and I want to be able to build for that issue." So we see it as a founder-driven mission and a founder-driven movement, where then we ask ourselves, "What is the type of product that we can offer founders?" As venture capitalists, people often think that the product is capital, which a huge part of that is, but there's also a company-building aspect of it, where it's, "How can we bundle services? How can we bundle a network? How can we introduce our founders early to the right people in Washington? How can we help them with playbooks of how they should be building their business?" Because a lot of early-stage founders, in particular, have very similar questions about, "What does it look like to interface in the right way in DC? How should they be thinking about certain types of contracts? Is this a sector where the market, like, how do I think about expanding the market if it's a nascent market?" Questions that I think founders can learn from each other and can learn from institutional knowledge. So that was sort of, I think, a huge part of the practice as well, is what are the things we can offer founders now, knowing that there's a critical mass of founders who are building in these categories? So, Katherine.

Hondo Geurts 07:49
When I hear that response, which I think is super interesting, it's, it speaks to me of a network? And how do you build a network, whether it's founders or venture capitalists? And you wrote an article, I think it was titled, "Venture Capital Should Back America." Are you sensing a network of these patriotic founders? Kind of, I mean, again, you're all working, competitive mates maybe working together? And then, you know, competing each other. But are you sensing a movement amongst these venture capital firms to network together and create this future industrial network that we need to really power the country?

Katherine Boyle 08:30
Absolutely. And I love that you pointed out something very interesting, which is that, yes, venture capital firms compete, but we also collaborate. One thing that I think is, in some ways, very similar to Washington is that, like, you know, we all know each other, we play repeat games. Sometimes we're collaborators, yes, sometimes we compete. But what's interesting about this sector, in particular, especially things that are capital-intensive, say, hardware software hybrid companies, is that these companies take a lot of capital. And so it's actually in the benefit of companies to be, you know, to have collaborative firms that have worked together in the past that know how to work together. And it's not a zero-sum game where with software, there might only be one or two rounds where and then you grow in perpetuity. These companies need capital. And so what I do think is really interesting is there is a strong cohort of investors who care about the mission, who've invested in companies previously, have seen the story of how they grow, how they need to operate, what a good executive looks like. You know, one of the things that we often tell early-stage founders is that there's a lot of good, or there's a lot of ways to waste time in Washington. And so making sure that when you come to DC, you're talking to the right people, you're hiring the people who understand that talking isn't the output, it's actually getting actions done, getting contracts, people who understand what a production contract is versus what a server is. You know, there's a lot of, I think, institutional knowledge that people who've been investing in the space for a long time carry. And so I love that you framed it that way. And that we see this as, in many ways, building a coalition as well. There's a coalition of like-minded investors who care deeply about the mission, who've been here for a while. But then there are people who are sort of waking up and realizing that this is a big sector, and they want to learn about it. And so we also see our role as educating the broader venture ecosystem, which has grown. When we started investing in these categories, say, you know, 2013, 2014, 2015, there weren't that many people who believed. There were only really the true believers. And I think part of the greatest joys of being an early true believer is that you do get to educate the next generation, not only founders but also investors who care about the mission now. So we see that as a role that we'd like to take on, that we very much want to make sure that the venture ecosystem and community understand how these businesses work, and that we come together to support Washington and to support the needs of the warfighter in many cases. Because I think, as much as we can get behind the requirements and the companies that are priorities for the DOD and for America, that's why we're here. Well, Katherine.

Lauren Bedula 11:13
You've made one thing clear, which is just the prioritization of people. And it's something that you've written about, too, that American dynamism starts with people. And I think Andreessen has had such a unique model focused on market development. So not just investing and hoping it works out. But that ongoing mentorship and coaching through tough processes, like doing business with the US government. And so I know your team has seen that, especially in the timeframe you mentioned, 2015 to

today. It seems like a lot of the focus has been to spur innovation by maximizing the number of new entrants into the industrial base. And it's resulted in a lot of small awards to smaller companies really tough traction. We talked about the valley of death. What's your take on the approach so far? And are you seeing any changes in direction there?

Katherine Boyle 12:05
I love this question as well because I sometimes see press releases or quotes coming out of various leadership at the DOD that says, you know, we're so proud we've awarded 2000 SBIRs to venture-backed or interesting companies in the ecosystem. And I see that and I just go, "Oh, my goodness." You know, we are a massive venture capital firm, and we don't have 2000 portfolio companies. And it's something that I think is often a misconception. And again, going back to this education component, the education that we do for investors and founders, also, we do an equal amount of education for the customer of how venture capital works. And, you know, there's a common theme of, you don't want to be a spray-and-pray investor. If you spray across hundreds of companies, and you can't support the ones that are actually doing the important work. And the thing that we've noticed in this category in particular, is because there are manufacturing moats, because these companies are built in the physical world, it is very, very difficult to build many of these. But once a company gets through, we call it the bottom of the J curve coming up through the valley of death, and starts really compounding talent and really compounding contracts, they can grow for a long time. And so I think the thing that we very much believe is there needs to be, you know, it can't just be one or two venture-backed unicorns in the sectors that are there doing all of the needs of government. We need more than one winner. But the idea that there's going to be hundreds of winners in defense that come out of Silicon Valley venture, and that small contracts from the government are going to be enough to sort of move the needle, the thing that we've constantly been pounding the table on is that the government needs to, as uncomfortable as it is to say this, they need to pick the companies that are going to meet the requirements, and they need to do it early. And they need to do it in a big way. And by early, I'm not saying, you know, they need to do it before products are built or before companies have really proven themselves. But I think there needs to be production contracts given to more venture-backed companies where it is very clear that they have the capital base that they need to scale, very clear that they have the talent, the knowledge, and that they've built the products that can meet the requirements of government. You know, one of the things to get on again, to get on sort of a soapbox here, but like, you know, there's things like past performance requirements that exist currently inside of contracts that make it very, very difficult for even companies that have proven themselves, that are only a few years old, that have worked with parts of the DOD and now want to pursue larger contracts. They oftentimes get boxed out of contracts because of the way that procurement is written. And so I think a lot of the education that we try to do is to say like, you know, companies are built in Silicon Valley in different ways. These companies are young for a reason. They scale much faster. They haven't been around for 20 years. They've been around for a few years. But look at the products they've built. Look at how they're performing. Look at how they're moving and make judgments based on that. But also know that you're not going to find 2000 companies because the laws of venture capital and the laws of ecosystem are that there are outlier companies. And we like to back the outliers.

Hondo Geurts 15:11
Yeah, it's really interesting. You were outspoken, I think it was maybe two years ago at Reagan, you know, about imploring the government to actually buy stuff. You can't just do the early, you know, co-investment or shipper. If you're not buying product, you can't kind of close these business equations. Have you seen much change in that? I'm sure there's still lots of room to go. But are you getting a sense that message is getting through to the government side? And is it a struggle on how to best do that? And maybe any best practices you've seen from government customers?
Katherine Boyle 15:46
So actually, I mean, I'd say we have, like, you know, I think the, the kind of instinct of Silicon Valley is to always push for more and to push for things faster. But I actually, you know, I think if we look across government, and how quickly the DOD has realized this imperative and is moving forward, you know, it is organizations like DIU, that have really moved fast and sort of helped founders navigate the morass, that is the DOD. It is a hard, it is a large organization, is hard to navigate. And so I think there have been some changes, you know, I was recently asked the question, you know, there's companies like Andrew industries, which was founded in 2017, that are sort of held up as the beacon of here's a company that's really scaled. And, you know, the, the thing that I'm excited about is that there's now more than just one, one company that has succeeded in sort of getting through getting through that process. There are companies that were founded in the wake of Anduril, a year or two later, where people said, wow, now it's possible. And now I'm going to start a company that are kind of coming out of that valley of death and getting production contracts and have had successful fundraisers, because they, they Diu came to investors and said, Look, we have serious size contracts from the DOD, and we plan to continue Diu having more. And so I think, you know, I think the thing that I'm hopeful about is that there used to be this meme that really only Elon Musk can do it, that really only Palmer Luckey can do it. And it's because they're already successful, extremely successful. Founders in their own right. And now, I think there's a handful of cases that we can point to, and that it's not, it's founders who, who kind of came out of nowhere, but worked hard and built the business and recruited the right people. And I think we're just gonna see more and more of that. And, you know, I think it's important for us to remember that it's only been, you know, a year, a little over a year, since, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, I think that really was a turning point for Silicon Valley, not only on the investor side, but also on founders saying that this is a really important mission to build for, and that they want to either leave what they're currently doing, or found a company and do something new for the mission. And so I think, you know, the next few years will we are tell us what we need to know. But I'm really hopeful from what I'm seeing that both the government and the founders are, you know, pursuing this this mission wholeheartedly.

Lauren Bedula 18:02
I really appreciate your optimistic outlook, just in terms of the energy and founders lining up to solve these hard problems. And that's how we often hear interest framed like, they want to solve the hardest problems, and they think they lie on national security, defense, public safety, which is really exciting. And we have a lot of founders, for employees of tech companies that are trying to break in to the US government, or really stick it out to grow within the market. I'm curious if you have any advice that you give founders who come to you about entering the market, or any best practices that you could highlight?

Katherine Boyle 18:37
Yeah, no, and it's, you know, the thing that I found is always are looking for a shortcut. And the thing that I feel like, you know, whenever we make early, early stage investment with a founder, who isn't as familiar with how Washington works, and I'd say most of the founders we work with are pretty familiar with how Washington works. But if they say, Okay, I really want to, you know, spend the time in DC, kind of the, the, the kind of hard lesson they have to learn is like, you actually have to spend the time, you have to make it a priority to get in front of the customer. This is not a zoom culture. It's not Silicon Valley, where you know, where you could have one meeting and get a term sheet. That's not how it works. Like you have to become a known quantity in Washington, often you have to set up an office in Washington, you have to spend time really understanding the needs of the customer, you have to meet the customer with respect. You know, one of the things that I think is a learning from previous companies or early companies out of out of out of Silicon Valley, and you know, it was oftentimes people think they know better, or it's, gosh, it's so bureaucratic, I don't want to work with the bureaucracy, Why can't things move faster? It's like, well, this is how it works. And this is how, you know, understanding that it will be a long process, understanding that it will be frustrating and knowing what you're getting into and kind of approaching that with the right level of respect and also the right level of stoicism because it will be infuriating at times. I think I think that is that's like step one. And then I do think you know spending time, you know One of I'd say one of the things that we've certainly tried to explain to founders is that you can't just spend time with, you know, the senators or spend time with the people at the top, or think because you have a big name on your board, that you've done the work or that because you have an advisory board that looks very fancy that that's going to get you contracts, you have to actually build the product, you have to spend time with the people who are making the purchasing decisions, you have to understand the procurement regime, it's going to be, you know, many shots on goal in many cases, you're going to think that you have a great relationship with one part of the DOD and it's not going to pan out because maybe there isn't funding, and then you have to go to another customer. And you should do that in tandem. And I think like more and more people are realizing that that model, that that it is, you know, there are probably a lot more similarities with telling practical enterprise sales, maybe they

take a little bit longer, and maybe there's, you know, a different playbook. But there is at the same time, there's no substitute for meeting people in person being on the ground, doing the hard work, having the respect for the customer, you know, co developing with the customer, but understanding that the needs might change. And understanding that you're also dealing with the, you know, kind of bureaucracy of Congress as well. And that that's an added issue that will come up that will make it very, you know, that will be equally frustrating for your customer. And they will tell you that over and over and over again. So the good thing is that founders I think, recognize that the founders who are truly dedicated to this mission, recognize that early on, and they know it coming into it, oftentimes, they've experienced it at previous companies as well. So a lot of that kind of early education, you know, in many ways has been done for us.

Hondo Geurts 21:36
Katherine, when I hear you speak, you know, two words come to mind respect, right, and resilience. And, and I think for too long, both sides didn't take the time to learn each other. And if you can't understand each other, then you can't build that respect, understand where people are coming from, and then understand the resilience, either in the product or the service, or in the business model. So I think that's, that's really interesting. What would you say the, you know, while we've made progress, we still have ways to go, what would be the two or three things you'd tell a government, you know, buyer procurement folks who's trying to, hey, I want to see new things I want to get interested, you know, they have a little of similar thing. You know, Silicon Valley's has big giant collection of things. What would you tell them if they wanted to get smarter on this and make sure they're fully cognizant of what's you know, what's out there?

Katherine Boyle 22:33
Yeah. So I think the thing that I always start with is that the ecosystems are fundamentally different. So there's different incentives, I often think Washington is a series of zero sum games. It's not 07, Silicon Valley, I mean, even the idea that like we collaborate with our competitors, I mean, you would never, it's like maybe co-developing uncertain bills, you see that in Congress, but oftentimes it is it is more adversarial in Washington. But I think like just the It is recognition that these are very different ecosystems, and they have different incentives, the things that I always stress are, Washington likes to believe that it moves fast, it doesn't move fast, it will never move fast. And that's okay. But understanding that startups and especially the best startups are on 18 to 24 month time cycles. And that that will never change, the longest a startup will go before they need to fundraise if they are doing exceptional things is 24 months. And they need to show, you know, they need to show traction, they need to show traction, not only on the build side, but also on the customer side, they have to they have to prove to investors that they are going to be a big outcome. And so explaining that to government, I think is the first thing that like we're not just being you know, we're not just being difficult about saying we have to move faster, it really is sort of how the funding model works. That speed is, speed is the only way that you achieve the milestones that can be achieved, we can't slow our pace down to wait for government. The second thing that I think is often a little bit counterintuitive in Washington is that the numbers that we are talking about to make a massive business are actually quite small in the eyes of the DOD. So, you know, when I talk about like, what is it epic, you know, series A or Series B Company, like, what are they going to have to show for their progress, we're talking about production contracts that are, you know, in the 10s of millions of dollars, not the billions of dollars that the DOD is very used to dealing in. And so I think in some ways, that is a message that is encouraging, encouraging in Washington, which is that like to show progress in the startup ecosystem, you need to show that, that something could potentially become a program of record, but you don't have to have that overnight. And you can do it in a phased way. But it has to be you know, that there has to be sort of serious production contracts behind what is being built. And so, you know, the dollar amounts are smaller, which I actually think makes it potentially easier for it, you know, for does not many in the DOD to take the risk that they think that they're taking on a new startup. But that's another thing that I think we often have to explain which is this idea of risk. So it is you know, and this is why past performance requirements existing contracts, there's a belief that I've worked with Lockheed Martin my entire career there, I know that there might, they might not meet exactly what they say they're going to do or get it to me on time. But I know what I'm dealing with. And there's this fear of the unknown with startups, which is, I don't know what I'm dealing with, I don't want to risk my career, I don't want to risk my team, I don't want to risk, you know, not being able to ship the thing that I need very, very much. And so I'm gonna go with what I know the problem with anything in emerging technology, but specifically things like artificial intelligence, specifically, the things that we invest in, is that the best teams that can move at the pace needed that can actually develop new technologies never work at 50 year old companies, they don't work at 10 year old companies, in fact, they're constantly moving on to the next thing and building new companies and the pace of innovation is so rapid, that, that we're going to always looking to kind of back the thing that is the unknown. And that is where venture is going that, you know, that's where the real venture dollars goes is to these new companies with these going to teams that that are excellent. And so I think that's often the, the thing that we have to explain is that, you know, making sure that they that startups can meet production milestones, that they can show that they've built a product that works, that they can compete against the legacy incumbents kind of on a level playing field. That that I think, is the kind of big educational force that we have to make because risk go and Silicon Valley and risk in the DOD are two very, very different things. And what we see as sort of sure things are also very different thing. So kind of coming to terms with the fact that there will always be excellent teams that maybe have only been around for three or five years. But those are the ones who are ultimately going to be able to deliver on these massive programs, because they've must consolidated the talent that is needed. Among consolidate them specific requirements, you talked

Lauren Bedula 26:47
about 18 to 24 month cycles, and how startups and investors are thinking about risk. And also this timeline, going back to 2015, to now companies like Andrew and others who've really exploded during that period of time. But there have also been many that have exited this year, too, or decided, hey, it's not worth the investment in public sector, we're gonna get out of it, which could be a reflection just of what the tech community is going through right now, economically speaking, so curious for your take, I think the announcement of your fund was so encouraging about just the kind of bullish going to nature of investments in this space, but what's your take on the economic outlook and how it might impact the number of players here,
Katherine Boyle 27:31
So, I don't know that it will necessarily impact the number of players, and in some ways, in our world, too, you know, whenever there's sort of a new kind of tech, tech shift. So, like, all of the interest around AI that's happening right now is actually something that gets us incredibly excited because it's, you know, sort of a paradigm shift in many ways. But whenever there's sort of an economic reset, that actually, in some ways, like, for early-stage investors, that's the beginning of a new cycle. And so, you know, the kind of, you know, public outlook right now could be, "Oh, gosh, there's contractions in the market," or maybe there's not going to be as much capital. But for looking at the history of Silicon Valley, sort of these like booms and busts as sort of the beginning of a new cycle is actually a really good thing. And so the idea that now founders are now emerging around using artificial intelligence in a sector like American dynamism, where there's just so much opportunity, and where there is, frankly, capital for early-stage companies, you know, we're not in the moment that we were in two years ago, but at the same time, a lot of the most exciting companies have been able to have very, very successful fundraisers. I'd say there's categories right now where capital has dried up or is drying up in a way that it's not drying up in aerospace and defense or companies that are selling to the government. In some ways, you know, when there are these contractions in the market, government looks like a very good customer. So, I actually, you know, from what we've seen, from our vantage point, there have been many successful fundraisers in the past year, despite the economic outlook in this sector, that I think bode well for the teams that are delivering product to the DOD, but also the teams that are about to emerge, where they see this as a category where they can potentially build something big in the coming years.

Hondo Geurts 29:17
So, I'm going to maybe, Katherine, take it up alone. We've talked about American dynamism a couple of times. And as you maybe define that in your kind of word, looking forward, and where do you see the future of this nexus? In your eyes, you know, where do you think it's possible in the next five years or 10 years? If we can keep the momentum up, and we can bring these communities together? What do you think is possible for America and our allies? I'll say with that concept in mind, yeah.

Katherine Boyle 29:52
Well, so oftentimes, people ask us what dynamism means. And it's sort of a nebulous concept. We say it's growth, it's movement, it's opportunity. You know, there's this broad American mission that is linked to company building, but it is also this feeling of success, this feeling of growth and opportunity that I think is inherent inside the American story. That entrepreneurship is so linked to that, that it really is the true American story. And it's funny, like when we go abroad, and when we talk to leaders in other countries, one of the things that is constantly brought up is how do we build Silicon Valley here? How do we build this nexus of companies, this ecosystem of innovation in our home country that people recognize is uniquely, in many ways, American? Yes, it can be replicated in other countries, we invest in other countries, but the idea of the pace of venture capital and risk capital going into companies that build up innovative hubs, that that is, in some ways, a uniquely American story. And so, you know, that is underpinning all of this mission. But in terms of tactically, what do we really want to see in the next few years that we're kind of already seeing? You know, one of the things that I think surprised us over the last year, that we're really proud of, is that we've made over a dozen investments in year one of announcing the practice, and none of those investments were in San Francisco or Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is now an idea; it is not a place. It is not the Bay Area going to code. It is a country, and increasingly, it will be the world. But it's the, we're seeing so many more ecosystems pop up in the US. And I think part of that is people realizing that you can build tech anywhere now that there are enough talent. You know, the thing that I always love to point to is that in 2011, I think there were four times as many humanities degrees awarded in the US as there were computer science degrees. And this is the first year that computer science will surpass all of humanities, which says something about just a more technical workforce. That's good for the government because that means that more people who are going into the bureaucracy will understand how technology works. We'll understand what it means to produce and not just consume. And that's a very different way of learning. It's a very different way of building. So, I think when you kind of look at how the talent is becoming more technical, that means that cities are going to become more technical, that the workforces that are across the country are going to understand the benefits of software and technology. That is hugely important for the country, and it is hugely important to, and this is, again, it's already started happening because of COVID, but I think it will increasingly be so, hugely important that our top companies are not just in one zip code, one neighborhood in America. Like, it has to be more than one place. And the fact that that's happening, the fact that we're investing in companies in second cities across the country is really exciting. And I think really bodes well for innovation.

Lauren Bedula 33:00
Well, on that all-encompassing note, I'm trying to refrain myself from clapping because I think it's so exciting.

Katherine Boyle 33:09
You know, my partner, David, Yule, who's helping to build the practice, you know, he lives in New York and Montana. I live in Florida. Like we actually live and breathe this. This is not marketing. This is not, "Oh, well, we're just investing across the country because it feels good." We're investing in the top opportunities that happen to be all over the country. And we're doing it from other places that are not California. And I think, like, that's something that we could not have said a couple of years ago. I also say this about Andreessen Horowitz, which I think is super exciting. You know, we used to be extremely loud about the fact that we were based in Menlo Park, California, and that we are a Silicon Valley-based firm. And Ben Horowitz, the co-founder of our firm, came out a year ago and said, "We are based in the cloud. We have offices in New York and Miami, and LA. We have offices all over the country. And our team is increasingly scattered across the country and based, you know, we come together in the cloud." And I think more and more companies are going to adopt

that approach. We see ourselves as a very innovative company. More and more companies adopted it during COVID. And we think that increasingly more and more will, and that will be really good for making sure that there is talent across the country and not just concentrated in major cities.

Lauren Bedula 34:25
In great for the industrial base footprint as well. I think just collaboration across the largest mediums, smalls helps to have that distribution. But Katherine, thank you for sharing your career story. I think the importance of cross-collaboration between these different communities and cultures is key. And so to have someone who spent time in different locations and industries is really helpful here, and for telling our listeners about what you're doing with the American dynamism fund because it's encouraging. It's so important and the advice that you laid out for founders was top-notch. I can't wait to go back and write that all down because it was really, really helpful. So thank you for taking the time to share all that with our listeners today. Really, thank you so much.