One of my childhood heroes, the legendary Gordon Moore, passed away at the end of March. Moore, who co-founded Intel and developed the eponymous law on microchip innovation, was among the most influential builders and thinkers in Silicon Valley. His contributions to semiconductor technology helped give the Valley its name. In many ways, I have him to thank for where I am now.
My parents immigrated to the U.S. from India in the early 1980s to seek a better life. My dad ended up joining Intel, where he spent over 40 years as an engineer. I grew up a few miles from Intel’s largest fabrication facility in suburban Oregon. BunnyPeople dolls, named after the protective suits designed to prevent the contamination of semiconductor cleanrooms, lined the shelves of my childhood bedroom. These early experiences instilled in me a lifelong passion for the power of technology to enact positive change, along with a deep-rooted admiration for entrepreneurs.
As I remember and honor the legacy of Gordon Moore, I’m immensely excited and grateful to be joining the partnership at Foundation Capital—a firm that has likewise played a pivotal role in shaping Silicon Valley into what it is today.
I started at Foundation in January as an Executive in Residence to help guide our data security portfolio company Fortanix through a leadership transition. The experience sharpened my skills as an operator, and I look forward to continuing to serve the Fortanix team as a board member. As I return to the investing side of the table, I wanted to reflect on three themes that have directed my path so far. These are themes that Gordon Moore pursued throughout his life as a scientist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. They similarly inspire me as I begin the next chapter of my career.
Over the past decade, I’ve been lucky to take on multiple roles in the tech ecosystem. From my freshman dorm at Harvard, I started my first company, which attempted to reinvent the email experience for teams and enterprises. I didn’t get very far. After college, I spent nearly six years as a venture investor. In that time, I cold emailed and met with thousands of entrepreneurs in an attempt to find a needle in the haystack.
Each of these experiences was riddled with failure and rejection. Together, they furthered my appreciation for how hard true technological innovation is to achieve. There’s nothing quite like finding it and being part of the journey to bring it into the world. The excitement that comes from meeting a brilliant entrepreneur, learning from their ideas and insights, and helping them get their vision off the ground is unparalleled. I honestly can’t imagine a better job than early-stage investing.
At Foundation, I’ll be investing in startups across the enterprise stack, from infrastructure and developer tools to AI-enhanced applications and vertical software. I’m particularly interested in two trends that I believe will shape both the modern enterprise and the broader world for the better in the coming years:
- First, recent advancements in AI, particularly generative AI and large language models, will transform every industry and functional area of the enterprise. From code generation to improved search, these technologies dramatically expand the capabilities of software and offer a new set of “picks and shovels” to builders. At the same time, they threaten to proliferate disinformation and abet cyber criminals. The need for better security and explainability tools is becoming all the more urgent.
- Second, the precipitous drop in the cost of renewable energy generation and storage will bring us closer to a net-zero emissions world. I’m keenly following how climate technology will disrupt the status quo and create new categories that help solve our most pressing environmental challenges.
It’s my firm view that the paired forces of technology and capital are powerful catalysts for pushing humanity forward. We’ve seen a remarkable rise in living standards over the past century that is directly attributable to technological gains, many of which were enabled by private capital. This understanding is what drew me to venture and what continues to motivate me on a daily basis. I wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t believe that the companies we support are helping architect a safer, more efficient, and prosperous world. Moreover, at Foundation, we are fortunate to invest on behalf of mission-driven LPs like non-profits, university endowments, and pension funds. When we succeed, so do these impactful organizations.
Finally, I would be remiss to not acknowledge the immense privilege that has brought me to this role. As the child of immigrants and one of the first openly LGBT people of color in this seat, I owe a debt of gratitude to the many mentors and friends who have championed me each step along the way. With that, I’m aware of the tremendous responsibility that this job brings to open doors for others from underrepresented backgrounds. I take pride in funding exceptional entrepreneurs who might otherwise be overlooked.
I met the Foundation team through a shared portfolio company, Anomalo. Since then, we’ve spent hours together over meals, laughs, and deep discussions about the future of venture and technology. Conviction is a term that often came up in these conversations, and it’s a theme that resonates strongly with me. For 27 years, Foundation’s focus on developing, refining, and resolutely holding beliefs about the future has allowed the firm to invest in first-class entrepreneurs at the earliest stages, regardless of broader market conditions. Conviction—formed through on-the-ground research, continuous exchanges with builders and operators, and deep domain expertise—is one of our greatest assets as early-stage investors.
Warren Buffet often describes three core traits of people you want to work with: high intellect, high energy, and, above all, high integrity. My conversations with entrepreneurs, investors, and technologists alike give me deep conviction that Foundation truly lives these values. It’s clear to me that Foundation is a firm that always does the right thing by founders, even when it’s the hard thing. I’m more energized than ever to learn and grow alongside this remarkable team, and I can’t wait to get to work on behalf of builders who are fearlessly forging the future.
If this sounds like you, please reach out! You can find me at vinay [at] foundationcap [dot] com or via Twitter DM @VinIyengar.