“We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.” – John of Salisbury, Metalogicon, circa 1159
I first heard about Naren when moving back to India from the Silicon Valley in 2007. He was setting up Nexus Venture Partners around the same time as I was starting up. Over the decade, Nexus has invested a billion dollars in Indian entrepreneurs with global ambitions. Naren has been a powerhouse for creating a culture of innovation and building billion dollar enterprises out of India. It is no coincidence that he was one of the early Indian tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley to create a category leading company. He founded embedded software company Integrated Systems (INTS) in the `80s and merged it with Wind River Systems (WIND) in the late `90s where he continued to serve on the board. Wind River then sold to Intel (INTC) a decade later. Naren went on to join the board of RedHat, a company that pioneered open source software in the world, besides being an extremely successful business.
It was a thrill when my friend Thomas Abraham of Quandl introduced me to Naren during my visit to the Bay Area in Nov 2016. Fifteen minutes into the meeting, Naren had viscerally connected with the vision of HyperTrack. Another fifteen minutes later, he went on to amplify the vision by coining the phrase “dynamic location” that we have now adapted as “live location”. His experiences with Postman, H2O.ai and several other developer-first companies in the portfolio connect deeply with HyperTrack’s passion for building a developer platform for the world. Naren brings wisdom in times of crisis, a sense of calm in times of anxiety, and unconditional trust in times of adversity. We are fortunate to have his guidance and direction in our journey.
Naren joins Ashish on the HyperTrack board, incrementing the count of President’s Gold Medalists on our Board of Directors to two – Naren from IIT Delhi and Ashish from IIT Kanpur.
It is hard to pass up a meeting with an entrepreneur who has built and operated three successful companies (Eventbrite, Xoom and Connect Group) over two decades, and been an angel investor in iconic companies including PayPal, AirBnB, Uber, Trulia, Pinterest, Yammer, Thumbtack, TripIt and Lookout. In the ten hours that I have spent with Kevin so far, we have spent no more than five minutes talking about him. It is perhaps his nonchalance about the past that makes him consistently predict the future with precision.
I had only heard stories of Founders Fund’s contrarian thinking before experiencing it first hand through Kevin. For instance, our conversations about the business have led us to talk about topics like capital efficiency, building in India for the world, lateral hiring, enterprise pricing, goal setting and corporate communication. His views are authentic, precise and backed with conviction. Those decades of experience shine through.
Like the fund he represents, his perspectives are refreshing if only because they are not bound by rules around sectors, geographical regions or company stage. While making a point in our board meeting last week, he said in a matter-of-fact way, “we are not building a company here, we are building an industry”. It is no coincidence that Founders Fund has backed industry creators like SpaceX, Palantir, Stripe, Flexport, Stemcentrx, Facebook, Spotify and many others. Every minute we spend with Kevin makes us a better company and me a better entrepreneur.
Kevin has made me work hard to earn the opportunity to listen to his war stories. I will get my shot later this week, nearly six months after we first met. My list of questions has spilled over many pages now. It is time to prioritize. Trying to decide between stories of the PayPal mafia, founding multiple billion dollar companies, space exploration and curing cancer. Suggestions?
Want to read our investors’ take on HyperTrack? Here are posts by:
- Naren Gupta, Nexus Venture Partners
- Kevin Hartz, Founders Fund
- Ashish Gupta, angel investor
- Arjun Malhotra, Investopad
It is awesome to stand on the shoulders of these giants. Boy, you should check out the view from up here!