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独家: Lux Capital募资超过10亿美元,只为打造科幻未来

Polina Marinova 2019年08月08日

为了支持走在“科学前沿”的公司,纽约的风投公司Lux Capital已经通过两只新基金募集了超过10亿美元。

为了支持走在“科学前沿”的公司,纽约的风投公司Lux Capital已经通过两只新基金募集了超过10亿美元,其中包括为公司第6只旗舰早期投资基金募集的5亿美元和为专注于成长阶段投资的另一只机会基金募集的5.5亿美元。有限合伙人包括全球基金会、大学捐赠基金和技术界的亿万富翁。

Lux还宣布将迪娜·夏基尔纳入麾下。她之前曾经就职于Google Ventures,这次以投资合伙人的身份加入了Lux。

在普通人看来,Lux的投资就像脱离实际的登月计划。该公司支持的企业家研究的项目涉及神经刺激、核能、合成生物学等,无所不包。上一次在采访公司的联合创始人和任事股东乔什·乌尔夫时,我确实认为他投资的某家公司“极度疯狂”。

不过乌尔夫认为一点也不。他表示:“我们对那些具有科学反叛精神的创始人很感兴趣。他们致力于缩小科学幻想和科学事实之间的距离。换句话说,这些事情曾经只存在于某些人的想象之中,如今却正在走进现实。”

开发非侵入式神经接口的CTRL-labs就是这样一家公司。“非侵入式神经接口”究竟有什么作用?简单来说,该公司正在开发一款能够把肌电脉冲转化为数字信号的设备。

乌尔夫是该公司的早期支持者,他暗示自己的公司将通过新募集的资金在不久的将来做出更有意义的投资。而我也确认目前总计募集资金超过6,700万美元的CTRL-labs正在酝酿新一轮融资。

CTRL-labs的首席执行官托马斯·里尔登表示:“过去六个月里,我们实现了一些重要的技术突破,这实际上让我们有了扩大融资的立场。”他补充道,一大突破在于,他们如今可以从单个神经元的层面非侵入性地观察人类的运动神经系统。

乌尔夫相信,里尔登的技术除了显而易见的医疗和生物技术用途之外,还能够发挥其他作用。在他描绘的世界里,人们并拢手指就可以打开Spotify,在空中划过手指,就能够切换下一首歌。里尔登表示:“乔什是个坚韧无情的人。我都说不清他究竟多少次提醒我这家公司可以发展到多大规模了。”

Lux投资的其他公司包括Desktop Metal、Planet、Rigetti Computing和Auris Health(已经被强生公司以34亿美元现金收购)。随着投资合伙人迪娜·夏基尔的加入,公司还将强化在数字健康等领域的投资。

夏基尔对《财富》杂志表示:“曾经的前沿技术如今已经向大众普及。你可以通过手机进行人类基因组排序并获取数据。这既是挑战,也是机遇。”

技术的发展之快前所未有。夏基尔认为,迅速的创新步伐对投资尖端技术公司的风投公司而言是一把双刃剑。“其中存在我们从未见过的伦理挑战,这种危险我们不能再视而不见。投资者有责任帮助这些公司在创立早期出台伦理标准。”(财富中文网)

译者:严匡正

Lux Capital, a New York-based venture capital firm, has raised more than $1 billion across two new funds to back companies on “the cutting edge of science.” The firm raised $500 million for its sixth flagship early-stage fund and another $550 million for an opportunity fund focused on growth-stage investments. Limited partners include global foundations, university endowments, and tech billionaires.

Lux also announced a new hire: Deena Shakir, formerly of GV (Google Ventures), has joined as an investment partner.

To the regular person, Lux’s investments are considered moonshot. The firm has backed entrepreneurs that are working on everything from neurostimulation to nuclear energy to synthetic biology. During my last interview with co-founder and managing partner Josh Wolfe, I actually called one of his portfolio companies “freaking crazy.”

But to Wolfe, they’re anything but. “We’re interested in founders who are scientific rebels,” he told me. “They are focused on shrinking the gap between sci-fi and ‘sci-fact.’ In other words, these are things that were once conceived in someone’s imagination and are now being crystallized into reality.”

CTRL-labs, which is developing a non-invasive neural interface, is one such company. What does "a non-invasive neural interface" do exactly? To put it more simply, CTRL-labs is building a device capable of translating electrical muscle impulses into digital signals.

Wolfe was an early backer of the company, and he hinted that his firm will be making an even more meaningful investment in the near future through its newly-raised funds. I confirmed that CTRL-labs, which has raised more than $67 million in total funding, is currently in the midst of raising a fresh round of capital.

“We’ve had some important technical breakthroughs in the last six months that have put us in a position to raise more substantially,” said CTRL-labs CEO Thomas Reardon. One of those breakthroughs, he added, is the ability to non-invasively observe the human motor nervous system at the level of an individual neuron.

Wolfe believes Reardon’s technology isn’t just limited to the obvious medical and biotech applications. He describes a world in which people will tap their fingers together to turn on Spotify and swipe to the left in the air to change the next song. “Josh is just relentless,” Reardon says. “I can’t tell you how many times he’s had to remind me just how big this company could be.”

Other companies in the Lux portfolio include Desktop Metal, Planet, Rigetti Computing, and Auris Health (acquired by Johnson & Johnson for $3.4 billion in cash). The firm will be beefing up its investments in sectors including digital health with the addition of Deena Shakir coming on as an investment partner.

“What was previously frontier tech is now available to the masses,” Shakir told Fortune. “You can sequence the human genome and get the data on your phone. That’s both a challenge and an opportunity.”

Technology is evolving at a pace faster than ever before, and Shakir believes that rapid innovation could be a double-edged sword for venture firms investing in moonshot companies. “There are ethical challenges we’ve never seen before, and it’s not something that can be ignored anymore. Investors are responsible for helping foster those ethical standards in their companies during the earliest days.”

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