As a General Partner and founding member of Felicis, Sundeep led Felicis' investments in several companies such as Coalition, Plaid, and Komodo Health, as well as the following companies that have gone public: Ginkgo Bioworks, Matterport, Recursion Pharma, and Wish. Before joining Felicis in 2010, Sundeep joined Intel through the acquisition of Sarvega, where he was an early employee responsible for the security infrastructure design. Sundeep holds degrees in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA from Stanford.
The goals for tech should be people in 2070 saying ‘I‘d rather be a peasant today than a king 50 years ago. They had dirty air, uncontrolled viruses, were dying prematurely, and trapped on one planet. Things were awful.
How did your upbringing impact who you are today?
My parents lived apart for over a decade, so I could get a better education than they did. Since I’ve internalized that, I’ve been determined not to let their efforts go in vain. They’ve been quietly optimistic and long-termist, and I’ve tried my best to mimic that in life and work.
What’s something you think will be true about the world in 2030?
I believe institutions will continue to surprise us negatively, and science/technology will continue to surprise us positively. For example, one prediction in this vein is that before the world agrees to coordinate effectively on carbon reduction, tech will figure out a way to make carbon removal work.
What are some of the ways you’ve worked with founders?
Connecting founders before they start a company or helping recruit a founding member is real impact. It happens infrequently, but it’s been memorable. Another is mediating founder disputes because very few earn the trust to try, and the stakes are high.
What’s one of the most significant misconceptions founders have about investors?
Venture needs to do a better job of educating founders on their business model. The venture model works for high-risk / high-reward businesses that mostly fail but if successful, can compound value, retain it for years, and produce large outliers. When companies either don’t have these characteristics or pitch the wrong narrative, they’re often surprised at the lack of investor enthusiasm.
If you had to give a commencement speech, what would the essence of your message be?
It would be to think of one’s career (~40 yrs) as a portfolio of ~10 bets. Add things upfront that are low risk / high status as a safety net if needed. But move to optimize around high risk and high reward. Each bet might only have a 10% shot of success (seems low), but the odds of at least one home run is 1-(1-10%)^10=66% (pretty high).