Risky Business

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Risky Business is a 1983 American teen comedy-drama film. Best known as Tom Cruise‘s breakout film, it was a critical and commercial success, grossing more than $63 million against a $6.2 million budget.

This post is not about Princeton (or Prostitutes), but about very risky startups (and cars, although not Porsche):

High-achieving high school student Joel Goodsen lives with his wealthy parents in the Chicago North Shore area of Glencoe. His father wants him to attend Princeton University, his alma mater, so Joel participates in Future Enterprisers, an extracurricular activity in which students work in teams to create small businesses.

True to the quotes on the back of the book, The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress (by Joel Mokyr), is “a delight to read, unfailingly lucid, learned and lively, a marvelous book, an exercise in erudition and explanation, makes for good reading and rereading”:

..there was an advantage in having a science that was applied and down to earth, and a scientific community that maintained close ties with engineers and manufacturers….

No kidding! Pretty obvious to an Academic Capitalist – especially an engineering entrepreneur who is now a LP in a VC firm that invests in emerging technology:

Dear Sridhar,

Neotribe will be making a $$ M distribution to the Partners of Neotribe Ventures I, L.P.

On December 31, 2021, Heliogen Inc. went public. Fund I owned a combined XX M shares of stock.  Following the acquisition, the shares were subject to a 180-day lockup agreement.  In addition, because of our large ownership position, Fund I was considered an affiliate of Heliogen and subject to Rule 144 trading restrictions.  As of June 29, 2022 the lockup agreement expired and Fund I was free to sell shares, subject to Rule 144 volume limitations.  Neotribe’s sales were capped at YY M shares for the first 90 days.  Due to the light trading volume, Fund I has been selling shares on a daily basis to gain liquidity without creating excess pressure on the stock price.  As of Sept 2, 2022, Fund I has sold approximately ZZ M shares for AA M dollars.

On February 14, 2022, Energy Vault Inc. went public.  Fund I owned a combined XX M shares of stock.  Following the acquisition, 50% of the shares were subject to a 180-day lockup agreement and 50% were subject to a 365-day lockup.  As of August 11, 2022, 50% of the shares became freely tradable.  Due to the light trading volume, Fund I has been selling shares on a daily basis to gain liquidity without creating excess pressure on the stock price.  As of Sept 2, 2022, Fund I has sold approximately YY M shares for BB M dollars.

Kittu (Founder and GP of Neotribe) and I were classmates as undergraduates (in Mechanical Engineering) at IIT-Madras (1982-86), when I had came across an ad for Mercedes Benz:

Engineered like no other car in the world.

Now in 2022, some 40 years later, I purchased my first American car – 2022 Motor Trend Car of the Year, beating out Mercedes Benz EQS and Porsche Taycan (among others), and the first one to be awarded COTY in MT history (since 1949 when the award was created) in its first year of production – joining the Tayur’s Garage of kinetic artwork (quoting from Jay Leno’s Garage):

1999. Mercedes. 2003. BMW. 2005. Aston Martin. 2008. Ferrari. 2011. Porsche. [Upgrades: 2013. Mercedes. 2016. BMW. 2018. Porsche.] 2018. McLaren. 2022. Lucid.

As an OM Professor, I could not resist tabling the process steps (and timeline) of my Lucid purchase.😏

For the STEM type, I recommend this informative video by Lucid’s chief engineer Eric Bach (reminded me of undergraduate classes in Engineering Thermodynamics, Automobile Engineering, Microprocessor Control and so on):

Charging and the Wunderbox.

Happily, he closes with a discussion of bi-directional charging – a future capability planned in Lucid, although some other EV’s already have this – where the car’s battery can be used as a power source to charge anything (Vehicle to Anything, V2X, including Home, V2H, or Business, V2B).

Why am I happy?

Because one of the current research projects I am working on (with Soummya Kar of CMU ECE, and a PhD student Claudio Gomes, through our CMU-Portugal Doctoral Program) is on optimization of such bi-directional charging connected to grid (V2G), but with a twist, that the optimization, which is a very hard stochastic, combinatorial problem, must itself be solved sustainably! – that is, the energy to solve the optimization problem should not be generating more heat than absolutely necessary. ☺️

How? By developing algorithms that work on analog unconventional hardware such as the one I mentioned in A Floquet Connection that is selected by DARPA. His thesis is tentative titled:

 Sustainable Application of Quantum and Quantum-inspired Algorithms for Sustainability Problems.

Recall that I had mentioned this possibility in A Tale of Two Emails:

Quantum Sustainability.

Something that is not adequately highlighted about why the US is a leader in entrepreneurship is the role of customers who are early adopters, who take a risk on an untested technology or business model, and without whom it would be very difficult for entrepreneurs to bring radically new technologies or ideas into practice. As Founder and CEO of SmartOps, I can tell you from personal experience that the US will continue to enjoy this massive lead in innovations that bring marvelous engineering and technologies to the market as long as the business leaders in European and Asian countries remain risk-averse. Of course, to be successful, an entrepreneur needs to cross the chasm, leaping from early adopters to leading majority, and then, scale to become mainstream, as we did at SmartOps, and then through SAP, now are in over 50 countries, 700 companies, managing Trillion Dollars of business on an on-going basis.

I do my bit at the consumer level. I was an early adopter of Laser Disc. (Enjoyed it for years before DVD/Blu-Ray/Streaming came along.) I was an early adopter of 3D TV, the first one evidently in Northeast US. (Saw the 2010 World Cup soccer hosted by South Africa. It was quite amazing.) And now, I am among the early adopters of Lucid.

I know the risks. I am happy to play my part in this capitalist game of Technological Creativity that leads to Economic Progress.

As I started to drive my Lucid, I decided that among the first songs to play on it should be Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll (immortalized in Risky Business):

Call me a relic, call me what you will
Say I’m old-fashioned, say I’m over the hill

I started to reflect on the past academic year as to what can only be considered an Annus Mirabilis for an Academic Capitalist:

September 2021. MIT Seminar. October. Pierskalla Award (Liquid Biopsy). November. Philosophical Transactions of Royal Society A (Photonic Ising Machines). December. MSOM Publication (Omni-channel Retailing). CEO Council with Michael Dell. Heliogen IPO. January 2022. INSEAD (virtual) visit. POM Publication (Nudge Video). February. Energy Vault IPO. March. MBR Publication (Quantum Inspired Computing.) J&J Data Science Seminar. April. Theta Lake Series B. Billion to One Series C. Cornell visit. POM Publication (AI/ML in Healthcare). May. DARPA selects our proposal (Quantum Inspired Classical Computing.) Onera acquired by Tools Group. June. TutORials in OR (QIS via SDP). Vendia Series B. White House consult about Infant Formula shortage. NASEM Publication reviewer (Technology for Resilient Supply Chains).VocalID acquired by Veritone. July. MSOM Best Paper Award (Combating Child Labor in Global Supply Chains). AJT Publication (Gender Equity in Liver Transplants). August. Harvard/WEF visit (OrganJet).

Can this upcoming academic year be even better than the last one? Unlikely, in my view, although, it is off to a surprisingly good start! In my previous posts, I mentioned that I have been invited to present at Princeton, to Keynote a Quantum Information Science conference at IIT-Madras, re-invited to Harvard, that our paper on Learning in Split Liver Transplant is a finalist for Best Paper in Service Science, and, on Friday, we received this email about paper, in Public Sector Operations Research (PSOR), with Savannah Tang, Alan Scheller-Wolf and UCSF Physicians Emily Perito and John Roberts, the second on Split Liver Transplantation:

Date: Fri, Sep 23, 2022 at 4:28 AMhttps://www.myamplelife.com/2022/09/risky-business/
Subject: Re: PSOR Best Paper Award 2022

We are delighted to inform you that your paper, “Split Liver Transplantation: An Analytical Decision Support Model”, has been selected as one of the five finalists for the 2022 PSOR Best Paper Award. Congratulations!
Winners will be announced at the PSOR Breakfast at the conference.

As many of you know, October 1-3 is 2022 NAE Annual Meeting, in-person this year. I was elected in 2017 for being an Academic Capitalist, as I wrote in Looking Back: October 7, 2017, for:

developing and commercializing innovative methods to optimize supply chain systems.

I mentioned in The Art (and Craft) of OM our gift to the NAE:

Hi Sridhar,

That is great news that you will be attending the meeting. Are you able to join us for the Golden Bridge Society Dinner on Sunday, October 2nd? This is an invitation only event for some of our most generous donors. You will be awarded your Einstein Statue at that time. This is a special moment for your peers to acknowledge your recent gift and for President Anderson to thank you, as well, so I hope you’re able to join us.

It is in Washington DC, so I plan to drive. Which car?😏


1 comment

  1. Yay Bob Seeger.

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