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    獨家: Lux Capital募資超過10億美元,只為打造科幻未來

    Polina Marinova 2019年08月08日

    為了支持走在“科學前沿”的公司,紐約的風投公司Lux Capital已經通過兩只新基金募集了超過10億美元。

    為了支持走在“科學前沿”的公司,紐約的風投公司Lux Capital已經通過兩只新基金募集了超過10億美元,其中包括為公司第6只旗艦早期投資基金募集的5億美元和為專注于成長階段投資的另一只機會基金募集的5.5億美元。有限合伙人包括全球基金會、大學捐贈基金和技術界的億萬富翁。

    Lux還宣布將迪娜·夏基爾納入麾下。她之前曾經就職于Google Ventures,這次以投資合伙人的身份加入了Lux。

    在普通人看來,Lux的投資就像脫離實際的登月計劃。該公司支持的企業家研究的項目涉及神經刺激、核能、合成生物學等,無所不包。上一次在采訪公司的聯合創始人和任事股東喬什·烏爾夫時,我確實認為他投資的某家公司“極度瘋狂”。

    不過烏爾夫認為一點也不。他表示:“我們對那些具有科學反叛精神的創始人很感興趣。他們致力于縮小科學幻想和科學事實之間的距離。換句話說,這些事情曾經只存在于某些人的想象之中,如今卻正在走進現實。”

    開發非侵入式神經接口的CTRL-labs就是這樣一家公司。“非侵入式神經接口”究竟有什么作用?簡單來說,該公司正在開發一款能夠把肌電脈沖轉化為數字信號的設備。

    烏爾夫是該公司的早期支持者,他暗示自己的公司將通過新募集的資金在不久的將來做出更有意義的投資。而我也確認目前總計募集資金超過6,700萬美元的CTRL-labs正在醞釀新一輪融資。

    CTRL-labs的首席執行官托馬斯·里爾登表示:“過去六個月里,我們實現了一些重要的技術突破,這實際上讓我們有了擴大融資的立場。”他補充道,一大突破在于,他們如今可以從單個神經元的層面非侵入性地觀察人類的運動神經系統。

    烏爾夫相信,里爾登的技術除了顯而易見的醫療和生物技術用途之外,還能夠發揮其他作用。在他描繪的世界里,人們并攏手指就可以打開Spotify,在空中劃過手指,就能夠切換下一首歌。里爾登表示:“喬什是個堅韌無情的人。我都說不清他究竟多少次提醒我這家公司可以發展到多大規模了。”

    Lux投資的其他公司包括Desktop Metal、Planet、Rigetti Computing和Auris Health(已經被強生公司以34億美元現金收購)。隨著投資合伙人迪娜·夏基爾的加入,公司還將強化在數字健康等領域的投資。

    夏基爾對《財富》雜志表示:“曾經的前沿技術如今已經向大眾普及。你可以通過手機進行人類基因組排序并獲取數據。這既是挑戰,也是機遇。”

    技術的發展之快前所未有。夏基爾認為,迅速的創新步伐對投資尖端技術公司的風投公司而言是一把雙刃劍。“其中存在我們從未見過的倫理挑戰,這種危險我們不能再視而不見。投資者有責任幫助這些公司在創立早期出臺倫理標準。”(財富中文網)

    譯者:嚴匡正

    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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