From EV Enthusiast to Venture Capitalist, or How Life Moves in Strange Ways
Several years ago, I went to a Google event where there were a collection of electric cars on display. I remember fondly looking at the Tesla, and hoping that some day I would be able to afford the roadster. Several years later, I learned that Tesla had opened a showroom and repair facility in Los Angeles, and I went down to test drive a Tesla roadster and ultimately bought #601.
After a few weeks of car ownership, I began to tell people that I was a non-equity investor in Tesla. I had bought a car that cost three times the similar looking Lotus Elise, and I wanted Tesla Motors to succeed, but I didn’t stand to benefit if the company became successful. Finally, I got tired of saying that I was a non-equity investor in Tesla, and began to research how I could buy shares in Tesla Motors which was then a privately held company. I found that were new marketplaces, like Sharespost and Secondmarket, launched where buyers and sellers could buy and sell private company shares, and I ended up buying 0.5% of the company from a prior co-founder of Tesla Motors.
Over the next 18 months, I purchased shares in 20 private companies ranging from Linkedin to SolarCity. An interest in owning Tesla stock had become something more than a hobby. Meanwhile Harry had been doing much of the same, and many of our portfolio companies overlapped. And so in March 2011, we decided to join forces again, combine resources and invest in great start-ups and mature IPO candidates.