Nanotechnology: Transcending Moore’s Law
From a venture capital perspective, nanotechnology is at the nexus of a renaissance in the sciences that are accelerating changes in technology.
The history of technology is one of disruption and exponential growth, epitomized in Moore’s law. This can be generalized to many basic technological capabilities that are compounding independently from the economy. More than a niche subject of interest only to chip designers, the continued march of Moore’s Law will affect all of the sciences, just as nanotech will affect all industries. Thinking about Moore’s Law in the abstract provides a framework for predicting the future of computation and the transition to a new substrate: molecular electronics. An analysis of progress in molecular electronics provides a detailed example of the commercialization challenges and opportunities common to many nanotechnologies.
Despite a natural human tendency to presume linearity, accelerating change from positive feedback is a common pattern in technology and evolution. We are now crossing a threshold where the pace of disruptive shifts is no longer inter-generational and begins to have a meaningful impact over the span of careers and eventually product cycles.
As early stage VCs, we look for disruptive businesses run by entrepreneurs who want to change the world. To be successful, we have to identify technology waves early and act upon those beliefs. At DFJ, we believe that nanotech is the next great technology wave, the nexus of scientific innovation that revolutionizes most industries and indirectly affects the fabric of society. Historians will look back on the upcoming epoch with no less portent than the Industrial Revolution.
Steve Jurvetson is a Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson. He was the founding VC investor in Hotmail (MSFT), Interwoven (IWOV), and Kana (KANA). He also led the firm's investments in Tradex and Cyras (acquired by Ariba and Ciena for $8B), and most recently, in pioneering companies in nanotechnology and molecular electronics. Previously, Mr. Jurvetson was an R&D Engineer at Hewlett-Packard, where seven of his communications chip designs were fabricated. His prior technical experience also includes programming, materials science research (TEM atomic imaging of GaAs), and computer design at HP's PC Division, the Center for Materials Research, and Mostek. He has also worked in product marketing at Apple and NeXT Software. As a Consultant with Bain & Company, Mr. Jurvetson developed executive marketing, sales, engineering and business strategies for a wide range of companies in the software, networking and semiconductor industries. At Stanford University, he finished his BSEE in 2.5 years and graduated #1 in his class, as the Henry Ford Scholar. Mr. Jurvetson also holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. He received his MBA from the Stanford Business School, where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar. Mr. Jurvetson also serves on the Merrill Lynch and STVP Advisory Boards and is Co-Chair of the NanoBusiness Alliance. He was recently honored as "The Valley's Sharpest VC" on the cover of Business 2.0 and chosen by the SF Chronicle and SF Examiner as one of "the ten people expected to have the greatest impact on the Bay Area in the early part of the 21st Century." He was profiled in the New York Times Magazine and featured on the cover of Worth and Fortune Magazines. Steve was chosen by Forbes as one of "Tech's Best Venture Investors", by the VC Journal as one of the "Ten Most Influential VCs", and by Fortune as part of their "Brain Trust of Top Ten Minds." Steve has written several columns on nanotech and other developing technologies.
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