When it comes to spotting trends and making deals, Lucas Asher is what you could call a prodigy.
A self-made millionaire, Lucas made his first M, just shy of his 20th birthday coding for other people. Since then, he’s become a real-life skydiver, an indie-rock artist, verified Instagram influencer, and—of course—big-time venture capital investor.
As CEO of Tower Equity, Lucas has invested in a who’s who of tech unicorns, including Slack, Space X, Pinterest, Spotify and Ripple.
“I worked on building games, software, and ultimately I was able to provide a lot of value to other people that gave me a platform to form my own technology venture capital firm,” Lucas told Forbes in a recent feature.
We thought that was pretty interesting. So we decided to have a chat with Lucas about his deals, returning to a post-COVID “new normal,” what industries he’s bullish on and what’s next.
View this post on Instagram
Youth is an asset. When you are young you can take zero sum risks. . . In game theory, a zero sum risk is something that could wipe you out. . . As people get older they can’t play zero sum games. . The problem is that all of the best positions in life are occupied by people who: . ✅1: Were willing to play zero sum games . ✅2: Did play zero sum games for a long time . Leverage your youth to go zero sum on your crazy dreams. . If you get completely wiped out, it’s not the end. . You will have time to bounce back stronger than ever, (and you don’t have any dependents who rely on you) . When was the last time you really acted “zero sum” on your dreams? . Have you risked your entire life on what you really want? . Your professors, parents, preachers and friends will tell you it’s a bad idea. . . I think it’s the only way to live 💯
wealthlab: Hey, Lucas!
Lucas Asher: What’s up.
Let’s jump right into it. We’re in 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. What trends are you bullish on?
After investing in over 39 notable technology companies like SpaceX, Pinterest, Spotify, Adaptive Biotechnology and many others, I tend to be bullish based on either a short term or long-term thesis.
In the short term, you will see SaaS software companies in the cloud dominate because of the “work remote” pandemic cycle our economy is in.
Most notably, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey recently announced that Facebook and Twitter employees can work remote forever. This is quite the reversal of the “open office” trend we witnessed during the last 10 years—and likely to continue, given the move toward the cloud and globalization.
View this post on Instagram
This generation 🦋💕 has literally nothing in common with the previous generation… ❌ . Not their rules . Not their vibes . Not their schools . Not their music Not their jobs . Not their clothes Not their wars . Not their lives . Them telling our generation how to live, is like an old operating system telling a new operating system how to work. . . Your mind is like a computer operating system … . Don’t let someone with a previous old version of software tell you your new software is wrong ( because they don’t understand it …) . . #omertacortex 🍄
What about on a more long-term basis?
In the long term, you will see general Artificial Intelligence and the advent of private space commercialization that eclipse the GDP of sovereign nation states. If you look at the potential for SpaceX’s Starlink,” specifically, it could spawn the next trillion-dollar communications conglomerate.
Also, you will see enormous companies come from things like asteroid mining that could easily pass the entire GDP of the USA, given the abundance of valuable resources in the new space economy.
Speaking of AI. Where do you see the major first disruption happening?
Although general artificial intelligence is still mainly relegated to academia, it’s likely to enter the medical field first, and rapidly take over financial services next.
What makes you say that?
There’s no way human computational ability has any chance of competing. And that will usher in the most significant era of efficiency for capital allocation and medical advancement in history. I feel strongly both my short and long-term thesis will materialize in our generation.
What are your thoughts on COVID? How do you feel about how it’s impacting business?
Pandemics will certainly become much more prevalent in our society. We must collectively, as a civilization, invest preemptively to combat viruses, instead of being reactionary, as we’ve seen.
From a business standpoint, pharmaceutical companies, in general, have occupied enormous margins with near monopoly power. Yet, they haven’t made commensurate investments into pandemic-related research.
Perhaps there will be some form of regulatory mandate that asks big pharma to put a certain amount of profits in a public trust to invest in R&D to better understand these novel virus’. And harnessing the private sector’s investment capability to do so.
View this post on Instagram
As kids, we were told many things, by well intentioned people, that turned out to be wrong… . . These well intentioned people, are parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, and various authority figures. . . . . It’s completely possible to be well intentioned, and wrong at the same time . . That is exactly what happened…. . . Your parents, teachers, and everyone who gave you advice, ( about how to live a great life) were wrong, but they meant well. . . . . The simulation has changed since your parents generation… . . Their ideas and ways are outdated software being inserted into our modern operating system . . . Software gets updated all the time, it’s not their fault that they adhere to their older version… . . For example: . . . The software version of having a “secure job” was outdated a long time ago. (It doesn’t even exist anymore) . . The software version of having one condensed religious doctrine, (curated by old men) and irreproachable by science is outdated. . . The software version of not extending equal human rights to the LGBT 🏳️🌈 community for all regions international is LONG GONE! ✊🏾 . . The software version of scarcity and lack of resources for our species is outdated. . . The software version of ‘knowledge gods,’ holding the keys to wisdom, through institutional debt education is outdated… . . The main problem with society, is, well intentioned people, who mean well, but are advocating wrong information . . Sometimes a bridge is good to cross… . . Sometimes a bridge is good to burn… . Sometimes a bridge is good to build… . . #omertacortex 🍄👽💨🎮
What industries and/or technologies are you bullish on now and what do you see emerging on the other side of this pandemic?
Fintech appears to be the most disruptive. There is an API revolution happening right now that will far surpass the application revolution that happened in the early era of the Internet.
I believe the trillions in wealth that we have seen go toward the application sector of the internet will gradually go to APIs and protocols. One of my favorite thinkers I have been reading a lot from is Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures.
Switching gears a bit. You’ve done a ton of deals. What’s your best and worst investment?
My best investment up to this point has been SpaceX. My worst investment remains to be seen since I primarily fund private companies as an accredited VC, which takes years to realize.
That said, I’m not incredibly happy with SoFi right now and would like to see them pivot.
Investment you never made that you wish you did?
UiPath and Boston Dynamics [UiPath is valued at $7B while Boston Dynamics was acquired by SoftBank]. I am very interested in robotic process automation and the potential it has to alleviate a lot of suffering in the manufacturing economies.
[INFOGRAPHIC] How To Start (And Grow) Your Business With $10,000
Today, starting a new business is easier than ever. With Fiverr, Upwork and social media, you can get started in a weekend—and for very little money.
(What you’re reading right now was created in a week, by the way…)
But if you actually have a little nest egg saved up?!
Awww, man, you are off to the races! SO without further ado, here’s how you can kickstart—and grow—your business with $10,000, courtesy of this oh-so-pretty Infographic from Intuit.
VIDEO: Warren Buffet Bets Big On These Traits To Become Rich
With a net worth that crosses a whopping $100B, it’s hard to question Warren Buffett’s investment moves. Here are the traits that the super investor believes can get one to be financially independent and significantly rich.
[Q&A] This Entrepreneur Founded A $50B+ Company—And Then Helped Startups Raise Money From The Crowd
Howard Marks is one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the modern, digital age, a rare founder who’s actually innovated before said innovation truly mainstream.
And not just once, but twice.
As founder of Activision, Howard helped kick off a gaming bonanza that’s become a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, birthing an entire new industry known as eSports.
Largely driven by Fortnite—a gaming franchise owned by Activision—eSports is expected to top $1.1B this year in global revenues, according to Forbes. Today, Activision is worth over $54B, trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
(In fact, had you invested $10K in Howard’s IPO, your investment today would be worth well over $700K.)
JOBS Act IPO revolution
Later on, as founder of Startengine, Howard helped kickstart the equity crowdfunding trend, opening an avenue for early-stage startups to raise money and redefine public offerings.
Back in 2012, President Obama signed off on the JOBS Act, allowing companies to go public, taking investments from non-accredited investors (essentially anyone without a net worth of $1M), without having to go through the tedious process of listing on New York Stock Exchange.
As head of Startengine, Howard’s built one of the market leaders in the equity crowdfunding space, with $43.72M in total investments in 2019 alone.
More recently, StartEngine made a coup, joining forces with one of the most influential investors in the form of Shark Tank’s “Mr. Wonderful” Kevin O’Leary, as reported by Crowdfund Insider.
Crowdfund Insider, the online authority for all things crowdfunding, recently did an exclusive Q&A with Howard, touching on the new deal with Mr. Wonderful, his business and the future of crowdfunding.
Here’s what he had to say.
Challenges of crowdfunding…
One of the biggest challenges we face as a company is that equity crowdfunding is not well understood by the general public. If you walk down the street and ask a stranger if they know what equity crowdfunding is, odds are they say they’ve never heard of it before.
Doing a deal with Mr. Wonderful…
Over the past few years, we’ve had several Shark Tank alumni raise capital on StartEngine, and we eventually got connected to Kevin. When we learned that he had been following the equity crowdfunding space for a few years and wanted to help inform others about the opportunities for raising capital using equity crowdfunding, it was an easy decision to form a partnership with him.
Mr. Wonderful’s role…
Kevin O’Leary is StartEngine’s strategic advisor and a StartEngine shareholder. His focus will be on creating more awareness about StartEngine and equity crowdfunding in general. Kevin believes in the equity crowdfunding model and our business and is helping to spread the word. He is even encouraging the companies in his own portfolio to use StartEngine for their next funding round.
Deal flow during the COVID-19…
Our entire team is operating remotely and staying safe during the pandemic, and our business itself is thriving. We’ve seen a good increase over the last 30 days in the companies applying to raise on StartEngine.
From both the company and investor side, StartEngine’s business has proven to be resilient to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.
On the SEC and raising the cap for what startups can raise…
We support the changes wholeheartedly. It’s clear that $1.07M is too low a ceiling for Regulation Crowdfunding [Reg CF], given the average size of seed funding rounds today, and it’s time that we increase the limit to help small businesses achieve their goals.
In fact, we encouraged all 10,000+ of our shareholders to write letters to the SEC a month ago to encourage them to increase the limit of Regulation Crowdfunding from $1.07M to $5M to help small businesses today when they desperately need access to capital.
Accredited investors vs. non-accredited investors…
Howard Marks: Our business, and the business of equity crowdfunding, is bringing investment opportunities to non-accredited investors. We do not focus on accredited investors. An expanded definition may encourage those new accredited investors to feel more confident making investments on our platform, as well as increase the amount they can invest in a given year, which would be beneficial to the investing space. However, I don’t believe this would have a large impact on equity crowdfunding.
On changes he wants to see…
Howard Marks: The change we are most excited about at StartEngine is the proposal to increase the limit of Regulation Crowdfunding from $1.07M to $5M. Of all of the proposed changes, I believe that one will have the biggest impact for small businesses and will encourage more entrepreneurs to turn to equity crowdfunding.