Extra Crunch Live: Join Playground Global co-founder Peter Barrett for a live Q&A on July 28

How one moonshot VC approaches investing in the COVID-19 era 

Take one look at Playground Global’s portfolio and a theme emerges: The agency’s investments are forward-looking, longer-term performs, a method that runs counter to the fast-return ethos that permeates sure Silicon Valley sectors.

The Palo Alto-based VC agency is banking on the long run with investments in capital-intensive and technically advanced pursuits, together with robotics, autonomous driving, metallic 3D printing and infrastructure. It’s an funding technique that isn’t for the faint of coronary heart.

So, how does a agency that embraces futurism deal with the present-day disruption of COVID-19? It appears to be like forward, in fact.

When co-founder and CTO Peter Barrett joined TechCrunch this week for an Extra Crunch Live panel, the pandemic dominated the dialog. The govt famous {that a} new and customary thread has emerged all through the numerous discussions amongst Playground executives and the startups wherein it has invested.

Priorities are shifting towards discovering methods to be of service.

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Everything feels totally different today. Recent months have prompted many in Silicon Valley to rethink their funding priorities, roll up their figurative sleeves and start the method of serving to the world survive and, ultimately, get better from the seemingly infinite COVID-19 pandemic. Like many others, Playground finds itself at a crossroads — figuring out how it may be of service, whereas analyzing the methods wherein a disaster like this may be addressed.

“One factor that underscores this pandemic is a realization that we have to be doing different issues if we need to keep away from being caught inside for six months to a yr,” Barrett mentioned. “The largest development is a recognition that we have to make the investments that give us company over our biology, and to construct the tooling and infrastructure, so the parade of maladies which is behind COVID received’t have the identical penalties that COVID-19 has.”

The pandemic has additionally pushed folks to mirror on what they need to do with their lives, Barrett mentioned, suggesting that this phenomenon may affect which startups emerge from this era in addition to what enterprise capitalists select to spend money on.

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“If you’re an entrepreneur, I feel a relationship app appears to be like much less interesting than contributing ultimately,” Barrett mentioned, including that entrepreneurs are taking a look at areas that “put us able the place we actually don’t need to be caught inside due to a thirty kilobase virus.”

Playground has plenty of startups which might be in place to supply some assist, although, as is the character of the agency’s tendency towards lengthy runways. Most, nonetheless, seem higher positioned to think about how we will put together ourselves for the inevitability of some future pandemic, moderately than the one we’re at present battling. Click by way of to learn the highlights and watch a video with our whole dialog.

Nearer time period performs

Playground’s portfolio is a mixture of firms which might be constructing issues on an extended timescale that have the capital and persistence to climate this pandemic, Barrett mentioned.

However, within the close to time period, there are classes of firms which have a chance to be of service and develop their enterprise.

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