“People who act on their big ideas. They are capable of articulating a theory of how the world works today and how it should change, and then proceed to actually change the world, or at least attempt to.
They are the people that can describe big changes that impact major swaths of humanity (we will privatize space flight! we will sequence the human genome! we will find safe alternative to oil! etc), and then actually proceed to replace “we” with “I” through their actions, be it entrepreneurship or investing or volunteering.”
Though Levchin did not pinpoint himself as a “high leverage individual,” he is the epitome of such a person. Before he could legally drink, Levchin wanted to transform the way people exchanged value using the Internet, whether it be actual value like money via PayPal or recreational value like gaming through Slide. Though not always successful, what is admirable about Max Levchin is that he kept acting on his theories, i.e. building them and supporting other high leverage individuals, like Marissa Mayer, when they set out to do the same.
His latest project, HVF, is his most ambitious endeavor yet. It’s an incubator that focuses on harnessing the sheer amount of behavioral data produced by today’s tech advancement to make products more efficient and, yes, to change the world. The first product to come out of HVF, Affirm, aims to make paying from your phone as easy as tweeting from your phone by utilizing cues from social networks to determine whether you’ll make good on a loan.
And, in a complete 180°, HVF’s second product, Glow, wants to help women get pregnant through timing their cycles and then literally paying for (through a user pool) in vitro fertilization if the cycle timing doesn’t work. Imagine how many couples trying for children can rest a little bit easier with that kind of guarantee.
You don’t see many tried-and-true serial entrepreneurs and investors going after the fertility market, and perhaps that’s why Max is: “In the next decades we will see huge number of inherently analog processes captured digitally,” he writes. “Opportunities to build businesses that process this data and improve lives will abound.” It doesn’t get more analog than human reproduction.
Levchin will be talking about his past and our data-driven future onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. We’re honored to have him.
Image via Hubert Burda Media/Flickr
A computer scientist, serial entrepreneur, and angel investor, Max Levchin focuses on building and investing in enduring technology companies.
Max’s latest undertaking, HVF, is an innovation lab focused on solving big problems and improving lives by extracting insights from the vast quantities of recordable information around us. HVF launched its first project, Affirm, in early 2013, and recently launched Glow at the end of May.
A graduate of University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (CS’97), Max co-founded PayPal and was its CTO, from founding through its acquisition by eBay. Max currently serves as the chairman of the boards of directors of Yelp and Kaggle and a director of Yahoo! and Evernote.
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