Impact Investing without ‘Impact Investing’

February 10, 2016

6:00 pm

I think of myself as an Impact Investor. I think of myself that way because I clearly look for companies that are pursuing large, transformational opportunities with global implications. I don’t care about stage or sector, I care only about founder(s)’ quality and potential impact and have invested in everything from seed-stage medical devices to a-round communications to institutional-stage biotechnology.

But, when I hear other people talk about “Impact Investing” it always seems to be tied to an explicit triple-bottom line aspect, essentially conflating the term with a type of capitalistic charity. The idea appears to be that impact investors must be driven by factors other than the bottom line, and consequentially their bottom line must be suffering.

I ask myself: why would that be the case? From my perspective, impact investing should have a positive effect on your bottom line, because pursuing large-scale transformational opportunities across sectors not only has a larger global impact, it also creates companies that produce better returns.

Google, Facebook, Amazon, all the way to Oscar, Pager, Agene Bio – successful, scaling companies all chasing massive opportunities. In my six years of startup investing, I have never seen a company chase a smaller opportunity – such as a new app to add to Facebook – and end up creating a massive exit opportunity with global transformation. It just doesn’t happen. There are many reasons why but perhaps the most important are intrinsic: massively successful companies come, always, from visionary leaders, and visionary leaders are drawn only to game-changing Impact Opportunities.

So, I do consider myself an impact investor. But, maybe I just define “impact” differently.

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I am an entrepreneur, angel investor, and early-stage VC living and working in New York City.

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