Funding for moonshots
We’d like to try something new — doing seed rounds quickly for moonshot companies. A network of moonshot companies could be the modern-day version of the great research efforts of the past.

WHAT IS A MOONSHOT COMPANY?

A company 1) focused on a significant technological development or complex coordination and 2) that could have a transformative impact on the world.

Examples:

Rapid response vaccines, non-carbon energy, solar geoengineering, VR/AR, biological manufacturing, new education formats, new medicines, affordable housing, and charter countries.

WHY DON’T MORE PEOPLE START THEM?

We’re not sure, and part of this experiment is to see if we can help create more. A lot of the commonly-cited reasons—“No one will fund it”, “It’s too risky”, “No one will work on it”, and “It’ll take too long” seem like insufficiently good answers.

Most of all, exceptionally talented scientists around the world don’t have access to capital, and often don’t think of starting a company as a possibility.

Going to the moon should be
a reminder of what’s possible,
not a high water mark.

How it works

As an initial experiment, we will fund about 5 companies.

We will invest $3 million at a $15 million post-money valuation, buying 20% of the company.

There will be an optional founder equity exchange with other companies in the program, which will somewhat reduce the risk for founders and hopefully encourage a lot of collaboration.

We will expect you to allocate an option pool that allows you to be generous with early hires (in the spirit of disclosure, it’s in our interest for you to make this big, but we’ve never seen a company regret being able to give a lot of equity to great people). We will ask for standard pro rata rights and will not require a board seat.

The last day we will accept applications is July 11th. Please don’t let being early in your career stop you from applying.

We know that women and people of color are vastly underrepresented as founders. Investors mostly operate with warm intros, and cold outreach as the exception, which reinforces existing networks and power structures. We believe an open application process is an important way to mitigate this. We are committed to interviewing a diverse group of founders, and will report our metrics.

What you get

We expect you to have a big vision and a “Tesla Roadster”—a concrete first step, ideally something you can accomplish in a year or two that proves to investors, prospective employees, and the world as a whole that you can take on the big vision. Picking the right version of your Roadster is really important—in fact, it may be the key to succeeding as a moonshot startup, and it is certainly the easiest way to avoid the usual outcome.

Most moonshot companies are good at either “moonshot” or “company” but not both. We will push you to be good at both, and make progress every week towards this single intermediate goal.

We plan to find each company one dedicated advisor—one great advisor is better than a lot of good ones. (If you are interested in being an advisor, please contact us at info@apolloprojects.com.)

We expect that companies for which this program is a good fit may need to raise hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, and we’ll connect you to investors who are capable of providing that.

If we’re able to, we’ll get everyone together four times over the course of the year. We won’t require that companies move to the Bay Area—local policy has been a disaster for cost of living, which is very bad for startups—but it still may be worth it.

Questions? Email info@apolloprojects.com.

— Sam, Max, and Jack Altman (Max is going to run the program, and Sam and Jack will be available to advise the companies)
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