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Why this investor likes new ideas that make you scratch your head

When Sean O’Sullivan first imagined “cloud computing” as a way to run software not loaded onto a computer, the feedback he received was, “Why would you want to do that?" Now as an investor, it is that moment of disbelief that he finds to be the best starting point for conquering what seems off-limits. O'Sullivan offers his Brief but Spectacular take on making the impossible inevitable.

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  • Sean O’sullivan:

    I invest about $50 million a year into a 150 new startups every year.

  • Interviewer:

    You’ve said that when an idea appears to be absolutely preposterous, that’s when you like to get involved.

  • Sean O’sullivan:

    I think that’s an intriguing start for an investment. I actually love the expression, Buckminster Fuller. If you really want to change something, don’t fight the existing reality. Create a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

    I was one of two people that came up with the term cloud computing. The idea was really to have software that was not running on your computer. The initial reaction for people was, why would I want to do that?

    I think that’s the initial reaction for most people when they hear of, of a new technology. They actually just can’t quite understand it yet.

    When they actually see it for the first time and it really works, it’s — it’s basically magic. When you’re looking at things that seem impossible, they actually have the possibility of becoming in fact inevitable. An area that I think is very important is in regenerative medicine. Printing tissues, printing organs that can help restore life and eliminate disease.

    I have a son who’s autistic. I would love to be involved in trying to create a way to have him be able to speak and be able to — to be able to interact and to live a full and meaningful life. I think it’s actually miraculous what medicine has discovered so far about the human condition. We’ve seen so much of an advancement, and a productivity rise for of all civilization in this, in this last 30 year period.

    What’s now happening in the next 30 years is that same sort of Cambrian explosion, through genetics, life sciences, connected hardware and hardware devices that are actually going to enable the human experience to be much more enriched in the coming years.

    I’m not scared of the advancement of science. Genetically modified organisms is sort of a throwback to like, oh, wait. Who originally created the genetics? I think you know, a lot of people you know, feel you know, God or whatever, and they don’t want to actually mess that.

    They think that that’s off limits. I actually think you know, God also created this planet and we don’t mind putting roads on this planet and building cars on this planet.

    I think extending life is fine. Extending our quality of life is desirable. I’ve lived a relatively full life, I’m happy. Happy enough to die when I’m in my 70s or 80s. I’ll just progress along until then. But I still like to live a full life while I’m here.

    My name is Sean O’Sullivan and this is my brief but spectacular take on making the impossible inevitable.

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