Reed Jobs, the 31-year-old son of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs and Laurene Powell Jobs, has launched a unique venture capital firm with the goal to discover new cancer treatments, the New York Times reported yesterday (August 1). Reed Jobs named his VC firm Yosemite after the national park where his parents got married in 1991. Yosemite has an unusual structure as both a for-profit business and a nonprofit organization. It will manage an investment portfolio like most VC firms do while maintaining a donor-advised fund to make grants to scientists.
Yosemite is a spinoff from Emerson Collective, a philanthropic and investment organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs. Until starting his own venture, Reed Jobs had been working as Emerson Collective’s managing director of health, leading the firm’s programs in health care with a focus on oncology. It’s estimated Emerson Collective manages about $26 billion in assets.
Who are Reed Jobs’s investors?
Venture capital firms invest in startups with money from their upstream investors, known as limited partners. Yosemite so far has raised $200 million from a wide range of individual and institutional investors, including John Doerr, chairman of VC powerhouse Kleiner Perkins and a close friend of Steve Jobs’s, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Rockefeller University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Reed Jobs “never ever wanted to be a venture capitalist.”
Steve Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003 and died from its complications in 2011. Reed Jobs said his father’s battle with cancer influenced his career choice and the ultimate creation of Yosemite.
“My father got diagnosed with cancer when I was 12,” Reed Jobs told the New York Times in his first-ever interview.
When he was 15, Reed Jobs studied oncology during a summer internship at Stanford University. At 18, he started at Stanford as a pre-med undergraduate but later switched to majoring in history, focusing on nuclear weapons policy. He graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in history and international security.
“My dad succumbed to cancer when I was in college at Stanford,” Reed Jobs said in the Times interview. “I was pre-med because I really wanted to be a doctor and cure people myself. But just completely candidly, it was really difficult after he passed away.”
“I had never ever wanted to be a venture capitalist,” he added. “But I realized that when you’re actually incubating something and putting it together, you can make a tremendous difference in what assets are part of that, what direction it’s going to take, and what the scientific focus is going to be.”
The theory behind Yosemite’s dual-purpose structure is that its donor fund will provide no-strings-attached grants to scientists and, if their work reaches commercial phase, they can return to the firm for venture funding.
Steve Jobs had four children with two wives: Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve. Reed is the second eldest and the only boy. He is named after the college Steve Jobs attended in Portland, Oregon in the 1970s.